Joke du Jour

Fellow 1 : “My grandfather, he knew the exact day he was going to die. It was the right year too. Not only that, but he knew what time he would die that day, and he was right about that, too.”

Fellow 2 : “Wow, that’s Incredible. How did he know all of that?”

Fellow 1 : “A judge told him.”

What’s Swahili for Aloha?

From: Breitbart/Big Government:

 

Andrew Breitbart was never a “Birther,” and Breitbart News is a site that has never advocated the narrative of “Birtherism.” In fact, Andrew believed, as does The Common Constitutionalist, that President Barack Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, on August 4, 1961.

Yet Breitbart also believed that the complicit mainstream media had refused to examine President Obama’s ideological past, or the carefully crafted persona he and his advisers had constructed for him.

It is in that spirit that Breitbart.com discovered, and now present, the booklet described below–one that includes a marketing pitch for a forthcoming book by a then-young, otherwise unknown former president of the Harvard Law Review.

It is evidence–not of the President’s foreign origin, but that Barack Obama’s public persona has indeed been presented differently at different times.

***

Breitbart News has obtained a promotional booklet produced in 1991 by Barack Obama’s then-literary agency, Acton & Dystel, which touts Obama as “born in Kenya and raised in Indonesia and Hawaii.”

The booklet, which was distributed to “business colleagues” in the publishing industry, includes a brief biography of Obama among the biographies of eighty-nine other authors represented by Acton & Dystel.

It also promotes Obama’s anticipated first book, Journeys in Black and White–which Obama abandoned, later publishing Dreams from My Father instead.

Obama’s biography in the booklet is as follows (image and text below):

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Jay Acton no longer represents Obama. However, Jane Dystel still lists Obama as a client on her agency’s website.

According to the booklet itself, the text was edited by Miriam Goderich, who has since become Dystel’s partner at Dystel & Goderich, an agency founded in 1994. Breitbart News attempted to reach Goderich by telephone several times over several days. Her calls are screened by an automated service that requires callers to state their name and company, which we did. She never answered.

The design of the booklet was undertaken by Richard Bellsey, who has since closed his business. Bellsey, reached by telephone, could not recall the exact details of the booklet, but told Breitbart News that it “sounds like one of our jobs, like I did for [Acton & Dystel] twenty years ago or more.”

The parade of authors alongside Obama in the booklet includes politicians, such as former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill; sports legends, such as Joe Montana and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar; and numerous Hollywood celebrities.

The reverse side of the page that features Barack Obama includes former Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader and early-1990s “boy band” pop sensation New Kids On the Block.

Acton, who spoke to Breitbart News by telephone, confirmed precise details of the booklet and said that it cost the agency tens of thousands of dollars to produce.

He indicated that while “almost nobody” wrote his or her own biography, the non-athletes in the booklet, whom “the agents deal[t] with on a daily basis,” were “probably” approached to approve the text as presented.

Dystel did not respond to numerous requests for comment, via email and telephone. Her assistant told Breitbart News that Dystel “does not answer questions about Obama.”

The errant Obama biography in the Acton & Dystel booklet does not contradict the authenticity of Obama’s birth certificate. Moreover, several contemporaneous accounts of Obama’s background describe Obama as having been born in Hawaii.

The biography does, however, fit a pattern in which Obama–or the people representing and supporting him–manipulate his public persona.

David Maraniss’s forthcoming biography of Obama has reportedly confirmed, for example, that a girlfriend Obama described in Dreams from My Father was, in fact, an amalgam of several separate individuals.

In addition, Obama and his handlers have a history of redefining his identity when expedient. In March 2008, for example, he famously declared: “I can no more disown [Jeremiah Wright] than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother.”

Several weeks later, Obama left Wright’s church–and, according to Edward Klein’s new biography, The Amateur: Barack Obama in the White House, allegedly attempted to persuade Wright not to “do any more public speaking until after the November [2008] election” (51).

