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    • Ferguson and the brokenness of America’s “Justice” System
      There isn’t much to say that others haven’t, but let’s go through it anyway: There was never any chance that Darren Wilson would be charged; the prosecutor acted as defense attorney, not as prosecutor; A grand jury, for all intents and purposes does what the prosecutor tells it to; Doing the announcement at 8pm at [...]
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Friday Spaced-Out News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!!! TGIF!

I’m getting a slow start today. I’ve been surfing around, and there is quite a bit of news out there, but no overarching theme that I can see. I’m a little spacey though, as I always am at the end of a semester.

I usually get to the point where I’m running on adrenalin, and as I get close to the end, I can feel that my body and mind are just about ready to shut down for a couple of days. I still have a little work to do, so I’m trying to stay alert and keep that adrenalin flowing just a little bit longer.

The British election ended this morning in a “hung Parliament.” I don’t know too much about British politics, so I hope someone else may be able to explain what all this means.

Map of election results at the Independent

BBC: What next for each party in event of a hung Parliament?

The constitutional convention states that – in the event of no party winning a majority – the sitting prime minister remains in place until he decides he cannot form a government and chooses to resign.

After returning to 10 Downing Street, Gordon Brown has said it is his “duty to play his part” in securing a strong and stable government in the next few days.

He has asked Cabinet Secretary Sir Gus O’Donnell to arrange for the Civil Service to provide support on request to parties engaged in discussions on the formation of government.

It is likely he will approach the Liberal Democrats to try and agree some form of coalition deal – a stance backed by senior Labour figures.

But it sounds like the Libdems have already sided with the Tories:

Cameron has ‘first right’ to form government, says Nick Clegg

David Cameron was today offered the keys to 10 Downing Street, after Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg said that the Conservatives had the “first right” to seek to form a government in Britain’s first hung Parliament since 1974.

The Conservative leader will give his initial public response in a statement at 2.30 this afternoon, but it was thought far from certain that he would accept any deal with the Lib Dems which included reform of Westminster’s first-past-the-post voting system.

I’m clueless–someone please help me understand this.

Some creepy news related to the health care deform bill: Documents reveal AT&T, Verizon, others, thought about dropping employer-sponsored benefits

Internal documents recently reviewed by Fortune, originally requested by Congress, show what the bill’s critics predicted, and what its champions dreaded: many large companies are examining a course that was heretofore unthinkable, dumping the health care coverage they provide to their workers in exchange for paying penalty fees to the government.

That would dismantle the employer-based system that has reigned since World War II. It would also seem to contradict President Obama’s statements that Americans who like their current plans could keep them. And as we’ll see, it would hugely magnify the projected costs for the bill, which controls deficits only by assuming that America’s employers would remain the backbone of the nation’s health care system.

Hence, health-care reform risks becoming a victim of unintended consequences. Amazingly, the corporate documents that prove this point became public because of a different set of unintended consequences: they told a story far different than the one the politicians who demanded them expected.

The chairman of the Democratic Party in PA has issues a “stern warning” to party members, and says a win for Sestak in the primary would be “cataclysmic.”

As polls show Sestak, a second-term House member from the Philadelphia suburbs, cutting Specter’s advantage to single digits, Chairman T.J. Rooney told POLITICO in an interview that “if we want to keep this seat in Democratic hands, the only person capable of delivering that victory is Arlen Specter.” [….]

A Quinnipiac University poll released earlier this week showed Specter’s once formidable double-digit lead narrowing to only 8 percentage points, 47 percent to 39 percent. By midweek, the tracking poll sponsored by Muhlenberg College and the Allentown Morning Call showed Specter ahead by only 5 percentage points.

“Momentum is clearly on Sestak’s side at this point,” said Peter Brown, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute.

Well, I’m rooting for Sestak anyway. I just don’t see Arlen Specter as much of a Democrat.

Some interesting commentary on The New York Times’ biased coverage of the BP oil spill: A Gusher From the Newspaper of Record by Richard Ward at Counterpunch.

A couple of days ago I sent a comment in response to an article written by John M. Broder and Tom Zeller Jr. (“Gulf Oil Spill is Bad, but How Bad?” 5/3/10) that sounded like it could have come from the BP public relations department, downplaying the effects of the blowout in The Gulf of Mexico. Arguably the worst part of the article was a gross factual error stating that the Iraqis fleeing Kuwait in 1991 released 36 billion gallons of crude into the Persian Gulf. My comment: “Whoa! The Iraqis released nowhere near 36 billion gallons of crude in the Persian Gulf. The highest estimates are 500 million gallons. Somebody needs to activate the NYT’s fact checker. This is a real gusher. What’s going on here?”

The Times did not print this. A few hours later I tried again. Same comment, same result. Either they chose not to publish it or it wasn’t getting through. The next day I tried again, a sort of experiment, commenting on another article about the blowout, this time adopting a decidedly different tone: “Let’s all calm down and get a grip. In three weeks all this will be a memory. The best minds in the business are dealing with this. Relax people. Kudos to the Times for presenting us with a balanced point of view.” Not only did they print the comment, they put it in their highlight section, “a selection of the most interesting and thoughtful comments that represent a range of views.”

Speaking of gushers: Actress Scarlett Johansson Gushes She’s Drunk the ‘Kool-Aid’ of ‘Amazing’ Obama. Johansson:

admitted on Wednesday night’s Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson that she was amongst those who “drank the Kool-aid” at the White House Correspondents’ Association dinner last Saturday where she found him “amazing” and “hilarious.”

Obama administration continues its fight against the first amendment: Pentagon Bans Four Journalists From Guantanamo Bay for revealing name of witness.

The four journalists are Michelle Shephard of the Toronto Star, Steven Edwards of Canwest, Paul Koring of the Globe & Mail and Carol Rosenberg of the Miami Herald. They are not being thrown off the base, but, as of now, they are barred from returning. [….]

