frankilin roosevelt

It's not about being liberal or conservative anymore y'all. That is a hype offered by the fascist whores who want to confuse the people with lies while they turn this country into an aristocratic police state. Some people will say anything to attain power and money. There is no such thing as the Liberal Media, but the Corporate media is very real.

Check out my old  Voice of the People page.

Gino Napoli
San Francisco, California
High School Math Teacher

Loyalty without truth
is a trail to tyranny.

a middle-aged
George Washington

1563 POSTS

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Saturday, 5 January 2008 at 2h 32m 54s

Father and son

Earl Baron Lacour III Earl Baron Lacour IV

This is my best friend and his first born child, now aged 15. I've known that long-hair freak since he first got into the womb. I won't explain that one, but Barry and Kelly understand what I'm saying.

My other friend Rob's first (and probably only) born Brody is alive and kicking at 18 months, already walking on his own and getting ready to say daddy. I neglected to take those pictures though.

Saturday, 5 January 2008 at 3h 4m 18s

A summary of subprime mortgage SIVs and CDOs

In case you haven't been paying attention, or if you don't really understand economics, this is the best quick summary of the big picture over the subprime mortgages.

banks made loans to homeowners who did not have to prove their ability to pay, then quickly sold the loans to other companies. By the time it emerged that a lot of homeowners could not pay, these loans had been pooled with other loans and chopped into strange new paper assets that were sold to unsuspecting buyers around the globe. The subsequent reckoning has forced major banks to write off vast sums of money.

“Here you had all these people who were supposed to be sophisticated investors, and it turns out they were buying billions of dollars worth of debt where they didn’t even understand what they owned,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research.

[SOURCE: Peter S Goodman | New York Times | 30 December 2007  ]

A "SIV" is the acronym for Structured Investment Vehicle. CDOs are Collateralized Debt Obligations.

Let me explain. Collateral is something of value that backs the loan. Here's an example of what collateral means in the real world. When you take out a 5 year loan on a car (something they call "financing") the value of the car is the collateral of the loan. This means that if you balk on the loan after, say, 14 months, the collateral value of the car plus the payments over the 14 months is the economic accountanting that takes place.

You buy a Toyota that is $20,000 wholesale, but sold for to you $22,000. Toyota "finances" a loan, which means the finance company buys the $20,000 wholesale and keeps the title until the loan is paid. If you make $350 payments for 14 months you have paid $4900. At 10% interest, about half or less would be collected as interest on the loan, but this really depends on the finance charges the company takes after the car is repossessed, since the blue book value is still $20,000 after 14 months. Now after adding the $4900 to the $20,000, the finance company has assets of $24,900 less the $20,000 wholesale price, or $4900 profits over 14 months. Say the finance company sells the car back to the Toyota dealer for $17000. This yields them a total of $21,900 ... which is net gain of $1900 more than the original $20000 wholesale price: a 9.5% gain over 14 months, or 8.1% per year.

Housing and Real Estate work the same way, except that housing generally appreciates over time, unlike automobiles, which depreciate (decrease) in value over a relatively brief span of time. A 20 year old car is generally worthless and unusable, unless it is an antique; but a 20 year old house is usually 10 times more money in value. Plus, if that house is an apartment building or 20 story office tower, the property receives a regular supply of rental income.

However, the value of houses & properties are tied to supply, location, and the average income of those who inhabit the cities, towns, and suburbs where the houses are located. People have to be able to buy the houses, or they will continue to rent apartments. The monthly payments necessary to finance housing purchases cannot be too much larger than the average necessary rental costs, or very few persons will be able to afford the monthly payments. Most lenders and real estate brokers will say no more than a third of one's income. And don't forget property taxes and interest payments.

Housing and real estate in general are not always commodities that attract investors, because houses don't create their own value like a factory or communications corporation does. The value of a piece of property is more directly related to the number of purchasers. In the case of business real estate, it is a function of the ability of businesses to earn revenue over and above their costs plus the cost of leasing the property. The value of the property, the ability to "generate" revenue is contingent upon local economic conditions and location.

