Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Global warming monitoring needs to find 'missing heat', say scientists

Further study on oceans needed before hidden heat 'comes back to haunt us', say researchers in Colorado

Sea Surface Temperature

Sea surface temperature from March this year. Illustration: MODIS/Aqua/NASA

Experts need to beef up ways to measure the heat content of oceans as a way to track more reliably the course of global warming, scientists say today.

Kevin Trenberth and John Fasullo, climate scientists at the National Centre for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, say that only about half of the heat believed to have built up in the Earth in recent years can be accounted for. New instruments are needed to locate and monitor this missing heat, they say, which could be storing up trouble for the future.

"The heat will come back to haunt us sooner or later," Trenberth said. "The reprieve we've had from warming temperatures in the last few years will not continue. It is critical to track the build-up of energy in our climate system so we can understand what is happening and predict our future climate."

Although the rise in surface temperature in recent decades is the most well-known consequence of the thickening blanket of greenhouse gases around the Earth, it represents just a tiny fraction of the extra heat trapped. Most of the extra solar energy heads straight into the oceans, where it is stored as warmer water. Some goes into melting glaciers and polar ice, as well as warming the land and atmosphere.

Writing in the journal Science, the scientists say their calculations show that current measurements can only account for half the extra heat trapped by human emissions. Much of the rest is probably in the deep ocean, they say. Some heat increase has been detected in the upper ocean, but there is no routine monitoring below depths of about 3,000m.

Fasullo said: "Global warming at its heart is driven by an imbalance of energy. More solar energy is entering the atmosphere than leaving it. Our concern is that we aren't able to entirely monitor or understand the imbalance. This reveals a glaring hole in our ability to observe the build-up of heat in our climate system."

The missing heat is important, they say, because it could be released as weather phenomena such as El Niño, in which the upper waters of the tropical Pacific ocean warm, and La Niña, which often follows. La Niña events have been linked to cold weather, while El Niños drive storms.

The scientists say: "How can we understand whether the strong cold outbreaks of December 2009 are simply a natural weather phenomenon, as they seem to be, or are part of some change in clouds or pollution, if we do not have adequate measurements?"

Data of Sea Ice Extent

Click this link ...... http://www.ijis.iarc.uaf.edu/en/home/seaice_extent.htm

Max Keiser on Alex Jones Radio - April 19 2010

Click this link .... http://snardfarker.ning.com/video/max-keiser-on-alex-jones-radio

The 10 SCARIEST Charts Of The Recession

Over the past year, a number of economists have proclaimed the recession's end. The media, too, have urged economic optimism, particularly in the last few weeks. At the New York Times, Floyd Norris argued that the economy is experiencing "a cyclical recovery that is gaining strength." This week's Newsweek cover story trumpets the valiant recovery of a "comeback country" now roaring ahead in post-recessionary times.

But a closer look reveals a far more muddled picture. In the first quarter of 2010, economic activity fell in half of the U.S. states, the number of national housing foreclosures jumped back near their 2009 peak, and household debt as a percentage of GDP, long-term unemployment, and income inequality are still at or near their historic highs.

Before you get too excited about the recovery, check out these charts from the recession's still lingering impact:

Wall Street Bonuses vs. Normal Pay
1 of 11
Beginning in the 1990s, Wall Street bonuses began to take off, and were downright astronomical by 2006. And even when Wall-Street bonuses dipped during the financial crisis, they still did not, according to this chart, come anywhere near worker's annual salary.

Goldman Sachs: the bank that thought it ruled the world

Goldman Sachs was ‘doing God's work' - but it is now being investigated for fraud. Harry Wilson reports.

Traders at the New York Stock Exchange
Finance sector stocks tumbled after Goldman Sachs was accused of fraud Photo: EPA

'Long-term greedy” was the phrase that Sidney Weinberg, Goldman Sachs’s legendary managing partner from the 1930s to the 1960s, used to describe the American investment bank’s overarching strategy. Such a pious mission statement from a corporate titan would make a modern audience balk. However the phrase neatly encapsulates the way that Goldman Sachs has operated over the past 80 years, a period in which it has risen from being a little-known, slightly scrubby broker to the world’s most profitable, powerful and controversial financial institution.

When Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs’s current chairman and chief executive, was caught saying last year that the bank was doing “God’s work”, the contrast between Goldman Sachs’s own view of its business and what the rest of the world thought of it was vividly demonstrated.

His comments came just weeks after the firm was memorably described in an article in Rolling Stone magazine as a “vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money”. Doing God’s work is the last thing most think Goldman Sachs is up to.

As Philip Pullman writes in his latest book, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ, “As soon as men who believe they’re doing God’s will get hold of power, whether it’s a household or a village or in Jerusalem or in Rome itself, the devil enters into them.”

Last Friday, those who believed that the devil was running the show at Goldman Sachs finally received the news they had been waiting for. America’s Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) said that it was investigating the bank for misleading investors in so-called collateralised debt obligations, a complex financial product sold by the bank during the boom years of the Noughties.

Goldman Sachs immediately hit back, saying that it would “vigorously” contest the case. However some will have found it hard to hide a feeling of Schadenfreude that at last a bank that at its peak was worth more than $100 billion (£65 billion) was finally being brought to heel.

The story of the bank over the past decade has been one of inexorable rise. In the 1980s Salomon Brothers, now part of the American banking behemoth Citigroup, was the bank to beat on the global stage. In the 1990s a cluster of largely American firms vied for supremacy after the demise of Salomon’s, brought down in part by being found guilty of rigging bond market auctions. The 2000s, however, undoubtedly belonged to Goldman Sachs.

In whichever market observers cared to look at, whether it be share trading, bond trading, corporate advisory or securities underwriting, Goldman Sachs was either at the top or running a close second. Its success was born of a combination of brutally hard work, an undoubted ability to attract the best young minds and that undefinable X-factor that comes from being acknowledged as the best game in town.

“No one ever got fired for hiring Goldman Sachs” is still one of the markets’ mantras. Indeed it has been said that the bank was often hired by companies to advise them only because they were afraid that it might end up working for a rival.

For all its reputation, there has always been at least a hint that some of Goldman Sachs’s success had less to do with its market nous and more to do with its connections. After Lehman Brothers was allowed to file for bankruptcy in September 2008, Goldman Sachs, along with Morgan Stanley, was allowed to convert itself into a bank holding company just weeks later. This gave it access to tens of billions of dollars of government lending. One did not need to be a conspiracy theorist to point out that US Treasury Secretary Henry “Hank” Paulson – the man in charge of the bail-out – was the bank’s former chief executive.

This impression was not helped when Mr Paulson selected Neel Kashkari, a youthful former Goldman Sachs executive, to run the American government’s Troubled Asset Relief Programme, the equivalent of Britain’s Asset Protection Scheme. The move put him in charge of hundreds of billions of dollars of American taxpayers’ money. Again, Goldman Sachs was a beneficiary.

The American authorities’ case against Goldman Sachs prominently features another young Goldman Sachs banker, a French-born 31-year-old called Fabrice Tourre. Mr Tourre, who referred to himself in emails published by the SEC as “the fabulous Fab”, is alleged to have sold a debt product that he knew would fail to a group of investors, mainly large banks, including ABN Amro, now part of Royal Bank of Scotland.

Mr Tourre is alleged to have allowed another Goldman Sachs client, American hedge fund Paulson & Co, to select the complex bonds that were put inside the product. The SEC alleges that Goldman Sachs did this so that Paulson & Co could make money by betting that the bonds would fall in value (Paulson & Co has not been accused of any wrongdoing).

