Sunday, 28 August 2011

Restaurant review: Port

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Front of restaurant

  I should name this series of restaurant reviews a sailor’s guide to shoreline restaurants after having previously reviewed the Marina Grill and Bluffer’s. This set of summer reviews has started in downtown Toronto and moved east along the shore of Lake Ontario to Scarborough in the post about Bluffer’s and now further east along the shore to the Port restaurant in the port of Frenchman’s Bay, Pickering. I’ve eaten in this establishment for many years both inside and on the bay side patio. I took my mother on Thursday for my birthday and we got the best table which is in the corner of the patio. The weather was a bit overcast but the temperature was perfect for outside dining.
Restaurant patio from distance
Mother in corner table

View from table facing west towards Frenchman's Bay

Broiled calamari appetizer with peanut sauce

  For the appetizer, we shared a dish of calamari which was sautéed with chilli rub and a side dish of sauce romesco.

Arctic char with couscous

Cashew chicken breast with couscous

  For the main course, my mother had the Ontario Organic Arctic Char with couscous, cucumber slaw and tempura pea tendrils while I had cashew encrusted roasted free-range chicken breast with Dijon honey, couscous salad, tomato chow, cucumber slaw and tempura pea tendrils.

White cheesecake

  For dessert my mother had a white cheesecake and I had a red velvet cake with whipped cream.

Red velvet cake with whipped cream

  The service was slow but friendly. I think that the patio filled up after we sat and there wasn`t enough staff to handle all of the customers. The price of the various items was $13 for the Calamari, $23 for the Chicken, $28 for the Char, $8 for the cake, $8 for the cheesecake with a 9 oz. glass of Chardonnay``08 Camelot, California for $16, Cappuccino for $4 and English breakfast tea for $3. The total cost for two was $103 including drinks plus tax and gratuities. An excellent meal and experience for those who aren’t in a hurry.

Blues on the Beach concert

  After the meal, we went down to the beach at the end of the street to listen to a free jazz concert called “Blues on the Beach”- a nice ending to a beautiful evening and my birthday.

Concert close up - Frenchman`s bay on Lake Ontario

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Hurricane Katrina + 6

  On August 29th, 2005, Hurricane Katrina slammed into New Orleans and a few days later the dikes burst which flooded a good part of the city. Although many stories have been told about the reconstruction effort, little has been known about the Canadian participation in the recovery so I thought that coming up on the sixth anniversary of the storm I would have a few things to say with respect to the event.

  This current hurricane Irene is giving me flashbacks to my honeymoon many years ago when my Ex and I were camping with a tent on the side of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia near Richmond and a hurricane (I forget the name) came up the coast. The tent was in a slight depression on the mountain side which was dry at the time it was pitched but within an hour had three feet of water. I drove through a previously dry gully which was flooded with water to get out of the area.

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The first story is about Magnaville or Canadaville as it is called in Louisiana. Frank Stronach, founder and CEO of the $20 billion dollar Magna auto parts empire, was watching the 2005 hurricane situation in New Orleans on TV and decided to do something. While Bush was congratulating the ineffectual FEMA head with “You’re doing a great job, Brownie!``, Frank swung into action and sheltered 280 storm victims in his horse racing facility in Palm Springs. Next he decided to build a permanent housing location for displaced survivors using the 2% of pre tax net earnings which the Magna constitution requires to be spent on charitable works (twice the Canadian center for Philanthropy benchmark) as well as reaching out to other Canadian groups. Like Paul in the Bible he became all things to all men.

1 Corinthians 9:19: “For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law;  to those who are without law, as without law, that I might win those who are without law;  to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some.”

  For the captains of industry, he might say, “All the good trailer parks in Ontario are full. We must create lebensraum to the south with a new Louisiana Purchase.” To the socialist New Democratic Party and unions,” Comrades! We must infiltrate cracker America with a series of Cuban style communes. `` And so it came to past that Frank stood on the shores of the Atchafalaya River, looked over all of the land and saw that it was good.

