Hopefully, Xi listens better to Huawei than Trump listens to Apple

NOTE: Bloomberg changed the 1st full showing of this interview to Friday, the 31ST, 9PM EDT.

German parliament called to hold session on U.S. spying

The German parliament will hold a special session in November on alleged U.S. spying that included monitoring of mobile phone communications of Chancellor Angela Merkel, the chancellor’s party said Monday…

There have been calls for a special parliamentary investigative committee on the spying accusations, with some deputies demanding to summon whistleblower Edward Snowden to act as a witness.

Germany’s Justice Minister Sabine Leutheusser-Schnarrenberger told local media on Monday that the German Federal Prosecutor’s Office will have to consider the possibility of interrogating Snowden as a witness if suspicions on the spying prove correct and a case is opened…

German newspaper Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported on Sunday that U.S. President Barack Obama was aware of the alleged monitoring of mobile phone communications of Merkel years ago, but the claim was denied by the U.S. side.

The German government has voiced its anger at possible U.S. intelligence’s tapping of Merkel’s phone, saying it would be “a serious breach of trust” if confirmed.

High-ranking representatives of German security services as well as the chancellery will travel to Washington this week to seek clarifications of widespread spying allegations, German government spokesman Georg Streiter said on Friday.

Some members of the German Parliament want to offer Snowden asylum in Germany – adding to the list of nations willing to do so. “Christian Ströbele of the Green Party has proposed granting asylum to Snowden in Germany – or providing him with witness protection, at the very least. “He’s an important, but vulnerable, witness…”

It’s understandable why every failing church from the Vatican to fundamentalist Protestant sects looks to the United States to be their bastion against change. We are the last best hope of preservation through hypocrisy.

We condemn those nation-states which support violence against our country in the name of regime change – and pile on sanctions, fund guerilla bands and bandits doing exactly the same in other lands. We condemn spying by other countries on political and commercial entities within our borders – and lead the world in the use of technology to spy on every other nations’ political leaders and corporate commanders.

“My son is not a traitor” — Lonnie Snowden

The father of Edward Snowden acknowledged Friday that his son broke U.S. law, but maintained that he is not a traitor for releasing classified information about the government’s previously secret surveillance programs.

“At this point I don’t feel that he’s committed treason. He has in fact broken U.S. law, in a sense that he has released classified information,” Lonnie Snowden told NBC’s Michael Isikoff in an exclusive interview that aired on TODAY. “And if folks want to classify him as a traitor, in fact he has betrayed his government. But I don’t believe that he’s betrayed the people of the United States. “

Snowden said he has told Attorney General Eric Holder through his lawyer that his son will probably return home if the Justice Department promises not to detain him before a trial nor subject him to a gag order. He also wants his son to choose where a trial would take place…

Snowden has reportedly been getting help in his escape plan from WikiLeaks, whose founder, Julian Assange, has been sheltered in Ecuador’s London embassy for the past year.

Lonnie Snowden has not spoken to his son since April, but he fears that Edward may be manipulated by WikiLeaks handlers and would like to get in touch with him.

“I don’t want to put him in peril, but I am concerned about those who surround him,” Lonnie Snowden said. “I think WikiLeaks, if you’ve looked at past history, you know, their focus isn’t necessarily the Constitution of the United States. It’s simply to release as much information as possible.”

There are distinct differences between WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden. The WikiLeaks ethic is an end to secret files and letting transparency enable full discussion of any topic. Snowden made it clear in his earliest interviews with Glenn Greenwald he distinguished between legitimate confidential files and information that was classified just to keep Americans from knowing what their government was doing.

Regardless, his return would be a courageous move in the face of nutball rightwingers within and without our government.

John Boehner’s deficit position is as phony as his color

May 7th, in an interview with Bloomberg Television, House Speaker John Boehner warned that the U.S. government must balance its budget. After all, he said:

We have spent more than what we have brought into this government for 55 of the last 60 years. There’s no business in America that could survive like this. No household in America that could do this. And this government can’t do this.

It’s hard to think of better evidence for the sustainability of budget deficits than the fact that we have run them for 55 of the last 60 years. If our fiscal practices haven’t caught up to us after 60 years, when will they? Or does Boehner take a David Stockman-like position that the last several decades of American advancement have in fact been a ghastly failure?

Of course, budget deficits work because the government is different from a household. A government does not have a life cycle, does not ever expect to stop generating income to support itself, and, therefore, does not ever have to retire its debt. It must keep its debts at a manageable size relative to the economy, which the U.S. has done over that 60 year period. If the economy is growing over the long term, that means the government can run a deficit and grow the debt every year — sustainably…

Boehner’s position on short-term debt is confused, too. If the recent expansion of the public debt is a matter of overriding economic concern, why is Boehner so resolutely opposed to tax increases to pay it down? America’s economy has thrived under a variety of tax policies, including much higher top marginal tax rates than are in effect today. Shouldn’t Boehner be willing to accept tax increases, or perhaps even be eager for them, in order to fight the debt menace he cites?

Boehner doesn’t really care about the public debt, as he made clear when he repeatedly supported debt-expanding measures under a Republican president. What Boehner and House Republicans really want are excuses to cut federal spending, particularly on programs such as Medicaid and food stamps that support low-income Americans. But those cuts are unpopular, so Republicans frame fiscal debate to make such cuts appear necessary to avoid disaster. If you can’t borrow or tax more, and can’t cut old-age entitlements or the military, which command the majority of federal spending, you’re not left with many options but to soak the poor.

