TLP: ABC News Wants You to Know it is Not a Pimp Anymore

abc pimp
Note to the next woman who has sleazy photos of a congressional wiener or a mother who has photos and videos of a child she's accused of killing: shop them somewhere other than ABC.

The Huffington Post:
ABC is ending its controversial practice of paying subjects so-called "licensing fees" for photos and videos in exchange for exclusive interviews.

According to the Daily Beast, ABC News president Ben Sherwood made the call to stop paying licensing fees to interview subjects because "whenever ABC landed a high-level booking, questions were raised about whether money had changed hands." Such was the case when Good Morning America's Robin Roberts interviewed the hotel maid who accused Dominique Strauss-Kahn of sexual assault, even though ABC did not pay her anything.

Though American networks forbid paying for interviews, paying subjects for photos and videos has been another way of getting subjects to cooperate -- a practice that is seen by some as unethical.
Of course, paying people to blather on uncontrollably is known as MSNBC.

Everyone But the Rating Agencies Knows the U.S. Has Already Lost Its AAA Rating




This is from Jim Rogers' wise mouth:

“Everyone already knows that the U.S. has lost its AAA status,” Rogers said. “Anyone who knows what is going on, already knows that the U.S. is now the biggest debtor nation in the history of the world. It’s only S&P and Moody’s that haven’t figured out what is going on. The investment world knows that the U.S. is not AAA.”

Anyone feel like writing a memo?

America Has Spoken


I really have nothing to add at this time.

TLP: If All You Want To Do Is Get Noticed, Then This Might Work


We here at Jr Deputy Accountant have nothing against attention whores. Obviously. But there's a way to do that. And this is not it.

The Huffington Post:
Former MSNBC host Cenk Uygur appeared on "Countdown with Keith Olbermann" on Thursday night to talk about his departure from the network.

Uygur told viewers of his online talk show "The Young Turks" that MSNBC management had asked him to tone it down following concern from "people in Washington." The network has since denied trying to control the tone or content of Uygur's show. MSNBC president Phil Griffin said that "people in Washington" referred to MSNBC producers who had said that Uygur’s aggressive body language and demeanor were making it harder to book guests. ...

Uygur insisted that his decision to leave MSNBC (he turned down an offer for a weekend show) and his remarks about the network were "not personal," but called out the media and the press in general, for "trading honesty and truth and information that we're supposed to gather, for access."
Olbermann was happy to let Uygur vent. Glenn Beck chimed in, taking his side. And by the weekend, Uygur was singing his song to Howie Kurtz on CNN.

One thing's for sure: more people have heard of Cenk Uygur for not getting hired by MSNBC than even knew he was on teevee.

Our Afghanistan Strategy: Sh*tloads of Cash


move along, nothing to see here

And there was someone out there who somehow didn't believe this is what was happening? I'm confused by this (via the Post):

Military-led probe cites "credible evidence" that U.S. taxpayer money has been indirectly funneled to the Taliban under a $2.16 billion transportation contract that the United States has funded in part to promote Afghan businesses.

The unreleased investigation provides definitive evidence that corruption puts U.S. transportation money into enemy hands, a finding consistent with previous inquiries carried out by Congress, other federal agencies and the military. Yet U.S. and Afghan efforts to address the problem have been slow and ineffective, and all eight of the trucking firms involved in the work remain on U.S. payroll. In March, the Pentagon extended the contract for six months.

Think about this one, from a strictly national security perspective: If we're putting cash (FRNs, bitch) into Afghanistan (and trust me, we are, like trying to build a $1 million TV studio to live-stream updates from the frontlines to CNN - genius!), who supplies us that cash? An independent, third party called the Federal Reserve.

And if you dare go looking deeper at the "bails of $100s" being pumped out of this independent third party, you could get fired, shunned and/or otherwise targeted. Or just stalked obsessively.

Or put on some sort of master "watch" spreadsheet. All the same.

I think it is important to define "waste" in the context of Reuters saying "U.S. wastes $34 billion in Afghan and Iraq contracting," that all depends on what you consider waste. In my mind, the U.S. dollar is to the Fed as fluoride is to fertilizer companies; it is their waste byproduct, the monetary pollution we try to pawn off as "beneficial." That's why we need everyone else to buy it (the more we can get rid of, the better) and why Congressional rats are scrambling to get authorization for another couple trillion in "byproduct" so they can, somehow, promise other economies that at some point they'll stop dumping their toxic dollars on their these other economies' shores.

Maybe it's anti-American of me to expose this really simple scam but I'm one of those nutjobs who believes the sooner we get this massive kink worked out, the better off we will be.

Conservative Texas Group Vaporized From Twitter For No Reason


Empower Texans has been scrubbed from Twitter and, so far, have no idea what they did to deserve that sort of treatment.

Without warning or notification, social media mini-blog site Twitter on Monday simultaneously "suspended" the main Empower Texans feed along with the personal accounts of all staff.

