Latest Threads
Greatest Threads
Home » Discuss » Journals » KittyWampus » Archives Donate to DU
Advertise Liberally! The Liberal Blog Advertising Network
Advertise on more than 70 progressive blogs!
KittyWampus's Journal - Archives
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion
Tue May 24th 2011, 05:17 PM
and saves lives. Besides Underground Housing, there is also the concept of Earth Sheltering.

From Wiki:

Underground Living-

Besides obvious novelty, underground living offers additional benefits when compared to living in traditional buildings, such as a nearly constant comfortable temperature without the need for additional insulation, quiet, resistance to hurricanes, tornadoes and most weapon systems and the unobtrusiveness of such buildings on the landscape. One of the greatest advantages is energy efficiency.<1> The stable subsurface temperature of the Earth saves around 80% in energy costs. If married to solar design, the energy bill can be completely eliminated. Additionally, the noise insulation of the surrounding earth makes underground homes exceptionally quiet, and with a smaller surface area, fewer building materials are used. However underground living can be easily affected by flooding and sometimes special pumping equipment is necessary.

Earth Sheltering-

Earth sheltering is the architectural practice of using earth against building walls for external thermal mass, to reduce heat loss, and to easily maintain a steady indoor air temperature. Earth sheltering is popular in modern times among advocates of passive solar and sustainable architecture, but has been around for nearly as long as humans have been constructing their own shelter

Read entry | Discuss (37 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion
Tue May 03rd 2011, 04:52 PM
Did anyone see this on the Travel Channel? Bourdain goes to Haiti and we see:

His crew buying all the food a street vendor has to give out to starving Haitians on the perimeter. Chaos ensues as big guys shove kids away.
Sean Penn helping build a community of 50 THOUSAND displace Haitians. Penn lives there.
The art and music so many Haitians seem to come by naturally.

"Last night's episode of No Reservations followed host Anthony Bourdain as he explored the art, music, and food of post-earthquake Port-au-Prince under the looming threat of cholera and an approaching hurricane. It was not your typical episode of No Reservations: it was (at times) difficult to watch, yet important to see, and was surely one of the finest hours of television in recent memory. And it seems to be having the desired effect: the website for JP/HRO, the relief organization featured in the episode, crashed briefly due to the response after the episode."

Bourdain Quotes from the show:

1: On even doing a show in Haiti at all: "I worry though, you know, what you say, because here we are, making a show, what are we showing on this show? You know, are we part of the problem?"

2: On staying at the Hotel Oloffson: "And what's a story set in a crumbling, post-earthquake heap of a hotel without a dramatic crisis? A cholera epidemic? Or a hurricane on the way?"

3: On buying out a street food vendor to feed some hungry kids: "What happens is both predictable and a metaphor for what's wrong with so much well-intentioned aid effort around the world. Hungry people anywhere behave like hungry people. When you've got big kids and small kids, young people and old, many of whom haven't had a meal in days, in the real world, outside of the commercial in our heads, people get whacked with a belt."

4: On Haitian fried chicken pies: "If this were outside of my apartment, I'd be hitting this hard every day."

5: On actor Sean Penn watching him eat: "I feel like a carnival geek sometimes."

6: On Penn's work with JPHRO: "I know what you're thinking. You're thinking another Hollywood asshole down here for his closeup then on to the next film, the next cause, the next thing. Not so."

7: On Haitian art: "Everywhere you look there's something fucking beautiful."

8: On a huge metal man sculpture that's at least twice his height: "Too big to fit in my suitcase, alas."

9: On the Haitian tourist industry: "Why is Haiti not a vacation fucking wonderland?"

10: On people cheering the destruction of the Presidential Palace after the earthquake: "In the middle of your possibly imminent death and the destruction of everything you know and love, you could find it in your heart to cheer, well, at least that rat son of a bitch is going down with me."

11: On wrapping up the episode: "Not, I know, the most uplifting show ever. No easy answers here. No happy horseshit soothing assurances to be made about the elections, either. Not if we're going to be honest."

