Though Ms Fernández is celebrating what she calls “a decade won” at a rally on Saturday night – in counterpoint to Latin America’s so-called “lost decade” of economic stagnation and crisis in the 1980s – six of the past 10 years in Argentina have been blighted by stubbornly high real inflation, now estimated at about 24 per cent, and discredited official data.Ten years of socialism can have that effect...
Argentina is mired in disputes with trade partners; with Spain’s Repsol over the expropriation of 51 per cent of Argentine energy company YPF last year; and with “vulture funds” that bought defaulted debt cheaply and are now suing to collect in full. That lawsuit could trigger a new sovereign default.
“We could be doing so much better,” laments Enrique González, a retired driver, as he walks his dog in a Buenos Aires park.
Friday, May 24, 2013
So how is Argentina faring ten years after the semi-hot socialist lady and her husband took over? Not so hot:
The most popular country in the world is-Germany?
...the BBC poll found that 59 percent of respondents called Germany’s impact on the world “mostly positive,” versus 45 percent for the U.S., which falls around the middle of the 22 tracked countries, and 15 percent for Iran, which ranks last. The poll ranks 22 major countries and the E.U.Maybe that's because, unlike some of its neighbors, Germany has its house in better order...
The affection for Germany is interesting, particularly among European countries, because it comes at a time when Germany and the rest of E.U. share precious little common ground. Economists forecast that Germany’s economy will grow slightly this year, while other large E.U. economies shrink. The Post’s Anthony Faiola reported in October on Germany’s growing image problem abroad. Meanwhile, a May survey by the Pew Global Attitudes Project found that Germans, unlike virtually all their neighbors, feel good about the economy, the future and the European Union.
Maybe it was just for recreational purposes:
Toronto Mayor Rob Ford denied Friday that he smokes crack cocaine and said he is not an addict after a video purported to show him using the drug. Ford did not say whether he has ever used crack.Marion Barry was unavailable for comment...
Ford did not take questions from reporters at a news conference at City Hall after close allies released a letter urging him to address the purported video, which apparently shows him smoking crack.
"I do not use crack cocaine, nor am I an addict of crack cocaine," he said before going on to criticize the media.
Ford has been ducking the media and his only comments before today on the scandal came last Friday, a day after the story broke, when he called the crack smoking allegations "ridiculous" and said that the Toronto Star was out to get him.
Theologians, get ready to rumble:
"The Lord has redeemed all of us, all of us, with the Blood of Christ: all of us, not just Catholics. Everyone! 'Father, the atheists?' Even the atheists. Everyone! And this Blood makes us children of God of the first class! We are created children in the likeness of God and the Blood of Christ has redeemed us all! And we all have a duty to do good. And this commandment for everyone to do good, I think, is a beautiful path towards peace. If we, each doing our own part, if we do good to others, if we meet there, doing good, and we go slowly, gently, little by little, we will make that culture of encounter: we need that so much. We must meet one another doing good. 'But I don't believe, Father, I am an atheist!' But do good: we will meet one another there."As someone who's not sure whether or not there even is an afterlife, I say, why not? Although I would like to see the looks on their faces if I get there...
Via Slate, how to keep your eyes open (so to speak) when it comes to your neighborhood bar:
When I order a drink, I want to know that I'm being served drinking alcohol, not rubbing alcohol. (As Attorney General Chiesa said: "I wouldn't drink rubbing alcohol in my house. It serves a very specific purpose: to rub.") If the bait-and-switch is happening in New Jersey, it’s happening elsewhere, too, quite possibly in the low joints where I spend an alarming amount of my time. Is there any hope? Here are six ways to tell whether your local bar might be cheating you out of a name-brand drink.Knowing is half the battle...
When is a scandal not a scandal?
“I think when the media repeats the word ‘scandals’ you are repeating partisan lines. They are issues that have occurred that have to be addressed. I don’t think they rise to the level of a scandal,” he said. “We had a bunch of idiots at IRS in Cincinnati who didn’t know how to aggregate a flood of tax-exempt applications … but this is not some major scandal in the order of magnitude like Watergate. That’s absurd.”It's only a scandal when it happens to the other side...