Of course the good folks of neighbouring Simmsport did not take kindly to this Grundrisse totting Moses leading his flock of the dispossessed in an exodus from the sin tainted N.O. – destroyed like Sodom and Gomorra by the wrathful hand of God. Fifty homes were quickly built by Canadian carpenters on a thousand acres of land and the settlers could live rent free if they contributed eight hours a week to the communal needs - definitely against God and all the tenants of capitalism. Each unit had verandas and decks plus TVs, computers, furniture, appliances, cable, electricity and water supplied by Frank’s fellow travellers. The community also had a basketball court, paved roads, swimming pool and tennis courts. Simmsport’s median family income was just over fifteen thousand dollars so they didn’t appreciate these new arrivals having possessions about which they couldn’t even dream. The mayor “Boo” Fontenot didn’t want them but cooled down after Frank built a four million dollar community center for the town. According to Canadian Business magazine, the local good old boys cut down the Canadian flag after it was raised to the same level as the Stars and Stripes.
  In the documentary Welcome to Canadaville, one Simmesport resident describes sitting out at night, armed with a gun, so he can "get me one" if any Canadaville resident touches his property. But community leaders insist racism wasn't the fatal problem. "It's always an issue in the South," says a local sawmill owner who declined to be named. "My industry still has a machine part that people call the nigger, because it does a job you wouldn't want to do. But racism didn't kill Canadaville. It was Boo."
  When Magna's people first arrived on the scene in the fall of 2005, they were under strict orders to find a suitable site as soon as possible. And Fontenot recognized an opportunity to milk what he called the "Magna cow." In return for his support, he demanded new police cars, a police substation, community and sporting facilities and US$250,000. Stronach's people agreed,

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  Magnaville is now eerily reminiscent of Henry Ford’s abandoned Fordlândia, a prefabricated industrial town in the heart of the Brazilian Amazon jungle on the banks of the Rio Tapajós near the city of Santarém which was intended to produce rubber for his automobile plants in America. Here is a link to pictures of the former town which is now empty.The greatest problem for the community was the inability to bridge the cultural divide. From Wikipedia:
The mostly indigenous workers on the plantations, given unfamiliar food such as hamburgers and forced to live in American-style housing, disliked the way they were treated — they had to wear ID badges, and work midday hours under the tropical sun — and would often refuse to work. In 1930, the native workers revolted against the managers, many of whom fled into the jungle for a few days until the Brazilian Army arrived and the revolt ended.
Ford forbade alcohol and tobacco within the town, including inside the workers' own homes. The inhabitants circumvented this prohibition by paddling out to merchant riverboats moored beyond town jurisdiction and a settlement was established five miles upstream on the "Island of Innocence" with bars, nightclubs and brothels.
    If you read the book Fordlandia: The Rise and Fall of Henry Ford's Forgotten Jungle City by Greg Grandin then you’ll notice a lot of similarities to Magnaville. Both projects had a wealthy Industrial leader in the auto business who tried to impose their dream of a utopian modern community on a culture that was totally at odds with their concept and used their money to bulldoze any local opposition but ultimately failed due their refusal to incorporate the local culture and customs into their vision. Today Fordlandia is overgrown by the jungle with the red fire hydrants covered by the vines while the town of Simmesport has refused to take over Magnaville which in response has been also been abandoned and trashed by the locals. Fordandia has long been upheld as an example of the inability of South America to enter the modern age due to cultural dysfunction with respect to work for the local populations. Will Magnaville be a case study in Harvard Business School for Lousiana's incapacity to economically develop? Below is a video about the book and a look at Fordlandia in 1944 by Walt Disney.

 The other story is about Mike Holmes and his ninth ward housing project. Mike is the producer and star of the Canadian TV show Holmes on Homes. To save time typing, I embedded an explanation of  his project to build a hurricane resistant home in the ninth ward of New Orleans for an elderly woman and her many grandchildren after they were made homeless by the storm.

