Good Morning Conflucians!!!
What a week. From the lamest of car bomb attempts in NY to oil leaking toward NOLA to tornados seemingly everywhere else, all while Washington elite have fun and party with their new found power and nearly unlimited riches. It’s definitely one of those weeks where you’d rather just stay in bed. Or at least do some serious drinking. Wonder what the new week will have in store for us. Can’t be worse. Oh, why on earth did I just say that. Let’s see what happening around the news.
NY Mayor is feeling very luck the bomb attempt was so pathetic:
A crude car bomb of propane, gasoline and fireworks was discovered in a smoking Nissan Pathfinder in the heart of Times Square on Saturday evening, prompting the evacuation of thousands of tourists and theatergoers on a warm and busy night. Although the device had apparently started to detonate, there was no explosion, and early on Sunday the authorities were still seeking a suspect and motive.
“We are very lucky,” Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said at a 2:15 a.m. press conference. “We avoided what could have been a very deadly event.”
A large swath of Midtown — from 43rd Street to 48th Street, and from Sixth to Eighth Avenues — was closed for much of the evening after the Pathfinder was discovered just off Broadway on 45th Street. Several theaters and stores, as well as the South Tower of the New York Marriott Marquis Hotel, were evacuated.
In a move that can only be described as signaling a shift from politics to comedy, Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is headed to the US to talk at a nuclear non proliferation conference:
Ahmadinejad will address the the United Nations Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference in New York on Monday, spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast told Iran’s News Network.
Ahmadinejad told reporters in Tehran before his departure that the NPT has failed.
“The biggest threat to the world today is the production and stockpiling of nuclear weapons,” he said.
“Unfortunately the [International Atomic Energy Agency] in the past 40 years has not been successful in its mission. We have no disarmament or nonproliferation and some countries have even procured the nuclear bomb during this period,” Ahmadinejad said Sunday.
In another clear entry to the comedy circuit, President Obama is urging congress to act quickly on campaign finance reform:
Corporations will gain even more influence over American politics and government this year, President Obama said Saturday, unless Congress acts quickly to stop campaign spending by big government contractors and to force corporate donors to reveal who they are in broadcast campaign ads.
“The American people have a right to know when some group like “Citizens for a Better Future’ is actually funded by ‘Corporations for Weaker Oversight’,” Obama said during his weekly radio address.
Who knew, but so far I’m finding the news very funny this morning. Let’s see what else is happening. Nope, the comedy just ended, there was s correspondents dinner yesterday evening. I watched quite a bit of it. It was probably the worst TV I’ve seen since the GS/Wall Street sponsored 2008/2009 election show. Here’s CNN’s wrong take on it:
President Obama’s punch lines targeted a diverse group Saturday — from teen sensations the Jonas Brothers to comedian Jay Leno, whom he described as the only person with worse ratings than his.
“Jonas Brothers are here tonight,” the president said at the annual White House Correspondents’ dinner. Daughters “Sasha and Malia are huge fans. But boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words: predator drones.”
Obama said he was happy to address the crowd before Leno, who headlined the annual event.
“Glad to see the only person whose ratings fell more than mine last year. … I’m also glad that I’m speaking first,” he said.
“We’ve seen what happens when someone takes the time slot after Leno,” the president added, referring to comedian Conan O’Brien leaving NBC after an unsuccessful stint hosting “The Tonight Show.”
Oh it was bad. Embarrassingly bad. Actually the worst I’ve ever seen. In fact, I would say it was so bad, it was historic.
FBI is said to be investigating possible bribes from Massy, owner of the WV mine (though they deny it):
NPR News has learned that the Mine Safety and Health Administration is one subject of a federal criminal investigation surrounding the explosion of the Upper Big Branch mine in West Virginia three weeks ago — a disaster that killed 29 miners. The probe also looks at Massey Energy, the owner of the mine.
Sources familiar with the investigation say the FBI is looking into possible bribery of employees of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, the federal agency that inspects and regulates mining. The sources say FBI agents are also exploring potential criminal negligence on the part of Massey Energy, the owner of the Upper Big Branch mine.
