Wednesday, November 30, 2011

US 3Q 2011 productivity revised down, unexpected by 'analysts,' wages fall

11/30/11, "US 3Q Nonfarm Productivity Rev Dn To +2.3% SAAR; ULC Now -2.5%," Market News International

"U.S. nonfarm productivity was revised lower to a 2.3% rate of growth on a downward adjustment to output and a slight upward adjustment to hours worked, data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics Wednesday showed....

Productivity was originally reported up 3.1% in the preliminary estimate for the third quarter.

Despite the downward revision to productivity growth, which was larger than expected, unit labor costs were revised down to a 2.5% rate of decline from the previously reported 2.4% drop....

In addition, unit labor costs are now reported to have declined 0.1% in the second quarter, a sharp downward adjustment from the 2.8% rise that was previously reported. Again, a downward revision to hourly compensation was the key factor, with the new estimate of

  • a 0.2% decline replacing the previous estimate of a 2.7% jump.

Second quarter productivity was unrevised, still down 0.1% from the previous quarter....

Real compensation was revised down to a 3.2% rate of decline in the third quarter from the original estimate of a 2.4% decline. Real compensation fell 4.1% in the second quarter,

and in line with the downward adjustment to nominal compensation."...


3Q 2011 "Productivity increased at a 2.3 percent annual rate...a downward revision to its previous estimate of 3.1 percent. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast...being revised down to a 2.6 percent."...

11/30/11, "Productivity Weaker Than Thought, Wages Slip," Reuters, via CNBC

"The rebound in U.S. nonfarm productivity growth was not as strong as previously estimated in the third quarter, while wages declined for two straight quarters, supporting the Federal Reserve's views of moderate inflation pressures.

Productivity increased at a 2.3 percent annual rate, the Labor Department said on Wednesday, a downward revision to its previous estimate of 3.1 percent.

Economists polled by Reuters had forecast productivity, which measures hourly output per worker, being revised down to a 2.6 percent growth rate. The revision reflects a much slower gross domestic product growth pace during the July-September period.

Productivity fell at a 0.1 percent pace in the second quarter....

The government last week cut its third-quarter GDP growth estimate to 2.0 percent from 2.5 percent"....

  • (Ed. note: Reuters includes the following statement without substantiation for no seeming reason except to imply the economy is fine, it's just selfish "businesses" sitting on $2 trillion cash to be mean to Obama.)

"Businesses, estimated to be sitting on a cash pile of about $2 trillion, continue to hold the line on costs."...

via Drudge

25 tons of debris, feces hauled from LA Occupy by LA sanitation workers in hazmat suits


Above, LA officers go in to clean up Occupy site, ap

11/30/11, "Occupy LA Evicted, Cleanup Begins,", J. Lloyd

"A hazardous material team will inspect the grounds before cleanup crews clear the area. Some of the debris is contaminated with urine and feces, police said. "...

11/30/11, "Occupy LA's legacy: Stench, trash, property damage," AP, Robert Jablon

"The reek of urine and unwashed bodies hung over the former Occupy Los Angeles camp Wednesday as masked sanitation workers hauled away 25 tons of debris from the barren lawns around City Hall.

Collapsed and overturned tents, scattered bedding, paperback books, bicycles, shoes, food and other belongings were tossed by shovel or pitchfork into trash trucks after a small army of police peacefully swarmed the nearly two-month encampment. City officials who had tolerated the economic protest for weeks had finally declared the area a health and safety hazard earlier in the week.

Crews set up concrete barriers and chain-link fencing around the sea of debris and dirt that used to be grass. Left behind was a sea of belongings. Frontloaders scooped up larger items, including wooden cabinets.

"It's so contaminated, it doesn't even make sense to sort it out," said Jose "Pepe" Garcia, 49, superintendent of the city's north central sanitation district.

A dozen city sanitation workers were suited up in white coveralls, gloves and boots after reports that there might be a lice or flea infestation, Garcia said.

Sanitation workers had been hauling away as much as 2 tons of trash a day from the site, but hygiene remained a problem despite rows of portable toilets, he said. Plastic gallon bottles of urine and smaller bottles were set aside for special disposal.

"They had no means to wash up. They had no means to shower," Garcia said. "You've got bottles of urine, that's the biggest hazard in there."

Crews have cleaned up homeless encampments with similar issues before but never on the scale of the Occupy LA bivouac.

"I've never seen anything like this," said Elton Atkins, a city refuse collection supervisor.

"Pretty disgusting," said Pamela Thompson, a legal analyst who works nearby and saw the camp almost daily.

"This should have been taken care of a long time ago," she said....

Occupy LA protesters destroyed the grass, damaged trees and sprayed graffiti on statues before the statues were boarded up, said Leo Martinez, a division manager with the city sanitation department.

"I understand the political statement they're trying to make. But I don't like the way they went about getting the message across," he said.

"Look at all the damage they caused," Martinez said as he surveyed the heaps of debris."

Ed. Note: The AP removed reference to 'feces' it had included in earlier reports:

"“A lot of this stuff is contaminated with urine and feces and who knows what,” Cmdr. Andrew Smith said."

2nd source for above feces reference now missing from AP report.


S&P downgrades Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, BofA, Morgan Stanley, HSBC, Barclays, and UBS

11/29/11, "S&P downgrades credit rating of major banks," BBC

"Ratings agency Standard & Poor's has downgraded the long-term credit grades of a string of major financial firms.

