Your Tax Dollars At Work In Egypt

Seventy billion, with a B? For comparison, Forbes lists the world’s richest person as Carlos Slim with $53.5 billion.

Mubarak family fortune could reach $70bn, say experts

President Hosni Mubarak’s family fortune could be as much as $70bn (£43.5bn) according to analysis by Middle East experts, with much of his wealth in British and Swiss banks or tied up in real estate in London, New York, Los Angeles and along expensive tracts of the Red Sea coast.

After 30 years as president and many more as a senior military official, Mubarak has had access to investment deals that have generated hundreds of millions of pounds in profits. Most of those gains have been taken offshore and deposited in secret bank accounts or invested in upmarket homes and hotels.

See also:
How much Is Egypt’s President Mubarak Worth? Some Say $70 Billion And Counting
The Mubarak Family’s Wealth
Hosni Mubarak richest man in world: Report
Hosni Mubarak richest man in world with estimated 70 billion dollar fortune: Report
Egyptian President Mubarak Is Richest Man In The World
Experts Say Mubarak Family’s Net Worth is Billions
Hosni Mubarak family’s $70 billion fortune
Mubarak’s wealth could reach 70bn
It Pays Well to Be Egypt’s Dictator
Egypt’s Mubarak Likely to Retain Vast Wealth
How did Egypt become so corrupt?

This is just beyond all ridiculousness. I mean, how the [expletive deleted] was Mubarak allowed to amass all this ill-gotten gain? The U.S. government must have known where all this money was going, how could they let this travesty happen?

/all I can say is that before Mister World Record Corruption Person gets to go anywhere and retire, he needs to be forced to disgorge every last [expletive deleted] penny of misappropriated U.S. taxpayer money

Merry Christmas From Anwar Al-Awlaki

Once again, just in time for our holiday enjoyment, al-Qaeda master propagandist Anwar Al-Awlaki is busy spreading Islam’s message of peace and tolerance. And, as usual, he has plenty of brainwashed jihadi murderbots ready and willing to cause carnage at his command.

Anti-terror police arrest 12 people in nationwide raids

Twelve men were arrested in Cardiff, Stoke-on-Trent, Birmingham and the capital following intelligence that a terrorist cell was at an advanced stage of planning co-ordinated attacks on shops, banks and “iconic targets” in the capital, The Daily Telegraph has learned.

The dawn raids followed months of surveillance by MI5. Police moved in when intercepted communications suggested that the bombers were ready to act.

Metropolitan Police Assistant Commissioner John Yates, the country’s most senior counter-terrorism officer, said the raids had been “absolutely necessary” to keep the public safe. The cell was said to have been made up of young British men, largely of Bangladeshi origin, who were influenced by al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and the preacher Anwar al-Awlaki, who is based in Yemen.

See also:
Anti-terror raids lead to 12 arrests over multiple bomb attack fears
Anti-terror raids lead to 12 suspects being held
British Police Arrest 12 Terror Suspects
British police hold 12 on suspicion of terror plans
Arrested terror suspects ‘were targeting shoppers’
Police in UK arrest a dozen young men accused of plotting Christmas attacks in Britain
Major Bomb Plot Disrupted in England, Say Police
Counter terrorism arrests ‘absolutely necessary’
12 men arrested in suspected UK terrorism plot
Graphic: Arrests made in U.K. terror plot

I would be extremely surprised if their weren’t similar attacks being planned here in the United States.

/so, stay tuned, there’s still four more terrorism days until Christmas

All Great Wars Must Come To An End

No one can accuse Germany of not finishing the wars they start.

Germany Closes Book on World War I With Final Reparations Payment

Germany will make its last reparations payment for World War I on Oct. 3, settling its outstanding debt from the 1919 Versailles Treaty and quietly closing the final chapter of the conflict that shaped the 20th century.

Oct. 3, the 20th anniversary of German unification, will also mark the completion of the final chapter of World War I with the end of reparations payments 92 years after the country’s defeat.

The German government will pay the last instalment of interest on foreign bonds it issued in 1924 and 1930 to raise cash to fulfil the enormous reparations demands the victorious Allies made after World War I.

The reparations bankrupted Germany in the 1920s and the fledgling Nazi party seized on the resulting public resentment against the terms of the Versailles Treaty.

The sum was initially set at 269 billion gold marks, around 96,000 tons of gold, before being reduced to 112 billion gold marks by 1929, payable over a period of 59 years.

