About a week ago, Typhoon Ketsana (known in the Phillippines as “Ondoy”) made landfall, and according to the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Ketsana dropped 455 mm (17.9 in) of rain on Metro Manila in a span of 24 hours on Saturday – the most in 42 years. A month’s worth of rainfall in a single day washed away homes and flooded large areas, stranding thousands on rooftops in the city and elsewhere. Ketsana later crossed over to Vietnam and Cambodia, where it is still active. Over 360 people are known to have been killed, and damage estimates are reaching $100 million. Unfortunately, another tropical storm may be headed toward the southern Philippines on Wednesday but is still 1,000 km (600 mi) off the coast. Here is a selection of photographs from the affected areas over the past week. (36 photos total)
Residents stand on electric wires to stay on high ground while others wade in neck-deep flood waters caused by Typhoon Ketsana in Cainta Rizal, east of Manila September 27, 2009. (REUTERS/Erik de Castro) #
“This bill is the most important legislation for financial institutions in the last 50 years. It provides a long-term solution for troubled thrift institutions. … All in all, I think we hit the jackpot.” So declared Ronald Reagan in 1982, as he signed the Garn-St. Germain Depository Institutions Act.
He was, as it happened, wrong about solving the problems of the thrifts. On the contrary, the bill turned the modest-sized troubles of savings-and-loan institutions into an utter catastrophe. But he was right about the legislation’s significance. And as for that jackpot — well, it finally came more than 25 years later, in the form of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.
Slovenia’s Parliament on Wednesday voted to raise the tax rate on top wages to 90 percent in firms that receive state aid or state guarantees, imposing one of the highest tax rates in the world.
The new 90 percent maximum tax rate imposed by the euro zone member on net wages is up from 41 percent at present and will expire at the end of 2010 or after state aid to a company expires.
It will apply to managers’ wages that exceed 12,500 euros ($18,470) per month and to bonuses that exceed 25,000 euros per year. The new rate gained support by all parliamentary groups and was imposed by a vast majority of votes.
‘The new tax will have a small influence on the budget as it only applies to a limited number of companies but it still sends an important signal to people in such strained times,’ Borut Hocevar, an editor at daily Zurnal24, told Reuters.
Yesterday, five Democratic United States Senators Max Baucus (D-Mont), Kent Conrad (D-ND), Blanche Lincoln (D-Ark), Bill Nelson (D-Fla) and Tom Carper (D-Del) voted against the a proposal to put a government administered public option in the health reform bill that will come out of the Senate Finance Committee.
Americans support the notion of a government administered health insurance plan by a margin of 65% to 26%. According to the same poll, people who identify themselves as Democrats favor the public option by a margin of 81% to 12%. That’s nearly 7 to 1 in favor of, yet the representatives of the Democrat party in the Senate Finance Committee only voted for the public option at a ratio of 8 to 5. Perhaps the most interesting number revealed by this poll is that Republican voters favor the public option 47% to 42%.
So why can’t the people’s representatives in Washington get behind the public option? Specifically, why can’t these five Democrats get behind it when 81% of people in their party want the option. The answer I’d like to hear is that less than 50% of the voters they represent back home oppose the public option so they’re voting on behalf of their constituents, however, the numbers we see in the NYT/CBS poll make that extremely unlikely. So if that’s not the reason, what is? One likely answer is money. Look at the amount of money the health industry has pumped into these five Democrat’s coffers:
Giz reader Manoj took his iPhone to the Genius Bar to have it looked at because it was dropping calls left and right, and AT&T swore stuff was totally kosher on their end, so he thought something was wrong with his phone. After doing a stat dump, the Genius showed Manoj that his iPhone had actually dropped 22 percent of calls.
The jawdropper: The Genius told Manoj that’s actually excellent compared to most people in the New York area, where a 30 percent dropped call rate is the average. There was nothing Apple could do for Manoj. His phone was totally fine. Which means there’s nothing Apple can do for rest of us.
