Posts Tagged With: texas


Two things that aroused my ire this week: traders at Barclays and the Texas GOP.

The second ones I knew were crazy, it just wasn’t crystal clear HOW crazy. The first I knew were cheating, sociopathic criminal scum, but it wasn’t clear that they were also shameless and arrogant.

I want to launch them from a cannon.

Let’s start with the funny one. The Texas GOP released their 2012 platform document. It’s in PDF form, which is a little annoying, but as far as I know it’s not a joke. Here’s some highlights that suggest otherwise:

We strongly support the immediate repeal of the Endangered Species Act. We believe the Environmental Protection Agency should be abolished.

We affirm that the practice of homosexuality tears at the fabric of society and contributes to the breakdown of the family unit. Additionally, we oppose any criminal or civil penalties against those who oppose homosexuality out of faith, conviction or belief in traditional values. … We urge immediate repeal of the Hate Crimes Law. Until the Hate Crimes Law is totally repealed, we urge the Legislature to immediately remove the education curriculum mandate and the sexual orientation category in said Law.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

We unequivocally oppose the United States Senate’s ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.

We support abolishing all federal agencies whose activities are not specifically enumerated in the Constitution; including the Departments of Education and Energy.

We support the immediate approval and construction of the Keystone XL and other pipelines that will reduce our reliance on imported oil and natural gas from unstable or unfriendly countries. We support immediate resumption of deep water drilling and production in the Gulf of Mexico. We support land drilling and production operations including hydraulic fracturing.

That’s not even including the stuff about religion, or returning to the gold standard, or abolishing income tax. Basically, they want children to be raised as mindless, subservient zombies, in a society where it’s OK to bash homos and rape the environment wholesale in the most damaging and profitable short-term way.

I repeat: they’re not joking.

Oh, and I missed one. The one about taking away voting rights for black people.

Then there was the Libor scandal. For those of you who haven’t heard about it, Google will take you to summaries of what happened. In my basic understanding, Libor is the London Interbank Offered Rate, basically an average of interest rates being offered by big banks in the City for certain periods of time (eg one month, three months). It informs the offered interest rate for many money-lending/trading organisations around the world. The banks in the City submit the interest rates they’re offering each day, and the figure is calculated from the average.

Barclays traders were revealed, via scandalously blunt and cavalier emails, to be requesting (and getting) the ‘submitters’ to just change their numbers, to drag the average up or down in their favour. Of course, Barclays are the ones who have been caught, but it’s probably global and industry-wide.

“Hi Guys, We got a big position in 3m libor for the next 3 days. Can we please keep the libor fixing at 5.39 for the next few days. It would really help. We do not want it to fix any higher than that. Tks a lot.” (September 13, 2006, Senior Trader in New York to Submitter)

The traders, in cahoots with the submitters, were blatantly manipulating what should have been a relatively straightforward and transparent number for their benefit. It’s immoral behaviour, showing a complete disregard for anything except swelling their own profit, with the law or other people being damned in the process. A corporate culture in which behaviour like this is not just acceptable, but celebrated and rewarded, is rotten to its core. It sickens me. I cannot wait for the finance sector to properly implode, and while I know many ordinary people will probably lose a lot in the process, having the finance industry dominating our political and economic system fills our society with a corrupt stench that even ‘record fines’ (amounting to a day or two’s profit) cannot mask.

I’m going to do some research into the banks on offer, and move my money to the one I suspect has the least to do with these things (perhaps the co-operative?). It’s a trivial amount of money, but I can’t stomach dealing with companies that employ monsters.

Categories: Politics, Problems | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Said Hanrahan

"We'll all be rooned," said Hanrahan,
  In accents most forlorn,
Outside the church, ere Mass began,
  One frosty Sunday morn.

There’s nothing frosty about the drought currently gripping America’s South and parts of Mexico. While the region has a veneer of green from the judicious application of irrigation water, it is experiencing one of the most severe droughts ever seen.

Have a look at this amazing aerial photoset by George Steinmetz for Time. Some pictures don’t look particularly extreme until you see the boat docks lying forlornly on dry lake beds.

Unlike Australia’s Millennium Drought, which lasted almost 10 years, this is a relatively short event, but extreme.

People arguing for action to mitigate climate change are often branded alarmists, like Hanrahan in the classic Australian bush poem. But this type of extreme weather is exactly what’s been predicted for at least 20 years. The economic, social and environmental costs of inaction are simply too high to ignore these signs.

A dustbowl in Northern Queensland

A dustbowl in Bathurst Bay, North Queensland. It's not a pleasant place.

Categories: environmentalism, photos, Politics, Problems, Science, Thoughts | Tags: , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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