Friday, May 8, 2009

Detroit teachers union killing off charter schools.

Edumacation: It is never about the kids, its about the teachers keeping a tight hold on the monopoly of teaching kids to save their jobs.

The Detroit Federation of Teachers is pursuing a clever strategy for dealing with competition from mostly nonunion charter schools: Organize them and saddle them with the same labor costs and work rules as the union imposes on the Detroit Public Schools.

"...(A)s more charters are faced with having to be more like traditional public schools in terms of accountability, wages and benefits, due process and paying into the retirement system, many of them will dry up because now they will not be as profitable, thus not as appealing to those seeking to authorize them," writes DFT President Keith Johnson in a recent newsletter.

Johnson says the goal is to hold the charter schools to the same standard as traditional Detroit schools.

Maybe Johnson hasn't noticed, but that standard is an absolute failure.

Michigan: Perpetual State of Suck.

Business: Michigan high on the list of places you would be a fool to try and open a business.

one more study that confirms Michigan is a lousy place to do business. The fifth annual CEO Confidence Index by Chief Executive magazine ranks Michigan as the third worst state in which to do business, ahead of California and New York. New Jersey and Massachusetts round out the bottom five.

No coincidence that those five states also have some of the highest unemployment rates in the nation.

Michigan's ranking is not simply a reflection of the collapse of the domestic automobile industry. One CEO quoted calls California and our state "absolutely a regulatory and tax disaster."

Holder: Suspected Gitmo terrorists won't be freed in U.S.

Terrorism: But Holder pulls a neat slight of hand.

Attorney General Eric Holder, faced with bipartisan resistance, promised a Senate committee Thursday he will not release suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, into the United States.

He was less clear about what would be done with any detainees the administration decides are not terrorists.

Keep an eye on those he decides are not terrorists.

GM and GMAC need billions of dollars to be viable.

Politics: Its too late to go on another rant how much money was wasted in both cases. How many times can I say no more bailout, let them die.

General Motors.

Even after receiving $15.4 billion in federal loans, General Motors is once again on the brink of financial collapse.

The automaker’s first-quarter earnings released Thursday showed that G.M. was losing more money and sales than it was in late December, when the government began its bailout.

With its cash reserves down to the bare minimum and its revenue plunging, G.M. seems more certain each day to be heading toward a bankruptcy filing.

The company is entering the final stages of producing, by June 1, a restructuring plan that is acceptable to President Obama and his auto task force.

But its financial problems continue to deepen. G.M. is spending more than $113 million a day than it is taking in from sales of its vehicles around the world.

Even if G.M. satisfies Mr. Obama’s other requirements — including reaching a new cost-cutting deal with its unions and persuading its bondholders to agree to sharply reduce debt — the company looks less viable, not more, than it did five months ago.

With Chrysler already in bankruptcy, many industry analysts say they think G.M. is next.

“It’s looking like a real high probability,” said Brett D. Hoselton, an analyst with KeyBanc Capital Markets. “Chrysler is the best indicator at this point of where we’re heading with G.M.”

Investors appear to be arriving at the same conclusion. G.M.’s stock dropped to $1.60, down 3 percent, on Thursday, and its market capitalization fell below $1 billion.


It looks as if one more bank needs a bailout. And, four months ago, this bank was not even a bank.

The company is GMAC, the onetime finance arm of General Motors, which itself seems to be hurtling toward bankruptcy.

The results of bank stress tests disclosed Thursday showed that GMAC is in dire straits. Federal regulators determined that GMAC must raise a staggering $11.5 billion in capital, the equivalent of roughly half its current equity. G.M. is in no position to help.

Neither is Cerberus Capital Management, the big private investment firm that briefly controlled GMAC.

That means the government is likely to come to the rescue once again, according to people briefed on the matter.

It would be only the latest instance of extraordinary federal aid for GMAC, whose survival is seen as crucial to G.M. and, now, Chrysler. Both carmakers are relying on GMAC to help buyers and dealers finance their purchases.

In the heat of the credit market turmoil last fall, the Federal Reserve agreed to convert several nonbank institutions, like American Express and MetLife, into bank holding companies. And, in a controversial move, it also bestowed that status on GMAC, even though the company fell short of certain requirements.

Days later, the Treasury Department injected $5 billion into GMAC and gave G.M. $1 billion to acquire additional equity in it as well.

“GMAC is integral to G.M., and without a functioning GMAC, you don’t have a functioning G.M.,” said John A. Casesa, managing partner in the Casesa Shapiro Group and a longtime industry analyst. “To the extent that the government has an enormous amount of money at risk in G.M., it’s essential to help GMAC to protect that investment.”

CIA: Pelosi Was Briefed on Interrogation Tactics in Sept. ’02

Politics: Pelosi along with other officials who want to dump all over the CIA are going to find out you don't screw with the CIA.

Intelligence officials released documents this evening saying that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) was briefed in September 2002 about the use of harsh interrogation tactics against al-Qaeda prisoners, seemingly contradicting her repeated statements over the past 18 months that she was never told that these techniques were actually being used.

In a 10-page memo outlining an almost seven-year history of classified briefings, intelligence officials said that Pelosi and then-Rep. Porter Goss (R-Fla.) were the first two members of Congress ever briefed on the interrogation tactics. Then the ranking member and chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, respectively, Pelosi and Goss were briefed Sept. 4, 2002, one week before the first anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The memo, issued by the Director of National Intelligence and the Central Intelligence Agency to Capitol Hill, notes the Pelosi-Goss briefing covered "EITs including the use of EITs on Abu Zubaydah." EIT is an acronym for enhanced interrogation technique. Zubaydah was one of the earliest valuable al-Qaeda members captured and the first to have the controversial tactic known as water boarding used against him.

More from ABC NEWS who point out other congress critters who got briefed and Washington Post.

Obama asks Press to highlight $17 billion budget cuts.

Politics: Not even a day old and already Obama is slightly stressed that his budget proposal is not met with great cheer.

In remarks on his administration's proposed $17 billion in cuts from the 2010 budget this morning, President Obama was somewhat on the defensive against charges that his cuts don't amount to much considering that next year's total budget amounts to $3.4 trillion.

