06/17/2012 archive

Rant of the Week: Jon Stewart

Bank Wankers

After reportedly losing $7 billion on risky investments, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon travels to Capitol Hill to face the mighty Senate Banking Committee.

Eight the hard way is proving riskier than I thought.

It must be fun to be a Republican Senator sometimes, becuase you get the fun of breaking shit and the joy of complaining that the shit you just broke doesn’t work.

On This Day In History June 17

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.

June 17 is the 168th day of the year (169th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 197 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1885, the Statue of Liberty, a gift of friendship from the people of France to the people of the United States, arrives in New York City’s harbor.

The Statue of Liberty (Liberty Enlightening the World, French: La Liberté éclairant le monde) is a colossal neoclassical sculpture on Liberty Island in New York Harbor, designed by Frédéric Bartholdi and dedicated on October 28, 1886. The statue, a gift to the United States from the people of France, is of a robed female figure representing Libertas, the Roman goddess of freedom, who bears a torch and a tabula ansata (a tablet evoking the law) upon which is inscribed the date of the American Declaration of Independence. A broken chain lies at her feet. The statue has become an icon of freedom and of the United States.

Bartholdi was inspired by French law professor and politician Édouard René de Laboulaye, who commented in 1865 that any monument raised to American independence would properly be a joint project of the French and American peoples. Due to the troubled political situation in France, work on the statue did not commence until the early 1870s. In 1875, Laboulaye proposed that the French finance the statue and the Americans provide the pedestal and the site. Bartholdi completed both the head and the torch-bearing arm before the statue was fully designed, and these pieces were exhibited for publicity at international expositions. The arm was displayed in New York’s Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882. Fundraising proved difficult, especially for the Americans, and by 1885 work on the pedestal was threatened due to lack of funds. Publisher Joseph Pulitzer of the World initiated a drive for donations to complete the project, and the campaign inspired over 120,000 contributors, most of whom gave less than a dollar. The statue was constructed in France, shipped overseas in crates, and assembled on the completed pedestal on what was then called Bedloe’s Island. The statue’s completion was marked by New York’s first ticker-tape parade and a dedication ceremony presided over by President Grover Cleveland.

The statue was administered by the United States Lighthouse Board until 1901 and then by the Department of War; since 1933 it has been maintained by the National Park Service. The statue was closed for renovation for much of 1938. In the early 1980s, it was found to have deteriorated to such an extent that a major restoration was required. While the statue was closed from 1984 to 1986, the torch and a large part of the internal structure were replaced. After the September 11 attacks in 2001, it was closed for reasons of safety and security; the pedestal reopened in 2004 and the statue in 2009, with limits on the number of visitors allowed to ascend to the crown. The statue is scheduled to close for up to a year beginning in late 2011 so that a secondary staircase can be installed. Public access to the balcony surrounding the torch has been barred for safety reasons since 1916.

Elections Egypt, France and Greece

The Big Three elections that are taking place this weekend in Egypt, France and Greece. The outcome of these elections will not only effect the people of those countries but will have global impact as well.

In Egypt, the second day of voting for president is expected to be heavier than yesterday. Many Egyptians, not trusting the safety of their ballots held overnight, decided to hold off and vote today. Their choices are between between a conservative Islamist, Mohamed Morsi, the candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hosni Mubarak’s former prime minister and long time friend, Ahmed Shafiq.

The prevailing mood among voters was one of deep anxiety over the future, tinged with bitterness that their revolution had stalled. Moreover, there was a sense of voting fatigue, and fears that no matter who won, street protests would erupt again.

Egyptians have gone to the polls multiple times since Mubarak’s fall on 11 February 2011: a referendum early last year, then three months of multi-round parliamentary elections that began in November, and the first round of presidential elections last month. [..]

The election is supposed to be the last stop in a turbulent transition overseen by the military generals. But even if they nominally hand over some powers to the winner, they will still hold the upper hand over the next president.

The generals are likely to issue an interim constitution defining the president’s authority while they retain their hold on legislative powers, and they will probably appoint a panel to write the permanent constitution.

Since the Mubarak packed Egyptian Supreme Court declared the parliamentary elections unconstitutional and dissolved parliament, the military has imposed martial law. Without a parliament, military council and the new president will get to write the constitution. This is not what the Egyptian people took to the streets planned or want. As Egyptian activist Mona Eltahawy said on Twitter: the choice is between the fascists with guns or the fascist with god.

In France, parliamentary elections are today. French citizens living outside France voted yesterday at consulates around the world. These elections will determine how much clout newly elected President François Hollande’s socialist government will have to get France and Europe out of the economic doldrums with a stimulus package from the EU. Much depends on German Chancellor Angela Merkel and just how much she will budge. So far, despite her party’s losses in state elections, it looks like she has dug her heels in forcing unwanted, and admittedly counterproductive, austerity measures on everyone.

