One of the crime scenes

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

A Letter
to Lisa

Please Lisa, Basketball is ESSENTIAL (and part of the ECONOMY)!

Ms. Lisa Raitt
MP for Halton, Onterrible
and Minister of (forced) Labour

Dear Lisa,

As a fan of both the economy and NBA Basketball, I am wondering why you haven't involved yourself in the ongoing NBA Lockout. According to you even dudes and duddettes in uniforms serving wine to passengers on an Air Canada flight are performing an essential service, so how you can even consider letting the lights stay out in Air Canada Centre for forty-one Raptor home games (or more if they make the play-offs) is beyond me. Then we have to consider the TeeVee revenue, advertising and jobs, not to mention the merchandising which even costs jobs in China, and we know you and your government are very concerned about jobs in China.

Every other labor disruption that has even been threatened since you and your spiteful bossman got your coveted majority (of almost 25% of eligible voters - some landslide) wasn't even allowed to happen, whether it was a threatened strike or a lockout by management. Yet here we are, when the NBA regular season should be underway, and other than when some rock star deigns to go to Toronto, or that alleged professional NHL team known as the Maple Leafs has a home game, economic activity around the Air Canada Centre grinds to a halt, no tips for the waitresses in the neighborhood, empty parkades, and planes forced to fly around with unsold oversize seats for seven foot men.

I know it would be easier for you to do something if we still had the Vancouver Grizzlies, cuz with only one team based in Canada now, your leverage is limited. However I'm sure there are actions you could take, because the inconceivable has become the expected from you when it comes to dealing with those spoiled working stiffs. Just the fact that Steve Nash isn't drawing his salary is an unacceptable hit to the all important Canadian economy. So let me make some suggestions to help you resolve this unacceptable disruption to the economy of downtown Toronto.

Send your little buddy John Baird to Washington to inform his counterpart, Queen Hillary that if the NBA doesn't resume play, at least Raptors games, that you will have your buddy Jason Kenny revoke all visas for non-Canadian NBA players, which would reduce the league (and the payroll) to about four players, though in this reduced league, Rick Fox could perhaps come out of retirement and the Salmon Arm High girl's team members could maybe become professional. Perhaps the Grizz could be compelled to return from Okie Land to Vancouver and then the Grizz and the Raptors could play an 82 game schedule, which would give both defenses a chance to learn the opposition offense.

Of course even better, you could go to Washington and consult with your counterpart in Barry O's cabinet, and show him/her how it is done. After all, their economy isn't doing that well, not as well as ours as you guys point out countless times daily. Our American cousins might appreciate it if you took the time to explain to them how to avoid letting petty labor disputes disrupt something so important as any economic activity at all. There's been an anti-labour trend happening down there since the ascension of Ronnie Raygun anyway, so they might really be grateful if you showed them how to completely put those whiney workers, whether they be millionaires or minimum wage slaves in their place.

As far as I know all the other worker bees in Canuckistan are happily showing up for work lately, at least those lucky enough to have jobs. Therefore, I would think you would have the time to devote to solving this unacceptable disruption of economic activity.

yers truly,

....Major fan of both the NBA and the Holy Economy

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Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Criminal Activity
or Business as Usual!

Following the piece by Robin Mathews, there is a short post of mine about an unfortunate individual who falls outside the jurisdiction of "oh so special" entitlement.

In Criminal Breach of Trust:
Stephen Harper, the Conservative Party, 67 candidates in the 2006 election, Senator Irving Gerstein, Senator Doug Finley … and others.

by Robin Mathews

The 2006 federal election is key in the present illegitimate holding of a majority by the Harper Conservatives in the House of Commons. In that election more than 67 Harperite Conservatives and the Conservative Party conspired to defraud the Canadian people of a fair election.

The Prosecution of the violations by the people named above has been palid and ineffective. They should have been charged, one and all, with criminal breach of trust – a charge which the Criminal Code of Canada declares requires, because of its seriousness, less evidence when dealing with public servants. Like prime ministers, senators, and candidates for election, for instance.

The move by the Prosecution to accept a plea bargain in a matter of the greatest importance to all Canadians is an act of major irresponsibility, I insist.

Stephen Harper and at least seventy others colluded to engage in criminal breach of trust in a calculated violation of the Elections Act in 2006.

In standard Harperite practice the wholesale fraud is said to have happened without the knowledge of the man who lets nothing in the Party happen without his knowledge: Stephen Harper. But being leader, he cannot escape accusation.

After pleading guilty to plea bargain charges of breaching campaign spending limits and failing to report expenses, spokespeople for the Harper Party – with Orwellian lie-tactics – claim that guilt is not guilt, that the illegal is legal, that the profoundly unethical is ethical.

Orwell was describing the use of language in a fascist state.

