Daily Archive: 04/29/2013

Apr 29 2013

Happy Birthday, Willie

Singer, song writer, poet, author and activist Willie Nelson is 80 today, or maybe tomorrow

The singer whose birthday is Monday or Tuesday – Nelson says April 29, the state of Texas claims April 30 – occupies a unique space in America’s cultural memory. A walking bag of contradictions, he wears his hair long in braids and has a penchant for pot smoking, yet remains arguably conservative country music’s greatest songwriter. He’s accepted by left and right, black and white and is instantly recognizable to a majority of Americans.

Like few other music stars, his image has grown to represent more than the notes he’s played or the lyrics he’s written. Like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash or Frank Sinatra, he’s become a figurehead for a uniquely American way of thinking. He represents the outlaw and the maverick. If Elvis was all about the pelvis and the sexual revolution, Nelson is American independence: the raised middle finger tossed with a twinkle in the eye.

Willie’s activism has brought attention to such causes as small farmers, organizing Farm Aid in 1985 along with Neil Young and John Mellencamp that still raises money for small family farmers.

He is also the co-chair of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) advisory board that supports its legalization, regulation and taxation.

Willie’s activism doesn’t end there. He has support and invested in biodiesal, the better treatment for horses and the LGBT movement calling for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

In 2008, Willie was interviewed by Amy Goodman at Democracy Now!. Here is an excerpt from that hour long interview

“One person carrying a message can change the world.”

Happy Birthday, Willie, and many more.

Apr 29 2013

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

Paul Krugman: The Story of Our Time

Those of us who have spent years arguing against premature fiscal austerity have just had a good two weeks. Academic studies that supposedly justified austerity have lost credibility; hard-liners in the European Commission and elsewhere have softened their rhetoric. The tone of the conversation has definitely changed.

My sense, however, is that many people still don’t understand what this is all about. So this seems like a good time to offer a sort of refresher on the nature of our economic woes, and why this remains a very bad time for spending cuts.

Let’s start with what may be the most crucial thing to understand: the economy is not like an individual family.

Jared Bernstein: This FAA Sequester Vote Doesn’t Smell Right

Well, well. It appears that both the Senate and House have voted to end sequester-imposed furloughs of air traffic controllers, just in time for the weekend.

You choose: Is this bipartisan support to mitigate one of the noxious effects of sequestration, which I and others have been tracking? Or is it papering over the high-visibility stuff that affects the affluent while lots of other budget bleeding goes on beneath the radar?

I choose the latter. While the annoyance of flight delays caught the attention of elected officials, businesspeople and other frequent flyers, lots of other, less advantaged Americans will continue to feel the pain of the sequester due to cuts in a variety of programs.

Leslie Harris: CISPA Changes Show Power of Internet Advocacy

Last week CISPA, the cybersecurity information-sharing bill, passed the House. Though fundamentally flawed, the bill is very different from when it passed the House a year ago, demonstrating the power of a growing Internet advocacy community that sometimes underestimates its own influence. Two game-changing achievements stand out.

When CISPA was reintroduced this year, CDT and others pointed out that, once again, the bill allowed information shared with the government for cybersecurity purposes to be used for national security purposes unrelated to cybersecurity. In the face of criticism that this loophole would turn CISPA into a backdoor intelligence-gathering operation, the House Intelligence Committee amended the text to clearly prohibit such uses. Chalk up one significant victory for Internet advocacy.

Robert Kuttner: Reality 1, Austerity 0

It’s been a very bad week for the merchants of austerity.

In Europe, the just-released statistics on first quarter performance show EU nations sliding deeper into recession. In Spain and Greece, unemployment rates are approaching a staggering 30 percent. In Britain, the Tory government took as good news the fact that the UK managed to eke out 0.3 percent growth. Even Germany, the prime sponsor of these policies, is on the edge of recession. [..]

