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Agnosticsherbet's Journal
Agnosticsherbet's Journal
October 21, 2015

These Florida Tea Partiers plan to set up a secret vigilante court to arrest — and possibly execute

These Florida Tea Partiers plan to set up a secret vigilante court to arrest — and possibly execute — Obama
Florida county is considering changes to its charter review board after two elected members have focused on punishing political enemies through extralegal tactics instead of government business.

The Sarasota County charter review board typically proposes minor changes to the county charter when they meet three times a year, but critics say two of its members — Pat Wayman and Steven R. Fields — have been using their positions to usurp authority from other elected officials, reported the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The pair have voted to establish a “people’s common law grand jury,” which sovereign citizens and other anti-government extremists have proposed to investigate and prosecute government officials for treason — which, as they frequently point out, carries a potential death penalty.


“A people’s common law grand jury can, without any probable cause, go into any nook or cranny of government — local, state or federal — research anything that’s going on and root out corruption,” Dowdell said. “We want to government to recognize the contract we call the constitution, and start obeying the law. It’s very simple.”

You think you've the craziest thing anyone can consider, and, bam, this comes up.
October 21, 2015

Scientists find link between comet, asteroid showers and mass extinctions

Scientists find link between comet, asteroid showers and mass extinctions
For more than 30 years, scientists have argued about a controversial hypothesis relating to periodic mass extinctions and impact craters -- caused by comet and asteroid showers -- on Earth.

In their MNRAS paper, Michael Rampino, a New York University geologist, and Ken Caldeira, a scientist in the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, offer new support linking the age of these craters with recurring mass extinctions of life, including the demise of the dinosaurs. Specifically, they show a cyclical pattern over the studied period, with both impacts and extinction events taking place every 26 million years.

This cycle has been linked to periodic motion of the Sun and planets through the dense mid-plane of our galaxy. Scientists have theorized that gravitational perturbations of the distant Oort comet cloud that surrounds the Sun lead to periodic comet showers in the inner solar system, where some comets strike Earth.

October 19, 2015

CIA Debunks Gowdy’s Allegation That Clinton Email Contained Classified CIA Source

CIA Debunks Gowdy’s Allegation That Clinton Email Contained Classified CIA Source
Oct 18, 2015
| Press Release

Cummings Calls on Gowdy to Apologize to Clinton

WASHINGTON—Today, Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, the Ranking Member of the House Select Committee on Benghazi, sent a letter to Chairman Trey Gowdy to correct the public record after the CIA debunked Chairman Gowdy’s accusation that Secretary Clinton sent an email containing "some of the most protected information in our intelligence community, the release of which could jeopardize not only national security but human lives.”

The full letter is online here and as follows:

Dear Mr. Chairman:

On October 7, 2015, you sent me a 13-page letter making a grave new accusation against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Specifically, you accused her of compromising national security and endangering lives.

The problem with your accusation—as with so many others during this investigation—is that you failed to check your facts before you made it, and the CIA has now informed the Select Committee that you were wrong. I believe your accusations were irresponsible, and I believe you owe the Secretary an immediate apology.

It appears that your letter was rushed out to the press to counter the public firestorm caused by Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy’s stark admission that Republicans are using millions of taxpayer dollars to damage Secretary Clinton’s bid for president. However, your letter only provided further evidence of this fact.

No one should be surprised that Gowdy is a scum sucking bag of feculent frog testicles.
October 16, 2015

When the story starts with a falsehood, in the first sentence,

The rest can not be trusted.
The server was not on her basement.

October 15, 2015

The CNN Democratic debate transcript, annotated

The CNN Democratic debate transcript, annotated
Tuesday night, five candidates participated in the first Democratic debate: Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Martin O'Malley, Jim Webb and Lincoln Chafee. We've posted the transcript below, with insight from the crew here at The Fix as well as the Fact Checker's Michelle Lee.

Click or tap the highlighted part of the transcript to see an annotation; if you would like to leave your own annotations, make sure you have a Genius account. Post staff annotations will appear by default; others are in a menu that you can see in the upper right when you click or tap on an annotation.

To kick off the debate, Anderson Cooper introduced himself, Juan Carlos Lopez, Dana Bash, and Don Lemon. Cooper then welcomed each candidate to the stage.

If we are going to discuss what they said, this makes it easier to do right.
October 15, 2015

Singing while black: Oakland choir threatened with ‘nuisance’ fines after tech workers enter

Singing while black: Oakland choir threatened with ‘nuisance’ fines after tech workers enter neighborhood
embers of a black church choir are blaming an influx of affluent tech workers for their group facing thousands of dollars in fines.

Pleasant Grove Baptist Church in West Oakland received a cease-and-desist letter from the city threatening them with $500 a day in fines plus a $3,500 nuisance fee, CBS San Francisco reports. Church members believe the sudden complaints about the choir are due to the fact the area is becoming gentrified.

“Kind of hard to believe because we’ve been here about 65 years in the community and all of a sudden we get some concerns about the noise,” Thomas A Harris III, the pastor at Pleasant Grove, told the local CBS station.

