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Monday, February 28, 2011

Federal Subsidy for Anti-Poverty Development Goes Elsewhere

David Dietz documents the perversion of the New Markets Tax Credits program in his Bloomberg article, ' Rich Take From Poor as U.S. Subsidy Law Funds Luxury Hotels '.

Some excerpts :

The landmark Blackstone Hotel in downtown Chicago, which has hosted 12 U.S. presidents, opened in 2008 after a two-year, $116 million renovation. Inside the Beaux Arts structure, built in 1910, buffed marble staircases greet guests spending up to $699 a night for rooms with views of Lake Michigan.

What’s surprising isn’t the opulent makeover: It’s how the project was financed. The work was subsidized by a federal development program intended to help poor communities.

The biggest beneficiary of taxpayer help for the Blackstone revamp was Prudential Financial Inc., the second-largest U.S. life insurer. The company got $15.6 million in tax credits from the U.S. Department of the Treasury for helping to fund the project, according to Chicago city records, Bloomberg Markets magazine reports in its March issue.

JPMorgan Chase & Co., the second-largest U.S. bank by assets, also took in money by serving as a lender and the monitor of Blackstone construction financing, city records show.

Since 2003, some of the world’s biggest financial companies, including Goldman Sachs Group Inc., U.S. Bancorp, JPMorgan Chase and Prudential, have taken advantage of a federal subsidy that will cost taxpayers $10.1 billion -- and most of the public has never heard of it.

Investors have used the program, called New Markets Tax Credits, to help build more than 300 upscale projects, including hotels, condominiums, office buildings and a car museum, on streets far from poverty, according to Treasury Department records released through a federal Freedom of Information Act request.

Why the EU hasn't been more forthcoming re: the crisis in North Africa...

is the subject of a fascinating and provoctive article by the staff of DER SPEIGEL.

Some excerpts :

The upheaval on the other side of the Mediterranean has caught the Europeans unprepared. For decades, they have fawned over the despots of North Africa because they promised both oil and protection against African refugees and Islamist terrorists. Diplomats from Helsinki to Rome gave little thought to the fact that these rulers were also denying their subjects basic human rights. The subject generally only came to mind once a year, when they filed away the latest annual report from Amnesty International.

But now that dictatorships across the entire region are tottering, the Europeans are unsure how to regard the freedom movement on their doorstep. On the one hand, they see the youth of North Africa invoking exacting the same values of rule of law and democracy that Europeans supposedly feel are so closely tied to their own identity. But, on the other hand, they worry about how unfolding events could give rise to new economic uncertainty. And it obviously doesn't help that the unrest is hitting European citizens right where they are most sensitive: at the gas pump.

Whether it's between Germany and Saudi Arabia, France and Morocco, or Italy and Libya, when it comes to European ties to countries in North Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, national interests are more important than European ones. In the case of Libya, that means that, instead of taking immediate, concerted action, EU member countries took a long time before they could even agree on minimal sanctions.

The speed with which the UN Security Council acted only highlighted the EU's failure. On Tuesday, despite not being particularly known for swift decisions, the Security Council demanded that those committing atrocities in Libya be brought to account for their actions. Then on Saturday, the Security Council voted unanimously to impose an asset freeze on Gadhafi and some of his children, as well as a travel ban on the whole family and a number of their associates. The council also agreed to refer Gadhafi to the International Criminal Court for an investigation into possible crimes against humanity.

The EU is not only deeply divided in foreign-policy matters. The wrangling is at least as fierce when it comes to the issue of how the refugees from North Africa should be dealt with. In their public statements, EU leaders praise the Libyans' and Tunisians' battle for freedom. But, so far, they have shown very little inclination to help the very people whose lives and economic livelihoods are threatened by this same struggle.

At a meeting of EU justice and interior ministers last week in Brussels, Italy, Malta, Cyprus and Greece demanded solidarity from their EU colleagues. "This is a catastrophic humanitarian emergency," Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni told reporters. "We cannot be left alone."

Maroni also received some backing from Spain. But Germany, Austria and the other EU states don't want to hear about it.

