Less than a year before the 2008 collapse of Lehman Bros. plunged the global economy into a terrifying free fall, the Wall Street firm awarded nearly $700 million to 50 of its highest-paid employees, according to internal documents reviewed by The Times.
The documents, which were among the millions of pages submitted in Lehman’s bankruptcy, show the list of top earners each were pledged $8 million to $51 million in cash, stock and other compensation. How much, if any, of the stock was cashed in before the bankruptcy wiped out its value couldn’t be determined.
Still, the rich pay packages for so many people raised eyebrows even among compensation experts and provided fresh evidence of the money-driven Wall Street culture that was blamed for triggering the financial crisis.
“Many people are going to be stunned at how well some people were being paid,” said Brian Foley, an executive compensation expert in White Plains, N.Y. “This wasn’t a matter of five or six people being paid a lot.”
“There is a significant minority of shareholders who feel that we got some of these judgements [on remuneration] wrong for 2011 and that we have not sufficiently taken their views on board,” Mr Agius said at the bank’s annual meeting.
“For this I apologise and I assure you that in the future we will be engaging differently and more purposefully with shareholders in order to ensure that we obtain a broader level of support on remuneration policy and practice,” he said.
His speech provoked occasional heckles and sarcastic laughter.
The US Secret Service has confirmed an investigation into allegations that agents hired strippers and prostitutes in El Salvador, before a visit last year by US president Barack Obama.
A new report says Secret Service members had sex with strippers at a club in the Salvadoran capital, San Salvador, and took prostitutes into their hotel rooms last spring, senior politicians said on Thursday.
Someone said on NPR that this was the first time that you could legitimately use the words “sex scandal” and “President Obama” in the same sentence.
Of course, people try to discredit visiting officials. Part of the game. However the Secret Service should try to keep their whoring under control. Pay your bills, gentlemen.
Have you ever bought a brand new cars only to forget where you put it? How about 300 of them? Probably not – unless you’re Miami-Dade County, which was recently reunited with 298 vehicles it bought brand new between 2006 and 2007.
I must say, Samsung’s latest marketing stunt makes it’s “you’ve been Samsunged” campaign look genius.
So 16 percent of bestselling titles are exclusive to the Kindle Store — and the Department of Justice is investigating Apple’s iBookstore. Got it.
The House on Thursday approved cybersecurity legislation that privacy groups cautioned was a threat to civil liberties.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act, or CISPA, sponsored by Reps. Mike Rogers (R-Michigan) and Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Maryland), passed on a vote of 248 to 168.
Its goal is a more secure internet, but privacy groups fear the measure breaches Americans’ privacy along the way. The White House had weighed in on Wednesday, threatening a veto unless there were significant changes to increase consumer privacy. The bill was amended to provide more privacy protections, but it was not immediately known whether the Senate or the White House would give its blessing.
The measure, which some are decrying as the Son of SOPA, allows internet service providers to share information with the government, including the Department of Homeland Security and the National Security Agency, about cybersecurity threats it detects on the internet. An ISP is not required to shield any personally identifying data of its customers when it believes it has detected threats, which include attack signatures, malicious code, phishing sites or botnets. In short, the measure seeks to undo privacy laws that generally forbid ISPs from disclosing customer communications with anybody else unless with a court order.
The proposal immunizes ISPs from privacy lawsuits for voluntarily disclosing customer information thought to be a security threat. Internet companies are also granted anti-trust protection to immunize them against allegations of colluding on cybersecurity issues. The measure is not solely limited to cybersecurity, and includes the catchall phrase “national security.” CISPA also allows ISPs to bypass privacy laws and share data with fellow ISPs in a bid to promptly extinguish a cyberattack.
The Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) and the now-dead Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) are two very different beasts aimed at solving two distinctly separate problems, yet CISPA has been characterized in the media as a sequel to SOPA, in an effort to link a new and relatively obscure controversy to one that’s much better known.
CISPA, which is due to be voted on Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives, actually appears to be much worse than SOPA for Internet freedom advocates. These are the top reasons why…
5. SOPA would have destroyed website domains over copyright, but CISPA will destroy all semblance of privacy on the Internet.
CISPA proposes a merger of sorts between corporate and government networks, giving the National Security Agency full access to private user data and granting legal immunity to private entities who help them. That’s precisely why President Barack Obama brandished his veto pen this week, warning that he’ll send CISPA back to Congress if lawmakers don’t balance the bill’s national security interests with user privacy and civil liberties protections.
4. SOPA put media pirates in the sights of content creators, but CISPA puts whistleblowers and journalists in the sights of corporations and governments.
Imagine if Bank of America knew that WikiLeaks had obtained a cache of its internal documents the very instant that transmission was made, and a financial blockade were launched before WikiLeaks could even begin examining the files. Because CISPA words the definition of “cyber threat intelligence” to include “theft or misappropriation of private or government information” and “intellectual property,” that’s precisely what’s at stake here.
