Saturday, March 28, 2009

Los Angeles County: Illegal Immigrant Costs Continue To Grow

Immigration: How the heck is this guy keeping his job in Los Angeles County of all places? This sort of factual information is blasphemy in some areas.

Figures from the Department of Public Social Services show that children of illegal aliens in Los Angeles County collected over $21 million in welfare and over $21 million in food stamps in February 2009 -- an increase of $1 million from the previous month, announced Los Angeles County Supervisor Michael D. Antonovich.

Annually the cost of illegal immigration to Los Angeles County taxpayers exceeds over one billion dollars, which includes $220 million for public safety, $400 million for healthcare, and $480 million in welfare and food stamps allocations. Twenty-four percent of the County’s total allotment of welfare and food stamp benefits goes directly to the children of illegal aliens born in the United States .

“Illegal immigration continues to have a devastating impact on Los Angeles County taxpayers,” said Antonovich. “The total cost for illegal immigrants to County taxpayers exceeds $1 billion a year – not including the millions of dollars for education.”

Obama lying? Mass. stimulus jobs uncertain at best

Nation: State officials are wondering where the hell did Obama admin get these job numbers. The obvious answer it out of thin air but that won't make a great headline.

State officials overseeing the federal economic stimulus program in Massachusetts say they have no idea how the White House came up with one key pledge—the promise to save or create 79,000 jobs in the state.

They say they're not even sure how to measure saved jobs—and fear the jobs figure sets an unrealistic yardstick against which the success or failure of the program will be measured.

"The federal estimate of 79,000, we really don't know what's behind that, we just plain don't," Jeffrey Simon, Director of Infrastructure Investment in Massachusetts, told The Associated Press.

"I'm not saying it's not 79,000, but I just don't have any way of knowing that," he said.

Simon and his counterparts overseeing the distribution of stimulus funds in Massachusetts said concerns about the state jobs numbers were raised at a meeting earlier this month in Washington between state and federal leaders.

Massachusetts Undersecretary of Administration and Finance Jay Gonzalez also attended the Washington meeting and said other states complained that issuing job estimates undercut the administration's vow of transparency because it was unclear where the estimates came from.

Gonzalez said he was asked at one point how he might come up with a jobs estimate and pointed federal officials to a state task force report, but cautioned them the estimate was very rough and came with "qualifications all over it."

He said he was surprised when the state was presented with the estimate of 79,000.

"We have no idea where that number came from and now we're going to be measured against it," Gonzalez told the AP. "They haven't even decided yet how they are going to require that we measure new and retained jobs."

Job creation has been a key selling point of the $787 billion federal stimulus package. The Obama administration said they stimulus package will save or create 3.5 million nationwide.

Critics say the numbers are fuzzy, particularly when it comes to saved jobs.

Oakland middle school to be renamed for Obama

Edumacation: Rule of thumb, if you have a school with the word academy in it, name change is the least of your worries and won't do anything to make it better.

While Obama has been in office fewer than 100 days, the 35 students at the former Alternative Learning Community public school persuaded the board Tuesday to make what they said was a historic change.

Several students prepared statements and then sat for hours Tuesday night waiting for their turn.

"They sat there 3 1/2 hours before they were allowed to speak," said their school principal, Toni McElroy. "They carried themselves Barack-like."

The students told the board the old name was too negative, district officials said. The students received a standing ovation at the meeting after the unanimous vote.

"These are students that people have written off," McElroy said. "They were able to see that if you really push and if you really are motivated and consistent that you can make a change."

So when are they going to change Oakland to something less negative?

Job Losses From Obama Green Stimulus Foreseen in Spanish Study

EU: If it doesn't work for Spain which is even more left than Obama(so far) it won't work here at all.

Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.

For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.

The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power - - which are charged to consumers in their bills -- translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview.

Spain’s Acerinox SA, the nation’s largest stainless-steel producer, blamed domestic energy costs for deciding to expand in South Africa and the U.S., according to the study.

“Microsoft and Google moved their servers up to the Canadian border because they benefited from cheaper energy there,” said the professor of applied environmental economics.

Russia moves to militarize Artic, Canada say We ain't scared!

World: The start of the Northern Ice Wars has begun.

