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Archive for August 19th, 2011

Kasich Offers to Change Anti-Union Law

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:45 am by HL

Kasich Offers to Change Anti-Union Law
Gov. John Kasich and top Republican lawmakers said Wednesday that they were offering to change a new law limiting collective bargaining in an attempt to keep a repeal effort off the November ballot. “I am utterly perplexed as to why the Republicans have waited this long to come to the table,” said state Sen. Nina Turner (D-Cleveland). “After months of playing politics with peoples’ paychecks, their new-found spirit of compromise seems a bit late.”



Mumbai ‘Dabbawallas’ Plan First-Ever Strike

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:44 am by HL

Mumbai ‘Dabbawallas’ Plan First-Ever Strike
Mumbai’s famous dabbawallas, who pick up and deliver more than 200,000 hot, homemade lunches to office workers in the Indian commercial capital each day, have announced they will strike for the first time in 120 years to support the efforts of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare. Instead of delivering food Friday, the 5,000 dabbawallas who make up the city’s unique courier service will march in solidarity with Hazare, the 74-year-old activist who has refused to eat solid food until the Indian Parliament considers a bill that would put a lokpal, or ombudsman, in place to investigate and punish political corruption. So the dabbawallas will, essentially, force the city to fast alongside Hazare for a day. —BF The Guardian: The Mumbai dabbawallas – “dabba” refers to the tin box in which the lunch is held, “walla” means man – say they have been inspired by Hazare’s refusal to eat solid food. “We are breaking our 120-year tradition by not providing tiffins. This is the least we can do to support Annaji, who has been fasting for over 50 hours in inhuman conditions,” Kiran Gavande, the secretary of the Nutan Dabbalwala Trust told a local television station. The 5,000 dabbawallas in Mumbai would march on Friday to show their support, Gavande said. The lean men with their trays of metal canisters, each filled with three or four separate dishes and marked with a code designating the son, husband or grandson for whom they are intended, are one of the best-known sights of the city. Elsewhere there is little sign of the protest dying down. Although authorities have made a series of concessions, Hazare has refused to leave Tihar prison in Delhi, where he was detained earlier this week, until a venue for his public fast has been prepared. Read more

Mumbai’s famous dabbawallas, who pick up and deliver more than 200,000 hot, homemade lunches to office workers in the Indian commercial capital each day, have announced they will strike for the first time in 120 years to support the efforts of anti-corruption activist Anna Hazare.

Instead of delivering food Friday, the 5,000 dabbawallas who make up the city’s unique courier service will march in solidarity with Hazare, the 74-year-old activist who has refused to eat solid food until the Indian Parliament considers a bill that would put a lokpal, or ombudsman, in place to investigate and punish political corruption.

So the dabbawallas will, essentially, force the city to fast alongside Hazare for a day. —BF

The Guardian:

The Mumbai dabbawallas – “dabba” refers to the tin box in which the lunch is held, “walla” means man – say they have been inspired by Hazare’s refusal to eat solid food. “We are breaking our 120-year tradition by not providing tiffins. This is the least we can do to support Annaji, who has been fasting for over 50 hours in inhuman conditions,” Kiran Gavande, the secretary of the Nutan Dabbalwala Trust told a local television station.

The 5,000 dabbawallas in Mumbai would march on Friday to show their support, Gavande said. The lean men with their trays of metal canisters, each filled with three or four separate dishes and marked with a code designating the son, husband or grandson for whom they are intended, are one of the best-known sights of the city.

Elsewhere there is little sign of the protest dying down. Although authorities have made a series of concessions, Hazare has refused to leave Tihar prison in Delhi, where he was detained earlier this week, until a venue for his public fast has been prepared.

Read more

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The Con’s on David Mamet
By Louise Rubacky The author-playwright-filmmaker’s most recent book, “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” is an irrational and reactionary diatribe about what’s wrong with liberals. Humorless too. Talk about a loss for America.

