Sunday, May 22, 2011

Palestinians: Pre-1967 Borders Sound Good, Just Like Obama Said

If you needed proof that Obama's Middle East speech was a mistake and simply would embolden Palestinians to pocket the territorial victory, you didn't need to wait long:
Palestinian Authority chief negotiator Saeb Erekat on Sunday said that he agreed with US President Barack Obama's assertion that the 1967 borders should be the basis for negotiations with Israel, but that it was more important that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu accept this premise.
“Once Netanyahu says that the negotiations will lead to a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders, then everything will be set,” Palestinian news agency WAFA quoted Erekat as saying. He added that until that happened, negotiations with Israel would not resume.
Note that Erekat says "a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders."  Not with the post-script "with land swaps" as proposed by Obama.  Because the land swap idea already was rejected by the Palestinians when former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert floated the idea as part of an overall settlement of all issues.

Perhaps Obama could offer a clarification which would induce the Palestinians to be more serious:
"When I said the 1967 border plus land swaps, what I meant was the June 10, 1967 border plus land swaps."
If that were the American position, we might actually have a chance for peace because the Palestinians would have something to lose by waiting.  As of now, waiting is working just fine for them.

SAC Investigated For Insider Trading

The world's most anticlimactic, yet overexpected, news has finally arrived. Reuters reports that Senator Chuck Grassley is investigating possible insider trading at SAC Capital Advisors LLP. Possible. LOL. And so it begins: "The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority last week provided Senate Judiciary Committee head Charles Grassley with about 20 instances of suspicious trading at the hedge fund, a spokeswoman for the senator confirmed on Saturday. Grassley had asked Finra in April for information on any such trading at Steven Cohen's $13 billion hedge fund...It was not clear if the trades had been referred to the Securities and Exchange Commission's enforcement staff, and authorities have not alleged wrongdoing by SAC or Cohen. Court filings also show prosecutors are investigating trade accounts at SAC, including one tied to Cohen, SAC Capital's founder. SAC representatives and congressional investigators met in Washington on May 10 to discuss possible suspicious trades, according to the Wall Street Journal, which earlier reported Grassley's receipt of information from Finra." So even once it is finally uncovered that Cohen's billions in personal wealth have been allegedly accumulated after years of information arbitrage, and we get yet another confirmation that hedge funds only make money through economies of scale, but mostly size (until the implode), or simple insider trading, we are supposed to remember that Cohen is a great humanitarian at heart, and has spent a few million of his allegedly ill-gotten gains for civic pursuits: "Also at the meeting, SAC Capital's Washington-based policy adviser Michael Sullivan cited Cohen's "civic-minded interest" in purchasing a stake in the New York Mets baseball team, the report said." Last but not least, SEC heart SAC because with it gone, liquidity (and volume) on the NYSE would plunge by another 15% (and likely much more) in yet another confirmation that fair and efficient US capital markets are nothing but a farce. "At the meeting, SAC representatives suggested the investigators go easy on the hedge fund, saying it has internal procedures to track down and prevent illegal trading, according to the Wall Street Journal report."

And elsewhere, it is time to call off the Gerson Lehrman IPO as the "expert network" world, first exposed by Zero Hedge two years ago (here, here and here) to be nothing more than an legitimate and organized scheme to trade on inside information, falls apart.
From the CFA Institute blog:
Given the value of one’s reputation to long-term professional success, many on Wall Street are now reconsidering their association with expert networks. The New York Times has reported that both buy- and sell-side firms, including Millennium Partners, Och-Ziff Capital Management, Credit Suisse, and Morgan Stanley have either stopped using or are adjusting their policies regarding expert consultants. According to Integrity Research, “usage by financial clients is reportedly down 40-60%,” leading one to wonder if additional Wall Street firms will distance themselves given fallout from the large number of insider-trading indictments related to expert networks.

It is not just the firms using expert consultants that are beginning to worry about their reputations. Michael Lynch, a consultant working through the Gerson Lehrman Group, recently commented on the company’s blog that he may consider withdrawing his consultant services if the expert-network industry cannot improve its overall image. Lynch noted that the hourly rate he earns cannot replace the loss of personal reputation through guilt by association with those who are simply peddling inside information.
So with hedge funds now having absolutely no informational advantage to the common person, and even idea dinners being bugger by the SEC, what is the point of giving someone 2 and 20 again? While in the past it was merely a fee to compensate the HF manager for the risk of procuring and trading on inside information, with that avenue now largely shut expect to see substantial flows out of the fast money arena and into plain vanilla funds, coupled with significant hedge fund "consolidation" and "synergies"... Perhaps it is time to short all those SoHo lofts after all?

