Archive for May, 2011

Thursday night salsa: American Idol Aguanile

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

From the finale, Marc Anthony and Sheila E, with JLo,


#DSK at a $50,000/month house

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

From suicide watch to the lap of luxury in Tribeca’s most expensive rental at 153 Franklin Street,
DSK hops to luxe lily pad
Frisky frog’s ‘townhouse arrest’ in 50G/month TriBeCa home

The uber-luxury, $50,000-a-month townhouse at 153 Franklin St. — replete with a home theater, gym, spa, bar and rec rooms — is where the former head of the International Monetary Fund will sit out his house arrest as he awaits trial on charges he sexually assaulted and attempted to rape a Midtown hotel maid.

I’d like to know what the facilities are like for the hotel maid, who is in protective custody.

The silver-haired French Lothario, who just a week ago was on suicide watch in a tiny isolation cell at Rikers Island, moved last night into a three-story, 6,800-square-foot townhouse — just steps from the Robert De Niro-owned sushi hot spot Nobu — that was secured by his heiress wife, Anne Sinclair.

DSK wasn’t even handcuffed for the move.

You can watch a slide show of the new digs here.

Epistemic closure among French Socialists, via Instapundit,

it seems a bit rich for Socialists to overwhelmingly take the side of the wealthy powerful politician with a history of sexual abuse allegations against what appear to be quite credible allegations of a poor Guinean refugee.

It’s all about power, and Socialists crave power.

Giethner just doesn’t understand,


Spam attack!

Thursday, May 26th, 2011

If you left a comment in the past 12 hours and it’s not posted, please reenter it. There were 626 comments in the spam bin and I deleted all of them.
Thank you for your patience.


Fiscal factoids, and a growth recession

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

Steve Hanke writes on the Keynesian fiscal factoid

According to the Oxford English Dictionary, a factoid is “an item of unreliable information that is reported and repeated so often that it becomes accepted as fact.” The standard Keynesian fiscal policy prescription for the maintenance of non-inflationary full employment is a fiscal factoid. The chattering classes can repeat this factoid on cue: to stimulate the economy, expand the government’s deficit (or shrink its surplus); and to rein in an overheated economy, shrink the government’s deficit (or expand its surplus).

Hanke explains in detail why the facts are different from the factoid, and concludes,

If monetary, not fiscal, policy dominates — as Prof. Friedman concluded — just what is monetary policy telling us? First, the dramatic collapse in the broad measure of money in the U.S. (see the accompanying chart) explains why President Obama’s massive fiscal stimulus packages haven’t worked as advertised. Second, the broad measures of money also indicate that a growth recession — below trend growth rates — will continue.

Go read the whole thing.


Meanwhile, here in New Jersey the governor points out “you are not the money tree”,

You and I, taxpayers all, are the ones stuck with the bill for all the government spending.


Cool, and yet, if there’s a power failure all heck will break loose…

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

The best German engineering comes up with a better parking lot, via Maria,


US sanctions PDVSA

Wednesday, May 25th, 2011

The State Department lists PDVSA, Venezuela’s oil company, as one of their Seven Companies Sanctioned Under the Amended Iran Sanctions Act

These companies are PCCI (Jersey/Iran), Royal Oyster Group (UAE), Speedy Ship (UAE/Iran), Tanker Pacific (Singapore), Ofer Brothers Group (Israel), Associated Shipbroking (Monaco), and Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA) (Venezuela).


Petróleos de Venezuela (PDVSA): PDVSA, the state-owned oil company of Venezuela, has delivered at least two cargoes of reformate to Iran between December 2010 and March 2011, worth approximately $50 million. Reformate is a blending component that improves the quality of gasoline. The sanctions we have imposed on PDVSA prohibit the company from competing for U.S. government procurement contracts, from securing financing from the Export-Import Bank of the United States, and from obtaining U.S. export licenses. These sanctions do not apply to PDVSA subsidiaries and do not prohibit the export of crude oil to the United States.