In addition, the 2006 election campaign was marked by the entrance into campaigning – in fact – by the RCMP on behalf of the Harper Conservatives. Military and police interference in democratic elections proclaims a move towards fascism. In a break with honourable tradition, the RCMP announced – in the midst of election campaigning - that it was undertaking a criminal investigation of Liberal minister of finance, Ralph Goodale. The announcement was totally gratuitous, and, of course, Goodale was cleared completely.

But the RCMP helped – along with the wholesale criminal breach of trust of the Conservative candidates and Party – to shape an illegitimate minority victory for Stephen Harper.

Not long after, Guiliano Zaccardelli, RCMP head, was caught in perjury before a Commons Committee and was forced to resign. He was carefully tucked away by the Harper government in an Interpol position in France. We have heard no more about him because the Mainstream Press and Media are branches of the Harper office.

The Mainstream Media is a branch of the Harper office. Stephanie McDowall has written CBC about Evan Soloman’s slippery attack on Bob Rae on The House, November 12. I wrote to CBC after the embarrassing failure of Carol Off to interview the Harperite representative lying about the conviction of the Conservative Party for election fraud on November 10.

Questions that leapt to my mind: Why isn’t the lawyer for the Conservative Party being interviewed? Did or did not the Conservative Party plead guilty? (Ms. Off never asked that.) Did 67 Harperite candidates engage in the violation? Why won’t Stephen Harper be interviewed on the subject? Etcetera.

Ms. Off – to my mind – worked to kill the story.

In addition NO OPPOSITION REPRESENTATIVE was interviewed by As It Happens concerning the admission of guilt by the Conservative Party.

Canadians must publicize the “assistants to Stephen Harper” in the media whenever they show their heads. Perhaps we should have a petition to ask that Carol Off be removed.

Hold the Presses!....koot back here

Every now and then the news is actually surprising, like last week when a "Special Prosecutor" actually (prepare yourself) recommended that charges be laid against someone whose case warranted a special prosecutor.

One can be forgiven for thinking that the raison d'etre of an "oh so" Special Prosecutor was to coddle and basically provide a publicly funded defender of the special folks, too precious to be expected to be held accountable to the law. After all, it would appear that William Berardino's mandate was to protect Gordon Campbell and cohorts from any responsibility for the theft of BC Rail, no matter what the cost (a cool twenty to thirty million, including the carefully guided investigation by the RCMP, the six million dollar bribe to buy the silence of Basi and Virk and AT LEAST twice that to the office of Wild Bill and associates).

Then of course there was the "special handling" of Kash Heed (twice), for election fraud. Then there was the two years long "exoneration" of John Les "(s) than ethical" for shady land dealings and the decision that there wasn't enough evidence to secure a conviction for impaired driving against the Drunk MLA from North Van who not only failed a breathalyzer or two, but had spent the afternoon tweeting about the wine and being drunk with hundreds of witnesses who apparently were never consulted.

Therefore imagine one's surprise when one finds in the North Shore News an item like this:

A B.C. Crown prosecutor has been charged with assault following an incident that allegedly happened in North Vancouver on Aug. 23.

Hedley Christopher Johns, who works for the Criminal Justice Branch, is charged with one count of assault.

The charge against Johns was sworn Nov. 8 after it was approved by Kris Pechet, a special prosecutor appointed by the province. Pechet approved the charge after reviewing an investigative report forwarded by the North Vancouver RCMP in September.

Johns is to make his first court appearance in North Vancouver Jan. 4. He has not entered a plea to the charges.

So far little information has been released about what is alleged to have happened.

Meanwhile, the Law Society of British Columbia is opening its own investigation into the case.

"He's facing a serious charge and we will conduct a thorough investigation," said spokesperson Lesley Pritchard.

Pritchard said Johns is presumed innocent.

He has been practicing law since 1981.

Poor Mr. Johns, that should teach him to keep up to date with his donations to the BC liaRs, though as a Crown Attorney, Mr. Johns most likely couldn't afford to make a large enough donation to matter to the BC LIEberals. I wonder if he was hired to be a crown during the (irony) dark days of NDP rule in the nineties(/irony)! Whatever the reason, the unfortunate Mr. Johns, it would appear is neither too big, nor too special to jail!

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Thursday, November 10, 2011

As Sgt. Preston
Gently Weeps

Today's Force Would Drive King to Distemper!

"On King! On, you huskies!"

"I arrest you in the name of the Crown!"

