Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Arbitrarily Disseminating

From the UN website:

On December 10, 1948 the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the full text of which appears in the following pages. Following this historic act the Assembly called upon all Member countries to publicize the text of the Declaration and “to cause it to be disseminated, displayed, read and expounded principally in schools and other educational institutions, without distinction based on the political status of countries or territories.”

So, for no particular reason (other than that, as I read this tonight it struck me how many UN members seem to have forgotten signing it), Wordout is pleased to disseminate and display the following Universal Declaration of Human Rights.


Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people,

Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be protected by the rule of law,

Whereas it is essential to promote the development of friendly relations between nations,

Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom,

Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the promotion of universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms,

Whereas a common understanding of these rights and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full realization of this pledge,

Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the end that every individual and every organ of society, keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall strive by teaching and education to promote respect for these rights and freedoms and by progressive measures, national and international, to secure their universal and effective recognition and observance, both among the peoples of Member States themselves and among the peoples of territories under their jurisdiction.

Article 1.

* All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

Article 2.

* Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status. Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

* Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

* No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their forms.

Article 5.

* No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

* Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law.

Article 7.

* All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law. All are entitled to equal protection against any discrimination in violation of this Declaration and against any incitement to such discrimination.

Article 8.

* Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by the competent national tribunals for acts violating the fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or by law.

Article 9.

* No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Article 10.

* Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and public hearing by an independent and impartial tribunal, in the determination of his rights and obligations and of any criminal charge against him.

Article 11.

* (1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
* (2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal offence on account of any act or omission which did not constitute a penal offence, under national or international law, at the time when it was committed. Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one that was applicable at the time the penal offence was committed.

Article 12.

* No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

* (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state.
* (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

* (1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in other countries asylum from persecution.
* (2) This right may not be invoked in the case of prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 15.

* (1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
* (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his nationality nor denied the right to change his nationality.

Article 16.

* (1) Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution.
* (2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses.
* (3) The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.

Article 17.

* (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others.
* (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 18.

* Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.

Article 19.

* Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

Article 20.

* (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.
* (2) No one may be compelled to belong to an association.

Article 21.

* (1) Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.
* (2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public service in his country.
* (3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22.

* Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to social security and is entitled to realization, through national effort and international co-operation and in accordance with the organization and resources of each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights indispensable for his dignity and the free development of his personality.

Article 23.

* (1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.
* (2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the right to equal pay for equal work.
* (3) Everyone who works has the right to just and favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social protection.
* (4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade unions for the protection of his interests.

Article 24.

* Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic holidays with pay.

Article 25.

* (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
* (2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance. All children, whether born in or out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

Article 26.

* (1) Everyone has the right to education. Education shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory. Technical and professional education shall be made generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
* (2) Education shall be directed to the full development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.
* (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of education that shall be given to their children.

Article 27.

* (1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
* (2) Everyone has the right to the protection of the moral and material interests resulting from any scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is the author.

Article 28.

* Everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration can be fully realized.

Article 29.

* (1) Everyone has duties to the community in which alone the free and full development of his personality is possible.
* (2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms, everyone shall be subject only to such limitations as are determined by law solely for the purpose of securing due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
* (3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Article 30.

* Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as implying for any State, group or person any right to engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth herein.

Bad Cars

How Bad Does It Have To Get?

That’s what Dylan asks, and I’d like to have that answer myself.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It will be interesting to see how this all works itself out, considering how firmly ensconced is the Goldman Sachs influence over our federal government.

Memo From The Ministry Of Truth

Found at the ChinaDigitalTimes website:


Translated below, with highlights by me:

All chief editors and managers:

Google has officially announced its withdrawal from the China market. This is a high-impact incident. It has triggered netizens’ discussions which are not limited to a commercial level. Therefore please pay strict attention to the following content requirements during this period:

A. News Section

1. Only use Central Government main media (website) content; do not use content from other sources
2. Reposting must not change title
3. News recommendations should refer to Central government main media websites
4. Do not produce relevant topic pages; do not set discussion sessions; do not conduct related investigative reporting;
5. Online programs with experts and scholars on this matter must apply for permission ahead of time. This type of self-initiated program production is strictly forbidden.
6. Carefully manage the commentary posts under news items.

B. Forums, blogs and other interactive media sections:

1. It is not permitted to hold discussions or investigations on the Google topic
2. Interactive sections do not recommend this topic, do not place this topic and related comments at the top
3. All websites please clean up text, images and sound and videos which attack the Party, State, government agencies, Internet policies with the excuse of this event.
4. All websites please clean up text, images and sound and videos which support Google, dedicate flowers to Google, ask Google to stay, cheer for Google and others have a different tune from government policy
5. On topics related to Google, carefully manage the information in exchanges, comments and other interactive sessions
6. Chief managers in different regions please assign specific manpower to monitor Google-related information; if there is information about mass incidents, please report it in a timely manner.

We ask the Monitoring and Control Group to immediately follow up monitoring and control actions along the above directions; once any problems are discovered, please communicate with respected sessions in a timely manner.

Addition guidelines:

Do not participate in and report Google’s information/press releases
Do not report about Google exerting pressure on our country via people or events
– Related reports need to put [our story/perspective/information] in the center, do not provide materials for Google to attack relevant policies of our country
– Use talking points about Google withdrawing from China published by relevant departments

$iFigures (this.is.bad)

That’s Worth A Dollar

Except when it isn’t. Which it almost never is.

