LONDON, England (CNN) — The first comprehensive report into the human cost of climate change warns the world is in the throes of a "silent crisis" that is killing 300,000 people each year.
More than 300 million people are already seriously affected by the gradual warming of the earth and that number is set to double by 2030, the report from the Global Humanitarian Forum warns.
"For the first time we are trying to get the world's attention to the fact that climate change is not something waiting to happen. It is impacting seriously the lives of many people around the world," the forum's president, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, told CNN.
Annan admitted that the report had an ulterior motive. He told CNN: "The U.S. administration has joined the mainstream about fighting climate change and that is a big step, and I hope that will also put a new momentum into the negotiations." Incredibly, it took a piece in the New York Times to offer some balance to the reporting.
Roger A. Pielke Jr., a political scientist at the University of Colorado, Boulder, who studies disaster trends, said the forum’s report was “a methodological embarrassment” because there was no way to distinguish deaths or economic losses related to human-driven global warming amid the much larger losses resulting from the growth in populations and economic development in vulnerable regions. Dr. Pielke said that “climate change is an important problem requiring our utmost attention.” But the report, he said, “will harm the cause for action on both climate change and disasters because it is so deeply flawed.”
Even those involved with the report admitted its flaws and the ulterior motives of the climate-change nutroots.
However, Soren Peter Andreasen, a social scientist at Dalberg Global Development Partners who supervised the writing of the report, defended it, saying that it was clear that the numbers were rough estimates. The report appeared aimed at world leaders, who will meet in Copenhagen in December to negotiate a new international climate treaty.
Jeffrey D. Sachs, an economist, was one of 12 experts who vetted the report for the forum. He acknowledged that some of the report’s conclusions were oversimplified. Still, he said, he endorsed the report’s message.
UPDATE: Whats Up With That finds the Kofi Annan quotation not published in the news media:
Mr Annan said the report could never be as rigorous as a scientific study, but said: “We feel it is the most plausible account of the current impact of climate change today.”
On June 1, 2009 General Motors will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection from its creditors . . . including the US government and its taxpayers. With $20 billion in TARP funds already sunk into the automaker, the Sotera administration will pledge an additional $50 billion in debtor-in-possession financing and assumption of product guarantees and employee legacy costs. Larry Kudlow sums up the situation nicely:
Get ready folks: America is about to own a car company. As of Monday, we the taxpayers will own more than 70 percent of GM. Whether the company will be formally renamed Government Motors remains to be seen. But that’s what it will be.
Instead of putting the failed car enterprise into bankruptcy six months ago -- where Carl Icahn or Wilbur Ross could have bought it -- the Bush administration chose Bailout Nation. Under Team Obama, that bailout has morphed into full-scale government ownership. Twenty-billion dollars of TARP money is already invested in GM, with another $50 billion on the way. And that number could easily double unless GM car sales miraculously climb back to 14 million this year. That’s highly unlikely, with car sales presently hovering around 9 million a year.
In other words, taxpayers are not going to get their money back. Yes, we the people will be left holding the bag for the mistakes of GM’s management and labor leaders over the last four decades.
And with CAFE mileage-standards ratcheting up -- all while GM is going down -- Team Obama’s green vision for the economy will soon be crystal clear. With President Obama in the driver’s seat, we’re going to get little green two-door cars that most folks won’t want to buy.
Big government socialists will never understand capitalism and the imperial presidency and its willing congressional and media allies continue to take us down the path of economic destruction. From a book entitled Failure and Progress comes this memorable quote:
Economic failure is to the economy what physical pain is to the body. No one enjoys pain, but without it the body would lack the information needed to maintain its health. Government subsidies to prevent business failure simply keep pouring money into businesses that are relatively unsuccessful at satisfying consumer desires. They are, among other things, censorship of vitally needed information. Employees, entrepreneurs, and investors need to know where their money and talent are most valuable. Profits and losses are key indicators of that.
Speaking of profits, the South Park guys have discovered GM's business plan:
H/T: The Foundary
Earlier I did a piece on Justice Souter recalling his misdeeds in Kelo v. City of New London. Now it seems that BarryO's choice for the next Supreme has already far outstripped Souter's wrecking of Constitutional law related to eminent domain.
Coyote Blog has the whole story of Judge Sotomayor's abuse of property rights. Read his entire post but note Warren Meyer's UPDATE opinion:
I guess given his actions in Chrysler, Obama was happy to nominate a Supreme Court justice who gives a legal pass to outright blackmail.
by gadfly1 Comment »
I have earlier blogged about the heavy-handed, absolutely illegal political maneuvering at work inside the Obama administration to circumvent the bankruptcy court in the case of Chrysler here and here. Now comes arguments from lawyers representing dismissed Chrysler dealers that the shedding of 789 of the company's dealerships was not Chrysler's idea:
Lawyer Leonard Bellavia, of Bellavia Gentile & Associates, who represents some of the terminated dealers, said he deposed Chrysler President Jim Press on Tuesday and came away with the impression that Press did not support the plan.