It is unsettling, to say the least, given the way the entity sells itself as a great equalizer for personal and public discourse.

The Empower Texans team has never knowingly violated Twitter Rules, and have yet to receive any official notice or clarification of the action. Furthermore, a simple examination of our accounts clearly shows the Empower Texans team have not run afoul of Twitter's guidelines.

Twitter, which offers no phone numbers [n]or the ability to appeal a decision directly, has been notified through their process of this issue, and the necessary appeals have been submitted online. But, again, we have received no information from Twitter.

RedState had this to say:

I have long considered Empower Texans to be the most important and effective state level conservative grassroots organization in the country. These people are not just respected in Texas; they are feared. It is an awesome thing to behold.

Michael Quinn Sullivan and company do excellent work educating Texans on the men who go to Austin claiming to be conservatives only to turn left out of the eyes of their constituents.

And they use Twitter as part of their communication strategy. In fact, twitter is a key component of their outreach. Or at least it was.

Today, Twitter not only shut down the Empower Texans twitter feed, but it also shut down the twitter feeds of every individual who works for Empower Texans.

There could be a simple, innocuous explanation such as hacking or simple operating error (err) or there could be something nefarious afoot. Without a statement from Twitter, it's impossible to say. I'm sure there are plenty who are happy to chalk this one up to the vast left-wing conspiracy to silence its conservative critics but I just don't see it. Twitter has got to be smarter than that.

Ron Paul On Debt


pic credit: Dan Lacey

Sometimes you don't have to put on a show:

I have never voted to raise the federal debt limit, and I have no doubt that we face financial collapse and ruin if we continue to grow our debt. We need to make major spending cuts now, in this budget, and we can no longer afford to allow more deficit spending based on promises of future cuts.

Bear With Me, I'm Moving

Perhaps you all have noticed I've been suspiciously silent in the last few days, rest assured the Fed black helicopters haven't yet descended upon me to silence my filthy mouth.

I've been busy moving into a fantastic new condo in SE DC. It's the only part of town I could afford to live in without mortgaging off a kidney and my second born child, and nowhere else in DC would I get free off-street parking included in my rent. In other words, it's bad out there, and that's what happens when you artificially inflate an area economy by being the only industry (government) creating plenty of new jobs in the nation.

Here's what I've been up to since Friday:

 Mmmm, Oz!
Scoping out our awesome tub


 BooBoo needed a nap, watching me work is tiring

The chillax section
I'm concerned my cat may have a drinking problem


Anyway, the Comcast folks are due to swing by the new house tonight and hook up my Internet, at which time I will back in business kicking ass and taking names.

If I owe you a Stop Bernanke sticker, I will get that out to you as soon as I figure out which box they are packed away in.

See you kids on the other side!

TLP: Can't Blame Hooters For This

hooters legislator
The Tennessee legislator who used to be a Hooters girl has had to explain some bad behavior. And it has nothing to do with orange shorts and bulging owl eyes.

Knoxville News Sentinel:
Yes, she carved her initials in her desk on the floor of the state House, state Rep. Julia Hurley, R-Lenoir City, confirmed today.

“It was like 1 in the morning on the last day of the session,” Hurley said of that late-night session in May. “I wasn’t thinking straight.”

Hurley was responding to a recent report on a Nashville television station about the incident. The station reported several other desks also have marks on them, ranging from initials to a dollar sign.

Hurley, 29, said she doesn’t remember what she used to carve her initials — J.C.H. — on the desk as she and other representatives waited on the state senate to adjourn.

“To ask me details about what happened three months ago, I couldn’t tell you,” the first-term lawmaker said. “I don’t understand why it’s news, and I don’t want to talk about the desk.”
Boo hoo. Last winter, Hurley wrote in the Hooters company magazine about what her time taking wings orders and deflecting leering pervs had meant to her development as a public servant. "I know that without that time in my life I would not be as strong-willed and eager to become successful," she wrote.

Guess it must be pretty easy to tell which tables Hurley waited on.

Here's Why There's Still Hope to Beat China

Remember the thing about how the kids from China were kicking our asses in science?


Apparently, the above PS3 controller is a bootleg. Someone ordered a bunch of them from a sketchy website and decided to complain about it when they opened them up and saw obviously fake guts. If you look at the listing, they look a lot like the PS3 controller we all have sitting in our homes right now (well, some of us have custom PS3 controllers... hit me up if you'd like to commission a JDA original, I'm feeling creative). Except they aren't. (I won't link directly as I don't want to promote this bullshit)

A sucker who fell for it writes the following on a forum:

yes i know im stupid for thinking i could get branded goods from dhgate but i chanced it, i know it doesnt say its sony but surley they cannot have pictures showing the sony logo

i ordered 20 controller they came the other day really quick actually, i opened the package and at first thought they were great the looks and feel was spot on, however i fit the controller with rapidfire kits so i have to open up the controllers

i opened the controller to find a board totally different to what i normally come across i knew it was a total fake and super BAD quality a total bodge.

