Good Morning Sky Dancers!!
Today is 2014’s autumnal equinox, when day and night are equal in length. From now on, the days will get shorter and the nights longer, as we approach winter. Actually, autumn officially began in the Northern Hemisphere last night at 10:29 Eastern time.
Astronomically speaking…the fall season…comes to the Northern Hemisphere on Tuesday, September 23rd at 2:29 Universal Time (10:29 p.m. EDT on Monday, the 22nd). At that moment, the Sun shines directly on Earth’s equator, heading south as seen in the sky. For us northerners, this event is called the autumnal equinox….
The apparent position of the Sun in our sky is farther north or farther south depending on the time of year due to the globe’s axial tilt. Earth’s rotational axis does not point straight up and down, like the handle of a perfectly spinning top, but is slanted about 23½° with respect to our orbit around the Sun.
Another way to think of this is that the plane defined by Earth’s orbit around the Sun (called the ecliptic) is tilted with respect to the planet’s equator. From our perspective, the Sun follows the ecliptic in its path through the sky throughout the year. Each day the Sun’s daily arc moves northward or southward, depending on the time of the year. To observers at northern latitudes (in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, for example), the Sun appears to sneak higher in the sky from late December to late June, only to drop down again from late June through late December. The equinox occurs when the Sun is halfway through each journey.
This axial tilt also produces our seasons. When Earth is on one side of its orbit, the Northern Hemisphere is tipped toward the Sun and receives more direct solar rays (and more daylight hours) that produce the familiar climes of summer. Six months later, when Earth is on the opposite side of its orbit, the Northern Hemisphere is tipped away from the Sun. The slanting solar rays heat the ground less and daylight is shorter, producing the colder winter season.
What else happens at the equinox?
Day and night are nearly the same length; the word “equinox” comes from the Latin aequinoctium, meaning “equal night,” according to the Oxford English Dictionary. However, a poke around your almanac will show that day and night are not precisely 12 hours each, for two reasons: first, sunrise and sunset are defined as when the Sun’s top edge — not its center— crosses the horizon. Second, Earth’s thick atmosphere refracts the Sun’s apparent position slightly when the solar disk sits very low on the horizon.
The Sun rises due east and sets due west, as seen from everywhere on Earth; the equinoxes are the only times of the year when this occurs.Should you be standing on the equator, the Sun would pass exactly overhead at midday.
Were you standing at the North Pole or South Pole, the Sun would skim completely around the horizon.
Mabon is a harvest festival, the second of three, that encourages pagans to “reap what they sow,” both literally and figuratively. It is the time when night and day stand equal in duration; thus is it a time to express gratitude, complete projects and honor a moment of balance.
“Mabon is a time to reflect on the previous year, when we can celebrate our successes (likened to bringing in the harvest) and assess which crops, projects, or dreams didn’t come to fruition,” the Los Angeles-based pagan leader Laurie Lovekraft told HuffPost.
The pagan website The White Goddess explains:
This is the time to look back not just on the past year, but also your life, and to plan for the future. In the rhythm of the year, Mabon is a time of rest and celebration, after the hard work of gathering the crops. Warm autumn days are followed by chill nights, as the Old Sun God returns to the embrace of the Goddess.
The holiday is named after the Welsh God, Mabon, son of Earth Mother goddess Modron.
Endless War News
The US (and some Arab allies) have carried out airstrikes in Syria. From The Guardian, US confirms 14 air strikes against Isis in Syria.
The most intensive barrage of air strikes launched against Islamic State (Isis) since the US fight against the terror group began last month thundered into northern Syria until after dawn on Tuesday, heralding a new phase of a war that Sunni regional powers have vowed to help lead.
Large explosions were reported in the group’s stronghold of Raqqa, in eastern Syria, as well as in Idlib province. There were unconfirmed reports that attacks had also taken place near Deir Azzor and western Aleppo.
A Pentagon statement said the 14 strikes against Isis targets were carried out with Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Qatar. Jordan confirmed it its airforce had “destroyed a number of targets that belong to some terrorist groups that sought to commit terror acts inside Jordan” without making explicit reference to Syria.
The Pentagon said warplanes, drones and Tomahawk missiles were used in the attacks, which targeted several areas including IS stronghold Raqqa.
Syria’s foreign ministry said its UN envoy was informed about the strikes against IS, which controls large swathes of Syria and Iraq.
Activists say at least 70 IS militants were killed in the strikes….
It said a total of 14 strikes destroyed or damaged IS training compounds, command and control facilities, vehicles and storage sites.
The US military will continue to conduct air strikes against IS targets in Iraq and Syria, it added.
US Gen Martin Dempsey, America’s highest-ranking uniformed military officer, said the strikes were conducted to show IS militants they had no safe haven. “We certainly achieved that,” he told reporters.
Separately, Centcom said US forces also attacked a network of al-Qaeda veterans named Khorasan who had established a safe haven west of Aleppo and were plotting imminent attacks against the West.
Experts say members of the secretive group are believed to co-operate with al-Nusra Front – Syria’s al-Qaeda-affiliate – using its training bases and resources.
President Obama plans to speak about the Syrian strikes this morning at 10AM.
The U.S. Treasury Department has issued a new tax rules designed to prevent companies from moving operations out of the U.S. Bloomberg Businessweek reports, Lew Tries to Limit Tax-Cut Deals With Inversion Crackdown.
Treasury Secretary Jacob J. Lew’s crackdown on inversions will get an immediate test as eight U.S. companies with pending deals decide whether to proceed — and other companies contemplating a foreign address now have to think twice.
That’s exactly what Lew had in mind.
“This action will significantly diminish the ability of inverted companies to escape U.S. taxation,” Lew told reporters on a conference call yesterday. “For some companies considering deals, today’s action will mean that inversions no longer make economic sense.”
The Treasury announcement heightened the tension between the government and companies considering obtaining a foreign address to lower their tax bills. Lew and President Barack Obama made clear that they were prepared to use rule-making authority to try stop some deals, even at the risk of a backlash from the companies and from Republicans, who already complained that Lew’s moves went too far.
A wave of inversions caught lawmakers’ attention this year when large companies such as Pfizer Inc. (PFE) andWalgreen Co. (WAG) explored transactions andMedtronic Inc. (MDT), AbbVie Inc. and Burger King Worldwide Inc. (BKW) moved forward with deals.
Treasury officials took action under five sections of the U.S. tax code to make inversions harder and less profitable, removing some of the appeal that has made the transactions more common in recent years, particularly in the pharmaceutical industry.
In an inversion, an American company reincorporates for tax purposes in a tax-friendlier country such as the U.K. or Ireland, typically while maintaining much of their operations in the U.S. Most recent inversions sprang from mergers of a U.S. firm with a smaller foreign firm after regulatory steps taken during President Barack Obama’s first term curbed other types of inversions.
