Saturday, January 11, 2003

News Feed 20110821

Financial Crisis
»Greeks Act to Avert Bank Failure
»Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2T in Loans
»Muslim World More Anti-American Than Ever
»Prosecutor to Drop Strauss-Kahn Case: Report
»Two Men Fighting for Lives After Bloody 49ers-Raiders Game Violence
Europe and the EU
»Anti-Islam Politician Attacked With Acid by Left-Wing Fascists in Germany
»Swedish Royal Couple Turned Away From German Restaurant
»UK Riots: The End of the Liberals’ Great Moral Delusion
North Africa
»Libya: Gadhafi Refuses to Surrender
»Libya: Rebels Capture Gaddafi’s Sons in Tripoli
»Qaddafi Son Arrested, Rebel Council Members Say
Israel and the Palestinians
»Egypt and Israel Move to Halt Growth of Crisis
Middle East
»Syrian President Assad Expects Elections in February
»U.S. Disappointed by Iran’s Sentencing of U.S. Hikers: Clinton
Australia — Pacific
»Oldest Known Fossils Increase Speculation About Life on Mars
»Napolitano: Dream Act is Now De Facto Law
Culture Wars
»Adult Cartoons Marketed to Children

Financial Crisis

Greeks Act to Avert Bank Failure

Greece’s four largest banks agreed to take up a €50m convertible bond to help recapitalise Proton Bank, a small lender, the central bank announced this weekend, in what is being seen as an attempt to avert a run on the country’s fragile banking system.

The deal came ahead of an expected announcement this week that several Athens lenders plan to seek emergency liquidity assistance from the Greek central bank, senior bankers said.

Greek banks no longer have sufficient high-quality collateral to seek funding from the European Central Bank after recent sovereign downgrades. But they are eligible for liquidity allocated by the Bank of Greece in agreement with the Frankfurt-based ECB and are expected to seek it this week.

All four big lenders — National Bank of Greece, Alpha Bank, EFG Eurobank and Piraeus Bank — face a looming liquidity crunch as about €10bn of government deposits are set to be withdrawn from local banks to pay off debt maturing in the next few weeks.

“In this environment, it was essential to prevent Proton from collapsing and creating a mood of fear with unpredictable consequences,” said one banker, explaining the rationale for the take-up of the Proton bond…

[Return to headlines]

Wall Street Aristocracy Got $1.2T in Loans

Citigroup Inc. (C) and Bank of America Corp. (BAC) were the reigning champions of finance in 2006 as home prices peaked, leading the 10 biggest U.S. banks and brokerage firms to their best year ever with $104 billion of profits.

By 2008, the housing market’s collapse forced those companies to take more than six times as much, $669 billion, in emergency loans from the U.S. Federal Reserve. The loans dwarfed the $160 billion in public bailouts the top 10 got from the U.S. Treasury, yet until now the full amounts have remained secret.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke’s unprecedented effort to keep the economy from plunging into depression included lending banks and other companies as much as $1.2 trillion of public money, about the same amount U.S. homeowners currently owe on 6.5 million delinquent and foreclosed mortgages. The largest borrower, Morgan Stanley (MS), got as much as $107.3 billion, while Citigroup took $99.5 billion and Bank of America $91.4 billion, according to a Bloomberg News compilation of data obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests, months of litigation and an act of Congress.

“These are all whopping numbers,” said Robert Litan, a former Justice Department official who in the 1990s served on a commission probing the causes of the savings and loan crisis. “You’re talking about the aristocracy of American finance going down the tubes without the federal money.”

Foreign Borrowers

It wasn’t just American finance. Almost half of the Fed’s top 30 borrowers, measured by peak balances, were European firms. They included Edinburgh-based Royal Bank of Scotland Plc, which took $84.5 billion, the most of any non-U.S. lender, and Zurich-based UBS AG (UBSN), which got $77.2 billion. Germany’s Hypo Real Estate Holding AG borrowed $28.7 billion, an average of $21 million for each of its 1,366 employees.

