Posts Tagged ‘bank bailouts’

WALL STREET and SEX DOLLS

January 14, 2010

OK, WE KNOW YOU CAME FOR THIS, so we’ve put it up front Department: (We also know it is sexist as hell, but please don’t hurt us. We’re only reporting).

‘She Orgasms When You Touch Her’: The World’s First Sex Robot? By Tana Ganeva, AlterNet. January 14, 2010.

Sadly, humanity has reached 2010 without flying cars or personal-use jetpacks. But not without sex robots.

At AVN Media Network’s recent Adult Entertainment Expo, Douglas Hines of True Companion announced the release of a digitally programmed robot that’s like a real woman, only much better.

“She is anatomically consistent with a real person. She has three inputs, so …. what you can think of … for a woman … she can do,” Hines assures. “But she can do a little more than a woman. Her outside comes in blonde, ginger and brunette. Her inside hosts five different awesome personalities, instead of a single boring one, including Frigid Farah, Mature Martha, Wild Wendy and S & M Susan.

It’s not just about the sex, though. According to the True Companion Web site, “She will also be able to talk, listen, carry on a conversation, feel your touch and be your true friend.” (But it’s also a lot about the sex: “She can also have an orgasm when you touch her!”)  Users can imbue their companions with entirely different personalities or build on existing ones. They can then hook Roxxxy into the True Companions Web site and share new features with other users—yet another characteristic sadly lacking in flesh-and-blood women – by way of a 5-foot-7, 120-pound plastic doll that “has a full C cup and is ready for action.”)

True Companion’s efforts to improve upon human women are hardly new. A staple of sci-fi, the fembot has also become a fixture of expos and some specialty markets (mostly in Japan). (This piece on Designboom.com gives a useful history.)  Among them: Chinese opera robot, “a kind of simulated intelligent robot of person in drama with facial makeups in Beijing opera or other traditional opera mask, who can sing Beijing opera or other traditional opera.” And, Eternal Maiden Actualization (E.M.A.), released by Sega. While it looks like a storm trooper, it also has a “body that can move at the elbows, shoulders, waist and knees and is made to act like a ‘real girlfriend.’ E.M.A. can sing, dance and has a ‘love’ sensor for kissing,” according to Designboom.com.

Unfortunately, E.M.A. doesn’t seem primed for oral, vaginal and anal sex—something Roxxxy appears to have on most other fembots. So, for now those who can afford to spend thousands and thousands to have sex with a moving doll have limited options. Good thing Roxxxy is “Always Turned On and Ready to Talk or Play.” READ MORE:

http://www.alternet.org/sex/145151/%27she_orgasms_when_you_touch_her%27%3A_the_world%27s_first_sex_robot?page=entire

International Workers of the World

LEST WE FORGET; not so long ago:

America Slides Deeper Into Depression as Wall Street Revels by Ambrose Evans-Pritchard The Telegraph/UK

December 2010 was the worst month for US unemployment since the Great Recession began.

The labour force contracted by 661,000. This did not show up in the headline jobless rate because so many Americans dropped out of the system. Wall Street rallied. Bulls hope that weak jobs data will postpone monetary tightening: a silver lining in every catastrophe, or perhaps a further exhibit of market infantilism.

Realtytrac says defaults and repossessions have been running at over 300,000 a month since February. One million American families lost their homes in the fourth quarter. Moody’s Economy.com expects another 2.4m homes to go this year.

Between 1932 and 1934, half the US states declared moratoria or “Farm Holidays”. Such flexibility innoculated America’s democracy against the appeal of Red Unions and Coughlin Fascists. The home seizures are occurring despite frantic efforts by the Obama administration to delay the process.

US house prices have eked out five months of gains, but stalled in October in half the cities. Karl Case of Case-Shiller index says prices may sink another 15pc. “If the 2008 and 2009 loans go bad, then we’re back where we were before – in a nightmare.”

The US economy grew at a 2.2pc rate in the third quarter (entirely due to Obama stimulus). This compares to an average of 7.3pc in the first quarter of every recovery since the Second World War.

Professor Tim Congdon from International Monetary Research said the Fed is baking deflation into the pie later this year, and perhaps a double-dip recession. Europe is even worse.

