Daily Archives: February 14, 2009

Good gracious, next they’ll tell us that the Stimulus Bill has pork filler!

Co2 reduction treaties useless. 

From BBC:

A new report says treaties aimed at reducing CO2 emissions are useless.

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers report says we have to accept the world could change dramatically.

It also says we should start planning our major infrastructure now to accommodate more extreme weather events and sea level rises.

While not against attempts to reduce emissions, the report’s authors say we should be realistic about what can be achieved with this approach.


International diplomats and environment campaigners have, for years, been pursuing an international agreement to reduce carbon emissions.

In its present incarnation it is called the Kyoto Protocol.

 The existing Kyoto Protocol has, to date, been a near total failure 
Institution of Mechanical Engineers report

This treaty runs out in 2012, and negotiations are carrying on at the moment to replace it – negotiations which will culminate in a meeting in Copenhagen later this year.

The authors of the report are not optimistic about the outcome:

“The new agreement’s most basic premise will be to try and limit the negative man-made effects on our climate system for future generations.

“In other words, the agreement will aim to reduce global CO2 emissions by mitigation.

“However, the existing Kyoto Protocol has, to date, been a near total failure, with emissions levels continuing to rise substantially.”

While the report’s authors point out that the Institution, like many scientific bodies, has a strong belief that we need “to reduce CO2 to secure long-term human survival”, they also say that we should be realistic about what we can achieve.

And “even with vigorous mitigation effort, we will continue to use fossil fuel reserves until they are exhausted.”

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Lest we forget, even if he pretends to: Chris Dodd’s contributors

He sure loved bankers or rather, bankers loved him. My guess is that once they buy his affection again, he’ll remember how he used to be nice to them and will be so again, so dig into those pockets, boys! Go to the link for all the millions he’s stuffed in his bra, but here’s 2008’s extortion list:

Contributor Total
Citigroup Inc $316,994
United Technologies $265,400
SAC Capital Partners $246,200
American International Group $223,478
Royal Bank of Scotland $218,000
St Paul Travelers Companies $204,100
Bear Stearns $201,000
Goldman Sachs $180,200
Credit Suisse Group $157,050
Morgan Stanley $156,600
Merrill Lynch $131,950
JPMorgan Chase & Co $131,750
Lehman Brothers $122,300
Hartford Financial Services $114,850
KPMG LLP $113,100
General Electric $112,750
UBS AG $110,800
Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu $103,000
The Hartford $94,550
Liberty Mutual Insurance $85,850

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Perjury? From a Democrat Senator? Gee, I hope he doesn’t get in trouble!

Obama’s replacement, Burris, now admits that he was approached repeatedly for contributions by Blagojevich’s camp.

Mr. Burris said that in three conversations with Mr. Blagojevich’s brother, Rob Blagojevich, last October and November, he was asked for “my assistance in fund-raising” for the governor — assistance Mr. Burris says he never provided. The senator said in addition to conversations about the Senate seat with Rob Blagojevich, he also spoke with the governor’s chief of staff and one of his top fund-raisers.

The disclosures came in an affidavit that Mr. Burris filed with last week with the Illinois House committee that oversaw Governor Blagojevich’s impeachment, and they are at odds with his earlier sworn testimony before the committee. Mr. Burris said he provided the new affidavit to “supplement” earlier sworn testimony he gave before state lawmakers seeking to impeach Mr. Blagojevich.


It marks the first time that Mr. Burris has acknowledged any contact with close Blagojevich confidants, including the governor’s brother, during the period when federal authorities say Governor Blagojevich was trying to figure out how much he could get in return for the Senate seat vacated by Mr. Obama.

In fact, during his testimony in January before the impeachment committee — just before he was seated in the Senate — Mr. Burris was asked directly whether he had talked to any person on a list of Blagojevich confidants. At that time, he cited an earlier conversation with one former aide to Mr. Blagojevich, but mentioned nothing of Rob Blagojevich’s more recent efforts seeking campaign contributions.

Mr. Burris’s aides said he had testified truthfully and to the best of his recollection before the committee, but was “unable to fully respond to several matters,” thanks to the fluid nature of the questioning. He said he had not realized his oversights until he received a transcript of his testimony late last month.

Some state lawmakers said they were outraged by the revelations coming at such a late date.