The largest borrowers also included Dexia SA (DEXB), Belgium’s biggest bank by assets, and Societe Generale SA, based in Paris, whose bond-insurance prices have surged in the past month as investors speculated that the spreading sovereign debt crisis in Europe might increase their chances of default.

The $1.2 trillion peak on Dec. 5, 2008 — the combined outstanding balance under the seven programs tallied by Bloomberg — was almost three times the size of the U.S. federal budget deficit that year and more than the total earnings of all federally insured banks in the U.S. for the decade through 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Peak Balance

The balance was more than 25 times the Fed’s pre-crisis lending peak of $46 billion on Sept. 12, 2001, the day after terrorists attacked the World Trade Center in New York and the Pentagon. Denominated in $1 bills, the $1.2 trillion would fill 539 Olympic-size swimming pools.

The Fed has said it had “no credit losses” on any of the emergency programs, and a report by Federal Reserve Bank of New York staffers in February said the central bank netted $13 billion in interest and fee income from the programs from August 2007 through December 2009.

“We designed our broad-based emergency programs to both effectively stem the crisis and minimize the financial risks to the U.S. taxpayer,” said James Clouse, deputy director of the Fed’s division of monetary affairs in Washington. “Nearly all of our emergency-lending programs have been closed. We have incurred no losses and expect no losses.”

While the 18-month U.S. recession that ended in June 2009 after a 5.1 percent contraction in gross domestic product was nowhere near the four-year, 27 percent decline between August 1929 and March 1933, banks and the economy remain stressed…

[Return to headlines]


Muslim World More Anti-American Than Ever

Thirty-one months into Obama’s presidency, relations with the Muslim world are the worst ever. Both Muslim public opinion and the deteriorating situation in most Islamic countries evidence anti-Americanism that screams, “No he can’t.”

Obama obviously can’t transform our relationship with the Muslim world, as evidenced by the state of affairs in three bellwether countries.

First, Egypt is a longstanding ally, but its January uprising puts that relationship in jeopardy. Egyptian public opinion is very anti-American, and the coming election plus current events threaten to turn our bilateral relations on their head.

[Return to headlines]

Prosecutor to Drop Strauss-Kahn Case: Report

(Reuters) — Prosecutors will ask a judge to dismiss all charges in the sexual assault case against former IMF director Dominique Strauss-Kahn at a court hearing on Tuesday, the New York Post reported on Sunday, citing unnamed sources.

The Manhattan district attorney’s office will file a motion recommending the case be dropped and laying out the chronology of events that led to that point, according to the Post.

Strauss-Kahn, who has denied the allegations, was once seen as a leading contender to be president of France until a maid, Nafissatou Diallo, accused him of sexual assault on May 14 at New York’s Sofitel Hotel. He was arrested and forced to resign as head of the International Monetary Fund a few days later.

The case has teetered since late June when prosecutors disclosed that Diallo, a 32-year-old Guinean immigrant, had lied on her U.S. asylum application and about other aspects of her past…

[Return to headlines]

Two Men Fighting for Lives After Bloody 49ers-Raiders Game Violence

Two men are fighting for their lives after one was savagely beaten in a Candlestick Park bathroom during the San Francisco 49ers and Oakland Raiders exhibition game and another was shot several times after the game in a double shooting in the parking lot.

A 24-year-old man, who was wearing an “(Expletive) the Niners” T-shirt, was shot two to four times in the stomach before driving his truck to Gate A and stumbling to security, said San Francisco police Sgt. Frank Harrell. He was taken to San Francisco General Hospital in critical condition.

Another man in his 20s was shot near Lot V about 20 minutes earlier and had superficial face injuries, Harrell said, and was taken to the same hospital. The first shooting happened shortly after 8 p.m., about 15 minutes after the game ended.

“We are treating it as separate shootings, but we believe they are related,” Harrell said.

Police pulled a man off a party bus before it left the parking lot and are calling him a suspect. He was wearing an Oakland Raiders jersey, Harrell said. All three men attended the game, he said.