We shouldn't fear the Chinese as they've become copycats (shame, these are the folks that brought us ice cream, gunpowder, fireworks and noodles). Until they can innovate and stop bootlegging crap that we then pay them to ship back to us, we're fine.

Psst, Bernanke, print faster.

TLP: Damnit, This Lazy Stuff is Supposed to Be My Gig

lazy
For those of you too lazy to read or watch the news yourself, The Huffington Post now does it for you. I'm a lazy motherfucker and I can't figure out why this makes sense.

The Huffington Post:
The White House will pay more than $37 million in salaries for 454 employees in 2011, according to an annual report issued by the Obama administration on Friday. See which of President Obama's staffers are making the most.
And then there's a video in which some HuffPost reporter (?) recaps how other media outlets covered the story. No link to the actual White House document, nor even to what the other media put out there.

Oh well, who am I to complain about laziness. Watch it if you're feeling that way, too.











The Government Says Pot Is as Bad as Heroin



Listen, Betty Ford is dead and Nancy Reagan isn't that far behind her, not to be rude but let's be realistic about it (too soon?), she's old.

Kids who grew up in the 80s learning to "Just Say No!" are the ones who are now professionals that utilize medical marijuana. If municipalities and states are smart, they tax it. It's a fucking recreational revenue stream that the government refuses to acknowledge while it fights this made up war on drugs that failed 40 years ago when it began.

Kids who grew up in the 80s aren't the only ones taking advantage of this new (or maybe "recycled") view on marijuana. Well, that includes everyone except the federal government, that is. Funny because a reasonable person would think they would want to make money instead of pouring tons of it into this imaginary black hole.

It's over. So why is the government still fighting it instead of embracing this ridiculously awesome, harm-reducing potential revenue stream?

HuffPo:

The federal government ruled on Friday that marijuana has no accepted medical use and should remain in the same class of drugs as heroin.

The decision comes nearly nine years after marijuana supporters asked the government to reclassify the drug to take into account the growing body of research conducted across the globe that proves it's effective in treating certain diseases, reports The Los Angeles Times.

Do you really want a group that considers pot to be the same as heroin also running your finances and using your credit to fund coming to idiotic conclusions like this?

Who just walks up to you and offers you 'ludes?


The funny part is the big alcohol and tobacco companies that market piss beer to stupid Americans funded a lot of these anti-drug campaigns, further proof that they tried to brainwash us so we'd actually get hooked on Budweiser. Are you serious?! The Partnership for a Drug-Free America - which still runs PSAs on teevee (like this classic) - received several million from American Brands (Jim Beam), Philip Morris, R.J. Reynolds, Anheuser Busch, pharmaceutical firms Bristol Meyers-Squibb, Merck & Company and Procter & Gamble up until 1997

It makes you wonder whose best interests the government has in mind.

Nowadays, the pharmaceutical companies still fund the Partnership for a Drug-Free America (cute, I know).

Can we stop this nonsense already and make some fucking money? Budget problem solved. You're welcome, America. Call that one a freebie, Obama.

Related: How a big US bank laundered billions from Mexico's murderous drug gangs

Amazing Fraud: Ohio Woman (Allegedly) Steals a $110,000 Tank of Bull Semen to Extort Her Boss


OK, seriously, we have officially lost our minds as a society. First of all, how the fuck do you lift a tank of bull nut and why on Earth did this woman think this plan of hers was going to work?

An Ohio woman stole a valuable container of frozen bull semen from her former employer and planned to use the pilfered seed to extort her ex-boss, prosecutors charged.

But suspect Karen Saum pleaded not guilty in a Springfield court on Tuesday to stealing a tank containing $110,000 of cattle sperm from Genetic Connections, which specializes in veterinary artificial insemination, TV station WHIO reported.

Authorities alleged that Saum, 45, was going to ransom the frozen semen in exchange for help starting a business.

Here's the very best part of this fraud, police said the woman used her knowledge of Genetic Connections' layout to "steal some of the most valuable bodily fluids on the premises." None of this second rate baby bull juice, she went straight for the good stuff.

"She knew where this semen would have been located," Det. James Hollopeter said, WHIO reported. "It was actually locked in an interior closet because it was more valuable that some of the other that they had out."

Obviously Genetic Connections needs to work on its internal controls, perhaps by installing a second locking mechanism on the good bull drippings storage room.

What was the threat here? "Gimme money or the sperm gets it!"?

Fun, somewhat related fact: during the Bushy Jr years, the United States exported $12.6 million worth of bull semen to Iran. Maybe they were using it to advance their weapons program. No one wants to get hit with a 20 gauge buckshot and bull nut blast.

Goldman Sachs Loves Dirty Fed Money


Now it is painfully clear why Fed officials and filthy banksters didn't want anyone knowing who was lending what to whom. Too bad, now we know.