Goldman Sachs’s strong links with hedge funds have always aroused suspicion; however, the bank has argued that it has highly effective internal “Chinese walls”, barriers that stop employees from sharing information that might allow them or a client to trade on insider information.

The significance of the latest allegations is twofold. First, they suggest that Goldman Sachs was favouring one client over another. This is particularly resonant as Paulson & Co was one of the most high-profile success stories of the financial crisis and recently the subject of a best-selling book, The Greatest Trade Ever. The book detailed how Paulson & Co founder John Paulson made billions of dollars shorting the American sub-prime market.

Second, the allegations imply that Goldman Sachs made money from the travails of its own customers. It is often pointed out that the bank makes far more money from trading with its own money than it does from advising its clients. This so-called proprietary trading involves the firm putting billions of dollars of its own capital at risk by buying stakes in assets as diverse as golf courses – the firm was once the largest owner of golf courses in Japan – to oil and ships.

In the case of the sub-prime market, it is now well-known that Goldman Sachs, unlike almost all of its Wall Street rivals, took an early decision around 2006 to begin betting against the American housing market.

The SEC’s allegations suggest that these trades might have involved not just canny positioning by the bank, but actively putting its clients into trades that it knew would lose them money.

What this means for the future of Goldman Sachs is still too early to say. At best, the bank will be one of many financial institutions that become embroiled in a series of investigations relating to this issue – Britain’s own Financial Services Authority is already reported to be starting its own investigation into the matter. Finding safety in numbers would allow Goldman Sachs to argue that it was just doing what everyone else was.

It would be more serious, however, if the SEC’s investigation remained an isolated incident. If this was the case it could mark the beginning of the end for Goldman Sachs, going the same way as other investment banks that sailed too close to the wind and sank. Who now, aside from those with a long memory and an interest in markets, remembers Salomon Brothers or Drexel Burnham Lambert?

As one Goldman Sachs partner, quoted in Charles Ellis’s history of the bank The Partnership, said: “Only looking back could we see the real risk – the risk of arrogance. We didn’t see it then, but it was there and it was growing.

“The firm was at the top. We had always been the best – always the top students and the best athletes and the class leaders. And now we were the best firm – in our self-appraisal. But that was the first step towards arrogance.”

The War On You....Or Dave

Since the 9/11 attacks, Al Qaeda as a legitimate threat to Americans, and the American way of life, and even American values, has proven to be something of a washout.

Yes, terrorists supposedly inspired or influenced by Al Qaeda have tried to attack Americans inside the US, and depending on how you view events like the Fort Hood shootings, dozens have been killed. But as a real actual day-to-day threat to the American way of life....well, Al Qaeda have done a pretty shit job of it.

The FBI, like the CIA, like the Pentagon, has to justify their massive budgets. They have to be able to prove, year in, year out, that they are spending taxpayers money on important work, vital work, life-saving work. That they are, in fact, Keeping Americans Safe. If they don't, budgets get slashed, people lose their jobs.

So if Al Qaeda don't measure up anymore as a viable threat to Americans, then who does?

How about You?

Or your neighbour?

Or that guy down the street? Whatshisname?

Dave? Yeah, Dave.

Fuckit. Why not just declare The War On Dave?

Who's Dave? Doesnt' matter. But he wants to kill you and threaten your way of life. Or something.

This is how The War On Dave is being sold in the UK, by the Rupert Murdoch media :

Fifteen years after the Oklahoma City bombing, the spectre of domestic terrorism has returned to haunt the Obama Administration, with a warning from the FBI that “home-grown and lone-wolf extremists” now represent as serious a threat as al-Qaeda and its affiliates.

The warning, from the FBI Director, Robert Mueller, came as the former President Clinton drew parallels between the Oklahoma City tragedy and a recent upsurge in anti-government rhetoric, while American television audiences heard Timothy McVeigh, the Oklahoma City bomber, describe the “absolute rage” that drove him to plan an attack that killed 168 men, women and children.

An FBI spokesman told The Times yesterday that Mr Mueller was referring to right-wing extremist groups and anti-government militias, as well as American Islamists, in his testimony to the Senate committee that must approve the FBI’s $8.3 billion (£5.4 billion) budget.

The White House was careful to emphasise that the threat of external terrorism remained acute but senior officials are privately confident that military operations in Afghanistan are going well and putting al-Qaeda on the back foot. Few people in Washington are as confident about the domestic threat.
Timothy McVeigh, and all those people killed in the Oklahoma bombings, are now a marketing opportunity for the FBI.

The average American is more likely to be killed, or wounded, by a KFC Double Down burger than by 'home grown terrorists'.

U.S. Stock Futures Fall as Goldman Sachs Faces Probes in Europe

April 19 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. stock futures fell, indicating benchmark indexes may extend losses following their biggest one- day drop Since February, as European probes of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. fueled concern bank earnings will be hurt by a crackdown on trading practices.

Goldman Sachs, Bank of America Corp. and Moran Stanley fell at least 1.3 percent. Citigroup Inc. fluctuated after posting better-than-estimated results on lower costs for bad loans. Alcoa Inc., the largest U.S. aluminum producer, and Exxon Mobil Corp. dropped with lower metal and oil prices. Halliburton Co. fell 1.2 percent after saying first-quarter profit declined.

Futures on the S&P 500 expiring in June slipped 0.5 percent to 1,183.8 as of 8:36 a.m. in New York. Dow Jones Industrial Average futures decreased 0.5 percent to 10,934 and Nasdaq 100 Index futures dropped 0.3 percent to 2,003.75. Stocks in Europe and Asia also fell.

Goldman Sachs, the most profitable firm in Wall Street history, faces a regulatory probe in Britain and scrutiny from the German government after the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission sued the firm for fraud tied to collateralized debt obligations. The S&P 500 tumbled 1.6 percent on April 16, the most since Feb. 4, after the suit spurred concern fallout from the financial crisis isn't over.

"You get a punch in the gut with these Goldman Sachs issues," said Don Wordell, who oversees the RidgeWorth Mid-Cap Value Equity Fund, which has beaten 97 percent of its peers during the past five years. "It brings investors back to reality. There's a tremendous amount of skepticism."

'Moral Bankruptcy'

Goldman Sachs sank 13 percent on April 16, its biggest plunge in more than a year, after the SEC sued the bank and one of its vice presidents. The regulator said the bank created and sold CDOs tied to subprime mortgages in early 2007, as the U.S. housing market faltered, without disclosing that hedge fund Paulson & Co. helped pick the underlying securities and bet against them. Goldman Sachs said the claims are "completely unfounded." Paulson wasn't accused of wrongdoing. Goldman Sachs shares slipped 1.3 percent at $158.66 in pre-market trading in New York today.

U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown yesterday called for the Financial Services Authority to start their own inquiry into Goldman Sachs, saying he was "shocked" at the "moral bankruptcy" indicated in the suit. Germany's financial regulator, Bafin, asked the SEC for details on the suit, a spokesman for Chancellor Angela Merkel said.

Better Earnings

The S&P 500 last week fell 0.2 percent, halting the longest streak of gains in a year. The 1.6 percent retreat in the S&P 500 on April 16 erased gains earlier in the week spurred by better-than-estimated earnings results at companies from Intel Corp. to CSX Corp. and JPMorgan Chase & Co.

Bank of America fell 1.4 percent to $18.15. JPMorgan Chase & Co. lost 0.5 percent to $45.30. Morgan Stanley fell 1.3 percent to $28.79.

The SEC is investigating transactions by Deutsche Bank AG, UBS AG and the former Merrill Lynch in the mortgage-securities market, the New York Post reported, without saying where it got the information.

