Can you believe it is December 1st? Honestly, I can’t.
What an exhausting year this has been, to think it is almost over.
Anyway, here are your reads for this morning, Israeli Arabs, Palestinians protest plan to relocate Bedouins.
Thousands of Arab citizens of Israel and Palestinians in East Jerusalem and the West Bank demonstrated Saturday against an Israeli government plan that in some cases would relocate Bedouins from traditional lands in the Negev desert to urban communities.
Some of the gatherings turned violent, with 28 protesters arrested and at least 15 police officers injured, one of them stabbed. Police fired stun grenades, tear gas and skunk water to disperse demonstrators.
The “Day of Rage” was called as the Israeli parliament was preparing to give final approval to what has become known as the Prawer Plan, named after an Israeli government official who wrote it.
Israeli officials say the plan was reached after extensive consultation with Bedouin leaders. It would provide recognition and previously denied services for some Bedouin communities that have been viewed by the Israelis as squatters on state land and relocate others while providing some compensation.
The controversial plan faces strong opposition from many Bedouins, who say it would in effect expropriate 200,000 acres of Arab land and forcibly relocate more than 40,000 Bedouins.
The protest have even spread to the UK: Day of Rage Rocks Israel, Spreads to UK.
U.S. airline officials say they are complying with new State Department guidance urging carriers to alert China before any flights pass through that country’s new self-declared air-defense zone.
Airline officials said Saturday that compliance would not disrupt travel to Asia, since they already communicate with any government when crossing through or over foreign territory.
In US politics: N. Georgia key battleground in Senate GOP primary
At the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains sits one of the most Republican congressional districts in the country that is home to Georgia’s governor, lieutenant governor and speaker of the House.
The 9th Congressional District and the nearby 14th district are considered the heart of the GOP in Georgia and will be key battlegrounds in a fiercely contested Republican primary next year for an open U.S. Senate seat, a race that will be watched nationally as Democrats look to thwart efforts by Republicans to take control of the Senate.
While not as populous or packed with deep-pocket donors as metro Atlanta, the two districts in north Georgia offer a strong and reliable base of fiscal and social conservatives and are largely up for grabs considering no major candidate has a direct link to the area.
Yeah this is my district, the Saxby Chambliss district….according to that article, 20 percent of the state’s Republican voters are in these districts.
All the top candidates have already made trips and are expected to keep visiting ahead of the May 20 primary. The voters are used to seeing their elected officials and are known for asking tough questions.
“They are a lot like Iowa caucus voters. They expect to see their candidates in the flesh,” said Lake, who recently left the Senate campaign of Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, citing differences in opinion, and is no longer aligned with a candidate in the race.
A number of voters who attended a recent congressional hearing in the 9th district said they remain undecided. Besides Gingrey, the other major candidates are tea party favorite Rep. Paul Broun of Athens; Karen Handel, who has a statewide grassroots organization from her previous campaigns; fundraising leader Rep. Jack Kingston of Savannah; and David Perdue, cousin of former Gov. Sonny Perdue and past CEO of Dollar General and Reebok.
Ugh. More disgust at the link, with no possible chance of getting a decent representative in Washington D.C.
Another link on an asshole of another kind: Seattle Asshole Demands Employee Firing Over Bar’s Google Glass Policy
The most absolute awful thing about the story of Nick Starr is not that he exists, but that there are surely more people like him: the Seattle IT drone threw a Facebook fit when he was asked to take off his face-camera at a cafe. “I would love an explanation, apology, clarification…or her termination.”
Read the rant at the link above.
Here’s the logic: the ability to covertly take pictures of people and perhaps post them to Twitter—as Starr has done in the past—shall not be infringed upon. Any attempts to subvert this divine right will be attacked in kind. This is an ostensibly carbon-based life form arguing for garnished wages or a lost job because he couldn’t wear a face computer into a watering hole.
Those Google Glass things are over the top and cross the line…and that this asshole has taken pictures of people in the bathroom and put them online…geez what a dickhead.
Okay, two links about JFK:
In Wednesday’s Nova special on the JFK assassination, private investigator Josiah Thompson is an avuncular presence, repeatedly explaining what happened on Nov. 22, 50 years ago in Dallas.
But Thursday the author of Six Seconds in Dallas said he was “outraged,” calling the program “rigged.”
He wasn’t accusing “Cold Case: JFK” of faking or staging any tests, but said the program failed to fully examine acoustic evidence that suggests four shots were fired that day, because doing so might have derailed the show’s conclusion, that Lee Harvey Oswald was probably the only gunman.
Jack Ohman suggested “we see what we want to see” regarding the JFK assassination (“Kennedy slaying answers elude us”; Forum, Nov. 17). Marcos Breton blamed our skepticism on advancing age: “It’s the ultimate baby boomer fetish,” he scoffed (“Count me out of the JFK club”; Our Region, Nov. 17).
If you still think the Warren Report is an example of a trustworthy, paternal federal government here to help you, listen up.
