Tuesday, June 30, 2009


NY Times

Published: June 29, 2009

. . . .

[A]s HernĂ¡n E. Arbizu tended the fortunes of his gilded South American clients, he says he also illegally took millions of dollars from them for years while at [UBS and Chase], without being detected.

What is more, Mr. Arbizu said he regularly dipped into UBS client accounts — and even visited the Swiss giant’s offices in Manhattan to ensure that the illicit transactions went through — for at least a year after he left UBS for a new job at Chase in the fall of 2006.

The fast-lane world of private banking has hit some serious speed bumps in recent months, its affluent clientele hit by Ponzi schemers, failed hedge funds and tax evasion investigations from Washington to Europe.

. . . .

In telephone and e-mail interviews held in the last eight months, Mr. Arbizu put himself in what he said was the “3 percent of bankers who at some point get confused because of the pressure."
“We feel like we can take risks that other people don’t even dream to do, and that we can manage that risk — I don’t know why.”
. . . .

Yet while his actions pale in comparison with Bernard L. Madoff’s $65 billion Ponzi scheme, Mr. Arbizu’s tale contains the same “rob Peter to pay Paul” logic that apparently guided Mr. Madoff.

. . . .

In June 2008, weeks after Mr. Arbizu was indicted in New York, the Argentine authorities raided JPMorgan Chase’s offices in Buenos Aires and confiscated records of 200 wealthy Argentine clients, many of them Mr. Arbizu’s, whose names and assets were then published in a local newspaper. [re Argentine reaction]

. . . .

“I know I am stupid,” Mr. Arbizu said. “I feel that in all these years I had my head divided into two sections, in one small section all this problem and in the rest my ‘normal’ life.”

. . .. ... .. . .
full NYT article [reg. req.], "Private Banker Moved Funds Undetected"

Saturday, June 27, 2009

From Dan Froomkin's Last Column at WaPo



When I look back on the Bush years, I think of the lies. There were so many. Lies about the war and lies to cover up the lies about the war. Lies about torture and surveillance. Lies about Valerie Plame. Vice President Dick Cheney's lies, criminally prosecutable but for his chief of staff Scooter Libby's lies. I also think about the extraordinary and fundamentally cancerous expansion of executive power that led to violations of our laws and our principles.

And while this wasn't as readily apparent until President Obama took office, it's now very clear that the Bush years were all about kicking the can down the road – either ignoring problems or, even worse, creating them and not solving them. This was true of a huge range of issues including the economy, energy, health care, global warming – and of course Iraq and Afghanistan.

How did the media cover it all? Not well. Reading pretty much everything that was written about Bush on a daily basis, as I did, one could certainly see the major themes emerging. But by and large, mainstream-media journalism missed the real Bush story for way too long. The handful of people who did exceptional investigative reporting during this era really deserve our gratitude: People such as Ron Suskind, Seymour Hersh, Jane Mayer, Murray Waas, Michael Massing, Mark Danner, Barton Gellman and Jo Becker, James Risen and Eric Lichtblau (better late than never), Dana Priest, Walter Pincus, Charlie Savage and Philippe Sands; there was also some fine investigative blogging over at Talking Points Memo and by Marcy Wheeler. Notably not on this list: The likes of Bob Woodward and Tim Russert.

Hopefully, the next time the nation faces a grave national security crisis, we will listen to the people who were right, not the people who were wrong, and heed those who reported the truth, not those who served as stenographers to liars.

It's also worth keeping in mind that there is so very much about the Bush era that we still don't know.


Sunday, June 21, 2009

iPhone blogging

From Andrew Sullivan

"Today you are the media, it is your duty to report and keep the hope alive," - Mir Hossein Mousavi.