You see, when the Fed creates a dollar, it doesn’t even exist until somebody, somewhere borrows that dollar. Then a bank writes the loan, creating the dollar in question. Immediately the dollar is worth more than 100 pennies, due to the interest being generated by the loan. If the loan has a 5% interest rate, then each dollar in the loan is worth 105 pennies (to the economy).

But it doesn’t stop there. That dollar is left as a tip on a restaurant table and is spent by someone else, perhaps to pay a bill or buy some drugs. Then whoever owns the dollar spends it again and so on, on down the line until the dollar is eventually destroyed for one reason or another.

Generally speaking, a healthy economy’s dollars will always be worth more than 100 pennies, because in a healthy economy that dollar moves around, being used over and over by different folks. That’s called velocity.

Deflation occurs when the value of a dollar added to the economy produces less than a dollar’s worth of wealth. It seems impossible for this to occur, but it is indeed possible and is one of the things the Federal Reserve Bank tracks very carefully. Below is their chart of M1, the multiplier effect of a dollar in the US economy. (As an aside, notice when the M1 started it’s downward journey? That’s the effect of one man: Alan Greenspan.)

When M1 drops below 1, for every dollar added into the economy, we lose a few cents.
When M1 drops below 1, for every dollar added into the economy, we lose a few cents.

M1 can decline for many reasons, the most obvious one being too much debt in the system. When there’s too much debt, loans get scarce. Without loans, those ‘billions of dollars’ in stimulus don’t exist yet, and so those dollars cannot be spent by all those folks who would have been spending it.

So money gets more scarce, and the same folks who just a few years before were eating out every night are starting to buy dried beans in bulk. Instead of a latte they drive past Starbucks sipping on the travel cup they brought from home. Whether they’re hoarding their cash or just don’t have it anymore doesn’t matter. The fact that matters is that the cash is not being moved around. The velocity has ground to a halt.

Double Dive

Same thing happened a long time ago. There was a time in US history called The Roaring 20s – remember that? The movies all paint it up to be a time of unbridled economic prosperity, but the truth of it is slightly different.

What actually happened was that the economy took a dive between 1917 and 1920, and the Federal Reserve, then only 7 years old, opened the floodgates to the money supply. They dropped interest rates to practically nothing and credit skyrocketed. Similar to the easy credit so rampant over the past 20 years or so, by 1929 all you needed was a non-verified signature and the loan was yours.

We know how that turned out. The market dived in 1929 and then dived again in 1933.

The chart below shows the economic supercycle for the US over the past 100 years or so. The parallels between the 1920s-1930s and now is uncanny. Noting that the cycle touches the bottom of the chart only twice (roughly 1920 and 1981), and trying to account for the lengthening of the time spans between intermediate reversals (real recessions), it still seems to me that we should’ve crashed much worse after 1999.

See the Roaring 20s? That was all excessive debt building up in the system. Now look at 1981...


That we didn’t suffer a worse crash in 1999 is most likely the result of actions by the Fed. They jumped straight into the ‘exceptionally low” interest rate scheme and we’ve been there ever since. In the early part of the last decade(2002, I think) Greenspan stood on a stage with Bernanke and announced that the Fed’s goal was to “blow a bubble in housing”.

Well, they did that and more. To blow the bubble in housing they had to blow a bubble in credit, and when the the credit bubble burst, it took the housing bubble with it. And why did the credit bubble burst? Because fraud was inherent, built right into the bubble. Look at the facts: AIG, Lehman, Goldman, BofA.

You might agree with what they’ve done. You may believe, like they do, that the mathematics behind finance and economics can be controlled.

You may, indeed, be captive to such hubris.

Just remember one thing. What goes up, does indeed come down.

Unless it goes up with a velocity strong enough to overcome the natural forces of nature. And then it’s gone.

Facebook Replies, Sorta…

I finally received a reply from Facebook. It shows exactly how much they pay attention to their users:


Unfortunately, Facebook does not have the ability to restore accounts that have been permanently deleted from the site. We apologize for any inconvenience that this might cause you. If you’d like to continue using the site, please feel free to sign up for a new account with any of your personal email addresses. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.

Thanks for contacting Facebook,

User Operations

Dontcha just HATE robot replies?

Obviously my email was never read by human eyes. I do not ever want any facebook account reactivated, and my email explicitly said as much.

I love how they published on the web a message accusing me of using scripts – which are simply software robots – and then they use a software script – a software robot – to reply to me.

Gianna: If you exist, you must be the dumbest person on the planet. Did you even bother to read my email? What in there makes you think I want to associate myself with your corporation? I think facebook sucks. I publish this as evidence as to HOW MUCH facebook sucks.

I mean, really: How stupid can you be?

Facebook Should Follow Its Own Terms Of Service

Disabled Does Not Equal Deleted

Following is a copy of the email I sent to Facebook, concerning my recent request for deletion of my account.

I requested DELETION of my account in January. (account email:redacted.net)

I followed your rules, even though they were extremely hard to find. But follow them I did, as I had been forewarned that facebook wouldn’t delete my account unless all the rules were followed exactly.

When I go today to check, to make sure my account is deleted, I find that you have my account DISABLED, ostensibly because I abused your features.

Folks, I hardly ever even touched your features – they don’t appeal to me in the least. Which is one of the main reasons I wanted my account DELETED, not disabled. I will not be opening that account back up again, ever. That is a promise.

