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Archive for May 13th, 2011

Late Late Night FDL: Fresh Air

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:46 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Fresh Air
Quicksilver Messenger ServiceFresh Air, from the closing of the Fillmore West, July 4, 1971.

Quicksilver Messenger ServiceFresh Air, from the closing of the Fillmore West, July 4, 1971.

What’s on your mind?

House of Cards
If it couldn’t be laminated or outsourced in the prior administration it wasn’t worth doing.

Pic via Bootload at flickr.com

Bush had few tasks he was good at as President.  He was good at standing on top of rubble, literally and metaphorically, a fortunate talent given his other accomplishments. He was good at commanding McDonalds bring back the McRib. And then in an article about tracking down Osama bin Laden there was this, symbolic of his acuity:

At any one time, the list would contain between 10 and 30 names, the most obvious ones being bin Laden and his Egyptian deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, the former officials said. At one point, Bush’s advisers prepared for him a rogues’ gallery of about 20 top suspects on the list, which was laminated in plastic. Bush kept it in his Oval Office desk. When militants on the chart were captured or killed, Bush would take it out of his desk and mark them off.

So, the “Iraqi Playing Cards” idiocy was hardly unique.

Oh, and there was this:

The plan to create CIA hit-squads proved another dead end…revived by Porter Goss with a twist: the agency would use outside contractors for the hit teams, to give it more deniability. Erik Prince, founder-owner of the controversial private military contractor then known as Blackwater and a former Navy SEAL, was invited to participate in brainstorming sessions.

They were going to supplant Special Forces with private hit squads. The Samozas and Duvaliers would be proud.  Perhaps, as Emptywheel noted a few months ago and others as well, Raymond Davis has something to say on the matter and whether such programs actually ended?


Palestinians Offer First-Ever Corporate Bonds

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Palestinians Offer First-Ever Corporate Bonds
Following a possible 10-day freeze on revenue collected on Palestinian goods that pass through Israel’s ports and airports, a Palestinian investment firm has issued the territory’s first-ever corporate bonds, which Palestinian leaders and businesses hope will strengthen the local economy. Israel imposed the freeze after Fatah, Palestine’s ruling party, made peace last week with its political rival Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israeli statehood. —ARK Al-Jazeera: PADICO, a publicly traded company that focuses on investment in the Palestinian economy, announced on Tuesday that it is issuing 7,000 five-year bonds which are worth $70m. … Issuing of the corporate bonds comes amid growing financial hardships for Palestinians, who have been subjected to an Israeli freeze on monthly transfer of funds. … “The delay in transferring funds is a yellow card for the PA after the signing of the agreement with Hamas,” Yuval Steinitz [Israel’s finance minister] said on public radio on Wednesday. Read more  

Following a possible 10-day freeze on revenue collected on Palestinian goods that pass through Israel’s ports and airports, a Palestinian investment firm has issued the territory’s first-ever corporate bonds, which Palestinian leaders and businesses hope will strengthen the local economy.

Israel imposed the freeze after Fatah, Palestine’s ruling party, made peace last week with its political rival Hamas, which refuses to recognize Israeli statehood. —ARK

Al-Jazeera:

PADICO, a publicly traded company that focuses on investment in the Palestinian economy, announced on Tuesday that it is issuing 7,000 five-year bonds which are worth $70m.

… Issuing of the corporate bonds comes amid growing financial hardships for Palestinians, who have been subjected to an Israeli freeze on monthly transfer of funds.

… “The delay in transferring funds is a yellow card for the PA after the signing of the agreement with Hamas,” Yuval Steinitz [Israel’s finance minister] said on public radio on Wednesday.

Read more

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Related Entries


The Death of the bin Laden Myth
With the 9/11 attacks, he not only killed thousands of people whose only crimes were to go to work, board airliners or rush to the scene of disaster as first-responders. Bin Laden also took 300 million prisoners: the rest of us. By Eugene Robinson

With the 9/11 attacks, he not only killed thousands of people whose only crimes were to go to work, board airliners or rush to the scene of disaster as first-responders. Bin Laden also took 300 million prisoners: the rest of us.


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PHOTOS: Inside The Obama 2012 Headquarters

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

PHOTOS: Inside The Obama 2012 Headquarters
CHICAGO (AP) â?? Blue and white 2012 signs plaster the walls but most of the desks are empty at President Barack Obama’s new re-election headquarters…

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Forget Raj: “Too Big to Fail” is Still “Too Big to Jail”
Too Big to Fail banks will continue to endanger the economy because they know they’ll be rescued again. The Rajaratnam conviction doesn’t change the underlying reality: Too Big to Fail is still Too Big to Jail.