While the judge in the case, Col. Patrick Parrish, issued an admonition yesterday for reporters to respect the anonymity of the classified witnesses, he did not rule that any reporter here had violated the protected order. The decision to block the four reporters from returning to Guantanamo Bay is a matter of policy from the Office of the Secretary of Defense. And those four are not the only ones within the press corps here to have reported Interrogator #1’s name.

Those four reporters comprise much of the institutional knowledge of Guantanamo Bay and the military commissions, as their colleagues widely acknowledge.

Huffpo: Senate Votes For Wall Street; Megabanks To Remain Behemoths

A move to break up major Wall Street banks failed Thursday night by a vote of 61 to 33.

Three Republicans, Richard Shelby of Alabama, Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and John Ensign of Nevada, voted with 30 Democrats, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada, in support of the provision. The author of the pending overall financial reform bill in the Senate, Banking Committee Chairman Christopher Dodd, voted against it. (See the full roll call.)

The amendment, sponsored by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.), would have required megabanks to be broken down in size and capped so that their individual failure would not bring down the entire system.

I guess most Senators would rather bring down the system than give up their campaign contributions from Wall Street.

Newsweek: Why the Media Ignored the Nashville Flood

As you may have heard, torrential downpours in the southeast flooded the Tennessee capital of Nashville over the weekend, lifting the Cumberland River 13 feet above flood stage, causing an estimated $1 billion in damage, and killing more than 30 people. It could wind up being one of the most expensive natural disasters in U.S. history.

Or, on second thought, maybe you didn’t hear. With two other “disasters” dominating the headlines—the Times Square bombing attempt and the Gulf oil spill—the national media seems to largely to have ignored the plight of Music City since the flood waters began inundating its streets on Sunday. A cursory Google News search shows 8,390 hits for “Times Square bomb” and 13,800 for “BP oil spill.” “Nashville flood,” on the other hand, returns only 2,430 results—many of them local. As Betsy Phillips of the Nashville Scene writes, “it was mind-boggling to flip by CNN, MSNBC, and FOX on Sunday afternoon and see not one station even occasionally bringing their viewers footage of the flood, news of our people dying.”

Mike Allen at Politico says Obama will nominate Elena Kagan to SCOTUS next week, and he will also ask for a line-item veto (Dear God, no!)

NYT: Signs of Neanderthals Mating With Humans

Neanderthals mated with some modern humans after all and left their imprint in the human genome, a team of biologists has reported in the first detailed analysis of the Neanderthal genetic sequence. [….]

Scientists say they have recovered 60 percent of the genome so far and hope to complete it. By comparing that genome with those of various present day humans, the team concluded that about 1 percent to 4 percent of the genome of non-Africans today is derived from Neanderthals. But the Neanderthal DNA does not seem to have played a great role in human evolution, they said.

Experts believe that the Neanderthal genome sequence will be of extraordinary importance in understanding human evolutionary history since the two species split some 600,000 years ago.

The article also includes comments from a number of archaeologists and paleontologists who are skeptical of the conclusions of this study.

Here’s a new movie documentary that I’m really looking forward to seeing.

That’s all I’ve got this morning. What are you reading? Please share. And have a fabulous Friday!!!!

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152 Responses

  1. BB,

    Do tell if the ‘Babies’ movie is out and what theaters are playing it. It looks great and just amazing.

    Oh, so Obama may just be historic in taking apart the employer based health care plans….Can we say PUBLIC OPTION! For wokring folks the Public Option is the best thing as the plans are simply going out of reach for all Americans.

    • “Babies” starts this Mothers’ Day weekend! It looks really good.

  2. Let’s see if I got it: in UK. the libDems are our B0bots – teaming up with the Torries to bring back the Democrats/Labor. Am I close?
    Also, bringing from downstairs the topical tabloids

    http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/tabloidsdow-crashes-karmically/

    • sorry, I meant “teaming back with the Torries to bring DOWN (not back) the Democrats/Labor. Kinda the way Nader was also used in 2000 by Bushco to muddy the results against Gore.

      • You got it. As I have said before, Clegg is the British Obama, only the Brits didn’t fall for him.

        I personally believe that the massive vote for Tories has 2 reasons- 1. the lack of education of the British voters who actually are dumb enough to believe Labour is responsible for the global recession, and 2. a resurgence of racism- many people who admit to have voted Tory claim to have done it for “tighter immigration laws” which translates into “damn immigrants we want them out”.

        • No no no. Clegg is not the British Obama. Some of the press may have painted him as such at times to build a narrative but thats certainly not the case. I don’t know if you’re British or not but I don’t think there is any such thing as a British Obama.

        • But it wasn’t a massive vote for the Tories. They got just 36 per cent of the vote, so far more poeple voted for left of centre parties. Given the huge expectations of Cameron (who wanted to be the British Obama too!), this is a colossal failure. He was supposed to get a huge landslide and wipe out Labour. The right wing media (which is to say all but three papers) threw their weight behind him: when Murdoch picked him as his man, it made the headlines. Instead he couldn’t even clinch a small majority (and given the carnage of the public services he plans, he would need 100 plus majority to carry it through) and he is having to try to get Clegg on board. Clegg, of coures, already declared for him by playing the surefire bet that Cameron would have most seats, but back then Clegg expected to come in second with a rump Labour party in third place. He could claim major offices of state as his prize in that case, and have a far more powerful case for electoral reform. Well, Cameron won’t swallow electoral reform (it would make the Tories third party on occasion, since on the whole we are a left of centre country, just divided) and the Labour core vote held up. The high turn out reflects this: Labour voters who previously had taken their votes elsewhere because of Iraq or who felt the whole thing to be a dead cert and didn’t bother to turn out made an effort on Thursday and denied Cameron his triumph. Which means, whatever he says, that he has no mandate for the mass privatisations and slashings he plans. There are enough people in the house who will not tolerate this to stop him. And a lot of those people are LibDem. Clegg may well up destroying his party if he makes a deal with Cameron. There are neoliberal “Orange Book” LibDems who will go with him, but just as many progressives who won’t and whose natural partners are Labour. The triumph of the LibDems may well turn out to have become their destruction.