You people are asses. This was a test to see if you followed your own rules – I now have proof that you do not. I have evidence now that, contrary to your published rules, you try to punish those who are dissatisfied with your services. In your records, I am now officially an abuser of your site, and it was You who shut me down.

Quoted from your site:
“Why was I disabled?
Facebook enforces limits on the site in order to prevent certain actions that can be considered abusive. Your account has been disabled for persistent and rapid use of a certain feature. Unfortunately, for security reasons, we will not be able to further explain these limits.

Unfortunately, Facebook cannot provide any specifics on the rate limits that we enforce. Please know, however, that the speed at which you are acting and the sheer number of actions you have made are both taken into account.”

Security reasons? I call bullicus shitticus on that one. Essentially what you’re saying is that you have rules which you are not going to tell anybody about but when they break them you’re going to disable their account.

And how about that “speed and sheer number of actions”? I’m still wondering about that one. All I can guess is that you’re talking about software bots. Humans can’t possibly possess a speed to generate the ‘sheer number of actions’ required for an automated security script to kick in and disable an account. I am not, and have never used, those kinds of bots. The disabling of my account had nothing to do with any of this.

The truth, of course, is that I saw through you and, not liking what I saw, opted out of that account on my own volition. Login records for that account will show plainly that I logged onto your service sporadically (never actually liking your site) and while there, used your site very minimally over the life of the account. The only “rapid use of a certain feature” was my hurry to log off your site. I never once used any applications or frills you splattered all over my account pages.

In short – you are lying.

I cannot fathom why it would be so important to lie about this. Is your company so fragile that it can’t handle a single person, out of more than 300 million people, not liking what you do?

As a conclusion to this communication, I am demanding that the account in question be deleted from your servers, in accordance with the provisions set out in your terms of service. I complied with those terms. It is time for Facebook to do the same.

Looking forward to the day you all go under,

Jon Knight

So the next time you see that facebook has Even More Users Than Ever – remember that some of those users have tried like hell to delete their accounts but facebook won’t let them, and in fact tries to hurt the reputations of those that don’t like their crappy little site.

The logic is simple: facebook wants to say they have more users than anybody else. Each user they have, even the disabled ones, counts as a plus to their ‘bottom line’. They’re going to keep you on their books forever, if they can. And if your reputation gets ruined in the meantime… well, that’s a small price they don’t really have to pay at all.

We do.

Note to my family and friends: Even though Evan is using only facebook to keep us all informed, after today I will not be using facebook in any fashion whatsoever. I will go through the impossible to complete process of deleting my remaining account there, and after that I will not be logging onto their site at all.

Local Federal Economic Recovery Spending

Rockingham County, North Carolina


AdvanceNotice: Preventive maintenance for a fleet of 21 vehicles $46,575
Project Type: AdvanceNotice
Project Owner: Rockingham Public Access Transportation
Location: North Carolina, United States, Rockingham (NC)
Estimated Value: $46,575
Estimated Jobs: N/A – Congressional Budget Office
As compared with
1 – White House Council of Economic Advisors
Category: Vehicles – Fleet / Motor Pool Operations, Vehicles – Vehicle Maintenance / Fleet Operation
Market Sector: State/Municipal
Publication Date: 06/17/2009
Description: FEDERAL ECONOMIC RECOVERY SPENDING. Rural ARRA Projects. County: Rockingham. Transit System: Rockingham County Council on Aging Inc., operating as Rockingham Public Access Transportation. Project Description: Preventive maintenance for a fleet of 21 vehicles. Recovery Funds: $46,575.

Of course I left a comment there:

$2200 For Each Vehicle? Preventive Maintenance? This is absurd. A blatant waste of the funds. A good example of how we got into this mess in the first place – Unrestrained Greed.

Preventive maintenance is stuff like oil changes, tire rotation and flushing radiators. How much preventive maintenance can you do with more than $2 thousand?

This is our taxpayer dollars, folks.

Citibank Risk 4 – Demand Deposit Accounts No More

How to make a fool of yourself with a banana s...
Image by purplemattfish via Flickr

April Fools?

Check out this mess over at Seeking Alpha (my emphasis):

Seen on a recent Citibank (C) statement: “Effective April 1, 2010, we reserve the right to require (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking accounts. While we do not currently exercise this right and have not exercised it in the past, we are required by law to notify you of this change.”


I called Citi about it and they said the warning applies only to customers in Texas and that the notification had been mistakenly included on statements nationwide. Whatever the explanation, it doesn’t exactly inspire confidence in Citi. I’ve got nothing against Citi as a general matter — I have friends who work there, and know some account holders who are generally satisfied customers. But it’s hard to believe a bank would be sending out a notice like that on its statements.

A Citibank rep responded in the comments:

Received by email:
I saw your post on Citibank and wanted to get you some additional information. At issue is Reg D, which requires that in order for a NOW account to be eligible to earn interest or receive promotions, a bank must reserve the right to require seven days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal.

When Citibank moved to unlimited FDIC coverage in 2009, we had to reclassify many checking accounts to allow for immediate withdrawals in order to ensure all customers qualified for the additional coverage. When we moved back to standard FDIC coverage with most major banks in 2010, Citibank decided to reclassify those accounts back to make them eligible again for promotional incentives. To do so, Federal Reserve Reg D requires these accounts, called NOW accounts, to reserve the right to require a 7-day notice of withdrawal. We recently communicated this technical requirement to our customers. However, we have never exercised this right and have no plans to do so in the future.