Which brings me to the other acronym, the Structured Investment Vehicle, or SIV. This is what the investment gurus call bundling the various financial agreements and mortgage payments into an agglomeration of say 2,000. This is the "vehicle" thru which real estate values became part of the securities market. A "security" is a piece of paper that confers a percentage payment. "Securitizing" means you obtain funds based upon the inherent value of the "security" such as a stock, or a corporate receivable.

Bonds are loans to public institutions. The value of a bond is the amount of repaid funds after a period of time. A value of a bond is based upon how much will be repaid after a period of time. The United States, or Canada, or Germany, are safely assumed to always make the quarterly interest payments for 10 years, so the value of bonds don't change much over time. A bond rate of 4.5% means you purchase the bond for 95.5% (100 minus 4.5%) of the value knowing you are 99.9999% guaranteed to get your 4.5% return per year. A large demand for bonds is indicative of investors who are leery of the alternatives and want a "safer" investment. This however reduces the value because more people wanting a limited quantity causes the price to go up.

When banks and investment firms are holding collateral and securities that drop in value, the equity and assets on their balance sheets reduce their ratios of cash to liabilities. In order to maintain the necessary ratios to stay solvent, banks have to hold on to their cash. The Fed can liquify the system, but the banks are still "borrowing" from the Fed. This is why the Fed interest rate decisions are a very big deal. Lowering the Fed rate costs the banks less money when they borrow from the Fed. Mind you they don't actually "pay" this money. What happens is they buy Treasuries equivalent to the interest on the Fed loans. The money from the Fed are backed by the Federal bonds that are sold.

As you can see, all this is pretty complicated, inter-related stuff. It's taken me 20 plus years to figure this much out, and I'm still not quite able to grasp the entirety of the macroscopically inter-related global details such as international monetary flows and international stock markets. But I'm working on it. It's a life- long learning process. I'll keep you posted.

Friday, 4 January 2008 at 18h 45m 39s

J Edgar Hoover and Habeus Corpus

The New York Times reported that a newly declassified document shows that J. Edgar Hoover, longtime director of the FBI, had a plan to suspend habeas corpus and imprison some 12,000 Americans he suspected of disloyalty.

According to the declassified material, Hoover sent his plan to the White House on July 7, 1950. This was 12 days after the Korean War began. Hoover's plan called for putting suspect Americans in military prisons.

Hoover urged President Harry S. Truman to proclaim the mass arrests necessary to "protect the country against treason, espionage and sabotage." The FBI would "apprehend all individuals potentially dangerous" to national security. The arrests would be carried out under "a master warrant attached to a list of names" provided by the bureau. The names were part of an index Hoover had been compiling for years. "The index now contains approximately 12,000 individuals, of which approximately 97 percent are citizens of the United States," he wrote. "In order to make effective these apprehensions, the proclamation suspends the writ of habeas corpus."

Truman did declare a national emergency, but he had the great good sense to reject Hoover's advice for the United States to adopt one of the worst of communist characteristics -- to create an American gulag for thousands of people unfortunate enough to find their names on Hoover's lists.

[SOURCE:  | Capital Hill Blue | 3 January 2008  ]

Thank god for Harry Truman.

I was talking to a childhood friend this Xmas, and he was talking about how he thinks the government is preparing for an "incident" in which they intend to arrest a lot of people. He said that there are 2 books of names: the people arrested before the incident, and the people arrested after the incident. This is how the Nazi's took control between 1930 and 1939. Keep in mind that Hitler was technically elected.

Now I'm not as conspiratorially minded as my friend, but when you know the history of the past, J. Edgar Hoover in particular, you know that these deranged paranoid types exist -- even now. I've blogged about a lot of these trolls and ghouls in human form many times in the past. These iron-skin lizards live in the sheltered worlds of law offices, lobby firms, and think tanks bankrolled by a small number of irrational mean-spirited extremely wealthy people. They provide the money for the sadists and anti-democratic actions of the hirelings.