Russia is planning to create a dedicated military force to help protect its interests in the disputed Arctic region.

The presidential Security Council has released a document outlining goverment policy for the Arctic that includes creating a special group of military forces. The report was released this week and reported by Russian media on Friday.

Russia, the United States, Canada and other northern countries are trying to assert jurisdiction over the Arctic.

The dispute has intensified amid growing evidence that the shrinking polar ice is opening up new shipping lanes and allowing natural resources to be tapped.

Canada says we ain't scared!

The Canadian government on Friday reaffirmed its Arctic claims, saying it will defend its northern territories and waters after Russia earlier announced plans to militarize the North.

"Canada is an Arctic power," Catherine Loubier, a spokeswoman for Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, said in an email to AFP.

"The government is engaged in protecting the security of Canada and in exercising its sovereignty in the North, including Canadian waters," she said.

Loubier pointed to the planned acquisition of Arctic patrol vessels, construction of a deep water port and eavesdropping network in the region, annual military exercises and boosting the number Inuit Arctic rangers keeping on eye on goings-on along its northern frontier.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Deval "Cadillac" Patrick in poll trouble?

Politics: Find a credible challenger and most likely he would be toast. Notice I didn't say Republican as I have low expectations of a star player in that state.

Miami joins Earth Hour nonsense.

Enviro: As for me I will be grilling, all the lights turned on and any other unfriendly enviro details I will be able to do for that hour. Nothing irritates me more that faux seriousness and this is topping the list.

NFL must not expand the season to 18 games.

Sports: Cut preseason games if you want and keep the 16 game season which is optimal length for football. More games will just over expose the sport.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Kaus exposes the JournoList! Massive disappointment awaits.

Media: Considering how it was promoted as high brow liberals having stunning intellectual discussions, the payoff is heart breaking. I have had more intellectually stimulating mature discussions playing D&D in middle school.

U.S. Muslim Coalitions Warn They will Boycott FBI

Nation: Not a really smart move from any angle you look at it.

U.N. urged to reject bar on defamation of religion

World: It will probably pass considering the majority of Muslim nations able to vote on it but the upside is it makes the United Nations Human Rights Council more a joke to others.

Some 200 secular, religious and media groups from around the world on Wednesday urged the United Nations Human Rights Council to reject a call from Islamic countries for a global fight against "defamation of religion."

The groups, including some Muslim bodies, issued their appeal in a statement on the eve of a vote in the Council in Geneva on a resolution proposed by the 56-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC).

Such a resolution, the statement said, "may be used in certain countries to silence and intimidate human rights activists, religious dissenters and other independent voices," and to restrict freedom of religion and of speech.

The resolution, its critics say, would also restrict free speech and even academic study in open societies in the West and elsewhere.

Islamic countries argue that criticizing or lampooning religions is a violation of the rights of believers and leads to discrimination and violence against them. Cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, first published in a Danish newspaper, sparked riots in the Muslim world in 2006.

Obama admin fights to keep Tariq Ramadan out of America.

Politics: and the ACLU is mad.

"....Assistant U.S. Attorney David Jones told a U.S. federal appeals court panel that they should uphold a decision to bar Swiss Muslim Tariq Ramadan, an Oxford University professor and a vocal critic of the U.S. invasion of Iraq, from entering the United States.

Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, had hoped Tuesday's arguments would see a reversal of Bush administration policies that they argue exclude foreign scholars from visiting the United States due to their political beliefs.

"Consular decisions are not subject to litigation," Jones told the three-judge panel in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, broadly arguing the courts have no power to examine visa denials. The ACLU argued against a judge's ruling in late 2007 that upheld Ramadan's ban.

Ramadan is the grandson of Hasan al-Banna, an Islamist thinker and activist who in 1928 founded the Muslim Brotherhood, which opposed secular and Western ideas.

The ACLU has championed Ramadan's case as part of a larger pattern of scholars and writers being excluded due to unwarranted or unspecified U.S. national security grounds.

"It's disappointing to come here today and hear Obama administration lawyers argue the same sweeping executive power arguments," ACLU lawyer Jameel Jaffer said after the hearing. "There should be a clean break of the Bush administration national security policies."

