Open Thread

Ninety Years of Economic Progress

In what was the British East Africa Protectorate – ten million people face starvation, partly because farmers in crucial food-producing areas who fled their homes last year have not returned, instead withdrawing deeper into their ethnic enclaves, deeper into fear. At the same time, public confidence in the Kenyan government is plummeting. Top politicians have been implicated in an endless string of scandals involving tourism, fuel, guns and corn.

También ayuda a estimular el de la mujer logrando una relación muy satisfactoria para ambos. Esta planta se considera un aproximación para la disfuncion erectil depende de la causa. Con una gran cantidad de trabajo todavía se está haciendo en la tecnología, hacer que las personas y luego hacer las cosas que no queremos.


Wikipedia: Kenya
New York Time: Starvation and Strife Menace Torn Kenya

966 replies on “Ninety Years of Economic Progress”

Obi Wan: You can’t win George Bush, if you strike me down I will become more powerful than you could possibly imagine.

Catrina, the NYTime’s article is harrowing, a tiny example of the misery and suffering of just a few of the victims of this man made hell. Corruption and tribalism ferments this stuff all over Africa, the Balkans and anywhere else this combination occurs. It’s the tragedy of human attachment to power and the mindless following of ‘leaders’. Hasn’t the West just suffered a blow to its belief in ‘leaders’ too?

On a tangential note, in the NY Times there’s reporting of the discovery, in Kenya, of some footprints of Homo Erectus that clearly show a modern foot. But these are over 1.5 million years old! (

Ironic, isn’t it, that in the cradle of our ancestors, where the first clearly modern, upright hominid once walked, we are still behaving like waring bands of apes?

Makes you want to weep.


Sarah Palin has, unfortunately, not evolved beyond the level of a childlike simple mindedness which really precludes her from the conversation of adults.

But she’s dead moose for Republicans! LOL

Thanks Paddy, I was afraid I’d forgotten all the (gory) details in case I ever am confronted with a warm moose corpse.

(Note to self: sharpen axe, pack extra glad wrap)

Thanks Paddy, I’ll give it a look early next week when my bandwidth limit resets! (I did a friend a favour and downloaded AutoCad…a mere 3Gb file, so the last few days of this month are a wee bit tight! LOL)


As usual, Frank Rich gets to the nub of the American situation, the popular mood and its political implications:

…will Obama’s rhetoric only get him high enough to fly too close to the sun, or will he make a smooth landing?

That depends on how well he gets the banks under control, and so far, it’s looking a bit wobbly. Elsewhere it was commented that he likes the stodgy old Canadian model that is still intact, but it will require Federal intervention and some strong pruning.

I guess we wait and see, but Rich is right on this. Obama will get one chance to fix this mess. Get it wrong and he’ll be toast.

I happened to catch the most incredible lecture on Radio national today ona lecture from Margaret Atwood – a favourite author of mine and many other millions of women- it’s called ‘Payback’.
I don’t know how to link it etc but stream it …
and if anyone can find it please put the link on here.
I was left breatheless at her audacity, clarity and her abilty to explain where we are using storytelling.
For someone like me it speaks far more than the DowJones Index graphs, and the political and economic pundits.
Inspiration is what we need in the face of such insurmountable fear and despair.
Hence Obi.

paddy – FFS!!!!
Can you believe that there really was a nano-sacond in time when that gormless fool could have been VP and therefore potentially POTUS when McCain fell off the perch??
Slap me now.

and the alternative if Obi (and we all agreed he isn’t God) fails, is????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????? ?????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????/
whoTF could they vote for?

Don’t get me wrong Jen, the thought of Obama fluffing it is bloody terrifying! But it is, well and truly, an Herculean task to get the USA back on its feet.

We all hope and pray he doesn’t make too many mistakes.

By the way Jen, being a lifelong insomniac, I often trawl the radio at all hours of the morning and I can tell you that whenever I hit Atwood lectures, I’m rivetted! (Since Radio National likes to repeat things I’ve actually heard one piece, or at least most of it, twice!)

She’s amazing. Anything that holds my attention at 5am has GOT to be good!

14 jen Obi Wan is being very methodical and thorough in putting together the high quality team. Yes he has made the odd mistake but everyone makes some mistakes.

Catholics gird for Sebelius fight

Kathleen Sebelius’s nomination as Secretary of Health and Human Services has triggered a bit of a battle between the traditional Catholic right and the newly energized Catholic left.

Sebelius is Catholic, and word of her nomination today prompted the launch of a new site, Catholics for Sebelius, by the left-leaning group Catholics United.

Catholics United says in its release:

…right-wing organizations, opposed to universal healthcare for all Americans, have been spreading misinformation about Gov. Sebelius’ record on pro-life issues in order to malign her to the Catholic community. Catholics United intends to correct these smears by educating Catholics and the media about Gov. Sebelius’ record of reducing abortions in Kansas by 10% during her time as Governor.

read the rest on Ben Smiths blog on Politico

Thanks Ticksters – now take the TIME to listen- as opposed to the 3 second grabs we are all so conditioned to.
And Chris- yes my point exactly. Obama has no hope of undoing the reality of what we face economically, environmentally and therefore socially and globally – there is no better alternative.
HOWEVER, he holds the most poisoned of chalices
( and that is why, i must confess. I don’t give a Flying Fuck whether ‘Michellle is Hot’ or not… time to rise above . )

Not just ‘mistakes’ CB, but his Dept of Justice is doing everything in its power to stop the courts from overturning the Bush argument that the President can do anything, even if it’s illegal.

