Daily Archive: 02/14/2011

Feb 14 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 40 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Military urges halt to strikes gripping Egypt

by Jailan Zayan, AFP

58 mins ago

CAIRO (AFP) – Egypt’s military government on Monday urged a halt to widespread strikes inspired by a popular uprising that threatened to paralyse the country following Hosni Mubarak’s overthrow.

The orders came after the elderly generals now ruling the country met some of the young Internet activists who triggered the revolt against Mubarak, reportedly promising a referendum on a new constitution within two months.

European governments, meanwhile, moved on Egyptian requests to freeze the assets of several officials of the ousted regime amid accusations that they had salted away billions of dollars in ill-gotten assets.

Feb 14 2011

The Federal Budget Battles on the Backs of the Poor

The White House unveiled their proposals for the Federal Budget for 2012 that begins October 1. Keep in mind that the budget for 2011 has yet to be passed, thanks to the Democrats not being able to rein in their “mavericks” and the penchant for the White House capitulate to Republican demands. As promised, the White House budget does not mention Social Security which has set the Republicans in the House and Senate to whining that it is the President’s responsibility, not theirs, to swing the ax on “entitlements”. While Obama opened the door to this by loading his deficit commission with the likes of Alan Simpson, he has finally recognized that cutting Social Security benefits in any way will be political suicide in 2012. So wisely, he has left it to the Republicans and they are not about to take any responsibility for it.

The rest of the White House budget is pretty dismal. While there are proposals for education, high-speed rail and infrastructure, it does that by shifting money from other vital programs like heating assistance, wage freezes and other draconian cuts mostly affecting those who can least afford it. The President’s proposed budget will allegedly cut the deficit by $1.1 trillion over the next 10 years while still creating creating jobs.

The exchange this morning on CNN with Sen. Jeff Sessions, (R-AL) attacking the Obama budget with the argument that “our cuts are better than your cuts” and trying to pass the buck back to Obama on Social Security cuts. This would really funny if it weren’t so devastating to the majority if Americans and the poor

“A one trillion reduction is insignificant,” Sessions insists. “This is nowhere near what’s necessary to avoid the fiscal nightmare that this nation is facing. … It doesn’t touch any of the entitlements, it only has some reductions in the discretionary accounts.”

That’s a slow ball, right over the center of the plate if your job is to reinforce conventional wisdom, and the anchor, Kiran Chetry, knocks it out of the park. “At what point does everybody get together and just say, ‘Alright, it’s time to tackle these bigger issues: Raising the Social Security retirement age. Medicare doesn’t just go to everybody.’ When is that gonna be tackled.”

But, Sessions responds, on tough issues over which Congress has the ultimate say, it’s the President’s job to take all the political risk!

“We’ve heard nothing from our chief executive, the President of the United States,” he said.

The MSM is still perpetuating the lie that Social Security has to be cut when the truth is that it is the one safety net program that has not added one cent to the deficit. If the fund had not been raided to pay for illegal wars and tax cuts for the rich by the Bush administration, the fund would be solvent well into the next century,even wit the influx of the “Boomer” generation. Social Security is not an entitlement.

The Republican budgets would have the same results on the deficit, the difference being that the Republican budget does not create any jobs but would actually kill any chance of job creation by slashing:

  • High speed rail investments ($5 billion)
  • COPS Hiring (supporting local law enforcement) ($298 million)
  • High School Graduation Initiative ($50 million)
  • Weatherization assistance program ($210 million)
  • National Park Service climate change monitoring and response ($4.5 million)
  • Corporation for Public Broadcasting ($86 million)
  • Green Jobs Innovation Fund ($40 million)

and that is only the tip of the proposed Republican cuts.

Meanwhile, the Pentagon is requesting its largest budget since World War II with Defense Secretary Gates insisting that $553 billion price tag for 2012 is the “the minimum level of funding we can live with.” The promised cuts of $78 billion over 5 years won’t start until 2014 and 2015.

As Center for American Progress senior fellow and President Reagan’s former assistant secretary of defense Larry Korb points out, Obama’s request is “5% higher than what the Defense Department plans to spend this year. In inflation-adjusted dollars, this figure is higher than at any time during the Bush years or during the Cold War.” In fact, the total military budget this year “comes in at a thumping $750 billion – an annual tax of more than $7,000 on every household in the country.” And while there are clear ways to cut $1 trillion from the Pentagon budget, it seems that many in the GOP have no intention of doing so.