By Louise Rubacky

The author-playwright-filmmaker’s most recent book, “The Secret Knowledge: On the Dismantling of American Culture,” is an irrational and reactionary diatribe about what’s wrong with liberals. Humorless too. Talk about a loss for America.

Related Entries



The Results Are In: SF’s Most Powerful Party Names Its Mayoral Picks

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:43 am by HL

The Results Are In: SF’s Most Powerful Party Names Its Mayoral Picks
The San Francisco Democratic Central Campaign Committee, the organization in charge of the city’s Democratic Party, issued its endorsements on Wednesday and the results are…

Romney Could Benefit From New Alignment In 2012 GOP Field
Itâ??s now three on a match atop the 2012 Republican presidential race, an inherently unstable dynamic that could singe each of the partyâ??s leading contenders….

Bob Cesca: Rick Perry Is a Socialist in a Secessionist Costume
Despite his many remarks against the federal government, Rick Perry is in fact responsible for Texas being the second biggest state recipient of stimulus dollars — ostensibly “redistributed” from tax payers in other states.

Mom Vows To Fight Kidnapping Charges Against Her
WEST COVINA, Calif. — A mother accused of taking the grandchildren of U.S. Rep. Gary Miller and fleeing to Mexico vowed to fight the case…


Fox News Creates A “Stimulus Failure” Out Of Thin Air

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:42 am by HL

Fox News Creates A “Stimulus Failure” Out Of Thin Air

Fox News repeatedly claimed that Massachusetts-based Evergreen Solar, which recently filed for bankruptcy and moved production to China, received federal stimulus funds. In fact, the company did not, and analysts say the solar industry in China has boomed largely because of massive government subsidies and a more comprehensive and stable policy framework.

Fox News Falsely Reports That Evergreen Received Federal Stimulus Dollars

Fox News Falsely Reported Evergreen Received “$43 Million In Federal Money.” From a report on Evergreen Solar on the August 16 edition of Fox News’ America Live:

ELIZABETH MACDONALD: This calls into question the White House’s $90 billion stimulus plan to create more clean energy in the United States. And as you noted, Evergreen basically was a company that is in Massachusetts — laid off 800 workers, took at least $43 million in federal money to help create their solar panels. [Fox News, America Live, 8/16/11]

Fox Falsely Claimed Federal Stimulus Funds “Went To This Company A Few Years Ago.” From the August 16 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends:

GRETCHEN CARLSON: Evergreen. Ok. Here’s what might make you more angry about this whole thing is that stimulus money backed this company in Massachusetts originally and now, 800 people are going to lose their jobs and that company is hightailing it over to China.

CLAYTON MORRIS: Yeah, 800 workers will be laid off as a result of it and because this partnership, this joint venture now between this company and with China, they say they can make these solar panels over there for more affordable, they don’t have to worry about the regulation. The state of Massachusetts received about $43 million in stimulus money. Some of that money went to this company a few years ago and look, that’s the bottom line here. We’ve seen a number of these stories and the number of companies who have received stimulus money in this economy and it still wasn’t enough to stave off unemployment.

Fox also aired the following on-screen graphic:

[Fox News, Fox & Friends, 8/16/11]

Fox Falsely Claimed Evergreen Received “$5 Million From Obama Stimulus Dollars.” From the August 16 edition of Fox News’ The Five:

ANDREA TANTAROS: Another hit for President Obama’s economic policy as one more company that accepted millions of taxpayer dollars during the stimulus goes down with absolutely nothing to show for their bailout.

All right, so Greg, Evergreen Solar in Massachusetts took $50 million in subsidiaries and tax breaks from the state of Massachusetts and got at least $5 million from Obama stimulus dollars. Now they’re belly up. They had to, I mean, cut 800 jobs. Isn’t this just throwing good money after bad? [Fox News, The Five, Deval L. Patrick, a Democrat who pushed for the solar panel factory to be located in Massachusetts, said the federal government had not helped the American industry enough or done enough to challenge Chinese government subsidies for its industry. Evergreen has received no federal money.