Friday, February 25, 2011

Monday, February 21, 2011

Tonight's Blogger DJ BLast - A Cure for the Presidents' Day Doldrums ?

WHAM !
Phil Collins - Easy Lover
Phil Collins - Take Me Home
Phil Collins - A Groovy Kind Of Love 
Phil Collins - Don't Lose My Number
Phil Collins - Sussudio
Diana Ross & Julio Iglesias - All Of You
Wham! - I'm Your Man
Fine Young Cannibals - Good Thing
UB40 - Red Red Wine
Duran Duran - The Reflex
Simple Minds - Don't you (forget about me)
A-Ha - Take On Me
Missing Persons - Give

How do the Feds Tax ETF's, ETN's, and ETP's ?

Check out these two excellent, detailed articles on the SEEKING ALPHA website.

ETFs, ETNs and Your Taxes: Street One's Paul Weisbruch Explains All
Paul Weisbruch is the VP of ETF/Index Sales and Trading at Street One Financial surveys taxation of ETF's and ETN's.

ETFs and Taxes: Not All Exchange-Traded Products Created Equal, by Abraham Bailin of MORNINGSTAR.

Monday, February 14, 2011

For Valentine's Day, Blogger DJ Segues Eclectically from Friday's Entry with More Songs about Love

...in its various forms and phases, not all of them romantic.  

What can I say ?  C'est la vie.

Elvis Costello - Everyday I Write the Book
The Monotones - Who Wrote The Book Of Love
Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders - The Game of Love
Wayne Fontana & The Mindbenders - Groovy kind of love
Phil Collins - Groovy Kind Of Love
Thurston Harris - Little Bitty Pretty One
Huey Lewis and The News - Little Bitty Pretty One
Huey Lewis and The News - But It's alright
J.J. Jackson - But It's Alright
Michelle Branch & Santana - The Game of Love
The Turtles - Happy Together
The Monkees - I'm a Believer
Smash Mouth - I'm A Believer
Judy Collins - Since You've Asked
Donovan    - Wear Your Love Like Heaven
Lucienne Boyer - Parlez-Moi D'Amour
Procol Harum - Too Much Between Us
Leonard Cohen - Hey, thats no way to say goodbye
Leonard Cohen - Winter Lady 
Sting - Shape of my Heart
Donovan - LaleƱa

Friday, February 11, 2011

Tonight's Song is a Blast from the Past

My Little Red Book, by Love.

A wonderfully representative song of the 60's musically.

And in terms of verse, a wonderful variant on the poetic form known as the priamel.

WikiLeaks Insider Blows Whistle : Assange Hypersexed AND Callous ?

A new book by a former WikiLeaks insider "portrays Julian Assange as a paranoid megalomaniac—an “emperor”—who cared so little about computer security and the anonymity of his sources that control of vast amounts of secret information leaked to the website was seized from Assange by WikiLeaks dissidents last fall. And never returned." So reports Philip Shenon, in THE DAILY BEAST.
The book by Daniel Domscheit-Berg, Assange’s former spokesman and right-hand man, says that WikiLeaks functioned for almost all of its existence as a two-man operation—Assange and Domscheit-Berg—despite Assange’s claims of a large staff of paid workers and volunteers, and that Assange routinely lied to the public about the whistleblowing site and the extent of its support.
In his book, Inside WikiLeaks: My Time with Julian Assange at the World’s Most Dangerous Website, which is being published this month in the United States and Europe, Domscheit-Berg, a 32-year-old German computer scientist, says that he and others became so alarmed last fall by Assange’s disinterest in the website’s security and in protecting the identity of its leakers that they took control over the site’s software for submitting leaks, as well as the voluminous leaked material itself.
Apart from its ugly portrayal of Assange as acting like “an emperor or slave trader” in his management of WikiLeaks, the book could also create new legal headaches for Assange as he fights extradition to Sweden on sexual abuse charges, involving allegations that rebuffed demands that he wear condoms during sex and, in at least one case, ripped a hole in a condom.
In the excerpts that appear on Cryptome, Domscheit-Berg writes of Assange’s efforts during his travels around the world to seduce young, pliant women – preferably under the age of 22—and of Assange’s boasts “about how many children he had fathered in various parts of the world. He seemed to enjoy the idea of lots of little Julians, one on every continent.”