(emphasis mine)

Obama and the Democratic has accomplished more than either Bush or Cheney ever dreamed. They had a golden opportunity and totally wasted it. It is very possible that the economy will sink back into another recession worse than the last one.

Feb 14 2011

Reporting the Revolution: February 14

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>With Hosni Mubarak gone and rumors running rampant on his fortune, health and whereabouts, promises of democracy and reform from the military, one would think that the revolution was finished. Today, despite threats of arrest and pleas to go back to work, thousands of striking workers took to the streets again in Tahrir Square and across Egypt demanding better pay and working conditions. Even the police held a demonstration. Even though the internet and phone service is working, the press is still being harassed. There have been reports of camera equipment confiscated, reporters taken into custody and the military has ordered Al Jazeera to stop filming the protests. However, the state media has now taken to praising the revolution with proclamations of “the people ousted the regime”.

The military is walking a very fine line trying to get the economy running and a semblance of order so the government transition can progress to elections in September, as hoped. Banks did not open today because of the continuing protests and tomorrow is a bank holiday. The military council has promised that banks will open on Wednesday.

Protests in other countries are getting larger and louder, as the young Arabs grow weary of stifling regimes. There were many large demonstrations in Iran, Yemen, and Bahrain disregarding bans by governments and the strong presence of police and military.

Guardian has a Live Blog from their reporters in Egypt and around the region refreshes automatically every minute. .

The “Jasmine Revolution” that started in Tunisia is growing It is going to be an interesting summer.

Here is a round up of news:

Clashes reported in Iran protests

Pro-reformist marches under way in Tehran despite a heavy security presence and police crackdown.

There are reports in social media sites and non-state Iranian news sites of clashes between protesters and security forces in Tehran, the Iranian capital.

Thousands of demonstrators were marching on Monday on Enghelab and Azadi streets [which connect and create a straight path through the city centre], with a heavy presence in Enghelab Square and Vali-Asr Street, according to these reports.

Several clashes have been reported on Twitter, the micro-blogging site, with claims of some demonstrators being teargassed and others beaten and arrested.

Al Jazeera’s Dorsa Jabbari, in Tehran, confirmed reports that security forces used tear gas, pepper spray and batons against the protesters.

She said up to 10,000 security forces had been deployed to prevent protesters from gathering at Azadi Square, where the marches, originating from various points in Tehran, were expected to converge.

Young Arabs who can’t wait to throw off shackles of tradition

The frustrated generation at the heart of the protests tell how their progress is being stifled by unemployment and corruption

They live with their parents, hang out in cafes, Facebook their friends, study in their spare time, listen to local rappers – and despair about ever being able to get a good, fulfilling job and start a family. The young people at the vanguard of the protests sweeping the Arab world are an exasperated demographic, the lucky ones stuck in poorly paid jobs they hate, the unlucky ones touting degrees that don’t get them anywhere, an entire generation muzzled by tradition, deference and authoritarian rule.

WikiLeaks cables: Egyptian military head is ‘old and resistant to change’

US ambassador to Cairo gives his opinion on Muhammad Tantawi and number two general, Sami Enan

Nothing Egypt’s military council has done in its past suggests it has the capacity or inclination to introduce speedy and radical change. Guaranteed its $1.3bn (£812m) annual grant from the US – a dividend from the Camp David peace accord with Israel – it has gained the reputation as a hidebound institution with little appetite for reform.

Army urges Egyptians to end strikes

Military council calls on workers to play their role in reviving the economy after almost three weeks of turmoil.

Egypt state media changes sides

Loyal government mouthpieces to the end of Mubarak’s rule, state-run media outlets now celebrate the revolution.

Egyptian minds are opened

Upheaval has opened the door to political and economic reform, but its most lasting effect may be psychological.

Feb 14 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”

New York Times Editorial: In Defense of Marriage, for All

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act is indefensible – officially sanctioned discrimination against one group of Americans imposed during an election year. President Obama seems to know that, or at least he has called on Congress to repeal it. So why do his government’s lawyers continue to defend the act in court?

