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Archive for April 12th, 2011

Fukushima Crisis: Level 7 – as Bad as Chernobyl

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:47 am by HL

Fukushima Crisis: Level 7 – as Bad as Chernobyl
The Japanese government’s nuclear safety agency has decided to raise the crisis level of the Fukushima Daiichi power plant accident from 5 to 7, the worst on the international scale. The Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency made the decision on Monday. It says the damaged facilities have been releasing a massive amount of radioactive substances, which are posing a threat to human health and the environment over a wide area.



Late, Late Night FDL: How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Late, Late Night FDL: How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live
Bruce Springsteen – How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live

Bruce Springsteen – How Can a Poor Man Stand Such Times and Live

I suppose we shall find out soon enough…

What’s on your mind tonite…?


Arizona Immigration Law Meets Resistance From Federal Court

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Arizona Immigration Law Meets Resistance From Federal Court
Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and fellow supporters of the ultracontroversial immigration law that passed in her state a year ago met with a big setback on Monday, when a federal appeals court upheld a federal judge’s injunction against certain provisions of the law, according to the Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles Times: The panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals turned down a request by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who asked the jurists to lift an injunction imposed by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton the day before the law was to go into effect on July 29. Among the controversial aspects of the law was a requirement that local police check the immigration status of anyone they detain during an investigation. Read more  

Brewer

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer and fellow supporters of the ultracontroversial immigration law that passed in her state a year ago met with a big setback on Monday, when a federal appeals court upheld a federal judge’s injunction against certain provisions of the law, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Los Angeles Times:

The panel of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals turned down a request by Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer, who asked the jurists to lift an injunction imposed by U.S. District Judge Susan Bolton the day before the law was to go into effect on July 29.

Among the controversial aspects of the law was a requirement that local police check the immigration status of anyone they detain during an investigation.

Read more

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Fukushima Gets Upgraded to Chernobyl-Level Emergency
Japanese officials have revised the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to level 7, making it the second such disaster in history, the only one since the Chernobyl meltdown. It had previously been described as being on the scale of Three Mile Island, a smaller event. The plant has so far leaked only a fraction of Chernobyl’s radiation, but one terrifying Reuters report suggests the amount could eventually add up to even more than the 1986 meltdown. BBC: “We have upgraded the severity level to seven as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean,” said Minoru Oogoda of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa), the government’s nuclear watchdog. One official from the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which operates the nuclear plant, said that radiation leaks had not stopped completely and could eventually exceed those at Chernobyl, Reuters news agency reported. However, a nuclear safety agency spokesman told reporters the leaks were still small compared to those at the plant in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union. Read more

Japanese officials have revised the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima Daiichi plant to level 7, making it the second such disaster in history, the only one since the Chernobyl meltdown. It had previously been described as being on the scale of Three Mile Island, a smaller event.

The plant has so far leaked only a fraction of Chernobyl’s radiation, but one terrifying Reuters report suggests the amount could eventually add up to even more than the 1986 meltdown.

BBC:

“We have upgraded the severity level to seven as the impact of radiation leaks has been widespread from the air, vegetables, tap water and the ocean,” said Minoru Oogoda of Japan’s Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (Nisa), the government’s nuclear watchdog.

One official from the Tokyo Electric Power Co (Tepco), which operates the nuclear plant, said that radiation leaks had not stopped completely and could eventually exceed those at Chernobyl, Reuters news agency reported.

However, a nuclear safety agency spokesman told reporters the leaks were still small compared to those at the plant in Ukraine, then part of the Soviet Union.

Read more

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Late Returns: The Ins And Outs Of The Romney Rollout

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Late Returns: The Ins And Outs Of The Romney Rollout
If you’re like most Americans, you have been completely blindsided by today’s news that Mitt Romney has formed a presidential exploratory committee. Wait, wait! Mitt…

Harry Shearer: General McChrystal’s New Job: How Tone-Deaf Is This Administration?
How tone-deaf do you have to be to appoint a man tainted by the cover-up of the friendly-fire death of Pat Tillman as head of an advisory panel helping service members’ families?

Bob Kerrey: Why Washington Isn’t Working for the American People
Members of Congress report spending as much as a third of their time raising money for their reelection. This is time that they should be devoting to representing their constituents and running our country.


Dobbs Falsely Claims “Very Few”?State And Local Government Jobs Have Been Eliminated

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Dobbs Falsely Claims “Very Few”?State And Local Government Jobs Have Been Eliminated

Fox Business host Lou Dobbs claimed that “very few jobs have been lost” at the local and state levels in the last few years. In fact, state and local governments have shed more than 500,000 jobs since July 2008 — while the private sector is in its 12th month of job growth.

