03/29/2013 archive

NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament 2013: Round of 32 Results

These are the results of the Round of 32 for Teams that are appearing in tonight’s Regional Semifinals.

* == Upset.

Seed Score Team Record Seed Score Team Record Region
(1) 82 Louisville 30-5 (8) 56 Colorado State 26-8 Midwest
(4) 57 St. Louis 27-6 * (12) 74 Oregon 27-8 Midwest
(1) 70 Kansas 30-5 (8) 58 North Carolina 25-10 South
(4) 78 Michigan 27-7 (5) 53 VCU 27-8 South
(2) 66 Duke 26-4 (7) 50 Creighton 28-7 Midwest
(3) 70 Michigan State 26-8 (6) 48 Memphis 31-4 Midwest
(3) 78 Florida 27-7 (11) 64 Minnesota 21-12 South
(7) 71 San Diego State 23-10 * (15) 81 Florida Gulf Coast 25-10 South

Naturally Dyed Eggs


Now with updates!

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

New York Times Editorial Board: Malicious Obstruction in the Senate

Earlier this month, during one of his new across-the-aisle good-will tours, President Obama pleaded with Senate Republicans to ease up on their record number of filibusters of his nominees. He might as well have been talking to one of the statues in the Capitol. Republicans have made it clear that erecting hurdles for Mr. Obama is, if anything, their overriding legislative goal. [..]

Republicans clearly have no interest in dropping their favorite pastime, but Democrats could put a stop to this malicious behavior by changing the Senate rules and prohibiting, at long last, all filibusters on nominations.

Paul Krugman: Cheating Our Children

So, about that fiscal crisis – the one that would, any day now, turn us into Greece. Greece, I tell you: Never mind.

Over the past few weeks, there has been a remarkable change of position among the deficit scolds who have dominated economic policy debate for more than three years. It’s as if someone sent out a memo saying that the Chicken Little act, with its repeated warnings of a U.S. debt crisis that keeps not happening, has outlived its usefulness. Suddenly, the argument has changed: It’s not about the crisis next month; it’s about the long run, about not cheating our children. The deficit, we’re told, is really a moral issue.

There’s just one problem: The new argument is as bad as the old one. Yes, we are cheating our children, but the deficit has nothing to do with it.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Yes, We Can Have Banks That Work For the People

We all know the banking system is broken. It’s easy to become pessimistic in the face of corporate and political corruption, but the system can be changed. We’ve done it before, and we can do it again.

One pathway to genuine reform is “public banking”: the establishment of banks which are owned at operated by the government, and which serve people and small businesses directly. Here’s why public banking should be included in the agenda for deep and genuine financial reform.

There’s a working model for state banking.

Bryce Covert: This Is What Happens When You Rip a Hole in the Safety Net

America’s social safety net, such as it is, has recently come under some scrutiny. Chana Joffe-Walt’s in-depth exploration of the increase in people getting Social Security Disability benefits at NPR got many listeners buzzing. Then in The Wall Street Journal, Damian Paletta and Caroline Porter looked at the increase in the use of food stamps, called SNAP. All three journalists look at the increasing dependence on these programs and come away puzzled: Why are so many people now getting disability and food stamp payments?

The answer is twofold. Recent trends give us the first part of the explanation. Yes, as Paletta and Porter note, the economy is recovering and the unemployment rate is falling. But, as they recognize, the poverty rate is also rising. And therein lies the rub: people are getting jobs but staying poor. The available jobs are increasingly low-wage and don’t pay enough to live off of. And the big profits in the private sector haven’t led to an increase in wages.

Richard Reeves: A New American Rebellion

As the Supreme Court debated this week over the federal Defense of Marriage Act, the 17-year-old law barring same-sex marriage, Justice Antonin Scalia noted the number of states that are permitting gays and lesbians to marry. “There has been a sea change,” he said, “between now and 1996.”

He was right about that, but it’s not just gay marriage. A range of change is taking place socially, culturally, legally in the United States. Thomas Jefferson, in a 1787 letter, advocated “rebellion” every 20 years for the nation to keep up with itself. That may be too strong a word. Matt Miller, a Washington Post columnist, probably comes closer with the phrase “accelerated evolution.” Whatever word one chooses, the times they are a-changin’.

