Good Morning Conflucians!!!
Election fever is upon us. And it’s not pretty out there. We’ve heard what the politicians have to say, we’ve heard what the pundits have to say, and we’ve heard what blogastan has to say. Only 16 days until we discover what Americans have say. Let’s see what’s in the news.
As is often the case, when economic times get rough, everyone looks for who to blame. Instead of the obvious culprits, assuming it’s not a natural, expected part of some cycle, which is almost always who has power, the people in power help everyone find someone else to blame. Often it’s the foreigners. There is perhaps some of that happening in Germany:
Mrs Merkel told a gathering of younger members of her conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU) party on Saturday that at “the beginning of the 60s our country called the foreign workers to come to Germany and now they live in our country… We kidded ourselves a while, we said: ‘They won’t stay, sometime they will be gone’, but this isn’t reality.
“And of course, the approach [to build] a multicultural [society] and to live side-by-side and to enjoy each other… has failed, utterly failed.”
In her speech, the chancellor specifically referred to recent comments by German President Christian Wulff who said that Islam was “part of Germany” like Christianity and Judaism.
While acknowledging that this was the case, Mrs Merkel stressed that immigrants living in Germany needed to do more to integrate, including learning to speak German.
“We should not be a country either which gives the impression to the outside world that those who don’t speak German immediately or who were not raised speaking German are not welcome here,” she said. “That would do great damage to our country.”
By speaking now, Mrs Merkel has now joined the increasingly hot debate on multiculturalism, coming down on the side of those who are uneasy about immigration, says the BBC’s correspondent in Berlin, Stephen Evans.
That isn’t to say there aren’t immigration problems there like here, and there aren’t problems with especially large groups and their slow integration. But you might want to have your antennae up during hard economic times especially and make sure such discussions are really only about those issues.
The protests in France over their pension plan reform efforts are intensifying:
The battle over a planned overhaul of France’s pension system has intensified, with hundreds of thousands of people taking part in the latest of a series of protests across the country.
Labour unions said that more than 2.5 million people joined the demonstrations on Saturday as strikes
at shut down oil refineries, sparking fears of a petrol shortage, and temporarily cut supplies to Paris’s airports.
“Both sides seem to be really digging their heels in. [President] Sarkozy wants people to know he’s not giving into pressure from the street,” Al Jazeera’s Jacky Rowland, reporting from the French capital, said.
A broad alliance of unions, left-wing parties and students warned that another nationwide protest will be held on Tuesday in a final attempt to stop the legislation, which would raise the retirement age from 60 to 62 and see state pensions not awarded until aged 67, ahead of a government vote on Wednesday.
About 300,000 people had marched from Place de la Republique to Place de la Nation in Paris on Saturday, the labour unions said, but the government has claimed that the protests might be losing steam.
The government said it had counted 850,000 marchers at Saturday’s protest, down from 899,000 at a previous demonstration on October 2.
“I think the French people have understood that pension reform is essential and necessary,” Eric Woerth, the labour minister, told French television.
Read on for more details of what’s going on.
Closer to home, the important news of yesterday, was of course Giants beat the Phillies 4 to 3:
Tim Lincecum said he laughed when he heard the whistling in the stands at Citizens Bank Park.
The visiting pitcher was stepping into the batter’s box and the fans wanted to let him know that his long hair made him look like a woman.
“I was thinking I must have a nice butt,” Lincecum said. “I’ve never been whistled at by that many guys. I actually enjoyed it.”
But as the game advanced into the later stages, the atmosphere in the ballpark turned from fun to angry. In the same city where Santa Claus was once booed and pelted with snowballs, fans were resorted to blurting obscenities.
The San Francisco Giants were on their way to a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Phillies and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven National League Championship Series.
The crowd inspired the Giants — “It kind of heightens you a bit,” Lincecum said — but it also confused some of them.
“Whistling at guys, I don’t know what that means,” closer Brian Wilson deadpanned. “I didn’t really understand it.”
We’ll see how the rest of the games turn out. Go Giants!