And Ken Rogoff and Carmen Reinhardt had a really terrible week. Their now infamous 2010 claim that nations get into economic trouble when their debt ratios exceed 90 percent of GDP was blown to hell by a graduate student at the University of Massachusetts. For three years, critics have been pressing R&R to share their raw data. When Thomas Herndon and colleagues Michael Ash and Robert Pollin finally got hold of the research and reworked R&R’s numbers, it turned out that they had selectively used data and made basic errors of arithmetic.

Vijay Prashad: Made in Bangladesh: The Terror of Capitalism

On Wednesday, April 24, a day after Bangladeshi authorities asked the owners to evacuate their garment factory that employed almost three thousand workers, the building collapsed. The building, Rana Plaza, located in the Dhaka suburb of Savar, produced garments for the commodity chain that stretches from the cotton fields of South Asia through Bangladesh’s machines and workers to the retail houses in the Atlantic world. Famous name brands were stitched here, as are clothes that hang on the satanic shelves of Wal-Mart. Rescue workers were able to save two thousand people as of this writing, with confirmation that over three hundred are dead. The numbers for the latter are fated to rise. It is well worth mentioning that the death toll in the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in New York City of 1911 was one hundred and forty six. The death toll here is already twice that. This “accident” comes five months (November 24, 2012) after the Tazreen garment factory fire that killed at least one hundred and twelve workers. [..]

In the Atlantic world, meanwhile, self-absorption over the wars on terror and on the downturn in the economy prevent any genuine introspection over the mode of life that relies upon debt-fueled consumerism at the expense of workers in Dhaka. Those who died in the Rana building are victims not only of the malfeasance of the sub-contractors, but also of twenty-first century globalisation.

Robert Reich: Earth to Washington: Repeal the Sequester

Economic forecasters exist to make astrologers look good. Most had forecast growth of at least 3 percent (on an annualized basis) in the first quarter. But we learned this morning (in the Commerce Department’s report) it grew only 2.5 percent.

That’s better than the 2 percent growth last year and the slowdown at the end of the year. But it’s still cause for serious concern. [..]

So what is Washington doing? Worse than nothing. It has now adopted the same kind of austerity economics that’s doomed Europe — cutting federal spending and reducing total demand. And the sequester doesn’t end until September 30. It takes an even bigger bite out of the federal budget next fiscal year.

Earth to Washington: The economy is slowing. The recovery is stalling. At the very least, repeal the sequester.

Apr 29 2013

On This Day In History April 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.

April 28 is the 118th day of the year (119th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 247 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day, two events occurred involving the South Pacific. Separated by 158 years, one was a mutiny, the other a grand adventure.

Apr 28, 1789: Mutiny on the HMS Bounty Mutiny on the Bounty: The mutiny  was led by Fletcher Christian against the commanding officer, William Bligh. The sailors were attracted to the idyllic life on the Pacific island, and repelled by the alleged cruelty of their captain. Captain Bligh and 18 sailors were set a drift in the South Pacific, near the island of Tonga. Christian along with some of the mutineers and native Tahitians eventually settled on Pitcairn Island an uninhabited volcanic island about 1000 miles south of Tahiti. The mutineers who remained behind on Tahiti were eventually arrested and returned to England where three were hanged. The British never found Christian and the others. Captain Bligh and the 18 others eventually arrived in Timor.

Years later on 1808. am American whaling vessel discovered the colony of women and children led by the sole surviving mutineer, John Adams. The Bounty had been stripped and burned. Christian and the other 8 mutineers were dead. Adams was eventually granted amnesty and remained the patriarch of Pitcairn Island until his death in 1829.

1947 Thor Heyerdahl and five crew mates set out from Peru on the Kon-Tiki to prove that Peruvian natives could have settled Polynesia. His crew of six fellow Norwegians set sail from Peru on a raft constructed from balsa logs and other materials that were indigenous to the region at the time of the Spanish Conquistadors. After 101 days crossing over 400 miles they crashed into a reef at Raroia  in the Tuamotu Islands on August 7, 1947. Heyerdahl’s book, “The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas”, became a best seller, the documentary won an Academy Award in 1951. The original raft is on display in the Kon-Tiki Museum in Oslo. Heyerdahl died April 18, 2002 in Italy.

