March 10th, 2009

The Travails of Detroit (from the Financial Times)

I hope this hasn't been posted before - if I has I've not seen it, so I'm posting it anyway :)

From the Financial Times. (Warning: It's rather long, but worth sticking with)

The travails of Detroit

By John Reed

You expect snow in Detroit in winter, and this time there was plenty. I waded through drifts, sweeping mounds of it off my car, and gunning the engine in slush to get the wheels going again. Detroit and Wayne County, which encompasses the city and many of its biggest suburbs, is out of money, so the ploughing and salting of roads here is as patchy as it is in England – although blizzards in south-eastern Michigan are hardly once-in-18-years events.

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. . .

Detroit may be the archetypal down-and-out rust-belt city, but to call it “dying” masks a more complex reality. Greater Detroit still has three to four million residents, a world-class university next door in Ann Arbor and the bone structure of a great city, as a car-industry consultant with the ear of a poet put it over lunch one day. Why, then, the relentless focus on its failings? Nearly everyone you meet is either weary or angry at seeing their home town made the butt of jokes on late-night television and the subject of anguished political commentary. But no one denies that the region’s property market is abysmal, its finances a mess and its industrial base shrinking at an alarming rate.

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. . .

This winter, in addition to trekking to Washington and back, the bosses at Chrysler, Ford and GM were slashing their sponsorship of cultural institutions built up in the city’s golden age, including its symphony orchestra and the Detroit Institute of the Arts, home to Diego Rivera’s extraordinary murals of auto-workers, commissioned by Edsel Ford and painted in the 1930s. In fact, the car companies, accustomed to boom and bust, haven’t funded large endowments since the days of Henry Ford; the DIA’s, with America’s fifth-largest art collection, is less than $100m – one-sixth to one-eighth the size of the sums bestowed upon similar museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago or the Museum of Fine Arts in Houston. In February, the DIA laid off about 20 per cent of its staff.

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. . .

“Collapse” is a relative notion for an industry that has been losing jobs for years – and not really even a new idea. Deindustrialisation and the loss of decent-paying employment are longstanding, atavistic fears in Detroit. “Will the last person to leave Detroit please turn out the lights?” went the joke from the 1980s, when Iacocca was turning around a spluttering Chrysler and US-based Japanese plants were capturing market share from the Americans in earnest.

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Specter: ‘I think we’re on the brink of a depression.’

Speaking to reporters in Harrisburg, PA, yesterday, Sen. Arlen Specter (R) issued this dire economic warning:
Our economic problems are enormously serious, more serious than is publicly disclosed. And I think we’re on the brink of a depression.
ABC News suggests, “Sen. Specter is fully aware of the vulnerability on his right flank which may be why he painted such a dire and mysterious economic outlook when speaking with reporters.” Watch it:

  • bispo

WaPo: Tim Geithner's Black Hole

Pity Barack Obama's economic advisers. The blogs are now demanding their scalps, and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and his colleagues face a nasty dilemma: There are no solutions to the banking crisis without extraordinary political and financial risks. Thus, they have adopted a three-pronged approach, delay, delay, delay, in the hope that somebody comes up with a breakthrough.

Here's the problem: Today's true market value of the U.S. banks' toxic assets (that ugly stuff that needs to be removed from bank balance sheets before the economy can recover) amounts to between 5 and 30 cents on the dollar. To remain solvent, however, the banks say they need a valuation of 50 to 60 cents on the dollar. Translation: as much as another $2 trillion taxpayer bailout.

That kind of expensive solution could send the president's approval rating into a nose dive. Consider: $2 trillion is about two-thirds of the tax revenue the federal government collects each year.

The logical alternative -- talk show hosts' solution du jour -- is to temporarily restructure or nationalize the banks and leave taxpayers alone. Remove the toxic assets, replace management and cut the too-big-to-fail financial dinosaurs into smaller, nimbler entities. Then reprivatize these smaller banks and let the recovery begin.

Oh, if it were that simple. I suspect Obama's advisers would like nothing more than to dismantle an irresponsible firm such as Citigroup. They are afraid to do so, for one reason: All the big banks are connected to a potentially lethal web of paper insurance instruments called credit default swaps. These paper derivatives have become our financial system's new master.
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David M. Smick is a global financial strategist and the author, most recently, of "The World Is Curved: Hidden Dangers to the Global Economy."
  • bispo

A Turning Tide?

Obama still has the approval of the people, but the establishment is beginning to mumble that the president may not have what it takes.

Surfer that he is, President Obama should know a riptide when he's in one. The center usually is the safest, most productive place in politics, but perhaps not now, not in a once-in-a-century economic crisis.

