Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! Let’s get right to the news. Yesterday wasn’t a big political news day here in the U.S. The President appeared on The View and talked about gay marriage and the Kardashians. He also pandered to young women at Barnard.

The Obama campaign released a new ad highlighting Mitt Romney’s career as a corporate “vampire” at Bain Capital.

The Obama campaign ad focuses on Bain Capital’s misadventures with GST steel of Kansas City and features former steelworkers describing what they saw between the time Bain bought the firm in 1993 and filed to put it in bankruptcy in 2001. (Romney left Bain in 1999).

“It was like a vampire. They came in and sucked the life out of us,” says one of the men. “What Bain Capital did was not capitalism, it was bad management,” says David Foster, lead negotiator for workers at GST Steel. Former steelworker Joe Soptic accuses Bain of cutting corners on safety, saying “it was like working in the sweatshops of the ’30s,” and that watching the plant close was “like watching an old friend bleed to death.”

The campaign also set up a new website to provide information about “Romney economics.”

Ron Paul announced that he won’t compete in any of the remaining primaries, but he still plans to compete with Mitt Romney for delegates to the Republican convention.

Ron Paul, the congressman from Texas and a favorite of tea partyers, effectively ended his presidential campaign Monday but urged his fervent supporters to continue working at the state party level to cause havoc for presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney.

In an email to supporters, Paul urged his libertarian-leaning backers to remain involved in politics and champion his causes despite the apparent end of his presidential aspirations. Paul has found success in wrecking the selection process for delegates to the party’s late-summer nominating convention in Tampa, Fla., and trumpeted that he has delayed Romney’s expected nomination….

Paul’s supporters have proved successful in winning state GOP conventions in places such as Maine and Nevada. His supporters in Iowa and Nevada were chosen to lead the state central parties.

Over the weekend, Paul’s supporters managed to boo Mitt Romney’s son Josh off the stage at the Arizona state Republican convention.

Hundreds of state GOP members were gathered at Grand Canyon University to elect delegates for the national convention in July in Tampa, Fla., which is expected to select Mitt Romney as the official Republican nominee to challenge President Obama.

“We cannot afford four more years of President Obama,” said Josh Romney, the third of Mitt Romney’s five sons. “We need someone to step in there and turn things around.”

But Josh Romney had to stop repeatedly as people booed and yelled for Paul, who has continued campaigning in the Republican primary.

What is Ron Paul up to? At HuffPo, Stewart J. Lawrence suggests that Paul may be trying to set up his son Rand Paul to become Romney’s vice presidential choice. Or perhaps he just wants a speaking role at the Convention and input into the party platform. In any case, Romney may have to deal with Ron Paul at some point.

So it was a pretty quiet day in the U.S., but not in Europe, where Greece is teetering on the brink of destruction and threatening to pull all of the Eurozone down with it. From the Washington Post: Greek deadlock heightens fears of full European economic crisis.

Political deadlock in Greece rattled world markets Monday, reviving fears that the fractious Mediterranean country could spurn an international bailout, abandon the common European currency and risk a fresh round of world economic turmoil.

European stock indexes fell, with Greece’s market now at a 20-year low, while the euro currency continued a recent decline against the dollar. U.S. stocks also fell.

Coming only days before the leaders of the world’s Group of Eight industrialized nations meet at Camp David, the standoff in Greece over its political direction has thrust Europe’s troubles to the top of the agenda. A downturn in Europe could stagger a fragile recovery in the United States and undermine growth around the world.

Some headlines from The Independent UK:

World braces itself for Greek euro exit.

Financial markets were plunged into fresh turmoil after Greece’s political parties failed once again to agree to form a unity government, and European policymakers warned that Greece’s aid payments would be cut off unless Athens quickly produced an administration prepared to deliver far-reaching economic reforms and budget cuts.

Without those funds from the European Union and the International Monetary Fund, Greece could run out of cash to meet its national debt interest payments as early as next month. The country would then have no option but to default. Most analysts expect that a default would be a prelude to Greek exit from the single currency altogether.

Panic and violence in the streets as protesters turn against politicians.

Southern Europe is preparing for a summer of discontent as protesters of all ages, and from across the political spectrum, plan demonstrations against greater austerity measures and against those policymakers who say there is no alternative to cuts.

Up to 50,000 “Indignant Ones” gathered in Madrid’s Puerta de Sol area on Saturday, many more than expected, to demonstrate against the Spanish government’s austerity measures. But, as indignant as they might have been, there were fewer on the streets for what was billed as an even bigger rally on Sunday, despite a message of support from the US rocker Bruce Springsteen.