Soaking the poor is a policy option. It is not, as Boehner would have it, a policy necessity dictated by the inability of the federal government to borrow or tax sustainably. But if the debate instead becomes about tax and spending priorities — is it more important to provide universal health care or keep tax rates low on high earners — it shifts to turf unfavorable to Republicans. So they pretend.

Households often borrow for decades against large enough purchases. They’re called mortgages. But, like the room full of millionaire lawyers that is Congress – Boehner has never been especially concerned with anything he’s not been personally challenged with. Like the expenses of healthcare.

Bernie’s blame game!

Bernard L. Madoff said he never thought the collapse of his Ponzi scheme would cause the sort of destruction that has befallen his family. In his first interview for publication since his arrest in December 2008, Mr. Madoff — looking noticeably thinner and rumpled in khaki prison garb — maintained that family members knew nothing about his crimes.

But during a private two-hour interview in a visitor room here on Tuesday, and in earlier e-mail exchanges, he asserted that unidentified banks and hedge funds were somehow “complicit” in his elaborate fraud, an about-face from earlier claims that he was the only person involved…

In many ways, however, Mr. Madoff seemed unchanged. He spoke with great intensity and fluency about his dealings with various banks and hedge funds, pointing to their “willful blindness” and their failure to examine discrepancies between his regulatory filings and other information available to them.

They had to know,” Mr. Madoff said. “But the attitude was sort of, ‘If you’re doing something wrong, we don’t want to know.’ ”

While he acknowledged his guilt in the interview and said nothing could excuse his crimes, he focused his comments laserlike on the big investors and giant institutions he dealt with, not on the financial pain he caused thousands of his more modest investors. In an e-mail written on Jan. 13, he observed that many long-term clients made more in legitimate profits from him in the years before the fraud than they could have elsewhere. “I would have loved for them to not lose anything, but that was a risk they were well aware of by investing in the market,” he wrote.

Mr. Madoff said he was startled to learn about some of the e-mails and messages raising doubts about his results — now emerging in lawsuits — that bankers were passing around before his scheme collapsed.

“I’m reading more now about how suspicious they were than I ever realized at the time,” he said with a faint smile.

He did not assert that any specific bank or fund knew about or was an accomplice in his Ponzi scheme, which lasted at least 16 years and consumed about $20 billion in lost cash and almost $65 billion in paper wealth. Rather, he cited a failure to conduct normal scrutiny.

RTFA. Long and detailed, confirming – if I may say – my cynical suspicions about the biggest banks, lending and financial institutions. It all fits in with what I observed on financial streets before the crash that resulted in the Great Recession. Everyone knew what was going on – except the little guys who either believed the checks and balances built into regulation were being observed – or the other little guys suckered in by the Free Market ideological crap that helped Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats deregulate the markets and remove oversight.

Interesting personal stuff in the article. If you’re interested in how criminals think. It can’t be much different from, say, a Bush or Rumsfeld autobiography except that Madoff probably isn’t as committed to self-deception and political deceit.

EU Parliament member confuses oral sex and economics


Daylife/Reuters Pictures used by permission

France’s ex-justice minister Rachida Dati mixed up the words “fellatio” and “inflation” – which sound similar in French – during a TV interview.

She told Canal Plus: “I see some [foreign investment funds] looking for returns of 20 or 25% at a time when fellatio is close to zero.”

Within hours, the video was an internet hit on websites such as YouTube.

Ms Dati, now a Euro MP, later laughed off the whole episode saying she had spoken too quickly…

The French word for fellatio is “fellation”, which sounds similar to the word “inflation”.

Ms Dati left the government last year amid criticism of her management style, and gossip about her clothes and love life.

She is now an MEP and serves as mayor of Paris’s seventh arrondissement.

At least she sees the humor of mispronouncing a word – and doesn’t try to pass it off as a neologism.

The American rightwing still has the market cornered on infallible.

Don’t let your cell phone distract you while driving

For police chief Clayton Leão Chaves it was supposed to be another day at the office. At around 9.40am this morning, he was making his daily journey to the police HQ in Camacari, a small city in Bahia state, and giving an interview to local radio on his mobile phone about the police’s struggle against local drug traffickers.

Then something went badly wrong.

“I heard some bangs,” one of the shows two presenters announced, perplexed, as the police chief’s voice disappeared.

“Something serious has happened to our chief. It can’t be anything else,” said his co-presenter, adding: “The chief was just talking to us. We don’t know what has happened. There is a lady weeping.”

According to local media reports, Chaves had been killed as he spoke to journalists from Bahia’s Lider FM radio station and to thousands of local listeners about attempts to improve security…

According to reports, the police chief’s car was ambushed by gunmen, who then fled in a white VW car…

Stunned, the show’s presenters urged police to rush to the scene. “Attention military police, attention colleagues of the police chief. Get to the Cascalheira Highway urgently. Something serious has just happened.”

Local radio presenter Marco Antonio Ribeiro told the G1 news site: “I was finishing the interview when the crime happened. We were meant to do the interview in the studio but he couldn’t make it. The interview was about his work combating drug trafficking in the region.”

Too real. There are some jobs that require an armored car – and not just for those worrying about political assassination.