Friday, April 30, 2010

CT student stabbed to death for DVDs, a PlayStation and computer cables

SHOOT: Probably a druggie desperate for cash. I mean a human life is worth less than a hit, right?
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Dane van Zyl, 21, a student in business management at Unisa, was attacked and stabbed several times in the neck, chest and legs between 07:00 and 10:00 in his home in Plein Street, which he shared with his brother and his brother's friend.
It was the second murder in Woodstock in three days. A man, 25, whose name had not yet been released, was stabbed to death in Albert Road on Tuesday night.
"When I unlocked the front door, I found my brother in a pool of blood on the floor. There were several knife wounds to his body. There was blood everywhere," he said.
The attacker, who had a back pack with him, managed to pull free, dropped the back pack and ran away.
In the bag were DVDs, a PlayStation and computer cables. Uriah confirmed to police that these belonged to them.
"The attacker is a young, short man and his arms are full of tattoos."
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Are environmentalists just narcissists who want to perpetuate their own survival?

SHOOT: The description below provides an interesting view of the group we generally call environmentalists. Is their motive really love of the earth and natural communities, or is their interest really more selfish?
I believe it's important to distinguish between those who pursue 'light green business-as-usual' [me-based environmentalism] as opposed to the real Greeners.  Real greeners make real sacrifices.  For example driving less, even though this might be less convenient.  Eating less meat.  It's not limited merely to outrage around furry creatures being wiped out or patched of ocean suffering oil slicks.  Their beliefs manifest in their own lives, in the growing of vegetable gardens, having water storage tanks and making private and personal commitments to changing the world.
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We have a large number of people who classify themselves as environmentalists. They have a very different view of the world, and what is important for the long term. One of their concerns is that beaches not be despoiled by what looks like asphalt from oil spills. But these people seem to have little concern about the long stripes of asphalt that are being used for interstate highways. They are very concerned about the tens of thousands of birds that have been killed by oil spills, but they are not concerned (or not very much concerned ) about the billions of fish that are being removed from the oceans by fishermen every year. It seems to me that a major part of their concern is not really for the environment--it is for maintaining business as usual (BAU). Having pretty beaches, now. A nice place for their (many) children. Their plan seems to be for a light green BAU.
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Zuma sets example on AIDS to fellow South Africans

SHOOT: Not necessarily good, but better than Mbeki. He gets himself tested, but his behaviour remains risky.
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Mr Zuma’s candour may have sent a less useful signal too. He has at least 20 children by at least eight different women. At his trial in 2006 for rape (for which he was acquitted) he admitted having unprotected sex with a woman he knew to be HIV-positive, saying he took a shower afterwards to fend off the virus. Although he may have encouraged people to take HIV tests, some may take Mr Zuma’s negative result to imply that his risky behaviour was not so foolish after all.
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health reckoned that South African government policy had led to 330,000 unnecessary deaths. Now 5.7m South Africans—18% of adults—have HIV/AIDS.
Mr Zuma, whatever the ambiguities of his own example, is surely an improvement on Mr Mbeki.
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Man stabs 28 children at kindergarten in China

During his trial, Zheng said he killed the children because he had been upset after being jilted by a woman and treated badly by her wealthy family.
Two weeks ago, a mentally ill man hacked to death a second grader and an elderly woman with a meat cleaver in southern Guangxi, and wounded five other people.

SHOOT: I still think South Africa's criminals put the rest of the world to shame.
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In this photo taken Wednesday April 28, 2010, a child who sustained a head injury after a man attacked a primary school recuperates at a hospital in L

TAIXING, China – A knife-wielding man attacked a kindergarten class of 4-year-olds in eastern China on Thursday, slashing 28 children in what an expert said was a copycat rampage of two other episodes at Chinese schools in the past month.

A 47-year-old jobless man, Xu Yuyuan, burst into a classroom at the Zhongxin Kindergarten early Thursday, waving an eight-inch (20-centimeter) knife and stabbing a security guard who tried to stop him, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

Five students were in critical condition following the attack in Jiangsu province's Taixing city and two teachers and the security guard were injured, said Zhu Guiming, an official with the Taixing propaganda department.

A series of school attacks in China in recent years have mostly been blamed on people with personal grudges or suffering from mental illness, leading to calls for improved security.