“The federal government has brought a knife to a gun fight,” Mr. Bowles said. “Its support is completely out of proportion to the support displayed by China — and even to that in Europe.”

[…]

Evergreen did not try to go through the long, costly process of obtaining a federal loan because of what it described last summer as signals from the department that its technology was too far along and not in need of research and development assistance. The Energy Department has a policy of not commenting on companies that do not apply. [New York Times, 1/14/11]

Evergreen Received No Recovery Act Funds. A search of recipients of stimulus funds from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provides no results for Evergreen Solar. [Recovery.gov, accessed 8/17/11

China Heavily Subsidizes Its Solar Manufacturers

Evergreen Cited Government Support Of Solar In China In Bankruptcy Filing. The Wall Street Journal reported:

In its Chapter 11 filing, Evergreen cited the difficulty in competing against Chinese solar companies that “receive considerable government and financial support.”

It also blamed reductions in European subsidies for solar installations and what it called the U.S.’s failure to adopt supportive policies.

But while low-cost Chinese competition may have accelerated the collapse of the company’s balance sheet, Evergreen also bet on the wrong technology.

Evergreen developed a technology that uses less polysilicon –a material housing small silicon crystals–than its competitors. When the cost of this raw material reached $400 per kilogram in 2008, Evergreen’s solar panels were competitive. Evergreen’s share price closed at a split-adjusted $108 in January 2008, its highest level in more than seven years. [Wall Street Journal, 8/17/11]

NY Times: China Provides “Heavily Subsidized Land And Loans” For Solar Companies. From a September 2010 New York Times article:

[M]uch of China’s clean energy success lies in aggressive government policies that help this crucial export industry in ways most other governments do not. These measures risk breaking international rules to which China and almost all other nations subscribe, according to some trade experts interviewed by The New York Times.

A visit to one of Changsha’s newest success stories offers an example of the government’s methods. Hunan Sunzone Optoelectronics, a two-year-old company, makes solar panels and ships close to 95 percent of them to Europe. Now it is opening sales offices in New York, Chicago and Los Angeles in preparation for a push into the American market next February.

To help Sunzone, the municipal government transferred to the company 22 acres of valuable urban land close to downtown at a bargain-basement price. That reduced the company’s costs and greatly increased its worth and attractiveness to investors.

Meanwhile, a state bank is preparing to lend to the company at a low interest rate, and the provincial government is sweetening the deal by reimbursing the company for most of the interest payments, to help Sunzone double its production capacity.

Heavily subsidized land and loans for an exporter like Sunzone are the rule, not the exception, for clean energy businesses in Changsha and across China, Chinese executives said in interviews over the last three months.

[…]

Chinese wind and solar power manufacturers further benefit from the government’s imposition of sharp reductions this summer in exports of raw materials, known as rare earths, that are crucial for solar panels and wind turbines. China mines almost all of the world’s rare earths. W.T.O. rules ban most export restrictions.

Of course, China’s success in clean energy also stems from assets enjoyed by many of the nation’s industries: low labor costs, expanding universities that groom lots of engineering talent, inexpensive construction and ever-improving transportation and telecommunications networks.

For example, engineers with freshly issued bachelor’s degrees can be found here in Hunan Province for a salary of only about $2,640 a year — not significantly more than blue-collar workers with vocational school degrees can make. But the fuel propelling clean energy companies in China lies in advantages provided by the government, executives say.

Other countries also try to help their clean energy industries, too, but not to the extent that China does — and not, so far at least, to the point of potentially running afoul of W.T.O. rules. [New York Times, 9/8/10]

Trade Expert: China Uses “Every Measure You Could Possibly Think Of To Promote Renewables.” From a March 2010 Christian Science Monitor article:

The Chinese government is encouraging domestic companies to learn from, copy, and ultimately supplant foreign producers of ‘green tech’ renewable-energy technology as it presses forward with its campaign to shift rapidly to noncarbon sources of energy, says a new report commissioned by the Washington-based National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC).