Read entry | Discuss (1 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Apr 23rd 2010, 07:51 PM
Yap island is in the Caroline Islands of the western Pacific Ocean as part of Micronesia. It has a strong indigenous culture which uses Stone Money called Rai.

Stone money

A large (approximately 8 feet in height) example of Yapese stone money (Rai) in the village of Gachpar

Yap is notable for its stone money, known as Rai: large doughnut-shaped, carved disks of (usually) calcite, up to 4 m (12 ft) in diameter (most are much smaller). The smallest can be as little as 3.5 centimetres (1.4 in) in diameter <3>. There are five major types of monies: Mmbul, Gaw, Fe' or Rai, Yar, and Reng, this last being only 0.3 m (1 ft) in diameter. Many of them were brought from other islands, as far as New Guinea, but most came in ancient times from Palau. Their value is based on both the stone's size and its history. Historically the Yapese valued the disks because the material looks like quartz, and these were the shiniest objects around. Eventually the stones became legal tender and were even mandatory in some payments.<4>

The stones' value was kept high due to the difficulty and hazards involved in obtaining them. To quarry the stones, Yapese adventurers had to sail to distant islands and deal with local inhabitants who were sometimes hostile. Once quarried, the disks had to be transported back to Yap on rafts towed behind wind-powered canoes. The scarcity of the disks, and the effort and peril required to get them, made them valuable to the Yapese. However, in 1874, an enterprising Irishman named David O'Keefe hit upon the idea of employing the Yapese to import more "money" in the form of shiploads of large stones, also from Palau. O'Keefe then traded these stones with the Yapese for other commodities such as sea cucumbers and copra. Although some of the O'Keefe stones are larger than the canoe-transported stones, they are less valuable than the earlier stones due to the comparative ease in which they were obtained. Approximately 6,800 of them are scattered around the island.

As no more disks are being produced or imported, this money supply is fixed.<5> The islanders know who owns which piece but do not necessarily move them when ownership changes. Their size and weight (the largest ones require 20 adult men to carry) make them very difficult to move around. Although today the United States dollar is the currency used for everyday transactions in Yap, the stone disks are still used for more traditional or ceremonial exchange. The stone disks may change ownership during marriages, transfers of land title, or as compensation for damages suffered by an aggrieved party.

Interesting Link:

Read entry | Discuss (3 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Fri Apr 23rd 2010, 07:38 PM
This is sort of related to AZ today. I looked for this info just for the sake of curiosity, not to prove any point. Maybe some other DU'ers might be interested.

From Wiki so I won't swear it's complete or accurate.

Bosnia and Herzegovina
People's Republic of China
Republic of China (Taiwan)
Czech Republic
Hong Kong
Saudi Arabia
South Africa
South Korea
Sri Lanka
Read entry | Discuss (8 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun Jun 14th 2009, 12:55 PM
DU'ers who, for whatever reason, refuse to accept the Iranian election was purely fraud please read-

An Ayatollah Dissents

A Farsi-speaking reader translates this article:

Grand Ayatollah Sanei in Iran has declared Ahmadinejad's presidency illegitimate and cooperating with his government against Islam. There are strong rumors that his house and office are surrounded by the police and his website is filtered. He had previously issued a fatwa, against rigging of the elections in any form or shape, calling it a mortal sin.


Dreyfus has an interview with Ibrahim Yazdi, "a leading Iranian dissident and Iran’s foreign minister in the early days of Islamic republic”:

A coup d’etat? They’ve already made one! They’ve created a dictatorship, in fact. Do you know that last night the security forces occupied the offices of many newspapers, to make sure that their reporting on the election was favorable? They changed many headlines. They fixed the election.

The Guards are taking over everything, including many economic institutions. The ministry of the interior is increasing its control in all the provinces.


