The European Commission analysis of ACTA’s Internet chapter has leaked, indicating that the U.S. is seeking to push laws that extend beyond the WIPO Internet treaties and beyond current European Union law (the EC posted the existence of the document last week but refused to make it publicly available). The document contains detailed comments on the U.S. proposal, confirming the U.S. desire to promote a three-strikes and you’re out policy, a Global DMCA, harmonized contributory copyright infringement rules, and the establishment of an international notice-and-takedown policy.
Shit like this make me eager for as fast a collapse of the entire USA as possible. Could China please collect their debts right away and sell the remains of the country in the smallest possible pieces?
The EU justice and home affairs minister are about to agree on a large-scale banking data sharing plan with the United States. The agreement will have a massive impact on the privacy of banking data of European businesses and citizens.
The move of SWIFT the data server to Switzerland would be an excellent opportunity to stop the nearly unlimited access of US authorities on EU bank transactions. But EU justice and interior minister are apparently keen agree a deal as soon as possible, on 30 November. Why 30 November? Because one day later, on 1 December 2009, the EU’s Lisbon Treaty will be in force and would allow the European Parliament to play a major role in the negotiations of the deal with the USA. A deal one day before will be a slap in the face of democracy in the EU.
SWIFT handles 15 mio bank transactions daily for more than 9000 banks worldwide. Nearly every transnational bank transaction within the EU is recorded in the SWIFT data centers, including amount, sender, recipient, and transaction comments. The agreement will even allow to transmit “other personal data”.
The most suprising fact related to the EU negotiations with the US is the missing demand of reciprocity. In other words: while the US will be able to access EU banking data no access to US banking data by EU auhtoirties is being foreseen.
In the early hours this morning, boffins at the controls of the Large Hadron Collider brought the colossal particle-punisher up to beam energies of 1.18 tera-electron-volts (TeV), breaking the world atomsmasher record of 0.98 TeV held by the US Tevatron. The LHC is now officially the most powerful matter-rending machine in operation.
The Royal Society’s head of archives, Keith Moore, talks about some of them in an audio slideshow.
The papers (warning – they’re all PDFs) include:
Isaac Newton’s New Theory on Light And Colors. (1672)
The Electrical Kite of Benjamin Franklin. (1752)
If you ask most people why the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday, they’ll explain that the name stems from retailers using the day’s huge receipts as their opportunity to “get in the black” and become profitable for the year. The first recorded uses of the term “Black Friday” are a bit less rosy, though.
According to researchers, the name “Black Friday” dates back to Philadelphia in the mid-1960s. The Friday in question is nestled snugly between Thanksgiving and the traditional Army-Navy football game that’s played in Philadelphia on the following Saturday, so the City of Brotherly Love was always bustling with activity on that day. All of the people were great for retailers, but they were a huge pain for police officers, cab drivers, and anyone who had to negotiate the city’s streets. They started referring to the annual day of commercial bedlam as “Black Friday” to reflect how irritating it was.
So where did the whole “get in the black” story originate?
Apparently storeowners didn’t love having their biggest shopping day saddled with such a negative moniker, so in the early 1980s someone began floating the accounting angle to put a more positive spin on the big day.
In other words: marketing propaganda.
According to the Times, this federal bailout was intended to save 4 million homes from foreclosure, yet there are only approximately 650,000 homes in the program to date. A previous report showed that ONLY 2,000 of the then 500,000 in process had their loan modifications made permanent.
The government incentive for this was $1,000 at the time the terms were renegotiated, plus another $1,000 per year for up to 3 years. I’m guessing they believed that after 3 years home prices would go back up and homeowners would then be able to sell or refinance. Of course, $1,000 payment from the government is hardly a meaningful incentive to forgo many thousands of dollars of interest. These renegotiations often took the form of deferred interest payments. That is, adding the interest onto the principle amount cause the base amount of the mortgage to continue to grow and grow.
This was a dumb idea on several fronts:
1) The loan servicers don’t give a damn if the loan defaults. In fact, perversely, it is to the servicer’s short term benefit if the loan does go into default because the servicer is then entitled to all kinds of additional fees.
2) The reason the servicers don’t care if the loan goes into default, is that the servicers don’t own the mortgage; so if the mortgage is suddenly worthless, the servicer is not the one taking the loss, the owner of the mortgage is.
3) The owners of these mortgages that have been pooled together and sold off as securities are pension funds and municipalities and college endowments. They don’t own a specific mortgage, just a percentage of a pool of thousands of mortgages held in trust for their benefit. They will take the loss if the mortgage defaults. Or will they?
