Daily Archives: January 19, 2016

Morgan Stanley’s CEO just uttered the 3 words every employee dreads

Morgan Stanley just announced fourth-quarter earnings, and it is providing detail to investors on acost-saving plan called Project Streamline.

During a conference call, CEO James Gorman uttered a sentence that will most likely make the bank’s staff shudder.

“Too many employees based in high-cost centers are doing work that can sensibly be done inlower-cost centers,” he said. “Now is the time to tackle head-on our infrastructure costs.”

The mention of “lower-cost centers” most likely means the bank is looking to shift jobs overseas or to low-cost locations in the US.

His comments echo a line in his presentation, where there is a reference to optimizing the bank’s location strategy.

Read on.

Meet The Chinese American Bank That Wants To Become Wells Fargo

Dominic Ng, the boyish 56-year-old CEO of East West Bank with perfectly combed short black hair, is giving me a tour of the contemporary art gallery on the first floor of his company’s headquarters in Pasadena. In front of us is a gorgeous 110-by-30 inch black-ink Chinese calligraphy on a classic dark yellow parchment – Ng’s personal favorite piece. At first glance, the square characters look no different to visitors than any average Chinese calligraphy.

“But they are actually English,” Ng explains, pointing to the first “character” as he spells out the hidden letters. “C-O-M-E. These are the song lyrics for Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A-Changin,” Ng says with a smile.

Ng, who handpicked the artwork, is proud of this collaboration with well-known Chinese contemporary artist Xu Bing. To him, nothing represents East and West better than a rock-and-roll anthem meeting Chinese calligraphy. An avid guitarist who claims to know the meaning of every rock and roll song from the 50s and 60s, Ng says music helped him assimilate to America as a young Hong Kong student in Texas who did not speak English well.

Fast forward 30 years, Ng now leads one of the largest regional banks in America focusing on China and the U.S. With $31.1 billion in assets under management, the Pasadena-based East West Bank has grown out of the original Chinatown thrift to capitalize on the growth of Chinese Americans. With stock rising more than 50% over the past three years, the bank has become a $5 billion market cap regional powerhouse. And even as China’s economy slows, the politically savvy Ng is doubling down on his niche: bridging the world’s two largest economies on everything from real estate to Hollywood to renewable energy.

Read on.

Wall Street banks are backing away from mortgages as nonbank lenders emerge

Big banks are lending less to homebuyers, or they’re making less on loans — and sometimes, it’s a combination of both.

Some are making less on home loans, in part owed to the Fed and its yearslong zero interest rate policy. But the trend also coincides with a rise in nonbank lenders, like Quicken Loans, that have been gobbling up market share in mortgages in recent years.

“The mortgage market is coming off the highs it realized in 2012,” said Erik Oja, S&P Capital IQ banking analyst. “A lot of it is expected, in terms of origination.”

Read on.

Ten years later, Army Private LaVena Johnson’s family still grieves and questions the Army’s version of her death

Source: Salem News


I followed this story 10 years ago. Apparently, there is no answers to the death of Army Private LaVena Johnson. Her case needs to be reopened in order for her family to know the truth and have some closure…

Ten years after Army Private LaVena Lynn Johnson died in Iraq, her father keeps family photographs of her tucked away in his basement office in his Florissant home, so that his wife doesn’t see them.

John Johnson says she finds the images too painful to look at: A smiling LaVena in gold cap and gown, Class of 2004, Hazelwood Central High. LaVena posing in a powder blue formal gown.

The Army says the 19-year-old soldier killed herself in Iraq — a finding that her family has never believed.

For ten years, Johnson has been on a mission to find his own answers to what happened to his pretty daughter who played the violin and wanted to be a movie producer. The honor student who took after him.

Read on.

I posted on my blog in 2007 that the Johnson family has LaVena’s body exhumed  for an autopsy. Here is the result:

Last night’s KMOV-TV story (including video) on the case of Pfc. LaVena Johnson – an account of her body’s exhumation and autopsy – provided little progress in the attempt to clarify the cause of her death in Iraq in 2005. The autopsy team, which included St. Louis chief medical examiner Dr. Michael Graham and St. Louis County medical examiner Dr. Mary Case, reported inconclusive findings after a three-hour examination. The process will now move to include the weapon – an M-16 rifle – which may have fatally wounded LaVena.
More findings will be posted as they are made available.
The KMOV report was made notable by the inclusion of a comment by Senator Claire McCaskill:
We’ve gotta find the truth about what happened to this young lady. Her family deserves that at a minimum, and we need to know in terms of keeping the armed services accountable.
The evidence points that LaVena’s death was not a suicide but murder. Her is what I posted in June 2007 on my blog:

Her name was LaVena Johnson. She was a Missouri native, private first class soldier and only nineteen years old. On July 19, 2005, Pfc. LaVena Johnson she died near Balad, Iraq.

She was just eight days shy of her twentieth birthday. She was the first woman soldier from Missouri to die while serving in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Here is her story.