Obama has been known frequently to fictionalize aspects of his own life. During his 2008 campaign, for instance, Obama claimed that his dying mother had fought with insurance companies over coverage for her cancer treatments.

That turned out to be untrue, but Obama has repeated the story–which even the Washington Post called “misleading”–in a campaign video for the 2012 election.

The Acton & Dystel biography could also reflect how Obama was seen by his associates, or transitions in his own identity. He is said, for instance, to have cultivated an “international” identity until well into his adulthood, according to Maraniss.

Regardless of the reason for Obama’s odd biography, the Acton & Dystel booklet raises new questions as part of ongoing efforts to understand Barack Obama–who, despite four years in office remains a mystery to many Americans, thanks to the mainstream media.

But We Did it for the Children

From:  of The Blaze

When Rep. Rob Bishop (R-UT) heard that a school in his home state was fined $15,000 for accidentally selling soda during lunch, thus violating federal law, he was angry. But that’s only part of the story. While The Blaze brought that story national attention on Thursday, now we come to find out that it wasn’t the only school that had to fork over thousands of dollars for selling soda at the wrong time.

As it turns out, Box Elder High School in Brigham City, Utah, was fined $19,000 for its own violation of the Healthy, Hunger-free Kids act of 2010.

That led Bishop to deliver a passionate House speech on Wednesday where he lectured his colleagues on the Constitution.

“It is restated in the 10th Amendment where each level of government had a specific and distinct responsibility. When the states were interfering with the federal government, it produced historical catastrophic consequences,” Bishop said on Thursday. “But also when the federal government interferes with the role of states, the consequences will range from being catastrophic to just plain silly.”

He wasn’t done:

“In 2010, this congress passed the Healthy and Hunger-free Kids Act. We were wrong to pass it for five reasons. Number one, it was a Senate bill–that should have been our first tipoff. Number two, it was opposed by the National Governor’s Association. Three, it was opposed by the school boards association. Four, it violated the Constitution. Finally, number five, we created a one-size-fits-all federal program, not defined by us.”

Bishop explained both schools are important to him: he graduated from one and taught at the other for 23 years.

“It was wrong for Congress to invade the role of states. It was wrong to punish kids for these silly reasons. It is wrong to violate federalism,” he concluded. “If a community, school, and their PTA wanted to create the standards themselves, fine. It is wrong for this body to think that every issue has to be decided here in this room and it is wrong for us to forget that the 10th amendment has a purpose. It is there for a reason and should be respected.”

You can watch the speech below:

By the way, Bishop pleaded with his colleagues in 2010 not to pass this exact legislation for fear of a federal power grab (that would replace local and parental common sense). It seems he was right:

Joke of the Day

Yes, it’s that magical time of year again when the Darwin Awards are bestowed, honoring the least evolved among us.

 

And the Winner is:

1. When his 38-caliber revolver failed to fire at his intended victim during a hold-up in Long Beach, California would-be robber James Elliot did something that can only inspire wonder. He peered down the barrel and tried the trigger again. This time it worked.

And now, the honorable mentions:

2. The chef at a hotel in Switzerland lost a finger in a meat-cutting machine and after a little shopping around, submitted a claim to his insurance company. The company expecting negligence sent out one of its men to have a look for himself. He tried the machine and he also lost a finger. The chef’s claim was approved.

3. A man who shoveled snow for an hour to clear a space for his car during a blizzard in Chicago returned with his vehicle to find a woman had taken the space. Understandably, he shot her.

4. After stopping for drinks at an illegal bar, a Zimbabwean bus driver found that the 20 mental patients he was supposed to be transporting from Harare to Bulawayo had escaped. Not wanting to admit his incompetence, the driver went to a nearby bus stop and offered everyone waiting there a free ride. He then delivered the passengers to the mental hospital, telling the staff that the patients were very excitable and prone to bizarre fantasies. The deception wasn’t discovered for 3 days.

5. An American teenager was in the hospital recovering from serious head wounds received from an oncoming train. When asked how he received the injuries, the lad told police that he was simply trying to see how close he could get his head to a moving train before he was hit.