"It became clear to us that Chrysler does not see the wisdom of terminating 25 percent of its dealers," Bellavia said. "It really wasn't Chrysler's decision. They are under enormous pressure from the President's automotive task force."
Chrysler, of course, denied the charge:
A spokeswoman for Chrysler said the decision to cut a quarter of the dealers was "not coming from the task force."
"Our position is that the market can't support the number of dealers that are out there," said spokeswoman Carrie McElwee. "This has been our plan for more than 10 years to combine Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep under one roof."
The decision about cutting dealers took into consideration factors like location, customer satisfaction, and sales potential, she said. Nearly half of the terminated dealers also carry non-Chrysler brands, and most rely on used vehicles for the bulk of their sales.
Well . . . not so fast, now, Miss Carrie. Evidence now being assembled on the blogesphere is providing substantial evidence that the Chrysler dealers cut generally supported GOP candidates. Doug Ross over at Directorblue blew the lid off Chrysler's official position on the bases for choosing the dealerships to close.
Jeffrey Goldberg, now an American journalist, lived in Israeli kibbutz and worked as a guard in an Israeli prison overseeing Palestinian inmates. As a result he wrote a book entitled “Prisoners: A Tale of Friendship and Terror.” In the book, he wrote about being asked about why he was in Israel:
I could have said: I’m here because I believe with perfect faith in the catechisms of solutionism, the American national religion, which holds that for every intractable problem there is a logical and available answer. I could have said: I am here in search of the secret afflictions of the Palestinian heart. I am here exploring the contradictions of Jewish power. I am here seeking the elimination of ambiguity. I’m looking for the bridge that will carry me across the black hole of cognition that separates Arab and Jew. I’m here to quiet the conflict in my heart. I’m here because I’m alive to hope. I’m here in search of the key to all mythologies. I’m here because I’m a fucking idiot.
Today, Rick Richmond critiques Goldberg's review of Benny Morris' book: “One State, Two States: Resolving the Israel/Palestine Conflict”.
Jeffrey Goldberg has written amusingly about his susceptibility to “solutionism” - the “American national religion, which holds that for every intractable problem there is a logical and available answer.” The related faith-based belief system known as two-state solutionism (the conviction that a Palestinian state would live side by side with Israel in peace and security, because — well it just will) increasingly depends on “explainawayism” - which holds that for every Palestinian rejection of a second state there is a logical and available reason why it was Israel’s fault.
"Explainawayism" is another way of saying "solutioneering", which is defined as putting forth the solution without first having flushed out the problem. According to Richmond, Goldberg's hangup is with Israeli intractability in resolving incidents of armed conflicts without providing PA leaders the opportunity to demonstrate that Israel had conceded key points to the Arab side. The real sticking point is in PA failure to honor the words of its leaders. For example, Haaretz reported that:
Abbas, in honor of the completion of the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip . . . declared, “From this day forth, there will be no more security turmoil and weapons chaos and abductions, which are not characteristic of our culture.” . . . .
Palestinian Minister Mohammed Dahlan, who was in charge of coordinating the withdrawal, said the Palestinians were ready to deal with any scenario . . . .
What followed these words was more Palestinian violence and the election of Hamas terrorists as the legitimate government of Palestine.
The future of "two state solutionism" is indeed bleak as Benny Morris describes:
This is not to overlook the great dysfunction among the Palestinians, whose national liberation movement remains, 89 years since the third Palestine Arab Congress, bloody-minded and incompetent. Gaza, after all, is currently ruled by a cult that sanctifies murder-suicide. But there are many Palestinians on the West Bank, and even in Gaza, who reject the Hamas way and seek dignity and quiet within the framework of an independent state that coexists with Israel.
Not to worry though . . . Obama will find a way!
by gadfly2 Comments »
The circumstance that brought about the of firing of 900 Chrysler and 2,600 GM dealerships either originated from Obama's administration or the option was suggested to the "know-nothing auto task force" by the manufacturers.
Restructuring demands from President Barack Obama's administration include cutting labor costs, reducing debt, shedding dealerships and brands, and closing excess factories.
Never mind that little is being done in the Chrysler bankruptcy model to reduce labor costs, since Obama is protecting the UAW instead of allowing the court to void its' labor contracts.
So tell tell me again why independent dealerships need be forcefully closed by the government.
GM spokeswoman Susan Garontakos said the company can't maintain its current dealer network given poor sales.