Wall Street titans Bank of America and Goldman Sachs, along with Barclays, HSBC, and some firms in Germany and France were affected.

Downgrades can increase banks' borrowing costs and put further pressure on their shaky finances....

S&P said its move reflects new criteria for banks, based on changes in market trends and government support.

Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, and Citigroup had long-term ratings downgraded to A- from A.

Morgan Stanley, Barclays, HSBC, Commerzbank, and UBS also had ratings cut by one notch, according to S&P's statement.

S&P's move hit the shares of US banks in after-hours trading on Wall Street, with Goldman Sachs down 1% Morgan Stanley down 1.7%.

Ratings for several big European banks, including Credit Suisse, Deutsche, ING and Societe Generale were unchanged."...


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

SEC sought wrist slap for crony Citigroup, Judge Rakoff calls out Mary Shapiro for trying to shield Citi from lawsuits

11/29/11, "Judge disses SEC," NY Post, K. Whitehouse

"Rakoff: $285M Citi deal ‘shortchanges’ investors"

"Securities and Exchange Commission chief Mary Schapiro was given an embarrassing public lashing yesterday by a Manhattan federal judge who ruled that she took the easy way out of a disquieting regulatory action against Citigroup.

Last month, the SEC sued the nation’s third-largest bank for dumping a doomed $1 billion toxic mortgage product on unknowing customers while bank higher-ups were betting that half the assets within the collateralized debt obligation, or CDO, to fail.

Yesterday, Judge Jed Rakoff squashed Schapiro’s plans to sweep the tawdry lawsuit under the carpet for a mere $285 million settlement, saying the SEC-Citi deal failed to provide him with a “framework” for determining Citigroup’s guilt.

At issue is the settlement’s boiler-plate language protecting Citigroup from admitting or denying wrongdoing.

““As a matter of law, an allegation that is neither admitted nor denied is simply that, an allegation,” Rakoff said in his 15-page ruling, released yesterday.

The judge told the two opposing sides that unless they can both agree on whether Citi was actually in the wrong, they will have to duke it out before jury of their peers next July. The judge noted that he has “little real doubt that Citigroup contests the factual allegations.”...

If Citi is found guilty, the verdict will be used to support pile-on lawsuits by burned customers. The squashed settlement, by contrast, would have shielded the bank from lawsuits relying on the SEC’s findings — an issue that seemed to particularly rankle Rakoff."...


12/8/10, "SEC porn peepers' names to be kept secret," Washington Times, Jim McElhatton

"A federal judge has ruled in favor of protecting the identities of U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission employees caught surfing for pornography on their government computers, saying privacy interests win over the public's right to know.

In a ruling Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Christine M. Arguello in Denver also

  • called the public's interest in the SEC employees' identities "negligible, at best."

"Disclosure in this case is not limited to the reputational embarrassment of having misused government property on official time, but rather extends to the embarrassment resulting from public knowledge that the conduct was of a sexual nature,"

  • Judge Arguello, a 2008 appointee of President Bush, said in the 26-page ruling.

The ruling came in response to a lawsuit by a Denver law firm that sought to overturn an SEC decision to keep private the names and job descriptions of SEC supervisors caught searching for porn at work....

In February, The Times reported on investigative case summaries obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and other records detailing about two dozen SEC employees and contractors who faced internal investigations for viewing pornography at work.

Among the cases was

  • an enforcement branch chief suspended for one day after
  • being caught looking up
  • sex websites nearly 300 times over a two-month period.

In supplying the records, officials at the SEC's Office of Inspector General declined to release to The Times the names of those investigated, saying, among other reasons, that disclosure could subject employees to "harassment and annoyance in the conduct of their official duties and private lives."...

  • Mr. Doe also said disclosures would "devastate my spouse and children as well as my extended family, and likely cause extreme harm to my family relationships."

But Mr. Evans argued in court papers that "there simply is no privacy interest associated with surfing porn on SEC computers during SEC work hours, particularly when these employees have admitted that

  • they understood at the time they engaged in this activity that they were
  • violating SEC policy and rules, as well as governmentwide standards of conduct."...

"It is about the intentional, purposeful and repeated misuse and abuse of the public trust and government/public property and resources by at least 24 SEC employees and employees of seven government contractors," he argued in court."


  • Obama's bank bill goes further, making all activities of the SEC exempt from public disclosure even by FOI:

7/28/10, "SEC says new financial regulation law exempts it from public disclosure," Fox Business News, by Dunstan Prial

  • "So much for transparency.

Under a little-noticed provision of the recently passed financial-reform legislation, the Securities and Exchange Commission

no longer has to comply with virtually all requests for information releases from the public, including those filed under the Freedom of Information Act.

The law, signed last week by President Obama, exempts the SEC from disclosing records or information derived from "surveillance, risk assessments, or other regulatory and oversight activities." Given that the SEC is a regulatory body,
  • the provision covers almost every action by the agency, lawyers say. Congress and federal agencies can request information, but the public cannot.

That argument comes despite the President saying that one of the cornerstones of the sweeping new legislation was more transparent financial markets. Indeed, in touting the new law, Obama specifically said it would “increase transparency in financial dealings."...

The next time there

referring to the shamed broker whose Ponzi scheme cost investors billions."...

