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Current Topic: Current Events

1491 - The Atlantic (March 2002)
Topic: Current Events 3:02 am EST, Nov 11, 2009

Erickson and Balée belong to a cohort of scholars that has radically challenged conventional notions of what the Western Hemisphere was like before Columbus. When I went to high school, in the 1970s, I was taught that Indians came to the Americas across the Bering Strait about 12,000 years ago, that they lived for the most part in small, isolated groups, and that they had so little impact on their environment that even after millennia of habitation it remained mostly wilderness.

The 'sacred' rainforest concept is invented by postmodern new agers, who mourn its destruction - when in fact its a product of european contact/decimation?

Dunno if its true, but gold star. Amazing article in the Atlantic.

1491 - The Atlantic (March 2002)

Don't pin the recession on AIG's Joe Cassano | The Smirking Chimp
Topic: Current Events 6:05 am EDT, May 25, 2009

The problem is, at its roots, a profound collapse of morals on Wall Street that would have found its way to financial destruction using any available set of instruments and laws.

Don't pin the recession on AIG's Joe Cassano | The Smirking Chimp

Teabagging Michelle Malkin | The Smirking Chimp
Topic: Current Events 12:54 am EDT, Apr 23, 2009

Anyway this teabag thing has really gotten out of control. It’s amazing, literally amazing to me, that it wasn’t until Obama pushed through a package containing a massive public works package and significant homeowner aid that conservatives took to the streets. In other words, it wasn’t until taxes turned into construction jobs and mortgage relief that working and middle-class Americans decided to protest. I didn’t see anyone on the street when we forked over billions of dollars to help JP Morgan Chase buy Bear Stearns. And I didn’t see anyone on the street when Hank Paulson forked over $45 more billion to help Bank of America buy Merrill Lynch, a company run at the time by one of the world’s biggest assholes, John Thain. Moreover I didn’t see any street protests when the government agreed to soak up hundreds of billions in “troubled assets” from Citigroup, a company that just months later would lend out a jet furnished with pillows upholstered with Hermes scarves to former chief Sandy Weill so that he could vacation in Mexico over Christmas.

Teabagging Michelle Malkin | The Smirking Chimp

AIG Exec Whines About Public Anger, and Now We're Supposed to Pity Him? Yeah, Right | Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace | AlterNet
Topic: Current Events 9:55 am EDT, Apr  2, 2009

AIGFP only had 377 employees. Those 400-odd folks received almost $3.5 billion in compensation in the last seven years, a very large part of that money coming from the sale of credit default protection. Doing the math, that averages out to over $9 million of compensation per person.

Ask yourself this question: If your company made that much money, and the boss of the unit made almost $280 million in just a few years, exactly how likely is it that you wouldn't know where that money was coming from?

AIG Exec Whines About Public Anger, and Now We're Supposed to Pity Him? Yeah, Right | Corporate Accountability and WorkPlace | AlterNet

Mr. Taleb Goes to Washington: A black swan meets some ugly ducklings. | The Big Money
Topic: Current Events 5:46 am EDT, Mar 29, 2009

Now that the catastrophe is here, Taleb's anger at the economic establishment that drove us over this cliff—and populates the Journal's conference—makes him a representative figure of ordinary people. Like most Americans, Taleb is seething with rage about the financial establishment's role in bringing the about credit crash. "Nobody saw the crisis coming," he says. "Bernanke, all these guys, I want them out. They proved incompetent, they crashed the plane."

Mr. Taleb Goes to Washington: A black swan meets some ugly ducklings. | The Big Money

The Big Takeover : Rolling Stone
Topic: Current Events 4:00 am EDT, Mar 29, 2009

People are pissed off about this financial crisis, and about this bailout, but they're not pissed off enough. The reality is that the worldwide economic meltdown and the bailout that followed were together a kind of revolution, a coup d'état. They cemented and formalized a political trend that has been snowballing for decades: the gradual takeover of the government by a small class of connected insiders, who used money to control elections, buy influence and systematically weaken financial regulations.