The best thing Apple can do for the future of the iPhone right now is drop all the exclusive contracts with providers..
The UK Border Agency has scientists “horrified” at a weird, eugenics-flavoured proposal to test asylum seekers’ DNA to determine if they are truly and purely of the “race” they claim to be from. Even the scientists who pioneered DNA fingerprinting and related techniques call the idea “horrifying,” “naive” and “flawed.”
My dear friend Al Gore has teamed up with Google to create some Google Earth videos intended to bore people to death scare the shit out of people.
Naturally the U.S. press is totally ignoring the story, but luckily some paper in Austria has taken the brave step of sharing this terrifying information with the world. And Google has set up a special landing page where you can see what will happen to the planet as the temperatures keep going up.
You’ve often heard that the Internet is a dangerous place and you’ve probably read about threats such as botnets, keystroke loggers and drive-by installations of malware through rigged Web sites. But what is malware really? How do cybercriminals launch their malicious attacks? McAfee is offering you the chance to find out with the unique and exclusive McAfee Malware Experience.
Join experts from McAfee Avert Labs and have a chance to create a Trojan horse, commandeer a botnet, install a rootkit and experience first hand how easy it is to modify websites to serve up malware. Of course this will all be done in the safe and closed environment, ensuring that what you create doesn’t actually go out onto the Internet.
At McAfee they probably call this the “job security seminar”..
Germany’s elections have seen one small special-interest party notch up an impressive performance. The Pirate Party proved popular with first-time male voters — to the tune of 13 percent — and won 2 percent of the overall vote. Party members are already dreaming of a bigger, brighter future.
Granted, it’s not enough for the party to enter the German government, since a political party has to get 5 percent of the vote to do that. But for political newcomers like the Pirates, this can be interpreted as a success worth paying attention to. In many large German cities, they even got as much as 3 percent of the vote. And they were particularly popular among first-time male voters, from whom they might have won as much as 13 percent of the vote.
So who’s behind “CO2 is green” and this advert? One of its founders is H Leighton Steward who, until his retirement in 2000, was the vice chairman of Burlington Resources, a Houston-based oil and gas company bought by ConocoPhillips in 2006. Steward received the American Petroleum Institute’s Gold Medal for Distinguished Achievement in 2001 and remains an honorary director of the oil industry lobby group. In other words, we can conclude that this man boasts a particular pedigree within the oil industry.
The Washington Post (which admits it has taken a half-page advert from the “CO2 is green” group) is reporting that Steward, along with some associates, is now trying to establish the group as a charity.
For extra merriment, visit the “CO2 is green” website and read the “Why do people believe these myths?” section: “They have been misinformed by people that benefit financially from propagating the myth.” Oh, the irony.
Jammie Thomas-Rasset and Joel Tenenbaum captured the nation’s attention when they were defendants in the RIAA’s first two trials against accused online infringers. But here’s the mind-warping reality: both defendants would have been far better off monetarily if they had simply ignored the complaint altogether and failed to show up in court.
That counterintuitive logic played out again this week in Massachusetts, where federal judge Nancy Gertner issued four default judgments against accused P2P file-swappers who never bothered to respond to the charges against them. Their failure to appear meant an automatic loss, and though the judge does have some discretion in setting penalties, judges often pick the minimum awards in such cases.
That was true in all four cases, where Gertner accepted the record labels’ claims and awarded them the minimum statutory damages of $750 per song. The defendants were accused of downloading an average of ten songs, putting total awards in the $7,500 range, in addition to a few hundred more for court costs.
Having $7,500 in damages assessed against you by a federal court is no picnic, but it pales in comparison to the two twenty-somethings who actually showed up to court, got attorneys, went through a multiyear process and a nationally covered trial, and came out the other side owing far more money.
A brewery has launched a low alcohol beer called Nanny State after being branded irresponsible for creating the UK’s “strongest beer”.
