September 13, 2011 archive

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A (Larry) Summers’ Recovery

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

U.S. Poverty Rate, at 15 Percent, Is the Highest Since 1993


Published: September 13, 2011

46.2 million people now live in poverty in the United States, the highest number in the 52 years the Census Bureau has been tracking it, said Trudi Renwick, chief of the Poverty Statistic Branch at the Census Bureau.

That figure represented 15.1 percent of the population, up from 14.3 percent in 2009, and 11.7 percent at the beginning of the decade in 2001. The poverty line in 2010 for a family of four was $22,113.

And in new signs of economic distress among the middle class, median household incomes adjusted for inflation declined by 2.3 percent in 2010 from the previous year to $49,400. That was 7 percent less than the peak of $53,252 in 1999.

And by that I mean totally… Peccable I guess.

Crossposted from the Stars Hollow Gazette

An Impeccable Disaster

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: September 11, 2011

On Thursday Jean-Claude Trichet, the president of the European Central Bank or E.C.B. – Europe’s equivalent to Ben Bernanke – lost his sang-froid. In response to a question about whether the E.C.B. is becoming a “bad bank” thanks to its purchases of troubled nations’ debt, Mr. Trichet, his voice rising, insisted that his institution has performed “impeccably, impeccably!” as a guardian of price stability.

(T)he problem is the E.C.B.’s obsession with maintaining its “impeccable” record on price stability: at a time when Europe desperately needs a strong recovery, and modest inflation would actually be helpful, the bank has instead been tightening money, trying to head off inflation risks that exist only in its imagination.

And now it’s all coming to a head. We’re not talking about a crisis that will unfold over a year or two; this thing could come apart in a matter of days. And if it does, the whole world will suffer.

So will the E.C.B. do what needs to be done – lend freely and cut rates? Or will European leaders remain too focused on punishing debtors to save themselves? The whole world is watching.

Understanding Trichet and Conpany: A Note

Brad Delong

September 12, 2011

What are Jean-Claude Trichet and company really thinking right now?

The most likely scenario is this: they bet on mean-reversion in unemployment, on the magic full-employment equilibrium-restoring properties of the market, on their role as prudent stewards of financial rectitude, and on a take-no-prisoners commitment to price stability in all circumstances as the driving force behind the great moderation.

They were wrong.

They now have a choice.

They can admit that they were wrong. Then they will probably have to resign, and then be snubbed worldwide. Nobody likes a loser.

Alternatively, they can double down. Their reputations right now are underwater. What do they have to lose reputationwise by saying more absurd nonsense? And there is a chance that tomorrow the confidence fairy will appear, wave her magic wand, and the V-shaped recovery will start.

That is my guess as to how to understand what Trichet and Company are now saying: they are reputationally-bankrupt zombies gambling for resurrection.


Case of the Missing Hare

Anal Rape And Stuff

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Accessory After The Fact (Blackstone)-

(W)here a person, knowing a felony to have been committed, receives, relieves, comforts, or assists the felon. Therefore, to make an accessory ex post facto, it is in the first place requisite that he knows of the felony committed.

In the next place, he must receive, relieve, comfort, or assist him. And, generally, any assistance whatever given to a felon, to hinder his being apprehended, tried, or suffering punishment, makes the assistor an accessory. As furnishing him with a horse to escape his pursuers, money or victuals to support him, a house or other shelter to conceal him, or open force and violence to rescue or protect him.

WikiLeaks Cable: Iraqi Interrogators Rape Juveniles to Get Confessions

By: Kevin Gosztola, Firedog Lake

Monday September 12, 2011 10:52 am

A US State Embassy cable marked “confidential” and published by WikiLeaks reveals details on the detention of juveniles held in “Site 4” in a Iraqi Interior Ministry (MOI) detention complex. The juveniles allege sexual abuse by Iraqi interrogators, specifically that rapes were being used in the prison to induce confessions. The discovery of widespread abuse and torture, according to the diplomat who wrote the cable, is the worst since the infamous Jadriyah “Bunker” facility was discovered in 2005.

