Saturday, July 11, 2009

Sotomayor backers demand press attack Frank Ricci

Typical tactic of the left when they can't win an argument on merits, attack the subject no matter what.

Supporters of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor are quietly targeting the Connecticut firefighter who's at the center of Sotomayor's most controversial ruling.

On the eve of Sotomayor's Senate confirmation hearing, her advocates have been urging journalists to scrutinize what one called the "troubled and litigious work history" of firefighter Frank Ricci.

This is opposition research: a constant shadow on Capitol Hill.

"The whole business of getting Supreme Court nominees through the process has become bloodsport," said Gary Rose, a government and politics professor at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, Conn.

On Friday, citing in an e-mail "Frank Ricci's troubled and litigious work history," the liberal advocacy group People for the American Way drew reporters' attention to Ricci's past. Other advocates for Sotomayor have discreetly urged journalists to pursue similar story lines.

Specifically, the advocates have zeroed in on an earlier 1995 lawsuit Ricci filed claiming the city of New Haven discriminated against him because he's dyslexic. The advocates cite other Hartford Courant stories from the same era recounting how Ricci was fired by a fire department in Middletown, Conn., allegedly, Ricci said at the time, because of safety concerns he raised.

The Middletown-area fire department was subsequently fined for safety violations, but the Connecticut Department of Labor dismissed Ricci's retaliation complaint.

Damn Ricci for pointing out safety concerns.

Obama: Fear of a rationing health plan.

Kaus and Instapundit bring up health care rationing that happens in a government run plan.

MICKEY KAUS: WaPo's Alec MacGillis notes that Obama's health care reformers

are clearly spooked by the notion that they could be accused of denying, for example, hip surgery to an 80-year-old.

If so, they largely have themselves to blame. They brought it up! It wasn't the Republicans who billed health care reform as a cost saving, budget-balancing measure that would start to deny payments for treatments deemed "ineffective," or (as one acolyte put it) when "a person's life, or health, is not worth the price." And to think when they heard that people started to worry about rationing! Fancy that.

Obama hinted at this during his ABC infomercial.

End-of-life issues were raised as well; right now it is estimated that nearly 30 percent of Medicare's annual $327 billion budget is spent on patients in their final year of life.
Jane Sturm told the story of her nearly 100-year-old mother, who was originally denied a pacemaker because of her age. She eventually got one, but only after seeking out another doctor.

"Outside the medical criteria," Sturm asked, "is there a consideration that can be given for a certain spirit & and quality of life?"

"I don't think that we can make judgments based on peoples' spirit," Obama said. "That would be a pretty subjective decision to be making. I think we have to have rules that say that we are going to provide good, quality care for all people.
"We're not going to solve every single one of these very difficult decisions at end of life," he said. "Ultimately that's going to be between physicians and patients."

Dutch banks telling customers to take government mortgage.

If we get a public option healthcare, just switch banks with businesses and you will see the same type of behavior.

Banks are trying to entice existing mortgage clients to switch their mortgages into a mortgage with a National Mortgage Guarantee (NHG). They are making use of the higher NHG ceiling, even though this was not intended for that, say a number of market experts.

To give the stagnant housing market an impetus, the cabinet raised the NHG ceiling from 265,000 to 350,000 euros on 1 July. This means many more house-buyers are eligible for the NHG. Under the scheme, the government pays the bank if the client can no longer pay; the government instead of the bank then becomes the creditor of the client.

It is not possible to roll over an ordinary mortgage into a NHG one just like that. But it is possible if a small renovation takes place in the home. Banks actively point out these options to home-owners with a current mortgage of up to 350,000 euros. The raising of the ceiling was however intended to lure first-time buyers into the market, as mortgage advice chain De Hypotheekshop explains.

According to WEW, the foundation that administers the NHG, raising the ceiling is not intended for "strategic use." Director Karel Schiffer: "We will closely monitor in the coming period whether there is a question of strategic use. If so, we will put a spanner in the works. Then, for example, a minimum requirement could be introduced for home improvement."

The only difference is Obama will put more incentives to make companies dump their employees to government healthcare.

Friday, July 10, 2009

FAMU coming back from the dead and buried?

Good for FAMU for putting someone in charge that is pushing to get their act together quickly.

The Orlando Sentinel reports that the American Bar Association is recommending full accreditation for FAMU’s law school in Orlando, which opened in 2002. It has been provisionally accredited. This follows the news it received a year ago that another accrediting body, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, had lifted the entire university from probation.

FAMU, a historically black state school based in Tallahassee, is important to many in South Florida. Of its 11,800 students, 2,562 are from Broward, Palm Beach or Miami-Dade counties.

Just two years ago, I wrote about how the school was in chaos. Audits had shown years of financial problems and the school was in danger of losing its accreditation. Had that happened, it could have been a death knell for the school, as students can’t use financial aid for non-accredited schools.

Many at the school have credited President James Ammons (left), who started in 2007, with helping the school rebound. I talked to several alumni earlier this year, and the Rattler pride is definitely back.

"I think Dr. Ammons has done a very, very good job in correcting those problems and putting policies and procedures in place, so they don't happen again," FAMU Alumnus John Wimberly Jr. of Fort Lauderdale told me in March. "He's done an excellent job of moving us in the right direction."

Sears puts up Christmas decorations

My dream of year round christmas may happen in my lifetime after all.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Credit card firms getting around new federal rules

Once again, government passes new regulation without thinking of the consequences and credit card firms find the loopholes that would make matters worse.

Banks are quietly changing the terms of millions of credit card accounts as they brace for a tough new law that will limit rate hikes.