House GOP Moves To Cut Off New Funding For TSA Body Scanners
WASHINGTON — House Republicans controlling the Transportation Security Administration’s purse strings are moving to cut off new funding for those advanced airport scanners that have…


Fox Touts GOP Drilling Bill By Vastly Overstating Offshore Oil Resources

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

Fox Touts GOP Drilling Bill By Vastly Overstating Offshore Oil Resources

In news reports on a House Republican proposal that would require the Obama administration to open new areas to offshore drilling, Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse claimed that “97 percent of America’s offshore oil remains off-limits.” In fact, the areas already open to drilling contain the “vast majority” of estimated offshore oil resources, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Fox Baselessly Claims “Almost 98 Percent Of America’s Offshore Oil” Remains “Off-Limits To Drilling”

Fox Correspondent: “97 Percent Of America’s Offshore Oil Remains Off-Limits.” From the May 11 edition of Fox News’ Happening Now:

WILLIAM LA JEUNESSE:  Well Jenna, despite that very old platform you’re looking at, 97 percent of America’s offshore oil remains off-limits despite the lifting of that 27-year old ban three years ago by a Democratically controlled Congress.

Basically, what is stopping us from going after billions of the barrels of oil off California and elsewhere is the president’s desire not to do it. [Fox News, Happening Now, 5/11/11]

FoxNews.com: “98 Percent Of America’s Offshore Oil” Is “Off-Limits.” From a May 11 FoxNews.com article by La Jeunesse:

With almost 98 percent of America’s offshore oil off-limits to drilling, and sustained gas prices nearing $4 a gallon, congressional Republicans say only one thing is keeping America from tapping into its offshore resources — President Obama.

On Wednesday, Congress will consider a bill to void that. The House is expected to pass H.R. 1231, a bill titled, “Reversing President Obama’s Offshore Moratorium Act”. [FoxNews.com, 5/11/11]

EIA: The “Vast Majority” Of Estimated Offshore Oil Resources Are In Areas Already Accessible

EIA Director: “Vast Majority” Of Estimated Oil Resources Are In Areas Where “Leasing Has Been Available For Many Years.” From the March 17 Congressional testimony of Richard Newell, administrator of the Energy Information Administration, which “collects, analyzes, and disseminates independent and impartial energy information”:

Given that OCS [Outer Continental Shelf] areas not under any leasing moratorium are estimated to account for over 95 percent of the total mean estimate of technically recoverable OCS resources, perhaps the most significant Federal OCS development issues relate to those areas that are already open to Federal oil and gas leasing. One such issue revolves around when newly available offshore areas, particularly in the Pacific and Atlantic, will be made available to oil and gas producers in future Federal lease sales. Areas where OCS leasing has been available for many years–including the Western Gulf, most of the Central Gulf, and Alaska–hold the vast majority of estimated technically recoverable OCS oil resources. [Energy Information Administration, 3/17/11, emphasis added]

EIA: Offshore Areas Protected From Drilling “Are Estimated To Hold Roughly 20 Percent” Of Total Offshore Oil Resources. While noting that the estimates are subject to uncertainty, EIA stated in its 2009 Annual Energy Outlook that the offshore areas that have been restricted are estimated to hold around 20 percent of total technically recoverable offshore oil:

Estimates from the MMS [Mineral Management Service] of undiscovered resources in the OCS are the starting point for EIA’s estimate of the OCS technically recoverable resource. Adding the mean MMS estimate of undiscovered technically recoverable resources to proved reserves and inferred resources in known deposits, the remaining technically recoverable resource (as of January 1, 2007) in the OCS is estimated to be 93 billion barrels of crude oil and 456 trillion cubic feet of natural gas (Table 8). The OCS areas that were until recently under moratoria in the Atlantic, Pacific, and Eastern/Central Gulf of Mexico are estimated to hold roughly 20 percent (18 billion barrels) of the total OCS technically recoverable oil–10 billion barrels in the Pacific and nearly 4 billion barrels each in the Eastern/Central Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic OCS. [Energy Information Administration, March 2009]

High Oil Price Would Have Larger Impact On U.S. Oil Production Than Expanded Offshore Drilling. In its 2011 Annual Energy Outlook, EIA modeled a scenario in which “leases in the Pacific, Atlantic, Eastern Gulf of Mexico, and Alaska OCS regions are not available until after 2035.” EIA estimated that such restrictions would result “in a 6 percent decrease in total domestic crude oil production” in 2035. [Energy Information Administration, 4/26/11]