Ana Marie Cox: The Supreme Court’s Problem: How to Back America Out of Anti-Gay Bigotry

Opponents of same-sex marriage don’t like civil rights analogies. Tough luck: Doma is unconstitutional because it’s unjust

US Supreme Court observers groaned when the well-regarded and Peabody Award-winning SCOTUSblog.com put the chances of the supreme court striking down the Defense of Marriage Act (Doma) at 80%. As far as predictability goes, supreme court decisions are somewhere between next week’s weather and Tilda Swinton’s career choices. Maybe, SCOTUSblog was itself playing at a little performance art, a commentary on the search for specificity and certainty in a series of cases that deal primarily with the ineffable realm of human emotions. Love, to be sure, but also the fear and unease, if not outright bigotry, that love flies in the face of. [..]

Civil rights is not a polite endeavor. The allusions and discursiveness of the arguments before the supreme court this week are just the most polished version of the truth. The way that we’ve gotten to where we are isn’t by convincing people through reasoned discussion; it is because people are afraid to be thought of as bigots. Until the laws themselves change, I’m fine with that.

Read it and weep/gnash your teeth!

Hey folks:

Here is another example of what the United States Government, even under the Obama Administration, has wrought in terms of havoc to another country and its people.  Read the following link and weep/gnash your teeth:

Rare Reporting Reveals Afghan Civilians Terrorized by US Drones

by Jacob Chamberlain, Common Dreams

Published on Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism recently reported that 1 in 4 missiles in Afghan airstrikes are now fired by drone, in addition to the other forms of bombardment that have caused unspeakable harm to Afghan civilians.

The impact of the US drone war on civilians living in the villages below was explored in a report last year by researchers at Stanford and New York University – called Living Under Drones (pdf)-which found that civilians in Pakistan were being “terrorized” by the drones. In addition, the report concluded the program was ultimately “counterproductive” when it came to addressing international law, security, and human rights.

Following the release of that report, Clive Stafford Smith, from the human rights group Reprieve, remarked: “An entire region is being terrorized by the constant threat of death from the skies. Their way of life is collapsing: kids are too terrified to go to school, adults are afraid to attend weddings, funerals, business meetings, or anything that involves gathering in groups.”

On This Day In History March 29

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.

March 29 is the 88th day of the year (89th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 277 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1951, the Rosenbergs are convicted of espionage.

In one of the most sensational trials in American history, Julius and Ethel Rosenberg are convicted of espionage for their role in passing atomic secrets to the Soviets during and after World War II. The husband and wife were later sentenced to death and were executed in 1953.

The conviction of the Rosenbergs was the climax of a fast-paced series of events that were set in motion with the arrest of British physicist Klaus Fuchs in Great Britain in February 1950. British authorities, with assistance from the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation, gathered evidence that Fuchs, who worked on developing the atomic bomb both in England and the United States during World War II, had passed top-secret information to the Soviet Union. Fuchs almost immediately confessed his role and began a series of accusations.

Fuchs confessed that American Harry Gold had served as a courier for the Soviet agents to whom Fuchs passed along his information. American authorities captured Gold, who thereupon pointed the finger at David Greenglass, a young man who worked at the laboratory where the atomic bomb had been developed. Gold claimed Greenglass was even more heavily involved in spying than Fuchs. Upon his arrest, Greenglass readily confessed and then accused his sister and brother-in-law, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, of being the spies who controlled the entire operation. Both Ethel and Julius had strong leftist leanings and had been heavily involved in labor and political issues in the United States during the late-1930s and 1940s. Julius was arrested in July and Ethel in August 1950.

By present-day standards, the trial was remarkably fast. It began on March 6, and the jury had convicted both of conspiracy to commit espionage by March 29. The Rosenbergs were not helped by a defense that many at the time, and since, have labeled incompetent. More harmful, however, was the testimony of Greenglass and Gold. Greenglass declared that Julius Rosenberg had set up a meeting during which Greenglass passed the plans for the atomic bomb to Gold. Gold supported Greenglass’s accusation and admitted that he then passed the plans along to a Soviet agent. This testimony sealed Julius’s fate, and although there was little evidence directly tying Ethel to the crime, prosecutors claimed that she was the brain behind the whole scheme. The jury found both guilty. A few days later, the Rosenbergs were sentenced to death. They were executed on June 19, 1953 in Sing Sing Prison in New York. Both maintained their innocence to the end.