As Steve Chaggaris noted in Hotsheet's morning bulletin today, the news that the cuts totaled $17 billion "landed with a bit of a thud" in the media. Reporters stressed that the cuts made up "a tiny fraction" of the total budget and that they would be hard to push through; USA Today noted that the "proposed cuts are about one-fiftieth the size of this year's $787 billion economic stimulus package — all of which was added to the deficit."

In his remarks today, the president sought to change that tenor of that coverage. He mocked the notion that smaller savings are considered "trivial" in Washington and stressed that "these savings, large and small, add up."

And he told journalists directly that they should stress the fact that the cuts are "significant" – a surprisingly direct appeal to reporters concerning which angle they should take in their coverage.

If we were talking about a $100 billion budget, $17 billion would be nice. Since we are talking about a $3.4 trillion dollar budget, $17 billion touted as a big cut and huge savings only works if your audience is mentally challenged.

Canadian government tells unions to cut more for GM deal.

Canada: No more bailout, fix your stuff or be liquidated.

The governments of Canada and Ontario told the Canadian Auto Workers on Thursday to offer General Motors of Canada additional concessions in contract talks.

The union signed an agreement in March that reduced G.M.’s Canadian labor costs by an estimated 7 Canadian dollars an hour ($5.96). But in April, the auto workers agreed to 19 Canadian dollars an hour ($16.17) in savings for Chrysler Canada which, unlike its parent company, is not under bankruptcy protection.

Dalton McGuinty, the premier of Ontario, suggested to reporters that the union would have to offer a deal to G.M. Canada along the lines of its pact with Chrysler Canada before the government’s new deadline of May 15.

Ken Lewenza, the president of the union, said he had been told that without additional concessions, the two governments would not extend aid to G.M.’s Canadian unit. That, he added, would force the liquidation of the General Motors subsidiary.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Afro-Cuban dissident hopes Congressional Black Caucus is worth a damn.

World: Good luck considering the CBC is so far up Fidel's behind I doubt they will give a damn at this stage of their game.

An Afro-Cuban dissident on Wednesday urged members of the Congressional Black Caucus who recently met with Fidel Castro to pressure Cuban officials to stop harassing opposition leaders on the island.

Berta Antunez delivered a letter in Washington on behalf of her brother, who spent 17 years in prison in Cuba. Since his release last year, Jorge Luis Garcia Perez Antunez remains under heavy surveillance on the island. He also recently spent a month on a hunger strike protesting treatment of political prisoners.

His wife, Iris Perez Aguilera, who also is black, heads a group in Cuba called the Rosa Parks Feminist Movement for Civil Rights.

U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, D-Il, said democratic freedoms are a concern of his but weren't the focus of last month's trip. He plans to offer a bill this week to lift trade restrictions against Cuba and to remove it from the U.S. list of nations that sponsor terror.

Obama budget cuts of $17 billion doesn't even scratch the surface.

Politics: Nothing more than 1.4% of the projected $1.2 TRILLION dollar deficit and half will come out of the defense budget which is no surprise considering Obaam lack of love for the military. When he starts to cut down on entitlement programs then I will know he is serious instead of this show.

President Obama on Thursday will unveil nearly $17 billion in additional budget cuts for the coming fiscal year to underscore what a top adviser called a “constant” effort to find savings at a time when the government’s costs for bailouts, health care and wars are mounting far faster.

The savings for the budget year starting Oct. 1 represent the sum of Mr. Obama’s promised “line by line” scrubbing of the federal budget. But, underscoring the nation’s fiscal plight, the proposed cuts represent about 1.4 percent of the $1.2 trillion deficit that is projected for the fiscal year 2010.

The president’s 10-year budget outline, released in February, shows the deficit declining by his final year in office to $533 billion, mostly through assumptions about economic growth when the recession ends that many economists consider somewhat optimistic.

Specter: Reid promised me seniority

Politics: Eat it Specter! You have been dropped to the bottom and you were dumb enough to think Reid would carry out what he promised to you to cross over.

Senate moves toward bailing out Home Owners.

Politics: In other words, the Senate made it easy for irresponsible deadbeat home owners to get a better deal.

Trying to curb home foreclosures, the Senate voted on Wednesday to make it easier for homeowners with risky credit to switch to a lower-cost mortgage backed by the government. The bill, passed 91-5, also would give banks a break by encouraging reduced fees they must pay for the government to insure deposits.

Getting rid of bad teachers is hard to do.

Education: Especially in Los Angeles

Obama sells out D.C. Kids to please NEA masters.

Education: He took the coward's way out.

President Obama will seek to extend the controversial D.C. school voucher program until all 1,716 participants have graduated from high school, although no new students will be accepted, according to an administration official who has reviewed budget details scheduled for release tomorrow.

The budget documents, which expand on the fiscal 2010 blueprint that Congress approved last month by outlining Obama's priorities in detail, would provide $12.2 million for the Opportunity Scholarship Program for the 2009-2010 school year. The new language also would revise current law that makes further funding for existing students contingent on Congress's reauthorization of the program beyond its current June 2010 expiration date. Under the Obama proposal, further congressional action would not be necessary, and current students would automatically receive grants until they finish school.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan had told reporters that it didn't make sense "to take kids out of a school where they're happy and safe and satisfied and learning," but Democrats effectively terminated the program by requiring its reauthorization. Obama must now convince Democratic lawmakers to endorse a gradual phase out by continuing to include grant funding in future appropriation bills.

The voucher program was created in 2003 and is a Republican favorite, providing low-income students with a maximum $7,500 grant to attend a private or parochial school. All students come from households with incomes below 185 percent of the poverty line, and 8,000 students entered a lottery to participate. But liberal education groups, including the National Education Association, have argued that the experimental program is poorly administered and that voucher recipients have not performed measurably better in their new schools.

In a March 6, 2009 letter to Obama, the NEA president Dennis Van Roekel called the D.C. program "an ongoing threat to public education in the District of Columbia" and urged Obama to "use your voice to help eliminate this threat" by opposing "any efforts to extend this ineffective program."