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Blood: Symbol of Life

Vampire legends, then, may be allegories for real-life monsters -- perhaps like Vlad Tepes -- that have refused to honor the sacred taboo against consuming the vitality of other humans.

SHOOT: An interesting if somewhat disturbing article this, on the source of vampire legends.

Most Christians wouldn't infer vampirism from the story of the Last Supper. Christ offers the chalice containing wine to signify his blood to his disciples and directs them to drink it. But there is a parallel between the Eucharist and vampire legends: Both suggest that the consumption of blood is an act of obtaining vitality.

Christ told his disciples he'd shed his blood for their forgiveness. By drinking it, they were taking part in his everlasting divinity. Similarly, through ingesting the blood of others, vampires of lore may live eternally here on Earth.

According to some sources, blood is also reputed for its mythic ability to maintain beauty. When Bram Stoker's fictional Dracula fed on blood, his appearance reverted to a handsome, youthful version of himself.
Anthropophagy (cannibalism) is another example of the symbolic (and literal) vitality derived from eating the flesh or drinking the blood of others.
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Roubini Says Rising Sovereign Debt Leads to Defaults

Milken compared the excess debt of U.S. consumers, companies and government to the nation’s obesity problem, saying the “best solution” is to become more efficient instead of raising taxes or unnecessarily cutting expenditures.

“If we could just get Americans to reduce their weight to the same as they weighed in 1991, we could save $1 trillion and the U.S. could create $1 trillion of value,” the junk-bond billionaire-turned-philanthropist said on the panel, moderated by Matt Winkler, editor-in-chief of Bloomberg News.

SHOOT: I like this analogy between debt and obesity. The keyword is self-discipline in terms of one's appetitie, whether greed for things or greed for food.
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April 29 (Bloomberg) -- Nouriel Roubini, the New York University professor who forecast the U.S. recession more than a  year before it began, said sovereign debt from the U.S. to Japan  and Greece will lead to higher inflation or government defaults.
Almost $1 trillion of worldwide equity value was erased  April 27 on concern that debt will spur defaults, derailing the global economy, data compiled by Bloomberg show. German
Chancellor Angela Merkel and the International Monetary Fund  pledged to step up efforts to overcome the Greek fiscal crisis, after bonds and stocks fell across Europe in the past week.
“The bond vigilantes are walking out on Greece, Spain, Portugal, the U.K. and Iceland,” Roubini, 52, said yesterday during a panel discussion on financial markets at the Milken
Institute Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California.  “Unfortunately in the U.S., the bond-market vigilantes are not walking out.”
While a smaller euro zone “makes sense,” he said, “it could be very messy.”
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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Greek Contagion shows Europe Economy is a mess

Debt levels of all developing countries are rising to levels not seen over the past 60 years, the IMF said in an economic survey released last week.

SHOOT: Energy prices are at the heart of these problems, and the energy death spiral has just started.
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Unemployed school teachers chant slogans at an anti-government demonstration staged by civil servants in Athens, Tuesday, April 27, 2010. Greece's debt crisis intensified Tuesday as its credit rating cut to junk status. (AP Photo/Thanassis Stavrakis)

TOKYO (AP) -- The debt troubles in Greece are intensifying and, even more dangerous, spreading fear across Europe and beyond.

That is triggering talk of a potential global contagion, similar to what happened after the investment bank Lehman Brothers collapsed in 2008, setting off the worst financial crisis in the United States since the 1930s and contributing to a deep global recession.

"If people get scared that Greece could default, they are going to be scared that Portugal will default and then other countries. Once people panic, they panic about everything. We saw that in the wake of the Lehman Brothers failure."

That debt buildup has occurred in the United States, which has seen its publicly held debt jump from 36 percent of the total economy in 2007, before the crisis hit, to 64 percent this year. That's the highest level since 1951, when the country was still paying off the debt run up to fight World War II.

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Nordegren: "This is the worst betrayal ever. I can’t believe you had sex with that girl in our own neighbourhood. That's it - I'm divorcing you."

SHOOT: Seems her ego was more bruised than anything else. He slept with the neighbour, a mere girl. Then again, sounds like he slept with everyone he could get his hands on.
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Tiger Woods

Woods is said to have listed all the women he was involved with behind his wife's back as part of his treatment for sex addiction but failed to include one woman - his neighbour's 21-year-old daughter.