Swimming in the middle, he's denounced as a socialist by conservatives, criticized as a polite accommodator by government-is-the-answer liberals, and, increasingly, dismissed as being in over his head by technocrats.

Luckily for Obama, the public still likes and trusts him, at least judging by the latest polls, including NEWSWEEK's.But, in ways both large and small, what's left of the American Establishment is taking his measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lack-ing.

They have some reasons to be concerned. I trace them to a central trait of the president's character: he's not really an in-your-face guy. By recent standards—and that includes Bill Clinton as well as George Bush—Obama for the most part is seeking to govern from the left, looking to solidify and rely on his own party more than woo Republicans. And yet he is by temperament judicious, even judicial. He'd have made a fine judge. But we don't need a judge. We need a blunt-spoken coach.
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biggie aretha
  • bispo

Boehner Spokesman: Description Of GOP’s Drag-Dems-Down Strategy Is “Largely Correct”

I asked House GOP leader John Boehner’s office if he agreed with Patrick McHenry’s claim yesterday that the GOP strategy is to “bring down approval numbers” of Nancy Pelosi and House Dems.

McHenry, as you know, said: “We will lose on legislation. But we will win the message war every day, and every week, until November 2010. Our goal is to bring down approval numbers for Pelosi and for House Democrats. That will take repetition. This is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Here’s the response, from Boehner spokesperson Michael Steel:

“I think that’s largely correct, but incomplete. Obviously, as Leader Boehner has said repeatedly, we stand ready to work with the Speaker and the President when it is in the best interest of the American people. When we cannot work together, Republicans will offer better solutions — rooted in our principles — to the problems facing our country. If House Democrats push for the same tired liberal agenda of higher taxes to pay for more ineffective government spending, I imagine that their standing with in the polls will suffer, but our first priority is doing the right thing for the American people, and we hope it is theirs as well.”

My parsing of this is that Boehner believes that McHenry’s description of the party’s strategic goal as winning the message war and dragging down Dem poll numbers is “largely correct,” but that McHenry left out the GOP’s willingness on principle to work with Dems and that the GOP’s “first priority is doing the right thing for the American people.”

That would appear to stop short of disagreeing with or criticizing McHenry.


Chuck Norris 20-WTFever!

I may run for president of Texas
- Chuck Norris

© 2009
On Glenn Beck's radio show last week, I quipped in response to our wayward federal government, "I may run for president of Texas."

That need may be a reality sooner than we think. If not me, someone someday may again be running for president of the Lone Star state, if the state of the union continues to turn into the enemy of the state.

From the East Coast to the "Left Coast," America seems to be moving further and further from its founders' vision and government.

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Kung-fu source

Damn, are you guys sure WND even takes itself seriously? This is amazing.

Voter ID Battle Heads to Texas Senate

AUSTIN — One of the most politically divisive fights the Legislature will confront this year gets its first full-fledged airing today as state senators have it out over whether voters should be required to show photo identification or other documentation every time they cast a ballot.

On one side are Republicans who contend the change would protect the integrity of Texas elections and abate any possibility of voter impersonation and fraud. Democrats proffer a different view: The move is nothing more than an attempt to suppress votes by minorities, the elderly and disabled.


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source (where you can read the head explodey user comments)

This pisses me off so freaking much. I love that off all the incredibly important things they could put first on the agenda---Aren't there still millions of people affected by that little bitty rainstorm Ike?---the Republicans are all "No, clearly we need to focus our attention on disenfranchising old people and minorities." Gee, how convenient that voter fraud suddenly became the number one threat just as the state is getting slowly but surely more blue and the Republicans only control the Lege by two seats. Of course, I'm sure that's just coincidental.

How is it that these idiotic measures always pass when every study and statistic shows that 'widespread voter fraud' is a complete myth? Why doesn't anyone ever call bullshit on this disgusting fear mongering?


Jon Stewart Rips Into Jim Cramer Again (VIDEO)

Jon Stewart, whose pointed takedown of the network CNBC last week has already become legendary, returned to the subject Monday in response to host Jim Cramer's complaint that he was taken out of context during the segment.

Stewart began by clarifying that the "Daily Show" had planned to air its epic dissection of CNBC's follies before the now infamous Rick Santelli was scheduled to appear on the program, as opposed to having done so in response to him canceling on that appearance.

In regards to Cramer, Stewart addressed the host's suggestion that the "Daily Show" had used a particular clip from his show "Mad Money" to make it look as if he had recommended buying Bear Stearns stock a week before it collapsed.