A public holiday in Madrid today is likely to draw another protest, and one group almost certain to be there is the yayoflautas, a collection of people in their sixties and seventies, and who were involved in anti-Franco protests. The group has staged sit-ins in banks, radio stations, hospitals and even the reception area of a ratings agency.


Angela Merkel’s party humiliated by shock election defeat

Angela Merkel’s ruling conservatives suffered a humiliating defeat in key elections in Germany’s most populous state yesterday when voters rejected her party’s austerity policies and handed a resounding victory to her pro-growth Social Democratic Party opponents.

Ms Merkel’s Christian Democrats were shell-shocked by the devastating result they returned in the poll in North Rhine Westphalia, which has a total population of 18 million. Exit polls showed that they secured a mere 25.5 per cent of the vote – their worst performance ever in the state….

By contrast, the pro-growth Social Democrats and their candidate Hannelore Kraft, 50, romped home with 38 per cent of the vote. They were expected to form a so-called Red-Green coalition with the environmentalist Greens who won around 12 per cent of the vote. The two parties secured enough seats to obtain an absolute majority in the state parliament.

U.S. politicians should be paying attention. Austerity is not a long-term winning policy.

In miscellaneous news, Gizmodo reports that the Kodak company had a nuclear reactor in its basement for many years.

Kodak may be going under, but apparently they could have started their own nuclear war if they wanted, just six years ago. Down in a basement in Rochester, NY, they had a nuclear reactor loaded with 3.5 pounds of enriched uranium—the same kind they use in atomic warheads….

Kodak officials now admit that they never made any public announcement about it. In fact, nobody in the city—officials, police or firemen—or in the state of New York or anywhere else knew about it until it was recently leaked by an ex-employee. Its existence and whereabouts were purposely kept vague and only a few engineers and Federal employees really knew about the project.

The company had a legitimate purpose for having the reactor and radioactive material:

Kodak’s purpose for the reactor wasn’t sinister: they used it to check materials for impurities as well as neutron radiography testing. The reactor, a Californium Neutron Flux multiplier (CFX) was acquired in 1974 and loaded with three and a half pounds of enriched uranium plates placed around a californium-252 core.

But still it’s amazing they were able to get away with the reactor and especially the secrecy. The reactor was dismantled in 2006.

Why would a mafia boss be buried in a Roman basilica? Especially when he was suspected of abducting a 15-year-old girl, the daughter of a Vatican employee.

Forensic teams and marble workers have pried open a mobster’s tomb in the basilica Sant’Apollinare in Rome, searching for clues that might help to solve one of Italy’s greatest mysteries.

Fifteen-year-old Emanuela Orlandi, the daughter of a Vatican bank functionary, disappeared in 1983 on her way to a music lesson. Her body has never been found, and the truth about what happened to her has puzzled investigators for nearly 30 years. One of the most prominent conspiracy theories was that Orlandi’s remains would be found in the crypt where the notorious Roman mafioso Enrico “Renatino” De Pedis was eventually laid to rest after he was shot dead in a Rome square in 1990.

On Monday, his tomb was finally opened. His body was there, inside a three-layer sarcophagus, well preserved and wearing a dark blue suit and black tie. Police took fingerprints and confirmed his identity. But also, tucked inside a niche of the ancient crypt – a burial place since before Napoleonic times – were dozens of boxes containing unidentified human bones.

Dozens of boxes of bones?! This should be an interesting story to follow.

Finally, I’d like to call your attention to a profile of Mitt Romney’s top adviser Eric Fernstrom, published in GQ Magazine. It’s long, but well worth reading. Here’s a brief preview:

Fehrnstrom calls himself a “utility player,” and in the press he’s typically identified as a “Romney spokesman” or a “Romney strategist.” But that doesn’t begin to do justice to his place in the high command. Fehrnstrom has been with Romney for a decade, longer than any other political adviser on his 2012 campaign. “Anytime I’ve got questions or I’ve got a doubt, I know I can go to Eric and I’m getting feedback from someone who’s inside Mitt’s brain,” Romney’s senior adviser Kevin Madden told me. Or as Peter Flaherty, another senior Romney adviser, puts it: “Eric has a deeper shelf of institutional knowledge of Mitt Romney than anyone I know whose last name is not Romney.”

