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Discuss Latest World News / The $200 billion bail-out etc.. etc..
« on: March 15, 2008, 12:04:19 PM »
http://www.afterdowningstreet.org/node/31800

The $200 billion bail-out for predator banks and Spitzer charges are intimately linked

While New York Governor Eliot Spitzer was paying an ?escort? $4,300 in a hotel room in Washington, just down the road, George Bush?s new Federal Reserve Board Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was secretly handing over $200 billion in a tryst with mortgage bank industry speculators.


Both acts were wanton, wicked and lewd. But there?s a BIG difference. The Governor was using his own checkbook. Bush?s man Bernanke was using ours.


This week, Bernanke?s Fed, for the first time in its history, loaned a selected coterie of banks one-fifth of a trillion dollars to guarantee these banks? mortgage-backed junk bonds. The deluge of public loot was an eye-popping windfall to the very banking predators who have brought two million families to the brink of foreclosure.


Up until Wednesday, there was one single, lonely politician who stood in the way of this creepy little assignation at the bankers? bordello: Eliot Spitzer.


Who are they kidding? Spitzer?s lynching and the bankers? enriching are intimately tied.


How? Follow the money.


The press has swallowed Wall Street?s line that millions of US families are about to lose their homes because they bought homes they couldn?t afford or took loans too big for their wallets. Ba-LON-ey. That?s blaming the victim.


Here?s what happened. Since the Bush regime came to power, a new species of loan became the norm, the ?sub-prime? mortgage and it?s variants including loans with teeny ?introductory? interest rates. From out of nowhere, a company called ?Countrywide? became America?s top mortgage lender, accounting for one in five home loans, a large chuck of these ?sub-prime.?


Here?s how it worked: The Grinning Family, with US average household income, gets a $200,000 mortgage at 4% for two years. Their $955 a month payment is 25% of their income. No problem. Their banker promises them a new mortgage, again at the cheap rate, in two years. But in two years, the promise ain?t worth a can of spam and the Grinnings are told to scram - because their house is now worth less than the mortgage. Now, the mortgage hits 9% or $1,609 plus fees to recover the ?discount? they had for two years. Suddenly, payments equal 42% to 50% of pre-tax income. Grinnings move into their Toyota.


Now, what kind of American is ?sub-prime.? Guess. No peeking. Here?s a hint: 73% of HIGH INCOME Black and Hispanic borrowers were given sub-prime loans versus 17% of similar-income Whites. Dark-skinned borrowers aren?t stupid ? they had no choice. They were ?steered? as it?s called in the mortgage sharking business.


?Steering,? sub-prime loans with usurious kickers, fake inducements to over-borrow, called ?fraudulent conveyance? or ?predatory lending? under US law, were almost completely forbidden in the olden days (Clinton Administration and earlier) by federal regulators and state laws as nothing more than fancy loan-sharking.


But when the Bush regime took over, Countrywide and its banking brethren were told to party hardy ? it was OK now to steer?m, fake?m, charge?m and take?m.


But there was this annoying party-pooper. The Attorney General of New York, Eliot Spitzer, who sued these guys to a fare-thee-well. Or tried to.


Instead of regulating the banks that had run amok, Bush?s regulators went on the warpath against Spitzer and states attempting to stop predatory practices. Making an unprecedented use of the legal power of ?federal pre-emption,? Bush-bots ordered the states to NOT enforce their consumer protection laws.


Indeed, the feds actually filed a lawsuit to block Spitzer?s investigation of ugly racial mortgage steering. Bush?s banking buddies were especially steamed that Spitzer hammered bank practices across the nation using New York State laws.


Spitzer not only took on Countrywide, he took on their predatory enablers in the investment banking community. Behind Countrywide was the Mother Shark, its funder and now owner, Bank of America. Others joined the sharkfest: Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch and Citigroup?s Citibank made mortgage usury their major profit centers. They did this through a bit of financial legerdemain called ?securitization.?


What that means is that they took a bunch of junk mortgages, like the Grinnings, loans about to go down the toilet and re-packaged them into ?tranches? of bonds which were stamped ?AAA? - top grade - by bond rating agencies. These gold-painted turds were sold as sparkling safe investments to US school district pension funds and town governments in Finland (really).


When the housing bubble burst and the paint flaked off, investors were left with the poop and the bankers were left with bonuses. Countrywide?s top man, Angelo Mozilo, will ?earn? a $77 million buy-out bonus this year on top of the $656 million - over half a billion dollars ? he pulled in from 1998 through 2007.