Stewart conceded the point to Cramer, saying with a hint of mockery, "I apologize, that was out of context, technically you were correct, you weren't suggesting to buy Bear Stearns. That was something you did five days earlier, in your buy and sell segment." Roll the clip!

Coleman and Franken Still Battle, as Minnesota Awaits a Senator

Coleman and Franken Still Battle, as Minnesota Awaits a Senator

When Minnesota's Senate recount trial began in January, the state's lone U.S. Senator, Democrat Amy Klobuchar, made a prediction: either Republican incumbent Norm Coleman or Democratic challenger Al Franken would be seated as Minnesota's next senator by April 11, the day the ice is expected to melt on Lake Minnetonka, a large lake outside of the Twin Cities. But after 30 painstaking days in court, Klobuchar is starting to have her doubts. "Pretty soon I'm going to say when the ice melts on the Arctic," she says.
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GOP Political Darwinism: Who's Adapting and Who's Going Extinct?

On Sunday, conservative columnist David Brooks showed us why is one of the few on the right who seems to have a grasp of the main problems currently plaguing the Republican Party:

BROOKS: The problem with them and the problem with Limbaugh in terms of intellectual philosophy is they are stuck with Reagan. They are stuck with the idea that government is always the problem. A lot of Republicans up in Capitol Hill right now are calling for a spending freeze in a middle of a recession/depression. That is insane. But they are thinking the way they thought in 1982, if we can only think that way again, that is just insane.

Brooks is one of the few conservative voices who have shown to be a lot more right than wrong over the past few years when it comes to the ever-shifting dynamics in American politic
s (recall he was one who thought Obama should run from the beginning). Same goes for conservative blogger Andrew Sullivan and some of the GOP governors (Crist, Huntsman, etc) who have been smart enough to realize that working with President Obama makes a lot more sense than trying to obstruct or showboat (like Jindal or Boehner or Cantor).

That got me thinking, if you think of American politics as just another group that is subject to the principles of Darwinism (or at least a form of political Darwinism), who are those GOP/conservative figures who seem to be adapting to the dramatically changing environment and likely to survive, versus those who are either extinct or likely headed there?

follow the link to see who is adapting and who will go extinct...

Elisabeth Hasselbeck On Jay Leno: "Socially, I Try Not To Get Judge-y"

Um, we beg to differ. Examples follow.

Last night Elisabeth Hasselbeck was on The Tonight Show to promote her forthcoming book The G-Free Diet: A Gluten-Free Survival Guide. Jay, of course, asked her about her political views, pointing out that she's a "real conservative, not a Hollywood conservative," meaning that her conservatism goes beyond fiscal matters. The pro-lifer disagreed, saying that she mainly cares about fiscal matters, and that socially, she tries "not to get judge-y."

Well, we've seen her judge-y.


(no subject)

Coulter, Maher spar at Radio City

Bill Maher and Ann Coulter take part in an event at Radio City Music Hall.

NEW YORK — Bill Maher couldn’t have asked for a better act to follow.
Maher took the stage at the Radio City Music Hall Monday after Ann Coulter – with whom he’d spend the rest of the night debating – had held forth for 15 minutes on the sins of liberals. 

The applause for Maher was huge – exactly as one might expect in not-exactly-blood-red midtown Manhattan. 

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I hate this world.

A 75-year-old Syrian woman has been sentenced by a Saudi Arabian court to 40 lashes, four months in prison, and deportation for having two unrelated men in her house.

Last year a member of the Saudi religious police entered Khamisa Mohammed Sawadi's home and found two younger men with her, Fahd and Hadian. Fahd, 24, said he was not breaking the law because Sawadi breast-fed him as a baby and is considered to be a son to her in Islam. His friend Hadian was accompanying him to deliver bread to Sawadi. Both men were arrested. Fahd was sentenced to four month in prison and 40 lashes and Hadian was sentenced to six months in prison and 60 lashes. The judge who made the ruling claims that it's been proven that Fahd is not Sawadi's son through breast-feeding. Sawadi insists he is and says she will appeal the case. "[This case] made everybody angry because this is like a grandmother," said Saudi women's rights activist Wajeha Al-Huwaider. "Forty lashes — how can she handle that pain? You cannot justify it."


Experts: Gay Marriage Won't Hurt Children

Vermont's leading mental health and human service organizations joined in support of gay marriage Monday.

The Vermont Psychological Association, the Vermont Psychiatric Association, the Vermont Association of Mental Health Counselors, and the Vermont chapter of the National Association of Social Workers, all say legalizing gay marriage would help the children of same-sex couples. The group says allowing gay couples to marry validates their relationships, could reduce discrimination and increases benefits for the families.