Washington Times: "The (SEC) attorney had looked up sex websites nearly

  • 300 times, also over a two-month period. But his job appeared safe, too,
  • after SEC management proposed a one-day suspension, records show.

Details about the sanctions are contained in reports to Congress and records obtained by The Washington Times through the Freedom of Information Act."...


2/10/10, "SEC guidance a boost for carbon disclosure," by Climate, Inc.


Hank Paulson gave hedge funds non-public, timely information about Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac in 2008-Bloomberg

The hedge fund's lawyer said "(Hank) Paulson’s (2008) talk was material nonpublic information, and his client should immediately stop trading the shares of Washington- based Fannie and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie."

11/29/11, "How Paulson Gave Hedge Funds Advance Word," Bloomberg, Teitelbaum

"Now, amid tumbling home prices and near-record foreclosures, attention was focused on a new source of contagion: Fannie Mae (FNMA) and Freddie Mac, which together had more than $5 trillion in mortgage-backed securities and other debt outstanding, Bloomberg Markets reports in its January issue.

Paulson had been pushing a plan in Congress to open lines of credit to the two struggling firms and to grant authority for the Treasury Department to buy equity in them. Yet he had told reporters on July 13 that the firms must remain shareholder owned and had testified at a Senate hearing two days later that giving the government new power to intervene made actual intervention improbable....

On the morning of July 21, (2008) before the Eton Park meeting, Paulson had spoken to New York Times reporters and editors, according to his Treasury Department schedule. A Times article the next day said the Federal Reserve and the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency were inspecting Fannie and Freddie’s books and cited Paulson as saying he expected their examination would give a signal of confidence to the markets.

At the Eton Park meeting, he sent a different message, according to a fund manager who attended. Over sandwiches and pasta salad, he delivered that information

  • to a group of men capable of profiting from any disclosure.

Around the conference room table were a dozen or so hedge- fund managers and other Wall Street executives -- at least five of them alumni of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS), of which Paulson was chief executive officer and chairman from 1999 to 2006. In addition to Eton Park founder Eric Mindich, they included such boldface names as Lone Pine Capital LLC founder Stephen Mandel, Dinakar Singh of TPG-Axon Capital Management LP and Daniel Och of Och-Ziff Capital Management Group LLC.

After a perfunctory discussion of the market turmoil, the fund manager says, the discussion turned to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Paulson said he had erred by not punishing Bear Stearns shareholders more severely. The secretary, then 62, went on to describe a possible scenario for placing Fannie and Freddie into “conservatorship” -- a government seizure designed to allow the firms to continue operations despite heavy losses in the mortgage markets.

Paulson explained that under this scenario, the common stock of the two government-sponsored enterprises, or GSEs, would be effectively wiped out. So too would the various classes of preferred stock, he said.

The fund manager says he was shocked that Paulson would furnish such specific information -- to his mind, leaving little doubt that the Treasury Department would carry out the plan. The managers attending the meeting

  • were thus given a choice opportunity to trade on that information.

There’s no evidence that they did so after the meeting; tracking firm-specific short stock sales isn’t possible using public documents.

And law professors say that Paulson himself broke no law by disclosing what amounted to inside information.

At the time, rumors about Fannie and Freddie were tearing through the markets. The government-chartered firms’ mandate, which continues today, is to buy mortgages from banks and repackage them into securities either for their own portfolios or to sell to others. The banks can then use the proceeds from those transactions to write new mortgages.

By mid-2008, delinquencies and foreclosures were soaring, and the GSEs set aside billions of dollars against future losses. In the first six months of 2008, they racked up net losses of $5.46 billion as they slashed dividends and marked down the values of their huge inventories of mortgage-backed securities.

On Wall Street, confusion reigned. UBS AG analyst Eric Wasserstrom on July 10 cut his share price target on Freddie to $10 from $28. The next day, Citigroup Inc. (C) analyst Bradley Ball reiterated a “buy” recommendation on the two GSEs. On July 12, the Times of London, without citing a source,

  • reported that Paulson was contemplating a $15 billion capital injection into the firms.

At the time Paulson privately addressed the fund managers at Eton Park, he had given the market some positive signals -- and the GSEs’ shares were rallying,

  • with Fannie Mae’s nearly doubling in four days.

William Black, associate professor of economics and law at the University of Missouri-Kansas City, can’t understand why Paulson felt impelled to share the Treasury Department’s plan with the fund managers.

You just never ever do that as a government regulator -- transmit nonpublic market information to market participants,” says Black, who’s a former general counsel at the Federal Home Loan Bank of San Francisco. “There were no legitimate reasons for those disclosures.”

Janet Tavakoli, founder of Chicago-based financial consulting firm Tavakoli Structured Finance Inc., says the meeting fits a pattern.

“What is this but crony capitalism?” she asks. “Most people have had their fill of it.”

The fund manager who described the meeting left after coffee and called his lawyer. The attorney’s quick conclusion: Paulson’s talk was material nonpublic information, and his client should immediately stop trading the shares of Washington- based Fannie and McLean, Virginia-based Freddie.

Seven weeks later, the boards of the two firms voted to go into conservatorship under the newly created Federal Housing Finance Agency. The takeover was effective Sept. 6, a Saturday, and the companies’ stock prices dropped below $1 the following Monday, from $14.13 for Fannie Mae and $8.75 for Freddie Mac (FMCC) on the day of the meeting. Various classes of preferred shares lost upwards of 85 percent of their value.