Go figure:

…and this is no small constitutional matter, but like Greenwald says, goes to the heart of their rights.

Just why is Obama defending Bush and leaving open the door for him to do the same egregious acts?

Make no mistake, they are trying everything they possibly can to stall this, or kill it off.

Just a generation?

Ailing G.O.P. Risks Losing a Generation.
Republicans have their work cut out for them.
Americans identifying themselves as Democrats outnumber those who say they are Republicans by 10 percentage points, the largest gap in party identification in 24 years.

The gap has widened significantly since President George W. Bush’s re-election in 2004, when it was a mere 3 percentage points. But by the time Mr. Bush left office in January, less than a quarter of Americans approved of his performance.

These days, 38 percent of Americans say they are Democrats, 28 percent call themselves Republicans, and another 29 percent identify as independents, according to an average of national polls conducted last year by The New York Times and CBS News.

may need to be registered.
read the full story in the NY Times

That was a good listen.
He seems pretty cool, calm and collected but i will wait for Kirri’s report on it.

jen, here’s that link, contains all five of Atwood’s “Payback” lectures. File and enjoy. The lady is a class act alright. Min doesn’t dig her style but Margaret A. sure pushes all my literary buttons. Her anaysis of “the debt siuation” from Billy the Bard’s Merchant of Venice is exquisite.

Cat, it’s so hard to offer meaningful comment on Kenya because I know sfa about the land and its people. Will check your wiki link. Saw a bit on Huffy recently where George Clooney was trying to draw world attention to the unfolding human catastrophe. Kirri just about caps it for me.

Gaffy, some wonderful photos of the big wet in your last thread link. The smiles, the depair, the vast untapped kinetic energy of the overflowing dams and those Brahmin cattle sidling up to the boss’s wall. Jenny on ABC telly reckons it’s gonna be fine up North tomorrow. Bad luck you missed out on those barra, they looked awful tasty. Reckon by the bright eyes of those kid fishers the barra would be looking like Hot Tuna logoes by now.

If one owns up to a snap type situation BEFORE someone actually snaps you, is that acceptable as a pre-emptive defence against punitive action?

Two things i heard in that Krugman piece;
The first one was that he has a real good chance of turning it around as he has put a bunch of inteligent people in the there as ( without saying it) opposed to the previous bunch of fuckwits.

Right at the end he was asked the three things he thinks Obi should do and the third thing was because of what has happened over the past decade we need to have some sort of truth and reconciliation thingy.

My knowledge of Kenya can be written on the back of a postage stamp.
I understand most of those African Countries are cases.
I do not know what they eat in Kenya or it could be that the government coppers are chasing them but how come the fuckers can run so fast for so long?

Exodus to smaller rivals.
COMMONWEALTH Bank and Westpac have begun to lose customers following their multi-billion dollar regional bank acquisitions last year.

And smaller rivals, such as Bank of Queensland and Bendigo Bank, appear to be the beneficiaries.

CBA, which acquired Perth-based Bankwest for $2.1 billion in October, appears to be suffering the biggest customer exodus according to official data published by the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority.

The authority’s monthly report on banking statistics shows that Bankwest’s household deposits base fell $380 million to $14.07 billion in January.

continued on the Herald Sun

“Disorder” in the House should be called “Playtime” instead!

That Gillard is a class act, pity the media spends so much time on a storm in a tea cup like the ADF overpaying some non-combatants and the puerile Opposition squealing about these overpayments being deducted!

But they missed Gillard’s really good moment, not the “poodle” quip, which was funny, beautifully segued etc. but she handled a question that ridiculed some Education spending and she poked the Opposition in the eye with it.

Grace, wit and style and the facts at her fingertips. A bloody class act who makes the Opposition look like chumps.


The harsh reality that is being repressed is this: the Western world is suffering a crisis of excessive indebtedness. Many governments are too highly leveraged, as are many corporations. More important, households are groaning under unprecedented debt burdens. Average household sector debt has reached 141per cent of disposable income in the US, 156per cent in Australia and 177 per cent in Britain…..

The delusion that a crisis of excess debt can be solved by creating more debt is at the heart of the Great Repression. Yet that is precisely what most governments propose to do……..,28124,25115869-643,00.html

Kirri, Julia Prole has the measure of any “champion” the tories can wheel into the chamber. There’s no doubt she’s Dauphine.

Dauphiness? Dauphina Stupenda? Whatever, you’re right, she’s succession material par excellence.

As to the “putting out the fire with more petrol” syndrome…yep again, the knee is jerking at its most rapid response rate all around the Western world. We’ve consumed our way to financial purgatory and the only penance that will pay is to save, if that’s not too contorted a metaphor. Cut debt and save. Bankrupt banks that have mountains of dud paper, take ’em over and recapitalise with a view to floating them in smaller form later. Regulate the crap out of them too so they don’t think “phew, that was close, now, back to business as usual”.