After an investigation into the death of LaVena, the Army declared LaVena’s death a suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The Army’s findings were refuted by the Johnson family. The Johnsons believe the evidence shows she was murdered. . In an article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, LaVena’s father pointed to indications that his daughter had endured a physical struggle before she died. There was evidence of two loose front teeth, a busted lip that had to be reconstructed by the funeral home. This suggested that “someone might have punched her in the mouth.” From a televised report on KMOV news station in St. Louis, Missouri, the media disclosed troubling details not previously made public:

1. Indications of physical abuse that went unremarked by the autopsy.
2. The absence of psychological indicators of suicidal thoughts; indeed, testimony that. LaVena was happy and healthy prior to her death.
3. Indications, via residue tests, that LaVena may not even have handled the weapon that killed her.
4. A blood trail outside the tent where Lavena’s body was found.
5. Indications that someone attempted to set LaVena’s body on fire.

And more from Wikipedia.

Besides LaVena, there were other questionable women soldiers that were classified as suicides to mention. From Truthout:


 From 2003 until August 2008, the deaths of 13 Army women and one Navy woman in Iraq and Afghanistan (including Kuwait and Bahrain) have been classified as suicides (numbers confirmed with various media sources):

    2008 – Spc. Keisha Morgan (Taji, Iraq)

    2007 – Spc. Ciara Durkin (Bagram, Afghanistan), Capt. (medical doctor) Roselle Hoffmaster (Kirkik, Iraq)

    2006 – Pfc. Tina Priest (Taji, Iraq), Pfc. Amy Duerkson (Taji, Iraq), Sgt. Denise Lannaman (Kuwait), Sgt. Jeannette Dunn (Taji, Iraq), Maj. Gloria Davis (Baghdad).

    2005 – Pvt. Lavena Johnson (Balad, Iraq), 1st Lt. Debra Banaszak (Kuwait), USN MA1 Jennifer Valdivia (Bahrain)

    2004 – Sgt. Gina Sparks (it is unclear where in Iraq she was injured, but she died in the Fort Polk, La., hospital)

    2003 – Spc. Alyssa Peterson (Tal Afar, Iraq), Sgt. Melissa Valles (Balad, Iraq)

    The demographics of those Army women who allegedly committed suicide are as intriguing as the circumstances of their deaths:

     – Seven of the women, being between the ages of 30 and 47, were older than the norm (Davis, 47; Lannaman, 46; Dunn, 44; Banaszak, 35; Hoffmaster, 32; Sparks, 32; and Durkin, 30). (Most military suicides are in their 20s).

     – Three were officers: a major (Davis), a captain and medical doctor (Hoffmaster) and a first lieutenant (Banaszak).

     – Five were noncommissioned officers (Lannaman, Dunn, Sparks, Valles and Valdivia).

     – Five were women of color (Morgan, Davis, Johnson, Lannaman, Valles).

     – Four were from units based at Fort Hood, Texas, and were found dead at Camp Taji, Iraq (Dunn, Priest, Duerkson, and Morgan).

     – Two were found dead at Camp Taji, Iraq, 11 days apart (Priest and Duerkson).

     – Two were found dead at Balad, Iraq (Johnson and Valles).

     – Two had been raped (Priest, 11 days prior to her death; Duerksen, during basic training).

     – One other was probably raped (Johnson, the night she died).

     – Two were lesbians (Lannaman and Durkin).

     – Two of the women were allegedly involved in bribes or shakedowns of contractors (Lannaman and Davis).

     – Two had children (Davis and Banaszak).

     – Three had expressed concerns about improprieties or irregularities in their commands (Durkin’s concerns were financial; Davis had given a seven-page deposition on contracting irregularities in Iraq the day before she died; Peterson was concerned about methods of interrogation of Iraqi prisoners).

     – Several had been in touch with their families within days of their deaths and had not expressed feelings of depression (Morgan, Durkin, Davis, Priest, Johnson).

Arron Lewis found guilty of murdering Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter

Arron Lewis was found guilty Friday of abducting and killing Arkansas Realtor Beverly Carter in 2014, according to various Arkansas media outlets.

According to KATV, Lewis was automatically sentenced to life in prison without parole for Carter’s murder and also received a consecutive life sentence for kidnapping.

According to interview transcripts with police, presented as part of pre-trial proceedings and recapped in detail on Arkansas Online, Lewis selected Carter from an Internet ad, based on the fact that she worked alone.

Upon meeting Carter at a house under the guise of being a potential buyer, Lewis allegedly told Carter “You’re about to have a very bad day,” before subduing her and binding her with green duct tape.

Carter was kidnapped while showing a home sometime in the early evening hours of Sep. 25, a Thursday. Her husband told police that he became concerned when by 9 p.m. his wife had not called. He drove to the site and found her brown Cadillac sport utility vehicle parked in the driveway with her purse inside it.

An intensive search followed, and on Sep. 29, police arrested a suspect.

Carter’s body was found in a shallow grave about 25 miles north of Little Rock the next day, on Sep. 30, 2014.

Read on.