The National Enquirer claims it was this omission that finally caused his wife to pursue a divorce.

According to the Enquirer, the mother-of-two made the decision after learning the publication was investigating Woods' alleged fling with Raychel Coudriet, whom he had reportedly known since she was just 14.

After learning of the alleged one night stand, it's claimed a furious Nordegren phoned Woods after his comeback at this year's US Masters.

"She was screaming so loudly that everyone at the table could hear what she was saying," a source was quoted as saying.
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First Dubai, then Greece, then Spain Italy Portugal Ireland Iceland...

SHOOT: I believe some experts have remarked that the recovery has started. I find it odd that this is suggested when we know worldwide credit was wiped out recently, and we're now seeing sovereign defaults. That means entire countries going bankrupt. And of course there isn't really any money to save these countries...
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The markets still see the risk of a Greek default as high

Greece was initially seeking up to €45 billion ($60 billion) in emergency loans from euro-zone governments and the IMF this year, the first chunk of which will be needed by May 19th, when the Greek government must refinance a €8.5 billion bond. But as the crisis has worsened it has become clear that Greece could need much more. On Wednesday it was reported that the EU and IMF were preparing a package worth up to €120 billion over three years—if so, the biggest sovereign rescue yet attempted. Nevertheless, even aid on this scale might only postpone an eventual default, if Greece's economy fails to grow faster than its debt pile.

Portugal is touted as the next European country at risk
If Portugal comes under intense pressure, contagion might then spread to Ireland, Italy or Spain, the other euro-area countries with some mixture of big budget deficits, poor growth prospects and high debts.
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Sandra Bullock Adopted Baby Boy

SHOOT: Seems her role in The Blind Side had a profound influence on her. Quite touching.
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Sandra and her baby boy!
Courtesy People magazine

When Sandra Bullock accepted her Oscar for Best Actress in "The Blind Side" last March, she took the time to thank "The moms that take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from."
"Those moms and parents never get thanked," she said. Most thought Sandra was referring to people like the character she played, Leigh Ann Tuohy, in "The Blind Side," who adopted a homeless teenager and helped him reach football greatness.

Of her new baby, Bullock tells People: "He's just perfect, I can't even describe him any other way. It's like he's always been a part of our lives." The full story hits newsstands on Friday.

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Where's my email from Goldman Sachs [VIDEO]

Quote of the day

Even if he stands to make a buck at it, even your average used-car salesman won't sell some working father a car with wobbly brakes, then buy life insurance policies on that customer and his kids. But this is done almost as a matter of routine in the financial services industry. - from

Goldman = greed without limits

Now here's the really weird thing. Confronted with the evidence of public outrage over these deals, the leaders of Goldman will often appear to be genuinely confused, scratching their heads and staring quizzically into the camera like they don't know what you're upset about.It's no t an act. There have been a lot of greedy financiers and banks in history, but what makes Goldman stand out is its truly bizarre cultist/religious belief in the rightness of what it does.

"The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest". A few weeks later, Goldman CEO Lloyd Blankfein told the Times that he was doing "God's work".

SHOOT: At the heart of this debate is this question: are profits uber alles justified?  Are you allowed to make money using tricky shennanigans?  Is money respectable in and of itself?  I think we know that Goldman's deals are ill gotten gains.  Are the Goldman boys anything more than bogus overpaid secondhand car salesmen?

The Randian belief [belief in individualism espoused by Ayn Rand] is dangerous because it can seem rational and even logical. But individualism is a close cousin of narcissim, and vanity and from there arrogance, hubris and delusion in the name of enriching yourself [often by impoverishing others].  This  isn't a sustainable or civilised act, especially not at the levels of self enrichment Goldman Sachs consider 'normal'. And let's be clear - anyone can make money by filching your investor or buyer over the short term.  Buyer's remorse though, whether buying a dud car or anything else, is a bitch.
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Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs
In the late 90s, Greenspan lobbied hard for the passage of a law that came to be called the Commodity Futures Modernisation Act of 2000, a monster of a bill that among other things deregulated the sort of interest-rate swaps Goldman used in its now-infamous dealings with Greece.
Both the Paulson deal and the Greece deal were examples of Goldman making millions by bending over their own business partners. In the Paulson deal the suckers were European banks such as ABN-Amro and IKB, which were never told that the stuff Goldman was cheerfully selling to them was, in effect, designed to implode; in the Greece deal, Goldman hilariously used exotic swaps to help the country mask its financial problems, then turned right around and bet against the country by shorting Greece's debt.
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Oprah - believe it or not