A complete list of those at the Eton Park meeting isn’t publicly available. A Treasury Department roster of those expected to attend, obtained by Bloomberg News under the Freedom of Information Act, includes Ripplewood Holdings LLC CEO Timothy Collins, who says, through a spokesman, that he didn’t participate.

At least one fund manager who wasn’t listed in the FOIA document, Daniel Stern of Reservoir Capital Group, did attend, says the manager who described the meeting.

The gathering comprised some of Wall Street’s most storied investors. Mindich, a former chief strategy officer of New York- based Goldman Sachs, started Eton Park in 2004 with $3.5 billion, at the time one of the biggest hedge-fund launches ever. Singh, a former head of Goldman’s proprietary-trading desk, also began his fund in 2004, in partnership with private- equity firm Texas Pacific Group Ltd.

Lone Pine’s Mandel worked as a retail analyst at Goldman before joining Julian Robertson’s Tiger Management LLC, one of the most successful hedge funds of the 1980s and 1990s. He started his own firm in 1997. Och was co-head of U.S. equity trading at Goldman before founding Och-Ziff in 1994. The publicly listed firm managed $28.9 billion in November.

Goldman Alums

One other Goldman Sachs alumnus was at the meeting: Frank Brosens, founder and principal of Taconic Capital Advisors LP, who worked at Goldman as an arbitrageur and who was a protege of Robert Rubin, who went on to become Treasury secretary.

Non-Goldman Sachs alumni who attended included short seller James Chanos of Kynikos Associates Ltd., who helped uncover the Enron Corp. accounting fraud; GSO Capital Partners LP co-founder Bennett Goodman, who sold his firm to Blackstone Group LP (BX) in early 2008; Roger Altman, chairman and founder of New York investment bank Evercore Partners Inc. (EVR); and Steven Rattner, a co-founder of private-equity firm Quadrangle Group LLC, who went on to serve as head of the U.S. government’s Automotive Task Force.***

Another person in attendance: Michele Davis, then-assistant secretary for public affairs at the Treasury Department, who now represents Paulson as a managing partner at public relations firm Brunswick Group Inc. In an e-mail response to Bloomberg Markets, she referred all questions to Paulson’s book on the financial crisis, “On the Brink” (Business Plus, 2010),

  • which makes no mention of the Eton Park meeting.

Paulson Thinktank

Paulson is now a distinguished senior fellow at the University of Chicago, where he’s starting the Paulson Institute, a think tank

  • focused on U.S.-Chinese relations.

Eton Park’s Mindich, Lone Pine’s Mandel, TPG-Axon’s Singh and Och-Ziff (OZM)’s Och all declined to comment through spokesmen. Reservoir’s Stern didn’t return phone calls. Altman, through a spokesman, confirmed his attendance and declined to comment further.

Brosens confirmed in an e-mail that he had attended and said he couldn’t recall details. A spokesman for Rattner acknowledged he attended and said he didn’t trade in Fannie Mae- or Freddie Mac-related instruments after the meeting. Chanos declined to comment....

Records show that many investors were betting against Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac at the time. According to Data Explorers Ltd., a London-based research firm, short interest in Fannie Mae shares rose sharply in July, to 163 million shares on July 14 from 86.3 million shares on July 9.

Short Interest continued to rise, to 240 million shares, on the day of the Eton Park meeting; it hit 262 million on July 24, its high for the year. Freddie Mac’s short interest showed a similar trajectory.

Revelations about the meeting come at a sensitive time.

“The optics are awful; there’s no doubt about it,” says professor Larry Ribstein of the University of Illinois College of Law in Champaign. “Everyone knows that insider trading is a huge issue.”

Rajat Gupta, the former head of McKinsey & Co. who was a member of Goldman’s board, was indicted by a federal grand jury on Oct. 26 for disclosing nonpublic information on Goldman and other companies to Raj Rajaratnam, a hedge-fund manager who earlier in October was sentenced to 11 years in prison for profiting from inside information provided by a web of industry insiders, including Gupta. Gupta has pleaded not guilty.

LightSquared Probe

Several U.S. agencies face increased scrutiny in Congress for possible improper disclosures or ties to hedge funds. Senators are looking into whether the U.S. Department of Education divulged nonpublic details about new rules being considered to regulate for-profit educational institutions to outsiders, including Steven Eisman, former managing director of FrontPoint Partners LLC, who held short positions in the sector.

Education Department spokesman Justin Hamilton denies any impropriety. Eisman hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.

In October, Republican Senator Charles Grassley of Iowa asked hedge-fund manager Philip Falcone for copies of all communications between his Harbinger Capital Partners and the Department of Commerce, the Federal Communications Commission and the White House. Grassley is looking into whether Falcone improperly sought to influence regulators and the White House while seeking approvals for LightSquared Inc., the company constructing a broadband wireless network his fund is bankrolling. ...

There’s a lot of government information out there, and the hedge funds are trying to get it,” says Richard Painter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota who advised the Bush administration on Paulson’s sale of his Goldman stock when he became Treasury secretary. ...

The rules for what can or cannot be disclosed by government officials are often either unclear or nonexistent.

