03/26/2013 archive

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Day 4 Late Evening

Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
9:35 ESPN2 (1) Baylor 33-1 (8) Florida State 23-9 Midwest
9:40 ESPN2 (1) Notre Dame 32-1 (9) Iowa 21-12 South
9:45 ESPN2 (3) Penn State 27-5 (6) LSU 21-11 West
9:50 ESPN2 (1) Stanford 32-2 (8) Michigan 22-10 West

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Day 4 Early Evening

This schedule kind of sucks because many games are relegated to networks even more obscure than ESPN2 (ESPNU anyone, anyone, Bueller?).

Last night this page had links where you could watch games on-line, I don’t know if you have to pay or register or what.

What I will say is that it’s a shame and a disgrace for the NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament to be treated this way.  It shows disrespect for a game that is altogether superior to Men’s Basketball dunk fests of boredom.

Time Network Seed Team Record Seed Team Record Region
7:05 ESPN2 (3) North Carolina 28-5 (6) Delaware 31-3 East
7:10 ESPNU (2) Duke 30-2 (7) Oklahoma State 22-10 South
7:10 ESPN3 (4) Purdue 25-8 (5) Louisville 25-8 Midwest
7:15 ESPN2 (2) Kentucky 28-5 (7) Dayton 28-2 East

It’s Just Good Business

So you’ve been reading about those bare shelves at WalMart.  Even I thought it was due to their vendors getting tired of being squeezed and late payments (contracts typically call for payment within 90 days of delivery, WalMart waits until the last possible moment to cut a check- always).

Well, there’s another reason that should have occured to me as a former supervisor of shipping and receiving (that’s the fancy title I put on my resume to point out I ran the loading dock and stockrooms, and handled inventory from the back of the truck to the sales floor along with returns to warehouse).

I seldom appeal to expertise, but I’ve seen this first hand.

Customers Flee Wal-Mart Empty Shelves for Target, Costco

By Renee Dudley, Bloomberg Business

Mar 26, 2013 9:47 AM ET

During recent visits … she failed to find more than a dozen basic items, including certain types of face cream, cold medicine, bandages, mouthwash, hangers, lamps and fabrics.

The cosmetics section “looked like someone raided it.”

“If it’s not on the shelf, I can’t buy it,” she said. “You hate to see a company self-destruct, but there are other places to go.”

But, but it’s there in the store!  We have the paperwork to prove it!

“Our in stock levels are up significantly in the last few years, so the premise of this story, which is based on the comments of a handful of people, is inaccurate and not representative of what is happening in our stores across the country,” Brooke Buchanan, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said in an e-mailed statement. “Two-thirds of Americans shop in our stores each month because they know they can find the products they are looking for at low prices.”

Well then where is it?

It’s not as though the merchandise isn’t there. It’s piling up in aisles and in the back of stores because Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, according to interviews with store workers.

At the Kenosha, Wisconsin, Wal-Mart where Mary Pat Tifft has worked for nearly a quarter-century, merchandise ready for the sales floor remains on pallets and in steel bins lining the floor of the back room — an area so full that “no passable aisles” remain, she said. Meanwhile, the front of the store is increasingly barren, Tifft said. That landscape has worsened over the past several years as workers who leave aren’t replaced, she said.

“There’s a lot of voids out there, a lot of voids,” said Tifft, 58, who oversees grocery deliveries and is a member of OUR Walmart, a union-backed group seeking to improve working conditions at the discount chain. “Customers come in, they can’t find what they’re looking for, and they’re leaving.”

Years ago, supervisors drilled a message into employees’ heads: “In the door and to the floor,” Tifft said. That mantra now seems impossible to execute.

“The merchandise is in the store, it just can’t make the jump from the shelf in the back to the one in the front,” said Falletta, who works the second shift. “There’s not the people to do it.”

Well why is that do you suppose?

