Obama's Speech and the Possibility of "Inclusive" Capitalism - Former President Obama's speech today delivered in South Africa is worth reading in its entirety. The speech contains many truths that i can agree with, ...
2 hours ago
The officers will be focused on a community-policing effort at four middle schools in high-crime neighborhoods, as well as working on the twin problems of human trafficking and the prostitution of teenage girls, police Chief Anthony Batts said.
-Inside Bay Area
The U.S. set off China’s ire in 2010 when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking at a regional summit in Hanoi, called resolving the competing claims to the sea “a leading diplomatic priority.” That drew a rebuke from Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi, who said internationalizing the incident with U.S. involvement “can only make matters worse and more difficult to solve.”
* The rehiring in March of Officer Hector Jimenez, who was fired after he shot and killed two unarmed suspects within seven months of each other in 2007 and 2008, including a man shot in the back. Jimenez and his attorney fought the firing, and an arbitrator sided with him against the city, forcing the department to return Jimenez to work under the rules of its contract with the police union. He is currently assigned to maintaining the fleet of police vehicles and keeping in-car computers up to date.
* July's "Operation Summer Tune-Up," a four-day crime prevention effort in which police issued 28 parole violations, made 17 arrests and recovered seven guns. Henderson is likely concerned about the connotations of the term "tune-up," widely used as a euphemism for the beating of suspects by police.
* The finding by the internal affairs division that accusations of illegal public strip searches of suspects by police were unfounded, despite a federal judge agreeing with the case made by at least two suspects to whom she awarded more than $100,000 each.
* A special report in August by the federal monitoring team, charged with tracking the OPD's progress in the reforms, which found that in 28 percent of the instances when Oakland officers draw their guns and point them at someone, the person has demonstrated no threat to anyone. In some cases, the monitors said, the person wasn't even a suspect in a crime.
* The process by which the department hires outsiders to stand on boards that evaluate police use-of-force incidents. The details of this issue remained unclear Wednesday.
-Inside Bay Area
A new study casts doubt on many law enforcement agencies' assertion that medical marijuana dispensaries contribute to local street crime.
In fact, minor crime rises markedly in surrounding neighborhoods when dispensaries close, at least over the short term, according to a study released Tuesday by the nonpartisan RAND Corp.
"Overall crime increased almost 60 percent in the blocks surrounding closed clinics in the 10 days following their closing," the study said.
Researchers studied crime before and after a large number of dispensaries were shut in Los Angeles and found that incidents, such as break-ins, rose near the closed dispensaries when compared to neighborhoods where dispensaries remained open.
The study suggested several theories for what might drive these results, including the loss of on-site security and surveillance, a reduction in foot traffic, a resurgence in outdoor drug activity and a change in police efforts.
Steph Sherer, executive director of Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, a medical marijuana advocacy group, said her organization has reached the same conclusions, but "law enforcement has largely ignored or refuted these findings" as various cities have closed dispensaries, put a moratorium on new ones or banned them altogether.
"Dispensary regulations bring greater oversight and less crime to local communities," she said.
-Inside Bay Area
In the years following World War II, the United States experienced an unprecedented consumption boom. Anything you could measure was growing. A Rhode Island-sized chunk of land was bulldozed to make new suburbs every single year for decades. America rounded into its present-day shape.
Along the way, there were three inexorable trends at the base of the societal pyramid. First, we plowed more energy into our homes each and every year. We cooled and heated our houses more (sometimes wastefully, sometimes not), brought in more and more appliances, added televisions and computers and phones. Per capita electricity shot up from about 4,000 kilowatt-hours per US resident to over 13,000 kilowatt-hours by the 2000s. Second, we needed more electricity because our houses got huge. The median home size shot up from about 1,500 square feet in the early 1970s to more than 2,200 square feet in the mid-200s. Third, we drove more and more miles every year to get around and between our sprawled-out cities. Back in 1960, Americans drove 0.72 trillion miles. By 2000, that number had reached 2.75 trillion miles. In 2007, vehicle miles traveled hit 3.02 trillion.
Now, though, the relentless growth in those figures is coming to an end. The AP's Jonathan Fahey reported last week that the utility company research consortium, the Electric Power Research Institute, projected that residential electricity demand would drop over the next ten years.