However, an army of commentators is trying to bounce the Fed into early rate rises. They accuse Ben Bernanke of repeating the error of 2004 when the Fed waited too long. How anybody can see imminent inflation in the dying embers of core PCE, just 0.1pc in November, is beyond me.

Wall Street does not seem to agree with this grim analysis.

This is the same Mr Market that bought stocks in October 1987 when they were 25pc overvalued – exactly as they are today – and bought them at even more overvalued prices in 2007, long after the property crash, Bear Stearns funds imploded, and credit had its August heart attack. The stock market has become a lagging indicator. Tear up the textbooks.

© Copyright of Telegraph Media Group Limited 2010 READ MORE:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/01/11-7

"Play it again, Sam!"

ABSTRACT: full article link at end.  Probably the most important recent article on the topic, abstracted for essence.  Read the whole article.

Wall Street’s Plot to Wreck America Must Be Revealed By Frank Rich, The New York Times. January 11, 2010.

We know little about the financial WMDs that destroyed our economy. This week’s Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission hearings must shed light on what happened in the meltdown.

The crash precipitated by the 9/15 failure of Lehman Brothers, most are still ignorant about what Warren Buffett called the “financial weapons of mass destruction” that wrecked our economy.

What we don’t know will hurt us, and quite possibly on a more devastating scale than any Qaeda attack. Americans must be told the full story of how Wall Street gamed and inflated the housing bubble, made out like bandits, and then left millions of households in ruin. Without that reckoning, there will be no public clamor for serious reform of a financial system that was as cunningly breached as airline security at the Amsterdam airport. And without reform, another massive attack on our economic security is guaranteed. Now that it can count on government bailouts, Wall Street has more incentive than ever to pump up its risks — secure that it can keep the bonanzas while we get stuck with the losses.

The window for change is rapidly closing. Health care, Afghanistan and the terrorism panic may have exhausted Washington’s already limited capacity for heavy lifting, especially in an election year. The contrary voices of Americans who have lost pay, jobs, homes and savings are either patronized or drowned out entirely by a political system where the banking lobby rules in both parties and the revolving door between finance and government never stops spinning.

It’s against this backdrop that this week’s long-awaited initial public hearings of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission are so critical. This is the bipartisan panel that Congress mandated last spring to investigate the still murky story of what happened in the meltdown. Phil Angelides, the inquiry’s chairman, said that he will not allow the proceedings to devolve into a typical blue-ribbon Beltway exercise in toothless bloviation.

He wants to examine the financial sector’s “greed, stupidity, hubris and outright corruption” — from traders on the ground to the board room. “It’s important that we deliver new information,” he said. “We can’t just rehash what we’ve known to date.” He understands that if he fails to make news or to tell the story in a way that is comprehensible and compelling enough to arouse Americans to demand action, Wall Street and Washington will both keep moving on, unchallenged and unchastened.

Ferdinand Pecora, the legendary prosecutor who served as chief counsel to the Senate committee that investigated the 1929 crash as F.D.R. took office delivered  indictments, jail sentences and, ultimately, key New Deal reforms — the creation of the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Glass-Steagall Act, designed to prevent the formation of banks too big to fail.

As it happens, a major Pecora target was the National City Bank, the institution that grew up to be Citigroup. Among other transgressions, National City  repackaged bad Latin American debt as new securities that it then sold to easily suckered investors during the frenzied 1920s boom. Once disaster struck, the bank’s executives helped themselves to millions of dollars in interest-free loans. Yet their employees had to pony up salary deductions for decimated National City stock purchased at a heady precrash price.

Trade bad Latin American debt for bad mortgage debt, and you have a partial portrait of Citigroup at the height of the latest housing bubble. The reckless Citi executives of our day may not have given themselves interest-free loans, but they often walked away with the short-term, illusionary profits while their employees were left with shredded jobs and 401(k)’s. Among those Citi executives was Robert Rubin, who, as the Clinton Treasury secretary, helped repeal the last vestiges of Glass-Steagall after years of Wall Street assault. Rubin has never apologized, let alone been held accountable. But he’s hardly alone.