Remember the auction of Classic Movie Memorabilia? If you are curious as to how much some of those items ended up going for, check it out here: Classic Movie Memorabilia
ICONIC MALTESE FALCON LEAD STATUETTE FROM THE 1941 FILM Sold for $4,085,000 At the TCM / Bonham’s Auction Nov 23,2013
Angela Lansbury is making a comeback. No, she is not dead. Hold Up–Angela Lansbury Is Returning To The Stage
In breaking entertainment news that is sure to get me 500 billion clicks today alone, Angela Lansbury is set to make her triumphant, beautiful return to the stage. After a more than 40 year absence from the London stage,
Jessica FletcherLansbury will star in a West End revival of Noel Coward’s play Blithe Spirit.
TCM has been showing some crappy movies lately, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? Please. Hopefully they get back to the good stuff soon.
Anyway, this next article is interesting too, from BBC News – A visit to a hidden coca plantation
The Peruvian government says it is committed to eradicating the coca leaf, from which cocaine is made – but a walk in the jungle suggests that for cash-strapped farmers, it is not an easy choice.
I should probably have listened just a little more carefully when the farmer answered my question.
I had asked if she would show me where her hidden coca plantation was – and what she said was: “Yes, of course, but it will mean a bit of walking.”
Now, I like walking, I walk for pleasure. But what a Peruvian farmer means by a “bit of walking” turned out to be rather different from what I mean.
We were in the region known as the High Amazon. It is breathtakingly beautiful. Green, lush hillsides and steep wooded valleys, where the foothills of the Andes meet the Amazon jungle. Traditionally it has been one of the main production centres for Peruvian cocaine.
And from coke production to art history: Vermeer’s Secret Tool: Testing Whether The Artist Used Mirrors and Lenses to Create His Realistic Images | Vanity Fair
David Hockney and others have speculated—controversially—that a camera obscura could have helped the Dutch painter Vermeer achieve his photo-realistic effects in the 1600s. But no one understood exactly how such a device might actually have been used to paint masterpieces. An inventor in Texas—the subject of a new documentary by the magicians Penn & Teller—may have solved the riddle.
In the history of art, Johannes Vermeer is almost as mysterious and unfathomable as Shakespeare in literature, like a character in a novel. Accepted into his local Dutch painters’ guild in 1653, at age 21, with no recorded training as an apprentice, he promptly begins painting masterful, singular, uncannily realistic pictures of light-filled rooms and ethereal young women. After his death, at 43, he and his minuscule oeuvre slip into obscurity for two centuries. Then, just as photography is making highly realistic painting seem pointless, the photorealistic “Sphinx of Delft” is rediscovered and his pictures are suddenly deemed valuable. By the time of the first big American show of Vermeer paintings—at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, in 1909—their value has increased another hundred times, by the 1920s ten times that.
Despite occasional speculation over the years that an optical device somehow enabled Vermeer to paint his pictures, the art-history establishment has remained adamant in its romantic conviction: maybe he was inspired somehow by lens-projected images, but his only exceptional tool for making art was his astounding eye, his otherworldly genius.
That is a long read…complete with videos.
Have a good day, and think of this as an open thread.
Another day under the belt for 2013, and it seems like things are never going to change.
I caught a quick interview on CNN Tuesday, Dana Bash was interviewing some Congressman…I don’t remember who…but he was a Republican from Colorado. She asked him point-blank if he was going to do anything in his power to stop Obama from passing new gun control laws. Of course, he hedged and then said the usual.
(I just updated this post, I found the segment I was watching on CNN: CNN: Not Enough Support For New Gun Laws In Democratic-Controlled Senate
It was Cory Gardner, the GOP Rep from Colorado that Dana Bash was interviewing.)
At the same time this CNN interview was going on, I was engaged in a heated conversation with my husband over the government control of bullets. He was against it, flatly. His loyalty to the GOP is really something to see. After everything he has been through and all the personal miseries we have endured because of the Republicans’ ridiculous positions on everything that would help us, he still will agree with them.
Why be against controls on ammunition? If we must show our drivers license, have it recorded in a database to keep track of our purchases and even place our signature…swearing we are who we are….just to buy the over-the-counter cold medicine Sudafed, why not make folks do the same for bullets?
Well, the response I got was typical. It would be inconvenient, take too long, etc. WTF?
After that comment, and listening to some asshole from a state who has had more than their share of mass shootings give Dana Bash the typical GOP answer to any reasonable question about changing gun laws that do not follow the powerful gun lobby’s agenda, I lost it. I turned the TV off and have not looked at any of news since.
The reason I am going on about this is simple, PAD…political affective disorder strikes again.
So, if these links are repeats, I apologize.
Nothing ever changes.
Want more crazy?
I’ve got a headache, and two sick kids to deal with…this is an open thread.
Wall Street Royal Jamie Dimon deigned to appear before a Senate Committee yesterday, and the Senators mostly sucked up to him. I’m surprised they didn’t ask if he needed a pillow for his chair. MSNBC: Senate treats JPMorgan CEO Dimon with kid gloves
Dimon was expected to receive a frosty reception in his first congressional appearance since he announced the bank sustained a trading loss some analysts now estimate is at least $3 billion. It was a massive loss for the nation’s biggest financial institution.