Iran Claims To Bust A Major CIA Spy Network

IRAN: Intelligence Ministry Claims To Arrest 30 Alleged CIA Spies -- L.A. Times

Iran claimed a major intelligence victory over the United States on Saturday, saying it uncovered and dismantled what it called a "complex espionage and sabotage network" and arrested 30 people allegedly spying for the CIA.

It claimed that it also arrested 42 others in connection to the alleged spy network, the website of Iran's state-owned Press TV website reported.

According to a statement by the Intelligence Ministry published on the website of the semi-official Mehr news agency (link in Persian), the network was run by CIA agents via U.S. embassies in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey and Malaysia.

Read more ....

Faith Evans Files For Divorce!

Faith , who is married to record company exec Todd Russaw – filed legal docs in L.A. County Superior Court, citing irreconcilable differences.  Todd is also Faith’s manager.

The couple married in 1997 and has two kids.  But according to the divorce petition, the couple separated in December, 2005.  The 2005 date is curious, because one of their children was born in 2007.

Faith is asking for joint legal and sole physical custody.  She wants Todd to have visitation rights.
Faith also wants the judge to reject any claim of spousal support.
spotted TMZ

Cassidy Explains His Arrest For Violating Probation

by Jason Weintraub May 22, 2011, 8:47am

Rapper Cassidy has cleared up the rumors surrounding the warrants out for his arrest.

Early reports of Cassidy's arrest last week claimed that the Philadelphia, Pennsylvania native was arrested for violating probation and wanted for murder and two attempted murders.
After the Philadelphia Police Department denied that he was a suspect in murder cases, the rapper, born Barry Reese, is clearing his name.

During an interview on Cosmic Kev's The Come Up Show, he explained that the arrest was strictly for violation of probation, and that his new P.O. referenced the previous murder charges from which the probation stems on the warrant.
“It was something light. I'm still on probation from the situation that I dealt with about six, seven years ago,” he explained. “Y'all know I was down for the murder and the two attempted murders before."
"I beat the murders and the two attempts, but I got involuntary manslaughter and two aggravated assaults. So for the two aggravated assaults, I'm still on probation. It's like a real light probation.”
Cass, who is staying in Bergen County, New Jersey, would usually receive calls from his probation officer to schedule a visit, but he was recently given a new P.O. who expected him to come through without prompt.
“I'm running around the world. I didn't even go every month like the regular person, so it slipped my mind. The way my P.O. wrote the warrants out was that I had a warrant, and he put the murder on there because that was the case it was revolved around. But I wasn't fighting a new jawn.”

Iceland’s Grimsvotn volcano starts new eruption

Iceland, May 22, 2011: The volcano, which lies under the Vatnajokull glacier in south-east Iceland, last erupted in 2004.

In 2010, plumes of ash from Iceland’s Eyjafjallajokull volcano caused weeks of air travel chaos across Europe.

Officials say the latest eruption is unlikely to cause similar problems, although a flight ban has been imposed around the area.

Volcanic eruptions are common in Iceland, which lies along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that divides the Eurasian and North American continental plates.

Icelandic Meteorological Office geologist Hjorleifur Sveinbjornsson told Reuters that Grimsvotn had thrown a plume of white smoke about 15km (nine miles) into the air.

“It can be a big eruption, but it is unlikely to be like last year,” he added.
Iceland’s Isavia airport authority said a flight ban of 120 nautical miles had been imposed around the area.

Dr. Boyce: Those Ugly, Ugly Black Women

by Dr. Boyce Watkins,

I just finished an interview with WHUR radio in Washington DC (you can listen by clicking here).  The topic was an article in Psychology Today by Dr. Satoshi Kanazawa, a Professor at The London School of Economics.  In his commentary, Professor Kanazawa seemed to argue that higher levels of testosterone make black women less attractive than women of other races.  He also cites high testosterone levels as an explanation for why black men might be perceived to be more attractive.

Of course, black women around the world shut down the Psychology Today website after hearing the results of Kanazawa’s argument.  One has to remember that this is the same professor who also said that people in sub-Saharan Africa are in poverty because they have lower IQs.  Well, considering the source,  I don’t give much credibility to what the professor has to say.  Black women who are offended by the professor’s comments may just want to step aside and allow Kanazawa’s colleagues to eat his career alive.