"Well, King, this case is closed."
RC (Northwest)MP Sergeant William Preston

Back when I was a young lad I listened almost every week to Sgt. Preston on the radio, on the very station where it had originated as Challenge of the Yukon in 1938, WXYZ in Detroit, which is of course even north of Canada itself, well Windsor, Ontario anyway. I partly grew up confused looking south across the Detroit River at the skyline and lights of Windsor or headed south over the Ambassador Bridge to Canada. Even I'm not old enough to have heard those first seasons, but by the time it went to TeeVee, to battle for viewers against the Lone Ranger I was convinced that if I committed any crimes, I would stay on the US side of the border, and take my seemingly better chances of getting away from the FBI - because the Mounties, in those days ALWAYS GOT THEIR MAN! Ironically, the first time I actually had any dealings with law enforcement, I was arrested by the FBI, after practically having to orchestrate my own arrest, since they couldn't seem to find me without my help! But that is all a story for another day, and I have always remembered the FBI agents who took me into custody as very polite, with no undue intimidation or abuse, unlike some other law enforcement agencies with whom I have had dealings with since.

When I came to Canada at the end of the sixties, I was impressed with the gentlemanly manner of the Mounties. Compared to County Sheriffs in many counties or the dreaded California Highway Patrol, or an LAPD officer, the Mounties I asked for directions or who would point out I had a burned out tail-light were true "boy scouts" serving and protecting civilians, at least those who weren't assaulting them or trying to elude custody. Something rotten has taken over the heart of the once proud and fabled force.

Sometimes the Mounties themselves are the victims of this deterioration of the once fine force. After all this is (was?) the same RCMP that after a five week manhunt through hundreds of miles of winter wilderness in the NWT and Yukon, on February 17, 1932 finally cornered the mysterious Mad Trapper of Rat River, who became the ONLY fatality in the ensuing shootout. Compare this to the tragedy of four mounties, shot near Mayerthorpe by James Rozko, seemingly like lambs one by one. Even if they didn't know he was in the barn, a mistake in itself - to not assume he could be, the first shot should have been the cue to lock down the area let the stand-off begin, with officers keeping themselves under cover and the barn in sight until he either surrendered, shot himself or starved to death. Unlike the Mad Trapper, Rozko was a known individual, well known, to the local police with a lengthy history of confrontation, threats and offenses involving firearms.

As far as getting their man, nowadays, they seem more likely to make it impossible to get the perp, or if caught, screw the case so bad that a conviction is damn near impossible, like with the Air India Fiasco. Maybe that's an excuse for the "deaths in custody," knowing one may have compromised the evidence, why not just dispense what an officer considers the appropriate sentence. Who needs judges, lawyers and all that, maybe everything can be like the new BC Impaired Driving Laws, save money by letting the officer do it all - make the arrest, determine the charges, decide AND administer the sentence - saves on all those plugged up courts - so they can be used by business and corporations for important lawsuits. Of course as the ongoing Missing Women Inquiry makes more clear almost every day, the Port Coquitlam Detachment may almost as well have issued Robert Pickton a license to hunt women, as they ignored repeated witnesses, and even were too "polite" to search the premises, where so many body parts were eventually found, on more than one occasion when they was plenty of "probable cause." But I guess the murders of almost fifty women require a higher level of probable cause than say - a marijuana grow show! Robert Pickton was/is a retard, compared to say Ted Bundy or the Green River Strangler, either of whom might well have died of old age in their beds in British Columbia.

Don't even get me started on guys like Montgomery Robinson, who has been on fully paid vacation now for God knows how many years, since leading the assassination squad on the unfortunate Polish would be immigrant. Since then we just count ourselves lucky if a year manages to go by without Monty killing yet another innocent human - yet he is guilty of nothing yet, with almost impossible to ignore perjury, two dead innocent people, not only is he walking free, but collecting a full wage without having to suffer the indignity of having to show up at work -- AND WE PAY HIS SALARY!!!!!!

I'm gonna let a wiser man than I take over this topic now. Robin Mathews is not just wiser than I, but can write circles around me and most anyone else - so here is what Dr. Mathews has been thinking about this travesty that seems to be just life as usual in British Columbia, the best place on earth, for scumbags and crooks posing as politicians, cops or those who labor in the Halls of (in)Justice.

B.C. RCMP Sexual Harassment and the BC Rail Scandal
by guest poster: Robin Mathews.

The BC Rail Scandal is so huge and so intricate that it reaches right into the present sexual harassment claims against RCMP officers made by Catherine Galliford, Krista Carle, and others.

Responding for the RCMP in a news release - under the Orwellian title “RCMP Health and Wellness” - BC RCMP Superintendent Kevin DeBruyckere states that the RCMP “encourages our members to report incidents of harassment….”

Ms. Carle has reported already that when she reported incidents of harassment the RCMP Management tried to cover up the problems. Males in the Force have made similar kinds of statement.