Citigroup drifted between gains and losses after posting its fourth profit in five quarters, beating analysts' estimates. First-quarter net income of $4.43 billion followed a loss of $7.58 billion in the fourth quarter and a profit of $1.59 billion in the first three months of 2009, New York-based Citigroup said. Adjusted per-share earnings were 14 cents. Analysts in a Bloomberg survey estimated the company would break even.

Alcoa dropped 1.5 percent to $13.70. Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., the world's largest publicly traded copper producer, declined 1.1 percent to $80.30. Copper dropped for a third day to a three-week low amid a slump in industrial metals as China moved to cool its real-estate market. Aluminum, zinc, lead, nickel and tin also fell.

Exxon, the largest energy producer, slipped 0.6 percent to $67.50 as crude oil fell for a third day. ConocoPhillips, the third-biggest U.S. oil producer, dropped 0.5 percent to $55.75.

Halliburton Earnings

Halliburton sank 1.2 percent to $31.25. The world's second- largest oilfield-services provider said first-quarter earnings fell after contracts signed when energy prices were slumping last year narrowed profit margins.

Hasbro Inc. increased 2.5 percent to $40.83 in New York. The world's second-largest toymaker posted a gain in first- quarter profit that beat analysts' estimates, led by growth in games and puzzles. So-called adjusted per-share earnings were 26 cents, compared with the 16-cent average of 13 estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

A report at 10 a.m. New York time may show the economic recovery is gaining momentum. The index of leading indicators, a measure of the outlook over the next three to six months, probably rose 1 percent last month, a 12th consecutive advance, according to the median estimate of economists surveyed by Bloomberg News.

--Editor: Michael P. Regan

Ron Paul - Fox Business, 04/19/10

Click this link ....... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=11505

George Soros States China Should Rule World

During an interview with the BBC at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, billionaire ...George Soros weighed in on the power and influence of the U.S.

"I'm not looking for a worldwide recession. I'm looking for a significant shift of power and influence away from the US in particular and a shift in favour of the developing world, particularly China." (source)

I have stated that this is an Illuminati goal. I am convinced that all of the major gold holdings (the only real wealth in the world) has been pulled out of this country by the Central Banksters. Whether it has been moved to Israel, England or Switzerland is still a matter of debate. Our military is being spread thin around the globe, and our nuclear arsenal is being dismantled in favor of the Russian-Chinese alliance.

"Soros is chairman of Soros Fund Management and the Open Society Institute and a former member of the Board of Directors of the Council on Foreign Relations." (source)...

The Council on Foreign Relations is considered to be the premier Illuminati front organization working to bring about the New World Order.

"Soros was born in Budapest, Hungary, the son of the Esperantist writer Tivadar Soros. Tivadar (also known as Teodoro) was a Hungarian Jew, who was a prisoner of war during and after World War I and eventually escaped from Russia to rejoin his family in Budapest.

The family changed its name in 1936 from Schwartz to Soros, in response to growing anti-semitism with the rise of Fascism." (Ibid.)

As I have also stated in previous articles, the Knights Templar forged alliances within the Jewish merchant class to publicly manage their vast wealth holdings, after they were driven underground by the French Inquisition. This alliance continues through this day.

"Soros was not a large donor to US political causes until the 2004 presidential election, but according to the Center for Responsive Politics, during the 2003-2004 election cycle, Soros donated $23,581,000 to various 527 groups dedicated to defeating President Bush. A 527 group is a type of American tax-exempt organization named after a section of the United States tax code, 26 U.S.C. § 527. Despite Soros' efforts, Bush was reelected to a second term as president.

Looking a little deeper we find that Soros money is behind our current "Open Border's policies on immigration:

"Societies derive their cohesion from shared values . . . religion, history, and tradition. When a society does not have boundaries where are the shared values to be found? . . . the concept of the open society itself."

In the intervening years, his more-than-generous financial support of a society without boundaries has contributed to thecurrent open-borders immigration crisis being experienced by the United States, his adopted homeland." (source)

Even more disturbing is his views on the Constitution, Bill of Rights and Declaration of Independance:

"Today George Soros opines that the United States is the world's best example of an open society, despite the failings of the founding fathers and founding documents.

He holds that the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, based as they are on Enlightenment thinking, do not allow for modern skepticism and the limitations of the human mind. Soros holds that there is no certainty in life and no ultimate truth." (Ibid)

And his Anti-Patriotism:

"Open-society advocates would reinterpret the U.S. Constitution to better suit the "age of fallibility," which no longer recognizes unalienable rights or divine providence. The Soros open-society concept requires that the United States be removed as a superpower and that the American people be subjected to the will and wants of all the world's people." (ibid)

Which brings us back to China. Soros hides behind ideology but, in reality, he is advocating a global tyranny run by the Illuminati, with Russia and China at its head. The United States, with its rich historical traditions, embodied in the Constitution and the Bill of Rights, only stands in his way. Slaves don't have rights. Neither do the Communist Chinese. The Russians are in the process of losing theirs through assorted "False flag" terrorist events, much like the United States.

"The Project on Death in America, active from 2001–2003, was one of the (Soros) Open Society Institute's projects, which sought to "understand and transform the culture and experience of dying and bereavement." In 1994, Soros delivered a speech in which he reported that he had offered to help his mother, a member of the Hemlock Society, commit suicide. In the same speech, he also endorsed the Oregon Death with Dignity Act, the campaign for which he helped fund." (Ibid.)

Funny how the Romans glorified death with "suicide parties" in the final days of their Western Empire. A loss of appreciation for the value of human life is a glaring characteristic of a fallen society. I guess its fitting that the man who advocates national suicide should be behind this effort as well.


Ludwig von Mises on Capitalism

Click this link ...... http://eclipptv.com/phpBB/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=301

Goldman Said to Pay $5.4 Billion in Compensation

Talk about bad timing.

Amid accusations that it defrauded investors, Goldman Sachs is set to pay more than £3.5 billion ($5.4 billion) in compensation to its staff for the first three months of the year, The Times of London reported.

The newspaper said:

The bumper payouts will equate to about £110,000 a head for the firm’s 32,500 employees worldwide, with a handful of top traders expected to be in line for multimillion-pound bonuses.

Close to £600 million is expected to be paid to the group’s 5,500 London-based staff for the first three months of this year. This is on a par with their remuneration in 2007, the last year of the boom.

The report comes after a civil lawsuit filed against Goldman last Friday contained damaging allegations whose reverberations are just beginning to be felt. In the lawsuit, the Securities and Exchange Commission contends that Goldman misled investors who bought a mortgage-related instrument known as Abacus 2007-AC1 by not disclosing that the security was devised to fail.

Goldman has denied the allegations and says it will fight them.

The allegations have led to calls for increased scrutiny of the bank from lawmakers in the United States and Europe. Prime Minister Gordon Brown of Britain accused the firm of “moral bankruptcy.” He said that British regulators should investigate, and that he believed banks themselves would be considering legal action, without specifying which banks.

The recent public outcry against Wall Street banks following taxpayer of bailouts was driven in part by suspicions that a heads-we-win, tails-you-lose ethos pervades the financial industry. To many, that Goldman and others are once again minting money — and paying big bonuses to their employees — is evidence that Wall Street got a sweet deal at taxpayers’ expense. The accusations against Goldman may only further those suspicions.

One Million Foreclosures in 2010: That’s Recovery, Mr. President?

President Obama has repeatedly promised the American people oodles of hope and change. So far, he has delivered tons of despair and more of the same.

The latest example involves what was once the American Dream, but which Obama and fellow Marxists have transformed into the American nightmare from hell.

As reported, in part, at yahoonews.com:

“LOS ANGELES – A record number of U.S. homes were lost to foreclosure in the first three months of this year, a sign banks are starting to wade through the backlog of troubled home loans at a faster pace, according to a new report.

