Friday, July 20, 2012

Senator Charles Schumer demands DoJ drops Apple’s eBook price-fixing suit

Yeah. Looks like NYC's publishing houses got to chucky to help them out so they can go back to price fixing against consumers.
United States Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) has written an open letter to the Department of Justice, which was published by The Wall Street Journal, telling the agency to drop the eBook price-fixing lawsuit against Apple (AAPL) and two other major book publishers. Schumer warns that the suit could “wipe out the publishing industry as we know it, making it much harder for young authors to get published.” The senator also notes that ”the suit will restore Amazon to the dominant position atop the e-books market, if that happens, consumers will be forced to accept whatever prices Amazon sets.”

Schumer believes Amazon’s “monopoly in digital publishing” is not in the best interest of publishers and authors, who are forced to make a “Hobson’s choice” and settle for Amazon’s low eBook prices, thus undercutting their own hardcopy sales. Due to increased competition from Apple, however, Amazon was forced to “expand its catalog, invest in innovation, and reduce the prices of its Kindle reading devices.”

White House Backs Bankruptcy Option for Some Student Debt

Of course, Obama has to pander to the students in debt voters so why not make the taxpayers lose even more money.
The Obama administration urged Congress to make it easier for people to discharge a portion of certain student debt by filing for bankruptcy protection.

The recommendation, in a report by the Education Department and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, wouldn't affect the vast majority of student debt, which is issued by the federal government. It would apply only to the roughly $150 billion, or 15% of total outstanding student debt, issued by private lenders such as SLM Corp.'s Sallie Mae and Wells Fargo & Co.

Consumer bureau chief Richard Cordray said Congress should consider modifying a 2005 law that, except in rare circumstances, prohibits discharging private student loans through bankruptcy.

"It would be prudent to consider whether they wish to modify the code in light of the impact on young borrowers in challenging labor-market conditions," Mr. Cordray said. He added that the law doesn't appear to have met its objectives of bringing down borrowing costs and expanding access to private loans.

Expanding the concept to federal loans would be politically controversial given that it would likely result in taxpayer losses, and Republicans have expressed reservations.

FBI gets a whitewash over screwups about Maj. Nidal Hasan terrorist shootings

Sorry but saying the FBI errors in this case was not intentional reads like BS to cover up some politically correct mistakes.

The FBI "made mistakes" when it did not launch a deeper investigation into an Army psychiatrist's correspondence with a known terror leader before the psychiatrist, Maj. Nidal Hasan, allegedly opened fire on his colleagues in 2009, killing 12 servicemembers and wounding 42 others at a Texas military post, a review of the bureau's actions has concluded.

The review, conducted by former FBI director William Webster, found that the errors were not intentional and did not reflect a "disregard of duties." It was released today.

Webster's review centered on 18 e-mails, 16 of them written by Hasan to Anwar al-Awlaki, a radical American cleric who had sought refuge in Yemen. The correspondence, which included two responses from Awlaki, were intercepted by the FBI from December 2008 to June 2009.

The FBI concluded, over the objections of some agents, that the contents of the e-mails did not suggest that Hasan was a terror threat and that his communications were probably an attempt at research. Awlaki was killed last September in a U.S. military strike in Yemen.

18 emails to a terrorist mastermind and the FBI thought nothing of it other than research shows a lack of training to recognize a nutjob. They should have been on him 24/7 especially since he is in the armed forces and make sure to stop him. People should be losing their jobs over this screwup.

FBI raid Trenton's Mayor Mayor Tony Mack's house and city hall.

Possible corrupt politician in New Jersey? Shocking news.
Federal agents raided City Hall in New Jersey's capital on Thursday, one day after they swarmed the home of the city's mayor, his brother and a campaign supporter.

"The FBI is executing search warrants at various offices at Trenton City Hall, pursuant to an ongoing investigation," said FBI spokeswoman Barbara Woodruff.

It was not immediately clear why the raids were conducted and authorities declined to elaborate.

Mayor Tony Mack, 46, responded to the Wednesday raids by saying he had "not violated the public trust in any way, nor have I violated any of my public duties."

He could not be immediately reached Thursday for comment.

