Daily Archive: 02/09/2011

Feb 09 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 56 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Egypt regime warns of crackdown as revolt spreads

by Sara Hussein, AFP

1 hr 14 mins ago

CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s embattled regime warned of a military crackdown on Wednesday as massive protests demanding its overthrow spilled out across the country and deadly unrest flared in the remote south.

Hundreds of demonstrators marched on parliament from the epicentre of the uprising in Cairo’s Tahrir Square the day after the largest protests since the revolt began, as other demonstrations erupted in cities across the country.

Foreign Minister Ahmed Abul Gheit warned the army, until now a respected and mostly neutral force on Cairo’s streets, would intervene to protect the country if the protests against President Hosni Mubarak escalated.

Feb 09 2011

from firefly-dreaming 9.2.11

Regular Daily Features:

Essays Featured Wednesday, February :

 

come firefly-dreaming with me….

Feb 09 2011

The Economic Crisis: Whose Side is Obama On?

This is mind bending. Faced with rising heating prices of oil and natural gas, the President wants to cut energy assistance for the poor by cutting $3 billion from LIHEAP funding. But, heaven forbid, we should cut from the sacred cow of defense spending or Homeland Security, or end the Bush tax cuts black holes of the budget deficit.

How many people, if any, might actually lose the assistance is difficult to determine. Officials were quick to point out that LIHEAP spending has grown significantly over the past several years as the government tried to keep up with rising gas prices. In 2008, the government spent $2.8 billion on LIHEAP. In 2009, thanks to the Recovery Act, better known as the stimulus bill, the figure jumped to $8.1 billion. So the cut from that high level restores LIHEAP to something close to where it was before Obama took office. Other circumstances, such as the weather and fuel prices, could effect the distribution of benefits.

Still, despite the uncertainties surrounding the proposed cut, it is dramatic. LIHEAP has been semi-sacred for most Democrats and many Republicans–a program that carries an emotional resonance as it was designed to keep poor people, particularly older poor people, cool in the summer and warm in the winter. “A lot of people in the Northeast are going to be unhappy,” an administration official briefed on the budget said.

This is what’s happening around the country;

N.H. gets additional $14m in heating aid; Maine to get another $23m

ROCHESTER – Thanks to help from the federal government, potentially thousands of New Hampshire and Maine households won’t be left out in the cold this winter.

On Tuesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., announced the Granite State will receive an additional $13,924,612 in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) under the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), which provides heating aid to households in need.

According to a release from Shaheen, the funds are in addition to the $19,767,875 HHS has already released to the state as of Dec. 10, and bring New Hampshire’s Fiscal Year 2011 total through March 4 to $33,692,487 – nearly equal to the total it received during the same period last year.

Community Advocates, Entergy Employees Seek Sustained Funding to Help Low-Income Customers in Need Pay Energy Costs

NEW ORLEANS, Feb. 7, 2011 PRNewswire — Entergy Corporation employees and advocates for low-income residents are in Washington, D.C., this week to ask Congress for funding to help low-income families, the elderly and the disabled pay energy costs through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.

On Feb. 9, Entergy employees and nonprofit group representatives will be among more than 140 advocates from across the country participating in the National Fuel Funds Network’s Washington Action Day for LIHEAP. Entergy employees are there as part of their ongoing commitment to help low-income customers. LIHEAP is America’s primary tool to help working-poor families pay for home energy costs, especially those families with preschoolers, elderly or disabled members.

Frigid winter weather forces poor to choose heat or rent

Poor face crunch as utility bills soar when temperatures plunge

A mother had her electricity cut off this week even as more snow and cold headed for Nashville.

The working woman had the choice, “pay the rent or pay the utility bill,” after she got behind with a large December power bill, said Tanya Gray of the Martha O’Bryan Center, where the woman sought help Wednesday.

Colder-than-normal temperatures last month and in January have sent utility bills spiraling up.

Local agency will be able to help poor heat their homes after all


An organization will be able to continue to help low-income families stay warm in the winter after all.

One week ago Mid Michigan Community Action got a letter notifying it would lose more than $500,000 in funding.  The state said it was taking the money back effective January 31, 2011 because the federal government cut funding to the state’s low income energy assistance program or LIHEAP.

snip

Then, late Monday the state notified Mid Michigan Community Action it would not be reclaiming the funding after all.  The federal government reinstated funding after many voiced concerns such cuts could be deadly.

