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KN4M 01-20-8

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  • Robert Sterling
    Please send as far and wide as possible. Thanks, Robert Sterling Editor, The Konformist http://www.konformist.com
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 20, 2008
      Please send as far and wide as possible.

      Robert Sterling
      Editor, The Konformist


      Tuesday, December 18, 2007
      Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush does a little business with a New
      York bank. Next thing you know, Florida taxpayers are holding the
      bag for billions.

      Corruption, thy name is Bush! This story has the makings of another
      Carl Hiaasen novel. All it still needs is a sexy blonde and a
      fisherman who finds his bone-fishing grounds occupied by a
      politician fellating a banker.

      Remarkably, it appeared here on Bloomberg.com.

      The nub of it

      Here are a few choice excerpts from the Bloomberg News story:

      Jeb Bush, who incorporated Jeb Bush & Associates in February 2007, a
      month after completing his second term [as Governor], had been hired
      as a consultant to Lehman Brothers in June. Bush is the brother of
      President George W. Bush.

      `Do Something Quickly'

      In November, school districts and local agencies that kept their
      cash in the state pool rushed to withdraw $12 billion, or 46
      percent, of the money in the fund. On Nov. 29, the state froze the
      fund to stop all withdrawals. ``If we don't do something quickly,
      we're not going to have an investment pool,'' [Carl] Stipanovich
      [executive director of the state board of administration] told the
      board that day.

      Until November, the Florida pool was the largest public money market
      fund in the U.S. It held cash for about 1,000 school districts,
      towns and local agencies in Florida.

      Stipanovich resigned on Dec. 4. He declined to comment.

      And furthermore:

      What Stipanovich, 58, hadn't told his boss, Florida Chief Financial
      Officer Alex Sink, was that Lehman Brothers was the same firm that
      had sold the state fund $842 million of mortgage- backed debt in
      July and August. Those securities defaulted within four months, and
      totaled more failing debt than any other bank sold the state,
      Florida records show. `

      `At the time, I never knew it was Lehman Brothers that actually sold
      us these investments,'' Sink says.

      Florida CFO Sink is riled up about more than Stipanovich. She says
      JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Lehman Brothers were offloading tainted
      debt on Florida and other states at a time when those assets were
      plummeting in value.

      So now, if you're still following all this:

      Ex-governor Bush, the President's brother with deep political ties
      in Florida, sets up a consulting business. Lehman becomes his
      client. Next thing you know, the taxpayers are stuck with a bunch of
      nearly worthless paper from Lehman. The public is screwed.

      You don't suppose George Bush's new U.S. Attorney General appointee,
      Michael Mukasey, will bring corruption charges, against Jeb, do you?

      Nah, I don't think so either.

      New York Senator Charles Schumer (Democrat), who rammed Mukasey's
      approval through the senate, please take note. After all, the AG is
      now your boy.

      Labels: Banks, corruption, Florida, Jeb Bush, public funds



      Israeli conductor 'now Palestinian'
      Published: 14 January 2008

      Daniel Barenboim, the world renowned Israeli pianist and conductor,
      has taken Palestinian citizenship and said he believed his rare new
      status could serve a model for peace between the two peoples.

      "It is a great honour to be offered a passport," he said on Saturday
      night after a Beethoven piano recital in Ramallah, the West Bank
      city where he has been active for some years in promoting contact
      between young Arab and Israeli musicians.

      "I have also accepted it because I believe that the destinies of ...
      the Israeli people and the Palestinian people are inextricably
      linked," Barenboim said. "We are blessed - or cursed - to live with
      each other. And I prefer the first."

      "The fact that an Israeli citizen can be awarded a Palestinian
      passport, can be a sign that it is actually possible."

      Former Palestinian Information Minister Mustafa Barghouthi, who
      helped organise Saturday's concert, said the passport had been
      approved by the previous government of which he was a member and
      which was replaced in June. The passport had actually been issued
      about six weeks ago, he added.