The bottom line is that senior-level people in Washington, in the name of keeping in touch with their stakeholders, are tipping their hands,” says Adam Zagorin, a senior fellow at the Project on Government Oversight, a Washington watchdog group. “You can’t prosecute them for insider trading if they didn’t trade the shares. You may not be able to even reprimand them. What the hell are the rules?”

An official such as Paulson has no legal obligation to keep material nonpublic information to himself, says Phillip Kaplan, partner for litigation at Manatt Phelps & Phillips LLP, where he specializes in securities and class-action cases.

“I don’t think a government person is liable,” he says. “He didn’t profit from the information or trade on it.”...

The University of Missouri’s Black says there’s no question that the plan to take over Fannie and Freddie -- however uncertain -- was material nonpublic information that could not be lawfully traded on. “What Paulson said put those managers in an untenable position,” he says. “They were exposed to all kinds of liabilities.”

The situation also generates some sympathy for Paulson.

“It seems to me, you’ve got to cut the guy some slack, even if he tipped his hand,” says William Poole, a former president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis. ..."What is he supposed to say without misleading these people?”

Poole says government officials need to communicate with industry participants in order to gain insights into market conditions and gauge likely reaction to interventions.

Black says the Eton Park meeting was the wrong way to communicate to the markets.

“Wink, wink, nod, nod is no way to approach sensitive information,” he says.

Paulson often contacted Wall Street participants throughout his tenure, according to his calendar. On that July trip to New York alone, he talked to Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. CEO Richard Fuld, Washington Mutual Inc. CEO Kerry Killinger and Citigroup senior adviser Rubin.

Morgan Stanley and BlackRock Inc. both helped the Federal Reserve and OCC prepare the reports on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that Paulson told the New York Times would instill confidence the morning of the Eton Park meeting.

Paulson learned by mid-August that the Federal Reserve had found the GSEs “unsafe and unsound,” he told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission, which was appointed by President Barack Obama and Congress to probe the causes of the financial collapse.

“We’d been prepared for bad news, but the extent of the problems was startling,” he wrote in “On the Brink.”...

In October 2011, the FHFA estimated the cost to taxpayers of rescuing the firms at $124 billion through 2014.

The manager who described the Eton Park meeting says he also discussed it with an investigator from the FCIC. The discussion was confirmed by a former FCIC employee.

That manager says he ended up profiting from his Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac positions because he was already short the stocks. On his lawyer’s advice, he stopped covering his short positions and rode Fannie and Freddie shares all the way to the bottom."


***Steven Rattner is a close associate of Michael Bloomberg the owner of the company that wrote this article. Rattner was also Obama's Car Czar. Rattner was found liable for bribery regarding NY State Pension Funds and forced to pay a " Wall St. Journal, Corkery and Rothfeld

"Steven Rattner began Thursday basking in the glow of a job well-done, as the one-time auto czar watched General Motors Co. emerge from a government bailout to be warmly received by the stock market again.

  • Then, a nemesis took the shine off the day: New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo filed a pair of lawsuits to ban Mr. Rattner, a Wall Street star, from the securities industry in New York for the rest of his life. And Mr. Cuomo asked that
  • he pay $26 million in damages, too.
The suits—alleging that Mr. Rattner used special favors to win a $150 million investment from the state pension fund—were announced minutes after Mr. Rattner, who helped engineer the government-backed rescue of GM, concluded an early-morning CNBC appearance to celebrate the auto maker's $23 billion initial public offering..."In a radio interview on Thursday morning, Mr. Cuomo said Mr. Rattner had exercised his fifth amendment right not to answer questions 68 times under oath."...(item 4th parag. from end).

10/19/10, Steve Rattner speaking engagement canceled by Detroit Economic Club.


10/15/10, "WaPo buries former Obama car czar's troubles with SEC, NY Attorney General on page A16," Newsbusters by Ken Shepherd


7/29/11, MSNBC, Morning Joe, Violent, mass murder rhetoric from former Obama Car Czar Steve Rattner, whose friend Joe Klein even says "is lucky he's not going to jail" (para. 7)

Rattner says of Tea Party people:

"It's a form of economic terrorism,

These Tea Party guys, they’re strapped with dynamite sitting in middle of Times Square at rush hour”…
  • (Rattner clip begins after a :15 or :30 commercial on MSNBC video, via Fox Nation)
Time's Joe Klein says his friend Steve Rattner is one reason why the Tea Party exists:

10/14/2010, "I am not saying that Steve Rattner is directly to blame for Christine O’Donnell. But he is part of a generation of financiers, the most respected figures in our society, who have been disgraced utterly by their greed and shenanigans–and who have made the world safe for Mama Grizzlies. This is how a great power wanes." (last paragraph)

For my records, this post was criminally hacked. Large portions of it were erased and/or re-arranged as I found the first 2 times I tried to post it. This vandalism has been ongoing on my blogs for several years as I've noted previously. There may still be things out of order on this post. ed.

Home prices through September 2011 drop unexpectedly 3.9% compared to 3Q 2010

Consumer attitudes fall to new lows, per Standard and Poors.

11/29/11, "As Home Prices Sink, Home Ownership Heads to New Lows," CNBC, D. Olick

"Home prices across the nation are now right back where they were at the beginning of 2003. All that was gained is largely now lost, and the effect on home ownership could continue for decades.

"Consumer attitudes have gotten a lot more negative about long-term commitment," said Standard and Poors' David Blitzer, after reporting home prices through September had fallen a deeper-than-expected 3.9 percent compared to the third quarter of 2010. "They dropped to new lows. This takes them below the point we saw in 2009, where briefly we all thought this thing was about to turn around."...