During arguments, Jones said if the courts questioned a consular officer's decision to bar Ramadan, then that would leave the U.S. government in a "quagmire" with others seeking such reversals."

Also got a problem with being overheard on tapes speaking to a Muslim audience about gays and women.

Cartoon Network Adds Live-Action, Reality Shows

Entertainment: What part of CARTOON Network do they not understand over there? Yes, I am still pissed about Samurai Jack getting cancelled but going live action and reality show route is the kiss of death.

Obama tries to defend higher taxes on Charitable Gifts.

Politics: The basic reasoning is hey they are rich and won't stop giving like before which shows he has no clue about human behavior when it comes to do something but finding out it would cost you more.

President Obama defends his proposal to cut the tax deductions that wealthy Americans can claim for their charitable donations by arguing that the shift would not have an adverse effect on giving, but two independent analyses concluded that the proposal could result in a drop of as much as $3.87 billion for the already reeling nonprofit sector.

In his prime-time news conference Tuesday, Obama pushed back against bipartisan criticism of his plan, which is included in his budget blueprint, by saying that "there's very little evidence that this has a significant impact on charitable giving."

But a report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said total charitable contributions would decline by about 1.3 percent, while the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University calculated that overall giving would drop by 2.1 percent. The highest-income households would decrease their giving by 4.8 percent, or $3.87 billion, the latter group found.

"Charities and the public need to understand that in the current economic environment, which is creating difficulty for some nonprofits and their constituents already, this public policy change is likely to have an additional negative effect," said Patrick M. Rooney, the philanthropy center's interim executive director.

But you know the answer? Health care reform will make people happy and they will donate just as much.

Administration officials said the proposal should be considered within the totality of the budget. The policy change would help finance efforts to reform the nation's health-care system, said Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for budget director Peter Orszag.

"Generally what keeps people giving is economic growth, increasing incomes and increasing prosperity, and in totality that's what this budget would do," Baer said. "This change is going to fund health-care reform, and constraining those costs is the single biggest thing we can do to put our country on a sustainable fiscal path and get this country going."

This is the new hotness for raising taxes, "reform" healthcare and more money will still come your way.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mexican guns flowing canard is the new Bush's fake turkey

Politics: Talking about why Eric "gun grabber" Holder is not pushing for an assault weapons ban we get the new favorite cut and paste from the MSM.

After fierce resistance from the gun lobby and its allies in Congress, Attorney General Eric Holder has dialed back talk about reimposing a federal assault weapons ban to help curb the spiraling violence in Mexico.

As much as 90 percent of the assault weapons and other guns used by Mexican drug cartels are coming from the United States, fueling drug-related violence that is believed to have killed more than 7,000 people since January 2008, according to estimates by Mexican and U.S. law enforcement officials. But the political obstacles to addressing the U.S.-to-Mexico weapons flow are dramatically underscored by Holder's experience in just the last few weeks.

Common sense if nothing else would tell you that amount of firepower going into Mexico from gun dealers in America would be hard not to notice and its false.

Obama to give more bailout money to auto makers.

Nation: Who here is shocked that Obama and his task force would say hand over more money to the auto makers? Obama is not going to let his union supporters down, he will fork over money till hell freezes over.

President Barack Obama last month handed his auto-industry team a seemingly impossible task: to engineer the most complicated industrial restructuring ever attempted by the federal government, and to do it fast.

With almost no experience in the car business, the team's dozen core members have undergone a crash course in the myriad woes plaguing the U.S. auto industry. Within days, just over a month after setting to work, they'll begin announcing decisions.

Interviews with task-force members indicate that the administration doesn't want to let General Motors Corp. and Chrysler LLC slip into bankruptcy protection, a course advocated by some critics of the industry. Instead, the task force is expected to say that it sees viable futures for both GM and Chrysler, but only if there are sacrifices from their managements, unions and GM's bondholders. The team will also lay out a firm timeline for action.

The government is prepared to lend the companies more money. The two companies have requested $22 billion more -- including $9 billion for the second quarter. But the task force may not disburse new aid immediately, choosing instead to preserve that as leverage.

Ebony's Kevin Chappell false homeless numbers.

