Sony unleashes its powerful new PlayStation 4 video game console on Friday, seeking to win over consumers with immersive, realistic game worlds and easy online sharing with friends. The successor to the PlayStation 3 makes its debut in North America…
Susie Madrak's blog
Who better than Matt Taibbi to write about that train wreck that was JP Morgan's foray into the world of Twitter?
I almost couldn't believe it when I heard that JP Morgan Chase was going to do a live Twitter Q&A with the public – you know, all those people around the world they've been bending over and robbing for, oh, the last decade or so. On the all-time list of public relations screw-ups, it's hard to say where this decision by America's most hated commercial bank (with apologies to Bank of America, which probably finishes a 49ers-like very close second this year) to engage the enraged public on Twitter ranks.
For sure, anyway, it's right up there with Abercrombie and Fitch's rollout of thong underwear for 10 year-olds and the $440,000 afterparty AIG executives threw for themselves at the St. Regis Resort in Monarch Beach, California after securing a federal bailout.
Chase execs probably thought they were going to be inundated with questions, like, "What steps can I take to try to become as totally awesome as all of you?" This one can infer from the self-satisfied language of their announcing Tweet, which read:
What career advice would you ask a leading exec at a global firm? Tweet a Q using #AskJPM. On 11/14 a $JPM leader takes over @JPMorgan
Only on Wall Street would a bank that's about to pay out the biggest settlement in the history of settlements unironically engage the public, expecting ordinary people to sincerely ask one of their top-decision makers for career advice. The notion that this was their idea of reaching out to the public in a moment of public relations crisis – we'll take questions now on how you can become just as successful as us! – was doomed to be hilarious, and it turned out to be that and more.
Chase trotted out Vice Chairman Jimmy Lee to be pushed into the social media buzz-saw. Lee was an excellent choice for this role. As one of the world's leading Leveraged Buyout (LBO) pioneers, Lee is a human bridge symbolically connecting two different and equally loathsome eras in Wall Street iniquity – the Gordon Gekko/LBO Eighties and Nineties, and the price-rigging, bubble-making, steal-everything-not-nailed-down era covering the Wall Street of today. From the public's perspective, Lee basically represents the banker who foreclosed on your house and the guy who liquidated your factory in a deal financed by junk bonds, all in one.
Unsurprisingly, the public barraged him with abusive Tweets, and the bank ultimately had to cancel the Q&A. What's so hilarious about some of the anger-Tweets Chase received is that the authors didn't even have to be gratuitous, or stretch the truth, in order to find a sore spot.
I like this one by "Downtown Josh Brown" at @ReformedBroker:
I have Mortgage Fraud, Market Manipulation, Credit Card Abuse, Libor Rigging and Predatory Lending AM I DIVERSIFIED? #AskJPM
Adam Coleman @AdamColeman had a more blunt question:
Can I have my house back?
But my favorite of all came from Kevin Roose @kevinroose:
Would you rather negotiate with 1 horse-sized Eric Holder, or 100 duck-sized Eric Holders? #AskJPM
Does anyone else see the Obamacare website FUBAR as the massive end-of-the-world catastrophe the media paints it?
"Obama's Katrina." That's the hot bobblehead talking point of the day. Let me explain the difference, Mrs. Greenspan. One of them was a massive natural disaster in which poor people were left to die, and the other one was an attempt to help uninsured people get health insurance. See the difference?
Honestly, I see it as a minor inconvenience (operating on the assumption the law won't require me to meet a deadline they themselves can't meet.) My brothers were programmers and developers, I have a lot of friends in IT. There are always problems with big rollouts. (That's where the term "vaporware" originates. Consultants are famously optimistic about capabilities and deadlines when they sell the deal to a client.)
Sure, Obama f*cked up. No question. If you read that "Locked In The Cabinet" piece Politico published yesterday, you read the part where the White House political team delayed important ACA implementation decisions until after the election. Bad call on their part.
But it will all eventually get fixed, we will eventually get insurance coverage and hopefully it will all work out, if not for the best, the better.
Then we will vote out as many of the assholes as we can and start pushing for single payer. Right?
Aww. Organizers thought they'd only get a few hundred volunteers to help the Make A Wish Foundation make that young superhero's dream come true today -- and over 12,000 showed up! Even the U.S. Attorney's office got in on the act:
Batkid to the rescue!
San Franciscans turned out en masse today to cheer on Miles Scott, a 5-year-old cancer patient who has always wanted to be a superhero.