This President keeps trampling on those who can least afford it and his supporters will make excuses for him. This isn’t the way create jobs or solve the budget problems. Disgusting

Feb 09 2011

Under The Radar: Open Thread

Or the stuff you won’t hear from the MSM. The blogosphere is a big place and there is a lot going on that gets lost in all those pixels. The subtle background, the nuances to the top political news that don’t get aired in prime time. Lots of stories get buried or just ignored in news dumps. The White House does it all the time releasing stories late on Friday nights in hopes that in the rush to start the weekend and the media misses, or decides its not important enough.

* The MSM is bored with events in Egypt but the protests continue larger and louder and protesters are telling the White house to “butt out” and are warning of a coup. Protesters have blocked Parliament and many workers have gone on strike throughout Egypt. (I will have an up date on this later.) Meanwhile you can follow the latest events at Al Jazeera and The Guardian.

* Not so much “under the radar”, this morning there is the news that Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) will not run for re-election in 2012. The election is setting to be up a re-run of 2006 with the Republican nominee, George “Macaca” Allen. Webb eked out that victory and most likely with his decision it will fall back into “red” hands. Josh Marshall at TPM thinks that that may not be the outcome and gives his take bases on a PPP poll.

Prior to Webb’s announcement, former Gov. Tim Kaine (D) had said repeatedly that he was not interested in running. However, in PPP’s poll, he polled even better than Webb and was beating Allen by 6 points. And that was back in November. So pretty much at the nadir of Dems’ fortunes.

Perhaps, Kaine will rethink and run.

* While we were all taken a back by the defeat of the Patriot Act renewal, the cold hard fact is that it will most likely pass later this week with a simple majority but with a lot more debate and some amendments. While 26 of the Tea Party caucus voted “nay”, this is the sad truth:

Only 26 Republicans voted against the bill, and there are 52 members of the Republican Tea Party Caucus, whose chairperson, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn) voted for reauthorization along with most of the rest of her caucus. As Slate’s Dave Weigel  points out, only eight of the 26 were Republican freshmen elected last November.

* Bank of America has its woes of late and has been targeted by Wikileaks for its next big revelation. In a lame effort to bring down Wikileaks, BoA hired a security firm to investigate and bring down, Glenn Greenwald. Instead the firm, HBGary Federal, had the tables turned on them by that band of merry hackers, Anonymous, who “attacked the HBGary Federal computer system, defacing their website. They also took control of Aaron Barr’s personal twitter account where they posted his home address, telephone number, social security number, and an archive containing 50,000 messages from his HBGary email account”. This is part of the message sent to HBGary by Anonymous:

   You believe that you can sell the information you’ve found to the FBI? False. Now, why is this one false? We’ve seen your internal documents, all of them, and do you know what we did? We laughed. Most of the information you’ve “extracted” is publicly available via our IRC networks. The personal details of Anonymous “members” you think you’ve acquired are, quite simply, nonsense.

   So why can’t you sell this information to the FBI like you intended? Because we’re going to give it to them for free. Your gloriously fallacious work can be a wonder for all to scour, as will all of your private emails (more than 44,000 beauties for the public to enjoy). Now as you’re probably aware, Anonymous is quite serious when it comes to things like this, and usually we can elaborate gratuitously on our reasoning behind operations, but we will give you a simple explanation, because you seem like primitive people:

   You have blindly charged into the Anonymous hive, a hive from which you’ve tried to steal honey. Did you think the bees would not defend it? Well here we are. You’ve angered the hive, and now you are being stung.

LMAO

* In the “we are against tax hikes, unless” category. TPM reports that, in a Republican version of Sharia law,  Republicans are proposing a massive tax hike on private insurance  and businesses should they cover any abortion, even in the case of the woman’s life. Yeah, let ’em bleed to death, there are more women than men anyway and most of those who will die are poor.  

Feb 09 2011

Our Global Elites

Italian prosecutors push for speedy trial in Berlusconi prostitution case

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who has weathered many scandals during his career, could be in court within weeks to face charges related to underage prostitution.