Stratford is reporting that Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani, head of the Expediency Council, has resigned. Though unconfirmed, the report is saying that Rafsanjani is resigning from his position as head of the Expediencey Council, NOT his position as the leader of the Assembly of Experts, which has oversight responsibility over the office of the Supreme Leader and would be responsible for naming Ayatollah Khamenei’s successor.


3:18 update: The President of the Committee of Election Monitoring: The Election is Invalid

Hojjat-ol-Eslam Yali Akbar MohteshamiPour officially requested that the Guardian Council to cancel this election and schedule a new election balanced and moderated democratically with the widespread and national presence of the people.

The Iranian Electoral Commission (Sianat az ara) was approved by all
candidates to monitor the election results

Conflicting reports, now, about Mousavi’s supposed arrest.

3:05 update: According to Mousavi’s website, a group of employees in the Ministry of the Interior in an open letter warned that the votes have been changed and manipulated in the state election commission. In this letter, which was addressed to the chairman of the Assembly of Experts, the President, the of Majlis of Iran, the heads of the legislative and judicial branch and several other government agencies, a group of employees stated that “as dedicated employees of the Interior Ministry, with experience in management and supervision of several elections such as the elections of Khamenei, Rafsanjani and Khatami, we announce that we fear the 10th presidential elections were not healthy.”
Read entry | Discuss (3 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Sun May 17th 2009, 07:23 PM
then you know about yourself.

Buy premium bird seed? Your credit card company knows you'll pay your bill
Buy chrome accessories for your car? Your credit card company knows you have a greater chance of paying late.

Credit card companies also know when you log on and check your balance.

Checking your balance at 1:00 in the afternoon? You should be at work.
Checking your balance at 1:00 in the morning? You might be worrying how you're going to pay your bills

Suddenly using your credit card to pay grocery bills? Not good....

On today's Planet Money:

Credit card companies have decided to become your friend, before it's too late. If they chat you up instead of sounding threatening when you call, they figure, you might pay them back first. That's the message from New York Times reporter Charles Duhigg, who just published What Does Your Credit Card Company Know About You?

While they're getting friendly with you, credit card companies have managed to learn a thing or two about exactly your ways. For starters, they're never happier than when customers buy premium bird seed, or put their kids' pictures on their credit cards. But if they hang out at Sharx, an upscale pool hall in Montreal? That's bad news.

Listen to NPR segment here: /


What Does Your Credit-Card Company Know About You?

A 2002 study of how customers of Canadian Tire were using the company's credit cards found that 2,220 of 100,000 cardholders who used their credit cards in drinking places missed four payments within the next 12 months. By contrast, only 530 of the cardholders who used their credit cards at the dentist missed four payments within the next 12 months.


So credit-card firms are changing their business plans. Gone are the days of handing out cards willy-nilly and hoping that the cardholders who dutifully pay up will offset the losses from those who default. Today companies are focusing on those customers most likely to honor their debts. And they are looking for ways to convince existing cardholders that if they only have enough money to pay one bill, it’s wiser to pay off their credit card than, say, the phone.

Put another way, credit-card companies are becoming much more interested in understanding their customers’ lives and psyches, because, the theory goes, knowing what makes cardholders tick will help firms determine who is a good bet and who should be shown the door as quickly as possible.
Read entry | Discuss (29 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Apr 27th 2009, 10:08 AM
This thread has been combined with another thread.

Click here to read this message in its new location.
Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Apr 27th 2009, 10:02 AM
This thread has been combined with another thread.

Click here to read this message in its new location.
Read entry | Discuss (0 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Mon Apr 27th 2009, 09:53 AM
.....Mr. Geithner has also recruited aides from Wall Street, some from firms that were at the heart of the crisis.

A bill sent recently by the Treasury to Capitol Hill would give the Obama administration extensive new powers to inject money into or seize systemically important firms in danger of failure. It was drafted in large measure by Davis Polk & Wardwell, a law firm that represents many banks and the financial industry’s lobbying group. Mr. Geithner also hired Davis Polk to represent the New York Fed during the A.I.G. bailout.