Scottish brewer BrewDog, of Fraserburgh, was criticised for Tokyo* which has an alcohol content of 18.2%.
Campaigners welcomed the 1.1% alcohol Nanny State but said the name showed a lack of appreciation of the problem
Their next beer will be “Fuck off, you cunts!,” and have 25% alcohol.
barkeep: what'll you have?
patron: fuck off, you cunt!
I don’t think this means what she thinks it means, and wikipedia agrees
Last March, Sally Harpold, an Indiana grandmother of triplets, bought two boxes of cold medication in less than a week. Together, the two boxes contained 3.6 grams of pseudoephedrine, putting her in violation of the state’s methamphetamine-fighting law, which forbids the purchase of more than three grams by one person in a seven-day period.
Police came to Harpold’s home, arrested and handcuffed her, and booked her in a Vermillion County jail. No one believes Harpold was making meth or aiding anyone who was. But local authorities aren’t apologizing for her arrest.
The best way to fight the War On Drugs is to arrest grandmothers who buy cough medicine for their grand-kids, right?
Nobody tell the TSA, but last month someone tried to assassinate a Saudi prince by exploding a bomb stuffed in his rectum. He pretended to be a repentant militant, when in fact he was a Trojan horse:
The resulting explosion ripped al-Asiri to shreds but only lightly injured the shocked prince — the target of al-Asiri’s unsuccessful assassination attempt.
For years, I have made the joke about Richard Reid: “Just be glad that he wasn’t the underwear bomber.” Now, sadly, we have an example of one.
Next up for each traveller: mandatory rectal exams before each flight.
The Transport Ministry has clarified the terms of a new law that restricts the use of cellphones in cars, saying that from November it will be illegal to use a mobile phone as a satellite navigation aid while driving.
“You can use a mobile phone held in a cradle while driving, but only to make, receive or terminate a phone call. You cannot use them in any other way, such as reading a GPS map, reading email or consulting an electronic diary.”
The restriction does not apply to navigation systems that do not have a mobile phone function, he says.
So what if you mount both a phone and a satnav device directly next to each other, and have both run the same satnav software – you’re allowed to look at only one of them? How does that even make sense?
The Children’s Minister has ordered a review of the case of two police officers told they had broken the law by caring for each other’s children.
The NSW Department of Education is using asset-tracking software, RFID tags, and BIOS-embedded filtering smarts to roll out 240,000 netbook computers into what CIO Stephen Wilson calls “the most hostile environment you can roll computers into” – the local high school.
I guess the 98% of students who are not thieves and hackers will be pleased to be treated as if they are…
# 2007 marked the fifth straight year in which income gains at the top outpaced those of the rest of the population.
# The proportionate share of the nation’s total income going to the top 1% of households also rose sharply, from 16.9% in 2002 to 23.5% in 2007. This was a larger share than at any time since 1928. (In 2000, at the peak of the 1990s boom, the top 1% took home 21.5% of total national income.)
# Income gains have been even more shocking among those at the extreme top of the income scale.
# The incomes of the top 1/10th of 1% of U.S. households grew by 94% or by $3.5 million between 2002 and 2007.
# The overall share of the total national income flowing to the top 1/10th of 1% rose from 7.3% in 2002 to 12.3% in 2007.
# These are the most lopsided figures in Piketty-Saez data going back to 1913, surpassing even the previous peak in 1928.
Amazing.. I think we should immediately give the rich another tax break!
When Daly City resident Rosalinda Miran-Ramirez woke up one morning in April to find her left breast bleeding from the nipple, she panicked. The shirt she had been sleeping in was saturated with blood. So her husband took her to the emergency room at Seton Medical Center.
“In my mind I know something serious is going on,” said Miran-Ramirez. “I need to see a doctor.”
Doctors found a tumor and initially told her she had breast cancer. A biopsy later proved that assumption false; the tumor was benign.