Instead, Dimon, who has won praise for bringing JPMorgan (JPM) through the financial crisis relatively unscathed, was treated cordially by most of members of the Senate Banking Committee. They peppered him with questions about regulation and risky practices at the bank, but did not press him to give an update on the losses resulting from the trade. JPMorgan is expected to give an update to shareholders when it reports its second-quarter earnings July 13.
“I think it was a pretty favorable day,” David Konrad, a Keefe, Bruyette & Woods banking analyst, told CNBC. Konrad said he was surprised that the questioning of Dimon by lawmakers was so “professional.”
Excuse me, “professional” for a Senator would have been sending this man to the woodshed. NPR’s Marketplace called the treatment of Dimon “a wake for Dodd-Frank.”
Yahoo has named the winner of the “Most Tepid Endorsement of Mitt Romney” contest: it’s a bumper sticker that reads “At least he’s not a communist.”
Until recently, it appeared that no one could unseat Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels as the champion of the tepid Romney endorsement. Since Yahoo News started conducting reader polls on the politicians who supported Mitt Romney in the least enthusiastic terms, Daniels has defeated original champ George Pataki and defended the crown against Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum and George W. Bush. (The former president came the closest to unseating Daniels.)
We thought the book was closed on the tepid endorsement bracket until Yahoo News reporter Chris Moody spotted a bumper sticker at last weekend’s regional CPAC conference in Chicago bearing these words of praise: “At least he’s not a communist.”
You can read the other tepid endorsements at the link.
First Romney made fun of Obama for wanting to help cities and states pay for cops, teachers, and firefighters. Then he went on Fox News and said it was a “strange accusation” for anyone to say he didn’t want to hire teachers and first responders.
After an extended skewering of President Obama for a gaffe about the private sector last week, ending with the charge that it was proof the president was “out of touch” Romney was asked by Fox and Friends’ Brian Kilmeade for his response to Obama saying it was Romney who was clueless (Romney’s comment comes at about the 1:40 mark) :
[BRIAN] KILMEADE: He says that you’re out of touch. He says you want to cut firefighters and teachers, that you don’t understand what’s going on in these communities. What do you say to that, Governor?
ROMNEY: Well, that’s a very strange accusation. Of course, teachers and firemen and policemen are hired at the local level and also by states. The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen. So, obviously that’s completely absurd.
But of course the federal government does subsidize states and they often use the money to pay for these public employees. In fact, the reason so many teachers, firefighters and cops are getting laid off now is because stimulus money has run out.
Yesterday Greg Sargent pointed out that Romney’s plan would indeed cut billions from cops, firefighters and teachers
Yesterday Mitt Romney claimed that it was “ completely absurd” of the Obama campaign to argue that he favors cutbacks in cops, firefighters and teachers. “The federal government doesn’t pay for teachers, firefighters or policemen,” Romney said, adding that they were paid by states and localities.
What’s getting lost in the back and forth here is that Romney’s actual economic plan would, in fact, cut billions of dollars in federal money that goes to cops, firefighters, and teachers — perhaps more than $10 billion a year, in fact.
This is the conclusion of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, which analyzed Romney’s plan through the prism of the debate over public workers at my request.
As Michael McAuliff reported yesterday, despite Romney’s claim, the federal government does give billions of dollars to states and localities through programs like Title 1, the COPS program, FEMA and others — which pay for first responders and teachers.
This is amazing. Romney finally broke down and decided to talk to a media source that isn’t Fox News! He will be on Face The Nation on Sunday morning.
A full year into his presidential campaign, presumptive Republican nominee Mitt Romney will venture out of his Fox comfort zone this Sunday to make his first appearance on a rival network’s political talk show.
Romney has been interviewed several times on ”Fox News Sunday” this campaign cycle, but has declined repeated invitations to appear on any of the other Sunday shows, occasionally drawing scorn from veteran anchors accustomed to interviewing presidential candidates.
Let’s hope Shieffer asks a few tough questions. One thing Shieffer will probably ask about is Romney’s choice of Vice President. One of the leading contenders, Marco Rubio, announced yesterday that he supports the illegal Florida voter purge.
“How can you argue against a state identifying people who are not rightfully on the voter rolls?” he said at a Bloomberg event, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Rubio’s comments put him in line with Florida Gov. Rick Scott (R) who on Tuesday declared the debate on the merits of the purge “over,” because the probe had supposedly turned up more than 50 non-citizen voters who had cast ballots.
The Department of Justice didn’t agree. Later Tuesday, it announced it was launching a federal lawsuit against Florida over complaints that the purge was taking place within 90 days of its August 14 primary election, as well as over its alleged violation of a voting rights law meant to prevent states from suppressing voters.
That might not help Romney win over Latino voters.
John Avlon has a piece at CNN on Jeb Bush and other “moderate” Republicans who are starting to fight back against Grover Norquist:
This is what happens when politics starts looking like a cult: Jeb Bush gets attacked for being a traitor to the conservative cause.