Mack, a Democrat who began his term in July 2010, has been beleaguered by questions over public finance and accusations of cronyism.

Hell No: Advocates urge refund of air taxes when flights aren't taken

Just to take the side of business here, if you don't take a flight because of something on your end and not the airlines on a nonrefundable ticket, tough shit.

If they do change the law, then those cheap nonrefundables either go up or go away which is something that would piss me off.

Have you bought a non-refundable airline ticket and not used it? In addition to being out the price of the fare, you also lost what you paid in federal taxes on the ticket.

The IRS doesn't refund the 7.5% excise tax on the price of the airline ticket or the $3.70 tax imposed on each leg of the flight, because the taxes are applied when the ticket is bought rather than when the flight is taken.

That means you're out about $35 in taxes on the $364 price of an average round-trip ticket in the U.S. last year.

Some consumer advocates say that should change so passengers can collect possibly tens of millions of dollars in tax refunds for trips they never take.

Ya Think: Private student loans parallel subprime mortgages

Look at it this way, if the banks didn't lend the money then there would be accusations of racism, classism and every other ism leveled at the lenders for denying young hard working students the dream of going to college. Either way we as taxpayers are going to get screwed.
Private lenders gave out money without considering whether borrowers would repay, then bundled and resold the loans to investors to avoid losing money when students defaulted, according to the study, which is being released today.

Those practices are closely associated with subprime mortgage lending, which inflated the housing bubble and helped bring about the 2008 financial crisis.

"Subprime-style lending went to college, and now students are paying the price," said Education Secretary Arne Duncan, whose department produced the report with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

Duncan said the government must do more to ensure that people who received private loans enjoy the same protections as those who borrow from the federal government.

Student loans fall into two main categories: Loans directly from the government and those offered by banks and other private financial companies. The report focused on private student loans, which spiked from $5 billion in loans originated in 2001 to more than $20 billion in 2008. After the financial crisis, as lending standards tightened, the market shrank to $6 billion in 2011.

Grum gone: '50% of worldwide spam is gone'

I haven't seen the drop in my spam box but this is a good thing.

Good news for your email inbox: You'll be seeing less spam in it now, thanks to a global takedown effort that knocked one of the world's biggest spammers offline this week.

"About 50% of the worldwide spam is gone," says

The dramatic decrease is the result of a coordinated attack by security firms and Internet service providers around the globe that took down a network of infected computers known as "the Grum botnet." Grum, one of the world's most prolific spammers, generated around 18 billion emails a day, by FireEye's estimates.

A botnet is a collective of computers infected with malware -- typically without the computer owner's knowledge -- and taken over by an outside attacker. Criminals who gain control of botnets use them for malicious activities like pumping out massive volumes of spam or launching denial-of-service attacks on targeted websites. The bigger the botnet, the more firepower the cybercrimal has at their fingertips.

Buy a dead person's identity from Social Security for $10

This seems to be a bit of an oversight...
-- For $10, identity thieves can access the full name, Social Security number and other personal information of a dead person through a list of millions of deceased Americans, known as the Death Master File.

The Social Security Administration created the file to help financial institutions and businesses prevent identity theft, by using the file to cross-reference applicants or customers to make sure they are not using a deceased person's identity. But Senator Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, said the agency is "inadvertently facilitating tax fraud" by allowing any member of the general public to look up personal details about anyone who has passed away and potentially steal their identity.

Currently, the Social Security Administration provides the file to the Department of Commerce's National Technical Information Service (NTIS), which then distributes it to more than 450 entities including state and local governments, hospitals, universities, financial institutions, insurance companies, and genealogy services. However, anyone can access the information through the NTIS website. To obtain records for one person, it costs $10. For an annual subscription with unlimited access to all of the files of deceased individuals, the price tag is $995.

The IRS has been adding protections -- like special coding that allows the agency to identify deceased taxpayers whose Social Security numbers were previously stolen -- to make it harder for identity thieves to slip through the cracks. But the agency is struggling to keep up with a surge in tax fraud, and the Treasury Inspector General said in May that the IRS could end up doling out $26 billion in fraudulent refunds over the next five years.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Apple ordered to run Samsung 'did not copy iPad' adverts

I think judges on both sides of the pond is getting a little sick of the whole tech patent wars and Apple is going to get the brunt of it.

