07/26/2011 archive

Congressional Game of Chicken: “Super Congress”

The bills that have been proposed by Republican and Democratic leadership to raise the debt ceiling putting an an to this wholly manufactured crisis, differ little and both will be devastating to most Americans. One of the commonalities is the creation of a bipartisan commission of 12 that on first glance seems innocuous but on looking closer, it is quite toxic and may even be unconstitutional. This “super committee” will be equally comprised of Democrats and Republicans members of congress. Who and how they will be selected is unclear but considering the current corporate owned, deficit hawk nature of both sides, I suspect it will be their worst conservative “cut spending/no revenue ghouls”.

At first glance, this sounds like the President’s Deficit Commission that couldn’t produce recommendations even 14 of the 18 members could agree. The co-chairs, former Sen. Alan Simpson (R-WY) and former Clinton Chief of Staff and South Carolina businessman, Erskine Bowles wrote there own recommendations and ran it up the flagpole. Needless to say President Obama saluted and embraced the draconian principles that it enshrined, such as decimating Medicare and Medicaid and drastic cuts to Social Security. The “Catfood Commission”, however, had no “teeth”, everything that was suggested would have to be passed as a bill. This new commission is another game and will have the force of law behind it.

Ryan Grimm at Huffington Post has the best description of how this “new congress” will function and just how powerful it will be:

Legislation approved by the Super Congress — which some on Capitol Hill are calling the “super committee” — would then be fast-tracked through both chambers, where it couldn’t be amended by simple, regular lawmakers, who’d have the ability only to cast an up or down vote. With the weight of both leaderships behind it, a product originated by the Super Congress would have a strong chance of moving through the little Congress and quickly becoming law. A Super Congress would be less accountable than the system that exists today, and would find it easier to strip the public of popular benefits. Negotiators are currently considering cutting the mortgage deduction and tax credits for retirement savings, for instance, extremely popular policies that would be difficult to slice up using the traditional legislative process.

House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has made a Super Congress a central part of his last-minute proposal, multiple news reports and people familiar with his plan say. A picture of Boehner’s proposal began to come into focus Saturday evening: The debt ceiling would be raised for a short-term period and coupled with an equal dollar figure of cuts, somewhere in the vicinity of a trillion dollars over ten years. A second increase in the debt ceiling would be tied to the creation of a Super Congress that would be required to find a minimum amount of spending cuts. Because the elevated panel would need at least one Democratic vote, its plan would presumably include at least some revenue, though if it’s anything like the deals on the table today, it would likely be heavily slanted toward spending cuts.

The tea party Republicans in the House have informed Speaker John Boehner that the commission is totally unacceptable to them. There main objection is they feel it could lead to tax increases. Other critics from the right like Eric Erickson of Red State are opposed mostly because it just ads another costly layer to the bureaucracy that won’t work. From the left, Rep Barney Frank (D-MA) and MoveOn.org expressed concerns that it would cut the big three social safety nets and the idea that it would supersede congress’s parliamentary power.

The ratings agencies have said that the Boehner bill will result in a ratings downgrade since it only raised the debt ceiling by $1 trillion which will require another cap raise in 5 months, creating uncertainty in the bond market. The White House has embraced the Reid version which would move the need raising the ceiling again past 2012 which is more acceptable to the ratings agencies who think the ceiling should just be removed entirely.

This is going to the wire with both sides deadlocked and hamstrung by a small loud and incredibly stupid minority and ineffective leaderchip on both sides.

Today’s Exercise In Participatory Democracy

Last night after the President’s speech, I thought I would send a cheerful email to my Republican Congressman.  The idea was simple: I want the debt ceiling raised without any preconditions so we won’t have a massive economic debacle.  I’d ask him just to put the budget/debt/spending/taxation/deficit debate on hold to avoid a market and jobs and worldwide economic meltdown.  It’s simple. Even the President didn’t ask for it though.  So what.  So I went to the trusty laptop, found Chris Gibson’s web site for Congress (and the ones that are still up from his November, 2010 election campaign) and tried to send an email.  No can do.  I get a message that says, “Server Too Busy.”  No email page.  Fine, I think.  Millions of Americans are at this very moment trying to express themselves.  I don’t care what they’re saying; it’s democracy at work. I’ll try again in the morning.  I will be heard, I think.  I will persevere.