Attorney General Shirley Bond is completely unruffled by the news. Negotiations with the RCMP for a 20 year contract with B.C. will go on as if nothing has happened, she has – in effect – said. Ms. Bond, I suggest, is aware that the RCMP has so much on the Gordon Campbell Liberal Cabinet and its successors that she dare not suggest there will be any hitch in completing the new contract.

I suggest the BC Rail Scandal is governing the conditions under which the cabinet of British Columbia can negotiate with the RCMP. But there is more ….

Let us remember Superintendent Kevin DeBruyckere. He was a major investigator in the BC Rail Scandal leading to the criminal charges against Basi, Virk, and Basi.

Defence counsel claimed that he is the brother-in-law of Kelly Reichert, then executive director of the B.C. Liberal Party. Defence counsel went on to ask in very assertive tones if Kevin DeBruyckere was conveying information about the investigation to Kelly Reichert who was discussing the matters with Gordon Campbell, then premier of the province. Allegations were made in the media that Defence counsel had documents to back their position, documents that were never revealed because of the sudden shutting down of the trial.

Kevin DeBruyckere was – in fact – front and centre in the hasty, messy, odious, shutting down of the trial of Dave Basi, Bob Virk and Aneal Basi.


Here is how I interpret major events. When the accused chose to change from their election of trial by judge alone to trial by judge and jury, they had to deal with the Special Prosecutor (who was illegitimately appointed to the position by the Attorney General’s ministry in which he had been for seven years partner and colleague of Attorney General Geoff Plant, and eleven years partner and colleague of Deputy Attorney General Alan Seckel).

The ‘dealing’ between the accused and prosecution resulted in an ‘Agreement of Facts’ between them - not a rare matter. Often, to facilitate trial, accused and prosecution agree to a number of basic facts.

This agreement of facts, however – as I interpret it – contained an “agreement” by the accused and their counsel that they would abandon certain inalienable rights the accused has to defend against criminal allegations. They, apparently, agreed they would not question things like the investigation process, the involvement of certain high-ranking politicians – things, apparently, of that kind.

When the trial began a complete impasse occurred. Everything stopped dead. It did so because – as I interpret events - the accused refused to believe that the agreement they had signed was one in which they gave away some of their right to defend against charges. But they had signed the agreed ‘Statement of Facts”. Their counsel had also signed the Agreement.

Defence counsel was in a terrible bind. They had signed, and – unlike the Special Crown Prosecutor - they were legitimately in the courtroom. They would stand by their signatures. But the accused refused to accept the interpretation of the agreement of facts made by the Special Prosecutor.

The trial stopped. The accused were advised to seek independent advice. They did so. Some days passed. Then … the accused decided to proceed with their counsel in place. But it appears that something had happened in the minds of Defence counsel.

When the first Crown witness, Martyn Brown, long-time chief of staff for Gordon Campbell, took the stand, something happened – something dramatic.

Kevin McCullough, Defence counsel, asked Martyn Brown what he knew about the relationship of Kevin DeBruyckere and Kelly Reichert. And – if I remember correctly – he asked … or he intimated that through those two men information about the investigation was likely being reviewed by Gordon Campbell. Gordon Campbell, premier, was alleged by Defence counsel to be a principal in the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR and, therefore, someone who should have known nothing whatever about the investigation.

No sooner was the question to Martyn Brown out of the mouth of Kevin McCullough than Special Crown Prosecutor William Berardino leapt to his feet and objected strenuously to, as he saw it, the breach of the Agreement.

High drama was playing out in the courtroom! The judge on the trial, Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie, had refused to acknowledge that William Berardino was illegitimately in the courtroom. She was permitting – I am convinced – an illegitimate trial to proceed. She was – some suggested – rushing the trial forward from pre-trial and was attempting to keep it packaged in a very small scope that kept away from major politicians and major private corporation wheelers-and-dealers.

The trial stopped again. Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie had to rule on the legitimacy of the questions asked Martyn Brown by Defence counsel.

She, now, was in a bind, as I see it. If she ruled that the questions were not acceptable, she might be seen as denying the rights of the accused to a fair trial – and that judgement might very well be made by a higher court on appeal. She would not look good. I believe no higher court could approve of accused people signing away their right to a fair trial. That would contradict the most fundamental principles of our legal system.

If she ruled that the questions were acceptable, the door would swing open to Crown witness after witness being questioned about the corrupt structure and dealings to transfer BC Rail to the CNR. The trial would turn away from the three accused to their superiors in cabinet and in private corporations, and it might reveal to British Columbians a pattern of criminal behaviour at the highest levels in British Columbia.

Associate Chief Justice Anne MacKenzie ruled that the questions asked by the Defence were acceptable … and it could proceed.

Alarm bells must have rung in cabinet and corner corporate offices all over B.C. The trial had to be stopped right away, I believe. Negotiations with the accused and their lawyers went into full spate. Only one other witness was half-way through being cross-examined by Defence counsel when the trial stopped. Shut down. Ended.