The law would restrict interest rate increases unless a credit card has a variable rate. So at least two major lenders are switching their cards with fixed rates to -- you guessed it -- variable rates.

"It's completely unfair," said Linda Sherry, a spokeswoman for Consumer Action. "It's an end run around the intent of the new law."

That law is the Credit Card Accountability, Responsibility and Disclosure Act, which President Barack Obama affixed with his signature in May. Its various provisions will be phased in between next month and February.

Congress passed the law to curb what politicians called abuses of cardholders by lenders, including runaway interest rates and constantly changing terms. In response, banks have scrambled in recent weeks to make changes to their card offerings before the new rules take effect.

JPMorgan Chase is increasing its monthly minimum payment to 5 percent from 2 percent of the balance for about 1 million cardholders.

Obama and Chairman Rudd create the climate institute.

There is an actual need for a global clearinghouse to create better tech?

President Obama and Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd announced Thursday the creation of a new institute to research how best to capture and store carbon emissions that are heating the globe.

Making the best of an intercontinental dispute over climate change that divides developed and developing nations, the two leaders said the institute will act as a clearinghouse for the best technological ideas worldwide.

"It will get projects done around the world, not just discussed," Rudd said.

If everything is pushed thru this one institute, how long before reports of projects bottle necked or political favoritism or just plain inefficacy? It would have been better to set up guidelines or some other incentive if they want better ideas to come to fruition.

GM has a minor hit on its hands, the Camaro.

Not exactly enviro friendly and great MPG which will make someone unhappy that its the only star vehicle for them.

Amid the gloom of bankruptcy and a miserable market for new vehicles, G.M.’s new Chevrolet Camaro muscle car is winning over consumers looking for a little excitement in a bland landscape of look-alike sedans and watered-down sport utilities.

G.M. sold 9,300 Camaros during the month of June — more than either its entire Buick or Cadillac divisions could muster on their own.

And with G.M. expected to emerge Friday from bankruptcy as a newly constituted company, it is hardly surprising that the Camaro will play a starring role in the company’s coming-out party and news conference at G.M.’s Detroit headquarters.

G.M.’s chief executive, Fritz Henderson, and new chairman, Edward Whitacre, plan to offer the Camaro as proof that a comeback is under way.

A product renaissance, of course, cannot be led solely by a retro-styled sports car that harks back to the horsepower hysteria of the 1960s. But in its short time on the market, the Camaro has brought some much-needed buzz to G.M. showrooms.

“You need excitement at G.M.,” said Joseph Phillippi, a principal in the firm AutoTrends Consulting. “And you certainly need something new.”

Jobless finding new work on farms

Americans doing the jobs they aren't supposed to do?

Unemployed workers are seeking jobs in fruit orchards and vegetable fields, easing farm labor shortages in the process.

Farmers who struggled in recent years to find laborers report that former workers who left for higher-paying jobs in industries such as construction are coming back because of layoffs.

Growers also are getting applications from first-timers who see the backbreaking seasonal work as their chance at a paycheck.

"We're having a great many more applicants this year than we have had in the past," says Dan Bremer, president of AgWorks, a company that helps employers, primarily in Southern states such as Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, apply for temporary visas to hire people from other countries for the season.

U2/Bono attacked for carbon footprint left by latest tour.

The tax dodgers U2 and Bono are getting slammed for their massive new tour that questions their eco friendly message.

U2 and Bono have been criticised for the carbon footprint created by their mammoth world tour.

The 100-date, 18-month odyssey, which kicked off last week, will see the multi-millionaires emit up to 65,000 tonnes of CO2, which would be equivalent to Bono, the Edge, Adam Clayton and Larry Mullen Jr flying from Earth to the planet Mars - and back.

The £90m U2360 tour also features three 390-tonne stages criss-crossing the globe, along with 200 crew and backstage staff.

Their colossal emissions are the equivalent of leaving a standard 100-watt light bulb on for 159,000 years, according to estimates from researchers at the website

The energy consumption comes despite Bono saying in Tokyo in May 2008: “My prayer is that we become better in looking after our planet.”

NYTIMES say they are buying carbon offsets which is nothing more than modern day indulgences that make you feel good and not much else.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Shocker, E-Verify to be used by the Federal Government.

I eat crow on this as I was sure Obama and the Dems would find a way to shut down E-Verify instead of using it to make sure the proper people get jobs like citizens and legal residents for federal contracts.

The Obama administration will require businesses that win federal contracts to use a government electronic database system to verify that their employees have legal immigration status to work in the United States, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on Wednesday.

After a six-month review, Homeland Security officials decided to go ahead with a worker-verification plan based on the electronic system, called E-Verify. The system, which the Bush administration sought to put into effect in its final months, is meant to prevent federal contractors from hiring illegal immigrants.

At the same time, Homeland Security officials said they would drop another Bush administration proposal that would have forced employers to fire any workers whose Social Security information did not match the records of the Social Security Administration. That measure, called the no-match rule, had been challenged in federal court by immigrant advocates and businesses, who said the Social Security database contained errors that could have cost thousands of legal workers their jobs.
Administration officials said the court battle over the no-match rule, which never went into effect, would now end.

The move to expand the use of E-Verify reflects the Obama administration’s strategy of keeping up the pace of immigration enforcement while weighing whether to push for an overhaul this year that would give legal status to millions of illegal workers, officials said.

But the E-Verify system has also been criticized by immigrant advocacy groups and is facing a challenge in federal court by the United States Chamber of Commerce and other business groups, who say the databases it relies on are also full of errors.

