And this is exactly why repugs fight like rabid ferrets against the slightest hint of regulation: because it works.
Glad to see this kind of crackdown by federal regulators, even though it's five years after the fact. It's baffling that these people are so divorced from the human misery they caused. It's as if they're completely disconnected from their own country, and I wonder how they got this way:NEW YORK (Reuters) - U.S. regulators claimed their first victory in a four-year old effort to crack down on oil market manipulation on Thursday, announcing a $14 million settlement with high-frequency trading firm Optiver.
In a ruling that came just two days after U.S. President Barack Obama proposed a renewed campaign against illegal oil trading schemes, the Amsterdam-based company agreed to disgorge $1 million in profits and pay a $13 million civil penalty over allegations it used a rapid-fire tool nicknamed "The Hammer" to influence U.S. oil prices in 2007.
It was the first case brought by the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) in its 2008 effort to curb market malfeasance, launched as prices soared toward a record near $150 a barrel in the middle of that year.
The case alleged that traders in Optiver's Chicago office reaped a $1 million profit by engaging in a practice called "banging the close", in which the firm attempted to move U.S. oil prices by executing a large volume of deals during the final moments of trading.
While far from the agency's largest fine, the case was viewed as an important milestone in the CFTC's efforts to get more aggressive over market manipulation - a charge that has historically been difficult to prove, despite mounting political pressure to take rogue traders to task.
"The CFTC will not tolerate traders who try to gain an unlawful advantage by using sophisticated means to drive oil and gas futures prices in their favor," David Meister, the CFTC's enforcement chief, said in a statement.
[...] The CFTC case revealed emails and phone recordings showing efforts by traders at Optiver's Chicago branch to "move," "whack" and "bully" oil prices.
According to a CFTC background sheet, van Kempen told an Optiver trader on March 19, 2007: "You should milk it for right now because you never know how long it's going to last."
The CFTC complaint said Optiver and van Kempen made false statements to New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) compliance officials in an effort to conceal the manipulative scheme.
The defendants had attempted to manipulate NYMEX U.S. crude oil, gasoline and heating oil contracts on the 19 separate times during 11 days in March 2007, according to the complaint.
"Those who seek to manipulate oil or other commodity markets should know we aren't messing around," said CFTC Commissioner Bart Chilton. "You manipulate, we are going after you."
Another day, another dollar, another set of polls showing some major-league disconnect from one another. If you only went by the national tracking polls laid down by Gallup and the House of Ras, you might conclude that the presidential election of 2012 was a real honest-to-God coin flip. But when you look at a couple of state polls released today, things still look pretty damned good for Barack Obama, on balance.
First, the numbers on what proved to be a glacially slow Monday in the numbers game:
PRESIDENTIAL GENERAL ELECTION TRIAL HEATS:
NATIONAL (Gallup Tracking): Obama d. Romney (47-44)DOWNBALLOT POLLING:
NATIONAL (Rasmussen Tracking): Romney d. Obama (47-44)
ARIZONA (Merrill/Morrison Institute): Romney d. Obama (44-42)
NEW HAMPSHIRE (WMUR/Univ. of New Hampshire): Obama d. Romney (51-42)
ARIZONA GENERIC CONGRESSIONAL BALLOT (Merrill/Morrison Institute): Republicans d. Democrats (41-40)A few thoughts, as always, just past the jump.
It?s not new to obfuscate political motives by coming up with ludicrous names for things. Bush the Lesser was a master of the craft. Seldom have these ideological splinters in the ass of the nation been clear enough to figure out just what in the hell they means.
Sometimes it?s something hideous, like a war ? the ?War on Terror? should more correctly have been called ?The War of Error?. Our troops and citizens in Iraq were the only ones terrorized in that stupid war.
Legislation doesn?t escape either. I?d wager not many people recognize ?Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorists? as the PATROT Act. And political action committees, especially now that they?re allowed to contribute gobs of money with little or no transparency, do their best to play the old bait and switch name game. Thanks Supremes.
