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Gender: Male
Hometown: San Diego/Ca/Nuevo Pacifica
Home country: U.S. of A.
Current location: Planet Earth
Member since: Mon Aug 20, 2012, 03:39 PM
Number of posts: 11,619

Journal Archives

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

The rest can not be trusted.
The server was not on her basement.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Fri Oct 16, 2015, 02:07 PM (0 replies)

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.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Oct 15, 2015, 05:58 PM (0 replies)

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.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Oct 15, 2015, 05:51 PM (2 replies)

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.

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Oct 15, 2015, 05:05 PM (8 replies)

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.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Oct 14, 2015, 03:43 PM (18 replies)

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.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Oct 14, 2015, 11:01 AM (2 replies)

Debate scores record ratings — for Democrats

Debate scores record ratings — for Democrats
The first Democratic presidential debate Tuesday night may have been the most watched debate ever – among Democrats.

Preliminary Nielsen ratings show that 11% of American homes with televisions were tuned in, according to debate sponsor CNN. That would beat the previous record for a Democratic debate set in 2008, when 8.9% — or 10.7 million Americans — tuned in.

Democrats beat our previous record set in 2008.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Wed Oct 14, 2015, 11:00 AM (11 replies)

Jim Webb is the best Republican on the stage.

Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Tue Oct 13, 2015, 08:49 PM (6 replies)

Genetic Study Shows How Honey Bees Evolved In Response To Deadly Parasite

Genetic Study Shows How Honey Bees Evolved In Response To Deadly Parasite
A new genetic study of wild honey bees living in forests near Ithaca, New York, sheds light on how they rapidly evolved resistance in response to the deadly parasitic mite Varroa destructor. The mite, originally from Asia, has been implicated in causing the deaths of millions of bee colonies across North America and Europe, and yet the population in Ithaca is still going strong, despite being infected with the parasite in the mid-1990s.

“They took a hit, but they recovered,” explains Alexander Mikheyev, a professor at the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology Graduate University in Japan and lead author of the paper published in Nature Communications. “The population appears to have developed genetic resistance.”

The researchers were able to track genetic changes that occurred in the population because samples of bees from the same forest were collected in 1977. This allowed the team to compare the DNA of the 1977 bees to some collected in 2010, covering the period during which the population became infected with the Varroa mites. An opportunity to do such an analysis – especially with bees – is incredibly rare, because few people collect the insects and fewer still preserve them in ways in which DNA can then be extracted. In fact, the scientists had to develop a new DNA analysis tool that can work using degraded DNA from museum specimens.

Marvelous thing, evolution. No help, of course, to people, but species given sufficient time can overcome the real difficulties in long term survival.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Thu Sep 17, 2015, 01:47 PM (0 replies)

California EPA Moves to Label Monsanto's Roundup 'Carcinogenic'

California EPA Moves to Label Monsanto's Roundup 'Carcinogenic'
The California Environmental Protection Agency announced today that it plans to label glyphosate — the most widely used herbicide and main ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup — as a chemical "known to cause cancer." The World Health Organization's research arm also recently found that the chemical is probably carcinogenic to humans, and research has also linked glyphosate to the steep decline of monarch butterflies. And as we reported this week, scientists have increasingly raised new alarms about potential negative health impacts tied to Roundup, including a recent study suggesting that long-term exposure to tiny amounts of the chemical (thousands of times lower than what is allowed in drinking water in the US) could lead to liver and kidney problems.

Today's announcement from the EPA's Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment is officially a "notice of intent" to list this pesticide as carcinogenic, giving the public an opportunity to comment on the proposal through October 5. The action falls under Proposition 65, a measure voters approved in 1986 that requires the state to publish a list of chemicals known to cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harms. The state regularly updates the list, which now includes hundreds of chemicals. Under Prop 65, businesses must provide a "clear and reasonable" warning before exposing people to a chemical on the list. The warning could be labels on a consumer product, workplace postings, distributed notices at apartment buildings, or a notice published in a newspaper.

Environmental activists celebrated the state EPA's announcement today, noting that it could be a first step in eventually restricting the use of the chemical. (The listing does not lead to a restriction or ban on sales of the product).

Now that is good news.
Posted by Agnosticsherbet | Fri Sep 11, 2015, 03:01 PM (0 replies)
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