Oprah's sexuality is still a mystery. Kelley's plan of attack on this most sought-after subject was merely to rehash old gossip about the close relationship between Oprah and her best friend, Gayle King, while adding that Oprah had once told Vernon she was not in love with her longtime beau Stedman Graham.

Sifting through hundreds of interviews Oprah has given over the years as well as her own interviews with dozens of Oprah family members, childhood friends and former teachers, Kelley succeeds in demonstrating how Oprah's early experiences helped lead to her becoming a TV host who frequently explored the taboo subjects

SHOOT: Personally I feel there is another level of truth to that which is proved or talked about. Simply look at the actions of a person. Are they married? How does what they say compare to the ordinary reality of their lives. With Michael Jackson and Oprah - if you don't detect a schism [reality vs claimed reality] you lack perception skills about other human beings.
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Kelley paints a picture of a woman who learned early on how to suppress information that could hurt her and use the rest to advance her career — even if it meant cutting people out of her life or making them "weed[s] in her garden of grudges." So does Kelley get the goods on Oprah? Yes and no. Here are some hits and misses from Kelley's 544-page tome.
Sifting through hundreds of interviews Oprah has given over the years as well as her own interviews with dozens of Oprah family members, childhood friends and former teachers, Kelley succeeds in demonstrating how Oprah's early experiences helped lead to her becoming a TV host who frequently explored the taboo subjects of sex, rape and incest.
Although she has often claimed to have grown up dirt-poor, with hand-me-down clothing and cockroaches for pets, Oprah may have been exaggerating, says her cousin Katharine Esters
Ego and hubris — not particularly surprising from someone on Oprah's level.
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Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Inside Lloyd Blankfein's Head

It was clear from the look on Blankfein's face that when the senator brought up synthetics, Blankfein wanted to say, 'Yeah, you're right. The world would be OK without synthetics. The markets operated just fine without them.'

He really didn't have a good defense. As he was explaining them you could see the wheels churning: He realized that they sound ridiculous.

SHOOT: The mere fact that you have a group of people who invent games and financial ploys that no one can understand, creates a scenario perfect for arrogance. Arrogance is the same as cocky, and arrogant people have contempt for those around them. That contempt extends to cheating money out of investors and then using euphemisms and epithets 'dumbed down' to explain to the masses that 'we did nothing wrong' because you can't even understand what we do. Actually you don't have to understand the finer details to know whether you've been filched. The money trail is also a damning bit of evidence. At GS they breathe money out of thin air in a system none but a few have access to...a system above the law. Really?
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Senate grills Goldman execs on meltdown role
He knew he was the smartest guy in the room—smart enough to know that he shouldn't convince people of that.

Blankfein sat in the hearing for almost four hours and he acted like an elite athlete, with impeccable composure. He stumbled a little bit with the occasional 'ums' and 'uhs'-personally, I think that was for show—but was very thoughtful in his responses. He wasn't arrogant; he acted humble, appearing more like an unassuming accountant. Under tremendous pressure, he didn't sweat once. That's how you get to that level of the game: by playing that role with quiet confidence.

There wasn't a single second where he had to throw his weight around and say, 'You guys are just idiots.' He wasn't condescending, but I'm sure he was thinking, 'The people that have the power in this country really don't understand how the system operates.' Even more disturbing is that they-meaning the U.S. government-created the system.
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Are web sites drawing record numbers because people are at home, unemployed, surfing the net?