      • No I don’t think the Lib Dems are trying to bring down anyone. They just promised during the campaign that they would listen to the will of the people. So although there is no clear majority, the Conservatives have the largest number of seats so they have to listen to what they have to say. I doubt that they (the Tories) will offer enough of what the Lib Dems want anyway and a LibDem/Labour coalition seems more natural. They aren’t trying to bring anyone down, just get the best deal and that is electoral reform.

        • I have witnessed Lib Dem attenpts at electoral fraud in my city, together and not limited to illegal campaigning on Elections day etc. Those, together with the ex Lobbyist background of Clegg make me highly suspicious of their reasons.
          The question regarding the Lib Dems as of now is how hungry for power are they. Considering that the first thing to come out of Nick Clegg after the full results came in were that he thinks the Tories should have a chance to form the Government, regardless of the theoretical large ideological divergences between the two parties do not tell me that Nick Clegg has any back bone to actually stand by what he promised.

          The Tories won 37% of the seats- that’s not a majority by any stretch of the imagination. The Lib Dems didn’t win anything beyond what they already had numbers wise, yet Nick Clegg find himself in the position of kingmaker… and the first thing he did was to dismiss an alliance with labour. That tells me a lot about him, and none of it is good.

          The fact that Clegg would outright say that he thinks the Tories, the party who is against pretty much everything Nick Clegg claims to stand for, should have a chance to form the first Government tells me everything I should need to know about him. And FWiW, I am not British, I am an immigrant, living in Britain for 10 years,
          voting here and seriously thinking about packing my bags and going away considering the amount of anti immigrant vote I have seen this week.

          • He hasn’t dismissed an alliance with Labour.

            Labour do not have enough seats to form a majority in Parliament even with the Lib Dems. The only thing that would possibly work is a rainbow coalition including the smaller parties and FWIW that would be my preference.

  3. The refusal of our politicians to vote for Kaufman’s Safe Banking Bill is a clear indication that there will be no substantial reform of our financial sector. Those 20-pages of legislation would have been the beginning of turning the ship around. The “Audit the Fed” move has also been watered down and Bernie Sanders caved in the last moment.

    The electorate has no one protecting its interests. We’ve been sold out completely. And yesterday’s hair raising, near market calamity is being touted as a mere “fat finger” on the wrong key when, in fact, it was a brief but startling look behind the curtain, where computer-generated, algorithm trading was glimpsed in broad daylight. This is the biggest scam in world history, so Obama finally gets his true “historic” moment. But not in the way it’s been sold. Please read Karl Denninger and Zero Hedge for the details.

    We are f**cked. But then, we should have realized that in November ’08.

    • Well, we did realize it here at TC, but we were ahead of the curve by quite at bit.

    • Also, the Huffpo articke on it deceives us when it says “Obama administration didn’t oppose the amendment”. It’s one of those public option situation – here’s how they weren’t against it
      Bank bill in peril, WH urges part be dropped

      http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100416/ap_on_bi_ge

      /us_obama_financial_reform

      WASHINGTON – In the face of stiff GOP opposition, Obama administration officials want Senate Democrats to purge a $50 billion fund for dismantling “too big to fail” banks from legislation that aims to protect against a new financial crisis. Republicans contend the provision would simply continue government bailouts of Wall Street.

      • Yeah, blame the GOP. Riiight.

        • No, blame them all. This is bi-partisan treachery. As a Dem, I blame my party for being so completely compromised by the Obama schtick. They insisted on inviting the Chicago mafia into the WH. And this is what we get.

          But the Republicans hardly get a pass. They’re swimming in the muck, too, got the fire started so Obama and his crew could throw gasoline over the whole shabang. And the press? Don’t even get me started.

          And BB? I know The Confluence was ahead of the curve. That’s why I come to read and comment occasionally. There are still places of sanity that exist on the Net, but they’re an endangered species.

          As are we all, I guess. :0(

      • Obama did his usual of voting “present” in public, while sending his minions around to threaten and arm twist.

        He’s a Chicago Thug. Period.

    • Of course they backed down. Their Lords and Masters showed them who was boss yesterday, mid-afternoon. “We’ll tank the markets unless you do as we say.”

      After that there was absolutely no doubt in my mind how the evening vote would go.

      • Notice that they tanked it quickly, then brought it back up almost as quickly. The message to Congress is clear. “We completely control the economy, and can take it up or down at our whim. Now GET THE FUCK BACK IN LINE and kill that bill.”

  4. So, the banks will remain too-big-to-fail, and the senators will continue to rake in campaign contributions from the too-big-to-fail bank behemoths.

    Three Republicans supported the amendment but all 27 of these Democrats failed to support it:

    * Akaka (D-HI)
    * Baucus (D-MT)
    * Bayh (D-IN)
    * Bennet (D-CO)
    * Carper (D-DE)
    * Conrad (D-ND)
    * Dodd (D-CT) [naturally, Chris Dodd is a “special friend” to those banks]
    * Feinstein (D-CA)
    * Gillibrand (D-NY)
    * Hagan (D-NC)
    * Inouye (D-HI)
    * Johnson (D-SD)
    * Kerry (D-MA)
    * Klobuchar (D-MN)
    * Kohl (D-WI)
    * Landrieu (D-LA)
    * Lautenberg (D-NJ)
    * McCaskill (D-MO)
    * Menendez (D-NJ)
    * Nelson (D-FL)
    * Nelson (D-NE)
    * Reed (D-RI)
    * Schumer (D-NY)
    * Shaheen (D-NH)
    * Tester (D-MT)
    * Udall (D-CO)
    * Warner (D-VA)

    A pox on all 27 of these creeps.

    Obama did not publicly oppose this bill but he DID send his three top economic honchos out to fight against it, so I guess we can conclude Obama wants the too-big-to-fail banks to REMAIN threats to our financial system and to our economy.

