March 24, 2011 archive

In Memoriam: Elizabeth Taylor

Elizabeth Taylor was not only a great actress and beautiful woman but an activist and a humanitarian. It was through her actions and advocacy that we have come so far with combating the spread of HIV and finding a prevention. We still have a long way to go. She will be greatly missed.

Sir Elton John sang “Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me” in a tribute to his friend.

Please donate to amfAR in her memory.

from firefly-dreaming 24.3.11

Essays Featured Thursday the 24th of March~

KT Tunstall starts the day in Late Night Karaoke, mishima DJs

Six Brilliant Articles! from Six Different Places!! on Six Different Topics!!!

                Six Days a Week!!!    at Six in the Morning!!!!

Older women with longer hair is on mplo‘s mind in Thursday Open Thoughts

Cornucopia Thursday, a weekly feature from Ed Tracey brings a delightful collection of items and ….well, just plain whimsy…..


Thought provoking Trunk Sniff’n Dust by Wendys Wink republished with permission by RiaD

I LOOKED INTO HER EYES an introspective look, from Xanthe

from Timbuk3: The 100 Greatest Rock Songs of All Time!

Tonight #97

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

And these articles-

Special live blogging of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament

The Stars Hollow Gazette

UN Security Council Resolution 1973

cross-posted from Main Street Insider

There has been a lot of talk in recent days about just what exactly is allowed under the United Nations Security Council resolution issuing a no-fly zone over Libya. We want to make sure everyone has a clear grasp of what this resolution, S/Res/1973 (2011), actually does, so we are giving a sneak preview of next week’s episode by releasing the one-page summary. The video for this episode will be available on Monday.

Special Comment: Libya, Obama and the Five-Second Rule

The Official Not-For-Profit Blog of Keith Olbermann

Keith Olbermann

FOK News Channel

Humanitarian Intervention My Ass

It wasn’t me. I had no part of it. I was nowhere near the place. I was on the other side of town at the time. I tried to tell them it was not a good idea and that they shouldn’t try it, but they just wouldn’t listen.

(Reuters) – Capitalism may be to blame for the lack of life on the planet Mars, Venezuela’s socialist President Hugo Chavez said on Tuesday.

“I have always said, heard, that it would not be strange that there had been civilization on Mars, but maybe capitalism arrived there, imperialism arrived and finished off the planet,” Chavez said in speech to mark World Water Day.

Chavez, who also holds capitalism responsible for many of the world’s problems, warned that water supplies on Earth were drying up.

“Careful! Here on planet Earth where hundreds of years ago or less there were great forests, now there are deserts. Where there were rivers, there are deserts,” Chavez said, sipping from a glass of water.

He added that the West’s attacks on Libya were about water and oil reserves.

Black Smoke at Fukushima

Black Smoke at Fukushima
Black smoke at Fukushima

Fukushima Daiichi’s Reactor No. 3 began belching black smoke for an hour late in the afternoon, leading its operator, the Tokyo Electric Power Company, to evacuate workers. No. 3 is considered one of the most dangerous of the reactors because of its fuel – mixed oxides, or mox, which contain a mixture of uranium and plutonium and can produce a more dangerous radioactive plume if scattered by fire or explosions.

This is very bad news, kiddies! Black smoke ain’t steam! It means something dirty is burning!

And what could be burning, in a nuclear reactor full of melting uranium and plutonium?

Breaking: Portuguese Government Resigns After Austerity Vote Fails!

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Good for them.  Go Vikings!  (We’re everywhere).

Portugal Yield Soars to 12-Year High as Socrates Quits; Irish Bonds Tumble

By Lukanyo Mnyanda and Keith Jenkins, Bloomberg News

Mar 24, 2011 5:26 AM ET

Socrates’s resignation is “another nail in the coffin in terms of a bailout package,” said David Schnautz, a fixed- income strategist at Commerzbank AG in London. “In terms of Ireland, Greece and Portugal, this may be another underlying burdening factor. It doesn’t seem to be the case that you can say that the possibility of default is off the table.”

Portugal’s government collapses

The Economist online

Mar 23rd 2011, 21:53

The death of Sócrates

IN IRELAND a bail-out by the euro zone’s rescue fund helped to force the government into calling (and losing) an early election. In Portugal an early election may force the government into accepting a bail-out. The question is: which government?