Sent from my iPhone

Saturday, June 20, 2009

It Really Should Have Been Called The iPhone 3G V - For Video

It Really Should Have Been Called The iPhone 3G V - For Video

from techcrunch:

Not only does the 3G S shoot video in fairly nice (VGA) quality (with the possibility of doing HD quality someday), it is dead simple to upload to YouTube — it is literally the click of one button. Almost immediately after unboxing the 3G S I shot a quick 30 second video (embedded below), and within minutes it was online being viewed on YouTube — and that was transferring it to YouTube via 3G. (Over WiFi, it’s obviously even faster.) No, that’s not as real-time as live video streaming that a service like Qik would like to offer (but is currently being restricted from doing so), but again, it’s fast enough for most consumers, and it’s much better quality to boot.

And one thing that sets it apart from competitor smartphones with similar functionality, like the Google Ion (aka the G2 or HTC Magic), is that the 3G S has dead-simple video editing capabilities right on the device. You simply drag your finger across the video timeline along the top of a video to trim it down to just the part you want before you upload it. And playback of these videos on the device itself looks great.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Clay Shirky

. . .. ... .. . .

TED Q&A re Iran/Twitter 6.16.2009

. . .. ... .. . .

5.15.2008: bh.tv: transparency

. . .. ... .. . .

6.6.2009 bigthink.com:

more shirky bigthink

¿was it the internet?

cell phone video camera

Post-Election Iran as it Develops « niacINsight

Someone I assume to be a government official walking up to a car with hand raised, in gray suit, condescendingly saying “Droplets of water, return to the ocean.” (it’s a reference to a poem)

The cameraman asking him: “Have you not been looking to the streets? Just look at the streets!”

Second cameraman: “Mr. Mirzavi, we liked you.” [too many people talking at the same time - inaudible] Cameraman again: “Just don’t cheat this time.”

Then they start screaming “MOUSAVI!” when Ahmadinejad shows up and “LIAR!” when he is pulling away, and then my favorite: “Ahmadi Bye bye.”

post-election internet traffic in Iran

from HuffPo: Iran Updates (VIDEO): Live-Blogging The Uprising

"Unlike Burma, Iran has significant commercial and technological relationships with the rest of the world. In other words, the government cannot turn off the Internet without impacting business and perhaps generating further social unrest. In all, this represents a delicate balance for the Iranian government and a test case for the Internet to impact democratic change."

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Push the Hill Without Charging

CQ Politics | David Corn

Like a general focused on the lesson of the last war, Obama is refusing to get tied down in the nitty-gritty of the legislative process. And that's probably wise. He wants to push the Hill without charging the Hill. But will that be enough? How long can he avoid weighing in on the critical issues? Perhaps it's a matter of timing, and he's waiting for the right moment to make a move. But with so much at stake for his presidency and the public in this endeavor to remake the nation's health care system, he will have to do more than watch.
more ...

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Monday, June 01, 2009

NYT: Financial Overhaul Plan

The New York Times
June 1, 2009

Washington is asking some painful questions about how to prevent the next financial meltdown. Should it reinvent the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation? Abolish the seemingly feckless overseer of savings and loans? Grant new powers to the Federal Reserve?

All that — and more — is on the table as the Obama administration prepares to overhaul the regulatory apparatus that failed to prevent the gravest economic crisis since the Depression. Under consideration is everything from mortgages to credit cards to hedge funds to insurance. One possibility is creating a regulator to watch over companies that might put financial system in peril again should they run into trouble.

The plan, a central plank of the administration’s response to the current crisis, has already provoked a fierce lobbying battle by the various financial services industries that it could touch. The Treasury Department aims to complete the effort by mid-June, and senior Democrats in the House and Senate have vowed to complete legislation by the end of this year.

One radical proposal — combining the four federal agencies overseeing banks and thrifts into a single, super-regulator — already seems to be losing favor, lawmakers and policymakers said. But there is a growing consensus that one of the four, the Office of Thrift Supervision, which was responsible for oversight of the American International Group, should be eliminated as part of an effort to streamline oversight.

more ...