Nerd Anthem by Marian Call

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Nerd Anthem by Marian Call

Britain has 65,000 victims of female mutilation — and another 30,000 are at risk

From The London Evening Standard:  http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/britain-has-65000-victims-of-female-mutilation–and-another-30000-are-at-risk-8522402.html

More girls are at risk of genital mutilation in Britain than anywhere else in Europe. About 65,790 people living in the UK have been victims of the practice, while a further 30,000 are at risk, according to new research.

Today the Government pledged £35 million to help eradicate female genital mutilation within a generation. International development minister Lynne Featherstone announced the fund, which will pay for overseas programmes and work with diaspora communities within Britain.

The target is to reduce FGM by 30 per cent in five years, and to stop it completely within a generation.

Meanwhile, a separate EU campaign was launched, with £13 million to help victims. Viviane Reding, vice-president of the European Commission, met campaigners against FGM to discuss how to tackle the issue, ahead of International Women’s Day on Friday.

She said: “Today the Commission is joining forces with some very inspiring women to call for zero tolerance for female genital mutilation, an extremely harmful practice which violates the human rights of women and girls.

“The EU will fight to end female genital mutilation — not only on International Women’s Day but on all 365 days of the year.”

The research was carried out by the European Institute for Gender Equality. It found there were victims or potential victims in at least 13 EU countries. Britain had the most, followed by France and the Netherlands.

Each year about 6,500 girls in London, mostly aged between four and 15, are thought to be at risk of FGM.

Continue reading at:  http://www.standard.co.uk/news/uk/britain-has-65000-victims-of-female-mutilation–and-another-30000-are-at-risk-8522402.html

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Britain has 65,000 victims of female mutilation — and another 30,000 are at risk

Too-Big-to-Fail Takes Another Body Blow

From Rolling Stone:  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/taibblog/too-big-to-fail-takes-another-body-blow-20130501

By Matt Taibbi
May 1, 2013

Minds are changing on Too Big to Fail. A month ago, it was just something in the air. Now, it looks like we’re headed for a real legislative confrontation. And man, is the finance sector freaking.

Last week, on April 24th, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio and Louisiana Republican David Vitter introduced legislation called the “Terminating Bailouts for Taxpayer Fairness Act of 2013 Act,” or the “Brown-Vitter TBTF Act” for short. The bill is a gun aimed directly at the head of the Too-Big-To-Fail beast.

During the Dodd-Frank negotiations a few years ago, Brown teamed up with Delaware Democrat Ted Kaufman to introduce an amendment that would have physically capped the size of the biggest banks. The amendment was bold and righteous but was slaughtered on the floor by a 61-33 margin, undermined by leaders of both parties – 27 Democrats voted against it.

Brown-Vitter offers a different and, in a way, more elegant solution to the problem than Brown-Kaufman. Rather than impose size limits, it simply insists that banks with over $500 billion in assets maintain higher capital reserves than are currently required. Companies like J.P. Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Morgan Stanley, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Bank of America will have to keep capital reserves of about 15 percent, about twice the current amount.

The bill only has such tough requirements for just those few megabanks, which sounds unfair, except that the aim of the bill, precisely, is to level the playing field. Right now, the biggest U.S. banks enjoy a massive inherent market advantage in that they’re able to borrow money far more cheaply than other banks, because everybody on earth knows the government will never let them fail and will always bail them out in a pinch, making their debt essentially U.S.-government guaranteed. Studies have shown that these banks borrow money at about 0.8 percent more cheaply than other banks, and that this implicit government subsidy is worth about $83 billion a year just to the top 10 banks in America. This bill would essentially wipe out that hidden subsidy and make the banks bailout-proof.

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Too-Big-to-Fail Takes Another Body Blow

U.S. May Charge JPMorgan For Power Market Manipulation: Analysts

From Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/03/jpmorgan-power-manipulation_n_3211827.html

By Scott DiSavino Posted: 05/03/2013

(Reuters) – The regulator of U.S. power markets appears likely to pursue manipulation charges against JPMorgan Chase & Co , analysts said, after a New York Times report on the agency’s document that seemed to lay out its case.

The Times said on Friday it reviewed a confidential, 70-page government document that the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) sent to JPMorgan in March, which alleged the bank manipulated the power market in California and Michigan in 2010 and 2011.

FERC investigators found JPMorgan devised “manipulative schemes” that transformed “money-losing power plants into powerful profit centers,” the Times reported, citing the document. It said the bank has until mid-May to respond.

It has been clear since last summer that FERC was pursuing a deep enquiry on JPMorgan’s trading activities, the latest in a string of FERC investigations that have rattled the U.S. power market and – in the case of rival bank Barclays Plc – concluded with $470 million in proposed penalties.

FERC has not moved to publicly charge JPMorgan, but experts said that now seemed likely.

“FERC staff would not have gone to the trouble of putting together a 70-page document without a case. If they have gotten this far they will likely pursue it,” said Susan Court, a former senior lawyer at FERC who is principal of SJC Energy Consultants LLC in Arlington, Virginia.

The document also criticized Blythe Masters, JPMorgan’s head of global commodities and former chief financial officer, saying she “falsely” denied under oath that she was aware of schemes carried out by a group of energy traders in Houston, according to the Times.

Continue reading at:  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/03/jpmorgan-power-manipulation_n_3211827.html

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on U.S. May Charge JPMorgan For Power Market Manipulation: Analysts

The Rich Have Gained $5.6 Trillion in the ‘Recovery,’ While the Rest of Us Have Lost $669 Billion

From Alternet:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/rich-have-gained-56-trillion-recovery-while-rest-us-have-lost-669-billion

It’s no accident.