NCAA Women’s Basketball Tournament 2013: 3/24 Results

* == Upset (if you can call a 9 seed over an 8 seed an upset).

Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(2) 67 Duke 30-2 (15) 51 Hampton 28-6 South
(2) 61 Kentucky 28-5 (15) 41 Navy 21-12 East
(4) 77 Purdue 25-8 (13) 43 Liberty 27-7 Midwest
(6) 66 Delaware 31-3 (11) 53 West Virginia 17-14 East
(7) 73 Oklahoma State 22-10 (10) 56 DePaul 21-12 South
(7) 96 Dayton 28-2 (10) 90 St. John’s 18-13 East
(5) 74 Louisville 25-8 (12) 49 Middle Tenn. 25-8 Midwest
(3) 59 North Carolina 28-5 (14) 54 Albany 27-4 East
(1) 97 Notre Dame 32-1 (16) 64 Tennessee-Martin 19-15 South
(8) 60 Florida State 23-9 (9) 44 Princeton 22-7 Midwest
(3) 85 Penn State 27-5 (14) 55 Cal Poly 21-12 West
(1) 72 Stanford 32-2 (16) 56 Tulsa 17-17 West
(8) 53 Miami (FL) 21-11 * (9) 69 Iowa 21-12 South
(1) 82 Baylor 33-1 (16) 40 Prairie View A&M 17-15 Midwest
(6) 75 LSU 21-11 (11) 71 Green Bay 29-3 West
(8) 60 Michigan 22-10 (9) 52 Villanova 21-11 West

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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

Dean Baker: Senate Unanimously Votes Against Cuts to Social Security, Media Don’t Notice

There are few areas where the corruption of the national media is more apparent than in its treatment of Social Security. Most of the elite media have made it clear in both their opinion and news pages that they want to see benefits cut. In keeping with this position they highlight the views of political figures who push cuts to the program, treating them as responsible, while those who oppose cuts are ignored or mocked.

This pattern of coverage was clearly on display last weekend. Both the New York Times and Washington Post decided to ignore the Senate’s passage by voice vote of the Sanders Amendment. This was an amendment to the budget put forward by Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders that puts the Senate on record as opposing the switch to the chained CPI as the basis for the annual Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).

RobertReich: The Morality Brigade

We’re still legislating and regulating private morality, while at the same time ignoring the much larger crisis of public morality in America. [..]

The morality brigade worries about fetuses, but not what happens to children after they’re born. They and other conservatives have been cutting funding for child nutrition, healthcare for infants and their mothers, and schools.

The new House Republican budget gets a big chunk of its savings from programs designed to help poor kids. The budget sequester already in effect takes aim at programs like Head Start, designed to improve the life chances of poor kids.

Meanwhile, the morality brigade continues to battle same-sex marriage.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: 147 People

Can 147 people perpetuate economic injustice – and make it even worse? Can they subvert the workings of democracy, both abroad and here in the United States? Can 147 people hijack the global economy, plunder the environment, build a world for themselves that serves the few and deprives the many?

There must be some explanation for last week’s economic madness. Take a look: [..]

And when the next crisis comes, “147 people” will react to it exactly the same way they reacted to the last one. You can almost hear them now, can’t you? You can’t blame us, they’ll say.Nobody could’ve seen this coming. How do we know that?

Because we asked everybody we know.

Daniel Wagner and Alexis Giannoulis: The Cyprus Deal Signals a Rise in the Far Right in Europe

News of the 10-billion-euro bailout for Cyprus should not be cause for celebration. An ambiguous plan has been put forward to restructure the country’s banking system and the effective expropriation of depositor funds will continue. Yet global stock markets have, as usual, risen on the news that the ECB has once again bailed out a bankrupt country from within its ranks. So the well-worn mold that has been created by the ECB and global markets continues. Europeans are rightly insecure about what comes next, as they should be given the precedent that has been set, and psychological ‘stress fractures’ are becoming even more pronounced throughout Europe. [..]

