In early 2008, Libya's sovereign-wealth fund controlled by Col. Moammar Gadhafi gave $1.3 billion to Goldman Sachs Group to sink into a currency bet and other complicated trades. The investments lost 98% of their value, internal Goldman documents show.
What happened next may be one of the most peculiar footnotes to the global financial crisis. In an effort to make up for the losses, Goldman offered Libya the chance to become one of its biggest shareholders, according to documents and people familiar with the matter.
At the deepest level, many of these shifts, taken together, suggest that crime in the United States is falling—even through the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression—because of a big improvement in the culture. The cultural argument may strike some as vague, but writers have relied on it in the past to explain both the Great Depression's fall in crime and the explosion of crime during the sixties. In the first period, on this view, people took self-control seriously; in the second, self-expression—at society's cost—became more prevalent. It is a plausible case.
A San Francisco woman interrupted Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to a joint session of Congress Tuesday. Check out the video here of Code Pinker Rae Abileah's interruption -- and turn the volume up WAY high, because you can barely hear her say, "Stop Israeli war crimes."
The Pinkers describe the Half Moon Bay native as "a young Jewish American of Israeli descent" who now lives in SF.
Netanyahu briefly paused as Capitol law enforcement removed Abileah. He followed up with an ad lib about how great it was to be in a "real democracy" where folks can freely express their displeasure with government. She was charged with disrupting Congress.
The U.S. Supreme Court ordered California on Monday to reduce the population of its jammed prisons by more than 30,000 in two years to repair a health care system that lower courts found was defying constitutional standards and endangering guards as well as inmates.
Federal judges rightly found that overcrowding in a prison system that has held nearly twice its designed capacity for more than a decade was the main cause of "grossly inadequate provision of medical and mental health care," the court said in a 5-4 ruling.
"Needless suffering and death have been the well-documented result," Justice Anthony Kennedy said in the majority opinion.
He cited evidence from two decades of litigation: mentally ill prisoners waiting up to a year for treatment, suicidal inmates held for 24 hours in phone booth-sized cages without toilets, waiting lists of 700 inmates for a single doctor, and gyms converted into triple-bunked living quarters that breed disease and violence victimizing guards and inmates alike.
Sacramento anti-tax advocate Ted Costa looks back at the events he set in motion when he helped kick off California's historic gubernatorial recall in 2003 - culminating in the election of Arnold Schwarzenegger - with more than a little disgust.
"He's betrayed the people who supported him from Day One," said Costa of the former GOP governor, who this week acknowledged betraying wife Maria Shriver by having an affair and an out-of-wedlock child with a housekeeper more than a decade ago. "I don't know why people are shocked."
Melanie Morgan, the former KSFO conservative talk show host who was dubbed the "Mother of the Recall," is also angry. "He squandered his marriage and the good will of the people of California," Morgan said. "And now, he's squandered any legacy."(Etc.)
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar's latest thriller, "The Skin I Live In," had filmgoers fleeing the theater Thursday night at its gala premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, due to some aggressively violent and disturbing content.
The film, which stars Antonio Banderas and budding actress Spanish actress Elena Anaya, focuses on a mad but brilliant surgeon (Banderas) who kidnaps a man who raped his daughter.
The doctor's daughter killed herself from the grief and it drives him to take very drastic measures. This is where it gets complicated and disturbing.
Banderas then gives the rapist a sex change and transplants his deceased daughter's face onto his body.
He later has sex with the man he has brutally experimented on and turned into a woman.
Former California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has acknowledged that he fathered a child with a member of his household staff, a revelation that apparently prompted wife Maria Shriver to leave the couple's home before they announced their separation last week.
Schwarzenegger and Shriver jointly announced May 9 that they were splitting up after 25 years of marriage. Yet, Shriver moved out of the family's Brentwood mansion earlier in the year after Schwarzenegger acknowledged the child is his, The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday.
"After leaving the governor's office I told my wife about this event, which occurred over a decade ago," Schwarzenegger told the Times in a statement that also was sent to The Associated Press early Tuesday. "I understand and deserve the feelings of anger and disappointment among my friends and family. There are no excuses and I take full responsibility for the hurt I have caused. I have apologized to Maria, my children and my family. I am truly sorry.
The arrest in New York of one of France’s leading global figures and a possible next president, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, on charges of attempted rape produced an earthquake of shock, outrage, disbelief and embarrassment throughout France on Sunday.
The country woke up to the tawdry allegations that Mr. Strauss-Kahn, 62, a leading Socialist and the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, had waylaid and tried to rape a maid in a $3,000-a-night suite at a New York hotel, and the reverberations were immediate.
The government of President Nicolas Sarkozy responded cautiously, saying the presumption of innocence must be maintained and the courts must be allowed to do their work, while the leader of the Socialist Party, Martine Aubry, admitted that she was “totally stupefied” by the charges against the man who had been considered most likely to bring her party back to power in next year’s presidential elections by defeating Mr. Sarkozy.
