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Member since: Thu Dec 8, 2011, 04:02 AM
Number of posts: 11,064

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It's Not Power That Corrupts, It's Excessive Deference

Conor Friedersdorf :

Excessive Deference to Leaders Corrupts Them -- Who wouldn't lose their humility if constantly surrounded by sycophants eager to invest them with unchecked power?
What cannot be squared ... is the insight that leader worship makes it harder for people in power to behave honorably, and the simultaneous argument that we need to be more admiring of our leaders. I do not mean that we should be disrespectful or them, nor of any other human being.

But we ought to be skeptical of their intentions, knowing that power corrupts; and we ought to challenge them, for if having worshipful sycophants inflates one's self-importance, what better corrective than dissenters confident enough to convey that the leader has erred in his or her judgment?
the best leaders are at once willing to act decisively and prone to humility and introspection. They are attuned to the possibility that they too are fallible. Sycophants destroy that perspective.

Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Fri Jun 29, 2012, 11:04 AM (3 replies)

Presence of Multi-nationals in Greece may be Affected by Arson Assault of Microsoft's HQ in Athens.

A coordinated arson assault by armed gunmen against Microsoft's HQ in Athens earlier this morning is another headache for big multi-nationals in Athens. Reportedly, multi-national corporations have already been considered leaving the debt-ridden country because of unpaid bills, falling revenues and the prospect that Greece might be forced to leave the euro.

Fire gutted the ground floor of the blue four-storey HQ of the U.S. software giant, blackening its walls with flames, on the eve of yet another European summit seeking a solution to a regional debt crisis first unleashed by Greece.

This morning's attack is the latest one against a multi-national corporation. Protesting Greeks had already set fire to branches of Macdonald's, Citi and Starbucks in Athens.
Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Wed Jun 27, 2012, 11:56 AM (0 replies)

Oakland officials agree that cop did nothing wrong and shows contempt for Federal judge's decision

On a 5 to 3 vote, the Oakland City Council acted contrary to a Federal judge's order and authorized the transfer of public funds to reimburse a cop for damages which the judge ordered him to personally pay.

Last year, after a bench trial, U.S. District Judge Marilyn Hall Patel found that a particular Oakland cop conducted an illegal strip search an a busy West Oakland public street to humiliate two individuals who were stopped for no lawful reason. As Judge Patel wrote in her opinion, after the cop and his partner used a pretext to stop the driver,

Mayer handcuffed Lucas and undid his belt buckle, causing Lucas' pants to fall to his ankles... Then the officer asked Lucas if he had any drugs in his buttocks, pulled his boxer shorts halfway down and shook them against his genitals as a crowd gathered to watch ...

The cop's junior partner followed his direction and similarly conducted a public-humiliation strip search of the second individual while the crowd continued to watch.

When Judge Patel rendered her judgment, she both (1) ordered the City of Oakland to pay $105,000 in compensatory damages to the first individual and $100,000 to the second one, and (2) ordered the cop to personally pay $25,000 out of his own pocket to the first individual and $15,000 to the second one.

Since the time that the order was entered requiring the personal payment of the $40,000 by the Oakland cop, his attorney sought to have the City of Oakland reimburse the cop for the damages that he was ordered to personally pay.

Verber wrote in a memo to the city that his client had been cleared of wrongdoing by police internal affairs. 'The punitive damage award issued by the court is particularly upsetting for Mr. Mayer because he knows he did nothing wrong.'

When the Oakland City Council vote was taken, they agreed with the Police Department's internal affairs office and the cop's attorney. They agreed to transfer the funds while undermining the judge's ruling.
Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Sat Jun 23, 2012, 02:17 AM (7 replies)

Vague portion of Chicago anti-gun ordinance struck down by Federal judge

U.S. District Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan recently ruled that Chicago's 2010 anti-gun ordinance (passed just days after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the city's 28-year ban on handguns) is unconstitutionally vague to the extent that it prohibits a person previously convicted of any "unlawful use of a weapon" from being issued a firearm permit.

The judge based his ruling on the fact that Chicago's ordinance does not adequately define "unlawful use of a weapon," and the phrase "unlawful use of a weapon" can mean different things to different people in different jurisdictions.

"There is something incongruent about a nonviolent person, who is not a felon but who is convicted of a misdemeanor offense of simple possession of a firearm, being forever barred from exercising his constitutional right to defend himself in his own home in Chicago against felons or violent criminals," Der-Yeghiayan wrote.

"The same Constitution that protects people's right to bear arms prohibits this type of indiscriminate and arbitrary governmental regulation," he continued. "It is the opinion of this court that any attempt to dilute or restrict a core constitutional right with justifications that do not have a basis in history and tradition is inherently suspect."

"The only thing Mr. Gowder did was to own a firearm. As a result, he was treated like a criminal by the city of Chicago when all he did was exercise his fundamental Second Amendment right," said Stephen Kolodziej, a Chicago attorney representing the plaintiff. "We think the city of Chicago's actions in denying Mr. Gowder a firearm permit were punitive and draconian as well as violative of his constitutional right to keep and bear arms."

At least four additional pending lawsuits are challenging other portions of Chicago's ordinance. Earlier, in 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in McDonald v. Chicago that the city's ban of gun ownership by citizens was unconstitutional.
Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Wed Jun 20, 2012, 01:55 AM (37 replies)

Accounting firm that helped clients evade $1.3 billion in taxes agrees to pay 25% of its fees from

such services (or $50 million out of $200 million in fees) in order to enter into a deferred prosecution agreement and settle the IRS' claims against it.