Treasury officials say they inadvertently used a copy of Davis Polk’s draft sent to them by the Federal Reserve as a template for their own bill, with the result that the proposed legislation Treasury sent to Capitol Hill bore the law firm’s computer footprints. And they point to several significant changes to that draft that “better protect the taxpayer,” in the words of Andrew Williams, a Treasury spokesman.

But others say important provisions in the original industry bill remain. Most significant, the bill does not require that any government rescue of a troubled firm be done at the lowest possible cost, as is required by the F.D.I.C. when it takes over a failed bank. Treasury officials said that is because they would use the rescue powers only in rare and extreme cases that might require flexibility. Karen Shaw Petrou, managing director of the Washington research firm Federal Financial Analytics, said it essentially gives Treasury “a blank check.”
Read entry | Discuss (19 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in General Discussion (1/22-2007 thru 12/14/2010)
Wed Apr 22nd 2009, 08:51 AM
In a nutshell, the preferred method of extracting valuable information is gaining the confidence of prisoner and/or trick information out of them without them realizing it. If it's the ticking time bomb, psychological compulsion.

The first list is from an invaluable piece that has live links sourcing every single quote. Full list of quotes/citations at link.
The second article is from a fascinating interview with WWII interrogators.
Third from piece written by reporter exploring subject.
Fourth, more recent

Let's put aside questions of morality, humanity, and legality . . . Let's just focus on one question: does torture work?

In fact, the professional FBI, CIA and army interrogators all say no.

They say that people will say anything to stop the pain . . . specifically, they'll say what they think the torturer wants to hear. Moreover, they say that the way to actually get useful information about of prisoners -- including information helpful to stopping future terrorist attacks -- is to build trust and rapport with them, or to outsmart them in ongoing conversations.

See for yourself:

* Army Field Manual 34-52 Chapter 1 says:

"Experience indicates that the use of force is not necessary to gain the cooperation of sources for interrogation. Therefore, the use of force is a poor technique, as it yields unreliable results, may damage subsequent collection efforts, and can induce the source to say whatever he thinks the interrogator wants to hear."

* A declassified FBI e-mail dated May 10, 2004, regarding interrogation at Guantanamo states " explained to , FBI has been successful for many years obtaining confessions via non-confrontational interviewing techniques." (see also this)

* Brigadier General David R. Irvine, retired Army Reserve strategic intelligence officer who taught prisoner interrogation and military law for 18 years with the Sixth Army Intelligence School, says torture doesn't work

* A former FBI interrogator -- who interrogated Al Qaeda suspects -- says categorically that torture does not help collect intelligence. On the other hand he says that torture actually turns people into terrorists

* A 30-year veteran of CIA’s operations directorate who rose to the most senior managerial ranks, says:

“The administration’s claims of having ‘saved thousands of Americans’ can be dismissed out of hand because credible evidence has never been offered — not even an authoritative leak of any major terrorist operation interdicted based on information gathered from these interrogations in the past seven years. … It is irresponsible for any administration not to tell a credible story that would convince critics at home and abroad that this torture has served some useful purpose.

This is not just because the old hands overwhelmingly believe that torture doesn’t work — it doesn’t — but also because they know that torture creates more terrorists and fosters more acts of terror than it could possibly neutralize.”

* The Senate Armed Services Committee unanimously found that torture doesn't work.

Still don't believe it? These people also say torture doesn't produce usable intelligence:

* Former high-level CIA official Bob Baer said "And torture -- I just don't think it really works ... you don't get the truth. What happens when you torture people is, they figure out what you want to hear and they tell you."

* Rear Admiral (ret.) John Hutson, former Judge Advocate General for the Navy, said "Another objection is that torture doesn't work. All the literature and experts say that if we really want usable information, we should go exactly the opposite way and try to gain the trust and confidence of the prisoners."