  • By contrast, EIA estimated that a low oil price ($50/barrel) would result in a 27 percent decrease and a high oil price ($200/barrel) would result in a 20 percent increase in U.S. crude oil production by 2035. [Energy Information Administration, 4/26/11]

EIA: Areas Currently Off-Limits “May Not Be As Economically Attractive” To Oil Companies. From EIA’s Annual Energy Outlook 2009:

Assuming that leasing actually goes forward on the schedule contemplated by the previous Administration, the leases must then be bid on and awarded, and the wining bidders must develop exploration and development plans and have them approved before any wells can be drilled. Thus, conversion of the newly available OCS resources to production will require considerable time, in addition to financial investment. Further, because the expected average field size in the Pacific and Atlantic OCS is smaller than the average field size in the Gulf of Mexico, a portion of the additional OCS resources may not be as economically attractive as available resources in the Gulf. [Energy Information Administration, March 2009]

Expanding Offshore Drilling Won’t Solve High Gasoline Prices

EIA: Restrictions On Offshore Drilling Only Increase Gas Prices 3 Cents By 2030. EIA estimated that the difference between a scenario in which the Atlantic, Pacific and Eastern/Central Gulf of Mexico are open to offshore drilling and a scenario in which they remain off-limits is 3 cents per gallon of gasoline in 2030:

With limited access to the lower 48 OCS, U.S. dependence on imports increases, and there is a small increase in world oil prices. Oil import dependence in 2030 is 43.4 percent in the OCS limited case, as compared with 40.9 percent in the reference case, and the total annual cost of imported liquid fuels in 2030 is $403.4 billion, 7.1 percent higher than the projection of $376.6 billion in the reference case. The average price of imported low-sulfur crude oil in 2030 (in 2007 dollars) is $1.34 per barrel higher, and the average U.S. price of motor gasoline price is 3 cents per gallon higher, than in the reference case. [Energy Information Administration, March 2009]

Newell: Expanding Drilling In Federal Areas Is Not Expected To Have A Large Impact On Prices. From Newell’s March 17 testimony:

In the short-term, oil markets react to many competing factors in a global context, and it is extremely difficult to disentangle the near-term impact of mid-to-long-term developments in the context of oil markets that see typical daily price movements in the range of 1-2 percent, and much higher fluctuations at times. Long term, we do not project additional volumes of oil that could flow from greater access to oil resources on Federal lands to have a large impact on prices given the globally integrated nature of the world oil market and the more significant long-term compared to short-term responsiveness of oil demand and supply to price movements. Given the increasing importance of OPEC supply in the global oil supply-demand balance, another key issue is how OPEC production would respond to any increase in non-OPEC supply, potentially offsetting any direct price effect.

In the longer-term, greater domestic crude oil production no matter the cause – increased development on Federal lands, higher resource potential in current known fields, or wider application of advanced technology – would impact local economic activity, net oil imports, and the associated U.S. international trade balance resulting from oil imports. [Energy Information Administration, 3/17/11]


VA GOPer Convicted Of Selling Vote To Get Side Gig At State University

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

VA GOPer Convicted Of Selling Vote To Get Side Gig At State University
Phillip A. Hamilton, a former Republican member of the Virginia House of Delegates accused of leveraging his office and power over the budget of Old Dominion University to set up a side gig at the school, was convicted Wednesday on…

Plane Rides Will End, But Newt Inc. Will ‘Aggressively Move Forward’ After Gingrich Announcement
Newt Gingrich is set to announce his presidential campaign via Facebook and Twitter on Wednesday. That could mean a change — or an end — to his involvement in the plethora of organizations he’s affiliated with, collectively known as Newt…

Issa Wouldn’t Let Witness Testify In Favor Of Disclosure By Government Contractors
House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. Darrell Issa refused a request from Ranking Member Elijah Cummings to allow the head of an open government organization to testify in support of an executive order which would require government contractors to disclose more information about their political donations.


Election 2012: The GOP’s Declared Nut-Cracker Suite of Candidates

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

Election 2012: The GOP’s Declared Nut-Cracker Suite of Candidates


Williams Looks Likely to Win GOP Nod in Kentucky

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:39 am by HL

Williams Looks Likely to Win GOP Nod in Kentucky
A new Courier-Journal/WHAS11 Bluegrass Poll in Kentucky finds David Williams (R) continues to hold a commanding lead in the Republican primary for governor just days before Tuesday’s election.

Williams leads Phil Moffett (R), 47% to 21%, with Bobbie Holslaw (R) at 12%.