The NYT reports:

A unit of Goldman Sachs took the biggest single loan from a Federal Reserve lending program whose details have been secret until now.

The Goldman Sachs unit borrowed $15 billion from the Federal Reserve on Dec. 9, 2008, the Fed said in data released on Wednesday. The Fed made 28-day loans from March 7, 2008, to Dec. 30, 2008, as part of an $80 billion initiative, the central bank said. The information was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Bloomberg News.

Think about this... The Fed does this all the time (though probably not to such extremes as in 2008) and we never hear about it. No, wait, we are not allowed to hear about it and it takes an act of the Supreme Court to get just this little bit of info.

Finally, Someone Created a System to Vote for Financial Blogs You Like

on my way to Washington DC to move in by Election Day

Mindful Money (the same folks who brought you the Social Finance: The New Influentials) has come out with a new guide to financial blogs, which you can find here. I don't simply share it because I'm on it, obviously. That'd be horribly narcissistic.

The mission statement reads something like this:

There are so many great finance blogs out there it’s hard to know where to start, or where to actually find them all. Finance Blogs is an attempt to create a comprehensive listings site for anyone looking for financial information online. So far we’ve categorized over 380 blogs.

But creating a resource is one thing, making that content truly useful is another entirely and that’s not something we can do on our own. So we’ve added a comment section to each listing and hope you’ll share your thoughts and experiences on the blogs that you read, what you like about them, what you learn etc. We think it’ll help other readers discover new and interesting blogs.

You can also vote for your favourite blog and the most popular will find it’s way into the ‘most recommended’ blogs in the sidebar. What we hope will become a quick snapshot of which blogs are popular at the moment. This site will evolve over time, hopefully including interviews with the key players in the blogosphere, amongst other features. Finance Blogs is in Beta, so we know there are probably blogs that we’ve missed, just tell us at admin@financeblogs.co.uk and we’ll include them as soon as possible.

The cool part is that you don't have to register to vote, so if, say, you wanted to vote for Jr Deputy Accountant, you could do that here (and she'd love it if you would). You'll also find other familiar favorites of both yours and mine like Financial Armageddon, Zero Hedge and The Reformed Broker, so you can easily vote without signing in and/or leave gushing commentary with Disqus.

Current listings are divided by category from chart porn to commentary, forecasting to tax, it's all sorted out for you.

We're happy to see Joe Kristan made the tax list, he's a must read on the subject. However, we have a few additional suggestions for Mindful Money's list, including but not limited to Taxgirl (now writing for Forbes), Don't Mess with Taxes and the Tax Lawyer's Blog. There are many more, I'm sure I missed plenty.

[Shameless self-promotion] Not to mention the fact that they totally missed Going Concern, which is a financial site in that it covers what's important among those who tick and tie their way through the financial statements. Hopefully Mindful Money can get on adding that, and I don't just say that because writing for them covers at least part of my ever-increasing COL allowance.

Seriously, take two seconds and vote for me, I can't let Felix Salmon slaughter me at my own game.

Congrats to Mindful Money on yet another excellent project.

LandAmerica Victims Sue the Crap Out of LandAm's Former Execs




Hey! Anyone out there remember LandAmerica? I know at least two people who do; one is a LandAmerica 1031 exchange victim still waiting for justice to be served while the other is now serving as senior VP and general counsel at the Richmond Fed.

Turns out the sad, twisted tale of LandAmerica didn't end with bankruptcy (but we knew that). The bankruptcy trustee has filed a lawsuit in Virginia on behalf of the victims seeking $365 million in damages. The suit was filed last month in Richmond and alleges that LandAmerica executives breached their fiduciary duty of care when they put client money into auction-rate securities, money that was later vaporized when the ARS market seized up in February of 2008.


Among the defendants are former LandAm CEO Theodore Chandler and former chief legal officer (now advising the Richmond Fed) Michelle Gluck.

LandAmerica execs' lawyers Saul Pilchen of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom and Scott Fredericksen of Foley & Lardner told Richmond BizSense that the lawsuit is BS.

“The LFG Trustee’s complaint seeks unfairly and inappropriately to judge the conduct of our clients with the benefit of hindsight, and turns a blind eye toward much of what actually occurred,” they said.

“The named LFG officers and directors acted in complete and informed good faith, served the best interests of shareholders and customers, and exercised prudent and well-informed business judgment throughout the process.”

You can find the suit in its entirety below for your reading pleasure:

Lfg Trust Civil Lawsuit

What Happens When Your Food Gets Industrialized



Drink Silk soy? I have. Notice how difficult it is to find a reference to being organic or non-GMO (except for a blurb on the back)?

It also rips off American farmers:

According to the USDA’s report U.S. organic soybean production started declining several years ago despite steeply increasing demand for organic feed grains and consumer products such as soymilk. “As the number of organic soybean producers has increased worldwide, U.S. producers have faced increased competition for the domestic market,” concludes Catherine Greene, USDA economist and lead author of the USDA report.