Obama has convicted children growing up in D.C to a school system that is

1) Spending $13,000 a student(third highest in the nation)

2) CNN Video: 88% of 8th graders can't read and 92% have very little if any math skills.

3) According to the Save the Children group 86% can't read at a fourth grade level.

4) According the National Center of Education Statistics the numbers are horrible in reading and math skills among 8th graders.

Just to throw a little bit about growing up in single parent homes.

Overall, the report paints a dismal picture of parenting and schooling in America. It finds that 68 percent of American fourth-graders are not reading at grade level--64 percent in Maryland, 62 percent in Virgina and 86 percent in the District.

Some of the group's assumptions about what works don't necessarily track in every case. Although only 49 percent of three- and four-year-olds in Maryland and Virginia attend pre-school, that number soars to 68 percent in the District--the highest in the United States--yet the results are dismal. So it's not mere attendance in pre-school that makes a difference, but rather what happens in pre-school and how good the programs are.

There's a much better correlation between overall success and the percentage of children who grow up in single-parent households. States at the top of the list universally have much lower percentages of kids in one-parent homes than states at the bottom. In Virginia, 28 percent of children five and under live in single-parent homes; in Maryland, that figure is 30 percent. In the District, it jumps to 47 percent, again the highest in the nation. (Utah is lowest at 17 percent.)

This is the second time Obama has caved to a voting block with the UAW being the first. If the district schools are so great how about more politicians send their own kids to the system instead of exclusive private schools. The move to by the NEA to kill off the voucher system or fight other forms of schooling such as home school shows they are more concerned about protecting their jobs than educating students.

Thanks to Obama no kids will have the opportunity to better him/herself and instead get to join the horror system that is the DC public school. Congrats.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

UAW whines over GM plan for depending more on imports

Business: I agree with the UAW. Lets have GM keep the number of jobs here in America way above what they need to produce cars while the UAW gets taxpayers money to keep rolling along.

UAW doesn't get it. This ain't the 50s and 60s. GM is no longer a big dog in America and must cut itself down to the correct size in order to compete now and in the future.

All the UAW gives a damn about is squeezing as much blood out of GM and the American taxpayers.

The UAW is objecting to General Motors’ newest restructuring plan in a letter to Congress today, saying it depends upon increasing imports from other countries over U.S.-made vehicles.

The U.S. autoworkers’ union urged lawmakers to call on President Barack Obama to tie any further government assistance to GM on maintaining “the maximum number of jobs in the U.S.”

“The UAW strongly objects to GM’s restructuring plan because it essentially means that GM will be shifting more of its manufacturing footprint from the U.S. to Mexico, Korea, Japan and China and importing more of the vehicles it sells in the U.S. market from these countries,” the letter from Alan Reuther, the UAW’s legislative director, said. A copy of the letter was posted on the union’s Web site.

Reuther noted that GM’s plan — the third by the company since December — calls for the closing of 16 manufacturing facilities, including four assembly plants, and will result in the direct loss of 21,000 jobs.

“The ripple effect at suppliers, dealers, and other businesses will cost tens of thousands of additional jobs, devastating numerous communities across the United States,” Reuther said.

Between 2010 and 2014, GM’s plan calls for a 98% increase in the number of vehicles it imports into the United States from China, Japan, Mexico and South Korea, he said.

Shocker! Chrysler won't repay bailout money

Business: You have to be thick as a brick to think that Chrysler or GM for that matter would have ever pay back the bailout money that was used to give them over to the unions. If the government was a private/public company and pulled this crap there would be investigations from every financial agency in the country.

Chrysler LLC will not repay U.S. taxpayers more than $7 billion in bailout money it received earlier this year and as part of its bankruptcy filing.

This revelation was buried within Chrysler's bankruptcy filings last week and confirmed by the Obama administration Tuesday. The filings included a list of business assumptions from one of the company's key financial advisors in the bankruptcy case.

Some of the main assumptions listed by Robert Manzo of Capstone Advisory Group were that the Treasury would forgive a $4 billion bridge loan given to Chrysler in the closing days of the Bush administration, a $300 million fee on that loan, and the $3.2 billion in financing approved last week by the Obama administration to fund Chrysler's operations during bankruptcy.

An Obama administration official confirmed Tuesday that Chrysler won't be repaying the loans, though a portion of the bridge loan may be recovered by Treasury from the assets of Chrysler Financial, the former credit arm of the automaker which is essentially going out of business as part of the reorganization.

Horny Lion gets too close to his jealous lioness.

World: The lesson learned is the male in any species is prone to act stupid when it comes to getting some.

Michael Savage to sue soon to be out of work UK Minister.

Nation: Savage who is rightly angry at being lumped in with the worst of the worst is mulling suing Jacqui Smith who look to be out of a job really soon.

A U.S. radio presenter who is included on the Home Office’s list of 22 people banned from entering the UK is suing the British Government for defamation.

Mike Savage told the San Francisco Chronicle that being included in such a crowd is no laughing matter - and he is now preparing legal action against Home Secretary Jacqui Smith.

‘This linking me up with Nazi skinheads who are killing people in Russia; she's putting me in a league with Hamas murderers who kill Jews on buses,’ he said.

‘I have never advocated violence. I've been on the air 15 years. My views may be inflammatory, but they're not violent in any way.’

He said he has been defamed and endangered by the British government action.
‘She has painted a target on my back, linking me with people who are in prison for killing people,’ he said. ‘Does she not think people might hunt me down?’

Savage said he has had no contact with the British government or with Smith's office and has no idea how he ended up on the Home Secretary's list.

Gordon Brown is preparing a wholesale clearout of disloyal and ineffective ministers in a reshuffle designed to shore up his waning authority.

The Prime Minister is ready to sack Hazel Blears - after the Communities Secretary mocked his awkward performance on YouTube - when he puts his team in place next month to fight the General Election.

Westminster sources say Home Secretary Jacqui Smith is certain to be axed.

Miss Smith's future has been hanging by a thread ever since it came to light that she tried to claim the costs of her husband's pornography on her Parliamentary expenses.