Fehrnstrom’s first job for Romney was running the press shop during his successful 2002 run for Massachusetts governor. But his role quickly expanded, and as Romney’s national profile grew, so did his trusted aide’s. (So much so that when Scott Brown was looking for someone to help him win Ted Kennedy’s old Massachusetts Senate seat in 2010, he hired Fehrnstrom, who remains Brown’s top strategist.) Over the course of his decade with Romney, Madden says, Fehrnstrom has become “a Tom Hagen figure. He’s consigliere to the governor.”

But with two slight differences. Whereas Hagen was always trying to cool off the hotheaded Sonny Corleone and keep the peace, Fehrnstrom, 50, is both the wise man and the hothead. He wears the uniform of the modern political consultant—iPad tucked in the crook of his arm, open-collared shirt, rectangular-framed glasses—but his fleshy face and thick New England accent betray a rougher core. And far from reining in Romney, he performs the opposite service for his client: Fehrnstrom toughens him up. “Eric gives Mitt a capability that Mitt doesn’t have,” says Ben Coes, Romney’s campaign manager in 2002. “It’s a streetwise savvy; it’s an on-the-ground Boston-smarts mentality; it’s a back-alley-politics, survival-of-the-fittest point of view. Mitt is not a knife fighter. Eric is a knife fighter.” The best political operatives are the ones who provide their clients with a tangible quality the candidate himself lacks. If Karl Rove was Bush’s brain, then Fehrnstrom is Romney’s balls.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


29 Comments on “Tuesday Reads”

  1. Wow, what a post. The story about Kodak is amazing, if this company had a reactor in the basement which no one knew about, then what do other corporations have lurking in their basements.

    The mobster is also interesting. His body was not originally buried in the basilica, I read somewhere that it was moved there. When the authorities finish the investigation, he will be put back in his original grave outside the church.

    The new ad from Obama, I had purposely avoided watching it, but…

    Cagle Post » Blood Relations

    Now I get this cartoon…

    • One more thing, why is this JPMorgan crap being labeled as a “mistake”

      JPMorgan CEO Jamie Dimon faces shareholders after $2B trading mistake – CBS News

      • Woman Voter says:

        This MISTAKE could top 4 billion dollars and CEO Jamie Dimon keeps title and his BIG compensation package, reward for loosing other people’s money.

        OCCUPY, needed more than ever!

      • dakinikat says:

        It’s not unusual to create a synthetic hedge to try to offset the risk implied from a diverse portfolio of objects. Basically, you try to find some investment that runs contrary to your portfolio. Then, you create a synthetic hedge in a reinsurance market or a futures market of that investment. You don’t own the investment so you have to be very careful. It’s a difficult strategy to do. They didn’t find the correct set of circumstances. It could be a ‘mistake’. However, the important thing is that their hedge action was so huge that these hedge fund managers saw it immediately and started taking the offsetting position. The increase in that made the hedge go sour. It brings into question if a company that big can actually execute these things at all because their trades are so huge the market notices. That’s what happens when you go from a competitive market to an oligopoly market. The big guys moves become noticeable and you get a game of strategy rather than a market where buyers and sellers have no influence at all on the price or quantity and no one is noticeable.

        That make sense at all? It’s really complex stuff and it took me years of investment classes to get the these advanced tricks down. The math is horrendous.

        • So Dak, if this is a typical situation (not the souring part) then what would have happen when Glass-Steagall was around?

          • dakinikat says:

            It would still be allowed at the investment bank and most likely the depository too. Glass-Stegal is about not letting Bank Holding companies own both kinds of companies under the same roof. It would allow hedging. I did hedging in the 1980s. But, this is something more that an investment bank would do so the impact of the bleed wouldn’t hit the depository institution.

      • Dr. Dakinikat:

        Thank you. That was well-explained and made sense!

        • dakinikat says:

          Great! Teaching this stuff is always a challenge! I’m getting better at explaining it the more I have to do it. I’m also trying to teach my MBA students to use their heads and not their egos when they do any kind of investing. So many traders become Ego cases if they’ve been successful. They think they can do no wrong and that’s usually when the big fall comes.

  2. Well, here it is: George Zimmerman: Zimmerman’s lawyer to get first look at Trayvon Martin evidence today – Orlando Sentinel

    Most names were redacted from the witness and evidence document obtained by the Orlando Sentinel, but six civilian witnesses were named: Trayvon’s parents, Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin; his brother, Jahvarius Fulton; and Zimmerman’s neighbor Frank Taaffe, friend Joe Oliver and father, Robert Zimmerman.