In all likelihood, the net result of the latest chapter in the European saga is that average Europeans will have less confidence in their collective future and governments. The Cyprus deal only serves to underscore how fragile Europe remains and how vulnerable it is to reverting to nationalism and the far right political movements that go along with it. That is hardly cause for celebration. On the contrary, the continuation of ‘business as usual’ should be ringing the alarm bells. Loudly.

Paul Buccheit: America Split in Two: Five Ugly Extremes of Inequality

The first step is to learn the facts, and then to get angry and to ask ourselves, as progressives and caring human beings, what we can do about the relentless transfer of wealth to a small group of well-positioned Americans. [..]

What to do?

End the capital gains giveaway, which benefits the wealthy almost exclusively.

Institute a Financial Speculation Tax, both to raise needed funds from a currently untaxed subsidy on stock purchases, and to reduce the risk of the irresponsible trading that nearly brought down the economy.

Perhaps above all, we progressives have to choose one strategy and pursue it in a cohesive, unrelenting attack on greed. Only this will heal the ugly gash of inequality that has split our country in two.

Wendell Potter: Don’t Let State Lawmakers Game Obamacare to Benefit the Few

We’re just a bit more than six months away from when Americans will have to begin making decisions about purchasing health insurance, but, according to a survey released last week, more than two-thirds of people who are currently uninsured don’t have much of a clue how Obamacare will affect them, including the fact that coverage will soon be mandatory. [..]

Making sure Americans become aware of that mandate and sign up for coverage before the end of the year will be an enormous undertaking, which is why Obamacare also includes a provision authorizing a broad range of organizations to serve as “navigators” to educate people about the law’s requirements and help them find plans that meet their needs. [..]

As you can imagine, agents and brokers are not happy that all those other organizations will be able to help folks “navigate” the health insurance world. And so they are trying to get laws passed at the state level that for all practical purposes would make it difficult, time-consuming and expensive for any of those other groups to qualify as navigators.

On This Day In History March 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.

Click on image to enlarge

May 26 is the 146th day of the year (147th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 219 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1637, an allied Puritan and Mohegan force under English Captain John Mason attacks a Pequot village in Connecticut, burning or massacring some 500 Indian women, men, and children.

The Pequot War was an armed conflict in 1634-1638 between the Pequot tribe against an alliance of the Massachusetts Bay, Plymouth, and Saybrook colonies with American Indian allies (the Narragansett and Mohegan tribes). Hundreds were killed; hundreds more were captured and sold into slavery to the West Indies. Other survivors were dispersed. At the end of the war, about seven hundred Pequots had been killed or taken into captivity. The result was the elimination of the Pequot as a viable polity in what is present-day Southern New England. It would take the Pequot more than three and a half centuries to regain political and economic power in their traditional homeland region along the Pequot (present-day Thames) and Mystic rivers in what is now southeastern Connecticut.

The Mystic massacre

Believing that the English had returned to Boston, the Pequot sachem Sassacus took several hundred of his warriors to make another raid on Hartford. Mason had visited and recruited the Narragansett, who joined him with several hundred warriors. Several allied Niantic warriors also joined Mason’s group. On May 26, 1637, with a force up to about 400 fighting men, Mason attacked Misistuck by surprise. He estimated that “six or seven Hundred” Pequot were there when his forces assaulted the palisade. As some 150 warriors had accompanied Sassacus to Hartford, so the inhabitants remaining were largely Pequot women and children, and older men. Mason ordered that the enclosure be set on fire. Justifying his conduct later, Mason declared that the attack against the Pequot was the act of a God who “laughed his Enemies and the Enemies of his People to scorn making [the Pequot] as a fiery Oven . . . Thus did the Lord judge among the Heathen, filling [Mystic] with dead Bodies.”  Mason insisted that any Pequot attempting to escape the flames should be killed. Of the estimated 600 to 700 Pequot resident at Mystic that day, only seven survived to be taken prisoner, while another seven escaped to the woods.