It was all over. The Special Crown Prosecutor who was illegitimately appointed, and his assistants, would collect (from taxpayers) their (something like) $12 million dollars. Defence counsel would be paid by the taxpayers their $6 million dollars. The accused would pay none of their costs of Defence. According to the auditor general of B.C., the approval of payment of the bills of the accused was nowhere minuted in cabinet proceedings – though cabinet approved the extraordinary payment of Defence counsels’ $6 million bill.

What sparked that rush to close up the trial? The questions to Gordon Campbell’s chief of staff Martyn Brown about the relation and dealings between RCMP officer Kevin DeBruyckere, executive director of the B.C. Liberal Party Kelly Reichert, and Gordon Campbell, architect of the corrupt transfer of BC Rail to the CNR.

There was Kevin DeBruyckere smack in the middle of the matter that blew up the Basi, Virk, and Basi trial and caused it to end ignominiously.

And here is Kevin DeBruyckere issuing a press release on the claims by female officers that the RCMP is riddled with sexual intimidation and other misconduct. And here is Kevin DeBruyckere holding hands, you might say, with Shirley Bond – the two of them saying everything is just fine. Relax. The RCMP is the heart and soul of integrity and the B.C. cabinet – stuffed with members from the Great Days Of The BC Rail Sell-Out – is aching for a twenty year renewed contract with the RCMP.

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Thursday, November 03, 2011

Happy 100th Birthday

1939 Chevrolet

The first car I drove

On November 3, 1911, race car driver and automotive engineer Louis Chevrolet co-founded the Chevrolet Motor Car Company with William C. Durant (ousted founder of General Motors for 5 years) and investment partners William Little (maker of the Little automobile) and Dr. Edwin R. Campbell (son-in-law of Durant)and in 1912 R. S. McLaughlin of Canada.wikipedia

A grey version of the four door sedan above, a 1939 model, complete with the rear suicide doors but minus the fancy fender covers on the rear wheels was the car I used to learn to drive. It had a three on the tree stick and fuzzy velvety seat covers that collected dust and emitted a smell that I remember to this day. I was twelve when I learned to drive this pre-war larger version of the now discontinued PT Cruiser. Soon I was allowed to drive 4 miles each way on the gravel county road to take my younger sister and I to the nearest neighbor's ranch, where we would get into another Chevy, this one driven by an over sixteen year old with a normal license for an eight mile ride on more county road and highway to the school bus stop where we were then picked up by the bus for the final eight miles to school. I was legally allowed to drive this portion of public road to save an adult from having to make a twice daily round trip from seventh grade though grade nine, after which I moved to town (against my will) to finish high school.

Then there is the Chevy which was one of the most beautiful automobiles ever made by Detroit, and which I never had the pleasure of owning, but rode in many, even recently. This of course the 1955 Bel-Air 2-Door 2-Tone Hardtop, shown below. All I could afford to buy when I got my license after spending the summer working as a ranch hand was a piece of crap 50th Anniversary Model 4-Door 1953 Ford with a flat head V-8. At least my Ford was kind enough to throw a rod thru the oil pan after a day spent putting on so many miles in a futile search for some decent waves to ride that the last time we had to gas up, we were too broke to also buy the necessary crankcase oil that had to accompany each 5 dollars worth of gas. I say kind because it happened at the end of my senior year of high school so I didn't have to suffer the indignity of driving it to university.

When I was a freshman at UCSB, one weekend a dorm mate and I jumped in his blue and white '55 Bel-Air to drive from Santa Barbara about 400 miles north across the desert to take our girl friends skiing at Mammoth Mountain on the east slope of the Sierra Nevada. In the middle of the Mojave Desert we threw a fan belt and almost overheated. We caught it before blowing the head gasket or worse and once it cooled down restarted and continued north as long as we could without overheating. After the second short leg low and behold there in the middle of nowhere was a automobile junkyard, undoubtedly conveniently located for all the cars killed off by the merciless Mojave. There in the second row was another Bel-Air, which still had an intact fan belt, so after a couple minutes of monkey wrenching and the outlay of a whole dollar we were back on the road enroute to powder and romance!

1955 Chevrolet Bel-Air

Democracy Shortlived in Greece!

The fraudsters and bandits have won again, although I'm convinced the current form of free market pirate capitalism is in its death throes already. According to Reuters:
ATHENS/CANNES, France (Reuters) - Greece's teetering government backed away from a proposed referendum on staying in the euro on Thursday, while European leaders talked for the first time of a possible Greek exit to preserve the single currency...../snip

.....Finance Minister Evangelos Venizelos broke ranks with Papandreou, saying Greece's euro membership was a historic achievement and "cannot depend on a referendum."

