Daily Archive: 01/18/2011

Jan 18 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Resignations rock Tunisia as thousands protest

by Dario Thuburn, AFP

59 mins ago

TUNIS (AFP) – Four ministers in Tunisia’s new unity government pulled out a day after being appointed Tuesday amid popular rage against the continued presence of the ousted president’s party on the political scene.

Thousands of people protested across Tunisia to call for ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s once all-powerful Constitutional Democratic Rally (RCD) party to be excluded from the fledgling government and abolished.

In a bid for survival, the RCD officially expelled the ex-president, who fled to Saudi Arabia in disgrace Friday after a wave of protests against his 23 years of iron-fisted rule, the official TAP news agency reported.

Jan 18 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Bob Herbert: How Many Deaths Are Enough?

Approximately 100,000 shootings occur in the United States every year. The number of people killed by guns should be enough to make our knees go weak. Monday was a national holiday celebrating the life of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. While the gun crazies are telling us that ever more Americans need to be walking around armed, we should keep in mind that more than a million people have died from gun violence – in murders, accidents and suicides – since Dr. King was shot to death in 1968.

We need fewer homicides, fewer accidental deaths and fewer suicides. That means fewer guns. That means stricter licensing and registration, more vigorous background checks and a ban on assault weapons. Start with that. Don’t tell me it’s too hard to achieve. Just get started.

Katrina vanden Heuvel Putting Poverty on the Agenda

“There is definitely a story going untold,” says Melissa Boteach, manager of Half in Ten, a national campaign to reduce poverty by 50 percent over the next ten years. “When you have 1 in 7 Americans living in poverty. 1 in 5 children living in poverty-including 1 in 3 African-American children and Latino children-and it’s not on America’s radar, something’s very wrong.”

Indeed it is the shame of our nation that a record 47 million people now live below the poverty line-$22,400 for a family of four-and a stunning 1 in 3 Americans are living at less than twice that threshold. And yet we hear so little about this crisis in the mainstream media and Congress, where it seems off the radar not only for the GOP, but even for some of our progressive allies.

But the grim truth is that many of the same structural problems that are making life a struggle for the middle-class-and resulted in the first “economic recovery” in 2003-2007 where productivity rose, but median income declined and poverty worsened-are also leading to record numbers of poor people. From 1980 to 2005, more than 80 percent of the total increase in American incomes went to the richest 1 percent. Our economy is super-sizing the wealthy, while producing large quantities of low-wage jobs, unemployment and underemployment, and services are eroding. So the work of those who are waging today’s war on poverty comes with a very different frame.

Eugene Robinson: Palin’s egocentric umbrage

In the spirit of civil discourse, I’d like to humbly suggest that Sarah Palin please consider being quiet for a while. Perhaps a great while.

At the risk of being bold, I might observe that her faux-presidential address about the Tucson massacre seemed to fall somewhat flat, drawing comparisons to the least attractive public moments of such figures as Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew. I could go so far as to observe that Palin almost seemed to portray herself as a collateral victim. Surely a former governor of Alaska – who served the better part of an entire term – would never seek to give the impression that she views any conceivable event, no matter how distant or tragic, as being All About Sarah.

Yet this is the unfortunate impression that Palin’s videotaped peroration seems to have left. I am at a loss to recommend any course of corrective action other than an extended period of abstinence from Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites.

Jan 18 2011

On This Day in History January 18

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

January 18 is the 18th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 347 days remaining until the end of the year (348 in leap years).

On this day in 1865, the United States House of Representatives passes the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, abolishing slavery in the United States. It read, “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude…shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.”

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On December 18, Secretary of State William H. Seward, in a proclamation, declared it to have been adopted. It was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments.

President Lincoln was concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery in the ten Confederate states still in rebellion in 1863, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based on his war powers and did not abolish slavery in the border states.

History

The first twelve amendments were adopted within fifteen years of the Constitution’s adoption. The first ten (the Bill of Rights) were adopted in 1791, the Eleventh Amendment in 1795 and the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. When the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed there had been no new amendments adopted in more than sixty years.

During the secession crisis, but prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, the majority of slavery-related bills had protected slavery. The United States had ceased slave importation and intervened militarily against the Atlantic slave trade, but had made few proposals to abolish domestic slavery, and only a small number to abolish the domestic slave trade. Representative John Quincy Adams had made a proposal in 1839, but there were no new proposals until December 14, 1863, when a bill to support an amendment to abolish slavery throughout the entire United States was introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio). This was soon followed by a similar proposal made by Representative James F. Wilson(Republican, Iowa).

Eventually the Congress and the public began to take notice and a number of additional legislative proposals were brought forward. On January 11, 1864, Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri submitted a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The abolition of slavery had historically been associated with Republicans, but Henderson was one of the War Democrats. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbull (Republican, Illinois), became involved in merging different proposals for an amendment. On February 8 of that year, another Republican, Senator Charles Sumner (Radical Republican, Massachusetts), submitted a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery as well as guarantee equality. As the number of proposals and the extent of their scope began to grow, the Senate Judiciary Committee presented the Senate with an amendment proposal combining the drafts of Ashley, Wilson and Henderson.