Here’s a brief summary of what’s happening with the oil spill. First from Reuters:
Crude oil is pouring out at a rate of up to 5,000 barrels (210,000 gallons or 955,000 liters) a day. Forecasters predict the spill will soon invade the coastlines of Mississippi, Alabama and northwest Florida.
So far, efforts to stop the flow of oil have failed. If unchecked, it will take about 50 days for the leak to eclipse the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill in Alaska, the worst U.S. oil spill, which sent 10.8 million gallons (49 million liters) of crude oil into Alaska’s Prince William Sound.
The accident forced Obama to put on hold politically sensitive plans to expand offshore U.S. oil drilling, which he unveiled last month, partly to try to win Republican support for climate change legislation.
Obama said domestic oil drilling remained an important part of the U.S. energy policy, but insisted it must be done responsibly.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar said he told BP to “work harder and faster and smarter to get the job done.”
“We cannot rest and we will not rest until BP permanently seals the wellhead and cleans up every drop of oil,” Salazar said in Louisiana, where Governor Bobby Jindal has declared a state of emergency.
So, they’re not resting. Nope. You didn’t see them resting last night. They’re on the job. And a hell of a job it is too.
Discovery has a bit about it along with some nice details of the chemistry behind it all:
Among the plethora of poisonous chemicals that you can absorb into your body by just breathing or getting oil on your skin include benzene, toluene and xylene. These can cause everything from a quick sensation of drunkenness (coupled with hangover-from-hell symptoms), to cancers and other diseases of the kidneys, liver, bone marrow, lungs and central nervous system.
Even your skin isn’t safe, because the oil can cause chemical burns, Warnock said.
“You don’t want this on you,” said Warnock. “You don’t want to be breathing it.”
Other sure signs the oil spill has arrived are a sheen on the water, sticky tar balls on the shore, oiled wildlife on the beach and rafts of debris caught up in the oil.
“As this oil comes along it’s like a big, sticky sponge that’s picking things up,” said Christopher Reddy, oil spill researcher at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. At the same time, every hour that the oil is exposed to the air and water, it is rapidly being “weathered,” Reddy explained.
We are definitely hurting. And it’s just beginning. It’s heading to Florida too by the way. But Jindal is on the case:
In an afternoon news conference with Obama administration officials, Jindal said he was worried that miles of booms deployed offshore are “not effective” in preventing oil from damaging coastal areas, wildlife and the livelihoods of fishermen. He announced that he is seeking to mobilize 6,000 National Guard soldiers and airmen for 90 days of duty to help provide security and support the response to the oil spill.
“I do have concerns that BP’s current resources are not adequate” to meet three main challenges from the disaster: stopping the leak of oil from a damaged undersea well, protecting the coast and carrying out a swift cleanup.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who visited the area with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and other federal officials, stressed that BP, which owns the leaking oil, is “the responsible party” under U.S. law and is “required to fund the cost of cleanup operations.” She urged the company to “leverage additional assets” for the effort.
“We have anticipated and planned for a worst-case scenario from day one,” Napolitano said. She said the administration is using all available resources to respond to the disaster.
Shortly after this, they all went to a big giant party.
Let’s switch gears. It’s looking like Japan is heading to space, but in a greener way:
Could this be the start of greener space programs? Next month, Japan is launching a spacecraft powered by solar sails into deep space. The Ikaros, as the vessel has been dubbed, will take to the skies on May 18, 2010.
Ikaros stands for “Interplanetary Kite-craft Accelerated by Radiation of the Sun.” The name is also a reference to the Greek myth of Icarus, a young man who, with his father Daedalus, attempted to escape exile in Crete by fashioning wings of feathers and wax. According to the myth, Icarus flew too close to the sun, and the heat melted the wax in his wings, causing him to plummet to his death. We certainly hope Ikarus the spaceship meets a happier fate when the rocket that carries it takes off from the Tanegashima Space Center.
