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.
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:
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.
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.
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!)
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!!!!
Filed under: General | Tagged: Arlen Specter, Barack Obama, British election, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Gulf oild spill, Health Care Reform, Joe Sestak, New York Times, Nick Clegg, Scarlett Johansson, unintended consequences | 152 Comments »