Robert Julavits
Citi Public Affairs

Regular checking accounts are DDA accounts, normally. That means “Demand Deposit Account“. Simply explained, a DDA means that the bank acts as a custodian of your money. Your money in a DDA is NOT there to be loaned out to others. The money is supposed to be there at the exact time you demand it.

There is a type of “checking account” that is not DDA – it’s called a NOW account (Negotiable Order of Withdrawal) – which normally may require some amount of notice to the bank prior to withdrawal. These accounts generally offer some benefit, such as the ability for your cash to earn interest, in exchange for the stricter requirements.

Citi Lied

When I first read about this new Citibank risk, I took them at their word, that it was a simple mistake. Then I found this:

You may need to click the image to read the text. Look at the highlighted text. Especially read the last highlighted item.

“We reserve the right to require seven (7) days advance notice before permitting a withdrawal from all checking, savings and money market accounts.”

In essence, they’re saying that there are no DDA accounts available at Citi, period. At any point in time, they can simply deny your check or refuse to hand over your cash. This makes the response by Robert Julavits look like so much steaming crap in a field of green. Denninger explains it well (emphasis in original):

Now most banks will not allow you to walk in and demand $50,000 in cash at any instant, mostly because they don’t have it, or if they do have it allowing that would severely deplete their cash amount on hand and they would not be able to transact routine amounts for other people. After all, it takes time (even if only a few hours) to order up an armored truck full of $100s and $20s.

But “withdraw” is not limited to cash.

You can get a counter (bank) check for the entire balance, you can write a check on your account (and give it to someone or deposit it somewhere else) and you can wire or ACH money in or out of the account. All are “withdrawals.”

“NOW” (negotiable order of withdrawal) accounts are a different sort of animal. Those pay interest, and on those accounts the bank reserves the right (and always has) to require notice. Same with saving-linked sweeps (which, by the way, is what Alan Greenspan wildly expanded the authorization for early in his tenure as Fed Chairman, essentially destroying bank reserve requirements as this was instantaneously gamed to reduce actual held reserves almost to zero.)

What this “quiet” little change means is that Citibank has changed the character of all of its checking accounts. They no longer offer a “DDA” account, whether they did before or not.

The importance of this cannot be overstated. Without a “DDA” account the bank could at its sole discretion dishonor any check at any time, thereby hitting you with an overdraft fee as you didn’t give them the requisite seven days notice. It could also prevent you from removing your funds to a more appropriate (for you) institution for that seven days, entirely at their whim and sole discretion.

ALL time deposits (savings accounts included, which have always contained this requirement) effectively are a loan of funds from you to the bank. That is, you don’t “deposit” money there, you loan it to the bank which then charges other people to borrow it. This relationship isn’t taught in our Goebbels Government Education System (not even in college!) but it is nonetheless true.

However, essentially all banks have maintained one type of account – a Demand Deposit Account – which in fact operates differently. A DDA account is an appointment of the bank as a custodian of your funds, not as a borrower of your funds. Said account never pays interest (per Federal Reserve rules – and common sense) yet it allows immediate, unrestricted access to your funds because you are not lending them to the bank, you are appointing them as a custodian of them.

DDA accounts are essential for the ordinary flow of commerce. There must be an option available to consumers and businesses alike in which they can place custody of funds they may need, up to the entire balance of that account, at any point in time without prior notice. Without this ability you are literally at the mercy of the financial institution in question, which can cause you to incur hideous “bounced check” and other similar charges as well as potentially exposing you to criminal liability for “uttering” (writing bad checks.)

This is NOT a trivial change in terms. I would never do business with an institution for my business or personal checking accounts that did not offer a true demand account, and you should not either. This sort of change is outrageously destructive to your rights as the funds you have on deposit in a checking account are not intended to be loaned to the bank to do with as they wish, but rather to be held for your immediate (if necessary or desired) use.

Do you know what kind of checking account you have at your current bank or credit union? Here’s a quick somewhat reliable test: Ask yourself one question – does my checking account have interest applied to it? If you are accruing interest on the funds in your account, then you do not have a DDA account. DDA accounts, per federal law, cannot accrue interest.

Maybe you think that you need that interest? Wow, how much do you have in that checking account anyway? And if interest is your thing, what is your cash doing in a checking account anyway? Face it, for the few dollars per year you get in interest, you’re allowing someone else ultimate control over your cash. I’d be willing to bet that one bounced check charge would wipe all that interest away.

And with a policy like the Citibank policy, that could happen even if you have funds in the account. Check yourself, check your bank. This is, after all, your money.

For more on CitiRisk at Wordout:
The Citibank Risk
More Citibank Risk
Citibank Risk 3 – Another WTF Bailout

And Now For Something Completely

Detainees at Camp X-Ray Original caption: Deta...
Image via Wikipedia

This is a bit long, but I hope you’ll read through it anyway. Things like this have been going on too long, and if we don’t soon get a grip on who we are, we may not like who we become.

The Same

Apparently, we’re still basically saying that we don’t give a damn about the fact that we torture folks, even when we know that they have never done anything against us.

We are such a great nation.

There were 3 guys in Guantanamo. They all died on the same night in June 2006. The US government says they all committed suicide.

Supposedly, even though in isolation, with zero contact, they all decided to tie their hands behind their backs, then stuff wads of cloth very far down their throats, then put a mask on so they wouldn’t accidentally spit out the wads while they were choking, then climbed up on a wash basin in their cells, then put their heads through a noose made of more sheets than were issued to prisoners, then jumped off the sink, hanging themselves, simultaneously.