Tonight’s defeat of the minority Socialist government, led by José Sócrates (pictured), in a parliamentary vote on austerity measures-the fourth such package in 12 months-triggered his prompt resignation as prime minister. But it also created a political vacuum in which nobody may have enough authority to negotiate a bail-out

Portugal’s political turmoil and its urgent need for a rescue will create new problems at the EU summit, which is due to sign off on an effective expansion of the bail-out fund and a German-led “pact for the euro”. If EU leaders agree to bail out Portugal, they may find they have already used quite a big chunk of their fund. Judging by experience, the markets will then move on to attack the Spanish. The bail-out fund can easily finance Portugal. But it is not clear that it could deal with Spain.

Austerity Debate Fells Portugal’s Premier


Published: March 23, 2011

Ahead of the vote, Mr. Sócrates had warned that parliamentary rejection of his latest austerity measures would prompt him to quit. The main Social Democratic opposition party, however, had warned it would oppose an austerity package that would inflict further pain on Portuguese citizens, notably by raising taxes for pensioners.

Instead, the Social Democrats demanded a snap general election, possibly opening the door for the formation of a coalition government between Portugal’s main parties.

In the end, lawmakers from all five opposition parties rejected further austerity measures, leaving 97 Socialist lawmakers to vote in favor the plan, out of 230 members of Parliament.

And how is that Austerity thing working out for you?

In New Budget, Britain Sticks to a Path of Austerity, Despite Slowing Growth

By LANDON THOMAS Jr., The New York Times

Published: March 23, 2011

The government’s newly independent economic forecast body also lowered its estimate for growth in gross domestic product for 2011 to 1.7 percent from the 2.1 percent seen in November. For 2012, the forecast was trimmed to 2.5 percent, from 2.6 percent.

Mr. Osborne’s austerity budget comes at a time of growing political pressure for similarly minded governments in Europe. Irish voters recently voted out the long-ruling Fianna Fail party, which had agreed to terms on a tough bailout package with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union. In Greece, Prime Minister George Papandreou’s Socialist Party is rapidly losing popularity, and in Portugal, the government is teetering on a knife’s edge as opposition to its own austerity program builds

Why?  Because Economics has ceased to be even a “Social” Science and instead become a cult of greed and naked Mammon worship.

Nobodies of Macroeconomics (Very Wonkish)

Paul Krugman, The New York Times

March 21, 2011, 2:21 pm

And so I was somewhat stunned when, as the fiscal debate unfolded, we had all these Chicago types sneeringly asserting that “nobody”, except possibly people at “third-tier” departments, has believed for decades that fiscal expansion can actually expand demand; Obstfeld and Rogoff are pretty prominent nobodies. I was equally stunned by assertions that Ricardian equivalence would wipe out any expansionary effect from fiscal policy, and that government spending necessarily crowds out an equal amount of private spending, when influential modern papers have shown quite clearly, and as rigorously as anyone could want, that it just ain’t so.

But in retrospect, it’s quite clear: Lucas and Sargent declared final victory over all things Keynesian in the 1970s, and the closed minds of their followers were such that they didn’t even notice the revival of Keynesianism that took place over the three decades that followed.

And Brad is right: if you’ve reached the point where you don’t pay attention to anything that might disturb your orthodoxy, you’re not doing science, you’re not even pursuing a discipline. All you’re doing is perpetuating a smug, closed-minded sect.

Asymmetrical Ignorance (Wonkish and Self-Indulgent)

Paul Krugman, The New York Times

March 21, 2011, 5:32 pm

I know that RBC exists; I know how it works; I just think it’s wrong. That’s very different from the reaction of the freshwater types to Keynesian arguments, which makes it clear that they just don’t know that modern Keynesianism exists, and have no idea what underlies the arguments people on the other side are making. This is, by the way, not a new asymmetry: it’s been clear for decades that a grad student from Princeton or MIT, asked how an equilibrium business cycle type would answer a question, can do that; but a student from Minnesota or (less reliably) Chicago hasn’t the least idea how alternative models work.

More broadly, I do pay attention to contrary arguments and points of view. I don’t make economists who I consider consistently wrong-headed part of my daily reading, since life is short, but I check in whenever I have reason to think that they’re making a case I need to take seriously. Regular readers may remember, for example, how I responded to fiscal policy critiques by Alesina and others – not by sneering at their academic qualifications, not by pulling rank, but by explaining why I didn’t trust their evidence; a lack of trust borne out a bit later by researchers at the IMF.