Nup, put ’em in the playpen and supervise these kiddies, or we’ll back where we were in a flash.

Ecky, talking about the financial Armageddon as we were, the big plus I see goes something like this: a wipeout of our faith in the financial system will also make people less likely to believe that our environmental practices are sustainable.

We have, in very quick time, moved from certainty to uncertainty, and this will spread across many areas of human behaviour. The two areas of finance and environment are not unconnected even at the most elementary level: massive consumption leads to a heavy carbon footprint (unlike the one left by Homo Erectus! LOL) and an attitude that it’s OK to burn fossil fuel like there’s no tomorrow because we just ‘buy’ our way out of the consequences.

Without a shuddering collapse in this ungoverned machine we were headed for a runaway.

Now the fuel line’s been severed and the engine has come to an almost complete stop.

Time to think about how quickly we were headed for the cliff, eh?

So, in one sense, the financial crisis is the crisis we just HAD to have! Now we have some moments to reflect on what IS of value, and instead of trading up to BIGGER, more POWERFUL and ever higher consumption, we can start to think about what we really need, how to conserve, how to produce renewable energy and how not to pollute our way to extinction.

This really is a very timely crisis, and one we should make the best of.

We won’t get a better chance.

I totally agree Kirri- although as a small retail business owner who will inevitavbly close my doors the personal cost is real. However it’s time. Consumption of stuff we don’t need to keep a false economy going is madness.


I applaud your optimism, and hope you are correct. My cynicism tells me that it is possible that the financial crisis will become an excuse to do even more environmental damage …

David Gould and Jen, it’s hardly optimism for this old cynic! LOL

But let’s, just for a moment, remember what people did in the GD, the Great Depression: they ‘made’ do, saved the string, and cut down on all the unnecessary items, and even some of those!

We need a BIG dose of that, and the only hope I see in all this is that just maybe this is the medicine we need.

Reading about global warming is one thing, not being able to afford a bigger ‘whatever’ is another entirely. We’ve binged, now we purge, and hopefully the hangover restrains us from diving into it again.

If I’m realistic, then this effect, (henceforth the Kirribilli Remedy), is enough to slow the disease and give us a bit of time to reflect on a needed change of lifestyle.

There’s a lot to say on this, and over the coming months and years we’ll see how much it plays out in the wider community and in business and politics.

If I’m right, then the mooted US Federal strategy will entail cutting out the State’s right to run banks, centralise the remaining few, and limit the growth of credit. In the mighty USA! Imagine, the Federal government actually controlling credit creation to x% p.a.!

Holy Sheet Batman!

And the consequences of going down that path (and they almost MUST, or something very close) is that capital will be allocated MUCH less to speculation, (and finish HIGHLY leveraged speculation stone dead), and send it more to productive enterprise. (If that means static house prices, that is a VERY good thing in my opinion….just look how the opposite got us into this friggin’ mess).

Capital has been misallocated, risk mispriced, and the environmental consequences almost completely unaccounted.

There’s BIG change comin’ down the turnpike, ladies and gentlemen, and not a moment too soon.

Ecky, thanks for that full link.
I just listened to the “interview” of Margret Atwood by Geraldine Doogue on the link I gave to the Saturday breakfast show and was less than impressed with “La Doogue’s” interviewing technique. 🙁
It’s great to know there’s a whole series of Massey lectures available for d/l here.
It will, no doubt, provide much more nutritious fare than this year’s Boyer lectures.
Starring that sorry excuse for a tycoon, the sun king. 👿

Africa has been in terrible difficulties for so many years now it is hard to see any way out. I watched the Bob Geldoff series on Africa, and it was powerful, amazing and horrifying. It seems to me that the only choices the African people get are dictatorships in name or dictatorships that hide behind democratic trappings. When you add tribal hatreds, rampant dark age mentality superstition and exploitation of natural resources by foreigners, the picture just gets more hopeless.

Effectively, you have a feudalistic tribal system with the modern apparatus of state control.

EC @ 33

Thanks for posting that link. Niall Ferguson makes a lot of sense – I grabbed him on Lateline last week as well.

It’s all a bit of a worry for this mortgage slave. Oh well.

41 David Gould The whole place is full of all sorts of minerals diamonds gold etc. They are even fighting over that.

Good to see Google getting behind Dr. Seuss. If they are doing that world wide, believe it or not, a lot of people would be unaware of him. Dr. Seuss’s books are excellent brain food for kids.

The results should be a wakeup call to the federal government and its plan for mandatory internet filtering. According to the survey, only 2% of Labor voters supported the filtering at the time of voting, with the majority not even realising it was an election policy. Almost 90% of respondents also said they would opt-out of any optional filter component, bringing into question the demand for such a system.
more on whirlpool

From Kenya to Kiev:

KIEV, Ukraine — Steel and chemical factories, once the muscle of Ukraine’s economy, are dismissing thousands of workers. Cities have had days without heat or water because they cannot pay their bills, and Kiev’s subway service is being threatened. Lines are sprouting at banks, the currency is wilting and even a government default seems possible.