A recent list of ludicrous PAC names shows just how goofy the naming can be. For example, three different names not only don?t reveal what they represent but seem to misunderstand that whole space/time continuum thing. Get a load of these:
Neither the ?We Believe in USA? PAC nor the ?We Love USA? PAC give a clue as to what they ?believe? nor what they propose other than ?love? and ?belief? ? neither of which require money to demonstrate. Furthermore, who in America, aside from the random ?Islamoterrorist? (that?s a mouthful too) doesn?t love and believe in their country in some way.
?Americans Wanting Truth in Politics? doesn?t mention whose ?truth? they want while the ?Citizen?s Alliance for Better Candidates? doesn?t say what should be better or how they managed to let both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum slip through their presumably expensive ?better? filters.
?Americans for More Rhombus?, ?Just Drink the Koolaid? [sic, you morans], ?Citizens Benighted? (though calling yourself ignorant seems like a questionable money raising tactic), and ?The Dump Him Project? are shockingly loony. ?Citizens Against the Peripheral Canal and Other Wasteful Projects? suggests there must be a Peripheral Canal to Nowhere someplace. Sarah Palin, being an expert of ?nowhere projects?, can clear this one up for us peraps. You betcha.
It seems there are lots of Shamus Romney supporters too. Mittens comes out on the short end of the rawhide bone with:
No word yet on whether there is a ?Dachshunds Against Undocumented Muslims Eating Dog Meat? PAC, though you?d think it would be a big winner amongst the wieners.
It just makes you want to take the advice of the ?Rethink PAC? name, which seems the sanest idea I?ve heard today.
The GOP health care reform plan.
For two years, all we've heard from the Republican 2010 campaign promise of "repeal and replace" of Obamacare is repeal. And repeal. And repeal. Twenty-seven repeal votes to be more exact. With the Supreme Court as likely as not to strike the law down, Republicans are now on the spot to come up with something, anything to replace it with. Except what they're talking about is less replace than take the popular parts of the Affordable Care Act, and extend insurance to far fewer people.
Lawmakers and their aides say a Republican plan would focus on controlling healthcare costs and allowing people to retain coverage while changing jobs. They will avoid Obama's comprehensive approach to extend coverage to 32 million uninsured Americans.Toss in a little tort reform and their favorite idea of allowing people to buy insurance across state lines, and you have a plan that would insure far fewer people and cut the deficit by about half of what the Affordable Care Act would. Oh, and vouchers for Medicare. What would be lost?
The aim is to lay out a prospective agenda for the newly elected political leadership in 2013, based on a "step-by-step" approach consisting of separate bills that address specific problems within America's $2.6 billion healthcare system.
But if the high court justices struck down the entire law, Republicans could try to salvage some of the Affordable Care Act's provisions that are already in force and have proved popular with voters.
Does all this mean congressional Republicans finally have a health care reform replacement plan? No. They have a handful of ideas cribbed from Obamacare and their favorite lobbyists, leaving millions still uninsured.
“If his affair went public it would destroy his candidacy, and he knew it,” said prosecutor David Harbach. “His mistress was a loose cannon, and he knew it. He made a choice to accept hundreds of thousands of dollars. He made a choice to break the law. That is why we are here.” [...] “John Edwards is not afraid of the truth. He welcomes it,” said Edwards’ attorney Allison Van Laningham. “The truth may be a sin, but it is not a crime. John Edwards has not asked us to paint a picture of him as virtuous. … He admits he cheated. He admits he lied.” – John Edwards Trial: ‘Truth May Be a Sin … Not a Crime’
It began today.
Jonathan Chait has an interesting piece up today on the tragic trial of the idiot pretty boy. Here’s one important snippet:
I am also told that there was an innocent, if comic, reason why Mellon shrouded the donations in secrecy. She wrote the checks to her decorator Bryan Huffman, ostensibly for furniture (?antique Charleston chair? read one memo), and the money was immediately signed over to Young?s wife. The subterfuge, I am told, was not designed to fool the FEC or federal prosecutors. Instead, the hush-hush maneuvering was designed to deceive the one person she feared?her sternly proper lawyer Alex Forger?and protect her from another lawyerly lecture on the folly of her infatuation with Edwards.