Cornucopia contends that the purported shortage of organic soybeans in the United States is not a legitimate excuse for companies to import cheap crops from China or abandon organic ingredient sourcing altogether. “Our research reveals that there are many highly committed organic companies that are offering products made with American-grown soybeans,” says Vallaeys. Examples are Eden Foods, which continues its long-standing relationships with domestic farmers who grow organic soybeans, and new market players like Vermont Soy that are actively engaged in recruiting existing local organic farmers to grow soybeans.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are companies like Dean Foods, a leading agribusiness involved mainly in dairy, which markets Silk soymilk. When Dean Foods first acquired the Silk brand, American farmers were eager to ramp up domestic production of organic soybeans for their soymilk. According to Cornucopia’s report, Dean Foods quickly dashed their hopes, telling multiple midwestern farmers and farmer cooperatives that they had to match the rock-bottom prices of Chinese organic soybeans—a price they simply could not meet. So Dean Foods bought Chinese soybeans for years, building its commanding industry market share, before substantially decreasing its support of organic agriculture altogether. Today, few Silk products are certified organic and some are even processed with toxic chemicals and labeled “natural”

Well that's really comforting.

I recently gave up cow's milk (not cheese, that's considered a Class A Sin by Wisconsinites) for soy milk, preferring something a tad more natural than artificial hormones and a dairy product my adult body doesn't actually require to thrive and survive. I knew 90% of American soybeans are GMO, so it did seem a bit suspect that Silk could somehow dig up the other 10% to bring me vanillay yummies every morning.

Now I know.

Is nothing sacred?!

British PM's Former Communications Director Arrested in Connection With News of the World Investigation


Have you heard? Murdoch's killing News of the World. Too bad that isn't going to stop the investigation into its sketchy practices.

Via Fox Business:

British Prime Minister David Cameron's former communications director, Andy Coulson, has been arrested in London in connection with the phone-hacking scandal that has engulfed News Corp. and led to the closure of its popular U.K. newspaper News of the World, according to a Wall Street Journal report Friday, citing a person familiar with the matter.

Coulson was the editor of News of the World during the 2003 to 2007 period when the tabloid's royal correspondent and a private investigator were found guilty of illegally intercepting phone messages belonging to the royal family.

News of the World's front page currently features pics of a guy with a beaten face, a tot conceived by IVF paid for by the government health service and some dude getting pants on a yacht. We'll miss the high quality publication, that's for sure.

Oh Sh*t, Our Plan to Release Oil Didn't Work




Reuters:

Brent crude edged up on Wednesday, rising for a second straight session on expectations of higher demand in the months ahead and tighter U.S. inventories, but concerns about moderating economic growth in China and euro zone debt woes kept a lid on gains.

ICE Brent crude climbed 27 cents to $113.88 a barrel by 10 p.m. EDT. The benchmark rose more than $2 on Tuesday, its first gain in three sessions. U.S. crude was at $97.39 a barrel, up 50 cents.

Wait! Didn't we just say we'd get all our homies to release some oil?? What happened to that plan?

ConocoPhillips Trashes Northern China with an Oil Spill



China Daily shares this via Xinhua (state media... like ABC, CBS, etc...):

China's State Oceanic Administration (SOA) said Tuesday that US energy giant ConocoPhillips is responsible for an oil spill in the country's northern sea area.

The leak, which took place last month at the Penglai 19-3 oilfield in Bohai Bay, has polluted an area of 840 square kilometers, causing "a certain level" of damage to the nearby oceanic environment, said the administration.

The field is being mined by ConocoPhillips China (COPC), a subsidiary company under ConocoPhillips, under a joint development agreement with the China National Offshore Oil Corporation, the country's largest offshore oil producer.

ConocoPhillips has also teamed up with Karoon Gas Australia Ltd. to drill 350 kilometers off the northwest coast in Australia at Browse Basin.

There's no such thing as free.

Homeless Kids Line the Road to Disney World




The headline CBS choose is a tad strong, these kids live in a motel, to me that makes them not homeless. But still a striking sight:



Throughout all of this, I have been grateful to be in a situation where I can not only walk away from a job I hate but find a new one in less than 24 hours. For those who say jobs aren't out there, maybe you just aren't looking hard enough, or aren't willing to sacrifice a bit to find one.

TLP: Even if You Are Paranoid, They Could Really Be Spying on You

hemingway
The other day marked 50 years since Ernest Hemingway killed himself with a shotgun. As a sort of tribute, his friend and collaborator A.E. Hotchner wrote an op-ed for The New York Times, making the argument that the suicide was at least partly the result of paranoia and depression that Hemingway blamed on FBI surveillance.