Michael Rapoport of the WSJ:

BDO, the U.S. arm of BDO International, the world's fifth-largest accounting firm, entered a deferred-prosecution agreement with federal prosecutors in New York in connection with a criminal charge of tax-fraud conspiracy. The firm admitted responsibility for criminal conduct. The charge will be dismissed if the firm complies with the conditions of the agreement, including permanent restrictions on its tax practice, implementation of a compliance and ethics program and continued cooperation with the government's investigation.

The U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said BDO developed and sold illegal tax shelters, known as "Short Sale" and "SOS," to wealthy clients that generated at least $6.5 billion in phony tax losses from 1997 to 2003. BDO said it received about $200 million in fees from those transactions.

The firm falsely characterized the shelters as investments, used false and fraudulent correspondence and other documents to mask the products and associated fees, filed false tax returns and provided false information and documents to the Internal Revenue Service, prosecutors said.

Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Wed Jun 13, 2012, 10:38 PM (3 replies)

Help Wanted: Crocodile Handlers, No Experience Needed. -- $25/hr

Looking for a job with a little adventure to it? Florida conservation officials are recruiting "crocodile response agents" to help corral the wayward reptiles. No experience required.

The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission is planning to hire two to four more part-time agents — there is currently just one — to respond to calls when crocodiles stray onto human turf in the Florida Keys, the string of wetland islands at the southern tip of the state.

Crocodile response agents "assist in handling human-American Crocodile conflicts," wrote Carli Segelson, spokesperson for the Florida commission’s south region, in an email response to msnbc.com questions. "Their duties include, site visits, captures, translocations, carcass recoveries, other duties as needed."
Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Wed Jun 13, 2012, 03:24 AM (7 replies)

Architect In Diabetic Shock Beaten By Officers, Pepper Sprayed, and Repeatedly Tasered Before Dying


A disturbing lawsuit has been filed against the Baltimore County Police Department by Linda Johnson over the death of her husband, Architect Carl D. Johnson on May 27, 2010. Johnson was pepper sprayed, tasered, and beaten before his death on the way home from Bible study class.

Linda Johnson is suing the Maryland State Police, Baltimore County Police, individual commanders and six officers. Her lawsuit claims that her husband suffered a diabetic attack after calling a friend and crashing on I-795. First to the scene was State Trooper Davon Parker who pepper sprayed Johnson after he lowered his window of his car, which had crashed into the median. When Johnson got out of the car, Parker clubbed him on the knee and then allegedly another officer (Loss) clubbed him. When Baltimore County Police Officer Nicholas Wolferman arrived, he also allegedly beat Johnson. Three more officers arrived and one, Baltimore County Officer Andrew O’Neill tasered Johnson twice. Officer Loss then allegedly punched him in the face. Eight more officers then arrived — leaving one wondering if there were any officers left at headquarters. The complaint states that “there were approximately 52 individuals that responded to the scene.”

Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Wed Jun 13, 2012, 12:13 AM (98 replies)

Bravery in action -- Toddler hanging from high balcony rescued by unemployed man

This was in China, and the voice-over is in Chinese:
Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Mon Jun 11, 2012, 12:22 PM (0 replies)

Why Elites Fail

are our regulators attempting to rein in the excesses of those they regulate, or are they auditioning for a lucrative future job? Are economists who publish papers praising financial deregulation giving us an honest assessment of the facts and trends, or courting extremely lucrative consulting fees from banks?

In her book Shadow Elite, about the new global ruling class, Janine Wedel recalls visiting Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall and finding the elites she met there—those at the center of building the new capitalist societies—toting an array of business cards that represented their various roles: one for their job as a member of parliament, another for the start-up business they were running (which was making its money off government contracts), and yet another for the NGO on the board of which they sat. Wedel writes that those “who adapted to the new environment with the most agility and creativity, who tried out novel ways of operating and got away with them, and sometimes were the most ethically challenged, were most rewarded with influence.”

This has an eerie resonance with our predicament. We can never be sure just which other business cards are in the pocket of the pundit, politician or professor. We can’t be sure, in short, just who our elites are working for.
-- Christopher Hayes

Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Mon Jun 11, 2012, 11:16 AM (1 replies)

Why we're losing: The corporations have unionized

The political revolution we're witnessing now in America, which has been growing since the 1970s and 80s, is built on a new and even more dangerous form of corporate collusion. Just as robber barons figured out that they could form a trust to pursue their common interests, today's wealthiest corporations and individuals invented new ways to pursue their interests collectively. Essentially, the corporations and their wealthiest owners have found out that they could form a national union to represent their interests and entrench their power.

The representatives of this union are the lobbyists on K-Street and the members of the Republican Party. Its organizational structure is ever evolving and gaining strength: the American Legislative Exchange Council and Grover Norquist controlling Congress with Frank Luntz and Fox News spreading propaganda on the ground. In 2010, the Supreme Court unleashed the full power of the union thugs for the first time. The results have been catastrophic: the 2010 Republican takeover, the Wisconsin recall, and soon the loss of the presidency and Senate in 2012. After the fingers formed into a clenched fist, Anthony Kennedy provided them with brass knuckles and spikes.

Their new brand of collusion is every bit as damaging as price fixing, and it should be every bit as illegal. The Republican corporate unionization undermines capitalism at every step. There is no need to make higher profits by increasing your revenues. Simply pay your way to a regulatory code that will reduce your costs by putting your employees and customers at risk. Buy subsidies and loopholes that help you only stamp out your competitors. Write yourself a tax code that will increase the percentage of your investment returns. Own a few judges whose role is to limit your liability for damages you cause. The reality is that these so-called capitalists aren't skilled enough to rely on free market forces to increase their profits. But they do have enough wealth that they can buy the whole market and rewrite the rules in their own favor.
Posted by AnotherMcIntosh | Sun Jun 10, 2012, 11:42 PM (16 replies)
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