    The document listed 18 Sanford police officers as primary witnesses, including lead Investigator Chris Serino. Corey’s office also turned over five reports prepared by him, as well as written reports prepared by four other Sanford officers.

    The list includes new video evidence from the night of the shooting — both from the 7-Eleven store where Trayvon reportedly purchased Skittles and Arizona iced tea and from a clubhouse in Retreat at Twin Lakes, the townhouse complex where the teen was killed.

    Other video, showing Zimmerman being taken into the Sanford Police Department after the shooting, has already been made public. Crime-scene photos of both Zimmerman and the teen are also listed in the document filed Monday, as is Trayvon’s autopsy report.

    Also included in the evidence are phone records — Zimmerman’s from Feb. 20 to Feb. 28 and from March 7 to March 22, Trayvon’s from Jan. 1 through March 1, and those of an unnamed witness labeled “W8” from Feb. 26 through April 2.

    The list includes 40 audio-recorded statements. One of the 911 callers, identified as “W6,” gave four statements to authorities about the shooting, two to Sanford police, one to FDLE and one to the prosecution’s lead trial attorney, Bernie de la Rionda.

    W8 gave two statements — one to prosecutors and one to Martin family attorney Benjamin Crump, which suggests W8 may be the girl described by Crump as Trayvon’s girlfriend.

    Other primary witnesses include four FDLE investigators, three investigators from the office of State Attorney Norm Wolfinger and two from Corey’s office, including Dale Gilbreath, who hand-delivered the list to Seminole County clerks about 20 minutes before their doors closed for the day Monday.

    Five fire-rescue personnel are listed as witnesses. So are a fingerprints expert with Sanford police and FDLE experts in the fields of firearms, DNA, trace evidence and fingerprints.

    Also listed are two employees with the Volusia County medical examiner’s office and a pair of Federal Bureau of Investigation audio experts. The list also includes Tom Owen and Ed Primeau, two audio analysts who told the Sentinel they believe the screams heard in one 911 call were those of Trayvon, not Zimmerman.

    • ANonOMouse says:

      “U.S. politicians should be paying attention. Austerity is not a long-term winning policy.”

      It’s not eve a short term winning policy. I’ve been saying for a long time, that the surest way to spark a headlong rush to rebellion is for the GOP to shove austerity down our throats. Of course we know the Paul Ryan Budget is chocked full of auterity, but I read this morning that part of the new tax revenue of the Paul Ryan Plan includes removing the home mortgage deduction and removing the tax-exempt status of 401k contributions. It doesn’t take a rocket scientest to understand who is impacted by these “new” taxes,and it’s not the rich. I’m no fan of the 401k, for the same reason most people aren’t. As I see 401k, it was/is little more than a scheme to get employees, most of whom are not financially astute and have no practical understanding of the stock market, to invest in the stock market, and put their future in the hands of investment people (strangers) who are more worried about their commission (that comes whether or not you make a dime) than your future nest-egg.

      The Paul Ryan Budget effectively refuses to touch the big earners and big corps in taxes or in policy and goes after the middle class, working poor and poor with a vengenance and Willard Mitt Romney is onboard with it. What a bunch of Bastards.

      • Woman Voter says:

        Moving Social Security is a way to get workers money and the money their employers put in, for robbery in the open, that is legal and then all they say is sorry they made a mistake, while they give each other bonuses for their mistakes with other people’s money.

        401K in the open market without any safety regulations or any charges of crooks who gamble with people’s life’s savings is going to increase. Close to 8,000 Occupy Wall Street arrests and NOT ONE BANKER or Inside Trader!

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    One side of the equation has a sitting president who gives a good speech but can’t be counted on to hold his own. The base is repeatedly disappointed.

    The other side is offering up one of the worst candidates ever along with an agenda that promises to do more harm than good if given the chance.

    Voting a third party candidate may make the voter “feel good” about sending a message but the fear is that this could hand the GOP a win that could only spell disaster.

    These are the choices. Fair to middling or sheer insanity.

    All the voter need do is to step back and consider the Ryan Budget becoming the law of the land to appreciate the difference. This presents more of the issues at hand than who is sworn in come January 2013.

    A majority GOP congress in both houses is a guarantee regardless of who sits in the Oval. Romney would be sure to sign it while Obama could be persuaded.

    Amazing that this is the crossroads of where we are in 2012.