There are other accounts, however. From “The Guantánamo “Suicides”: A Camp Delta sergeant blows the whistle” published in Harpers Magazine (bold emphasis mine):

When I asked Talal Al-Zahrani what he thought had happened to his son, he was direct. “They snatched my seventeen-year-old son for a bounty payment,” he said. “They took him to Guantánamo and held him prisoner for five years. They tortured him. Then they killed him and returned him to me in a box, cut up.”

Al-Zahrani was a brigadier general in the Saudi police. He dismissed the Pentagon’s claims, as well as the investigation that supported them. Yasser, he said, was a young man who loved to play soccer and didn’t care for politics. The Pentagon claimed that Yasser’s frontline battle experience came from his having been a cook in a Taliban camp. Al-Zahrani said that this was preposterous: “A cook? Yasser couldn’t even make a sandwich!”

“Yasser wasn’t guilty of anything,” Al-Zahrani said. “He knew that. He firmly believed he would be heading home soon. Why would he commit suicide?” The evidence supports this argument. Hyperbolic U.S. government statements at the time of Yasser Al-Zahrani’s death masked the fact that his case had been reviewed and that he was, in fact, on a list of prisoners to be sent home. I had shown Al-Zahrani the letter that the government says was Yasser’s suicide note and asked him whether he recognized his son’s handwriting. He had never seen the note before, he answered, and no U.S. official had ever asked him about it. After studying the note carefully, he said, “This is a forgery.”

Also returned to Saudi Arabia was the body of Mani Al-Utaybi. Orphaned in his youth, Mani grew up in his uncle’s home in the small town of Dawadmi. I spoke to one of the many cousins who shared that home, Faris Al-Utaybi. Mani, said Faris, had gone to Baluchistan—a rural, tribal area that straddles Iran, Pakistan, and Afghanistan—to do humanitarian work, and someone there had sold him to the Americans for $5,000. He said that Mani was a peaceful man who would harm no one. Indeed, U.S. authorities had decided to release Al-Utaybi and return him to Saudi Arabia. When he died, he was just a few weeks shy of his transfer.

Salah Al-Salami was seized in March 2002, when Pakistani authorities raided a residence in Karachi believed to have been used as a safe house by Abu Zubaydah and took into custody all who were living there at the time. A Yemeni, Al-Salami had quit his job and moved to Pakistan with only $400 in his pocket. The U.S. suspicions against him rested almost entirely on the fact that he had taken lodgings, with other students, in a boarding house that terrorists might at one point have used. There was no direct evidence linking him either to Al Qaeda or to the Taliban. On August 22, 2008, the Washington Post quoted from a previously secret review of his case: “There is no credible information to suggest [Al-Salami] received terrorist related training or is a member of the Al Qaeda network.” All that stood in the way of Al-Salami’s release from Guantánamo were difficult diplomatic relations between the United States and Yemen.

Law and Legacy

Two of the families opened legal proceedings against the United States. This week, Judge Ellen Huvelle dismissed the lawsuit because of the Military Commissions Act of 2006. In short, her answer to the families was “So sorry! My hands are tied. Besides it’s obvious they were guilty because the military said so. Nothing we can do here!”

Apparently, the Bush administration’s legacy is still with us. And with this decision, it becomes a part of the Obama legacy. If things like are allowed to stand, it becomes the legacy of all of us.

Read this, from Harpers again. You’ll see that the esteemed judge made at least one blatantly false statement:


In the lawsuit, the families of Yasser Al-Zahrani and Salah Ali Abdullah Ahmed Al-Salami sought damages under the Alien Tort Claims Act, arguing that the two prisoners had been wrongfully imprisoned, tortured, and subjected to cruel, unusual, and inhuman punishment. In dismissing the suit, Judge Huvelle did not parse the claims brought by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the families of the deceased prisoners. Rather, she concluded that Congress had stripped the court of jurisdiction to hear and resolve such cases when it enacted the Military Commissions Act of 2006.

Pete Yost of the Associated Press reports:

The judge said the two detainees were properly determined by the U.S. military to be enemy combatants. Citing an appeals court decision, Huvelle said judicial involvement in the “delicate area” of how detainees are treated could undermine military and diplomatic efforts by the U.S. government on the terrorism front.

Al-Zahrani, 22 years old when he died, was captured in Afghanistan in late 2001 and he was 17 years old when he was transferred to Guantanamo in 2002, according to the suit by the men’s families. Al-Salami was arrested by local forces in Pakistan in March 2002.

Judge Huvelle’s conclusion that the detainees were “properly determined” to be “enemy combatants” runs contrary to the evidence. Both men were turned over to U.S. forces for bounty payments, and a thorough investigation of their cases by American military intelligence concluded that there was no meaningful evidence to link either man to either Al Qaeda or the Taliban. Al-Zahrani had been placed on a list to be released back to Saudi Arabia, immediately behind Mani Al-Utaybi, who also died under still unexplained circumstances on June 9, 2006, at approximately the same time as Al-Zahrani and Al-Salami, according to pathologists.