The winner will face off against Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear (D) in the fall.

Daniels Lines Up Impressive Support
Sources tell CBS News that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) has told Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels he would back him in a presidential run, as would Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R).

“And as a sign of how important his wife is to the decision, sources tell CBS News that even former First Lady Laura Bush has called Cheri Daniels personally to encourage her to support the effort and offer advice on how to define what her role on the campaign — and potentially in the White House — would be.”


‘Beekeeper’s Lament’: A Rare Glimpse Inside the Endangered World of Beekeeping

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

‘Beekeeper’s Lament’: A Rare Glimpse Inside the Endangered World of Beekeeping
Beekeeper’s Lament offers us a fascinating peek into the diverse, interrelated, and worrisome aspects of the beekeeper’s world.

Vision: Nature Needs Rights — Why Our Human-Centric Model Will Doom Us and the Rest of the Planet
We have built our economic and development policies based on a human-centric model and assumed that nature would never fail to provide or that technology would save us.

America’s Largest Newspaper Launches a Nasty Attack on Grandma and Grandpa
The Rupert Murdoch-owned, right-wing Wall Street Journal is lying, plain and simple.


Obama Now Has The Juice To Push Bibi Hard

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Obama Now Has The Juice To Push Bibi Hard
On September 12, 2001, the New York Times reported on Binyamin Netanyahu’s reaction to the news of the attacks in New York and Washington: Asked tonight what the attack meant for relations between the United States and Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu…

Why Washington Should Pay Attention to the Economy Here and Now
After a week of non-stop Osama Bin Laden, Washington is now returning to the battle of the budget deficit and debt ceiling. All over Capitol Hill Republicans and Democrats are debating spending caps and automatic triggers, and whether to begin…


5 Things You Should Know About Romney?s Health Care Proposal

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 13th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

5 Things You Should Know About Romney?s Health Care Proposal

nullThe bottom line about Mitt Romney’s “new” health care plan is that it reads exactly like his health care plan from the 2008 campaign, which looks very similar to the GOP House alternative offered in the midst of the 2009 health care reform legislative battle and Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) 2008 campaign plan. In other words — a rehash of traditional GOP prescriptions that deregulate the insurance market without providing adequate coverage to the sickest Americans or significantly reducing health care costs. Here are five things you should know about Romney’s plan:

1. Romney says he would empower states with greater flexibility by block-granting the Medicaid program, the federal/state initiative that provides coverage to senior citizens and poor Americans. But as a recent Kaiser Family Foundation report has pointed out, converting the existing matching rate formula into a block grant would give states less money that they would have otherwise received and force local governments to cut eligibility to the program. Kaiser examined different scenarios for state responses to reduced federal Medicaid spending and estimated 31 to 44 million Americans could lose their health insurance coverage.

2. Romney would “reform the tax code to promote the individual ownership of health insurance” and “give individuals a choice between the current system and a tax deduction to buy insurance on their own.” He thinks this would create “the best of both worlds” by allowing certain individuals to leave their employer-sponsored health insurance plans and find coverage on the individual market. But this would only entice young healthy workers to buy cheaper but less substantive insurance in the individual insurance plan market place, increasing costs for sicker workers and forcing some to opt out entirely. Among those who would lose their health care are 56 million Americans with pre-existing chronic health conditions. The credits would also fail to cover the cost of comprehensive coverage.

3. Romney says that “individuals who are continuously covered for a specified period of time may not be denied access to insurance because of pre-existing conditions” — a good idea that’s made even better by the Affordable Care Act that he wants to repeal. He’s also advocating for allowing individuals “to purchase insurance across state lines, free from costly state benefit requirements.” This means that insurers would be able to circumvent consumer protections in certain states and sell bare-bone subprime policies to the healthiest (and most profitable) beneficiaries. Companies would have little incentive to do business in states that require coverage for such things as cancer screenings or have guaranteed issue protections and sell plans across the country that deny coverage altogether to high-cost cases. The Affordable Care Act includes a similar — but far better regulated — provision that allows states to form compacts in which they can establish their own regulations.

4. Romney wants to “reform medical liability” and have the federal government “provide innovation grants to states for reforms, such as alternative dispute resolution or health care courts.” The current health care law already includes similar demonstration projects, even if the Congressional Budget Office has concluded that malpractice reforms could at most save $54 billion over 10 years.

5. Finally, Romney proposes establishing Health Savings Accounts and eliminating “the minimum deductible requirement for HSAs.” This may help some healthy people but will do little to aid Americans with expensive chronic conditions who will quickly deplete their savings accounts.