And speaking of trash talking your opponents, let’s get back to politics. Both sides are raising record amounts of money. Certainly not from us broke-ass “little people” but from the usual sources. Here’s a article on money for GOP governors as an example:
The Republican Governors Association raised more than $30 million in the past three months with the help of sizable donations from Wall Street investors, the oil and gas industry, the Michigan Chamber of Commerce and other companies.
Fund-raising reports covering July through September showed that the Republican governors group had one of its best fund-raising periods ever, with donations ranging from $1, from one of its own employees, to nearly $3 million from the Michigan business association. News Corp., publisher of The Wall Street Journal, donated $250,000.
The Republican haul overwhelmed the $10 million raised by its counterpart, the Democratic Governors Association. Both groups plan to spend record amounts on the gubernatorial elections. The Democratic Governors Association says it will spend $50 million this election, while the Republican Governors Association could spend about $65 million.
The stakes are huge in this year’s campaigns for governor. For one, there are more gubernatorial elections this year—37 in all—than ever before. The governors who win next month’s elections will help decide how new congressional districts will be drawn as a result of the recent Census. Both sides say this redistricting process could help swing as many as 30 seats in the U.S. House.
Among the top donors were Paul Singer, the head of hedge fund Elliott Management, and several of his colleagues. Singer donated $1.6 million to the Republican Governors Association during the period and a total of $2 million for the year. Seven of his colleagues kicked in an additional $250,000, records show.
The largest donor was the Michigan Chamber of Commerce, which donated $2.8 million in the three-month period and a total of $5.4 million for the year.
Read on for more examples of the rich and powerful exercising free speech. Yea, that’s snark.
Meanwhile the dollar is sinking ever lower because of what the Fed will likely do:
The dollar fell for a fifth week against the euro, matching a losing streak that ended in December 2008, as traders speculated the Federal Reserve will further ease monetary policy, debasing the greenback.
The U.S. currency dropped this week to a 15-year low against the yen and fell to parity with the Australian and Canadian dollars before next week’s Fed report on regional economies. Asian currencies rallied against the dollar as Singapore sought faster currency appreciation, pulling back from efforts to stem gains.
“There’s a bit of push and pull in dollar weakness: the push has been revolving around quantitative easing, and the pull has been the attractiveness of emerging-market currencies,” said Alan Ruskin, global head of Group of 10 foreign-exchange strategy at Deutsche Bank AG in New York.
The dollar fell 0.3 percent to $1.3977 per euro, from $1.3939 on Oct. 8 It slid to $1.4159 yesterday, the weakest level since Jan. 26. The greenback slid 0.6 percent to 81.45 yen, from 81.93 last week. It touched 80.88 yesterday, the weakest level since April 1995, when it reached the post-World War II low of 79.75 yen. The euro dropped 0.3 percent to 113.88 yen, from 114.19.
The U.S. currency’s five weeks of decline against the euro tied a stretch of losses during a period that ended Dec. 26, 2008. The central bank cut its fed funds target that month to a range of zero to 0.25 percent.
So what’s the outcome of Reid’s horrible performance against batshit crazy Angle (or is that an insult to guano?), CBS has a take on it:
On Friday’s Washington Unplugged, Politico Editor-in-Chief John Harris told CBS News’ John Dickerson that, in his opinion, the debate was a draw.
“You had two candidates who seemed determined not to make big mistakes. It made kind of a stilted performance,” Harris said. “I didn’t find any of the candidates that impressive but I am struck that it was a pretty tepid performance by Reid when what he really needs is to figure out a way to put Angle away.”
Harris added: “He clearly didn’t do that with that performance and so a candidate that people said is too extreme to win actually seems in pretty good position.” He said Angle has “even odds” of winning the race.
The notable sound bite from the debate came from Angle when she told Reid he needed to “man up” when it came to Social Security. Harris told Dickerson this phrase has been used throughout this year’s midterm cycle.
“This seems to be the new catch phrase of 2010,” he said. “Robin Carnahan also used that against her opponent Roy Blunt in yesterday in Missouri, telling him to man up.”
Another example he cited was New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. “It was a year ago now Governor Christie of New Jersey, I think had first used that. He said when people were questioning his size, he said, “Man up and say I’m fat.”