The decision to dismiss the cases follows from a Bush Administration effort to block judicial examination of any case involving the death or mistreatment of prisoners at Guantánamo, which was incorporated in the Military Commissions Act of 2006 as one of the last measures adopted by the G.O.P.-controlled Congress following elections that delivered control to the Democrats. Although President Obama, as an Illinois senator, voted against the act and joined in calls for its repeal, his administration has yet to take steps to overturn it. The measure, as applied by Judge Huvelle, placed the United States in breach of its obligations under the Convention Against Torture. Article 14 of the Convention provides:

Each State Party shall ensure in its legal system that the victim of an act of torture obtains redress and has an enforceable right to fair and adequate compensation including the means for as full rehabilitation as possible. In the event of the death of the victim as a result of an act of torture, his dependents shall be entitled to compensation.


Both men were turned over for bounty payments? Extraordinary Rendition, indeed.

The Military Commissions Act of 2006 doesn’t supersede any treaty we’ve entered into with another nation. New laws are supposed to take into account any provisions of all treaties currently enforced. Laws which do not cannot be passed without a repudiation of the treaty.

And even if the intent of the law in question was to keep the civilian justice system from invading the military justice system, which is apparently what it was trying to do, these guys had been determined non-combatants, not the enemy.

For the judge to blatantly lie about that as an excuse to get out of hearing a difficult case says much about our judicial system, and much about us.

States of Torture – UK and US

pets are like people
Image by eye of einstein via Flickr

Barack “Barky” Obama

In a fit of political incorrectness, I want to remind you about Guantanamo, the base that Barky Obama said would be closed. I want to remind you about the change we believed in – the open and transparent government our candidate promised us, if we would just elect him.

One thing is clear, Barky boy’s promises are about as transparent as so much hot air. Whether it’s the fact that he chose to be the savior for the banking system at the expense of the people, or the fact that his proposed budget sets impossible standards to reach a goal that is based on intentionally fabricated figures, or the fact that the US extraordinary rendition program is still going strong, the truth is that we are all beginning to see right through him.

Let me state my position clearly:

I see very little difference in the policies of the Bush and Obama administrations. Especially when it comes to their positions on the use of terror, I mean, torture. I am against what obviously is the current and recent official policy. In my opinion, especially since we, the USA, charged and executed Japanese soldiers for the very specific charge of waterboarding, everyone involved should be brought to trial and charged as war criminals. After all, we set the precedent for this.

The chances of that happening are slim, but at least the whole thing isn’t getting swept under the rug. Across the big lake, they’re starting to bring some things out in the open. From the NYTimes(emphasis mine):

There are times when governments fight to keep documents secret to protect sensitive intelligence or other vital national security interests. And there are times when they are just trying to cover up incompetence, misbehavior or lawbreaking.

Last week, when a British court released secret intelligence material relating to the torture allegations of a former Guantánamo prisoner, Binyam Mohamed, it was clear that the second motive had been in play when both the Bush and the Obama administrations and some high-ranking British officials tried to prevent the disclosure.


At issue in the British court were seven paragraphs derived from American intelligence documents. The Bush administration claimed the material contained top-secret information and threatened to cut off intelligence sharing with Britain if it was released. Last year, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton repeated those threats, despite President Obama’s campaign promises of openness and the rule of law in his detainee policy.

The paragraphs contained no real secrets. Mainly, the document — a summary of information that American intelligence provided to Britain’s security service, MI5 — echoes previous disclosures by the C.I.A. and Mr. Mohamed’s harrowing account of his ordeal.

But what it does contain is the assessment by British intelligence that his treatment violated legal prohibitions against torture and cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment of prisoners.

barky's promise

A spokesman for President Obama expressed “deep disappointment” in the court’s decision, which might have been shocking except that Mr. Obama has refused to support any real investigation of Mr. Bush’s lawless detention policies. His lawyers have tried to shut down court cases filed by victims of those policies, with the same extravagant claims of state secrets and executive power that Mr. Bush made.

The full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is weighing the Justice Department’s attempt to shut down a civil lawsuit brought by Mr. Mohamed and four others — on a flimsy national security claim that has been rendered even flimsier by the British court.

“I’ve seen the papers you are not allowed to see”

That’s the subheading of an article appearing in Saturday’s TimesOnline, a British publication. We are not being told the whole truth about torture” is written by the lawyer for the Guantanamo detainee, Binyam Mohamed, the British citizen who was tortured while in American captivity. (again, emphasis mine)

The British public isn’t permitted to see the classified evidence about Mr Mohamed’s abuse. As his lawyer, I am — albeit in the US — and this places me in a fairly good position to call Dr Howell’s bluff. I cannot reveal anything not in the public domain but I can suggest, sad to say, that Dr Howells has been less than forthright; either that, or evidence has been hidden from him and his committee.


There is, the Court of Appeal told us this week, a “vast body” of secret evidence that has not been revealed. Yet, in making his own public assessment on the innocence of every intelligence officer, Dr Howells lacks the appearance of objectivity. Nor was he fair in his criticism of Lord Neuberger. The assertion by a politician that we should take his word for it is no substitute for a full and impartial inquiry.


And finally, from Harpers(emph mine all mine):

Former vice president Dick Cheney, on the other hand, seems proud of his criminal misadventures. On Sunday, he took to the airwaves to brag about them.

“I was a big supporter of waterboarding,” Cheney said in an appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday. He went on to explain that Justice Department lawyers had been instructed to write legal opinions to cover the use of this and other torture techniques after the White House had settled on them.


What prosecutor can look away when a perpetrator mocks the law itself and revels in his role in violating it? Such cases cry out for prosecution. Dick Cheney wants to be prosecuted. And prosecutors should give him what he wants.