Connolly was also critical of the way Republicans have investigated the terrorist attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans.
“Don’t get me wrong, Benghazi was a tragedy, but it has no traction. They can continue to talk about it to feed their base, they forget we have a base too. Everytime they do that they are firing up our base too and alienating moderate and swing voters.”
It’s a tack many of his Democratic colleagues in Congress are taking, shrugging off — or downplaying — the recent slate of scandal. If there was any fear that the continual hammering of the administration from House Republicans would hurt Democrats, the party’s members answered with a resounding no.
“I don’t think there is any long-term political impact on House Democrats for any of this stuff,” said Rep. Jim McGovern. “There clearly needs to be more accountability at the IRS and I think that will be taken care of. I think the administration has been handling it correctly.
“And yet you’ve got some coo coo clucks here calling for impeachment, I mean it’s so absurd they are overplaying their hand,” he said of Republicans. “If anything there may be a political backlash on them.”
Why Chicago's school system self-destructed:
Years of broken and corrupt politics have left the city with a $1 billion budget deficit, a soaring crime rate, and constant tension between the government and unions. The pain has fallen worst on the poor and minority communities, and they are responding by getting out. Over the past decade, Chicago’s black population declined by 17 percent, as blacks fled the for the suburbs or the more promising economies of the South. The windy city is now at its lowest population since before 1920. No wonder the schools are closing.As always, those who praise the policies don't live in the places where they're actually practiced...
Chicago’s problems are not unique. Approximately 1.3 million blacks left the North for southern cities between 2000 and 2010. Black populations in Atlanta, Dallas, and Houston have surged. Northern cities, once the promised land for the nation’s black population, have failed to create the kind of economic and social conditions necessary to build a stable black middle class.
We hear lots of talk about how brilliant liberal economic policies are, but we rarely see stories of millions of people emerging triumphantly out of poverty thanks to all the wonderful things expensive government programs are doing for the citizens of these places.
Why immigrant kids are rioting in Sweden:
“The problem is not from the Swedish government or from the Swedish people,” [said Swedish journalist Ingrid Carlqvist]. “The last 20 years or so, we have seen so many immigrants coming to Sweden that really don’t like Sweden. They do not want to integrate, they do not want to live in [Swedish] society: Working, paying taxes and so on.”Over here, people are typically just happy to get their money. But then again, it's usually the upscale native-born kids who riot, not the immigrants.
“The people come here now because they know that Sweden will give them money for nothing. They don’t have to work, they don’t have to pay taxes – they can just stay here and get a lot of money. That is really a problem,” Carlqvist added.
Thursday, May 23, 2013
It's a Fox News poll, but still:
Almost all Republicans (85 percent) and just over half of independents (51 percent) say they will be worse off under ObamaCare. Nearly half of Democrats expect to be better off (48 percent), while about one-quarter believe they will be worse off (24 percent).It seems to be unanimous: for all its faults, people prefer the old to the new. But can the clock still be turned back?
Young voters and seniors are pessimistic about ObamaCare. Majorities of those under age 35 and those 65+ think things will be worse under the 2010 health care law.
That helps explains why a 56-percent majority wants to go back to the health care system that was in place in 2009. Some 34 percent would stick with the new law.
Three in ten Democrats would rather go back to the pre-ObamaCare system (30 percent). That view climbs to 55 percent among independents and 85 percent among Republicans.
The desire to go back to the 2009 system is widespread. Majorities of higher and lower income groups feel that way, as do men, women, voters with and without college degrees, and voters across all age groups.
Virginia's Terry McAuliffenow supports offshore drilling:
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe now supports exploring for oil off the coast of Virginia, reversing his position on an issue that both sides of the debate consider to be crucial to the commonwealth’s long-term energy future. …Politics has a funny way of making one's position more "nuanced"...
“Terry has learned more about offshore drilling from experts in Virginia,” said McAuliffe spokesman Josh Schwerin. “He thinks that because of technological progress we can now do it in a responsible fashion.”
McAuliffe’s change of heart means he supports legislation introduced Wednesday by Virginia Sens. Mark Warner (D) and Timothy M. Kaine (D) that would allow oil and gas exploration off the coast of Virginia, with the state keeping a portion of any revenue generated. Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.) has introduced a slightly different version of the bill in the House.