4) Don’t forget all those “credit default swaps” that we had to bail out AIG for. Many Mortgage Backed Securities have insurance policies on them that are supposed to pay some or all of the loss if the security fails. The insurer has no power to recast the mortgage to mitigate that loss, though. However, the insurers have, or expect, government bailouts and back up guarantees to prevent an insurance industry collapse.
5) What about the Trustee who holds all these mortgages for the benefit of the pension plans, etc., who bought the mortgage backed securities? You would think as a fiduciary for the security holders that the Trustee would have some incentive to mitigate the losses by getting a reduced, but flowing, income stream rather than no income stream at all. But often the trust agreement does not give the Trustee the power to recast these loans.
So, who suffers? The homeowner who does not have a person to negotiate with, the pension funds and school districts who may face a total loss if their securities don’t have insurance or if the government does not bail out the specific insurance company that wrote the credit default policy on their particular security; and of course, the taxpayers because Treasury keeps just giving away and giving away more and more money with no actual performance standards or benchmarks.
BNP leader Nick Griffin, who has said global warming is “essentially a hoax”, will be at the Copenhagen climate change conference.
The MEP will be there representing the European Parliament, as he sits on its environment committee.
The BNP said he would be “the only politician there prepared to say that the science is somewhat dodgy”.
In its infamous Kelo decision in 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 that a New London, Conn., redevelopment agency could seize people’s private homes by eminent domain not only for public works but also for corporate development.
The well-laid plans of redevelopers, however, did not pan out. The land where Suzette Kelo’s little pink house once stood remains undeveloped. The proposed hotel-retail-condo “urban village” has not been built. And earlier this month, Pfizer Inc. announced that it is closing the $350 million research center in New London that was the anchor for the New London redevelopment plan, and will be relocating some 1,500 jobs.
“They stole our home for economic development,” ousted homeowner Michael Cristofaro told the New York Times. “It was all for Pfizer, and now they get up and walk away.”
It probably seemed a good idea at the time. But Russia’s attempt to create a joint gas venture with Nigeria is set to become one of the classic branding disasters of all time ‑ after the new company was named Nigaz.
Osama bin Laden was unquestionably within reach of U.S. troops in the mountains of Tora Bora when American military leaders made the crucial and costly decision not to pursue the terrorist leader with massive force, a Senate report says.
The report asserts that the failure to kill or capture bin Laden at his most vulnerable in December 2001 has had lasting consequences beyond the fate of one man. Bin Laden’s escape laid the foundation for today’s reinvigorated Afghan insurgency and inflamed the internal strife now endangering Pakistan, it says.
At the time, Rumsfeld expressed concern that a large U.S. troop presence might fuel a backlash and he and some others said the evidence was not conclusive about bin Laden’s location.
Or, you could simply say that Bin Laden was more useful to Bush and Rumsfeld alive.
Following a pipe bomb explosion Monday night, police and federal law enforcement officials are trying to figure why a Center Avenue man turned his apartment into a bomb factory.
Police said no charges have been filed against Mark Campano, 56. Police found 30 completed pipe bombs in his apartment along with components to make more, plus 17 guns and hundreds of rounds of ammunition.
No charges? Probably because he didn’t say “Allah Ahkbar!”
Parents who want to accompany their children to Christmas carol services and other festive activities are being officially vetted for criminal records in case they are paedophiles.
Graham McArthur, headmaster of Somersham primary school in Cambridgeshire, said checks on the two dozen parents volunteering to walk his 330 pupils to the carol service at nearby St John’s church on December 17 were necessary — even though they will be accompanied by teachers and a police community support escort when crossing the road.
“We rely quite a lot on parental volunteers. It is a community school and parental engagement is very important to being part of the community,” McArthur said.
“For the carol service they will need clearance [from the banned list] which is basically something we can do on the day. You need to see details of who they are, where they live and make several phone calls.
“Parents accept it’s about safeguarding the welfare of children. They accept it only has to be done once and it’s a necessary chore.”
These parents are fucking sheep. They should loudly complain about this waste and idiocy and very publicly state their children will not be part of this – and given the recent revelations in Ireland, they should probably insist the priests at the carol service be checked instead.