Friday, 26 August 2011

Roman allusions

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   My oldest daughter just got back this week from her archaeological dig in a field about ten km. from the town of Gravina in Puglia, Italy which is south east of Naples and along the path of the former Appian Way, the main road in Roman times between the north and south of Italy. She’s working on her Master`s degree in Archaeology and decided to spent part of her summer getting some credits doing field work. It was very hot, 35 C. and she did get a touch of heat stroke. Fortunately she had the weekends off and travelled a few of the ancient sites in Italy such as the Roman forum and Pompeii.  The accommodation was a rental apartment in Gravina (pop. 40,000) which she shared with a girlfriend and where they ate their breakfast and lunch meals. They ate supper at the local restaurants such as Mamma Mia and Zia Rosa - lots of pasta. Each day they travelled by car along the narrow winding roads and through picturesque scenery to the dig site. No internet connections so I had to wait until she returned to hear the stories.

  The research group has been excavating an early Imperial Roman estate for the last couple of years and this year they found an old concrete floor as well as Roman coins. The project hopes to advance knowledge of settlement patterns over a long period of time in this part of Italy and also study the cultural exchange between the indigenous people and immigrants from other parts of Italy and the Roman Empire while correlating this data to environmental and demographic changes.
  I have always encouraged my children to follow their interests regardless of the current job market or future prospects and believe that this is the best expression of their talents during their life journey.

Myself in Capri, Italy beside the Emperor's garden

Tempest Milky Way

Tempest Milky Way from Randy Halverson on Vimeo.

This is an amazing video of the night sky from the corn fields of South Dakota. Best seen in full screen and HD.

Texas teachers' dead pool

  From the video above, you get a quick overview of the Texas scheme to profit on the early death of retired Texas teachers by the bank, UBS, and the Texas state government. This was first brought to light in a Huffington post article yesterday about a prospective 2003 deal:
(Gov) Perry's budget director, Mike Morrissey, laid out a pitch that was both ambitious and risky …the Perry administration wanted to help Wall Street investors gamble on how long retired Texas teachers would live. Perry was promising the state big money in exchange for helping Swiss banking giant UBS set up a business of teacher death speculation.
All they had to do was convince retirees to let UBS buy life insurance policies on them. When the retirees died, those policies would pay out benefits to Wall Street speculators, and the state, supposedly, would get paid for arranging the bets. The families of the deceased former teachers would get nothing.

  One of the advantages of this scheme is that the federal government doesn’t tax death benefits so the UBS investors wouldn’t have to pay tax on the so called “dead peasant insurance policies `` and they would pass on some of this extra profit to the Perry government for setting up the scheme using the states proprietary teacher data base. I wonder how this fits into the fair use and privacy laws in Texas. In other countries, this is called a pay off or bribe while in Texas it’s just smart business. I checked the stats for Texas in the soon to be eliminated Statistical Abstract of the United States and discovered that the state is 34th in life expectancy for America. Lots of room for improvement here – think how much money they could make if the state had the life expectancy of Louisiana (49th) or Mississippi (50th). But they’re working on it. According to the Modern Health Care website:
Funding for Texas health and human services programs would be cut by 17.2%, or $11.3 billion, over the next two fiscal years under an agreement worked out by lawmakers from both houses of the state Legislature, according to published reports.
  Because Texas teachers have an independent retirement fund, they do not pay into the federal social security plan nor do they collect social security when they retire. This means that the retirees are entirely dependent on the health of their retirement fund and the largess of the state government in the event of a shortfall.

Thursday, 25 August 2011

Que se vayan todos

  Parlez-vous français ou espagnol? La crise a transformé l'Espagne en Espagnistan. Comprendre la crise espagnole en 6 minutes.par Aleix Sallo In English, this video is about the Spanish housing bubble and its effect on the Spanish economy.