This means CITGO, its American subsidiary, can continue to carry business as usual here in the USA – with Joe Kennedy as its pitchman.

All the same, Venezuela threatens to interrupt US oil supply
The threat came in response to new US sanctions on Venezuela’s state oil company, which currently provides about 10 percent of American oil imports

But for now, the almost 1 million barrels of oil a day that Venezuela sells to the US – 10 percent of US oil imports, more than 40 percent of Venezuela’s oil exports – remain on track. Reuters reports that past threats to interrupt the US oil supply never materialized.

The newest round of sanctions mark the first attempt by the US to go beyond Iran in its attempts to halt its nuclear program, which it suspects of being geared toward nuclear weapon production. Past sanctions have targeted Iranian companies and banks.

The sanctions came a day after President Obama signed an executive order giving the State and Treasury Departments more leeway to target companies involved with Iran’s energy industryThe Wall Street Journal reported. The new sanctions prevent PDVSA from competing for US government contracts, getting licenses for US exports, and receiving financing from the US Export-Import Bank.

However, this article in the Wall Street Journal explains that US Sanctions On PdVSA Don’t Hurt US-Venezuela Energy Link

But the fear of disrupting the easy flow of energy into the U.S. may have weakend the sanctions’ potency. By focusing on access to government contracts and financing, the new government sanctions would have next-to-no impact on PdvSA’s oil and refining activities, said Sarah Emerson, principal at energy consultancy ESAI Energy LLC.

Roger Noriega, writing at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), points out what’s involved in the Iran-Chavez cooperation,

AEI will continue to work with Congress, U.S. law enforcement, and other willing prosecutors to expose and confront this dangerous “caudillo-mullah” axis.

Among the other activities that must be investigated fully and sanctioned urgently are:

—Iran’s mining of uranium and other strategic minerals in Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, and elsewhere.
—Iran’s use of the Venezuelan banking system to circumvent UN sanctions and to project its network into key neighboring countries, such as Brazil.
—Chávez’s material support for a sprawling Hezbollah terrorist network for drug-trafficking, fund-raising, recruitment, training, and operations in the Americas.
—The presence of Iranian military installations, weapons, and other equipment in Venezuelan territory.

Venezuelan blogger Miguel sees the sanctions as a warning,

The sanctions imposed are really mild. Under US law, the Secretary of State had to impose at least three sanctions from the nine possible ones (see Setty’s post). People who took part in the conference call and others I talked to today, indicate the three were chosen such that would not block oil trading between the two countries. The ban on import licenses applies to future ones, not past ones, it may be bad for PDVSA long term, but basically irrelevant at this time. PDVSA does not have any contracts with the US Government and Citgo is exempt from the sanctions. Venezuela has had no access to Ex-Im bank financing for a few years.

Miguel, however, looks at the impact on Venezuela’s finances,

Perhaps the main impact of the sanctions will be on the Government’s finances. Both PDVSA and the Government have been issuing bonds mostly to create the supply for the Central Bank’s SITME system, the only legal mechanism (other than the Central Bank) to move money in and out of the country. In January, for example, PDVSA reopened the 2017, 8.5% coupon bond to pay the Central Bank US$ 1.9 billion (Or was it US$ 2 billion? Or was it US$ 2.4 billion?) which the bank has been selling via SITME. Similarly, in February it sold US$ 3 billion of a PDVSA issue, of which US$ 1 billion was kept by the Government.

The problem is that these bonds were sold at Bs. 4.3 per US$, which means that if they are sold through the SITME, the price of the bond needs to be above 81% for these institutions to break even. With the news today, PDVSA’s and Venezuela’s bond fell and the PDVSA 2022 closed below 80%, increasing possible losses if they began selling it in the SITME system. We suspect these bonds will be under pressure for a while with the news.

Indeed, PDVSA’s bonds plunged this morning. Miguel continues,

The next few days are important, after the initial rhetoric settles down, Chavez is likely to forget the topic. All he wants and needs is to be reelected, Iran may be an ally, but is not worth the sacrifice.