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cookie monster

Rather interesting.

The coming evangelical collapse

By Michael Spencer – Tue Mar 10, 4:00 am ET;_ylt=As3W4jwvjE3nQF0CMSFIkrsDW7oF
Oneida, Ky. – We are on the verge – within 10 years – of a major collapse of evangelical Christianity. This breakdown will follow the deterioration of the mainline Protestant world and it will fundamentally alter the religious and cultural environment in the West.
Within two generations, evangelicalism will be a house deserted of half its occupants. (Between 25 and 35 percent of Americans today are Evangelicals.) In the "Protestant" 20th century, Evangelicals flourished. But they will soon be living in a very secular and religiously antagonistic 21st century.
This collapse will herald the arrival of an anti-Christian chapter of the post-Christian West. Intolerance of Christianity will rise to levels many of us have not believed possible in our lifetimes, and public policy will become hostile toward evangelical Christianity, seeing it as the opponent of the common good.
Millions of Evangelicals will quit. Thousands of ministries will end. Christian media will be reduced, if not eliminated. Many Christian schools will go into rapid decline. I'm convinced the grace and mission of God will reach to the ends of the earth. But the end of evangelicalism as we know it is close.
Why is this going to happen?
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Batman chainsaw
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Judges weigh whether Utah crosses are secular

Nothing religious to see here...

DENVER – A federal appeals court is weighing Utah's use of crosses on roadside memorials honoring fallen highway patrol troopers, trying to decide if they are an endorsement of religion or a nonreligious, secular symbol of death.

A three-judge panel of the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals heard arguments Monday in the case involving what the group American Atheists called "heroic-size" 12-foot-high crosses placed along state highways.

Utah's 14 memorial crosses, paid for by the private Utah Highway Patrol Association, contain the highway patrol's logo and a small plaque with a photo and short biography of the fallen trooper, as well as the trooper's name, rank, badge number and year of death.

A federal judge in Utah ruled in 2007 that the crosses communicate a secular message about the deaths of the troopers and are not an illegal public endorsement of religion. That judge cited the use of religious symbols in military cemeteries.

Utah Assistant Attorney General Thom Roberts defended the use of the privately funded crosses as a way to quickly convey a message to passing motorists that a trooper died there, and said the crosses are not an endorsement of religion.

But Texas-based American Atheists argued that the crosses are symbols that convey a government endorsement of religion and shouldn't be on public land.

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(no subject)

Commentary: GOP becoming a cartoon

  • Story Highlights
  • Jack Cafferty: Jindal, Palin, Steele have had embarrassing moments
  • He says the Republicans had an opportunity to change course after Bush
  • Cafferty: They're blowing their chance by obstructing Obama's change plans
  • He says the GOP isn't trusted by Americans to lead U.S. out of recession

By Jack Cafferty

Editor's note: Jack Cafferty is the author of a new book, "Now or Never: Getting Down to the Business of Saving Our American Dream," to be published in March. He provides commentary on CNN's "The Situation Room" daily from 4 to 7 p.m. ET. You can also visit Jack's Cafferty File blog.

NEW YORK (CNN) -- The Republican Party is becoming a cartoon.
Where to start?

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' jules

"You have changed your life with this article. You will be the man that shot Liberty Valance..."

"... You will be the guy that took on Rush Limbaugh. Just don’t apologize."

David Frum: Limbaugh Bad For the GOP


Bonus lulz: NewsBusters clutch their pearls and retire to the fainting couch over the idea that Rush Limbaugh has race problems.

Israel Grants Gay Couple Adoption of Foster Son After 14 Years


After 14 years of lobbying, the Ramat Gan Family Court granted adoption of their foster son Yossi to Professor Uzi Even and Dr. Amit Kama:

Ynet reports: "
Prof. Uzi Even and Dr. Amit Kama have been serving as foster parents to Yossi Even-Kama, 30, since 1995. 'The court finds that all of the stipulations noted in the adoption laws and pertaining to the foster child in question have been duly met,' Justice Alisa Miller noted in her ruling. 'I hereby grant the adoption decree and state that Yossi Even-Kama is now Uzi Even and Amit Kama's son.' Yossi first arrived at the Even-Kama home in 1995, after being disowned by his family for being a homosexual. Even and Kama soon petitioned the Israeli Social Services to become his foster parents, and when their request was granted they also became Israel's first-ever gay couple to be recognized as a foster family. In 2004, Even and Kama were married in Toronto, Canada."

