August 22, 2012 archive

Allergic to Courtrooms

Matt Taibbi, Eliot Spitzer Discuss Eric Holder’s Failure

Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone

POSTED: August 22, 11:40 AM ET

A good prosecutor should look down the barrel of a bunch of millionaire lawyers at Davis Polk or White and Case and feel turned on by the challenge of combat. Making a deal with any devil should burn him at the core, keep him awake at night.

But that’s exactly who Eric Holder and Lanny Breuer haven’t been, exactly who Bob Khuzami at the SEC hasn’t been. Instead of being fighters, they’ve been dealmakers and plea-bargainers. They’ve dealt out every major financial scandal, from Abacus to the Muni-bid-rigging cases (they prosecuted a few low-level guys at GE but let the big players at the big banks skate) to the Citigroup fraud settlement that was so bad a judge threw it back at the govenment’s face. In that latter case, amazingly, the govenment is now fighting not for its constituents, but for its right to give out crappy deals to repeat-offender banks without judicial review.

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On This Day In History August 22

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is your morning http://maientertainmentlaw.com/?search=cialis-in-uk Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past see url “On This Day in History” here.

August 22 is the 234th day of the year (235th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 131 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1950, Althea Gibson became the first African American on the US Tennis Tour.

On this day in 1950, officials of the United States Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA) accept Althea Gibson into their annual championship at Forest Hills, New York, making her the first African-American player to compete in a U.S. national tennis competition.

Growing up in Harlem, the young Gibson was a natural athlete. She started playing tennis at the age of 14 and the very next year won her first tournament, the New York State girls’ championship, sponsored by the American Tennis Association (ATA), which was organized in 1916 by black players as an alternative to the exclusively white USLTA. After prominent doctors and tennis enthusiasts Hubert Eaton and R. Walter Johnson took Gibson under their wing, she won her first of what would be 10 straight ATA championships in 1947.

In 1949, Gibson attempted to gain entry into the USLTA’s National Grass Court Championships at Forest Hills, the precursor of the U.S. Open. When the USLTA failed to invite her to any qualifying tournaments, Alice Marble–a four-time winner at Forest Hills–wrote a letter on Gibson’s behalf to the editor of American Lawn Tennis magazine. Marble criticized the “bigotry” of her fellow USLTA members, suggesting that if Gibson posed a challenge to current tour players, “it’s only fair that they meet this challenge on the courts.” Gibson was subsequently invited to participate in a New Jersey qualifying event, where she earned a berth at Forest Hills.

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Though she once brushed off comparisons to Jackie Robinson, the trailblazing black baseball player, Gibson has been credited with paving the way for African-American tennis champions such as Arthur Ashe and, more recently, Venus and Serena Williams. After a long illness, she died in 2003 at the age of 76.

Ms. Gibson became the first African American woman to join the Ladies Professional Golf Association  tour, in 1963, retiring in 1978.

Cartnoon

Another goner now replaced.  Originally appeared May 2, 2011.

Bowery Bugs

Late Night Karaoke

“Foaming the Runway for the Banks”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Disregard all cheery news you hear from the MSM that the housing crisis is over and housing prices are stable and on the rise. It’s not over. We are still bailing out the banks over the troubled homeowner.

“The evidence is overwhelming: home prices are anything but stable.”

enter Michael Olenick: Still Looking for a Housing Bottom

Two trends are apparent. One is that banks are delaying foreclosures, or not foreclosing at all despite long-term delinquencies. The other is that private equity firms – flush with cash thanks to Tim Geithner’s religious devotion to trickle-down economics and the resulting cascade of corporate welfare – have been bidding up and holding foreclosed houses off the market. These two factors have artificially limited supply and, combined with cheap mortgages rates, driven up prices. While we can debate whether these strategies represent the best public policy, these policies are obviously not long-term sustainable. [..]

Holding back inventory means that the houses that are put on offer sell faster and at higher prices. That creates an incentive to delay foreclosures or not foreclose at all even when a home is delinquent. Though this seems obvious, the mainstream housing finance community – aided by a freelance “housing analyst,” – uses the faster figures to somehow prove banks are not holding houses. [..]

Besides lower foreclosure activity, the government is going all out to give away houses to private equity firms. Recently Fannie Mae sold 275 properties across metro Phoenix in one sale to a mystery buyer, according to a report by Catherine Reagor of the Arizon Republic. [..]