In the fourth quarter, around 7:15 p.m., a 26-year-old San Rafael man was assaulted and knocked unconscious in an upper level men’s restroom, said Sgt. Michael Andraychak. He was taken to the hospital with life-threatening injuries, he said.

The suspect in the beating is a male Samoan/Pacific Islander, 25 to 30 years old, 6-feet-3 to 6-feet-5, and 225 to 260 pounds.

He had a goatee and long curly hair tied in a pony tail and was last seen wearing a T-shirt and bluejeans, Andraychak said…

[Return to headlines]

Europe and the EU

Anti-Islam Politician Attacked With Acid by Left-Wing Fascists in Germany

So-called ‘Anti-fascists’ who themselves are the real fascists incite violence against right wing counterjihadist politicians in Berlin.

Islam vs Europe (H/T Shawn A) Lars Seidensticker, chairman of the Berlin regional association of the anti-Islam Pro Deutschland movement, was attacked while putting up political posters in the street with party colleagues. The masked attacker sprayed acid in his face. Seidensticker was later treated in hospital for injuries to his left eye but appears to have suffered no permanent damage. He will resume political campaigning immediately. The attacker has been described as a left-wing extremist rather than a Muslim…

           — Hat tip: heroyalwhyness[Return to headlines]

Swedish Royal Couple Turned Away From German Restaurant

A red-faced restaurant owner in southern Germany admitted Sunday she had turned away Sweden’s king and queen when they asked for a table after failing to recognise them.

Nadine Schellenberger of Zum Gueldenen Stern, a half-timbered inn and pub founded in the 16th century in the centre of the southwestern town of Ladenburg, said the royals stopped in while she was hosting a wedding party.

“I didn’t recognise them. I mean without crowns and sceptres… I am just not up on royal families and I don’t have time for glossy magazines,” she told AFP after the incident Thursday.

“Whether you’re a street sweeper or queen — we just didn’t have a table or enough manpower in the kitchen at that time and our hands were tied.”

Nevertheless Schellenberger and her husband Michael plan to send a letter to King Carl XVI Gustaf and German-born Queen Silvia to apologise.

“We want to tell them that we are sorry we didn’t recognise them immediately and that we weren’t able to serve them but that we would be delighted to welcome them another time,” she said.

Press reports said the royal couple and their entourage managed to get a pizza on the market square.

[Return to headlines]

UK Riots: The End of the Liberals’ Great Moral Delusion

The Left has gone into overdrive in its attempts to rewrite the history of the riots, but the public knows the truth.

There is no national debate about the epidemic of riots and looting that spread through our cities like a bush fire. Out there in the real world, where people go about the normal business of life, there is no sign of the heated argument that the media is so determined to air. In fact, I cannot remember a time when there has been such crushing unanimity on a matter of public importance: the answers to the questions of why this happened, what went wrong when it began to happen and what needs to follow in its aftermath are considered so blindingly self-evident as to be beyond rational disagreement.

At the margins of this consensus, there are some distant noises off. They are the desperate cries of those who fear that they have lost the argument of a lifetime and who want to persuade the great mass of the population that what it saw before its own eyes, hour by hour, night after night on the television news channels was something else altogether.

The Left-liberal camp is in overdrive in its campaign to rewrite history (or, in its own vocabulary, to alter consciousness): you did not see thousands of jubilant thugs rampaging through the streets, destroying livelihoods and property for the sheer exultant joy of it. What you saw were society’s victims responding to any or all of the following: bankers’ bonuses, MPs cheating on their expenses, unemployment, government spending cuts, poverty, social inequality, etc, etc. Their crimes were simply part of the same package of callous selfishness displayed by (as one particularly bizarre equation had it) tabloid phone hackers.

What is not ludicrous and insulting to common sense in these propositions is contradictory in its own terms. There are indeed views of the human condition which hold that all species of wickedness are connected, because they are all rooted in the fact that man is a fallen creature. But somehow I doubt that the ardent liberal secularists who were piping up last week were believers in original sin or the machinations of the Devil.