RealtyTrac Inc. said Thursday that the number of U.S. homes taken over by banks jumped 35 percent in the first quarter from a year ago. In addition, households facing foreclosure grew 16 percent in the same period and 7 percent from the last three months of 2009.

More homes were taken over by banks and scheduled for a foreclosure sale than in any quarter going back to at least January 2005, when RealtyTrac began reporting the data, the firm said.

“We’re right now on pace to see more than 1 million bank repossessions this year,” said Rick Sharga, a RealtyTrac senior vice president”

Once again, our allegedly “brilliant” president has failed miserably.

More from the referenced report:

“The Obama administration’s $75 billion foreclosure prevention program has only been able to help a small fraction of troubled homeowners.

About 231,000 homeowners have completed loan modifications as part of the Obama administration’s flagship foreclosure prevention program through March. That’s about 21 percent of the 1.2 million borrowers who began the program over the past year.

But another 158,000 homeowners who signed up have dropped out — either because they didn’t make payments or failed to return the necessary documents. That’s up from about 90,000 just a month earlier.

Last month, the administration expanded the program, launching a plan to reduce the amount some troubled borrowers owe on their home loans and give jobless homeowners a temporary break. But the details of those programs are expected to take months to work out.”

This latest failure is on top of the Obama non-stimulating “stimulus” trillion, his foolish effort to close GITMO and try terrorists like KSM in civilian court right next to ground zero, the bungled cash for clunkers debacle, the idiotic abandonment of Israel, the fascist ramming through of a health care fiasco that continues to grow in disfavor with the American people, the mindless dedication to the cultish global warming myth despite obvious fraud and deceit, and the extremely dangerous and tinkering with the federal deficit by an inexperienced amateur.

Oh, and do not forget the announcement by Russia that Iran will have a functioning nuclear reactor by August, on the heels of Obama’s simple- minded and dangerously naïve nuclear summit.

Has there ever been a less competent and more arrogant president than Barack Hussein Obama?

Nursing homes received millions from California taxpayers while cutting staff, services

California's nursing homes have reaped $880 million in additional funding from a 2004 state law designed to help them hire more caregivers and boost wages.

But about a quarter of the state's homes flouted the law's purpose. They cut staff or slashed wages, while padding their bottom lines, a California Watch investigation has found.

The 232 homes that made those cuts — including 20 in Santa Clara and San Mateo counties — collected about $236 million through 2008, the last year of available data. And the law that made it all possible included few safeguards to ensure it was spent as intended.

About two dozen homes that made the deepest caregiver cuts had about a third more deficiencies than other state facilities, California Watch found. Violations ranged from neglecting bedsores to giving patients the wrong drugs.

Overall, regulators documented nearly 1,000 deficiencies for inadequate care in California nursing homes in 2008 — a 65 percent increase compared with 2005.

"There was an implicit good faith agreement that things would get better "... and that was broken," said state Sen. Elaine Alquist, D-San Jose, chairwoman of the Senate Health Committee.

But James Gomez, chief executive of the state's nursing home trade organization, said the 2004 law has led to a 6 percent increase in average staffing for nursing homes.

"Is it working in every facility every day? No," said Gomez, leader of the California Association of Health Facilities. "But is it working in total? Absolutely."

Chain's profits Of the homes that made cuts, 13 owned by Orange County-based Covenant Care stand out.

Thanks to $15 million in new funding, profits at those homes averaged more than $900,000 in 2008 — far higher than the average for the remaining 632 homes California Watch analyzed. Four of those Covenant Care homes are among the six it operates in Santa Clara County.

The chain's chief operating officer has said part of its business plan calls for housing more medically fragile patients. The tactic opens the door to higher government reimbursements, according to critics, who say it can be dangerous to combine lower staffing rates with patients who need more attention.

Patients like Raymond Yniguez.

The 78-year-old Gilroy man went to the chain's Morgan Hill home, Pacific Hills Manor, on Feb. 6, 2008, to recover from spinal surgery. Three weeks later, he fell and hit his head, but the staff sent him home that afternoon. Two days after his release, Yniguez died of a massive brain hemorrhage.

Yniguez's widow has sued Pacific Hills Manor, alleging wrongful death, medical negligence and elder neglect or abuse. Robert Bohn, her lawyer, said the home's staff knew Yniguez was at high risk of falling. But after finding him on the floor with a large bump on his cheek, they spoke with a doctor by phone, Bohn said, then released Yniguez without having him seen by a physician.

"The problem with these nursing homes is they're all understaffed," Bohn said.

Records show a 7 percent decline in staffing levels at Pacific Hills Manor from 2004 to 2008.

Covenant Care lawyer John Supple defended the home's conduct, noting the Yniguez incident did not lead to a state citation. Supple said the staff checked on Yniguez throughout the day and released him under guidance from his doctor.

The Covenant Care chain, meanwhile, rewarded top administrators and nursing supervisors with bonuses based, in part, on how much profit each home generated, records show. CEO Robert Levin declined repeated requests to be interviewed about the company's staffing levels.

Oversight lacking

The Nursing Home Quality Care Act of 2004 was designed to fix a glaring problem: Daily Medi-Cal rates paid to California's 1,100 homes were among the lowest in the nation.

An alliance of labor leaders and nursing home owners pushed to replace a flat fee-per-patient system with one that reimbursed homes based on their costs.

Some patient advocacy groups and experts bristled over the proposal's lack of teeth. The California AARP ran full-page newspaper ads that said, "No blank check for bad nursing homes."

Still, the bill flew through the Legislature. When Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed it, he directed regulators to "closely monitor implementation" and "reward quality care."

But the state agency that oversees nursing home funding failed to follow through.

Toby Douglas, chief deputy director for health care programs at the Department of Health Care Services, conceded that some homes may have cut staff. But he said that most have invested more heavily in caregivers.

Douglas said his department is in the "very preliminary" stages of improving the funding law by linking nursing home pay to factors such as patient satisfaction or payment of fines for poor care.

Yet some advocates question whether the state — now in a budget crisis — missed an opportunity to use the funds to drive improvement.

The revenue increases to nursing homes were suspended last year because of opposition from patient advocates, but homes have been pushing to restore the funding. Alquist, the state senator who heads the health committee, says the law will be scrutinized during a legislative review this year.

Staffing lags

California Watch inspected financial and staffing data for the 645 homes that serve the largest number of Medi-Cal patients who need round-the-clock care. The 2004 law was set up to benefit these homes the most.

Since the legislation was enacted, the Department of Health Care Services rewarded the homes analyzed with a total funding increase of nearly 25 percent.

But the lowest-paid workers, who perform the vast majority of patient care in nursing homes, did not see that kind of raise. Adjusting for inflation, more than 400 homes cut those workers' wages, the California Watch analysis shows.

In 2008, dozens of homes also operated beneath a minimum staffing level set by the state nearly a decade earlier.

Gomez, of the California Association of Health Facilities, said the state should aggressively investigate homes that operated with staffing levels below the standard — which is set at 3.2 hours of caregiver attention a day for every nursing home patient.

"I don't have an issue with them looking at those facilities," he said of the 68 homes below the minimum in 2008.

The state, however, has not issued staffing-related fines to any of the homes that failed to reach the minimum staffing level, records show.

And when homes are cited for serious violations, the 2004 law helps bail them out. For the first time, it allowed homes to bill the state for legal costs spent to fight fines, citations and lawsuits alleging abuse and neglect.

"The policy is outrageous," said Michael Connors, an advocate with watchdog group California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform. "By paying the legal fees of nursing homes that are neglecting and abusing residents, the state is subsidizing their mistreatment."