The former Florida governor has been speaking with the freedom of someone not running for office, saying that both his father and Ronald Reagan would have had a hard time in today’s hard-right GOP and questioning the wisdom of Grover Norquist’s absolutist anti-tax pledge.
That set off a fascinating public fight between Bush and Norquist, two faces of competing factions within Republican Party. It is the latest evidence of a growing GOP backlash against the ideological straitjacket Norquist has attempted to impose on governing in the United States.
And Jeb is not alone.
As it turns out, Norquist has reason to be concerned. It’s not just Jeb Bush. A growing number of Republicans are rejecting his pledge. Oklahoma conservative Sen. Tom Coburn called the pledge’s effective veto of deficit reduction plans “ridiculous” when talking with Erin Burnett on “OutFront.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on Tuesday declared his independence from the pledge, saying, “We’re so far in debt, that if you don’t give up some ideological ground, the country sinks.”
Add to those voices seven other Republican U.S. senators — from Maine’s Susan Collins to Iowa’s Chuck Grassley to Wyoming’s John Barrasso — and 11 Republican House members, ranging from centrist New Yorker Richard Hanna to tea party Floridian Allen West.
In pedophile news, Jerry Sandusky had another bad day in court yesterday with three victims testifying that he manipulated and threatened them into putting up with his sick sexual behavior.
The trio of young men who testified against Jerry Sandusky on the third day of his sexual-abuse trial couldn’t have been more different in personality and temperament. Yet each of their testimonies was sexually graphic and disturbing—and midway through the prosecution’s fast-tracked arguments, a clear pattern has emerged in their allegations.
I’m not going to quote all of the sordid details–there are too many of them anyway. You can read it all at the link. I’ll just give you one excerpt that shows what Sandusky is all about:
Then, the witness told the jury of a time he visited the Sandusky home.
“We were in the basement. We were wrestling,” he said in a monotone frequently heard from abuse victims who have had to tell their stories multiple times. “The defendant pinned me to the floor, pulled down my gym shorts, and started to perform oral sex on me.” Asked by prosecutor Joe McGettigan what his reaction was at the time, the witness said, “I freaked out.”
“Did he ever say anything to you about it?” McGettigan asked.
“He told me if I ever told anyone I’d never see my family again,” the young man replied. “Later he apologized and said he didn’t mean it, that he loved me.”
I hope Sandusky goes to prison for life, and I want to see prosecutions of his enablers at Penn State. It’s an outrage that he was allowed to go on abusing children for years after many at the school knew about his behavior.
And then there’s the Catholic Church: U.S. Catholics still suspect priests sexually abuse children: Report
The National Review Board said that, a decade after the US Conference of Catholic Bishops issued a child protection charter, there has been a “striking improvement” in the way the Church deals with the abuse of minors by clergy.
“Children are safer now because of the creation of safe environments, and action has been taken to permanently remove offenders from ministry,” said the report, released as the Conference began its annual spring meeting in Atlanta.
But it acknowledged: “Despite solid evidence (to the contrary), many of the faithful believe that sexual abuse by clergy is occurring at high levels and is still being covered up by bishops.”
Well, what did they expect? I’m certainly not surprised. In fact I’d be surprised if there aren’t still pedophile priests abusing children.
I’ll end with the strange story of “Forest Boy.”
Berlin police on Wednesday released photos an English-speaking teenage boy who wandered into the city nine months ago saying he had been living for the last five years in the forest with his father.
Police spokesman Thomas Neuendorf said all attempts to identify the boy since he emerged in the German capital on Sept. 5 have been unsuccessful, and they are now hoping the release of his photo may produce some leads.
“We have checked his DNA against all missing person reports, sent the data to Interpol so that they could check it internationally, but unfortunately without any success,” Neuendorf said.
The boy has told authorities his father called him “Ray” and that he was born June 20, 1994, but claims not to know his last name or where he’s from.
He said his mother, Doreen, died in a car accident when he was 12 and after that he and his father, Ryan, took to the forest. He said they wandered using maps and a compass, staying in tents or caves overnight.
He told authorities that after his father died in August, 2011, he buried him in the forest and then walked five days north before ending up in Berlin, and showed up at city hall.
As of last night, the identity of the boy was still a mystery even after release of the photos.
What’s on your reading and blogging list today?
The blogosphere is all a-flutter over the possibility of Elizabeth Warren running for the Senate from Massachusetts.
Taylor Marsh is reporting that Warren told Andrea Mitchell that she will think about the Senate after she gets back to Harvard.
Greg Sargent has posted a list of reasons why national Democrats want Warren to run.
So how do Massachusetts Democrats feel about all this? A few days ago, The Boston Globe’s Joan Vennochi wrote that President Obama was
afraid to unlikely to appoint Elizabeth Warren as head of the new Consumer Protection Agency that she fought for and then built, so now her supporters are pushing a Senate run against Republican Scott Brown as a “consolation prize.” According to Vennochi, this initiative isn’t being received all that well here in Massachusetts.
