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August 13, 2009

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  1. Stemella permalink*
    August 13, 2009 6:58 am

    U.S. Stocks Climb as Paulson Buys Bank Stakes, Walmart Gains

    U.S. stocks rose for a second day after billionaire John Paulson’s hedge fund bought shares in banks and Wal-Mart Stores Inc. reported better-than-estimated earnings.

    Bank of America Corp., Goldman Sachs Group Inc. and Regions Financial Corp. rallied after Paulson, whose Credit Opportunities Fund surged almost sixfold in 2007 on bets against subprime mortgages, bought stakes in the companies. Walmart, the largest retailer, added 2.2 percent. The market’s advance was limited as government reports showed retail sales unexpectedly fell last month and initial jobless claims topped forecasts.

    So Spanky the Lord Vampiresquid moves the entire market all by himself. What a fucking racket. Isn’t there a law against that stuff, ya know, racketeering? Something called RICO, perhaps? grrrrrrr. They don’t even pretend anymore.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 13, 2009 7:49 am

      I just saw those grim government statistics elsewhere. But were the numbers really unexpected? I don’t think so. This same thing keeps happening – they tout better numbers to instill confidence in the suckers and then have to revise them afterward when they turn out to be as bad as anyone who doesn’t work for Goldman Sux could have predicted.

      We must get away from using the stock market and especially the Dow Jones as a barometer for how the market is doing. The dipshits in that Taleb video you posted yesterday were trying to show he was wrong in his gloomy outlook because the market had gone up. Well whoop-de-doo. Lots of things can make the market go up in the short term because of the herd mentality that drives it. When the Dow Jones was doing OK during the Bush years the talking heads were giddy, but I didn’t see anybody mention for years the fact that the markets had reached an all time high during the Clinton years and all we were seeing was some recovery after the tech bubble had burst. The markets were not setting new highs at all, and in fact the Dow Jones companies who weren’t performing well simply got replaced with ones that were doing better.

      In the 90s it was the tech stocks driving the markets up. When that crashed, other sectors became the drivers for a while. And when one sector is hot is generally leads to bullish feelings which drive up others with them. In the Bush years the companies that did extremely well were defense contractors and oil companies. Of course much of the profit those contractors made was due to the fact that they were being handed taxpayer money in no bid contracts where they basically were robbing the Treasury. Their profits had nothing to do with being innovative and producing new products that people wanted – they came from starting an unnecessary and illegal war and loading up on taxpayer cash. And borrowed taxpayer cash at that which we all get to pay back with interest. But you’d be hard pressed to find one of the talking heads who was willing to admit that.

  2. cometman permalink*
    August 13, 2009 7:54 am

    Dick Cheney is truly a sociopath. And suddenly he wants everyone to know just how big of a paranoid freakshow he really is. Check out this WaPo article about the book he’s writing.

    Cheney’s disappointment with the former president surfaced recently in one of the informal conversations he is holding to discuss the book with authors, diplomats, policy experts and past colleagues. By habit, he listens more than he talks, but Cheney broke form when asked about his regrets.

    “In the second term, he felt Bush was moving away from him,” said a participant in the recent gathering, describing Cheney’s reply. “He said Bush was shackled by the public reaction and the criticism he took. Bush was more malleable to that. The implication was that Bush had gone soft on him, or rather Bush had hardened against Cheney’s advice. He’d showed an independence that Cheney didn’t see coming. It was clear that Cheney’s doctrine was cast-iron strength at all times — never apologize, never explain — and Bush moved toward the conciliatory.”

    • Stemella permalink*
      August 13, 2009 9:32 am

      I think Dubya was extracted from Cheney’s vulcan death grip by Daddy Bush and his sidekick Scrowcroft. Daddy Bush wanted to try to salvage his family legacy that Dick had so defty swiped out from under them with the aid of his pal Don Rumsfeld. Dubya could give two shits about public opinion and when the fuck did he ever apologize or reconcile for anything? Delusional. Cheney is truly a psycho power tripper and can’t let go of his perceived throne. He is also a mass murderer and criminal at several other levels.

      Speaking of Cheney, Greg Palast finds a certain similarity in tactic with Hopey Changey
      Obama on Drugs: 98% Cheney?

      • cometman permalink*
        August 13, 2009 12:06 pm

        That Palast article sounds right on the money. From the beginning the savings Obama keeps touting are just some ambiguous pledge from the druggies not to raise prices as much as they might have. But since they don’t have an actual price list of what they plan to charge 10 years from now, how will we ever know?