6.. A man walked into a Louisiana Circle-K, put a $20 bill on the counter, and asked for change. When the clerk opened the cash drawer, the man pulled a gun and asked for all the cash in the register, which the clerk promptly provided. The man took the cash from the clerk and fled, leaving the $20 bill on the counter. The total amount of cash he got from the drawer…. $15. [If someone points a gun at you and gives you money, is a crime committed?]

7. Seems an Arkansas guy wanted some beer pretty badly. He decided that he’d just throw a cinder block through a liquor store window, grab some booze, and run. So he lifted the cinder block and heaved it over his head at the window. The cinder block bounced back and hit the would-be thief on the head, knocking him unconscious. The liquor store window was made of Polycarbonate. The whole event was caught on videotape.

8. As a female shopper exited a New York convenience store, a man grabbed her purse and ran. The clerk called 911 immediately, and the woman was able to give them a detailed description of the snatcher. Within minutes, the police apprehended the snatcher. They put him in the car and drove back to the store. The thief was then taken out of the car and told to stand there for a positive ID. To which he replied, “Yes, officer, that’s her. That’s the lady I stole the purse from.”

9. The Ann Arbor News crime column reported that a man walked into a Burger King in Ypsilanti, Michigan at 5 A.M., flashed a gun, and demanded cash. The clerk turned him down because he said he couldn’t open the cash register without a food order. When the man ordered onion rings, the clerk said they weren’t available for breakfast. The man, frustrated, walked away. [*A 5-STAR STUPIDITY AWARD WINNER]

10. When a man attempted to siphon gasoline from a motor home parked on a Seattle street, he got much more than he bargained for. Police arrived at the scene to find a very sick man curled up next to a motor home near spilled sewage. A police spokesman said that the man admitted to trying to steal gasoline, but he plugged his siphon hose into the motor home’s sewage tank by mistake. The owner of the vehicle declined to press charges saying that it was the best laugh he’d ever had.

Hand to Mouth has New Meaning

A paralyzed man has regained the use of his hand after he had a pioneering operation to bypass damage to his spinal cord.

The 71-year-old patient injured the lowest bone in his neck in a car crash in June 2008.
The damage to the C7 vertebra left him without the use of his legs and only limited shoulder, elbow and wrist function.

He also lost the use of his hand because while the nerve circuit in his hand was intact, the connection between his brain and digits had been lost.

Surgeons at Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis restored this link by rerouting working nerves in his upper arm.’

The patient can now pinch his thumb and index fingers together using nerves that once told his brain to bend at the elbow.

Senior researcher Dr Ida K Fox said, “This procedure is unusual for treating quadriplegia because we do not attempt to go back into the spinal cord where the injury is. Instead, we go out to where we know things work – in this case the elbow – so that we can borrow nerves there and reroute them to give hand function.”

The successful operation means the patient can now feed himself and even write.
“Many times these patients say they would like to be able to do very simple things,” Dr Fox said.

“If we can restore the ability to pinch, between thumb and index finger, it can return some very basic independence.”

The surgery was developed and performed by Dr Susan E. Mackinnon. Specializing in injuries to peripheral nerves, she has pioneered similar surgeries to return function to injured arms and legs.

She said hand function was not restored right away and that the patient had to undergo intensive physical therapy to retrain the brain to understand how the role of the nerves had changed.

Dr Mackinnon said another patient with a similar injury could be treated at any time as their case study received the surgery two years after his accident.
She said nerves run out from the spinal cord ‘like spaghetti’ to the tips of the fingers and toes.

Nerves remained healthy as they were still connected to the spinal cord, however the nerves could no longer ‘talk’ to the brain because the spinal cord injury blocks them.
To detour around the block in this patient’s C7 spinal cord injury and return hand function below the level of the injury, Mackinnon operated in the upper arms.

There, the working nerves that connect above the injury and the non-working nerves that connect below the injury run parallel to each other, making it possible to tap into a functional nerve and direct those signals to a non-functional neighbor.