But Miran-Ramirez said the real shock came when her insurance company, Blue Shield of California HMO, which had initially approved the claim for the emergency room visit, reversed course and sent her a new bill three months later requiring her to pay the total charges for that visit: $2,791.00.
Why? Documents from Blue Shield indicate the company had reviewed the case and determined Miran-Ramirez “reasonably should have known that an emergency did not exist.”
Just to make clear: bleeding breasts are clearly not an emergency!
Oh, unless the press gets wind of it, of course:
But there is good news: after CBS 5 Investigates asked Blue Shield about Miran-Ramirez’ case, the company said it was reviewing the case again and has now agreed to pay all charges for the emergency room visit.
A landmark ruling in a recent Kansas Supreme Court case may have given millions of distressed homeowners the legal wedge they need to avoid foreclosure. In Landmark National Bank v. Kesler, 2009 Kan. LEXIS 834, the Kansas Supreme Court held that a nominee company called MERS has no right or standing to bring an action for foreclosure. MERS is an acronym for Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems, a private company that registers mortgages electronically and tracks changes in ownership. The significance of the holding is that if MERS has no standing to foreclose, then nobody has standing to foreclose – on 60 million mortgages.
All over the country, lawyers are contesting foreclosures because of similar chain-of-custody issues. I have some material about this coming out in my next Rolling Stone story, so I can’t get into this too much, but suffice to say the lenders and the banks were extremely sloppy about their paperwork (at best — there is a fraud angle as well) and jammed up the system with missing and/or mismarked mortgage notes. Since a sale isn’t legal unless there’s full transfer of the physical note, a lot of the sales of mortgage-backed securities were not entirely legal, since the actual notes were often not transferred.
Nothing like waking up in the morning and finding out a whole sector of the economy is completely screwed. Are these good times or what?
The moderator asked the panelists (which included Nobel Laureate microfinance guru Muhammad Yunus) which innovation they’d most like to see emerge next. And the innovation Gore would most like to see? The emergence of sustainable capitalism, he said. Which would need to include placing an adequate cost on externalities, the like emissions generated from burning coal and the byproducts of manufacturing. As it is, some commodities and processes (coal, oil) are far too cheap–their price doesn’t factor in the pollution and contamination they create. The companies that trade and use them dodge the price tag of environmental messes that other people must clean up, and the ill health effects others must pay to remedy.
In a highly unusual move, a federal judge has ordered Google to deactivate the email account of a user who was mistakenly sent confidential financial information by a bank.
The order, issued Wednesday by U.S. District Court Judge James Ware in the northern district of California, also requires Google to disclose the Gmail account holder’s identity and contact information. The Gmail user hasn’t been accused of any wrongdoing.
The ruling stems from a monumental error by the Wilson, Wyo.-based Rocky Mountain Bank. On Aug. 12, the bank mistakenly sent names, addresses, social security numbers and loan information of more than 1,300 customers to a Gmail address. When the bank realized the problem, it sent a message to that same address asking the recipient to contact the bank and destroy the file without opening it. No one responded, so the bank contacted Google to ask for information about the account holder.
Banks are clearly above the law and more important than the mail of a mere peon.
There’s a new site out that claims to be able to track clicks in the iTunes store.
If you have some time, click on one or more of these links below – you don’t have to buy, of course, but I’m curious how well they track:
Noting that he received a copy of the Constitution when he was sworn in as a senator, he proceeded to read it to Kris, emphasizing this part: “no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
“That’s pretty explicit language,” noted Franken, asking Kris how the “roving wiretap” provision of the Patriot Act can meet that requirement if it doesn’t require the government to name its target.
Kris looked flustered and mumbled that “this is surreal,” apparently referring to having to respond to Franken’s question. “I would defer to the other branch of government,” he said, referring to the courts, prompting Franken to interject: “I know what that is.”
Kris explained that the courts have held that the law’s requirements that the person be described, though not named, is sufficient to meet the demands of the Constitution. That did not appear to completely satisfy Franken’s concerns.