They’ll get over it – trust me.


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Unsympathetic observer

Greenwich Gossip looks at the carnage at Town Hall Thursday and sheds nary a tear. The scribe points out, accurately, that Greenwich has more employees per resident than any other town in Connecticut (and I bet it still does today). If memory serves someone on the BET (Stone?) raised this issue a year or so ago and tried to do something about it but was shut down and told that every employee was essential and irreplaceable. I guess we’ll find out.


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The bill that keeps on taking

What happens when Obama scores “A Victory of Historic Proportion”  with passage of the Stimulus Bill before anyone (except lobbyists) has a chance to read all 17,500 pages? The good news about what’s in it just keeps coming. Here’s some now:

Trade Wars! “WASHINGTON – Congress approved protectionist measures in a $787 billion stimulus bill Friday that U.S. trading partners have warned could spark a trade war.”

If, as Obama’s Chief of Staff Emanuel insists,” you never want a crisis to go to waste”, is it possible that triggering a world wide depression is seen by our Messiah as just an opportunity to expand that crisis and put it to use? Hope not.


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Who cares, when there’s Gummint money instead?

Dodd bill bans commissions, perks for TARP companies.

Feb. 14 (Bloomberg) — New restrictions on executive pay at U.S. banks receiving federal aid may cause talented managers to flee to hedge funds and foreign-owned banks, say critics of the measure.

The limits, championed by Senate Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, were tucked into a $787 billion fiscal stimulus bill approved yesterday by Congress. President Barack Obama plans to sign the measure early next week.

The provisions go beyond the $500,000 cap announced by Obama last month, by restricting bonuses for senior executives and next 20 highest employees at companies that receive more than $500 million from the Treasury Department’s Troubled Asset Relief Program.

“The soon-to-be-law prohibits paying commissions, which are the lifeblood of a salesperson’s income,” said Scott Talbott, vice president for government affairs at the Financial Services Roundtable, a Washington trade group that lobbies on behalf of banks. “Non-TARP companies, like hedge funds and foreign firms, don’t have this restriction, so it will be easier for them to hire the top producers away.”

Dodd defended the restrictions as a proper response to reports of excesses at banks that received federal aid, including the award of a combined $121 million to four executives at Merrill Lynch & Co. just before the firm was acquired by Bank of America Corp.

“The decisions of certain Wall Street executives to enrich themselves at the expense of taxpayers have seriously undermined public confidence in efforts to stabilize the economy,” Dodd, a Connecticut Democrat, said in a statement. “These tough new rules will help ensure that taxpayer dollars no longer effectively subsidize lavish Wall Street bonuses.”

Sliding Scale

The legislation limits bonuses and other incentive pay at those companies on a sliding scale according to how much federal aid they receive.

Restrictions would apply to senior executive officers and the next 20 highest paid employees at companies that receive more than $500 million from TARP. Companies receiving between $250 million and $500 million would face restrictions on their senior executive officers and their next 10 highest-paid workers. The limits would apply to the top five employees at companies receiving between $25 million and $250 million.

The bill would also go beyond what the White House proposed by giving shareholders in all companies, not just those receiving “exceptional” assistance, an annual nonbinding vote on executive compensation.

Past Compensation

The Dodd amendment requires the Treasury Department to review past compensation paid to the top 25 employees of TARP recipients to determine if it is “contrary to the public interest.”

The plan requires TARP beneficiaries to create a company- wide policy regarding “excessive or luxury expenditures” such as corporate jets, entertainment and “other activities or events that are not reasonable expenditures for staff development.”

The bill “is making me nervous,” said Mindy Diamond, president of Chester, New Jersey-based Diamond Consultants LLC, which specializes in recruiting brokers. 

It’s just the beginning of the complete governmental control of our economy so I’m sure these measures will seem quaint in just a few years but here’s one happy thought: if the Dodd provisions were applied to municipalities, we’d finally see and end to police sergeants making 5X more in overtime than our First Selectman does in salary.


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A week ago, I’d have told you this was a crock. Today, what are you waiting for?

Get yur Gov’mint money here!

President Barack Obama Grant Relief

The Economic Stimulus Program

Our country faces its most serious economic crisis since the Great Depression.