The moral equivalence that they wanted to establish between looters and arsonists on the one hand, and the perpetrators of any other kind of bad behaviour you can think of on the other, was rooted in ideological, not theological, orthodoxy. The rioting gangs could not simply be what they seemed — what they so obviously were — because that would be a devastating victory for the judgment of popular opinion over the fantasies of liberalism…

           — Hat tip: An EDL buck[Return to headlines]

North Africa

Libya: Gadhafi Refuses to Surrender

(NewsCore) — Rebel forces entered Tripoli from the west Sunday as Col. Moammar Gadhafi vowed not to abandon the capital in an audio message broadcast on Libyan state TV.

Gadhafi, who has ruled the North African country for 42 years, said he remained in the city and called on his supporters to come from all regions to defend it. Mevnwhile, a rebel convoy of around 100 vehicles was greeted on its way into the capital by residents and onlookers who fired celebratory gunfire into the air, AFP reported.

“We will not abandon Tripoli to the occupants and their agents. I am with you in this battle,” the Libyan leader said in his address, according to AFP. “We do not surrender and, by God’s grace, we will emerge victorious.”

His message came amid speculation that rebel fighters could, within hours, take control of Tripoli, which has been firmly held by Gadhafi’s security forces since the conflict erupted in February.

Rebels claimed to have cut off supply lines to the capital, overtaking surrounding villages and suburbs, including Maya — where they released dozens of prisoners — and Tajoura.

In a significant boost to rebel momentum, hundreds of anti-regime fighters overran an army barracks at a western entrance to Tripoli, raiding arms and ammunition from the military base, which lies some 16 miles (27 kilometers) from the capital on the road from Zawiya.

Rebels said NATO aircraft bombed the headquarters of the Khamis Brigade, which is commanded by Gadhafi’s son, forcing the elite unit to retreat back toward Tripoli and allowing the rebels to advance on the position, The Wall Street Journal reported.

Explosions had rocked the capital overnight as NATO warplanes flew overhead and clashes raged between forces loyal to Gadhafi and the rebels challenging his long rule…

[Return to headlines]

Libya: Rebels Capture Gaddafi’s Sons in Tripoli

Libyans await word that city has fallen

With a stunning pace Libyan rebels entered Tripoli from the west Sunday and advanced toward the center of the city, meeting almost no resistance along the way, various news agencies reported.

Gaddafi heir apparent Saif Al Islam, was reportedly captured in Tripoli. A spokesman for the National Transitional Council told a Sky News reporter that sons Saif Al-Islam, Saadi and Mohammed Gaddafi have been captured. Saif is wanted by the International Criminal Court.

Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi released a series of garbled audio messages to rile his followers to fight and pleading with them to not allow Tripoli to fall. Most speculate Gaddafi is no longer in Tripoli. Rebel leadership in Benghazi told Al Arabiya that his security guards have surrendered, Reuters reports.

Earlier Sunday, hundreds of euphoric Libyan rebels overran a major military base and home to the Khamis brigade assigned to defend the capital. They carted away truckloads of weapons and raced toward Tripoli with almost no resistance, Al Jazeera reported.

The rebels made these giant leaps forward after six months of largely deadlocked civil war. Their advances were packed into just a few dramatic days once the rebels took the western town of Zawiya.

By nightfall Sunday, rebels advanced more than 20 miles to Gaddafi’s last major bastion of support, entering the city’s Green Square, where scattered fighting was reported.

Along the way into Tripoli, Rebels freed several hundred prisoners from a political prisons around Tripoli.

To make these gains, the rebels executed a higher level of organization than previously expected, with some groups moving by boat from Misrata to attack Tripoli on Saturday.

[Return to headlines]

Qaddafi Son Arrested, Rebel Council Members Say

The rebel leadership in Libya announced that insurgents had captured Seif al-Islam el-Qaddafi, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s son and heir apparent.

While that could not be confirmed, the rebels raced through part of the capital city with apparent ease, and NATO and American official made clear that they expected that control of Tripoli, which had been the final stronghold of the longtime Libyan leader, was now in doubt.