On paper, her candidacy would attract women, liberals, and money from both constituencies, locally and nationally. “She’s tough as nails . . . She’s smart as hell and she could wrap Scott Brown around her little finger in a debate,’’ said Philip Johnston, [John] Walsh’s predecessor as state party chairman.
But Warren isn’t well-known, beyond a small circle of elite Democrats. She has never run for office or built a grassroots organization. And a handful of candidates already in the race won’t be happy about being big-footed, leaving current supporters in an awkward spot.
Massachusetts Democrats aren’t too pleased with the DSCC these days after they and Obama chose not to support Martha Coakley against Scott Brown. State party chairman Walsh told Vennochi that he probably wouldn’t support Warren’s candidacy, since he is backing John Kerry’s chosen candidate Setti Warren. Vennochi:
The idea of Washington Democrats imposing their will on Massachusetts Democrats is distasteful. The DSCC, especially, is not popular here after its tactics largely backfired in the special election that Brown stunningly won. A lack of initial support for Democrat Martha Coakley was followed up by a belated barrage of negative ads that hurt rather than helped Coakley.
The DSCC can also come off as bullies.
Last month, when Kerry was hosting a fundraiser for the DSCC at his Beacon Hill home, he wanted to invite Setti Warren to the event. But the DSCC said no to inviting only one candidate because the group didn’t want to look like it is taking sides – unless, of course, it’s Elizabeth Warren’s side.
Besides, would Obama pitch in to support Warren for Senate? Somehow I doubt it.
Today we begin to say good bye to 2010 and the first decade of the millennium and century! What a decade and what a year it has been! I don’t know about you, but just the last five years alone have turned my life upside down. (Think Hurricane Katrina, BP Oil Tsunami, and the financial crisis that has empowered thugs like Governexorcist Jindal to enforce absolute budget austerity on Louisiana and higher education.) Despite all that, we’re going to have an Airing of the Gratitude thread as part of the-Little-Blog-That-Could’s New Year’s Celebration. I’ve bought my black eyed peas and cabbage. Now, I’m making my list of things that I resolve to appreciate for the thread. I’d like to invite you to think about yours too and join in. A lot of my gratitude comes under the heading of my daughters, dad and sister, and my friends. That includes you ! We’re a blogging community that was forged from some really tough political times.
Meanwhile, here are some headlines to gear you up for the coming year and decade. May things improve for the better!! May peace and sanity prevail!! May every one’s health and circumstances improve tremendously! Many, many blessings to each and every one of you!
Are you pessimistic or optimistic about the coming year? A CNN poll shows a lot of people are optimistic about the the world outlook, but less so about their personal situation. Men are much more optimistic than women. Where do you fit in?
The Senate appears to have reached its limit on perpetually trying to find 60 votes for cloture and taking every ‘threat’ of a filibuster seriously. Brian Beutler at TPM is following the reform movement and the possible hurdles it faces.
The consensus package will aim to put an end to “secret holds” (anonymous filibuster threats) and disallow the minority from blocking debate on an issue altogether. Those two reforms are fairly straightforward. The third is a bit more complex. Udall, along with Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), say there’s broad agreement on the idea to force old-school filibusters. If members want to keep debating a bill, they’ll have to actually talk. No more lazy filibusters.
But how would that actually work? In an interview Wednesday, Udall explained the ins and outs of that particular proposal.
“What we seem to have the most consensus on, is what I would call… a talking filibuster,” Udall told me. “Rather than a filibuster which is about obstruction.”
As things currently stand, the onus is on the majority to put together 60 votes to break a filibuster. Until that happens, it’s a “filibuster,” but it’s little more than a series of quorum calls, votes on procedural motions, and floor speeches. The people who oppose the underlying issue don’t have to do much of anything if they don’t want to.
Here’s how they propose to change that. Under this plan, if 41 or more senators voted against the cloture motion to end debate, “then you would go into a period of extended debate, and dilatory motions would not be allowed,” Udall explained.
As long as a member is on hand to keep talking, that period of debate continues. But if they lapse, it’s over — cloture is invoked and, eventually, the issue gets an up-or-down majority vote.
DDay at FDL has a thread up that offers a more detailed explanation. This includes a bit on what is being called ‘continuous debate’ which sounds a lot like that Jimmy Stewart movie “Mr. Smith goes to Washington” or what every one was hoping for when Bernie Sanders started talking a few weeks ago.
After 41 Senators or more successfully maintain a filibuster by voting against cloture, they would have to hold the floor and go into a period of extended debate. Without someone filibustering holding the floor, cloture is automatically invoked, and the legislation moves to an eventual up-or-down vote, under this rule change.
This would institute the actual filibuster. The Majority Leader would have the capacity, which Harry Reid says he doesn’t have now, to force the minority to keep talking to block legislation. It becomes a test of wills at this point – whether the minority wants to hold out for days, or whether the majority wants to move to other legislation.
Here’s hoping we can fix our broken government that is driven by corporate cash and interests and railroaded by imperious Senators. I’m not very hopeful that congress can actually fix itself, but I guess we’ll see. I will say that I do think Tom Udall is a good man. He’s one of the people that is fighting for an improved process.