        We won’t. Just more smoke and mirrors.

  3. cometman permalink*
    August 13, 2009 8:00 am

    Are those really legos or are they somebody’s art project? If they are an actual toy I know a squidlet who might like some of those. Well, maybe her dad might actually enjoy them more… ;)

    • Stemella permalink*
      August 13, 2009 9:08 am

      I found them in an image search, and am trying to find them again to see if it comes in a set. I did find this, Lego-nautilus, which unfortunately was located at a retard site and now I find I’ve been laughing hysterically at very inappropriate things. I’m going to hell. An example Retard tour of the web

      If I find the actual legos I’ve pictured, and I do think they are part of an official Lego’s kit, I’ll post the link for you.

      • Stemella permalink*
        August 13, 2009 9:21 am

        Ok, I found where I got the pictures here. It seems this is a home made operation from a lego fanatic.

        I also found a live octopus playing with legos!!

        I think that’s what you should get the squidlet. An octopus in a tank with a lego set inside!


        • cometman permalink*
          August 13, 2009 12:16 pm

          Ha! I should probably just stick with some wooden alphabet blocks for now anyway. Legos are probably still too easy for the little octopapoose to ingest. Sets of wooden blocks are damn expensive- three or four bucks apiece for the ones I’ve seen so to get a whole alphabet set is a little pricey. You’d have to spend thousands if you were Chinese. Maybe I’ll get the Greek alphabet blocks and save by having to get three fewer letters. :)

  4. cometman permalink*
    August 13, 2009 12:20 pm

    Huh. Wonders never cease. Hillary Clinton actually said something I agree with when she indicated that just maybe the US had some teensy problems with the 2000 election. I imagine the retraction for this gaffe will be forthcoming.

    • Stemella permalink*
      August 13, 2009 12:47 pm

      Uh oh. I think hell just froze over ;)

      Yeah, she’ll just say she was tired or something. They all hate when they let the truth slip out.

  5. cometman permalink*
    August 13, 2009 12:48 pm

    The Empire won’t go down quietly. We are bound and determined to piss off the rest of the world while clinging to hegemony. The US government has been bankrupting the country to secure bases all over the Middle East in recent years and now they’ve turned their sights on Latin America. This time they are trying to do it on the cheap in Columbia. The US won’t actually own or run the bases, they simply “might” use already existing ones and pay for some upgrades.

    Colombia’s armed forces chief Wednesday said negotiations could conclude this weekend on an agreement to increase the U.S. military presence in the South American country — a vaguely explained deal that has sparked strong protests in the hemisphere.

    Venezuelan President Hugo Chávez has warned that “the winds of war are blowing.” Bolivia’s Evo Morales urged Latin Americans to “rescue” Colombia from the grip of U.S. imperialism. Argentina’s Cristina Kirchner called the move “belligerent.” And Fidel Castro alleged it could “block social change” in the region.

    Even moderates like Brazil’s Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva joined the more strident leftists in expressing concerns, indicating that the controversy is undermining the Obama administration’s efforts to forge warmer ties with the region and reviving memories of past U.S. interventions around the hemisphere.


    The agreement involves the use of Colombian military bases by U.S. aircraft and troops engaged in counter-narcotics and counter-guerrilla surveillance programs. They would make up for last month’s closure of a similar U.S. operation out of the Ecuadorean port of Manta, from where U.S. planes swept the Pacific for vessels smuggling cocaine north to Central America and Mexico, where it would be taken by land to the U.S. border.


    “We’re not talking about U.S. bases at all. . . . We’re talking about access by U.S. personnel to existing Colombian bases,” said a State Department official on condition of anonymity. Also included in the agreement may be “modest” U.S. funding for infrastructure improvements, he added.

    So Ecuador kicks us out and rather than getting the message that our continuing presence in the region isn’t wanted or needed, we cut a deal with probably the most corrupt government in the area where politicians who don’t take their orders from the drug lords wind up dead. But rather than admitting that the US is butting in where it isn’t wanted, they simply chalk the whole brouhaha up to “bad PR”.

    Both U.S. and Colombian officials have acknowledged that they mishandled the public relations side of the deployments, initially saying little or nothing in the face of media reports of plans for up to seven new U.S. military “bases” in Colombia.

    Our foreign policy is complete bullshit and it hasn’t changed a damn bit with Obama’s election.

