Wall Street VP, Evangelical Baptist minister – just the thief you can trust, eh?


Korchevsky’s Sunday gig, Wall Street during the week, full-time crook

A federal judge in Brooklyn, N.Y., has ordered that Vitaly Korchevsky, a former Morgan Stanley vice president arrested for allegedly trading on confidential corporate information stolen by hackers in Ukraine, be released on $2 million bond.

Mr. Korchevsky, 50 years old, also will be required to pay a $200,000 cash deposit, surrender his and his family’s passports, wear an ankle bracelet for location monitoring and restrict his movements to certain parts of Pennsylvania and New York.

Prosecutors had pressed for the judge to keep Mr. Korchevsky detained in federal custody. They alleged that Mr. Korchevsky was one of the biggest beneficiaries of an elaborate scheme in which overseas hackers stole nonpublic corporate information stored in newswires’ systems and gave it to financial traders, who used the press releases to make lucrative bets.

Mr. Korchevsky alone made more than $17 million in profits from the insider-trading scheme, prosecutors allege, and $10 million of that already has been frozen by the government…Charges…include securities fraud and money-laundering conspiracy…

Mr. Korchevsky has been a Baptist pastor for decades, and dozens of his friends, family and congregants came to support him at Wednesday’s hearing—an estimated 80 to 90 people, according to Mr. Korchevsky’s lawyer Steven Brill. So many people packed into the Brooklyn federal courthouse that an overflow room had to be set up, which is unusual for a routine bail hearing. Some showed up from as far away as Spokane, Wash…

“If you don’t play ball, you’re going to disappoint a lot of people,” Judge Dearie said to Mr. Korchevsky, citing “the faith that hundreds of people have placed in him.”

Mr. Korchevsky is one of five defendants arrested in the U.S. for the alleged scheme. Criminal charges also have been filed against four others who are still at large in Ukraine. International warrants have been issued for their arrest.

Gotta love Korchevsky’s lawyer who claimed he was no flight risk because if he fled back to Ukraine he’d be leaving his wife and children behind in the US. Given the list of crimes he’s charged with, the “ethics” he ignored both on Wall Street and as a pastor, why presume he’s not above walking out on his family?

He’s handing over $200K to guarantee his presence at trial. Gee, that only leaves him with $7 million or so to take with him if he skips out on his family.

Investors prefer “Drill, baby, drill!” — even over profits


Click to enlarge

Investors sent a surprising message to U.S. shale producers as crude fell almost 20 percent in August: keep calm and drill on.

While most oil stocks have fallen sharply this month, the least affected by the slump share one thing in common: they don’t plan to slow down, even though a glut of supply is forcing prices down. Cimarex Energy Co. jumped more than 8 percent in two days after executives said Aug. 5 that their rig count would more than double next year. Pioneer Natural Resources Co. rallied for three days when it disclosed a similar increase.

Shareholders continue to favor growth over returns, helping explain why companies that form the engine of U.S. oil — the frackers behind the boom — aren’t slowing down enough to rebalance the market. U.S. production has remained high, frustrating OPEC’s strategy of maintaining market share and enlarging a glut that has pushed oil below $40 a barrel.

Output from 58 shale producers rose 19 percent in the past year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Despite cutting spending by $21.7 billion, the group pumped 4 percent more in the second quarter than in the last three months of 2014…

Growth has been a key pillar of the revolution that helped transform the U.S. into the world’s largest producer of oil and gas. Frenzied drilling often distinguished the new technology’s winners, while profits or free cash flow were less important.

Even amid the worst price crash in a generation, that continues to be true for some companies. Pioneer is expected to spend $735 million more this year than it generates in cash. Cimarex, which lost almost $1 billion from January to June, has fallen just 6.4 percent so far in 2015 even as U.S. crude declined by more than a quarter.

Gee. If drillers run out of storage facilities for their overproduction – I can suggest a few dry reservoirs formerly used for water in the Southwest.

Pic of the day

schoolgirls, hole in the roof
Click to enlargeREUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Palestinian schoolgirls, pictured through a hole in the roof of a classroom…damaged by Israeli shelling during a 50-day invasion last summer, attend a lesson on the first day of a new school year at Suhada Khouza school in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza Strip.

Ah, yes, enlightenment from the heavens – courtesy of Israeli heroes of Apartheid.

Armed conflict: bad for humanity, great for reducing air pollution!

NM Ozymandias

Air pollution has decreased dramatically in parts of the Middle East in the past five years – partly due to armed conflicts since the Arab Spring.

A new study suggests the improvement is the result of the conflicts, economic recessions and human displacement suffered across the region.

The findings state: “A combination of air quality control and political factors, including economical crisis and armed conflict, has drastically altered the emission landscape of nitrogen oxides in the Middle East.”