* Michael Scheuer, formerly a senior CIA official in the Counter-Terrorism Center, said "I personally think that any information gotten through extreme methods of torture would probably be pretty useless because it would be someone telling you what you wanted to hear."

* Dan Coleman, one of the FBI agents assigned to the 9/11 suspects held at Guantanamo said "Brutalization doesn't work. We know that. "

Michael Tew said...

Well it depends on what you mean by "work". If your intention is to create a false narrative of imaginary international terrorists in order to confuse and terrify the ignorant masses then torture is a pretty good tool.


WWII interrogators went on record for WPost saying they got better info treating prisoners well:

Now, a group of leading World War II interrogators have broken their silence and confirmed that torture is not needed. As quoted in the Washington Post:

"We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture," said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler's deputy, Rudolf Hess.

Hess was one of the most important people to interrogate, and the U.S. government sent a mild-manner physicist to play chess with him to get information.

"During the many interrogations, I never laid hands on anyone," said George Frenkel, 87, of Kensington. "We extracted information in a battle of the wits. I'm proud to say I never compromised my humanity."

Indeed, successful interrogation is a battle of wits and treating the detainee with humanity is one of the cardinal principals in successful interrogation. Torture actually interferes with that process.


The Torture Myth

By Anne Applebaum
Wednesday, January 12, 2005; Page A21

But does torture work? The question has been asked many times since Sept. 11, 2001.

Meet, for example, retired Air Force Col. John Rothrock, who, as a young captain, headed a combat interrogation team in Vietnam. More than once he was faced with a ticking time-bomb scenario: a captured Vietcong guerrilla who knew of plans to kill Americans. What was done in such cases was "not nice," he says. "But we did not physically abuse them." Rothrock used psychology, the shock of capture and of the unexpected. Once, he let a prisoner see a wounded comrade die. Yet -- as he remembers saying to the "desperate and honorable officers" who wanted him to move faster -- "if I take a Bunsen burner to the guy's genitals, he's going to tell you just about anything," which would be pointless. Rothrock, who is no squishy liberal, says that he doesn't know "any professional intelligence officers of my generation who would think this is a good idea."

Or listen to Army Col. Stuart Herrington, a military intelligence specialist who conducted interrogations in Vietnam, Panama and Iraq during Desert Storm, and who was sent by the Pentagon in 2003 -- long before Abu Ghraib -- to assess interrogations in Iraq. Aside from its immorality and its illegality, says Herrington, torture is simply "not a good way to get information." In his experience, nine out of 10 people can be persuaded to talk with no "stress methods" at all, let alone cruel and unusual ones. Asked whether that would be true of religiously motivated fanatics, he says that the "batting average" might be lower: "perhaps six out of ten." And if you beat up the remaining four? "They'll just tell you anything to get you to stop."

Worse, you'll have the other side effects of torture. It "endangers our soldiers on the battlefield by encouraging reciprocity." It does "damage to our country's image" and undermines our credibility in Iraq. That, in the long run, outweighs any theoretical benefit. Herrington's confidential Pentagon report, which he won't discuss but which was leaked to The Post a month ago, goes farther. In that document, he warned that members of an elite military and CIA task force were abusing detainees in Iraq, that their activities could be "making gratuitous enemies" and that prisoner abuse "is counterproductive to the Coalition's efforts to win the cooperation of the Iraqi citizenry." Far from rescuing Americans, in other words, the use of "special methods" might help explain why the war is going so badly.

An up-to-date illustration of the colonel's point appeared in recently released FBI documents from the naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. These show, among other things, that some military intelligence officers wanted to use harsher interrogation methods than the FBI did. As a result, complained one inspector, "every time the FBI established a rapport with a detainee, the military would step in and the detainee would stop being cooperative." So much for the utility of torture.

Given the overwhelmingly negative evidence, the really interesting question is not whether torture works but why so many people in our society want to believe that it works. At the moment, there is a myth in circulation, a fable that goes something like this: Radical terrorists will take advantage of our fussy legality, so we may have to suspend it to beat them. Radical terrorists mock our namby-pamby prisons, so we must make them tougher. Radical terrorists are nasty, so to defeat them we have to be nastier.