The Treasury rules will make it harder for companies that invert to use cash accumulating abroad—a big draw in recent deals. In addition, the government has made it more difficult to complete these overseas mergers.
The tax changes took effect immediately, officials said, and applied to all deals that hadn’t closed by Monday.
And from the AP via Bloomberg, Ahead of the Bell: Inversion rules sting stocks.
Shares of several companies stumbled Tuesday before markets opened and a day after the Treasury Department announced new regulations that aim to make it tougher to pull off overseas mergers and acquisitions that trim U.S. corporate tax bills.
The new measures attempt to keep companies from finding ways to access earnings from a foreign subsidiary without paying U.S. taxes, including “hopscotch” loans, in which companies shift earnings by lending money to the new foreign parent company while skipping over the U.S.-based company. Another rule change would make it harder for merged or acquired companies to benefit from lower foreign taxes by tightening the application of a law that says the American company’s shareholders must own less than 80 percent of the new, combined company.
About 50 U.S. companies have carried out moves known as inversions in the past decade, and more are considering it, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Research Service.
An inversion happens when a U.S. corporation and a foreign company combine, with the new parent company based in the foreign country. For tax purposes, the U.S. company becomes foreign-owned, even if all the executives and most of its operations remain in the U.S. Inversions can help companies generate significant tax savings over time in part because the United States has the highest corporate income tax rate in the industrialized world, at 35 percent.
Awwwwwwww . . . too bad corporate bigwigs. I so don’t feel sorry for you.
I have a few offbeat stories for you. The first one is especially for JJ. ABC News reports, ‘Little People, Big World’ Star Jeremy Roloff Is Married.
“Little People, Big World” star Jeremy Roloff, 24, married Audrey Mirabella Botti Saturday afternoon in Oregon.
Jeremy’s twin brother, Zach, was his best man, while the bride wore a gown designed by Lauren Graebner of Eva’s by Reclamation, People magazine reports.
The bridesmaids wore flower crowns and Botti, 23, wore a larger crown designed by Vanessa Schmidt. Roloff wore a suit from ProperSuit, which he shared on social media.
More details, photos, and tweets at the link.
From the Leicester Mercury (UK), Pictures released of two 1,000-year-old skeletons holding hands found in Leicestershire.
Pictures were released today by the University of Leicester, showing two 1,000-year-old skeletons holding hands, which have been discovered.
The pair of skeletons, which are centuries-old and holding hands have been uncovered at a ‘lost’ chapel by archaeologists.
The Mercury reported last week that the remains, of a man and a woman, were found at the Chapel of St Morrell, an ancient site of pilgrimage in Hallaton.
It is believed the pair holding hands are of a similar age.
Whoever they were, the man and woman must have died at the same time.
Leading the project is professional archaeologist Vicky Score, of the University of Leicester, who works on the project during her holidays.
She said carbon-dating on nine skeletons uncovered since the dig began had revealed them to be from the 14th century.
“’We have seen similar skeletons before from Leicester where a couple has been buried together in a single grave. The main question we find ourselves asking is why were they buried up there?” she added.
“There is a perfectly good church in Hallaton. This leads us to wonder if the chapel could have served as some sort of special place of burial at the time.”
See more photos at ABC News.
I found earlier articles about skeletons of couples embracing each other. From NBC News, Prehistoric Romeo and Juliet Discovered.
ROME, Feb. 7, 2007 — They died young and, by the looks of it, in love. Two 5,000-year-old skeletons found locked in an embrace near the city where Shakespeare set the star-crossed tale “Romeo and Juliet” have sparked theories the remains of a far more ancient love story have been found.
Archaeologists unearthed the skeletons dating back to the late Neolithic period outside Mantua, 25 miles south of Verona, the city of Shakespeare’s story of doomed love.
Buried between 5,000 and 6,000 years ago, the prehistoric pair are believed to have been a man and a woman and are thought to have died young, because their teeth were found intact, said Elena Menotti, the archaeologist who led the dig.
“As far as we know, it’s unique,” Menotti told The Associated Press by telephone from Milan. “Double burials from the Neolithic are unheard of, and these are even hugging.”
Another one from HuffPo, Skeletons ‘Embracing’ In Death May Represent Gruesome Ancient Siberian Custom.
For years researchers in the Novosibirsk region of Siberia have puzzled over dozens of ancient grave sites containing bodies buried face to face, some seemingly with hands clasped as if in an eternal embrace.
But soon DNA tests may help provide an answer to the key question: Are these the graves of star-crossed lovers, or could the remains be evidence of a gruesome ancient custom?
The bodies are part of a massive burial ground located in the Siberian village of Staryi Tartas, the Siberian Times reported. Altogether, close to 600 tombs have been discovered in the area, dozens of which contain the so-called “embracing” couples.
The graves are believed to belong to the Andronovo culture, which existed in the area during the second and first millennia B.C.E., according to Britannica. Yet many of the bodies in the graves are believed to be from the 15th, 16th and 17th Centuries B.C.E., the Siberian Times reported….
“We can fantasize a lot about all this,” Vyacheslav Molodin, an archaeology and ethnography expert at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told the Siberian Times. “We can allege that husband died and the wife was killed to be interred with him as we see in some Scythian burials, or maybe the grave stood open for some time and they buried the other person or persons later, or maybe it was really simultaneous death.”
What else is happening? Please post your thoughts and links in the comment thread.
I’ve been reading some of post-election articles in which the Village pundits try to explain why Mitt Romney lost the election. Apparently Romney and his campaign staff really did think they were going to win. They were even planning an 8-minute fireworks display over Boston Harbor after Romney won!
While the rest of us were absorbing Nate Silver’s predictions and his logical, math-based explanations of the polls, Republicans were making fun of Silver and convincing themselves that Romney voters were more enthusiastic than Obama voters, that polls were sampling the wrong kinds of voters, and that some magical “Romney wave” would sweep them into power.
At the same time, they didn’t understand that their constant race-baiting, their campaign to suppress Democratic voters, and their war on women’s reproductive rights might arouse some anger among the groups they disrespected–anger that could turn into a steely determination to get out and vote no matter how difficult it turned out to be.
In Politico’s summing up, “Romneyworld reckoning begins,” I read these striking paragraphs:
Multiple Romney sources buzzed about one number in particular: 15 percent. According to exit polls, that’s the share of African-Americans who voted in Ohio this year. In 2008, the black percentage of the electorate was 11 percent. In Virginia and Florida, exit polls showed the same share of African-Americans turned out as four years ago, something that GOP turnout models did not anticipate.
“We didn’t think they’d turn out more of their base vote than they did in 2008, but they smoked us,” said one Romney operative. “It’s unbelievable that that they turned out more from the African-American community than in 2008. Somehow they got ‘em to vote.”
Gee, maybe African Americans aren’t as dumb, lazy, and shiftless as John Sununu thinks! Maybe they didn’t appreciate Mitt Romney’s repeated dog whistles and his disrespect toward President Obama.