But there were rumblings that the party would soon be over. Angry regulators, burned investors and the weight of millions of homes about to be boarded up were causing the sharks to sink. Countrywide?s stock was down 50%, and Citigroup was off 38%, not pleasing to the Gulf sheiks who now control its biggest share blocks.


Then, on Wednesday of this week, the unthinkable happened. Carlyle Capital went bankrupt. Who? That?s Carlyle as in Carlyle Group. James Baker, Senior Counsel. Notable partners, former and past: George Bush, the Bin Laden family and more dictators, potentates, pirates and presidents than you can count.


The Fed had to act. Bernanke opened the vault and dumped $200 billion on the poor little suffering bankers. They got the public treasure ? and got to keep the Grinning?s house. There was no ?quid? of a foreclosure moratorium for the ?pro quo? of public bail-out. Not one family was saved ? but not one banker was left behind.


Every mortgage sharking operation shot up in value. Mozilo?s Countrywide stock rose 17% in one day. The Citi sheiks saw their company?s stock rise $10 billion in an afternoon.


And that very same day the bail-out was decided ? what a coinkydink! ? the man called, ?The Sheriff of Wall Street? was cuffed. Spitzer was silenced.


Do I believe the banks called Justice and said, ?Take him down today!? Naw, that?s not how the system works. But the big players knew that unless Spitzer was taken out, he would create enough ruckus to spoil the party. Headlines in the financial press ? one was ?Wall Street Declares War on Spitzer? - made clear to Bush?s enforcers at Justice who their number one target should be. And it wasn?t Bin Laden.


It was the night of February 13 when Spitzer made the bone-headed choice to order take-out in his Washington Hotel room. He had just finished signing these words for the Washington Post about predatory loans:


?Not only did the Bush administration do nothing to protect consumers, it embarked on an aggressive and unprecedented campaign to prevent states from protecting their residents from the very problems to which he federal government was turning a blind eye.?


Bush, said Spitzer right in the headline, was the ?Predator Lenders? Partner in Crime.? The President, said Spitzer, was a fugitive from justice. And Spitzer was in Washington to launch a campaign to take on the Bush regime and the biggest financial powers on the planet.


Spitzer wrote, ?When history tells the story of the subprime lending crisis and recounts its devastating effects on the lives of so many innocent homeowners the Bush administration will not be judged favorably.?


But now, the Administration can rest assured that this love story ? of Bush and his bankers - will not be told by history at all ? now that the Sheriff of Wall Street has fallen on his own gun.


A note on ?Prosecutorial Indiscretion.?


Back in the day when I was an investigator of racketeers for government, the federal prosecutor I was assisting was deciding whether to launch a case based on his negotiations for airtime with 60 Minutes. I?m not allowed to tell you the prosecutor?s name, but I want to mention he was recently seen shouting, ?Florida is Rudi country! Florida is Rudi country!?


Not all crimes lead to federal bust or even public exposure. It?s up to something called ?prosecutorial discretion.?


Funny thing, this ?discretion.? For example, Senator David Vitter, Republican of Louisiana, paid Washington DC prostitutes to put him diapers (ewww!), yet the Senator was not exposed by the US prosecutors busting the pimp-ring that pampered him.
Naming and shaming and ruining Spitzer ? rarely done in these cases - was made at the ?discretion? of Bush?s Justice Department.


Or maybe we should say, 'indiscretion.'


************
Greg Palast, former investigator of financial fraud, is the author of the New York Times bestsellers Armed Madhouse and The Best Democracy Money Can Buy.

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Salaam,

Need information to go to Iran... I'm throwing the idea around for a possible visit.. possible stay... I was born there in 1971 and haven't been there since 1979... I wanted to contact a member to ask some questions regarding this.. esp. in regards to military service.. I've heard some stories.. but need to find a way to confirm.. if anyone has any information.. I'd appreciate it...

Thanks in advance.. and peace.  :peace:


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Discuss Latest World News / Helmsley's dog gets $12 million in will
« on: August 29, 2007, 09:36:13 AM »
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20070829/ap_on_re_us/helmsley_s_pooch

"Helmsley's dog gets $12 million in will

NEW YORK - Leona Helmsley's dog will continue to live an opulent life, and then be buried alongside her in a mausoleum. But two of Helmsley's grandchildren got nothing from the late luxury hotelier and real estate billionaire's estate.
 
Helmsley left her beloved white Maltese, named Trouble, a $12 million trust fund, according to her will, which was made public Tuesday in surrogate court...."