A ministerial source told the Mail that colleagues think she is 'overwhelmed' by the pace of the Home Office and distracted by her personal problems.

'She appears to be utterly defeated by everything and you can't have someone like that at the Home Office,' a source said.

Miss Smith is expected to be offered a downwards move but Mr Brown is content for her to leave the Government altogether.

Scotland Yard offer ATM withdrawal escort protection.

UK: It would be a better use of man power(suck it PC types) if you just cleaned up the streets instead of putting out an escort service. The other part is how horrible is street crime that someone thinks this is a great idea?

In a move described as astonishing by one police watchdog, pensioners, shoppers and businessmen are being offered an escort home after withdrawing cash.

Scotland Yard has launched a hotline for those too scared to walk home alone from a hole-in-the-wall machine, bank or Post Office.

Residents can call up and arrange for a uniformed officer to see them safely from the high street to their front door on foot.

The scheme was set up by members of the Metropolitan Police's Safer Neighbourhoods team in Wanstead and Snaresbrook, East London.

Posters advertising the service, which may be implemented in other boroughs, have been plastered across walls in the suburb.

The scheme, which mirrors a similar service adopted by many urban forces for cash security vans depositing and collecting large sums of money, has been welcomed by campaigners for the elderly.

But critics say police should concentrate on proactively catching criminals.

Obama, lawmakers agree on "cash-for-clunkers" bill

Politics: Its a nice concept but how is this program being paid for with what money? I know that hasn't stopped the Dems before but its has the potential as in Europe to skew car sales up and when the year is up the market drops. Then you have the angle of people who are driving clunkers in the first place may not be able to afford a new car even with voucher.

Congressional Democrats, emerging from a meeting at the White House on Tuesday, said they had struck a deal on a bill to establish a one-year program to encourage the purchase of 1 million new cars and trucks that get better gas mileage.

Under the so-called cash-for-clunkers legislation, consumers with old, gas guzzlers could get $3,500 or $4,500 in government vouchers to use toward the purchase of new cars that get gas mileage that exceeds the old car's by four miles per gallon.

"It's going to be a dramatic boom for our economy," said Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., who heads the House Energy Committee.

The bill would be a part of a larger energy bill, which House leaders hope to pass before Memorial Day, Waxman said in an impromptu press conference on the White House lawn with other Democrats on the House Energy committee.

The deal on cash-for-clunkers would put more vouchers in the hands of consumers than a competing bill in the Senate. Its broad nature is irking environmentalists who say it helps automakers more than the environment.

Corzine Allies Plan Attack in G.O.P. Primary

Politics: If the NJ GOP is not ready for this obvious ploy, they deserve to lose to "tax'em hard and long" Corzine.

Allies of New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Jon S. Corzine, are so worried about his re-election prospects that they are going to start spending and advertising heavily — in the Republican primary.

Mr. Corzine’s allies plan to attack the Republican they consider more formidable, former federal prosecutor Christopher J. Christie, in an attempt to knock him out in the June primary, according to people briefed on the matter.

That would leave Mr. Corzine facing Steven M. Lonegan, a former small-town mayor from the party’s right wing, whose support for a flat income tax and a ban on abortion are popular with conservative voters, but could be a problem in the general election.

Mr. Corzine’s popularity has nosedived along with New Jersey’s economic fortunes, and recent polls show him trailing Mr. Christie, the former United States attorney for New Jersey.

Mr. Christie has based his campaign almost entirely on his credentials as a corruption fighter, having obtained convictions of some 130 New Jersey politicians and public employees. and promises to bring the same forceful leadership to tackling the state’s fiscal problems. The Democratic assault, according to one of the people briefed on the plans, will aim to tarnish that image.

The strategy could benefit Mr. Corzine even if it does not result in Mr. Christie’s defeat in the primary, if the Republican is significantly damaged before the general election.

The Democratic intervention in a Republican primary would be reminiscent of a much more brazen move by Gov. Gray Davis of California in 2002. That year, Mr. Davis openly poured $10 million into a blitz of television commercials portraying Richard J. Riordan, the runaway Republican favorite and a moderate, as having changed his positions on abortion, the death penalty and other issues. The ads battered Mr. Riordan, who lost the primary to a conservative neophyte, Bill Simon Jr., and the unpopular Mr. Davis pulled out a win in November.

Mr. Corzine’s standing reached new lows in an April 22 Quinnipiac University poll. It showed that 54 percent of voters disapproved of the job he was doing, and that he trailed Mr. Christie and was tied with Mr. Lonegan.

Commissioner Steps Down After a Blog Post about Mexico.

Nation: Okay the Beverly Hills Chihuahua crack pushed it from a truthful essay to just being mean.

A marketing consultant who was appointed by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to the New York City Commission on Women’s Issues and came under fire after making disparaging comments about Mexico in an online article for The Huffington Post has resigned from the commission.

The appointee, Betsy F. Perry, announced her resignation on Monday, in a letter to the city’s first deputy mayor, Patricia E. Harris. The resignation from the unpaid, voluntary position became effective immediately, a spokesman for Mayor Bloomberg said.

In Ms. Perry’s article, posted on April 28, she described Mexico as a country dominated by “guns, drugs, kidnappings and swine flu.” The virus has stricken more than 1,000 people worldwide, including 802 in Mexico, where it had resulted in 26 fatalities as of Monday.

Ms. Perry also wrote that the best thing Mexico had going for it right now was the movie “Beverly Hills Chihuahua,” which tells the story of an ultra-pampered dog that gets separated from its owner during a trip to Mexico. A marketing consultant, she advised Mexico to make sure “ ‘Beverly Hills Chihuahua 2’ was rushed into production mucho pronto.”

She is not lying about the guns, drugs, kidnappings and swine flu. If anyone wants to dispute that part of the post, you are nuts. The rest got her in trouble.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Colin Powell: Americans love taxes and government in their lives.

Politics: He may be right that there is a sizable amount of people who don't mind taking from more productive people as long as they get a paycheck or these days stimulus money programs.