    • Stemella permalink*
      August 13, 2009 1:02 pm

      This is exactly the strategy used by the US after 9/11 in the Philippines. Since we finally gave up our bases there after leasing for 100 yrs, finally ending our actual admitted colonization of that country, we went back in “borrowing” bases for anti-terror operations. It is what it is, imperialism on the cheap. It is the same old shit foreign policy in Latin America we’ve always had. I don’t even know who or even if Obama has a Latin American advisor. I’ll hunt around a bit. This pisses me off too. Zapatos!

  6. cometman permalink*
    August 13, 2009 12:59 pm

    Nice essay here on Justice and the lack thereof from a Latin American writer – I Hate to Bother You from Eduardo Galeano who survived CIA-backed Argentine death squads.

  7. Stemella permalink*
    August 13, 2009 1:43 pm

    Regarding Obama’s Latin American policy advisors, they mirror the Economic ones, Neo-Liberal Clintonistas.

    There is this from McClatchy: Obama’s Latin American advisors may be centrists shocking revelation, I know. This was from November.

    Regarding Obama’s Latin America advisors, the top two are Frank Sanchez, a former Clinton White House Latin American aide, and Dan Restrepo, a young attorney and former congressional staffer who headed the Obama campaign’s Latin American advisory group.

    Sanchez, from Tampa, graduated from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and served in the office of the special envoy to the Americas and later as assistant secretary of transportation during the Clinton administration. He was one of the early members of the Obama campaign – he was already at Obama’s side in February 2007 – and was a key figure in Obama’s national Hispanic outreach campaign.

    Sanchez, who speaks fluent Spanish, is being mentioned as a possible special envoy to the Americas or as an assistant secretary at the State Department.

    Restrepo, an attorney who before heading Obama’s Latin American advisory group worked for Obama transition team co-director John Podesta’s Center for American Progress, is being mentioned for a senior State Department or National Security Council job. The son of a Colombian father and a Spanish mother, he is also fluent in Spanish.

    The second tier of Obama’s Latin American advisors includes Robert S. Gelbard, former top State Department anti-drug chief and ambassador to Bolivia; Jeffrey Davidow, former U.S. Ambassador to Mexico; Arturo Valenzuela, a former NSC Latin American chief and campaign advisor to Sen. Hillary Clinton; and Vicki Huddleston, former chief of the U.S Interest Section in Cuba.

    Other Obama advisors include former State Department Latin American affairs chief Pete Romero, former Ambassador to the Organization of American States Luis Lauredo and former Ambassador to Chile Gabriel Guerra-Mondragón.

    Also, there is some good discussion of the conflicts of using Clintonistas regarding Honduras in this recent Nation article Battle for Honduras–and the Region

    Also fresh to the fight is Lanny Davis, a former Hillary Clinton adviser turned lobbyist, who was hired by business backers of the coup to push the Clinton State Department to recognize the Micheletti government. The Clinton wing of the Democratic Party has deep ties to Latin American neoliberals who presided over ruinous policies of market liberalization in the 1990s, now largely displaced from office by the region’s new leftists. Clinton pollsters and consultants, such as Stanley Greenberg and Doug Schoen, have worked on a number of their presidential campaigns, often on the losing side.

    Sort of a weird conflict, eh Hillary?

    • cometman permalink*
      August 14, 2009 6:43 am

      So coup leaders have their own lobbyists in DC now. And our elected officials actually let them in to chat. What the hell is wrong with all these people?

  8. Stemella permalink*
    August 13, 2009 2:18 pm

    Wow, there is going to be an coup by cephalos according to the Onion, to settle our national debts. Coincedence? I think not!!

    A Modest Proposal For Dealing With The Soon To Be $1 Quadrillion + National Debt

  9. cometman permalink*
    August 14, 2009 6:47 am

    Sign of the kraken? You be the judge.

    The Arctic Sea, a 4,700-ton cargo ship registered in Malta, owned by Russians and crewed by 15 Siberian sailors, dropped off the map shortly after it cleared the English Channel and nosed into the broad Atlantic.

    That was two weeks ago.

    Europe’s governments, maritime authorities and navies have since been wondering how a ship equipped with modern navigation devices, a tracking beacon and radio communications could have disappeared so suddenly and remained out of touch so long in one of the world’s busiest and most monitored shipping lanes.