"The infrastructure that's now in place is too big," she said.
"If they are not ordering cars, we can't thrive on that. Most dealers are unable today to borrow money to maintain their inventory."
The dealer network is a cost to the manufacturer, she said, in administrative expense, incentives and rewards programs, and technology infrastructure.
"They pay for some of it; not all of it," Ms. Garontakos said.
All of the costs of which Ms. Garontakos speaks are sales related, directly tied to the actual sale of the vehicles. If these costs decline, sales decline. There are few if any fixed costs associated with the sales that have not already been chased out by lessened consumer demand. So if we assume that automaker selling costs are variable except for advertising, there can be no reason to screw with independently owned dealerships. If sales demand remains low for new vehicles, the market will find and take out any weak dealers.
It has been suggested that the whole dealer franchise model needs to be modernized. Changes to state laws that would permit open new car sales seven days a week by any financially stable retailer and at a service dealer location, on the internet or at the mall or almost anywhere would become permissible. Sales by Sam's Club, Costco, CarMax, Amazon, even direct sales and shipments by the automakers, come to mind. Whatever changes might come from such a rearrangement would work its way through the economy naturally. Service work has always been a mixed bag with local garages supplementing expensive dealership garages. This proposal is secondary to the consideration of deliberately putting 3,400 businesses into turmoil, facing closure or bankruptcy.
The irony of the government invasion of private enterprise is highlighted by two additional facts. First of all, no Canadian dealerships of either GM or Chrysler, are being closed and Ford is not actively pursuing large cuts in its dealer net.
The scariest part of this mess is that government should not have involved itself in the auto industry, but now it has and blood has been tasted. Mussolini-style Fascism is upon us.
In a speech today on Guantanamo, our leader said:
My own American journey was paved by generations of citizens who gave meaning to those simple words – “to form a more perfect union.” I have studied the Constitution as a student; I have taught it as a teacher; I have been bound by it as a lawyer and legislator. I took an oath to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution as Commander-in-Chief, and as a citizen, I know that we must never – ever – turn our back on its enduring principles for expedience sake.
As the Wall Street Journal reported, the search is on for Justice Souter's replacement on the Supreme Court.
President Barack Obama began interviewing potential Supreme Court candidates Tuesday, while a senior White House official defended the president's stated preference for a nominee who will give the powerless "a fair shake."
White House adviser David Axelrod said the U.S. Constitution, like any document of its vintage, must be subject to interpretation in a modern context.
"Fidelity to the Constitution is paramount, but as with any document that was written no matter how brilliantly centuries ago, it couldn't possibly have anticipated all the questions that would be asked in the 21st century," Mr. Axelrod said.
First on President Obama's search was an interview with Judge Diane P. Wood of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit in Chicago, believed to be among the top contenders.
SCOTUSBLOG quickly found Judge Wood's view of the constitution, which agrees with Axelrod and is counter to Obama's high-sounding rhetoric.
Articulating her understanding of constitutional interpretation in a lecture entitled, “Our 18th Century Constitution in the 21st Century World,” Seventh Circuit Judge Diane P. Wood laid out her view that judges should not confine their interpretation of the Constitution to the narrowest reading of the text. Rather, the Framers understood that courts would find “unwritten” law that allowed the text to adapt to contemporary needs: “[t]here is no more reason to think that they expected the world to remain static than there is to think that any of us holds a crystal ball. The only way to create a foundational document that could stand the test of time was to build in enough flexibility that later generations would be able to adapt it to their own needs and uses.”
Today Barack Obama announced new CAFE fuel efficiency standards to raise average automaker miles per gallon to 35.5 by 2016.
President Barack Obama is asking consumers to put their money — up to $1,300 per new vehicle by 2016 — behind his plan for higher efficiency standards for cars and trucks and tougher rules on their greenhouse gas emissions. In return, Obama said Tuesday in unveiling the plan, drivers would make up the higher cost of more fuel-efficient, cleaner vehicles by buying less gas at the pump.
It would take just three years to pay off the investment and would, over the life of a vehicle, save about $2,800 through better gas mileage, the president said.
Jeremy Clarkson at TimesOnline provides "timely insight" (pun intended) into the future with "putt-putt" cars, as Rush Limbaugh called them today. Clarkson's review of the Honda Insight requires a full read here.
But before you read the review, savor these highlights:
Much has been written about the Insight, Honda’s new low-priced hybrid. We’ve been told how much carbon dioxide it produces, how its dashboard encourages frugal driving by glowing green when you’re easy on the throttle and how it is the dawn of all things. The beginning of days.
So far, though, you have not been told what it’s like as a car; as a tool for moving you, your friends and your things from place to place.