For Antonio Villaraigosa, the party's literally over:
The report, entitled Antonio Villaraigosa’s Quest for Wall Street, Washington and Wealth, also cites mayoral associates and City Hall insiders in estimating Villaraigosa earns a salary of $232,735 a year, more than any of his mayoral counterparts nationwide.Now he knows how a lot of other Californians feel...
And now, according to Stewart, Villaraigosa is broke.
“He didn’t save any money…we got his required economic interest reports where you see all their stocks and bonds and property,” Stewart said. “Nada.”
It’s still unclear where Villaraigosa will land: while staffers have been mum on the mayor’s job search, he is reportedly considering a number of possibilities after denying in February any interest in a Cabinet position in the Obama Administration.
According to L.A. Weekly, Villaraigosa may also have to wait until 2018 to make a bid for Governor of California, with Brown expected to run for reelection in 2014.
“He is asking anyone and everyone for jobs at think tanks; he thinks he could be a resident-in-scholar at UCLA or USC; he’d like to work on Wall Street,” said Stewart. “It’s incredible, he’s throwing a really wide net out there.”
Eric Holder gave the word:
Attorney General Eric Holder signed off on a controversial search warrant that identified Fox News reporter James Rosen as a “possible co-conspirator” in violations of the Espionage Act and authorized seizure of his private emails, a law enforcement official told NBC News on Thursday.Except apparently when they actually do their jobs...
The disclosure of the attorney general’s role came as President Barack Obama, in a major speech on his counterterrorism policy, said Holder had agreed to review Justice Department guidelines governing investigations that involve journalists.
"I am troubled by the possibility that leak investigations may chill the investigative journalism that holds government accountable," Obama said. "Journalists should not be at legal risk for doing their jobs."
Wednesday, May 22, 2013
A pair of lunatics on the rampage in London:
A man who asked not to be identified told ITN that he was on his way to a job interview when he came up on the scene and started filming it. Then, a man with a cleaver and knife in his bloody hands "came straight to me (and) said, 'No, no, no, it's cool. I just want to talk to you.'"So far these appear to have been lone nutcases. Good grief.
The suspect went to apologize to women who had witnessed the attack, then quickly added "but in our lands our women have to see the same."
"You people will never be safe," he said. "Remove your government. They don't care about you. You think David Cameron is going to get caught in the street when we start busting our guns?
"... Get rid of them. Tell them to bring our troops back so we can all live in peace."
The first call about an assault came in at 2:20 p.m. (9:20 a.m. ET). At some point afterward, police responded, including armed members of a firearms unit, even though British police typically don't carry guns. Metropolitan Police Commander Simon Letchworth noted that "early reports" indicated the attackers had "weapons." Metropolitan Police say they're aware of reports it took 30 minutes for police to arrive.
The suspects rushed at the arriving officers before being shot, James told the radio station. The Independent Police Complaints Commission said the Metropolitan Police informed them at 2:50 p.m. of "an incident," as would happen when police shoot and injure someone.
Universities are all about diversity, except:
The list of keynote commencement speakers at Ivy League institutions for 2013 does not include a single conservative, a recent study authored by the conservative Young America’s Foundation (YAF) found.Unfortunately, groupthink is the norm at most of these places...
Instead seven of the elite schools opted to invite ideological liberal speakers such as media billionaire Oprah Winfrey, Vice President Joe Biden (D), Newark Mayor Cory Booker (D), Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), among others.
Only Brown University, which chooses a commencement keynote from among its students, did not have a 2013 speaker who is generally associated with the left.
Why Obama needs a special prosecutor:
The calculus inside the White House is how to best protect the president’s political interests. They have two options. They could delay the appointment and let more of the story develop, weather the ugly piecemeal disclosures, give the players time to get their stories straight and lawyer-up and hope Republicans continue their overreach, giving the whole affair a nutty partisan patina. Or, they could accelerate the appointment of a special prosecutor, thereby slowing the congressional inquiries and giving Jay Carney some relief from his daily embarrassing routine by supplying him with the escape hatch of not being allowed to comment on matters associated with the special prosecutor’s ongoing investigation. Not to mention, the White House all the while could blast the appointed counsel as a partisan ideologue à la the hatchet job that was done on Ken Starr.Something tells me that they might not...