Perhaps it's reassuring to tell ourselves tales about the new forms of "toughness" we need, or to talk about the special rules we will create to defeat this special enemy. Unfortunately, that toughness is self-deceptive and self-destructive. Ultimately it will be self-defeating as well.


In Adopting Harsh Tactics, No Inquiry Into Their Past Use
Published: April 21, 2009


Overwhelmed with reports of potential threats and anguished that the agency had failed to stop the Sept. 11 attacks, Mr. Tenet and his top aides did not probe deeply into the prescription Dr. Mitchell so confidently presented: using the SERE tactics on Qaeda prisoners.

A little research on the origin of those methods would have given reason for doubt. Government studies in the 1950s found that Chinese Communist interrogators had produced false confessions from captured American pilots not with some kind of sinister “brainwashing” but with crude tactics: shackling the Americans to force them to stand for hours, keeping them in cold cells, disrupting their sleep and limiting access to food and hygiene.

“The Communists do not look upon these assaults as ‘torture,’ ” one 1956 study concluded. “But all of them produce great discomfort, and lead to serious disturbances of many bodily processes; there is no reason to differentiate them from any other form of torture.”

Worse, the study found that under such abusive treatment, a prisoner became “malleable and suggestible, and in some instances he may confabulate.”

In late 2001, about a half-dozen SERE trainers, according to a report released Tuesday night by the Senate Armed Services Committee, began raising stark warning about plans by both the military and the C.I.A. to use the SERE methods in interrogations.

In December 2001, Lt. Col. Daniel J. Baumgartner of the Air Force, who oversaw SERE training, cautioned in one memo that physical pressure was “less reliable” than other interrogation methods, could backfire by increasing a prisoner’s resistance and would have an “intolerable public and political backlash when discovered.” But his memo went to the Defense Department, not the C.I.A.
Read entry | Discuss (1 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in Economy
Tue Apr 21st 2009, 04:12 PM
AP Exclusive: Fed tests harder on regional banks

AP Exclusive: 'Stress tests' focus on loans, not securities, will favor big banks

AP News

Apr 21, 2009 13:14 EST

The government's "stress tests" of 19 large banks take a harsher view of loans than of other troubled assets, according to a Federal Reserve document obtained by the Associated Press. That approach favors a few Wall Street banks while potentially threatening major regional players.

Regulators will use the tests to determine which banks are healthy, which need more capital and which might fail if the recession worsened.

The Fed is scheduled to detail its methodology for the tests on Friday and release the results May 4.

The regulators' focus could spell trouble for big regional banks undergoing the tests. Their portfolios have more individual loans and fewer of the big pools of securitized loans that Wall Street giants specialize in.

Some analysts said regulators are favoring the largest banks because if even one failed that would pose a severe economic risk. Banks that deal in securities are more interconnected to other corners of the global financial system.

Regulators also face pressure to highlight the weaknesses of some banks, or critics will dismiss the tests as a whitewash. That would undermine the goal of improving confidence in the financial system.

Under one scenario, the test assumes banks will see "no further losses" on these complex securities at the heart of the credit crisis. By contrast, it estimates that the banks' individual loans will lose up to 20 percent of their value.

The methodology "certainly penalizes those banks that are more involved in traditional banking, which frankly have been performing better in recent months," said Wayne Abernathy, a former Treasury Department official now with the American Bankers Association.

He said banks' loan portfolios have lost only about 5 percent of their value so far, whereas the value of complex securities are down 30 to 40 percent.

A spokesman for the Federal Reserve would not comment. A Treasury Department spokesman referred questions to the Fed.

Regulators are running the tests on all financial institutions with assets of at least $100 billion. The 19 institutions on the list include an insurer, Wall Street brokerages and regional banks, such as Cincinnati-based Fifth Third Bancorp and Cleveland-based Keycorp.

