Sunday, April 5, 2015

Last Call For The State Street Riots

Hey UK fans?  You lost.  That sucks being that close to 40-0 and a national title.  What's worse is you guys promptly proceeded to riot, even if papers refuse to call it that.

Thousands of Kentucky fans shared the suspense, and then the grief, of Saturday night's game after cramming into bars, yards and viewing parties at the Kentucky Theatre and other locations.

On State Street, which had been the epicenter of previous post-game celebrations, downcast expressions and stunned silence quickly gave way to chants of "(expletive) Wisconsin."

Bottles were thrown into the air and fires were set and quickly extinguished by firefighters, who asked for police escorts into the rowdy crowd.

There were several reports of assaults, and fights, and reports of people with minor injuries, such as facial lacerations, a head injury and a foot injury from broken glass.

City officials said 29 people had been arrested, and at least three people had been taken to the hospital. The city said police used pepper spray to break up some fights, and the city brought street sweepers in to defuse the crowd around 2 a.m. City officials described the crowd as "rowdy, and at times hostile."

"We're trying to get out of here. It's a little too chaotic," said Brandon Heinrich. "It's different than if we had won."

Jackie Thompson described the scene as "pretty hostile right now. I just think everyone's kinda at a loss of words and doesn't really know what else to do."

The Lexington Herald-Leader here goes out of its way to call this anything but a riot.  29 people got arrested, but it was all okay because they were college basketball fans, right?

But Ferguson?  Yeah, "thugs, criminals, rioters, looters".  Something to think about next time, right?

Read more here:

Sunday Long Read: Bastards Of The Universe

Vanity Fair's Bill Cohan catches us up on the architects of the financial collapse of 2008.  Turns out the people in the banking industry that wrecked our economy to the tune of trillions ended up A-OK. 81-year-old Jimmy Cayne, former Bear Stearns CEO, doesn't want to talk about it much.  Neither do his friends.

Cayne is not alone among former Wall Street executives in preferring not to revisit the events of 2008. Stan O’Neal, the former chairman and C.E.O. of Merrill Lynch & Co., contacted through a friend, doesn’t want to talk about that time, either. In the years leading up to the crisis—he resigned under fire in October 2007—O’Neal was the person, many people at Merrill believe, chiefly responsible for ratcheting up the firm’s risktaking, allowing its balance sheet to get larded with squirrelly debt securities, just as savvier firms such as Goldman Sachs and JPMorgan Chase were aggressively de-risking their balance sheets. He is said to feel “bitter” about the way he was treated by the press before and after Merrill’s collapse. But he isn’t nursing his wounds on the breadline.

O’Neal left Merrill with a severance package of around $161.5 million, on top of his 2006 pay of $91.4 million. It is not exactly clear what he does these days, other than serve on the board of directors of Alcoa. He doesn’t much keep in touch with his old friends, and he has moved from his Park Avenue apartment to the Upper West Side of Manhattan. “He seems to have retreated from the world,” a friend says.

John Thain, a former partner at Goldman Sachs and onetime C.E.O. of the New York Stock Exchange, got a $15 million signing bonus to replace O’Neal as the C.E.O. of Merrill in January 2008. Thain then steered Merrill to its inevitable demise, in September 2008, when Bank of America bought it for $50 billion in stock, thanks to a major financial assist from the federal government. Thain, too, declined to be interviewed for this piece. Since February 2010, he has been the chairman and C.E.O. of CIT Group, a middle-market lender. His total compensation from CIT in 2013 was $8.25 million and his approximately 350,000 shares of CIT stock are worth around $16 million.

But Thain was already rich. As a pre-I.P.O. partner of Goldman Sachs and a co-chief operating officer of the firm, he received a windfall of more than $500 million when Goldman went public, in May 1999. He still lives at 740 Park Avenue, home to Ronald Lauder and Stephen Schwarzman, among others, in an apartment he bought for $27.5 million from the philanthropist Enid Haupt, in 2006. He also still owns a 14-bedroom mansion, on more than 10 acres, in Westchester, with two swimming pools and a tennis court.

The man who bought Merrill Lynch for $50 billion right before it would have tumbled into bankruptcy, Ken Lewis, the former C.E.O. of Bank of America, is also keeping mum these days. “Thanks for the opportunity but I have no desire to go back to that time,” Lewis wrote me. In March 2014, Lewis agreed to a three-year ban from serving as an officer of a public company and to pay a $10 million fine as part of a settlement with Eric Schneiderman, the New York State attorney general, dealing with claims that he and other Bank of America executives misrepresented to shareholders the impact the Merrill acquisition would have on Bank of America’s earnings. In bringing the lawsuit against Lewis, Andrew Cuomo, Schneiderman’s predecessor (and now New York’s governor), alleged that Lewis knew that Merrill’s earnings would be far less than originally expected, in part because of large bonuses that the brokerage had paid out to its bankers, traders, and executives and in part because of the ongoing write-downs of its risky mortgage-related assets. As part of the settlement with Schneiderman, Bank of America agreed to pay $15 million and to cover Lewis’s $10 million fine, too.
When Lewis left Bank of America, at the end of 2009, he was entitled to as much as $83 million, in a combination of pension and insurance benefits, as well as stock and other compensation. He now, reportedly, lives in a 10,000-square-foot, $4.1 million condominium in Naples, Florida, overlooking the Gulf of Mexico.

So these guys are pretty much doing alright.  Certainly far better than 99.9999% of America since 2008.  They're not in jail or anything, nor will they ever be. And if there's one major failing of the last 7 years, it's that we didn't demand tumbrels and guillotines for these bastards of the universe.

Back To The Drawing Board

With the outrage in Indiana and Arkansas (not to mention corporate America moving jobs elsewhere as a result) Nevada Republicans have killed their version of "religious freedom" legislation for now.

Nevada legislation criticized as giving businesses and corporations a license to discriminate against gay customers appears to have fizzled in light of nationwide outrage over similar “religious freedom” bills in Arkansas and Indiana.

Silver State officials opposing the bill in Carson City gained a high-profile backer late Thursday.

“The Governor believes that this bill is not necessary because the interests of all Nevadans are protected under current law,” Mari St. Martin, spokeswoman for Gov. Brian Sandoval said Thursday night.

Even the bill sponsors are backing away from it.

“After careful reflection and consultation with legislative counsel, I have determined that Nevada’s Constitution already contains adequate safeguards and protections for the civil liberties of Nevada’s citizens, and further legislative emphasis of these rights would be unnecessary,” freshman legislator and Assembly Judiciary Committee Vice Chairman Erven Nelson, R-Las Vegas, said Thursday.

The reaction to Indiana’s legislation was a factor in deciding to withdraw the bill, Nelson said.

We obviously do not want to have happen in Nevada what’s been threatened to happen in Indiana as far as a boycott and things like that.”

If this isn't the final piece of evidence that the entire point of Indiana's RFRA bill was to codify discrimination against LGBTQ Americans, don't know what is.  But the almighty dollar has a lot of power in a tourism-heavy state like Nevada, and given the mess Indiana is now in, Nevada doesn't want squat to do with that fight.

So back to the drawing board until red states can find a way to discriminate again.  It's what Republicans do, you know...and the next state looks to be Louisiana.
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