Anyway, if the president is innocent, he will end up needing and wanting a special prosecutor sooner rather than later. If he and his White House already have too much to hide, then they must clam up, cry partisanship and hope their allies on the Hill and in the media have the stamina for the long, hard slog ahead.
Tuesday, May 21, 2013
Unions are suddenly discovering that Obamacare might not be so good for them after all:
The United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) — a 1.3 million-member labor group that twice endorsed Obama for president — is very worried about how the reform law will affect its members’ healthcare plans.There seems to be a lot of that going around these days...
Last month, the president of the United Union of Roofers, Waterproofers and Allied Workers released a statement calling “for repeal or complete reform of the Affordable Care Act.”
UNITE HERE, a prominent hotel workers’ union, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters are also pushing for changes.
In a new op-ed published in The Hill, UFCW President Joe Hansen homed in on the president’s speech at the 2009 AFL-CIO convention. Obama at the time said union members could keep their insurance under the law, but Hansen writes “that the president’s statement to labor in 2009 is simply not true for millions of workers.”
Republicans have long attacked Obama’s promise that “nothing in this plan will require you to change your coverage or your doctor.” But the fact that unions are now noting it as well is a clear sign that supporters of the law are growing anxious about the law’s implementation.
And now, the next scandal:
On top of the troubles the administration is facing over its handling of the attack on the Benghazi mission, the Internal Revenue Service's targeting of conservative groups, and the Justice Department's seizure of Associated Press phone records, Republicans hope to target Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.But if you ask about it, you might be a birther, or something...
They are questioning her soliciting of funds on behalf of a non-profit group, called Enroll America, from two private entities, a practice which if not unprecedented is at the very least unusual. Federal law bars officials from soliciting any organization or individual with whom they do business or regulate.
Enroll America is run by the president's former campaign backers to do something Congress refused to fund: sell "Obamacare" to the public.
A scary scenario:
These investigations are shocking when taken alone, but as as Reason’s J.D. Tuccille notes, it’s important to consider these events in their broader context of the Obama administration’s long-running war against the free press. Last year, Bloomberg reported that Attorney General Eric Holder “has prosecuted more government officials for alleged leaks under the World War I-era Espionage Act than all his predecessors combined, including law-and-order Republicans John Mitchell, Edwin Meese and John Ashcroft.” The administration has also received a failing grade for its ignoring of Freedom of Information Act requests.The sad part is, the press partially have themselves to blame...
Taken together, all such actions have a toll. They mean that federal officials are less likely to blow the whistle on government wrongdoing and that journalists are less likely to obtain damning information that they can pass along to the public. The suggestion by the DOJ that Rosen broke the law, if followed to its logical conclusion, would mean the end of investigative journalism in America.
It seems that some people in Congress don't like Apple, and felt the need to call them on the carpet over it. Meanwhile, over in Ireland:
Ireland’s corporate tax rate is 12.5 percent, less than half the level in many larger European countries. American companies with their European headquarters in Ireland often pay considerably less than this on their European earnings because of accounting techniques that permit them to shift revenue to subsidiaries in offshore tax havens — as Apple has been accused of doing in a report prepared by Congressional investigators. …Ireland seems to have figured out what Europe's bureaucrats haven't-namely, that free market competition still works. Apple's real crime seems to be that they've taken advantage of that.
While Ireland misses out on some tax revenue, analysts say its economy more than makes up for this in other ways, including the tens of thousands of jobs that American technology companies have created there – and the income taxes that well-paid programmers and executives contribute to the Irish treasury. Apple alone employs more than 4,000 workers in Ireland, while Google employs more than 2,500 there.
In the old days, it was the other way around:
Russian lawmakers on Tuesday took a step toward imposing jail terms for offending religious feelings, approving legislation proposed after punk band Pussy Riot performed a raucous protest song in Moscow's main Orthodox Christian cathedral.In Russia, religion follows you...