      Argentine-born Barenboim, 65, is a controversial figure in his
      adoptive homeland, both for his promotion of German music and vocal
      opposition to Israel's occupation of the West Bank.

      Asked about US President George W. Bush's remarks last week on a
      visit to the region that a peace could be signed this year,
      Barenboim warned of the danger of raising hopes too high.

      "It would be absolutely horrible if now, with good intentions,
      expectations are raised which will not be able to be fulfilled,"
      Barenboim said. "Then we will sink into an even greater depression."

      Though he dismissed any wish to play a political role, the former
      music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra took a dig at
      Bush's strikingly forceful call in Jerusalem last week for Israel to
      end, in the president's own words, "the occupation".

      "Now even not very intelligent people are saying that the occupation
      has to be stopped," Barenboim said.

      Based in Berlin, he is closely identified with German music and in
      2001 conducted an opera by 19th-century composer Richard Wagner in
      Jerusalem despite anger in some quarters at a performance of a work
      by a German accused of anti-Semitic views.

      For the past decade, Barenboim has promoted Arab-Israeli cultural
      contacts, notably alongside the late Palestinian-American writer
      Edward Said.



      Source of Mysterious Antimatter Found
      Charles Q. Choi
      Special to SPACE.com
      Fri Jan 11, 2008

      Antimatter, which annihilates matter upon contact, seems to be rare
      in the universe. Still, for decades, scientists had clues that a
      vast cloud of antimatter lurked in space, but they did not know
      where it came from.

      The mysterious source of this antimatter has now been discovered —
      stars getting ripped apart by neutron stars and black holes.

      While antimatter propulsion systems are so far the stuff of science
      fiction, antimatter is very real.

      What it is

      All elementary particles, such as protons and electrons, have
      antimatter counterparts with the same mass but the opposite charge.
      For instance, the antimatter opposite of an electron, known as a
      positron, is positively charged.

      When a particle meets its antiparticle, they destroy each other,
      releasing a burst of energy such as gamma rays. In 1978, gamma ray
      detectors flown on balloons detected a type of gamma ray emerging
      from space that is known to be emitted when electrons collide with
      positrons — meaning there was antimatter in space.

      "It was quite a surprise back then to discover part of the universe
      was made of antimatter," researcher Gerry Skinner, an astrophysicist
      at Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., told SPACE.com.

      These gamma rays apparently came from a cloud of antimatter roughly
      10,000 light-years across surrounding our galaxy's core. This giant
      cloud shines brightly with gamma rays, with about the energy of
      10,000 suns.

      What exactly generated the antimatter was a mystery for the
      following decades. Suspects have included everything from exploding
      stars to dark matter.

      Now, an international research team looking over four years of data
      from the European Space Agency's International Gamma Ray
      Astrophysics Laboratory (INTEGRAL) satellite has pinpointed the
      apparent culprits. Their new findings suggest these positrons
      originate mainly from stars getting devoured by black holes and
      neutron stars.

      As a black hole or neutron star destroys a star, tremendous amounts
      of radiation are released. Just as electrons and positrons emit the
      tell-tale gamma rays upon annihilation, so too can gamma rays
      combine to form electrons and positrons, providing the mechanism for
      the creation of the antimatter cloud, scientists think.

      Billions and billions

      The researchers calculate that a relatively ordinary star getting
      torn apart by a black hole or neutron star orbiting around it — a so-
      called "low mass X-ray binary" — could spew on the order of one
      hundred thousand billion billion billion billion positrons (a 1
      followed by 41 zeroes) per second. These could account for a great
      deal of the antimatter that scientists have inferred, reducing or
      potentially eliminating the need for exotic explanations such as
      ones involving dark matter.

      "Simple estimates suggest that about half and possibly all the
      antimatter is coming from X-ray binaries," said researcher Georg
      Weidenspointner of the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial
      Physics in Germany.

      Now that they have witnessed the death of antimatter, the scientists
      hope to see its birth.