Politics: One in 50 are now homeless in America only if you are willing to stretch the common use of homeless in every direction.

This is one of those statistical assertions that you know is BS before you even set out to show it's BS. If you just live here and go around with your eyes open you know it's BS. Sure enough, it's BS! Chappell's question is based on this study by an anti-homelessness advocacy group with every incentive to maximize the estimate of the problem. 1) The report apparently counts all people who are "homeless" even one night over the course of a year.

That's very different from saying that one-in-50 are homeless at the same time--e.g., "now." 2) More significantly, the report counts as "homeless" families who've "doubled up"--e.g., moved in with relatives--apparently on the grounds that while these children in these families do have a home, they don't have "a home of their own." That's not what most people mean by homeless, and not the image Chappell conjures (tent cities, sleeping under bridges).

Will I be "homeless" if Fire Mickey Kaus succeeds and I have to move in with my brother's family? Don't answer that. ... The study also counts families living in motels and trailer parks--again, lousy living arrangements, maybe, but not what we usually mean by "homeless."

Muslim Council of Britain finally gets shut out of government.

UK: How fast will this last till someone overturns it due to cultural sensitivity.

Ministers have severed links with Britain's leading Muslim group in a blazing row over extremism.
Communities Secretary Hazel Blears is angry that the Muslim Council of Britain has refused to condemn a senior member who signed a public declaration in support of Hamas.

The document, signed by the council's deputy secretary-general Daud Abdullah, also seemingly advocated attacks on the Navy if it tried to stop arms intended for Hamas being smuggled into Gaza.

.....These were heightened further when Dr Abdullah, who has also served as a member of the Government-backed Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, was one of 90 Muslim leaders around the globe who signed the controversial 'Istanbul declaration'.
It said: 'The obligation of the Islamic Nation [is] to regard the sending of foreign warships into Muslim waters, claiming to control the borders and prevent the smuggling of arms to Gaza, as a declaration of war, a new occupation, sinful aggression. This must be rejected and fought by all means and ways.'

The declaration was interpreted as calling for violence against Israel and condoning attacks on British troops. In response, Mrs Blears wrote to the MCB saying Dr Abdullah should 'resign his post'.

But although the group stressed it in 'no way supports the targeting or killing of British soldiers anywhere in the world', it refused to distance itself from Dr Abdullah.

Latest awesome: pop-up garage that sinks into your drive

UK: Finally the UK comes up with something awesome instead of something that wonders who will turn out the lights when it comes to the UK.

A £50,000 Thunderbirds-style pop-up garage has become the latest home-improvement craze.

The garage uses a hydraulic platform which can be hidden under a water feature, flowerbed or patch of gravel – or even a second car.

The futuristic parking option has drawn comparisons to the Thunderbirds aircraft hangar deep beneath Tracy Island.

...The waiting list is already four months long and experts predict demand will continue to grow as families choose to improve their home rather than try to sell in a weak property market.

Cardok managing director Alastair Soper said: ‘It's 100 per cent secure, far more so than a garage or driveway, and the vehicle's completely protected from the elements.

‘It goes down well with insurance companies. One man with a Bentley had been charged an annual premium of more than £5,000 when he parked his car in a well to-do street but that fell to £1,500 when he installed the Cardok.

‘In London a lot of people who have garages want to use them as extra rooms because of the value that adds to the house. Installing a Cardok allows them to use their space most efficiently.’

Obama to beef up Mexico border policy

Politics: Not much in the way of using the $700 million to protect the border against illegal immigration but CNN gets to tout that its America's fault for the guns reaching drug cartels despite evidence that is a bunch of crap.

UK students to study Twitter and blogs

UK: What are you doing UK? If they are students they know all about twitter and blogs, but hey why bother teaching them "scientific, geographical and historical knowledge."

Children will no longer have to study the Victorians or the second world war under proposals to overhaul the primary school curriculum, the Guardian has learned.

However, the draft plans will require children to master Twitter and Wikipedia and give teachers far more freedom to decide what youngsters should be concentrating on in classes.

The proposed curriculum, which would mark the biggest change to primary schooling in a decade, strips away hundreds of specifications about the scientific, geographical and historical knowledge pupils must accumulate before they are 11 to allow schools greater flexibility in what they teach.