Two names you should look up : Norman Podhoretz (stess the "hor") and John Negropontes ("black layings"). The careers of both these men embody the paranoid sadist streak that permeates the minds of a small number of humankind throughout the length of history. From Caligula and Nero, to the Dark Czars of Russia, the dungeons of the Inquisition, and up to now, the possibility of individuals to break the social norms and yield to naked power is ever present. Only the strength of a people to resist dictates the extent in which they are permitted to thrive.

Friday, 4 January 2008 at 3h 7m 16s

The Winter storm hits

It is stormy as hell today. The entire city is littered with pieces and parts of trees from the winds gusting close to 50 mph at times. The lights were out at a lot of major intersects and the ticket riders wound up directing traffic in their raincoats. I had to go to 3 gas stations to find one that still had power.

The rain comes and goes in cycles between barely a drizzle and then a pelter of rain. The electricity is out in my neck of the woods, and right now I'm parked outside of Cafe Abir linking to their wi-fi network hoping the meter maid doesn't show up.

Friday, 4 January 2008 at 16h 30m 39s

The games played involve real people

Today Robert Pear at the New York Times writes about the Administration's unwillingness to subsidize the health care costs of working families with federal Medicaid funds, by insisting that states cannot fund families who are more than 250% of the poverty line.

The child health program complements Medicaid. Income limits vary from state to state and tend to cluster from 133 percent to 185 percent of the poverty level for Medicaid, with states allowed to go 50 percentage points higher for the child health program....Under the new policy, states must meet certain conditions if they want to cover children with family incomes above 250 percent of the poverty level. For example, a child who had private coverage in the past must be uninsured for at least one year before being enrolled in a state child health program.

Now why is this, you might ask. Here's the administration's reason: "Administration officials say government health programs start to “crowd out” private insurance when they cover families with incomes from 250 percent to 300 percent of the poverty level — about $51,600 to $62,000 for a family of four." This came out in an 17 August letter sent to all of the state Health Care Departments.
“The Aug. 17 letter is a CHIP policy, not a Medicaid policy,” said Mike Fogarty, chief executive of the Oklahoma Health Care Authority. “But it’s being applied in a much broader way. We are seeing many more roadblocks.” In addition, federal officials challenged Louisiana to explain why it did not want to enforce the one-year waiting period for children who had lost private health insurance because of a parent’s death or the failure of a business where a parent was employed. In such cases, the state replied, the loss of coverage is involuntary, and the waiting period would “penalize children and families for circumstances beyond their control.”

[SOURCE: Robert Pear | New York Times | 4 January 2007  ]

So the Administration is once again formulating and directing policy by rigidly interpreting the laws and using the power of the purse to enforce it's interpretations that are friendly to the behemoth of the insurance industry. "Crowding out" private insurance means not enabling private insurers to decide how much health-care they will pay for and at what price. Kids with asthma and other medical issues will cost a lot of money, and insurance companies don't want to pay that money. They want to filter their customers into different health-care criteria, and charge different prices, while not necessarily providing quality health-care, because private health insurance is first and foremost about making a huge profit. All else is secondary.

Now Republican wing-nuts would have you believe that competition will eschew the inefficient, bad health insurance companies. But insurance is not a grocery store. Insurance companies have to have a large amount of customers in order to be viable. Small companies cannot compete, and so what you have is a small number of very large companies who are actually competing for the business, and what they all do is "rationalize" the health-care payments they make in addition to deciding who to insure and what to insure.