      "It would be interesting if black holes produced more matter than
      neutron stars, or vice versa, although it's too early to say one way
      or the other right now," Skinner explained. "It can be surprisingly
      hard to tell the difference between an X-ray binaries that hold
      black holes and neutron stars."

      Weidenspointner, Skinner and their colleagues, detailed their
      findings in the Jan. 10 issue of the journal Nature.



      Dozens in Texas town report seeing UFO
      By ANGELA K. BROWN, Associated Press Writer
      Mon Jan 14, 2008

      In this farming community where nightfall usually brings clear,
      starry skies, residents are abuzz over reported sightings of what
      many believe is a UFO.

      Several dozen people — including a pilot, county constable and
      business owners — insist they have seen a large silent object with
      bright lights flying low and fast. Some reported seeing fighter jets
      chasing it.

      "People wonder what in the world it is because this is the Bible
      Belt, and everyone is afraid it's the end of times," said Steve
      Allen, a freight company owner and pilot who said the object he saw
      last week was a mile long and half a mile wide. "It was positively,
      absolutely nothing from these parts."

      While federal officials insist there's a logical explanation, locals
      swear that it was larger, quieter, faster and lower to the ground
      than an airplane. They also said the object's lights changed
      configuration, unlike those of a plane. People in several towns who
      reported seeing it over several weeks have offered similar
      descriptions of the object.

      Machinist Ricky Sorrells said friends made fun of him when he told
      them he saw a flat, metallic object hovering about 300 feet over a
      pasture behind his Dublin home. But he decided to come forward after
      reading similar accounts in the Stephenville Empire-Tribune.

      "You hear about big bass or big buck in the area, but this is a
      different deal," Sorrells said. "It feels good to hear that other
      people saw something, because that means I'm not crazy."

      Sorrells said he has seen the object several times. He said he
      watched it through his rifle's telescopic lens and described it as
      very large and without seams, nuts or bolts.

      Maj. Karl Lewis, a spokesman for the 301st Fighter Wing at the Joint
      Reserve Base Naval Air Station in Fort Worth, said no F-16s or other
      aircraft from his base were in the area the night of Jan. 8, when
      most people reported the sighting.

      Lewis said the object may have been an illusion caused by two
      commercial airplanes. Lights from the aircraft would seem unusually
      bright and may appear orange from the setting sun.

      "I'm 90 percent sure this was an airliner," Lewis said. "With the
      sun's angle, it can play tricks on you."

      Officials at the region's two Air Force bases — Dyess in Abilene and
      Sheppard in Wichita Falls — also said none of their aircraft were in
      the area last week. The Air Force no longer investigates UFOs.

      One man has offered a reward for a photograph or videotape of the
      mysterious object.

      About 200 UFO sightings are reported each month, mostly in
      California, Colorado and Texas, according to the Mutual UFO Network,
      which plans to go to the 17,000-resident town of Stephenville to

      Fourteen percent of Americans polled last year by The Associated
      Press and Ipsos say they have seen a UFO.

      Erath County Constable Lee Roy Gaitan said that he first saw red
      glowing lights and then white flashing lights moving fast, but that
      even with binoculars could not see the object to which the lights
      were attached.

      "I didn't see a flying saucer and I don't know what it was, but it
      wasn't an airplane, and I've never seen anything like it," Gaitan
      said. "I think it must be some kind of military craft — at least I
      hope it was."


      George of Arabia:
      Better Kiss Your Abe 'Goodbye'
      by Greg Palast
      Wednesday, January 16, 2008

      Bend over, pull out your wallet and kiss your Abe `goodbye.' The
      Lincolns have got to go - and so do the Hamiltons and Jacksons.

      Those bills in your billfold aren't yours anymore. The landlords of
      our currency - Citibank, the national treasury of China and the
      House of Saud - are foreclosing and evicting all Americans from the
      US economy.