Josh Gerstein’s take is also worth a read.
It gets down to the intent of John Edwards, which no one knows but him.
Edwards better hope the jury has a different opinion of him than the latest poll. Though it should be understood that the people questioned in the polling give us our current crop of politicians in office. What do they know?
It takes a lot of courage and love for his daughter to stand beside him. He’s lucky to have her and I bet at this point in his life he knows it.
Wisconsin State Rep. Marc Pocan (D) talking ALEC with Jennifer Granholm
Corporations aren't the only ones condemning the American Legislative Exchange Council, a growing number of state lawmakers are speaking out against the organization that has pursued an extreme right-wing, pro-corporate, anti-working-families agenda. To date, more than 15 former members of ALEC have left the organization and publicly condemned it.
Georgia, Sen. Nan Orrock
As a member of the American Legislative Exchange Council for several years, having joined ALEC with the primary goal of better understanding the corporate-dominated organization, I know first-hand that ALEC is not the innocuous organization it claims to be.
ALEC is underwritten by corporate dollars to push corporate financial interests that disadvantage middle-class and working families. This group enrolls state legislators to promote its radical legislation in state after state, creating the false illusion of public support for its dangerous agenda. ALEC promotes legislation that suppresses voter participation, undermines state budgets and services, and impedes democracy.
With my departure, Georgia?s delegation to ALEC can no longer claim to be bi-partisan. Any lawmaker who cares more about Georgia residents than multi-national corporations should leave the group. We need to be focusing on real solutions for our state, not fanning the flames of wedge-issue politics.?
Louisiana Rep. Greg Cromer
Cromer was the chair of the Louisiana chapter of ALEC.
Missouri Rep. Mike Colona
"Their agenda is radical and wrong for Missouri. I was a member and saw firsthand the sort of extreme legislation they push on state legislators around the country,? he said.
New Mexico Sen. George Muñoz
Announced that he was leaving ALEC in April, 2012.
Texas has had a group of legislators leave ALEC:
As a legislator, I value the input that non-partisan organizations contribute to various issues. However, I do not believe that the American Legislative Exchange Council is a non-partisan organization. Due to the legislation that ALEC has been involved in forming and promoting, I will not be renewing my membership. I value and listen to all opinions, but ALEC's agenda has become harmful to my constituents, and the people of the State of Texas."
Washington Rep. Kevin Van De Wege
I have decided to resign my membership from ALEC, effective April 11, 2012. As a legislator, my job is to represent the interests of all my constituents, not just those whose views align perfectly with mine. I have been a member of ALEC since I was first elected to the Legislature, and my very-limited participation enabled me to learn more about the organization?s legislative agenda and its stance on issues. I thought this insider?s view would help me to better understand those who do not agree with me politically, and in many ways, it has. However, my membership status is increasingly becoming a divisive issue this year, and I prefer to put my time and energy into efforts that unite our district rather than divide it.
Wisconsin Rep. Marc Pocan
See video above.
A number of Democrats are members of ALEC. Constituents and party officials in the states these Democrats represent should pressure them to leave and condemn the organization, as being a member of ALEC doesn't represent the will of the people of any district, much less one that elects a Democrat.
In Brutal Beauty, Tales of the Rose City Rollers director Chip Mabry takes us on an in depth spin into the lives of the women who skate on the four teams--Guns N Rollers, Break Neck Betties, High Rollers and Heartless Heathers--that make up the Rose City[...]
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Nine months ago, Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was campaigning for president on a platform that included declaring Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid unconstitutional (a platform that he admittedly tried to distance himself from at times after it became a political liability). Late last week, however, Perry passed over his fellow tenther Ted Cruz to endorse Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst in Texas’ GOP U.S. Senate primary. Like Perry, Cruz believes that Medicaid is unconstitutional. Dewhurst, however, is hardly above confusing Republican ideology with the Constitution of the United States — he believes enforcing a key provision of the Voting Rights Act is unconstitutional.