Dobbs Claims “Very Few Jobs Have Been Lost At The Local, State And Federal Level”

From the April 11 edition of Fox News’ America Live:

SHANNON BREAM (guest host): We understand that the president now is going to speak on Wednesday and talk about debt and deficit reduction, and we understand too from White House spokesman Jay Carney that he’s going to talk about shared fiscal responsibility. So is it time now for the federal government to make some of those tough sacrifices just like American families are having to make? Maybe not filling some of these positions, not necessarily cutting, but maybe not filling everything that’s open now.

DOBBS: Well, I don’t see any reason to say, frankly, that this is shared sacrifice. While millions and millions of private sector jobs have been lost over the course of the last four years, very few jobs have been lost at the local, state, and federal level. That is an immunity that defies either a sense of equity or propriety. It just isn’t the American way. This is a free enterprise, capitalist economy that has built wealth not only for this great nation but for the entire world. We have got to get our leadership reoriented to prosperity as a principled goal of public policy, Shannon. I mean it’s not a difficult thing for these folks. [Fox News, America Live4/11/11]

State And Local Government Employment Has Fallen By More Than Half A Million

St. Louis Fed: Local Governments Have Shed Approximately 416,000 Jobs Since 2008. From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:

St. Louis Fed: Local Government Employment

[Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed 4/11/11]

St. Louis Fed: State Governments Have Shed Approximately 90,000 Jobs Since 2008. From the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis:

St. Louis Fed: State Government Employment

[Federal Reserve Economic Data, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, accessed 4/11/11]

Income Strategist: While Private Sector Jobs Increase, State, Local Governments Will Cut 20,000 To 30,000 Jobs A Month Through At Least End Of 2011. From a March 5 Wall Street Journal article:

State and local governments, aiming to reduce their budget deficits, cut jobs at an accelerating pace in February.

Even as private employment climbed for the 12th consecutive month in February, states and localities shed a combined 30,000 jobs after cutting 8,000 positions a month earlier, the Labor Department said Friday. The trend is likely to continue as states and cities keep trimming services and payrolls to mend their budget shortfalls.

State and local governments stepped up their pace of cutting positions, such as police officers.

“We won’t expect the government cutbacks to reverse any time in the near future,” said Guy LeBas, chief fixed income strategist at Janney Montgomery Scott. “It’s going to be a slow leak of 20,000 to 30,000 jobs a month lasting at least until the end of 2011.” [The Wall Street Journal3/5/11]

Economist Zandi: State, Local Cuts Could Keep Unemployment From Falling Below 9 Percent By End Of 2011. From a February 4 Bloomberg BusinessWeek article:

President Barack Obama’s goal of driving the unemployment rate below 9 percent this year is threatened by state and local budget cuts that are likely to intensify as Federal stimulus money runs out.

Austerity measures may add as much as 0.25 percentage point to the unemployment rate this year, according to Mark Zandi, chief economist of Moody’s Analytics Inc.

“This could make the difference between ending 2011 with unemployment above or below 9 percent,” he said. “There’s no more serious drag on economic growth than the severe budget cutbacks at the state and local level.”

Reductions in public payrolls will ripple through the economy, slicing revenue at companies that rely on government contracts and depressing spending among those who are thrown out of work, Zandi said. The result could be the loss of 600,000 jobs in the fiscal year that starts July 1, he said. [Bloomberg BusinessWeek2/4/11]


Man Who Wanted To Help Bomb DC Metro Sentenced To 23 Years In FBI Sting Case

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Man Who Wanted To Help Bomb DC Metro Sentenced To 23 Years In FBI Sting Case
A 35-year-old Virgina man who thought he was assisting members of al-Qaeda plan bombings of the D.C. Metro system was sentenced on Monday to 23 years in prison followed by 50 years of supervised release.


Duke Cunningham: My ‘Untold Story’
In a rambling letter from his prison cell sent to TPM and other media outlets, former Rep. Randy “Duke” Cunningham (R-CA) writes that he never told the feds that he had sex with a prostitute “and the DOJ bastards know it,” that IRS agents and media reporters “remind me of ravening wolves,” and that he never should have agreed to a plea deal that put him behind bars.

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Hints from Romney’s Announcement

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Hints from Romney’s Announcement
Politico takes a deeper look at Mitt Romney’s (R) video announcing the creation of a presidential exploratory committee and takes away three hints for the impending Romney campaign.