But this moderate yell of moving to the center is still nonsense and will only further damage the GOP. The GOP lost its way not because of conservative views, it lost its way due to not living up to those views like fiscal responsible policies, government officials who kept their noses out of corruption.

To say the path back is abandoning conservative principles simply sent you up as Dem lite and in a race between the real Dem and a Dem lite, the real Dem will win every time.

Senate Dems Deny Specter Committee Seniority

Politics: Suck it hard and suck it long Arlen, welcome to being a nothing.

The Senate dealt a blow tonight to Sen. Arlen Specter's hold on seniority in several key committees, a week after the Pennsylvanian's party switch placed Democrats on the precipice of a 60-seat majority.

In a unanimous voice vote, the Senate approved a resolution that added Specter to the Democratic side of the dais on the five committees on which he serves, an expected move that gives Democrats larger margins on key panels such as Judiciary and Appropriations.

But Democrats placed Specter in one of the two most junior slots on each of the five committees for the remainder of this Congress, which goes through December 2010. Democrats have suggested that they will consider revisiting Specter's seniority claim at the committee level only after the midterm elections next year.

"This is all going to be negotiated next Congress," Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said tonight.

Specter's office declined to comment.

Without any assurance of seniority, Specter loses a major weapon in his campaign to win reelection in 2010: the ability to claim that his nearly 30 years of Senate service places him in key positions to benefit his constituents.

Tonight's committee resolution, quickly read on the Senate floor by Reid himself, contradicts Specter's assertion last Tuesday when he publicly announced his move from the Republican side of the aisle. He told reporters that he retained his seniority both in the overall chamber and in the committees on which he serves. Specter said that becoming chairman of the Appropriations Committee was a personal goal of his, one that would be within reach if he were granted his seniority on the panel and placed as the third-most senior Democrat there.

Australia delays carbon trade as reality is a bitch.

Australia: Heaping on expense on companies during the good times is bad enough but during a recession is election suicide as Chairman Rudd delays and promises till after their election.

More from Tim Blair and Andrew Bolt.

Some Muslims rethink close ties to law enforcement

Nation: More on some Muslim groups demanding less ties to law enforcement due to increased surveillance in Mosques, something that other agencies aboard have been doing for years as the Mosque/centers are a likely gathering place for extremists. It would be foolish for the FBI or any other domestic agency not to keep an eye on Mosques just like they would if it were a Church or Synagogue.

Across the nation, such grass-roots relationships between Muslims and the federal government are in jeopardy. A coalition of Muslim groups is calling for Muslims to stop cooperating with the FBI — not on national security or safety issues but on community outreach.

The coalition is upset over what it says is increasing government surveillance in mosques, new Justice Department guidelines that the groups say encourage profiling, and the FBI's recent suspension of ties with the nation's largest Muslim civil rights group, the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

A petition that opposes FBI tactics is circulating in Muslim communities and has been gaining support, said coalition chairman Agha Saeed. The coalition, represented by the American Muslim Taskforce on Civil Rights and Elections, has requested a meeting with U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to discuss what it sees as the deteriorating relationship between the FBI and Muslim communities.

"We have to decide what we're doing as a country. If it's not a war on Islam, then these practices must be stopped," Saeed said. "We're not asking for special treatment, just equal treatment."

You are getting equal treatment and asking for special treatment that could endanger everyone in the end. It would be unconscionable to to fully scope places of interest like Mosques because people have their feelings hurt. That is not even pointing out the obvious that demanding special treatment from law enforcement is a black eye to the general public.

Dems say no to Obama on Gitmo closing.

Terrorism: This is the result of Obama rushing headlong to close down Gitmo without any idea want to do with the prisoners at hand.

House Democrats told the president Monday he won't be getting money to close the military detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, until he has a "concrete program" for shutting it down and moving its prisoners.

The $80 million will be dropped from President Obama's supplemental request for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, House Appropriations Committee Chairman Rep. David Obey told reporters.

"So far as we can tell, there is yet no concrete program for that," said Obey, D-Wisconsin. "And while I don't mind defending a concrete program, I'm not much interested in wasting my energy defending a theoretical program. So when they have a plan, they're welcome to come back and talk to us about it."

The administration requested $50 million for the Defense Department and $30 million for the Justice Department to close the prison, Democratic aides said.

Republicans have been pounding Obama and the Democrats over the proposed closure, saying that closing the facility could push detainees into facilities in the United States, making the country less safe.

Sen. John McCain, Obama's Republican rival for the presidency last year, supports closing the facility, and argued for moving the prisoners to the military prison at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas.

The point about this is the chance is high some of these terrorists are going to be shipped to the US and become a political liability for some poor sap who voted with gusto to shut down Gitmo without planning ahead.

E.U. Says Europe Faces Deep Recession

World: Lest we forget, everyone is hurting.

Obama's job/business killing tax plan falls flat to everyone.

Business: I called Obama a while back an economic dullard and this pretty much proves my point. How can double tax multinationals which employ tens of thousands of people here and aboard where they can't be competitive overseas? This is a pure money grab based on his belief of spreading the wealth. Just because you tax these companies more overseas doesn't mean they will race back here to America unless they see it being worth their resources competing against other companies.

The president's plan would limit the ability of U.S. companies to defer paying U.S. taxes on overseas profits. At the same time, Obama would step up efforts to go after evaders who abuse offshore tax shelters.

Obama said his plan would raise $210 billion over the next 10 years, though no tax increases would go into effect until 2011. That's an average of $21 billion a year, less than a 2 percent nick in a federal budget deficit that is projected to hit $1.2 trillion in 2010.

Lost revenue isn't the only problem, Obama says. He contends the current system gives companies an incentive to invest overseas rather than creating jobs in the U.S.

"It's a tax code that says you should pay lower taxes if you create a job in Bangalore, India, than if you create one in Buffalo, N.Y.," Obama said Monday.

The business community argues the deferral system helps them compete against foreign companies that pay taxes only in the countries where they generate profits.

The bottom line?

"Nobody should miss the fact that this is about revenue," said Raymond Wiacek, head of the tax practice at the law firm Jones Day. "These companies have the money, and the U.S. government needs the money."