Who the hell are we anymore? Nothing will happen to this guy, even though he effectively admitted to being a war criminal on national TV. I’d like to slap that smarmy smile right off his face.

Hey Dick, let’s go hunting…

Iranian Protesters Are Patriots


February 11th marks the 31st anniversary of the Revolution in Iran. It was that long ago that the Shah relinquished control and Iran officially became an Islamic Republic. In advance of the expected protests against the current regime, the Iranian government has crippled or blocked nearly all citizen access to the internet.

The protests began in earnest last June, after it became widely believed that the presidential election had been rigged.

I’m sure that the unholy men in power there in Tehran wish they could control things like this. It turns out, they can’t. Videos showing the massive protests have been smuggled out of the country and posted to YouTube. Plus, Google Earth spent a little extra cash and pointed a satellite at Tehran, just so we could get a bird’s eye view. (Maybe Ache-mean-a-jihadebad will think twice the next time he wants to ban gmail?)

Look, I’m warning you again. Some of the stuff shown below is not for the faint of heart. Don’t watch it.

There’s more to read and watch over at CitizenTube and the YouTube-Global blog.

Want to read more about the 2009 Iranian elections? Check out the Niteowl Greenbriefs in the drop-down Archive list, at the top right of this page.

Commercial Real Estate and Tricks And Traps

Houses Are Only One Kind Of Real Estate

There are also shopping malls, office buildings, stores and shops of all sizes. From the looks of things, by the end of the year more than 50% of those with loans will be underwater. From the February COP’s report (emphasis mine):

The Congressional Oversight Panel’s February oversight report, “Commercial Real Estate Losses and the Risk to Financial Stability,” expresses concern that a wave of commercial real estate loan losses over the next four years could jeopardize the stability of many banks, particularly community banks. Commercial real estate loans made over the last decade – including retail properties, office space, industrial facilities, hotels and apartments – totaling $1.4 trillion will require refinancing in 2011 through 2014. Nearly half are at present “underwater,” meaning the borrower owes more on the loan than the underlying property is worth. While these problems have no single cause, the loans most likely to fail are those made at the height of the real estate bubble.

The Panel found that “a significant wave of commercial mortgage defaults would trigger economic damage that could touch the lives of nearly every American.” When commercial properties fail, it creates a downward spiral of economic contraction: job losses; deteriorating store fronts, office buildings and apartments; and the failure of the banks serving those communities. Because community banks play a critical role in financing the small businesses that could help the American economy create new jobs, their widespread failure could disrupt local communities, undermine the economic recovery and extend an already painful recession.

And from the Executive Summary of that report:

Between 2010 and 2014, about $1.4 trillion in commercial real estate loans will reach the
end of their terms. Nearly half are at present underwater – that is, the borrower owes more
than the underlying property is currently worth. Commercial property values have fallen more
than 40 percent since the beginning of 2007. Increased vacancy rates, which now range from
eight percent for multifamily housing to 18 percent for office buildings, and falling rents, which
have declined 40 percent for office space and 33 percent for retail space, have exerted a powerful
downward pressure on the value of commercial properties.

Elizabeth Warren chairs the Congressional Oversight Panel. Below is a short piece of interview from CNBC.

Tricks And Traps

“For years, Wall Street CEOs have thrown away customer trust like so much worthless trash.

Banks and brokers have sold deceptive mortgages for more than a decade. Financial wizards made billions by packaging and repackaging those loans into securities. And federal regulators played the role of lookout at a bank robbery, holding back anyone who tried to stop the massive looting from middle-class families. When they weren’t selling deceptive mortgages, Wall Street invented new credit card tricks and clever overdraft fees.


So far, Wall Street CEOs seem determined to stop any kind of watchdog. They seem to think that they can run their businesses forever without our trust. This is a bad calculation.

It’s a bad calculation because shareholders suffer enormously from the long-term cost of the boom-and-bust cycles that accompany a poorly regulated market. J.P. Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon recently explained this brave new world, saying that crises should be expected ‘every five to seven years.’

He is wrong.”

~Elizabeth Warren, stating the case for a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency in the Wall Street Journal

Ben Bernanke – In His Own Words

From the description over at YouTube.

This video should make people think twice about listening to anything that Chairmen of the Fed Ben Bernanke says. It’s a compilation of statements he’s made from 2005-2007 that will have you 100% certain America is doomed if we continue to value what this moron says.

And a comment from the YouTube viewer toppermost1:

Is he an idiot or is he wilfully obtuse? Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan have done alright by Uncle Ben. I think he knows exactly what he’s doing – leech main street dry and give it all to his wall street buddies. Just like Bush’s administration were full of people that were invested in oil, defence and construction - and hence profited from the Iraq war, Obama’s administration is full of wall street people – who have profited from the cheap fed money and the bailouts.

Thanks to Barry over at TheBigPicture.

Totally Consistent With Climate Change Projections

Global average surface temperature 1850 to 2007
Image via Wikipedia

Global Warming

Whether you call it Global Warming or Climate Change, these historic storms fit right in. Remember, just because we’re cold here in the USA, it doesn’t mean the whole planet is cold. Other places on our world are enjoying some of the warmest winter temperatures on record.

The predictions of more severe weather patterns and more of them is exactly what we are seeing here. Yes, the planet is warming up on a global scale and yes, we are seeing record snowfalls right in the midst of it.

