Monday Reads

Good Morning!! Yesterday was an exciting day for the Libyan rebels, who have taken over the capital city, Tripoli. From the NYT:

Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s grip on power dissolved with astonishing speed on Monday as rebels marched into the capital and arrested two of his sons, while residents raucously celebrated the prospective end of his four-decade-old rule.

In the city’s central Green Square, the site of many manufactured rallies in support of Colonel Qaddafi, jubilant Libyans tore down green flags and posters of Colonel Qaddafi and stomped on them. The leadership announced that the elite presidential guard protecting the Libyan leader had surrendered and that they controlled many parts of the city, but not Colonel Qaddafi’s leadership compound.

The National Transitional Council, the rebel governing body, issued a mass text message saying, “We congratulate the Libyan people for the fall of Muammar Qaddafi and call on the Libyan people to go into the street to protect the public property. Long live free Libya.”

Officials loyal to Colonel Qaddafi insisted that the fight was not over, and there were clashes between rebels and government troops early on Monday morning. But NATO and American officials said that the Qaddafi government’s control of Tripoli, which had been its final stronghold, was now in doubt.

We’ll have to wait and see what happens next. I hope it will mean the U.S. pulling out of there, but that’s probably a vain hope. After all, Libya has oil and gold.

Business Insider: AFTER QADDAFI: Oil Prices Will Tank, Stock Prices Will Soar

Watch what happens to oil prices if and when the Qaddafis lose and leave.

In short order, Libyan oil production will ramp up. As it does, oil prices in world markets will fall and oil futures markets will reflect the expected increase in production of oil from Libya. The key prices to watch are those trading in Europe, like Brent. US oil prices (WTI) are no longer the leading indicator of world prices intersecting with world supply/demand. Excess inventory at Cushing, OK is complicating the pricing structure.

We expect oil prices to fall when highly desirable, sweet Libyan crude production is fully resumed and enters the pipeline. Maybe, they are going to fall by a lot. This will come as a much-needed boost to the US economy and to others in the world.

Remember: the oil price acts like a sales tax on consumption. To clarify this relationship we convert crude oil prices to gasoline prices and then estimate what a change in gas price will mean for the American consumer. Roughly, a penny drop in the gas price per gallon gives Americans 1.4 billion more dollars a year to spend on other than gasoline. That is a huge stimulant to the economy. The ratio is different in Europe because the gas taxes are so much higher there. Nevertheless, it is still significant.

In other news, President Obama is still on vacation, and unemployment is still soaring. From the SF Chronicle: Obama keeps full vacation day after Libya briefing

In between briefings on Libya, President Barack Obama packed golf, beach time, a stop at a seafood restaurant and a visit to a wealthy friend’s seaside compound into his Martha’s Vineyard vacation Sunday….

Then Obama and his family headed to dinner at the house where White House adviser Valerie Jarrett is staying.

Earlier, Obama spent about an hour at the home of Comcast chief executive Brian Roberts after playing golf with some buddies. The golf foursome included Obama’s Chicago pal Eric Whitaker, UBS America executive Robert Wolf and a White House aide. Obama spent the morning at the beach with his wife, Michelle, and daughters Sasha and Malia.

From the LA Times: Congresswomen hear economic, unemployment woes at Inglewood event

…hundreds of people from Los Angeles-area communities…gathered Saturday to share their stories of hardship and to urge local members of Congress to push corporations to help fix the economy and devise ways to put people back to work. Three Democratic U.S. representatives attended the event: Maxine Waters and Karen Bass of Los Angeles and Laura Richardson of Long Beach….
The recession has slammed Los Angeles County, where 1 in 4 workers are jobless or underemployed, according to Good Jobs LA. This summer, L.A. businesses announced 5,700 layoffs, the jobs advocacy group said.

At the same time, corporations are hoarding almost $2 trillion in cash but failing to invest in jobs, the advocacy group said. The group also cited skyrocketing bonuses for many chief executives and big tax breaks for some of the nation’s largest companies.

Warren Buffet recently asked President Obama to raise taxes on the rich for the good of all. Another multi-billionaire, David Koch, disagrees with Buffet that rich Americans should sacrifice anything for their country.

America’s current tax system forces people making $50,000 a year to pay a higher rate than hedge fund managers making $2.4 million an hour. Warren Buffett penned an op-ed last week declaring that America’s super-rich have been “coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress.” Lamenting the numerous tax loopholes and special breaks afforded to billionaire investors, Buffett noted that in his entire career, even when capital gains rates were as high as 39.9 percent, he never saw anyone “shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.”

Charles Koch, head of the massive petrochemical, manufacturing, and commodity speculating Koch Industries corporation, has responded to Warren’s call for shared sacrifice: “No Thanks.” In a statement to right-wing media, Koch states:

Much of what the government spends money on does more harm than good; this is particularly true over the past several years with the massive uncontrolled increase in government spending. I believe my business and non-profit investments are much more beneficial to societal well-being than sending more money to Washington.