  The title of this post is the cry of the Argentine Piqueteros about ten years ago when they took to the streets to complain about the country’s debt and unemployment. Today (August 23, 2011) Spain’s Indignados have had an answer to their peaceful demonstrations when the country’s Socialist Prime Minister, José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero,  declared that he would place constitutional limits on the budget deficit and the public debt essentially agreeing with Mariano Rajoy, leader of the opposition conservative People`s Party. This will be passed by the Spanish parliament before it`s dissolution on September 27th of this year. So much for the conciencia pública or public awareness of the government when it comes to the demands of the protestors - the leaders of Spain have accepted the decisions of the Toronto G20 consensus that took place last year in my home town to place austerity and the fortunes of the moneyed class above the needs of the rest of society. It will be interesting to speculate on the response of the Indignados to this outcome and their realization that peaceful protest is trumped by special interests. An articulate declaration of the financial interests’ position was made by the Economist:
First, the protesters have a point when they say that the political and media establishment has become aloof and self-serving. The politicians who crafted Spain’s democratic institutions in the 1970s had good reasons for favoring strong parties and governability over perfect representation. The instability, fragmentation and polarization that marked the last democratic experiment in the 1930s led to civil war and decades of dictatorship under General Franco. But the unintended result has been over-mighty and unaccountable party bosses. Corruption, though the exception, has often gone unpunished. So there is a case for looking at electoral reform, and especially at introducing an open-list system that would allow voters to pick and choose among individual candidates.

The second and bigger reason for the protests is that Spain’s rigid two-tier labor market, bolstered by the unions, cossets the insiders who have permanent jobs at the expense of the young and unemployed, who are left out in the plazas. To his credit, Mr Zapatero has begun to cut the cost of hiring. He also wants to make collective bargaining more flexible. But more boldness is needed. Spain’s best hope of growing its way out of its mess is through exports; given that membership of the euro means it can no longer devalue, that requires falls in the real value of wages.

  The Economist in its unique style has implied that the current situation in Spain is another democratic experiment as opposed to the normative Spanish authoritarian regime and makes a nod to the wide spread corruption that was a large contributor to the financial crisis. Next we get the usual conservative mantra of blame the unions and of course there is the revealed truth of cutting wages as the only solution. Will the demonstrators buy this reframing of the problem from class warfare to intergenerational conflict? I guarantee this will not work and mimicking the States with debt reduction fights, trashing the middle class and reducing benefits to the poor is a recipe for social unrest. Spain has a liquidity problem like all of the other western states and taking money out of the economy by means of these policies is exactly the wrong path but right wing looney economists seem to hold sway these days. To misquote the George Bernard Shaw play, Pygmalion, the pain in Spain falls mainly on the plain.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Save the Stat Ab.

  The right wing demagogues have won or should I say the Obama Whitehouse has capitulated and this is the last year for the Statistical Abstract of the United States as well as the American Census bureau having decided to shut six of its 12 regional centers at an eventual annual saving of $15 million to $18 million. For those of you who like economic data and government openness, this is a tragedy and another step on the road to the elite takeover of society. This has been expected and from the Huffpo in July:

The Appropriations Committee was aiming for an overall 6 percent cut to the Commerce, Justice and Science budget and hoping to boost some functions at the FBI, the Patent Office and trade agencies; it decided to whack the Census Bureau disproportionately. President Obama's proposal already sought to cut the bureau's budget from $1.15 billion to $1.02 billion. But the appropriators decided on $855 million, meaning an additional $169 million in cuts would have to be made. The result would be a loss of $294 million, or 25 percent of the agency's current budget.

   An example of how the GOP feels about it:

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) famously declared she would not fill out her 2010 Census form, even though doing so is required by the Constitution and law. Bachmann even raised the specter of the World War II-era Japanese interment camps to argue against the Census.

Rep. Ted Poe (R-Texas) has sponsored legislation with Bachmann to make the American Community Survey voluntary instead of a requirement, calling it "Big Brother at its worst."

