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Archive for December 1st, 2011

Blacks Hit Hard by Public Sector Layoffs

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:46 am by HL

Blacks Hit Hard by Public Sector Layoffs
Don Buckley lost his job driving a Chicago city bus almost two years ago and has been looking for work ever since, even as other municipal bus drivers around the country are being laid off. At 34, Buckley, his two daughters and his fiancee have moved into the basement of his mother’s house. He has had to delay his marriage, and his entire savings, $27,000, is gone. “I was the kind of person who put away for a rainy day,” he said. “It’s flooding now.” Buckley is one of tens of thousands of once solidly middle-class African-American government workers who have been laid off since the recession ended in June 2009.



Late Late Night FDL: Santa Was Stoned At Christmas

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:45 am by HL

Late Late Night FDL: Santa Was Stoned At Christmas
Kevin Bloody WilsonSanta Was Stoned At Christmas.

Kevin Bloody WilsonSanta Was Stoned At Christmas.

What’s on your mind?


Senate Votes to Keep Detention Clauses in Military Bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:44 am by HL

Senate Votes to Keep Detention Clauses in Military Bill
Pointing to the threat of terrorist groups like al-Qaida, Sen. Carl Levin and 60 of his colleagues voted Wednesday in favor of keeping provisions in the proposed National Defense Authorization Act that would grant the military the ability to detain terrorist suspects abroad and at home under controversial circumstances. Amy Goodman gave us a heads-up about the vote and its implications on Tuesday’s broadcast, but even warnings from the likes of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and FBI chief Robert Mueller didn’t sway the majority of senators to vote down the measures. So now it’s up to President Obama and his executive veto powers to stop the legislation in its tracks.  —KA The New York Times: The most disputed provision would require the government to place into military custody any suspected member of Al Qaeda or one of its allies connected to a plot against the United States or its allies. The provision would exempt American citizens, but would otherwise extend to arrests on United States soil. The executive branch could issue a waiver and keep such a prisoner in the civilian system. A related provision would create a federal statute saying the government has the legal authority to keep people suspected of terrorism in military custody, indefinitely and without trial. It contains no exception for American citizens. It is intended to bolster the authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which lawmakers enacted a decade ago. The administration has strongly opposed the mandatory military custody provision, saying it “would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.” Read more

Pointing to the threat of terrorist groups like al-Qaida, Sen. Carl Levin and 60 of his colleagues voted Wednesday in favor of keeping provisions in the proposed National Defense Authorization Act that would grant the military the ability to detain terrorist suspects abroad and at home under controversial circumstances. Amy Goodman gave us a heads-up about the vote and its implications on Tuesday’s broadcast, but even warnings from the likes of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and FBI chief Robert Mueller didn’t sway the majority of senators to vote down the measures. So now it’s up to President Obama and his executive veto powers to stop the legislation in its tracks.? —KA

The New York Times:

The most disputed provision would require the government to place into military custody any suspected member of Al Qaeda or one of its allies connected to a plot against the United States or its allies. The provision would exempt American citizens, but would otherwise extend to arrests on United States soil. The executive branch could issue a waiver and keep such a prisoner in the civilian system.

A related provision would create a federal statute saying the government has the legal authority to keep people suspected of terrorism in military custody, indefinitely and without trial. It contains no exception for American citizens. It is intended to bolster the authorization to use military force against the perpetrators of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, which lawmakers enacted a decade ago.

The administration has strongly opposed the mandatory military custody provision, saying it “would raise serious and unsettled legal questions and would be inconsistent with the fundamental American principle that our military does not patrol our streets.”

Read more

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Mark W. Schleisner: The 99 Percent Win One Against Citibank

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:43 am by HL

Mark W. Schleisner: The 99 Percent Win One Against Citibank
The Securities and Exchange Commission and Citibank mistook Federal Judge Jed S. Rakoff for a robo-signer to their toothless fraud settlement deal. Big mistake.

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Britain’s Massive Anti-Austerity Strike: Could It Happen Here?
Millions of employees mounted Great Britain’s first General Strike in many years today after the government threatened to impose more cuts in retirement benefits and…

Robert Guest: How Migration Makes the World Brainier
The most important reason for welcoming newcomers is that they bring bright new ideas. No rich country is going to allow unlimited immigration from poor ones any time soon. But if we shut all the doors and windows, it’s going to be awfully dark in here.

Thomas DeLorenzo: This World AIDS Day, Can We Think of Americans First?
Secretary Clinton, I beseech you: with your power and your passion, you can help achieve an AIDS-free generation in our own country. Why can’t we transfer some of the PEPFAR funds to ADAP and eliminate the waiting lists for our very own?

Brandon Melchior: More Than Just Friends
Luke and I had been best friends for a couple of years when we faced a decision that many gay friends confront: whether to take our relationship to a romantic level. We soon learned that as a binational couple, we would face even greater challenges.


The WSJ Rushes To The Defense Of Wall Street … Again

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:42 am by HL

The WSJ Rushes To The Defense Of Wall Street … Again

In a November 30 editorial, The Wall Street Journal suggested that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is “grandstanding” and attempting “to extort … deep-pocketed target[s]” by filing lawsuits against financial institutions for allegedly dubious transactions prior to the financial crisis in 2008. This is yet another example of the Journal leaping to the defense of financial institutions by attacking government attempts to regulate the industry.

WSJ Suggests SEC’s Cases Involving Potential Fraud By Financial Institutions Are Examples Of “Grandstanding”

WSJ: Fraud Suits Brought By The SEC Against Wall Street Firms Are “Grandstanding Cases.” In a November 30 editorial, The Wall Street Journal claimed that the SEC’s recent suit and potential settlement with Citigroup was an example of the SEC’s “grandstanding cases against the corporate villain of the moment … Wall Street.” From the editorial:

More broadly, we might learn whether these cases have legal merit or are merely easy attempts to extort a deep-pocketed target. The SEC knows companies want to avoid reputational and legal costs, not to mention the risk of a trial lawyer pile-on. But how many cases would the SEC bring if it knew it had to prevail in court?

A defeat might even cause the SEC to bring fewer of these grandstanding cases against the corporate villain of the moment — for now, it’s Wall Street — and focus more on real financial criminals like Bernie Madoff. [The Wall Street Journal, 11/30/11]

But The WSJ Often Defends Financial Institutions — By Attacking Government

WSJ: The CARD Act and Dodd-Frank Law Are To Blame For New Customer Fees. In an October 7 editorial, The Wall Street Journal claimed that the CARD Act and Dodd-Frank law forced banks to impose new levies and fees on customers to ensure profitability. From the editorial:

The entire American financial system now operates under the rules they wrote in 2009 and 2010 when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress.

The predictable consequences of those rules are starting to appear in the marketplace. The 2009 CARD Act made it more difficult for credit-card issuers to raise rates and charge fees. New Federal Reserve regulations limited overdraft charges. Then came the 2010 Dodd-Frank law, which included a provision authored by Mr. Durbin that cut the “swipe fees” that debit-card issuers can charge merchants like Wal-Mart to process transactions.

Don’t ask what any of this has to do with preventing the next financial crisis. The new rules and laws achieved Washington’s goal of cutting bank revenues, by more than $15 billion per year. But it costs money to provide checking services and electronic payment networks, and the political class is now stunned that banks would seek new ways to profitably serve customers.

Bank of America has announced the famous $5 fee on many debit-card customers. SunTrust and Regions have started charging similar levies, while J.P. Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo are testing fees in particular markets. [The Wall Street Journal, 10/7/11]

For more on Durbin’s amendment to the Dodd-Frank law limiting “swipe fees,” SEE HERE.

WSJ Blamed Bank Of America Layoffs On “The Last Two Years Of Washington’s Financial Rule-Writing.” In a September 13 editorial, The Wall Street Journal claimed that recent layoffs by Bank of America were “part of the bill for the last two years of Washington’s financial rule-writing,” including the Dodd-Frank law and the CARD Act. From the editorial:

What is the cost of overregulation? Bank of America appears to have provided part of the answer by announcing yesterday that the nation’s largest bank will cut 30,000 jobs between now and 2014. CEO Brian Moynihan said the bank’s plan is to slash $5 billion in annual expenses from its consumer businesses.

Mr. Moynihan didn’t say this, but we will: These layoffs are part of the bill for the last two years of Washington’s financial rule-writing. After loose monetary policy had combined with insane housing policy to create a financial crisis, the Democrats who ran Washington in 2009 and 2010 enacted myriad new rules that had nothing to do with easy money or housing.

Take the amendment that Illinois Democrat and Senator Dick Durbin (with the help of 17 Senate Republicans) attached to last year’s Dodd-Frank financial law. Mr. Durbin’s amendment instructed the Federal Reserve to limit the amount of “swipe fees” that banks can charge merchants when customers use debit cards.

How exactly does forcing banks to charge Wal-Mart less money for operating an electronic payment system prevent the next financial crisis? Readers may wait a long time for a satisfactory answer, but the cost of this Dodd-Frank directive is straightforward.

[…]

The new rules take effect on October 1, so BofA seems to have sensible timing as it begins to shed workers from a consumer business that has become suddenly less profitable by federal edict.

Make that the latest federal edict. In 2009, when a comprehensive overhaul of financial regulation was still a gleam in Barney Frank’s eye, President Obama signed the CARD Act into law. It limited the ability of banks to increase rates on delinquent borrowers and to charge fees on unprofitable customers. As Washington encouraged card issuers to be more selective in advancing credit and to demand higher rates when they do, interest rates on card customers predictably increased relative to other types of lending in the months after the law took effect. [The Wall Street Journal, 9/13/11, emphasis original]

WSJ: Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Nominee “Show[ed] Hostility Toward Business” By Suing Financial Institutions For Allegedly Dubious Practices. In a July 20 editorial, The Wall Street Journal claimed that Richard Cordray, former Ohio Attorney General and current nominee to head the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, “showed his hostility toward business” in part by “su[ing] Ally Financial’s GMAC Mortgage over its foreclosure practices.” The lawsuit, according to the Journal, helped spawn “an effort to force big banks to cough up billions for Democrats to redistribute.” From the editorial:

In the small favors department, President Obama did not nominate banking scourge Elizabeth Warren to run the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Instead on Monday he nominated one of her protégés, former Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray, whose career sounds like Mrs. Warren without the charm.

Mr. Cordray, the bureau’s current head of enforcement, is a political enforcer in the Eliot Spitzer mold, which is not what the country needs in an ostensibly dispassionate federal regulator. He showed his hostility toward business after becoming AG in 2009 after his predecessor resigned in disgrace, launching an avalanche of litigation.

He sued Ally Financial’s GMAC Mortgage over its foreclosure practices — a lawsuit that helped spawn the national robo-signing uproar, which has mushroomed into an effort to force big banks to cough up billions for Democrats to redistribute. He sued rating agencies for grading mortgage-backed securities as safe investments. He sued Bank of America for purportedly hiding losses and bonuses prior to the Merrill Lynch merger. The list of cases is long. [The Wall Street Journal, 7/20/11, via Media Matters]

For more on Cordray’s lawsuit against Ally Financial’s GMAC Mortgage, SEE HERE.


Rep. Schakowsky: Erik Prince Of Blackwater Tried To Intimidate Me

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:41 am by HL

Rep. Schakowsky: Erik Prince Of Blackwater Tried To Intimidate Me
Jan Schakowsky says that former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince has “attempted intimidation” of her in response to Schakowsky’s campaign to reduce U.S. reliance on private military contractors in Iraq and Afghanistan….


TN Tea Party Prez Sort Of Apologizes For Tweet Calling Barney Frank ‘Perverted Sodomite’
The president of the Tennessee Tea Party apologized for a tweet someone in his group sent out calling Barney Frank a “perverted sodomite,” though she added a caveat: “While privately and inwardly I may agree with the commentary, it is…


Cap’n 1 Percent in ‘Trickle Down Tricks’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:38 am by HL

Cap’n 1 Percent in ‘Trickle Down Tricks’


Romney Running Ads in Iowa

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:37 am by HL

Romney Running Ads in Iowa
Mitt Romney ends any speculation he isn’t running to win the Iowa caucuses by launching his first ad in the Hawkeye state.

The AP notes the ad “underscores Romney’s late fall ramp-up in Iowa, which he has visited more frequently in recent weeks after traveling to the state only twice in the first eight months of the year. He kept a lower profile this year in Iowa than four years ago, in part to control expectations.”

Mark Halperin: “Now that Romney is buying Iowa TV time, the expectations game is close to over. He can survive an Iowa loss, for sure. And he can still win Iowa, and almost certainly effectively end the nomination battle. But there is no hiding from the outcome any more. December’s two big debates are in the Hawkeye State, and the stakes on them have now been raised.”

Cain Still Hasn’t Sat Down with His Wife
Herman Cain admitted that he still hasn’t had the chance to sit down with his wife Gloria to “walk through” the latest allegations from a woman saying she had a 13-year affair with him, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Cain: “I will do that when I get back home on Friday.”

Huckabee Won’t Endorse Before Iowa
Mike Huckabee told Yahoo News he isn’t interested in trying to play kingmaker in the Republican presidential primaries.

Said Huckabee: “I really doubt I will endorse anyone in the primary process. I’m still holding the right to do that, but I don’t see at this point a reason it makes a whole lot of sense for me.”

He also admitted some moments of regret for not running himself, saying, “I could well be on my way to the nomination.”


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:36 am by HL

Presented By:

Neocons: Lying Us Into Another War
Christmas did not arrive early for the “Bomb Iran” crowd. Over the past several weeks, neoconservative hawks were gleefully predicting that the International Atomic Energy Agency’s new report on Iran’s nuclear program would provide the spark needed to ignite and…

Republican Foreign Policy Debate, Ugh
If nothing else, devoting an entire GOP campaign forum to national security and foreign policy — the CBS News / National Journal organizers called it the “Commander in Chief Debate” — helps accentuate the preparation and seriousness the candidates have…



Arctic Sea Ice Hockey Stick: Melt Unprecedented in Last 1,450 Years

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 1st, 2011 5:35 am by HL

Arctic Sea Ice Hockey Stick: Melt Unprecedented in Last 1,450 Years
JR: The Arctic sea ice Hockey Stick is more of a cliff….. by Rob Painting, in a Skeptical Science cross-post Many climate change “skeptics” obsess over the ‘hockey stick‘, and their discussion inevitably leads back to 1998, when climate scientist Michael Mann first published his paper indicating that current global warming was anomalous in the […]

JR: The Arctic sea ice Hockey Stick is more of a cliff…..

by Rob Painting, in a Skeptical Science cross-post

Many climate change “skeptics” obsess over the ‘hockey stick‘, and their discussion inevitably leads back to 1998, when climate scientist Michael Mann first published his paper indicating that current global warming was anomalous in the last 1000 years or so. In plain language, Mann’s work suggested that current warming was likely due to mankind’s carbon dioxide pollution, not any as-yet-unidentified, or yet-to-be-discovered or observed natural phenomenon.

Despite the “skeptics” cherry-picked focus on a  peer-reviewed paper more than a decade old, the science has moved on considerably since then. Paper after paper has basically affirmed that current warming is outside the bounds of natural variation, and therefore likely due to human activities. For example we have seen a sea level hockey stick, an underwater hockey stick, a South American hockey stick, an Arctic summer temperature hockey stick, a tropical glacier hockey stick, a North American mountain snowpack hockey stick, a glacier length hockey stick, and warming of Atlantic water into the Arctic hockey stick.

Into this league of hockey sticks, we have a just published scientific paper, (Kinnard [2011]), which shows that the Arctic sea ice retreat is also a hockey stick, and that the present rate of melt in the Arctic summer is unprecedented in the last 1,450 years. See figure 1. (Note that the hockey stick blade is facing down in this reconstruction).

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Building a hockey stick

Because Arctic sea ice is influenced by both air and water temperatures, the study authors use a combination of Arctic ice core, tree-ring and lake sediments to reconstruct Arctic conditions over the last 2,000 years. As is often the case with these proxy reconstructions, the authors found the error bars in the reconstruction (the uncertainty) increased further back in time, due to a decreasing number of proxy records, and was not useful past 1,450 years ago.

When compared (validated) against historical sea ice observations it was found that the reconstruction not only had a dominant temperature-related signal, but that the proxy-based reconstruction also had a second signal which corresponded with variations in sea ice cover (extent), therefore confirming the 2nd network signal was a proxy for Arctic sea ice cover (as shown in figure 1).

Clearly there are periods in the reconstruction where rapid rates of ice loss occurred, but what stands out is that the length and rate of present day melt is unprecedented in the entire 1,450 year-long reconstruction. This is consistent with the Arctic summer temperature hockey stick (Kaufman [2009]) and warming of Atlantic water into the Arctic hockey stick (Spielhagen [2011]).

Arctic summer sea ice: going, going…………

2011 saw the 2nd lowest summer sea ice extent on record (after 2007), and even more dramatically,  this year saw the lowest ever recorded volume of Arctic summer sea ice.

This latest ‘hockey stick’ not only reinforces that current conditions in the Arctic are much warmer than the so-called Medieval Warm Period, but that sea ice is currently disappearing at a sustained speed that is unmatched in the last 1,450 years.

Rob Painting, Skeptical Science.

Related Post:

When It Comes To Female Superheroes, Logic Is Beside The Point
Once again, someone has realized that putting male superheroes in the same positions as women reveals how ridiculous and sexually reductive those poses are in the first place. We’ve been here before, and recently. And we’ve seen it in the superhero-themed Victoria’s Secret fashion show, which had a number of outfits that were actually less […]

Once again, someone has realized that putting male superheroes in the same positions as women reveals how ridiculous and sexually reductive those poses are in the first place. We’ve been here before, and recently. And we’ve seen it in the superhero-themed Victoria’s Secret fashion show, which had a number of outfits that were actually less revealing and more practical than the outfits comics artists give female heroes who have to do things other than walk down runways in them. But sometimes I wonder if practicality, dignity, and logic are beside the point here. It’s hard to think of another art form that’s so impervious to the idea that women exist for something other than male enjoyment.