Anybody who has been a landlord seems to quickly tire of it so, assuming there isn’t a pending planned mass immigration to Phoenix, these investors will eventually want to cash out by selling these houses. Further, they will want to minimize maintenance expenses while they are renting out these houses, so the eventual sale of these houses will increase supply and prolong the housing crisis. Geithner’s policy of shaking down Main Street to help Wall Street continues to hurt your street. [..]

Taking account of the delayed foreclosures and the beginning of mass purchases of houses would mean there should be a surge in home prices, but we’re still seeing little movement in many areas. This is especially puzzling given how inexpensive mortgage are. [..]

Of course, this assumes that people can get mortgages for these houses, though many can’t. Young people especially are hopelessly in debt thanks to out-of-control tuition hikes predictably caused by equally out-of-control student loan policies. [..]

Thanks to low lower foreclosures, real-estate speculators buying in bulk, and low interest rates there is enough direct and anecdotal evidence to suggest that we may be seeing a real-estate recovery on paper. Further, these policies are clearly calibrated to bring about a bubble, despite that bubbles are difficult to control and are not, by definition, sustainable: they always eventually pop. Let’s at least hope that when this bubble bursts the new Wall Street bulk buyers are treated with the same ruthless “free market” vigor that the prior owners of these houses were treated with after the last bubble burst. However, I doubt the mystery Asian money buyer, that Fannie sold Phoenix to, will ever be subject to something like the rocket docket.

Washington’s Blog goes down the list of evidence that “the government’s “Homeowner Relief” Programs are disguised bank bailouts … not even AIMED at helping homeowners. It’s a fascinating piece with all the links to this sham.

Former special inspector general overseeing TARP Neil Barofsky (@neilbarofsky) joined Up w/ Chris Hayes to talk about his book “Bailout: An Inside Account of How Washington Abandoned Main Street While Rescuing Wall Street.” Along with panel guests Heather McGhee (@hmcghee), vice president of policy and research at the progressive think tank Demos; Josh Barro (@jbarro), who writes “The Ticker” for Bloomberg View; Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn), senior contributing writer for Newsweek/Daily Beast; and Up host Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes), Barofsky shares his thoughts on the failure of TARP and the housing crisis.

The Tangled Web That Nations Weave: Part 2

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Oh what a tangled web we weave,

When first we practise to deceive!

   Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17.

   Scottish author & novelist (1771 – 1832)

BuzzFeed correspondent and Rolling Stone contributing editor Michael Hastings (@mmhastings) joins the Up w/ Chris Hayes discussion on Julian Assange, the leader behind WikiLeaks, who caused a diplomatic standoff this week in part for challenging extradition to Sweden for alleged sexual misconduct. Along with comedian, actor, talk show host and author, Richard Belzer (@MRBelzer); Josh Barro (@jbarro) who writes “The Ticker” for Bloomberg View; Michelle Goldberg (@michelleinbklyn), senior contributing writer for Newsweek/Daily Beast; and Up host Chris Hayes ([@chris hayes]) attempt to unravel the tangles web of international intrigues that surrounds Julian Assange, Wikileaks and the latest diplomatic imbroglio that has our attention.

There was a lot left out but it would most likely take more than the two hours of the show to even come close to trying to wend through the maze of information and sort out the the innuendo from the facts. But here is some of what we do know about the actors in this multi-act play so far:

Theses are some of the details about charges and how the case was handled by the Swedish police and prosecutors:

  • 1)  Julian Assange is not charged with anything in Sweden or any other country. (Source: @wikileaks)
  • 2)  Julian Assange did not flee Sweden to avoid questioning. He was given permission to leave the country on the 15th September 2010, after remaining 5 weeks in Sweden for the purpose of answering the allegations made against him. {Source: Undue delay for Julian Assange’s interrogation)
  • 3)  The case against Julian Assange was initially dropped, and deemed so weak it could not warrant investigation. After the intervention of a Swedish politician close to American diplomats, it was revived by a different prosecutor. (Source: Why is Julian Assange in jail?)
  • 4)  In all instances, the 2 plaintiffs consented to sexual intercourse, which they did not take the initiative to stop: they never expressed non-consent and afterwards declared to not have felt threatened by Julian Assange. (Sources: Swedish Police Report and The offences described in the EAW are not extradition offences)
  • 5)  A condom submitted as evidence by complainant AA, who claimed it had been deliberately torn by Julian Assange during sexual intercourse, contains no chromosomal DNA from either the complainant or Julian. (Source: Overlooked evidence in the Assange trial)
  • (6)  Text messages exchanged between complainants and their friends contradict the factual allegations in the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) issued for Julian Assange and cast doubt on the allegations. (Source: Brief to Canberra Meeting of MPs)
  • 7)  After the date of the alleged sexual misconduct: a) Complainant AA created then deleted evidence (tweets) indicating she was enjoying Julian Assange’s company; b) AA went as far as suggesting one of her friends (Witness C) should be intimate with Julian as well. (Sources: AA: The Twitter Trail, Göran Rudling Witness Statement and Police Statement of Witness C (pdf))
  • 8)  The law firm hired in the Assange investigation is ran by Claes Borgström (politician and legal representative for both plaintiffs) and by former minister Thomas Bodström. Both are members of the Social Democrat Party in Sweden. Bodström is a friend of police interrogator Irmeli Krans, who interrogated complainant SW.  (Source: Irmeli Krans: The Facebook Trail)
  • 9) Police interrogator Irmeli Krans is, in turn, friends with the other plaintiff, complainant AA, with whom she has political ties (Social Democrat Party). Krans also breached protocol by commenting negatively about Julian Assange on social media. (Source: Irmeli Krans: The Facebook Trail)
  • 10)  Swedish prosecutor, Marianne Ny, refused to provide Julian Assange or his lawyers with information on the allegations against him in writing. This violates the Swedish Code of Procedure (RB 23:18) and the European Convention of Human Rights (article 5), and the EU Fundamental Charter on Human Rights.

    Prosecution also refused all voluntary offers for cooperation that fit under Mutual Legal Assistance protocol, such as making use of alternative methods to interview Julian Assange. (Sources: Fair Trial for Julian Assange? and Abuse of Process: Disproportionate use of EAW and INTERPOL Red Notice)

  • 11)  Both the EAW and the Interpol red notice were issued for Julian by Sweden just before WikiLeaks began to publish Cablegate. (Source: Brief to Canberra Meeting of MPs)
  • 12)  The allegations against Julian Assange do not constitute an offense in Australia or in the UK. (Source: The offences described in the EAW are not extradition offences)
  • h/t Notes on Wikileaks

    We also know that one of Mr. Assange’s accusers has close ties to the CIA.

    We know that former Stockholm chief district prosecutor Sven-Erik Alhem said that the Swedish government had no legitimate reason to seek Assange’s extradition when he testified that the decision of the Swedish government to extradite Assange is “unreasonable and unprofessional, as well as unfair and disproportionate“, because he could be easily questioned in the UK.

    We know that there is strong evidence that the United States is seeking to indict Mr. Assange and prosecute him under the Espionage Act.

    We also know that Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa may have been motivated by geopolitical factors in Latin America:

    Any policy of isolating Assange may have failed now, as the conflict becomes one in which Ecuador-and a newly independent Latin America-stand off against the US and UK. Ecuador’s president Rafael Correa represents the wave of new nationalist leaders on the continent who have challenged the traditional US dominance over trade, security and regional decision-making. Correa joined the Venezuelan-founded Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas in June 2009, and closed the US military base in Ecuador in September 2009. His government fined Chevron for $8.6 billion for damages to the Amazon rainforest, in a case which Correa called “the most important in the history of the country.” He survived a coup attempt in 2010.

    It is very unlikely that Correa would make his asylum decision without consulting other governments in Latin America. An aggressive reaction by the British, carrying echoes of the colonial past, is likely to solidify Latin American ranks behind Quito, making Assange another irritant in relations with the United States.

    Earlier this year, many Central and Latin American leaders rebuked the Obama administration for its drug war policies and vowed not to participate in another Organization of American States meeting that excluded Cuba. Shortly after, President Obama acted to remove his Latin American policy chief, Dan Restrepo, according to a source with close ties to the Obama administration. Now the Assange affair threatens more turmoil between the United States and the region.

    Oh, what a tangled web.