Yeah, like supporting wingnuts like Scott Walker and Paul Ryan is good for our country. I’d like to see Koch’s fortune confiscated. Maybe we need to bring back the guillotine?

Romney's home in La Jolla, CA

Speaking of rich A$$holes, Mitt Romney has decided that his $12 million mansion in La Jolla must be enlarged–he wants the already huge house to be four times as big.

LA JOLLA — GOP presidential contender Mitt Romney, scheduled to attend a series of fundraisers this weekend in San Diego, is also working on plans to nearly quadruple the size of his $12 million oceanfront manse in La Jolla.

Romney has filed an application with the city to bulldoze his 3,009-square-foot, single-story home at 311 Dunemere Dr. and replace it with a two-story, 11,062-square-foot structure. No date has been set to consider the proposed coastal development and site development permits, which must be approved by the city.

The former governor of Massachusetts purchased the home three years ago. According to a description from the listing agent, the Spanish-style residence at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac is sophisticated and understated in its décor, “offering complete privacy and unsurpassed elegance.”

Tentative plans call for new retaining walls and a relocated driveway, but would retain the existing lap pool and spa.

Just how many homes does this man own anyway? Slate Magazine says “just” two. He had a huge house in Massachusetts, not too far from where I live, but he sold it in 2009 for $3.5 million.

I guess after he used (screwed) our state to set up his run for President, he decided to clear out and move his con man act to California. He also sold a “$5.25 million, 9,500-square-foot ski villa in Deer Valley, Utah,” according to Slate. Time calls that “the new frugality.” He’s hanging onto a home in New Hampshire apparently. Where’s that guillotine?

In science news, from Clive Cookson at the Financial Times: Life on earth came from space

The existence of amino acids in space has already been proved by the analysis of meteorites that have struck earth, and comet samples collected in space during Nasa’s Stardust mission. It has been harder to prove that traces of nucleobases found in meteorites were not the result of contamination after they arrived – but the new study seems to do so, while showing that nucleobases reach earth from space in greater diversity and quantity than scientists had thought.

The Nasa team analysed samples of 12 carbon-rich meteorites, including nine found in Antarctica (a rich collecting ground), and detected guanine and adenine, two of the four nucleobases that make up DNA. They also found three related molecules known as nucleobase analogues, a discovery which provides confirmation that the organic compounds in meteorites come from space.

“You would not expect to see these nucleobase analogues if contamination from terrestrial life was the source, because they’re not used in biology,” says Michael Callahan, lead author of the study, which appears in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “However, if asteroids are cranking out prebiotic material, you would expect them to produce many variants of nucleobases, not just the biological ones, because of the wide variety of ingredients and conditions in each asteroid.”

Further confirmation came from an analysis of Antarctic ice, taken from near where the meteorites were collected, which showed no trace of the compounds.

Wait…. you mean life didn’t originate in the Garden of Eden?

In related news, a court has ruled that a teacher who made fun of creationism and Christianity cannot be sued for expressing her opinions.

A federal appeals court ruled Friday that a California teacher could not be sued for criticizing Christianity and Creationism during a college-level European history course.

“This was a really important ruling for academic freedom,” University of California constitutional scholar Erwin Chemerinsky, who took on the case pro bono, told The Orange County Register. “There has never been a precedent set for something like this before. Teachers should be able to criticize religion just like they can criticize government, business and similar groups without the fear of being sued.”

A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed out a lower court’s decision, which held that teacher James Corbett violated a student’s First Amendment rights by making comments during class that were hostile to religion in general, and to Christianity in particular….

Corbett said during his class that serfs opposed social, political and economic [sic] that were in their best interest because of religion, compared Creationism to “magic,” and made twenty other comments that then-sophomore Chad Farnan alleged were disparaging to Christians.

Oh, did I mention this was a college course? Good grief!!

That’s all I have for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


18 Comments on “Monday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    NYT: More Clashes after Rebels Sweep Tripoli

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/23/world/africa/23libya.html?_r=1&hp

  2. northwestrain says:

    Did the media (corporate media) do any vetting what so ever of 0bama before they shoved him down the Nation’s throat?? Friedman says it’s too soon to tell. (OK I’m laughing hysterically — Some of us made the effort to search 0bowma’s background and found his qualifications lacking (other than he had the required P&nis.)

    http://dailycaller.com/2011/08/21/nyts-friedman-way-too-soon-to-tell-if-media-blew-it-vetting-obama-the-candidate/

    • bostonboomer says:

      Friedman should go back to his mansion and stay there. I’m fed up with these wealthy cranks.

  3. northwestrain says:

    What if Obama walks away? Will Hillary run?