But just last month, the department appealed two rulings by Joseph Tauro, a federal trial judge in Massachusetts, who found that the law’s denial of benefits to married same-sex couples could not pass constitutional muster. We did not agree with some of the judge’s reasoning. He said the marriage act exceeded Congress’s powers and infringed on the state’s right to regulate marriage – an approach that could undermine many of the biggest federal social programs, including the new health care law.

Glenn Greenwald: The Leaked Campaign to Attack WikiLeaks and Its Supporters

But the real issue highlighted by this episode is just how lawless and unrestrained is the unified axis of government and corporate power. I’ve written many times about this issue — the full-scale merger between public and private spheres — because it’s easily one of the most critical yet under-discussed political topics. Especially (though by no means only) in the worlds of the Surveillance and National Security State, the powers of the state have become largely privatized. There is very little separation between government power and corporate power. Those who wield the latter intrinsically wield the former. The revolving door between the highest levels of government and corporate offices rotates so fast and continuously that it has basically flown off its track and no longer provides even the minimal barrier it once did. It’s not merely that corporate power is unrestrained; it’s worse than that: corporations actively exploit the power of the state to further entrench and enhance their power.

Paul Krugman: Eat The Future

On Friday, House Republicans unveiled their proposal for immediate cuts in federal spending. Uncharacteristically, they failed to accompany the release with a catchy slogan. So I’d like to propose one: Eat the Future.

I’ll explain in a minute. First, let’s talk about the dilemma the G.O.P. faces.

Republican leaders like to claim that the midterms gave them a mandate for sharp cuts in government spending. Some of us believe that the elections were less about spending than they were about persistent high unemployment, but whatever. The key point to understand is that while many voters say that they want lower spending, press the issue a bit further and it turns out that they only want to cut spending on other people.

Feb 14 2011

Monday Business Edition

Monday Business Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Business

1 China overtakes Japan as world’s No. 2 economy

by David Watkins, AFP

2 hrs 40 mins ago

TOKYO (AFP) – Japan lost its 42-year ranking as the world’s second-biggest economy to China in 2010, with data on Monday showing a contraction in the last quarter due to weak consumer spending and a strong yen.

While Japan was expected to fall behind a surging China in the year, the data underlined the weak state of a Japanese economy burdened by deflation, soft domestic demand and pressured by the industrialised world’s biggest debt.

“It is difficult for the deflation-plagued Japanese economy to achieve self-sustained growth,” said Naoki Murakami, chief economist at Monex Securities.

Feb 14 2011

On This Day in History February 14

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 14 is the 45th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 320 days remaining until the end of the year (321 in leap years).

On this day in 1884, future President Theodore Roosevelt’s wife and mother die, only hours apart.

Roosevelt was at work in the New York state legislature attempting to get a government reform bill passed when he was summoned home by his family. He returned home to find his mother, Mittie, had succumbed to typhoid fever. On the same day, his wife of four years, Alice Lee, died of Bright’s disease, a severe kidney ailment. Only two days before her death, Alice Lee had given birth to the couple’s daughter, Alice.

Roosevelt left his daughter in the care of his sister, Anna “Bamie/Bye” in New York City. In his diary he wrote a large X on the page and wrote “the light has gone out of my life.”

A short time later, Roosevelt wrote a tribute to his wife published privately indicating that:

She was beautiful in face and form, and lovelier still in spirit; As a flower she grew, and as a fair young flower she died. Her life had been always in the sunshine; there had never come to her a single sorrow; and none ever knew her who did not love and revere her for the bright, sunny temper and her saintly unselfishness. Fair, pure, and joyous as a maiden; loving , tender, and happy. As a young wife; when she had just become a mother, when her life seemed to be just begun, and when the years seemed so bright before her-then, by a strange and terrible fate, death came to her. And when my heart’s dearest died, the light went from my life forever

To the immense disappointment of his wife’s namesake and daughter, Alice, he would not speak of his wife publicly or privately for the rest of his life and made no mention of her in his autobiography.