By Nick Squires, Correspondent, The Christian Science Monitor

February 9, 2011

The prosecutors in Milan said they had “sufficient evidence” for the case to be sent to trial without the need for preliminary hearings, meaning the prime minister could face court within weeks.



Prosecutors have accused Berlusconi of paying to have sexual relations with a 17-year-old nightclub dancer, Karima el-Mahroug. Investigators also allege that the prime minister abused his office by putting pressure on police in Milan to have the Moroccan-born teenager released from custody after she was arrested on suspicion of theft – an allegation that carries a maximum 12-year prison term.

Berlusconi has admitted personally calling a police station in Milan to intervene in the case, justifying his actions by saying that he believed Ms. Mahroug’s claim that she was the granddaughter of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

More from The Guardian.

Of course he still fucked her, even though he believed that.  That’s kind of disrespectful to Muslims don’t you think?

And in other news showing how utterly corrupt our Global Elites are-

Nicolas Sarkozy orders ministers to holiday in France

President Nicolas Sarkozy on Wednesday ordered ministers to pay the ultimate price after two scandals over hospitality from disputed North African leaders and take all their holidays in France.

By Henry Samuel, The Telegraph

5:52PM GMT 09 Feb 2011

The presidential order came a day after François Fillon, the prime minister, admitted taking a holiday in Egypt with his family paid for by President Hosni Mubarak’s government.

His admission came as Michèle Alliot-Marie, the foreign minister, fended off calls to resign for taking a hospitality jet while on holiday in Tunisia over Christmas and with unrest under way. The plane belonged to a Tunisian billionaire close to the country’s ousted president, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.



“The crumbling of the public spirit has reached the very top of the state,” said Jean-Marc Ayrault, the Socialist parliamentary leader who had led calls for Mrs Alliot-Marie to resign. Mr Fillon pledged to propose a law to curb conflicts of interest “in the coming weeks”.

Feb 09 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”

Frances Fox Piven: The real threat of Glenn Beck’s fantasies

It’s harm not to myself, but to American democracy that I fear from the Fox News host’s paranoid theories of social collapse

When the process of governing is incomprehensible, manipulation and propaganda thrives. The strange stories that Glenn Beck creates with his chalkboard gain traction with Americans, who are made anxious by the large changes that have overtaken the United States, including the election of a black president and the increasing racial diversity of the population, deindustrialisation and the decline of American power abroad, as well as cultural changes in sexual and family norms.

By telling simple fairy tales that trace these big and complex changes to the machinations of particular people, Beck makes the changes comprehensible in a way, and also makes the people who are presumably responsible the targets of his listeners’ frustration and outrage. Partly because it is utterly irrational, and partly because it is an effort to bully and intimidate his political opponents, this is dangerous for democratic politics.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Needed: New national security thinking

The popular uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen reveal some uncomfortable truths about this country’s foreign policy. The Obama administration – caught between not wanting to abandon Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak, a cruel dictator who has been a loyal ally, and wanting to guide or support a popular uprising that will define the future – is caught in a replay of a scene we see over and over again.

America unfurls the flag of democracy and human rights rhetorically, but we ally ourselves with “stability” – that is, all too often, with dictatorship: Cuba’s Batista, Nicaragua’s Somoza, Chile’s Pinochet, South Africa’s apartheid regime, Egypt’s Mubarak, Iran’s shah, Indonesia’s Suharto, the Philippines’ Marcos and many more. When the people finally revolt, we flounder, usually concerned more about shoring up the existing regime than supporting democracy.

Katherine Gallagher: George Bush: no escaping torture charges

Sooner or later, Bush will step into a country where he will be prosecuted for authorising the abuses of the ‘war on terror’

Late last year, former US President George W Bush recounted in his memoir, Decision Points, that when he was asked in 2002 if it was permissible to waterboard a detainee held in secret CIA custody outside the United States, answered “damn right”. This “decision point” led to the waterboarding of that person 183 times in one month. Others were waterboarded, as well.

Waterboarding is torture. In the past, the US prosecuted and convicted Japanese officials who waterboarded US and allied prisoners. US Attorney General Eric Holder has unequivocally stated that waterboarding is torture.

The United States is under an absolute obligation under the Convention Against Torture (CAT) to investigate, prosecute and punish torturers. And yet, here was the former president of the United States admitting he authorised torture. And nothing.