    The first part of the article is really depressing — listing all the Dem seats up for grabs if 0bama runs and drags down the rest of the Dem ticket. I remember how unpopular LBJ was.

    If Obama isn’t going to run — NOW would be the time for him to gracefully withdraw. If he doesn’t withdraw — the whole field of dems are going to have to run against Obama. Starting right now.

    http://hotair.com/archives/2011/08/21/what-if-obama-quit/

    Against any of the current field of Republican candidate — Hillary would win.

  4. northwestrain says:

    Does the existence of Biological building blocks from meteorites mean that there is complex life forms — out there??? There are more planets out there then was believed even a few years ago — and perhaps one has intelligent life??

    • northwestrain says:

      I just got word that my friends on Montserrat have been spared. They’ll probably have high waves and lots of rain but no hurricane winds.

      Now we need to worry about the islands and land mass up north — like Florida.

  5. apishapa says:

    Hi, I’m here to ask advice. I have been embroiled for the last year in a gender discrimination suit against my employer. I have represented myself in these proceedings. A few months ago the State Civil Rights Commission released an opinion in my favor. They stated that my employer not only downgraded the position I applied for, they delayed for six months so the less qualified man could qulify to apply for the position at the lowered classification. I was qualified at the higher calssification from the start. Anyway, because I work for the state, I am required to appeal once again the the personnel board. A hearing date has been set. We are now in settlement discussions.

    AS part of my settlement offer, I asked for some kind of change in policy to ensure this crap stops. Now they want to put it back on me. They want specific suggestions about how to do that. I spent all week thinking of different ways to provide oversight to eliminate the good ole boys club attitude in this department. What it boils down to though, is that the supervisors are trained on the existance of laws concerning discrimination and they are also allowed to find ways around those laws. This state spends a lot of money on an entire human resurces department which is not doing its job.

    I have a settlement conference today and I’m supposed to tell them how they should eliminate discrimination in the department. I am at the point I think I’m going to tell them, I am not a human resources expert. I am an engineer. But they have dozens of human resources experts hired and they need to do their jobs. They have been aware of this issue for several years. I am not the first to complain or sue. I was the first to document everything they did well enough to win.

    If human resources haven’t known about it, they have not been doing their jobs. I spent a few hours working on graphs and spreadsheets and demonstrated the lack of diversity in my department. I also got the head of my division to admit they intentionally rigged the application process to allow this unqualified man to be promoted around me. If they can spend so much time figuring out how to circumvent the law, they ought to also be able to spend more time themselves learning to comply with th law. I don’t know how to provide oversight, that is not my job. But those who are not doing thier jobs need to be held to account.

    Does it sound like I am dodging the issue? I truly do not know what is allowed in the Human Resources field, but I smell a trap. I think they want me to look foolish because I don’t know what needs to be done. I just know what they did to me and what they have done again and again and it would not be that difficult to stop playing those games, and I think it would be pretty easy to have the state review when qialified persons apply for a job, but they downgrade it to allow someone less qualified apply. That seems pretty straightforward.

    • grayslady says:

      Interesting situation. I think your instincts are correct. You’re an engineer, not an HR expert. Any suggestions you offer could be twisted around to be used against you. Stick to the issues of your particular case. Don’t be drawn into any “what if” scenarios. Just stay on message.

    • dakinikat says:

      I think that’s a good response. You also are not aware of what’s out there in terms of additional training to stop work place discrimination and you’re not a lawyer that knows what types of actions need to specifically applied to meet the letter of the law.

  6. madaha says:

    this breaks it down pretty clearly, and shows how scary it all is:

    http://globalcomment.com/2011/why-it-matters-that-michele-bachmann-is-a-submissive-wife/

    • northwestrain says:

      Yes this article is spot on. I grew up listening to endless sermons about a woman’s role and this is exactly what the hard core fundamentalists believe.

      Those lecture/sermons didn’t work on me — probably made me more rebellious. Just because a human has a P*nis — doesn’t him — smarter, a better leader or wiser. When a relative of mine got married to a minister (he needed a wife to get his church) she got the submissive sermon/lecture from the minister who married them. This minister began beating her. Long story — she left him. Anyway the guy just went out and found another woman — and beat her.

    • madamab says:

      I’ll bet that’s how Rick Perry keeps winning re-election, too. He seems to be deeply unpopular in Texas.

      This cr*p has been going on since 2000. Nothing ever gets done about it because the elites want us to think our electoral system is honest.

      • madamab says:

        Oh, that IS about the 2000 elections! I remember that guy. He basically outed the whole corrupt electronic voting system, and the most that was done was to get the e-scanning machines in so that there would be records of each ballot. Those machines can be hacked, too.

  7. foxyladi14 says:

    looks like we could use a good laugh h/t.uppity