It is now 8:30 am.  First, because I have not had enough coffee, I mistakenly send an email to Chris Gibson at his site to be elected to Congress.  After I send it I think, “That was great. And easy.  On to today’s activities.”  Then I realize what I did.  I’m sure that was an utter waste of time and that nobody will retrieve, let alone read this email. I regroup.  I  again find his Congressional web page to send an email, http://gibson.house.gov/Forms/… and guess what?  I wait.  And I wait.  And it doesn’t load.  And I wait.  And I wait some more.  And finally after about 19 minutes I get the idea that it’s just not going to load.  Ever.  I’m just not going to be able to send this guy an email with my views about the impending default. The page will not load.  Damn it, I say.  I’m not going to let this obstacle prevent me from saying what I have to say.  I’ve got too much invested in this project already. I’m going to have to use antiquated technology, the telephone, to call my Congressman’s local office.

Meanwhile, while I’m wondering how the United States Congress can have such crummy servers and whether that is in fact a metaphor for the entire US infrastructure, if not the alienation of the voters, I get a disquieting, automated response from the Chris Gibson Campaign which ended in November, 2010.  It says:

Our campaign is dedicated to restoring a free, prosperous and safe America. We believe that by reducing taxes, spending and borrowing, we can unleash the private sector‚s ability to create jobs and provide economic security for local families.

Uh oh.  It doesn’t sound like Congressman Chris Gibson is in favor of just raising the debt ceiling to avoid an economic meltdown.  Sounds like he might have some other agenda,  one that sounds all Tea Partyish.  Is he an acolyte of the Orange Guy?  Of the T-publicans?  I shrug.  I’m will not be deterred.  I don’t care what he said when he ran.  We all know that most of that campaign, just like very other campaign, was complete nonsense, just political garbage, no matter who the candidate was.  Just look, for example, at President Obama.   Yes, I say, just look. That turns out to be a very depressing, disillusioning idea to pursue.  I stop thinking about it and tell myself to get back on task.

Undeterred, I try to shake off the bipartisan gloom and find the Congressman’s local phone number.  Great idea.  His web site still will not load the office information so I cannot get a phone number for the Hudson office from the web.  I wait. Meanwhile, I wonder whether Obama is ever going to close Gitmo, or tax the fat cats, or do any of the other great Hope and Change mambo I enjoyed so much.  I start to muse about Universal Health Care.  Impeachment of Cheney  I’m getting very depressed.  After about ten minutes of totally dispiriting self talk, and trying figure out how to get a number, the website loads, and I find a number in Kinderhook, (518) 610-8133.  Ah.  The day will not be a complete waste, I think.

I dial.  To my surprise, the number is answered.  Immediately. I tell the woman on the other end that I’m a constituent, that the nation and I cannot afford a default, and that I want the Congressman to do whatever has to be done, including caving in completely to the President, hoisting the white flag of surrender, to avoid a default.  The debate on taxes, debt, spending, the deficit, all of that stuff, can wait for another day.  Just prevent a default.  Just avert the economic disaster.  Do whatever has to be done to prevent a worldwide economic collapse.  She says she’ll tell the Congressman.  I think her, give her my contact information, and hang up.

Thank goodness.  I was beginning to think it was going to take all day to unburden myself and get this modest message through to my representative.   I was beginning to reconcile myself to wasting hours to accomplish just that.  This only took 45 minutes.  Great.  But now I’m thinking that what happened is that they have a score sheet at the Congressman’s office with two columns on it:  Column 1 says, “Boehner,” Column 2, “Obama.”  It took me 45 minutes to be a line, like “/”, in the “Obama” column.  Yes, they’ll tell the Congressman all right.  They’ll tell him at the end of the morning, 106 for this and 102 for that.  Then he’ll do whatever the people who wrote their opinion on the back of a $1000 check told him to do.