The Space Shuttle Discovery approaches the International Space Station for docking but before the link-up occurred, the orbiter “posed” for a thorough series of inspection photos. Here’s one:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton expressed “great regret” in August that the U.S. is not a signatory to the International Criminal Court (ICC). This has fueled speculation that the Obama administration may reverse another Bush policy and sign up for what could lead to the trial of Americans for war crimes in The Hague.
The ICC’s chief prosecutor, though, has no intention of waiting for Washington to submit to the court’s authority. Luis Moreno Ocampo says he already has jurisdiction—at least with respect to Afghanistan.
Because Kabul in 2003 ratified the Rome Statute—the ICC’s founding treaty—all soldiers on Afghan territory, even those from nontreaty countries, fall under the ICC’s oversight, Mr. Ocampo told me. And the chief prosecutor says he is already conducting a “preliminary examination” into whether NATO troops, including American soldiers, fighting the Taliban may have to be put in the dock.
“We have to check if crimes against humanity, war crimes or genocide have been committed in Afghanistan,” Mr. Ocampo told me. “There are serious allegations against the Taliban and al Qaeda and serious allegations about warlords, even against some who are connected with members of the government.” Taking up his inquiry of Allied soldiers, he added, “there are different reports about problems with bombings and there are also allegations about torture.”
It was clear who the targets of these particular inquiries are but the chief prosecutor shied away from spelling it out.
Today, November 27th, marks the beginning of 2009’s Eid al-Adha, the Muslim “Festival of Sacrifice”, commemorating the willingness of Ibrahim (Abraham) to sacrifice his son to God. Muslims around the world will celebrate by slaughtering animals to commemorate God’s gift of a ram to substitute for Abraham’s son, distributing the meat amongst family, friends and the poor. Eid al-Adha also takes place immediately after the Hajj, a pilgrimage to Mecca that is a pillar of Islamic Faith. Some 2.5 million Muslim faithful from all over the world descended on Mecca this year, many encountering an unusual occurance: heavy flooding due to recent torrential rains. Collected below are photographs from this year’s Hajj and observance of Eid al-Adha. (38 photos total)
Muslim pilgrims on their way to throw pebbles at a stone pillar representing the devil, during the Hajj pilgrim in Mina near Mecca, Saudi Arabia, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009. The last stage of the annual Hajj pilgrimage, the symbolic stoning of the devil, began on Friday. (AP Photo/Hassan Ammar) #
Should we use taxes to deter financial speculation? Yes, say top British officials, who oversee the City of London, one of the world’s two great banking centers. Other European governments agree — and they’re right.
Such a tax would be a trivial expense for people engaged in foreign trade or long-term investment; but it would be a major disincentive for people trying to make a fast buck (or euro, or yen) by outguessing the markets over the course of a few days or weeks. It would, as Tobin said, “throw some sand in the well-greased wheels” of speculation.
This would be a bad thing if financial hyperactivity were productive. But after the debacle of the past two years, there’s broad agreement — I’m tempted to say, agreement on the part of almost everyone not on the financial industry’s payroll — with Mr. Turner’s assertion that a lot of what Wall Street and the City do is “socially useless.” And a transactions tax could generate substantial revenue, helping alleviate fears about government deficits. What’s not to like?
Dubai is finally financially bankrupt – but it has been morally bankrupt all along. The idea that Dubai is an oasis of freedom on the Arabian peninsular is one of the great lies of our time.
Yes, it has Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts and the Gucci styles, but beneath these accoutrements, there is a dictatorship built by slaves.
If you go there with your eyes open – as I did earlier this year – the truth is hidden in plain view. The tour books and the bragging Emiratis will tell you the city was built by Sheikh Mohammed, the country’s hereditary ruler.
It is untrue. The people who really built the city can be seen in long chain-gangs by the side of the road, or toiling all day at the top of the tallest buildings in the world, in heat that Westerners are told not to stay in for more than 10 minutes. They were conned into coming, and trapped into staying.
In their home country – Bangladesh or the Philippines or India – these workers are told they can earn a fortune in Dubai if they pay a large upfront fee. When they arrive, their passports are taken from them, and they are told their wages are a tenth of the rate they were promised.
They end up working in extremely dangerous conditions for years, just to pay back their initial debt. They are ringed-off in filthy tent-cities outside Dubai, where they sleep in weeping heat, next to open sewage. They have no way to go home. And if they try to strike for better conditions, they are beaten by the police.
I met so many men in this position I stopped counting, just as the embassies were told to stop counting how many workers die in these conditions every year after they figured it topped more than 1,000 among the Indians alone.