The whole column is worth a read. Hotchner writes that in the last year of Hemingway's life, working on a contract story from Life magazine left him aggravated to the point of exhaustion, which Hotchner figured would be cured by rest.
In November I went out West for our annual pheasant shoot and realized how wrong I was. When Ernest and our friend Duke MacMullen met my train at Shoshone, Idaho, for the drive to Ketchum, we did not stop at the bar opposite the station as we usually did because Ernest was anxious to get on the road. I asked why the hurry.

“The feds.”

“What?”

“They tailed us all the way. Ask Duke.”

“Well ... there was a car back of us out of Hailey.”

“Why are F.B.I. agents pursuing you?” I asked.

“It’s the worst hell. The goddamnedest hell. They’ve bugged everything. That’s why we’re using Duke’s car. Mine’s bugged. Everything’s bugged. Can’t use the phone. Mail intercepted.”

We rode for miles in silence. As we turned into Ketchum, Ernest said quietly: “Duke, pull over. Cut your lights.” He peered across the street at a bank. Two men were working inside. “What is it?” I asked.

“Auditors. The F.B.I.’s got them going over my account.”

“But how do you know?”

“Why would two auditors be working in the middle of the night? Of course it’s my account.”

All his friends were worried: he had changed; he was depressed; he wouldn’t hunt; he looked bad.
Hospitalizations, electric shock treatments and suicide attempts followed in the months before Hemingway finally took his favorite shotgun and succeeded in the task. Decades later, Hotchner writes, the public release of the FBI Hemingway file revealed 20 years of surveillance, including the phone taps he'd suspected.
In the years since, I have tried to reconcile Ernest’s fear of the F.B.I., which I regretfully misjudged, with the reality of the F.B.I. file. I now believe he truly sensed the surveillance, and that it substantially contributed to his anguish and his suicide.
It's no secret that writers are considered to be dangerous. Ask Václav Havel. Or Solzhenitsyn. Or Salman Rushdie. Read about some of Hunter S. Thompson's exploits and where he ended up.

I'm not usually one to sport a tin foil hat. And neither is Hotchner. His other claim to fame is making popcorn and salad dressing with Paul Newman to raise money for charity. But people get nervous when they're talked about. And that can lead to strange places.

That Reminds Me, I Need to Short Some Treasurys


pic credit: RS Janes

h/t Mark Gongloff via Twitter

Eric Cantor reminds me a lot of my creepy neighbor who lived in our apartment complex when I was in middle school, whose name also happened to be Eric. He drove a Grand Am so I thought he was cool (forgive me, I was 12) but he was also really sleazy in that "get away from my daughter" sort of way. You could never really identify what it was about him that was so creepy, and girls maybe fell for it but he was the kind of guy who had no game so he'd run it on 12 year olds just to feel better about the fact that girls his own age wouldn't give him the time of day. Even at 12 I knew what a creep was.

At 30, I definitely know a creep when I see one.

Speaking of, why isn't the MSM all over this like my creepy neighbor on my 12 year old tail?

Salon:

Last year the Wall Street Journal reported that Cantor, the No. 2 Republican in the House, had between $1,000 and $15,000 invested in ProShares Trust Ultrashort 20+ Year Treasury EFT. The fund aggressively "shorts" long-term U.S. Treasury bonds, meaning that it performs well when U.S. debt is undesirable. (A short is when the trader hopes to profit from the decline in the value of an asset.)

According to his latest financial disclosure statement, which covers the year 2010 and has been publicly available since this spring, Cantor still has up to $15,000 in the same fund. Contacted by Salon this week, Cantor's office gave no indication that the Virginia Republican, who has played a leading role in the debt ceiling negotiations, has divested himself of these holdings since his last filing. Unless an agreement can be reached, the U.S. could begin defaulting on its debt payments on Aug. 2. If that happens and Cantor is still invested in the fund, the value of his holdings would skyrocket.

"If the debt ceiling isn’t raised, investors would start fleeing U.S. Treasuries," said Matt Koppenheffer, who writes for the investment website the Motley Fool. "Yields would rise, prices would fall, and the Proshares ETF should do very well. It would spike."

Listen, we're talking a 20 year Treasury ETF. Even the most bearish of government debt bears (*coughmecough*) can't possibly believe we won't have it figured out in 20 years time. If this were a 2 year fund it might be a different story but the Chinese will always need to park their dollars so long as we keep buying their crap and I just don't see it.

TBT is up 2.12% from last year. Whoopie ding dong. Someone call me when it's up 1000%.

Still, this is pretty sketchy. Like I said, I know a big fat weird creepazoid when I see one. But if this comes as a surprise to anyone (I know, we're getting jaded here), those folks obviously aren't paying attention. And? And did you guys also know we get all our Treasury guys from Goldman Sachs?! OMG! Shocked, I tell you!

Remember, kids, we're talking about a dual citizen of Israel and the U.S. here who once vowed that he and his GOP colleagues would protect and defend Israeli interests against his own Government and who also happens to be a Congressman, and a powerful one at that. Is anyone - and I mean anyone - surprised by this?

