Daily Digest 12/6 - Actionable Bank Fraud At Citibank, Dems Will Try Again On Payroll Tax, Inside The Exclusion Zone
- 60 Minutes Exposes Specific Instances of Actionable Fraud at Citibank and Countrywide - It is being Actively Ignored
- Next-Day Mail Faces Postal Service Cuts
- Democrats Say They Will Try Again on Payroll Tax
- Borrow. Borrow. And Borrow Some More.
- The Real China Threat
- What Will Renewable Energy Really Cost?
- Wind Energy Breakthrough: Japan Designs New Wind Turbine With Triple the Output of Traditional Models
- Fukushima: Inside The Exclusion Zone
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In the excellent 60 Minutes episode below, whistle-blower Eileen Foster, former Countrywide Executive VP in charge of Fraud Investigations, is interviewed. Ms. Foster states that she was astounded by the systemic fraud she discovered. Fraud defined entire regions of the company. She was fired shortly before a scheduled meeting with federal regulators - and after she refused to spin her story. Citi subsequently offered to compensate Ms. Foster, in return for silence. She refused.
Next-Day Mail Faces Postal Service Cuts (jdargis)
The agency said the slower delivery would result from its decision to shut about half of its 487 mail processing centers nationwide. The move is expected to eliminate about 28,000 jobs and increase the distance that mail must travel between post offices and processing centers. It would be the first reduction in delivery standards for first-class mail in 40 years.
The proposal, devised by Senators Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, and Claire McCaskill, Democrat of Missouri, would extend the current payroll tax cut for employees and reduce the employer’s share of the payroll tax as well. It would also provide additional money for highways, bridges and other job-creating transportation projects.
It would offset the cost with a 2 percent surtax on income in excess of $1 million a year, but would carve out protection for many small-business owners who report business income on their personal tax returns.
Borrow. Borrow. And Borrow Some More. (jdargis)
People take out mortgages, for example, rather than buying houses with credit cards. When mortgage rates fall, there’s a rush to refinance. Cheap money is better than expensive money. But what you never get is an offer of free money. The idea, always, is that someone will give you some money today and in exchange you have to give him back more money later on. Unless, that is, you’re the government of the United States of America, and lenders are willing to pay for the privilege of lending you money.
The Real China Threat (Jeff B.)
Prices of these and many other key industrial materials have been in steady uptrends for a decade as supplies have tightened. They’ve remained high even despite the dreadful U.S. economy. Emerging economies, particularly China — which has become a voracious consumer of industrial materials — are behind the stunning growth in demand. One statistic: in 2011, Brent oil, the chief marker for oil, has been above $100 a barrel a record number of days; its average price for the year is likely to be an all-time high. And with China’s growth continuing, there’s no end in sight.
What Will Renewable Energy Really Cost? (James S.)
That is the question customers are asking as their utility rates go up to pay for the cumulative cost of the aspirations of politicians and regulators. But until now the answer to that question was hard to get, at least in California where under state law and utility regulations the costs of utility procurement of renewable energy contracts was kept confidential. Governor Jerry Brown has signed SB 836 sponsored by Los Angeles County Senator Alex Padilla requiring that the California Public Utility Commission produce a report to the Legislature each year starting in February 2012 that tells the politicians and customers what impact on rates the aggregate costs of renewable energy will cause.
The two major concerning issues with traditional turbines have been their general inefficiency and intolerable noise. However, Kyushu's researchers found that attaching an inward curving ring around the perimeter of a turbine's blades increases the focus of airflow faster through the blade zones at two to three times the speed as before. An improvement in safety from covering the outer edges of the blades and a reduction of the dreaded noise pollution of older models is just a bonus.
Fukushima: Inside The Exclusion Zone (jdargis)
In June, National Geographic sent AP photographer David Guttenfelder into the exclusion zone around the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station, which was badly damaged in the earthquake and tsunami earlier this year. He captured images of communities that had become ghost towns, with pets and farm animals roaming the streets. Later, in November, Guttenfelder returned to photograph the crippled reactor facility itself as members of the media were allowed inside for the first time since the triple disaster last March. In some places, the reactor buildings appear to be little more than heaps of twisted metal and crumbling concrete. Tens of thousands of area residents remain displaced, with little indication of when, or if, they may ever return to their homes.
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