From the Weather Underground of Dr Jeff Masters(emphasis mine):

The second ferocious blizzard in a week to pound the Mid-Atlantic continues to intensify, but has now moved out to sea away from the coast. That’s a very good thing, because with a central pressure of 969 mb, the storm is as intense as a Category 1 hurricane. The blizzard brought wind gusts as high as 51 mph at Massachusetts’ Nantucket Island last night. The snow has pretty much ended over the Northeastern U.S., but the mighty blizzard dumped 1 – 2 feet of snow over much of the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, with a peak snowfall of 27.5″ recorded at Ortanna, Pennsylvania. When combined with the 1 – 2 feet of snow still on the ground from last weekend’s blizzard, the snow depths in the Mid-Atlantic are reaching ridiculous proportions. This morning, Baltimore reported 35″ of snow on the ground, which would break their previous all-time record of 30″ on snow on the ground, set on February 13, 1899. The 19.8″ that fell on Baltimore from the blizzard was that city’s 10th greatest snowfall on record. Philadelphia’s 15.8″ was its ninth greatest snowfall. The winter of 2009 – 2010 now has three spots on the top ten all-time heaviest snowfall list for those cities. Record keeping began in the late 1800s, and I’m not aware of any major city in the U.S. that has that many record snowfalls in one winter. If there is, I want to hear about it! Washington D.C.’s 10.8″ snowfall from the storm missed making its top ten list of heaviest snows, so that city has only two storms from the winter of 2009 – 2010 on the list. The snow blitz that the Mid-Atlantic has endured with the three record-setting Nor’easters of the 2009 – 2010 is truly a rare event that has no parallel in the historic record.

You can check out some images of the current storm over at NASA.

Representation In The Senate – What If?

Entrance to the Senate
Image via Wikipedia

Noah Brier points me to an interesting concept. Follow along for something you might like:

Imagine a chamber in which senators were elected by different income brackets — with two senators representing the poorest 2 percent of the electorate, two senators representing the richest 2 percent and so on.

Based on Census Bureau data, five senators would represent Americans earning between $100,000 and $1 million individually per year, with a single senator working on behalf of the millionaires (technically, it would be two-tenths of a senator). Eight senators would represent Americans with no income. Sixteen would represent Americans who make less than $10,000 a year, an amount well below the federal poverty line for families. The bulk of the senators would work on behalf of the middle class, with 34 representing Americans making $30,000 to $80,000 per year.

Imagine trying to convince someone — Michael Bloomberg, perhaps? — to be the lonely senator representing the richest percentile. And what if the senators were apportioned according to jobs figures? This year, the unemployed would have gained two seats. Think of the deals that would be made to attract that bloc!

Read the entire thing at TheWashingtonPost.

Obama’s Unemployment Analysis – A Bubble-Pipe Dream?

Frame By Frame

Frame by frame, death by drowning
in your own in your own
Step by step, die by numbers
in your own in your own
King Crimson

Below is a chart from CalculatedRisk, one of my favorite spaces. It depicts the expectations Obama’s team is using when they created this year’s budget. You can read the team’s “Economic and Budget Analysis” by clicking that link (64 pages pdf). The blue line is the historical unemployment and the red line is the Obama projection. (Click the chart to see the original – it’s much clearer.)

Obama 2010 Budget Unemployment Forecast
Obama 2010 Budget Unemployment Forecast

The beauty of this is the way it’s presented. The forecast is for an average over the year. So for 2010, the unemployment rate can keep increasing for the next 5 months before anyone can say the estimates are off. And even then, the point could be argued all the way into December.

Bubble Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Looking back over the peaks in that chart I see and remember the things that ‘turned it around’ – In 2003 the housing boom was just getting really fueled up after the tech crash, in 1992 the Tech boom was just powering up after the S&L crisis was cleaned up. In 1982 the Reagan team had just remodeled the financial markets, aka, “Reaganomics”. In 1975 we had just come off the gold standard for our currency, allowing the Federal Reserve to print as much cash as they wanted.

You can argue the particulars of each instance, but I think I’ve got it down to its simplest form. Each time there was a crisis, our government turned to some form of credit inflation to produce employment. In each of the times I described it worked. The numbers are right there on that chart.

So why am I so certain it won’t work this time? Because each of those times, jobs were created by easy money in the form of cheap loans. For the last 4 decades, that’s what they’ve been doing – blowing bubbles made of different kinds of credit. They were using debt to create a false appearance of prosperity, a bubble. Each time the bubble burst, a new one was formed somewhere else.

This last bubble was a real doozy, too. To actually get it to work, they had to create loans (they like to call them ‘Financial Instruments’) which were literally impossible to pay off, then present them to the public as cheap cheap cheap (my brother steals it and I sell it), somehow forgetting to mention the suicidal nature of actually signing one of these things. I’m not condemning them (at the moment) for that, it’s just a fact and I’m stating it because it leads to the next thought…

They had to create those liar loans to get the less wealthy in a debt because the more wealthy middle class and rich were already tapped out on their credit.

With that in the front of my mind I have to ask: What kind of credit bubble do they think is possible to inflate that will create jobs this time?

Astrotour – Planets

What can you do with this?

I really don’t know. But it’s fascinating to watch the planets sail around the sun, for some reason I can’t describe.

Click here to watch it in action.


Thanks to TheBigPicture for the pointer.

Personal note – Donna: I cannot find your email address. Please send me an email and we’ll try to fix the problems you’re having with your pc. Thanks.