“It’s the wrong move at the wrong time” said Marielena Hincapié, executive director of the National Immigration Law Center in Los Angeles, one of the groups that challenged the no-match rule. While welcoming the cancellation of that rule, Ms. Hincapié said errors in the E-Verify system could lead to legal workers, including citizens, being fired in the midst of the recession.

I knew there was a catch, they are looking for the least politically damaging angle on this situation. They could always come back months from now with one or two aggrieved works who say E-verify got it wrong and then kill it.

Kia automaker revives West Point, GA.

Nice story about a town coming back from the dead.

House Democrats say CIA lied

House Dems love to poke the sleeping lion as they once again go after the CIA and trying to make sure they destroy the intelligence community by making themselves way too important.

WASHINGTON (AP) - CIA Director Leon Panetta told Congress last month that senior CIA officials have concealed significant actions and misled lawmakers repeatedly since 2001, the chairman and other members of the House Intelligence Committee said in letters revealed Wednesday.

Exactly what actions Panetta disclosed to the House Intelligence Committee on June 24 are unclear, but committee chairman Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, said that the CIA outright lied in one case.

"These notifications have led me to conclude that this committee has been misled, has not been provided full and complete notifications, and (in at least one case) was affirmatively lied to," Reyes wrote in a letter Tuesday to Michigan Rep. Peter Hoekstra, the committee's senior Republican. A copy of the letter was obtained by The Associated Press.

...House Republicans oppose at least one provision in the intelligence authorization bill, and they have an unusual ally: the White House.

Obama's aides have said they will recommend he veto the bill if it includes a Democratic-written provision requiring the president to notify the intelligence committees in their entirety about covert CIA activities.

Under current law, the president is only obligated to notify the top Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate and the senior Democratic and Republican members on each chamber's intelligence committee.

Democrats want to open the briefings to all members of the House and Senate intelligence committees unless committee leaders agreed otherwise. That would be about 40 lawmakers, depending on shifting membership rosters, instead of the eight required by law.

They claim the Bush administration sought to undermine congressional oversight. However, the White House is concerned that briefing more lawmakers might compromise the most sensitive U.S. intelligence operations.

You tell highly classified secrets to that many of these nimrods, secrecy becomes a joke as they blab to the press over sensitive matters. Look, they are still trying to protect Pelosi by going after the CIA which never ends well.

AP: Obama lied about not raising taxes.

AP figures out what others have been saying since last year during his campaign his promises of no new taxes were bogus.

Obama made a firm tax pledge during the presidential campaign, repeating it numerous times in the weeks and months leading up to Election Day: no tax increases for individuals making less than $200,000 a year or couples making less than $250,000.

"Not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes," Obama told a crowd in Dover, N.H., last year.

But less than a month after taking office, Obama signed an expansion of child health care financed by 62-cent tax increase on each pack of cigarettes.

Obama also signed an anti-smoking bill in June that grants authority to the Food and Drug Administration to regulate tobacco. To pay for the new program, a fee is being imposed on the industry — and presumably passed on to consumers — estimated to generate more than $5 billion over the next decade.

While not directly increasing taxes, a House-passed version of Obama's plan to reduce greenhouse gases blamed for causing global warming would similarly increase American families' home energy bills by $175 a year on average, according to the Congressional Budget Office.

Obama hasn't offered a detailed plan to fix health care, though his aides are working with lawmakers as they craft proposals. Obama included only a down payment for health care reform in the budget proposal he unveiled this spring.

He proposed limiting itemized tax deductions for individuals making more than $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000. The plan, which faces stiff opposition in Congress, would limit deductions for mortgage insurance, state and local taxes and charitable contributions, raising about $270 billion over the next decade.

Obama also proposed a series of business tax increases and accounting changes that would raise an additional $30 billion.

Kenneth Baer, a spokesman for the OMB, said Obama's cost reductions and tax increases add up to "a plan which gets you really close to what you need."

The CBO figure of just $175 is stupid considering any sort of cap and trade will affect businesses from the beginning of production to the final product sold to the consumer which will be much higher.

But I welcome the AP to the party.

Palau ups pressure for more US aid over Gitmo deal.

I don't blame Palau one bit for trying to put the hurt on Obama for more aid since taking in 13 Uighurs from Gitmo. America is on the hot seat over this and Palau loses nothing if nothing comes to pass by rejecting the prisoners.

Palau is asking longtime benefactor the United States for a 35-year extension on direct aid funding -- and hinting Washington should say yes because of its offer to take in 13 Guantánamo Bay detainees.

Both Palauan and U.S. officials have denied any direct link between the country's willingness to take in the Chinese Muslim Uighurs and American aid.

But Palau negotiators say they are proposing the extension in a formal 15-year review of the Compact of Free Association between the two countries that underpins the tiny island state's economy.

....Toribiong did not specifically mention the Uighurs. But the head of Palau's negotiating team, Joshua Koshiba, said the offer to take the Chinese detainees was "a positive for the negotiation" on the compact.

"I can point my finger at them now and say, 'See, we are helping you too, without asking for help only,'" Koshiba told AP.

If the U.S. doesn't agree to Palau's new terms, Koshiba said, his country will weigh its options.

"When you have a friend, if they don't want to be your friend anymore, what do you do? Don't you look for another friend?" Koshiba said.

G8 and Obama limps badly on Iran and Climate Change.

A whole lotta bark and no bite. On climate change something that resembles a plan to promise to try at a later date sometime soon to cut the rise of temperatures or something.