Ukraine, once considered a worldwide symbol of an emerging, free-market democracy that had cast off authoritarianism, is teetering. And its predicament poses a real threat for other European economies and former Soviet republics.


…so, get ready to watch Eastern Europe’s dominoes start falling over, and the contagion will spread from East to West, right across to Ireland.

What level of social disruption will we see? You’d have to bet it could get serious in some places, especially when they don’t have power in the winter. That kind of thing makes people pretty antsy.

One thing is for sure, it’s not looking good from here.

David Gould at 41

The way out is a slow and steady process of building infrastructure, educating the young, and the delivery sustainable healthcare. One could argue that this is no different to the USA. The difference is that the USA has infrastructure (although it is crumbling infrastructure), it has an education system (but a system somewhat in decay and under threat from Christian fundamentalists), and yes – a healthcare solution that delivers more buck for the bang than any other in the world. Moral of the story is that you don’t need perfect solutions – just baby steps in the right direction.

Kirri @ 35

Maybe this crisis will finally give the Commonwealth Government the balls to shut down the negative gearing scam on rental housing. And on shares too. Both have distorted our investment choices as a nation, with predictable results – share and housing bubbles that had to crash.

Still, I’m better off than I was five years ago simply because I turned half of our savings into cash in January 2008. I saw this coming but, alas, did not mount the argument that we should sell ALL of our shares well enough to my better half. (My fault) Still, compared to 5 years ago the shares a now comprise a rather thinner gravy in our savings than they once were.

Ah well. There’s going to be a lot more pain before there is any semblance of gain. We have to reduce debt dramatically and return the average home to being in the 3-4 times Average Weekly Earnings. Which means a lot of people a going to want to blame someone.

As Jen would say, !GB … I’d add !JWH and Tip (they all deserve to be sent them to no expenses paid trip to the middle of the Afghanistan & Pakistan borders complete with signs (in the local language) saying Osama is a wimp.

48 Catrina Spot on, and maybe with the right sort of influence/help from the outside, something might get done. I bet Bushes influence was having the wrong effect on Africa. Like everywhere else.

Holy Sheet Batman, the Dax is off OVER 12% at the moment!

(and it took a good rogering last week as well!)

It’s really friggin’ ugly out there.

Still, the DAX was at 5,000 2 months ago, and is about 3,740 now.

A mere 25% in 8 weeks.

That’s a bloodbath.

I saw this on a US futures site, and just about fell off my chair:

XETRA-DAX -465.51 -12.11% 3,739.45

…their data is obviously whacky because the index number on the right is correct, but the fall is measured from somewhere at the beginning of last week…not the last session.

Can’t always believe what you see on the net, eh? LOL

More than a tad ironic isn’t it, when the CIA comes out and says that the GFC presents a much more imminent danger than terrorism. (They could have said WMD too for that matter! LOL)

Finally, it’s dawning on them: they are their own worst enemy.

And letting that dribbling idiot Bush get them there must now be really sticking in the craw.

Vote in haste, repent at leisure, as we could say, eh?

HI Cardster and Cat-
I feel the need to explain that the FuckGeorgeBush signature is really a generic term fostered in a time of an obvious target. It should be FuckAllNeoconservatives – including of course JWH, Smirk and all their evil sidekicks- Peter Reith, Philip Ruddock, Vanstone,Abbott, etc etc etc. And across the Atlantic the list is endless – so feel free to taylor it your own needs.
Fuck The Lot of Them.

btw- we are all on standby here for the Next Armageddon – winds of 100plus, high temps (although nothing like the 45 degrees of feb 7)
and so here I sit glass in hand waiting, waiting.
Kid’s schools are closed tomorrow although I still have to show up at work like everyone else – this is truly weird.
Thankfully Climate Change is just a conspiracy theory or we’d be in real trouble if this was going to keep happening 🙄

and stay dry Q’Landers – bottle it and send some down.

Now then jen….I’ll have you know that ferris wheels are a surefire way to beat the curse of unemployment, forest fires and (even better) they’re guaranteed to kick GB. 🙂
Stay safe tomorrow and run like the clappers if starts to look nasty.

Meanwhile…..the premier puppy has outdone himself today.

Why do capitalist bastards screw everyone in sight?
Because they can.

Kenya has a very long history, with first the Portuguese and then the British trying to take it over. Long before that Arab traders had moved in during the 1st century AD, but while they had quite an impact it was not an invasion.
The Portuguese attempt failed after about 150 years, they were out of there by the 17th century, although there is still some evidence of their visit in the spices used in cooking.
The British invaded around the end of the 19th century, setting up a crown colony in 1920. At the time this was a habit of European countries, picking a country rich in resources and taking it over. The Kenyans (or in particular the Mau Mau organisation from the Kikuya tribe) did not take kindly to this and rebelled. After tens of thousands of Kikaya and about 650 british were killed, the Brits called it quits and gave them their independence in the early 1960’s. (1963 if I am not mistaken). Soon after Jomo Kenyatta declared a republic and was president until 1978. Like so many rebel leaders, Kenyatta was hated by the British, but did pretty well in power. In the early days this was a single party system, with no real opposition to speak of. There was an executive with the president at the head, a legislative branch(national assembly) and the judiciary. The national assembly consisted of 200+ constituencies, each electing a member, with 12 special interest MP’s appointed by the parties depending on the numbers of elected MP’s.
Some trouble with an abortive coup around 1980-82, soon after Daniel arap Moi took over from Kenyatta. By this time the economy had started to fail and in the early 90’s the western powers (particularly the US) suspended economic aid to force reforms.
By 2002 the National Rainbow Coalition came to power and various anti corruption measures were introduced. By now there was a two-party system, but corruption and electoral fraud was rife on both sides. By 2003 anti-corruption measures were introduced and all thought things were settling down, but flared up again during the 2007 election.
My brother, a surgeon from South Africa, is very familiar with Kenya, spending quite a bit of time there most years. It is a beautiful country with lovely friendly people, taken advantage of by the west over many years. He is confident this period of instability will be overcome. The country has had its fair share of problems in its long life, and hopefully will overcome this setback.