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Off-Topic / Students Fight Copyright Hoarders
« on: August 21, 2007, 03:16:12 PM »
Salam,

I'd really like to know some your guys views on the following:

http://www.wired.com/culture/lifestyle/news/2004/11/65616

Students Fight Copyright Hoarders
Katie Dean  11.10.04 | 2:00 AM
Students at a dozen colleges around the country are organizing to teach their peers about the consequences of overly broad copyright law, hoping to prevent creative freedom from being stifled.

They are forming Free Culture groups on campuses to explain copyright law to fellow students. Stressing its importance for culture and society, the group says copyright law is being abused. To illustrate their point, the groups hold remixing contests, promote open-source software and rally against legislation like the Induce Act, which would hold technology companies liable for encouraging people to infringe copyrights.

While copyright law might seem like a dull topic to ponder on campuses, Free Culture groups say it is a critical time for students and young people to pay attention. Large copyright holders -- namely Hollywood studios and record companies -- are gaining veto power over technology at a time when digital technology and the internet allow more people than ever to film, record, edit and distribute their own movies and music, among other forms of expression.

"If the technology is not locked down and the (copyright) laws don't stop us, we can build a democratic, free culture in which everyone can participate, in which you don't have to have the major backing of a studio to make a movie," said Nelson Pavlosky, co-founder of Free Culture Swarthmore, which launched the national movement in April and is hosting a Free Culture Fest this week to promote the organization.

Pavlosky is also known for successfully suing voting machine maker Diebold Election Systems after the company misused the Digital Millennium Copyright Act to threaten Swarthmore students who posted copies and links to some 13,000 internal Diebold memos.

"The (Electronic Frontier Foundation) and Creative Commons are doing really good work, but people our age don't seem to know about it," he said. "If we could show (students) how this is relevant to their lives, they would be really excited and involved in the movement."

So, Pavlosky and other Free Culture leaders are finding clever ways to illustrate the importance of copyright in their daily lives with projects like Undead Art, which challenges students to remix the cult classic Night of the Living Dead, now in the public domain, and turn it into something new -- like a zombie techno video or comic short. Participants can then mark their work with a flexible copyright license from Creative Commons so people can share the work freely and easily. These licenses allow other people to take a work and modify it however they like, as long as they don't try to make money from the new work without permission.

The students also encourage their peers to get involved with legislative issues. They created Save the iPod, a site that encourages students to write their congressional representatives to stop the Induce Act.

While the Free Culture movement believes that copyright law has been overextended, the students are not advocating ripping off the entertainment companies, Pavlosky said.

"The danger we face is being labeled rich white kids who want free music," he said.

One of the speakers at the Free Culture Fest, Wayne State University law professor Jessica Litman, said the Free Culture movement is a terrific idea. Historically, copyright law has been crafted by lobbyists for powerful copyright owners who represent the software, music and movie industries, she said. Consumers have not had a place at the bargaining table, and that will continue until they demand a seat.

"I'm hoping that awareness (about copyright law) spreads like a virus and infects the rest of the country," Litman said. "Consumers ought to have a significant say in what the law says is legal and illegal."

The student-run festival is also hosting speakers from the Free Software Foundation and the band Negativland.

It's an important movement, students say.

"I don't just want to be spoon-fed content from MTV and Time Warner," said Rebekah Baglini, a sophomore at Bryn Mawr College, which runs its own Free Culture club. "I'd really like to see a more diverse, more bottom-up participatory approach to culture."

"It's not just about some abstract copyright law," said Nicholas Bergson-Shilcock, a student at Franklin & Marshall College in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. "It's about free speech and the ability to express yourself."

----

http://www.dinarstandard.com/management/IPinIslam020306.htm

Intellectual Property Rights in Islam

By Sajjad Chowdhry , Mar 6, 2006 
 

Understanding Intellectual Property in today's Muslim world business environment also means coming to terms with the Islamic perspective on the subject.

As with many modern issues, diverging views are to be found in Islamic scholars conclusion on this topic with overwhelming majority concluding in support of IP rights.
 
Also See: 'Fatwa' helps Proctor & Gamble in Anti-Counterfeiting Campaign
 

This article presents both sides in summary, and discusses Islam's view of legitimate profit and its concept of property.

The Creative Impulse & the Profit Motive

In times past, ideas developed slowly and moved from one place to the next at a snail's pace. Effectively, merchants could protect their livelihoods and capitalize on new ideas and methods for a good amount of time before seeing those ideas used by competitors in the market. But as the global economy is increasingly characterized its reliance on knowledge based transactions protecting the means of livelihood has become even more important. Ideas move at lightning speed. Tracing the source of those ideas is not only a means of giving credit where due but also of claiming at least a partial right to profit from that idea - in tangible ways or otherwise.