So here goes. It’s terrible. Biblically terrible. Possibly the worst new car money can buy. It’s the first car I’ve ever considered crashing into a tree, on purpose, so I didn’t have to drive it any more.
Because the Honda has two motors, one that runs on petrol and one that runs on batteries, it is more expensive to make than a car that has one. But since the whole point of this car is that it could be sold for less than Toyota’s Smugmobile, the engineers have plainly peeled the suspension components to the bone. The result is a ride that beggars belief.
There’s more. Normally, Hondas feel as though they have been screwed together by eye surgeons. This one, however, feels as if it’s been made from steel so thin, you could read through it. And the seats, finished in pleblon, are designed specifically, it seems, to ruin your skeleton. This is hairy-shirted eco-ism at its very worst.
California's mobocracy, called "direct democracy" by the state's natives, has finally put the the state over the edge. The reasons for failure of a "democratic" government are simple, yet complex. The Blockbuster Democracy Blog explains:
In the direct democracy world, you can expect to see lots of action in the state. All kinds of groups, from various points on the political spectrum, are readying ballot initiatives that seek to capitalize on the crisis by imposing major changes. Could we see the end of the two-thirds super-majority requirement for the budget and/or taxes? Could we send harsh new restrictions on immigrants? Could we have a constitutional convention?
Direct democracy -- the Switzerland-inspired system of initiatives, referenda and recalls that allows voters to make and repeal laws in 24 states -- is poorly understood. It isn’t even very direct. Direct democracy has become blockbuster democracy: a half-billion-dollar international industry of signature gatherers, consultants, and election lawyers who use ballot measures less as a method of making law and more as a tool of mega-communications to boost some politicians, hurt others, and supplement lobbying campaigns.
Direct democracy in California has become mobocracy . . . rule by mob. As explained in Muck and Mystery, here and here, democracy assumes a single level of government and small units of governed such as villages, but it turns out that democracy is not scalable ... it fails when multiple villages and multiple layers of government appear.
The Economist describes "The Ungovernable State."
On May 19th, Californians will go to the polls to vote on six ballot measures that are as important as they are confusing. If these measures fail, America’s biggest state will enter a full-blown financial crisis that will require excruciating cuts in public services. If the measures succeed, the crisis will be only a little less acute. Recent polls suggest that voters are planning to vote most of them down.
The occasion has thus become an ugly summary of all that is wrong with California’s governance, and that list is long. This special election, the sixth in 36 years, came about because the state’s elected politicians once again—for the system virtually assures as much—could not agree on a budget in time and had to cobble together a compromise in February to fill a $42 billion gap between revenue and spending. But that compromise required extending some temporary taxes, shifting spending around and borrowing against future lottery profits. These are among the steps that voters must now approve, thanks to California’s brand of direct democracy, which is unique in extent, complexity and misuse.
A good outcome is no longer possible. California now has the worst bond rating among the 50 states. Income-tax receipts are coming in far below expectations. On May 11th Arnold Schwarzenegger, the governor, sent a letter to the legislature warning it that, by his latest estimates, the state will face a budget gap of $15.4 billion if the ballot measures pass, $21.3 billion if they fail. Prisoners will have to be released, firefighters fired, and other services cut or eliminated. One way or the other, on May 20th Californians will have to begin discussing how to fix their broken state.
California has a unique combination of features which, individually, are shared by other states but collectively cause dysfunction. These begin with the requirement that any budget pass both houses of the legislature with a two-thirds majority. Two other states, Rhode Island and Arkansas, have such a law. But California, where taxation and budgets are determined separately, also requires two-thirds majorities for any tax increase. Twelve other states demand this. Only California, however, has both requirements.
If its representative democracy functioned well, that might not be so debilitating. But it does not. Only a minority of Californians bother to vote, and those voters tend to be older, whiter and richer than the state’s younger, browner and poorer population, says Steven Hill at the New America Foundation, a think-tank that is analysing the options for reform.
Representative democracy is only one half of California’s peculiar governance system. The other half, direct democracy, fails just as badly. California is one of 24 states that allow referendums, recalls and voter initiatives. But it is the only state that does not allow its legislature to override successful initiatives (called “propositions”) and has no sunset clauses that let them expire. It also uses initiatives far more, and more irresponsibly, than any other state.
Direct democracy in America originated, largely in the Western states, during the Populist and then Progressive eras of the late 19th and early 20th century. It came to California in 1911, when Governor Hiram Johnson introduced it. At first, it made sense. The Southern Pacific Railroad dominated politics, society and the courts in the young frontier state, and direct democracy would be a welcome check and balance. The state in 1910 had only 2.4m residents, and 95% of them were white. (Today it has about 37m residents, and less than half are white.) A small, homogenous and informed electorate was to make sparing and disciplined use of the ballot to keep the legislature honest, rather as in Switzerland.