The report finds, too, that China is ordering its large state-owned enterprises to favor Chinese manufacturers in their purchases of energy-related equipment – a policy that if substantiated would violate commitments China made when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

[…]

“All countries want to produce green jobs, the US included,” says Alan Wolff, a lead author of the report and a former US trade official. But “what we found in China is phenomenal [government] involvement in solar and wind in particular. They have used every measure you could possibly think of,” he adds, “to promote renewables.” [Christian Science Monitor, 3/15/10]

Report: U.S. Policies Are Not Encouraging Clean Energy Investment. From a recent report by Deutsche Bank Climate Change Advisors:

Countries with more ‘TLC’ – transparency, longevity and certainty – in their climate policy frameworks will attract more investment and will build new, clean industries, technologies and jobs faster than their policy lagging counterparts. This is particularly evident in countries such as Germany and China, who have emerged as global leaders in low carbon technologies and investment in recent years.  In stark contrast, a politically divided US Congress and vast budget deficit has resulted in very little significant regulation at the Federal level, with substantial implications for emerging clean technology industries in the US.  This climate policy inertia has existed for some time in the US now, with activity on this front largely taking place at the state level. We have long argued that the states must continue to press ahead with climate legislation, but a negative effect of this trend is a patchwork of inconsistent state policies.  The net effect is that while Congress stumbles, the US stands to fall behind. [Deutsche Bank, 7/25/11]

China Has Attracted Far More Clean Energy Investment Than The U.S. From a Brookings Institution report:

China now leads the world in clean economy deployment. By the end of 2010 its 103 gigawatts of installed renewable energy generation capacity was more than double that of U.S. installations.

What explains China’s success in rapid clean economy build out?

A huge part of the answer has to do with China’s ability to channel vast sums of affordable capital into innovative large-scale deployment projects–something that the U.S. continues to struggle with. The numbers speak for themselves. In 2010, China put into place a staggering $54.4 billion in clean energy investments. Of this, asset financing–funding for hard assets like wind farms and solar arrays–accounted for more than $47 billion of the total. By contrast, U.S. private investment in clean energy totaled $34 billion, with just $21 billion or so in asset finance. Now the gap is widening further, with Chinese asset finance investment in Q1 2011 clocking in $10.9 billion as compared to just $2 billion in the United States.

What is China’s secret in ensuring deployment finance? China has been inordinately successful in mobilizing large volumes of low-cost capital through its state-owned banks and other financial institutions. Clean energy projects have received preferential access to bank loans at interest rates far below what is available in other countries. Moreover, state-owned enterprises, especially the “Big Five” power companies, have been major investors across a broad range of energy conservation, pollution control, and renewable energy projects. For instance, China Guodian Corporation–one of the Big Five–recently announced a plan to invest $3 billion over the next five years in a variety of clean energy projects, including thermal, wind, natural gas, and biomass power stations in southwest China.

But that is only part of the story. Critical to China’s success is its articulation of a comprehensive and long-term state clean energy build out policy that sends clear signals to investors. Through its 12th Five Year Plan, China has identified “new energy” as one among seven “strategic emerging industries” and will invest $760 billion over the next 10 years in this sector alone. A range of complementary policies will guide these investment decisions, including the Renewable Energy Law, national demand-side management regulations, and pilot carbon taxes, among others. China has swiftly made itself a clean energy power, in large part by ensuring the availability of copious, affordable capital at a time it has been short in the United States.

The report also included the following chart:

[The Brookings Institution, 2011]

Fox Concludes Solar Energy “Doesn’t Work” And Green Tech Incentives Are A Waste

Fox News: Solar “Doesn’t Work.” From Fox News’ The Five:

GREG GUTFELD: Here’s the thing, every sensible person knows that solar is about as effective as energy as I am at reaching things from a high shelf. It doesn’t work. We have known that, and it’s this complete fantasy to think at some point we’ll harness the power of the sun and all of our problems will go away. It’s not going to happen.

