Daily Archive: 07/08/2011

Jul 08 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Atlantis blasts off on end-of-era spaceflight

By Kerry Sheridan, AFP

37 mins ago

Atlantis blazed a path into history Friday as it rocketed off the launch pad for a final time, marking the last-ever liftoff of the 30-year-old American space shuttle program.

The storied spacecraft is carrying a crew of four US astronauts toward the International Space Station on a 12-day mission to re-stock the orbiting lab, where it is due to dock on Sunday.

The mission marks the end of an era in human spaceflight. The United States will soon have no spacecraft capable of taking astronauts to orbit, leaving Russia’s three-seat Soyuz capsule as the sole taxi to the ISS.

Jul 08 2011

Congressional Game of Chicken: Debt Limit & Social Security

While there is a lot of angst on the part of the left and progressives over President Obama putting Social Security on the bargaining table for some meager tax concessions, they are still no closer to an agreement with the Republicans on the looming debt limit. Obama has rejected any temporary deal that would just kick the can down the road, possibly making the debt limit an even bigger issue in 2012 and a door for the Republicans to get the Bush/Obama tax cuts extended, or worse made permanent. The President has also said that he would not renew them again but after the last 3 years, can we realistically believe anything he says. After all, he is now doing what Bush could never have gotten away with, putting the safety nets for our seniors, disabled and poor on the line to protect the wealthiest.

Today. The Speaker of the House, John A. Boehner, clearly stated, “There is no agreement, in private or in public.”  The House recess for July 18th has been canceled signally that no agreement is in sight.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi met pivately with the President today. Prior to her meeting Ms. Pelosi clearly indicated that she would resist efforts to tie the deal to Social Security.

“Do not consider Social Security a piggy bank for giving tax cuts to the wealthiest people in our country,” Ms. Pelosi said to reporters on Capitol Hill after the meeting. “We are not going to balance the budget on the backs of America’s seniors, women and people with disabilities.”

Last night Keith Olbermann looked at this current state of these discussions.

Boehner: “We are not going to raise taxes on the very people that we expect to invest in our economy and help grow jobs.”

Olbermann: “Shut up. If they were reinvesting in the economy, we wouldn’t be in this position, moron. They’re keeping the money.”

Rep Raul Grivala: “Without overwhelming support from our caucus, this would be a difficult bill to pass”

Pres. Bill Clinton. They quadrupled the debt before me and double it after. Suddenly it’s the biggest problem in the world”

Ryan Grimm: “Obana has been dangling safety net cuts for the last several weeks.  He created the cat food commission . . .

The idea that Obama is the defender of Sociual Security isn’t going to get you very far.

“One dime a month is enough to put many elderly in the poor house.”

Considering today’s news about jobs and unemployment at 9.2%, this, to put it bluntly, sucks.

Jul 08 2011

This Week In The Dream Antilles

   

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Greetings from Paraiso!  For the past week, your Bloguero has been in Bahia Soliman, a sheltered bay just north of the famous ruins at Tulum, Mexico.  Your Bloguero spends as much time here as he can.  And as you can probably see from the essays at The Dream Antilles this week, from here the world of politics and government seems remote, so your Bloguero tends to stick to writing a “lit blog,” which is how The Dream Antilles began almost 6 years ago.  

How, you might ask, can politics and the narco war seem remote? Is not your Bloguero in narco-war dominated Mexico?  Short answers abound.  Mexico is a big country.  The violence has concentrated in the states bordering the US and on the west coast of Mexico.  Tulum, about an hour and a half’s drive south of Cancun, is on the east coast, near the Belize border, and hasn’t really had anything to do with any of that.  So in a way, staying away from Tulum and the rest of the Riviera Maya in fear of impending narco violencia is like staying away from Philadelphia because there is a crime wave in Pittsburgh.  This is a fact that the US State Department and the US Department of Homeland Security have done little to clarify.  And their lack of explanation and the seemingly well founded fear it has nourished have badly hurt the tourism industry in this part of Mexico.  And that, in turn, has badly hurt all of those many people who came to the coast of Quintana Roo from the interior in the past decade to work in construction and tourism and the numerous service industries.  It is a shame that ignorance of the US’s neighbor to the South has these consequences.

Up On A Roof continues your Bloguero’s love of Estilo Robinson Crusue and Manayn, indigenous construction.  This essay is an appreciation of the palaperos, whose skill and artisanship is making and fixing palapa roofs, traditional roofs thatched with palm.  OSHA would never permit this to continue.  But these are skilled professionals. Don’t try this at home.