Since the execution, decoded Soviet cables, codenamed VENONA, have supported courtroom testimony that Julius acted as a courier and recruiter for the Soviets, but doubts remain about the level of Ethel’s involvement. The decision to execute the Rosenbergs was, and still is, controversial. The New York Times, in an editorial on the 50th anniversary of the execution (June 19, 2003) wrote, “The Rosenbergs case still haunts American history, reminding us of the injustice that can be done when a nation gets caught up in hysteria.” This hysteria had both an immediate and a lasting effect; many innocent scientists, including some who were virulently anti-communist, were investigated simply for having the last name “Rosenberg.” The other atomic spies who were caught by the FBI offered confessions and were not executed. Ethel’s brother, David Greenglass, who supplied documents to Julius from Los Alamos, served 10 years of his 15 year sentence. Harry Gold, who identified Greenglass, served 15 years in Federal prison as the courier for Greenglass and the British scientist, Klaus Fuchs. Morton Sobell, who was tried with the Rosenbergs, served 17 years and 9 months. In 2008, Sobell admitted he was a spy and confirmed Julius Rosenberg was “in a conspiracy that delivered to the Soviets classified military and industrial information and what the American government described as the secret to the atomic bomb.”

Cyprus: Quiet For Now

The banks in Cyprus re-opened on Thursday, the chaos that many feared was averted, for now. Cyprus is far from out of the economic woods.

Cyprus banks reopen – but stock exchange will remain closed

by Jill Treanor, Helena Smith and Josephine Mould, The Guardian

Small queues as bank staff turn up for work early in Nicosia and cash is delivered under heavy security

Cyprus’s banks returned to business on Thursday with only limited queues (video), amid strict controls to stop people withdrawing all their savings and triggering a catastrophic bank run. [..]

As planned, banks closed around 6pm (4pm GMT). The Cyprus stock exchange, however, remained shut for the day, having abandoned plans to reopen less than an hour before trading was due to start.

Hopes that Cyprus’s new capital controls would be lifted in a week’s time were dashed tonight, as foreign minister Ioannis Kasoulides predited they would last for “about a month”. [..]

On Thursday, the German finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble, tried to limit fears of contagion, saying Cyprus was a very special case and the EU had found the right solution for it. He said Luxembourg had a completely different business model to Cyprus and any comparison of the two would be absurd.

Analysts at Fathom Research said that the relief surrounding the Cyprus deal would be temporary. “The relief is misplaced and will be short lived, since the ‘doom-loop’ undermining the euro, between insolvent banks and their indebted sovereigns, has not been broken but emphatically reaffirmed.”

Cyprus bank restrictions could last ‘a month’

from Al Jazeera

Curbs imposed after island secured bailout to be lifted over a period of about a month, foreign minister says.

Cyprus is the first country in Europe’s single currency zone to impose losses on bank depositors.

The government initially said the controls would remain in place for a week, subject to review.

Economists say they will prove hard to lift as long as the economy is in crisis.

Cyprus: investors were withdrawing money before crisis hit, figures show

by Larry Eliot, The Guardian

Bank figures reveal deposits were being run down in February – well before first proposals for a bailout were made public

Investors were removing money from banks in Cyprus long before the onset of the two-week financial crisis that forced the small eurozone country to impose controls on capital flight.

Data from both the European Central Bank and the central bank of Cyprus revealed that deposits were being run down in February – well before the first proposals for a bailout were made public in mid-March.

ECB figures show that private sector deposits in Cypriot banks fell by 2.9% in February – a generally calm month that saw both consumers and companies increase their holdings at Greek and Spanish banks.

And last but not least, Herr Doktor.

Debt and Devaluation, Mediterranean Edition

By Paul Krugman, The New York Times

When I talk about Cyprus and the possibility of leaving the euro, one immediate question people raise is what about the government’s debt, which is of course in euros. Wouldn’t an exit make that debt unsupportable, and force default?

There are, I’d say, two answers, one more fundamental than the other.

The less fundamental answer is, what makes you think that Cyprus can avoid default even if it stays on the euro? [..]

The more fundamental answer is, holding the nominal exchange rate fixed and relying on “internal devaluation” rather than devaluation devaluation does not, in fact, help make debt more manageable. [..]

So the debt is not a good reason to stay on the euro. I guess that if I were arguing for keeping the euro, I would instead be making mainly a political case – basically, that you’ll get better treatment from Brussels and Berlin if you remain a good soldier. But boy, will the cost be high.

Soldier on.