    “Though top Obama administration officials have not publicly opposed the amendment, its leading economists have opposed ending Too Big To Fail simply by breaking up the nation’s financial behemoths. Austan Goolsbee and Larry Summers have both fought back against this idea, as has Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner.”

    http://tinyurl.com/2bkwua7

  5. I don’t really understand British politics; I just am so very envious that they have so many parties that actually get a voice.
    And I envy them for not having a President.

  6. ABC reporting that the Times Square suspect “drew inspiration” from the militant cleric al-Awaki, frequented his website, just like the Fort Hood shooter and the underwear bomber.

    ABC also mentions that Shahzad met Mehsud, who is “family friends” with Shahzad’s father.

    Some “lone wolf,” eh?

    • I am skeptical.
      al-Awaki is the US citizen that BO authorized illegal assassination for, isn’t he? That’s made him even more high-profile –he’s probably a celeb now in jihad circles. So it’s no surprise that his website is popular with idiots like Shahzad.
      Sounds to me like the admin is trying to justify the assasination order on al-Awaki.

  7. Re: the “stern warning” from the DNC on the PA race, the Dim poobahs have lost total control of the primary in PA, and are getting all pissy that the voters will not vote the way they are told.

    He says he means cataclysmic for the general election vs the R, but what he really means is cataclysmic in the primary voters saying “Eff You” to the DNC and their hand-picked candidate that they’ve been wasting so much money on. The Dimocrats get really testy when they hand pick a candidate and the primary voters tell them to go get stuffed. Expect the worst – cheating or lying or whatever they need to do. How DARE the voters defy the party!!!

    And yes, I called them Dimocrats. These are not Democrats, not since May 2008.

    • It makes me want to vote for Sestak; even when I totally despise him for caving on HRC. The negative ads against Sestak make me wantto cvote for him too. Anything to piss off the DNC.

      • I was a huge fan of Sestak until he voted for the pos health insurance bill. Even so, I hope he wins because (a) I can’t stomach that weasel Specter, and (b) it will send a message to the DNC that voters don’t want to be told how to vote.

      • I just fished a donation request out of the trash from Sestak. I gave him money back in 2006 so have received tons of mail. I just throw them away because I no longer donate to anyone.

        Think I will send him some money just so I can feel good about sticking a finger in the eye of the DNC and W.H.

    • Yeah, I agree. And more power to PA voters.

      • Yep, more power to them. I’m no big Sestak fan, but the primary voters in PA have a right to choose their candidate without the DNC bullying them.

        See, THIS is why we kept telling the prog blogs that the party’s behavior in the 2008 presidential primary MATTERED to you, even if you opposed Hillary. If you let the party nullify your votes, or bully and coerce you, then they will continue to do that. Principles aren’t principles unless you stand for them even when the abandoning of them would benefit your agenda.

    • Looks like I’ll be participating in Tuesday’s primary here in PA. I was going to sit it out but since Sestak is so close I’ll go vote for him.

      • since he is pro-choice and so is Spector, I really do not care. I suppose I will vote for Joe, but I will first check out his position on charter schools. I am against tax payer money going to educate children in private schools where the same rules to not apply as they do in public schools. It is nothing but union busting.

        Ahhhhh…. look what I found:

        The Curious Case of Joe Sestak’s Job Offer
        Rare is the Washington scandal where both the accuser and the accused refuse to talk about the charges. But silence has been the norm in the case of Rep. Joe Sestak , D-Pa., who alleges the Obama Administration offered the second- term congressman a “high-ranking” job if he would abandon his primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter , D-Pa. In the aftermath of the allegation, Sestak remains a challenger to Specter, the five-term Republican who defected to the Democrats last year, in the…

        Justice Dept Should Probe Alleged White House Offer to Rep. Sestak, Legal Experts Say
        Legal experts cited five federal laws that would have been violated if a White House official offered Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) an administration job in exchange for his dropping his Pennsylvania Democratic primary challenge against Sen. Arlen Specter (D).

        GOP Rep Wants Investigation of White House
        Republican Rep. Darrell Issa will demand an investigation into The White House, he tells CBS , if the Obama Administration doesn’t elaborate on a claim by a Pennsylvania congressman that he was offered a job in return for not challenging Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter in a state primary. Rep. Joe Sestak made the comment last month; Issa and reporters have repeatedly queried The White House about it, without reply.

        All these stories are linked here:

        http://celebrifi.com/gossip/Joe-Sestak-Holds-Health-Care-Town-Hall-2035823.html

        • I remember reading about that bribe, and that Sestak refused to bow out. It was one of the many reasons I liked him. He couldn’t be bought. Unfortunately, my admiration for him was killed when he voted for the health bill. You would think that he would be particularly sensitive to the need for everyone to have excellent coverage, given that his very young daughter was treated successfully for cancer.

    • Yeah, funny, I thought the Obama movement was so grassroots. What’s up with this old school politics at its worst stuff? We need to get a message to Scar-Jo to let our New Politics hero what they’re trying to pull right under his nose so he can stop it.

      • Sestak released a blistering ad yesterday.

        • Wow! That’s one powerful ad!

          I’m still livid about the health bill and have vowed not to support or vote for any Obamacrat who voted for the health bill. I’m glad I don’t live in PA so I don’t have to consider changing my mind.

  8. About the Brit election – there are a bunch of different parties. The winning party must have 326 members – or half in order to govern. None of the parties got that so they are ‘hung’. Now, it is going to depend on who teams up with others in order to get the 326. If the Conservatives get one or more parties to sit with them on their side of the Parliament, they will take over. But if the Lib Dems and Labour can go together and collect some of the smaller parties, they could have a very precarious win. This is a minority government, either way – and it can be defeated at a later time if the winning team put forth a bill that all their members do not agree on and some vote for the other side. At that point another election would be called. This is called ‘bringing down the government’. Some citizens like this state of affairs because any bills brought to the house are not usually politically motivated or far out.
    Does that make any sense?

    • It makes sense, and I wish we had a parliamentary form of government. At least the Brits have a way to throw the bums out when they won’t listen to the people.

      And thanks very much for the explanation!