It emphasises traditional areas of learning - including phonics, the chronology of history and mental arithmetic - but includes more modern media and web-based skills as well as a greater focus on environmental education.

The plans have been drawn up by Sir Jim Rose, the former Ofsted chief who was appointed by ministers to overhaul the primary school curriculum, and are due to be published next month.

The papers seen by the Guardian are draft plans for the detailed content of each of six core "learning areas" that Rose is proposing should replace the current 13 standalone subject areas.

The proposals would require:

• Children to leave primary school familiar with blogging, podcasts, Wikipedia and Twitter as sources of information and forms of communication. They must gain "fluency" in handwriting and keyboard skills, and learn how to use a spellchecker alongside how to spell.

Obama says 'Don't demonize investors' this moment.

Politics: Even Obama cheerleader Jennifer Loven couldn't help but point out the obvious.

President Barack Obama moderated his rhetoric about bonuses to executives at bailed out AIG Tuesday night, saying he was as angry as anyone at the payments but adding, "We can't afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who tries to make a profit."

At the second prime-time news conference of his presidency, Obama also cast his budget—now under review in Congress—as essential if the economy is to emerge from the severe recession. The tax and spending plan "is inseparable from this recovery because it is what lays the foundation for a secure and lasting prosperity," he said.

Someone should have pointed out to Black jesus he lead the charge overturning the tables on Wall Street, now that he overdid it and need their help to buy toxic assets he is all lovely dovey.

Sarkozy knows how to fill political vacancies.

Politics: Oh Yes he does.

Fresh from axing elegant 43-year-old Rachida Dati as his justice minister, Mr Sarkozy decided to go for broke in boosting the wow factor in his government.

He has lined up 39-year-old TV news presenter Christine Kelly to become his minister for overseas territories.

She was born on the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, which as a department of France, is part of the European Union.

Mrs Kelly is as well known for appearing in bikinis, and recently completed a book about Arsenal footballer William Gallas.

She has also written a biography of France’s current Prime Minister, Francois Fillon.

‘Mr Sarkozy is hugely impressed that she is not only attractive, but in touch with the modern world,’ said a source in France’s government UMP party.

‘He is aware that Rachida’s imminent disappearance will create a gaping hole, and is certain that Christine will be the person to fill it.

‘Christine has a huge fan base thanks to her regular appearances in the media, and will be a massive asset.’

Mrs Kelly is currently a presenter on the French news channel LCI - a job she will have to give up if she accepts a role in government.

Senate Democrats to scrap Obama's $400 tax credit

Politics: and Obama remains "nuanced" over it.

President Barack Obama says he's not ready to comment on a proposal from some Senate Democrats to scrap his middle-class tax cut after 2010. Obama says he hasn't yet seen what changes are coming out of the House and Senate.

But he delivered his bottom-line on the budget at a Tuesday evening news conference. Obama said the budget must move toward health care reform and include an energy policy that frees the U.S. from dependence on foreign oil. He also says he's looking for investment in education and a reduction in the deficit.

Obama said a middle-class tax cut is already in place through the recovery package for at least two years. And he said he never expected Congress to approve his plan without some changes.

Basically washes his hands over the tax cuts which were crap to begin with for most families who believe a tax cut should be a little bit more than $65 a month. After that no tax cuts ever because that is not what a liberal likes when he has social programs to fund.

Maxine Waters makes me feel bad for Geithner.

Politics: She is trying to ask about a supposed Goldman Sachs cabal running everything behind the scenes which is another leftist creation but manages to say a bunch of words in English that doesn't fit any question structure known to man.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dem Senator wants to save newspapers.

Politics: I was wondering when the MSM bailout would start up, the Dems can't have one of their biggest cheerleading sections go out of business.

With many U.S. newspapers struggling to survive, a Democratic senator on Tuesday introduced a bill to help them by allowing newspaper companies to restructure as nonprofits with a variety of tax breaks.

"This may not be the optimal choice for some major newspapers or corporate media chains but it should be an option for many newspapers that are struggling to stay afloat," said Senator Benjamin Cardin.