I still have Louisiana and New Orleans on my mind right now. We have a new headline in our ongoing BP Oil Gusher Saga. This is from Raw Story. It appears the company that owns the rig–Transocean–is refusing to co-operate with the federal oil spill probe. I just want to find out what went wrong so we don’t ever repeat it. I’m sure all they are thinking about is the upcoming lawsuits.
Transocean said the U.S. Chemical Safety Board does not have jurisdiction in the probe, so it doesn’t have a right to the documents and other items it seeks. The board told The Associated Press late Wednesday that it does have jurisdiction and it has asked the Justice Department to intervene to enforce the subpoenas.
Last week, the board demanded that the testing of the failed blowout preventer stop until Transocean and Cameron International are removed from any hands-on role in the examination. It said it’s a conflict of interest. The request is pending.
Our economy is in sad shape down here and a good part of it is due to Transocean’s role in destroying livelihoods and life around the Gulf of Mexico. Human lives aren’t the only thing still struggling from the gulf gusher. Here’s some local news on that.
Scientists at the institute of Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport are studying why two endangered manatees died near the Gulf Coast in the past two weeks.
According to the Institute’s Executive Director Dr. Moby Solangi, cold water killed the manatees, but they should have migrated to warmer water.
Scientists are finding an unusually large number of Gulf of Mexico animals out of place since the BP oil spill began.
“It is no different than having a forest fire,” Dr. Solangi said Thursday. “The oil spill expanded, it went thousands of square miles and as their habitat shrunk, these animals moved to areas that were not affected.”
The problem, according to Dr. Solangi, is those unaffected areas were also unfamiliar to the animals.
Too many turtles, for instance, wound up in waters off the Mississippi coast, where they didn’t understand the food supply.
300 turtles died in Mississippi.
Many more were caught by fishermen.
“In the past years, we would get one or two or maybe three animals, this year we had 57,” Dr. Solangi said.
He and his staff at the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies are now caring for dozens of sea turtles.
Of course, turtles in distress have to be swimming through some pretty nasty stuff in their environment. The shores along the Gulf are still oiled. Here’s a story about 168 miles of coast in Louisiana alone. This is from New Orleans own Times Picayune. Yes, folks, every single story I’m linking to on this is no more than a day old. We’re still living this nightmare down here.
Louisiana’s coastline continues to be smeared with significant amounts of oil and oiled material from the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster, with cleanup teams struggling to remove as much as possible of the toxic material by the time migratory birds arrive at the end of February, said the program manager of the Shoreline Cleanup and Assessment Teams, which are working for BP and the federal government.
There are 113 miles of Louisiana coastline under active cleanup, with another 55 miles awaiting approval to start the cleanup process, according to SCAT statistics. Teams have finished cleaning almost 72 miles to levels where oil is no longer observable or where no further treatment is necessary.
But that’s not the whole story for the state’s coastline. According to SCAT statistics, there’s another 2,846 miles of beach and wetland areas where oil was once found but is no longer observable or is not treatable.
Gary Hayward, the Newfields Environmental Planning and Compliance contractor who oversees the SCAT program, said that large area will be placed into a new “monitor and maintenance” category, once Louisiana state and local officials agree to the procedures to be used for that category.
“With rare exceptions, most of the marshes still have a bathtub ring that we have all collectively decided we aren’t going to clean any more than we already have because we’d be doing more harm to the marshes than the oil is going to be doing to them,” Hayward said.
Raise your hand if you heard any thing about any of this on your local newspaper or the national TV stations. We’re so out of sight and out of mind down here that some times I wonder if we’re even considered part of the country. You do realize that a majority of water-related commerce and a majority of oil comes through our state, don’t you?
The South American country of Brazil is looking forward to incoming-President Dilma Rousseff. The Nation has an article that spotlights the country’s first female elected head of state. I only hope to see a day like that for our country. I’d also like to end the Reagan legacy and get a real Democrat back in the White House. Yes, I’m clapping for Tinkerbelle.
When the confetti was still falling after her victory at the polls on October 31, Dilma Rousseff, Brazil’s first female president-elect, said, “I want to state my first commitment after the elections: to honor Brazil’s women so that today’s unprecedented result becomes a normal event and may be repeated and enlarged in companies, civil institutions and representative entities of our entire society.”
In a country where women have typically played a limited role in politics, the election of a woman to Brazil’s highest office signals a major break from the past. But Rousseff’s term will likely be marked by continuity with her predecessor, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva. Lula, a member of the Workers’ Party (PT), is leaving office with 87 percent support in the polls. An economist, PT bureaucrat, chief of staff under Lula and former guerrilla in the anti-dictatorship movements of the 1960s and ’70s, Rousseff was handpicked by Lula to follow his lead as president. When she is sworn in on January 1, she will inherit Lula’s popular legacy and will be further empowered by the fact that her party and allied parties won a majority of seats in the Senate and Congress. Not even Lula counted on this much support.