    Ugly.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    JJ– Hmmmmm…the evidence against Zimmerman includes video from the clubhouse that Trayvon was approaching when George was on the phone? Interesting…I’ll bet that came as a shock to O’Mara and Zimmerman.

  5. bostonboomer says:

    What Eduardo Saverin owes to America (Hint: nearly everything)

    http://pandodaily.com/2012/05/12/what-eduardo-saverin-owes-america-hint-nearly-everything/

    The Facebook co-founder has renounced his U.S. citizenship in advance of his several billion windfall from Facebook IPO. Now living in Singapore, which has no capital gains tax.

    This guy is slime.

    • Woman Voter says:

      If he sponsored anyone, he should be required to take them to Brazil too and they should revoke any work permit or deny one in the future.

      I agree, this guy in essence was NEVER an AMERICAN if he can take, but can’t give to where he made it! Would he had fought for his country? To quote the Rock, this guy is an ASS HAT.

      In essence this is fraud!

    • RalphB says:

      Yes he is slime but not to the right wing.

      Right-Wing Lauds Facebook Co-Founder’s Decision To Renounce US Citizenship: He’s ‘An American Hero’

      http://thinkprogress.org/media/2012/05/14/484102/eduardo-saverin-renouce-us-citizenship/

      • bostonboomer says:

        Yep. Patriotism = avoiding taxes and renouncing U.S. citizenship. No wonder the Republicans in Congress won’t compromise. They are trying to destroy this country. I wish they would all just move to Singapore too.

    • Woman Voter says:

      Where in the Oath is there a clause that says, but if I make millions I can renounce my citizenship to get out of paying taxes???? Call me stupid, but this doesn’t compute.

  6. Woman Voter says:

    The bank lost $2 billion, the boss walks off with $32m

    Ina Drew, the executive who ran the department behind JP Morgan’s $US2 billion trading loss, has left the bank and will walk away with about $US32 million.

    Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/business/the-bank-lost-2-billion-the-boss-walks-off-with-32m-20120515-1ynwx.html#ixzz1uxIX1Bjp
    via @theage

    • Fannie says:

      As I understand it the FEDS are investigating JP Morgan as of today………….

  7. RalphB says:

    Speaking of destroying the country, here we go again …

    Boehner Threatens To Take The Debt Limit Hostage Again

    In a speech Tuesday, House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) plans to address the issue of national debt, which will once again be nearing its legal limit in January, just as the tax hikes and spending cuts are due to hit.

    According to advance remarks provided to The Post, Boehner will insist that any increase in the debt limit be accompanied by spending “cuts and reforms greater than the debt limit increase” — the same demand that pushed the Treasury to the brink of default during last summer’s debt-limit standoff.

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/05/15/484255/boehner-debt-limit-sequel/

  8. RalphB says:

    Someone really shoud mess with Texas, though I’m sure this could happen anywhere that has the death penalty …

    Probe determines wrong man was executed in Texas

    He was the spitting image of the killer, had the same first name and was near the scene of the crime at the fateful hour: Carlos DeLunapaid the ultimate price and was executed in place of someone else in Texas in 1989, a report out Tuesday found.

    Even “all the relatives of both Carloses mistook them,” and DeLuna was sentenced to death and executed based only on eyewitness accounts despite a range of signs he was not a guilty man, said law professor James Liebman.

    Liebman and five of his students at Columbia School of Law spent almost five years poring over details of a case that he says is “emblematic” of legal system failure.

    DeLuna, 27, was put to death after “a very incomplete investigation. No question that the investigation is a failure,” Liebman said.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2012/05/15/probe-determines-wrong-man-was-executed-in-texas/

  9. BB, fantastic round-up as always (yes, I read it–I always read what you write!) and LOVE the painting you chose for your opening visual.

  10. dakinikat says:

    Here’s Governor Jindal’s Republican Jobs Program:

    Louisiana is the world’s prison capital

    http://www.nola.com/crime/index.ssf/2012/05/louisiana_is_the_worlds_prison.html

    Louisiana is the world’s prison capital. The state imprisons more of its people, per head, than any of its U.S. counterparts. First among Americans means first in the world. Louisiana’s incarceration rate is nearly triple Iran’s, seven times China’s and 10 times Germany’s.

  11. RalphB says:

    Treasonous, Cowardly, Un-American Troops Favor Obama By Seven

    Get out your Purple Heart bandages, because it is once again time to remind the American people that The Troops are a bunch of lazy, cowardly, treasonous, unpatriotic, un-American, Kenyan-Socialist-Communist whiners.