      It's mornings like this, when I wake up hung-over to photos of the
      King of Saudi Arabia festooning our President with gold necklaces,
      that I reluctantly remember that I am an economist; and one with
      some responsibility to explain what the hell Bush is doing kissing
      Abdullah's camel.

      Let's begin by stating why Bush is not in Saudi Arabia. Bush ain't
      there to promote `Democracy' nor peace in Palestine, nor even war in
      Iran. And, despite what some pinhead from CNN stated, he sure as
      hell didn't go to Riyadh to tell the Saudis to cut the price of oil.

      What's really behind Bush's hajj to Riyadh is that America is in
      hock up to our knickers. The sub-prime mortgage market implosion,
      hitting a dozen banks with over $100 billion in losses, is just the
      tip of the debt-berg.

      Since taking office, Bush has doubled the federal debt to more than
      $5 trillion. And, according to US Treasury figures, on net, foreign
      investors have purchased close to 100% of that debt. That's $3
      trillion borrowed from the Saudis, the Chinese, the Japanese and

      Now, Bush, our Debt Junkie-in-Chief, needs another fix. The US
      Treasury, Citibank, Merrill-Lynch and other financial desperados
      need another hand-out from Abdullah's stash. Abdullah, in turn, gets
      this financial juice by pumping it out of our pockets at nearly $100
      a barrel for his crude.

      Bush needs the Saudis to charge us big bucks for oil. The Saudis
      can't lend the US Treasury and Citibank hundreds of billions of US
      dollars unless they first get these US dollars from the US. The high
      price of oil is, in effect, a tax levied by Bush but collected by
      the oil industry and the Gulf kingdoms to fund our multi-trillion
      dollar governmental and private debt-load.

      The US Treasury is not alone in its frightening dependency on
      Arabian loot. America's private financial institutions are also
      begging for foreign treasure. Yesterday, King Abdullah's nephew,
      Prince Alwaleed bin Talal, already the top individual owner of
      Citibank, joined the Kuwait government's Investment Authority and
      others to mainline a $12.5 billion injection of capital into the New
      York bank. Also this week, the Abu Dhabi government and the Saudi
      Olayan Group are taking a $6.6 billion chunk of Merrill-Lynch. It's
      no mere coincidence that Bush is in Abdullah's tent when the money-
      changers made the deal just outside it.

      Bush is there to assure Abdullah that, unlike Dubai's ports purchase
      debacle, there will be no political impediment to the Saudi's buying
      up Citibank nor the isle of Manhattan.

      So what? I mean, for the average American about to lose their job
      and their bungalow it doesn't matter a twit whether it's Sheik bin
      Alwaleed who owns Citibank or Sheik Sanford Weill, Citi's past

      It's the price paid to buy back our money from abroad that's killing
      us. Despite the Koranic prohibition on charging interest, the Gulf
      princes demand their pound of flesh, exacting a 7% payment from
      Citibank and 9% from Merrill. That hefty interest bill then pushes
      adjustable rate mortgages into the stratosphere and pushes
      manufacturing into China by making borrowing and energy costs
      impossible to overcome. Forget the cost of health care: General
      Motors' interest burden quintupled in just two years.

      As the great economist Paddy Chayefsky wrote in the film The Network:

      "The Arabs have taken billions of dollars out of this country, and
      now they must put it back. … It is ebb and flow, tidal gravity….
      There are no nations, there are no peoples. There is only one vast
      and immense, interwoven, multi-national dominion of petro-dollars. …
      There is no America. There is no `democracy.' The world is a
      business, one vast and ecumenical holding company, for whom all men
      will work."

      In 2005, the US consumer paid Arab and OPEC nations a quarter
      trillion dollars ($252 billion) for oil - and the USA received back
      100% of it - and then some ($311 billion) via Gulf nations'
      investment in US Treasury bills and purchases of US businesses and
      property. Bush's trip to Abdullah's tent is all about this vast
      business of keeping this petro-dollar treadmill spinning.