Businesses create jobs overseas because it is to their advantage competition wise to do so rather than create it in an high tax environment like the state of New York. Obama cannot be this stupid to think punishing multinats will in the long run be better for American businesses. Everything about this plan is to hurt rather than help them.

Look at what will happen to American tech companies.

SAN FRANCISCO - President Barack Obama's plan to impose U.S. taxes on corporate America's overseas profits threatens to open a big crater in the financial statements of technology companies.

While additional taxes are rarely popular, Obama's decision to go after corporate earnings outside the United States is a particularly prickly subject for technology executives because the industry has been steadily boosting its overseas sales amid rising demand for its gadgetry and services.

If Obama's proposal becomes law, the hard-hit companies would include tech bellwethers like Hewlett-Packard Co., IBM Corp., Cisco Systems Inc., Microsoft Corp. and Google Inc. Each of those companies realized a benefit of more than $1 billion from lower foreign tax rates in their most recent fiscal years — an advantage that could lost if Obama is able to change the rules.

"It would be like an earthquake for high tech," said Carl Guardino, chief executive of Silicon Valley Leadership Group, an industry trade association. "On a Richter scale of 1 to 10, this would be a 12."

Spread the wealth while destroying the source of it. Nice

Times won't shut down Boston Globe.. yet.

Media: Damn it, I was hoping for better news.
The Boston Globe's biggest union won some breathing space after its owner, The New York Times Co, said it will not file notice of its intention to close the newspaper, at least for now.

Six of the seven unions representing employees of the money-losing Globe reached tentative agreements with Times Co, which has threatened to shut the 137-year-old newspaper unless it agrees to $20 million in concessions.

But the future of New England's largest newspaper remained in doubt on Monday. Leaders of its biggest union, the Boston Newspaper Guild, left talks without a deal amid disagreement over lifetime job guarantees enjoyed by about 190 members, according to a Boston Globe report on the paper's website.

The Guild, representing some 600 workers including the newsroom staff, has sought to preserve lifetime job guarantees, saying their elimination would pave the way for layoffs of some of the paper's highest-paid veteran staff.

California tax revenue falls short again, even more broke then ever.

Nation: California is the liberal experiment and result that Obama wants to push over the entire nation, it is going so well.

The state may get more bad fiscal news this week when the state controller makes his final tally of April sales taxes.

It's no secret that the recession is taking a toll on the state's thinning coffers, but more troubling is that revenue is coming in slower than pessimistic forecasts.

April, the state's largest tax-collection month, has fallen short of expected revenue by more than $1.8 billion in personal and corporate income taxes. The state was $750 million behind projected tax collection on April 1.

There's good reason to believe April's sales tax receipts may disappoint, too. New car sales the first three months of this year fell by 43 percent compared with the same period last year, according a report last week by the California New Car Dealers Association.

Auto-related sales tax (car sales, parts, etc.) make up about 20 percent of the state's sales tax receipts, said Paul Warren, a revenue and taxation analyst for the Legislative Analyst's Office.

That adds to what should be another huge budget deficit for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger and the Legislature to wrangle over this summer.

California's tax receipts so far are about $2.5 billion behind projections for the current fiscal year and the Legislative Analyst's Office forecast a revenue shortfall of $8 billion next year.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Housing community activists thinks "Professional" is discrimination.

Nation: This is what a lot of these organizations does in the guise of upholding the law. It is a shakedown scam.

In 2006, Newport Beach resident Dan Bader placed an innocuous ad in Craigslist, seeking a tenant for a 480-square-foot room in his house. He wrote, "Well suited for professional adults" and "Perfect for 1 or 2 professionals." Any normal person would see that for what it is: a realistic description of a small room. But the housing council, which proclaims its mission as "fostering diversity in housing," saw ominous motives. Officials viewed the ad as a form of discrimination against people with children and filed a complaint with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing. With such actions, we'll definitely see less diversity in housing as fewer people are willing to subject themselves to these Orwellian anti-discrimination enforcers.

Mr. Bader was forced to attend a hearing in Los Angeles and told that the complaint would be dropped if he paid $4,000 in fines and agreed to take five years' worth of re-education classes at $250 a pop – even though the state ruled that he does not discriminate. The four grand would go to the Fair Housing Council, which funds its operations in part from fines assessed from the people the agency targets. This is a blatant conflict of interest, an unethical system that merges enforcement with profiteering.

Obama: Wall Street will play less dominant role

Politics: He seems pleased to remake America by forcing people out of Wall Street into other areas of his liking. More social engineering and less about regulating Wall Street is the plan.

Obama May Revive Guantánamo Military Courts

Politics: This is where the difference between campaigning and actually leading can make you look either naive or an opportunistic twit.

The Obama administration is moving toward reviving the military commission system for prosecuting Guantánamo detainees, which was a target of critics during the Bush administration, including Mr. Obama himself.

Officials said the first public moves could come as soon as next week, perhaps in filings to military judges at the United States naval base at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, outlining an administration plan to amend the Bush administration’s system to provide more legal protections for terrorism suspects.

Continuing the military commissions in any form would probably prompt sharp criticism from human rights groups as well as some of Mr. Obama’s political allies because the troubled system became an emblem of the effort to use Guantánamo to avoid the American legal system.

Officials who work on the Guantánamo issue say administration lawyers have become concerned that they would face significant obstacles to trying some terrorism suspects in federal courts. Judges might make it difficult to prosecute detainees who were subjected to brutal treatment or for prosecutors to use hearsay evidence gathered by intelligence agencies.

Obama administration officials — and Mr. Obama himself — have said in the past that they were not ruling out prosecutions in the military commission system. But senior officials have emphasized that they prefer to prosecute terrorism suspects in existing American courts. When President Obama suspended Guantánamo cases after his inauguration on Jan. 20, many participants said the military commission system appeared dead.

But in recent days a variety of officials involved in the deliberations say that after administration lawyers examined many of the cases, the mood shifted toward using military commissions to prosecute some detainees, perhaps including those charged with coordinating the Sept. 11 attacks.