Originally the amendment was co-authored and sponsored by Representatives James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio) and James F. Wilson (Republican, Iowa) and Senator John B. Henderson (Democrat, Missouri).

While the Senate did pass the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, the House declined to do so. After it was reintroduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley, President Lincoln took an active role in working for its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential elections. His efforts came to fruition when the House passed the bill on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56. The Thirteenth Amendment’s archival copy bears an apparent Presidential signature, under the usual ones of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, after the words “Approved February 1, 1865”.

The Thirteenth Amendment completed the abolition of slavery, which had begun with the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

Shortly after the amendment’s adoption, selective enforcement of certain laws, such as laws against vagrancy, allowed blacks to continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in some cases.

The Thirteenth Amendment was followed by the Fourteenth Amendment (civil rights in the states), in 1868, and the Fifteenth Amendment (which bans racial voting restrictions), in 1870.

Jan 18 2011

Six In The Morning

Who Cares If You Destroy The Environment Profit Margins Are At Stake      



Last refuge of rare fish threatened by Yangtze dam plans

The last refuge for many of China’s rarest and most economically important wild fish has mere days to secure public support before it is trimmed, dammed and ruinously diminished, conservationists warned today.

The alarm was raised after the authorities in Chongqing quietly moved to redraw the boundaries of a crucial freshwater reserve on the Yangtze, which was supposed to have been the bottom line for nature conservation in one of the world’s most important centres of biodiversity.

Jan 18 2011

Damning Praise for Obama from “Dead Eye” Dick

Damning, indeed.

Cheney: Obama has learned that Bush policies were right

By Daniel Strauss

01/17/11 05:18 PM ET

President Obama has “learned from experience” that some of the Bush administration’s decisions on terrorism issues were necessary, according to former Vice President Dick Cheney.

In his first interview since undergoing major heart surgery last July, Cheney said he thinks Obama has been forced to rethink some of his national security positions now that he sits in the Oval Office.

“I think he’s learned that what we did was far more appropriate than he ever gave us credit for while he was a candidate. So I think he’s learned from experience. And part of that experience was the Democrats having a terrible showing last election.”

Cheney also asserted that Obama has learned that the prison at Guantanamo Bay simply cannot be closed, despite the promises he made while campaigning for the White House.

“I think he’s learned that he’s not going to be able to close Guantanamo,” Cheney said. “That it’s – if you didn’t have it, you’d have to create one like that. You’ve got to have some place to put terrorists who are combatants who are bound and determined to try to kill Americans.”

Cheney made the comments about Obama in an interview that is set to air Tuesday on NBC’s “Today.” The interview was Cheney’s first since before he underwent heart surgery in July. Doctors introduced a device into his heart that pumps blood from the ventricle chamber to his aorta.

From a “dead man walking”

Jan 18 2011

In Which Gaius Publius Drinks My Milk Shake

I don’t pretend to be a reporter, I’m a critic.  Gaius has scooped me twice.  Once with this-

Krugman: ‘Can Europe be saved?’

by Gaius Publius, Americablog

1/14/2011 02:34:00 PM

Enter Mr. Krugman, the facts, and his excellent article. It’s all there:

  • The history of the formation of the European Union
  • Its politicalgoals (make the next Franco-German war impossible) and its monetary ones
  • The benefits of having a euro, and the traps
  • How those traps were sprung
  • Why the problem in Greece is different from Ireland, which is different from Latvia, and so on

And now with this-

‘Swiss whistleblower Rudolf Elmer plans to hand over offshore banking secrets of the rich and famous to WikiLeaks’

by Gaius Publius, Americablog

1/17/2011 09:58:00 PM

Blum’s article is a review of a recent book about the “shadow elite” behind the current mortgage crisis, the interlocking network of players who’ve worked together from positions in banking, government and think tanks and who are “involved in each of the succeeding cycles of [mortgage] fraud.” The name Citibank comes up.

Wheeler’s last line: “It says something, I think, that the client of a guy who has gone to such lengths to expose the corrupt money running our world is going to Wikileaks.”

There’s more in all three places, and I recommend reading them in order – the Guardian story about tomorrow’s WikiLeak leak; Marcy Wheeler’s smart teasing of the implications; and Blum’s Huff Post piece.

This WikiLeaks thing is turning out rather well for us Littles, isn’t it. The Bigs are having a fit. It sure would be nice if someone backed that thing up. And I don’t mean back up the data; I mean back up the org.

Jan 18 2011

A Proper Snow

“For the first time I can remember…”

But it’s not the first time I can remember because it’s a benefit of Stars Hollow that I could grow up as a kid with snow banks high enough to construct a proper waist high fort with plenty of reserve ammunition, a life size snow person (I dunno, isn’t three balls how we all look?), and a highly dangerous block long sled run through multiple yards and hedges.