Feb 09 2011

Tip of the Iceberg

Banks face $60 billion mortgage hit: S&P

Cleaning up the mortgage mess isn’t getting any cheaper.

Posted by Colin Barr, Fortune

February 8, 2011 12:48 pm

The banking industry could find itself picking up a $60 billion tab for souring home loans, Standard & Poor’s Ratings says in its latest report on so-called mortgage putbacks.

When S&P last looked at the issue in November, it said the six biggest U.S. lenders faced $43 billion in mortgage-repurchase costs. That was itself up from July’s estimate, which held that the leading banks would have to build their reserves to the tune of $24 billion.



February’s estimate stems largely from rising projected costs to settle claims by private mortgage securities investors and monoline insurers.



S&P has been raising its forecasts for the costs of settling disputes with private investors and monoline insurers who promised to pay when borrowers fell behind. The rating agency now estimates the cost of settling those cases at $29 billion, evenly split between the two categories.



Rising projected costs for settling the private label and monoline claims could hit bank earnings at a time when tighter rules and slow economic growth are already weighing on profits. What’s more, the report highlights the risk that the banks could yet take more lumps, depending on how various cases turn out and whether investors become more aggressive in pressing their grievances.

The world’s dumbest banks

Ireland’s disastrous banks continue to punch above their weight.

Posted by Colin Barr

February 9, 2011 6:36 am

(A) list of the most reckless banks wouldn’t be complete without a mention of Merrill Lynch, which was sold in distress to Bank of America (BAC) with $668 billion in assets just before Lehman Brothers failed, or Wachovia, which was raffled off to Wells Fargo (WFC) a couple weeks later with $764 billion worth.



The good news is that one of the guys who made out like a bandit while running into the ground, former CEO Sean FitzPatrick (of Anglo Irish Bank), has already reached this acceptance state. This after he took 80 million euros in loans from the bank without telling shareholders, then declared he had frittered it all away.

“I am very happy to put my hands up,” he told the Irish Sunday Times last month. “I am very happy to apologize to all my creditors. I don’t feel ashamed, but I do feel regret, very serious regret, and I am sorry that it is going to cause people losses.” Talk about an understatement.

I repeat my offer to lose $24 Billion for a much more reasonable rate than 80 Million Euros.  I bet I could manage to do it for a mere Million or 2 a year.

Feb 09 2011

On This Day in History February 9

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.

February 9 is the 40th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 325 days remaining until the end of the year (326 in leap years).

On this day in 1950, Joseph Raymond McCarthy, a relatively obscure Republican senator from Wisconsin, accuses State Department of being infiltrated by communists. McCarthy announces during a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, that he has in his hand a list of 205 communists who have infiltrated the U.S. State Department. The unsubstantiated declaration, which was little more than a publicity stunt, suddenly thrust Senator McCarthy into the national spotlight.

Asked to reveal the names on the list, the reckless and opportunistic senator named officials he determined guilty by association, such as Owen Lattimore, an expert on Chinese culture and affairs who had advised the State Department. McCarthy described Lattimore as the “top Russian spy” in America.

These and other equally shocking accusations prompted the Senate to form a special committee, headed by Senator Millard Tydings of Maryland, to investigate the matter. The committee found little to substantiate McCarthy’s charges, but McCarthy nevertheless touched a nerve in the American public, and during the next two years he made increasingly sensational charges, even attacking President Harry S. Truman’s respected former secretary of state, George C. Marshall.

Wheeling speech

McCarthy experienced a meteoric rise in national profile on February 9, 1950, when he gave a Lincoln Day speech to the Republican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia. His words in the speech are a matter of some debate, as no audio recording was saved. However, it is generally agreed that he produced a piece of paper that he claimed contained a list of known Communists working for the State Department. McCarthy is usually quoted to have said: “The State Department is infested with communists. I have here in my hand a list of 205-a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.”

There is some dispute about whether or not McCarthy actually gave the number of people on the list as being “205” or “57”. In a later telegram to President Truman, and when entering the speech into the Congressional Record, he used the number 57. The origin of the number 205 can be traced: In later debates on the Senate floor, McCarthy referred to a 1946 letter that then-Secretary of State James Byrnes sent to Congressman Adolph J. Sabath. In that letter, Byrnes said State Department security investigations had resulted in “recommendation against permanent employment” for 284 persons, and that 79 of these had been removed from their jobs; this left 205 still on the State Department’s payroll. In fact, by the time of McCarthy’s speech only about 65 of the employees mentioned in the Byrnes letter were still with the State Department, and all of these had undergone further security checks.