3. SOPA would have broken the core architecture of the Internet to censor individual websites, but CISPA could aid the censorship of entire societies.
By making anonymizing services into some kind of existential threat, CISPA could lead to whole societies seeing their last means of access to the free and open Internet choked out. That’s good for dictators — many of whom bought their network censorship technology from some of the same western companies clamoring for protection — but very, very bad for the people.
2. SOPA would have given too much power to content creators, but CISPA proposes complete spying freedom for an agency that’s wholly unaccountable.
What exactly is the NSA up to out in Utah? Other than constructing a massive new data center, nobody really knows, but whistleblowers have warned that the agency is creating, in effect, a new Manhattan Project — a machine that can access and categorize all electronic communications around the world. But since the NSA always claims the privilege of “state secrets,” not even the Supreme Court is willing to force them to talk.
1. SOPA was similar to a bailout for a few Hollywood studios, but CISPA is like a bailout for the whole tech industry.
After all, who wouldn’t want a government minder as a personal bodyguard during travels abroad? By placing the NSA on guard for corporate network security, big tech firms like AT&T, Verizon, IBM, Facebook and Google won’t be as hard-pressed by market forces — like rival companies and, yes, even hackers — to innovate their security technologies, leaving the heaviest lifting, and spending, up to Big Brother instead. If that’s not a bailout, what is?
Birds are famously good navigators. Some migrate thousands of miles, flying day and night, even when the stars are obscured. And for decades, scientists have known that one navigational skill they employ is an ability to detect variations in the earth’s magnetic field.
How this magnetic sense works, however, has been frustratingly difficult to figure out.
Now, two researchers at Baylor College of Medicine, Le-Qing Wu and David Dickman, have solved a key part of that puzzle, identifying cells in a pigeon’s brain that record detailed information on the earth’s magnetic field, a kind of biological compass.
“It’s a stunning piece of work,” David Keays of the Institute of Molecular Pathology in Vienna wrote in an e-mail. “Wu and Dickman have found cells in the pigeon brain that are tuned to specific directions of the magnetic field.” Their report appeared online in Science Express on Thursday. Kenneth Lohmann at the University of North Carolina, who also studies magnetic sensing, said in an e-mail that the study was “very exciting and important.”
Navigating by magnetism includes several steps. Birds have to have a way to detect a magnetic field, some part of the brain has to register that information, and, it seems likely that another part of the brain compares the incoming information to a stored map.
The Baylor researchers have offered a solution to the middle step. They identified a group of cells in the brain stem of pigeons that record both the direction and the strength of the magnetic field. And they have good, but not conclusive, evidence to suggest that the information these cells are recording is coming from the bird’s inner ear. Dr. Dickman said this research “is still something we want to pursue.”
They did not work on the third step, but Dr. Dickman said a good candidate for the location of that map was the hippocampus, the brain region involved in memory of locations in both birds and humans.
A well-known and often-mentioned study of London taxi drivers showed that experienced drivers with a mental map of London had a hippocampus larger in one area than people without their experience. In some birds that hide seeds and return later to their caches with astonishing accuracy, the hippocampus grows and shrinks seasonally, presumably as they map their hiding spots.
Efforts to understand the magnetic sense in birds have gone in several directions. Some researchers have offered evidence for chemical reactions in the eyes sensitive to magnetic signals, others for neurons in the beak containing minute amounts of magnetite, a mineral that is affected by magnetic fields.
Just a few weeks ago, Dr. Keays and colleagues reported in the journal Nature that the idea of neurons in the beak was a nonstarter. There were indeed cells with magnetite, but they weren’t neurons. The magnetic sense remained a mystery.
The Baylor researchers did a kind of step-by-step tracking of what areas in pigeons’ brains were responding to variations in an artificial magnetic field that they created. They focused on activity in the brainstem, one of the most primitive parts of the brain, partly because in earlier work they had shown that this area of the brain received signals from a part of the inner ear.
By looking at specific neurons in this part of the brain, the researchers found that the bird’s orientation determined which neurons were active. Each neuron was tuned to respond to signals from one direction. The neurons also registered the strength of the magnetic field.
Other brain regions are also active in response to magnetic stimulation and may be involved in the magnetic sense, Dr. Dickman said. And although he does not provide an answer to how birds detect magnetism, the research clearly falls on one side of a debate over whether magnetite is involved, or whether chemical reactions in the eye may be the key.
Dr. Keays said the research gave strong support to the magnetite idea and the hypothesis that “a population of undiscovered magnetoreceptive cells reside in the pigeon’s ear.”
As Dr. Lohmann said, the discovery “will no doubt inspire much additional work in the future.”