Its creators call the Ikaros a “space yacht.” Its 46-foot sails are thinner than human hair; they will propel the vessel by harnessing the pressure of sunlight particles as they collide with the sails. The Ikarus is also outfitted will thin solar cells to help generate electricity.
Here’s an interesting article about how the politics of immigration reform has shifted to the right since Democrats took over congress:
As protesters in 80 U.S. cities demanded an overhaul Saturday of the nation’s immigration laws, fueled in part by anger over a measure enacted two weeks ago in Arizona, a new proposal by Senate Democrats shows how far the debate has shifted to the right since Congress took up the issue in 2007, advocates on both sides said.
The Democrats’ legislative “framework” includes a slew of new immigration enforcement measures aimed at U.S. borders and workplaces. It would further expand the 20,000-member Border Patrol; triple fines against U.S. employers that hire illegal immigrants; and, most controversially, require all American workers — citizens and non-citizens alike — to get new Social Security cards linked to their fingerprints to ease work eligibility checks.
The plan’s emphasis on “securing the border first” before taking steps to allow many of an estimated 11 million illegal immigrants living in the United States to pay fines and apply for legal status was plainly a gesture to Republicans. Even so, no Republican is supporting it, not even Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who has been working with Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) in bipartisan talks over the issue for months.
Wow, these new Dems have shifted to the right. Surprise, surprise. Oh wait, no I’m not, we’ve been talking about this new party and the faux progressives for years.
For more humor, Dems are asking the WH to stop bashing DC so much:
In a closed-door meeting on Thursday, Nancy Pelosi’s campaign chief and Majority Whip Jim Clyburn asked David Axelrod if the White House might be so kind as to stop talking so much trash about Washington, D.C. Their concern? Persistent White House attacks on D.C. culture reflect far worse on the Democrats, who are in charge, than Republicans. So they asked if the president could stop blaming “Washington” and “Congress” for everything and start blaming the GOP instead. According to Politico, David Axelrod basically told them to stop whining.
That cracks me up.
Big dawg is urging that the climate bill should come first:
Former president Bill Clinton said Wednesday that he’s hopeful climate bill negotiations will get back on track — even though he understands the frustrations of both Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Democrats looking to move forward on immigration.
“It would help a lot if they got something done because if you price carbon, then the industries of America that have the cash would respond to it. Most of the big manufacturers that I deal with and industrial users would want a deal very badly,” Clinton told POLITICO.
And here some interesting news. The Republican party has a record number of women running for house seats:
Nearly two years after Sarah Palin became the Republican Party’s first female vice presidential nominee, record numbers of Republican women are running for House seats, driving the overall count of women running for both the House and the Senate to a new high.
The surge in female candidates has taken place largely under the radar. The previous high came in 1992, the Year of the Woman, when the percentage of women in Congress reached double digits for the first time. That year, 222 women filed to run for the House and 29 for the Senate.
So far this year, 239 women are candidates for the House and 31 for the Senate, according to data from the Rutgers University’s Center for American Women and Politics. Among them, a record 107 Republican women have filed to run for a House seat, according to the National Republican Congressional Committee — surpassing a previous GOP high of 91 in 1994 and a sharp increase from the 65 who ran in 2008. And those numbers could grow. In each year that Rutgers has been keeping track, the final tally has exceeded the late April figure by more than 20.
“It looks like it is going to be a record year,” said Gilda Morales, who crunches the data for the Rutgers women’s center. “What’s bringing these numbers up is Republican women.”
The jump in female GOP candidates mirrors the enthusiasm among Republicans in general, said Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (Wash.), who leads efforts to recruit female candidates for the NRCC. “I just think overall candidate recruitment is going well for the Republicans after two cycles where it’s been more difficult for us.”
Anything to get the percentage up is a good thing. More power to them. I wish they would be on the side of women’s rights. Then again, I wish the Dems were on the side of women’s rights.
That’s a bit of what’s happening today. Chime in with what you’re seeing today.