The world's leading industrial nations tentatively agreed Wednesday to try to prevent global temperatures from rising above a fixed level, after a more far-reaching proposal to slash production of greenhouse gases fizzled, according to U.S. and European negotiators.

Leaders meeting here for the Group of Eight summit said they would pledge to keep temperatures from rising more than 3.6 degrees Fahrenheit above average levels of more than a century ago, before large-scale industrial pollution occurred.

Temperatures have already risen by nearly half that amount, leaving little wiggle room. It was unclear what mechanisms, if any, would be adopted to enforce the target.

Some environmental groups saw the announcement as a weak nod at the obvious.

"This was such an opportunity," said Tobias Muenchmeyer, a Berlin-based activist with the group Greenpeace. "We are very disappointed that the result is so limited."

For other groups, the best that could be said of Wednesday's declaration was that, although it did not commit countries to specific cuts in greenhouse gases, it appeared to create a moral imperative to do so eventually.

"It may be symbolic now," said David Hamilton of the Sierra Club. But, he added, "if we have a commitment to a temperature goal, then you're actually going to figure out how we're going to get there."

When symbolic and opportunity is thrown around it means nothing got done especially after China and India told the rest to go screw over emission cuts.

On Iran, Obama won his battle to not let the G8 do anything other than a statement of concern. That will show Iran who is serious.

The G-8 leaders will issue a joint statement this evening expressing serious concerns about the post-election violence in Iran, as well as its continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, but will not push for new economic sanctions or tougher enforcement of those that exist, an Obama administration source told ABC News this afternoon.

The statement will "reflect growing impatience" among world leaders, the source said, but it will not call for direct ramifications or contest the election results.

The source asked for anonymity since the G-8 world leaders had not yet officially signed off on the final document.

Dems figuring out other ways to fund health care.

Since every poll is against taxing health care benefits, Dems are trying to find more ways to screw the public while trying to pass their government run health care option.

Senate negotiators are searching for new ways to pay for an overhaul of the U.S. health insurance system after recent polls showed many Americans oppose funding it through taxes on employer-provided health insurance, a key senator said Tuesday.

A recent New York Times/CBS News poll showed only 20 percent of respondents support the tax and a Washington Post/ABC News poll found 70 percent opposed it. A Kaiser Family Foundation poll found 54 percent of respondents oppose the new tax.

The poll was a setback for many lawmakers who considered the tax the best way to raise hundreds of billions of dollars needed to pay for health care reform.

"When you get numbers like that, it certainly causes you to look for alternatives," said Sen. Kent Conrad, D-North Dakota.

Conrad is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee and leads a Finance subcommittee on taxation. He said the proposal is unpopular because most Americans are not aware of the value of their employer-provided health benefits and don't know if they will be subject to the new tax.

He gave few clues to possible alternatives, but said, "We are searching for options, and there are a fair number of them that can work."

Ready for Stimulus II since the first is working so great.

Obama advisor Laura Tyson brings up the need for a second porkulus bill.

The U.S. should consider drafting a second stimulus package focusing on infrastructure projects because the $787 billion approved in February was “a bit too small,” said Laura Tyson, an outside adviser to President Barack Obama.

The current plan “will have a positive effect, but the real economy is a sicker patient,” Tyson said in a speech in Singapore today. The package will have a more pronounced impact in the third and fourth quarters, she added, stressing that she was speaking for herself and not the administration.

Not really as some Dems are warming up to the idea. To date about 10% of the first porkulus has been spent and its just not going to work, adding a second package is saying you have zero economic sense or you missed the gravy train the first time so you want to make sure you get yours this time.

States aren't using stimulus funds as intended

No, they are being used as intended because no restrictions or far-sighted planning went into making sure they were going to be used the way Obama wants it to be done.

Under pressure to spend stimulus money quickly, many states are using the federal funds for short-term projects and to fill budget gaps rather than spending on long-term improvements, according to a report by congressional investigators.

The report, scheduled to be released Tuesday by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) at a House oversight hearing, also says many states aren't meeting some goals and requirements of the economic recovery program. Some states, for example, are not sending transportation funding to the most economically distressed areas, and they are using education funds to prevent layoffs rather than fund innovative new programs, the report says.

You didn't need a GAO report for this considering back in February, many papers including the Wash Post had articles with state officials eager to get their hands on the money to plug up state budgets that should be cut down. What is going to happen next year is more requests for federal money to plug up bigger holes in the budget.

Hitler's stealth bomber

Thankfully it never got past the planning stage because it could have been a war changer.

Obama offers to scrap missile shield for help on Iran from Russia.

There is a tremendous flaw in Obama's logic surrending our missile defense shield to Russia.

President Obama put the Kremlin to the test yesterday by offering to scrap a missile defence shield in Eastern Europe if it helped to stop Iran building a nuclear bomb.

He used the second day of the Reset Summit in Moscow to urge a new era of partnership between Russia and the US in combating the spread of nuclear weapons to rogue states and terrorists.

“That is why we should be united in opposing North Korea’s efforts to become a nuclear power and preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon,” Mr Obama said.

“I know Russia opposes the planned configuration for missile defence in Europe . . . I have made it clear that this system is directed at preventing a potential attack from Iran and has nothing to do with Russia,” he told an audience of students from the New Economic School in Moscow.

“I want us to work together on a missile defence architecture that makes us all safer. But if the threat from Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes is eliminated, the driving force for missile defence in Europe will be eliminated. That is in our mutual interest,” he said.

Why would Russia care if Iran has a nuclear weapon? In their view, Iran is one of their best nuke based customers, nothing has been in the past or future Iran would shoot at Russia and it keeps America/EU occupied. Its a win/win because Russia can cool its heels while listening to Obama willing to give up defense systems.