At the time of McCarthy’s speech, communism was a growing concern in the United States. This concern was exacerbated by the actions of the Soviet Union in Eastern Europe, the fall of China to the communists, the Soviets’ development of the atomic bomb the year before, and by the contemporary controversy surrounding Alger Hiss and the confession of Soviet spy Klaus Fuchs. With this background and due to the sensational nature of McCarthy’s charge against the State Department, the Wheeling speech soon attracted a flood of press interest in McCarthy.

Feb 09 2011

Patriot Act Extension FAILS!!! Up Date

The Patriot act Extension has FAILED to pass in the House!

House rejects measure that would extend key Patriot Act provisions through December

A measure to extend key provisions of the Patriot Act counterterrorism surveillance law through December failed the House Tuesday night, with more than two-dozen Republicans bucking their party to oppose the measure.

The House measure, which was sponsored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and required a two-thirds majority for passage, failed on a 277-to-148 vote. Twenty-six Republicans voted with 122 Democrats to oppose the measure, while 67 Democrats voted with 210 Republicans to back it. Ten members did not vote.

The measure would have extended three key provisions of the Patriot Act that are set to expire on Monday, Feb. 28, unless Congress moves to reauthorize them. One of the provisions authorizes the FBI to continue using roving wiretaps on surveillance targets; the second allows the government to access “any tangible items,” such as library records, in the course of surveillance; and the third is a “lone wolf” provision of the Intelligence Reform and Terrorist Prevention Act that allows for the surveillance of targets who are not connected to an identified terrorist group.

The vote came as several tea party-aligned members of the new freshman class had been expressing doubts about the measure.

Primary those Democrats that voted for “Yes”. This is the second issue that I have to agree with Sen. Rand Paul and the Tea Party Republicans. The second issue: cutting defense spending not Social Security or Medicare. Paul has said that he would vote against extension next month when the bill comes before the Senate.

Up Date: This is the statement from Rep. Dennis Kucinich:

“The defeat of the reauthorization of the PATRIOT Act, under the suspension of the rules, signals the potential for a new coalition. Twenty-six Republicans joined one hundred and twenty-two Democrats to block passage, forcing a new debate on these critical questions of privacy and civil liberties. It was thought that reauthorization would be non-controversial, which is why it was placed under a suspension of the rules, but the fact that it failed to get the two-thirds vote required indicates that it is controversial. This is a surprising development and it will lead to more debate about the PATRIOT Act. I credit Conservative Republicans, Libertarians and members of the Tea Party for standing by their beliefs and thank my fellow Democrats for providing one of the first major challenges to the PATRIOT Act.

“It is expected that the bill will be brought up again, but the opposition has now surfaced. I look forward to working with this new coalition to continue to rally support to defeat the PATRIOT Act,”

Feb 09 2011

Prime Time

Solid premiers again.  New V and NCIS for those who care about such things.  Traffic Light is a Series Premier.

He’s all wrong for us, baby. I saw you beat that man like I never saw no man get beat before, and the man kept coming after you. Now we don’t need no man like that in our lives.

You’re the Man. You’re number one. The Champ, the best of all time. Girls love you – Men, old people love you. Young people love you. You’re the best. You’re the Man, and he’s yours. He’s yours, he’s yours. This bum shouldn’t be in the same ring with you. I want you to show him who you are tonight. Show him who you are tonight. Stick him!

Later-

Good morning gentlemen, I am Colonel Robert Gould Shaw. I am your commanding officer. It is a great pleasure to see you all here today. It is my hope that the same courage, spirit, and honor, which has brought us together, will one day restore this Union. May God bless us all.

Dave hosts Adam Sandler, Chris Colfer, and Gang of Four.  Jon and Stephen are in repeats from 1/27.

Can’t I? I’m a colonel, you nasty little cuss! You think you can keep 700 Union soldiers without proper shoes because you think it’s *funny*? Now, where would that power come from?

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

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