Andrew Cohen at the Atlantic thinks the voter suppression campaign is the main reason Romney lost. Cohen writes:
May I suggest instead a simple, elegant overriding theory on why we won’t have a Romney Administration in 2013? No serious political party in America — no legitimate party in any viable democracy — can win an election by suppressing votes. So long as the Republican Party endorses (and enacts) voting laws designed to make it harder for registered voters to vote, so long as Republican officials like Ohio’s Jon Husted contort themselves to interpret those laws in a restrictive fashion, the Republicans will continue to play a loser’s game.
That’s my theory, anyway, and I’m sticking to it. Having covered for the past two years the voting rights front in this epic election cycle, I have come to believe that the Republicans will begin to win presidential elections again only when they start competing for votes with the substance of their ideas.
At Balloon Juice, Dennis G. reacted to the same section of the Politico article that struck me as so stupid; and he offers anecdotal evidence to support voter suppression reaction argument:
Here is the thing that Team Mitt and Team Wingnut failed to understand: that when you insult folks and dismiss them, they tend to get mad and they tend to want to kick your ass.
Mitt and the Wingnuts have run a four-year campaign that is only a blond hair’s width away from calling the President a nigger every single day. They are focused like a laser beam on promoting white rage and using every dog whistle they can think of to get the message across. White folks heard them and so did people of color. Team Mitt is surprised that African-American turnout increased over 2008, but that is only because they are incapable of thinking of these folks as people.
As I knocked on door after door in a black neighborhood in Columbus, it was clear that folks heard the Mitt/wingnut code-talking and that it pissed them off. They heard the endless disrespect of the President and the general contempt for anybody who is not white that has become the core message of the modern conservative movement. They heard it and they decided to kick Mitt’s ass in the voting booth.
Hey, I’m an old white woman and I was so angered by the race baiting that I was determined to vote against the guy who did it and encouraged it!
In a city where President Obama received more than 85 percent of the votes, in some places he received almost every one. In 13 Philadelphia wards, Obama received 99 percent of the vote or more.
Those wards, many with large African American populations, also swung heavily for Obama over John McCain in 2008. But the difficult economy seemed destined to dampen that enthusiasm four years later.
Not to worry. Ward leaders and voters said they were just as motivated this time.
“In this election, you had to point out to the people what was at stake. And in many cases, they felt that the Romney doctrine was not going to favor the working man,” said Edgar “Sonny” Campbell.
No kidding. But I’d be shocked if a lot of the motivation didn’t come from the poorly disguised racism emanating from Romney and Ryan and their surrogates.
And now let’s turn to those whiny billionaires who thought they could buy the White House and failed miserably. Kevin Roose writes at New York Magazine about a conversation he overheard:
Two months ago, in a dimly lit corner banquette at an exclusive club in the meatpacking district, two well-known billionaires sat down — at a table well within earshot of mine — to have a good bitch about the state of the union.
“The last four years have been a disaster,” said one man, a hedge fund manager who supported President Obama’s 2008 campaign but decided to sit this election out. The primary reason for his disillusionment, he said, was that the country under Obama had grown hostile to wealth, and to those who had accumulated vast amounts of it.
“People work their asses off to get where they are, and they get punished,” he said. “I wanted to fly my friend to Davos this year, and people were like, you’re not going to fly the jet to Davos, are you? How will that look to the Occupy people? I’m like, what the fuck are you talking about? I worked hard for this!”
“It’s a scary reality,” said the other billionaire, once a prominent Democratic donor.
Of course President Obama was extremely friendly to Wall Street during his first term, and the banksters did extremely well while most Americans bore the brunt of the Great Recession that Wall Street caused. But the banksters’ tender feelings were hurt when the President referred to them as “fat cats” and held them responsible for hurting middle- and working-class people.
According to Roose,
Wall Street turned very quickly against Obama, and it made a massive bet that they could put a private equity guy in the White House. The bet turned out to be risky and unhedged — the equivalent of wagering a billion dollars on an exotic derivative that would either triple in value or become totally worthless, with no possible results in the middle….
Backing Romney was a tactical decision, but it was also a psychological one. Under a Romney administration, these donors believed, no longer would they need to hang their heads, hide their jets, and apologize for their success. The social order would be restored, and they could walk proud once more.
What could be more pathetic? These Wall Street titans gambled billions on Romney and got absolutely nothing back. In fact they’ve now lost their leverage over Obama, leaving him free to be even more dismissive of their concerns. Bwaaaaahahahahahahaha!!
Do you ever wonder what effect these self-pitying and self-involved billionaires have on their ultra-privileged offspring? One of them, Peter Brandt II, put on quite a display on election night. The Grio reports that Brandt,
the 18-year-old son of billionaire publisher Peter Brant Sr. and former Victoria’s Secret supermodel Stephanie Seymour [reacted to Obama's reelection by threatening to kill President Obama].
In a series of text messages to his friend Andrew Warren, which were reprinted by Jezebel, Warren whined about how a second Obama term would make him “poor.” Brant II then claimed, “I have a contingency plan. Kill Obama hahaha.”
Brandt was so proud of his “joke,” that he posted the entire text exchange on Instagram.
Here’s a little more of Brandt’s brand [pun intended] of humor, including this delightful tweet:
Harry & Peter Brant@HarryPeterBrant
H:yay Obama and all, but am i the only person who is DYING for Hill DOG to run in 2016! that stylish mullet needs to be in the oval office.
7 Nov 12
Thank goodness the assholes lost this time.
Here we go . . . This is the last night of the 2012 Democratic National Convention. We can only hope the speeches will be as thrilling as the ones we heard last night.
Tonight Vice President Joe Biden and President Barack Obama will accept their nominations to run for reelection. In addition, there will be a who slew of celebrity appearances, including Natalie Portman, Scarlett Johansson, The Foo Fighters, Eva Longoria, Mary J. Blige, James Taylor, Earth Wind & Fire, Marc Anthony, and Kerry Washington. Former Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords will lead the pledge of allegiance.
At 8:00, former Florida Governor Charlie Crist will speak. At 10:00, we’ll hear from Eva Longoria, Joe Biden, and President Obama. The rest of the night’s schedule has not been released.
Just a few headlines to get you going:
For a short period yesterday evening, a moment of panicked confusion broke out among those of us obsessively watching and tweeting the Democratic National Convention, when Sandra Fluke did not go on stage as scheduled. It turns out that we needn’t have worried; convention organizers made an apparently last minute decision to move Fluke’s speech to later in the night, giving her a prime-time audience. It’s a move that indicates Democrats have finally stopped freaking out at the first sign of reactionary histrionics, and instead have embraced the strategy of taking the fight to conservatives.