    • The Libdems may be making overtures to the Tories because they’d like to change the first-past-the-post electoral system (the current winner-take-all system at the district level, much like ours, favors the two largest legacy parties, unlike alternative systems that include transferable votes or runoffs). The Tories, who won the most seats and therefore will be the first to try forming a majority coalition, will not agree to electoral system reform. The Libdems will probably then migrate to a deal with Labour, seeking other concessions, although even a Labour Libdem coalition does not achieve a majority government. Smaller parties in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland will also be looking for deals. If Labour does manage to pull a majority coalition together, Hillary’s friend David Milibrand might have a shot at leadership. But more likely they will have a do over later this year.

      • That’s very helpful, 3W. Thanks!

        • yeah it is. Sorry I didn’t see your post, before I made mine. I think you have probably summed it up well in less words.

          Go Lib Dems though. We need reform badly, the first past the post system has to end.

          • Clearly both the first past the post and proportional representation have their drawbacks. In NZ we changed from the first past the post system we had in the UK to mixed proportional representation (a combination of first past the post and proportional representation) about 18 years ago. The downside is that the whole country can be held hostage by a maverick small party who hold the balance of power, as happened in the early years. The positive side is that it’s fairer and coalition governments do work. As you may know some UK government officials came out to NZ shortly before the election to see how coalition governments can be, and are, successful.

          • Yeah, I guess it would depend on who holds the balance of power, like some small right wing nationalist party? Still, from our perspective it’s hard to see how it could get any more right wing or compromise-oriented to our detriment than our duopoly, and with low population states so grossly overrepresented in our system, the idea of any leftish party having enough being in the catbird seat and having leverage to extract concessions is pretty appealing. :)

          • I fully agree the first past the post system needs to end. I support proportional representation.

            And as you mentioned before, I think that a deal Labour and LibDems make with the small parties in Wales/Scotland/ NI is a good thing- some of these areas are painfully underdeveloped and poor.
            Such a deal would make the social inequalities and the North South divide obsolete- and this needs to happen.
            Also I support the full integration in the EU which would help as well

  9. A letter to the editors in the SF Chronicle yesterday pointed out that the oil drilled off our Coasts is not helping us. It’s extracted by foreign or multi-national corps and placed in the same pool as the rest of the world’s oil. Sure there’s some work for locals, but we are not getting control of domestic oil in terms of supply or price.

    • I didn’t know that. But doesn’t it just figure?

    • gee, I wonder if we sent a link and a letter to CNN if they would cover this fact? HA

    • I couldn’t bring myself to include it. So depressing that we added some jobs but unemployment still went up.

      • supposedly it’s because discouraged workers came back into the labor force.

        • WTH? The unemployment rate is up because people regained confidence in the job market???

          • actually, that’s typical towards the start of a recovery … discouraged workers enter the work force and you have graduating college students entering also this time of year.

            You measure unemployment by dividing the number of unemployed/labor force. The Labor Force number typical rises at the end of a recession.

          • How does one “enter the workforce” and be counted as “unemployed” – especially if they have run out of unemployment benefits. I’m confused.

          • new entrants without jobs are still counted as unemployed when they don’t have a job even though they don’t qualify for benefits.

            You just have to be actively looking for work and not working more than 1 hour at paid employment to be called unemployed. Unemployment benefits are attached to prior work.

          • How does one end up being “counted?” (there is no mechanism to capture someone filling out an application) My understanding was the unemployment rate was based upon the number of employees on the roles of each state’s unemployment benefits.

          • with the “real” numbers factoring in those who have run out of benefits and those “underemployed.”

          • They do household surveys monthly at the Labor Bureau (BLS) to get some of this information.

            http://www.bls.gov/cps/cps_htgm.htm

            There are about 60,000 households in the sample for this survey. This translates into approximately 110,000 individuals, a large sample compared to public opinion surveys which usually cover fewer than 2,000 people. The CPS sample is selected so as to be representative of the entire population of the United States. In order to select the sample, all of the counties and county-equivalent cities in the country first are grouped into 2,025 geographic areas (sampling units). The Census Bureau then designs and selects a sample consisting of 824 of these geographic areas to represent each State and the District of Columbia. The sample is a State-based design and reflects urban and rural areas, different types of industrial and farming areas, and the major geographic divisions of each State. (For a detailed explanation of CPS sampling methodology, see Chapter 1, of the BLS Handbook of Methods.)

            Every month, one-fourth of the households in the sample are changed, so that no household is interviewed more than 4 consecutive months. This practice avoids placing too heavy a burden on the households selected for the sample. After a household is interviewed for 4 consecutive months, it leaves the sample for 8 months, and then is again interviewed for the same 4 calendar months a year later, before leaving the sample for good. This procedure results in approximately 75 percent of the sample remaining the same from month to month and 50 percent from year to year.

          • I decided it was easier to link you to the BLS where they show you their methodology.

          • I always thought the surveys were used for the “real” numbers – the ones never publicly acknowledged. I thought the Bush administration started using the UC #s only for publicly announced numbers. The 9.9% doesn’t include the categoy of BLS stats subcategory of “Persons who currently want a job” under the category “Not in the Labor Force.”

          • yeah, you have to be ‘actively’ looking and not just ‘wanting’ … the wanting number is in the figure SHV put up along with folks that are underemployed like they have part time jobs but want full. They’re counted as employed even though they don’t work full time hours. Again, you just have to work 1 hour paid to be considered employed. Not a very high threshold.

          • Didn’t they make some changes to how people were categorized during the Bush years? I remember seeing the charts come out differently. You can probably catch the changes if you dig through the stats archives at BLS.

          • Stats from employment agencies? Who knows. Labor Dept is as mysterious as the Fed

          • I was actually thinking of doing a blog post on all this, but frankly, I gave my last lectures of the semester today and all e-con’d out. That’s why all my posts recently have been less than wonky.

    • U6, the more “real” and rarely mentioned metric, is up 0.2 at 17.1%.

      • Nice chart (continually updated with new data) on actual unemployment at site called Shadow Government Statistics. Person running it believes governments tend to understate bad news; feels he gives truer picture of actual stats.

