Roundup – Protecting Rights in the Shadow of Terror

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Line O’ the Day:

“How far can [the current Depression] go and how long will it last? Dude, if I knew that, I would already own the Raiders and move their training camp to Denver just to piss off the Bronco faithful.” – Todd Harrison, The “Us” vs. “Them” Depression [Minyanville]

Best of the Best:

Here Are The Discovery Hostage Taker’s Insane and Retarded Demands [Warming Glow]

Until we get more developments, let’s sift through Lee’s demands.  His crazy, crazy demands.  The short version: he hates ‘filthy human children,’ ‘parasitic human infants,’ war, civilization, and immigration.  Likes: forest animals.  Buckle up for a long, crazy ride.

The Winner (Loser?) Of The Absolute Worst Masturbation Story [Jezebel]

For anyone who read with mounting sympathetic horror the triple whammy of Ken Doll + Pliers + DAD, it’ll come as no shock that “Ken” swept this field…beating out inadvertent performances, magnolia buds, clueless toddlers and lascivious stuffed animals.

China and India: A War of Giants [Eric Margolis via LRC]

In spite of million-man armed forces and nuclear weapons, India feels increasingly threatened by China’s rise. The Indians know full well that China expects obedience from its neighbors. Even a small border clash between these two assertive giants could light the fuse of a broad and very frightening conflict. The scramble for oil and gas offers ample causes of yet more conflict in Central Asia and even the Gulf, where today America rules supreme.

U.S. drones to watch entire Mexico border from September 1 [Reuters]

The U.S. government will have unmanned surveillance aircraft monitoring the whole southwest border with Mexico from September 1, as it ramps up border security in this election year, a top official said on Monday.

Exhaustive San Fran Fed Study Finds That, Gasp, Immigrants Are Good For The Economy [Giovanni Peri via the Federal Reserve Bank of San Francisco via ZeroHedge]

The U.S. economy is dynamic, shedding and creating hundreds of thousands of jobs every month. Businesses are in a continuous state of flux. The most accurate way to gauge the net impact of immigration on such an economy is to analyze the effects dynamically over time. Data show that, on net, immigrants expand the U.S. economy’s productive capacity, stimulate investment, and promote specialization that in the long run boosts productivity. Consistent with previous research, there is no evidence that these effects take place at the expense of jobs for workers born in the United States.

Samsung’s Rebounding Lee Sees Product Crisis With Surging Sales [Yoolim Lee on Bloomberg]

In the past decade, Samsung Electronics has rocketed past Sony Corp. as the largest maker of flat-panel TVs. It has edged out Hewlett-Packard Co. in color laser printers that scan, fax and copy. It’s also the biggest in other technology-dependent areas such as liquid-crystal-display TVs and computer monitors. No. 2 in mobile phones, Samsung is pushing the Galaxy S smartphone to challenge Apple Inc.’s iPhone and narrow the gap with leader Nokia Oyj. Samsung claimed a 22 percent global mobile-phone share in the first quarter, up from 14.4 percent in 2007, when it overtook Motorola Inc., market researcher Strategy Analytics says.

Dozens detained at anti-Kremlin rallies [Reuters]

Putin robustly defended police crackdowns on pro-democracy protesters in an interview published Monday. “Go without permission, and you will be hit on the head with batons. That’s all there is to it,” he said.

Venezuela hunger striker’s death angers Chavez foes [Reuters via Yahoo!]

A Venezuelan farmer who died after a hunger strike to protest President Hugo Chavez’s land takeover policies was denied his own doctor and has become a symbol for the oppressed, his mourning family said.

AGL Electricity Account [27b/6]

During school holidays when I was about ten, I attempted to construct a robot from household appliances which included a blender, Atari 2600 and Vacuum cleaner. My intention was to have it completed before the holidays ended so that it could accompany me to school and kill Bradley McPherson who had stolen my Casio calculator watch. After realising that the project would entail actual engineering knowledge and being told to “clean up that fucking mess in the shed”, I instead told everyone at school that Bradley’s mum had told my mum that he had been born with both a penis and a vagina and had to wear special underpants to keep the two separated.


Hunter S. Thompson wrote “Football Season Is Over” at the top of his suicide note. The end of football season was, for him, a convenient time to check out of life via gunshot. It is not hard to understand why: looking out the window in February, when the whistle has sounded and big men pour into physical rehab or the bars for the winter, is bleak as hell’s backyard no matter where you are. Up north there is snow, more snow, and grey cottony skies blocking the sun for months at a time. Down south the trees spit their leaves, and half of the mid-South looks like the back of a porcupine’s ass. In Florida, the snow birds pace the sidewalks like bedraggled death-herons lurching from one cafeteria to the next. It may be the most macabre of all scenarios, but you wouldn’t believe it until you see it.