A Cardin spokesman said the bill had yet to attract any co-sponsors, but had sparked plenty of interest within the media, which has seen plunging revenues and many journalist layoffs.

Cardin's Newspaper Revitalization Act would allow newspapers to operate as nonprofits for educational purposes under the U.S. tax code, giving them a similar status to public broadcasting companies.

Under this arrangement, newspapers would still be free to report on all issues, including political campaigns. But they would be prohibited from making political endorsements.

Advertising and subscription revenue would be tax exempt, and contributions to support news coverage or operations could be tax deductible.

Because newspaper profits have been falling in recent years, "no substantial loss of federal revenue" was expected under the legislation, Cardin's office said in a statement.

Marlins and their new billion dollar ballpark in Miami.

Sports: Oh they say its just $515 million but once everything is signed watch the price soar for a baseball stadium being built in a football town in the middle of a recession in a crappy part of the South Florida Region.

Just don't be surprise about the future federal indictments on corruption charges and fraud surrounding this project. This is Miami-Dade County, its a rule.

Bank of America’s Bernstein Says Sell Bank Stocks After Rally

Nation: Makes a lot of sense.

Investors should sell bank stocks after they rallied 12 percent today because the Treasury Department’s plan to buy toxic assets won’t stop profits from dropping, Bank of America Corp.’s Richard Bernstein said.

Removing devalued loans and securities from banks’ balance sheets is a short-term solution that will delay the problem’s ultimate solution, which is bank takeovers, Bernstein said. The government won’t be able to inflate the prices banks receive for selling bad assets indefinitely, he added.

“The history of bubbles shows quite well that financial sector consolidation is inevitable,” Bernstein, Bank of America’s chief investment strategist, wrote in a research note. “Financial stocks will be attractive when the government tries to speed up that inevitable process. However, to the contrary, the government continues to attempt to stymie that inevitable consolidation.”

This entire bailout fiasco has been done to stop the inevitable which is why in the long run it is going to hurt us more.

US plan to buy back toxic asset puts taxpayers on the line.

Nation: Basic summary of the plan.

The new plan will draw on up to $100 billion in funds already approved by Congress under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, as well as additional funding from the Federal Reserve. The government will match private investment dollar-for-dollar, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. will put up significant backing, up to $6 for every $1 invested, in exchange for a fee.

The FDIC funding will be in the form of “non-recourse” loans, meaning private investors will be allowed to walk away from their investment if it goes bad, leaving the government with the failed investment and any losses on the loan.

Its a win-win if you are an investor with money and taxpayers are on the hook if a deal goes south.


The Treasury and private investors would combine their capital and turn to the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp, a U.S. banking regulator, or the Federal Reserve for loans.

Under one part of the plan focused on sopping up bad loans, the Treasury will provide up to 80 percent of the initial capital and the FDIC would offer debt financing for up to six times of the combined public-private capital pool.

A separate component, aimed at toxic securities, will have the Federal Reserve broaden its Term Asset-Backed Securities Loan Facility. That $200 billion program will be bumped up to $1 trillion and will begin accepting older mortgage-related and other securities as loan collateral.

In addition, the Treasury will approve up to five investment managers and match their money one-for-one. It will then offer debt financing for 50 percent of the combined capital to buy securities banks want to unload.

The end game is to get credit lending going again, the problem with that is who are you going to lend in this economy with everyone cutting back? The quick way would be to do the same behavior that got us into this mess in the first place which is lend like mad and damn the consequences.

Now we have set the stage for this massive bailout, all future considerations by financial institutions will put this in the equation.

Monday, March 23, 2009

South Africa bars the Dalai Lama

Africa: This has nothing to do with South Africa being China's little bitch of course.

South Africa has denied the Dalai Lama a visa to attend a peace conference linked to the 2010 Football World Cup, which the country is hosting.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has pulled out of the meeting in protest and branded the decision "disgraceful".

A government spokesman has denied suggestions that the ban was a result of Chinese pressure.

He said he did not want anything to distract from South Africa's hosting of the World Cup.

....Speculation has also been rife that South Africa does not want to jeopardise its bilateral relations with China, one of its major trading partners.