The professor’s remarks hit a deep place for African American women, who are consistently maligned by the world for not being quite as appealing as the 80-pound blonde that is shoved in our faces in most Hollywood blockbuster films.  They are insulted by black men, like NFL star Albert Haynesworth, who said “I don’t even like black girls,” when he was accused of sexually harassing an African American waitress.

One has to take a moment to reflect on just how sick it is that there are thousands of black men just like Haynesworth who act as if they would rather date a Pit Bull than a black woman.  How insulted their mothers, sisters and daughters must feel that these “men” have somehow decided that black women are not worthy of the respect they show to women of other races.  I recall a consultant for the NFL telling me that when he met with all the wives of the players on a particular team, there wasn’t one black woman in the room.  Now, this was during the 1980s, where white women were truly a trophy to behold for many black male athletes.  But the truth is that there are still quite a few brothers who’ve decided that black women should be placed in the back of the bus of attraction.

While the remarks of Professor Kanazawa are certainly problematic and should be readily dismissed, it’s important that black men become part of this conversation.   An overture of outrage on behalf of black males might make black women feel a little better to know that they don’t have to fight these battles alone.  While we certainly know that no one is perfect, the reality is that the imperfections of black women seem to get a spotlight that is a bit brighter than everyone else.  It must be accepted, however, that similar to black men, some black women must also understand the value of personal growth and self-development to overcome the damage that was done by historical oppression.  In other words, being a beautiful woman is not as important as being a beautiful person, and this is something that we must reiterate to our little girls.

When it’s all said and done, the conversation about Professor Kanazawa is effectively over.  But we must continue the discussion that advocates on behalf of women of color to ensure that they receive the respect they deserve in all segments of society.  Additional ownership of black media outlets might also help to create a world where every talented black female actress does not have her opportunities trumped by the anorexic white woman that the world has chosen to idolize (like the ridiculousness of Angelina Jolie playing Cleopatra in an upcoming film).  There are different ways to express beauty and every culture has it’s own swag; black women possess a swag like no other.

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University and founder of the Your Black World Coalition.  To have Dr.  Boyce commentary delivered to your email, please click here.

Race Baiting or Blaming the Victim? White Females Say They Were Raped by Black Athletes

by Dr. Boyce Watkins

On the Today Show, two students from Indiana University and Wake Forest came forth to claim that they were raped by two athletes after a long night of drinking.  As a college professor, I can testify to the high number of sexual assaults that occur as a result of excessive alcohol consumption on college campuses, which is one of the reasons why I regularly campaign against it.  As they mention on the Today Show, one-in-five women on campus is sexually assaulted, and I consistently tell my girls to be mindful of this issue when they make personal choices.  Personally, I never drank in college (or after), for I had no interest in continuing the legacy of alcoholism that runs in my genes.  There’s nothing nerdy about being sober.

Consuming alcohol doesn’t give anyone an excuse to commit the act of rape.   At the same time, it’s hard for the rest of us to distinguish between consensual sex with a woman who likes to hang out with athletes (i.e. groupies) and inexcusable behavior on the part of men who presume too much.  Additionally, the video conjures up disturbing imagery of the white female damsel in distress being attacked by the big, brutish black man.  Perhaps the Today Show could have shown more balance by presenting a black female victim or a white perpetrator, instead of presenting the story as if it were a product of the Willie Horton School of Media Management.  As the experience of President Obama shows us, millions of white Americans still fear black men, and there is a reason that the OJ trial meant so much to America.

You can watch the video by clicking here.

