Daily Digest 12/19 - Lurid Subprime Scams Unveiled, The Hard Truth About CA Water
Lurid Subprime Scams Unveiled in Long-Running Fraud Trial (westcoastjan)
Some background: The suit against Household International, a major home-loan purveyor that earned $75 billion from loan securitizations in 1999-2002 (and which was swallowed up by HSBC in 2002) originally began as a stock fraud case. Among other things, Household was disguising the toxicity and instability of its loans using a wide assortment of improper accounting schemes, which in an Enronesque touch were used to argue to the markets and to potential stockholders that Household was putting up record sales numbers.
The Brown administration's 34,000-page draft plan represents the most comprehensive effort in a generation to fit the scientific, engineering and political pieces together in order to allow Californians to adapt to climate change while sustaining both the environment and the economy. It is a product of more than seven years of talks, studies and dickering — none of which, by the way, has ended. Environmentalists, urban water contractors like the Metropolitan Water District, Central Valley contractors like the Kern County Water Agency and local delta agricultural and political interests are continuing to jockey for position, each wanting better guarantees of supply.
The important point is that this is a spectacular set up for higher prices to come. The price decline has lasted so long that the market seems conditioned for further sell-offs. More are concerned about the next dollar or so to the downside in silver instead of the next ten or twenty dollars to the upside. The fact is that we are structured to go up big and not go down big based upon what JPMorgan and the commercials have achieved this year and month; to say nothing about being below the realistic cost of production for many silver miners.
Once the diesel generators failed from the tsunami flooding, secondary emergency cooling pumps kicked-in; they were run by batteries. One day later, the batteries died for the secondary emergency pumps. The pumps stopped and the reactors began to overheat due to lack of water to cool the fuel rods. As workers struggled to supply power to the reactors coolant systems and restore power to their control rooms, the overheating reactors released hydrogen gas; an incredibly explosive gas. A number of hydrogen-air chemical explosions occurred, the first in Unit 1, on March 12 and the last in Unit 4, on March 15. These explosions tore the reactor buildings apart, and did severe damage to whatever cooling systems remained; making them all but useless.
Chinese investors 'buying' US green cards for $1m (westcoastjan)
While critics complain about foreigners "buying" their way into the US, the scheme's supporters told the BBC that the developers fund projects that create jobs in America.
The technology aiming to help refugees (westcoastjan)
It has created a division dedicated specifically to innovation and technology. Known simply as UNHCR Innovation, the division is headed by Olivier Delarue who enthusiastically describes his mandate as empowering refugees in new ways, including expanding opportunities to foster quality education and create genuine livelihood opportunities.
A combination of low-income people moving to the Lower Northeast from North Philadelphia, as well as impoverished immigrants coming to the area - mostly from Asia and Brazil - account for the precipitous rise in poverty in the Lower Northeast, said Matysik and others familiar with the area.
Gold Investors: Take the Red Pill (GE Christenson)
Congress, in their wisdom, will pass a budget that continues spending as usual, borrowing to cover the revenue shortfall, and increasing the official debt a $Trillion or so per year. The debt is still rated AAA because it will be rolled over well into the next century, and all is good. Individual equivalent: spend until credit cards are maxed out and then apply for more credit cards. What could go wrong?
Bitcoin Value Sinks After Chinese Exchange Move (Nervous Nelly)
According to Chinese news reports, the People’s Bank of China, the central bank, met Monday with more than 10 of the country’s biggest third-party payment processing companies, ordering them to stop all transactions involving digital currencies. Alibaba’s Alipay service, the country’s biggest processor of online transactions, was among the companies represented at the meeting, according to the reports.
“They [Fed] should not have bailed out insolvent banks in 2008; they should have closed the insolvent banks, stripped out the bad assets, re-IPO’d clean banks to help get the economy moving again, and asset prices should have been allowed to go lower so that they could bounce back in a classic “V” pattern. Instead, he papered over it, he trashed their balance sheet, and he’s got $4 trillion of assets – with very long durations. The Fed is probably insolvent on a mark-to-market valuation. They’re probably moving to actually having negative cash flow…Putting it all together, I think he’s [Bernanke] pretty much destroyed the institution.”
The historical high choosing big business, 38%, came in 2002, after a series of corporate scandals rocked major corporations including Enron and Tyco. Also at that time, Americans may have been less willing to choose government given the rally in support for government institutions and officials after the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
Mr Napolitano offers no answer. A former Stalinist who applauded the Soviet invasion of Hungary in 1956 (a youthful indiscretion), he has long since switched his ideological fervour to the EU project. He is by nature incapable of questioning the premises of monetary union, so don’t expect any useful insights from the Quirinale on how to break out of this impasse.
Typhoon Haiyan creates testing ground for crisis mappers (westcoastjan)
In the past month, 1,500 mappers made 4.2 million edits to help relief efforts in the Philippines — equivalent to about two years' worth of work by a cartographer, said John Crowley, a researcher with the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative who studies the intersection of crisis mappers and traditional relief.
How do you know if you've made it in life? (westcoastjan)
Another 68% of Chinese people admitted they were under pressure to make money and be successful, though just 56% expressed optimism when asked about their personal prospects for the year ahead.
“We know it’s difficult to switch, though HSBC has certainly made it easy as they have propelled them to switch, but it’s sometimes perceived as a daunting task,” he said. “This is a chance to show there is a different alternative out there.” - See more at: http://www.timescolonist.com/news/hsbc-drops-some-small-business-account...
According to Reuters, Gazprom plans to ship 38 billion cubic metres of natural gas a year to China from 2018 onwards, via a new pipeline that they are hoping to construct. Although Russian media have claimed that in their first copy of the 2014 investment programme, Gazprom has not included a budget for the constructing pipeline.
Study links BP oil spill to dolphin deaths (pinecarr)
The scientists caught, examined and released about 30 bottlenose dolphins from Barataria Bay in 2011, one year after the disaster. The area was one of the most heavily oiled areas following the April 2010 blowout of BP's deepwater well, that killed 11 workers and spewed millions of barrels of crude oil into the Gulf.
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