        Unemployment had inched down from 22%, now back up there, per this chart.

        My take is we haven’t seen any impact from the large layoffs which state and local governments will be enacting come the new budget year.

        Bloomberg will be cutting 6000 NYC teachers at the end of the school year. Painful for individuals and for the students.

        I heard on WBAI last night that NYC Schools Chancellor Joel Klien signed an ongoing contract for $5M per year to recruit and train new treachers! Union busting? And Klein has just hired 5 new asst chancellors at salaries starting at $190K. Nice priorities you’re showing, Mayor Mike.

        NJ will be seeing layoffs in many school districts. The USPO is looking at downsizing, primarily through attrition. Other states and cities are looking at massive job cutting.

        Summer unemployment storms are in the forecast….

    • Also, that 290,000 number is jacked up (doubled) with accounting tricks

      http://edgeoforever.wordpress.com/2010/05/07/the-phony-accounting-in-the-jobs-report/

  10. I was very curious about the neanderthal story and why they specified what percentage of non-Africans had neanderthal genes, and did not specify what percentage Africans had.

    Here is what I found :

    The Leipzig group’s interbreeding theory would undercut the present belief that all human populations today draw from the same gene pool that existed a mere 50,000 years ago. “What we falsify here is the strong out-of-Africa hypothesis that everyone comes from the same population,” Dr. Paabo said.

    In his and Dr. Reich’s view, Neanderthals interbred only with non-Africans, the people who left Africa, which would mean that non-Africans drew from a second gene pool not available to Africans.

    That would explain differences in bone structure etc… but I have a tendency to think that the story is not all in. I wonder if they did testing on African DNA to see if there were any traces of the neanderthal genes. Is this an event that could have happened elsewhere besides the ME and at different periods?
    I have always wondered why there were three such distinct “looks” to people in the world.. Northern European, Asian and African. Human evolution and sociology are fascinating subjects.

    • A good read is “Before the Dawn” by Nicholas Wade. Published in 2006, it is already “dated” but gives an overview of how DNA analysis is giving a better picture of human migration, sociology, etc. It is written by a science writer for a lay audience.

      One interesting “fact” from DNA is that it seems that only a very small group (500?) of modern humans left East Africa 60-75,000(?) years ago and all non-African humans evolved from that small gene set. It is also possible that the well established Neanderthals were a block to the initial move from Africa and that the initial migration path was along the coast to Southern India with a branch going North to what is now Turkey, Iran and then West into Europe. Over 15,000 years the Neanderthal population was push west and finally became extinct in Western Spain.

      • Western Spain is nice, Portugal too. Too bad they are both also collapsing under the weight of the euro. Heavy lifting time for Germany. Bet the UK is glad they didn’t jump on the euro bandwagon. Well they have their own troubles.

      • I’ve always wanted to read that book.

    • I thought Neanderthals only lived in Europe, but I’m no expert.

      • Map showing known extent of Neanderthal “habitat”. Northern extent is essentially at the edge of the last Euro-Asian ice sheet.

        Also computer reconstruction of a Neanderthal child from skeletal remains found on Gibraltar.

  11. A while back I saw a show on the efforts to collect and decipher the Neanderthal DNA, and at the end of the show they noted that one of the first Neanerthal genes that they had found was one that causes red hair. So, the Neanerthal may have stayed around a bit longer, and further and been pushed further north as the glaciers melted.

    • Wonder if the Neanderthals were more sexist.

      • My guess is the more sexist branch is the one that survived. At least based on what we see around us and in recorded history.

  12. OT: Times Square south of 47th Street has been evacuated by the NYC police due to a suspicious package.

  13. Okay, my son showed me this today, and I was laughing my ass off! Very strange humor.

  14. This is way off topic, but is anyone else excited about Betty White hosting SNL?

    She’s funny as hell, I can’t wait! Plus, the return of some of the funniest women of SNL: TIna Fey, Rachel Dratch, Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Molly Shannon, and Ana Gasteyer. Disappointed that Cheri Oteri won’t be joining them.

    I don’t care what anyone says, during the 90’s and early 2000’s, the women really held that show down. Now, it’s a total sausagefest with Kristin Wiig thrown in every now and then.

    • I love Betty White. Her greatest role was Sue Ann Nivens on the Mary Tyler Moore Show.

    • Good point. Women really were the stars there for a while. Cheri, Maya, Rachel are my favs. Boys haven’t been funny since Mike Myers. Good luck Betty.

  15. Supreme Court of Canada Decision on Journalists and Sourves

    Link

    No blanket immunity for journalistic sources,
    top court rulesSupreme Court says protections to be determined on case-by-case basis

    OTTAWA—In a landmark ruling, Canada’s highest court says journalists do not enjoy a special constitutional protection to shield the identity of sources of information during police investigations.

    But in a ruling that media lawyers say bolsters the cause of journalism published in the public interest, the high court declared Friday that protection may be extended on a case-by-case basis.

    The court said a source’s anonymity could be protected if a media outlet was able to prove the public interest in shielding a source outweighs the interest in investigating a crime.

    I think it’s a really good decision.

  16. Hi, Check out our blog – miscellani.org if you’re looking for info on the British Election. I’m a Brit and my co-editor is American.

    We are PUMA/ex-PUMA friendly, as Victoria supported Clinton in the Primairies and was disaffected by the whole process (I think she posts on here sometimes) and I am a long time Clinton admirer myself.

    Let’s see if I got it: in UK. the libDems are our B0bots – teaming up with the Torries to bring back the Democrats/Labor

    Huh? No that is way out. How can the Tories bring back Labour, why would they? Thats like saying the Republicans will bring back the Democrats. Sorry.

    The Lib Dems (Liberal Democrats) are the 3rd Party in UK politics, Labour are the democrats and Conservatives are the republicans. Both have been the major parties for the last 65 years. ie no one else has won the election outright apart from those two.