After decades of playing along with conservatives who dress up their hostility to female sexuality as nothing more than an interest in “life,” Democrats have finally realized that baiting the anti-choice right into showing its misogynist, sex-phobic side may just be a winning strategy.
Marcotte posts some of the rageful Republican tweets at the link.
North Carolina passed right-to-work legislation in 1947, barring contracts that require all workers at unionized companies to pay union dues. North Carolina is now the least-unionized state in the country, with about 3 percent of workers belonging to one, according to the Labor Department. The state also bans collective bargaining for public-sector workers. Feeling snubbed, some activists skipped the convention in favor of what was billed as a “shadow convention” for organized labor in Philadelphia.
“This entire saga, from the beginning to today – the site selection, the state selection — the way it’s been handled is just nothing more than confirmation to me that the standing of organized labor in the eyes of the Democratic Party is lower than it’s ever been in my time,” said Chris Townsend, political director of the United Electrical, Radio and Machine Workers of America union, who has been in the labor movement for more than three decades.
CNN Money: Is Wall Street Being Bamboozled by Romney?
FORTUNE — Wall Street is taking quite a pounding at the Democratic National Convention this week as speakers, like Massachusetts Senate hopeful Elizabeth Warren, fire populist missives so inflammatory it would cause even the most liberal banker to cringe. While the speeches are meant to fire up the Democratic base, they are also likely to induce some financiers to double their contributions to Republicans, namely, Presidential hopeful Mitt Romney.
But is that a safe bet? Much of Wall Street’s concerns derive from the passage of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill, even though some of the most controversial aspects of the bill seem permanently lost in regulatory limbo. Going forward, there remain questions as to what, if anything, a Romney Presidency could truly deliver in the next four years that would be so different from a second term Obama presidency. Given that uncertainty, Wall Street could possibly be better off sticking with the devil they already know.
Is Mitt Romney really the man to solve the housing crisis? Well, consider this: Mr. Romney may not have ever struggled “to put food on the table” as folksy politicians are so fond of saying, but he has four houses. Four. So he knows a thing or two about home ownership. And, unlike some homeowners who took out mortgages and couldn’t pay them back, Mr. Romney is wealthy enough not to have to take out mortgages (although there’s a possibility that he did—the man does have the common touch, at times).
In any event, the Republican candidate has revealed his four-point plan while taking a few swings at Obama, like: “the dream of home ownership is out of reach for many Americans as a result of President Obama’s failed policies and stalled economy.”
Because Americans were doing so well with home ownership before Mr. Obama took the helm. Ha! Good one! As though the “stalled economy” and, well, the “economic crisis” weren’t a result of the fact that many Americans were actually really horrible when it came to assessing risk and making responsible choices about home ownership.
The consensus is that it’s not much of a “plan.”
COLORADO SPRINGS–Just hours before the president takes the stage at the Democratic National Convention, Paul Ryan attempted to counter Obama’s speech by reminding voters in this battleground state of then candidate Obama’s promises in his 2008 speech in Denver.
“Right here in Colorado, four years ago with the Styrofoam Greek columns, the big stadium, the president gave this long speech with lots of big promises,” Ryan said. “He said … that Democrats have a very different measure of what constitutes progress. By those very measurements, his leadership has fallen woefully short.”
Yawn. . . Lots more of Lyin’ Ryan’s psychic predictions at the link. Frankly, after the spanking he got from Bill Clinton last night, the little twerp would do better to just STFU; but I’m hoping he continues making a fool of himself. I guess he doesn’t know that he has lost all credibility with everyone but obsessive Fox watchers.
Detroit News: Conservatives Pull Ads from Michigan
Mitt Romney’s conservative allies are bypassing Michigan with their advertising while stepping up efforts in other battleground states — suggesting campaign strategists don’t believe his road to the White House leads through his native state.
The pro-Romney groups American Crossroads and Americans for Prosperity are pouring nearly $13 million into advertising in key states, indicating they remain eager to lend considerable financial muscle to Romney in states viewed as truly competitive.
There are no presidential campaign ads of any kind airing in Pennsylvania and Michigan, according to information provided by media trackers to the Associated Press.
Nate Silver: The Simple Case for Why Obama Is the Favorite
…our forecast has moved toward President Obama over the past several days. It now gives him about a three-in-four chance of winning the Electoral College on Nov. 6.
I’ll explain a little bit more about how the model comes to that conclusion in a moment, but the intuition behind it is pretty simple:
1. Polls usually overrate the standing of the candidate who just held his convention.
2. Mitt Romney just held his convention. But he seems to have gotten a below-average bounce out of it. The national polls that have come out since the Republican National Convention have shown an almost exact tie in the race.
3. If the polls overrate Mr. Romney, and they show only a tie for him now, then he will eventually lose.
The first point is the simplest of all, but perhaps the most important. There is a lot of focus on the bounce that a candidate gets after his convention — that is, how the polls conducted just after the convention compare with the ones taken immediately beforehand.
Silver predicted the 2008 election results almost perfectly.
I’m looking forward to reading your comments tonight, so bring it!
I know some people are probably tired of hearing about the Trayvon Martin murder, but IMHO this case is every bit as important as the Supreme Court hearing arguments about the health care bill.
We live in a country in which suspicion still falls on African Americans even when they are just walking on the sidewalk or driving down the street. We live in a country in which the police can beat and kill and rape and and get away with it. We live in the land of “the new Jim Crow” in which “the mass incarceration of African American men” is the latest state weapon in our nation’s long and bloody history of vicious racial violence.
How far have we really come when a young boy can be shot in cold blood and the shooter isn’t arrested or even tested for drugs and alcohol?
Over the weekend, the second stage of the Trayvon Martin media circus kicked into gear. That’s the part where various interested parties use the media to defend George Zimmerman–the man who thought a skinny 140-pound 17-year old boy walking home from the store looked “up to no good” and “like he’s on drugs,” and so chose to stalk and then kill the boy in cold blood. The Zimmerman rehabilitation campaign has consisted mostly of smearing the unarmed teenager who can no longer defend himself because he’s dead.
For the past three days, there has been a deliberate campaign to paint Trayvon Martin as a terrifying aggressor who deserved to die and George Zimmerman as a victim who was in terror of Martin and was forced to shoot him at point-blank range. Minx summarized much of the smear campaign in her evening reads last night. But here are a couple of things she didn’t mention:
The witness told FOX 35 in Orlando that he saw evidence of a fight between Martin and Zimmerman, which could lend credence to the gunman’s claim that he was acting in self-defence.
‘The guy on the bottom who had a red sweater on was yelling to me: “Help, help… and I told him to stop and I was calling 911,’ he said.
Zimmerman was wearing a red sweater; Martin was in a grey hoodie.
He added: ‘When I got upstairs and looked down, the guy who was on top beating up the
Really? And did this witness call 911? If so, we haven’t heard the tape of it yet. Furthermore, this “new witness” isn’t even new. These same quotes were reported by Fox Orlando on February 27. But never mind, the quotes are helpful to Zimmerman, so they’re being reported as “new.”