This thought leads to frowning.  Where, I wonder, where is all of the Hope.  And the Change.  And that strong safety net.  And our caring about the people who most need assistance.  I have no idea.  And why, I wonder, isn’t the President on board with, “Give me a clean bill, one that avoids the default until 2013, and we can debate all the rest of this afterwards.  This is an emergency.”  Why indeed.  Why is everything I want always, yes, always “off the table” before the discussions begin.  How sad.  It feels like electoral politics business as usual.  


cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

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: The Republican Wreckage

House Republicans have lost sight of the country’s welfare. It’s hard to conclude anything else from their latest actions, including the House speaker’s dismissal of President Obama’s plea for compromise Monday night. They have largely succeeded in their campaign to ransom America’s economy for the biggest spending cuts in a generation. They have warped an exercise in paying off current debt into an argument about future spending. Yet, when they win another concession, they walk away.

This increasingly reckless game has pushed the nation to the brink of ruinous default. The Republicans have dimmed the futures of millions of jobless Americans, whose hopes for work grow more out of reach as government job programs are cut and interest rates begin to rise. They have made the federal government a laughingstock around the globe.

Ari Melber: In Debt Address, Obama Asks Americans to Raise The Roof

President Obama did not say anything particularly new in his unprecedented deficit address to the Nation on Monday night.  The most significant moment came not in an original announcement or last-minute proposal, but in the President’s request that Americans actually get up, get involved, and ask Congress to lay off the insanity.

“I’m asking you all to make your voice heard,” the President said near the end of the address.

“If you want a balanced approach to reducing the deficit, let your Member of Congress know,” Obama continued, “If you believe we can solve this problem through compromise — send that message.”

Even for a politician who ran on his (brief) history as a grassroots organizer, that is unusual. It may really help – there were reports of Congressional websites crashing from traffic spikes on Monday night, according to Huffington Post’s Howard Fineman.

The potential problem, however, is that while Obama admirably walked through the facts on deficits and default, he did not offer a clear, single, final offer for would-be supporters to rally around.

Robert Reich: Why Washington is About to Make the Jobs Crisis Worse

We now live in parallel universes.

One universe is the one in which most Americans live. In it, almost 15 million people are unemployed, wages are declining (adjusted for inflation), and home values are still falling. The unsurprising result is consumers aren’t buying – which is causing employers to slow down their hiring and in many cases lay off more of their workers. In this universe, we’re locked in a vicious economic cycle that’s getting worse.

The other universe is the one in which Washington politicians live. They are now engaged in a bitter partisan battle over how, and by how much, to reduce the federal budget deficit in order to buy enough votes to lift the debt ceiling.

John Nichols: ‘Right-Wing Nutters’ Threaten Global Economy, as IMF Warns of “Disastrous Consequences”

Global markets are slumping, and the dollar is rapidly losing ground in international trading (hitting a record low against the Swiss franc Monday) amid fears that the determination of John Boehner, Paul Ryan and their henchmen to hold the US economy hostage for political purposes could create an international crisis.

Concerns about the Republican refusal to allow the debt ceiling to rise are now being voiced far from Washington. And some of the loudest objections are coming from long-time US allies and governments that led by conservatives.

Britian’s Secretary of State for Business Vince Cable, an economist who serves as a member of Conservative Party Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government, has been particularly blunt in his criticism of the economic madness that is being imposed on the United States-and now the world-by a band of career politicians whose only knowledge of how finance works comes from collecting campaign-contribution checks.

Joe Nocera: This Is Considered Punishment?

Last Wednesday, nearly lost in the furor over Rupert-gate and the debt ceiling crisis, came the surprising news that the Federal Reserve has issued a cease-and-desist order against a Too-Big-to-Fail bank. The bank was Wells Fargo, which was also fined $85 million and ordered to compensate customers it had unfairly – indeed, illegally – taken advantage of during the subprime bubble.

What made the news surprising, of course, was that the Federal Reserve has rarely, if ever, taken action against a bank for making predatory loans. Alan Greenspan, the former Fed chairman, didn’t believe in regulation and turned a blind eye to subprime abuses. His successor, Ben Bernanke, is not the ideologue that Greenspan is, but, as an institution, the Fed prefers to coddle banks rather than punish them. That the Fed would crack down on Wells Fargo would seem to suggest a long-overdue awakening.