(via transracial)

Christian Groups Planning Walk Out In Response To Pro-Gay Protest

Christianist groups are calling for a nationwide student walk-out in public schools that participate in next month's annual Day Of Silence, an event designed to call attention to the bullying of LGBT students. From Americans For Truth spokesdouche Peter LaBarbera:
TAKE ACTION: spread the word about the student walkout to protest the pro-homosexual-activist “Day of Silence” — on Friday, April 17 –by GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network). Find out if your children’s (middle or high) school is endorsing the Day of Silence by allowing students (or teachers) to go “silent” during class time — thus disrupting the learning environment of all students. [snip]

Folks, it’s no secret that American public schools are failing at teaching the basics. So they need to get out of the values-adjustment (or should I say values-subversion) business. The “Day of Silence” is a thinly-veiled attempt to propagandize students using the time-tested technique of hyping homosexuals as victims. The “gay-victim” gig is getting very old, especially when one considers that the homosexual lobby is in the vanguard of: viciously demonizing Christians like Dr. James Dobson and equating religious moral teachings with “hate”; working to deny Christians the right to live by their own moral code; and “silencing” viewpoints with which they disagree. Help make the DOS walkout a success by spreading the word.
Pro-child violence hate groups encouraging the student walk-out include:
Abiding Truth Ministries; American Family Association (AFA) Michigan; AFA Pennsylvania; AFA National; Americans for Truth About Homosexuality; Association of Maryland Families; Called2Action; Campaign for Children and Families; Citizens for Community Values of Ohio; Coalition of Conscience; Community Issues Council; Concerned Women for America National; Concerned Women for America Washington; Culture Campaign; Faith2Action; Faith, Family & Freedom Alliance; Illinois Family Institute; Indiana Voice; Liberty Alliance Action; Liberty Counsel; Maine Family Policy Council; MassResistance; Mission America; Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays and Gays (PFOX).
The above-named organizations are directly ENDORSING the violent bullying of LGBT students that takes place in every school in every city on every day. They have the blood of gay youth on their hands and they are PROUD to say so. If I were the parent of one of the many gay students that will kill themselves this year, I'd throw the child's ashes in their hate-filled faces.


I can't believe these people actually think it's OKAY to BULLY gay and lesbian students in schools.

Continuity IRA shot dead Police Officer

Second shooting 'feels like deja vu'

By Mark Simpson
BBC Ireland correspondent

As reporters gathered outside police headquarters in Belfast for a news conference with the chief constable, there was a grim sense of deja vu.

During the Troubles, late night statements from police chiefs about the latest murder in Northern Ireland were part of the daily routine.

In those days, there was an ugly cycle which journalists used to follow - death, reaction, funeral; death, reaction, funeral.

Following the killing of two soldiers in Antrim, the murder of a police officer in Craigavon two days later feels like the start of a new cycle. 
But, at this stage, it is only a feeling.

Two attacks in three days shows a determination to keep killing but, at present, there is no evidence that dissident republicans have the ability to sustain the same intensity of violence perpetrated by the Provisional IRA for three decades.

That was certainly the view of Chief Constable Sir Hugh Orde when he spoke to the media at 0120. He called the dissidents a small group of "criminal psychopaths", and warned against giving them more credibility than they deserved.

Nonetheless, he acknowledged that the threat level is high and these are dangerous times.


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cookie monster

For those with doubts about how important Obama's Stem Cell policy is:

 Chinese Stem Cell Therapy Helps Girl See

Colo. Teen Travels To China For Experimental Treatments On Optic Nerve

Comments Comments 42

March 10, 2009

Macie Morse

Macie Morse receiving treatment in China (KCNC Denver)

Stem Cell Debate

Stem Cell Debate

The scientific advance sets off an ethical debate that rages on.


(CBS)  Shaun Boyd of CBS4 Denver reports on a blind Colorado girl who went to China for experimental stem cell treatments which have radically improved her vision -- she's now taking driving lessons. 

Macie Morse was born with optic nerve hypoplasia, meaning her optic nerve didn't develop all the way. The only way to repair it was to grow more of the nerve using umbilical cord stem cells. 

She and her mother traveled all the way to China for an experimental treatment. 

For 6 weeks Morse received injections of cord stem cells and acupuncture to stimulate the cells. Gradually, they took hold and began growing the optic nerve Morse was missing. 

"I saw snow fall for the first time," she told CBS4's Boyd. 

Morse now has her learner's permit for driving, something her mom never thought she'd see. 

"I'm experiencing a miracle," Rochelle said. "This is what it feels like." 