Jen @ 57

A friend of mine is more severe – he wants all neocons forcibly emigrated to Kandahar (with a good supply of bull prods, batteries and hot pokers for the locals). His view is that they would then really understand “free” markets in action.

We can but dream 🙂

A New Hope For Redistricting in Florida.
“Legislators shouldn’t get to pick their voters: voters should get to pick their legislators”.

The 2010 U.S. Census is now around the corner, and that means that all the states of our union will be drawing new maps for legislative and Congressional redistricting following the census.

Even casual observers of redistricting understand the power of controlling the process, or at least having a seat at the table during redistricting. It could make the difference of a seat or two in several states, and perhaps as many as 10-20 Congressional seats overall.

Republicans enjoyed control over several critical states after the 2000 census, and were subsequently able to rig a number of Congressional maps rather brilliantly.

One case in point is Michigan, where a bluish-purple state which voted for Gore and Kerry was rigged to include nine Republicans and six Democrats at the Congressional level (the breakdown is now eight Democrats and seven Republicans).

more of this article on Daily Kos. Just scroll down a bit.

56 Kirribilli Removals Yeah I reacon the Geelong Football Club is pretty dangerous too.

Kerneels, I’ll happily concede that you’re much better placed to know the facts and figures re. the death toll during the Mau Mau uprising,.
But I (and wiki) suggest a much smaller number of Europeans were killed than 650. According to Wikipedia it was only 32.
Then again, perhaps I’ve misunderstood what you’re referring to.
Or else (heaven forfend) wiki’s got it wrong again.

Ta megan – it is that stupid thing , where you wait for something that you hope never happens, and then when it doesn’t you get annoyed that you put everything on hold.
As if it would be better if all hell broke loose ….
go figure. Humans are truly nuts.

stay safe all Vic Ticksters – got a feeling in my waters that the shit might again be about to hit the fan.

Filibusters: The Senate’s Self-Inflicted Wound.
Barack Obama — unlike the other five presidents my colleagues and I are discussing on this blog — must contend with a worrisome new feature in American politics: the trivialization of the filibuster in the Senate. A simple majority vote no longer suffices to pass major pieces of legislation. Instead, in almost every case, the Senate must muster at least 60 votes (a “supermajority”) to close off debate. And because of a rule the Senate adopted relating to deficit spending, it took another 60 votes to pass the stimulus package last month.
Historically, the filibuster was a last-ditch tactic used by an obstructionist minority to prevent passage of a bill by taking advantage of Senate rules that permitted unlimited debate. A measure would simply be “talked to death.” It was widely regarded as misuse of the rules, and was used sparingly. The origin of the word “filibuster” reflected its outlaw status. It was first applied to buccaneers in the West Indies who preyed on Spanish commerce to South America. According to Webster’s, a filibusterer was “a freebooter or soldier of fortune against a foreign country with which his own country is at peace.”

may need to be registered.
more on the filibuster on the NY Times

Even at the time many different figures were quoted. As far as the British side is concerned, the figures include official settlers (ie registered at London House as immigrants to Kenya), other civilians (African, European and British), and British troops. It was in the British interests to minimise the numbers, which may explain the wide variances I find. Mind you, the reported Mau Mau deaths also vary widely. The Mau Mau killed mostly other black Kenyans cooperating with or working for the British. The official number of Mau Mau killed also seems to be on the low side, based on tales of large numbers massacred and never reported, and the number of known Mau Mau left at the end of hostilities.

Best wishes for the next few days – all seems quiet here although since about 9pm it has been getting a lot warmer…weird.

It’s pretty hard, or next to impossible not to agree with the idea that some of the most egregious derivatives, like Credit Default Swaps, need to regulated in such a way as they are not part of a casino game:

In the early years of the London insurance market, it was possible to buy a life insurance policy on a complete stranger. Then insurance companies noticed the high incidence of unexpected homicides among their lives assured, and the concept of insurable interest was devised, codified by the Life Assurance Act of 1774. Today, you can’t buy a life insurance policy unless you can demonstrate some loss by the assured party’s death. The business is safer that way!