“Bubbling” Tricks Your Mind To See Anyone Naked [Gizmodo]

A legend born: A young Mormon, forbidden from looking at porn, discovers a way to Photoshop safe-for-work bikini shots in such a way to let his mind fill in the blanks. It’s not porn if it’s in your brain.

Why Saving Is Right and Economists Are Wrong [Jeff Harding via Minyanville]

Examples of economic Newspeak flourish, especially if you listen to President Obama’s economic team. My favorite example is the present conflict between consumer spending and consumer saving. Since the crash, consumers have cut back on spending and are increasing their savings. Most economists are saying this is bad for the economy; they urge us to spend, spend, spend to save the economy. Actually, it’s just the opposite: Saving is the road to recovery.

Student Loan Debt > Credit Card Debt ? [Jess Bachman via The Big Picture]

Do Student Loans Make Eduction Affordable? You just assumed they did. It turns out to be a far seedier picture, if you ask College Scholarships.org! Jess Bachman, who did several of the fantastic illustrations for Bailout Nation, turns his attention to this infographic of the scam that is Student Loan collections.

Dick Fuld’s Fantastic Revisionism ! [Barry Ritholtz on The Big Picture]

The fantasy world inhabited by Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld was given a surprisingly sympathetic ear from an unexpected forum yesterday: The Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission. This is a deeply disturbing development, as it leads to the unfortunate suspicion that the FCIC does not have the slightest clue as to the causes of the housing collapse, recession and and market crash.

Abandoned boats litter waters in tough economy [USA Today]

In the San Francisco Bay Area, as many boats were reported abandoned by the Coast Guard in the first quarter of 2009 as in all of 2008, says Deb Self, executive director of San Francisco Baykeeper, an environmental group. The number of eyesores, many of them leaking fuel and chemicals, continued to grow this year, from 64 in February to 76 this month, even after 12 boats were hauled away, Self says.
Philly requiring bloggers to pay $300 for a business license [Beltway Confidential on Washington Examiner]
After dutifully reporting even the smallest profits on their tax filings this year, a number — though no one knows exactly what that number is — of Philadelphia bloggers were dispatched letters informing them that they owe $300 for a privilege license, plus taxes on any profits they made. Even if, as with Sean Barry, that profit is $11 over two years.

The Persistence of Red State Fascism [Anthony Gregory via LRC]

There are many on the tea party right who can be reached, but they must abandon conservatism to become reliable opponents of the regime. So long as they retain the baggage of nationalism – perhaps the worst of all forms of tribalism and collectivism – and cling to their reactionary culture war, they will continue to be unreliable allies at best, losing sight of the state that enslaves us all, or worse, petitioning it to expand its power and crack more skulls so as to protect their sense of cultural and national identity.

Palestinian Opinion: A Turn to Pragmatism [David Pollock via RealClearWorld] and Attitude Factors in the Search for Israeli-Palestinian Peace: A Comprehensive Review of Recent Polls [Alvin Richman on World Public Opinion]

As Palestinian Authority (PA) president Mahmoud Abbas prepares to begin peace talks with Israeli prime minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Washington this week, two just-released Palestinian polls offer some promising news, at odds with the tragic echoes of last night’s Hamas terrorism in Hebron. Until now, much of the media has speculated about Palestinian popular opposition to the negotiations. But the two new polls, taken separately in the first half of August, show that the people of the West Bank and Gaza are now swinging solidly behind compromise positions on several contentious core issues.

Iran’s Next President? [Meir Javedanfar on The Diplomat]

Yet confidence is a reflection of how you see yourself, and based on that—no matter what others think of him—Ahmadinejad acts as if he wields genuine power. It’s this perception of himself that has presumably prompted him to embark on a mission that many would see as far too ambitious for a leader of his standing: grooming his successor. The decision as to who will be Iran’s next president is, of course, ultimately up to Khamenei. But this doesn’t seem to be preventing Ahmadinejad from having a go at choosing him. And who does he have his eye on to succeed him? His first choice seems to be his former first vice president, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai.

U.S. Soldiers Film Themselves Pranking Iraqi by Planting a Grenade In His Trunk [Gawker]

A reality TV show that pranks celebrities by planting fake bombs in their cars is causing a stir in Iraq. But a couple months ago, U.S. soldiers filmed themselves planting a live grenade in an Iraqi’s trunk as a “prank.”

