Archive for December 29, 2011

Republicans Are “Speed Dating” Their Presidential Candidates

Here’s my favorite quote of the day, via Karen Tumulty of the Washington Post just now on the Rachel Maddow Show:

It’s as if Republicans have been “speed dating all of these candidates.”

The Washington Post's Karen Tumulty on 'Top Line'

That’s it.

Perfect.

December 29, 2011 at 9:39 PM Leave a comment

Verizon’s New “Convenience Charge” — Calling George Orwell

Pray tell Verizon, how is charging me $2.00 to make an online payment a “convenience charge?”  For thee or for me?

Verizon to Charge $2 Fee for Paying Online

Fee applies to customers who make one-time bill payments

Verizon Wireless will soon make some customers pay for the privilege of paying their bills.

The nation’s largest wireless company is instituting a $2 “convenience charge” for those customers who make one-time bill payments using a debit or credit card, either online or by telephone. The fee will go into effect on Jan. 15.

There are three ways for customers to avoid the charge: Customers can make a one-time payment using an electronic check, they can pay their bill using their home banking accounts, such as Citibank Online, or they can use a Verizon gift card or rebate card. Otherwise, single telephone and online payments will incur a $2 fee.

“The fee will help allow us to continue to support these single bill payment options … and is designed to address costs incurred by us for only those customers who choose to make single bill payments,” the company said in a statement.

How many times do I have to read this before the spin sinks in?  I.e., I’m supposed to love Verizon for thinking of me and making it “convenient” to pay bills online but I have to pay $2 to do it?

Gee.  Is that whiplash I’m feelin’?

 

December 29, 2011 at 7:50 PM 2 comments

The SEC and Citigroup F**k a US District Court Judge and He’s Pissed

I’m making dinner (macaroni and cheeeeeeese!) so this is a quickie:

SEC Chided Again by Judge in Citigroup Fraud Case

(Reuters) – The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission got a fresh dressing-down from the judge who rejected its $285 million settlement with Citigroup Inc, as he said the regulator kept him out of the loop on its efforts to salvage the case.

In his latest sharply-worded order, U.S. District Judge Jed Rakoff chastised the SEC for not telling him it had filed an emergency request with an appeals court to put the case on hold, after making the same request to him.

So when Rakoff on Tuesday issued a ruling opposing any delay in the case, he was beaten to the punch; 78 seconds earlier, the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals had granted the SEC the temporary halt it sought.

He also accused the SEC and Citigroup of potentially “misleading” the court, saying they called him around 3:30 p.m. EST (2030 GMT) on Tuesday to discuss the case, without mentioning the filing with the 2nd Circuit.

Less than an hour later, the 2nd Circuit ruled, and so did Rakoff. That 2nd Circuit order negated the work Rakoff said he had done over the weekend to get a ruling to the SEC as quickly as he could.

Rakoff wrote that he “spent the intervening Christmas holiday considering the parties’ positions and drafting an opinion, so that (the court) could file it on December 27, i.e. the first business day after the Christmas holiday.”

To prevent a recurrence, Rakoff ordered the SEC and Citigroup to “promptly notify” him of any filings they make in the appeals court.

Regarding the text in bold, as a former paralegal, I can tell you that’s just dirty, low ball stuff on the SEC’s part.  It’s also known as judge shopping.

And since when does a judge have to issue an order that parties to a case have to “promptly notify” him that they’ve filed a new case?  That’s route and expected.  No wonder he’s furious.

The arrogance of the SEC and Citigroup is indicative of a climate wherein the rich and powerful don’t think they have to follow the rules.

As for the rest of us?  How about 12 years in prison for selling a $31 bag of pot.

 

December 29, 2011 at 6:57 PM Leave a comment

Must See: Sacha Baron Cohen Punks Ron Paul — Paul Flips Out

Drat, I can’t get this video to embed so go here and watch Sacha Baron Cohen punk Ron Paul [2009].  I mean really, really, REALLY punk him.

It’s hilarious.

Oh, and yes, Paul is clearly homophobic but above all, acutely humorless.

