Archive | Tue, Apr 20, 2010

Bill Black on Lehman fraud and failure

Testifying at House FinServ hearing

Lehman’s story is a story of fraud, their subprime and liar loans operations. They sold it to the world. Regulatory heads blocked reform. We knew for a decade these were frauds. But DC did nothing. When Black was Litigation Director of Federal Home Loan Bank board in the 80’s during the massive bank failures. He forced out CEO’s. They sent 50 people to one bank then, the Fed sent two people as Lehman was collapsing. Two. The fed could have stopped the fraud, they had the power, they did nothing.

Check the five videos here for more Bill Black on control fraud

Please Fire Me

Please Fire Me details life in cubicle hell.

Please Fire Me office submission

Among the written submissions:

Please fire me. The guy in the cube next to me has a liter bottle of Germ-X on his desk, but constantly coughs without covering his mouth.

Please fire me. We are still waiting on magical software that will solve our company’s money troubles.

Please fire me. We have just be told we can’t walk around in pairs, even if the job takes two or more people. We have to leave staggered, so people don’t see us walking together

You’re on the new Polizeros server now

We just moved to cloud servers from our old account at Laughing Squid. Virtually the same price but triple the bandwidth and quadruple the storage. Now we have room to grow.

Big thanks to Jamie Holly, the wizard behind the curtain at Crooks and Liars, for helping in the move. He single-handedly writes most of the code for that highly customized and hugely-trafficked site. He also blogs at the excellent

Rethinking Afghanistan’s Sticky Icky Quagmire

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

It’s April 20th, the unofficial holiday of 420. It’s that special day of the year when stoners around the world decide that discretion is not the better part of valor and liberally advertise their use of marijuana. Accordingly, we’ll try to rethink Afghanistan from that angle, and be completely honest about its marijuana use. Today is the perfect day after all, when you have reports like this in the Asia Times:

In addition to being the world’s leading producer of opium, Afghanistan has now become the largest producer of hashish, according to the first-ever cannabis survey released by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) this month. Again, the US invasion is behind the new record.

The 2009 Afghanistan Cannabis Survey revealed that there is large-scale cannabis cultivation in half (17 out of 34) of Afghanistan’s provinces, covering a total area of 10,000 to 24,000 hectares every year (lower than opium cultivation, which covers 125,000 hectares). Afghanistan’s crop yield is so high at 145 kilograms of resin per hectare that it overtakes other leading producers like Morocco, where cannabis covers a larger land area but whose yield is lower, at 40 kg/ha.

It is estimated that Afghanistan produces 1,500-3,500 tons of hashish annually, an industry involving 40,000 households. The total export value of Afghan hashish is still unknown, but its farm-gate value – the income paid to farmers – is estimated at about US$40-$95 million, roughly 15% that of opium ($438 million in 2009).

Now because of all the COINdinista mythology that’s been beaten into your head, you probably think I’m going to rant about the drug trade supporting the insurgency and the international criminal-terrorism nexus and all that scary sounding stuff. Not true. The Taliban get their funding from a myriad of sources; Ransoms, charities, and even a formalized taxation system on the local economies. That is, if they’re not running the local businesses themselves. We could incinerate every last iota of opium and cannabis in the entire country and all we’d do is bankrupt and starve the farmers. The insurgency wouldn’t even blink, they’d be too busy recruiting those farmers. No, if we want to talk about drugs and Afghanistan, we’ve got to look at our allies in the war. Continue Reading →

The U.S. conflict: Who benefits?

DJ on the continuing and escalating internal conflict here in the US, with the two mostly identical parties pretending to fight each other.

Two possible answers are not much removed from each other: money and power. Both parties have consistently voted to roll back civil rights. Both parties have consistently voted in favor af massive transfers of wealth from the Treasury to large corporations. I suspect that the true aggressors in this conflict are not natural persons— they are corporations.

Yet conflict suggests at least two combatants. Is this a case of corporations against citizens? That’s possible. Or is this a conflict between groups of corporations over control of what, for most purposes, appears to be a corporate-controlled system of government? Tech vs. fossil fuel, military-industrial vs. consumer-driven?

To be honest, I’m not yet sure. I prefer to think that it’s corporation vs. citizen— because if it’s inter-corporate, then we’ve already become irrelevant.