While state officials could not identify exactly how much they spent reimbursing nursing homes to fight penalties, records show that since the 2004 law passed, homes are challenging twice as many citations. The arrangement worked in the favor of a small home in San Jose, Homewood Care Center. Despite having been convicted of federal tax fraud, its owner used state funds to appeal a $100,000 citation issued by state regulators who, in a settlement, agreed to reduce the fine to $5,000.

The citation was issued in response to the events of Oct. 17, 2006, when Harold Schreifels, 67, died while awaiting surgery to repair a dialysis shunt. Homewood staff had noted that the diabetic man's blood sugar was dangerously low. But despite his pleas, they ignored their policy to notify a doctor about his condition, enforcing a 15-hour fast before surgery. The home's owner, Jack Easterday — who, ironically, was convicted of failing to pay payroll taxes for his eight nursing homes the day the Schreifels fine was announced — acknowledges the death might have been avoided if his staff had given intravenous nutrients. Still, a mediator discounted the fine by $95,000.

Easterday acknowledged the state helped pay his legal fees to fight the fine, but he described the contribution as "minuscule." The state was unable to determine how much it paid.

Gary Davis, Schreifels' stepson, said he could not believe the state stood by the reduced fine.

"The government should be "... corrected for their mistakes also," he said. "They're accountable for their actions, you know?"

Foreclosure Pipeline Is Full to Bursting

The foreclosure pipeline will be full for years to come. That precludes any "recovery" in housing valuations as supply will swamp demand.

Last August, I wrote a story for AOL/Daily Finance titled Housing bottom premature. The clue? Foreclosure pipeline full. The backlog of distressed mortgages has only grown larger since then.

As Mish noted, Foreclosure activity hit a record in the first quarter of 2010.

According to realtytrac.com, foreclosure filings — default notices, scheduled auctions and bank repossessions — were reported on 932,234 properties in the first quarter, a 7 percent increase from the previous quarter and a 16 percent increase from the first quarter of 2009.

Meanwhile, the heavily hyped Federal program to stave off defaults via massaging the terms of mortgages is failing spectacularly: Defaults Rise in Loan Modification Program.

According to this New York Times article, about seven million households are behind on their mortgage payments. As I noted here yesterday, there are about 51 million mortgages in the U.S., so that means about 14% of all mortgage holders are in some stage of default. About 1 million are already in the foreclosure pipeline (as noted above) while a pool of 6 million defaulted/delinquent mortgages awaits entry into the pipeline.

While the numbers are imprecise, media reports suggest about one-quarter of all mortgage holders are "underwater," meaning that their homes are worth less than their mortgages balances.

As this chart illustrates, negative equity (owing more than the house is worth, hence negative equity) drives foreclosures.

If 25% of mortgage holders are underwater, and 14% are delinquent/in default, then we can expect the number of defaulted mortgages to rise as negative-equity homeowners throw in the towel and stop paying their mortgages.

Rising foreclosures, falling home valuations and increasing defaults form a positive feedback loop. Rising foreclosures pressure home valuations as hundreds of thousands of homes come to market. This decline in valuations increases the negative equity of mortgage holders who are already underwater, and pushes more owners into the negative equity pool where most will eventually capitulate and default on their mortgages. Thisincreases the pool of mortgages in the foreclosure pipeline, insuring more homes will be dumped onto the market in the future, and so on.

Anyone who sees a rising pool of millions of delinquent mortgages as the foundation of a recovery in housing valuations isn't considering the feedback loop which is now firmly in place.

Illinois bank-owned foreclosures double in first quarter

Almost 15,000 Illinois homeowners lost their homes to foreclosure in the year's first three months, twice as many as the number that went back to lenders during 2009's first three months, new figures show.

The grim statistics, derived from data scheduled to be released Thursday by RealtyTrac, follow two reports from Washington on Wednesday that paint very different pictures of the government's response to the nation's mortgage foreclosure crisis.

One, the monthly Treasury Department report on the progress of the administration's Home Affordable Modification Program, showed that loan servicers are stepping up efforts to convert delinquent borrowers into more affordable mortgages.

The other, from the Congressional Oversight Panel, said that despite several measures taken by the Treasury to improve HAMP's chances of success, it will fall far short of its goal of helping 3 million to 4 million homeowners.

Last month, overall foreclosure activity in Illinois fell 18 percent from February and 8 percent from March 2009, according to RealtyTrac, an Irvine, Calif.-based company that tracks foreclosure filings. During the first quarter, however, foreclosure filings in Illinois were up more than 17 percent, largely because of an increase in the number of properties that have been taken back by lenders.

In January, nearly 6,000 Illinois homes became classified as real-estate owned, or bank-owned. That compares with 2,641 in January 2009. In February, it was nearly 5,000 properties, compared with nearly 3,000 homes in the same month a year ago. Last month, it was another 4,424 properties, compared with about 3,300 homes in March 2009.

HAMP, detailed a year ago, was implemented to slow foreclosures. In the Chicago area in March, 39,914 homeowners were in active trial modifications and another 11,333 homeowners had received permanently modified loans since the program's start, according to Wednesday's Treasury report. But although the number of homeowners whose trial plans were made permanent increased 40 percent in a month's time, the number of consumers was down from 43,215 in February. A drop in active trial modifications was expected nationally. Beginning June 1, the government said consumers applying for a trial modification would have to provide full documentation of their income, but many lenders began applying that requirement in March.

The number of canceled trial modifications across the nation rose to 155,173 last month, compared with 88,663 cancellations in February.

Why I Think Goldman Is Guilty

Information is everything.

Regular readers of Sense on Cents know how often I have raised that point as being perhaps the most important factor on Wall Street. Information, timely access to information, and the reliability of that information all move markets. Who gets the information, how it is processed and shared, and how it is disclosed all play a very important factor in determining winners and losers on Wall Street.

Against this backdrop, why do I think Goldman Sachs will ultimately be found guilty of the fraud charges brought against it on Friday? Based on discussions I have had with Wall Street colleagues, Goldman Sachs utilized a law firm in this specific Abacus transaction which did not mandate full and proper disclosure. As such, I believe the law firm itself will also face potential charges for aiding and abetting a fraud.

What should have been disclosed? The fact that the hedge fund, Paulson and Co., was heavily involved in selecting the reference collateral used in the deal and was simultaneously taking the other side of the trade. That information is unbelievably powerful and damaging. Why? As an investor, the immediate question that would come to mind is “What does he know that I don’t know?” If investors were in possession of that information, then they could raise the question and determine the true nature of the transaction. What was the true nature? The fact that Paulson and Co. selected mortgage collateral, which from what I have been told, was largely reflective of mortgages originated in the most overheated states and had the greatest risks of default.

Goldman apologists would state that Paulson and Goldman were merely taking the other side of the housing bet from investors. The fact is, though, the bet was not on a diverse pool of collateral (which would have mitigated the risks), but on a concentrated pool of mortgage collateral which accentuated the risks.

Investors should have asked these questions, but in my opinion Goldman had an obligation to disclose the fact that the mortgage collateral was concentrated and selected by Paulson. As such, I believe Goldman will be found guilty of perpetrating a fraud. The fraud, however, rises well beyond the individual structuring the transaction. That structurer, Fabrice Tourre, was supervised by a manger. That manager should be sweating bullets right now. Why? A failure to properly supervise is a very serious charge on Wall Street.

How high will this go within Goldman Sachs? Will it ultimately cost Lloyd Blankfein his job? Do not discount that possibility.

In the court of public opinion, Goldman Sachs has already been found guilty for taking and losing in regard to the greatest risk of all. That risk is one of a questionable reputation.