Democracy is rapidly becoming a fond memory the world over and how could anyone expect the 1% that have caused the economic woes besetting the world to be accountable and pay the price for their gambling with other peoples' money and outsourcing jobs to slave labor jurisdictions where the workers can't afford to be consumers of anything other than the barest of necessities.

On a Lighter Note
.......Wisdom of the Divine Ms. M!

'I haven't left my house in days.
I watch the news channels incessantly.
All the news stories are about the election;
All the commercials are for Viagra and Cialis.
Election - erection - election - erection
- - - either way we're getting fucked!' -- Bette Midler.

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Wednesday, November 02, 2011

The Rotten Core
of the Apple

Many folks are sad because of the passing of Steve Jobs recently and even I feel sad that he has left this plane. However too many folks, act as if his passing was like the crucifixion of Jesus, minus the resurrection. Lets face it MacHeads are nothing if not loyal, of course once you become a Mac user you have to be loyal because MacWorld is an extremely proprietary universe.

No one, even an open source Linux inclined person such as myself could deny that Apple/Mac has produced elegant and highly functional devices over the years and the loyalty of the MacHeads is easy to understand. But the adulation for Mr. Jobs has gone beyond what he deserves, at least to a person who feels the most important technical innovator of recent decades to die recently was actually Les Paul. Unlike what folks like the locked into Mac products, king of BC Bloggers might think, Steve Jobs was not an engineering genius, he was a visionary who could see the opportunity to create a device to fulfill a need people didn't even know they had, but had to then team up with a REAL engineer like his original partner the Woz to implement his vision in hardware.

But I'm not really talking about Mr. Jobs here, my topic is the company he helped found and how they have turned into just another corporate abuser of the planet and especially anyone who has the misfortune of building their products.

Apple/Mac often pretends to be the good guy to the villain of Bill Gates and Microsoft, but it ain't that simple. For example, Apple devices are built in a factories where the slaves might make about $1.00 per hour and get ripped off for their non-optional overtime. And if exploiting cheap labor wasn't enough, they, like so many of their corporate partners in crime, stash as much money as possible offshore in havens inaccessible to the IRS who are mandated to collect taxes to support the infrastructure where most of their customer base resides.
In its fourth quarter earnings report released last week, Apple Computer revealed that 2/3 of its on-hand cash – some $54 billion — is squirreled away outside the boundaries of the United States, presumably to avoid paying its fair share of taxes. In the meantime, reports Students and Scholars Against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM), a Hong Kong-based group, Apple’s major manufacturing contractors routinely subject employees to forced overtime, wage theft and no breaks — and even unprotected exposure to toxins.

The sleaziest thing that Bill Gates did was buy DOS from a cash strapped programmer in Seattle who didn't know that IBM was looking for an operating system, no matter how inferior, that would work and then turn it into millions or billions of dollars by clever licensing arrangements that set little Billy on the road to being the richest guy on the planet. Of course now, other sleazier guys, like tele-com magnate Mr. Slim, a Mexican, have made Gates' fortune seem like chump change and Mr. Gates has devoted himself to good works.

So I join those who mourn the passing of a true visionary, but I'm not about to give Apple/Mac, a corporation which on some days tops Exxon as the most valuable company on earth, a free pass for being typical greedy corporate pigs.

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Comes Home!

Democracy Returns to its Birthplace

Prime Minister George A. Papandreou of Greece has enraged the heads of the Eurozone, members of the One Percent world wide and even the most arrogant Greek in Vancouver with his announcement that he wants to allow the Greek people to express their views regarding just how much crap/austerity they must eat for their "masters of the universe" are bailed out by France and Germany mainly and the majority of Greeks just suck it up and pay higher taxes while losing their jobs and any benefits they would prefer for those taxes to fund.

The Mainstream Media, in thrall to the One Percent, and paid to enable their ongoing larceny, have joined in the attack on Papendreou and the Greek people, trying to blame those lazy Greeks for the crisis caused by the Greek One Percenters and their government's policy of supporting Socialism for the Rich. As the Powell River Persuader pointed out in the comment thread to a recent post here:
The Groningen Growth & Development Centre has published a poll revealing that between 1995 and 2005, Greece was the country whose workers worked the most hours/year among European nations; Greeks worked an average of 1,900 hours per year, followed by Spaniards (average of 1,800 hours/year)..

Isn't it precious that the second hardest working Europeans are the Spaniards, whose economy is also on the verge of collapse, thanks to the slicing and dicing, leveraged short selling and other gambits that should be classified as criminal activity engaged in by Spain's 1%, their helpmates at the IMF and World Bank, Wall Street Con-Men and the rest of the looters who want to return to feudal times, themselves of course playing the part of the feudal overlords and the rest of us as SERFS!