Feb 14 2011

Six In The Morning

They’re Just Moving To Fast

Governments step up political concessions, dole out benefits or prepare the riot police in attempts to keep order after the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt, which showed people that strongmen may not be needed to protect against sectarian violence or Islamic extremism.

Middle East nations scramble to contain unrest

Reporting from Amman, Jordan – To track the growing political movements gaining strength from the uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia across North Africa and the Middle East, one would be well advised to get a planner.

There were Saturday’s clashes between demonstrators and police in Algeria, now referred to as #feb12 on Twitter, much as Egypt’s uprising shall forever be known as #jan25. New popular protests are scheduled Monday in Bahrain (#feb14) and Iran (#25Bahman). Libya comes next on #feb17, followed by Algeria again on #feb19, Morocco #feb20, Cameroon #feb23 and Kuwait #mar8.

Feb 14 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for February 13, 2011-

DocuDharma

Feb 14 2011

Pique the Geek 20110213: Firearms 102. Shotguns

I was astonished at the response for the first installment for this series, and so decided that instead of just a couple of survey pieces, reader interest justifies a bit longer treatment, getting more into the weeds. Thus, I have come up with a bit more structured series.

Unlike rifled firearms like pistols and rifles, shotguns are smoothbore weapons. That is, they have no rifling to impart spin to stabilize the projectile, in the case of shotguns usually multiple projectiles. Shotguns are a relatively recent development in their current form, but the concept of firing more than one projectile at a time goes back a very long time.

Modern shotguns are designed to fire a relatively large diameter cartridge as opposed to rifles and pistols. In addition, a different system is used to state the diameter of the cartridge in most cases.

Feb 14 2011

TMC’s Prime Time Special: The Grammy Awards

I’m you substitute host for tonight’s Prime Time. So for this Sunday evening we are going to do something a little different and present a Grammy Awards Open Thread.

First a little History.

It was in 1914 in New York City the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers is established to protect the copyrighted musical compositions of its members. Better known as ASCAP, not-for-profit performance-rights organization (PRO) that protects its members’ musical copyrights by monitoring public performances of their music, whether via a broadcast or live performance, and compensating them accordingly.

ASCAP collects licensing fees from users of music created by ASCAP members, then distributes them back to its members as royalties. In effect, the arrangement is the product of a compromise: when a song is played, the user does not have to pay the copyright holder directly, nor does the music creator have to bill a radio station for use of a song.

ASCAP doesn’t have anything to do with the Grammy Awards but they are one of three organizations in the US that protect the artists’ rights. The other two are Broadcast Music Incorporated (BMI) and the Society of European Stage Authors and Composers (SESAC).

The Grammy Awards are the music industry Oscars, given by the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences (NARAS) of the United States to recognize outstanding achievement in the music industry. The award was established in 1958 and first telecast in November of 1959. Prior to 1971, when the awards were first televised live, they were taped as a series of specials that were presented on NBC. The 53rd Grammy Awards will take place on 13 February 2011 at the Staples Center in Los Angeles and will be broadcast on CBS, 8 PM EST (5 PM PST).

OK. Enough of that. The Nominees are:

Record Of The Year

* Nothin’ On You B.o.B Featuring Bruno Mars

* F*** You Cee Lo Green

* Empire State Of Mind Jay-Z & Alicia Keys

* Need You Now Lady Antebellum

Album Of The Year

* The Suburbs Arcade Fire

* Recovery Eminem

* Need You Now Lady Antebellum<

* The Fame Monster Lady Gaga

* Teenage Dream Katy Perry

Song Of The Year

* Beg Steal Or Borrow

* F*** You

* The House That Built Me

* Love The Way You Lie

* Need You Now

Best New Artist  

* Justin Bieber

* Drake

* Florence & The Machine

* Mumford & Sons

* Esperanza Spalding

Best Female Pop Vocal Performance

* King Of Anything Sara Bareilles

* Halo (Live) Beyoncé

* Chasing Pirates Norah Jones

* Bad Romance Lady Gaga

* Teenage Dream Katy Perry

Best Male Pop Vocal Performance

* Haven’t Met You Yet Michael Bublé

* This Is It Michael Jackson

* Whataya Want From Me Adam Lambert

* Just The Way You Are Bruno Mars

* Half Of My Heart John Mayer

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