Goldman Sachs has the reputation they deserve. To a large extent, Wall Street as an industry does as well.


Waco - A New Revelation (1999) (Part 1 of 2)

Click this link ...... http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1755692679103175934#docid=5510108493532885562

WACO: The Rules of Engagement (1/2)

Click this link ...... http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-1755692679103175934#docid=4298137966377572665

9/11 New World Order plan: Europe, America vs Russia, China

Click this link ..... http://eclipptv.com/viewVideo.php?video_id=11475

Industrial Wind and the Wall Street Cap & Trade Fraud - Part 1


Financial scandals are not new. Schemes to leverage risk and cheat the public are mainstays of the mad "Cap and Trade" stratagem, in the ongoing war, against genuine free enterprise. The latest ploy is the industrial wind swindle.

In the essay, Wall Street Reaps Big Bucks from the Wind, the strategy to defraud the public is explored. "The latest rage out of the boiler room sharks that hawk new equity issues touts alternative energy. The hype that is coming out of Wall Street resembles the internet band wagon before the bust . . . Goldman Sachs rushes to finance the offers with their expertise – using other peoples’ money . . . Understand from the outset, that producing useful energy is not the prime objective of wind projects."

To illustrate this point the pending First Wind Holdings Inc. SEC S-1 and S-1A application for an IPO readily admits that producing electricity it is not necessary to be profitable.

Understanding the complexity of industrial wind can be a challenge. The derogative knock NIMBY, is meant to deceive and distract from the reality that an ill "Wall Street" wind blows behind the heretical doctrine of global warming.

Jon Boone PhD is a leading voice against industrial wind. WHY WIND WON’T WORK is a primer that dispels the myth that wind factories are a sensible solution to electric generation, much less a remedy for climate change.

"The hope for wind energy stems from a belief that it will offset significant carbon emissions as it substitutes for dirty burning coal plants. But what is the evidence for this? Any analysis examining this issue must account for (1) what happens as wind energy enters the grid, causing grid operators to turn off or back conventional generators in response (or hold back generators that might otherwise have been deployed if there were no wind energy), and (2) what happens as operators seek to integrate wind's wild fluctuations.

Wind adds another layer of instability that must be smoothed out so that demand and supply are balanced precisely. Controllers respond to the wind influx by dialing back the generation from the operation of conventional units, much as they do when demand decreases. And as the level of wind energy flutters about the grid, rising and falling at random, rapidly responsive conventional generators are deployed to balance this ebb and flow. When wind energy disappears from the grid, it is as if demand has again increased, and more power is required from conventional sources to match it."

In a significant analysis, Less For More: The Rube Goldberg Nature of Industrial Wind Development, Dr. Boone concludes:

"Wind energy, at industrial scales operating within the grid system as a whole, must be considered as only one of the reciprocals in a fuel mix; it must be entangled with conventional fuel to make it viable even as a sporadic fuel substitute. Wind energy simply cannot be loosed on the grid by itself. Grid stability requires that the fluctuations of wind be backed or compensated for immediately by conventional, reliable generation on a minute by minute basis—that is, generation from highly flexible, rapidly responsive thermal or hydro units."

Since generating usable and reliable electricity is not the prime purpose for a wind developer, what impact can the ratepayer expect in their electric bill?

A succinct explanation on The True Cost of Electricity from Wind is Always Underestimated and its Value Always Overestimated, in the Science & Public Policy Institute, comes from this Glenn R. Schleede report. Mr. Schleede states:

"When initially proposed, wind energy advocates argued that tax breaks and subsidies were necessary to permit a relatively "new and developing technology" to gain a foothold in competition with other sources of energy for producing electricity. However, industry demands for continuation, expansion and extension of subsidies have made it clear that there are no longer any serious expectations that wind energy is competitive or that improvements in the technology will eventually make it competitive.

Instead, it appears that the only hope that wind energy would become economically competitive with traditional energy sources is if the cost of electricity from traditional sources were driven much higher – with all the adverse impacts on electric customers and local and national economies that result from high electricity prices."

Just how much more will consumers pay in higher rates over the conventional methods of electric generation?

In the report, RENEWABLE ENERGY Not Cheap, Not "Green" by Robert L. Bradley Jr. in the Cato Policy Analysis No. 280, August 27, 1997 wrote, "ratepayers typically pay three times more for wind power than they would pay for electricity in today's spot market, and the premium could be higher. A conservative estimate of the total U.S. government (i.e., taxpayer) subsidy to wind power totals over $1,200 per installed kilowatt, even greater than the direct capital cost of wind under advanced technology of around $860 per kilowatt . . ."

These figures and estimates are well over a decade old. With the increase in size of wind turbines, 2.5 MW to even 10 MW nameplate capacities, just escalate the costs to levels that their 12-15% actual production performance can never earn a realistic pay back. With the half-baked rush for additional tax credits and subsidies, the proponents of industrial wind need to rely upon a different "Green" renewable; namely, the funny money printing press.

Glenn R. Schleede’s review, highly recommends the book, "The Wind Farm Scam" by Dr. John Etherington. "It explains wind energy and its limitations and environmental insults in easily understood terms. It explains why wind will never provide a significant, reliable source of electricity. As in the US, "wind farms" are being built in the UK primarily because of government fiat and huge government-forced subsidies, not because of their true environmental, economic or energy benefits."

Power Hungry: The Myths of "Green" Energy and the Real Fuels of the Future by Robert Bryce provides an insightful account on energy and future developments. A review of this book concludes: "Power Hungry demolishes the notion that oil is dirty; that carbon capture/sequestration schemes can be globally effective; that cap-and-trade/taxation/renewable energy credit ideas for reducing carbon dioxide emissions can do anything but worsen the situation, at the expense of tax and ratepayers. "When you have eliminated all which is impossible, then whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth." By eliminating the imposters and exposing the disingenuous, he is then able to engage in rational discourse about the genuinely probable technologies that will in future slake our ginormous craving for power."

Eliminating industrial wind as a viable alternative makes good common sense. Jon Boone offers this description for industrial wind.

"There is little that is cognitively more dissonant than supporting the concept of minimizing the human footprint on the earth while cheerleading for the rude intrusiveness of physically massive/energy feckless wind projects. The slap and tickle of wind propaganda flatters the gullible, exploits the well intentioned, and nurtures the craven. Industrial wind is a bunco scheme of enormous consequence. And people who value intellectual honesty should not quietly be fleeced by such mendacity, even from their government."

Such a backlash against wind energy inevitably receives stern retaliation from the designers of the new energy economy. Nothing will stand in the way of the cover up and tax abuses of energy exploitation. How can people benefit from this plutocrat plot?  

Marriage Penalties Increase Dramatically Under ObamaCare

Diana Furchtgott-Roth (Hudson Institute) has published Marriage Penalties Under the New Healthcare Law, 127 Tax Notes 349 (Apr. 19, 2010). Here is the abstract:

This article describes the marriage penalties in the new healthcare laws. ... Single earners below 400% of the poverty line who receive premium credits to help them afford health insurance will see the credits shrink rapidly or disappear when they marry. Upper-income earners will face disincentives to marry and work based on the new Medicare taxes, which apply to singles earning $200,000 and joint filers earning $250,000.

For a bill that is supposed to make Americans healthier, the disincentives for marriage and work under the new healthcare law are truly startling. Beginning in 2013, when many of the bill's provisions take effect, Americans will find it more advantageous to stay single than to marry, even more so than under the current tax code. And women will face greater incentives to leave the workforce.

All Tax Analysts content is available through the LexisNexis® services.