What we know: “Romney’s central focus will be on the economy and fiscal issues and that’s what made up the entirety of his two-and-a-half-minute message… Romney’s advisers don’t want to get sidetracked on the culture wars as they did in 2008, knowing that their candidate will never measure up as the most conservative candidate… It was no accident that Romney taped his video at the University of New Hampshire and name-checked the school at the outset of his remarks. The Granite State primary is nothing short of essential for a former next-door governor who now spends much of his year on Lake Winnipesaukee… Romney sports a casual jacket and open-collared shirt in the video. Gone is the starchy business suit that was his campaign uniform four years ago. There is much symbolism to the wardrobe adjustment.”

Trump Warns He Might Run as an Independent
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Donald Trump said he will “probably” run as an independent candidate for president if he cannot win the Republican party’s nomination.

Said Trump: “The concern is if I don’t win will I run as an independent, and I think the answer is probably yes.”

Trump said that he thought he “could possibly win as an independent,” adding, “I’m not doing it for any other reason. I like winning.”

Case Leads in Possible Hawaii Senate Primary
A SMS Research poll in Hawaii shows former Rep. Ed Case (D) leading former Honolulu mayor Mufi Hannemann (D) by five points in a hypothetical Democratic primary race for the U.S. Senate.


By Huge Margins, Voters Want Drug Penalties Reduced

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

By Huge Margins, Voters Want Drug Penalties Reduced
A whopping 72% of California voters support reducing the penalty for possession of a small amount of illegal drugs for personal use from a felony to a misdemeanor

Escaping the Sex Trafficking Industry
A Q+A with a former sex worker, who weaves her own painful story of being lured into "the life," with the stories of the girls and women that she now helps.

"I Pay, You Pay, Why Doesn’t B of A?": Are We Seeing the Birth of a Totally New Protest Movement?
UK Uncut doesn’t have leaders, hierarchy, a PR firm or funders, yet in six months it has changed the face of British politics.

"They Are Afraid Their House Could Blow Up": Meet the Families Whose Lives Have Been Ruined by Gas Drilling [Photos By Award-Winning Photographer Nina Berman]
"We’re not asking for a lot and now they’re taking it all away. In a million years, I never would have thought that people could do this and get away with it."


Honest Economic Thinking Is More Important Than “New” Economic Thinking

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Honest Economic Thinking Is More Important Than “New” Economic Thinking
Robert Kuttner reports about the dismal prospects for fundamental economic reform from the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s conference at Bretton Woods. His note suggests that the situation may be even worse than he realizes. Towards the end of the…

Medicare Vouchers: Ryan Versus Baker
Since Representative Ryan is running around pushing his Medicare vouchers I might as well take the opportunity to push my own. It seems that Mr. Ryan and I have something in common, we both like Medicare vouchers. Of course there…


U.S. Appeals Court Rules Against Arizona?s Immigration Law

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on April 12th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

U.S. Appeals Court Rules Against Arizona?s Immigration Law

Back in July, federal district court judge Susan Bolton imposed a preliminary injunction on parts of the controversial immigration law passed by Arizona last year, SB-1070. She enjoined provisions relating to warrantless arrests of suspected undocumented immigrants and document requirements, and also struck down the requirement that police check the immigration status of anyone they stop, detain, or arrest if they reasonably suspect the person is in the country illegally.

Today, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Bolton’s preliminary injunction on several major provisions of SB-1070. In their stinging legal critiques, 9th Circuit Judges Richard Paez and John Noonan wrote that each of the provisions blocked by Bolton are outright “unconstitutional” and that SB-1070 is preempted by federal law and foreign policy:

By imposing mandatory obligations on state and local officers, Arizona interferes with the federal government’s authority to implement its priorities and strategies in law enforcement, turning Arizona officers into state-directed DHS agents. […]

[T]he record unmistakably demonstrates that S.B. 1070 has had a deleterious effect on the United States’ foreign relations, which weighs in favor of preemption. […]

Finally, the threat of 50 states layering their own immigration enforcement rules on top of the INA [Immigration and Nationality Act] also weighs in favor of preemption.

The 9th Circuit Court probably won’t have the final say on the issue. Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer (R) has pledged to take her case all the way to the Supreme Court. SB-1070′s sponsor, state Senate President Russell Pearce (R), has entered the legal challenge now following a recent decision by the U.S. District Court to allow the Arizona State Legislature to intervene as a defendant in the Department of Justice’s lawsuit against Brewer and her state.

In his opinion, Noonan recognized that SB-1070 has “become a symbol.” Noonan noted that, “For those sympathetic to immigrants to the United States, it is a challenge and a chilling foretaste of what other states might attempt.” The 9th Circuit’s decision comes as several states around the country are in the final stages of approving similar “copycat” pieces of legislation. For more background information on the Circuit Court’s decision, check out the Wonk Room.