[…]

ERIC BOLLING, FOX NEWS HOST: Jeffrey Immelt, remember when they sold this stuff to us and said you have to invest in your green technology otherwise the Chinese are going to eat our lunch. So we do. Look what happens. The Chinese eat our lunch anyway. You’re right, Andrea, it’s a $50 million waste of money, taxpayer money down the tubes, another $5 million. [Fox News, The Five, 8/16/11]

Solar Industry Is Fastest-Growing Energy Sector In U.S. From USA Today:

The U.S. solar power market grew a record 67% last year, making it the fastest-growing energy sector, the industry reports Thursday.

Its market share jumped from $3.6 billion in 2009 to $6 billion in 2010, helped by federal tax credits and declining technology costs, according to a report by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research.

Enough solar power was installed last year to power about 200,000 homes, the report says, noting that more than 65,000 homes and businesses added solar water or pool heating systems. In particular, the photovoltaics or solar panel part of the market soared most, more than doubling from 2009.

[…]

The solar market diversified last year as 16 states installed more than 10 megawatts of photovoltaics (PV) each last year, up from four states that did so in 2007. The top 10 states for PV installation in 2010 were: California; New Jersey; Nevada; Arizona; Colorado; Pennsylvania; New Mexico; Florida; North Carolina; Texas.

The report says the annual cost of these PV systems fell 8% in the residential market and 11% in the commercial one. [USA Today, 3/10/11]


Pamela Geller: Rick Perry Needs To Address His Ties To Stealth Jihadists

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:40 am by HL

Pamela Geller: Rick Perry Needs To Address His Ties To Stealth Jihadists
Anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller has accused TX Gov. Rick Perry of being the pro-Sharia “Fifth Column” presidential candidate — but still says she’d support him if she had to “with every breath of my body.”…

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Florida Secretary Of State Pens Incomplete Defense Of Controversial Voting Law
Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning has an interesting definition of the word “all.”


The 50 Richest Members of Congress

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:38 am by HL

The 50 Richest Members of Congress
Topping the latest Roll Call list: Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX) at $294 million, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) at $220 million and Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) at $193. million.

A Strange Election Shaping Up
Charlie Cook: “The 2012 presidential election is shaping up to be one of oddest in memory and potentially far more dramatic than one might guess… On one hand, we have an incumbent president with dismally low job-approval ratings; his signature legislative accomplishment of health care reform remains very unpopular, and he is presiding over an enormously weak and worsening economy. This is a combination sufficiently bad to prevent any president’s reelection.”

“On the other hand, we have an opposing party whose center of gravity and energy levels have swung so far to one side of the ideological spectrum as to have been designed to alienate the independent and swing voters, the people who will effectively decide this presidential election. To put it more simply, this election is the Republican Party’s to lose, and yet, they may pull it off, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Perry’s Gifts
Politico digs through Rick Perry’s financial disclosures and finds he’s received “over 90 personal gifts — many of them from top donors and political appointees — during his 11 years as Texas governor.”

Among the gifts: “Cowboy boots — 22 pairs. Stetson hats. Belt buckles. Cuff links. A TV. Medical tests for him and his wife. Nine hunting trips. Dozens of tickets to sports games and concerts.”

Texas ethics rules allow officeholders to accept gifts, provided they disclose them.


Michele Bachmann vs. Rick Perry: Who’s the Bigger Right-Wing Extremist?

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:37 am by HL

Michele Bachmann vs. Rick Perry: Who’s the Bigger Right-Wing Extremist?
Who really deserves a reputation as too much of a right-wing extremist for the Beltway media to take seriously?