In this case, Mackinnon took a non-working nerve that controls the ability to pinch and plugged it into a working nerve that drives one of two muscles that flex the elbow.
After the surgery, the bicep still flexes the elbow, but a second muscle, called the brachialis, that used to also provide elbow flexion, now bends the thumb and index finger.

“This is not a particularly expensive or overly complex surgery,” Dr Mackinnon said. “It’s not a hand or a face transplant, for example. It’s something we would like other surgeons around the country to do.”

Attribution: Claire Bates

Joke of the day

After a young couple brought their new baby home, the wife suggested that her husband should try his hand at changing diapers.

“I’m busy,” he said, “I’ll do the next one.”

The next time came around and she asked again.

The husband looked puzzled, “Oh! I didn’t mean the next diaper. I meant the next baby…!”

How to Lose 2 Billion Dollars (for starters)

Losing $2-billion in six weeks is quite the feat for JPMorgan Chase & Co., the venerable U.S. bank that was, until last Thursday, widely respected for sound risk management.

But how exactly did the bank get itself into this mess? And what trade blows up this quickly? JPMorgan isn’t saying much – likely because the more it discloses, the more its rivals will have to use against it. But keen market observers are trying to figure it out, and the speculative theories have been narrowed.

To understand the trades, you have to start by looking back a few weeks. In early April, Bloomberg News reported that Bruno Iksil, a trader in JPMorgan’s chief investment office, had placed massive bets on the health of certain companies. His positions were so big that rival hedge funds claimed the positions were starting to distort the market.

Mr. Iksil works for JP Morgan’s chief investment office. This division, based in London, is supposed to hedge the bank’s risks, but some say that its ‘hedges’ are in fact risk trades designed to duck the proposed Volcker Rule that bans prop trading.

When news of this division’s massive positions broke, JP Morgan didn’t say much. Then out of nowhere it hastily put together a conference call on Thursday to disclose that the CIO lost $2-billion in about six weeks.

The first explanation for the losses relates to what is known as the basis trade, a hedging strategy for corporate debt. Assume you own a 5-year bond. If the issuer goes bankrupt, you never get your principal back. To protect yourself, you can purchase a credit default swap (CDS) that mimics an insurance policy. Just like your car insurance, you pay a premium (fee or ‘spread’) to the swap writer, and in return, if you car gets stolen, or in this case the company goes bankrupt, you get paid a lump sum. But for this hedge to work, the corporate bond spread (interst paid to you) must match the CDS spread (your insurance premium). If they line up, your net exposure is little or nothing.

Historically, this held up. If anything, investors had to pay just a bit more in premiums than they received in interest, and this small difference was known as ‘positive basis’.

Every once in a while, ‘negative basis’ would appear for random reasons, creating risk-free profits because interest payments you received amounted to more than the insurance premium you had to pay. When this happened, big name hedge funds and prop trading desks would pile in and exploit the anomaly. To them, it was free money.

The problem, though, is that this trade is predicated on bond spreads (interest) remaining equal to CDS spreads (insurance premiums). As Felix Salmon points out, the market is currently very screwy, and many CDS spreads (insurance premiums) are blowing out while the bond spreads (interest) hold tight. For example, UBS’s CDS spread (insurance premium) is 85 basis points higher than its corporate bond spread (interest received), and Deutsche Bank’s spread difference is 83 basis points.

Mr. Salmon believes this dislocation is what got JPMorgan in trouble. The way he sees it, the bank was selling insurance protection, betting that CDS spreads (insurance premiums)would go down rather than up. Ultimately, they went up, and the corresponding spreads didn’t. So your insurance premium went up, but the interest paid to you didn’t.

Think of it this way. If JPMorgan was using this trade as a hedging strategy, it means the company was probably short corporate bonds. [By going short, the banks benefits when the bonds do badly (decrease in value), while in the CDS market, it suffers because it has a higher chance of paying out.] But because JP Morgan was selling insurance protection, the lower CDS value from wider spreads wasn’t offset by any bond spread movements (higher interest payouts).