The Narragansett and Mohegan warriors with Mason and Underhill’s colonial militia were horrified by the actions and “manner of the Englishmen’s fight . . . because it is too furious, and slays too many men.” The Narragansett left the warfare and returned home.

Believing the mission accomplished, Mason set out for home. Becoming temporarily lost, his militia narrowly missed returning Pequot warriors. After seeing the destruction of Mystic, they gave chase to the English forces, but to little avail.

The Death of TV News

In the aftermath of 9/11 and the run up to the invasion of Iraq, the world was glued to television news, especially cable. Here in the US the news is dominated by three networks. CBS, ABC, and NBC and three major cable channels, CNN, Fox News and MSNBC. Most of the them spewed the Bush administration spin that Sadaam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, was building a nuclear weapon and had ties to Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda and 9/11, all lies and they knew it. This war was about the control of the oil reserves in Iraq, it always from the moment that the neocons got their hooks into the White House with Ronald Reagan’s election. It was under Reagan that the free press started to die with the end of the Fairness Doctrine and the loosening of regulation that allowed the likes of Rupert Murdoch to gobble up the airways, Fox news, and print media. It culminated in the 90’s with the corporate acquisition of NBC by General Electric and CBS by Viacom and CNN by Time Warner.

During the lead up to Iraq there was one voice on the airways that stood out against the hype, Phil Donahue, whose liberal voice focused on issues that divide liberals and conservatives in the United States, such as abortion, consumer protection, civil rights and war issues. His feud with another MSNBC host, Chris Matthews over the Iraq War led to the cancellation of Donahue’s popular show. Matthew’s involvement in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame is never mentioned.

The Day That TV News Died

by Chris Hedges, Truthdig

I am not sure exactly when the death of television news took place. The descent was gradual-a slide into the tawdry, the trivial and the inane, into the charade on cable news channels such as Fox and MSNBC in which hosts hold up corporate political puppets to laud or ridicule, and treat celebrity foibles as legitimate news. But if I had to pick a date when commercial television decided amassing corporate money and providing entertainment were its central mission, when it consciously chose to become a carnival act, it would probably be Feb. 25, 2003, when MSNBC took Phil Donahue off the air because of his opposition to the calls for war in Iraq.

Donahue and Bill Moyers, the last honest men on national television, were the only two major TV news personalities who presented the viewpoints of those of us who challenged the rush to war in Iraq. General Electric and Microsoft-MSNBC’s founders and defense contractors that went on to make tremendous profits from the war-were not about to tolerate a dissenting voice. Donahue was fired, and at PBS Moyers was subjected to tremendous pressure. An internal MSNBC memo leaked to the press stated that Donahue was hurting the image of the network. He would be a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” the memo read. Donahue never returned to the airwaves.

Phil Donahue on His 2003 Firing from MSNBC, When Liberal Network Couldn’t Tolerate Antiwar Voices

In 2003, the legendary television host Phil Donahue was fired from his prime-time MSNBC talk show during the run-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq. The problem was not Donahue’s ratings, but rather his views: An internal MSNBC memo warned Donahue was a “difficult public face for NBC in a time of war,” providing “a home for the liberal antiwar agenda at the same time that our competitors are waving the flag at every opportunity.” Donahue joins us to look back on his firing 10 years later. “They were terrified of the antiwar voice,” Donahue says.

Transcript here

Democracy Now! host Amy Goodman confronted Matthews on Donahue’s firing outside NBC headquarters in New York City on the 10th anniversary of the invasion.