Governor Chris Christie gives a Soothing Briefing at Princeton University

Governor Chris Christie
Photo By Delonte Harrod 
By: TNNJ Writer Delonte Harrod 
On May 20, Governor Chris Christie, “the new kid on the block” gave a 25 minute speech at Princeton University’s McCosh Hall. The event was scheduled to start on time at 5:45, however Christie and some of his administration arrived late. [K1] McCosh Hall was filled neither with reporters, nor photographers though they were present. The majority of the audience were college students, parents, and maybe some teachers. This, in my opinion, set the context for the speech that Christie gave.
Because of the make-up of the audience, at times the speech seemed like we were in a business meeting. Christie sounded like he was trying to convince the audience that what he was doing was the right thing to do. Sitting, there I imagined that we were some board members of a big corporation; in this case that big corporation is the state of New Jersey. We are not all rich, but each individual has a share in the New Jersey stock. Christie is our CEO, and he came to explain to us what the vision was and is, to make sense of what seems to be a mess, and to convince us at some level that he is doing the right thing the hard way!
Toward the beginning of his speech Christie contextualized his defense by telling a metaphor. Christie likened his situation to going to a dinner with all the past governors,they are all sitting around eating, having a merry time. Suddenly, they all get up and leave the table, sticking him with the bill! By this he implied that the situation our beloved corporation has found itself in is a result of past governors spending and spending without a conscious. At one point Christie mentioned that he had a conversation with former Governor of New Jersey Tom Kean about the amount of money he spent during his time in office. Christie politely joked, that “Tom Kean answered in typical Tom Kean fashion”, saying that Kean replied,“ the people wanted me to spend the money.”
The crowd laughed, and Christie proceeded on to his speech. He gave an explanation of why he made the cuts that he made. At this point he painted himself in light of former Governor Brendan Thomas Byrne, who was sitting in the front row with his wife. Christie praised Byrne for his sternness as a governor in the “Soprano State.” Christie said during Byrne’s time in office he made a statement that he cannot be bought, correlating this statement to political corruption that plagues the state of New Jersey. Christie also praised Byrne for making hard financial decisions for the state. Christie places himself right alongside Byrne; like Byrne he has had to make some “unpopular” decisions that not everyone is going to be happy with.
Christie also mentioned that they are facing some problems. He mentioned that they have had an increase in private sector jobs, yet a decrease in public sector jobs. Because of the loss of public sector jobs, Christie says this is why the unemployment rate in New Jersey is still high. The results of the decline in public sector jobs, is that many are living in the in-between stages. Those who have lost their jobs have to rethink their careers; some are going back to college, some are looking for jobs, not to mention those who are undereducated and therefore cannot find work.   In this Christie sounded like Obama when his administration said that the economy is getting better. Obama was saying this because jobs were being offered. My question for Obama is the same for Christie, who qualifies for these jobs?
After Christie’s address there was time for questioning. The questioning was limited to Princeton University students only. The press was not allowed to ask questions. There arose a question from the audience about Christie’s reform on education. Christie answered with passion going from one who was defending his decision-making as governor to one being on the defensive. He answered with swiftness, laying out his plan for education reform and why. In Christie’s view he is up against a system that “does not benefit students,” and one the neither “rewards teachers nor holds them accountable.” His reform consists of putting into place a system that holds teachers accountable by judging them on, as he put it, teacher practice and performance.
“I understand that teaching is still a craft,” said Christie. 
Christie, as he so clearly stated, will evaluate if teachers are “team players” and if they are “contributing to the overall welfare of the school” “We can no longer evaluate teachers based on test performance” Christie said. Even though he mentioned later that test scores would still be a contributing factor to the evaluation process. He also mentioned that compensation for teachers in his reform will be different. According to Christie, his plan is better because if a teacher is doing poorly then they are not eligible for tenure. They would have to have  three approved good years according to the evaluation process in order to receive tenure.
In addition, a teacher would have to maintain that level of performance in order to keep tenure. If according to Christie, that teacher somehow has a bad year in performing as a teacher, they could possibly lose tenure. However, tenure would be still available to the individual(s) if they have three great consecutive years again.
“People say they are afraid because this reform will cause competition among teachers.” Christie admits that his reform of the education system does cause competition amongst the teachers. He likens this reform system to major corporations or businesses that pay their employees based on performance and they are still able to work together for a common goal. In Gov. Christie’s mind we are able to reward teachers while at the same time holding them accountable; creating competition while maintaining a healthy work environment.
While Christie was addressing the questions regarding education he began to throw his own story into the mix. He talked about how he grew up in Newark, New Jersey. His parents borrowed $2,000 from his grandparents to buy a house in Livingston, New Jersey. “I am convinced, that if my parents had not borrowed that money I would not be standing here today as Governor of New Jersey.” Christie made the claim that the urban schools in Newark were, and continue to be, so bad that they would have hindered him from fulfilling his aspirations, “I am convinced of that,” he said.

After this very long answer to this very short question the crowd clapped. But I don’t know if they were applauding the passion that came along with the answer or due to agreement to his reform. Here is my question: it was noted that Christie gave a speech at Harvard University, and then yesterday at Princeton. He gave a soothing briefing to us, the “shareholders,” in the state of New Jersey, of which he is the CEO. My question is then, why hasn’t he gone to the urban areas to provide these same soothing words that were afforded to us? Those people are feeling the pinch, the poor are getting poorer and one can argue there is a small, albeit rare, group of middle class people in the inner city. I guess I will never know because I would have to be a Princeton University Student in order to ask those questions.