Your Bloguero welcomed the July new moon with a Haiku.

Two Gathas For A Potholed Road  is your Bloguero’s appreciation of the potholed road that leads to Bahia Soliman from Highway 307.  Gathas are tools for mindfulness; the slow drive on the road so that the driver won’t flatten the tires or destroy the suspension is a perfect opportunity to bring one’s focus to the present.  Two Gathas, one for coming, one for going.

Your Bloguero noted July Fourth.  It’s not a holiday in Mexico.  No matter.  Your Bloguero extended holiday greetings to readers in the US.

In Sweet Rain your Bloguero notes that Chaucer had the right adjective to describe the sweet, summer rains in Bahia Soliman.

Your Bloguero finished the manuscript for his second novel, Tulum, and he immediately launched an attack on the conventions concerning the use of italics to indicate foreign words in Italics Be Gone! Scram!  Beat It! and in Italics Part Deux in manuscripts.  The conclusion of all of this is probably that your Bloguero will not italicize any English or Spanish words in the new novel, so as to facilitate the continuing cross-pollination of these languages.  Latin, on the other hand, is a dead language and probably deserves the salute.

The Sky Over Bahia Soliman features two incredible photographs of the twilight sky taken with a cell phone.

This Evening’s Caress is your Bloguero’s appreciation of the gentle summer rain in Bahia Soliman.  Having written that last night, your Bloguero went out for a morning walk on Friday, and immediately was showered with kisses.  And drenched.  Mama-kocha has a wonderful sense of humor.

(Note to Readers: If you want quicker notification of new essays published at The Dream Antilles than this weekly digest, just scroll down the right margin of The Dream Antilles.  There you will find the “Networked Blogs” logo.  Click “Follow this Blog” and, presto chango! you will begin to receive notifications of new essays as soon as they are posted.)  

This Week In The Dream Antilles is a weekly digest. Sometimes, like now, it is actually a digest of essays posted in the past week. Your Bloguero always solicits your support. No, not your money. Just leave a comment so that your Bloguero will know that you stopped by. Or, even easier, just click the “Encouragement jar”.  Your Bloguero likes to know that you’re there.

       

Jul 08 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”.

Paul Krugman: What Obama Wants

On Thursday, President Obama met with Republicans to discuss a debt deal. We don’t know exactly what was proposed, but news reports before the meeting suggested that Mr. Obama is offering huge spending cuts, possibly including cuts to Social Security and an end to Medicare’s status as a program available in full to all Americans, regardless of income.

Obviously, the details matter a lot, but progressives, and Democrats in general, are understandably very worried. Should they be? In a word, yes.

Now, this might just be theater: Mr. Obama may be pulling an anti-Corleone, making Republicans an offer they can’t accept. The reports say that the Obama plan also involves significant new revenues, a notion that remains anathema to the Republican base. So the goal may be to paint the G.O.P. into a corner, making Republicans look like intransigent extremists – which they are.

But let’s be frank. It’s getting harder and harder to trust Mr. Obama’s motives in the budget fight, given the way his economic rhetoric has veered to the right. In fact, if all you did was listen to his speeches, you might conclude that he basically shares the G.O.P.’s diagnosis of what ails our economy and what should be done to fix it. And maybe that’s not a false impression; maybe it’s the simple truth.

Lawrence H. Tribe: A Ceiling We Can’t Wish Away

ON May 16, the United States hit its legal debt limit of $14.3 trillion. Unless that limit is raised, the Treasury will, on Aug. 2, be unable to pay its bills. It will then have to either stop spending money on government programs, or default on paying the nation’s creditors.

The White House and Congressional Republicans agree in principle that the debt ceiling needs to be raised, but they are at an impasse on how to constrain the deficit’s rapid growth. Meanwhile, some people have theorized that there’s a way to get around the debt limit.

Several law professors and senators, and even Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner, have suggested that section 4 of the 14th Amendment, known as the public debt clause, might provide a silver bullet. This provision states that “the validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law … shall not be questioned.” They argue that the public debt clause is sufficient to nullify the ceiling – or can be used to permit the president to borrow money without regard to the ceiling.

Both approaches provide the false hope of a legal answer that obviates the need for a real solution.

Carl Gibson: Tax the Rich, Problem Solved

What if there was a group of terrorists holding your family hostage with a gun pointed at themselves, demanding the account number to your pension fund? Would you negotiate with the terrorists by allowing them access to your savings, or would you let them shoot themselves and keep your retirement money intact?