Buzzfeed unearthed the videos of the vitriolic exchanges between Matthew and Donahue revealing how much they despised each other. Matthews was the driving force that got Donahue fired and MSNBC was not eager to promote the anti-war point of view. Thank the internet for You Tube, here are the videos of the episode from Donahue’s show with guest Matthews:

Cyprus: The Not So Good Deal

Cyprus Bailout photo BrokenEuro_zps0a6d094f.png As the dust of enthusiasm settles over this morning’s Cyprus deal with the European Union that closed the country’s second-largest bank and created a set of capital controls to prevent a run on the remaining banks, the financial world is taking a closer look and they aren’t happy. The agreement adheres to the law protecting insured accounts less than 100,000 euros. Supposedly, this deal prevented the immediate collapse of the Cyprus economy and its exit from the euro and, possibly, the European Union. Several economic analysts discuss the ramifications on the global banking and economy.

The Prodigal Greek has the simplest explanation of what capital controls entail (h/t Yves Smith):

Here is what a cash economy looks like:      

  • Restrictions in daily withdrawals
  • Ban on premature termination of time savings deposits
  • Compulsory renewal of all time savings deposits upon maturity
  • Conversion of current accounts to time deposits
  • Ban or restrictions on non cash transactions
  • Restrictions on use of debit, credit or prepaid debit cards
  • Ban or restriction on cashing in checks
  • Restrictions on domestic interbank transfers or transfers within the same bank
  • Restrictions on the interactions/transactions of the public with credit institutions
  • Restrictions on movements of capital, payments, transfers
  • Any other measure which the Finance Minister or the Govern or of Cyprus Central Bank see necessary for reasons of public order and safety

In other words, Cyprus euros can only be spent in Cyprus and cannot be taken out of Cyprus to any other country; checks, debit and credit cards are useless. It is a strictly cash and carry local economy since Cypriots will not be able to make internet purchases. It will restrict travel into and out of the island, as well. The agreement has isolated the tiny island from the rest of the EU. Economics and financial analyst, Frances Coppola explains the ramifications of these restrictions:

From Tuesday, Cyprus becomes a black hole in the Eurozone: any money that goes into it stays there, and no money can leave……From a safe distance, it will appear frozen in time, a small cash-based economy, isolated from the rest of the EU. While inside, invisible to all except those who actually go there – or live there – its social fabric is torn apart as its economy collapses. Note the final clause in the capital control bill:

   Any other measure which the Finance Minister or the Governor of Cyprus Central Bank see necessary for reasons of public order and safety

So as people’s livelihoods are destroyed and their standard of living crashes, other measures may be introduced to ensure that they can’t take matters into their own hands.

From Yves Smith at naked capitalism is her summation of the attempt to contain Cyprus:

First, confiscating bank deposits is now on the table in any future crisis. That’s toothpaste that’s not going back in the tube. Commerzbank chief economist Jörg Krämer has already suggested (Google translates) “a one-time property tax levy” for Italy and “a tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets.” And adding fuel to the fire, the Leader of the UK Independence Party has urged expats in the periphery countries, in particular the 750,000 British in Spain to “Get your money out of there while you’ve still got a chance.”

Second, capital controls in Cyprus mean that there are now two Euros in effect: The Euro that you can use only in Cyprus, and the Euro you can use elsewhere in the so-called “monetary union.” So from the perspective of people in Cyprus, the results are in some ways worst that a breakup: rather than having depreciated dough, you have dough that has been impounded, particularly in terms of using it outside Cyprus. [..]

Third, these concerns may be amplified by how rapidly and visibly the Cypriot economy craters. The “rapidly” is due to the fact, as discussed in greater detail in the post from Cyprus.com below, that the Cyprus economy will suffer a one-two punch: the loss of a big chunk of wealth, plus the disappearance of much of the financial services sector, which was 45% of GDP.

The capital controls have isolated Cyprus from the rest of the EU without actually expelling the country.

The deal may have stayed the immediate crisis but it hasn’t stopped the eventual collapse of the Cyprus economy or its future exit from the euro. Not only that, it is the shot across the bow for other economically troubled EU countries of things to come.