Critics say the bill will give government-approved religious groups protection others lack and blur the line between church and state under President Vladimir Putin, who has advocated a strong societal role for the Russian Orthodox Church.
Lawmakers in the State Duma approved the bill by a vote of 304-4 after the second of three required readings in the 450-seat lower parliament house.
Approval in the second reading, which is when most changes are made to legislation, means Putin is likely to sign it after it gets through the Duma and a vote in the upper house.
Coming soon to a cafeteria near you?
NASA has given a six-month grant to a company developing what could be the world’s first 3-D food printer. And the project’s developer, reports Quartz, an online digital news site, believes the invention could be used to end world hunger.The good news is that it will be no less appealing than most fast food...
Quartz explains that the printer is the brainchild of mechanical engineer Anjan Contractor. Being developed by Contractor’s company, Systems & Materials Research Corp., it will use proteins, carbohydrates and sugars to create edible food products.
Contractor says one of his primary motivations is a belief that food will become exponentially more expensive in the near future. The average consumer, he told Quartz, will need a more economically viable option.
Some alternative food source options that may be used with the printer include algae, duckweed, grass, lupine seeds, beet leaves and even insects, according to TNO Research, which is working with Contractor on the project.
“I think, and many economists think, that current food systems can’t supply 12 billion people sufficiently,” said Contractor. “So we eventually have to change our perception of what we see as food.”
Never let a disaster go to waste:
Rhode Island Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse has apologized for remarks Monday in which he linked Oklahoma "cyclones" to climate change while berating Republicans for their stance on the issue -- around the time a massive tornado killed dozens in that state.He's not the only one.
A Whitehouse spokesman said Tuesday the politically charged remarks were pre-written as part of the senator’s weekly Senate floor speech on climate change.
“Tragically and unbeknownst to the senator at the time, a series of tornadoes were hitting Oklahoma at the same moment he gave his remarks,” the spokesman said. “Senator Whitehouse regrets the timing of his speech and offers his thoughts and prayers to the victims of yesterday’s storms and their families, and he stands ready to work with the senators from Oklahoma to assist them and their constituents in this time of need.”
A top IRS official in the division that reviews nonprofit groups will invoke the 5th Amendment and refuse to answer questions before a House committee investigating the agency’s improper screening of conservative nonprofit groups.Pleading the Fifth, the first refuge of the guilty?
Lois Lerner, the head of the exempt organizations division of the IRS, won’t answer questions about what she knew about the improper screening — or why she didn’t disclose it to Congress, according to a letter from her defense lawyer, William W. Taylor III. Lerner was scheduled to appear before the House Oversight Committee on Wednesday.
“She has not committed any crime or made any misrepresentation but under the circumstances she has no choice but to take this course,” said a letter by Taylor to committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Vista). The letter, sent Monday, was obtained Tuesday by the Los Angeles Times.
Monday, May 20, 2013
Speculation seems to be building that it might be time for Eric Holder to step down:
Experienced Democrats, outside the White House, want Obama to be more proactive, assertive and forthright to salvage his second term.Of course, he still has his supporters. But how long, really, can they-or he-hold out?
Among the bolder actions they want him to consider:…
– Accept Holder’s resignation. A favorite target of Republicans, the attorney general now has few fans among prominent Democrats. Given his record, his departure would be important substantively as well as symbolically.
About those health plans that Obamacare supporters were touting:
They cover minimal requirements such as preventive services, but often little more. Some of the plans wouldn’t cover surgery, X-rays or prenatal care at all. Others will be paired with limited packages to cover additional services, for instance, $100 a day for a hospital visit.The train wreck left open a lot of loopholes...
Federal officials say this type of plan, in concept, would appear to qualify as acceptable minimum coverage under the law, and let most employers avoid an across-the-workforce $2,000-per-worker penalty for firms that offer nothing. Employers could still face other penalties they anticipate would be far less costly.
“We wouldn’t have anticipated that there’d be demand for these types of band-aid plans in 2014,” said Robert Kocher, a former White House health adviser who helped shepherd the law. “Our expectation was that employers would offer high quality insurance.”
Part of the problem: lawmakers left vague the definition of employer-sponsored coverage, opening the door to unexpected interpretations, say people involved in drafting the law.