Germany suspended annual payments in 1931 during the global financial crisis and Adolf Hitler unsurprisingly declined to resume them when he came to power in 1933.

But in 1953, West Germany agreed at an international conference in London to service its international bond obligations from before World War II. In the years that followed it repaid the principal on the bonds, which had been issued to private and institutional investors in countries including the United States.

Under the terms of the London accord, Germany was allowed to wait until it unified before paying some €125 million in outstanding interest that had accrued on its foreign debt in the years 1945 to 1952. After the Berlin Wall fell and West and East Germany united in 1990, the country dutifully paid that interest off in annual instalments, the last of which comes due on Oct. 3.

See also:
Germany to pay off its WWI reparations debt Oct. 3
Germany finishes paying WWI reparations, ending century of ‘guilt’
Germany finishes paying WWI reparations, ending century of ‘guilt’
‘Germany makes final payment for WWI reparations’
Germany to settle last World War One debt
Germany pays off WWI debt
Germany set to pay off last WW1 reparations
Germany to finally clear WW-I reparations
Why has Germany taken so long to pay off its WWI debt?
World War I reparations

It’s king of ironic that Germany, the loser of two world wars, can afford to pay off it’s 100 year old debt in full, while the United States, the winner of those two world wars, continues to dig a bottomless debt hole that we may never be able to climb out of.

/think maybe Germany can spare $14 trillion?

This Is Your Olympic Committee On Drugs

What the [expletive deleted] are these, some form of mutant Teletubbies?

Are London’s Wenlock and Mandeville the most bizarre Olympics mascots yet?

Anyone who thought The Fuwa (aka, “The Friendlies,” the official mascots of the 2008 Beijing Olympics) or Izzy (aka, Whatizit from the 1996 Atlanta Games) were bizarre, wait till you get a load of Wenlock and Mandeville.

Those are the names of the wacky new mascots unveiled in London on Wednesday for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games.

The London organizers said the one-eyed creatures — who kind of look like a cross between Muno from “Yo Gabba Gabba” and a cellphone — are supposed to help inspire kids to get involved with Olympic sports.

Wenlock is named after Much Wenlock, a town about four miles outside of London that helped inspire the modern Olympics with its own local games. Mandeville is named after Stoke Mandeville, a town about 45 miles from London where the Paralympic movement started.

I report, you decide.






See also:
Wenlock and Mandeville – Mascots – London 2012 Olympics / Paralympics
London 2012: Olympic mascots Wenlock and Mandeville unveiled
Meet London Olympics mascots Wenlock, Mandeville
London 2012 Olympic mascots: Wenlock and Mandeville’s design features explained
London Olympics 2012: Meet Wenlock and Mandeville, drips off the old block
London’s 2012 Olympic mascots
Olympic mascots off to meet UK’s pupils
Atlanta’s Olympic mascot meets its ugly match
London Mascots Are More High Tech Than Warm and Fuzzy
It’s hard to warm to Wenlock and Mandeville
2012 Olympics Mascots Revealed to Mixed Reviews
Whose idea was this?
London Olympic Mascots Wenlock and Mandeville Will See You Now
London Unveils Creepy-Looking Mascots for 2012 Olympics Rife With Symbolism
Olympic mascots spoofed on web
Meet the London 2012 Olympic Mascot, a Ghoulish Cycloptic Phallus Named Wenlock
Wenlock and Mandeville caught mocking ‘two-eyed freaks’
London 2012 Official Homepage
2012 Summer Olympics
London 2012 from the International Olympic Committee
IOC Official Website
International Olympic Committee

Is there some requirement that Olympic mascots have to be oddly weird? Is there a secret contest with crazy prizes for the designers to make the latest Olympic mascots even more strangely surreal than the last ones? Is everyone on the International Olympic Committee whacked out on hallucinogenic drugs?

/how bizarre

L16, You Sank My Mothership!

Score one for NATO.

NATO warship sinks pirate ship off Somalia

A NATO destroyer has sunk a pirate mothership in the Indian Ocean off the Somali coast after allowing the crew to leave, the alliance said Monday.

Shona Lowe, an anti-piracy spokeswoman, said the HDMS Absalon — the Danish flagship of the three-vessel NATO flotilla in the region — disrupted a pirate operation by “scuttling” one of the large boats used by Somali gangs to transport attack teams to piracy hunting areas far off the coast.