An attorney, Craig Sonner, who says he is “advising” Zimmerman, but doesn’t yet “represent” him, has been making the rounds of the TV talk shows along with Joe Oliver, a former (maybe present?) TV news reporter, who says he is a close friend of Zimmerman’s and has known him for six years (actually Oliver’s wife is a friend of Zimmerman’s mother-in-law; it’s not clear how well Oliver knew Zimmerman before the shooting).
Sonner has been telling anyone who will listen that Trayvon broke George’s nose and cut open the back of his head, but yesterday we learned that Trayvon supposedly sucker-punched George in the nose, knocked him to the ground and then bashed his head against the sidewalk repeatedly. None of this was in the official police report.
Oliver says that George “couldn’t stop crying” for days after the shooting and he is now being treated for PTSD. Oliver says that George is very remorseful. He doesn’t say why George hasn’t contacted Trayvon’s parents to tell them he’s sorry about killing their son. In fact, Oliver even claims that if George hadn’t shot Trayvon, Trayvon would have killed George. Even though Trayvon was armed only with Skittles and iced tea.
Oh, and BTW, Oliver is an African American man. Therefore his close friend George Zimmerman could not possibly have been responding to racial stereotypes on the night of the shooting. AND, Oliver thinks calling someone a “fucking coon” is something to be proud of. And you don’t buy that, maybe Zimmerman was saying “fucking goons,” which is a “term of endearment” according to Oliver’s daughter.
All I can say is, I need to see pictures of Zimmerman’s injuries. I also need to have someone explain to me why Trayvon didn’t have a right to “stand his ground” and defend himself against an imposing 250-pound stranger who was stalking him with a gun.
Yesterday, the Zimmerman defense/smear campaign really doubled down, as the Sanford Police leaked information designed to smear the dead boy. Not to be outdone, the Miami/Dade School Police leaked selected portions of Trayvon’s private school records. Nothing about Trayvon acting violently, but hey–that will probably come out today, right? And all these leaks, along with the Sonner-Oliver media tour, are designed to make us forget that Trayvon Martin is DEAD at the hands of George Zimmerman.
I think this is a pretty good summary of the Zimmerman defense:
My client George Zimmerman is a very vulnerable individual weighing only 250 pounds. Fragile and delicate like a petite, gamine ballet dancer. His assailant Trayvon Martin was over 100 pounds lighter — making him much more agile and dangerous. Furthermore Trayvon Martin was armed with a bag of Skittles AND an iced tea. These are lethal weapons. It is no wonder that my client felt so threatened. And quite understandably felt that his life was in danger.
Read the rest of the “Monty Python twinkie defense” at Huffpo.
There were two witnesses who did some media appearances in support of Trayvon Martin–Mary Cutcher and Selma Lamilla, but their efforts were mostly drowned out by the Zimmerman defense/smear campaign.
Cutcher and her roommate, Selma Lamilla, say they went outside when they heard the gunshot and saw Zimmerman standing over Martin.
“We both saw him straddling the body, basically, a foot on both sides of Trayvon’s body and his hands pressed on his back,” Cutcher said.
Cutcher says Zimmerman told her and her roommate to call the police.
“Zimmerman never turned him over or tried to help him or CPR or anything,” Cutcher said.
Lamilla said that after the shot was fired Zimmerman appeared to be pacing.
“He started walking back and forth like three times with his hand on the head and kind of, he was walking like kind of confused,” she said.
Lamilla said he was touching his head like “he was in shock.”
Police who responded to the scene noted that Zimmerman had injuries to his face and head.
When Lamilla was able to see who had been shot, she was stunned.
“And for me was a shock to see, ‘Oh my God, that it’s a kid. So skinny, no more than 20- years- old. So skinny, like baby faced,” Lamilla said.
Cutcher also told various media outlets that she had a really hard time getting the Sanford Police to listen to her story or even return her phone calls.
I’ve got a few more headlines to share. The first one is somewhat related to the Martin case. Another black teenager has been shot and killed by civilian neighborhood security guards, this time in Georgia. The two men, Curtis Scott and Gary Jackson have been arrested, but only for impersonating police officers so far.
Scott and Jackson, security guards for the apartment complex, were checking out a suspicious vehicle and had detained four women. They told the women they were police officers….the investigation shows that’s when the guards heard gunshots from a nearby residence. Around the same time, Ervin Jefferson, 18, pulled up to the scene.
The guards told police Jefferson approached them “aggressively and possibly even threatened to kill them.” ….that’s when Scott fired his gun at Jefferson, striking him once. The guard called 911.
Jefferson’s mother says she then saw the security guards hit her son with their car and drive over him. Police claim that Jefferson crawled under the car. Jefferson was declared dead at the hospital.
Ben Bernanke signaled yesterday that interest rates will remain low, because of the need to stimulate more job growth. Of course he means interest rates for the banksters, not regular people’s credit card or student loan rates. On the strength of that news, Wall Street surged.
Wall Street’s addiction to free money is on full display today.
The Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 100 points at lunchtime on the East Coast, while the Nasdaq was up more than one percent and the S&P 500 was up nearly one percent.
The primary reason? Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke made some notably downbeat comments about the economy today, seeming to put the kibosh on market expectations that the Fed could raise interest rates sooner rather than later.
Bernanke’s dedication to low rates also means the Fed is still capable of launching its third round of quantitative easing — buying up every bond that’s not nailed down in an effort to pump more cash into the economy. Pimco chief Bill Gross tweeted today that he thinks the Fed will hint at more QE, or “QE3,” in April. Of course, Gross stands to gain by cheerleading investors into thinking the Fed will buy more bonds, because Pimco has been buying bonds in a heavy bet on QE3, Reuters notes.
No word on when anyone in DC will do anything for us “small people.”
France has charged Dominique Strauss-Kahn in connection with a prostitution ring.
Former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was charged in France on Monday with “aggravated pimping” for his alleged participation in a prostitution ring, prosecutors said.
He is not allowed to have contact with other people involved in the investigation, nor is he permitted to talk to the media about the case. Strauss-Kahn was released under a 100,000-euro bail, according to prosecutors.
Rick Santorum kind of lost it yesterday: Rick Santorum’s nice-guy persona is turning a bit testy lately
For a while, it had seemed that Rick Santorum’s crabby days were behind him. Gone were the sarcastic potshots at reporters and peevish outbursts aimed at his political opponents. He had transformed into the Mr. Rogers of the presidential race: good-natured, self-deprecating and downright likable.
But that nice-guy image has gone down the drain lately, with a series of provocative remarks and testy exchanges that have coincided with his slipping presidential fortunes. He may have hit a low point Sunday, when he uttered an expletive in response to a question from a New York Times reporter.