Eugene Robinson: The Influence Industry of Rage

The monster who slaughtered at least 76 innocent victims in Norway was animated by the same blend of paranoia, xenophobia and alienation that fuels anti-Muslim sentiment in the United States. Yes, it could happen here.

One could argue that it already did, in Oklahoma City. The difference is that Timothy McVeigh’s apocalyptic anger was diffuse and nonspecific. Anders Behring Breivik-who has acknowledged detonating a powerful fertilizer bomb in central Oslo and then killing scores of teenagers and young adults on a nearby resort island-was focused like a laser beam on what he saw as the “threat” posed by Islam.

The judge who presided over Breivik’s arraignment Monday said the accused mass murderer “believes that he needed to carry out these acts to save Norway (from) cultural Marxism and Muslim domination.”

E. J. Dionne: After the Debt Ceiling Fiasco

Hours before the negotiations on the debt limit between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner collapsed, political reporters received a missive from Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign that served as a reminder of how irrelevant this kerfuffle might feel next year.

The headline read, “Romney for President Launches New Web Video: Obama Isn’t Working: Where are the Jobs?”

The video spoke to the difficulties that new college graduates are having finding work in a brutal job market. This bit of campaign propaganda went straight at the core of Obama’s political base-young Americans who volunteered for him by the tens of thousands in 2008 and powered him to victory in state after state. If joblessness disillusions enough of them, the president will be in trouble.

Romney’s exercise was a passing bit of politics unlikely to make many waves in an environment obsessed with debt and fears of default. But it was hugely instructive.

It’s the Economy Stupid

Please remember that criticising Barack Obama and his failed economic policies is racist.

Recession Study Finds Hispanics Hit the Hardest


Published: July 26, 2011

WOODBRIDGE, Va. – Hispanic families accounted for the largest single decline in wealth of any ethnic and racial group in the country during the recession, according to a study published Tuesday by the Pew Foundation.

The study, which used data collected by the Census Bureau, found that the median wealth of Hispanic households fell by 66 percent from 2005 to 2009. By contrast, the median wealth of whites fell by just 16 percent over the same period. African Americans saw their wealth drop by 53 percent. Asians also saw a big decline, with household wealth dropping 54 percent.

The declines have led to the largest wealth disparities in the 25 years that the bureau has been collecting the data, according to the report.

Median wealth of whites is now 20 times that of black households and 18 times that of Hispanic households, double the already marked disparities that had prevailed in the decades before the recent recession, the study found.

Electoral victory my ass.

Obama leaves Hispanic activists unsatisfied

By David Nakamura, The Washington Post

Posted at 10:25 AM ET, 07/26/2011

Appearing at a luncheon at the Wardman Park Marriott for the National Council of La Raza, the largest Hispanic civil rights organization in the country, Obama sought to shore up support from a critical pillar of the coalition that got him elected in 2008. It did not go as smoothly as the president might have hoped.

(T)he crowd was not completely convinced. A group of students stood during the president’s remarks, in a silent protest against his policies. And at a news conference afterward, La Raza President Janet Murguía said Obama had failed the Latino community.

“We’re not satisfied the president has kept his promise,” she said. “On the issue of immigration reform, it’s fair to say that we didn’t hear anything new.”

Netroots Nation 2011, Immigration and the Power of the Latino Vote: Why Harry Reid Came Back and Alex Sink Sunk

On This Day In History July 26

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.

July 26 is the 207th day of the year (208th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 158 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1775, the U.S. postal system is established by the Second Continental Congress, with Benjamin Franklin as its first postmaster general. Franklin (1706-1790) put in place the foundation for many aspects of today’s mail system. During early colonial times in the 1600s, few American colonists needed to send mail to each other; it was more likely that their correspondence was with letter writers in Britain. Mail deliveries from across the Atlantic were sporadic and could take many months to arrive. There were no post offices in the colonies, so mail was typically left at inns and taverns. In 1753, Benjamin Franklin, who had been postmaster of Philadelphia, became one of two joint postmasters general for the colonies. He made numerous improvements to the mail system, including setting up new, more efficient colonial routes and cutting delivery time in half between Philadelphia and New York by having the weekly mail wagon travel both day and night via relay teams. Franklin also debuted the first rate chart, which standardized delivery costs based on distance and weight. In 1774, the British fired Franklin from his postmaster job because of his revolutionary activities. However, the following year, he was appointed postmaster general of the United Colonies by the Continental Congress. Franklin held the job until late in 1776, when he was sent to France as a diplomat. He left a vastly improved mail system, with routes from Florida to Maine and regular service between the colonies and Britain. President George Washington appointed Samuel Osgood, a former Massachusetts congressman, as the first postmaster general of the American nation under the new U.S. constitution in 1789. At the time, there were approximately 75 post offices in the country


Category Errors

It is a category error to consider Barack Obama a Democrat.