Well, at least somewhere, women are getting their due. I’m getting tired of living through stories where women in the U.S. watch jobs they should have go to less qualified people. Then, they get to do all the work without the title. What’s worse is when the boyz club in power make you participate in the charade of celebration and finding the royal heir. Like that legitimizes their malfeasance! Here’s yet another example in a WSJ story about Elizabeth Warren searching for a person for the job she would hold if the world weren’t so upside down. It seems less and less about qualifications and knowledge these days and more and more about appearances and appeasing the old boyz. Money screams!
White House adviser Elizabeth Warren and a top lieutenant are quietly asking business and consumer groups for names of people who might run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, people familiar with the matter said.
The hunt suggests that Ms. Warren, a lightning rod for some bankers, might not be selected to lead the bureau, a centerpiece of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul bill that passed this summer. Still, many liberal groups will push to get her in the post.
President Barack Obama’s choice could signal how he intends to deal with resurgent Republicans in Congress. The feelers to business groups serve as a reminder that any nominee would likely need support from at least seven Republicans in the Senate to win confirmation.
Among the names being discussed are Iowa’s attorney general, Tom Miller; New York state bank regulator Richard Neiman; and former Office of Thrift Supervision director Ellen Seidman.
The reality is Obama fights for nothing but Obama. I know there are other Obama appointments coming up shortly and I’m trying to get a grasp on what I want to discuss with you on the proposed replacements for Larry Summers. Well, I know what I want to discuss but it’s more like trying to figure out how to describe what I see as the problem. As some one who rides both sides of the finance and economics line, I have some insight that many don’t have. Finance is where you make the money and it’s really based on chimera. I know the details and the proofs behind asset pricing models and it’s simply smoke and mirrors. Economics is where the brains and the real insight exists. There is going to most likely be a bland, uninspired replacement for Larry Summers. A finance person will undoubtedly win that appointment. Hence, we will get smoke and mirrors and meaningless numbers.
Once again, it’s the vision thing. All these appointments seem to reek of employing micromanaging corporate bureaucrats that are part of the problem. They can crank through the data but they can’t put it into perspective. As old President Bush used to say, no one seems to be good at the “vision thing”. No one is crafting a blue print that incorporates a better big picture based on what we already know. The Great Depression and the inflationary 70s–and definitely the failures of Reagan’s voodoo economics–are full of lessons that every one seems to be ignoring. We’re seeing the appointment of types that just muck around in the already mucked up bureaucracy decimated by Dubya Bush whose only inspiration appeared to be blowing things up like a psychopathic third grade with a bunch of firecrackers and a pond full of frogs.
Finance people have tons of numbers in search of a theory. They crunch that data until they come up with a hypothesis that fits their storyline. Macroeconomists have a broader sense of what the system needs to look like in order to really change things. Economics has theory proved endlessly by empiricists. Finance people have run amok since the 1980s and really, it’s time to end overt data mining and look to bigger principles.
This White House seems really short on values, vision, and a blueprint to carry our country forward into this new decade. We need an economic strategy that includes real job creation; not imaginary ‘saved’ jobs. We need to unwind any thing that’s too big too fail and empower small, facile, and agile companies. Our money needs to be concentrated on developing strategies and resources that we can nurture and renew. (No, corn ethanol is not the answer. Making higher education more expensive and less accessible to all is not the answer either.) We need to find a way to fulfill our promises to the weakest among us. Current income inequality is not only immoral but it’s at levels approaching the powder keg of revolutions. (Have you listened to a Teabot recently?) We can no longer be railroaded by the interests of the few just because they can afford to fund political campaigns. No government law should incent a business to leave its community in need to search out obscene profits elsewhere because government policy encourages it. We should not accommodate any country that buggers growth from us by proffering trinkets on credit. Vision is not a difficult thing. Fighting for what’s right should not be a difficult thing either unless you’re in the fight with the wrong motivation.
Compromise seems to come so easy these days because there’s nothing proffered but compromise. The original positions are badly compromised from the get-go. Law making is based on political victory and not victory for the country. No one is shifting real strategies due to midterm elections because there’s never been an overarching plan to begin with. Moving pieces around a chess board is not playing chess. Government at the highest levels has just gotten to be a muddled process with no guiding principles. The White House is intently putting mid-level bureaucrats from corporations and the Clinton administration in charge of making tasteless sausage. It’s just making things even more muddled and more muddled is not the type of change people want. No bold vision could ever include the likes Timothy Geithner, Joe Biden, or Bill Richardson in positions that require vision. Instead, we have people of vision–like Elizabeth Warren–hunting for acceptable seat warmers.
I would just like to say that the last two months of being more than a file cabinet has brought a lot of intriguing things to Sky Dancing. We have a growing number of readers and front pagers and I find that all very exciting. So, must other parts of the blogosphere. WonktheVote’ s excellent piece ‘What if this is as good as the Obama administration gets? ‘ made Mike’s Blog Round up at Crooks and Liars. Another surprise showed up last night from Pew Research Center and the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. This time a reference and quote come from BostonBoomer on Julian Assange and the Wikileaks. Here’s their story and how we fit in.