“The more they look at it,” said one official, “the more commissions don’t look as bad as they did on Jan. 20.”

China touts its first Black Chinese international athlete.

Sports: Being a Chinese Olympian is pressure enough but being a Black Chinese Olympian hopeful looks to be a whole other level of pressure.

Sports magazines have breathlessly hailed his “special characteristics”; learned analysts have spoken in awed tones about the “athleticism of his genes” and some have praised the “whiteness and size” of his teeth.

At its core, though, the source of all the excitement is simple: Ding Hui, the latest addition to China’s fiercely competitive national volleyball squad, is black.

His father is South African and his mother Chinese and he was brought up in the east coast industrial city of Hangzhou. The 19-year-old may be mixed-race but is still, according to participants in an online sports chat room yesterday, “exactly as black” as President Obama.

The prodigiously talented defender is expected to be at the heart of China’s quest for gold at the London Olympics in 2012. He is already a central figure in the provincial team of Zhejiang and represented China in the youth squad five years ago.

Some praise is a bit hmm...out there.

Attempts to herald the arrival of Ding in the national squad have revealed a definite gaucheness. One of China’s biggest internet portals described him thus: “Black skin, thick lips and big white teeth are his main characteristics,” it read, adding that “due to the special characteristics of his bloodline Ding Hui is blessed with pliability, toughness and agility”.

Obama and Churchill torture claim implode.

Politics: Mickey Kaus(scroll down), Tom Maguire and Powerline blog rip apart Sullivan's claim who is now backpedaling.

UAW gets sweetest deal from Obama as payback

Politics: Taxpayers are now funding till hell freezes over the UAW, the same union that helped to bring Chrysler and GM to this point. I would buy the unsafe Chinese cars before I even put my foot in Chrysler or GM's dealership as long as the government and the UAW has this much power.

Labor unions usually dread bankruptcy, and for good reason. Their pay, benefits and pensions typically suffer significant cuts, as airline and steel workers can attest.

But for the United Automobile Workers union, Chrysler’s Chapter 11 case, which began in New York on Friday, could turn out to be — if the company survives and thrives — the Cadillac of bankruptcies.

The U.A.W., for example, has received upfront protection from the Treasury Department for its pension plan and the fund that will take over responsibility for retiree medical benefits.

Moreover, that fund, called the voluntary employee beneficiary association, or VEBA, will control 55 percent of the equity in the new Chrysler once it emerges from bankruptcy, and hold a seat on the Chrysler board.

....Chrysler’s pension liability will shift from the defunct company to the new one, these people said, and workers will continue to have a lucrative contract.

Despite the concessions, Chrysler’s most senior workers, like those at Ford, still have healthy wages and benefits; bountiful health care coverage, at least until it is adjusted; and subsidies to help bolster unemployment benefits they receive while plants are closed, as they will be at Chrysler for weeks until the sale is final.
That carryover is unusual, Ms. Dowd said, since the buyers of assets in bankruptcy cases normally try to purchase them free and clear of their existing liabilities.

It also means the union will not have to come to terms with Fiat once it takes over the company, or risk having its contracts abrogated.

White House now denies acting like a thug to dissent bondholders.

Politics: If it wasn't for Jake Tapper, this story wouldn't have gotten traction anywhere in the MSM.

Recent comments by a lawyer representing Chrysler’s dissident debtholders alleging that Steven Rattner, the White House’s auto task force chief, “directly threatened” to wreck the reputation of the investment firm Perella Weinberg Partners if it continued to oppose the Obama administration’s reorganization plan have been picking up steam in the blogosphere.

After President Obama announced Thursday that Chrysler would file for bankruptcy, Perella Weinberg said it would support the government’s settlement with the carmaker’s secured lenders.

But representatives for the Obama administration and Perella Weinberg challenged the accuracy of the account by Thomas E. Lauria, the White & Case lawyer representing the handful of hedge funds calling themselves the Committee of Chrysler Non-Tarp Lenders.

“The charge is of course false as both parties who would know the facts have pointed out,” Bill Burton, a White House spokesman, told DealBook. “It is neither substantiated by people involved in the conversations nor by what has transpired over the course of the last couple of days.”

Perella Weinberg said in a statement that the firm decided to back the government-proposed settlement Thursday afternoon, after Mr. Obama criticized the lenders in harsh terms.

“In considering the President’s words and exercising our best investment judgment, we concluded that the risks of potentially severe capital loss that could arise from fighting this in bankruptcy court far outweighed any realistic potential upside,” the firm said, suggesting that its decision was based on financial calculations. (Read the full statement at the bottom of this post.)
Mr. Lauria couldn’t be reached for comment on Sunday.

Remember what Obama said?

Lauria said his clients "are mainly fiduciaries for pension plans, college endowments, retirement plans and credit unions who invested in low yield supposedly very secure first lien debt" with Chrysler.

President Obama singled out Lauria's clients for criticism when he announced the Chrysler plan on Thursday.

"While many stakeholders made sacrifices and worked constructively, I have to tell you some did not," the president said. "In particular, a group of investment firms and hedge funds decided to hold out for the prospect of an unjustified taxpayer-funded bailout. They were hoping that everybody else would make sacrifices, and they would have to make none."

Now if you are one of his clients and the President pulls a dog whistle move like this what the hell would you say when asked about being threatened? The White House plan was unfair unless you are a UAW member and can we stop with the 70% of banks were behind this move.

The Obama administration had been skeptical that it could convince all of Chrysler's creditors to forgive the automakers debt. Even after four banks that held 70 percent of Chrysler's debt okayed a deal, senior officials said it appeared unlikely that the remainder would sign on.

...A group of about 20 that held $1 billion of secured Chrysler debt still wanted far more than the government was willing to give.

Tom Lauria, a bankruptcy lawyer who handled the negotiations for the group, said the group considered the offer of around 29 cents for each dollar in debt to be unfair.

Lauria said the group countered with 50 cents on the dollar, but that "nobody would talk to us" about the offer. Some creditors didn't even get the government's new terms until after the 6 p.m. deadline, he said, while others faced intense pressure from the administration to sign on. After the deadline passed, the $2.25 billion deal was off the table.