It was a sincere, intelligent, cogent, informed political disaster.
The essence of Romney’s position is: I stand by my successful healthcare plan in Massachusetts, but ObamaCare is a disaster because it does all of the things that RomneyCare does, just on a national level. So, if I am elected president I will give waivers to states so they can repeat my mistakes if they want to, or, if they are smart, they will reject both my approach and Obama’s.
I don’t think it will work.
It’s hard to hate Obamacare and love Romneycare. For example, Romney continued to defend the individual mandate — the most despised part of Obamacare — as right for Massachusetts but wrong for the country.
Four years after reform, Massachusetts still has the highest health-insurance premiums in the country. For small employers, the rise is about 14 percent beyond those in the rest of the nation.
And it’s increasingly difficult to get a doctor’s appointment. A recent survey by the Massachusetts Medical Society reveals that fewer than half of the state’s primary-care practices are accepting new patients, and the average wait time to get an appointment with an internist is 48 days. The result: The use of hospital emergency rooms in Massachusetts by people seeking routine care has increased. This was another problem Romneycare was supposed to fix.
The five-point plan that Governor Romney outlined to structure the health-reform initiative he would undertake as president is sound and based upon solid principles. But it’s hard to see how voters will give him a chance unless he admits that the health plan he developed for Massachusetts went seriously wrong.
He was emphatic about calling for repeal of Obamacare and said he will issue an executive order paving the way for the states to get a waiver from the health-overhaul law while Congress works to repeal it.
But you can’t use an executive order to wipe out two massive new federal entitlement programs, $550 billion in new and higher taxes, a vast expansion of Medicaid, and federal mandates on individuals, , and the states. Waivers are not a solution.
From the moment Sarah Palin’s acceptance speech electrified the Republican convention, she was seen as an unbending, hard-charging, red-meat ideologue—to which soon was added “thin-skinned” and “vindictive.” But a look at what Palin did while in office in Alaska—the only record she has—shows a very different politician: one who worked with Democrats to tame Big Oil and solve the great problem at the heart of the state’s politics. That Sarah Palin might have set the nation on a different course. What went wrong?
Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin won another round in court on Monday against a Pennsylvania teenager accused of stalking the outspoken conservative, telling a judge, "I fear for my friends' and for my family's safety."
The three-hour Anchorage court hearing, with Palin and her antagonists testifying by telephone, ended with the judge renewing a previous restraining order against Shawn Christy, 19, and issuing a similar order against his father, Craig.
Shawn Christy admitted in court to having threatened to rape Palin but has denied her allegations he menaced her daughters. He also admitted sending Palin numerous e-mails and gifts, and to traveling to Anchorage earlier this year.
Craig Christy admitted to making more than two dozen early morning phone calls to Palin's parents over a two-day period in March. He also acknowledged organizing a support group for his son to stage protests at events attended by Palin, the 2008 Republican vice presidential nominee, and he maintains a Facebook page with numerous anti-Palin messages.
State Superior Court Magistrate Jonathon Lack said he found the repeated telephone calls to Palin's parents, some of them recorded and played at the hearing, to be "very disturbing."
Lack rejected Palin's request for a restraining order against the teen's mother, Karen Christy, who called Palin's parents only twice.
Thousands of California teachers are expected to take part in a weeklong series of rallies and sit-ins this week at the Capitol and throughout the state to protest possible spending cuts in the state budget.
Teachers face the threat of mass layoffs, larger classes and the elimination of myriad programs because of California's $15.4 billion budget shortfall.
The California Teachers Association is pressing Gov. Jerry Brown to back off his call for a special election and instead push GOP lawmakers to directly approve an extension of higher sales, income and vehicle taxes.
Union President David Sanchez says if the taxes aren't approved, 21,000 teachers will lose their jobs next fall. They've already received pink slips.
Freeway billboards bearing the campaign's tagline, State of Emergency, are up throughout the state.
This is why the GOP needs to rethink its debate schedule and why the RNC should take over the operation of the debates and exile Cain, Johnson and Paul as well as every other candidate without a prayer of winning. (Santorum is a long shot, but he has a realistic though small chance of winning the nomination, while the others do not.) The seriousness of the fiscal crisis requires the GOP and its candidates to act seriously, and allowing marginal candidates to eat up time and distract from the enormous problems facing the country is not serious.
It not remarkable how a powerful congressman who performs well in the polls, raises more money than the other candidates, is more intellectually formidable than any of them, and was proven to be correct about both the endless nature of the foreign interventionism of the last decade and the fragility of the banking system is automatically deemed "unelectable" and a "minor candidate". What is remarkable is the large number of mindless, thoughtless Republicans who, despite their feigned disdain for it, blithely accept the mainstream media's assertions and obey the stage management of the party elders.