Asked what he meant when he said in a speech that rival Mitt Romney was the “worst Republican in the country” to go up against President Obama, Santorum lashed back at reporter Jeff Zeleny in an exchange that was captured by CBS.
“Stop lying!” he responded. “I said he was the worst Republican to run on the issue of Obamacare. And that’s what I was talking about!” In case there was any doubt that he meant it, he suggested that if he saw such a statement in print, it would amount to “bull—-.”
Finally, I got a kick out of this story in The Independent: Hippies head for Noah’s Ark: Queue here for rescue aboard alien spaceship
A rapidly increasing stream of New Age believers – or esoterics, as locals call them – have descended in their camper van-loads on the usually picturesque and tranquil Pyrenean village of Bugarach. They believe that when apocalypse strikes on 21 December this year, the aliens waiting in their spacecraft inside Pic de Bugarach will save all the humans near by and beam them off to the next age.
As the cataclysmic date – which, according to eschatological beliefs and predicted astrological alignments, concludes a 5,125-year cycle in the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar – nears, the goings-on around the peak have become more bizarre and ritualistic.
For decades, there has been a belief that Pic de Bugarach, which, at 1,230 metres, is the highest in the Corbières mountain range, possesses an eery power. Often called the “upside-down mountain” – geologists think that it exploded after its formation and the top landed the wrong way up – it is thought to have inspired Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth and Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Since the 1960s, it has attracted New Agers, who insist that it emits special magnetic waves.
Further, rumours persist that the country’s late president François Mitterrand was transported by helicopter on to the peak, while the Nazis, and, later, Israel’s Mossad, performed mysterious digs there. Now the nearby village is awash with New Agers, who have boosted the local economy, though their naked group climbs up to the peak have raised concerns as well as eyebrows. Among other oddities, some hikers have been spotted scaling the mountain carrying a ball with a golden ring, strung together by a single thread.
Soooooo…. what are you reading and blogging about today?
Good morning! Today is the New Hampshire primary. We’ll live blog the returns later tonight. As of last night,
Gordon Gekko Mitt Romney had a big lead in the polls, with Ron Paul second and John Huntsman and Rick Santorum tied for third place.
Romney, the former governor of neighboring Massachusetts, holds a 24 percentage point lead over his closest rival, with 41 percent of likely Republican primary voters indicating they’d vote for him, the WMUR New Hampshire Primary Poll said.
U.S. Rep. Ron Paul from Texas was favored by 17 percent of likely primary voters, followed by former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman and former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, each with 11 percent, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich collecting 8 percent.
Several polls indicated Gingrich would finish in the top three.
“All of the candidates behind Romney have a good chance finishing anywhere between second and fifth place,” said Andrew Smith, director of the UNH Survey Center in Durham.
Yesterday Romney stepped in it again when he told an audience that he really likes firing people.
The final day of campaigning saw Romney under fire for a comment about health insurance that quickly became fodder for criticism.
Asked about the issue in Nashua, New Hampshire, Romney said he wanted a person to be able to own his or her own policy “and perhaps keep it the rest of their life.”
“That means the insurance company will have the incentive to keep you healthy. It also means if you don’t like what they do, you can fire them,” he said.
“I like being able to fire people who provide services to me,” Romney added. “If someone doesn’t give me the good service I need, I want to say I am going to get somebody else to provide that service to me.”
Romney complained that everyone was taking his remarks out of context, but when you’re a former corporate raider worth $250 million, it’s probably a good idea to watch what you say about putting people out of work.
Anyway, the latest meme about Romney is that he’s Gordon Gekko brought to life. I think it’s a pretty good comparison. I don’t know if you recall the quote from the recent Vanity Fair profile of Romney that I included in a recent post:
Romney described himself as driven by a core economic credo, that capitalism is a form of “creative destruction.” This theory, espoused in the 1940s by the economist Joseph Schumpeter and later touted by former Federal Reserve Board chairman Alan Greenspan, holds that business must exist in a state of ceaseless revolution. A thriving economy changes from within, Schumpeter wrote in his landmark book, Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy, “incessantly destroying the old one, incessantly creating a new one.” But as even the theory’s proponents acknowledged, such destruction could bankrupt companies, upending lives and communities, and raise questions about society’s role in softening some of the harsher consequences.
Romney, for his part, contrasted the capitalistic benefits of creative destruction with what happened in controlled economies, in which jobs might be protected but productivity and competitiveness falters. Far better, Romney wrote in his book No Apology, “for governments to stand aside and allow the creative destruction inherent in a free economy.” He acknowledged that it is “unquestionably stressful—on workers, managers, owners, bankers, suppliers, customers, and the communities that surround the affected businesses.” But it was necessary to rebuild a moribund company and economy.
That sure sounds Gekko-like, doesn’t it?
Virtually all of Romney’s rivals are now sensing a powerful issue. Jon Huntsman said today that the firing comment shows that Romney is “completely out of touch” with the American economy.
Rick Perry, skipping ahead a state, is calling it the “ultimate insult for Mitt Romney to come to South Carolina and tell you he feels your pain, because he caused it.”
Gingrich is equating Romney’s business style with finding “clever legal ways to loot a company.” Rick Santorum’s stump speech includes a line about not needing a CEO as president, and he suggested at ABC’s Saturday night debate in New Hampshire that Romney’s background calls into question whether he “can inspire and paint a positive vision for this country.”
Romney hasn’t made matters easier for himself as he’s tried to connect with voters on the economy. The son of a millionaire business titan said over the weekend: “I know what it’s like to worry about whether or not you are going to get fired.”
Klein claims it’s too late for any of this to affect the New Hampshire primary results. I wouldn’t be so sure. New Hampshirites are famous for making up their minds at the last minute. Remember Hillary’s surprise win in 2008?
Romney has been expecting the Gordon Gekko comparisons, so you have to wonder why he hasn’t managed to curb some of these Gekko-like remarks. I guess he just can’t help himself.
Mitt Romney says he knows a photo in which he appears with other executives at Bain Capital LLC posing with cash in their hands, pockets and mouths will be used against him if he wins the Republican presidential nomination.
The 1980s image — called the “Gordon Gekko” photo by some Democrats, a reference to the Michael Douglas character in the movie “Wall Street” — offers an easy attack line at a time of high unemployment and sharp rhetoric against the nation’s top money managers, investors and bankers.
“We posed for a picture, just celebrating the fact that we had raised a lot of money and then we hoped to be able to return it with a good return,” Romney said on “Fox News Sunday.”
Here’s Romney’s defense of the photo on Fox News Sunday.
Andrew Leonard of Salon also discussed the comparison of Romney with Gekko.
Like Gekko, Romney made his fortune buying and selling companies; and like Gekko, he believes that his “greed is good” version of rough-and-tumble creative destruction is a positive force for America, weeding out the bad performers and nurturing lean-and-mean profit engines. If you are looking for the paradigmatic exemplar of the new style of capitalism mogul launched by the Reagan revolution, Romney is your man. Michael Douglas’ Gordon Gekko is merely ersatz.