Why Sarrazin’s Integration Demagoguery Has Many Followers [Der Spiegel]

That, in fact, is the first of three big questions the book has raised: In what country are we living? After the 2006 World Cup, it seemed that Germany had become cheerful and cosmopolitan. But the popular approval of Sarrazin leads us to question whether there isn’t an underlying xenophobia after all…The second question the debate raises concerns the current state of affairs. Is Sarrazin right when he claims that the integration of Turks and Arabs has largely been a failure?…The third question has to do with the relationship between the political and journalistic class with the rest of the country. Do citizens feel abandoned on the question of integration? Or, asked another way, does Germany have a fertile breeding ground for the kind of populist right-wing party that is already par for the course in many European countries?

China and India: Contest of the century [The Economist]

China has officially become the world’s second-biggest economy, overtaking Japan. In the West this has prompted concerns about China overtaking the United States sooner than previously thought. But stand back a little farther, apply a more Asian perspective, and China’s longer-term contest is with that other recovering economic behemoth: India. These two Asian giants, which until 1800 used to make up half the world economy, are not, like Japan and Germany, mere nation states. In terms of size and population, each is a continent—and for all the glittering growth rates, a poor one.

Boom in state credit may endanger Brazil ratings [Reuters]

State banks accounted for 42.2 percent of Brazil’s credit market in July, up from 34.4 percent in September 2008 — when the collapse of Lehman Brothers triggered the global crisis.  BNDES alone is now responsible for 21 percent of overall financing in Brazil. In 2009, it lent about $75 billion (48 billion pounds) — nearly twice as much as the World Bank during that period.”This is creating a clear imbalance in the market, in which the state (banks) can expand without the risk of going broke, because they’ll always have the government as the guarantee of last resort,” said Rafael Guedes, managing director of Fitch Ratings agency in Brazil.

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds [Michael Lewis via Vanity Fair]

The Greek state was not just corrupt but also corrupting. Once you saw how it worked you could understand a phenomenon which otherwise made no sense at all: the difficulty Greek people have saying a kind word about one another. Individual Greeks are delightful: funny, warm, smart, and good company. I left two dozen interviews saying to myself, “What great people!” They do not share the sentiment about one another: the hardest thing to do in Greece is to get one Greek to compliment another behind his back. No success of any kind is regarded without suspicion. Everyone is pretty sure everyone is cheating on his taxes, or bribing politicians, or taking bribes, or lying about the value of his real estate. And this total absence of faith in one another is self-reinforcing. The epidemic of lying and cheating and stealing makes any sort of civic life impossible; the collapse of civic life only encourages more lying, cheating, and stealing. Lacking faith in one another, they fall back on themselves and their families.  The structure of the Greek economy is collectivist, but the country, in spirit, is the opposite of a collective. Its real structure is every man for himself. Into this system investors had poured hundreds of billions of dollars. And the credit boom had pushed the country over the edge, into total moral collapse.

Guest Post: Primer #2: Is there a housing bubble? and Guest Post: Primer #3: The Dangers Of Mass Psychology (Or Why Overwhelming Majorities Are Always Wrong) [Ben Rabidoux of Financial Insights via ZeroHedge]

As you can see, we are dealing with a two standard deviation event.   Based on rents, homes are 60% above their long term intrinsic value.  Truly shocking! Finally, let’s look at home ownership rates.  They are at historic highs (now breaching the 70% level, above the level the US experienced prior to its crash).  You need a steady supply of new home buyers to keep the real estate game going.  So it begs the question of who will be the new buyers.  You may be prone to say that immigration will be our short-term salvation.  I would beg to differ.  Net household formation in Canada is running at 175K per annum. That includes imigration [sic] and ‘organic’ household formation. Currently housiung [sic] starts are running at +200k per annum. It’s not hard to see that there is oversupply in the pipeline for the near-term future.

ESPN’s ‘Tyson & Tupac’ doc reveals regrets [The Hollywood Reporter]

When Mike Tyson looks back on his friendship with Tupac Shakur, he thinks about the rapper’s big heart, explosive anger — and the one regret he has about their relationship. ‘He always wanted me to smoke weed with him, and I never did it, and I wish I did,’ Tyson said in a recent phone interview.

Whimsical Pursuits:


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Any opinion expressed here is my own and not that of the firm which employs me.  Under no circumstances should writings or links on this website be taken as a solicitation for an investment or as investment advice.  These topics and commentaries are, whole and entire, for entertainment and discussion purposes only.

The Paradox of the Zero Bound

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