The same consideration must surely apply to the CDS market. The legitimate hedging purpose of CDS today represents only a tiny proportion of contracts outstanding. The U.S. taxpayer is already on the hook for $150 billion, with more to come, through the inept CDS operations of the insurance behemoth AIG. With multiple bankruptcies and huge market instability owing at least part of their provenance to CDS, the public policy consideration for closing or at least sharply restricting the CDS market is even clearer than that promoting the restriction of the insurance market in 18th century London (at least taxpayers weren’t expected to pick up the tab for insurance policies on murder victims!)

…you’d think someone would have spotted this behemoth, that it was out of control and the risks being taken were going to fall on taxpayers.

Wouldn’t you?

Anyway, the Wall Street casino is getting shut down, one way or another. Last night another bloodbath on the markets which are now at levels not seen since the late nineties.

Gone, all gone, a decade of gains blown away.

Thanks for those nuggets of info kerneels.

It certainly rings true that the British would want to underplay white deaths and “conveniently under report ” massacres of Mau Mau during the crisis.

On the issue of housing prices, I agree and Cardster’s comment that negative gearing should be eliminated, I don’t think that can be done. When Keating tried it, the rental market dried up and the measure was eventually reversed. I agree that property is way overpriced, but I think the consequences of the removal of negative gearing means it’s not really a workable option.

Perhaps it would be more workable to remove the CGT exemption on one’s home. We still have to live somewhere, so I don’t think this will mean the supply of available homes dries up. But it might mean that people are less likely to churn their homes, to pour huge dollars into the homes in renovations and extensions. They’ll be less likely to buy or build homes way too big for their needs, with a view to selling it at a profit later. The values will fall as the family home will be less a lucrative investment and more, well, a family home. But then, perhaps it’s just unpallatable politically.

I think as a general measure, the 50% exemption for capital gains made by individuals needs to be removed. It’s simply inequitable for capital gains to be concessionally taxed compared to salary and interest. But then if they do that and keep the exemption for the family home, it will make the family home an even more lucrative investment (in a scenario of rising asset values).

Well it certainly looks like it was another night of blood on the trading floor in NY Kirri.
Another day, another 300 points down the gurgler. 🙁
On a more blackly humorous note.
I just had a quick glance at the London SX site (down 200 odd points)
to be greeted with the following headline.

London Stock Exchange improves its position as best execution venue.

Perhaps they’re planning a takeover of the tower of London?
Just imagine ticsters….Instead of !GB, we could now cry “Off with his head”. :mrgreen:

Funny, Paddy. It’s an abattoir, so why not some “public execution” while they’re at it?

Just heard the news, hot winds howling down from the north, so please Vic Ticsters, jen, paddy and kerneels, stay well clear of that stampeding, ‘roid-addled red steer. Days like this require a courage that’s poles apart from the costumed wankery displayed by Pamploma’s bull runners.

Anyway, the Wall Street casino is getting shut down, one way or another. Last night another bloodbath on the markets which are now at levels not seen since the late nineties.

Gone, all gone, a decade of gains blown away.

Reminds me of the Kerry Packer line, Kirri, uttered with his legendary contempt at a loud-mouthed, Trumpesque Sep sitting near Big Kez at top table in Vegas’s swishest:
“What’s your net worth, pal, I’ll toss you for it!”


The similarities between the Obama administration’s response to the 9th Circuit Court’s ruling in the Al-Haramain case, requiring the government to turn over classified information and the legal views espoused under the Bush-Cheney administration by the likes of John Yoo and David Addington are simply stunning.
I expect better from the Obama administration. They must be able to make decisions that honor the Constitution.

We didn’t elect President Obama to preserve the Bush administration’s anti-contistutional executive power grab. We elected him to end it.

Q. Which recently elected American President studied and taught U.S. Constitutional Law at Harvard University ?

(your time starts now………tick,tick,tick,tick…….)

Secret Bush Memo Authorizing Warrantless Seizure Of ‘Terror Suspects’ Released.

The Obama administration threw open the curtain on years of Bush-era secrets Monday, revealing anti-terror memos that claimed exceptional search-and-seizure powers and divulging that the CIA destroyed nearly 100 videotapes of interrogations and other treatment of terror suspects.

The Justice Department released nine legal opinions showing that, following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the Bush administration determined that certain constitutional rights would not apply during the coming fight. Within two weeks, government lawyers were already discussing ways to wiretap U.S. conversations without warrants.

The Bush administration eventually abandoned many of the legal conclusions, but the documents themselves had been closely held. By releasing them, President Barack Obama continued a house-cleaning of the previous administration’s most contentious policies.

read the whole article on The Huffington Post

Ecky, there’s a new thesis doing the rounds: “the death of equities”! LOL

True bear markets end when EVERYONE is in a foetal position under the table, whimpering “no more, no more shares for me”.

We are inexorably headed to that conclusion down this horrid road.

Meghan McCain Overshares On Dating, Daddy Issues.
Here’s the biggest surprise: I am not only turned off by people who voted for Barack Obama, but I am also turned off by people that voted for my dad–or more so, obsessive supporters of my dad. Recently, over dinner, a guy started explaining his reasons for supporting President Obama during the election (I didn’t ask, I think the poor guy felt guilty) and I immediately found any attraction I had previously had dissipate. But same thing happens if a guy starts talking about all the reasons why my father should be president. I have the ultimate Catch-22 in post-election dating. So where does that leave me, and who exactly am I attracted to? Let’s just say I’m spending a lot of time writing and even more time with my girlfriends.

more on The Huffington Post including an image of Megan. God she’s cute.