   This is similar to the situation in Canada where the Conservative government made the truncated version of the long census form voluntary. If the census data doesn’t support the presumptions on which you base your policies then get rid of the census.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Restaurant review: Bluffer’s

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   I’ve been going to this restaurant for years and today (Friday) I decided to eat another meal here because the weather was so nice which is important for the ambience of this facility and especially when you dine on the outside balcony overlooking the marina and facing the lake. There’s also a pub, the Dogfish, on the lower level that serves less expensive pub food like fish & chips but my opinion is that if you can afford to dock in the marina then you can afford to dine upstairs. Most of the clientele comes from the marina so they don’t notice that the menu hasn’t changed in years and the menu fatigue seems to be at the minimum.    
Scarborough bluffs from the bottom
    I use to climb on these bluffs when I was a kid. They're actually terminal moraines, hills of sand dumped by glaciers in the last ice age.
Bluffs from the top. Restaurant in the center of the photo.

  The Scarborough bluffs are a sandstone escarpment on the east side of Toronto overlooking Lake Ontario which rises to a height of 65 m. or 213 feet above the lake. They were named after the town of Scarborough in North York, England where the limestone cliffs have a similar appearance. I’ve been to the original cliffs in Britain as well.
Restaurant taken from same location as last photo with telephoto lens

Front entrance

House boats. Taken from the ramp in last photo.

  People live on the houseboats year around and have all the utility services available although it can get bleak in winter.

Taken from my table on the balcony facing the lake.

  The meal consisting of cold soup appetizer at $6, main course of Salmon at $19, dessert consisting of Tiramisu at $7 with two glasses of McWilliams` chardonnay at $9, a glass of port at $6 and a cup of coffee at $2 cost a total of $58 plus tax and gratuities. The service was friendly and fast. No problem recommending this restaurant.

Cold appetizer - Gazpacho soup

For my appetizer, I had Gazpacho which is a cold soup that originated in Andalusia, Spain and includes in its recipe stale bread, tomato, cucumber, bell pepper, onion and garlic, olive oil, wine vinegar, and salt.
Fresh Atlantic Salmon Nicoise

I had Salmon Nicoise which was sautéed with fresh thyme, artichokes, tomatoes, olives, & mushrooms for my main course.  Nicoise is a mixed salad that comes from the Côte d'Azur and is named for the city of Nice.

home made Tiramisu

West Interior dining area

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

I am a webcam

  I was trying to think of a title for this post when the idea of an updated version of a quote from the 1939 book of interconnected short stories, Goodbye to Berlin by Christopher Isherwood, "I am a camera with its shutter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking" occurred to me. Writing a blog, I feel like a passive observer of a period in time which has the ambience of 1934 Berlin where the glitter and decadence of the city is about to be transformed by the up thrust of right wing undemocratic forces in society. Isherwood’s list of characters, their relationships and surrounding events as described in his semiautobiographical book are counterpoints to the current situation. In the book, The Weimar Republic by Torsen Palmer and Hendrick Neubauer, there is a passage in the chapter entitled “The System is collapsing” which says:

Long before Hitler’s political breakthrough, there was a readiness among the industrial elite to sacrifice parliamentary democracy in favour of an authoritarian solution which would rigorously curtail the welfare state and make it possible to develop the ailing economy on the backs of the working classes.
  If we transform the industrial elite of 1934 Germany during the Great Depression into the bankers of 2011 America during our Great Recession, we see the same processes at work.

  The video above is a very articulate rant on the metaphor of bankers as the scum of the earth. I wouldn’t go that far and think that banking as a utility for the assignment of credit in society for the more efficient distribution of capital in the economy is alright but the rapacious looting of Main Street by banks in the form of economic rent is wrong. From this, I would like to segue to something that has been puzzling me for a while. Facts from a story in the Alternet website by Danny Mayer:

 Since 2002, the bank (J P Morgan) has turned its attention to another easy revenue source: city, state and national government debt. Along with other large banks like Goldman Sachs, it began selling a new type of complicated loan to countries like Greece, states like Connecticut and Mississippi, and cities as far-flung as Birmingham, Alabama, and Milan, Italy. Even the Delaware Port Authority and the Pennsylvania school system have gotten caught in the JP trap.