Famed scientist James Lovelock has always been in a category of one when it comes to global warming. See for instance my June 2009 post, “Lovelock still makes me look like Paula Abdul, warns climate war could kill nearly all of us, leaving survivors in the Stone Age.” That’s mostly because he doesn’t follow the scientific literature.
Now that he has dialed back his doomism — alarmism is a wholly inadequate word for Lovelock’s (former) brand of unjustified hopelessness — the media and the deniers are just so excited. That’s especially true since Lovelock has now overshot in the other direction of climate science confusion and just keeps peddling nonsense.
And so we have this MSNBC story:
‘Gaia’ scientist James Lovelock: I was ‘alarmist’ about climate change
James Lovelock, the maverick scientist who became a guru to the environmental movement with his ?Gaia? theory of the Earth as a single organism, has admitted to being ?alarmist? about climate change and says other environmental commentators, such as Al Gore, were too….
?The world has not warmed up very much since the millennium….”
He was wrong about his doomism before, he is wrong about Gore now, and he is apparently uninformed about basic climate observations (see “Breaking News: The Earth Is Still Warming. A Lot“). Indeed, even MSNBC feels compelled to note:
Asked to give its latest position on climate change, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said in a statement that observations collected by satellites, sensors on land, in the air and seas ?continue to show that the average global surface temperature is rising.?
The statement said ?the impacts of a changing climate? were already being felt around the globe, with ?more frequent extreme weather events of certain types (heat waves, heavy rain events); changes in precipitation patterns ? longer growing seasons; shifts in the ranges of plant and animal species; sea level rise; and decreases in snow, glacier and Arctic sea ice coverage.?
But Lovelock hasn’t been speaking sensibly on the climate for a long, long time. Back in 2007, he was saying this sort of thing:
“By 2100, Lovelock believes, the Earth?s population will be culled from today?s 6.6 billion to as few as 500 million.”
… To Lovelock, cutting greenhouse-gas pollution won?t make much difference at this point….
As I wrote at the time, Lovelock makes “you ? or Al Gore or James Hansen or even me ? look optimistic by comparison.”
Memo to Lovelock: Gore never asserted billions would die or anything close to what you’ve been saying. And unlike you, he always believed — and still does — that it’s not too late. So if you finally admitted you were wrong, that’s awesome, but don’t try to claim you were just saying what others were doing. You weren’t. Not even close.
In 2008, Lovelock was inspiring this kind of headline and story:
… ?By 2040, China will be uninhabitable.? Lovelock believes that the Chinese, because of their high levels of industrial activity, will be the first to suffer, with the death of all plant life.
?So I think the Chinese will go to Africa. They are already there, preparing a new continent ? the Chinese industrialists who claim to be out there mining minerals are just there on a pretext of preparing for the big move.
If the word ‘crackpot’ comes to mind, it certainly wasn’t because I put it in your head.
Now I know some readers may believe billions will die this century. I don’t.
I do know some climate scientists and others who think that is certainly possible billions will die if we are so self-destructive as to keep near the worst-case emissions scenario and the carbon cycle feedbacks and soil moisture projections are merely in the middle of their projected range (see “An Illustrated Guide to the Science of Global Warming Impacts: How We Know Inaction Is the Gravest Threat Humanity Faces“).
But it’s not what I think is going to happen. I actually believe that even if we do let the deniers sucker us into another decade of delay, that we are still going to get WWII-scale serious about climate sometime in the 2020s and avert the worst-case scenarios — even if the feedbacks really start to kick in.
I also believe that even if the bad-case scenarios kick in post-2040, the world is going to reorganize much of its activity to prevent billions of people from dying. Oh, yes, billions of people are going to needlessly suffer a great deal if the deniers triumph, but stopping billions from starving to death this century will be well within our capability post-2040 even if we ruin a livable climate. That doesn’t mean we will definitely do what is needed, of course, but I am an optimist in this regard.
I’m delighted that Lovelock has reversed his doomism. But until he actually reads the scientific literature, his thoughts on climate will continue to have, well, no basis in science.
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