He disappointed liberal critics of the Kremlin by avoiding direct criticism of Russia over democracy and human rights. Mr Obama praised Mr Medvedev at a meeting with civil society groups for easing restrictions imposed by Vladimir Putin on non-governmental organisations.

Obama doesn't do that unless you are a poor Latin America country trying to make sure your Chavez lapdog leader rewrites the constitution despite everyone else saying no.

California's IOUs are still owned

Plus the fun factor that the state taxpayers have to pay interest on these IOUs in the fall. Have fun California.

But across California on Tuesday, many vendors who had been told they would receive the i.o.u.’s instead of actual money said they had not yet received them. And if they do not arrive soon, they may be hard to turn into cash.

Last week, the state began issuing the warrants for the second time since the Great Depression. It ran out of cash to pay its bills as the Legislature and the governor failed to resolve the state’s $26 billion budget deficit.

Millions of dollars in i.o.u.’s, known as registered warrants, began rolling off the controller’s presses in lieu of checks to pay taxpayers, vendors and local governments. The warrants offer a 3.75 percent interest rate when they mature in October.

In most cases, banks around the state have agreed to honor the warrants only until Friday, in hopes that the deadline will prompt lawmakers to reach an agreement. As of Tuesday, 71,810 warrants to the tune of $108 million had been printed, but many had not yet been received.

Good to see the banks smarten up and not take any more of these stupid IOUs

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cornish beach hides cable that keeps the internet running smooth.

Interesting story on the newest and most advanced undersea cable that connects internet feeds from New York to Britain

Most people think the internet is beamed around the planet by satellites. In fact, 90 per cent of global internet traffic is carried by a vast cable network, thousands of miles of which snake under the oceans.

The two busiest internet hubs are New York and London, and nine cables link them. But the one pictured above is the Atlantic's newest and most advanced submarine cable system. It is so powerful that it could carry the entire internet content in both directions even if the other eight lines failed simultaneously.

It travels 3,800 miles along the seabed from New York and reaches land at this north Cornish beach, making this remote footnote on Britain's coastline one of the most important and powerful telecommunications hubs in the world

Hell with them; New G.M. Must Win Fans Quickly

I am boycotting GM and Chrysler and the only American car maker I would look at is Ford and only because Jeremy Clarkson of Top Gear made the Ford Fiesta look like a boss a couple of season ago. As long as GM and Chrysler have UAW ownership and taxpayer money backing it, the faster they burn to the ground the better it will be for everyone.

G.M. and the Obama administration are hoping to close the sale by Thursday, when a four-day stay ordered by the judge expires.

Then the real work begins on rebuilding G.M, which tumbled into bankruptcy on June 1 after decades as the dominant automaker in the American market.

G.M. executives were unavailable for comment on Monday, but a senior member of President Obama’s auto task force said he expected the company to be a “leaner and meaner” competitor once bankruptcy was in its rear-view mirror.

The adviser, Steven Rattner, said the government would not “micromanage” G.M., or interfere with decisions made by its chief executive, Fritz Henderson, or its new board, led by the former chairman of AT&T, Edward Whitacre.

But Mr. Rattner emphasized that G.M. could not continue to lose ground to rivals like Ford and Toyota in its home market.

“The share loss has to stop at some point for this company to be truly viable,” Mr. Rattner said on a conference call with reporters.

Automakers’ Swift Cases in Bankruptcy Shock Experts

Why would you be stunned? When you have the federal government putting pressure on creditors to drop their claims and all opposition to be quiet, bankruptcy will be quick.

Obama was one of those ban nukes students.

Not surprising but you would think in the subsequent years he would learn what a pipe dream he was advocating for in the student papers. The article is the typical give peace a chance and beware the evil militarism spreading around the nation scaremongering.

He also showed that dislike for the "military-industrial interests". That is the liberal code word for hating on the military which I seriously doubt he has grown out of since publication.

In the depths of the cold war, in 1983, a senior at Columbia University wrote in a campus newsmagazine, Sundial, about the vision of “a nuclear free world.” He railed against discussions of “first- versus second-strike capabilities” that “suit the military-industrial interests” with their “billion-dollar erector sets,” and agitated for the elimination of global arsenals holding tens of thousands of deadly warheads.

The student was Barack Obama, and he was clearly trying to sort out his thoughts. In the conclusion, he denounced “the twisted logic of which we are a part today” and praised student efforts to realize “the possibility of a decent world.” But his article, “Breaking the War Mentality,” which only recently has been rediscovered, said little about how to achieve the utopian dream.

Twenty-six years later, the author, in his new job as president of the United States, has begun pushing for new global rules, treaties and alliances that he insists can establish a nuclear-free world.

“I’m not naïve,” President Obama told a cheering throng in Prague this spring. “This goal will not be reached quickly — perhaps not in my lifetime. It will take patience and persistence.”

Yet no previous American president has set out a step-by-step agenda for the eventual elimination of nuclear arms. Mr. Obama is starting relatively small, using a visit to Russia that starts Monday to advance an intense negotiation, with a treaty deadline of the year’s end, to reduce the arsenals of the nuclear superpowers to roughly 1,500 warheads each, from about 2,200. In an interview on Saturday, Mr. Obama, conscious of his critics, stressed that “I’ve made clear that we will retain our deterrent capacity as long as there is a country with nuclear weapons.”

Obama's idea that if America gives up its nukes, everyone will follow is ridiculous.
It would be the same as running a race, cutting off you legs and thinking everyone else will do the same. There is zero incentives for countries not to expand their arsenal. If America wants to go in reverse, better for them will be their thinking.