A spokeswoman for Fifth Third Bancorp said the bank would not comment.

Keycorp did not immediately respond to requests for comment. The bank said Tuesday it lost $488 million in the first quarter, partly due to a large increase in its set-asides for loan losses.
Read entry | Discuss (3 comments)
Posted by KittyWampus in Economy
Sun Apr 05th 2009, 11:35 AM
William K. Black is Associate Professor of Economics and Law at the University of Missouri - Kansas City. He was a senior regulator during the savings and loan scandal and blew the whistle on prominent politicians, including House Speaker Wright and the five US Senators who became famous as the "Keating Five." He was the lead staffer on the successful reregulation of the S&L industry and directed the investigations that led to convictions in many of the worst S & L frauds

Robert Johnson was formerly a managing director at Soros Funds Management and chief economist of the Senate Banking Committee

Walker Todd worked for many years in the Federal Reserve System. He was a legal officer of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and a legal and research officer at the Cleveland Federal Reserve Bank. He is the author of many studies of bank failure, reform of the Fed's discount window, open market operations, and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation of the 1930s

These three wrote "How To Stop AIG Bonuses"

Part I of Ferguson and Johnson's "Too Big To Bail: The 'Paulson Put,' Presidential Politics, and the Global Financial Meltdown," appears in the next issue of the International Journal of Political Economy

Brooksley Born bio from Wikipedia states from 1996-1999 she served as chairperson of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC), the federal agency which oversees the futures and commodity options markets as well as the individuals who participate in those markets. In 2008, she appeared on the Legal Times list of "The 90 Greatest Washington Lawyers of the Last 30 Years" and was described as a "Champion".

Her appointment as a member of the CFTC, on April 15, 1994, came after a career as head of the firm's derivatives practice, where she represented clients in numerous complex litigation and arbitration cases involving financial market transactions. Among her other high-profile cases was the matter of the Hunt Brothers attempt to corner the silver market in the 1970s.

While on the commission and after becoming its chair two years later, Born sought comments on the need to regulate derivatives, specifically swaps that are traded at no central exchange, known as the dark market, and thus have no transparency except to the two counter-parties (no actual regulatory scheme was proposed at the time). The request for comments, called the "Concept Release," stated that the growth of trade in derivatives had prompted the CFTC to re-examine its regulatory scheme.

The request for comments was opposed by Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan and Treasury Secretaries Robert Rubin and Lawrence Summers.

Specifically, on May 7, 1998, former SEC Chairman Arthur Levitt joined the other members of the President’s Working Group – Treasury Secretary Rubin and Federal Reserve Board Chairman Greenspan – in objecting to the issuance of the CFTC’s concept release, in which Born attempted to shed light on the dark market, citing grave concerns about the possible consequences of the CFTC’s action.

In particular, these concerns focused on the risk that such discussion would increase legal uncertainty concerning swaps and other OTC derivative instruments and, thus, destabilize what had become a significant global financial market. They claimed potential turmoil created by the report and concerns about the imposition of new regulatory costs also might have stifled innovation and pushed transactions offshore.

As the financial crisis of 2008 gained momentum, newspapers began reporting on what might be some of its causes, including the adversarial relationship Greenspan, Rubin and Levitt had with Brooksley Born, with Greenspan leading the opposition, and how Born's recommendations were suppressed.

Iris Mack From TPMuckracker, Iris Mack is a former quantitative analyst at Harvard Management Company, the university's once-vaunted endowment manager, tells the Harvard Crimson she was fired for voicing concern to then-university president Larry Summers' chief of staff about the money manager's risky use of derivatives the traders didn't understand.

The episode dates back to 2002, when analyst Iris Mack, whose website identifies her as the second African American woman to earn a Harvard PhD. in applied math (and someone who likes primary colors) joined the much-venerated Harvard Management Company, which invests the university's then $18 billion endowment, to find what she termed a "frightening" state of affairs.