If you’re a long time Senator and a Speaker of the Senate and you debate someone who is nuts, and the debate looks like a draw, who do you think comes out ahead. Come on CBS, you can do better than that. Reid should have never debated her if that’s the best he could do. Same goes with Delaware. Who’s advising these people?
Meanwhile Obama is on the road campaigning. He was in MA stumping for his echo, Deval Patrick. No wait, that’s right Obama is Patrick’s echo. I can never remember. So many echo’s, so little time. Here’s some coverage of that:
As part of a national effort to help Democratic candidates, Obama arrived in the Back Bay with recent polls showing the gubernatorial race nearly a dead heat between Patrick and Republican challenger Charles D. Baker. The president said Patrick has qualities that make him stand above other candidates who are trying to ride the electorate’s prevailing mood of anger at government into office.
“When too many folks bow to the politics of the moment, he represents the politics of conscience and conviction,’’ Obama said of Patrick, who sat on a stool beside the president. “In an age of too much cynicism, he has matched unbending optimism with unyielding effort to move Massachusetts forward.’’
Obama also repeated a critique of Republican policies he has been deliv ering around the country.
“Between 2001 and 2009, we saw the most sluggish job growth since World War II,’’ Obama told the crowd. “If they win this election, a chair of the Republican Party has already promised that they’d pursue the same agenda. It’s an agenda that turned a record surplus to a record deficit.’’
So he’s saying don’t vote for Republicans because they will deficit spend. Vs. Democrats who will tighten the budget and try to balance it. Hmm, during a bad recession, he’s making it sound like the Republicans have it right. Oops.
There’s been a lot of talk about BPA, a chemical used to create some types of clear plastic. There are a number of safety concerns and some studies. Canada has seen enough and has declared it a toxic substance:
The government of Canada formally declared bisphenol A, a chemical widely used to create clear, hard plastics, as well as food can liners, to be a toxic substance on Wednesday.
The compound, commonly known as BPA, has been shown to disrupt the hormone systems of animals and is under review in the United States and Europe.
Canada’s move, which was strenuously fought by the chemical industry, followed an announcement by the government two years ago that it would eliminate the compound’s use in polycarbonate bottles used by infants and children.
The compound was formally listed as being toxic to both the environment and human health in an official notice published online by the government without fanfare, a noticeable contrast to the earlier baby bottle announcement, which was made by two cabinet ministers.
George M. Enei, the director general of science and risk assessment at Environment Canada, one of two government departments that made the designation, said the move would make it easier to ban the use of BPA in specific products through regulations rather than by amending legislation, a cumbersome and slow process.
In some cool news, these new fangled tablet computers are finding great uses in helping disabled kids:
The rise of mainstream tablet computers is proving to have unforeseen benefits for children with speech and communication problems—and such use has the potential to disrupt a business where specialized devices can cost thousands of dollars.
Before she got an iPad at age two, Caleigh Gray couldn’t respond to yes-or-no questions. Now Caleigh, who has been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, uses a $190 software application that speaks the words associated with pictures she touches on Apple Inc.’s device.
“We’re not having to fight to prove to people that she is a smart little girl anymore, because it’s there once they see her using the iPad,” said Caleigh’s mother, Holly Gray, who said her daughter can use the tablet to identify colors or ask to go outside.
The software, called Proloquo2Go by a company called AssistiveWare BV, is one of a growing number of apps aimed at people with speech difficulties developed for Apple’s gadgets. Some of the apps offer images that users can press to make the sound of a word; others lead students through stories to teach them basic speech patterns.
Companies are also planning such apps for upcoming tablets that run Google Inc.’s Android software.
Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said in an interview that he hopes the easy-to-use design of the iPad has helped children with special needs take to the device more quickly, but that its use in therapy wasn’t something Apple engineers could have foreseen.
“We take no credit for this, and that’s not our intention,” Mr. Jobs said, adding that the emails he gets from parents resonate with him. “Our intention is to say something is going on here,” and researchers should “take a look at this.”
Read on for more examples.
That’s just a bit of what’s happening. Chime in with what you’re hearing and reading.