A UK judge has ordered Apple to publish announcements that Samsung did not copy the design of its iPad, according to the Bloomberg news agency.

It said the judge said one notice should remain on Apple's website for at least six months, while other adverts should be placed in various newspapers and magazines.

It follows the US company's failed attempt to block sales of the South Korean firm's Galaxy Tab tablets.

Apple has not commented on the news.

The order did not feature in Judge Colin Birss's judgement published on 9 July, but Bloomberg said the matter was discussed in the court following the verdict.

It said the notices must make reference to the court case and should be designed to "correct the damaging impression" that Samsung's tablets had aped the look of Apple's products.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

4th California City: Compton on brink of bankruptcy

But they have a high speed rail coming! Joy joy!

Compton this week became the latest city in California to find itself on the brink of bankruptcy, and as with others in crisis, much of the blame lies with questionable financial practices.

City officials announced that Compton could run out of money by summer's end, with $3 million in the bank and more than $5 million in bills due.

A longer-term problem is a $43-million deficit that the city amassed after years of improperly using money from water, sewer and retirement funds to balance its general fund. Compton will have to pay the money back at a time when it has no reserves and has been frantically cutting costs.

The situation is similar in other beleaguered cities, including San Bernardino, which voted last week to authorize a bankruptcy filing. Many of those cities relied on restricted funds to balance their books, obscuring their financial troubles.

The state of these cities underscores the complexity of the fiscal crisis roiling California municipalities this year, with Stockton and Mammoth Lakes already in Chapter 9 bankruptcy. While ballooning public pensions and falling property tax revenues have hit many cities hard, bad accounting practices and improper use of funds have also taken a toll.

US-born kids of migrants lose rights in Mexico

Basically all that free services and free education that an illegal can get in America is not the same in Mexico. No papers, no nothing.
One by one, the parents filed inside, sat down before a Mexican government worker and told stories of lives that had crossed the U.S.-Mexico border twice. First, they crossed illegally into the United States for work, found jobs, and had children. Then, they were caught and deported, or left on their own as the work dried up with the U.S. economic slump. Now they are back in Mexico with children who are American citizens by virtue of being born on U.S. soil.

Because of the byzantine rules of Mexican and U.S. bureaucracies, tens of thousands of those children without Mexican citizenship now find themselves without access to basic services in Mexico — unable to officially register in school or sign up for health care at public hospitals and clinics that give free check-ups and medicines.

At issue is a Mexican government requirement that any official document from another country be certified inside that country with a seal known as an "apostille," then be translated by a certified, and often expensive, translator in Mexico.


....Leyva's husband was among 46,000 people deported from the United States in the first half of 2011 who had U.S.-born children. He worked as a chef at a steakhouse in Santa Ana before he was arrested and pleaded guilty to drunken driving and was deported.

After nearly 17 years in the U.S. and with two small children, Leyva worried she would get caught, too, so she left their rented townhome in California. Her older daughter in her mid-20s stayed, but Leyva brought back her 19-year-old son. Both immigrated illegally as children.

A majority of migrants' American-born children stay in the U.S. with relatives, or are taken into state foster care after their parents are arrested for crimes. Demographers say only about 10 to 15 percent of the U.S.-born youngsters are taken to Mexico.

Mexico seems to be enforcing their immigration laws, I wonder when America will do the same.

(WSJ) How Nokia screwed up the smartphone/tablet era

Nokia had the jump on Apple and screwed it up.
Frank Nuovo, the former chief designer at Nokia Corp., NOK +2.37% gave presentations more than a decade ago to wireless carriers and investors that divined the future of the mobile Internet.

More than seven years before Apple Inc. AAPL -0.11% rolled out the iPhone, the Nokia team showed a phone with a color touch screen set above a single button. The device was shown locating a restaurant, playing a racing game and ordering lipstick. In the late 1990s, Nokia secretly developed another alluring product: a tablet computer with a wireless connection and touch screen—all features today of the hot-selling Apple iPad.
.
"Oh my God," Mr. Nuovo says as he clicks through his old slides. "We had it completely nailed."