If Citi, among the most egregious of Wall Street reprobates, feels it can get away with business as usual, it’s because it fears no retribution. And it got more good news last week. Now that Chris Dodd is vacating the Senate, his chairmanship of the Banking Committee may fall next year to Tim Johnson of South Dakota, home to Citi’s credit card operation. Johnson was the only Senate Democrat to vote against Congress’s recent bill policing credit card abuses.

Though bad history shows every sign of repeating itself on Wall Street, it will take a near-miracle for Angelides to repeat Pecora’s triumph. Our zoo of financial skullduggery is far more complex, with many more moving pieces, than that of the 1920s. The new inquiry does have subpoena power, but its entire budget, a mere $8 million, doesn’t even match the lobbying expenditures for just three banks (Citi, Morgan Stanley, Bank of America) in the first nine months of 2009. The firms under scrutiny can pay for as many lawyers as they need to stall between now and Dec. 15, deadline day for the commission’s report.

More daunting still is the inquiry’s duty to reach into high places in the public sector as well as the private. The mystery of exactly what happened as TARP fell into place in the fateful fall of 2008 thickens by the day — especially the behind-closed-door machinations surrounding the government rescue of A.I.G. and its counterparties. Last week, a Republican congressman, Darrell Issa of California, released e-mail showing that officials at the New York Fed, then led by Timothy Geithner, pressured A.I.G. to delay disclosing to the S.E.C. and the public the details on the billions of bailout dollars it was funneling to its trading partners. In this backdoor rescue, taxpayers unknowingly awarded banks like Goldman 100 cents on the dollar for their bets on mortgage-backed securities.

Why was our money used to make these high-flying gamblers whole while ordinary Americans received no such beneficence? Nothing less than complete transparency will connect the dots. Among the big-name witnesses that the Angelides commission has called for next week is Goldman’s Blankfein. Geithner, Henry Paulson and Ben Bernanke should be next.

If they all skate away yet again that’s the ticking-bomb scenario that truly imperils us all.

© 2008 The New York Times.

AlterNet is making this material available in accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107: This article is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE AT: http://www.alternet.org/workplace/145055/wall_street%27s_plot_to_wreck_america_must_be_revealed

"Excessive regulations" hamper business.

Dear President Obama:

Please pursue the idea of a bank and bonus tax and expand your thinking to directly invest in putting Americans back to work.  A 50 percent tax on bonuses over $1 million could quickly recoup the approximately $120 billion in outstanding TARP funds and with plenty left over for job creation, education and infrastructure improvements.

Wall Street’s unfettered greed is at an all-time high.  Please consider permanent new taxes on these bailed-out banks to raise at least $500 million per year for the PUBLIC GOOD.

Please coordinate such investments in a green policy philosophy that encourages sustainable middle class enterprise, and penalizes corporate monopolistic usury.

Thank you.

Paul Ryan - The Monarchists Are Loose

Obama Received $20 Million from Healthcare Industry in 2008 Campaign by Brad Jacobson Raw Story Tuesday, January 12, 2010.

Almost three times the amount given to McCain.

While some sunlight has been shed on the hefty sums shoveled into congressional campaign coffers in an effort to influence the Democrats’ massive healthcare bill, little attention has been focused on the far larger sums received by President Barack Obama while he was a candidate in 2008.

A new figure, based on an exclusive analysis created for Raw Story by the Center for Responsive Politics, shows that President Obama received a staggering $20,175,303 from the healthcare industry during the 2008 election cycle, nearly three times the amount of his presidential rival John McCain. McCain took in $7,758,289, the Center found.

The new figure, obtained by Raw Story through an independent custom research request performed by the Center for Responsive Politics — a nonprofit, nonpartisan group that tracks money in politics — is the most comprehensive breakdown yet available of healthcare industry contributions to Obama during the 2008 election cycle.

Obama delegate now takes umbrage with healthcare position.

Historian and media critic Norman Solomon, who was also an Obama delegate to the Democratic National Convention, called the president’s transformation on healthcare since taking office “shameful.”

“Overall it’s been a very corporate friendly healthcare approach from Obama as president,” Solomon said in an interview with Raw Story. “Corporate friendly in a way that I believe is injurious to public health.”