Elizabeth Drew Wants a Better President, Also a Pony

By: Scarecrow, Firedog Lake

Monday July 25, 2011 11:24 am

You can hardly blame the growing number of decent folks, long respected, admired writers like Elizabeth Drew, who are now, or still, calling on Barack Obama to stop being a wimp, a disappointment, a terrible negotiator, or a betrayer to his people, principles and Party and become a better President. But he won’t, people, so what’s plan B?

I’m a great fan of Ms. Drew; have been for, um, decades. In her now widely seen article, she joins many others urging Mr. Obama to just say no to the economic terrorists holding the government, its credit, its finances and its functions hostage. Just demand a clean, no strings bill to raise the debt limit and tell the nation, and the Tea-GOP, that he’s had enough. The nation would cheer.

The problem with all such urgings is they assume the President is being forced to accept terrible public policy, and that only a stiffer spine, backed by his supporters, or perhaps a more clever bargaining strategy, would release the inner President he keeps hidden.

There is ample evidence, delivered almost daily in his press conferences and statements by his closest advisers, that he deeply believes in the economic austerity, confidence fairy, and debt hysteria notions that fully account for this public positions. The President and his men simply support terrible policies.

If for no other reason than naked political self preservation, the nominal leaders of the Democratic Party should be disconnecting from the suicide pact Mr. Obama wants them to sign. But where is the evidence they understand this?

In the Senate, Harry Reid is fashioning an alternative plan for his Party to self destruct. It even includes another anti-democratic Cat Food Commission to finish the job. What political genius came up with the idea that an acceptable out would be to slash federal spending during a still possible depression by $2.6 trillion or so, with or without new taxes, and putting the family jewels at risk again, as the best way to appease the terrorists? What will the terrorists demand next as they dismantle government’s ability to function?

Obama takes political, policy gamble on ‘big deal’

By Zachary A. Goldfarb, The Washington Post

Published: July 24

Obama’s political advisers have long believed that securing such an agreement would provide an enormous boost to his 2012 campaign, according to people familiar with White House thinking. In particular, they want to preserve and improve the president’s standing among political independents, who abandoned Democrats in the 2010 midterm elections and who say reining in the nation’s debt is a high priority.

The risk for Obama now is that his pursuit of a far-reaching package could deeply disappoint his Democratic allies who believe he may be giving away too much. By calculating that an ambitious plan to reduce the nation’s debt by $4 trillion over 10 years is so important, he’s willing to endanger one of the best weapons in his party’s arsenal – the argument that Democrats will protect Medicare and Social Security at all costs.

Administration officials said the shift fits with Obama’s vision of what his presidency should look like.

Obama is focused on the views of independent voters in the general election. In polls, independents still show support for Obama, but his numbers have come down significantly since he took office.

“He sees the achievement of a big deal as a way to reach out effectively to the kinds of independent and moderate voters who supported him so strongly in 2008 and who have become somewhat disaffected in the interim,” said William Galston, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

A deal would also help Obama inoculate himself against criticism from Republicans that he has failed to tame the debt.

“It benefits him politically a great deal if there’s a big deal,” said Jim Kessler, vice president for policy and a co-founder of Third Way, a left-leaning group that has been supporting an ambitious plan. “The deficit favors Republicans. But if it seems like it’s been solved, then you take away one of the biggest Republican issues and at worst you neutralize it and at best you win it.”

Left leaning?

And how is that working out for you?

Public Policy Polling as cited by John Aravosis and Taylor Marsh

For the first time since last July Barack Obama does not lead Mitt Romney in PPP’s monthly national poll on the 2012 Presidential race. Romney has now pulled into a tie with the President at 45%.