The kindergartener has plenty of experience battling villains—he’s been fighting leukemia since he was 18 months old. He wrapped up his treatment in June and is in remission now.
When San Francisco's Make-A-Wish Foundation asked Miles what he wanted more than anything in the world, the little guy said, “I wish to be Batkid.”
His wish came true today as San Francisco turned into Gotham City just for Miles.
ABC estimates that about 12,000 people Gotham City residents have Batkid's back as he rushes to save their city. President Obama tweeted out his support from the White House.
It's good to see a prosecutor reject the all-too-common idea that anyone with a gun is entitled to shoot any random black person because they feel threatened:
A man was charged with second-degree murder, manslaughter and a related gun charge in the death of 19-year-old Renisha McBride, Michigan's Wayne County Prosecutor's Office said Friday.
Prosecutor Kym Worthy announced the charges against Theodore Paul Wafer, 54, also known as Ted, who allegedly shot the young woman in the face on his porch in Dearborn Heights, Mich. in the early hours of Nov. 2.
"We obviously do not feel that the evidence in this case reveals that the defendant acted in lawful self defense," Worthy said.
Wafer's attorney, Cheryl Carpenter, did not immediately return a request for comment.
"Under Michigan law, there is no duty to retreat in your own home, however, someone who claims self defense must honestly and reasonably believe that he is in imminent danger of either losing his life or suffering great bodily harm, and that the use of deadly force is necessary to prevent that harm," Worthy added in a statement. "This 'reasonable belief' is not measured subjectively, by the standards of the individual in question, but objectively, by the standards of a reasonable person."
Fortunately for us, I guess, the president's low popularity ratings may make politicians more reluctant to take on senior citizens and vets over the chained CPI -- but they're sure as hell going to try:
WASHINGTON — With congressional budget negotiations moving behind closed doors, one item apparently on the table is changing the way cost-of-living adjustments are calculated for seniors, veterans and other recipients of government benefits.
The consumer price index, or CPI, is the government’s main gauge of inflation and is used to determine cost-of-living adjustments, often shorthanded as COLAs. It’s a formula used for more than four decades.
But President Barack Obama earlier this year proposed a less generous formula called a “chained” consumer price index, in hopes of saving the government $230 billion over 10 years.
In April, Obama’s proposal was viewed as an olive branch to Republicans that was largely rejected. With budget bills passed by the House of Representatives and the Senate now in a conference committee to narrow differences and a mid-January deadline approaching, the issue is back on the table.
The chairman of the congressional talks, House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., identified the issue as an area ripe for compromise.
This is not going to go over too well with the "let's destroy the world so Jesus will get here faster" crowd, but it's good if Pope Francis is on our side with this:
Not to be outdone by folk rocker Emily Saliers of the Indigo Girls who recently said, “Fracking is a huge, huge problem,” Pope Francis seems to be joining a growing global anti-fracking movement.
A photo posted to Twitter shows the Pope with two men holding a no fracking t-shirt:
Photoshopped? Not according to Foreign Policy, which reports:
The photographs were taken after a meeting in the Vatican on Monday in which the Pope spoke with a group of Argentine environmental activists to discuss fracking and water contamination. He reportedly told the group he is preparing an encyclical -- a letter addressing a part of Catholic doctrine -- about nature, humans, and environmental pollution.
In the pictures, one of the men standing with the Pope is movie director and Argentine politician Fernando 'Pino' Solanas, known for his activism against "environmental crimes" and his film "Dirty Gold" about mega-mining. In particular, Solanas is a vocal opponent of an August agreement between the Argentine government and Chevron to develop shale oil and gas, which he calls "the largest environmental disaster in the Amazon." Drilling for these resources often requires hydraulic fracturing or "fracking," which is criticized by opponents for relying on toxic fluid and posing water contamination risks.
Why doesn't CBS just change its name to Fox2 and be done with it? Man, I still remember when they had a respected news operation. In the rush to compete with the new media world, they had to get this half-assed story out there. And the switch from news as a public service to just another profit point for the networks encourages this kind of hackery:
On Monday night, CBS News reporter Sharyl Attkisson came up with what looked like a significant story: “Memo warned of “limitless” security risks for HealthCare.gov.” As the story and on-air broadcast alleged, the person entrusted with putting together HealthCare.gov was “apparently kept in the dark about serious failures in the website’s security. Those failures could lead to identity theft among [those] buying insurance.”