Bachmann & The Golden Bough

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:36 am by HL

Bachmann & The Golden Bough
If there’s one book that’s familiar to every Liberal Arts major it’s probably James Frazer’s mighty tome on comparative religion, 1890’s “The Golden Bough.” For generations many undergraduates have probably used this classic work the way I did: as a…

Microeconomics, Macroeconomics, Home Economics Not the Same, No?
These are all different spheres that work differently, right? How long will we keep hearing these analogies about balancing household budgets or belt-tightening? Aside from the fact that it often makes sense for households and businesses to take on debt,…

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Rep. Patrick McHenry Challenged By Town Hall Crowd On Failure To Create Jobs, End The Wars

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:35 am by HL

Rep. Patrick McHenry Challenged By Town Hall Crowd On Failure To Create Jobs, End The Wars
Last night, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) encountered an “agitated” town hall audience in his heavily Republican district. According to reporter Jordan-Ashley Baker, McHenry was confronted by a number of constituents frustrated with the gridlock in Congress and the failure to produce any new jobs: Tempers flared more than once during the question-and-answer session as some […]

Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC)

Last night, Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-NC) encountered an “agitated” town hall audience in his heavily Republican district. According to reporter Jordan-Ashley Baker, McHenry was confronted by a number of constituents frustrated with the gridlock in Congress and the failure to produce any new jobs:

Tempers flared more than once during the question-and-answer session as some town hall attendees questioned McHenry’s responses. Some people placed their heads in their hands while others crossed their arms before them. They demanded different answers and more action from the congressman. Others walked out. […]

“What do you propose to do that you haven’t done in the last couple years to bring back jobs, make the economy better?” Hillman asked the fourth-term U.S. congressman.

Constituent Melba Chandler’s “voice broke” when she approached the congressman about her sons, both active duty military servicemen, and asked only one question of McHenry:

“I would appreciate it if you could work to get our boys home,” she said.

It should be noted that McHenry, an eager cheerleader for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, has not worked on any substantive legislation to end the wars or develop new jobs programs. Rather, as ThinkProgress has reported, he has spent the last few months vacationing with payday lending lobbyists and planting attacks on regulators charged with overseeing loan sharks. Last year, McHenry sponsored legislation to place a picture of Ronald Reagan on the $50 bill.

McHenry, who was flanked by 14 police officers for security purposes, said the turn out at the town halls in Kings Mountain was the highest its been since 2009.


Syria’s Assad must go, Obama says

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on August 19th, 2011 4:34 am by HL

Syria’s Assad must go, Obama says

President Obama and European leaders called Thursday for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to resign, after months of his violent crackdown on protesters. The rhetorical escalation was backed by new U.S. sanctions designed to undermine Assad’s ability to finance his military operation.

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way,” Obama said in a written statement. “For the sake of the Syrian people, the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

Read full article >>

Obama’s economic problem. In a single number.

One in an occasional series of posts looking at the most important number in politics; check out past “MINP’s” here.

New polling from Gallup shows that only one in four Americans approve of the job President Obama is doing with the nation’s economy, a number that marks a lowpoint for the president and makes clear the challenge before him as he turns to his re-election bid in 2012.

Read full article >>

Who had the Worst Week in Washington? Christine O’Donnell.

Christine O’Donnell is really testing the limits of Andy Warhol’s 15-minutes-of-fame maxim.

O’Donnell burst onto the political scene in 2010 when she beat longtime Rep. Mike Castle in a Delaware Senate primary, securing the Republican nomination and ensuring her party’s defeat in November.

Not content to simply step out of the political limelight — she had lost two previous Senate races in the First State — O’Donnell has written a book documenting her experiences on the campaign trail in 2010.

Read full article >>

Obama: Plan for nightcap with press in Iowa foiled by Secret Service

As any teenager might attest, it’s hard to sneak out after bedtime when you don’t have permission. Especially when the Secret Service is your minder.

President Obama found that out the hard way Tuesday evening when he says he attempted to make a surprise visit to the Duck City Bistro in Davenport, Iowa, where a key interest group was having drinks: the White House press corps.

The way Obama tells it, he was planning to slip away and join the reporters for a pint or two but was stymied when his Secret Service detail got wind of the plan. (Perhaps the federal agents were being particularly strict considering one of their own was arrested in Decorah a few days before the president arrived on suspicion of driving under the influence.) Recounting the tale of his misadventure to press pool reporters aboard Air Force One on Wednesday, after he had finished the bus tour, Obama apologized for not being able to hang out after hours.

Read full article >>