"It was hardball," Lauria said Friday.

The administration official said allegations of efforts to coerce creditors were "utterly false." And the offer of 50 cents on the dollar would have been more than double the amount the four banks, which held most of Chrysler's debt, had already agreed to.

These four banks have Tarp money, you think anyone one of them would say no considering the government has the ability to fire people? I believe the thug tactics were employed and they got caught on it.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Nagin term limited out, residents start the party.

Politics: He was a big mouth boob and in the end even New Orlean residents are seeing it.

As Mayor C. Ray Nagin approaches his final year in office, he faces scandal, an acrimonious stalemate with the City Council and the worst popularity ratings ever recorded for a mayor here.

Term limits will keep him from running again, so Mr. Nagin’s eight tumultuous years of leading what he called a “chocolate city” will come to an end next May. He has not been popular among middle-class white voters since the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but now, with the city still in a halting recovery more than three and a half years later, residents citywide seem eager to see him go.

In a recent poll by the University of New Orleans, Mr. Nagin was cited as one of the “biggest problems” for the city, coming in third after crime and education. Just 24 percent of residents over all said they approved of the mayor, a drop from 31 percent the year before.

“It’s the worst approval rating we’ve reported since 1986,” when the poll was first conducted, said Robert T. Sims, the director of the university’s survey research center.

Among African-Americans, support dropped to 36 percent from about half of those polled last year. Among whites, who constituted much of Mr. Nagin’s voting base in his first election, the approval rating was 5 percent. (The survey’s margin of sampling error for whites was plus or minus five percentage points.)

Edward F. Renwick, a retired professor of political science at Loyola University and a pollster himself, said he found that figure surprising. “I have hardly ever seen 5 percent,” Dr. Renwick said. On the other hand, he added, “I have never met a white person who doesn’t hate him.”

That sentiment can be seen in a $2 bumper sticker that has become popular in the city’s souvenir shops. In vivid Mardi Gras colors, it says: “May 31, 2010: Nagin’s Last Day. Proud to See Him Gone.”

The creator of the bumper stickers and of a “Nagin’s Last Day” Web site that features a countdown clock asked that his name not be revealed because he is a local businessman and worries about retribution. But, he said, the intent is to turn frustration into laughter. “At funerals, we dance and have second-line parades,” he said. “We’re dancing out the Nagin era.”

A spokesman for Mr. Nagin, Terry Davis, said the mayor had questioned the methodology of the poll. But two days after the interview with Mr. Davis, a poll from Tulane University reported similar numbers.

Gov. Paterson makes it easier for unions to organize.

Nation: And there goes New York business advantage further down the tubes as the unions will make it more difficult to do anything in the state.

Gov. David A. Paterson has issued an order making it easier for labor unions to organize thousands of workers at some of New York’s largest new hotel and convention center projects, including hotels in Niagara Falls and at the Belmont Park racetrack in Nassau County and the expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan.

The directive, which was signed on April 24 and issued on Friday, will require the operators of projects that receive assistance like loans, tax breaks or property leases from state agencies or public authorities to obtain “labor peace” agreements with unions seeking to organize their workers.

Under the agreements, workers would pledge not to strike, boycott or engage in other actions that would disrupt business or deprive the state of revenues.

Armored car sales shoot up in Brazil.

World: Crime plus recent economic boom times make armored cars in reach even for the middle class.

More than 7,000 vehicles were armored for civilian use in Brazil in 2008, up from 1,782 a decade earlier, and the pace has continued in 2009 despite the economy’s dispiriting first quarter, according to the Brazilian Association of Bulletproof Manufacturers. A decade ago, there were just a handful of armoring companies in Brazil. Today there are about 120.

São Paulo leads the country — and the world — in making and selling armored cars. Rio de Janeiro, a city with legitimate concerns about stray bullets from gang warfare in the favelas, or shantytowns, overhanging the city, is Brazil’s second-largest market.

The government, perhaps unwittingly, has helped perpetuate the bulletproofing wave. With industrial production slowing last year, President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s administration removed a tax on the car industry, saving buyers from 5 to 7.5 percent. The change was so popular that the government recently took similar action for electronics and appliances, hoping to stop the bleeding in those industries as well.

So while car sales have suffered in other parts of the world, they have surged here in the past four months, the longest streak of monthly sales increases since 2002, according to the National Association of Car Manufacturers. And when car sales are strong, industry officials say, bulletproofing invariably follows. With so many companies now in the field, the cost of armoring a car has fallen in Brazil in the past decade, to about $22,000 from $55,000, opening the business to a new category of consumer. A decade ago, BMWs, Mercedes-Benzes and Jeep Cherokees were the models most sought after for armoring; today, Toyota, Volkswagen and Chevrolet are in the top five.

Obama not in charge of GM but he kinda is...maybe.

Politics: NYTIMES strange defense of how Chrysler bankruptcy can shape GM with Obama not in charge but he is in charge.

The huge federal stake in G.M. — even if temporary — means that for all of Mr. Obama’s protests that he is a reluctant investor, eager to fix the company and sell the controlling interest ( hoping for a hefty profit), he will be judged by whether his plan actually works.

Mr. Obama has said repeatedly that he is not an automotive engineer and has no desire to pick models, engines, factories or corporate governance structures. But while he may not be choosing automotive designs, he has already started dictating the company’s direction.

The president has made it clear that G.M. must produce small, fuel-efficient, low-carbon-emitting cars — steps G.M. has taken only haltingly. Its vehicles range from the Cadillac Escalade, which gets 12 miles to the gallon in the city, to the experimental Chevy Volt, an electric car that it says will go 40 miles gas-free.

Members of Mr. Obama’s auto task force say that even after the government owns a majority of the company, it will have no role in management. That, they say, will be farmed out to professionals, the work supervised by government-appointed members of a new G.M. board.

So Obama has no desire to pick what kind of car but is demanding they make a certain kind of car while the government will have no role in management but the people picked will be supervised by government-appointed members.

But he is not in charge people!