Beginning with their inauguration Barack Obama and Joe Biden have a plan in place to revitalize the economy:

     1. Immediate Action to Create Good Jobs in America

     2. Immediate Relief for Struggling Families

     3. Direct, Government Funding for Homeowners and Business Owners

     4. Rapid, Aggressive Response to Our Financial Crisis, Using Tools Such as Government Grants

Immediate Action To Help You

Tax cuts are one means of providing economic relief to those in need and will be part of the recovery plan for America. However, Government Grants will also play a vital role as a means to swiftly provide assistance to those who could use financial assistance. Unlike a loan these Government Grants provide funds which do not need to be repaid and can be used for virtually any purpose including:

  • pay off family debt

  • consolidate debt

  • provide mortgage help to deal with the forclosure crisis

  • purchase a new home

  • start a new business or assist with an existing business

  • pay off student loans or assist new students with obtaining a degree and giving government aid

If there is a bill out there that needs to be paid there may be funding now available that will be able to cover it.

The Next Step

Demand is expected to be very high for these programs, so although billions have been set aside, unfortunately the funds will only last for a limited period of time. Those that are interesting in applying for a grant are encouraged to do so immediately before earmarked funds are depleted. Grant Claim Applications have been assembled which contain enrollment information to assist Americans with determining which grants may be available to them and how to request payment. These applications are available through a third party for simply the cost of shipping and handling.

Request Free Grant Funding

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This is the kind of nonsense up with which I will not put!

aseaCNN – Global warming will kill our fish. This would be terrible news, if it were true, but as is so often the case with global warming enthusiasts, in their rush to convince us all that doom is near, they lie and misstate facts, all to make their point. Here, for instance, is just one example:

The migration patterns outlined in the study would further diminish the coastal population of the Atlantic cod, a once-plentiful fish that was a staple of American and European diets for centuries. According to the study, the worldwide population of cod could be cut in half by 2050.

“Cod disappearing from New England is not new, it has been a trend for the last 15 years, said Mark Kurlansky, author of the book “Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World.” “It’s interesting to see that there is something else besides overfishing that is causing a decline.”

The migration of certain fish species out of their natural habitats could cause food shortages for millions of people, especially in developing countries near the equator, who depend on local seafood as a staple of their diet, scientists say.

I happen to have a life-long fascination with fishing dating at least back to my first reading of Captains Courageous when I was but a lad. I subscribed to Commercial Fisherman for years even though I was a college student and, later, a lawyer, with no particular intention of turning pro. And I know enough about what’s been happening to the world’s fish stock to know that whoever said the above is full of it. Look it up: Fishing has been in decline since 1850 and was in dire trouble as long ago as 1932. Even Greenpeace, commenting on the closing of the Canadian cod fishery in 1992 lays the blame squarely on the invention of factory trawler fishing which for decades has raped our oceans, killing every fish of every size and every species. Is the earth warming and, if it is, will it affect fish migration patterns? Hell if I know, but when I read a scare story that employs falsehoods to convince readers, I tend to disbelieve the messenger.


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This would work for Somali pirates, too


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This guy has an advantage – he doesn’t have to work with fellow real estate agents

I’m stirring up the ire of my colleagues because of this blog – apparently I am responsible for the collapse of real estate from Dubai to Greenwich and was warned just last night that a prominent Greenwich broker “has some choice words about you.” I’m shaken, of course, and will surely mend my ways, eventually, but here’s a blogger doing the same thing in Short Hills New Jersey and nobody likes him, either. We may have to start a club.

His blog: Circling Vulture .com


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Coming to a block near you?

High flyers crash to the ground. Their homes follow.

[Two weeks ago] Frank A. Cassou listed his 18-foot-wide town house on East 78th Street between Madison and Park Avenues for $15 million, with Louise Beit of Sotheby’s International Realty.

The town house has five freshly renovated stories, five fireplaces and 4,600 square feet of space.

Mr. Cassou is the executive vice president, chief legal counsel and secretary of NextWave Wireless, a company with interests in advanced technology. It warned last summer that it might soon run out of money.

The stock in NextWave has collapsed, from more than $7 a share in May to as little as 17 cents last week, leading to several shareholder lawsuits that named Mr. Cassou as a defendant along with other top executives. In December, Mr. Cassou sold 250,000 shares of his company stock for 8 cents a share, or a total of $20,000. In 2007 they were worth more than $2.5 million. Mr. Cassou did not respond to several telephone messages.