Maybe, maybe not. With Iran pouring money and personnel into our hemisphere, who knows what deal they might come up with to keep Chavez’s cooperation?


Text of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress UPDATED with VIDEO

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Politico says that Netanyahu wowed Congress, and they describe the speech as “muscular”.

The Lid summarizes the speech’s salient points on Israel’s right to exist, territorial concession, Palestinian right of return, and the 1967 borders.


Full text of the speech below the fold,


#DSK: And now it’s time to pressure the maid’s family?

Tuesday, May 24th, 2011

Since the accuser is in protective custody and can’t be reached, Strauss-Kahn’s pals bid to pay off woman’s kin, in the best mobster-movie tradition

Friends of alleged hotel sex fiend Dominique Strauss-Kahn secretly contacted the accusing maid’s impoverished family, offering them money to make the case go away since they can’t reach her in protective custody, The Post has learned.
The woman, who says she was sexually assaulted by the disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund, has an extended family in the former French colony of Guinea in West Africa, well out of reach of the Manhattan DA’s Office.
“They already talked with her family,” a French businesswoman with close ties to Strauss-Kahn and his family told The Post. “For sure, it’s going to end up on a quiet note.”

And that’s the guy the Socialists were going to run as presidential candidate.

Meanwhile, in another development yesterday, it emerged that Strauss-Kahn allegedly shouted, “Do you know who I am?” as he assaulted the victim, according to a new report.

Oh, we know all too well indeed.

More from Mr. Bingley.


#DSK: La cage aux fools

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Via Patterico,

And, Dominique Strauss-Kahn: DNA samples confirm sperm traces on maid’s dress
DNA samples taken in the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case have confirmed traces of sperm on the maid’s dress, according to reports.


Bono and the guns

Monday, May 23rd, 2011

Arthur Chrenkoff sets Bono straight,
Dear Bono: Get Your Facts Straight
At a concert in Mexico City, Bono repeats the “90% lie” about U.S. gun shops selling to cartels

The drug-fueled violence and lawlessness in Mexico are truly horrible. But that old canard that drugs don’t kill Mexicans, American guns kill Mexicans, was a bit too much for me. Particularly when you say it to tens of thousands of Mexican fans who are likely to treat everything that comes out of your mouth as gospel truth. I made that point in a comment underneath your Facebook post. As of the next day, your post was “liked” by almost 12,000 people, and more than 550 fans commented. To my surprise, I found that even amidst this huge love-fest, six strangers agreed with my sentiment. Doesn’t seem like much, but it’s not about numbers; it’s about the truth.

And unfortunately your numbers, Bono, are wrong.

So, if not from the U.S., where do the guns come from?

– The Black Market. Mexico is a virtual arms bazaar, with fragmentation grenades from South Korea, AK-47s from China, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers from Spain, Israel and former Soviet bloc manufacturers.

– Russian crime organizations. Interpol says Russian Mafia groups such as Poldolskaya and Moscow-based Solntsevskaya are actively trafficking drugs and arms in Mexico.

– South America. During the late 1990s, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) established a clandestine arms smuggling and drug trafficking partnership with the Tijuana cartel, according to the Federal Research Division report from the Library of Congress.

– Asia. According to a 2006 Amnesty International Report, China has provided arms to countries in Asia, Africa and Latin America. Chinese assault weapons and Korean explosives have been recovered in Mexico.

– The Mexican Army. More than 150,000 soldiers deserted in the last six years, according to Mexican Congressman Robert Badillo. Many took their weapons with them, including the standard issue M-16 assault rifle made in Belgium.

– Guatemala. U.S. intelligence agencies say traffickers move immigrants, stolen cars, guns and drugs, including most of America’s cocaine, along the porous Mexican-Guatemalan border. On March 27, La Hora, a Guatemalan newspaper, reported that police seized 500 grenades and a load of AK-47s on the border. Police say the cache was transported by a Mexican drug cartel operating out of Ixcan, a border town.

Prior posts here, including this,
Mexico's Gun Supply and the 90 Percent Myth