Never fear Europe, Spiteful Steve - financial genius of the planet, since he was lucky enough to not gain a majority government in time to unleash Canadian Banks to engage in the same risky, stoooooopid behaviour as elsewhere - though he certainly wanted to de-regulate Canadian banks prior to the crisis of 2008, that he now wants to take credit for saving Canada from suffering.

Spiteful Steve might be able to advise Mr. Papandreou about another matter while he's on his personal mission to educate Europe. Although the Greek leader, after a seven hour emergency cabinet meeting managed to get the support of his cabinet for the upcoming vote, he still faces a vote of confidence in the legislature on Friday and with a razor thin, and nervous, majority could well lose the vote, causing his government to fall. This of course would add even more uncertainty to an economy worldwide already on tenterhooks. Perhaps Steve needs to explain to Papandreou how to proroque his government and hide out till stuff blows over AND hopefully make the Greek Leader understand just how evil and wrong are co-alitions.

Caving in to the Fraudsters and accepting austerity as necessary to protect the ill gotten riches of the elite is not the only option. Nobel Prize winner (and the only recent winner not a disciple of the University of Chicago School of Fascism) suggests looking at the example of Iceland in the Path not Taken
it’s worth stepping back to look at the larger picture, namely the abject failure of an economic doctrine — a doctrine that has inflicted huge damage both in Europe and in the United States.

The doctrine in question amounts to the assertion that, in the aftermath of a financial crisis, banks must be bailed out but the general public must pay the price. So a crisis brought on by deregulation becomes a reason to move even further to the right; a time of mass unemployment, instead of spurring public efforts to create jobs, becomes an era of austerity, in which government spending and social programs are slashed.

This doctrine was sold both with claims that there was no alternative — that both bailouts and spending cuts were necessary to satisfy financial markets — and with claims that fiscal austerity would actually create jobs. The idea was that spending cuts would make consumers and businesses more confident. And this confidence would supposedly stimulate private spending, more than offsetting the depressing effects of government cutbacks.

Some economists weren’t convinced. One caustic critic referred to claims about the expansionary effects of austerity as amounting to belief in the “confidence fairy.” O.K., that was me.

In case you are thinking that one exception, Iceland, doesn't prove anything, lets look at what the CBC's Joe Schlesinger has to say about how Argentina dealt with an even worse situation than Greece finds itself in today (and after all as Joe points out Greece first defaulted 2400 years ago, and managed to survive).
Dear Greeks,

Instead of trying to peer into a crystal ball to catch a glimpse of your future, you might want look back at what happened in Argentina a decade ago when its economy, like yours today, lay in ruins.

But please, don't cry for Argentina. The Argentine economy is doing well these days. It grew by a blistering 9.2 per cent last year.

Today, it is you who have much to cry about.

Like the Argentines, you have borrowed heavily to stave off the worst. Like them, you may now be running out of time.

Your European Union partners have grudgingly pledged billions of euros more to help keep you afloat. But many believe that will not be enough, and what happens after the "crisis meeting" this weekend on your second bailout package will put all this to the test.

Euro bloc leaders, from mighty Germany's Chancellor Angela Merkel to tiny and poor Slovakia's Prime Minister Iveta Radicova, had to put their jobs on the line to get the new bailout package as far along as they have. And they're not likely to want to do all that again.

In fact, having come to your rescue could still cost them their jobs in the next elections.

If this current pile of money should not be enough to put your economy back on its feet again, you may find yourself, as Argentina did in 2000, left out in the cold.

That cold place is called sovereign default. In plain English, going bust, telling your creditors that you are not going to pay them all the billions you owe.

It doesn't quite end there, of course.

The rest of Joe's excellent exposition is HERE!


For more on the situation in Iceland see the excellent multi-part series by Peter Ewart and Dawn Hemingway, part six of which was published today in Opinion250. I'm giving the link for Part Six of Reflections on Iceland and the Financial Crisis, because the easiest way to link to the others is by linking back, and there are more parts (how many?, I don't know)to come. This series is so good, it just might get Opinion250 back on my blogroll, in spite of Ben's idiotic support of Christy Clark as Queen of BC.

Also, the Guardian has a good piece on why going to Grandpappy China for Bucks, might not be the way to go!

Happy Birthday CBC!

Happy 75th to the CBC!

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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Rust Bucket

J.D. Byrider, a chain of 135 Buy Here Pay Here dealerships, was acquired in May by the private equity firm Altamont Capital Partners of Palo Alto*

Those masters of the universe, the 1%, the criminals who make obscene amounts of profit, not by producing anything, but by shuffling paper and taking advantage of people have hit on a new scam - and Wall Street is of course sitting up and taking notice and jumping in with both feet. Ken Bensinger of the L.A. Times examines this new form of legalized larceny in a three part series (Wheels of Fortune) in depth, two of which have been published with part three due on Thursday of this week.