The point is to make health care affordable and available for all people. The current system is inefficient because the health insurance market is innately inefficient absent government intrusion or regulation. Without Medicaid, Medicare, and the S-CHIP program, a lot of people who not have health insurance or receive health care at all. Hospital and doctor visits get avoided until the emergency health-care situation. The costs of the uninsured drive up the costs to those who can afford to pay for insurance, either with higher premiums or expensive hosptal costs (like, $800 a day beds and various fees). We are paying for this inefficient system of private health insurance.

This is what the Republicans and their Democratic enablers don't want to "crowd out."

Friday, 4 January 2008 at 3h 28m 6s

Oil For What Scandal

Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 4h 12m 44s

What fighting terrorism really means

You have to read the entire article, because there are more examples. But the first one given, is amply sufficient.

[Icelander Erla Ósk Arnardóttir Lilliendahl] flew to New York City with her girlfriends, first class, from her native Iceland, to partake of "the Christmas spirit." She was drinking white wine en route and, as she put it, "look[ing] forward to go shopping, eat good food, and enjoy life." On an earlier vacation trip, back in 1995, she had overstayed her visa by three weeks, a modest enough infraction, and had even returned the following year without incident.

This time -- with the President's Global War on Terror in full swing -- she was pulled aside at passport control at JFK Airport, questioned about those extra three weeks 12 years ago, and soon found herself, as she put it, "handcuffed and chained, denied the chance to sleep… without food and drink and… confined to a place without anyone knowing my whereabouts, imprisoned." It was "the greatest humiliation to which I have ever been subjected."

By her account, she was photographed, fingerprinted, asked rude questions -- "by men anxious to demonstrate their power. Small kings with megalomania" -- confined to a tiny room for hours, then chained, marched through the airport, and driven to a jail in New Jersey where, for another nine hours, she found herself "in a small, dirty cell." On being prepared for the return trip to JFK and deportation, approximately 24 hours after first debarking, she was, despite her pleas, despite her tears, again handcuffed and put in leg chains, all, as she put it, "because I had taken a longer vacation than allowed under the law."

[SOURCE: Tom Engelhardt | | 2 January 2008]

All of this happened on 12 December 2007 - 3 weeks ago. Here is a translated version of her web account.


During the last twenty-four hours I have probably experienced the greatest humiliation to which I have ever been subjected. During these last twenty-four hours I have been handcuffed and chained, denied the chance to sleep, been without food and drink and been confined to a place without anyone knowing my whereabouts, imprisoned. Now I am beginning to try to understand all this, rest and review the events which began as innocently as possible.

Last Sunday I and a few other girls began our trip to New York. We were going to shop and enjoy the Christmas spirit. We made ourselves comfortable on first class, drank white wine and looked forward to go shopping, eat good food and enjoy life. When we landed at JFK airport the traditional clearance process began. We were screened and went on to passport control. As I waited for them to finish examining my passport I heard an official say that there was something which needed to be looked at more closely and I was directed to the work station of Homeland Security. There I was told that according to their records I had overstayed my visa by 3 weeks in 1995 and. For this reason I would not be admitted to the country and would be sent home on the next flight. I looked at the official in disbelief and told him that I had in fact visited New York after the trip in 1995 without encountering any difficulties. A detailed interrogation session ensued. I was photographed and fingerprinted. I was asked questions which I felt had nothing to do with the issue at hand. I was forbidden to contact anyone to advise of my predicament and although I was invited at the outset to contact the Icelandic consul or embassy, that invitation was later withdrawn. I don't know why. I was then made to wait while they sought further information, and sat on a chair before the authority for 5 hours. I saw the officials in this section handle other cases and it was clear that these were men anxious to demonstrate their power. Small kings with megalomania. I was careful to remain completely cooperative, for I did not yet believe that they planned to deport me because of my "crime". When 5 hours had passed and I had been awake for 24 hours, I was told that they were waiting for officials who would take me to a kind of waiting room. There I would be given a bed to rest in, some food and I would be searched. What they thought they might find I cannot possibly imagine. Finally guards appeared who transported me to the new place. I saw the bed as if in a mirage, for I was absolutely exhausted. What turned out was something else. I was taken to another office exactly like the one where I had been before and once again a long wait ensued. In all, it turned out to be 5 hours. At this office all my things were taken from me. I succeeded in sending a single sms to worried relatives and friends when I was granted a bathroom break. After that the cell phone was taken from me. After I had been sitting for 5 hours I was told that they were now waiting for guards who would take me to a place where I could rest and eat. Then I was placed in a cubicle which looked like an operating room. Attached to the walls were 4 steel plates, probably intended to serve as bed and a toilet. I was exhausted, tired and hungry. I didn't understand the officials’ conduct, for they were treating me like a very dangerous criminal. Soon thereafter I was removed from the cubicle and two armed guards placed me up against a wall. A chain was fastened around my waist and I was handcuffed to the chain. Then my legs were placed in chains. I asked for permission to make a telephone call but they refused. So secured, I was taken from the airport terminal in full sight of everybody. I have seldom felt so bad, so humiliated and all because I had taken a longer vacation than allowed under the law.

