[…] The Rakoff ruling shines a light on the way these crappy settlements have evolved into a kind of cheap payoff system, in which crimes may be committed over and over again, and the SEC’s only role is to take a bribe each time the offenders slip up and get caught.
If you never have to worry about serious punishments, or court findings of criminal guilt (which would leave you exposed to crippling lawsuits), then there’s simply no incentive to stop committing fraud. These SEC settlements simply become part of the cost of doing business, as Rakoff notes:
As for common experience, a consent judgment that does not involve any admissions and that results in only very modest penalties is just as frequently viewed, particularly in the business community, as a cost of doing business imposed by having to maintain a working relationship with a regulatory agency, rather than as any indication of where the real truth lies. This, indeed, is Citigroup’s position in this very case.
That line, “a cost of doing business imposed by having to maintain a working relationship with a regulatory agency,” is one of the more brutally damning things you’ll ever see a judge write. Rakoff is saying that these fines are payoffs to keep the SEC off the banks’ backs. They’re like the pad that numbers-runners or drug dealers pay to urban precinct-houses every month to keep cops from making real arrests. That’s what he means when he refers to “maintaning a working relationship.” It’s heavy stuff.
On the other hand, both the SEC and Citigroup insist that this secretive payoff system is defensible and must continue. They clearly believe, sincerely, that none of this stuff is really the public’s business.
This is an extraordinarily condescending attitude and shows exactly how little they think of the public at large. One wonders if decisions like Rakoff’s will at least help to wake the government up.
The arrival of 7 and half tons of tear gas to Egypt’s Suez port created conflict after the responsible officials at the port refused to sign and accept it for fear it would be used to crackdown on Egyptian protesters.
Local news sites published documents regarding the shipment shows that the cargo that arrived in 479 barrels from the United States was scheduled to be delivered to the ministry of interior.The reports also mentioned in the documents that a second shipment of 14 tons of tear gas was expected, making the total 21 tons, in one week.
The importing of tear gas comes after thousands of tear gas canisters were fired at Egyptian protesters last week as clashes raged in downtown Cairo, just off from the iconic Tahrir Square, where thousands of protesters had gathered.
OCCUPY WALL STREET and its allied movements around the country are more than a walk in the park. They are most likely the start of a new era in America. Historians have noted that American politics moves in long swings. We are at the end of the 30-year Reagan era, a period that has culminated in soaring income for the top 1 percent and crushing unemployment or income stagnation for much of the rest. The overarching challenge of the coming years is to restore prosperity and power for the 99 percent.
Thirty years ago, a newly elected Ronald Reagan made a fateful judgment: “Government is not the solution to our problem. Government is the problem.” Taxes for the rich were slashed, as were outlays on public services and investments as a share of national income. Only the military and a few big transfer programs like Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and veterans’ benefits were exempted from the squeeze.
Reagan’s was a fateful misdiagnosis. He completely overlooked the real issue — the rise of global competition in the information age — and fought a bogeyman, the government. Decades on, America pays the price of that misdiagnosis, with a nation singularly unprepared to face the global economic, energy and environmental challenges of our time.
Washington still channels Reaganomics. The federal budget for nonsecurity discretionary outlays — categories like highways and rail, education, job training, research and development, the judiciary, NASA, environmental protection, energy, the I.R.S. and more — was cut from more than 5 percent of gross domestic product at the end of the 1970s to around half of that today. With the budget caps enacted in the August agreement, domestic discretionary spending would decline to less than 2 percent of G.D.P. by the end of the decade, according to the White House. Government would die by fiscal asphyxiation.
Both parties have joined in crippling the government in response to the demands of their wealthy campaign contributors, who above all else insist on keeping low tax rates on capital gains, top incomes, estates and corporate profits. Corporate taxes as a share of national income are at the lowest levels in recent history. Rich households take home the greatest share of income since the Great Depression. Twice before in American history, powerful corporate interests dominated Washington and brought America to a state of unacceptable inequality, instability and corruption. Both times a social and political movement arose to restore democracy and shared prosperity.
“I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”—Thomas Jefferson (via apoplecticskeptic)
Killer 4otf/dubstep orchestral remix track by one of our very favorite sound designers, Troels Folmann of 8dio, from one of our favorite competitors (and good friends), West One Music.
Loving this track this morning.
And, no, competition doesn’t scare us… I really try to be friendly with (most of) our competitors. There’s some solid work being done in the world of production music these days (finally), and I’m proud to say West One’s catalogue includes a whole bunch of Burst Collective music, too. :)
“I think if either political party or politician thinks they have any credibility to come down here and tap into this energy, they’re gravely misinformed.”
The last point is one I heard again and again from OWSers about Team Obama’s talk of channeling the movement. “They don’t have a fucking clue what they are talking about,” says Berger. “These [protesters] aren’t out here because they’re offended that they haven’t been spoken to nicely. They’re out here because they owe shitloads of money in student-loan debt and can’t find a job. Or they can’t afford their mortgage. And if Obama thinks that they’re gonna be able to divert this energy by talking about doing something, he’s got another thing coming.”