Joseph Eugene Stiglitz from Wikipedia bio is an American economist and a professor at Columbia University. He is a recipient of the John Bates Clark Medal (1979) and the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences (2001). He is also the former Senior Vice President and Chief Economist of the World Bank. He is known for his critical view of the management of globalization, free-market economists (whom he calls "free market fundamentalists") and some international institutions like the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. In 2000, Stiglitz founded the Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD), a think tank on international development based at Columbia University. Since 2001, he has been a member of the Columbia faculty, and has held the rank of University Professor since 2003. He also chairs the University of Manchester's Brooks World Poverty Institute and is a member of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences

From Joseph Stiglitz:

Obama Has Confused Saving the Banks with Saving the Bankers

We get reaction to President Obama’s speech from Nobel economics laureate and former World Bank chief economist, Joseph Stiglitz. Stiglitz says the Obama administration has failed to address the structural and regulatory flaws at the heart of the financial crisis that stand in the way of economic recovery.

Paul Volcker


Paul Volcker Chafes at Panel Delay, Clashes With Summers
By Robert Schmidt and Julianna Goldman

Feb. 5 (Bloomberg) -- Paul Volcker has grown increasingly frustrated over delays in setting up the economic advisory group President Barack Obama picked the former Federal Reserve chairman to lead, people familiar with the matter said.

Volcker, 81, blames Obama’s National Economic Council Director Lawrence Summers for slowing down the effort to organize the panel of outside advisers, the people said. Summers isn’t regularly inviting Volcker to White House meetings and hasn’t shown interest in collaborating on policy or sharing potential solutions to the economic crisis, they said.


Outsider’s Disadvantage

The contretemps shows the difficulties Volcker, perhaps the world’s most respected economist, may encounter as an outside adviser charged with providing policy alternatives to the president, said William Silber, a finance professor at New York University’s business school.

Volcker “is not in the White House and he doesn’t have a bureaucracy to command,” Silber said. “It puts him at a disadvantage.”

After testifying at a congressional hearing yesterday, Volcker declined to respond to questions. His office said he doesn’t grant interviews.

Summers, in an interview, played down any conflict.

Elizabeth Warren, chief watchdog of America's $700bn bank bailout plan, will this week call for the removal of top executives from Citigroup, AIG and other institutions that have received government funds in a damning report that will question the administration's approach to saving the financial system from collapse.

Warren, a Harvard law professor and chair of the congressional oversight committee monitoring the government's Troubled Asset Relief Program (Tarp), is also set to call for shareholders in those institutions to be "wiped out". "It is crucial for these things to happen," she said. "Japan tried to avoid them and just offered subsidy with little or no consequences for management or equity investors, and this is why Japan suffered a lost decade." She declined to give more detail but confirmed that she would refer to insurance group AIG, which has received $173bn in bailout money, and banking giant Citigroup, which has had $45bn in funds and more than $316bn of loan guarantees.

Warren also believes there are "dangers inherent" in the approach taken by treasury secretary Tim Geithner, who she says has offered "open-ended subsidies" to some of the world's biggest financial institutions without adequately weighing potential pitfalls. "We want to ensure that the treasury gives the public an alternative approach," she said, adding that she was worried that banks would not recover while they were being fed subsidies. "When are they going to say, enough?" she said.

She said she did not want to be too hard on Geithner but that he must address the issues in the report. "The very notion that anyone would infuse money into a financially troubled entity without demanding changes in management is preposterous."

Barry Ritholtz

More Info:

Read entry | Discuss (14 comments)
Greatest Threads
The ten most recommended threads posted on the Democratic Underground Discussion Forums in the last 24 hours.
Visitor Tools
Use the tools below to keep track of updates to this Journal.
Random Journal
Random Journal
Home  |  Discussion Forums  |  Journals  |  Campaigns  |  Links  |  Store  |  Donate
About DU  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
Got a message for Democratic Underground? Click here to send us a message.