Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Some sort of Internet apotheosis has been reached

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Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2014 at 4:06 pm

Clever and functional application of 3D printing technology

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Homemade Ikea. And one would expect rapid memetic evolution: better designs displacing inferior efforts, with the curve of quality ascending quite rapidly at first.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2014 at 3:52 pm

Retiring White House Prosecutor Says the SEC Is Corrupt

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No real surprise, I think. It seems like much of the government (including much of Congress) is now corrupt and simply working to line their pockets rather than to serve the public. And no one in power seems interested in doing anything about it—certainly not Obama.

Eric Zuesse reports:

Bloomberg News reported, on April 8th, that a Securities and Exchange Commission prosecuting attorney, James Kidney, said at his recent retirement party on March 27th, that his prosecutions of Goldman Sachs and other mega-banks had been squelched by top people at the agency, because they “were more focused on getting high-paying jobs after their government service than on bringing difficult cases.” He suggested that SEC officials knew that Wall Street would likely hire them after the SEC at much bigger pay than their government remuneration was, so long as the SEC wouldn’t prosecute those megabank executives on any criminal charges for helping to cause the mortgage-backed securities scams and resulting 2008 economic crash.

His ”remarks drew applause from the crowd of about 70 people,” according to the Bloomberg report. This would indicate that other SEC prosecutors feel similarly squelched by their bosses.

Kidney’s speech said that his superiors did not “believe in afflicting the comfortable and powerful.”

Referring to the agency’s public-relations tactic of defending its prosecution-record by use of what he considered to be misleading statistics, Kidney said, “It’s a cancer” at the SEC.

Two recent studies have provided additional depth to Kidney’s assertions, by showing that Obama and his Administration had lied when they promised to prosecute Wall Street executives who had cheated outside investors, and deceived homebuyers, when creating and selling mortgage-backed securities for sale to investors throughout the world.

President Obama personally led in this lying.

On May 20, 2009, at the signing into law of both the Helping Families Save Their Homes Act and the Fraud Enforcement and Recovery Act, Obama said: “This bill nearly doubles the FBI’s mortgage and financial fraud program, allowing it to better target fraud in hard-hit areas. That’s why it provides the resources necessary for other law enforcement and federal agencies, from the Department of Justice to the SEC to the Secret Service, to pursue these criminals, bring them to justice, and protect hardworking Americans affected most by these crimes. It’s also why it expands DOJ’s authority to prosecute fraud that takes place in many of the private institutions not covered under current federal bank fraud criminal statutes — institutions where more than half of all subprime mortgages came from as recently as four years ago.”

Then, in the President’s 24 January 2012 State of the Union Address, he said: “Tonight, I’m asking my Attorney General to create a special unit of federal prosecutors and leading state attorneys general to expand our investigations into the abusive lending and packaging of risky mortgages that led to the housing crisis.  (Applause.)  This new unit will hold accountable those who broke the law, speed assistance to homeowners, and help turn the page on an era of recklessness that hurt so many Americans. Now, a return to the American values of fair play and shared responsibility will help protect our people and our economy.”

However, two years later, the Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Justice issued on 13 March 2014 its “Audit of the Department of Justice’s Efforts to Address Mortgage Fraud,” and reported that Obama’s promises to prosecute turned out to be just a lie. DOJ didn’t even try; and they lied even about their efforts. The IG found: “DOJ did not uniformly ensure that mortgage fraud was prioritized at a level commensurate with its public statements. For example, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) Criminal Investigative Division ranked mortgage fraud as the lowest criminal threat in its lowest crime category. Additionally, we found mortgage fraud to be a low priority, or not [even] listed as a priority, for the FBI Field Offices we visited.” Not just that, but, “Many Assistant United States Attorneys (AUSA) informed us about underreporting and misclassification of mortgage fraud cases.” This was important because, “Capturing such information would allow DOJ to … better evaluate its performance in targeting high-profile offenders.”

Privately, Obama had told Wall Street executives that he would protect them. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2014 at 12:24 pm

The US today: Free passes to high officials to commit criminal acts without suffering any consequences

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It’s sort of depressing to read, but this column at TomDispatch.com shows how the US is reshaping itself as the oligarchy takes over: High officials no longer have to fear prosecution for the crimes they commit. The article includes specific examples, so it is actually happening.

UPDATE: And note also how the Obama Administration is closing off information about government activities, so along with an oligarchy we’re headed into a secret sort of government. Obama has certainly been a grave disappointment regarding executive power and governmental overreach (and compliance with the law).

And recall this study on how the US was already an oligarchy a dozen years ago.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2014 at 12:03 pm

Posted in Government, Law

Congress (actually, the GOP) refuses to fund gun research, so one doctor is funding it himself

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Lois Beckett has a good story in ProPublica on an unconventional response to a non-functioning Congress that wants to remain ignorant about gun ownership and its social costs and benefits.

Federal funding for research on gun violence has been restricted for nearly two decades. President Obama urged Congress to allocate $10 million for new research after the Newtown school shooting. But House Republicans say they won’t approve it. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s budget still lists zero dollars for research on gun violence prevention.

One of the researchers who lost funding in the political battle over studying firearms was Dr. Garen Wintemute, a professor of emergency medicine who runs the Violence Prevention Research Program at the University of California, Davis. Wintemute is, by his own count, one of only a dozen researchers across the country who have continued to focus full-time on firearms violence.

To keep his research going, Wintemute has donated his own money, as the science journal Nature noted in a profile of him last year. As of the end of 2013, he has donated about $1.1 million, according to Kathryn Keyes, a fundraiser at UC Davis’ development office. His work has also continued to get funding from some foundations and the state of California. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2014 at 11:54 am

Posted in Congress, Guns

Putting US air pollution in perspective

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James Fallows has an excellent short post at the Atlantic on the issue. It includes this chart:

Air pollution

Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2014 at 11:02 am

Posted in Environment

The military does not really consider sexual assault a big deal

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The military gives lip service to the need to crack down on sexual assault in the military, but its actions show that it simply does not consider a sexual assault to be all that big a deal. Read this story in the Washington Post and you’ll see what I mean.

And you can also see why Sen. Gillibrand very much believes that prosecution of crimes should NOT be done within the chain of command: commanders quite often use their power to protect their friends and officers and ignore or cover up their misdeeds.

The story at the link shows just how deeply the moral rot is embedded in the military command structure. Nothing will be done so long as the military can prevent it. And officers will be protected from accountability.

UPDATE: And, of course, the military pretty much resists any change in its culture or organization. Read this depressing story:

Big Revamp of Pentagon’s Troubled Mission to Find Missing Soldiers Looks a Lot Like Old Revamp

This is regarding an issue I blogged earlier.

Megan McCloskey also has an excellent Pacific Standard article on why the military failed so badly.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 April 2014 at 10:39 am

Posted in Law, Military

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