‘System will bring down Obama’

In a long monologue on “Hardball” decrying the Senate’s 60-vote requirement for passing legislation, Chris Matthews predicted legislation on energy, healthcare and education would fail to pass Congress this year – and offered a dire prognosis for the Obama administration.

“My bet in the end is the system will bring down Obama,” Matthews said. “Not the Republicans – the system.”

Its good to Obama to get a reminder, but I don’t agree with Chris Mathews.
video on Politico

‘Socialism!’ Boo, Hiss, Repeat.

Conservatives might be seeking a spiritual leader, organizing principle and fresh identity, but they at least seem to have settled on a favorite rhetorical ogre: socialism.
As in, Democrats are intent on forcing socialism on the “U.S.S.A” (as the bumper sticker says, under the words “Comrade Obama”).

It seems that “socialist” has supplanted “liberal” as the go-to slur among much of a conservative world confronting a one-two-three punch of bank bailouts, budget blowouts and stimulus bills. Right-leaning bloggers and talk radio hosts are wearing out the brickbat. Senate and House Republicans have been tripping over their podiums to invoke it. The S-bomb has become as surefire a red-meat line at conservative gatherings as “Clinton” was in the 1990s and “Pelosi” is today.

“Earlier this week, we heard the world’s best salesman of socialism address the nation,” Senator Jim DeMint, Republican of South Carolina, said on Friday, referring, naturally, to a certain socialist in chief.

read the whole article in the NY Times

Web-Savvy Obama Team Hits Unexpected Bumps.
The team that ran the most technologically advanced presidential campaign in modern history is finding it difficult to adapt that model to government., envisioned as the primary vehicle for President Obama to communicate with the online masses, has been overwhelmed by challenges that staffers did not foresee and technological problems they have yet to solve.

Obama, for example, would like to send out mass e-mail updates on presidential initiatives, but the White House does not have the technology in place to do so. The same goes for text messaging, another campaign staple.

Beyond the technological upgrades needed to enable text broadcasts, there are security and privacy rules to sort out involving the collection of cellphone numbers, according to Obama aides, who acknowledge being caught off guard by the strictures of government bureaucracy.

“This is uncharted territory,” said Macon Phillips, White House director of new media, which was a midlevel position in previous administrations but has been boosted by Obama to a “special assistant to the president.”

Phillips, 30, a self-described geek who grew up in Alabama and worked at a D.C.-based online consulting company before joining the campaign, has been trying to manage high expectations that the Obama administration will run the most accessible, transparent, Web-savvy government in history. He feels the weight of carrying out that bold ambition — and hears the criticism.

Hours before the $787 billion economic stimulus package cleared Congress, Obama’s online team posted the legislation on The team recognized that many Americans would not only want to read the bill, which runs 1,071 pages, they would want to comment on it. On, however, users were asked to limit their “comments, thoughts and ideas” to 500 characters, a restriction that didn’t go over too well.

read the entire article on CBS News

What the GOP Really Wants: Obama’s Autograph.
Ever since he began his uphill battle for the presidency two years ago, Barack Obama has been mobbed for photos and autographs, and that enthusiasm and passion has only grown since he entered the Oval Office. But even Obama must be a little taken aback by the identity of some of his well-wishers of late. After his address to Congress on Feb. 24, the same House Republicans who had decried his stimulus plan as the work of another tax-and-spend liberal crowded around him like starstruck tween girls at a Jonas Brothers concert, all to get his John Hancock on their copies of the speech.

read the entire article and view photographic evidence in the Time Magazine.

Will the Winds of Change Reach El Salvador?
A desire for change isn’t a sentiment unique to voters in the United States, and it’s not something that our country should fear when embraced by our Southern neighbors. El Salvador, a country that will hold presidential elections on March 15, is a case in point. It’s a place where a single party has been in power for two decades. It has long been mired in poverty, crime, and corruption. And its own Cheneys and Rumsfelds remain in power. A victory by the progressive frontrunner in the electoral contest — the first Latin American presidential elections since President Barack Obama’s inauguration — would give the new White House an opportunity to reject fear-mongering about the rise of left-leaning governments in Latin America and instead praise the regional wave of democratic transformation.

In recent months, Mauricio Funes of the progressive FMLN party (the Frente Farabundo Martí para la Liberación Nacional)has consistently led in the polls. A February 20 poll reported Funes with an 11% edge over Rodrigo Ávila, a private security mogul, former director of the National Civil Police, and nominee of the right-wing ARENA party (the Alianza Republicana Nacionalista). Funes is well known in El Salvador as a television journalist who hosted one of the few programs openly critical of the government. He has capitalized on public support for new approaches to a crime epidemic and an economy that has provided too few alternatives to destitution or migration to the North. ARENA has held the presidency in El Salvador for the last 20 years, including the 17 years since the signing of the 1992 Peace Accords that ended the country’s civil war.

read more of this article on Foreign Policy in Focus

Tony Jones putting women in the mood for sex. 😈 Naughty Tony.
Lateline’s never had a better boost than the ad long-time sex therapist Bettina Arndt gave it at the National Press Club in Canberra yesterday.

