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Matthew J. Webster – Writer

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

“Breaking up big banks” is BS.

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Former Secretary of Labor and cloying nudist Robert Reich has piped up in defense of Bernie Sanders, a transcript of whose interview with the NY Daily News seems to display some uncertainty regarding federal authority over large financial institutions.

But today the promise to go gangbusting on financial industries is a red herring raised ten years too late, and it’s improbable and dishonest coming from political candidates.

Dodd-Frank provides for federal liquidation and receivership of banks and other institutions even where the company’s board doesn’t want it to happen.

However, Sanders, Clinton and other pols who want to “break up the big banks” are ignoring the fact that these same institutions are the undisputed champions of complying with federal regulations.

That’s not easy to do, and it’s exactly how they got “too big” in the first place. Institutions grew so complex that they could profit from unethical practices that were NOT illegal, yet.

If certain companies made exactly the same mistakes today that they did ten years ago, yes, the FDIC would have the power to liquidate them now. It’s an appealing prospect to Americans who, rightly, feel cheated by the subprime lending scandal and bailouts that followed. And it’s not going to happen.

Written by webster71

April 6, 2016 at 19:45

Germany is not “on the Brink”

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RE: Germany on the Brink

Mr. Douthat’s ignorance of Germany is remarkable and embarrassing. As any informed citizen of that country (which I am) is aware, a significant majority of Germans support increased immigration in light of the historic refugee crisis precipitated by war in Syria and Iraq, however statistically aging we may be, and we do not appreciate being called fools because we refuse to succumb to our own culture’s worst xenophobic tendencies. 

Secondly, sadly, Germany has never outgrown the “1930s-style political violence” Mr Douthat fears immigration will provoke. Although the severity of the violence has lessened, a survey of German newspapers will show it has only grown more prevalent in the past year.

And who is more capable of leading Germany through a crisis than the historically popular, and immigration-skeptical, Chancellor Merkel? Germany is on the cusp of redefining itself, not collapsing into chaos.

–Matthew J. Webster


Written by webster71

January 10, 2016 at 11:55

Journalism is pain.

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A cordial kick to the head is nothing compared to what many journalists go through. Still, it is a reminder that my vocation is and always has been one of the worst jobs, especially when done well.

The “bitch dot” below the hairline (pictured above) was kicked into me by trainer and leg sparring partner Ryan White, a pro MMA brutalist with all the tools needed to batter myself and much stronger men into the hospital. If we hadn’t been wearing shin pads, he would have certainly opened me up for a blood offering to the spirit of the ring, which dictates the destiny of all Muay Thai warriors.

Ryan White (L) at Cage Fighting Xtreme 24 in Boston

Ryan White (L) at Cage Fighting Xtreme 24 in Boston

For the ding in question, Ryan used a technique he calls the Western High Question Mark Kick. He stepped 45 degrees to his right and threw a low lead kick that I blocked with my raised right shin, then he pulled back as if he was returning to stance. Then Ryan abruptly wrenched his left hip back toward me, and my forehead sang “SPLAT!” as he drilled it with the top of his foot.

The next time Ryan tries this I will employ the proper defense for a high kick and lean back. If I succeed, maybe I’ll attempt to subsequently pummel him with a right-hand counter. Or maybe not. My strategies are secret.

My Muay Thai activities are what journalism schools call “field work.” If you’re not feeling the pain, you’re probably not training hard enough to empathize with a competitive Muay Thai warrior.

But my focus is on unarmed combat. The best foreign correspondents have to report the more political, less honorable kind. My mentor Anthony Shadid died of an allergic attack while on assignment in Syria two years ago, and he’d also been shot through the shoulder covering the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He was fearless. My sacrifices are a joke compared with his.

Anthony Shadid 1968-2012

Anthony Shadid 1968-2012

Written by webster71

April 25, 2014 at 15:24

Letter From Boston

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12:02 4/19/13

The subject of the manhunt in #Boston now is 19 or 20 years old. He attended high school at Cambridge Rindge and Latin, considered one of the best public high schools in the US. He is a “digital native,” a millennial habituated to analyzing information (e.g. computer games) and foreseeing predictable events (like a media blitz) far faster than educated adults of older generations. This moment on the lam, with his desperately fearful younger face plastered over all our monitors as we fail to sleep from paranoia, cling to each other inside our apartments, shake our heads toward each in utter, broken-hearted bafflement as we pass on the sidewalk in light of a greeting  — this moment of adrenaline and fear of death was the kid’s whole motivation for doing this.

Now we know how it feels to be wrong, too, the way he felt all through puberty; a proud Muslim immigrant to the US in a time of intense American patriotism: strange, perpetually labeled a foreigner because he carried an accent and a name no one knew how to pronounce, from an unfashionable, poor country, called a loser by his uncle back “home” because he was slower than his older brother. We feel afraid of making an absent-minded mistake like he felt every morning before school, except that we fear being bodily maimed as a result, or to go to work because we might be killed, and he feared another failed math test, or another failure to communicate with a girl.

I’m afraid, but not that much. I’m prepared to visit the bodega for some low-sodium soy sauce, despite police warnings. The bodega’s not afraid of me, they know me. I’m part of the family there, and at the barber shop next door. I live in a heavily Caribbean neighborhood. The first time you walk into a local Caribbean store, if you speak to the employees politely, tell them you live nearby and, kind of, lean around like you’re in your own living room for a little while, from then on every time you return to the store the employees, customers, and their friends will all treat you as if you are a guest in their own private living room. I was, literally, welcomed to the family the first time Eduardo cut my hair next door.

I’m even prepared to learn the Spanish word for “soy sauce,” although learning Spanish has been slower than I’d hoped when moving here. I did dream in Spanish for the first time two nights ago, so the hood must be having some effect on me. The bodega is armed in case things turn ugly. There’s a precinct house three blocks away.

I don’t live the vast majority of my life in fear and I never will. I can put up with a few more hours.

Sincerely, with absolute respect to all who have been killed or injured, and their loved ones — right now, with helicopters outside my window, I’d rather die or have a leg blown off than eat boiled dumplings without soy sauce in this City I love.

That goes for cities I love around the world, too: Berlin, Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Seoul, Jerusalem, and Marrakech. All my towns have seen days of paranoia and bloodshed like we fear in Boston now. All societies create minorities of  losers and outcasts. The proportion of the minority, and how they are treated, is the measure of social civility.

That’s why I’m afraid, but not too much, of getting a limb blown off or killed when I go downstairs for soy sauce in 20 minutes. Not too afraid because this is a tolerant community. There will always be losers like Dzhokhar  Tsarnaev, in every American high school. A fraction of them will have psychotic breaks like him, but no one will notice because they never talked to anyone. There are six million people in Massachusetts. The percentages got to us and we’re having a very bad day. There is nothing particular about Boston’s character that produced Dzhokhar. Tamerlan

I fear his bombs, as primitive as they are, and but I’m not afraid of Dzhokhar.Tamerlan. I’ve read Bruce Lee’s book on self-defense. He’s a frightened, little loner. I have my City, and the whole world is with me.

Written by webster71

April 19, 2013 at 12:08

Captain Dave from Wicked Tuna | Chronicle – WCVB Home

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Captain Dave from Wicked Tuna | Chronicle – WCVB Home.

Captain Dave Marciano explains how the federal government’s “catch shares” program effectively squeezes out smaller-scale operators like himself, whose methods are, ironically, more conservative and less impacting to the environment.

Written by webster71

July 10, 2012 at 13:56

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