The church just happens to be in a neighborhood full of the Victorian homes that characterize the Bay Area, and they’re being snapped up by wealthy tech industry workers, church officials told CBS.

“Those persons who are just new arrivals should not come and try to change the culture that existed before they arrived here,” George Holland, president of the local NAACP branch, told CBS. “We cannot have people come attack churches about music.”

Gentrification is a problem in many formerly minority neighborhoods that have become new enclaves of the affluent.
October 15, 2015

Just how do we break up the big banks. Anti-trust laws are unlikely to be addquate to the jog.

The question was asked in another post about the consequences of breaking up the big banks. While thinking about how to phrase that answer in pleasant way, I assumed that Anti-trust laws would be used. The Attorney General could do that job through the courts and it would be unnecessary to deal with an intransigent Congress. The problem I've found is that the sources I see all hold anti-trust laws as inadequate to breaking up the big banks.

I am neither a lawyer nor an economist. I don't play one on television. I do not have the money to stay and Holiday Inn Express.

Son anyone with any expertise, or even an opinion, chime in on how we break up the big banks.

Can antitrust laws break up big banks?

Breaking Up Big Banks
The idea of breaking up big banks to make them smaller has support from some influential people. U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D–Ohio), who serves on the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, said that “Sanford Weill is one of many banking industry experts who have observed that too big to fail is often too big to manage.” Sheila Bair, the former chair of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation, agrees with Weill. “I think these banks are too big to manage centrally. They’re too big to regulate, and they don’t produce good shareholder value, either. There’s a lot of value to be had if they were broken up,” Bair said.

I believe that new laws must be passed by Congress to carry out the goal of making banks smaller. As a practical matter, the current antitrust laws can’t be stretched to do the job. The new legislation could be simple: The scope of the antitrust laws could be expanded with relatively few added sentences.

Unfortunately, it is more likely that any new legislation will follow the modern style and be complex, involving modifications of the massive Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. The large and complicated Dodd–Frank statute, signed into law on July 21, 2010, in response to the nation’s recent financial crisis, has as its primary goals increasing financial stability of banks and avoiding systemic risks to the national economy. Reducing bank size or serving competition goals is simply not the main point.

And from "The Economist View"
Using Anti-Trust Law to Break Up Banks that are Too Big to Fail
Simon Johnson wants to apply anti-trust laws to financial markets and use it to break up banks that are too big too fail. More vigorous enforcement of anti-trust laws is something I've been pushing here for a long time, and as I explain below I agree with this idea, but as I understand it, current anti-trust law is inadequate for this task (particularly on dimensions such as connectedness and systemic risk). So it will likely take Congressional action before we can proceed.

The reason for bringing this up is that I want to amend remarks I made in the past. I have said that there is no single villain in this crisis, no one person, not one change in the law, etc., that caused this. It was a combination of things. But as I think about it more and more, I'm not so sure. The reason? According to the story I've been telling about why the crisis happened, there were incentive failures at just about every step in the process. Homeowners had no recourse loans giving them one way bets on home values, real estate agents are paid in a way that causes them to maximize the value of sales, mortgage brokers faced no long-run consequences from bad loans, real estate appraisers had incentives to validate sales, ratings agencies were paid by the people whose assets were being rated, CEOs and upper level management had incentives to maximize something other than shareholder value, there was a lack of transparency giving insiders an advantage, it goes on and on.There is not a single step in the process that wasn't compromised by an incentive or market failure of some type.

Looking at this at first, I concluded that it was all of these things, and more, that caused the crisis, and that it could have been stopped at any one of these steps. Had anyone at any one of the steps from the sale of the house to the complex securities traded in the shadow banking system said no, we're not doing that, the money could not have kept flowing through the system and blowing up the bubble. For example, if the mortgage brokers would have taken personal losses on mortgages that later went bad, they might have refused to finance them, and the money could not have been passed upwards to the shadow banking system where it caused such big problems. But instead, the brokers simply passed the contracts along, sliced and diced as necessary, to the next person in the finance chain.

October 14, 2015

Russia to Help Palestine Become Independent State

Russia to Help Palestine Become Independent State

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — Russia will help Palestine in achieving its goal of becoming an independent state with the capital in East Jerusalem, Russian President Vladimir Putin said Saturday in his address to the Arab League summit participants.

“Russia will continue contributing to the attainment of this goal [Palestine’s independence], working through bilateral channels and through multilateral channels, including in the ‘Quartet’ of international mediators,” Putin said.

The Quartet comprising Russia, the United States, the United Nations and the European Union, was established in 2002, aiming to reach a long-term peace agreement between Israel and Palastinians.
October 14, 2015

The Democratic Debate Just Crushed Donald Trump's Favorite Bragging Point

The Democratic Debate Just Crushed Donald Trump's Favorite Bragging Point
Donald Trump and political pundits alike predicted that the first Democratic debate would tank with audiences, but the initial numbers show otherwise.

According to CNN, which live-streamed last night's event as well as the second Republican showdown back in September, the Dems scored 980,000 concurrent live streams, while the Republican debate peaked at 921,000 streams.

Democratic debate may have had a somewhat younger audience.

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