Espousing a unique mix of politics, technology, free speech and transparency, WikiLeaks has captured the attention from bloggers in a way few stories ever do. It has been a focus of social media conversation for three weeks this month alone, with a discussion that moved from one dimension to the next. After centering on political blame, the value of exposing government secrets, and the importance of a free press, the debate took on yet a new angle last week.For the week of December 20-24, more than a third (35%) of the news links on blogs were about the controversy, making it the No. 1 subject, according to the New Media Index from the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism.
“It should go without saying that I do not approve of Assange’s behavior if the allegations against him are true. Nevertheless, I still believe the allegations are very convenient for the powers that be,” declared Sky Dancing.
The Center produces something that’s called the New Media Report. Here’s the description.
The New Media Index is a weekly report that captures the leading commentary of blogs and social media sites focused on news and compares those subjects to that of the mainstream press.
PEJ’s New Media Index is a companion to its weekly News Coverage Index. Blogs and other new media are an important part of creating today’s news information narrative and in shaping the way Americans interact with the news. The expansion of online blogs and other social media sites has allowed news-consumers and others outside the mainstream press to have more of a role in agenda setting, dissemination and interpretation. PEJ aims to find out what subjects in the national news the online sites focus on, and how that compared with the narrative in the traditional press.
In similar news, Technorati just gave us a new badge early this morning. It’s a nice little green rectangle that says TOP 100 US POLITICS. We’re currently 95. Not so bad for a blog that was just a file cabinet 2 months ago.
Our goals here include becoming part of the bigger conversation as well as providing more links and information to news items than we get via traditional main stream media outlets dominated by the concerns of advertisers and sources. We complement that with our commentary and explanations and yours. Yes. They hear us now.
So what’s on your reading, blogging and celebration lists today?
United Senate Republicans joined a small handful of Democrats on Saturday to defeat a pair of proposals to extend some of the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts signed into law by President George W. Bush.
Voting nearly identically, the Senate twice failed to meet a 60-vote threshold necessary to move forward on both proposals. Meeting in a rare Saturday session after agreements fell through for a Friday vote, the results were widely expected. They were also somewhat premature, as the White House is still negotiating with congressional leaders on an alternative compromise proposal.
The first proposal by Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) would have extended the cuts only for individuals with incomes of up to $200,000 and families with incomes of up to $250,000. That failed by a vote of 53-36, with all GOP senators in opposition as well as Democrats Russ Feingold (Wis.), Joe Manchin (W.V.), Ben Nelson (Neb.) and Jim Webb (Va.).
The second proposal by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) would have extended the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts permanently for incomes of up to $1 million, among other provisions such as a one-year extension of unemployment benefits and cuts in capital gains, estate and dividend taxes. That failed, 53-37, with Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) joining the ‘no’ votes.
The Schumer Bill was referred to as the “Millionaire’s Tax” since most of his provisions applied to only about 0.3 percent of the population. Both plans essentially extended tax cuts to 98% of the population. Meanwhile, Mitch McConnell referred to the votes for both plans as “theatrics”. This is because Republicans had already signaled their intent to filibuster both plans. Patricia Murphy, writing for The Capitolist at Politics Daily, had this analysis. I bolded the last sentence to give you an idea of how well negotiations appear to be going.
As Democrats and Republicans continue to spar over the issue, time is running out for them to find a solution. If Congress fails to come to an agreement before the end of the year, rates for all Americans will return to 2001 levels when the Bush-era policy expires on December 31st. In addition to income tax hikes, the changes would increase the estate tax, the marriage penalty tax, taxes on dividends and capital gains, and the Alternative Minimum Tax.
While Democrats pushed their floor votes this week, a bipartisan group of senators and House members met behind closed doors with the Obama administration to hammer out a compromise on the tax issue. Vice President Joe Biden, filling in Saturday for Obama in the White House weekly address, made no mention of the negotiations, but said if the tax cuts aren’t extended “millions of middle-class families will see a big bite out of their paychecks starting Jan. 1. And that’s the last thing we should let happen.” Obama, speaking later at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, said he was “very disappointed” that the Senate had not approved the tax bill. Continued Tax relief for the middle class should not be held “hostage” by those supporting an extension of the lower rates for high income Americans, he said.
Media reports indicated late last week that a deal had been reached to pass a two-year extension of all the tax cuts, along with a one-year extension of unemployment benefits, and the also new START nuclear arms treaty. But senior Senate aides familiar with the negotiations tell Politics Daily that Republicans feel little pressure to give in to Democratic priorities when they feel confident they can prevail on the tax issue without concessions.
It seems evident to me that the US Senate is willing to play political games with ordinary people’s lives. The Republicans appear to want to hold START, unemployment extensions, and the tax cuts for the majority of Americans hostage as they represent the interests of the very few uber wealthy and seek gridlock for their own power agenda. The Democrats have been out maneuvered once again. A year ago, this predicament would have been thought unbelievable. If you think it’s bad now, just wait until the jr. senators from Kentucky and Illinois enter the chamber.