Every time we think things are turning around in the housing market, we get hit with some new problem, like last year's so-called "robo-signing" foreclosure paperwork scandal, which managed to stall the cleansing of distress in the market for over a year. Now that foreclosures are ramping up again, prices are coming down again.

All this could push home ownership down to levels not seen at least since before the Census began tracking this data in 1963. Home ownership soared to 70 percent in 2005, but it could fall to 62 percent by 2015, according to the number crunchers at John Burns Real Estate Consulting. They suggest that the effect of foreclosures drops home ownership 5.6 percent, and cyclical trends, like poor consumer confidence, tightening mortgage credit and the weak economy drop it 3 percent. Positive demographic trends would only offset that by 0.7 percent....

As home prices refuse to stabilize, and in fact continue to fall, negative equity will only increase. The vast majority of the ten plus million people who are underwater are still paying their mortgages, but they are deeply underwater, 30 percent and higher. That will take a long time to correct, and will stagnate much of the market

  • for years to come,
  • as these owners are unable to sell."...

via Drudge

'UN IPCC wasn't founded to find causes of global warming but to find HUMAN causes,' SEPP

11/29/11, "More On Climategate II," John Hinderaker, Powerline blog

"The Science and Environmental Policy Project comments on the Climategate II emails:

"As with the original, Climategate II involves email correspondence among various individuals, the “team,” who are highly influential in preparing the reports of the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) as well as other reports such as those by the US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) and a climate change report by the US National Research Council (NRC).

Global warming alarmists and their supporters in the press have tried to down play the leak by claiming they contain nothing new. Certainly, there is nothing new in the methods, but Climategate II gives additional detail on how members of the team misled the public and manipulated the contents of so-called scientific reports. In the links provided below, and in links that can be sourced from them, many examples can be found.

Among efforts to mislead the public as to the certainty of the global warming science, both Roger Pielke, Sr. and Roger Pielke, Jr, on their respective web sites, explain how research was dropped from important documents. Pielke Sr. explains how the NRC, Ben Santer (US Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory) and Phil Jones (CRU) inappropriately interfered with much needed further research to reconcile surface temperature trends with tropospheric temperature trends....

The emails show the team was very aware that the warming of the troposphere above the tropics was not occurring as predicted in the models. This has been called the distinct human fingerprint. Ben Santer, et al, have attempted to cover up this disparity by expanding the error bounds of measurements, but their study is vague, at best. On November 14, 2011 Ben Santer participated in a public briefing of Representatives Ed Markey and Harry Waxman. Santer specifically discussed human fingerprints in global warming but failed to discuss the disparity between models and measurements over the tropics. Apparently, at least some members of the team cannot be relied upon to accurately present the state of the science to members of Congress....

"Although not specifically commenting on Climategate II, (Tim) Ball points out that the IPCC was not founded to understand the causes of global warming / climate change

via Instapundit

'From Wisconsin to Libya, workers of the world unite! Fight for communism!' sign at 2011 Cailf. May Day rally-Zombie

5/6/11, "SEIU drops mask, goes full commie," Zombie's pictures of signs at Calif. May Day rallies, 5/1/11, PJ Media

"When I tell people that public political rallies are more and more being led by communists and socialists, most folks simply don’t believe me. Aw, come on, you’re just giving decent protesters an extreme label, they say. No, actually, I’m not: The communists freely and proudly declare their affiliation.

And the SEIU has no problem marching arm-in-arm with them....

A May Day rally in Los Angeles, co-sponsored by the SEIU and various communist groups, as well as other unions, reflected yet another step in the normalization of self-identified communist and socialist ideologies in the Obama era. Not only did the SEIU help to organize the rally in conjunction with communists, they marched side-by-side with communists, while union members carried communist flags, communists carried union signs, and

  • altogether there was no real way to tell the two apart.

Southern California citizen journalist and photographer “Ringo” was on hand to record the day’s events, and posted a full-length photo essay on his site Ringo’s Pictures. To bring this important photo essay to a wider audience, I present here a small selection of Ringo’s May Day pictures; visit his site to see dozens more photos from the rally."...

photo by Zombie from May 1, 2011

The '60's are back for real, California Occupy sign even invoked 60's Communist radical Angela Davis, Zombie has many pictures

Angela Davis sign seen.

11/16/11, "Occupy Cal time-travels back to the ’60s," Zombie's pictures from California Occupy rallies, PJ Media

"The privileged Occupy kiddies of U.C. Berkeley were back in action again yesterday, play-acting at revolution to entertain their professors."...(many more pictures at link)

Above sign quoting 60's icon Angela Davis at California Occupy


Above, Angela Davis sometime in the 1960's. She joined the Communist Party in 1968 and ran for Vice President of the United States on the Communist Party ticket in 1980 and 1984.

Above Angela Davis arrested for allegedly assisting in a late 1970's jail break. She was tried and acquitted.

"Davis had worked to free the Soledad (Prison) Brothers, African-American prisoners held in California during the late 1960s. She befriended George Jackson, one of the prisoners accused in an August 7, 1970 abortive escape attempt from Marin County's Hall of Justice, the trial judge and three people were killed, including George Jackson's brother Jonathan. Davis was implicated when police claimed that the guns used had been registered in her name.