The Economist continues with in-depth analysis of the events that lead up to the this crisis. The entire long essay is required reading here.
Ironically, Arnold Schwarzenegger was not in the state today for the ballot initiatives election. Instead he traveled to Washington to accept praise for the state's tough CAFE fuel efficiency standards which president Obama announced as the model for his new rules which will now reek havoc on America's auto industry.
Today, in a carefully worded editorial, the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette criticized Indiana governor Mitch Daniels' veto of legislation purportedly designed to make voting more convenient.
Senate Bill 209 passed in the Senate 48-0 and in the House 55-43. It allows the three-member county election boards to create multiple early-voting sites by a 2-1 majority board vote rather than the previous requirement for a unanimous 3-0 vote. Every county must have one early-voting center, but the decision to open additional satellite early-voting centers must be unanimous. That provision was designed to eliminate partisan skirmishes similar to the long legal battle that occurred in Lake County last fall. Democratic members of the Lake County election board opened more early-voting centers to meet demand, but Republican members opposed the move and asked the courts to close the sites.
Daniels’ veto makes it clear he objects to the early-voting bill. A statement released by Daniels said, “While this bill contains provisions that would make the act of voting more convenient, it does not contain sufficient safeguards against fraud and abuse and removes long-standing bipartisan checks and balances in the conduct of elections.”
But the statement doesn’t go far enough in explaining exactly what it would take to win his support. His office said there would be no further comment or explanation, including offering suggestions to legislators about what safeguards the bill needs to make it acceptable to Daniels.
The editorial skates lightly around the details surrounding outright voter fraud in NW Indiana. Snuggled up against Chicago in the far NW corner of the state in Lake County, Obama's hired hands from ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) were busy illegally helping the Democrats register phony voters in the run up to the elections. According to the Wall Street Journal,"Lake County, Indiana, ... has already found more than 2,100 bogus applications among the 5,000 Acorn dumped right before the deadline. 'All the signatures looked exactly the same,' said Ruthann Hoagland, of the county election board." Pajamas Media supplies The Complete Guide to ACORN Voter Fraud here.
The "devil in the details" of this story in Lake County that goes even deeper than ACORN and we thank Advance Indiana and Frugal Hoosiers for the details written last fall:
Lake County Democrats are determined to open up satellite voting centers in Lake County for this year's general election by hook or crook. Indiana law requires a unanimous vote of a county election board in order to open up satellite voting centers where voters can vote prior to election day. Lake County GOP members voted against the plan, however, because Democrats would only agree to open up voting centers in the Democratic cities of Gary, Hammond and East Chicago and no areas of the county where Republicans are more dominant. Lake Co. GOP Chairman John Curley says he had an understanding with Rudy Clay to have voting centers during the primary but not the general election. Curley says Clay changed his mind because the Democratic gubernatorial campaign of Jill Long Thompson had pulled his street money (i.e. unreported expenditures in the form of cash used by political operatives in any way they please to win votes) for the general election. A press release from Curley says:
Rudy Clay, Lake County Democratic Chairman, negotiated a plan with me in the spring of 2008 to open satellite voting locations for the primary. I said I was not in favor of the satellites but would go along with him then but NOT in the fall. He agreed. Chairman Clay approached me again a few weeks ago and I reminded him of our agreement. He said Jill Long has pulled his “street money” and he needs the satellites. I declined.
Notwithstanding Indiana law requiring a unanimous vote, Democrats plan to go ahead and open up the early voting centers illegally according to the Gary Post-Tribune. So what does this have to do with the Obama campaign? Curley claims that Obama's Chicago office approached him recently and offered assistance in garnering votes for Gov. Mitch Daniels if the Republicans would agree to go along with the satellite voting centers. Here's how Curley describes the exchange with the Obama campaign representative:
A representative of Obama’s Chicago organization asked to meet personally with me to discuss satellites. He specifically offered to procure votes for Governor Daniels at those satellites stating that Jill Long can not win and the governor is in “good shape.” He then asked if there was anything he could do to get this accomplished. I told him “No way.” It seems that Chicago politics is now invading NW Indiana.
Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal with the all-telling but totally superfluous sub-headline:
This week Congress is set to release the details of the Waxman-Markey American Clean Energy and Security Act, a bill that purports to combat global warming by setting strict limits on carbon emissions. I'm not a candidate for any office -- now or ever again -- and I've approached the "climate change" debate with an open-mind. But it's clear to me that the nation, and in particular Indiana, my home state, will be terribly dis-served by this cap-and-trade policy on the verge of passage in the House.
The largest scientific and economic questions are being addressed by others, so I will confine myself to reporting about how all this looks from the receiving end of the taxes, restrictions and mandates Congress is now proposing.
Quite simply, it looks like imperialism. This bill would impose enormous taxes and restrictions on free commerce by wealthy but faltering powers -- California, Massachusetts and New York -- seeking to exploit politically weaker colonies in order to prop up their own decaying economies. Because proceeds from their new taxes, levied mostly on us, will be spent on their social programs while negatively impacting our economy, we Hoosiers decline to submit meekly.
The Waxman-Markey legislation would more than double electricity bills in Indiana. Years of reform in taxation, regulation and infrastructure-building would be largely erased at a stroke. In recent years, Indiana has led the nation in capturing international investment, repatriating dollars spent on foreign goods or oil and employing Americans with them. Waxman-Markey seems designed to reverse that flow. "Closed: Gone to China" signs would cover Indiana's stores and factories.
Our state's share of national income has been slipping for decades, but it is offset in part by living costs some 8% lower than the national average. Doubled utility bills for low-income Hoosiers would be an especially cruel consequence of the Waxman bill. Forgive us for not being impressed at danglings of welfare-like repayments to some of those still employed, with some fraction of the dollars extracted from our state.
And for what? No honest estimate pretends to suggest that a U.S. cap-and-trade regime will move the world's thermometer by so much as a tenth of a degree a half century from now. My fellow citizens are being ordered to accept impoverishment for a policy that won't save a single polar bear.
We are told that although China, India and others show no signs of joining in this dismal process, we will eventually induce their participation by "setting an example." Watching the impending indigence of the Midwest, and the flow of jobs from our shores to theirs, our friends in Asia and the Third World are far more likely to choose any other path but ours.
Politicians in Washington speak of a reawakened appreciation for manufacturing and American competitiveness. But under their policy, those who make real products will suffer. Already we observe the piranha swarm of green lobbyists wangling special exemptions, subsidies and side deals. The ordinary Hoosier was not invited to this party, and can expect at most only table scraps at the service entrance.
No one in Indiana is arguing for the status quo: Hoosiers have been eager to pursue a new energy future. We rocketed from nowhere to national leadership in biofuels production in the last four years. We were the No. 1 state in the growth of wind power in 2008. And we have embarked on an aggressive energy-conservation program, indubitably the most cost-effective means of limiting CO2.
Most importantly, we are out to be the world leader in making clean coal -- including the potential for carbon capture and sequestration. The world's first commercial-scale clean coal power plant is under construction in our state, and the first modern coal-to-natural gas plant is coming right behind it. We eagerly accept the responsibility to develop alternatives to the punitive, inequitable taxation of cap and trade.
Our president has commendably committed himself to "government that works." But his imperial climate-change policy is government that cannot work, and we humble colonials out here in the provinces have no choice but to petition for relief from the Crown's impositions.
Since these thoughts came from the opposition, Mitch probably wasted his time in writing the editorial. Like all politicians, however, he is woefully uninformed about the the junk science of limiting CO2 emissions and no one in his position can afford indecision about "climate change."
This is not the time for wishy-washy politician-speak . . . it is time to fully and unconditionally support your base, Governor.
From the Irish Times comes a lazy journalism tale by Shane Fitzgerald, a student at University College Dublin. Shane's piece is mirrored in today's Topper from Dilbert.
Watching Sky News, Shane worried about the veracity of the news being reported.
The speed with which the story was reported got me thinking about the potential pitfalls relating to the media rush for up-to-the-minute news bulletins. In the era of 24-hour news coverage, the internet is no doubt the lifeline for reporters in their never-ending scramble to report a breaking news story in time for the on-the-hour news slots, or for journalists racing to get a story written before the paper is sent to the printers.
Just how reliant reporters are on the world wide web was the question that suddenly gave me the idea of carrying out an internet hoax. The global world is connected through the internet, and news reporters are relying on this resource more than ever. I wanted to prove that this was indeed the case, and show the potential dangers that arise.
When Sky News reported the death of French composer Maurice Jaffe on March 30, Shane executed his hoax.
I immediately grabbed my laptop, went to Maurice Jarre’s Wikipedia page, clicked the edit button on screen and proceeded to lay the trap for my unsuspecting prey, the journalists.
“One could say my life itself has been one long soundtrack,” I wrote into the Wikipedia entry. “Music was my life, music brought me to life, and music is how I will be remembered long after I leave this life. When I die there will be a final waltz playing in my head and that only I can hear.”
This was a totally fake quote and neither Maurice Jarre, nor anyone else, has ever been on record as uttering these words.
Shane expected news reporters to rush to Wiki for basic information to include in a Jaffe obituary piece, but he was surprised that few writers spent any time verifying the accuracy of the internet encyclopedia's data.
While I expected online blogs and maybe some smaller papers to use the quote, I did not think it would have a major impact. I was wrong. Quality newspapers in England, India, America and as far away as Australia had my words in their reports of Jarre’s death. I was shocked that highly respected newspapers would use material from Wikipedia without first sourcing and referencing it properly.
The issues about the media and quality reporting that this experiment raises requires a whole new article by itself – because the implications are far-reaching. If I could so easily falsify the news across the globe, even to this small extent, then it is unnerving to think about what other false information may be reported in the press.
Shane has obviously not been paying much attention to the ongoing incessant propaganda being spewed by the mainstream media.
by gadfly3 Comments »
"THE CHICAGO WAY: When crime is a way of life for the authorities, where does justice begin?" Mark Mahon
Equity Private of the Finem Respice blog works her day job in the private equity and hedge fund business.
Write about finance long enough with the same electronic mail address and a number of interesting anecdotes will flutter your way. Write just a little bit longer and a shocking tale will pass under your eyes once or twice. Stick it out for two and half a hundred weeks and one is like to hear something quite disturbing. Hang in for more than a pair of years and a truly horrifying, bone chilling narrative will eventually confront you. Today, I have the distinctly unpleasant distinction of being on the receiving end of exactly this sort of recollection. That is, a bit of dialogue so genuinely awful that- were it not from a source I consider impeccable, and unimpeachable- I would not dare to credit at all. Unfortunately, I must do precisely this, and personally believe it to be totally, frightfully accurate. I take no pleasure in relaying it, instead hoping that someone more directly in the business of running such matters down and printing them will carefully document it and- if true- expose it, or- if not- discredit it quickly and finally. This (as yet unproven) yarn goes exactly like this:
Confronting the head of a non-TARP fund holding Chrysler debt and unwilling to release it for any sum less than that to which it was legally entitled without compelling cause, this country's "Car Czar" [Steven Rattner] berated the manager of said fund with an outburst of prose substantially resembling this:Who the fuck do you think you're dealing with? We'll have the IRS audit your fund. Every one of your employees. Your investors. Then we will have the Securities and Exchange Commission rip through your books looking for anything and everything and nothing we find to destroy you with.
Faced with these sorts of threats, in this environment, with valued employees in the crosshairs and AIG a fresh, open wound upon the market, the fund folded.
It is a tale literally so outlandish and difficult to picture that, in these circumstances and given the source, it rings absolutely true. Consider all this in a larger context where:
You see Non-TARP entities claiming that:...we have been systematically precluded from engaging in direct discussions or negotiations with the government; instead, we have been forced to communicate through an obviously conflicted intermediary: a group of banks that have received billions of TARP funds.
...not to mention the fact that the salary, bonus and "stress test" results for TARP banks are all within Treasury's control.
Then you have White & Case attorney Tom Lauria, describing the experience of one of his clients, holders of Senior debt in Chrysler, to Frank Beckmann:Lauria: One of my clients was directly threatened by the White House, and in essence compelled to withdraw its opposition to the deal under threat that the full force of the White House press corps would destroy its reputation if it continued to fight. That's how hard it is to stand on this side of the fence.
Beckmann: Was that Perella Weinberg?
Lauria: That was Perella Weinberg.
We see the White House Chief of Staff (whose primary finance and economics qualifications appear to be a Bachelor of the Arts degree from Sarah Lawrence College- apparently appealing because of its strong ballet program- and a Master of the Arts in Speech and Communications) calling the plays over at Treasury for the last several months. To wit:On Jan. 20, Timothy Geithner took control of the Treasury Department, directing the government's response to the financial crisis.
Within three weeks, the White House tightened its grip, alarmed by the poor reaction to Mr. Geithner's performance during the rollout of his rescue plan, government officials say. Since then, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel has been so involved in the workings of the Treasury that "Rahm wants it" has become an unofficial mantra among some at the Treasury, according to government officials.
We have senior government officials apparently ordering, or at least strong-arming, the Chief Executive of a publicly-held firm to make or avoid certain disclosures and to close a merger, "or else."
We watch the White House fire the Chief Executive of General Motors after he makes the most generous settlement offer to bondholders (to whom he owes fiduciary duties) up to that point, and smile gently when Wagoner's successor [Fritz Henderson] puts the screws to financial creditors and eases up on the UAW.
Captain Ed Morrissey reminds us that David Souter has done little to contribute to landmark legal decisions in his nineteen years on the Supreme Court. The most famous decision that he wrote was Kelo v. City of New London.
In Kelo v. City of New London (2005), the U.S. Supreme Court allowed the government to condemn property and transfer it to other private owners in the name of "economic development." Upholding the forced transfer of land in New London, Connecticut, to private developers, the Court ruled that virtually any potential public benefit satisfies the Fifth Amendment's requirement that the authorities can take property only for a "public use." Traditionally, a public use had meant a government-owned facility or a public utility with legally mandated access for the general public. With an economic development taking, property is simply transferred from one private party to another, without any public access requirement.
Interestingly, Congress and many state legislatures reacted immediately to right the judicial wrong, but,as related in this post at Captain's Quarters the most attention "didn’t come from any brilliant Souter erudition on the topic but from an effort to have his home confiscated under Kelo by people in New Hampshire in order to make a point".
The Mark Twain Option
When I wrote about my reaction to the Kelo decision, I included a portion of a letter written by Mark Twain over 120 years ago that I felt spoke directly to the issue. After losing a copyright case that he clearly should have won, Twain wrote the following in a letter to a Massachusetts group seeking to honor him with an award:It does look as if Massachusetts were in a fair way to embarrass me with kindnesses this year. In the first place, a Massachusetts judge has just decided in open court that a Boston publisher may sell, not only his own property in a free and unfettered way, but also may as freely sell property which does not belong to him but to me; property which he has not bought and which I have not sold. Under this ruling I am now advertising that judge's homestead for sale, and, if I make a good a sum out of it as I expect, I shall go on and sell out the rest of his property.
It now looks as if activists have taken Twain to heart. An investment group now seeks to build a hotel with a museum dedicated to documenting the decline of property rights in Weare, New Hampshire [consider the possible movie title, "We Are New Hampshire"], the home of Supreme Court Justice David Souter. Actually, they want to build the hotel in place of the home of Supreme Court Justice David Souter:Clements, CEO of Freestar Media, LLC, points out that the City of Weare will certainly gain greater tax revenue and economic benefits with a hotel than allowing Mr. Souter to own the land.
The proposed development, called "The Lost Liberty Hotel" will feature the "Just Desserts Cafe" and include a museum, open to the public, featuring a permanent exhibit on the loss of freedom in America. Instead of a Gideon's Bible each guest will receive a free copy of Ayn Rand's novel "Atlas Shrugged."
Clements indicated that the hotel must be built on this particular piece of land because it is a unique site being the home of someone largely responsible for destroying property rights for all Americans.
"This is not a prank" said Clements, "The Towne of Weare has five people on the Board of Selectmen. If three of them vote to use the power of eminent domain to take this land from Mr. Souter we can begin our hotel development."
People who want to see Justice Souter's land put to better use than single-family ownership can e-mail the city at this link. Tell them that you'd plan on spending a week in the town as tourists at the new hotel and museum complex. That should get them to give serious consideration to the Mark Twain option.
And, if we're successful, we can move on to Justice Kennedy's house next, as Twain himself might have suggested.
This may be May 1st, but there is little cause for the invoking the international "Mayday" distress call about the N1A1 or Swine or more properly (according to the historic precedence which names influenza outbreaks according to country of origin) the Mexican Flu. Yesterday, the World Health Organization raised the alert status for the virus to level 5 out of a possible 6, which means a pandemic is near . . . or does it? This is the most recent alert from WHO:
Influenza A(H1N1) - update 8.1
1 May 2009 -- The situation continues to evolve. As of 23:30 GMT, 1 May 2009, 13 countries have officially reported 367 cases of influenza A(H1N1) infection.
The United States Government has reported 141 laboratory confirmed human cases, including one death. Mexico has reported 156 confirmed human cases of infection, including nine deaths.
The following countries have reported laboratory confirmed cases with no deaths - Austria (1), Canada (34), China, Hong Kong, Special Administrative Region (1), Denmark (1), Germany (4), Israel (2), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (4), Spain (13), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (8).
It has now been 25 days since Mexican authorities began investigating an outbreak of severe respiratory illness and we now know that 10 people (2.75%), all Mexican, have died from the disease. According to the LA Times, the current virus strain is much weaker than than those in past pandemics and perhaps even weaker than normal annual flu epidemics. In a typical flu season in the U.S., "between 5% and 20% of the population becomes ill and 36,000 people die -- a mortality rate of between 0.06% and 0.24%."
It is now time for the 24 hour cable networks and the "drive-by" media to back off from a non-event.
UPDATE: Dr. Marc Siegel at Fox News tells us that Swine Flu is not the killer we think it is.
In the current swine flu scare the virus is assumed to be a more powerful human killer than it actually is. In reality it appears to losing virulence as it spreads human to human and is not that transmissable, and is NOT becoming widespread.