Whereas RIM lacked the right product, Nokia actually developed the sorts of devices that consumers are gobbling up today. It just didn't bring them to market. In a strategic blunder, it shifted its focus from smartphones back to basic phones right as the iPhone upended the market.

"I was heartbroken when Apple got the jump on this concept," says Mr. Nuovo, Nokia's former chief designer. "When people say the iPhone as a concept, a piece of hardware, is unique, that upsets me."

Mr. Elop, a Canadian who took over as Nokia's first non-Finnish chief executive in 2010, is now trying to refocus a company that he says grew complacent because of its market dominance.

Guardian writer upset at Muslim French minister for not being Muslim

When I mean not being Muslim, I mean Nabila Ramdani is upset she isn't a hardcore Muslim. Lets look at the leap of logic based on French Values.

Expectations were high when a Muslim woman from a North African background was made an instant star in France's new Socialist cabinet in May. Not only was Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, 34, made minister for women's rights – a hugely important position in an administration committed to equality – but President François Hollande also appointed her official government spokesperson.

The narrative was clear: Vallaud-Belkacem had, after a relatively deprived childhood, overcome prejudice to embark on a glittering career. This energetic, socially aware young woman not only understood the values of the egalitarian French Republic, but personified them. By articulating her country's most pressing contemporary problems, she would be on the first step to solving them.

So far normal.

Then

Many of the Muslim women I have spoken to are disappointed with the behaviour of Morocco-born Vallaud-Belkacem, one of seven children of an immigrant builder and housewife.

They would rather see her introduce realistic measures that would appease citizens from a similar background: from the building of mosques to simple reforms, such as women-only swimming sessions in public pools.

Muslims over there haven't really embraced or understand western values.

(video) Jacksonville Walmart Flash rob or black people embarrassing me again.

I did start with the please don't be black prayer but then I saw Jacksonville and knew it.

A huge house party broken up by police in a North Jacksonville subdivision didn’t end there Saturday night as hundreds of young partygoers ignited a flash mob at the Lem Turner Road Walmart Supercenter.

They caused havoc that was recorded and posted on YouTube until Tuesday afternoon, while one person reported being shot during the party.

The Sheriff’s Office said investigations into both are “active and ongoing.” The shooting is being investigated by the aggravated battery unit detectives while patrol officers follow up on the Walmart incident.

Walmart spokeswoman Dianna Gee said she learned of the incident Saturday night, then spoke with the shift manager at the 12100 Lem Turner Road store. She said the YouTube video is being reviewed, and that the employees did as they were trained by steering clear of the chaos and calling police.

Read more at Jacksonville.com: http://jacksonville.com/news/crime/2012-07-17/story/saturday-night-flash-mob-takes-over-jacksonville-wal-mart#ixzz20wpOOEMe

Florida's lower unemployment due to drop in labor force

I am shocked.
Florida's own economists conceded Tuesday that the state's lower unemployment in recent months has mostly been due to a drop in the labor force -- not significantly more people getting jobs.

"Sixty-nine percent of the drop in the unemployment rate is due to people dropping out of the labor force," according to an analysis by the Legislature’s Office of Economic and Demographic Research.

Unemployment rate in December was 9.9 percent and in May fell to 8.6 percent. But state economists group found that had the same number of Floridians been seeking jobs in May, the actual unemployment level would have been 9.5 percent.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Judge Rejects Copyright Troll's Bogus "Negligence" Theory

Via the EFF.
Copyright trolls lost one of their knobby clubs this week. Judge Lewis Kaplan of the U.S. district court in Manhattan ruled that the owner of an Internet connection cannot be found liable for "negligence" simply because another person uses his wifi connection to commit copyright infringement -- even if he knows about it. After this decision, copyright trolls should find it harder to coerce settlement payments from innocent people for the commonplace act of sharing an Internet connection.

In this case, Liberty Media Holdings v. Tabora, a well-known copyright troll (also known as Patrick Collins) sued a Comcast Internet subscriber for negligence based on his housemate's alleged BitTorrent downloads. The owner of the Internet connection allegedly confessed to the troll that he knew his housemate was doing some infringing downloads.