    Hung Parliament is when in the first past the post system no single party can form a majority – half the house of commons + 1

    In this election, the Liberal Democrats have campaigned for electoral reform – proportional representation, and now with it being no overall control or a hung parliament they are in a strong position to force one of the major parties to grant a referendum on reform as a condition of any support. They are a liberal party of the left, more ideologically aligned with the Labour Party (party of the working class) but the LDs are also more appealing to the middle classes, which is why there some crossover with Tory Party (Cons) who appeal more to the rich.

    Anyway, read more in Politics 101 for the UK General Election or check out the series if you’d like to learn more.

  17. Anyway both the conservatives and the labour party are trying to woo the liberal democrats into forming a coalition government, but a condition of which must be that they agree with the Liberal Democrats demands for electoral reform.

    The Conservatives won the most seats, but the Labour Party are the incumbent government and are the second largest party, so they don’t have to give up unless they can no longer command a majority in the house of commons – this is where coalitions come in. If no one can form a government there will have to be a new election. Hope this has explained it for you, but seriously I hope that 101 post will be helpful and interesting to you.

    keep on rocking, conflucians.

    • What I don’t understand is why Clegg would consider aligning with the conservatives. Superficially, it seems like maybe the fact that his party did worse than expected while Labour did better might indicate that many of his would-be voters bailed out of fear of a Conservative government, and if that turns out to be true, wouldn’t that alliance really, really harm his party?I understand the democracy argument, but the numbers I saw, if they were updated, more people voted for leftish parties, together, than the Conservatives, so, confused?

      • Because I don’t think he is aligning himself with the Conservatives, not yet. It’s about playing the longer game, and being seen to be a statesman. No deals have yet been done but the Tories are the largest Party. During the campaign he said that in the event of a hung parliament he would listen to what the British People were saying. In this eventuality its difficult to hear just what has been said.

        Its more likely that he would simply allow the tories to form a government by not blocking them and join the opposition while the tories form a minority government.

        Its true to say that many Lib Dem voters probably did panic in the face of an incoming Tory governernment and bailed instead of voting with their conscience… but some Lib Dem voters would also be more moderate conservatives.

        However, its a good point you’ve made that many of the lib dem grassroots would think it a betrayal. There are others who would think that joining with the Labour party would be a betrayal, because of their records on Civil liberties. the Labour Party have done more harm in this respect since they have been in power for 14 years. So its a very difficult balancing act he has to do. In the end, I personally think that a LibLab coalition is more likely, but he has to listen to what the largest party have to say first. And the Tories cannot form a government without him. Its like a game of poker and he and the Lib Dem party holds the cards.

        • Thanks. :)

        • Commenter on NewsHour tonight said LibDems would stay outside the government, but would support the Tories from the outside. Thought Cameron would form minority government and be forced into early elections.

          Stressed that LibDems’ principles are almost opposite Conservatives’ on many, many issues.

          • I believe a repeated election would probably be a labour win.
            LibDems have very little in common with the Tories, and from what I am seeing a lot of people who voted LibDem due to a certain insatisfaction with labour are appalled at the idea of a LibTory coalition. Clegg has lost and he probably knows this well enough- if he follows his head he will ally with labour and bring an electoral reform about that might give them more chances.
            The votes LibDems have shaved off were Labour votes, and those people will probably go back to Labour if Clegg betrays everything his party stands for in his pursuit of power.

            [quote]The Labour Party have had 13 years to deliver electoral reform. Why are they only offering it now?[/quote]

            Because they didn’t need it. Whether you are willing to admit it or not, before the recession hit us Britain lived well under Labour. This small Tory victory has 2 motivations- a rise in anti immigration sentiment and the immense amount of cash that was invested in Tories- which they spent on blaming Gordon Brown for the global recession.

          • Whether you are willing to admit it or not, before the recession hit us Britain lived well under Labour. This small Tory victory has 2 motivations- a rise in anti immigration sentiment and the immense amount of cash that was invested in Tories- which they spent on blaming Gordon Brown for the global recession.

            I tried to be clear on my blog what Labour have done right and what they have done wrong. They have done a lot of good for the UK prior to the recession and have a good record in public services, reasonably pro women and minorities, and a better record on employment than the previous government (although not good enough!) however their record on civil liberties is poor as they have become more and more paranoid and power hungry. The ID cards policy and the database state, pro surveillance measures and illegal detention and the Iraq war are all good examples of where Labour have done poorly and do not sit well with Liberal values.

            The Labour Party have had 13 years to deliver electoral reform. Why are they only offering it now?

            Because they didn’t need it.

            Which is exactly the problem. They are only willing to offer it now to hang on to power.

            But if the Labour party are willing to bring their policies back into line and turn left instead of drifting to the right as they have been then there would be a better chance of forming a so called “progressive” coalition.

  18. Can someone check my other post and move it out of moderation please xx

  19. And as for doing worse than expected, perhaps after all the hype yes, and in terms of seats, down 5, but an increase in popular vote by 1% since 2005 which demonstrates clearly the need for reform. The Lib Dems have a very strong mandate for electoral reform, and they (as the Liberals as was) have been burned by Labour before in this regard. So they have to hold their cards close.

  20. Put it another way. The Labour Party have had 13 years to deliver electoral reform. Why are they only offering it now? And why is it still not going far enough. Both the Tories and the Labour party would like to protect the status quo.

    Lib Dems got 23% of the votes but only 7.8% of the seats. This is why electoral reform is so important. And also back to the Conservative thing again, he hasn’t made any deals, he is simply talking to the party with the largest share of the vote and the largest number of seats.

    The outcome of those talks will not necessarily produce a coalition government. In fact I’d say that outcome was unlikely. But the Labour Party haven’t earned Lib Dem support either. Both parties want it to prop up their own failed parties… So why should Lib Dems just jump into bed with them either?

    The deal if their is to be one has to be right for the British public and for the Liberal Democrats or else why not just have a new election?

    • Sorry for going on :lol: It’s easier for me sometime when I just prepare a blog post rather than just trying to answer questions. Although I do enjoy the discussion too.