Obama’s approval rating this month is 46% with 48% of voters disapproving of him. There are 2 things particularly troubling in his numbers: independents split against him by a 44/49 margin, and 16% of Democrats are unhappy with the job he’s doing while only 10% of Republicans give him good marks. Republicans dislike him at this point to a greater extent than Democrats like him and that will be a problem for him moving forward if it persists.

Obama’s numbers are worse than they appear to be on the surface. The vast majority of the undecideds in all of these match ups disapprove of the job Obama’s doing but aren’t committing to a candidate yet while they wait to see how the Republican field shakes out.

How undecideds change the race if you allocate them based on their approval/disapproval of Obama-

Matchup Approve Disapprove Winner/Margin
Obama/Romney 21% 61% Romney 52-48
Obama/Pawlenty 9% 75% Tied 50-50
Obama/Bachmann 10% 67% Obama 51-49
Obama/Cain 8% 76% Obama 51-49
Obama/Palin 5% 84% Obama 54-46

CNN Poll: Drop in liberal support pushes Obama approval rating down

By: CNN Political Unit

July 22nd, 2011, 01:01 PM ET

Washington (CNN) – President Barack Obama’s approval rating is down to 45 percent, driven in part by growing dissatisfaction on the left with the president’s track record in office, according to a new national survey.

“But drill down into that number and you’ll see signs of a stirring discontent on the left,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland. “Thirty-eight percent say they disapprove because President Obama has been too liberal, but 13 percent say they disapprove of Obama because he has not been liberal enough – nearly double what it was in May, when the question was last asked, and the first time that number has hit double digits in Obama’s presidency.”

Looking at that figure another way, roughly one in four Americans who disapprove of the president say they feel that way because he’s not been liberal enough.

Obama’s approval rating among liberals has dropped to 71 percent, the lowest point in his presidency. And the number of Democrats who want the party to renominate Obama next year, now at 77 percent, is relatively robust by historical standards but is also down a bit since June.

“It’s likely that this is a reaction to some of Obama’s recent actions, including his willingness to discuss major changes in Social Security and Medicare as part of the debt ceiling negotiations,” adds Holland.

Vicious Cycles: Why Washington is About to Make the Jobs Crisis Worse

Robert Reich

Monday, July 25, 2011

We now live in parallel universes.

One universe is the one in which most Americans live. In it, almost 15 million people are unemployed, wages are declining (adjusted for inflation), and home values are still falling. The unsurprising result is consumers aren’t buying – which is causing employers to slow down their hiring and in many cases lay off more of their workers. In this universe, we’re locked in a vicious economic cycle that’s getting worse.

The other universe is the one in which Washington politicians live. They are now engaged in a bitter partisan battle over how, and by how much, to reduce the federal budget deficit in order to buy enough votes to lift the debt ceiling.

The two universes have nothing whatever to do with one another – except for one thing. If consumers can’t and won’t buy, and employers won’t hire without customers, the spender of last resort must be government. We’ve understood this since government spending on World War II catapulted America out of the Great Depression – reversing the most vicious of vicious cycles. We’ve understood it in every economic downturn since then.

Until now.

When you’ve lost Jeralyn

Dear President Obama,

We know you don’t like baby boomers.  But you wouldn’t have been elected without us.

If reports are true that you are willing to endorse a raise in the eligibility age for Medicare, please consider this your pink slip.

We are the largest generation in history and we vote.  Please think long and hard before throwing us under the bus.  We will surely take you with us.


Talk Left

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

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Norway mass-killer seeks show-trial celebrity

By Roddy Thomson, AFP

19 hrs ago

Norwegian mass killer Anders Behring Breivik appears before an Oslo judge on Monday, seeking show-trial celebrity as the once placid Nordic nation mourns the 93 weekend victims lying in city morgues.

The 32-year-old self-styled white ‘Jihadist’ will make his first appearance in a downtown court around 1:00 pm (1100 GMT), for arraignment over a bombing and shooting spree that marked the country’s worst violence since World War II.

The key initial decision to be taken by the judge is whether to order the hearing staged behind closed doors — away from prying media eyes the world over.