"We are shamelessly succumbing to Chinese pressure," Archbishop Tutu was quoted as telling the Sunday Independent. "I feel deeply distressed and ashamed."

A spokesperson for the Dalai Lama told AFP news agency he was "very disappointed" by the decision, also accusing South Africa of caving into "intense pressure" from Chinese authorities.

Somali man's recruited by terrorist group return to Minneapolis.

Terrorism: One of many young Somali men who disappeared with one turning up a suicide bomber in Somalia.

A young Somali man from Minneapolis believed to have been recruited by a terrorist group to travel to his war-torn homeland has returned to Minnesota, a community leader said Saturday.

Omar Jamal, executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, said Saturday that the 22-year-old man was recruited for jihad before a change of heart led him to return in recent months. Jamal wouldn't confirm the man's identity, saying that he and his family fear for their safety and are in hiding. Others identified him only as Kamal.

The disappearances of perhaps a dozen young men from the Twin Cities have traumatized and divided the local Somali community.

Jamal also wouldn't say why the man went to Somalia or how he financed the trip, but said he apparently returned because "his expectation was not what he wanted when he went over there. ... I think he simply didn't like what he saw over there."

Jamal said the man has met with FBI investigators but is not in jail.

FBI special agent E.K. Wilson declined Saturday to comment about the development or the status of the travelers "because of the ongoing investigation," he said.

Turkey could block Rasmussen at NATO

World: This is interesting if Turkey gets to boss around the rest of NATO over the cartoons.

Turkey could block Denmark's prime minister from becoming the next NATO chief given concerns over his past stance on Turkey and a row over Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, a Turkish official said on Sunday.

Current secretary general Dutchman Jaap de Hoop Scheffer steps down on July 31. His successor is expected to be named at an April 3-4 NATO summit. NATO diplomats and a U.S. source said on Saturday Washington had told NATO allies it would back Anders Fogh Rasmussen as the next secretary general but getting Turkey to agree would be key.

A Turkish official said the Turkish position could be set in coming days, but Rasmussen was "tainted" in Turkey's eyes.

"It may come to the veto," he told Reuters. "We will have to see." NATO leadership positions are filled by consensus among the 26-nation military pact.

The official, who did not want to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue, said Turkey was riled that Demark allowed a pro-Kurdish militant television station to broadcast from Denmark, and by comments by Rasmussen in 2003 saying that Turkey would never be a full EU member.

"Thirdly, the way that Denmark handled the cartoon crisis didn't go down well at all in Turkey," he said.

US to announce Mexican border deployment

Nation: Why am I not happy about this needed development along the border? I guess I am waiting for the "Oh by the way, you can't enforce immigration laws or help the border patrol" part of the order.

The US is expected this week to announce plans to dispatch more federal agents to its border with Mexico in a bid to combat drug cartel operations there, US officials said.
Washington appears poised to bolster its customs and border protection forces along the 3000-plus kilometer (2000 mile) frontier, in what would be President Barack Obama's first major domestic security initiative.

The announcement is expected to come "in the next few days" a Department of Homeland Security official told AFP ahead of the announcement.

U.S. Rounding Up Suckers...Investors to Buy Bad Assets

Politics: Its going to be a lot harder considering everyone saw how fast Obama and Congress demonized AIG and others.

Obama administration officials worked Sunday to persuade reluctant private investors to buy as much as $1 trillion in troubled mortgages and related assets from banks, with government help.

The talks came a day before the Treasury secretary, Timothy F. Geithner, planned to unveil the details of the administration’s long-awaited plan to purchase troubled assets, meant to remove them from the balance sheets of banks and, in turn, spur banks to lend more money to consumers and companies.

The plan relies on private investors to team up with the government to relieve banks of assets tied to loans and mortgage-linked securities of unknown value. There have been virtually no buyers of these assets because of their uncertain risk.

As part of the program, the government plans to offer subsidies, in the form of low-interest loans, to coax private funds to form partnerships with the government to buy troubled assets from banks.

But some executives at private equity firms and hedge funds, who were briefed on the plan Sunday afternoon, are anxious about the recent uproar over millions of dollars in bonus payments made to executives of the American International Group.