Zelaya expected back in Washington

Chavez's lapdog Zelaya is acting up and causing US officials some headaches, never saw that coming because Obama had to interject himself into the situation on Zelaya side.

Diplomats with the United Nations, the OAS, the United States and European countries worked behind the scenes Monday to seek common ground with interim President Roberto Micheletti, who heads the government that replaced Zelaya. But Micheletti has vowed not to negotiate until "things return to normal."

One option under consideration is trying to forge a compromise between Zelaya, Micheletti and the Honduran military under which the ousted president would be allowed to return and serve out his remaining six months in office with limited and clearly defined powers, according to a senior U.S. official.

In exchange, Zelaya would pledge to drop aspirations for a possible constitutional change that could allow him to run for another term, the official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic exchanges.

....Another senior administration official expressed some frustration with Zelaya, who rejected advice from the U.S. and others not to press for the constitutional change and not to try to return to Honduras on Sunday while the situation remained volatile.

The new Honduran government that replaced Zelaya has vowed to arrest him for 18 alleged criminal acts, including treason and failing to implement more than 80 laws approved by Congress since he took office in 2006. Zelaya also refused to comply with a Supreme Court ruling against his planned referendum on whether to hold an assembly to consider changing the constitution.

Zelaya is in a win win situation, either the backing of America gets him into power again which he changes the constitution or he doesn't go back and starts to blame imperalist America for his failure. Helping this guy was not thought out very well.

Saving electricity could end up costing Missourians

You have to be nuts to support this sort of taxation on your power usage.

Though it might seem illogical, the new energy efficiency charge has support from utilities, most lawmakers, the governor, environmentalists and even the state’s official utility consumer advocate. The charge covers the cost of utilities’ efforts to promote energy efficiency and cut power use.

The assumption is that charging consumers for those initiatives ultimately will cost less than charging them to build the new power plants that will be needed if electricity use isn’t curtailed.

Legislation pending before Gov. Jay Nixon would set the criteria for state utility regulators to approve the energy-savings charges. If he signs the bill, the new law would take effect Aug. 28.

When lawmakers adjourned in mid-May, Nixon listed the little-publicized energy legislation as among his proudest accomplishments, describing it as a “good, good start on an energy policy” to be developed by his Department of Natural Resources.

“To save power is the equivalent of making power,” Nixon said, “and it’s a pretty seismic shift” in Missouri’s energy strategy.

Usually, regulators allow utilities to recoup the cost of building power plants or buying more power to meet customer demand. Recently, the Missouri Public Service Commission began allowing some utilities to pass along to customers the cost of programs that reduce demand for electricity.

For example, the commission last week approved a program in which St. Louis-based AmerenUE can offer credits to businesses that voluntarily shut down or scale back their electricity use during peak demand. AmerenUE will be able to recoup the cost for the program that starts Thursday by increasing the rates it charges business customers.

So if you use more power, you get a rate hike, if you use less power, you get to pay a price for it. You have to be some sort of rube to fall for this program.

The legislation applies to KCP&L, AmerenUE and the Empire District Electric Co., the publicly traded utilities that serve nearly three-fourths of the state’s population.

The utilities would have to get approval from the five-member Public Service Commission to pass on the cost of their energy-saving programs. To do that, the programs must result in an overall reduction in energy use. The legislation also requires the charges for the energy-saving programs to be listed as a separate line item on customer bills.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that energy-saving programs offered by utilities will add about 3 percent to the average electricity rates. But it says customers who participate in the programs could save 10 percent to 20 percent on their energy bills, and even those who don’t participate might save if utilities don’t have to buy more energy or build new power plants.

“It’s one of those rare utility bills that actually works out to everyone’s benefit,” said Missouri Public Counsel Lewis Mills, the state’s official consumer advocate.

Anyone in America who has ever used power for their homes ever seen the power company lower their rates due to lower power consumption? Does anyone really think the power company and the government will allow the type of losses that would occur if people started using less power which equals less revenue? Revenue goes down, rates and taxes go up. Government is a crack whore when it comes to tax revenue.

Basically you have the idiot public in Missouri getting scammed for a price hike while thinking they are getting this massive saving value.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Tough times for latin leftist leaders

Chavez Populism sounds like a great idea at the time till it gets a double bitchslap by economic reality and common sense. The example below with Bolivia and Chile is a fine example of not thinking things out.

The populist leaders of the six countries have seemed to operate from a stylebook written by Chavez, albeit with some differences, analysts said.

In general, the populists have brooked little opposition while bashing capitalism, knocking the press, denouncing the United States whenever possible and dividing the public by viciously attacking real and imagined enemies.

In most cases now, however, the six presidents find their national bank accounts dropping dangerously low because they doled out too much cash during the boom times.

The drop in oil prices has forced Chavez, for example, to slow the import of car parts, while Ecuador's Rafael Correa has practically stopped the import of new clothes.

Nicaragua's Daniel Ortega is getting less foreign aid that he badly needs because of his virulent speeches against the United States and foreign investors.

"Populism is running out of gas in Latin America, and it's beginning to show," Arturo Porzecanski, a native Uruguayan who is a professor of International Finance at American University, said in a telephone interview.

.....In Bolivia, which has an Indian majority, Morales is the first self-identified indigenous president in the country's history and remains popular.

But investment in the country's most important industry — natural gas — has been moribund with Morales' decision to jack up taxes on the foreign producers and force them to operate under new contracts.

