Tag: Current Events

Bonus clawbacks and fair play

May 15, 2012 | By | Reply More
Bonus clawbacks and fair play

Businessweek is reporting that JP Morgan is considering moving to “clawback” bonuses which had been awarded to executives and others responsible for Morgan’s recent $2 BILLION dollar loss.:

The lender can cancel stock awards or demand they be repaid if an employee “engages in conduct that causes material financial or reputational harm,” JPMorgan said in its annual proxy statement. The company will claw back pay if it’s appropriate, said one of the executives, who asked not to be identified because no decisions have been made.

But wait! These big Wall Street firms told us that bonuses were untouchable after they blew up the economy in 2008. Am I the only one that remembers that? There was all sorts of bullshit about how these employees were simply too valuable, that if they didn’t get their massive bonuses they would leave to seek other employment, that contracts and bonus structures were sacrosanct and untouchable (untouchability does not extend to unions and teachers, by the way). Oh, but I guess that was when taxpayers were paying the bonuses. Now that JP Morgan took a big hit in their own shorts, they want their money back. Funny how things change.

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Due process sure ain’t what it used to be

March 6, 2012 | By | 4 Replies More
Due process sure ain’t what it used to be

Attorney General Eric Holder gave a speech this week, a speech which is the only known public justification for the administration’s policy of assassinations of American citizens. The speech may be read in its entirety here. The real justifications are too secret to tell you about, so Holder had to summarize the complex legal arguments and distill them down to their legal essence.

For those of you who don’t have the time to read the whole speech, allow me to distill the arguments further. Holder’s weighty legal analysis boils down to this: “we can do whatever we want, and nobody can tell us otherwise.”

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Areas of agreement with the Tea Party

October 19, 2011 | By | 9 Replies More
Areas of agreement with the Tea Party

I was excited to see the new Tea Party’s birth. Watching the corruption of our government become more and more brazen, it was only a matter of time before counter-movements began to spread. Both the Tea Party and the #Occupy movements were born of this impulse. The original patriots of the Tea Party movement formed in opposition to the bank bailouts. I think it became apparent rather quickly, however, that their admirable movement had been co-opted into another arm of the Republican machine. I don’t say this to cast aspersions though, as I do want to keep this post exploring our common ground rather than emphasizing our differences. The #Occupy/99% movement is actively resisting attempts to co-opt its message by the Democratic party and other left-leaning organizations, so let’s keep exploring our similarities.

Here then, is the 15-point “non-negotiable core beliefs” which I found on teaparty.org:

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#Occupy movement sweeping the nation, now including Omaha!

October 19, 2011 | By | 2 Replies More
#Occupy movement sweeping the nation, now including Omaha!

I was at our local #occupy protests on Saturday for what organizers were calling a “Global day of action”. This week marks one month since #occupywallstreet began their occupation in New York City, and have proven to be an inspiration to people around the globe.

Omaha is not exactly known as a hotbed of radical activism or sentiment. Protests here regularly turn out a half-dozen or so committed activists, but rarely much more than that. My wife and I decided that the time had come for us to express our discontent with the existing socio-political environment here, and so we headed out to #OccupyOmaha on Saturday morning. Expecting low numbers, we were surprised when we could see people streaming towards the meeting site from blocks away.

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On the death (again) of Osama bin Laden

May 4, 2011 | By | 40 Replies More
On the death (again) of Osama bin Laden

Those who are uncomfortable with cognitive dissonance or so-called conspiracy theories might be better off skipping this post. Those who seek to understand the machinations of our government however, are encouraged to read on.

Firstly, let me clearly state that I disapprove of the manner of this killing. Extrajudicial assassinations are an anathema to a society that claims to live by the rule of law. Numerous voices are loudly praising this decision to kill bin Laden rather than capture him, supposedly to save the fragile American public from the rigors of a trial. They claim that a trial would have been “too controversial”, as if that had anything to do with the law or its application. Either we believe that laws matter or we don’t. Either we believe that there is justice available under our system of laws, or we do not. In this case, it’s clear that we do not trust our own system of justice to arrive at the “right” conclusion. Implicitly, this suggests that we are hoping for a kangaroo court, already convinced of the guilt of the accused based upon the mere say-so of our government. When the president can order someone to be killed, with no oversight or evidence presented, we no longer a democratic system of checks and balances. We have an emperor, a tyrant, relatively benign though he may appear to be. I argued much the same in the case of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed last year.

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How bad is the Gulf? How bad is American media?

March 10, 2011 | By | 3 Replies More
How bad is the Gulf? How bad is American media?

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has endorsed Arab news organization Al Jazeera as offering “real news”, superior to ersatz U.S. news which is full of commercials, talking-heads and soundbites that are “not particularly informative to us.” Perhaps that explains a part of the reason why U.S. audiences are largely unaware of the continuing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of BP’s Deepwater Horizon blowout last year.

Al Jazeera, on the other hand, brings us this story of sickness and death on the Gulf Coast.

[caption id="attachment_16980" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Eco-terrorism in Gulf of Mexico. Image via Leoma Lovegrove (creative commons)"][/caption]

“I have critically high levels of chemicals in my body,” 33-year-old Steven Aguinaga of Hazlehurst, Mississippi told Al Jazeera. “Yesterday I went to see another doctor to get my blood test results and the nurse said she didn’t know how I even got there.”

Aguinaga and his close friend Merrick Vallian went swimming at Fort Walton Beach, Florida, in July 2010.

“I swam underwater, then found I had orange slick stuff all over me,” Aguinaga said. “At that time I had no knowledge of what dispersants were, but within a few hours, we were drained of energy and not feeling good. I’ve been extremely sick ever since.”

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The sanctity of contracts

March 4, 2011 | By | 1 Reply More
The sanctity of contracts

Daily Show host John Stewart eviscerates those asking teachers and other unions to make sacrifices in the name of cutting the budget deficit, especially when those same people (literally!) did not ask the same from Wall Street bankers following the trillions of dollars of bailouts and easy money:

Incidentally, much of the rhetoric is centered around asking the unions to “contribute more” towards their benefits package, but how does one contribute more than 100%?

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Humanitarian crisis vs. ulterior motives

March 4, 2011 | By | 8 Replies More
Humanitarian crisis vs. ulterior motives

Indonesia invaded East Timor in 1975, after which followed decades of brutal repression and violence directed at the Timorese people. Hundreds of thousands of Timorese have died as a result of the conflict, whether killed outright or as a result of disease and hunger. In one incident alone, known as the Dili Massacre, hundreds of people agitating for independence for East Timor were massacred as Indonesian soldiers opened fire. There was no intervention by the United States, and in fact, we continued to sell weapons and train the Indonesian military. There are no known oil reserves credited to East Timor, according to the Energy Information Administration (EIA). Whatever resources do exist are mired in competing claims with Australia.

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Military Psy-ops, this time illegally directed at Congress

February 24, 2011 | By | 3 Replies More
Military Psy-ops, this time illegally directed at Congress

Keep President Eisenhower’s warning in mind as you read this post (see video below).

The U.S. Department of Defense defines “Psychological Operations” or “Psy-Ops” as “Planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign government, organizations, groups, and individuals.”

Such operations may be based upon truth or based upon deception, but the goal is the same: to alter perceptions and “ultimately the behavior” of others. As a matter of law, such actions are supposed to be directed against the “foreign hostile groups”, or at least not against Americans. Unfortunately, this law is routinely ignored:

  • In 2009, the U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) awarded a multi-million dollar contract to General Dynamics to wage a psy-ops campaign aimed at France and Britain. The goal of the campaign was to create “influence websites” to build support for the Global War on Terror.
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