They would not tell me where they were taking me. The trip took close to one hour and although I couldn’t see clearly outside the vehicle I knew that we had crossed over into New Jersey. We ended up in front of a jail. I could hardly believe that this was happening. Was I really about to be jailed? I was led inside in the chains and there yet another interrogation session ensued. I was fingerprinted once again and photographed. I was made to undergo a medical examnination, I was searched and then I was placed in a jail cell. I was asked absurd questions such as: When did you have your last period? What do you believe in? Have you ever tried to commit suicide?

I was completely exhausted, tired and cold. Fourteen hours after I had landed I had something to eat and drink for the first time. I was given porridge and bread. But it did not help much. I was afraid and the attitude of all who handled me was abysmal to say the least. They did not speak to me as much as snap at me. Once again I asked to make a telephone call and this time the answer was positive. I was relieved but the relief was short-lived. For the telephone was set up for collect calls only and it was not possible to make overseas calls. The jail guard held my cell phone in his hand. I explained to him that I could not make a call from the jail telephone and asked to be allowed to make one call from my own phone. That was out of the question. I spent the next 9 hours in a small, dirty cell. The only thing in there was a narrow steel board which extended out from the wall, a sink and toilet. I wish I never experience again in my life the feeling of confinement and helplessness which I experienced there.

I was hugely relieved when, at last, I was told that I was to be taken to the airport, that is to say until I was again handcuffed and chained. Then I could take no more and broke down and cried. I begged them at least to leave out the leg chains but my request was ignored. When we arrived at the airport, another jail guard took pity on me and removed the leg chains. Even so I was led through a full airport terminal handcuffed and escorted by armed men. I felt terrible. On seeing this, people must think that there goes a very dangerous criminal. In this condition I was led up into the Flugleiđir waiting room, and was kept handcuffed until I entered the embarkation corridor. I was completely run down by all this in both body and spirit. Fortunately I could count on good people and both Einar (the captain) and the crew did all which they could to try to assist me. My friend Auđur was in close contact with my sister and the consul and embassy had been contacted. However, all had received misleading information and all had been told that I had been detained at the airport terminal, not that I had been put in jail. Now the Foreign Ministry is looking into the matter and I hope to receive some explanation why I was treated this way.

[SOURCE: Comment 306 | | 12 December 2008

And there is this next little bit too (its a long article). You have to go to the source to get the links which source all of the assertions in the first paragraph. There are nine links.

Think Guantanamo is bad, do ya?