Crocodile Tears on Wall Street

by Bill Moyers and Michael Winship

With all due respect, we can only wish those Tea Party activists who gathered in Washington and other cities this week weren’t so single-minded about just who’s responsible for all their troubles, real and imagined. They’re up in arms, so to speak, against Big Government, especially the Obama administration.

If they thought this through, they’d be joining forces with other grassroots Americans who in the coming weeks will be demonstrating in Washington and other cities against High Finance, taking on Wall Street and the country’s biggest banks.

The original Tea Party, remember, wasn’t directed just against the British redcoats. Colonial patriots also took aim at the East India Company. That was the joint-stock enterprise originally chartered by the first Queen Elizabeth. Over the years, the government granted them special rights and privileges, which the owners turned into a monopoly over trade, including tea.

It may seem a bit of a stretch from tea to credit default swaps, but the principle is the same: when enormous private wealth goes unchecked, regular folks get hurt -- badly. That’s what happened in 2008 when the monied interests led us up the garden path to the great collapse.

So the Tea Party crowd should be demanding accountability from Bank of America, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo, and scores of hedge funds and private equity firms that constitute what we loosely call Wall Street.

But are the culprits taking responsibility for devastating the lives of millions of ordinary Americans? Don’t kid yourself. If you’ve been watching them appear before congressional committees and the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission -- the independent inquiry that’s supposed to find out what really happened -- you’ve no doubt been reaching for the Pepto-Bismol.

Here’s Robert Rubin, former Treasury Secretary and director of Citigroup, testifying last week. "Almost all of us involved in the financial system, including financial firms, regulators, ratings agencies, analysts and commentators missed the powerful combination of forces at work and the serious possibility of a massive crisis," he said. "We all bear responsibility for not recognizing this, and I deeply regret that."

Okay, maybe you didn’t have a crystal ball. But what about good, old-fashioned business sense? How could you make so much money and not know the score? "You are talking about a level of granularity no board will ever have," Rubin claimed. Citi paid you $120 million as a senior advisor and rainmaker and you’re not responsible for knowing what’s happening below you? You didn't bother to assess the risk you were peddling to clients?

The committee heard a similar alibi from Chuck Prince, who served as CEO of Citigroup during its meltdown: "Let me start by saying I'm sorry. I'm sorry that the financial crisis has had such a devastating impact on our country… And I'm sorry that our management team, starting with me, like so many others, could not see the unprecedented market collapse that lay before us."

Commission Chairman Phil Angelides, the former state treasurer of California, wasn’t buying it. "The two of you, in charge of this organization, did not seem to have a grip on what was happening," he said, and to Rubin, "I don’t know that you can have it two ways: you were either pulling the levers or asleep at the switch."

Nonetheless, the financiers wail, it was all an enormous accident, a once in a century calamity, an act of God. But of course that’s not true. Lots of people saw it coming and made a bundle, taking off with the loot at the expense of the millions who lost their jobs, homes and savings. There’s no longer any question that many bankers continued to game the system after the collapse -- still paying themselves exorbitant salaries and bonuses while hitting everyday people with usurious same day paycheck loans, credit card fees and other charges -- and refusing to help small and medium-sized businesses that could be creating employment.

The Tea Party gang really should have dropped by those Senate hearings this week looking into the failure of Washington Mutual, the bank that went belly up during the meltdown in September 2008 – the largest such failure in American history.

As an 18-month Senate investigation revealed, WaMu made subprime loans that its executives knew were rotten, then packaged them as mortgage securities and pawned them off on unsuspecting investors. Loan officers were paid by the number of mortgages they sold, and ran up the numbers by lying to customers and falsifying data so they could make bigger bucks and win trips to Maui and the Caribbean. At one Washington Mutual office in Montebello, California, 83 percent of the housing loans contained bogus information.

Then there’s Lehman Brothers. Their misfortune, apart from some chicanery only now coming to light, was being small enough to fail. During those black September days two years ago, the Feds decided it was expendable and let it go, leading to America’s biggest bankruptcy ever. In an admirable job of journalism this week, The New York Times reported that Lehman secretly controlled a company called Hudson Castle. Critics say it was used by Lehman to borrow money and to hide bad investments in commercial real estate and subprime mortgages.

But the week’s award for sheer gall goes to a Chicago area hedge fund called Magnetar, named after a kind of neutron star that spews deadly radiation across the galaxies. Thanks to the teamwork of the investigative reporting website ProPublica, as well as public radio’s Planet Money project and "This American Life," we learned that Magnetar worked with Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, Merrill Lynch and other investment banks to create toxic CDO’s -- collateralized debt obligations -- securities backed by subprime mortgages that management knew were bad. Then Magnetar took that knowledge and bet against the very same investments they had recommended to buyers, selling short and making a fortune.

To simply call all of this "creative accounting" is to do it an injustice. This is corruption, cynicism and greed on a scale that would make the Roman Emperor Caligula cringe. Or rather, the Emperor Nero. He didn’t just poison the citizens of Rome; legend has it that he burned the place down, fiddling around in the ashes, just like our Wall Street tycoons.

But since we know all this, why is it so hard to hold Wall Street accountable? Which brings us to what the Tea Party people should have been complaining about this week. The banking industry and corporate America are fighting against proposed financial reform with all the money and influence at their disposal, attempting to preserve a system that would enable them to ransack the country once again.

Look at Eric Lichtblau’s report this week, also in The New York Times, under the headline. "Lawmakers Regulate Banks, Then Flock to Them." The financial services industry has hired more than 125 former members of Congress and congressional staffers from both parties to help them fight off accountability.

No wonder, too, that this headline appeared in the Times this week: "GOP Takes Aim at Plans to Curb Finance Industry." That’s not surprising. Earlier this year Republican politicians told Wall Street: Give us the scratch and we’ll scrap reform.

The GOP’s SWAT team -- also known as the United States Chamber of Commerce -- has already spent three million dollars to try to kill or cripple a key part of reform -- the proposed new Consumer Financial Protection Agency. With the Chamber as their front, corporations have bankrolled ads that make it seem like the Red Army is at our doorsteps.

Advocates for reform have countered with ads of their own, but Democrats are deeply in hock to Wall Street, too. Remember the hedge fund Magnetar that bet against its own products? The owners covered their bets with ample campaign contributions to Rahm Emanuel. Yep, the same -- President Obama’s White House chief of staff. At the time he was an Illinois congressman and chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which collected millions of dollars from the financial services industry.

In fact, the website Politico.com reports that "the nation’s ten richest hedge fund managers have dumped nearly one million dollars into campaign accounts over the past several years... consumer advocates and critics from other financial sectors say hedge funds would get off pretty easily" under the Senate reform bill.

Bottom line: "The Wall Street banks are the new American oligarchy – a group that gains political power because of its economic power, and then uses that political power for its own benefit." So write Simon Johnson, former chief economist at the International Monetary Fund; and James Kwak, former management consultant and software entrepreneur, in their important new book, "13 Bankers: The Wall Street Takeover and the Next Financial Meltdown."

Their words of warning and the past year and a half make you realize that as usual, Thomas Jefferson, whose birthday we celebrate this week, had it right. Back in 1816, he wrote, "I sincerely believe... that banking establishments are more dangerous than standing armies."

Bill Moyers is managing editor and Michael Winship is senior writer of the weekly public affairs program Bill Moyers Journal, which airs Friday night on PBS. Check local airtimes or comment at The Moyers Blog at www.pbs.org/moyers.

Senior Executives at Goldman Had a Role in Mortgage Unit

Tensions were rising inside Goldman Sachs.

It was late 2006, and an argument had broken out inside the Wall Street bank’s prized mortgage unit — a dispute that would reach all the way up to the executive suite.