But there is some cheer:

Despite declines in the luxury market, the value of Manhattan real estate has so far held up better than many other investments. Mr. Cassou and his wife, Gabrielle could still end up with a considerable gain. They paid $5.45 million for the house in 2003.

In October 2007, the couple bought a two-bedroom apartment at the Plaza Hotel for about $4.75 million. But last spring, as the NextWave situation deteriorated, they put it back on the market. It sold last August for just about what they had paid for it.

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Wouldn’t you really rather be selling Maseratis?

Wanna-be real estate agents flocking to get licensed.  Guess it beats investment banking.



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Now even Wall Street Wizards can learn a simple truth

timex_2ndBloomberg breaks the news: Luxury watches are a luxury to maintain. That $100,000 Chrono/zlognik/Aintitbig? thing you’ve been wearing at power lunches (do they still have power lunches, or was that an 80s thing?) is going to cost you an arm and a leg to service – surprise!

I buy $20 Timexes, wear ’em for 3-4 years and toss them when they stop. The watch won’t impress the ladies but my bulging wallet will.


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Fool or traitorous bitch?

A CIA Predator slammed a missile into a Pakistan compound and killed 28 or so Taliban terrorists. That’s good news but check this out, from the New York Times.

The attack followed the statement in Congress on Friday by Sen. Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California and the head of the Senate Intelligence Committee, that the pilotless aircraft take off from a base inside Pakistan.

“As I understand, these are flown out of a Pakistani base,” Ms. Feinstein said during a hearing attended by the director of U.S. national intelligence, Admiral Dennis C. Blair. In his testimony, Admiral Blair said that the drone attacks had achieved their goal. “Al Qaeda today is less capable and effective than it was a year ago,” he said.

The drone attacks, especially in the last six months, have increased anti-American sentiment in Pakistan to very high levels. Ms. Feinstein’s acknowledgment that the flights have the tacit support of the Pakistani government is likely to further inflame the protests over the flights. Her statement was prominently covered the Pakistani press Saturday morning.

So I ask, is the woman just a complete, raving idiot or does she disagree with her president’s decision as to how to fight the war and is deliberately sabotaging him? Take our pick – either option is disturbing.


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Shark attack!

While the father if all class action suits sits in prison repenting his own crimes, his progeny are busy. The first (to my knowledge) class action lawsuit has been filed against Madoff and everyone associated with his fraud, including Greenwich’s own Fairfield Greenwich Group and Walter Noel, alleging various and sundry violations of ERISA. Anyone who’s IRA or pension fund was affected by Madoff and Walt probably will fall into ERISA’s protection and will thereby gain a nice variety of legal theories to perhaps recover on. But win or lose, Walter’s going to be busy the next few years. If you had a golfing date set with him before, say, 2019, he sends his regrets.


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Town Firings

I don’t know the names of many of the town employees fired Thursday but the one I do is that of our Traffic Engineer, Garo Garabedian:

Hardest hit of any department was public works, where eight workers were laid off, including, to the shock of many, Garo Garabedian, the town’s traffic engineer.

A 28-year town employee who oversaw a variety of activities, from the installation of speed-limit signs to the design of a multitude of traffic circles, Garabedian gazed stoically at his co-workers after learning his fate and shook several of their hands. A colleague had to drive Garabedian home because the car he came to work in was owned by the town.

Garabedian, who earned an annual salary of about $106,000, according to his union, declined to comment about his status. His union representative was quick to criticize the handling of the situation, however.

“He’s waltzed out the door with no notice, just told, ‘Pack up. Give us your keys. Thank you very much.’ I just think it could have been handled more compassionately,” said Lynn Mason, business manager of Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 136.

Although I never met the man personally I have long admired him from afar, first when I was a young lawyer sitting through interminable P&Z hearings, later as an RTM member and when I did duty on the Riverside Association. The man was a real pro: he knew what he was talking about, he had sensible solutions to citizens’ concerns and he showed the same class and quiet stoicism while listening to the ranting of over-wrought residents as he did Thursday when he was shoved out the door. Whatever the merits of our budget cutting, and I do support First Selectman Tesei’s efforts, I think we’re paying a terrible price to save the $100 grand of Mr. Garabedian’s salary. We’re going to miss him sooner, as well as later.



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