She told of a woman who watched Tony Jones each night to psych herself into having sex with her husband.

“That half an hour is just perfect to get your head into the right place and then she’s OK,” the author of The Sex Diaries: Why Women Go Off Sex and Other Bedroom Battles said.

It’s unclear which of Jones’s charms hit the right spot. His perfectly timed eyebrow raises? His ferocious questioning? Perhaps the almost coquettish way he leans his right shoulder into camera when introducing guests.

A search of ABC message boards showed the anonymous admirer was one of many.

“He is amusing, acerbic, witty, discerning and almost as sexy as Kerry O’Brien,” one viewer who called herself Callgirl said.

All of which suggested there’s an easier way to solve the problem of mismatched male and female libidos presented in Arndt’s book.

So she only has sex four times a week? Or does she record all his programs? After all Tony isn’t on during the summer holidays.
more in The Age

It’s tragically funny: ex-CEO of AIG, which just announced the BIGGEST quarterly loss in US history (almost $100 billion Aussie dollars! Oooops!!) is now suing the company for “material misrepresentations and omissions” that lead him to take on more stock. As the biggest sole shareholder, he’s a wee bit upset that his $54 shares are now under 50 cents, and he’s been almost wiped out.

I almost feel sorry for him!

Let’s make a movie about it.
We could call it “Trading places.” 👿

Perhaps Madam Catrina could come up with a smiley for *almost* sorry. :mrgreen:

So when the ex-AIG trump having done his arse acting on information received, loses his “material misrepresentations and omissions” case, Joe ex-CIO Vs Club Mammon, who’s gonna pay his lawyers?

A USA Today/Gallup poll in February found that 62 percent of Americans favor a criminal investigation or an independent panel to look into the use of torture, illegal wiretapping, and other alleged abuses of power by the Bush administration. But that idea has been dismissed by many as politically infeasible. And President Obama has said he was “more interested in looking forward than I am in looking backwards.”

Still, that hasn’t deterred Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, from calling for a “truth commission” and scheduling a hearing on the issue this Wednesday. Already, Rep. John Conyers Jr., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, has introduced a bill to set up an inquiry panel.

Should Congress create a truth commission? Or is it time to move on?

* David Cole, Georgetown University Law Center
* Kenneth Anderson, Hoover Institution
* Michael Ratner, Center for Constitutional Rights
* Margaret Satterthwaite, NYU School of Law
* Jenny S. Martinez, Stanford Law School

read the entire article in the NY Times

The special relationship is going global.
Gordon Brown

Historians will look back and say this was no ordinary time but a defining moment: an unprecedented period of global change, and a time when one chapter ended and another began.

The scale and the speed of the global banking crisis has at times been almost overwhelming, and I know that in countries everywhere people who rely on their banks for savings have been feeling powerless and afraid. But it is when times become harder and challenges greater that across the world countries must show vision, leadership and courage – and, while we can do a great deal nationally, we can do even more working together internationally.

So now is the time for leaders of every country in the world to work together to agree the action that will see us through the current crisis and ensure we come out stronger. And there is no international partnership in recent history that has served the world better than the special relationship between Britain and the United States.

It is a relationship that has endured and flourished because it is based not simply on our shared history but on the enduring values that bind us together – our countries founded upon liberty, our histories forged through democracy and an unshakeable belief in the power of enterprise and opportunity.

But if it reflects our values and our histories, this special relationship is also a partnership of purpose, renewed by every generation to reflect the challenges we face. In the 1940s it found its full force defeating fascism and building the postwar international order; in the cold war era we fought the growth of nuclear weapons and when the Berlin Wall fell we saw the end of communism. In this new century, since the horrors visited on America in 2001, we have worked in partnership to defeat terrorism.

more on The Times Online

Cute one Paddy! LOL

Talking of irony, how’s this, from the pen of David Frum (Mr “Axis of Evil”) trying to hose down the hot flushes from Rush Limburg’s latest cheesy effort, his “address to the nation” courtesy of that royal media flagship Fox:

But do the rest of us understand what we are doing to ourselves by accepting this leadership? Rush is to the Republicanism of the 2000s what Jesse Jackson was to the Democratic party in the 1980s. He plays an important role in our coalition, and of course he and his supporters have to be treated with respect. But he cannot be allowed to be the public face of the enterprise — and we have to find ways of assuring the public that he is just one Republican voice among many, and very far from the most important.

(quoted in the NY Times)

…there’s some real angst amongst the old neocons that they are headed so downmarket collectively that their sorry patrician asses will not sit comfortably with the Rush riff-raff chowing down on this tosh.

More of the above article #93 from Gordon Brown.

I believe there is no challenge so great or so difficult that it cannot be overcome by America, Britain and the world working together. That is why President Obama and I will discuss this week a global new deal, whose impact can stretch from the villages of Africa to reforming the financial institutions of London and New York– and giving security to the hard-working families in every country.

more in the Times Online

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown coming soon to a theater near you. So who will they bump off first, Dan Brown for writing the books, Ron Howard for directing the movies or Tom Hanks for being lead actor? 😈

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