(pic) canadian kids more advanced on the playground.


Can Liberal Christianity Be Saved? Thankfully No.

The main aspect of a successful religion is that it stands for something, the problem with any liberal version of a certain religion is that it stands for nothing and follows culture instead of having culture follow it.

Why do you think the Anglican Church is basically dead in the UK?


IN 1998, John Shelby Spong, then the reliably controversial Episcopal bishop of Newark, published a book entitled “Why Christianity Must Change or Die.” Spong was a uniquely radical figure — during his career, he dismissed almost every element of traditional Christian faith as so much superstition — but most recent leaders of the Episcopal Church have shared his premise. Thus their church has spent the last several decades changing and then changing some more, from a sedate pillar of the WASP establishment into one of the most self-consciously progressive Christian bodies in the United States.

As a result, today the Episcopal Church looks roughly how Roman Catholicism would look if Pope Benedict XVI suddenly adopted every reform ever urged on the Vatican by liberal pundits and theologians. It still has priests and bishops, altars and stained-glass windows. But it is flexible to the point of indifference on dogma, friendly to sexual liberation in almost every form, willing to blend Christianity with other faiths, and eager to downplay theology entirely in favor of secular political causes.

Yet instead of attracting a younger, more open-minded demographic with these changes, the Episcopal Church’s dying has proceeded apace. Last week, while the church’s House of Bishops was approving a rite to bless same-sex unions, Episcopalian church attendance figures for 2000-10 circulated in the religion blogosphere. They showed something between a decline and a collapse: In the last decade, average Sunday attendance dropped 23 percent, and not a single Episcopal diocese in the country saw churchgoing increase.

This decline is the latest chapter in a story dating to the 1960s. The trends unleashed in that era — not only the sexual revolution, but also consumerism and materialism, multiculturalism and relativism — threw all of American Christianity into crisis, and ushered in decades of debate over how to keep the nation’s churches relevant and vital.

Here is the problem, liberals who want to called by some religious name refuse to actually follow the values and standards of those religion and as pointed out by the writer it becomes indistingushible from liberal secular talking points. Episcopal Churches is just mindless pap for people who don't give a shit about following actual standards and values that they didn't have in the first place.

Their whole mindset is "god loves everyone.. YAH!" and that is it.

What should be wished for, instead, is that liberal Christianity recovers a religious reason for its own existence. As the liberal Protestant scholar Gary Dorrien has pointed out, the Christianity that animated causes such as the Social Gospel and the civil rights movement was much more dogmatic than present-day liberal faith. Its leaders had a “deep grounding in Bible study, family devotions, personal prayer and worship.” They argued for progressive reform in the context of “a personal transcendent God ... the divinity of Christ, the need of personal redemption and the importance of Christian missions.”


Today, by contrast, the leaders of the Episcopal Church and similar bodies often don’t seem to be offering anything you can’t already get from a purely secular liberalism.
Which suggests that per haps they should pause, amid their frantic renovations, and consider not just what they would change about historic Christianity, but what they would defend and offer uncompromisingly to the world.

Absent such a reconsideration, their fate is nearly certain: they will change, and change, and die.

Obama channels the Elizabeth Warren in putting down business owners

Its a fun little argument that breaks down if you actually think about it but since most Obama supporters really believe anyone more successful cheated and lied their way to success. They won't think about it.

President Barack Obama addressed supporters in Roanoke, Virginia on Saturday afternoon and took a shot at the business community. President Obama dismissed any credit business owners give themselves for their success:

There are a lot of wealthy, successful Americans who agree with me -- because they want to give something back. They know they didn’t -- look, if you’ve been successful, you didn’t get there on your own. You didn’t get there on your own. I’m always struck by people who think, well, it must be because I was just so smart. There are a lot of smart people out there. It must be because I worked harder than everybody else. Let me tell you something -- there are a whole bunch of hardworking people out there. (Applause.)

If you were successful, somebody along the line gave you some help. There was a great teacher somewhere in your life. Somebody helped to create this unbelievable American system that we have that allowed you to thrive. Somebody invested in roads and bridges. If you’ve got a business -- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen. The Internet didn’t get invented on its own. Government research created the Internet so that all the companies could make money off the Internet.