The point is that it’s OK to consider other economists, even a whole school of thought, wrong; what’s not OK is to be so closed-minded that you aren’t even aware that there are not obviously stupid people who disagree with you.

“Crito, we owe a rooster to Asclepius. Please, don’t forget to pay the debt.”

(h/t Chris in Paris @ AmericaBlog)

Six In The Morning

Tokyo radiation fears spark run on bottled water

More countries impose curbs on imports of Japanese food news services

TOKYO – Workers doled out bottled water to Tokyo families Thursday after residents cleared store shelves because of warnings that radiation from Japan’s tsunami-damaged nuclear plant had seeped into the city’s water supply, while more countries imposed curbs on imports of Japanese food.

Engineers are trying to stabilize the Fukushima nuclear facility nearly two weeks after an earthquake and tsunami battered the complex and devastated northeast Japan.

Japan’s nuclear safety agency said Thursday that three workers have been exposed to radioactive elements and injured while laying electric cables. Two of the workers were taken to a hospital for treatment, spokesman Fumio Matsuda said.

Tokyo’s 13 million people have been told not to give infants tap water because of contamination twice the safety level.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

I was an onion, layers and layers and layers under a thin, papery skin. If anyone had been able to cut me open, my bitter, irritating juices would have stung their eyes, and they would have cried. Although I couldn’t cry myself, much at the time.

But no one would cut me open.

–Crescent Dragonwagon

Splash of Color 4

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow lines up behind Obama’s attack on Libya…

The ‘progressive’ darling lines up behind another imperialist adventure.

The Right to Know: Show Us The Money

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

The Supreme Court let stand a ruling from the lower court that forces the Federal Reserve to disclose details about its emergency lending programs to banks during the financial crisis in 2008.

Fed’s Court-Ordered Disclosure Shows Americans’ ‘Right to Know’

A Supreme Court order that forces unprecedented disclosures from the Federal Reserve ended a two- year legal battle that helped shape the public’s perceptions of the U.S. central bank.

The high court yesterday let stand a lower-court ruling compelling the Fed to reveal the names of banks that borrowed money at the so-called discount window during the credit crisis. The records were requested by Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News. In July, Congress passed the Dodd-Frank law, which mandated the release of other Fed bailout details.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke “now must finally understand that this money doesn’t belong to the Federal Reserve, it belongs to the American people and the American people have a right to know how their taxpayer dollars are being put at risk,” said Senator Bernard Sanders, a Vermont Independent who wrote Fed transparency provisions in Dodd-Frank.

The financial crisis, which began in August 2007 and peaked after the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. in September 2008, focused the public’s attention on the Fed and its $3.5 trillion effort to rescue the banking system, said U.S. Representative Ron Paul, who heads the House subcommittee that oversees the central bank.

“People wanted to know more about what the Fed was doing,” said Paul, a Texas Republican. “It’s been a significant change and the American people won’t ever be complacent about this.”

Fed Will Release Bank Loan Data as Top Court Rejects Appeal

The Clearing House Association contended that Bloomberg is seeking an unprecedented disclosure that might dissuade banks from accepting emergency loans in the future.

Obama Administration

“We are disappointed that the court has declined our petitions, which deal with the protection of highly confidential bank information provided to the Federal Reserve,” the group said in a statement after the high court acted.

A federal trial judge ruled in 2009 that the Fed had to disclose the records in the Bloomberg case, and a New York-based appeals court upheld that ruling.

The Clearing House Association’s chances at getting a Supreme Court hearing suffered a setback when the Obama administration urged the justices not to hear the appeal. The government said the underlying issues had limited practical significance because Congress last year laid out new rules for disclosing Fed loans in the Dodd-Frank law.

“Congress has resolved the question of whether and when the type of information at issue in this case must be disclosed” in the future, the administration said in a brief filed by acting Solicitor General Neal Katyal, President Barack Obama’s top Supreme Court lawyer.

While this is great news, unfortunately, it is a one time disclosure under the terms of the Dodd-Frank bill (pdf) and with the Republicans in control of the House it is unlikely that any amendment for future audits would pass. Obama should have worked harder for better oversight of our tax dollars.

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