Answering the Question "Is BB&T a Good Bank?" Part 2



About a year ago, I answered a random Googler who somehow landed on JDA trying to find out if BB&T (based in Winston-Salem, NC and all over the place out here in the Capital Wasteland) is a good bank, actually asking the Internet "Is BB&T a good bank?" At the time, I still lived in San Francisco and was quite happy with the evil bastards at Chase, who to this day have never committed the egregious sin of fucking with my money. Once Chase even rearranged my credits and debits to avoid overdrafting me, how sweet is that? I don't agree with how they post a $2 non-Chase ATM fee as a separate line item (dinging you twice if you overdraft, which I generally don't since I'm somewhat able to add and subtract) but whatever, they need to make their money.

Anyway, when I moved here to the DC metro, I learned there was no Chase within at least 200 miles if not more, and certainly no Chase bank in Maryland. Bummer. So I opened an account with BB&T. They were not quite TBTF and I was attracted to the libertarian ideals of former CEO John Allison. There was a branch just down the street from my house and with ATMs all over the place, no need to worry about ATM fees.

Up until now, I've had no major problems with BB&T. Their ATMs are antiques and while they installed a new, "modern" ATM at my local branch that can take check deposits a few months back, you still have to use an envelope. Unlike Chase, which uses advanced TBTF check-scanning technology to scan the check, credit as much as it wants to your account (the longer I was with them, the more it would be and checks would always clear the following morning), and even print a copy of the check on your receipt. BB&T is in the dark ages but hey, they didn't buy Bear Stearns at a firesale discount either.

Their online banking sucks (it will make you have AOL circa 1995 flashbacks), so I have to watch my balance more carefully than I did at Chase (Jamie Dimon must personally count my money himself or something, debits are posted just seconds after I make them). If I make several transactions in a day through BB&T, I just see a big chunk of money as "pending" and can never really trust my balance as they're slow to actually post transactions. Posted balance and available balance are two different things, and the formula never really makes sense. But that's where being a responsible adult and balancing my own checkbook comes in, can't blame it all on the big evil bank.

As of this morning, however, I'm a dissatisfied (soon to be former) BB&T customer. Let me tell you why.

On Wednesday, I deposited a (large) check at the ATM after the daily cutoff (something like 3pm). I expected BB&T to hold this check (if for no reason than I'm usually fabulously broke and the check was not from my employer, which they are familiar with, so it was an unusual transaction all around) but was delighted the next day when I checked my balance and saw the entirety had been posted to my account. Posted as in there it is, I can see it, I can cash it out and swim around in dirty piles of FRNs if I want, awesome!

Two days later, I deposited a second (not as large but still large by my broke ass standards) check at the ATM, again after the cutoff. $100 was credited to my account as usual and as this was a Friday, I expected them to hold it until at least Tuesday (given that Monday is a holiday) and was totally OK with that. Meanwhile, the big check money was still there, charming me with its pretty zeros. Hello, beautiful, wanna go buy some stuff?

So you can imagine my horror when I texted BB&T for my balance this morning (just for kicks) and saw several thousand dollars VANISHED from my account.

Apparently two days after the check made its way into the ATM, the BB&T teller at my branch who processed it decided to put a hold on the funds that they already credited to me. I would have been fine with an automatic hold but this money went INTO my account and THEN was taken away. Here I've been spending money assuming it is there only to discover on a Saturday that my money (MY MONEY, not theirs) is now being held hostage over the holiday weekend. And that doesn't take into account the additional amount they decided to hold until next week. Just for kicks I guess.

I'm in the process of moving to a new condo, thank God I don't meet with the owners until later next week to pay my security deposit and first month's rent. And here I almost went and picked out my furniture, thinking (mistakenly) that the money my bank told me was there was there. The nerve!

It's funny because looking back, the Bank Tracker comment I reposted last year about BB&T describes my issue perfectly, minus the part about the overdrafts:

I have been a customer with BB&T for over three years now and I must say that I have never been treated as poorly as I have lately by them. I entered a deposit. A deposit cleared the same day as an automatic payment that I set up. The funny thing is that despite the deposit having posted in full to my account, I was told that the check had a hold on it and the payment therefore over drafted my account. Not only did they charge an overdraft fee on that transaction, they charged 9 of them. This bank is a complete rip off. Local banks definitely care about their customers far more than big banks. Give them a try instead of these scamming, conniving thieves.

Thankfully I didn't run out and buy a bunch of big screen TVs yesterday or I'd be in the same situation this morning.

Bank Tracker gives BB&T 2 out of 5 stars and I have to say I agree. I find it hard to believe that a bank actually thinks this is a reasonable way to conduct business.