MANILA - More than three-quarters of Philippine military aircraft are not fit to fly - hampering the country's ability to protect its airspace and territorial waters, the air force said on Sept. 10.
Air force spokesman Miguel Ernesto Okol said the military fleet was in dire straits, backing up a 2010 government audit that found only 91 of the 393 aircraft were "full mission capable".
"There is an inquiry underway into what happened to cuae his death, but there have been no results so far."
NEW YORK (RealMoney) -- The largest transfer of wealth from the public to private sector is about to begin. The federal government will be bulk-selling the massive portfolio of foreclosed homes now owned by HUD, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to private investors -- vulture funds.
These homes, which are now the property of the U.S. government, the U.S. taxpayer, U.S. citizens collectively, are going to be sold to private investor conglomerates at extraordinarily large discounts to real value.
You and I will not be allowed to participate. These investors will come from the private-equity and hedge-fund community, Goldman Sachs(GS_) and its derivatives, as well as foreign sovereign wealth funds that can bring a billion dollars or more to each transaction.
In the process, these investors will instantaneously become the largest improved real estate owners and landlords in the world. The U.S. taxpayer will get pennies on the dollar for these homes and then be allowed to rent them back at market rates.
On Wednesday, the Federal Housing Finance Agency (FHFA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Treasury Department issued a Request for Information (RFI) concerning the disposition of the inventory of foreclosed homes owned by the federal government.
An RFI is ostensibly a way for the federal government to get input from the private sector on how to accomplish the goals laid out in the request. But that's really just a facade, as the RFI was structured by the investors to begin with.
In reality, the RFI is a way for the members of Congress to find out if they can get away with bulk-selling these homes to private companies without incurring the wrath of their constituents, taxpayers and former owners of the properties.
Assuming taxpayers don't push back, the next step will be to issue a Request for Proposals (RFP). The RFP will be the bid and plan for these homes by investors.
The way to keep taxpayers from pushing back is to structure the RFI so that the real intention, the bulk sales, is masked by feel-good goals, such as stabilizing neighborhoods and increasing the supply of rental properties.
As intended, the mass media are playing their part in classic style. Every major newspaper in the U.S. has run articles discussing the plan as a rental conversion, allowing readers to assume that Fannie, Freddie and HUD will be renting the properties directly to families who need housing. And although there is an allowance for these kinds of rentals, it is a minor political facade to the obvious true goal of bulk-sale privatization of these homes.
The investors in this program have been waiting for this opportunity since the portfolio of homes owned by HUD began to spike in 2007, when foreclosures surged first in the "Rust Belt," principally Ohio and Michigan.
Since then, of course, the systemic collapse of housing has engulfed all of the major urban coastal regions of the U.S., as well as Phoenix and Las Vegas, and caused the homes owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which are now under the direct control of the U.S. Treasury Department, to spike as well.
Even before this crisis occurred, HUD, i.e. the U.S. government, was the largest improved real estate owner in the world, because of its portfolio of foreclosed homes, which is classified as "real estate owned" (REO). The entire massive HUD REO Portfolio is quietly managed by a handful of private firms already, a group listed as Management and Marketing Contractors.
These M&M companies are principally owned by and employ former high-ranking government officials from the various germane agencies -- the Treasury, HUD, FHA and others. And they will provide the necessary access to the current government employees who are tasked with bringing this program to fruition. Once the privatization is complete, those government employees will move from their positions, and many will take up new employment at one of the M&Ms or the new vulture funds.
I am not currently aware of any way for retail investors to participate in this process.
It is probable, however, that once the privatization has occurred and the properties are generating rental income for the investors, the initial investors will cash out by forming real estate investment trusts (REITs), real estate operating companies (REOCs) or limited partnerships (LPs) that will be made available to retail investors.
Solyndra was one of about 40 projects funded since 2009 through a U.S. Department of Energy loan program that helped major wind, solar, nuclear and ethanol projects. Together, those projects are expected to create about 60,000 jobs, according to the DOE.
The department on Wednesday defended the Solyndra loan, saying public investment is needed to help U.S. companies keep pace with heavily subsidized Chinese firms.
"The alternative is simply walking off the field and letting the rest of the world pass us by," DOE public affairs director Dan Leistikow wrote in a blog post.
-Inside Bay Area