Part One is headlined

A vicious cycle in the used-car business

Sign, drive, default, repossess and resell — that's the game at Buy Here Pay Here dealerships.

In this little-known but fast-growing corner of the auto market, dealers command premium prices for road-worn vehicles and finance the sales at interest rates that can top 30%.

In a kind of financial alchemy, they have found a way to turn clunkers into cash cows and make money off the least creditworthy customers: the millions of Americans who are stuck in low-paying jobs, saddled with debt and unable to qualify for conventional auto loans.

For most of those people, having a car is the only way to stay employed, and they'll accept almost any terms to get one.

Buy Here Pay Here lots sold nearly 2.4 million cars nationwide last year, up from 1.3 million a decade ago, according to CNW Marketing Research.

CNW estimates that there are more than 33,000 such lots nationwide, compared with about 20,000 dealerships selling new cars. Buy Here Pay Here dealers make $80 billion in loans every year, according to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp..../snip

One might wonder how dealers can make money on selling used cars to people who can't pay for them or go bankrupt and force the dealer to repossess the beater. Well by selling the car to desperate customers who NEED the transportation to have any chance of employment at from 50% over to double blue book value with a loan at sometimes almost forty percent and reselling the same automobile four, five, six or even eight times over - it is difficult to lose money.

The type of lot is called Buy Here Pay Here for a reason, because often the buyer is required to come to the dealer every month with his outrageously over sized monthly payment and :
What's more, these hand-me-down wheels hold their value remarkably well. The sale price is sometimes higher the second or third time a car is sold, records show -- a testament to the desperation of buyers and the market power of Buy Here Pay Here lots as lenders of last resort.

Default and repossession are so central to the business that many dealers plan on both. They equip cars with hidden GPS devices and remote-control ignition blockers to make the repo man's work easier..../snip

Many dealers don't worry about buyers' credit scores -- knowing they can't be good -- but they almost always insist on long lists of references so they can pressure friends and family when a payment is missed.

Dealers also often continue to harass those whose cars have been repossessed and resold, maybe multiple times since the repossession, to complete their end of the "contract," even though they don't have the car. Also it is almost standard procedure for the contract to actually state the interest is along the lines of 12%, when an examination of the math will show the actual rate is over twenty, sometimes even over thirty percent.

Part II,
or here come the Slice and Dice Guys!

Investors place big bets on Buy Here Pay Here used-car dealers

Private equity firms are investing in chains of used-car lots, and auto loans are being packaged into securities much like subprime mortgages. They're attracted by the industry's average profit of 38% for each car sold....../snip

.....Loans on decade-old clunkers are being bundled into securities, just as subprime mortgages were a few years ago. In the last two years, investors have bought more than $15 billion in subprime auto securities.

Although they're backed mainly by installment contracts signed by people who can't even qualify for a credit card, most of these bonds have been rated investment grade. Many have received the highest rating: AAA.

That's because rating firms believe that with tens of thousands of loans lumped together, the securities are safe even if some of the loans prove worthless.

For the non-productive, but highly compensated, the sub-prime/slice and dice used car business is even better than the fraudulent mortgage scams that almost caused the Really Great Depression in 2008. Overpriced homes sitting empty and impossible to sell for anything near the original price are actually a burden on the banks. They deteriorate, get vandalized and in more and more communities the banks are penalized for not keeping up their ill-gotten real estate, to the point where the banks themselves are beginning to knock down what were formally half million dollar (were they really?) homes rather than maintain them or pay fines. That in itself is almost criminal in a country crowded with people without a roof over their heads. I don't know if it is accurate, but I did hear one statistic the other day which claimed that currently the United Failing States had FOUR foreclosed homes sitting empty and deteriorating for each homeless American. I know that in certain areas of the midwest rustbelt the empty homes in some cities that used to have mills or factories DO outnumber the homeless sleeping on their streets.

Dealing in a commodity, used cars, that can EASILY be repossessed and sold over and over is much more rewarding and lower risk for the slicer dicers than real estate and is just another part of the ongoing demise of America.

Mr. Kensinger has produced an excellent expose of yet another nasty little scheme that you have to go to business school to learn to appreciate. On Thursday he will be publishing Part III, which may give those desperate for a ride to work some alternative and fairer methods to be mobile.

Thursday: Is there a better way for the working poor to find wheels?

Used car dealers and salesmen never held much in the way of a level of respect in society, often in heavy competition with lawyers and politicians for least esteemed, but this is a new low for a business whose reputation seemed impossible to downgrade!

*Altamont Capital, hmmm, maybe they use Bikers to collect or repossess!

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