Jos Lelieveld of the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry in Mainz, Germany, was the lead author of the study, which was published in Science Advances.

Between 2005 and 2010, the Middle East had the world’s fastest-rising air pollution emission levels.

A similar increase took place in East Asia, most likely due to economic and industrial growth.

“However, [the Middle East] is the only region where this pollution trajectory was interrupted around 2010 and followed by a strong decline,” Professor Lelieveld said…

In Syria, the level of nitrogen dioxide over Damascus has fallen by 50 per cent since the start of the civil war in 2011.

It’s proportional to people, so if emissions have gone down in Syria by 50 per cent, I’d expect that 50 per cent of the people might have been displaced, as indeed they have,” Prof Lelieveld said.

The findings “disagree with scenarios used in prediction of air pollution and climate change for the future,” he added.

Yes, yes. Unless you’re one of the delightful nation-states which carries around the occasional nuclear weapon and threatens other lands with an opportunity to glow in the dark for several thousand years.

I admit, though, it is tempting to consider reducing the number of human beings in any location because of generally positive results. I would prefer doing so in a manner equally beneficial to the human species – as it is to those others, animal and vegetable, occupying the same landscape.

I suggest providing a basic scientific education including knowledge of birth control. In general, everywhere that happens the birth rate diminishes and tends to produce the same result. No fighter-bombers or helicopters required.

A selfie from Mars

PIA19808_hires
Click to enlargeNASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Using its robotic arm as a selfie stick, NASA’s Mars rover Curiosity was able to snap some epic low-angle pictures of itself at a site located in the foothills of Mount Sharp earlier this month.

According to BBC News and Space.com, Curiosity snapped the images using the camera at the end of its robotic arm on August 5 while at Marias Pass. NASA officials then took those pictures and stiched them together to create the rover’s latest selfie, which was released on Tuesday…

Compared with previous pictures, this latest Curiosity selfie shows more of its front and underside, and also shows a pair of grey patches located in front of the rover. One patch (the triangular shaped one) is where the samples were extracted from, while the other was where it dumped the powdered rock grain that was too large to be internally analyzed.

Helluva lot more interesting than the crap selfies that pass for entertainment news.

Researchers sample Great Pacific Garbage Patch before clean-up begins


Boyan Slat, cleanup system inventorVice Media/Manuel Freudt

Researchers returned on Sunday from mapping and sampling a massive swirling cluster of trash floating in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, as the Dutch-borne crew works to refine a clean-up strategy it will roll out globally.

The crew of the Ocean Cleanup, backed by volunteers in sailboats, ventured to areas of the “Great Pacific Garbage Patch”, a swirling mass of human-linked debris spanning hundreds of miles of open sea where plastic outnumbers organisms by factors in the hundreds.

The debris, concentrated by circular, clockwise ocean currents within an oblong-shaped “convergence zone”, lies near the Hawaiian Islands, about midway between Japan and the U.S. West Coast. The trash ranges from microscopic pieces of plastic to large chunks.

Working for about a month, the group collected samples as small as a grain of sand and as large as discarded fishing nets weighing more than 2,000 pounds. They mapped the area, using aerial balloons and trawling equipment to locate samples, said oceanographer Julia Reisser…

The next phase, planned for 2016, is the deployment in Japanese coastal waters of a 2,000-meter scale model of the group’s proposed debris collection system, which researchers believe could extend for 96 kilometers.

That system will contain floating stationary booms tethered to the ocean floor and linked in a V shape intended to skim and concentrate surface plastics floating on top of ocean currents.

Every little bit counts. We’re still waiting for realistic regulation and record-keeping of trash discarded from commercial use of Earth’s oceans. The trash should be returned to shore and recycled by those producing it. Of course.

Shameless plug – sort of – for a resort in our neck of the prairie


Wendi Gelfound

Opening on Aug. 17, Sunrise Springs Integrative Wellness Resort, a 52-room spa resort in Santa Fe, focuses on “nature bathing,” the opportunity to dwell in nature as a stress reducer and energy booster.Daily activities include yoga, meditation, Native American rituals, therapeutic gardening and animal interactions such as chicken therapy, which is presented as a soothing activity that involves stroking a bird’s feathers.

An on-site greenhouse and kitchen garden will serve as showcases for gardening lessons and food sources for the restaurant. Guests are encouraged to unplug from their digital devices. They can seek health consultations with staff doctors and specialists in both Eastern and Western medicine.

“At Sunrise Springs, we encourage our guests to unplug, tune-in and actively engage in their lives,” said David Hans, a psychologist and the resort’s executive director, in a news release. Rates start at $675 per person per day, single occupancy, with a two-night minimum stay, including meals and activities.

Sunrise Springs has been one or another kind of destination for the decades I’ve lived in New Mexico. My wife and I had some delightful meals there in previous incarnations.