In an ominous sign for Bolivia, neighboring Chile last week began receiving its first shipment of natural gas delivered in tankers from foreign countries.

Chile has built the infrastructure to receive the natural gas to avoid the need for natural gas from Bolivia. Brazil, Bolivia's biggest customer, will soon lessen its dependence on Bolivia by opening its own natural gas ports.

"The populists are very good at leveling indictments against the old political order and getting a political bounce for that," said Michael Shifter, vice president of the Inter-American Dialogue. "But it's no substitute for governing."

U.S. missed magnitude of Honduran Rift

I can see it happening if you have diplomats who don't see why people in Honduras would have a negative reaction of their President kissing up to Hugo Chavez. Diplomats, state department and the Obama admin are treating Chavez as a non-threat to the region and to be taken aback by this reaction points out a lack of critical thinking.

Although the U.S. government knew for months that Honduras was on the brink of political chaos, officials say they underestimated how fearful the Honduran elite and the military were of ousted President Manuel Zelaya and his ally President Hugo Chávez of Venezuela.

Rumors were buzzing in the capital that the fight between Zelaya and his conservative opponents had reached the boiling point, but diplomatic officials said the Obama administration and its embassy were surprised when Honduran soldiers burst into the presidential palace last Sunday and removed Zelaya from power.

U.S. diplomats had been trying to broker a compromise and were speaking to both sides hours before the coup. For decades, Washington has trained the Honduran military, and senior U.S. officials say they did not think that the Honduran military would carry out a coup.

.....Zelaya angered the business community when he raised the minimum monthly wage for Hondurans by 60 percent. Many companies responded by firing workers. Other businesses ignored the decree.

When U.S. Ambassador Hugo Llorens arrived last year, Zelaya postponed the ceremony allowing the newly arrived diplomat to present his credentials. He fought with his Congress, insisting that lawmakers accept his nominees to the Supreme Court. He refused to sign the budget and he stalled on dozens of bills approved by the Congress. All along, Zelaya grew closer to Latin America's leftist leaders, especially Chávez. He traveled frequently to Venezuela, where he stood beside Chávez as he gave fiery speeches railing against capitalists.

An example of the lack of critical thinking.

But the same diplomats are puzzled about exactly what Zelaya was after in his attempt to rewrite the constitution. The boiling point came when Zelaya began to push for a national survey, a kind of nonbinding referendum for a constitutional assembly that could led to a new law that allowed a president to serve more than one term. But Honduras's lengthy, sometimes contradictory document contains language that makes a person a traitor for even suggesting such a change.

As Zelaya pressed ahead with his plan to hold the vote last Sunday, the day of the coup, the leader of the Honduran military, Gen. Romeo Vásquez, balked, because the Supreme Court told him that the referendum was illegal. Zelaya tried to fire Vásquez, which further riled the military.

"Look, we're democratic and here we respect the ideologies of other countries," said Gabriela Nuñez, the new finance minister. "But we do not want to change our system of government."

Broadcasters downgrading OTA HD signals for fun and profit.

First it was the cable companies and now its the broadcasters themselves downgrading the signal quality to shove two or more channels in their feed. When does it get to the point that consumers can take action against them?

For years, broadcasters have told consumers seeking the best high-definition picture quality to use an antenna to receive signals over-the-air, instead of relying on a cable or satellite operator to deliver the programming.

That's because many multichannel operators have recompressed, or “rate-shaped,” broadcasters' HD video to reduce the bandwidth needed to pass along the signal. For example, a cable operator might receive an 18 megabit-per-second HD stream at the headend and recompress it to 15 Mbps before passing it down the pipe. So, receiving the signal directly over-the-air would ensure that the viewer got exactly what the station transmitted.

But increasingly it is local broadcasters, not multichannel operators, that are degrading their hi-def picture quality. The culprit is multicasting, i.e., transmitting digital subchannels alongside the primary HD stream within a station's 19.4 Mbps digital TV pipe. While such subchannels are finally starting to gain traction and generate meaningful revenues (see Station to Station, June 22), many are doing so at the expense of the high-definition images that were the primary impetus for the DTV standard. Engineers and HD aficionados note, with considerable irony, that while there is far more HD content available today, the relative picture quality may not be as good as the first HD broadcasts more than a decade ago.

Little People Urge FCC to ban "Midget" from the airwaves

I think the FCC has bigger things to worry about at the moment. Its a tall order to get movement on such a small matter(constitutional issues aside) in the grand scheme of things.

The group Little People of America called Sunday for the Federal Communications Commission to ban the use of the word "midget" on broadcast TV.

Leaders of the group said the word, which was prominently featured in an episode of NBC's "Celebrity Apprentice," is as offensive as racial slurs.

"Historically, the word 'midget' has been used to objectify people, like in the circus," said Clinton Brown III co-chairman of the 52nd Annual National Conference of Little People of America, which is taking place in New York this week. "We're in the 21st century. We're beyond that."

credit to neogaf posters for the mashup intro above.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

California's problem is not enough high taxes

Via instapundit this slam against NYTIMES magazine about California's problems

THE NEW YORK TIMES MAGAZINE looks at California’s problems. But Chris Reed at the Union-Tribune notes that they forgot to mention public employee unions. “It was even worse than I expected. . . .

The article focuses on the volatility of income taxes, which is a key point. But it never offers the context that California’s other taxes are almost all among the nation’s highest. It leaves the impression, as do all East Coast media, that California is relatively undertaxed. . . . Pathetically enough, in 8,000 words, the author never mentions the fact that the public thinks the state’s biggest problem is an inability to live within its means, not the difficulty of raising taxes. . . .