The Senate is gearing up for a vote on Monday or Tuesday that goes to the very heart of who we are as Americans. The Senate will be voting on a bill that will direct American military resources not at an enemy shooting at our military in a war zone, but at American citizens and other civilians far from any battlefield — even people in the United States itself.
Senators need to hear from you, on whether you think your front yard is part of a “battlefield” and if any president can send the military anywhere in the world to imprison civilians without charge or trial.
The Senate is going to vote on whether Congress will give this president—and every future president — the power to order the military to pick up and imprison without charge or trial civilians anywhere in the world. Even Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas) raised his concerns about the NDAA detention provisions during last night’s Republican debate. The power is so broad that even U.S. citizens could be swept up by the military and the military could be used far from any battlefield, even within the United States itself.
I know it sounds incredible. New powers to use the military worldwide, even within the United States? Hasn’t anyone told the Senate that Osama bin Laden is dead, that the president is pulling all of the combat troops out of Iraq and trying to figure out how to get combat troops out of Afghanistan too? And American citizens and people picked up on American or Canadian or British streets being sent to military prisons indefinitely without even being charged with a crime. Really? Does anyone think this is a good idea? And why now?
This is an appalling power grab on behalf of the military/industrial complex, and must be stopped. Please call your congresspeople and tell them to support the Udall Amendment to S. 1867, because America isn’t some giant “battlefield” where we’re all subject to military law at the whim of whoever happens to be president at the moment.
If you read the bill, US Citizens are explicitly unable to be arrested under this bill. It’s still pretty appalling, but yeah.
“The Economist recently noted that Apple, Amazon, and Google together employ 113,000 people—which is less than 1/3rd as many as a single American success story from the prior generation, GM, employed in 1980.”—
I saw this headline over the weekend and while we all know how BI and their headlines, it still bugs me. We live in a global capitalist economy and the reality is that if any business can outsource manufacturing or automate processes, it will happen.
Remind me of which company needed to be bailed out in 2008? Apple? Amazon? Google? Remind me which company is the second-most valuable in the world and for a brief moment, even was the most valuable of all.
May I try and rewrite this headline?
The country’s problem in a nutshell: money in politics.
Isn't it better if people want different things? Then there are more potential gains from trade. PS Insert comment about linear extrapolation from a formula (the formula in this case being something about homes within X distance of a city with $ income and characteristics A,B,C). PPS The USA needs more immigrants. If 10 Mexicans go in together on a house, how is that different from 1 rich family buying a house? It's still demand for 1 more house.
Indeed. However, my ‘good riddance’ comment was in reference to the lowering of demand for housing in outer-suburbia. I’m glad demand is changing for that sort of housing - walkable, sustainable, multi-use blocks with a focus on public transit. Artificial demand created by injecting easy-to-get financing for these large and far-from-the-job estates is ebbing; the market is correcting itself.
I like programming and I do an awful lot of it in my spare time. I’ve written a few thousand lines of code in the last week. I like to think that I am fairly good at it as well. I know too many programming languages and yet I cannot decide which is best.
In the late 1990s, high-end outer suburbs contained most of the expensive housing in the United States, as measured by price per square foot, according to data I analyzed from the Zillow real estate database. Today, the most expensive housing is in the high-density, pedestrian-friendly neighborhoods of the center city and inner suburbs. Some of the most expensive neighborhoods in their metropolitan areas are Capitol Hill in Seattle; Virginia Highland in Atlanta; German Village in Columbus, Ohio, and Logan Circle in Washington. Considered slums as recently as 30 years ago, they have been transformed by gentrification.
Simply put, there has been a profound structural shift — a reversal of what took place in the 1950s, when drivable suburbs boomed and flourished as center cities emptied and withered.
The shift is durable and lasting because of a major demographic event: the convergence of the two largest generations in American history, the baby boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) and the millennials (born between 1979 and 1996), which today represent half of the total population.
Many boomers are now empty nesters and approaching retirement. Generally this means that they will downsize their housing in the near future. Boomers want to live in a walkable urban downtown, a suburban town center or a small town, according to a recent survey by the National Association of Realtors.
The millennials are just now beginning to emerge from the nest — at least those who can afford to live on their own. This coming-of-age cohort also favors urban downtowns and suburban town centers — for lifestyle reasons and the convenience of not having to own cars.
Over all, only 12 percent of future homebuyers want the drivable suburban-fringe houses that are in such oversupply, according to the Realtors survey. This lack of demand all but guarantees continued price declines. Boomers selling their fringe housing will only add to the glut. Nothing the federal government can do will reverse this.
Many drivable-fringe house prices are now below replacement value, meaning the land under the house has no value and the sticks and bricks are worth less than they would cost to replace. This means there is no financial incentive to maintain the house; the next dollar invested will not be recouped upon resale. Many of these houses will be converted to rentals, which are rarely as well maintained as owner-occupied housing. Add the fact that the houses were built with cheap materials and methods to begin with, and you see why many fringe suburbs are turning into slums, with abandoned housing and rising crime.