These derivative packages, named “swaps” to ensure they do not get officially counted as debt on government balance sheets, essentially act as second and third and fourth-mortgages on public infrastructure projects like airports and highways. Loaded with adjustable rates and a slew of fees and “trigger points” that ensure rapid debt growth, the swaps essentially ensure the privatization of public government assets. In the case of Birmingham, Alabama, for example, Rolling Stone journalist Matt Taibbi has reported how a city sewer project initially estimated to cost $250 million generated “a total of $1.28 billion just in interest and fees on the debt,” most of which went into the private coffers of J.P. Morgan. The result for Birmingham? “Between 2008 and 2009,” Taibbi notes, “the annual payment on Jefferson County’s debt jumped from $53 million to a whopping $636 million.” The debt now stands at $4800 per resident.

  On July 7th, 2011 J P Morgan took over all of Kentucky State’s financials including payroll, deposits and the disbursement of federal money from the Farmer’s bank which has held the position continuously since 1928 in a competitive bid process that the bank won. The federal money portion is really important because it makes up for the estimated short fall in sub national government revenue since 2008 of between 30 and 40 percent. Property tax revenue for municipalities is only 28% of their total income with senior level government disbursements to local government being 40 percent.
   The total official sub national municipal bond market in America as described by the mass media and other sources is about 2.8 trillion dollars.  Most mass media commentators state that 28 percent of American households are “underwater” or to put it more explicitly the owners currently owe more on their mortgages than the house is worth. The unspoken caveat is the 28 percent only represents the first mortgage and not second mortgages or household lines of credit. If all of the financial instruments claimed against homes were included, the actual rate of folks who are “underwater” would be 40 percent. Let’s assume for the moment that an equivalent percentage of the total claims on “muni” bond are off ledger including these debt swaps and other financial transactions mediated by the banks. This would imply an additional 1.2 trillion dollars of sub national debt off ledger which is an enormous amount of money. If the rate of increase in debt interest and transaction fees was the same as the Birmingham sewer deal about which Matt Taibbi discussed in my quote, then we’re looking at a potential “muni” hidden exposure of 6 trillion dollars that isn’t even being discussed in any media forum, online or any other place. Of course, we don’t know since it’s not on record so let’s be very conservative in our calculations and say that the true value of the hidden debt is really 16% of my conclusion. That’s still a trillion dollars and enough to bankrupt many sub national governments in the States especially when you consider that the federal government aid to local government ends next year and won’t be renewed. If you think that it isn’t possible to miss such a large amount of debt in the American economy then read the media reports (esp. its credit rating) about the Greek financial position before its economy imploded. Most “muni” bonds in America are triple A in spite of the acknowledged state and local financial woes and the argument is that municipalities are traditionally low risk. This revealed truth is from the same people who said in 2007 that home prices would always rise since the empirical evidence is that home prices have always increased for the last fifty years. The fallout from this false supposition was the Great Recession. What will be the fallout from the circular argument that “muni” bonds are low risk because of empirical evidence? I can assure you that at the time the shit hits the fan the senior levels of government will not bail them out regardless of the outcome of the super committee deliberations. In theory, the American federal government with a sovereign fiat currency can print as much money as it wants to save sub national governments but will it do under President for Life Perry who wants a “government that is inconsequential in your life” or Capitulator in Chief Obama?

   You may think that I have no basis for my speculation about a vast unreported off ledger debt liability by American sub national governments but there is another avenue of analysis. The banks may deny knowledge of this debt but since they are the enablers and recipients of the financial shenanigans, they will also want to protect themselves against the inevitable catastrophic failure of the “muni” debt. The means by which they do this is the infamous CDS or credit default swaps that are, in essence, insurance against financial loss. From Wikipedia:

A credit default swap (CDS) is a form of insurance that protects the buyer of the CDS in the case of a loan default . If the borrower defaults (fails to repay the loan), the lender who has bought traditional insurance can exchange or "swap" the defaulted loan instrument (and with it the right to recover the default at some later time) for money - usually the face value of the loan.