But what Leonard finds so amazing is that this attack on Romney and his leverage buyouts is being led Newt Gingrich.
The shock is to see Newt Gingrich and his financial backers channeling the Oliver Stone critique so passionately and wholeheartedly. If you have not seen the three-minute advertisement “When Romney Came to Town,” the soon-to-be debuted documentary lambasting Romney as the enemy of the American worker, prepare to be flabbergasted.
“Their greed was only matched by their willingness to do anything to make millions in profits.”
“This film is about one such raider and his firm.”
“His mission: To reap massive rewards for himself and his investors.
“Romney took foreign seed money from Latin America, and began a pattern exploiting dozens of American businesses.”
And so on. Michael Moore doesn’t sting this hard, and MoveOn isn’t this angry. If Romney, as expected, ends up winning the Republican nomination, Obama’s campaign team can relax. Their work has already been done.
Here’s the trailer for the 27-minute documentary that Gingrich backers have purchased.
Politico calls it “the Bain Bomb.”
While conservatives look unlikely to unite around one alternative to Romney, the campaigns themselves are uniting around the theme that the former head of Bain Capital looted companies, tossed people out of jobs and is now exaggerating his success at the venture capital firm.
In the context of this moment in American politics, in which frustration with the privileged is boiling hot, the attack, from Republicans on one side and the Obama campaign on the other, will test Romney. If he ends up looking more like an opportunist who profited for the few than like a man who created jobs for the many, it’s hard to imagine his polls numbers won’t drop.
Conservative bloggers, who generally can’t stand Romney have begun defending him against his rivals attacks, and Dana Millback called Romney “the Scrooge McDuck of the 2012 presidential race. Bloomberg reports that buyout firms are getting nervous about damage to their reputations.
This could be fun to watch. I thought Newt’s attack on Romney yesterday was spot on.
Is Romney full of shit or what? He even makes Newt Gingrich look good. I hope Newt sticks around and continues letting it all hang out. Every single word he said about Romney was the truth.
I’m going to wrap this up with a more serious take on Romney from Robert Reich: Mitt: Son of “Citizen’s United.” I had forgotten that Reich ran for governor of Massachusetts in the the Democratic primary in 2002. Please go read the whole thing and try not to weep while you’re doing it.
As Reich says, Romney is the ultimate big money candidate. He was in 2002, and now with the help of the Roberts Court, he has more money than any candidate ever dreamed of before. If you thought Obama was the candidate of Wall Street–and he was in 2008–Romney is soooo much more so. He has money and connections that make Obama’s fundraising look pathetic. And none of this money even needs to be reported–it could be coming from overseas, even from foreign governments, and we’d never know.
Tonight we’ll find out of any of this barrage of Gordon Gekko/Mitt Romney comparisons will have any effect. I’m rooting for Romney to be taken down a peg. And then on to South Carolina!
Please share your links in the comments, and I hope to see you tonight for the live blog.
It’s amazing what kind of nonsense the right wing can come up with when their interests and myths are threatened. Here’s the latest Faux News canard about Occupy. It’s an ACORN plot! If any one believes that, I have a few bridges across the Mississippi I’d like to sell them. The Crescent City Connection even comes with tolls!!
How can a group that folded 19 months ago secretly conspire to bolster Occupy protests? Apparently, “sources tell” Fox News that people who used to work for ACORN have now taken on roles helping organize Occupy protests. In fact, Fox News reports that the former director of New York ACORN and his aides are now working for New York Communities for Change (NYCC), which is turn supporting demonstrations.
I’m not sure why this would be especially interesting if true — if folks who used to be involved with one group then started playing a role with another, who cares? — but as it turns out, a spokesperson for Occupy Wall Street said the NYCC isn’t playing a role in the protests anyway. But don’t worry, Fox News’ unnamed “source” said the group really is up to secret misdeeds, adding, “And yes, we’re still ACORN, there is a still a national ACORN.”
It’s safe to assume that Fox News has reliable contacts among progressive activist organizations, right? There’s bound to be plenty of former ACORN staffers and Occupy activists eager to dish to the Republicans’ cable news outlet, right?
Please. It’s really no wonder at all why Fox News’ audience ends up believing so much nonsense.
They do believe the nonsense, which makes Fox News watchers very dangerous in the voting booth.
Dems on the Super Committee are offering up Medicaid and other ‘entitlements’ in order to get tax increases from Republicans. It didn’t work, but you have to wonder exactly what all they’re willing to put on the table.
Republicans have pressured supercommittee members to reject any deficit-reduction deal that raises taxes — including stimulus spending for the economy would almost certainly be a non-starter for most in the party.
Democrats have said from the beginning that the supercommittee should produce a “jobs plan” that includes “investments” to help the economy.
The supercommittee is charged with devising a plan that will cut at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years from annual deficits, but deep divisions exist on the panel over whether to raise taxes and cut entitlements to meet that goal.
The members met again Wednesday afternoon and Democrats were looking to see if the GOP would present an alternative path to the grand bargain.
You may recall that the grand bargain was the giveaway President Obama offered to Boehner last summer during the debt ceiling talks. More details are available at this WAPO link.
The panel has floundered since meetings began in September. If the supercommittee fails to reach agreement to trim borrowing by at least $1.2 trillion through 2021, automatic spending cuts of an equal amount would be triggered in January 2013. These cuts would strike especially hard at the Pentagon, an outcome that Republicans are eager to avoid.
Ralph B posted this tidbit downthread last night. Chelsea Clinton is said to be considering a congressional run.
Clinton has been approached by “the right people” in the New York Democratic Party, according to one source in Albany. While no decision has been made, Clinton is said to be “actively considering” a Congressional run from New York State in 2012.
Chelsea Clinton, 31, is the only child of former U.S. President Bill Clinton and U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
The discussions of running Chelsea Clinton for a house seat grew out of the redistricting plans currently underway in the New York State legislature in Albany.
The plan is to identify an open seat for Clinton in or around New York City where she currently resides with her husband, Marc Mezvinsky. While no specific district has been determined, New York City and Westchester are said to be the focus with New York’s 18th District considered a strong possibility. The 18th encompasses much of Westchester County, just south of where her parents have maintained a home for the past 12 years.
The Daily Beast reports that Herman Cain was delinquent in paying taxes in 2006. Additionally, he fought paying the bill.
According to court documents obtained by The Beast, Cain and his wife, Gloria, were served in February 2008 with a tax lien totaling $8,558.46 for unpaid income taxes and penalty due for the 2006 calendar year.
Gordon said Cain had filed with the IRS and won a six-month reprieve in paying his 2006 federal taxes as he was undergoing his treatment for stage four lymphoma and believed that filing should also have bought him time with the state of Georgia. “In Georgia, a taxpayer can submit a copy of his federal extension to request an extension of state income taxes,” Gordon said.