There is a reference to same-sex unions. There is a reference to Gavin Newsom dealing with the SEIU in San Francisco. But the CTA? The prison guards union? AFSCME? The SEIU’s lobbying in Sacramento? All unmentioned. Incredible. Pathetic. Typical. Even by the rotten standards of the East Coast media, the New York Times has hit a new low.”

Time magazine blames Prop 13. LATIMES blames everything but the out of control spending. You are never going to get the full picture from the MSM if it involves pointing out the unions and curbing spending.

Muslim Dentist can still practice despite discriminatory actions.

The guy should be thrown out of the profession because of how he conducts himself in practice but the politically correct disciplinary panel just dismisses it. If it were a Christian or Catholic you know the punishment would have been severe.

A dentist has been allowed to continue practising - despite telling Muslim patients he would only treat them if they wore Islamic dress.

Dr Omer Butt, of Prestwich, Greater Manchester, ordered two women to wear a head scarf before he treated them.

The General Dental Council (GDC) said the events took place "a considerable time ago".

The GDC found that Dr Butt had "discriminated" against people on the basis he "disapproved of their attitude to the requirements of Islam" and "did not act in the best interests of his patients".

It was "in no doubt that it amounted to misconduct" but found his fitness to practise was not impaired because he had not repeated the conduct since September 2007.

In addition, the committee accepted he had changed his approach as a result of the action taken against him.

So what were the charges?

The GDC committee found: "Your evidence was that you regard yourself as a Muslim first and a dentist second, and it is clear that you were using your position as a dentist to seek to influence patients as to non-clinical issues.

"You have explained that you had a moral and religious obligation to persuade other Muslims to comply with Islamic requirements.

"You admitted that you would offer rewards to some patients who complied with the dress code.

"The committee concludes that these actions are more consistent with a person who has gone beyond mere persuasion or request and is seeking to impose a dress code."

This is the second time the dentist has appeared before a disciplinary committee over his stance on traditional Muslim dress.

In September 2007, Dr Butt received an admonition from the GDC after being found guilty of discriminating against a female patient by refusing to treat her unless she wore "appropriate Islamic dress".

He will come up again on charges, someone like this doesn't change just like that for anyone.

Somali youths in Minneapolis harass gay man video.

Why do I get the feeling if it were some Christian group there would be a bit more of an uproar?

Approximately 15 youths physically and verbally taunted a gay man as he was leaving Twin Cities Pride in Minneapolis on Saturday, in an incident captured on video.

The Somali youths asked the man if he was gay, and when he responded yes, the young people yelled "I hate gay people" and reportedly threw rocks at the man, whose name is not known.

On the video various youths can be heard saying "I hate gay people" repeatedly, along with "Gay is not the way" and "Fuck gay people. They can go fuck each other."

About one minute into the video, a police officer can be seen walking through the crowd of young people.

The man who was taunted walked away, telling the kids, "See how I'm not scared at all?"

Illegal supporters demand tutition breaks, license in Wisconsin.

Same old arguments that illegals should be given the same privileges as the rest of the population who are legal under the guise of safety. Also throw in the threat of alienating the growing Latino voting bloc and it becomes a hostage situation.

Allowing illegal immigrants to qualify for special driver's cards would make the roads safer, reduce insurance rates and generate much-needed revenue for state government, supporters said Monday.

Supporters pressed those points at a news conference, a noisy rally outside the Capitol and in meetings with lawmakers as they pushed for Wisconsin to follow Utah in offering the cards.

The Legislature's budget committee last month approved a last-minute addition to the state budget to establish the cards and the Assembly approved the plan.

The state Senate, however, stripped the provision out of its version of the budget passed last week. Assembly and Senate leaders are expected to begin reconciling their differences in the budget this week.

Ortiz-Neumann and others also pressed senators to agree to let illegal immigrants pay in-state tuition at University of Wisconsin System schools if they graduate from Wisconsin high schools. Senators also stripped that proposal from the budget last week.

Supporters warned Carpenter and other Democrats who control the Legislature they would alienate the growing bloc of Latino voters if they did not switch their stance on both issues.

Houston's mayor defends sanctuary policy over officer's deaths.

Another public official who puts the needs of pushing a sanc policy over general public safety.

Houston’s largest police union, citing the death of six officers during Mayor Bill White’s tenure, called on the mayor and City Council this week to hire more officers, restore $14 million in overtime pay and overturn the long-standing policy of not questioning residents about their immigration status.

In a letter to White, Gary Blankinship, president of the Houston Police Officers Union, called last week’s slaying of veteran officer Henry Canales a “trifeca failure” of federal, state and city government to protect citizens and police officers from criminal illegal immigrants.

White responded with a news conference Thursday to make clear there would be no change in the department’s policy on illegal immigrants.

San Francisco's Kamala Harris clears illegal criminal records

Yet another ditzy San Franc official who put a program in place that is more concerned with criminals than victims.

San Francisco District Attorney Kamala Harris' office on Monday defended allowing about a half dozen first-time drug offenders to clear their records by going through a job-training program, even after prosecutors learned they were deportable as undocumented immigrants.

But Harris' aides said they have since made changes in the program that would prevent a recurrence of instances in which illegal immigrants got their criminal records cleared by going through the Back on Track jobs program, which trains offenders for jobs that undocumented immigrants legally would be prevented from holding.

The Los Angeles Times first reported Monday that illegal immigrants had been enrolled in the program and that Harris' office had let several graduate and go free even after learning of their status.

Hollywood is already backing her for higher office which tells you something about her.