The mothership was fired on and sunk after its crew members were transferred to a smaller boat in tow, which was allowed to return to the mainland, she said.

“NATO is not in the business of firing at skiffs with pirates in them,” Lowe said in an interview from NATO’s naval headquarters in Northwood, near London.

Lowe said no further details were immediately available.

The action occurred Sunday in the Indian Ocean, rather than the adjacent Gulf of Aden where most pirate attacks take place.

See also:
NATO Warship Sinks Somali Pirate Mothership
NATO Sinks Pirate Mother Ship Off Somalia
NATO Disrupts Piracy in the Somali Basin
NATO warship sinks pirate ship off Somalia
Danish NATO destroyer sinks pirate mothership off Somalia
Pirate ship sunk
Absalon Class Combat / Flexible Support Ship, Denmark
Absalon Class Combat / Flexible Support Ship, Denmark
HDMS Absalon (L16)

/it’s nice that NATO is fighting back and sinking pirate ships, but they really need to develop rules of engagement that allow them to detain the actual pirates, rather than just keep releasing them, free to plunder another day

Intifada At Isfahan

Iran protests intensify, prompting state of emergency in Isfahan

Iran security forces and opposition protesters stepped up clashes on Wednesday in the city of Isfahan, the birthplace of Iran’s top dissident cleric, Grand Ayatollah Hossein Ali Montazeri. Montazeri’s death this past weekend, and the rituals marking his passing, coincide with a new push by regime opponents during a 10-day religious commemoration.

The government has responded by harassing two reformist clerics who could replace Montazeri, as well as stripping the opposition’s top political figure – Mir Hossein Mousavi – of his sole official post.

In Isfahan, pro-regime basiji militiamen used batons, chains, and stones to beat mourners who gathered at the city’s main mosque to remember Montazeri, the spiritual mentor of the Iranian opposition, whose websites reported the clashes.

“While people were reciting the Quran [in the mosque], plainclothed forces attacked them and threw tear gas into the mosque yard and sprayed those inside with pepper spray after they closed the doors,” reported the reformist Parlemannews. “They severely beat the people inside,” then doused the clerical speaker with pepper spray and arrested him.

“Tens of thousands gathered outside for the memorial but were savagely attacked by security forces and the basijis,” witness Farid Salavati told the Associated Press. He said that dozens were injured as riot police and vigilantes clubbed and kicked men and women alike – some in the face – and arrested 50 people who had gathered to mourn the grand ayatollah.

Montazeri – the chosen successor of Iran’s first supreme leader, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, until a falling out in 1989 – had been unrelenting in his criticism of the officially declared reelection of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad last June, as well as of Iran’s current Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

“Khamenei is a murderer, his rule is invalid,” protesters shouted on Wednesday, referring to violence since June, in which severe force has been used against Iranians who marched to reverse the official result. They wanted to see the “Green Movement” presidential candidate, Mr. Mousavi, elected. Scores died in June and thousands were arrested; protests have flared repeatedly around the nation since then.

In Isfahan, the clashes on Wednesday portend more violence, as protesters and pro-government forces alike prepare for the religious peak of the Shiite calendar, Ashura, which falls on Sunday. By the end of the day on Wednesday, it was reported that the governor had announced a state of emergency and reportedly called in the military for help.

“The regime has no alternative but to try to block the commemorations of Grand Ayatollah Montazeri, because it has been state policy to demote him,” says Mehrdad Khonsari of the Center for Arab and Iranian Studies in London. “But given the events of the last six months, this only aggravates the situation [and] becomes a catalyst for more protests and is counter-productive.

“Every demonstration is a dress rehearsal for the next demonstration. Once Ashura is over next week, there will be more demonstrations,” says Mr. Khonsari. “The fact is there is no likelihood that these protests are going to come to an end anytime soon.”

See also:
Police, protesters clash in southern Iran
Iran forces clash with cleric’s mourners: websites
Iran: unrest reported in Isfahan
Iran warns that it will deal ‘fiercely’ with protesters
Iran security forces clash with protesters in Isfahan
Iranian security forces suppress new wave of opposition protests in Isfahan
Isfahan beset by violence
Iran behaves increasingly like a ‘police state’: US
Iran Beats Mourners, Signaling Harder Line
Esfahan / Isfahan Nuclear Technology Center N32°40′ E51°40′
Esfahan (Isfahan) Nuclear Technology Center
Could This Be A Tipping Point?