By Les Leopold
May 3, 2013

Oh, are we getting ripped off. And now we’ve got the data to prove it. From 2009 to 2011, the richest 8 million families (the top 7%) on average saw their wealth rise from $1.7 million to $2.5 million each. Meanwhile the rest of us —  the bottom 93% (that’s 111 million families) — suffered on average a decline of $6,000 each.

Do the math and you’ll discover that the top 7% gained a whopping $5.6 trillion in net worth (assets minus liabilities) while the rest of lost $669 billion. Their wealth went up by 28% while ours went down by 4 percent.

It’s as if the entire economic recovery is going into the pockets of the rich. And that’s no accident. Here’s why.

1. The bailouts went to Wall Street, not to Main Street.

The federal government and Federal Reserve poured trillions of dollars into Wall Street through a wide variety of financial maneuvers, many of which were hidden from view until recently. When we add it all up, it’s clear that most of the money floated right into Wall Street. (Fannie and Freddie were private institutions that also considered themselves part of the Wall Street elite.)

Continue reading at:  http://www.alternet.org/economy/rich-have-gained-56-trillion-recovery-while-rest-us-have-lost-669-billion

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on The Rich Have Gained $5.6 Trillion in the ‘Recovery,’ While the Rest of Us Have Lost $669 Billion

Rise of the conservative revolutionaries

From Salon: http://www.salon.com/2013/05/01/rise_of_the_conservative_revolutionaries/

Almost half of Republicans think an armed revolution may be needed soon. What does it mean for guns and democracy?

There’s plenty of proof of an authoritarian streak and animus toward democratic ideals in today’s conservative movement. There was the movement’s use of its judicial power to halt a vote recount and instead install a president who had lost the popular vote. There is the ongoing GOP effort to make it more difficult for people to cast a vote in an election. There is the GOP’s record use of the Senate filibuster to kill legislation that the vast majority of the country supports. There is a GOP leader’s declaration that what the American people want from their government simply “doesn’t matter.”

Up until today, you might have been able to write all that anti-democratic pathology off as one infecting only the Republican Party’s politicians and institutional leadership, but not its rank-and-file voters. But then this morning Fairleigh Dickinson University released this gun control-related pollshowing that authoritarianism runs throughout the the entire party.

Take a look at the cross-tabs on page 3 of the national survey. That’s right, you are reading it correctly: Almost half (44 percent) of all self-described Republican voters say they believe “an armed revolution might be necessary to protect our liberties.” Just as bad, more Republicans believe an armed revolution might be necessary than believe one isn’t necessary.

This poll raises two obvious questions, each more disturbing than the next.

The first question is about gun control and gun ownership, and more specifically, what the latter is all about.

Typically, GOP leaders say that their opposition to minimal gun regulations has nothing to do with helping arm those who want to commit acts of violence, and everything to do with wanting to make sure people can defend themselves. Based on the poll, of course, it is certainly likely that many are buying such weapons in an effort to defend themselves, both for day-to-day life and in the event of a sudden armed revolution. But here’s the scary part: How many are buying weapons to arm themselves in order to foment an armed revolution? Maybe none, but maybe a lot. I don’t have an answer, but this poll suggests the question should at least be aired.

The other question is about republican democracy: Can it survive in an age when almost one-half of one of the major parties seems to support the concept of violently thwarting it?

Continue reading at:  http://www.salon.com/2013/05/01/rise_of_the_conservative_revolutionaries/

See Also: Salon: A march on Washington with loaded rifles

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on Rise of the conservative revolutionaries

What would ‘wartime mobilization’ to fight climate change look like?

From Grist:  http://grist.org/climate-energy/what-would-wartime-mobilization-to-fight-climate-change-look-like/

By David Roberts
2 May 2013

The United States and 140 other countries have signed or otherwise associated with the Copenhagen Accord, in which it is agreed that the nations of the world should “hold the increase in global temperature below 2°C, and take action to meet this objective consistent with science and on the basis of equity.” For there to be a chance — even just a 50/50 chance — of limiting temperature rise to 2°C, global greenhouse gas emissions must peak by 2020 (earlier for the developed world) and fall by 9 or 10 percent a year every year thereafter.

Nothing like that has ever been done. Not even close. No major energy transition has ever moved that quickly. Carbon emissions have never fallen that fast, not even during the economic collapse brought on by the demise of the USSR. Getting to change of that scale and speed is not a matter of nudging along a natural economic shift, as clean energy cost curves come down and fossil fuels get more expensive. That scale and speed seem to demand something like wartime mobilization.

That metaphor gets used a lot. I’ve used it many times myself. But is it apt? And what would it mean to take it seriously? There’s been lots of academic attention to the technology side of rapid, large-scale mitigation, but little attention to the governance side. How could a country engineer such a transition? What powers and institutions would be necessary?

An interesting pair of papers from Laurence L. Delina and his colleague Mark Diesendorf at the Institute of Environmental Studies at the University of New South Wales helps to frame the discussion. “Is wartime mobilisation a suitable policy model for rapid national climate mitigation?” will be published in Energy Policy, and “Governing Rapid Climate Mitigation” [PDF] was delivered at the Earth System Governance Conference this year in Tokyo.

The papers, which are focused mostly on the U.S. but meant to draw lessons applicable to other countries as well, “commence the process of developing contingency plans for a scenario in which a sudden major global climate impact galvanises governments to implement emergency climate mitigation targets and programs.”

Continue reading at:  http://grist.org/climate-energy/what-would-wartime-mobilization-to-fight-climate-change-look-like/

Posted in Uncategorized. Comments Off on What would ‘wartime mobilization’ to fight climate change look like?