Take, for example, a December 1st Washington Post piece in which reporter Craig Whitlock revealed one more small part of the CIA's global network of secret imprisonment. We already knew, among other things, that the CIA had set up and run its own secret prisons in Eastern Europe and probably in Thailand; that it had a network of secret sites in Afghanistan like "the Salt Pit" near Kabul; that it may have used the "British" island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, as well as American ships, naval and possibly commercial, to hold prisoners beyond the purview of any authority or even the visits of the International Red Cross; that it ran an air fleet of leased executive jets (including some from Jeppesen Dataplan, a subsidiary of Boeing, which made it back into the news in December because of a lawsuit launched by the ACLU); that these were used to transport terror suspects it snatched up off city streets or battlefields anywhere on the planet to its own "black sites" or which it "rendered" in "extraordinary" manner to the jails and torture chambers of Syria, Egypt, Uzbekistan, and other lands whose agents had no qualms about torturing and abusing prisoners.

Whitlock, however, added a new piece to the CIA's incarceration puzzle: an "imposing building" on the outskirts of Amman, Jordan. This turns out to be the headquarters of the General Intelligence Department, Jordan's powerful spy and security agency (and the CIA's closest Arab ally in the Middle East). Known as a place where torture is freely applied, it has been a way-station for "CIA prisoners captured in other countries." The first terror suspects kidnapped by Agency operatives were, it seems, flown to Jordan and housed in that building before Guantanamo was up and running or the Agency had been able to set up its own secret prisons elsewhere. There, the prisoners were hidden, even from the International Red Cross

[SOURCE: Tom Engelhardt | | 2 January 2008]

Thursday, 3 January 2008 at 3h 39m 26s

Bhutto was shot

Meanwhile, the caretaker government is furiously backtracking on its earlier claims that Benazir Bhutto died of a concussion. The retraction comes after videotape surfaced that shows her being shot. The Pakistani public has been enraged by the appearance of a cover-up in official pronouncements on the cause of her death.

[SOURCE:  | Hindustan Times | 2 January 2008 ]

And According to professor Juan Cole

The USG Open Source Center sent out the following note, which points out that in scouring jihadi web sites, the analysts have found none where al-Qaeda has taken credit for assassinating Benazir Bhutto. You think of the announcement by al-Qaeda posted the morning of 7/7/05 when the London Underground was bombed. Yet they are not claiming this one.

" As of 1830 GMT on 31 December, OSC has not observed any official statements from Al-Qa'ida claiming responsibility for the assassination of Benazir Bhutto on any of the websites that normally disseminate authenticated statements from the group. OSC will continue to monitor these websites for any such claims. "

[SOURCE: Juan Cole | | 2 January 2008]

Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 1h 24m 45s

Milan's new tax on automobiles travel into downtown

In Milan, the city government has a new "anti-pollution" law beginning with the new year. The law classifies groups of automobiles and assesses a ticket for some of the groups to have access to the center of town. The idea is to give incentives to the use of public transportation and also provide funds so that the available public transportation facilities can be improved.

Certain kinds of vehicles will be exempted: public transportion vehicles, electric cars, and vehicles that transport the handicapped. Furthermore,

The daily tax varies from 2 to 10 euros. The yearly fee is 50 to 250 euros. The tickets are available from kiosks, tobacco shops, transportation information centers, and also the internet. {You affix the ticket stub to your car.] Surveillance cameras are placed at 43 different points of access to the center of town. Fines range from 74 to 285 euros.

Translated from the French by me.
[SOURCE: Rome Correspondent | Le Monde | 2 January 2008  ]

Wednesday, 2 January 2008 at 18h 18m 8s

What economic gifts will 2008 bring

Floyd Norris puts the economic dilemma of 2008 as follows:

In 2008, the biggest issue for Wall Street and the banks will be assessing the damage. Can the securitization market recover, and continue to provide financing for everything from credit cards to corporate loans? Or will its failure in the area of subprime loans spread, leaving it discredited and other parts of the economy desperate for cash?

On the answer to that question may hinge the answer to whether the latest financial crisis will pass with little impact on the real economy, or whether it will pull down all the parts of the economy that enabled most investors to have a good year while their brokers were suffering.

[SOURCE: Floyd Norris | New York Times | 2 January 2007  ]