We feel no urgency to visit a wellness resort. If anything, we kind of count Lot 4, here, as achieving most of the same functions – though I haven’t done any “nature bathing” or poultry petting since I spent summers on my grandparents’ farm when I was a kid.

Fool wearing anti-government t-shirt thanks firefighters for saving his home

On the streets I come from the word “fool” has a specific social and political meaning. Fits this dude just fine.


Click to enlargeAP Photo/Elaine Thompson

Massive forest fires continue to threaten homes and lives across the Pacific Northwest, and on Saturday the AP reported on emergency response efforts in central and eastern Washington state. Accompanying the story was the photo above, in which an Okanogan, Washington man named Brad Craig thanks firefighters for saving his home. It’s a nice moment, though if you look closely you’ll notice that Craig happened to be wearing a t-shirt that given the circumstances is quite ironic:

The shirt says “Lower Taxes + Less Government = More Freedom.”…Sold by the FreedomWorks Tea Party organization.

In a related matter, 10 different government organizations are mentioned in the AP story about the large-scale coordinated response that worked to Craig’s benefit.

More than 1,000 people are involved in fighting fires in the Okanogan area, the AP says.

…FreedomWorks has, however, opposed funding for federal disaster relief funding of the sort that Washington state has requested and received from FEMA to fight ongoing fires in the Okanogan area. FEMA also paid for more than $2 million in fire-related infrastructure repairs in Okanogan County in 2014.

Fools who have no comprehension of how republican government works blather anti-government silliness in their sleep. They think the word has a capital “R”. Ignoranuses of the highest degree, they’re stuck into questions resolved centuries ago by economists, social scientists, students of governmental forms and, yes, even conservatives who think with their brains instead of their twitchy gonads.

We are a species that continues to require traffic lights, speed limits, police and fire departments. We need federal and state agencies to oversee the construction and maintenance of infrastructure. On the ever-diminishing instances our homeland is threatened we need a standing military – though our devotion to the military-industrial complex is overdone by about 999%. None of this matters to Know-Nothings. And their opinions would be equally meaningless if it weren’t for butt-kissing politicians who rely on their religious devotion as thoroughly as their dependence on corporate wealth.

End of label fables?

Sweet news from the FDA: The government agency is proposing that Nutrition Facts labels also include the “% Daily Value” for added sugar. In 2014, they proposed that Nutrition Facts labels on packaged foods list the grams of added sugar in addition to the grams of total sugar, but now they’re taking things a step further.

The Daily Value, or DV, is the amount of an essential nutrient that meets the needs of most people. There are also DVs that indicate upper limits of stuff we shouldn’t get too much of, like sodium and saturated fat. The FDA is taking the recommendation of the 2015 Dietary Guidelines Advisory Committee (DGAC) that added sugars not exceed 10% of total calories. Since the feds use a reference diet that contains 2,000 calories daily, that puts the DV for added sugar at about 200 calories, or 50 grams, maximum.

If the proposal goes through, the labels will list grams of added sugar and the %DV they provide per serving.

The reason nutritionists don’t like the current Nutrition Facts label is that it seems to confuse consumers by implying there might be added sugar when there isn’t. Look at a label now and you’ll see that it just lists “sugars” under the carbohydrate heading. That’s fine when the only sugar in a product is added sugar, as with soda and most hard candy. But things get more complicated when you look at foods like tomato sauce, pure fruit juice, or even plain milk and yogurt…

Check the labels on those foods and you’ll also find that they have “sugar,” but most of it is simple carbohydrates that are naturally present in the food — what’s generally regarded as “intrinsic” sugar. It’s also why many of your patients may want to know why the orange juice they buy has sugar in it. “It’s supposed to be 100% juice,” they’ll say.

It is, of course, but the label didn’t allow for distinguishing between intrinsic sugar and added sugar. If this proposal goes forward (and I cannot imagine it wouldn’t) then 100% juice will list the grams of total sugar and “0 grams” of added sugar.

Even whole fruit has intrinsic sugar (a reason it tastes good) but the labels on those packages of cut-up fresh fruit you buy still have to list just total sugar. The last thing we should want is a label that scares our patients away from eating whole fresh fruit…

Consumers have already cut their sugar intake during the past decade. Between 1999 and 2008 an analysis of government data on added sugar consumption showed we had decreased our average daily intake of added sugars by nearly 25% — from 100 grams daily to about 77 grams. That’s huge, and most of it was from decreased soda consumption (sugar from “energy drinks” was the only category where added sugar actually increased a bit).

Knocking out sugar-sweetened beverages from diets gets our patients half-way to a better diet because these drinks provide about half of Americans’ added sugar…

An informed consumer…says Dr. Keith Ayoob.