Sunday, January 27, 2008

Le Hacked Bank

Worried about the economy? At least we're not France.
PARIS (AP) - Societe Generale said Sunday that a trader who evaded all its controls to bet $73.5 billion—more than the French bank's market worth—on European markets hacked computers and "combined several fraudulent methods" to cover his tracks, causing billions in losses.

The bank says the trader, Jerome Kerviel, did not appear to have profited personally from the transactions and seemingly worked alone—a version reiterated Sunday by Jean-Pierre Mustier, chief executive of the bank's corporate and investment banking arm.

But, in a conference call with reporters, Mustier added: "I cannot guarantee to you 100 percent that there was no complicity."
Mon Dieu! At least when Chirac was running things you had a crook running the country and not its financial institutions.

When A Man Loves A Candidate

It's the love that dares not rear its ugly head:
Hillary Clinton admitted Sunday her husband Bill's hard-charging campaign tactics had gone overboard, but chalked the ex-president's fiery broadsides up to love and a chronic lack of sleep.

A day after rival Barack Obama trounced her in the South Carolina primary, the former first lady also mounted a vigorous defense of the two Clinton White House terms, which Obama has said did not spark transformational change.

Clinton was asked on CBS television's "Face the Nation" whether her husband was "out of control" after he took the Illinois senator, and the media to task, during a foul-tempered week-long campaign.

"You know, my husband has such a great commitment to me and to my campaign," the New York senator said.

"He loves me just like, you know, husbands and wives get out there and work on each others' behalf."
A lack of sleep? I'm surprised he didn't use that one when he got caught with the chubby intern.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Hillary's Worst Nightmare

And now, from the other side, the man who dared challenge the Queen.

The Defense Rests

Two closing arguments from the candidates I think matter the most in this horse race. First, John McCain.

We're In The Money

...When the politicians are out of town, that is.
According to two economists, Mike Ferguson of the University of Cincinnati and Hugh Douglas Witte of the University of Missouri at Columbia, if you had invested $1 in the Dow Jones Industrial Average back in 1897 and held it only on the days when Congress was in session (and vice versa for when they are out of session), here are your returns through the year 2000:

In session: $2
Out session: $216

As I said when I blogged about this last year, that's no typo. Over the course of 103 years, you would have only doubled your money had you stayed invested in the stock market while Congress was in session. But you would have hit a 216-bagger when the politicians weren't in DC.
Maybe they need more vacation time. I could think of where I'd like to send a lot of them.

Save Some For Others

Apparently not everyone is welcome at the trough.
HOUMA, La. (AP) - A 6-foot-3, 265-pound man says a restaurant overcharged him for his trips to the buffet line, then banned him and a relative because they're hearty eaters. A spokesman for the restaurant denies the claim.

Ricky Labit, a disabled offshore worker, said he had been a regular for eight months at the Manchuria Restaurant in Houma, eating there as often as three times a week.

On his most recent visit, he said, a waitress gave him and his wife's cousin, 44-year-old Michael Borrelli, a bill for $46.40, roughly double the buffet price for two adults.

"She says, 'Y'all fat, and y'all eat too much,'" Labit said.

Labit and Borrelli said they felt discriminated against because of their size. "I was stunned, that somebody would say something like that. I ain't that fat, I only weigh 277," Borrelli said, adding that a waitress told him he looked like he a had a "baby in the belly."

Houma accountant Thomas Campo said the men were charged an extra $10 each on Dec. 21 because they made a habit of dining exclusively on the more expensive seafood dishes, including crab legs and frog legs.

"We have a lot of big people there," said Campo, who spoke for owner Li Shang, whose English is limited. "We don't discriminate."
Now, when the government says you're too fat, that's one thing. But when a buffet suggests you might need to lose a few pounds, that's a private establishment protecting the rights of its other customers not to have to make up the difference for your fat ass.

Tapegate Continues

The right hand is investigating the left hand.
WASHINGTON - The U.S. Justice Department opened a criminal investigation into the destruction of CIA interrogation videotapes, and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey said Wednesday that he appointed an outside prosecutor to oversee the case.

The CIA acknowledged last month that it destroyed videos of officers using tough interrogation methods while questioning two al-Qaida suspects. The acknowledgment sparked a congressional inquiry and a preliminary investigation by Justice.

"The Department's National Security Division has recommended, and I have concluded, that there is a basis for initiating a criminal investigation of this matter, and I have taken steps to begin that investigation," Mukasey said in a statement released Wednesday.
Well, it's a start. Memo to the CIA: The next time you're told not to do something, listen.

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Ignorance Isn't Bliss

Mike Huckabee's not the only one who's woefully misinformed when it comes to Pakistan.
Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton was praised in the wake of the assassination of former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto for demonstrating her command of the players and the issues at stake in Pakistan, even as another candidate, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, was criticized for stumbling over details.

But in two confident television appearances, on CNN and ABC, Clinton made an elementary error about Pakistani politics: She described President Pervez Musharraf as a "candidate" who would be "on the ballot."

In fact, Musharraf was reelected to the presidency in October. The upcoming elections are for parliament, and while Musharraf's party will be facing off against opposition parties, the president himself is not a candidate.

"He will NOT be on the ballot," said a Pakistan scholar at Columbia University, Philip Oldenburg, in an e-mail. "These are parliamentary elections, where the contests are for a seat in the national assembly.
The prime ministerial candidate typically fights for victory in a local constituency, as well as lead[ing] the party in a national campaign."
Whoops. Maybe if she'd taken more trips she'd have known this.

No Fat, No Cigarettes, No Service

The Lifestyle Police are pressing on in Britainnia.
The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence already considers so-called self-induced illnesses in setting the criteria that determine which patients should qualify for new or expensive health treatments.

And this year Leicester City Primary Care Trust was given Government approval to ask smokers to quit before they are given places on waiting lists for operations such as hip replacements and heart surgery.

Obese people also face more conditions from doctors who say being very overweight unnecessarily complicates many procedures.

For example, fertility doctors have argued that very obese women should be denied access to IVF treatment.

Mr Brown has promised more "personalised" services from the NHS.

He makes clear that his reforms will rest on people being more accountable for their own health, too.

"We will describe how we will achieve our shared ambition of an NHS which is more personal and responsive to individual needs," the Prime Minister writes.

"Personalised not just because patients can get the treatment that they need when and where they want, but because from an early stage we are all given the information and advice to take greater responsibility for our own health."
Hey, I'm all for greater personal responsibility. But this is the nannystating version-be responsible or else. And that's totally irresponsible when it comes to somebody's health.