December 29, 2011 at 5:37 PM Leave a comment

Tea Party Governor Hopes to Improve the “Mood” in So. Carolina Via Telephone Greeting

Geezus.  This is par for the course in terms of what Republicans have to offer to help alleviate the suffering going on around here during this God awful recession depression:

Two South Carolina legislators say state employees shouldn’t have to answer the phone with Gov. Nikki Haley’s mandated cheery greeting unless it’s truly a great day in South Carolina.
Democratic state Reps. John Richard King and Wendell Gilliard have filed legislation saying no state agency can force its employees to answer the phone with, “It’s a great day in South Carolina,” as long as state unemployment is 5 percent or higher. Their bill also would prohibit requiring the greeting as long as all South Carolinians don’t have health insurance.
At a September meeting, Haley ordered her Cabinet agencies to embrace the greeting, saying it could help change the mood of state government.
A Haley spokesman says the Republican governor stands by the greeting.
Bravo to those Democrats.  Great way to make a point.
And Nikki, you gotta work way harder.  What a joke.

December 29, 2011 at 4:58 PM Leave a comment

Remember When Ashleigh Banfield Was a Pariah?

TVNewser is reporting today that two new morning shows will debut on CNN on Monday, one starring Ashley Banfield:

Photo: Evan Agostini/Getty Images Entertainment

CNN will be launching its new 4-hour morning show Monday, the day before the Iowa Caucuses. Soledad O’Brien will anchor the 7-9am hours from Des Moines Monday and Tuesday with Ashleigh Banfield and Zoraida Sambolin anchoring the 5-7am hours from New York.

Remember when Ashleigh Banfield was a pariah in medialand because she criticized its abysmal coverage of the Iraq war?

Banfield, in a speech at Kansas State University [in 2003], had lashed out at “cable news operators who wrap themselves in the American flag and go after a certain target demographic.”

Banfield also claimed in her speech TV should have shown the gruesome results of coalition force in Iraq.

“We didn’t see what happen when Marines fired M-16s,” Banfield said. “We didn’t see what happened after mortars landed, only the puff of smoke. There were horrors that were completely left out of this war. So was this journalism? Or was this coverage?”

Reporters embedded with troops said there was little or no opportunity to film the “blood and guts” of the war due to logistical reasons. Many did not see much combat action.

Banfield’s address also suggested some cable TV networks skewed their coverage to please advertisers.

“It was a grand and glorious picture that had a lot of people watching,” Banfield said, “and a lot of advertisers excited about cable TV news. But it wasn’t journalism, because I’m not sure Americans are hesitant to do this again – to fight another war, because it looked to them like a courageous and terrific endeavor.”

I thought she was a terrific reporter and I liked her even more for the guts it took to speak out.  Glad to see her back (though I don’t know if even she can make me watch CNN again).  Hopefully she’ll show the same spunk she had in 2003.  I hope that hasn’t been intimidated out of her.

December 29, 2011 at 2:51 PM 1 comment

Trekking Wolf 10 Miles North of California Border

This is a cool story:

B-300, the mother of OR7, gets used to its new radio collar after it was attached in northeast Oregon in July 2009. Like her son OR7, which may become California's first wild wolf in nearly a century, B-300 is something of a pioneer. In 2008, she became the first wolf to return to Oregon, migrating there from Idaho. Photo: Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

The wandering wolf that crossed the entire state of Oregon this fall is on the move again – and now even closer to California.

The Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife on Wednesday reported that the wolf known as OR7 is now south of Keno, Ore., a town less than 10 miles from the California border along Highway 97. If OR7 keeps moving south, he could become the first gray wolf confirmed in California in more than 90 years.

“There is no way to predict if OR7 will actually cross into California,” Michelle Dennehy, a spokeswoman for the Oregon wildlife agency, said via email. “He could very well turn around and go right back to where he has been spending time in Klamath and Jackson counties the last month or so, or even back to northeast Oregon.”

The 2-year-old male wolf migrated 730 miles across Oregon over two months beginning in September. He had spent the past month in an area of the Siskiyou National Forest, northeast of Medford.

Given the mother’s history (see photo caption), OR7 seems to come from an exceptional family. I wish him luck and continued cunning and I hope he lives a long, happy life.  Fingers crossed.

December 29, 2011 at 2:22 PM Leave a comment

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