As for JDA, I'll be conducting my business right the fuck out of BB&T and taking my zeros with me. Fractionally reserve this, assholes. Oh, and I'm filing a complaint with the Maryland Office of the Commissioner of Financial Regulation and my friends at the Federal Reserve. Let's see if they earn the 4% inflation they take out of my ass every year by doing something about this bank.

Oh, and don't miss the fabulously hilarious ATM ad I took a pic of yesterday. Sure about that? This behavior tells me otherwise, BB&T.

TLP: Ohio Lawmakers Can Now Blame Everything on Being Drunk

statehouse bar
If you've ever spent any time around your state legislators, you can see this is a win-win.

The Columbus Dispatch:
Liquor and law will mix at the Statehouse beginning later this month.

The first full-service bar will appear at the Statehouse on July 11 when the reinvented Capitol Cafe reopens in the lower level of the landmark state building. The cafe is closed for 10 days to accommodate a change in operators, to Milo's Catering and Banquet Services from Catering by Design.

The big change will be the addition of a full-service bar, "complete with flat screen televisions," according to the Capitol Square Review and Advisory Board, the state agency responsible for the Statehouse and grounds. The bar will host special events and "private happy hours," but it also will be open to the public at times to be designated.
Sounds like a real time-saver. They can go get liquored up with lobbyists, reporters, hookers – whomever, no judging – right there in the statehouse. Even legitimate constituent interactions would likely be smoother if conducted over a cocktail. And who wouldn't rather see legislative disagreements settled in a bar fight rather than a tedious committee meeting?

Are you paying attention, Congress?

Chinese Officials Get Embarrassed By Really Bad Photoshopped Photo of Street Inspection



See? This is why I only Photoshop obvious Photoshops, lest I be accused of trying to fake, say, dollar bills coming out of Ben Bernanke's ass. I mean look at it!

Officials in rural Huili (south-west China) have found themselves having to explain the above shot, which very clearly shows three dudes floating above the street. I mean if you're going to do it, at least try.

The Guardian:

The saga began on Monday when Huili's website published a picture showing, according to the accompanying story, three local officials inspecting a newly completed road construction project this month. The picture certainly portrayed the men, and the road, but the officials appeared to be levitating several inches above the tarmac. As photographic fakery goes it was astonishingly clumsy.

The outraged – or amused – calls began to the county's PR department, which immediately apologised and withdrew the image. The explanation was almost as curious as the picture itself: as other photos showed, the three men did visit the road in question, but an unnamed photographer decided his original pictures were not suitably impressive and decided to stitch two together.

"A government employee posted the edited picture out of error... The county government understands the wide attention, and hope to apologise for and clarify the matter," a Huili official told the state-run Xinhua news agency.

As always, the Internet does not disappoint. In a matter of hours, other ridiculous Photoshop creations appeared showing the government officials from Huili in all sorts of interesting positions, such as:


credit: tt.mop.com

and, my personal favorite:



Oh and here's a bonus, barely SFW one.

God bless you, Internet.

Now That Strauss-Kahn is Out of the Way, Sexual Assault Case Looks Weak


Just days after French finance minister Christine Lagarde was chosen as the new head of the IMF, now comes news that the case against DSK may not be as cut and dry as first suspected.

Gee, that's not at all sketchy.

The Guardian reports
:

The prosecution case against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund and French presidential hopeful accused of sexually assaulting a hotel maid, is close to collapse, according to the New York Times.

The newspaper reports that significant problems have emerged with the case against the former IMF boss that could see the conditions of his house arrest in New York being relaxed with immediate effect.

Based on interviews with two unnamed law enforcement officers, it says that "major holes" in the case will be admitted to a federal criminal court in Manhattan as early as Friday. New York Police Department had no comment last night.

NYT has some comments straight from court.

It would be really funny if it weren't so sad. I'm still curious to find out what it was, exactly, that DSK did to deserve this kind of treatment. Something tells me it had absolutely nothing to do with inappropriate sexual advances and everything to do with pissing off a select group of folk who want to see the bailouts continue until morale improves.

On the Last Day of QE 2, We Hear Little Timmy the Tax Cheat Is Ready to Get the Heck Outta Dodge


What's next for Tim Geithner once he leaves Treasury? He's the last of Obama's economic nightmare team to depart at this point, and can likely scurry off to get fat on the ranch as he's accomplished whatever it was he was put there to do. What was it again? Get Goldman 100 cents on the dollar for their crap AIG positions? Oh no, that was when he was at the NY Fed, nevermind.

WaPo via Bloomberg:

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, an architect of the Obama administration’s economic strategy, has told the president that he may seek as soon as this summer to resign, according to people familiar with the matter.

Geithner’s departure would mark the loss of Obama’s longest-serving economic adviser at a time when the recovery has slowed and the unemployment rate remains stubbornly high.

Geithner has told the White House he will wait until the conclusion of talks with Congress over the nation’s debt before deciding whether to leave, according to the people familiar with the matter.

Anyone else find this timing suspicious? It's a miracle he's lasted this long.