We wake up in the morning to earn our bread and butter - no one wants that right taken away from them. In the Qur'an we read, "And among His signs is the sleep you take by night and by day, as well as your quest of some of His bounties: in these, verily, there are signs for people who listen" (30:23). The profit motive drives our efforts, our approach to solving problems, and our creativity and innovative impulse.

Islam's concept of private property

In Islamic thought, individuals are entitled to enjoy the fruits of their labor. People don't go to work so that the value of that effort is automatically given up to others. That value -given through wages/salary or through ownership - is transferred/spent according to the discretion of the agent giving his effort. No one can appropriate that value or that ownership.

In fact defending one's property has been equated with defending honor in Islamic thought.

In a hadith narrated in Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Thabit we read, "The Messenger of Allah (s) observed, 'He who dies in protecting his property is a martyr.'"


 According to Mufti Taqi Usmani of Pakistan , there are no express provisions in the basic texts which limit ownership to tangible objects. Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are legitimate claims to ownership which give their owners the right to profit from these claims. 


It is such an important concept that the Prophet of Islam (s) chose to mention it in his Farewell Sermon at the occasion of his Last Pilgrimage. The Prophet said, "Verily your blood, your property are as sacred and inviolable as the sacredness of this day of yours, in this month of yours, in this town of yours."

Giving credit where credit is due

Islam's emphasis on giving due credit for knowledge is well known. Centuries before printing became known the world over, Muslims developed systems of transmitting knowledge that became the precursors for modern teaching methodologies.

Acknowledging the source of information, or the chain of transmitters through which information was handed down through the generations, is the method Muslims cultures have inherited in the form of the system of Hadith preservation and authentication. The Isnad, or chain of transmission, creates a meticulous picture of the knowledge path taken by a text as well as if and when there were any gaps or weaknesses.

An allied method was the system of teaching texts in the seminaries of Muslim lands. As early as 750 CE, any copy of a book had to be authorized by the original author who personally taught the book to his students who were thereby authorized to narrate and transmit that text and to hold a copy. This authorization was in the form of an "Ijazah" or certificate of permission. These certificates were examined meticulously before knowledge was taken from someone other than the book's original author.

Modern Islamic interpretations of Intellectual Property

The concept of intellectual property has been defined elsewhere in this issue. Readers are however reminded that the idea of intellectual property does not hinder or curtail the flow of knowledge. Rather intellectual property protects the right to benefit commercially for a specified period of time. In the realm of ideas IP laws only stipulate that due credit is given to the source of the concept.

Traditional scholars limited the definition of property to only those assets which were tangible and experienced by one of the five senses. It is interesting to note here that one of these five senses is the ability to hear and curious that ideas are therefore not held to be in the domain of the tangible by many traditional scholars.

Given the rapid developments in society, contemporary jurists and thinkers are divided over the issue of intellectual property. Those who fervently stick to the position of classical scholars augment their position against the concept of intellectual property by arguing that knowledge is the sole position of God and is merely a trust for humans to use and share with each other.

On the other hand are scholars who have accepted the premise that ideas and/or methods can be protected under the rubric of intellectual property - that IP is reconcilable in the Shari'ah. According to Mufti Taqi Usmani of Pakistan , there are no express provisions in the basic texts which limit ownership to tangible objects. Copyrights, patents, and trademarks are legitimate claims to ownership which give their owners the right to profit from these claims.

The Bases of IP rights in Islamic thought

Contemporary Fatawa (plural of Fatwa or juridical ruling) have equated violations of IP law with stealing; the late Sheikh `Abd Al-`Aziz Bin Baz is among the prominent scholars to have ruled in this regard. In addition, the Council for Islamic Jurisprudence met in Kuwait in 1988 and ruled that ". nobody has the right to violate." intellectual property claims.

This understanding is based on three authentic ahadith of the Prophet which scholars cite. The first states, "Muslims are to honor their agreements". This hadith actually mirrors the first ayah of Surah al-Maida which reads, "O you who believe! Fulfill your obligations." These agreements or obligations are interpreted by scholars as the laws of the state individual Muslims make their home in.

In another hadith we read, "A Muslim's wealth is forbidden for others to use without his permission." Interpretations of the hadith do not limit wealth to money. Rather, even sources of income are protected as wealth. The Prophet (s) also remarked, "Whoever is the first to acquire a thing is more entitled to keep it."

Violating Intellectual Property Rights

Copying protected media for sale and profit has been forbidden as it is equated with stealing and punishable under both Islamic and State law. In fact, it is a violation of the law of contract in Islam to sell something that you do not own. The object of sale has to be owned by the seller. At the very least, the seller must have the express permission of the owner (preferably in writing) for the sale to be considered valid.
 