This article asserts the opposite - that improving economic conditions are drawing more people to the web. Have conditions improved that much? Have more people been employed or has unemployment merely slowed?
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U.S. newspaper companies drew record traffic to their Web sites in the first quarter - on average 74.4 million monthly unique visitors, which represents more than one-third of all online users, according to the latest figures provided by Nielsen Online for the Newspaper Association of America, Editor and Publisher reported.
The numbers were up from 72 million unique visitors per month during the previous quarter. The data also showed online newspaper visitors contributed more than 3.2 billion page views, or more than 2.3 billion minutes browsing, in the first quarter of 2010, according to the AFP article posted on Google News.
"As the economic outlook begins to improve, our industry  will continue to shape its own future with digital products and services that  grow audience and offer maximum value to advertisers," according to NAA President  and CEO John F. Sturm.
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McBride's defence: diabetes-related symptoms and coincidental brewery breath

Sagathevan said during the examination he had been given "direct suggestion" by both McBride and his cousin that he take blood from Stanley Sagathevan and send it to the laboratory under the guise that it was from the former police chief.

SHOOT: Deny deny deny.
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Pretoria - Former Ekurhuleni Metro police chief Robert McBride was not sober hours after he crashed his car in December 2006, the doctor who treated him on the day told the Pretoria Regional Court on Wednesday.
"From the examination he was not sober," Inbanathan Sagathevan told the court.
"His demeanour on this examination was different, he was overly friendly and very casual," he said.
Sagathevan said on other occasions when he treated McBride for diabetes and hypertension he had always been formal.
He said: "He also had bloodshot eyes and he was not walking with a proper balance."
Sagathevan said McBride smelled of alcohol. When prosecutor, Christo Roberts, asked Sagathevan if he felt McBride was capable of driving, he responded "no, not at all".
McBride faces charges of fraud, defeating the ends of justice and drunk driving after crashing his state-owned Chevrolet Lumina following an EMPD Christmas party in December 2006 on the R511, near Hartbeespoort Dam.
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Goldman Sucks: Why did we bail out a cynical bank so desperate to make money they bet against their own clients

Levin also asked Sparks about a $1 billion product called Timberwolf that Goldman sold to investors while betting against it. Levin cited an e-mail sent to Sparks from another Goldman executive using an expletive to describe Timberwolf as "one s----y deal."
"Your top priority is to sell that s----y deal," Levin said. "Come on, Mr. Sparks, should Goldman Sachs be trying to sell a s----y deal?"
"I didn't use that term," the Goldman executive responded.

SHOOT: Here's what has to happen. Close the bank down. They're arrogant, they're dishonest, and it's not a case of 'too big to fail', but too big to be allowed to run Wall Street.
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Fabrice Tourre

At the hearing, senators from both parties verbally pounded the Goldman executives, accusing them of financial gambling that helped nearly derail the entire U.S. economy.

At least in Las Vegas, said Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., "people know the odds are against them. They play anyway. On Wall Street, they manipulate the odds while you're playing the game."

The SEC says Tourre marketed securities without telling buyers they had been chosen with help from a Goldman hedge fund client that was betting the investments would fail. The commission alleged that Tourre told investors the hedge fund, Paulson & Co., actually bought into the investments.

Tourre said he didn't recall telling investors that.

"We did not cause the financial crisis. ... I do not think that we did anything wrong," said Michael Swenson, who runs Goldman's structured products group trading.

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Goldman had “no economic motive” to design the deal to fail

Reeeehehehehehaaaaaally? Isn't the only motive of a financial instrument like Goldman Sachs TO MAKE MONEY? Which is where we return to the profit motive as above every other motive, and whether this is healthy? Money uber alles?

NYTimes: While Abacus was the best-known example of the “conflicts of interest” in the Goldman documents, it was not the only example; he cited an investment called Anderson Mezzanine Funding as another product that Goldman was going to bet against.
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The questioning Tuesday quickly put the Goldman witnesses on the defensive, with the senators expressing exasperation and sometimes incredulity. A Republican member, Senator Susan M. Collins of Maine, turned from one witness to the next as she asked repeatedly whether they felt a duty to act in the best interest of their clients. Only one of the four witnesses she questioned seemed to affirm such a duty outright.

At one point, she said she felt the witnesses were intentionally stalling, trying to “burn through the time of each questioner” allotted for hearing.

The , subcommittee chairman, Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat, said the hearing would take as much time as needed to extract answers. In his opening remarks, he said the questioning would focus on the role of investment banks in the financial crisis, focusing particularly on the activities of Goldman Sachs in 2007, which “contributed to the economic collapse that came full-blown the following year.”

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