Congressional Republicans are threatening to default on the debt unless President Obama caves to their demands to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security spending. Regardless of the market-crashing consequences of a debt default, actually doing so would be unconstitutional. Section 4 of the 14th Amendment clearly states that “The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law, including debts incurred for payment of pensions…shall not be questioned.” Republicans are violating the constitution by threatening a debt default. End of discussion.

Eugene Robinson: A little more revenue could go a long way A little more revenue could go a long way

Do progressives care about reducing the national debt? Of course they do, no matter what the White House might believe.

“We think that obviously there are some Democrats who don’t feel as strongly about deficit reduction as [President Obama] does,” senior adviser David Plouffe said Wednesday at a breakfast with reporters and columnists. But that’s not obvious at all. It isn’t even true.

There’s no dispute about where we need to go. The question is what path to take.

Clearly, the federal government cannot continue spending at a rate of 25 percent of gross domestic product while taking in revenue that equals less than 15 percent of GDP, as is the case this year. We would reach the point where debt service crowds out health care, education and other priorities dear to progressives’ hearts. Major investments the nation desperately needs to make – for infrastructure and energy research, for example – would be impossible. Decline would be inevitable.

The way to avoid this dystopian future is to bring spending and revenue more into balance. Yes, there will be some pain and sacrifice. But it is not necessary – nor is it wise – to heap a disproportionate share of the burden onto the backs of the poor, the elderly and the battered middle class.

John Nichols: With Rupert Murdoch’s Empire in Crisis, What of Fox and His American Project?

Rupert Murdoch’s global media monolith, which includes key players in America’s right-wing media echo chamber, Fox News channel, the New York Post and the Wall Street Journal, is in meltdown.

A headline in Britain’s Independent newspaper Thursday morning cried: “Murdoch Empire in Crisis.”

Murdoch’s News Corporation announced Thursday that it would close Britain’s 2.8 million-circulation News of the World, once the highest-circulation newspaper on the planet, in response to a scandal that has exposed the sleazy practices of Murdoch’s employees. The immediate decision to close the 168-year-old newspaper came following revelations that a private investigator employed by the newspaper had allegedly hacked the cellphones of the families of British soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Jamelle Bouie: With Entitlements on the Table, Obama Plans to Go Big on a Budget Deal

Last night, several news outlets broke stories saying the same thing: President Obama is willing to make a deal on Social Security. Contrary to liberal hopes, this isn’t a deal to raise Social Security benefits or lower the eligibility age-a reasonable idea when unemployment is high and growth is sluggish. Instead, Obama has reportedly offered to expand the scope of spending cuts, including major changes to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, in return for $1 trillion in new revenue and an increase in the debt limit.

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In light of the size of the White House proposal and its limited palpability to members of both parties, it’s hard to see it as anything but political theater; an attempt to demonstrate President Obama’s willingness to go “big” on deficit reduction. Even still, it’s extremely disheartening; it demonstrates that, as always, Obama is willing to cater to the center-right in a huge way (entitlement cuts) for the sake of a small political advantage.

Jul 08 2011

How’s that austerity thing working out Barack?

Confidence fairies creating jobs yet?  Or are you going to go into 2012 with 10% Unemployment expecting to win?

Electoral victory my ass.

Job Growth Falters Badly, Clouding Hope for Recovery

By CHRISTINE HAUSER, The New York Times

Published: July 8, 2011

The United States economy added a meager 18,000 jobs in June, up from a gain of a revised 25,000 jobs in May (Herry Monster and John John should teach either Christine or the Labor Department a lesson on Up and Down), the Department of Labor said on Friday. The unemployment rate rose to 9.2 percent from 9.1 percent in May, the department said.



The report said that 14.1 million people were out of work in June, among them 6.3 million who have been jobless for six months or longer. In May, the total number of unemployed people was reported as 13.9 million, with the long-term unemployed at 6.2 million.

The numbers showed the continuing challenges of adding jobs to the economy even at a rate that keeps pace with population growth, two years after the official end of the longest economic downturn since the Great Depression.

Friday’s report showed that 39,000 government jobs were cut in June. The previous month, 28,000 local government and 2,000 state jobs were cut, as states and towns dealt with tighter budgets.



Economists have ratcheted down their forecasts for the overall growth of the economy, with some estimating an annual rate of about 2 percent or slightly more for the second quarter.

Can you say douple dip?  I knew that you could.

Unfortunately for Barack a Recession is not ice cream.