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General Issues / Questions / Food For Thought...
« on: February 22, 2007, 07:42:19 PM »
Salam,

A man once said (regarding three states of nafs: the hostile, the phony, and the zombie)

The first are the hostiles, asleep in their rage and their anger. The hostile is very apparent. He is always angry about everything. The hostiles become the revolutionaries. The hostile person is one extreme his anger is not particularly pointed towards something his anger is not everything. He is angry he has no object of anger everything is and everybody seems to be harmful to him. Not only persons but also things even look harmful towards him. He is inimical, that's why the whole existence looks that way his basic attitude is negative and he is sleeping in a very angry sleep.

One thing is good about him, is that he is hot, and not cold. He is really boiling in this fire. He can change himself more easily then the other two kinds because he is hot his fire is alive it might be directed towards the wrong direction, but he has the power to change this direction. If his anger becomes fuel for inner transformation, he can be free and awake from this sleep.

The second are the phonies. This is the other extreme. They are the goody people, always smiling, false, and deceptive. They are never really true. The hostiles are true. The hostile shows his face, whatever it is, it might be ugly but he shows it, it's true. The phony has an ugly face but it's a mask, you never see his real face. They are always trying to be sweet. This is a trick to protect them. They are the people who are very repressed. They go on repressing all the hostility. The hostility remains, but goes into the basement and hides in the unconscious.

The hostile is a simple person, you can trust the hostile person. Remember, a person who always smiles, there is more in the basement then meets the eye. They are phony. The second is more of difficult because the sleep of the second kind has more sweet dreams in it. The first is suffering from nightmares and one awakens from a nightmare much more easily then a sweet dream. The nightmare, in a way, automatically works against the sleep, but when you are seeing beautiful dreams of paradise then there is no problem. The sleep can continue. The sweet dream defends the sleep, the nightmare is against the sleep. So the second are the so called respectable people.

The third kind is the most difficult kind. The zombie. The zombie is just in the middle, he is neither hostile nor a phony, he is dead. He is neither hot nor cold he is impotent. He has not taken any side he is afraid. He is a mirror just a reflection. He is dead, he just hangs in the middle he cannot decide, and so he has decided to be a machine.

These people the zombies are just dead. They are walking talking corpses. They are mechanical. They only know life as a rut, or a routine. The zombies are the want to be saints and mahatmas. They are the worst of all three kinds, for they have nothing. They are so dead they are like statues. They are the more difficult for they don't even know that they are asleep. Life has shrunken in them. It is not that they have become surpassed desire. No, they have become lifeless. When there is no life there is no desire but that is not the point the real sage is one who has no desire and absolute life the false saint is one who has killed his life because it is the simplest way to kill his desire.

These are the three kinds of sleepy people and the three simplified forms of the nafs. If you are hostile, things are easier. If you are a phony, be happy, things are a little more difficult but still possible. If you are a zombie then still be happy that you have understood that you are a zombie, some possibility is there.


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Off-Topic / are you hungry? 1. general question
« on: January 06, 2007, 12:55:42 AM »
salam,

just wanted to know if any of you who post here.. ever post while being hungry? (ramadan not counting)
 

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peace....

I have a question... is this right?

i am at a place where i'm questioning if "something" is right or wrong. and the problem is the only way i can share that "something" with you, is to actually do it!

the question is if i actually do it then what if it's wrong?

so i have to think what the immediate consequence(sp?!) is?

please no worries... i'm not talking about anything horrible.. just music... and that's it! that's the question.. is music wrong? is it wrong to mess with someone's music? why do some believe music is wrong? etc...

so here's the root... i have a track that was sent to me by someone of a vocoalist... who i'm told is of a very famous islamic vocalist who possibly might believe that music is haram... and i want to know if it's wrong to put music to it? and you see the only way i can see this to understand, i feel i aught to ask others who i have a good thought of... what they think?

the problem.... is i feel the only way to fairly understand is to listen ... but if i show you... then will i be commiting something that could.. .aught... or just might end up the wrong someTHING to do?!

no worries... if not..

peace...

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House Passes the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act

The House has passed the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act despite opposition from dozens of organizations including the National Lawyers Guild, Humane Society and Natural Resources Defense Council. The bill makes it a felony for animal rights activists to engage in non-violent protests that result in businesses losing money. Legal experts say a protester could be charged with terrorism if they engaged in a sit-in that caused a business to lose profits. Congressman Dennis Kucinich said the law would have a chilling effect on non-violent protest. Kucinich said the country has to be very careful of painting everyone with a broad brush of terrorism.

democracynow.org

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