[Return to headlines]

Israel and the Palestinians

Egypt and Israel Move to Halt Growth of Crisis

CAIRO — The Egyptian and Israeli governments moved Sunday to ease tensions over fatal cross-border attacks, apparently seeking to stop the crisis from flaring up into a full-scale diplomatic rift.

Egypt, which reacted angrily in the first days after the killings of three of its security officers by Israel, maintained a low profile on Sunday, while senior government officials held crisis meetings in private.

An Israeli official confirmed that an Israeli military delegation arrived in Egypt on Sunday, quietly and unannounced, for behind-the-scenes talks with Egyptian officials, and a second Israeli official issued a public statement of regret for the deaths of Egyptian soldiers.

The dispute arose Thursday after Palestinian militants carried out an attack in southern Israel, near the Egyptian border, killing eight Israelis. Israeli security forces chasing the militants fired into Egypt, killing three Egyptian soldiers in what officials have said was an accident.

Israel has yet to officially accept responsibility for the killings but has promised to hold a joint inquiry with Egypt to determine the facts.

The killings prompted an outpouring of rage against Israel in Cairo and provided a thorny diplomatic test for Egypt’s new military government, which has sought to maintain its peaceful relationship with Israel while being responsive to the street, where antipathy toward Israel holds sway…

[Return to headlines]

Middle East

Syrian President Assad Expects Elections in February

BEIJING,Aug 22 (Xinhuanet) — Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has given a TV interview, in which he said he hoped the country would hold parliamentary elections in February of next year. He has also told foreign countries to stay out of Syria.

President al-Assad says a solution to the five-month crisis will be “political”.

Assad said there is no specific timetable for the election, but he hoped to have proposals in place within days.

He said, “There is no approximate timetable…”

The President said he is not worried by any security threat in his country.

Assad said Syria’s relationship with the West is one of “conflict over sovereignty”.

He warned that any military action against Syria would backfire.

International pressure has been mounting on Assad, since a crackdown was launched against anti-government protesters.

US President Barack Obama recently called on Assad to step down, while imposing fresh economic sanctions.

The Syrian authorities blame the unrest on armed groups, which they say are backed by a foreign conspiracy. They’re promising to track down gunmen who they say have intimidated people and damaged public and private property.

[Return to headlines]

U.S. Disappointed by Iran’s Sentencing of U.S. Hikers: Clinton

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) — U.S. State Secretary Hillary Clinton said on Sunday that Washington was “deeply disappointed” by Iran’s sentencing of two U.S. hikers for eight years in prison.

In a statement issued by the State Department, Clinton said the United States continued to call and work for the two Americans’ “immediate release,” saying it was time for them to return home and be united with their families.

“I joined President Obama and the people of the U.S. in expressing our unflagging support for Shane, Joshua, Sarah and their families during this difficult time,” she added in the statement.

The two detained U.S. hikers, Joshua Fattal and Shane Bauer, were sentenced to eight years in prison by Iran on Sunday on charges of illegal entry to the country and espionage.

Three U.S. nationals were arrested in Iran on July 31, 2009, for illegally entering Iran’s western border and were later charged with espionage. The U.S. government considered the charges unfounded.

The female U.S. hiker Sarah Shourd, once jailed in Iran with the other two Americans, was released by Tehran’s prosecutor in September 2010, on a bail of 500,000 U.S. dollars due to her health situation.

[Return to headlines]

Australia — Pacific

Oldest Known Fossils Increase Speculation About Life on Mars

A microbial bacteria fossil may be proof of life before oxygen on Earth 3.4 billion years ago. The Strelley Pool Formation in Western Australia was once a beach but is now more than 100 Km inland and houses stromatolites, which have been preserved there. Stromatolies are layered accretionary structures that form in shallow water through the process of trapping, binding, and cementing sedimentary grains using biofilms and microorganisms.

