Almost two years before the city of Detroit would shock America by declaring bankruptcy in the face of what it claimed were insurmountable pension costs, How Wall Street Robs Public Workers by Matt Taibbi (Ft. Rolling Stone)

Detroit’s $18 billion bankruptcy dwarfs even the second largest municipal filing of $4 billion (Jefferson Co., Alabama).

At the moment, they are citing nearly $11 billion of that as unfunded pension and/or post-employment related benefits. Altogether, it would take roughly $24,000 from each resident to keep Detroit out of bankruptcy.

Furthermore, as bad of a rap as Detroit has gotten over the last decade, if the bankruptcy plans are allowed to continue, we will see many other municipalities follow suit:

Everyone will say, ‘Oh well, it’s Detroit. I thought it was already in bankruptcy,’ but Detroit is not unique. It’s the same in Chicago and New York and San Diego and San Jose. It’s a lot of major cities in this country. They may not be as extreme as Detroit, but a lot of them face the same problems.

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Chronically weak operating margins Criticisms of Sotheby's by Daniel S. Loeb

Operating margin is the “net profit margin”, i.e. the amount of money the company keeps, before taxes/interest, for each dollar it records in sales.

According to Sotheby’s (pg. 49), their operating margin was 29% in 2012, 34% in 2011, and 37% in 2010. The latter values are the best they’ve had in years. To clarify, they keep about .29 cents of every $1.00 they make in sales.

Compared to their biggest competitor Christie’s, who had margins of 20%, -30%, and 29% over the last 3 years, Sotheby’s numbers don’t seem as bad as Loeb makes it seem.

Of course, Loeb’s worth $1.5 billion, so he probably knows what he’s talking about…

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Hart-Scott-Rodino approval Criticisms of Sotheby's by Daniel S. Loeb

This 1976 Hart-Scott-Rodino Anti-Trust Improvements Act was put in place to screen mergers, acquisitions, and transfers of assets. There are generally 3 tests to determine whether or not an individual/company must first file for HSR approval before continuing any transactions:

  1. It affects U.S. commerce.
  2. (a) If one party has > $136million in assets and the other has > $13.6 million or (b) the amount of stock being acquired is worth $272.8 million or more.
  3. the value of the securities or assets of the other party held by the acquirer after the transaction is $68.2 million or more.

In 2011 alone, Sotheby’s had private sales of $814.6 million, while also bringing in $5.8 billion total. As far as total assets, they’ve reached $2.74 billion. Likewise, Loeb’s Third Point LLC has some major assets as well, topping $13 billion

Obviously, the Federal Trade Commission found no potential for anti-competitive outcome here though, as Loeb received approval to move ahead with the transaction.

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The US is the sole country in the world that has the capability to project force across the globe on a large scale. U.S. vs. the World? by Vice Magazine (Ft. Dylan Lehrke & Oscar Rickett)

The U.S. has a different command center for each region of the world and, aside from the Gulf War, we haven’t had a greater absolute number of troops overseas since 1970. There’s estimated to be a total of 700-1000 U.S. military bases around the world, though, only a few know for sure. See this incredibly detailed map for more information.

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It is virtually impossible to eliminate the US nuclear arsenal U.S. vs. the World? by Vice Magazine (Ft. Dylan Lehrke & Oscar Rickett)

Got them nukes for daayz..

Actually, the our nuclear arsenal has decreased significantly over the years, but that’s mainly due to the face that our current nuclear weapons are about 55 times more powerful than “Little Boy”, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Also, Russia has a bigger stockpile, but far fewer weapons that are operational and currently in rotation abroad.

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Obamacare continues to be our No. 1 fundraising tool. Quotes About Government Shutdown by Republicans

The worst part about this whole shutdown is how blatantly the Republican party has been exploiting the scenario to solicit campaign donations. Sen. Mike Lee sent out emails amid the shutdown battle saying:

Speeches alone aren’t going to win this fight for us The only way we can win is if the American people raise their voices and engage their representatives. The clock is ticking, and I need your help right now.

Next to these inspiring words, a giant DONATE button. It’d be interesting to hear how more money is going to spur on legitimate negotiations…

Of course, the GOP isn’t the only party whose pockets are benefiting for the shutdown.

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[Bobbie Kilberg] Quotes About Government Shutdown by Republicans

As a behind-the-scenes power player, Kilberg has worked within the Republican Party for years. She’s served a number of Presidents, including Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.

She currently serves as president and CEO of the Northern Virginia Technology Council, as well as a Republican party advisor and fundraiser.

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Liberal democracies like yours and mine have inherent trouble providing adequate self-defence because of a range of civil liberties that come hand-in-hand with the freedom our societies offer. Interview Regarding Edward Snowden, Cyber Security, And Transparency by Michael Hayden (Ft. Australian Financial Review & Christopher Joye)

Or maybe it’s because the NSA continues to sabotage encryption standards?

Gen. Hayden is technically a professional bull-shitter, but this claim is so disgusting that it’s hard to even comprehend. Although no one can expect him to admit to the NSA’s sabotage of international encryption standards, it’s amazing that he actually blames lack of cyber security on our liberal democracy and the civil liberties that comes with it.

The truth is, the NSA has been strong-arming corporations to create “back-doors” in their networks, thereby allowing the NSA to steathily monitor their information. If this wasn’t bad enough, they also changed encryption standards without anyone knowing, which means that even companies who wouldn’t agree to back-doors, probably still have them. Back-doors will always be exploited by any hackers who care to really look. This is what undermines security.

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This Court had reason to analyze this distinction in a similar context in [HEAVILY REDACTED]. Fourth Amendment (docket no. BR 13-109) by Judge Claire Eagan (Ft. Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Keith Alexander, President Barack Obama & United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court)

YES…Eagan is using a previous, secret FISC opinion as the basis of her dismissal of 4th Amendment rights in this case. Not only is her argument lacking any critical thought, but she is using a freaking secret opinion…Thanks Eagan.

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In Smith, the government was obtaining the telephone company's metadata of one person suspected of a crime. Fourth Amendment (docket no. BR 13-109) by Judge Claire Eagan (Ft. Federal Bureau of Investigation, General Keith Alexander, President Barack Obama & United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court)

Although one would be well within reason to argue that cases like Smith.. are inadequate in determining the scope of the 4th Amendment as it pertains to our technological age, the fact remains that it is still a significant Supreme Court ruling and it makes total sense that Eagan would depend on this case.

However…

Like she points out here, the facts of these two scenarios are very different:

  • Smith.. involved one man and one pen register.
  • In that case, the police monitored his calls for just two days.
  • Before obtaining his call records, Smith’s car had been positively ID’d as the same car as the man who had been harrassing the victim, i.e. there was significant reason to believe he was responsible, even before his phone records were seized.
  • Smith had a chance to address his 4th Amendment rights as an individual, while anyone arrested due to evidence discovered from these bulk phone records does not.

For an example of that last point, it was found out in August of 2013 that DEA agents have been siphoning this information from the FBI/NSA and using it in domestic investigations. However, agents were instructed to “recreate” the investigation so as to cover up the origin of any information leading to an arrest. Aside from showing that the government is obviously looking at the exact content of calls made by targeted individuals, this shows that these individuals would have no way of challenging this invasion and abuse by the DEA.

You’d be told only, ‘Be at a certain truck stop at a certain time and look for a certain vehicle.‘ And so we’d alert the state police to find an excuse to stop that vehicle, and then have a drug dog search it

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