    Hijacked? That may be the case, but why and by whom? Lying at the bottom? Perhaps, but there was no distress signal. Or maybe, it was suggested Thursday, there was a dispute over a stash of contraband — such as drugs — or even a plan by the captain and crew members to sell the declared cargo of Finnish timber in Africa and make off with the cash.

    But with the ship incommunicado and its satellite beacon unreadable, nobody really has anything to go on.

    • Stemella permalink*
      August 14, 2009 2:47 pm

      The ship has been found near Cape Verde off the coast of Africa

      Maybe it was the mermaids – clearly a sign of the apocalypse ;)

  10. cometman permalink*
    August 14, 2009 8:22 am

    Never heard of this before – zombie ants!

    When a carpenter ant is infected by a fungus known as Ophiocordyceps unilateralis, the victim remains alive for a short time. The fungus, however, is firmly in the driver’s seat. It compels the ant to climb from its nest high in the forest canopy down into small plants and saplings in the understory vegetation. The ant then climbs out onto the underside of a low-hanging leaf where it clamps down with its mandibles just before it dies. There it remains, stuck fast for weeks.

    After the ant dies, the fungus continues to grow inside the body. After a few days, a stroma—the fungus’s fruiting body—sprouts from the back of the ant’s head. After a week or two, the stroma starts raining down spores to the forest floor below. Each spore has the potential to infect another unfortunate passerby.


    “The fungus accurately manipulates the infected ants into dying where the parasite prefers to be, by making the ants travel a long way during the last hours of their lives,” Hughes said.

    But getting the ant to die in the right spot is only half the battle, as the researchers found when they dissected a few victims.

    “The fungus has evolved a suite of novel strategies to retain possession of its precious resource,” said Hughes.

    As the fungus spreads within a dead ant’s body, it converts the ant’s innards into sugars which are used to help the fungus grow. But it leaves the muscles controlling the mandibles intact to make sure the ant keeps its death grip on the leaf. The fungus also preserves the ant’s outer shell, growing into cracks and crevices to reinforce weak spots. In doing this, the fungus fashions a protective coating that keeps microbes and other fungi out. At that point, it can safely get down to the business of claiming new victims.

    That is quite…

  11. Stemella permalink*
    August 14, 2009 8:47 am

    I’d read about these ants before. It is a pretty amazing and yes, fascinating, bit of natural history. I wish that fungi would move into cane toads, one in particular:

    Was Larry Summers Selling CDOs To Asian Sovereign Wealth Funds After The Collapse Of The Bear Stearns Hedge Fund?

    The man cited to be Ben Bernanke’s replacement if and when the stock market (not the economy) takes a decided turn for the worse, Larry Summers, has been implicated in an act that may make his transitioning into his role of running monetary policy for the world’s biggest economy slightly more complicated. A report that was issued several months ago by Asia Times’ blog discloses that the man who has President Obama’s attention on all matters financial was in fact selling the AAA-rated tranches of toxic CDOs held by his former employer, multi billion hedge fund D.E. Shaw after the collapse of the CDO-loaded Bear Stearns hedge fund.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 14, 2009 9:21 am

      Did you tell me about the ants and I just forgot? Maybe I have brain fungus! That would explain a few lapses…

      Found this laughable comment in the original Asian Times blog piece Mr. Durden links to at the end:

      Larry Summers is a highly-honored economist and an honorable man, and I do not believe for a moment that he has done or would do anything dishonest.

      Riiiiiiiight. If that’s the case, go ahead and submit Paulson and Geithner to the Vatican for canonization too. That would be a hoot.

      In lieu of the greatly expanded readership your Paulson photoshop brought, I think you should do one for Cane Toad Summers and we can spread that one around too. Maybe Taibbi will use it in his next article ;)

      • Stemella permalink*
        August 14, 2009 9:43 am

        Hah! Ok, I’ll work on one soon.

  12. Stemella permalink*
    August 14, 2009 9:25 am

    It looks like it may be a doozy of a bank failure friday today. I’ll update later this afternoon when all the results are in a the FDIC, but this one, Colonial BancGroup Inc., is the largest bank failure so far this year

    Colonial, Alabama’s second-largest bank, is being closed by regulators today, the person said, becoming the largest U.S. bank failure of 2009 after an expansion into Florida saddled the lender with more than $1.7 billion in soured real-estate loans.

    Colonial said last month there was “substantial doubt” it could survive and on Aug. 7 said its warehouse mortgage-lending business is the target of a U.S. criminal probe. The Securities and Exchange Commission issued subpoenas for documents related to accounting for loan loss reserves and participation in the Troubled Asset Relief Program, the bank said.

    A call to Colonial spokeswoman Merrie Tolbert wasn’t immediately returned. “The FDIC does not comment on open institutions,” agency spokesman David Barr said in an e-mail.

    Regulators are closing banks at the fastest pace in 17 years amid mounting losses on real-estate loans in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. The FDIC is offering to share losses with buyers of failed banks, reviving a practice used during the U.S. savings-and-loan crisis in the late 1980s.

    Sweet home Alabama is seriously fucked. Neil Young was right.

    • cometman permalink*
      August 14, 2009 10:14 am

      Lots of people have forgotten what their Good Book says. Especially the “Thou shalt not steal” part. Must have overlooked it while they were coveting their neighbor’s ass.

  13. Stemella permalink*
    August 14, 2009 10:01 am

    Interesting article comparing our on-line activity to that of lab-rattuses.

    How the brain hard-wires us to love Google, Twitter, and texting. And why that’s dangerous.

    Is googling making us dopamine addicts? Hmmm. Dopamine is a great thing, but from googling? :)

    • cometman permalink*
      August 14, 2009 10:48 am

      That sounds about right to me. The Atlantic article that the Salon article cites says:

      Over the past few years I’ve had an uncomfortable sense that someone, or something, has been tinkering with my brain, remapping the neural circuitry, reprogramming the memory. My mind isn’t going—so far as I can tell—but it’s changing. I’m not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I’m reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I’d spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That’s rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I’m always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

      I feel exactly the same. I’ve always read lots of books, newspapers, magazines etc and I still do. But lately I read books with a purpose other than just the pure enjoyment of the prose – I read to try to keep my attention span from becoming like a gnat’s. When reading on the intertubes I skim a lot of news articles to see if there is anything of interest. For example, like I just did with that Atlantic article to pull that quote which saved me the time of writing pretty much the same thing myself. I do find my brain wandering when reading books and I think part of it is because I just don’t have large chunks of time to read during the day like I used to so I read before going to sleep when I’m already drowsy. But I think it’s mostly due to developing new habits of reading from the internet, so I try to read lots of dead tree stuff to keep in practice.

      • Stemella permalink*
        August 14, 2009 1:27 pm

        Same story for me. I went for many years without owning a tv and radio was it for broadcast info, so I read voraciously. I’ve always had piles of books and have usually read several concurrently, always finishing them before trading for new ones or keeping on the shelves if I wanted to revisit. Ever since getting hooked into blogging though, I don’t finish books anymore. I do what I always cursed others for doing and read the ending and skip big chunks in the middle. I do the same with longer (10 page plus) articles. Yes, part of it too is being much busier with work and adulthood responsibilities, but part is that same feeling that I’m developing ADD in my middle age. I’ve noticed the tendency is even worse for the youngins I work with, the ones who communicate predominantly by texting and twitter.

        Thus the reason I will force myself to read every goll darned page of that squids in space book for my own mental recouperation! :) It may take me a couple of years though. heh

        • triv33 permalink
          August 14, 2009 5:49 pm

          I am so fucked. I neither text nor tweet, but have mercy! Everything else is me to an embarrassing degree. I had always heard that curiosity killed the cat, but I never dreamed the bastard had it out for me too! I don’t care, it’s not like it’s going to stop me. One link leads to another and, damn it, I have to know!

  14. Stemella permalink*
    August 14, 2009 6:25 pm

    5 more banks bite the big one tonight, one of them a biggie. I sure hope the printing presses at the Fed keep the FDIC in the paper. This brings the total so far this year to 77 failures.

    Community Bank of Nevada, Las Vegas, NV
    Community Bank of Arizona, Phoenix, AZ
    Union Bank, National Association, Gilbert, AZ
    Colonial Bank, Montgomery AL <<<< biggest failure so far this year
    Dwelling House Savings and Loan Association, Pittsburgh, PA

    And in other phun phriday news, the monopolists with red plastic pieces on Park Place and Broadway are bailing, saying phuckit and walking away

    Hotel Owners Walking Away

  15. Stemella permalink*
    August 14, 2009 8:14 pm

    Need an inexpensive gift for a friend or loved one? Get them this priceless deck to build a house of cards, pour lighter fluid on it and send it to the stars.

    Appropriate as dart targets too

    Hat tip to crazy bat the hell out of shit while screaming at the banksters guy.

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