Keep your arms inside the car and stop or bail out before you hit one.  Not that there’s much traffic, but you could have an evil look out.

When I was in upstate New York it snowed all the time and I plowed home with positrac more than once which was quite a contrast from the tropical confines of the heated pools where I worked.  One day I walked over 2 miles in sub zero temperatures because the Blue Shark (my car at the time) wouldn’t start.

My friends would cross country ski through the park across the street which I tried a couple of times but found the uphill parts fatiguing and the downhill parts terrifying so I soon gave that up (they were good losers at Flash Bowling though).

Other amusements were Pitch (also called Set Back) which we played at work whenever we had a break, and Wednesday night Season Pass to the local mountain to shiver on a lift and not sweat your way up a slope.  Quite the sight to see all those skis rusting at the side of the pool.

Then there was the year I snooted the last six pack of Knickerbocker (that vile) at the Universal Market which happened to be right next to my dorm.

The point is that while I can remember what I consider “normal” snow I haven’t seen it much recently.  It’s reminded me of the early springs when I used to crunch through patches of dirt frost on my way to the library and imagined I was on a terraformed Mars.  This is the warmest year ever.

The world our children will inherit will be deeper, steeper, warmer, and wetter (not in a good way) than ours.

Jan 18 2011

WikiLeaks: Leave the Rich Criminals Alone

I’m sure the Very Serious People response to anti-rich people leaks to wikileaks will be the same as their response to leaks embarrassing powerful people in governments. It’s just wrong to hold powerful people accountable for anything.

Look forward people!

Atrios

The Independent’s Johann Hari explains why many tax dodgers are fearing the information, now in Wikileaks’ possession, about hundreds of off-shore banking accounts.

Ex-Swiss banker, Rudolph Elmer is set to go on trial in Switzerland for violation of the Swiss bank secrecy laws, forging the documents sending threatening messages to two officials at Julius Baer. He is the former chief operating officer in the Cayman Islands and employee of the powerful Julius Baer bank. Elmer’s lawyer, Jack Blum, one of America’s leading experts in tracking offshore money, says, “Elmer is being tried for violating Swiss banking secrecy law even though the data is from the Cayman Islands. This is bold extraterritorial nonsense. Swiss secrecy law should apply to Swiss banks in Switzerland, not a Swiss subsidiary in the Cayman Islands.”

Mr Elmer had given these CD’s to “national tax authorities including the Internal Revenue Service in the United States, said he had turned to WikiLeaks to “educate society” about what he considers an unfair system that serves the rich and aids those who seek to launder money.”

Meanwhile:

The offshore banking industry has come under increasing pressure in recent years amid accusations that places like the Caribbean, with looser financial laws, allowed investors to avoid taxes and that some banks helped to create complex webs of companies and trust funds there to confuse tax authorities abroad.

In 2009, Bradley Birkenfeld, a former private banker for UBS, disclosed some of the industry’s illegal tactics and forced the bank to turn over details of several thousand client accounts to the I.R.S. as part of a legal settlement. UBS agreed to pay a $780 million fine and admitted criminal wrongdoing.

Only $780 million!! Compared to what they probably really owe in taxes that is spit in the ocean.

The US Department of Justice continues in its investigating of Wikileaks and Julian Assange for the leaking of US documents that so far are more embarrassing than violations of any real “state secrets”.

It’s fairly clear by now to the average person that the Swiss and the United States are protecting “big money” that owns them and that there are a different set of laws for “overlords” and the rest of the “serfs”. Maintaining the status quo at all costs.

Jan 18 2011

Prime Time

A lot of premiers.

There’s no reason to become alarmed, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?

Later-

Dave hosts Jack Hanna and Steven Tyler.  Jon has Peter Bergen, Stephen Sherry Turkle.  Alton does Crackers and Dutch Ovens.  Conan hosts Cameron Diaz, Dax Shepard, and My Chemical Romance.

After awhile, it got to be all normal. None of it seemed like crime. It was more like Henry was enterprising, and that he and the guys were making a few bucks hustling, while all the other guys were sitting on their asses, waiting for handouts. Our husbands weren’t brain surgeons, they were blue-collar guys. The only way they could make extra money, real extra money, was to go out and cut a few corners.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Jan 18 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 50 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Whistleblower hands Assange offshore bank secrets

by Robin Millard, AFP

1 hr 45 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange vowed to publish secret details of offshore accounts after a Swiss banking whistleblower handed over data Monday on 2,000 purportedly tax-dodging individuals and firms.

Former Swiss banker Rudolf Elmer, who worked for eight years in the Cayman Islands, a renowned offshore tax haven in the Caribbean, personally gave Assange two CDs of data at a London press conference.

Elmer said he wanted the world to know the truth about money concealed in offshore accounts and the systems in place to keep it secret.