Apr 29 2013

Sunday April 28, 2013: Up With Steve Kornacki Tweets

Today's topics were comprehension immigration reform, The SEC, money in politics, voting rights, Voter ID laws, and North Carolina politics. But most importantly, for me, Alexis Goldstein is back on #Uppers.

People loved the shit out of this one.

Thank you for reading.

Apr 29 2013

They Hate Us For What We Are Doing

The High Cost of Government Secrecy

Columnist Glenn Greenwald explains what the Boston bombings and U.S. drone attacks have in common, and how secrecy leads to abuse of government power.

“Should we change or radically alter or dismantle our standard protocols of justice in the name of terrorism? That’s been the debate we’ve been having since the September 11th attack,” Greenwald tells Bill. “We can do what we’ve been doing, which is become a more closed society, authorize the government to read our emails, listen in our telephone calls, put people in prison without charges, enact laws that make it easier for the government to do those sorts of things. Or we can try and understand why it is that people want to come here and do that.” [..]

“There certainly are cases where the United States has very recklessly killed civilians,” he tells Bill. “So at some point, when a government engages in behavior year after year after year after year, that continues to kill innocent people in a very foreseeable way, and continues to do that, in my mind that reaches a level of recklessness that is very similar to intentional killing.”



Transcript can be read here

Apr 29 2013

Around the Blogosphere

The main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread.

Corrente:

lambert has done several a posts on the Obamacare Clusterfuck that are well worth reading to truly understand what a corporate giveaway it is and how little it does for anyone. This is his latest entry

ObamaCare Clusterfuck: Here are the states where “the magic of the marketplace” will fail most spectacularly

VOTS:

Hellraisers Journal: Walmart Workers march to house of board member with Bangladesh fire survivor

by JayRaye

naked capitalism:

Reply to Reinhart and Rogoff’s NYT Response to Critics

by Warren Mosler

Medical Journal Editorial Blasts Obamacare for Increasing Underinsurance

by Yves Smith

MyFDL:

The Rise of the Corporate State

by masaccio

FDL Action:

Why the Sequester Strategy Is Doomed to Fail

by Jon Walker

FDL Dissenter:

SF Pride President Capitulates to Military Groups, Announces Bradley Manning Won’t Be Honored

by Kevin Gosztola

Matt Tailbbi at Rolling Stone:

While Wronged Homeowners Got $300 Apiece in Foreclosure Settlement, Consultants Who Helped Protect Banks Got $2 Billion

Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

Paul Krugman at Conscience of a Liberal:

Knaves, Fools, and Me (Meta)

The Great Degrader

The American Prospect:

Banking Regulation: Closed for Business

by David Dayen

Dean Baker at Beat the Press:

Reinhart and Rogoff #61,346: Stevenson and Wolfers Edition

Robert Samuelson Tells the Middle Class and Poor that they Should Stop Expecting to Have Decent Lives Because His Rich Friends Want All the Money

Excel Errors, Debt, and Stimulus: Is Our Politicians Learning?

Washington Post Editorial Condemns Austerity in Europe!

Apr 29 2013

Around the Blogosphere

 photo Winter_solstice.gifThe main purpose our blogging is to communicate our ideas, opinions, and stories both fact and fiction. The best part about the the blogs is information that we might not find in our local news, even if we read it online. Sharing that information is important, especially if it educates, sparks conversation and new ideas. We have all found places that are our favorites that we read everyday, not everyone’s are the same. The Internet is a vast place. Unlike Punting the Pundits which focuses on opinion pieces mostly from the mainstream media and the larger news web sites, “Around the Blogosphere” will focus more on the medium to smaller blogs and articles written by some of the anonymous and not so anonymous writers and links to some of the smaller pieces that don’t make it to “Pundits” by Krugman, Baker, etc.

We encourage you to share your finds with us. It is important that we all stay as well informed as we can.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

This is an Open Thread.