The significant difference between a traditional insurance policy and a CDS is that anyone can purchase one, even those who do not hold the loan instrument and may have no direct "insurable interest" in the loan. The buyer of the CDS makes a series of payments (the CDS "fee" or "spread") to the seller and, in exchange, receives a payoff if the loan or any credit instrument named in the contract (typically a bond or loan) defaults, creating a credit event. 

Credit default swaps are not traded on an exchange and there is no required reporting of transactions to a government agency.  During the 2007-2010 financial crisis the lack of transparency became a concern to regulators, as was the trillion dollar size of the market, which could pose a systemic risk to the economy. 

  In the case of just one state, California, a few major banks have over $14 billion in CDS betting that California will default on its debt obligations in spite of a history of zero default. From Reuters:

Data reported in the news media and other sources show that the prices, or spreads, on California CDS wrongly brand our bonds as a greater risk than those issued by such nations as Kazakhstan, Croatia, Bulgaria and Thailand.

The banks disclosed the trades to California Treasurer Bill Lockyer last month (July, 2011) in response to his request that all 86 of the state’s bond underwriters detail the volume of credit default swaps they traded on the state’s roughly $80 billion of general obligation bonds in the three months ending Jan. 31(2011).

    Here are the amounts per bank of credit fault swaps reported to California Treasurer Lockyer:

   Goldman Sachs – $4.3 billion                                  Morgan Stanley – $2.5 billion

    Barclays – $2.5 billion                                             Citigroup – $1.9 billion

    JP Morgan – $1.5 billion                                         Bank of America Merrill Lynch – $1.9 billion

    Remember that the total general revenues of California is $88 billion and the total CDS which is much greater than the $14 billion of the banks (only six of the 86 California bond underwriters which had their bets revealed) indicates that the underwriters are worried about the possible loss of an enormous amount of money in just this one state and this is only at the state level and not the local level of government debt which was not included in this analysis. California’s credit rate may currently be AA but in 2008, Greece’s credit rating was ‘A’, upper medium investment grade according to S & P even though some of the major US banks in conjunction with the Greek government had been using interest rate swaps to hide the true extent of Greek sovereign debt for years.  
       The final objection to my conclusion is that the counterparties (i.e. the state and local governments) would know and the information about the hidden debt would be revealed to the   public. This didn’t happen in the Jefferson county situation until they faced bankruptcy which now seems inevitable and won’t happen until the same debt crisis happens on a national scale. Why would sub national governments seek Chapter 9 remediation of their debt problems? There are some advantages – political cover by blaming the bankruptcy receiver, tearing up contracts with their staffs under chapter 9 as well as removing pension benefits already incurred which is happening in the current situation in Central Falls, Rhode Island.

   The really big reason is the ability of the bankruptcy receiver to sell off and privatize public assets at will in non competitive bids for any price. Both the banks and local entrepreneurs would make huge amounts of profit from this divestiture of public assets at fire sale prices. This is what occurred in South America during the last century in their liquidity crisis as described by Naomi Klein in her book, Shock Doctrine.   What would be left is a toll gate society where every activity by the citizenry would be individually charged by private enterprises.

  The final point is that I believe this would lead to a repetition of the 1933 business plot. This historical event has been suppressed by most observers but it did happen.  The story was denounced by the New York Times (of course) as a hoax but later in 1934 confirmed by Congressional committee who redacted the names of the business leaders involved. From Wikipedia is the Business plot and from another blog:
In 1933 Major General Smedley Darlington Butler reported to Congress a coup d'etat plot against President Franklin Roosevelt, sponsored by corporate interests. Alarmed by Roosevelt's Democratic "New Deal" which would redistribute wealth from the rich to the poor, Irenee Du Pont, Grayson Murphy, William Doyle, John Davis and other representatives of J.P. Morgan banks, Du Pont, Goodyear and Bethlehem Steel sought to overthrow the U.S. government with a military coup and replace it with a fascist state, based on the recent success of Mussolini and Hitler in Italy and Germany.