The best way to understand the financial crisis is to understand the meltdown at AIG. AIG is what happens when short, bald managers of otherwise boring financial bureaucracies start seeing Brad Pitt in the mirror. This is a company that built a giant fortune across more than a century by betting on safety-conscious policyholders — people who wear seat belts and build houses on high ground — and then blew it all in a year or two by turning their entire balance sheet over to a guy who acted like making huge bets with other people's money would make his dick bigger.

That guy — the Patient Zero of the global economic meltdown — was one Joseph Cassano, the head of a tiny, 400-person unit within the company called AIG Financial Products, or AIGFP. Cassano, a pudgy, balding Brooklyn College grad with beady eyes and way too much forehead, cut his teeth in the Eighties working for Mike Milken, the granddaddy of modern Wall Street debt alchemists. Milken, who pioneered the creative use of junk bonds, relied on messianic genius and a whole array of insider schemes to evade detection while wreaking financial disaster. Cassano, by contrast, was just a greedy little turd with a knack for selective accounting who ran his scam right out in the open, thanks to Washington's deregulation of the Wall Street casino. "It's all about the regulatory environment," says a government source involved with the AIG bailout. "These guys look for holes in the system, for ways they can do trades without government interference. Whatever is unregulated, all the action is going to pile into that."


The Big Takeover : Rolling Stone

The Quiet Coup - The Atlantic (May 2009)
Topic: Current Events 4:05 am EDT, Mar 27, 2009

The crash has laid bare many unpleasant truths about the United States. One of the most alarming, says a former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, is that the finance industry has effectively captured our government—a state of affairs that more typically describes emerging markets, and is at the center of many emerging-market crises. If the IMF’s staff could speak freely about the U.S., it would tell us what it tells all countries in this situation: recovery will fail unless we break the financial oligarchy that is blocking essential reform. And if we are to prevent a true depression, we’re running out of time.

The Quiet Coup - The Atlantic (May 2009)

Tips for the Sophisticated Fugitive -
Topic: Current Events 6:00 pm EDT, Mar 23, 2009

The Bernie Madoffs of the world — not just the Ponzi schemer himself but the rogue accountants, lawyers and hedge funders — walk meekly into federal courts with their rictus faces and ashen complexions and the expectation of long prison sentences, and a bystander can’t help but wonder:
Skip to next paragraph
Enlarge This Image
Henner Frankenfeld/Bloomberg News

SETTLING DOWN Jacob Alexander, wanted on fraud charges, has made a home in Namibia.

Why not take the ill-gotten money and run?

Tips for the Sophisticated Fugitive -

Give me the Booger.: Fleshdance. What a feeling.
Topic: Current Events 9:39 pm EDT, Mar 17, 2009

It's fun to pause between dances on the video, then read some more of this post, go back and watch the next dance...because this is what was happening in my head. Truly it was. Talk, talky, talk---The Biz Markie!---talkity, talk, talk---Snake it down now!--talk... At some point, I excused myself to the restroom in order to release my inner Salt n Pepa. Yep. Totally did the Cabbage Patch/Snake/MC Hammer combo in the bathroom all by myself in the mirror. And laughed some more.null

Gold Star. Just click and read.

Give me the Booger.: Fleshdance. What a feeling.

Takedowns: Jon Stewart Absolutely Destroys CNBC
Topic: Current Events 10:05 pm EST, Mar  6, 2009

If you like CNBC you will probably not enjoy this clip. Jon Stewart, jilted by CNBC's Howard Beale-esque ranting reporter Rick Santellii, fills the time that would have been dedicated to an interview with more than 8 minutes of .... well, let's just say that we're glad that we're not them.

The aforementioned CNBC bashing really gets going at about 2:25.null

Takedowns: Jon Stewart Absolutely Destroys CNBC

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