Davis fled and was subsequently listed on the FBI's Top 10 Most Wanted list sparking one of the most intensive manhunts in American history. That August, Davis was captured and imprisoned in New York City but freed by an all white jury eighteen months later, cleared of all charges." from, "Angela Davis, a case of acquired activism," 4/1/07, greener magazine blog


Monday, November 28, 2011

A Canadian public sector union pension fund owns 80% of the Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team plus other sports teams and broadcasting assets

11/25/11, "Ontario (Ca.) Teachers' Pension Plan to hold on to Maple Leaf Sports," Reuters,

"The Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan has shelved plans to sell its 80 percent stake in Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd, which owns Toronto's National Hockey League and National Basketball Association teams.

said it made the decision after receiving various expressions of interest in buying the stake. Teachers' said in March it was considering a sale.

"Teachers' has concluded this eight-month process with the decision to maintain its stake in MLSE, which has been, and continues to be, a very successful investment," Teachers' said in a statement.

MLSE owns the NHL's Toronto Maple Leafs, the NBA's Toronto Raptors and the Air Canada Center, the downtown arena in which the two teams play. Its stable includes

  • several other sporting franchises and related broadcasting assets and property.

Teachers' raised its stake in MLSE to around 80 percent in September after completing the purchase of a 13.46 percent stake from TD Capital Group.

It said earlier in the year that adding the stake would improve its chances of completing a sale of the entire holding.

Last week a report in the Toronto Star newspaper said Providence Equity Partners, a U.S. based private equity firm, was looking at buying the stake."


Islamic terrorists al-Shabab close UN famine aid offices in Somalia, starvation due to Islam not CO2

Islamic terrorists in armored vehicles surrounded UNICEF offices. UN personnel were reluctant to admit Somalia wasn't improving as they had to claim money was well spent. "Years of conflict mean Somalia is worst hit by the East African drought."

11/28/11, "Somalia's al-Shabab militants close UN aid offices," BBC

"Al-Shabab fighters have closed down several aid agencies working in famine-hit Somalia, including some from the UN, accusing them of political bias.

Militants stormed aid offices in the towns of Baidoa and Beledweyne, which like many southern areas are controlled by al-Shabab, witnesses say.

Al-Shabab has long restricted the work of international aid groups but on Monday banned 16 groups outright.

Years of conflict mean Somalia is worst hit by the East African drought.

The lack of rain is said to be the worst in 60 years.

The list of groups banned outright included the United Nations children's agency, Unicef, and other UN bodies, the British charity Concern and groups from Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, and Sweden.

Unicef spokesman Jaya Murthy told the BBC a group of men, suspected to belong to al-Shabab, occupied their offices in Baidoa and ordered staff to leave.

"They just said they [Unicef staff] should go home immediately and our office is now their office," Mr Murthy told the BBC's Focus on Africa programme.

The al-Shabab statement accused the groups of exaggerating the scale of the problems in Somalia for political reasons and to raise money.

It also alleges that the agencies are working with church groups trying to convert vulnerable Muslim children

  • and opposing al-Shabab's attempts to impose Sharia law.

"Three armoured vehicles with gunmen surrounded the offices, including the office of [UN children's agency] Unicef," Baidoa resident Adulahi Idle told the AFP news agency.

"I saw many militiamen go inside the places and force the people there to leave and the men took control."

A senior al-Shabab official told the BBC that those groups which had been closed down had not carrying out many activities, and that the measures would not increase the suffering of ordinary people.

He also pointed out that three groups - the International Committee of the Red Cross, medical aid charity MSF and Italy's Copi - would still be allowed to operate.

Mr Murthy said Unicef was involved only in humanitarian work and al-Shabab's decision would threaten the lives of children.

"About 160,000 severely malnourished children are at imminent risk of death if assistance does not continue," he said.

The UN says the areas worst effected by famine are in the southern and central areas, which are

  • under the control of the al-Qaeda linked group.

The UN-backed government only runs a few areas, including the capital, Mogadishu, which al-Shabab forces withdrew from in August.

Earlier this month, the UN said that famine conditions no longer existed in three of the areas previously worst affected - Bay, Bakool, and Lower Shabelle.

However, a quarter of a million people still face imminent starvation in the country, the UN says.

UN humanitarian affairs co-ordinator Mark Bowden told the BBC: "Somalia still remains the world's most critical situation."

Three other areas, including the squalid camps in the capital, Mogadishu, remain in a state of famine.

However, a senior aid worker familiar with the situation in Somalia who did not wish to be named told the BBC that the situation was still getting worse.

He said the UN could not admit this because it had to show the aid money was being well spent and having an impact.

Other aid workers have also warned that the situation could be worsened through conflict.

Kenya has sent troops into southern parts of Somalia, accusing al-Shabab of abducting Westerners from border areas - charges denied by the militants.

Tens of thousands of Somalis have fled rural areas - many over the borders to Ethiopia and Kenya - in search of food.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government for more than 20 years and has been wracked by fighting between various militias."


If ever proof was needed that the UN is AT BEST completely useless this is it. The article includes such an admission from UN personnel: "He said the UN could not admit this because it had to show the aid money was being well spent and having an impact." ed.