Bloomberg is shocked that there is spying going on in his establishment:
Mayor Bloomberg is privately fuming at the data breach that has imperiled the reputation of his global media company, according to sources.I'm sure that the fox will take the job of guarding the chicken coop very seriously...
“The mayor is very upset,” one source said of the scandal that has been dubbed Bloomberg Spygate.
A second insider said that Bloomberg made known his feelings to company executives once Goldman Sachs complained that Bloomberg News reporters were monitoring clients’ usage of the $20,000-a-year data terminals leased from Bloomberg LP.
The mayor was said to be stunned that the news-gathering operation still had access to business-side functions two decades after the company was launched.
Yesterday, Bloomberg LP announced that former IBM chairman Samuel Palmisano — who sits on the board of Bloomberg Philanthropies, the mayor’s charity — had been named as an “independent adviser” to review the firm’s privacy and data standards.
Palmisano will report to the company’s board.
A war on women? In Iran, maybe not so much:
QUESTION: Jen, can I change the subject? It would seem that in Iran the Guardians Council, which is vetting the candidates for the upcoming elections next month, have decided and have ruled that women cannot contest, they cannot stand as candidates. I wondered what the United States reaction is to that, considering that 50 person of the population in Iran is women – are women.One man's sexist election is another's "process"...
MS. PSAKI: Well, we don’t take positions on any candidates, as you know, and we hope that the upcoming elections will be free, fair, and transparent and will represent the will of the Iranian people. So we wouldn’t weight into decisions made by the government. Of course, broadly, we hope that women around the world participate in politics and elected office, but beyond that I don’t think I have anything specific for you.
QUESTION: Taking the word “fair” – if you’re being fair, it would seem to exclude 50 percent of the population from an election, would already mean that it is not a fair election.
MS. PSAKI: Well, we don’t weigh in on to the candidates and the candidates that are chosen through the process in Iran. Of course, of course, broadly speaking we do want women to participate in elections around the world and rise up in elected office.
QUESTION: Just not in Iran?
MS. PSAKI: I’m not suggesting that, Arshad. I’m just suggesting that we leave it to the process that happens in Iran for them to pick their candidates.
QUESTION: But I mean why – it seems astounding that this Department – I mean, what if they decided to exclude, as this country once did, not merely women but black people? Would that be acceptable to you? That’s just their choice; they do it any way they want and you’re not going to stand up for democratic rights?
MS. PSAKI: I think we pretty broadly stand up for democratic rights from this building.
QUESTION: Just not for Iranian women, apparently.
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Darn those conservatives, criticizing the President:
A senior adviser to President Obama mounted a combative defense of the administration on Sunday, saying that the controversies enveloping the White House were the result of Republican lawmakers trying to “drag Washington into a swamp of partisan fishing expeditions, trumped-up hearings and false allegations.”Now shut up and stop paying attention to the man behind the curtain...
The remarks came from Dan Pfeiffer, a member of the president’s inner circle, as he appeared on all five major Sunday morning talk shows in an effort to move the administration past what commentators have described as a “hell week” of controversy and missteps. He pointedly rejected Republican criticisms of the president’s actions and leadership style as “offensive” and “absurd,” and he said the administration would not be distracted from doing the nation’s business.
Saturday, May 18, 2013
Vladimir Nabokov is not a fan of Freud:
I think he's crude, I think he's medieval, and I don't want an elderly gentleman from Vienna with an umbrella inflicting his dreams upon me. I don't have the dreams that he discusses in his books. I don't see umbrellas in my dreams. Or balloons.Sometimes an umbrella is just an umbrella...
I think that the creative artist is an exile in his study, in his bedroom, in the circle of his lamplight. He's quite alone there; he's the lone wolf. As soon as he's together with somebody else he shares his secret, he shares his mystery, he shares his God with somebody else.
Work can make you happy:
Work is an essential aspect of human life, one of the things that fulfill us as human beings. There is a basic human desire to contribute to society, so we grow depressed and feel listless when we’re not doing that. While we don’t want to read policy directives right out of this research, the general principle, that work is important for people of all ages, should always be in the background of our thinking about retirement and employment more broadly.It depends on the kind of work, but yeah.