    • the Lib Dems are an irrelevant party with a shady leader who found themselves put at the front of the elections with no merit of their own.
      With a lot of money behind them and a lot of propaganda, PLUS a weak opposition from both Tories ( lol David Cameron) and Labour ( who need new leadership, wth Brown is, a politician he is not), Lib Dems have managed a 1 percent increase in votes from 2005- which is nothing – and a loss of 5 seats, which is very bad. The only thing they have achieved is to weaken Labour and nothing else.

      Their program is an idiotic amalgam of good ideas (joining the Euro and full integration in the EU) with very bad ones ( VAT on newly built houses, which stinks of privilege to high heaven).

      • What is your view on Labours ID Card scheme, the Surveillance State and the DNA database with close to a million innocent people on it. Every party can have bad ideas as well as good, the difference is Labour have actually implented them.

        • in a country plagued with identity fraud? I support the ID card scheme from the bottom of my heart.

          And I can probably put up a list with all the Tories have done to Britain as well. Or I could post some pictures of Sheffield.

          As for the LibDems, I like some of their ideas, BUT:
          1. I hate lobbyists ( See Nick Clegg RBS)
          2. I dislike and mistrust rich people talking from the top of their privilege heap ( see the adding VAT to newly built houses idea which WILL price a lot of people like me off the property ladder. The thought that “this will push young people to buy old homes and do them p” is idiotic and stinks of privilege to high heaven. It sounds and feels like something an idiot who believes the BBC fix up shows would say.
          Old homes are CRAP, and I should know since I live in one. Half or more should be demolished because they are almost unfit to live in.
          Yeah they look nice and British, but live in my drafty flat with a huge heating bill and you’ll see what I am talking about.

          • in a country plagued with identity fraud? I support the ID card scheme from the bottom of my heart.

            And the database? As always with New Labour, they use fear to control the masses and interfere in their private lives. And yet their record on conrolling data and keeping it private is appalling. On the very first day of the trial of the ID Cards in Manchester database someone cloned an ID card . So who benefits and who loses from it? Criminals gain and ordinary law abiding citizens lose as their every movement is calculated and sent to Big Brother New Labour.

            Always more and more legislation that is expensive to implement, unnecessary and unworkable. We already have enough forms identification, we do not need more and we certainly do not need to be on a government database that they cannot control the security of to protect us from ourselves.

          • I support the ID cards done right. Some of the surveillance stuff- like the speed camera- worked as well.
            I see you’re avoiding to touch Clegg’s lobbyist background.

          • No ones perfect, I don’t hold what someone did for 8 and a half months in a part time capacity against them. Peoples views can change over time as a result of what they have done in the past in any case.

          • The problem is that the ID Database isn’t done right, never will be and is being done for the wrong reasons. It will do nothing to stop terrorism nor the top end of id fraud. Surveillance I am talking about is not speed cameras but the ever increasing CCTV cameras and for example the fact that councils have been given the right to snoop on people just because they are late paying their council tax or put their rubbish in the wrong bin.

  21. I would just like to make a correction. Victoria – my co-editor voted McKinney, although she preffered Clinton over Obama. Public apologies to Victoria for getting that part confused.

    • Thanks so much for filling us in on British politics! It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

      Isn’t Brown really unpopular? Will that affect what happens, or is it just based on party loyalty? That’s what I heard on NPR yesterday.

      • Brown is not a politician, and he lacks the gift of the gab a politician needs in Britain. He is however a decent financier who has done good under Blair.

        Labour needs a new rabid dog like Blair. The party is GOOD, they dragged Britain kicking and screaming into the 21st century and have several achievements under their belt- 10 years of prosperity, mandatory minimal wages, gender bill etc which will ensure that their base stays put.

      • Isn’t Brown really unpopular? Will that affect what happens, or is it just based on party loyalty?

        Yes he is. I believe there would be a greater possibility of a Lib/Lab coalition if he stepped down. A Labour MP has today called for his resignation and said the same thing.

        • I want Blair back.
          Even better, I want one of the minority MPs to take charge. I’m from Leicester. I would shit a chicken if Manjula Sood went into national politics ( as opposed to local) and became an MP. Or Keith Vaz

          Appointing Brown as PM was a mistake of equal horrendousness with going into Iraq on Blair’s behalf.

  22. Rick Sanchez does it again:

    When a the teleprompter told Sanchez earlier this week to ad lib a tease for the next segment, Sanchez said on air: “Up next: Ad lib. A tease. That’s what it says right here. I’m supposed to ad lib about something that is…that I should know about, right?”

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/rick-sanchezs-ron-burgundy-moment

  23. Has Pat Robertson come out yet and said that god hates country western music since the flood ruined the grand ole’ opry?

  24. Brilliant truly brilliant! Of course it’s “truly” because of all that homo stuff but being in Nashville instead of NO, it would be a much harder sell – ergo no comment whatsoever – not even a supportive one. Guess the man is the king of selective conscienceness – got money, you’re good.

  25. This is why Nick Clegg would commit political suicide to ally with Tories.

  26. And I don’t disagree. He’s damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t though, because the Tories are now the largest party with the largest number of votes. So I don’t think he has a choice than to at least hear what they have to say. Perhaps if Labour had sorted themselves out before the election or put electoral reform on the table at a much earlier stage then we wouldn’t be in this horrible position.

  27. that should be *and* not or.

  28. if the Tories wouldn’t be so poisonous, I’d say- let them go into opposition and sort their shit out.
    I work within the local authority. Labour have good hearts, albeit not very good heads. They have done a LOT for Britain.
    Labour however is missing a good head. Blair was that.
    Brown isn’t.
    The problem is that Britain can’t afford Tories ever again.

  29. Leave the Tories to go at it alone.
    New elections in 3 months :D

  30. There is an argument, made by the Bank of England governor (or was it former Bank of england governor?) a week or so ago, that whoever forms this government will have to make cuts so deep to protect the economy, that they will become so unpopular that they will spend another generation in the wilderness. I am not sure I go along with that as they all have differing opinions on the economy, but it is food for thought.

  31. It is probably true. Or raise taxes.

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