Richmond, Va. Mayor invites Occupy to private meeting, spends 000's of tax dollars on them, conversely collects $8500 from Tea Party and AUDITS them

Update, 11/30/11, "Career Race-Baiters Target Richmond Tea Party," American Thinker, M.. Catherine Evans (A commenter notes Richmond is free to become the next Detroit if it chooses.)

Richmond Mayor Jones favored Occupy groups, said he's "a child of civil rights" and protests. Numerous US cities followed Richmond's example treating Occupy group campouts the opposite of how they treated Tea Party single day rallies.

11/28/11, "Richmond City Audits Local Tea Party After Standoff with Mayor,", Colleen Owens

"Two weeks after the Richmond Tea Party delivered an invoice to Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones for costs incurred for previous rallies, we received a letter from the City of Richmond formally stating that the city is auditing our Tea Party. Coincidence? This audit is an obvious attempt to intimidate and harass us for standing up against the unfair treatment and discrimination against our Tea Party.

First some back story: as reported on the front page of the Richmond Times Dispatch, the Richmond Tea Party delivered an invoice for charges incurred in our previous three Tax Day rallies at Kanawha Plaza because Mayor Jones chose to allow Occupy Richmond protesters to convene in the same park for two weeks.

The Mayor not only allowed the Occupiers to break the law, but he visited them in the city-owned park. “Jones said that as a ‘child of civil rights’ and protests, he had allowed the group to remain in the park but understands his mayoral responsibility to uphold laws of the city,” reported the Richmond Times Dispatch.
Apparently his mayoral duties included preferential treatment for a group he sympathizes with ideologically
  • at the expense of the taxpayers.
The blog Virginia Right reported that the city provided services such as portable toilets, trash pickup, etc. The incomplete invoices obtained from the city totaled $7,000. This was only a portion of the actual costs to taxpayers because the costs of police, helicopter and incarcerations were not included. Also not accounted for was the 24-hour police protection of the Mayor’s home after the Occupiers moved their camp next door to the Mayor’s house. The Richmond Tea Party, conversely, paid for all services for our rallies, including the police, portable toilets, park fees and permits,
  • amounting to approximately $8,500.
Our actions apparently struck a nerve. Our invoice to the Mayor was covered by hundreds of news outlets, including the AP, Richmond Times Dispatch, Baltimore Sun, and the Washington Post. On October 31, I appeared on Fox Business, Neil Cavuto’s show, and was interviewed about our actions. Reportedly, at least two Richmond City Council members agreed with our plight. “I guess we’ll be writing a check to the Tea Party people,” said Councilman Bruce W. Tyler, as quoted in the Richmond Times Dispatch.
  • “You can’t treat one group different from the other. It’s unfair.”
On November 14th, representatives of our Tea Party attended the City Council meeting to speak to the Mayor and Council during the citizen forum. Mayor Jones, apparently too busy to listen to his constituents, got up and left before we spoke. He had no problem inviting members of the Occupy group to his office for a closed door meeting days later,
  • at the same time refusing to meet with us.
His administration, however, found the time to send us an audit letter (provided in full below). No need for the city to audit the Occupiers, because, as the Mayor knows, all of their costs were provided by the taxpayers of Richmond (via Gateway Pundit). Here is the City Audit Letter Notification:
In the audit letter signed by Cynthia Carr, Field Auditor for the City of Richmond, it states that our Tea Party is delinquent in filing of Admissions, Lodging, and Meals Taxes with the city and as such our group has been targeted for a comprehensive audit. Well, aren’t we special? In fact, as part of the Business License we have with the City, a form is filled out by our treasurer every month (as required). We have never charged admission or had lodging or meals associated with our rallies. Every month the forms are appropriately filled with zeros. Ms. Carr goes on to say that if we don’t respond within 15 days, the City will make a statutory assessment–meaning they’ll pick an amount to charge us. 

So the City and Mayor apparently feel that the Richmond Tea Party has not paid its fair share for use of Kanawha Plaza. We challenged the Mayor’s unequal treatment between groups and he responded with even more unequal treatment.

This story has also fired up other Tea Party groups across the country that have had the laws and fees applied unequally in regards to Tea Party rallies and Occupy protest camps. The message coming from mayors in numerous cities is that they are willing to spend millions in taxpayer money to accommodate the Occupiers that are breaking the law but have no problem charging Tea Party groups that follow the law exorbitant fees and making them jump through hoops to acquire permits (via Yahoo News).

The Richmond Tea Party stands for constitutional adherence, and clearly this has been unequal treatment under the law. We stand for fiscal restraint, and this is a case where a mayor used taxpayer money for his personal agenda. We stand for virtue and accountability in government and that is why we have taken a stand. We will be submitting a Virginia Freedom of Information Act request for all city correspondence pertaining to our Tea Party and its decision to audit us. We will not be intimidated and we will not back down. A Richmond attorney and fellow Tea Partier is currently reviewing our situation.
For inquiries pertaining to this story you can email Colleen Owens at
Colleen Owens
Media Contact
Richmond Tea Party
Twitter: @Colleen4Tea "


11/17/11, Richmond Free Press publisher invites Occupy group to camp in his front yard which overlooks Mayor Jones' home.

11/17/11, "Occupy Richmond began its occupation next door to Richmond Mayor Dwight Jones on Tuesday. The group was invited by Raymond Boone, publisher of the Richmond Free Press, to use his front yard after being evicted from downtown. Boone and Jones share a driveway." USA Today, photo US Today