      The Bush Administration, rather than tax Americans to cover our
      deficits or make the banks suffer the consequences of their
      predatory lending practices, is allowing the Saudis to charge us big
      time at the pump with the understanding they will lend it all back
      to us - so the party never has to stop.

      It has been reported that the President's Secret Service men
      traveling with him seemed embarrassed by the eye-popping loads of
      diamond and gold gifts which they have to carry back for President
      Bush. They need not feel they have taken too much from their hosts:
      Bush has assured Abdullah that the King can suck it back out through
      our gas tanks.
      Greg Palast is the author of The Network: The World as a Company
      Town, in the New York Times bestseller, Armed Madhouse. Hear Ed
      Asner read from the book and the film `The Network' at



      Wham-O toymaker Richard Knerr dies at 82
      Thu Jan 17, 2008

      Richard Knerr, co-founder of the toy company that popularized the
      Hula Hoop, Frisbee and other fads that became classics, has died. He
      was 82.

      Knerr, who started Wham-O in 1948 with his childhood friend
      Arthur "Spud" Melin, died Monday at Methodist Hospital after
      suffering a stroke earlier in the day at his Arcadia home, his wife
      Dorothy told the Los Angeles Times.

      Knerr and Melin got their start in business peddling slingshots.
      They named their enterprise Wham-O after the sound a slingshot made
      when it hit its target.

      They branched into other sporting goods, including boomerangs and
      crossbows, then added toys that often bore such playful names as the
      Superball, Slip 'N Slide and Silly String.

      When a friend told them in 1958 about a large ring used for exercise
      in Australia, they devised their own version and called it the Hula

      Around the same time, they bought the rights to a plastic flying
      disc invented by Walter "Fred" Morrison, who called it the Pluto
      Platter. Wham-O bought the rights and renamed it the Frisbee.

      The rest is amusement history.

      "If Spud and I had to say what we contributed, it was fun," Knerr
      told the Times in 1994. "But I think this country gave us more than
      we gave it. It gave us the opportunity to do it."

      Melin died in 2002 at age 77.

      Besides his wife, Knerr is survived by three children from a first
      marriage that ended in divorce, two stepchildren, and eight

      Services will be private.



      Jan 18 2008
      Dr. Phil Apologizes For Britney Spears Visit
      'Was it helpful to the situation? Regrettably, no,' TV personality
      tells audience in show airing Monday.
      By Gil Kaufman

      Dr. Phil is sorry. The TV physician has issued a statement
      apologizing for his controversial visit with Britney Spears while
      the singer was in the hospital on January 5, as well as a subsequent
      press release he issued about the incident.

      "Was it helpful to the situation? Regrettably, no. It was not, and I
      have to acknowledge that, and I do," Phil McGraw told his audience
      Thursday during an episode of Dr. Phil that will run Monday,
      according to USA Today. "I definitely think if I had it to do over
      again, I probably wouldn't make any statement at all. Period."

      McGraw said he issued an earlier statement about the visit to
      Entertainment Tonight because he knew the media would see him
      arriving at the hospital, and disputed criticism that he
      inappropriately discussed the troubled singer's condition in the
      release, in which he referred to her as being in "dire need of both
      medical and psychological intervention." Phil explained in the new
      statement that he "said that before I ever met her." Asked if he
      would make a similar visit at the request of concerned parents in
      the future, he said, "How do you not?"

      A complaint was filed against McGraw earlier this week that accused
      him of violating the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability
      Act. The complaint alleges Dr. Phil practiced clinical psychology
      without a license and further violated doctor-patient privilege by
      discussing the pop star's case with the media. Although the
      California Board of Psychology is compelled to investigate all
      complaints, this one might not have much ground: According to state
      regulators, McGraw would have had to practice psychology in the
      legal sense, which is clearly defined in Section 2903 of the
      California Business and Professions Code, and he has stressed that
      he visited Spears as a family friend.
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