Jul 08 2011

Le Tour 2011- Stage 7

Le Mans to Châteauroux 136 miles

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Well, it rained a lot, and hard.  Teams were extremely cautious after all the crashes on Wednesday and most of the top riders’ positions are unchanged with the exception of Liepheimer who lost a full minute in, what else, a crash.

We had 2 more withdrawals, Ivan Velasco of Euskaltel who did not start and Vasil Kiryienka of Movistar who was outside the time limit.

There were 62 riders in the top group with the same time as the Stage winner, Edvald Boasson Hagen.  Matthew Harley Goss was second and Thor Hushovd third.  Rojas, Gilbert, Evans, both Schlecks, and Contador also had 0 deltas.

Everyone knows the home of the Grand Prix of Endurance and Efficiency and while tomorrow finishes with a climb into the Massif Central today’s Stage is the flatest in this year’s Tour.  BruceMcF, who understands the points competition for sprinters (Green Jersey) much better than I do, expects two classic bunch sprints– one at the midway checkpoint and again at Châteauroux.

We race through the weekend in medium mountains with a rest day on Monday (no rest for the wicked, I’ll be reviewing Sunday’s results).  After that it’s two flat Stages and then 3 days in the Pyrenees where Contador will be looking to put it away if he can.

This weekend is also Silverstone so you can expect your regular Qualifying and race coverage.  This will be somewhat distracting for me tomorrow as the live Speed coverage of Qualifying conflicts, today all I’ll have to do is drag my ass out of bed at 2 am (did I mention no rest?) to catch up with Valencia on Debrief and the lastest developments with a repeat of today’s P2 session.  The race itself will be on Fox Sunday which means tape delayed until noon.

Vs. coverage of Le Tour starts at 8 am for your half hour of hype before we join the race already in progress.

Jul 08 2011

On This Day In History July 8

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.

Click on images to enlarge.

July 8 is the 189th day of the year (190th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 176 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1951, Paris celebrates 2,000th birthday. In fact, a few more candles would’ve technically been required on the birthday cake, as the City of Lights was most likely founded around 250 B.C.

Origins

The earliest archaeological signs of permanent settlements in the Paris area date from around 4200 BC. The Parisii, a sub-tribe of the Celtic Senones, inhabited the area near the river Seine from around 250 BC. The Romans conquered the Paris basin in 52 BC, with a permanent settlement by the end of the same century on the Left Bank Sainte Geneviève Hill and the Île de la Cité. The Gallo-Roman town was originally called Lutetia, but later Gallicised to Lutèce. It expanded greatly over the following centuries, becoming a prosperous city with a forum, palaces, baths, temples, theatres, and an amphitheatre.

The collapse of the Roman empire and the 5th-century Germanic invasions sent the city into a period of decline. By 400 AD, Lutèce, largely abandoned by its inhabitants, was little more than a garrison town entrenched into a hastily fortified central island. The city reclaimed its original appellation of “Paris” towards the end of the Roman occupation.

The Paris region was under full control of the Germanic Franks by the late 5th century. The Frankish king Clovis the Frank, the first king of the Merovingian dynasty, made the city his capital from 508. The late 8th century Carolingian dynasty displaced the Frankish capital to Aachen; this period coincided with the beginning of Viking invasions that had spread as far as Paris by the early 9th century. Repeated invasions forced Parisians to build a fortress on the Île de la Cité; one of the most remarkable Viking raids was on 28 March 845, when Paris was sacked and held ransom, probably by Ragnar Lodbrok, who left only after receiving a large bounty paid by the crown. The weakness of the late Carolingian kings of France led to the gradual rise in power of the Counts of Paris; Odo, Count of Paris was elected king of France by feudal lords, and the end of the Carolingian empire came in 987, when Hugh Capet, count of Paris, was elected king of France. Paris, under the Capetian kings, became a capital once more.

Jul 08 2011

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

If you do not get Current TV you can watch Keith here:

Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv

Jul 08 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Britain’s scandal-hit News of the World to shut

By Danny Kemp, AFP

4 hrs ago

Britain’s News of the World tabloid will print the last edition in its 168-year history on Sunday following a devastating scandal over phone hacking, owner Rupert Murdoch’s son James said Thursday.

The shock move comes after Britain’s biggest-selling Sunday newspaper was hit by allegations that it had hacked the phones of a murdered girl, the relatives of dead soldiers and hundreds of celebrities, politicians and royals.

“Having consulted senior colleagues, I have decided that we must take further decisive action with respect to the paper. This Sunday will be the last issue of the News of the World,” James Murdoch said in a statement.