It looks like this coming weekend might be shaping up as the largest nationwide Iranian opposition protest yet and, judging by recent events, it could also be the bloodiest. I can only hope, especially after reading this, that all the Green Movement pain won’t be in vain and these protests eventually reach the point of no return, critical mass, the overthow of the Iranian mullahs, regime change.

/Go Green!

Unfair Advantage

This shouldn’t be allowed, period.

SEC Probes Flash Orders to Ensure Fair Access to Data (Update3)

The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission is examining so-called flash orders to ensure equity markets aren’t putting investors at a disadvantage by giving some brokerages advance knowledge about trades.

“The SEC staff is specifically examining flash orders to ensure best execution and fair access to information for all investors,” John Nester, a spokesman for the regulator, said today.

Charles Schumer, the third-ranking Democrat in the U.S. Senate, told the SEC to review flash orders in a July 24 letter. Nasdaq OMX Group Inc., Bats Global Markets, Direct Edge Holdings LLC and the CBOE Stock Exchange give information to their clients about orders for a fraction of a second before the trades are routed to rival platforms. The systems are meant to give investors an additional opportunity to complete a trade.

Last month, SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said the agency is concerned that electronic indications of bids and offers are being disseminated to a select group of brokerages. She also said it would examine dark pools, private electronic markets operated by brokerages that don’t publicly post quotes.

The review appears unlikely to lead the SEC to impose curbs on other forms of high-speed trading, NYSE Euronext Chief Executive Officer Duncan Niederauer said today, citing discussions with regulators. NYSE Euronext, the world’s largest owner of stock exchanges, told the SEC in May that flash orders result in most investors getting worse prices.

No Fear

“I don’t think there is any fear of them doing something that would severely damage the displayed liquidity on U.S. equity markets,” he said today in a conference call with analysts to discuss the New York-based company’s second-quarter results. “High-frequency trading is actually the most consistent source of liquidity.”

NYSE is building facilities in Mahwah, New Jersey, and near London to boost its capacity to handle high-speed trades. The company is spending about $500 million, the Wall Street Journal reported today, citing people familiar with the matter.

Analysts including Raymond James Financial Inc.’s Patrick O’Shaughnessy said this week that regulators’ response to flash orders might result in restrictions on computer-driven trading, which could hurt profit for exchanges.

Bats, Nasdaq Support

Bats CEO Joe Ratterman said today in an e-mail to clients that the Kansas City, Missouri-based exchange would support an industrywide ban on flash orders. Nasdaq CEO Robert Greifeld told Schumer July 28 that his company would also support a prohibition, according to a statement issued by the New York senator’s office.

Both introduced the systems over the past three months to compete against Direct Edge, the trading platform that has gained market share through its three-year-old Enhanced Liquidity Provider program.

Direct Edge, which is not a registered SEC exchange, more than doubled its market share since November to 11.9 percent of the total volume in the U.S. in June by using revenue from its ELP program to cut other trading fees. The ELP program accounted for 8 percent of the shares handled by Direct Edge.

“If regulators get rid of it, or do anything to significantly circumscribe the program, it will hurt Direct Edge and help Nasdaq and NYSE,” Justin Schack, vice president of market structure analysis at New York-based Rosenblatt Securities Inc., said in an interview. “It takes away a big competitive weapon that Direct Edge used to gain market share.”

Wall Street and the World of Flash Stock Trades

High Frequency Trading

The computers have become traders in just the last few years, say market people. One particularly visible part of what they do is called High Frequency Trading, in which machines, programmed to look for market trends, may buy or sell a stock in milliseconds.

A subset of this phenomenon is known as “flash trading,” in which stock exchanges let firms place super-fast orders to buy or sell stocks — often based on information they receive a fraction of a second before the rest of the world does. Large firms pay fees for the advance information, and may be able to profit by moving so quickly.

See also:
ICE says it doesn’t allow ‘flash’ trading
Nasdaq backs ban on “flash” trading: Schumer
High-Frequency Trading Faces Challenge From Schumer (Update1)
Schumer wants to ban flash trading
SEC Examines ‘Flash’ Trading
BATS CEO Ratterman supports ban on flashed orders
BATS Exchange Supports Ban On ‘Flash’ Orders – CEO

And people wonder why the average investor distrusts Wall street.

/apparently all trades are equal, but some trades are more equal than others