One camp of traders was insisting that the American housing market was safe. Another thought it was poised for collapse.

Among those who saw disaster looming were an effusive young Frenchman, Fabrice P. Tourre, and his quiet colleague, Jonathan M. Egol, the mastermind behind a series of mortgage deals known as the Abacus investments.

Their elite mortgage unit is now at the center of allegations that Goldman and Mr. Tourre, 31, defrauded investors with one of those complex deals.

The Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil fraud suit on Friday that essentially says that Goldman built the financial equivalent of a time bomb and then sold it to unwitting investors. Mr. Egol, 40, was not named in the S.E.C.’s suit.

Goldman has vowed to fight the S.E.C. But the allegations have left many on Wall Street wondering how far the investigation might spread inside Goldman and perhaps beyond.

Pressure on Goldman mounted on Sunday as two members of Congress and Gordon Brown, Britain’s prime minister, called for investigations into the bank’s role in the mortgage market. Germany also said it was considering legal action against the bank.

Mr. Tourre was the only person named in the S.E.C. suit. But according to interviews with eight former Goldman employees, senior bank executives played a pivotal role in overseeing the mortgage unit just as the housing market began to go south. These people spoke on the condition that they not be named so as not to jeopardize business relationships or to anger executives at Goldman, viewed as the most powerful bank on Wall Street.

According to these people, executives up to and including Lloyd C. Blankfein, the chairman and chief executive, took an active role in overseeing the mortgage unit as the tremors in the housing market began to reverberate through the nation’s economy. It was Goldman’s top leadership, these people say, that finally ended the dispute on the mortgage desk by siding with those who, like Mr. Tourre and Mr. Egol, believed home prices would decline.

Lucas van Praag, a Goldman spokesman, said that senior executives were not involved in approving the Abacus deals. He said that the executives had sought to balance Goldman’s positive bets on the mortgage market, rather than take an overall negative view.

Mr. Tourre, who now works for Goldman in London, declined to comment, as did Mr. Egol, Mr. van Praag said.

Mortgage specialists like those at Goldman were, in a sense, the mad scientists of the subprime era. They devised investments by bundling together bonds backed by home loans, a process that enabled mortgage lenders to make even more loans.

While this sort of financing helped make loans available, the most exotic creations also spread the growing risks inside the American housing market throughout the financial world. When the boom went bust, the results were disastrous.

By early 2007, Goldman’s mortgage unit had become a hive of intense activity. By then, the business had captured the attention of senior management. In addition to Mr. Blankfein, Gary D. Cohn, Goldman’s president, and David A. Viniar, the chief financial officer, visited the mortgage unit frequently, often for hours at a time.

Such high-level involvement was unusual elsewhere on Wall Street, where many executives spent little time learning the workings of their mortgage businesses or how those businesses might endanger their companies.

The decision to get rid of positive bets on mortgages turned out to be prescient. Unlike most other Wall Street banks, Goldman profited from its mortgage business as the housing bubble was inflating and then again when the bubble burst.

At the heart of all of this is the mortgage trading unit that, at its peak, employed several hundred people. As recently as 2007, Goldman’s mortgage division was split into 11 subgroups, each with a specialty, according to an internal Goldman document that was provided to The New York Times by a former employee.

Iceland volcano: Navy fleet to rescue stranded UK nationals, Gordon Brown says

Three Royal Navy ships will be deployed to ferry home British nationals stranded in Europe, Gordon Brown said, amid mounting criticism of the government’s handling of the Iceland volcano ash cloud crisis.

Link to this video

As forecasters warned the cloud from the Iceland volcano could prevent flights over Britain all week, government ministers denied they had been slow to act as calls intensified for the no fly ban to be lifted.

After a meeting of Cobra, the Government's emergency planning committee in Whitehall, the Prime Minister announced that HMS Ark Royal and HMS Ocean were being made available to help thousands of Britons stranded, most notably in France.

The Spanish government on Monday said its airports would be used to get 70,000 stranded Britons home around the ash cloud that has paralysed European air traffic.

In an attempt to address criticism that the Government has been slow to respond to the crisis, the Prime Minister also said the British government was examining the financial impact on airlines and associated companies of the closure of UK airspace.

The chaos caused by the eruption of an Icelandic volcano, now entering its fifth day, has left more than one million British travellers stranded abroad.

The unprecedented disruption to airline passengers has already cost the economy £500 million and is costing airlines worldwide £130 million a day.

The cloud of ash is expected to reach the eastern Canadian coast on Monday night and may not dissipate until Saturday.

Air traffic controllers have extended a ban on flights over Britain until 1am Tuesday at the earliest.

EU ministers were due to hold emergency talks later on Monday to try to find a European-wide solution to the crisis.

Mr Brown defended the continuing flight ban saying the safety of air passengers was "paramount" when dealing with crisis caused by the volcanic ash cloud.

“This is one the most serious transport disruptions that we have faced,” Mr Brown told reporters in London after the Cobra meeting.

“If thousands of people need to get home from America and from Asia, and the only way through is by plane to get to Spain and then use other forms of travel to get to Britain, then we will make it possible.

“Our first priority is to avoid the inconvenience being caused to thousands of people.”

He added that “the safety of air passengers is of paramount importance”.

Jose Blanco, the Spanish Transport Minister, was already working with the British government "to facilitate the 70,000 people from Britain who are in North America getting home through Spain".

"We are going to give as many flight authorisations as Spain is capable of handling," he told Spanish national radio.

Their comments came amid a torrent of criticisms from airlines, industry and travel groups and opposition parties about the comprehensive restrictions on flights across Europe resulting from volcanic ash floating over from Iceland.

Authorities were also criticised for imposing rules which were based on theory rather than practical evidence.

Giovanni Bisignani, director-general, the International Air Transport Association, the airlines' trade body was scathing about the European response to the ash cloud.

"This is a European embarrassment and it's a European mess,” he told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"This decision (to close airspace) has to be based on facts and supported by risk assessment. We need to replace this blanket approach with a practical approach."

Air traffic controllers have extended a ban on flights over Britain until 1am Tuesday at the earliest.

"Conditions around the movement of the layers of the volcanic ash cloud over the UK remain dynamic," said a spokesman for Nats, the air traffic control company.

"We are working closely with Government, airports and airlines, and airframe and aero engine manufacturers to get a better understanding of the effects of the ash cloud and to seek solutions."

Mr Brown defended the government, saying it was "a European-wide problem" that would need a European-wide solution.

Money, he said, should come from the European Solidarity Fund that could hopefully be used to help travellers and airlines.

“We are conscious that we will have to look at the financial position, not just of airlines, but associated companies,” Mr Brown told reporters in London.

“We’re looking at what we can do with this route through Madrid that may be something we can offer to airlines.”

While British airports remained closed on Monday several European airports opened including in Spain, Austria, Finland, Bosnia and Italy.

Dutch airports are due to reopen airspace on Monday morning while Germany will reopen this afternoon after opening 6 airports.

Airlines including Lufthansa, Air France and KLM joined BA in suggesting it may be safe for European governments to end the unprecedented closure of the region’s airspace.

European air control authorities have admitted that they have interpreted international guidelines “more rigorously” than US.

Lord Adonis, the Transport Secretary, said the Government was following international safety standards in deciding whether flights could go ahead and was working with the Met Office in an attempt to identify "safe routes" for flights.

On Sunday Willie Walsh, BA’s chief executive, joined four crew in a three-hour test flight from London, over the Atlantic, to Cardiff.

The flight, which took the aircraft out over the Atlantic Ocean, lasted two hours and 46 minutes with flying conditions described as “perfect”.