How did Attkisson know this? “CBS News has obtained the first look at a partial transcript of his testimony.”
Which is like saying you’ve got the exclusive on half the story.
To consume Attkisson’s story is to freak out about HealthCare.gov. The scoop here is that Henry Chao, Healthcare.gov’s chief project manager at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), somehow didn’t know about a Sept. 3 memo warning of issues on that troubled government Web site. The transcript to which Attkisson gained access spells out some serious alleged difficulties with the site.
From the televised report: “In excerpts we’ve obtained, Chao was asked about a memo that outlined important security risks discovered in the insurance system. Chao said he was unaware of this Sept. 3 government memo written by another senior official at CMS. It found two high-risk issues which are redacted for security reasons. The memo said, ‘The threat and risk potential to the system is limitless.’ The memo shows CMS gave deadlines of mid-2014 and early 2015 to address them.”
Via Attkisson’s treatment, Chao comes off looking clueless about a critical aspect of HealthCare.gov.
In her narrative, a Republican lawyer questioning Chao asked him if he found it “surprising” that he’d never seen that memo before. Chao replied, “‘Yeah . . . I mean, wouldn’t you be surprised if you were me?’ He later added: ‘It is disturbing. I mean, I don’t deny that this is . . . a fairly nonstandard way’ to proceed.”
Teddy's wedding day with Not-Pregnant Peggy (or is she?) approaches. Mopey Maddie feels left out and tells Rayna she wants to get to know Deacon better, which means Rayna has to have that very awkward co-parenting talk with Deacon -- about the teenaged kid he only recently found out was his.
Deacon is a little surprised when Scarlett and Avery stumble into his kitchen. "Are you two back together?" he asks. Scarlett mumbles something about they're not not together.
Gunnar is rolling between the sheet with Zooey when he gets a phone call from Sleazy Jeff, who wants to meet with him. Could this be his big break?
Meanwhile, Rayna tells Scarlett she'll be leaving tomorrow as an opening act for Luke Wheeler. "Are you sure I'm ready?" a doubtful Scarlett asks. (Note to Rayna: There's some Loretta Lynn foreshadowing here, I'm thinking.)
Charlie "runs into" Juliette and her manager Glenn at the industry conference. Once they're undressing in her hotel room, he tells her she shouldn't be sucking up to the radio people. "You're a huge, huge star. They should be courting you."
Teddy and Rayna have an actual fight over whether Maddie will sing at Teddy's wedding reception. (About time, they're way too nice to each other for a divorced couple!) "Maddie can make choices, too, and you have to respect that," Rayna says to Teddy. Afterward, she comforts Maddie. "He's leaving us," Maddie says. "What if they have kids of their own? He's going to make time for me when I'm not even his daughter?" Oh Maddie. Divorced dads abandon their own children all the time, honey, that's no guarantee!
Juliette tells top country DJ Bobby Delmont to take his hands off her, and he's all, like, WTF? "I'm just not 17 and desperate any more," she coos. (That night, Bobby gets even by tweeting about how Layla's the newest star and Juliette's cold leftovers. So most of the media types leave after Lyla's performance.)
Teddy talks to Peggy about postponing the wedding to reassure Maddie. "You're the one running for Congress and you want to walk your six-months' pregnant girlfriend down the aisle?" Peggy says. (Is she or isn't she?) Teddy finally gives in.
I'm impressed by the enemies Pope Francis is quietly accumulating, and I even find myself hoping for his safety:
Pope Francis's crusade against corruption has made him a target for Italy's all-powerful mafia clans, a leading anti-mob prosecutor has warned.
Nicola Gratteri, who has battled Calabria's shadowy 'Ndrangheta mafia, said on Wednesday that Francis's attempt to bring transparency to the Vatican was making the white collar mobsters who do business with corrupt prelates "nervous and agitated".
He told the Italian daily Il Fatto Quotidiano: "Pope Francis is dismantling centres of economic power in the Vatican.
"If the bosses could trip him up they wouldn't hesitate. I don't know if organised criminals are in a position to do something, but they are certainly thinking about it. They could be dangerous."
Francis, who has called for "a poor church", has backed reform at the Vatican's bank, which has been suspected for years of being a channel for the laundering of mob profits. This week police impounded a luxury hotel on Rome's Janiculum hill – formerly a monastery – which the 'Ndrangheta allegedly purchased from a religious order.
In a fiery sermon on Monday, Francis railed against corruption and quoted the bible's advice that practitioners be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck.