Thursday, July 22, 2010

Oil Companies Plan Rapid Response System to Gulf Spills -

Oil Companies Plan Rapid Response System to Gulf Spills -

Four of the world’s biggest oil companies said on Wednesday that they were committing $1 billion to create a rapid-response system to deal with deepwater oil spills in the Gulf of Mexico, seeking to restore public confidence in the industry after the BP disaster painfully exposed how unprepared the industry was for a major accident.

The voluntary effort, which involves building a set of modular containment equipment that would be kept on standby for emergency use, comes as oil companies seek to persuade the Obama administration to lift a temporary ban on deepwater drilling. The moratorium was imposed after the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded on April 20 and spewed millions of gallons of oil into the gulf.

Officials said the spill served as a wake-up call for the industry, which had invested billions of dollars to develop oil and gas resources in ever-deeper waters offshore but neglected to devise spill-response technology that could be effective in thousands of feet of water.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

After long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military begins to treat mental injuries as combat wounds --

The 300-pound bomb blasted Marine Staff Sgt. James Ownbey's mine-resistant truck so high that it snapped power lines before it slammed to the dusty ground in western Iraq.

Ownbey, knocked briefly unconscious by the blast, awoke to suffocating black smoke and a swirling cloud of dirt. He felt for the vehicle's door, then stumbled into the sunlight where he was joined by the rest of his woozy, three-man crew. Their bodies were sore, but they looked fine.

After long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. military begins to treat mental injuries as combat wounds --

Insurers Push Plans That Limit Health Choices -

As the Obama administration begins to enact the new national health care law, the country’s biggest insurers are promoting affordable plans with reduced premiums that require participants to use a narrower selection of doctors or hospitals.

The plans, being tested in places like San Diego, New York and Chicago, are likely to appeal especially to small businesses that already provide insurance to their employees, but are concerned about the ever-spiraling cost of coverage.

But large employers, as well, are starting to show some interest, and insurers and consultants expect that, over time, businesses of all sizes will gravitate toward these plans in an effort to cut costs.

The tradeoff, they say, is that more Americans will be asked to pay higher prices for the privilege of choosing or keeping their own doctors if they are outside the new networks. That could come as a surprise to many who remember the repeated assurances from President Obama and other officials that consumers would retain a variety of health-care choices.

Insurers Push Plans That Limit Health Choices -

Monday, July 12, 2010

Racism in Tea Party movement.

Steinhauser’s memory is conveniently short-term, ignoring the Tea Party’s well-documented history of racism and wrongful co-opting of the civil rights movement. Last year, Tea Party members analogized President Obama to a “monkey.” In March, Tea Party protesters hurled racist epithets at civil rights hero Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) and spat at Rep. Emanuel Cleaver (D-MO). At a recent July 4 rally in Lexington, KY, Daily Kos documented Tea Party members selling shirts declaring “Yup, I’m a Racist!”


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Israeli soldiers on Patrol - video

Scientists expected Obama administration to be friendlier -

Scientists expected Obama administration to be friendlier -

Reporting from Washington — When he ran for president, Barack Obama attacked the George W. Bush administration for putting political concerns ahead of science on such issues as climate change and public health. And during his first weeks in the White House, President Obama ordered his advisors to develop rules to "guarantee scientific integrity throughout the executive branch."

Many government scientists hailed the president's pronouncement. But a year and a half later, no such rules have been issued. Now scientists charge that the Obama administration is not doing enough to reverse a culture that they contend allowed officials to interfere with their work and limit their ability to speak out.

Unit In Kandahar Bids Farewell To Pvt. 'Smiles' - Audio


At the memorial service at a base near Kandahar, 200 soldiers stood in formation for nearly an hour in the 110-degree heat. They were surrounded by armored vehicles and concrete blast walls.

Private Jefferson's friends shared memories of the man they called Smiles. Here's Lieutenant Patrick Kummer(ph).
Lieutenant PATRICK KUMMER (U.S. 101st Airborne Division): On July 2nd, we lost a brother in arms, a great medic and, most importantly, a true friend.

Some would say he's wise beyond his years or at the very least he made you believe that. That boy had the gift of gab. He could sell a ketchup Popsicle to a woman in white gloves.

For The U.S., Cat And Mouse In The Taliban Heartland – audio 5:30

82 Airborne!!

Wall St. Hiring in Anticipation of an Economic Recovery

Although this is tentatively good news the chart shows a systematic problem.  Look at the decade long job trends; Financials are about the same; Manufacturing is way down; and Construction is cyclical.  The job market will need workers with Financial degrees, jobs for lower skills are setup to take a ride until they leave the job market. 


The shift underscores the remarkable recovery of the biggest banks and brokerage firms since Washington rescued them in the fall of 2008, and follows the huge rebound in profits for members of the New York Stock Exchange, which totaled $61.4 billion in 2009, the most ever. Since employment bottomed out in February, New York securities firms have added nearly 2,000 jobs, a trend that is also playing out nationwide at financial companies, commodity contract traders and investment firms.

Though the figures are small in comparison to overall Wall Street employment, executives, economists and headhunters say they expect the growth to pick up steam in the coming months.

Unemployment Benefits Aren't Stimulus

Let's not reduce the incentive to find work. A federal tax holiday is a better way to cut the high jobless rate.


While many conservatives have called for tax cuts aimed at benefiting corporations and multimillionaires, economist Arthur Laffer — a former member of President Reagan’s Economic Policy Advisory Board — went a step further today.Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Laffer argued that the best way to stimulate the economy is to have “no federal taxes at all.” Here is what Laffer proposed to eliminate:

No income tax, no corporate profits tax, no capital gains tax, no estate tax, no payroll tax (FICA) either employee or employer, no Medicare or Medicaid taxes, no federal excise taxes, no tariffs, no federal taxes at all, which would have reduced federal revenues by $2.4 trillion annually. Can you imagine where employment would be today? How does a 2.5% unemployment rate sound?

High Speed for the Sparsely Wired - NYTimes

Government stimulus spending is a contentious issue right now in Washington. But the $7.2 billion in the last stimulus package for extending high-speed Internet access is just beginning to be spent, and the beneficiaries could not be happier.10broadband-web1-articleLarge[1]

Cynthia K. Wegener and her husband, owners of a farm and horse-breeding business in western Kansas, will be able to upload a photograph of a horse to show a potential buyer in seconds, not the 20 to 30 minutes they now need with dial-up service. “I just cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is to do anything with it,” she said.

Mama Grizzlies - Video

Great video.

Interesting images.

Chinese Separatists Tied to Norway Bomb Plot

The arrests on Thursday of three men in Norway and Germany accused of orchestrating a terrorist bomb plot seemed like another routine raid by a Western government in the continuing campaign against groups linked to Al Qaeda. But one detail stuck out: Norwegian officials said one of the men was a Chinese Uighur, and all three supposedly belonged to a group that advocates separatism in western China.

If the Norwegian officials are right, the bomb plot was a rare instance in which the group, the Turkestan Islamic Party, had tried to carry out an attack in the West that was unrelated to its goal of gaining independence for the restive region of Xinjiang, in China’s hinterlands.

Terrorism experts say the plot in Norway indicates that Al Qaeda and the few members of the Turkestan Islamic Party, or TIP, who trained in the tribal areas of Pakistan see some mutual benefit in cooperating. The use of relatively obscure ethnic Uighur recruits could allow Al Qaeda to penetrate more deeply into the West.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

After talks with Catholic Church, Cuba to free 52 political prisoners


20107472838822734_5[1] Guillermo Farinas, an opposition activist, has been on hunger strike for 134 days [AFP]

The Cuban government on Wednesday released five political prisoners and agreed to set 47 others free in the coming months, a dramatic move that may save the life of a prominent dissident who has been on a four-month-long hunger strike to push for the liberation of inmates.

The deal, which reduces the number of prisoners of conscience on the island by about a third, came after a meeting that included President Raul Castro of Cuba, Cardinal Jaime Ortega, the archbishop of Havana, and the Spanish foreign minister, Miguel Angel Moratinos.

The prisoners to be released were all detained during a mass crackdown on dissent in 2003, when the government of PresidentFidel Castro rounded up 75 activists and journalists who were accused of acting as “mercenaries” on behalf of the United States.

Who would have thought: Bush's tax-reform panel actually recommended something that would hurt the upper class.

After his re-election, President Bush set two top domestic priorities: privatization of Social Security, and “reform” of the tax system. Privatization ran into a wall of opposition once the public grasped that the price would be a big cut in guaranteed retirement checks.

On Tuesday, Bush's blue-ribbon commission on tax reform issued its recommendations, and they are hitting with a similar, resounding thud. The right wanted a flat tax, a consumption tax, or a national sales or value-added tax in place of the progressive income tax. Not only did the commission fail to support any of these, but it took on at least one sacred cow -- capping the mortgage interest deduction -- that would raise taxes on the upper middle class.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Is the recovery at a typical pause? - audio

We hope so.  You were slightly wrong about these things before.60096955