The point is, is that when we succeed, we succeed because of our individual initiative, but also because we do things together. There are some things, just like fighting fires, we don’t do on our own. I mean, imagine if everybody had their own fire service. That would be a hard way to organize fighting fires.

Here is the problem, Since everyone was taught by a teacher, then everyone should be succcessful going by that logic. But since job creators are not as numerous as job employees wouldn't that mean the creators had something a bit extra in their makeup that allowed them to have a business?

If you have a business, you make that happen, not the teacher. This is the disguised argument of Obama socialist DNA just not being called socialism. Everyone has to help out which I agree with but Obama takes it much further where you have producers having to take care of the parasites and the politics of envy that Obama is employing to help out his reelection campaign.

UK - Benefits cap 'pushing thousands into work'

Lookie here, you cap the amount of free money given to people and they are forced to go get work. Shocker.

Iain Duncan Smith, the Work and Pensions Secretary, is due to release figures which show that 1,700 people who would have been affected by the £26,000-a-year limit have taken up work since being warned about next year’s cap.

Thousands more have asked for support in finding work, the Department for Work and Pensions will say.

From April next year no household will be allowed to receive more than £26,000 in benefits payments, a level set to reflect the average gross salary of a full-time worker.

Private Conservative polling suggests that the plan is one of the Coalition’s most popular ideas, and ministers are keen to highlight the policy and its impact.

In May, the Department for Work and Pensions began writing to the people it believed would be affected by the cap, warning them about the coming changes.

Fewer U.S. companies planning to hire; Europe looms: poll

Here comes the pain.

American companies are scaling back plans to hire workers and a rising share of firms feel the European debt crisis is taking a bite out of their sales, a survey showed on Monday.

Only 23 percent of the firms polled in June plan to add to staff in the next six months, the National Association for Business Economics said on Monday.

NABE's prior survey, conducted in late March and early April, had shown 39 percent of companies planning to add workers.

Already, hiring by U.S. companies has slowed dramatically in recent months as employers worry about a sagging global economy hurt by Europe's snowballing debt crisis.

Some economic data has suggested at least some of the hiring slowdown has been due to caution rather than a decline in business. A July 6 Labor Department report, for example, showed companies asked employees to work longer hours last month, even though they slowed the pace of hiring.

The NABE survey suggests such caution on hiring could continue.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

France's Hollande: Peugeot must renegotiate layoff plan

So Peugeot is bleeding money and lays off workers, but Hollande says they can't do that for the good of the country. You see in France, business accounting is seen as some sort of false fact. So in HOllande's mind, Peugeot must continue to employ people just because. That is the French way.
French President Francois Hollande said on Saturday Peugeot must renegotiate a plan to lay off 8,000 workers to lessen its social impact and accused the carmaker of lying over its intentions and making serious strategic errors.

In a television interview, Hollande said a government rescue plan for the ailing car sector due to be announced on July 25 would include public incentives to encourage consumers to purchase French-made, environmentally friendly cars.

He ruled out, however, a return to the scrappage subsidies introduced in the 2009 financial crisis by former conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, which he said had cost the taxpayer dearly and had often been spent on foreign-made vehicles.

However, he admitted he could not halt Peugeot's plant to stop production at the Aulnay assembly plant near Paris in 2014.


....The Peugeot announcement came as Hollande faces scrutiny over billions of euros in tax rises to hit a deficit target this year - with the prospect of worse to come in 2013 - and struggles to fulfill a campaign pledge to bring down France's highest unemployment rate in 12 years.

The shock announcement from Europe's second-largest carmaker last week revived memories of former Socialist Prime Minister Lionel Jospin's failure to halt Renault's (RNO.PA) closure of its Vilvoorde plant in Belgium after winning power in 1997.

Jospin's admission "the state cannot do everything" is credited with helping to sink his 2002 presidential bid.

"The state will not stand idly by," Hollande said, asked if his government would follow Jospin's route.

Legally he can't do anything but to make the French feel better that their cradle to the grave lifestyle is working, he has to lie.