Here's the story and video: 
Yuuko - The Witch of Dimensions

Chinese Art Dealer in Unpaid YSL Bronzes Furor Weeps

Remember the French sale of Chinese art stolen during the Opium War? Well, while Pierre Bergé, he who was born a curmudgeon, continues to be stubborn and smug while waiting to die, Cai Mingchao is going to lose the business he loves. Cai Mingchao was a highly trusted art dealer, he loves art, and he has a reputation of helping restore Chinese treasures to China. He has refused to pay, echoing the PRC's argument that it would condone thief.

Chinese Art Dealer in Unpaid YSL Bronzes Furor Weeps(Update1) - Bloomberg
By Le-Min Lim

Cai, 44, spoke in an interview after turning away hundreds of calls from reporters about the Feb. 25 sale. He was praised in China for walking away from the bronzes, which were plundered by foreign troops, and has been condemned by other dealers. In the world of high-end art sales, where millions of dollars worth of items may sell on the basis of a phone call or handshake, defaulting is seen as unprofessional.

“This has damaged me: I have lost the business I love,” said Cai, in his office in the southeastern city of Xiamen. Cai said he had bid with the intention of paying, then had second thoughts and decided it’s wrong to do so. He again denied acting in concert with China’s government.

The Christie’s International sale is renewing debate in art circles on the moral and legal right of auction houses to sell controversial items, including those that some nations regard as looted. Cai’s default may also heighten calls for more checks on bidders. Art transactions were worth 43.3 billion euros ($54.5 billion) in 2006, according to a 2008 report by the European Fine Art Foundation.


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Whenever I think of Ayn Rand, I picture her inside a hurricane lamp. Long story there.

The Last Person On Earth To Turn To Now Is Ayn Rand
by Johann Hari

In a depression triggered by raw greed and unhinged deregulation, who should you turn to for advice? I would say the last person - the very last on earth - would be Ayn Rand, the Philosopher-Queen of America's billionaire CEOs, a woman who wrote a book called 'the Virtue of Selfishness' and meant every word. Yet she is one of the strange beneficiaries of this crash.

Her philosophy was summarised perfectly on 30th December 2004, when it was becoming clear that the Boxing Day tsunami had washed away whole generations in South East Asia. The Ayn Rand Institute sent out a stark press release. It was headed: "US Should Not Help Tsunami Victims." Do not give cash. Do not send help. Leave them.

This was not a random piece of spite. It expressed - with admirable clarity - a philosophy that has influenced some of the most powerful people in the world. Ayn Rand is the only novelist whose work has been read by every single US Congressman. Nor is her appeal confined to an elite: when the Library of Congress recently conducted a massive poll to find the most influential book in the US, her 1070-page parable of market fundamentalism, Atlas Shrugged, came second. The only author to beat her was God. Rand's centenary was greeted with a slew of official celebrations, including a US postage stamp bearing her fierce smile.

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I never let my schooling get in the way of my education. - Mark Twain

Obama: 'We've let our grades slip'
The president takes on unions, backs teacher merit pay in new plan

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Tuesday embraced a new approach to public education that adds up to merit pay for the better teachers and longer days and school years for students.

These proposals, which constitute the new president's vision of an education system that meets 21st century challenges, were sure to generate loud criticism, particularly from teachers' unions.

Educators oppose charter schools because they divert tax dollars away from traditional public schools. Merit-based systems for teachers have been anathema to teachers' unions, a powerful force in Obama's Democratic Party.

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The good: rewarding better teachers, more money for charter schools, more money for early education.
The bad: reauthorizing NCLB, more time in school.

More time in school won't solve problems. We need better teachers, better facilities, better curricula. More time in the classroom takes time away from jobs and extracurriculars.

*UPDATE* ON Anti-Gay Adoption KY Bill that passed in a SECRET Senate Comittee Meeting

In a surprise meeting announced as the Kentucky Senate adjourned for the day, a measure that would ban unmarried couples from adopting children or becoming foster parents in Kentucky, Senate Bill 68 (SB 68), was passed by the Kentucky Senate Judiciary Committee and sent to the full Senate late last Thursday afternoon.

Introduced by Sen. Gary Tapp (R), SB 68 prohibits someone who is co-habiting with a sexual partner outside of marriage from becoming a foster parent, providing relative caregiver services, or adopting a child, and mirrors a law recently passed in Arkansas.

Sen. Tapp and supporters of SB 68 are saying that the purpose of the bill is to insure that children are placed into a home with a mother and father, however this bill does not ensure that children will be placed in homes with two parents. Singles would still be able to foster or adopt as before, just as long as they don’t live with an unmarried life partner.