The world is underestimating the potential potential of Americans Elect. This project is building a virtual delegate base that will then select a presidential candidate who, I bet, will (because of the extraordinary work of the organization) be on every single state ballot.
“As people of faith, affirming the Christian teaching that before God all people are equal, we will no longer participate in this discrimination,” the church’s statement says.
The vote was unanimous and brought tears to the eyes of some of the 100 or so members who stood to vote in favor of the “statement on marriage ceremonies.”
The fact that an entire church is supporting this is SO MUCH more amazing and meaningful than a few hipsters deciding that boycotting marriage until gay marriage is legal is a great way to get out of proposing to their long-term girlfriend.
Twenty-seven months ago, I announced the hibernation of my blog. It is with deep deep embarrassment that I confess that for about the last 24 of those 27 months, I have been trying to find a way back. The latest of these efforts has again failed, but I am not going to wait any more. I want a…
Welcome to Tumblr, Mr. Lessig. May your stay be long and fruitful.
“THE U.S. Government — in the name of Terrorism — has aggressively para-militarized the nation’s domestic police forces by lavishing them with countless military-style weapons and other war-like technologies, training them in war-zone military tactics, and generally imposing a war mentality on them. Arming domestic police forces with para-military weaponry will ensure their systematic use even in the absence of a Terrorist attack on U.S. soil; they will simply find other, increasingly permissive uses for those weapons. Responding to peaceful protests and other expressions of growing citizenry unrest with brute force is a direct by-product of what we’ve allowed to be done to America’s domestic police forces in the name of the War on Terror (and, before that, in the name of the War on Drugs).”—
Green Bay Packers defensive lineman Johnny Jolly has been sentenced to six years in prison because he violated the terms of his probation on a drug charge.
To be fair, the reason the sentence is so high is because he violated the terms of his probation by relapsing. But the point is that he shouldn’t have been on probation to begin with.
Addiction is both a physical and mental affliction. When you send a person with and addiction to prison, you are almost always doing more to hurt them and their family than help them. Once in prison, they are far less likely to actually get access to the rehabilitative service they need. Punishing someone for relapsing by sending them to an institution where they are unlikely to receive the care they need is tantamount to ensuring recidivism.
And relapsing in of itself shouldn’t be a crime either. The average cigarette smoker relapses several times before quitting for good. The same is often true for other addictive substances as well. Addiction is something you live even after you’re done using. That’s why AA advises its members to admit that they are an alcoholic even after getting sober. It is not something that you simply wash your hands of and forget about. These people don’t need punishment. They need love and support; many, many drug addicts become addicted due to emotional torpor, depression, pain, stress, and various other intangible catalysts. Case in point, from the article above:
In an interview with ESPN’s Mark Fainaru-Wada, he said he used drugs “daily” before the Super Bowl. “Every time I even thought about the game coming on. I mean, that’s the only way I could make it through the day.
“It kept me numb. It kept me from losing my mind. Me losing football is like me losing a loved one or a bunch of loved ones at the same time.”
Jolly did not miss a game in 2008 and 2009 and going to zero games played was difficult.
“I didn’t want to be around anyone,” Jolly said. “I didn’t want to answer no questions. And so I stayed in the room, just drunk, and watched.”
This isn’t a dangerous criminal. He is an emotional wreck that self-medicated to quiet his emotions during a stressful period of his life, like many people have before him. And when they discovered his habit, we “treated” him by taking the most important thing in his life away (football). How much sense does that make if we’re trying to keep someone productive, happy, and off drugs?
Punishing people for relapsing is not only irrational, it’s cruel. Especially when the fallout from their punishment is half the reason they relapsed in the first place. But that’s exactly what happened here. And it’s another reason why our drug laws are in desperate need of reform.
Rehabilitation rather than incarceration has been shown time and time again to be more effective.
While not a ‘hard’ addiction, I am addicted to tobacco. I have been for six years. In those six years, I have tried - mostly unsuccessfully - to quit. I have tried every stop-smoking aids on the market. Zyban. Patches. Gum. Chantix. Simple cold turkey.
I don’t smoke nearly as much as I used to - my most recent attempt has been by far the most successful - but I am still addicted.
And I probably will be for the rest of my life.
Acting on that addiction is an entirely different ball game.
That’s a good start - now do the same for the other 20-something officers who stood by, failing to protect and serve the students as one of their own committed felony assault. They are as culpable as John Pike, and should be treated as such. Those cowards allowed an officer of the law to obviously and deliberately harm innocent civilians and they should be punished for doing so.
This was assault - not even aggravated assault - plain and ordinary sociopathic assault on civilians because you didn’t like what they were doing. At that point, those who abuse their positions of elevated power should be punished even more harshly than civilians committing the same crime.
There are at least twenty five men there who deserve to go to prison. Until it happens, this isn’t over, no matter how “deeply saddened” the chancellor was that those officers followed her orders.