Some of them have told administration officials that they would participate only if the government guaranteed that it would not set compensation limits on the firms, according to people briefed on the conversations. The executives also expressed worries about whether disclosure and governance rules could be added retroactively to the program by Congress, these people said.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury declined to comment on the conversations over the weekend.

Obama aide: Economy will 'bottom out this year'

Politics: That is stating the obvious considering various financial bodies have said the same thing over the last couple of months considering the recession started in 2007. If by the end of September we don't start seeing some positive movement then we are really screwed.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Sean Penn cuts self from movie due to honor killing scene?

Entertainment: This was barely covered after it came out in Aug of 2007 when after complaints Weinstein supposedly cut out the honor killing scene. I didn't hear any news that it was put back so I doubt Penn cut himself from this movie other than maybe it was just a horrible film.

DID Sean Penn's sympathy for Iran's ayatollahs help cripple the box-office prospects of a recent Harvey Weinstein movie?

Sources say Penn, who traveled to Iran in 2005 and sent wordy dispatches to the San Francisco Chronicle, demanded to be removed from "Crossing Over" because he objected to an "honor killing" scene of an Iranian woman slain by her brother.

The Weinstein Company flick on the immigration issue, budgeted at $20 million, is a multi-plotted drama, like "Traffic" and "Crash," starring Harrison Ford and Ashley Judd. Although Penn shot scenes playing an enforcement agent, sources told Page Six he insisted he be cut from the movie, which has grossed a paltry $292,254 since its release three weeks ago. The Post's Lou Lumenick panned its stereotypical characters who "spout tin-eared dialogue."

Penn's rep told us: "Sean's portion of the film was somewhat experimental as it had a mystical quality that the rest of the film did not have. His not being in the final edit was a creative decision of which he was aware."

A rep for Weinstein, who tried to salvage the remains of the picture in the editing room, declined to comment as to why Penn was cut from it.

Director Wayne Kramer did not respond to our requests for comment, but was previously quoted as saying, "I'm not trying to be evasive about it, but that's a question you should ask Sean."

Obama gets ready to regulate salaries.

Politics: On March 21st, you had this bit from the NYTIMES which made me think that Obama isn't such of a detached economic dullard to see how destructive this house bill passed would be to the economy in the long run. Making the rules after the congress and his admin approved the bailout money is vindictive and stupid. That was before everyone realized that Congress and Obama knew about the bonuses before they have publicly told everyone. Now comes this piece of regulation where if I was a tin foil wearer I would say Obama planned all of this in hopes of making passage of this bill much easier.

The Obama administration will call for increased oversight of executive pay at all banks, Wall Street firms and possibly other companies as part of a sweeping plan to overhaul financial regulation, government officials said.

The outlines of the plan are expected to be unveiled this week in preparation for President Obama’s first foreign summit meeting in early April.

Officials said the proposal would seek a broad new role for the Federal Reserve to oversee large companies, including major hedge funds, whose problems could pose risks to the entire financial system.

It will propose that many kinds of derivatives and other exotic financial instruments that contributed to the crisis be traded on exchanges or through clearinghouses so they are more transparent and can be more tightly regulated. And to protect consumers, it will call for federal standards for mortgage lenders beyond what the Federal Reserve adopted last year, as well as more aggressive enforcement of the mortgage rules.

The administration has been considering increased oversight of executive pay for some time, but the issue was heightened in recent days as public fury over bonuses spilled into the regulatory effort.

The officials said that the administration was still debating the details of its plan, including how broadly it should be applied and how far it could go beyond simple reporting requirements. Depending on the outcome of the discussions, the administration could seek to put the changes into effect through regulations rather than through legislation.

One proposal could impose greater requirements on company boards to tie executive compensation more closely to corporate performance and to take other steps to ensure that compensation was aligned with the financial interest of the company.

The new rules will cover all financial institutions, including those not now covered by any pay rules because they are not receiving federal bailout money. Officials say the rules could also be applied more broadly to publicly traded companies, which already report about some executive pay practices to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

I support enforcing regulation that makes business more transparent and open for all to see, but what people make should be left up to the employees, shareholders and board members. This is Obama's play to make the government the salary maker which only further ensures more big government where it is not needed. How long till this oversight moves on to other industries?