According to Nature, the structures embedded in black sandstone at the Strelley Pool seemingly have biological origins. Professor Martin Brasier, who was the main researcher in the study, said that 5-80 micrometer structures were found to have evidence of cell walls and spherical, rod, and ellipsoid shapes.

Paleontologists issued a small disclaimer: Since microbes do not have skeletons, they are extremely difficult to evaluate and they have been dated back to ancient Earth using analysis of rocks’ microscopic structures and chemical composition, so there is a possibility of error.

Despite this, the oneness of the structures that are thought to be cell walls suggests that newly-found structures are biological, not mineral. The researchers also said that the distribution of iron sulphide surrounding the cell walls seemingly reflects pyrite distribution surrounding modern bacteria.

If the Strelley Pool structures are what they seem to be, they used metabolized sulphur, not oxygen, as a source of energy. By extension, their ability to survive means that life may have existed on Mars.

[Return to headlines]


Napolitano: Dream Act is Now De Facto Law

It’s official. Despite failing to pass the U.S. Congress, the federal DREAM Act is now law. U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano has told Congress she will stop deporting students who meet DREAM Act criteria.

Napolitano and her top immigration aide, John Morton, director of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), have said as much in the past. But Napolitano’s letter to Congress sets the Obama administration’s position in stone. Alleged DREAM Acters won’t get the boot.

Now, it appears as if anyone who enters the country illegally can stay provided they aren’t a “criminal,” whatever Napolitano means by that, which isn’t at all clear.


Napolitano told Congress that her department will focus on deporting criminal aliens, and her decision, the Associated Press reported, throws nearly half a million deportation cases into doubt.

Acting under extreme agitation from left-wing open border groups, “Napolitano announced the plan in a letter to a group of senators who support revamping the immigration system,” AP reported.

Under the change, approximately 300,000 deportation cases pending in immigration court will be reviewed case by case.

“From a law enforcement and public safety perspective, DHS enforcement resources must continue to be focused on our highest priorities,” Napolitano wrote in the letter. “Doing otherwise hinders our public safety mission — clogging immigration court dockets and diverting DHS enforcement resources away from individuals who pose a threat to public safety.”

The immigrants groups are concerned that “good” illegals will be deported with “bad” illegals who rob, rape, and murder. Many illegals guilty of what the open-borders lobby calls “lesser offenses” landed in deportation proceedings after their fingerprints were run through the federal government’s Secure Communities database. They threatened to sink Obama’s 2012 reelection.

           — Hat tip: Kitman[Return to headlines]

Culture Wars

Adult Cartoons Marketed to Children

In a new survey of the top 20 animated cable shows, the Parents Television Council gave an A grade to Disney and Nickelodeon for its top cartoons. But the Cartoon Network and its “Adult Swim” bloc earned an F for excessive sex, violence, profanity, and drug use.

In watching just 123 programs in a four-week study period, the PTC documented one thousand four hundred and eighty-seven examples of offensive material … on cartoons. On average, young viewers were exposed to this junk once every two minutes and 19 seconds.

Let’s go through the numbers. There were 680 sexual references or depictions. Some were typically sleazy, and some went way beyond. In one episode of “American Dad,” eponymous character Stan breaks in on a child molester named Randy, who’s trying to seduce his son, Steve, along with other boys. Stan pulls a gun on him, but Randy stands his ground.

“Look, I’m a sex offender. I love offensive sex,” he proclaims. “I offend people with the sex I have. That’s who I am, and it’s who I’ll always be.”

Stan finds that inspiring. “My God, boys! We can all take a page from Randy the Molester’s book. He’s comfortable with who he is! And I should be as well!”

These cartoons were loaded with 565 incidents of explicit language — much of it bleeped out of necessity, even by today’s bohemian standards.

[Return to headlines]


Svartwulf said...

Right, because Cartoons can only be for Children. It is utterly impossible for the medium to have good storylines that can appeal to adults. It's called Adult Swim people. Kids get out of the pool, 'cause it's grown up time. And apparently, some grown ups need to get out too, because they act like children the instant anything has above a G rating :P