Christian upbringing?

  I’ve commented before on Daniel and Debi Pearl’s book, To train up a child, but this is the first video by a mass media organization about the book and the real world consequences by people who appear to follow it’s teachings beyond the author's intent that I’ve seen on TV. It was on CNN tonight so I thought that I would make reference to a webpage by the Pearls about their book. For an extensive theological critique of their book, you can check this website called the The Bible Archive (no copy write expressed) where the author, Plymouth Brethren Blogger Rey Reynoso, quotes some of the biblical passages that the Pearls use in the book to justify their methods:

·         Evidence that God entrusted Abraham with the promise with the expectation that Abraham would train his children Gen 18:19 (p 117)
·         Desires must be controlled else the sowing of satisfying those desires becomes awful at a later date Prov 23:2, Gal 6:7,8 (pg 93)
·         Guarding the heart of a child against having a bad attitude by eradicating the bad attitude. Prov 23:7 an 4:23 (pg 81, 87)
·         The (favorable) example of a three year old girl who beats their doll with such admonishments like “stop it. No crying.” (Switch, switch, switch) then praising the doll for now being happy. Prov 23:7 (pg 65)
·         1 Sam 15:23, child’s rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft (pg 55)
·         Gal 3:24 strictly enforcing the rules teaches respect of the Lawgiver to bring to Christ (pg 54). The rod increases the seriousness of the moral law (Prov 9:10) because there is no fear of God in their eyes (Rom 3:18). Fear is reserved for God (Luke 12:5; 1 Pet 2:17). Military uses real bullets to properly train soldiers (pg 53)
·         Rod accompanied with instruction Prov 29:15 (pg 52)
·         Ps 23:4, 2 Sam 7:14, Psalm 89:32 The rod is a comfort for the child (p 46). Prov 19:18 for giving hope to a rebellious child and to give rest to you and the entire household Prov 29:17 (pg 47)
·         Stripes are to the soul what the healing blood is to the wound (Heb 12:6) so a child properly spanked is healed in the soul and restored to wholeness of Spirit (Prov 23:13,14)
·         Eph 5:29 everyone loves themselves and think in terms of what benefits us (pg 43) regarding guilt and self-loathing
·         The child is in a body of infirm flesh with natural lusts (Deut 12:15) that entice him (James 1:14,15). They go astray as soon as they are born (psalm 58:3). God doesn’t count his lies as sin at this early age (James 4:17, Rom 5:13)The rod is your divine enforcer (Prov 29:15) pg 42
·         God spanks his children (Heb 12:6-11) as a sign of love (Prov 13:24) pg 40-41
·         The authority of God’s word in spanking. The same God who said Mark 10:14 says Prov 19:18; Prov 13:24; Prov 22:15; Prov 23:13-14; Prov 29:15; Prov 29:17. If you love him you must spank him (Pg 38)
·         Eph 6:4 as an example of teasing one’s children (pg 33) and creating a bully.
·         Every child faces his own tree of knowledge (Deut 1:39) and everyone eats of that tree. God won’t condemn a child until he has grown into that state (p 20) and after they eat they are categorized as sinful flesh (Rom 8:3). Therefore parents must bring the child’s flesh into complete subjection. (p20-21)
·         The child leaves the protection of your sanctification and stand alone in the light of his conscience (1 Cor 7:14) p19
·         Prov 22:6 Training not Discipline by highlighting commands with the rod (p 4)

  I don’t even want to quote from the book since I find it theologically illogical, oppressive and not in the spirit of the context in which these passages are found. The problems which the video points out are the real life consequences to people who try to follow the precepts as outlined in the book beyond the intent of the authors. The Pearls appear to belong more to the house of Shammai rather than the house of Hillel.