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Tonight's Playlist - Blogger DJ Yearns to Escape to the Heat

Hawaii. Wish I was there...
The Beach Boys - Kokomo
The Beach Boys - California Girls
The Beach Boys - Fun, Fun, Fun
The Mamas & The Papas - California Dreamin'
Scott MacKenzie - San Francisco
Jimmy Buffet - MargaritaVille
Peggy Lee - Fever
Power Station - Some Like it Hot
Elton John - Island Girl
Buster Poindexter - Hot, Hot, Hot
Smashmouth - Walking on the Sun   

Monday, February 7, 2011

Save the Bees !

It's a matter of global food security, says colmunist Ambrose Evans-Pritchard at THE TELEGAPH.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Tonight's Playlist - Blogger DJ's Escape from the 70's

Queen & George Michael - Somebody To Love
Queen & Elton John - Bohemian Rhapsody
Queen & Paul Young - Radio Ga-Ga
Queen, David Bowie & Annie Lennox - Under Pressure
Cheap Trick - I Want You To Want Me - from Budokan
Cheap Trick - Surrender
Blue Oyster Cult - Don't Fear the Reaper
ELO - Strange Magic
ELO- Livin' Thing
Traffic - Low Spark of High-Heeled Boys
Traffic - Rock & Roll Stew
Traffic - Light Up or Leave Me Alone
Blind Faith (Clapton and Knopfler Cover) - Can't Find My Way Home
Dire Straits - Sultans of Swing 
Allman Brothers Band - In Memory of Elizabeth Reed
Allman Brothers Band - Ramblin Man
Allman Brothers Band - Midnight Rider
Allman Brothers Band - Whipping Post
Steely Dan - Do It Again
Steely Dan - Reelin' In the Years
Steely Dan - Any Major Dude Will Tell You
Steely Dan - Rikki Don't Lose That Number 
Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run
Bruce Springsteen - She's The One
Bruce Springsteen - Hungry Heart
Gary Wright - Dream Weaver
Gary Wright - My Love Is Alive (Midnight Special, 1976)
War with Eric Burdon - Spill the Wine

Friday, February 4, 2011

Tonight's Playlist - Blogger DJ's Stuck in the 70's Groove

Candi Staton - Young Hearts Run Free
Bill Withers - Just the Two of Us
Bill Withers - Use me
Bill Withers - Ain't No Sunshine
Bill Withers - Lean On Me
Stevie Wonder - Superstition
Stevie Wonder - Don't You Worry 'Bout a Thing
Earth Wind & Fire - Evil
Earth, Wind & Fire - Shining Star
Earth, Wind & Fire - Boogie Wonderland 
The Trammps - Disco Inferno
Alicia Bridges - I Love The Nightlife
Kool And The Gang - Lady's Night
Al Green - Let's Stay Together
Billy Paul - Me and Mrs. Jones
Marvin Gaye & Tammi Terrell - Ain't No Mountain High Enough
Isaac Hayes - Shaft
Isaac Hayes - Never Can Say Goodbye
Barry White - Can't Get Enough Of Your Love Baby
Barry White - You Are The First, My Last, My Everything
Wild Cherry - Play That Funky Music, White Boy

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Blogger DJ's Way to Deal with All This [EXPLETIVE DELETED] Snow ? Magic !

Steve Miller Band - Abracadabra
Sting And The Police - Everything Little Thing She Does Is Magic ('77 Demo)
Pilot - Magic
Olivia Newton John - Magic
Heart - Magic Man
Eagles - Witchy Woman
Santana - Black Magic Woman
Jeff Beck & Joss Stone - I Put a Spell on You

and for a change of pace...

Judy Garland - We're Off To See The Wizard (Cornfield Version)
Judy Garland - We're Off To See The Wizard (Forest Version)
Judy Garland - We're Off To See The Wizard (Dark Forest Version)