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Long Article, I bolded for the tl;dr but I did bold a lot as the article has lots of information.
cookie monster

Good info from Dean Baker.

 Tell the WSJ: Workers Can Already Unionize Without a Secret Ballot Election

Okay, let's see if we can teach the Wall Street Journal something this morning. In an article reporting on the prospects for the Employee Free Choice Act in the Senate the WSJ told readers that: "the bill would allow unions to organize workers without a secret ballot, giving employees the power to organize by simply signing cards agreeing to join."

Wrong! The current law already allows workers to organize by majority sign-up. They can also have a union de-certified by majority sign-up. The difference is that under current law it is the employer's option to accept majority sign-up or to demand an NLRB election. Employers who wish to prevent unionization can demand an election. They can then delay the actual election for several years. They can use time to require workers to attend mandatory anti-union propaganda sessions. They can also fire the key organizers, thereby undermining the organizing drive and intimidating workers.

The main change in the law under the Employee Free Choice Act is that workers, not employers, would decide the method for union certification. The WSJ should be able to get this one right.

--Dean Baker

Nun with a Gun - OH MY GOD YOU GUYS

Texas worst in US for homeless kids, report says

By LINDA STEWART BALL, Associated Press Writer Linda Stewart Ball, Associated Press Writer – Tue Mar 10, 9:43 am ET

DALLAS – Larry Canady took his family to a homeless shelter three weeks ago, no longer able to make ends meet after he and his wife were laid off from their jobs.

The family of five was already living from paycheck-to paycheck. They went from renting a four-bedroom brick home in a south Dallas suburb to sharing one room in a dormitory-like shelter.

"No one knew the economy was going to crash so hard like it did," said Larry Canady, 38, now at the nonprofit Family Gateway facility in Dallas. "It caught us off guard."

The Canady family's story is a familiar one and in no place more so than Texas. A study by the National Center on Family Homelessness released Tuesday placed Texas 50th — last of all states — in how homeless children fare.

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Homophobia 'more common than racism'

A study has suggested that negative attitudes to gay and lesbian people are now more prevalent than racism.

The research, carried out by the British Psychological Society’s Division of Occupational Psychology, found that the 60 volunteers surveyed were more likely to show negative attitudes to gays and lesbians than towards any other area of diversity, such as race, gender, age or disability.

Lead researcher Dr Pete Jones said: "Prejudiced attitudes are incredibly difficult to measure, as in today’s society admitting to racism, sexism or ageism has severe consequences.

"So to discover people’s real attitudes we measured our participants’ ‘implicit’ attitudes - associations in our minds that we’re not aware that we have - using a set of computer-based tests."

Results from the tests classified seven per cent of the participants as being strongly anti-gay and three percent as being anti-lesbian.

A further 35 per cent displayed some anti-gay predilection and 41 per cent some anti-lesbian prejudice.

These negative implicit attitudes were stronger than those for age, gender, religion, disability or even ethnic origin, where 28 per cent of the sample showed some prejudice towards Asian people, 25 per cent against black people and 18 per cent against south-east Asian people.

Dr Jones added: "Without detracting from the seriousness of the prejudice that still exists against people because of their ethnic origin, the results of our study suggest that being gay or lesbian could be ‘the new black' when it comes to being a victim of prejudice."


Which Doll is the Nice Doll?

What's so bad about allowing the people of California to vote in favor of a separate-but-equal form of domestic partnership for same-sex couples?
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Let's look at the pro-Prop 8 text from the official voters guide:
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Claiming "the best situation for a child is to be raised by a married mother and father" is false. Children raised in a household led by a same-sex couple are indistinguishable from those raised by heterosexual parents. Study after study has demonstrated this.

Preventing "children from being taught in public schools that 'same-sex marriage' is the same as traditional marriage" however does cause demonstrable harm. Kenneth B. Clark's "Doll Test" tells us that letting proposition-8 stand will damage children who are biologically determined to be attracted to the same sex—telling them their capacity for love is wrong and beneath that of the heterosexual majority.
The mob has no right, in our country, to strip a minority of its dignity. Make a note of it, California Supreme court.

Source: Dan Savage's blog.

soap&skin 2012

Senate passes $410 billion spending bill

  • Story Highlights
  • NEW: Obama will unveil new guidelines Wednesday to cut down on earmarks
  • Spending bill including more than $8 billion in earmarks passes
  • Critics blast White House for earmarks; Obama staff says they inherited bill
  • McCain: Vote shows "business as usual" remained order of the day
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A spending bill that funds the U.S. government for the rest of the budget year passed the Senate on Tuesday despite complaints about nearly $8 billion in what critics called "pork-barrel" projects.