Impunity is typical. If one recalls how the US military coexisted with the Interior Ministry’s Wolf Brigade, a death squad known to have tortured Iraqis, especially Sunnis, the failure of multinational forces to do anything about those likely involved in torture isn’t surprising. A military order, Frago 242, uncovered in the Iraq War Logs published by WikiLeaks shows the military operated under an order not to fully investigate torture or abuse at the hands of Iraqi interrogators. In fact, the military would threaten detainees with the possibility that they might be transferred and subjected to torture by the Wolf Brigade if they didn’t cooperate or confess during interrogations. It is likely the US military has played off Iraqi fears by promising Iraqis they would be detained in US detention facilities instead of Iraqi detention facilities if they did what was asked of them.

The brutality of Iraqi police, which the US and coalition forces are in charge of training, has been clearly documented and the State Department and US military is fully aware of the appalling abuse and torture that is systemic in Iraqi detention facilities. Nothing happens.

The shock is ironic. The US operates Guantanamo, Bagram and various secret prison facilities where detainees are rendered to for interrogations that often involve abuse and torture. The US transformed the Abu Ghraib prison operated by Saddam Hussein into a facility that would become a symbol of US torture and abuse of detainees.

The US has rendered detainees to countries known to commit torture, such as Egypt, or transferred detainees into the custody of forces such as the Iraqi or Afghan police that are known to commit brutality and violence against detainees. The US has had other governments run secret prisons where US agents can come in and interrogate people but not have to take responsibility for the horrors going on in the facility (e.g. Somalia).

With that in mind, it is not shocking that prisons are able to operate where interrogators subject teenagers to anal rape to induce confessions or force juveniles to give them fellatio. The Interior Ministry will not punish the swine who commit such atrocities, therefore, the world can expect to read more accounts of horrific abuse of this nature.

Good Germans.

On This Day In History September 13

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

September 13 is the 256th day of the year (257th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 109 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1814, Francis Scot Key pens Star-Spangled Banner

The Star-Spangled Banner is the national anthem of the United States of America. The lyrics come from “Defence of Fort McHenry”, a poem written in 1814 by the 35-year-old lawyer and amateur poet, Francis Scott Key, after witnessing the bombardment of Fort McHenry by the British Royal Navy ships in Chesapeake Bay during the Battle of Fort McHenry in the War of 1812.

The poem was set to the tune of a popular British drinking song, written by John Stafford Smith for the Anacreontic Society, a men’s social club in London. “The Anacreontic Song” (or “To Anacreon in Heaven”), with various lyrics, was already popular in the United States. Set to Key’s poem and renamed “The Star-Spangled Banner“, it would soon become a well-known American patriotic song. With a range of one and a half octaves, it is known for being difficult to sing. Although the song has four stanzas, only the first is commonly sung today, with the fourth (“O thus be it ever when free men shall stand…”) added on more formal occasions. In the fourth stanza, Key urged the adoption of “In God is our Trust” as the national motto (“And this be our motto: In God is our Trust”). The United States adopted the motto “In God We Trust” by law in 1956.

The Star-Spangled Banner” was recognized for official use by the Navy in 1889 and the President in 1916, and was made the national anthem by a congressional resolution on March 3, 1931 (46 Stat. 1508, codified at 36 U.S.C. § 301), which was signed by President Herbert Hoover.

Before 1931, other songs served as the hymns of American officialdom. “Hail, Columbia” served this purpose at official functions for most of the 19th century. “My Country, ‘Tis of Thee“, whose melody was derived from the British national anthem, also served as a de facto anthem before the adoption of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Following the War of 1812 and subsequent American wars, other songs would emerge to compete for popularity at public events, among them “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

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

Individualism is rather like innocence:  There must be something unconscious about it.

–Louis Kronenberger

Art Glass 55