JP Morgan wouldn’t be the first U.S. financial institution to get dinged by the basis trade. Merrill Lynch posted a $16-billion loss in the fourth quarter of 2008 for the same reason.

A second theory is much more complex, but the main idea is that JP Morgan may have tried to hedge a position by placing various trades on an index of liquid credit default swaps. As the market rallied over the past few months, it forced JP Morgan to increase its position with this index. This resulted in massive mispricing because the bank made the index more expensive that the sum of its constituents (artificially propped up).

“This is akin to looking at the 500 names in the S&P 500 – weighting them and seeing that the S&P 500 index should trade at 1,200 but it is trading at 1,400…” Zero Hedge noted.

If this played out, rival hedge funds would have tried to short the index (betting it would decrease in value) because they knew it was too expensive. After they did, the index should have fallen right away, yet JPMorgan had to keep supporting it because it needed the hedge. The longer this went on, the more questions the other hedge funds asked, and eventually Mr. Iksil was discovered.

After building this position, JPMorgan could have gotten in trouble because the market stopped rising. The problem is that it couldn’t unwind its position because its rivals had figured out what it was up to.

That’s why Jamie Dimon may have said that more losses could come. If he’s stuck with these trades, competitor hedge funds are going to do everything they can to make sure JPMorgan can’t get out of them.

If this is the case, more losses are certain to be announced.

Attribution: Janamejayan

If All Else Fails…Read the Manual

 An English language, al Qaeda guide includes rules such as keeping clean, not using mobile phones and thinking of virgins in paradise when bomber-drones are overhead.

Described as a “must-read” source, it has emerged on the internet shortly after it was leaked that AQAP (al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula) had been penetrated by a British spy who managed to smuggle out the latest version of their “underpants bomb”.

The guide was written by Samir Khan, an American who served as the top propagandist for the Yemen-based branch of the terrorist movement, which is considered the most dangerous to the West. He was killed by a drone attack in September, alongside AQAP’s chief ideologue, Anwar al-Awlaki,

Khan writes that he had been under the impression that he would be fighting most of the time after joining. “The reality is not quite like that,” he said.

The first section is titled “cleanliness” and says: “In some cases, you will be staying with a few brothers in a tight room or house”. “In order to avoid unnecessary problems, encourage yourself and your brothers to clean the room(s) on a regular basis. As for yourself, a daily shower is ideal but not possible in many cases.”

He describes the “bee-like sound” of the unmanned aerial vehicles in a section headed: “aerial bombardment.” 

“If you feel terrified,” he says. “Close your eyes and imagine yourself inside paradise. Think of your hoor [virgins] that are awaiting you as well as meeting the prophets.”

In a section apparently designed to scare western recruits into staying at home and attacking the West from there, the manual says recruits may have to sleep on “sand, rocks or grass.” Laying out the training, Khan writes: “In al-qa’idah, we don’t care about the size of your muscles, how fast you run, how strong your legs are and so on – although these things will be strengthened – but we put a special focus on ’lasting long’ and out doing the enemy in patience.” At one camp in Afghanistan, he warns, the trainers ordered the fighters to walk around barefoot.

“In short, prepare for the worse, and hope in the best,” Khan says.

The manual says that one of the “pillars of modern-day jihad” is secrecy, adding: “If I am British but of Indian descent, I tell the brothers I’m from so-and-so land (a place where you obviously not from).” The guide also says there are “certain questions you should avoid asking,” because: “The more you ask these kind of questions, the more the mujaheddin and its leadership will think of you as a spy and place you on their blacklist, keeping a close watch of you.”

The al-Qaeda fighters also apparently believe in black magic, with Khan writing that the “apostate” government of Saudi Arabia has individuals that “work alongside evil jinns [spirits] that spy on the mujaheddin and give away their position.”

Attribution: Duncan Gardham