He underscored the subtle but substantive change in healthcare language used by Obama and the White House.

Mary Boyle of Common Cause also noted the industry’s success in achieving this goal over the course of the healthcare debate.

“We’ve seen many examples of the healthcare industry’s interests – and we would argue that a lot of it has to do with the money – prevailing over the public interest,” she said. “The fact is, we have this broken system that allows interests that want the most out of government to have the loudest voice and to get that loudest voice by contributing the most money and spending the most money.”

Brad Jacobson is a contributing investigative reporter for Raw Story. © 2010 Raw Story  READ MORE:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/01/12-9

OBAMA’S FIRST REPORT CARD

December 21, 2009
 
For Obama, No Opportunity Too Big To Blow by Naomi Klein The Nation 
Contrary to countless reports, the debacle in Copenhagen was not everyone’s fault. It did not happen because human beings are incapable of agreeing, or are inherently self-destructive. Nor was it all was China’s fault, or the fault of the hapless UN.
There’s plenty of blame to go around, but there was one country that possessed unique power to change the game. It didn’t use it. Barack Obama arrived with embarrassingly low targets and the heavy emitters of the world took their cue from him.
(The “deal” that was ultimately rammed through was nothing more than a grubby pact between the world’s biggest emitters. No President since FDR has been handed as many opportunities to transform the U.S. into something that doesn’t threaten the stability of life on this planet. Obama has refused to use each and every one of them. Let’s look at the big three.
Blown Opportunity Number 1: The Stimulus Package When Obama came to office he had a free hand and a blank check to design a spending package to stimulate the economy. He could have used that power to fashion what many were calling a “Green New Deal” — instead, he reached across the aisle to Republicans, low-balled the size of the stimulus and blew much of it on tax cuts. Highways that perpetuate car culture won big.
Blown Opportunity Number 2: The Auto Bailouts A visionary Obama committed to the fight against climate chaos would obviously have used that power to dramatically reengineer the failing industry so that its factories could build the infrastructure of the green economy the world desperately needs. Instead Obama was down-sizer in chief, leaving the industry unchanged.
Blown Opportunity Number 3: The Bank Bailouts Obama took real effort not to nationalize the banks. He could have mandated the banks to provide the loans for factories to be retrofitted and new green infrastructure to be built. Instead he declared that the government shouldn’t tell failed banks how to run their businesses.
Imagine if these three huge economic engines — the banks, the auto companies, the stimulus bill — had been harnessed to a common green vision.
By the time Copenhagen had rolled around, the U.S. would already have been well on its way to dramatically cutting emissions, poised to inspire, rather than disappoint, the rest of the world.
Few U.S. Presidents have squandered as many once-in-a-generation opportunities as Barack Obama. The Copenhagen failure largely belongs to him.
Research support by the Investigative Fund at The Nation Institute. © 2009 The Nation
Naomi Klein is an award-winning journalist and syndicated columnist, author of The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. Visit www.naomiklein.org. READ MORE:
http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/12/21-11
Senate Health Care Bill Built on Obama’s Broken Promises by Jon Walker FireDogLake
Ezra Klein is trying to make the absurd claim that this Senate bill closely resembles Obama’s campaign promises on health care reform:
The health-care bill that looks likely to clear the Senate this week is not very close to the health-care bill most liberals want. But it is very close to the health-care bill that Barack Obama promised.
This claim, I feel, is just not based in reality. The following is a list of all the promises broken: READ MORE:
http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2009/12/21-9
Dear Barack, Spare Me Your E-Mails By Robert Scheer, Truthdig.
Barack Obama’s faux populism is beginning to grate, and when yet another one of those “we the people” e-mails from the president landed on my screen as I was fishing around for a column subject, I came unglued. It is one thing to rob us blind by rewarding the power elite that created our problems but quite another to sugarcoat it in the rhetoric of a David taking on those Goliaths.
In each of the three most important areas of policy with which he has dealt, Obama speaks in the voice of the little people’s champion, but his actions cater fully to the demands of the most powerful economic interests.  READ MORE:
http://www.alternet.org/politics/144500/dear_barack%2C_spare_me_your_e-mails
I think Obama should have to get Michelle, and the girls, to sign his report card, don’t you?