The Socialists need 289 MPs in the 577-seat house for an absolute majority, which would allow Hollande to implement his manifesto with relative ease. The broad French left dominated the first-round vote on 10 June, and polls suggest a Socialist absolute majority is possible, though not a certainty.

Even if Hollande’s party does not quite win a majority alone, it looks likely to be able to make up the numbers by forming a partnership with the Greens, with whom it has an electoral accord. This would avoid Hollande having to depend on more hardline leftists who oppose key elements of his programme.

Much will depend on voter turnout. This is the fourth election in France in two months, after the two-round presidential race. Turnout in the first-round parliamentary vote on 10 June was 57%, the lowest since 1958.

One of the key issues is whether the far-right Front National can win seats and sit in parliament for the first time since 1986. The last FN deputy was elected in 1997, but the result was later annulled over funding irregularities.

And probably the most important election is taking place in Greece where a win for the far left Syriza Party may drastically change the austerity policies that have created a humanitarian crisis.

The Guardian has documented the humanitarian catastrophe that followed. Soup kitchens for the middle class, a huge jump in homelessness and mental disease, daily suicides, lack of basic medicines, cancer patients turned away from pharmacies, and hospitals ceasing operation because of a lack of basic supplies. The question on Sunday is not between the euro and the drachma, but between the continuation of these policies or salvation from the greatest destruction a people have experienced in peacetime. If something is leading to the exit from the euro, a probable collapse of the eurozone and a possible world crisis of 1930s magnitude, is not the Syriza policies but extreme austerity and mad economic recipes.

Syriza is totally committed to the eurozone. Its manifesto promises an immediate repeal of all laws enacted by the Greek government after the bailouts. Some of the measures affecting the private sector were never demanded by the troika – the EU, IMF and the European Central Bank – and were introduced by the establishment parties. After that, negotiations will start for a substantial reduction of the debt, which may be followed by a moratorium on servicing the debt until the economy starts growing again.

In a highly symbolic move, the minimum wage and unemployment benefit will return to their pre-austerity levels. Syriza’s anti-austerity and pro-Europe policies represent the best interests of the Greek people.

Many of the results will be available later today, some later in the week since most of these elections are done with paper ballots which take time to count and confirm. We will bring the results and analysis of their impact as they are posted.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Chris announced that two of his guests would be Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) and Rolling Stone contributor Michael Hastings.

The Melissa Harris-Perry Show: The list of guests was not available.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Sunday’s guests are White House senior adviser David Plouffe.

The roundtable debates all the week’s politics, with Romney national campaign co-chair and former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, ABC News’ George Will, political strategist and ABC News political analyst Matthew Dowd, former Obama economic adviser and ABC News consultant Austan Goolsbee, and editor and publisher of The Nation Katrina vanden Heuvel.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are former Vermont Governor and 2004 Democratic Presidential Candidate Howard Dean and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC),

His roundtable guests are The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, National Review & TIME Magazine’s Richard Lowry, CBS News Political Correspondent Jan Crawford and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson

The Chris Matthews Show: This week’s guests Liz Marlantes, The Christian Science Monitor; David Ignatius, The Washington Post Columnist; Howard Fineman, The Huffington Post Senior Political Editor; and Kelly O’Donnell, NBC News Capitol Hill Correspondent.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Making appearances on MTP are White House senior adviser, David Plouffe, and the man who ran against Obama in 2008, Sen. John McCain (R-AZ).

The roundtable guests are associate editor at The Washington Post and author of the new biography “Barack Obama: The Story,” David Maraniss; presidential historian Doris Kearns Goodwin; TIME‘s Mark Halperin; Fmr. Rep. Harold Ford, Jr. (D-TN); and the Wall Street Journal‘s Kim Strassel.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Guests will include White House Senior Adviser, David Plouffe; former presidential candidate Rick Santorum; Senator John Barrasso (R-WY); the Ranking Member of the House Budget Committee, Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); Matt Bai of the New York Times and Jessica Yellin, CNN’s Chief White House Correspondent.

Slave Food

To make a long story short I once got assigned to cater a volunteer party out of the otherwise discardable leftovers from the rentier crowd.

Once that was done I swore I’d never eat slave food again.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Greeks go to the polls in vote that threatens to shake world economy


By msnbc.com staff and news services

As polls opened on Sunday in a Greek vote, the outcome of which could decide whether the heavily indebted country remains in the euro zone, the World Bank warned that the election of an anti-austerity government could spark a global economic crisis.

“Europe may be able to muddle through but the risk is rising. There could be a Lehmans moment if things are not properly handled,” the outgoing head of the World Bank Robert Zoellick told Britain’s Observer newspaper.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Aung San Suu Kyi: A lesson in the value of kindness

Egypt’s Copts back Shafiq as anti-Islamist bulwark

Rio+20 deal weakens on energy and water pledges

Saudi Arabian women risk arrest as they defy ban on driving

New G.O.P. Help From Casino Mogul