Companies that specialize in stock market forecasting and trading—such as Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Morgan Stanley, and JPMorgan Chase—pay very high salaries to their employee-vendors. New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo just released data showing that these and other large banks are giving each of their 5000 trader-forecasters bonuses of at least one million dollars.
In return, these fat cats are very frequently wrong in their recommendations and decidedly unprofessional in their fiduciary relationships with the clueless, trusting clients who rely on them. Win or lose, they get their fees.
These firms and brokers are making money largely from other people’s money—pensions, savings and investments. Overall many produce little more than gambling tips. When these moneyboys try to justify their doings as providing liquidity, hedging against risk, assembling capital for productive investment, listeners are permitted to robustly laugh. This is especially so now during Wall Street’s massive, self-inflicted financial collapse. The economy, and taxpayers, are paying for this reckless speculation.
A month ago, when the Senate Armed Services Committee heard testimony on “legal issues regarding military commissions and the trial of detainees for violations of the law of war”, and the Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee of the House Committee on the Judiciary held a hearing on “Legal Issues Surrounding the Military Commissions System,” the Obama administration’s proposed revival of the much-criticized Military Commission system of trials for “terror suspects” at Guantánamo attracted a decent amount of media attention.
Last week, however, when the House Committee on the Judiciary’s Constitution, Civil Rights, and Civil Liberties Subcommittee convened to hear further testimony about the Military Commissions, few media outlets noticed. This was a great shame, as one of the speakers was Lt. Col. (formerly Maj.) David Frakt of the US Air Force Reserves, whose testimony (PDF) was at least as riveting as that of his former adversary in the Military Commissions, Lt. Col. Darrel Vandeveld, the ex-prosecutor who resigned in September 2008. On July 8, Lt. Col Vandeveld told the committee that the Commissions were “broken beyond repair,” and “cannot be fixed, because their very creation — and the only reason to prefer military commissions over federal criminal courts for the Guantánamo detainees — can now be clearly seen as an artifice, a contrivance, to try to obtain prosecutions based on evidence that would not be admissible in any civilian or military prosecution anywhere in our nation.”
In his latest book, In Defense of Food–An Eater’s Manifesto (The Penguin Press 2009), Michael Pollan, the author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Bounty of Desire, andotherbooks, argues for the eating of whole foods preferably grown, cooked and eaten in a social setting with others.
Pollan’s book is very important to the current debate on healthcare reform because it convincing shows how most chronic diseases, the diseases that are swamping the health care system, are diet related and that it makes economic sense to spend a little more money on eating real organically grown food than spending trillions on preventable diseases.
excerpts from: “A new approach for safeguarding Americans”
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) web site, 6 August 2009
President Obama is under no illusions about the imminence and severity of this threat. Indeed, he has repeatedly and forcefully challenged those who suggest that this threat has passed.
To Americans who ask why our forces still fight and die in Afghanistan, he has made it clear that al-Qaida is actively plotting to attack us again and that he will not tolerate Afghanistan or any other country being a base for terrorists determined to kill Americans. […]
[President Obama] is confronting what he has identified as the most immediate and extreme threat to global security – the possibility that terrorists will obtain and use a nuclear weapon. […]
“has been able to say “everything that she hasn’t been able to say so far, implicating many member of Congress in a criminal conspiracy,” according to interviews with Fein and others.”
“Edmonds told me in a brief phone conversation during the break: “Bruce Fein is raising objections to everything”, though that’s to be expected. She said she’s been asked, and has answered, questions on Dan Burton (R-IN), Dennis Hastert (R-IL), Stephen Solarz (D-NY), and other questions on those high-ranking officials and lobbyists in her “State Secrets Gallery”.”
Yesterday, as part of its “Accountability for Torture” project (to which I contributed here), the ACLU launched a new campaigning video, “Tortured Logic,” in which ten people (including Oliver Stone, Philip Glass and a relative of one of the 9/11 victims) read out passages from the notorious torture memos, issued by the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which were released by the Obama administration in May.
We’re making this way too complicated. It’s simple really.
The Fed has only one tool at its disposal; to create more money. Typically, the way the Fed adds to the money supply is by lowering interest rates. When the Fed lowers rates below the rate of inflation; they’re basically selling dollars for under a buck. That’s a good deal, so, naturally, speculators jump on it and trigger a credit expansion. What follows is a frenzy of market activity that ends in a housing, credit, tech or equity bubble. Eventually, the bubble bursts and the economy goes into a tailspin. Then, after a period of digging-out, the process resumes again. Wash, rinse, repeat. It’s always the same.
Tent cities springing up all over America are filling with the homeless unemployed from the worst economy since the 1930s. While Americans live in tents, the Obama government has embarked on a $1 billion crash program to build a mega-embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan, to rival the one the Bush government build in Baghdad, Iraq.
Hard times have now afflicted Americans for so long that even the extension of unemployment benefits from 6 months to 18 months for 24 high unemployment states, and to 46 – 72 weeks in other states, is beginning to run out. By Christmas 1.5 million Americans will have exhausted unemployment benefits while unemployment rolls continue to rise.