Senators voted 62-35 to cut off debate on the $410 billion measure and passed it on a voice vote immediately afterward.

The omnibus spending bill includes more than 8,000 congressional "earmarks," which total almost $8 billion. The earmarks have caused critics to question President Obama's pledge to end wasteful spending, but Obama administration officials said the bill is a holdover from the previous Congress.

"It is in America's best interest to close the book on the last administration and let the new one hit the ground running," said Sen. Daniel Inouye, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

But Sen. John McCain, a longtime critic of congressional spending and Obama's Republican opponent in the 2008 election, said the vote shows "business as usual" remained the order of the day.
"If the president were serious about his pledge for change, he would veto this bill. He won't," McCain said.
The bill funds the U.S. government through September, when the 2008 budget year ends. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, postponed the vote last week because he wasn't sure supporters had the 60 votes needed to break a potential GOP filibuster.

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Mr. The Edge

Orange County being Orange County...

 So, one of the funnier moments I remember from watching Milk in Irvine was the quip about getting signatures to put Prop 6 on the ballot.  The response, they can get them in a day in Orange County.  It amused and saddened me because it was and still is true.  So, today, this from the LA Times.  Ugh.  

O.C. suspends Planned Parenthood funding

5:05 PM | March 10, 2009

The Orange County Board of Supervisors voted unanimously today to suspend a county contract with Planned Parenthood to provide health education for thousands of teens and preteens because the nonprofit organization offers abortions.

“I personally have a problem with government funding of an organization that provides abortion services,” said Supervisor John Moorlach, who placed the item on the agenda.

The decision to suspend the $291,788 education grant came after nearly two hours of impassioned public and board member discussion. Planned Parenthood's curriculum includes discussions about birth control alternatives, such as types of contraception and abstinence, as well as about sexually transmitted disease.

None of the Orange County money is used to fund abortions, said Jon Dunn, CEO and President of Planned Parenthood for Orange and San Bernandino counties.

“It’s clear to me that the agenda of Supervisor Moorlach and the other supervisors willingness to go along with him, are driven more by a religious ideology than an articulate health policy that benefits the people of Orange County,” Dunn said.


Steele May Face No Confidence Vote

Steele May Face No Confidence Vote

Republican insiders tell Political Wire that a no confidence vote on RNC Chairman Michael Steele is likely to be called after the NY-20 special election on March 31 -- regardless of whether Republicans win the seat or not.

Katon Dawson, who came in second in the January RNC vote, is said to be quietly organizing a vote and is getting the support of several state party chairmen who want to dump Steele.
  • bispo

Dr. Melissa Harris-Lacewell is Fierce!

Editor's note: I recently added her on Facebook and have corresponded with her twice. She's one of my favorite commentators.

This week The New Yorker released a new issue with three amateurish renderings of the First Lady. In each her legendary arms are fully covered. Lord knows this is a better cover than the previous illustration of Michelle with an Afro, gun, and terrorist sympathies. Still, both the cover and the accompanying article leave me feeling troubled.
I am not necessarily irritated with a conversation about Mrs. Obama's fashion or figure. Michelle is not an elected official or policy maker and she has not actively sought those roles for herself. (At least not yet) Obsessing about HRC's trench coat is stupid. She is Secretary of State and I am far more interested in the substance of her international travel than what she wore on the flight.
But, Michelle Obama is different and I think as a national icon and trendsetter, conversations about style are fair game. As First Lady she is part of our cultural imagination and our symbolic understanding of ourselves as a nation. I reject the knee-jerk reaction that assumes that to discuss Michelle's style means we are not taking her seriously as an independent intellectual, savvy public figure, or nurturing spouse and parent.
In fact I think Michelle Obama is aware of and actively making use of her role as First Lady. I think Michelle is purposely cultivating a particular representation of femininity that is meant to push back against a number of racialized gender stereotypes.
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Chas Freeman: By vetoing U.S. appointments, the Israel lobby is enforcing adherence to a foreign gov

More on the Freeman story. As you might have heard he has withdrawn from the Intel Chair position.

Here is his statement:

Charles W. "Chas" Freeman Jr.'s statement:

To all who supported me or gave me words of encouragement during the controversy of the past two weeks, you have my gratitude and respect.

You will by now have seen the statement by Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair reporting that I have withdrawn my previous acceptance of his invitation to chair the National Intelligence Council. Collapse )