But instead, the state sent a notice of overdue taxes in October 2007, and then proceeded with the tax lien four months later, he said.
Cain’s accountant fought the Georgia Department of Revenue on behalf of his client well into 2008 and the two sides finally settled the matter in November 2008. A court formally withdrew the state tax lien on Dec. 8, 2008, court records show.
Gordon said the campaign was researching the exact date on which Cain made the payment to extinguish the lien
Dodd-Frank is rife with so many loopholes and exemptions that the largest Wall Street banks – larger by far then they were before the bailout – are back to many of their old tricks.
It’s impossible to know, for example, the exposure of the Street to European banks in danger of going under. To stay afloat, Europe’s banks will be forced to sell mountains of assets – among them, derivatives originating on the Street – and may have to reneg on or delay some repayments on loans from Wall Street banks.
The Street says it’s not worried because these assets are insured. But remember AIG? The fact Morgan Stanley and other big U.S. banks are taking a beating in the market suggests investors don’t believe the Street. This itself proves financial reform hasn’t gone far enough.
If you want more evidence, consider the fancy footwork by Bank of America in recent days. Hit by a credit downgrade last month, BofA just moved its riskiest derivatives from its Merrill Lynch unit to a retail subsidiary flush with insured deposits. That unit has a higher credit rating because the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (that is, you and me and other taxpayers) are backing the deposits. Result: BofA improves its bottom line at the expense of American taxpayers.
Wasn’t this supposed to be illegal? Keeping risky assets away from insured deposits had been a key principle of U.S. regulation for decades before the repeal of Glass-Steagall.
The so-called “Volcker rule” was supposed to remedy that. But under pressure of Wall Street’s lobbyists, the rule – as officially proposed last week – has morphed into almost 300 pages of regulatory mumbo-jumbo, riddled with exemptions and loopholes.
It would have been far simpler simply to ban proprietary trading from the jump. Why should banks ever be permitted to use peoples’ bank deposits – insured by the federal government – to place risky bets on the banks’ own behalf? Bring back Glass-Steagall.
The MSCI Asia Pacific Index gained 0.9 percent to 120.25 as of 11 a.m. in Tokyo, set for the highest close since Sept. 9. Standard & Poor’s 500 Index futures added 0.8 percent. The 17- nation euro climbed 0.5 percent to $1.3979 and rose 0.3 percent to 106.26 yen. Treasury 10-year notes erased earlier gains. Copper, zinc and lead jumped more than 1.4 percent in London and crude climbed 1.9 percent in New York.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said the euro region’s bailout fund will be leveraged by four to five times, and investors have agreed to a voluntary writedown of 50 percent on Greek debt. Sarkozy plans to call Chinese leader Hu Jintao today to discuss contributions from the Asian nation to a fund European leaders may set up to fight the crisis, a person familiar with the matter said.
The news of a deal is “certainly mildly positive news for markets,” Adarsh Sinha, head of strategy for Group of 10 foreign exchange at Bank of America, said in a Bloomberg Television interview in Hong Kong. “We have got a plan out but a lot of the details aren’t in place.”
French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Greek bondholders voluntarily agreed to write down the value of Greek bonds by 50%, which translates to €100 billion and will reduce the nation’s debt load to 120% from 150%.
Sarkozy said the leaders agreed to boost the firepower of the EU bailout fund, known as the European Financial Stability Facility, “by four or five fold.” He added that officials have negotiated additional funding from the International Monetary Fund.
The writedowns were one of three inter-related problems political leaders must solve to devise a comprehensive solution to Europe’s debt crisis. They must also determine how to leverage a government-backed bailout fund and stabilize the banking sector.
EU leaders had pledged to resolve these issues Wednesday at their summit in Brussels. But given the bondholders’ resistance, it was unclear until the early hours of Thursday if the leaders would be able to follow through.
Earlier, the European Council issued a statement saying heads of state had agreed to raise capital requirements for banks vulnerable to losses on euro-area government bonds.
Under the terms outlined by EU officials, banks would be required to sharply increase core capital levels to 9% to create a buffer against potential losses. The amount to be raised would be determined after accounting for declines in the value of euro-area government bonds, including debt issued by Greece.
Based on market rates in September, banks will need to raise a total of €106 billion to meet the new targets, according to the European Banking Authority.
So, that’s the headlines that have grabbed my attention today. What’s on your blogging and reading list today?
Boston Boomer has been updating me on the shenanigans pulled by Timothy Geithner via Ron Suskind’s “Confidence Men”. I’m hoping she’ll outline all the stuff in a post soon. I’m sure you remember how Geithner approved Wall Street Executives giving themselves bonuses after receiving TARP funds. There’s substantial evidence that Geithner blocked plans to remove CEO Vikram Pandit and dismantle Citibank. He evidently had incredible issues with Sheila Bair, is known for throwing screaming fits when his pet Wall Street Banker friends are threatened and evidently ignored the President’s orders to get tougher on Wall Street early in the administration. Again, I”ll let Boomer flesh it out for you but there’s some really heady information out there about Geithner and his incredible coziness with the shadow banking industry.
Given that context, color me surprised by this Politico headline: Geithner: Action against Wall St. coming.
Asked on CNBC about the Occupy Wall Street movement’s frustrations over the lack of criminal charges related to the financial crisis, Geithner said action is on the way.
“You’ve seen very, very dramatic enforcement actions already by the enforcement authorities across the U.S. government, and I’m sure you’re going to see more to come. You should stay tuned for that,” he said.
Geithner Friday said the Obama administration had moved swiftly after the crisis to put into place new protections for consumers and investors.
“We moved very quickly to put in place a much stronger set of rules of the game across the financial sector. Now, we’re now facing a lot of resistance to those rules, but we’re going to make sure that we deliver the promise of those reforms, which is a much tougher set of rules across the system against risk-taking and much stronger protections for consumers,” he said.
Geithner responded to the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations by asserting that their unhappiness was due to the sluggish pace of overall economic growth.
“What you see is a general sense across the country of concern that the U.S. economy is not growing faster, you’re not seeing incomes rise more rapidly, and people want to make sure that the government, Washington, is acting to make things better now. As part of that, they want to see us deliver much stronger protections for consumers and investors as an economy as a whole,” Geithner said on CNBC.
The Treasury Secretary added that the domestic focus was to ensure that Congress would take steps that would encourage economic growth and lower the deficit.
“What we’re focused on is trying to make sure that we are doing everything to encourage Congress. … to take some steps now that can make growth stronger in the United States, and tie that to reforms to bring down our long-term deficits,” he said.
Something tells me that the deteriorating political scenario for the President has something to do with this conversation. However, I will believe it when I see it happen. Talk show chatter comes so cheap.