November 16, 2012 archive

Nov 16

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

Our regular featured content-

And these featured articles-

Special Formula One coverage from Perry’s Pit tomorrow.

Write more and often.  This is an Open Thread.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Nov 16

Cartnoon

RIP Yankee Dood It.  Next from August 15, 2011.

Highway Runnery

Nov 16

How’s that austerity thing working out for you (again)?

There is simply no denying anymore that Europe is entering the second dip of a double dip recession as a result of it’s austerian policies.

Euro Zone Economy Shrinks for a Second Quarter

By JACK EWING, The New York Times

Published: November 15, 2012

Gross domestic product in the euro zone fell 0.1 percent in the three months through September compared with the previous quarter, according to Eurostat, the European Union statistics agency. The downturn was slightly less severe than in the second quarter, when growth contracted 0.2 percent. But it was the fourth quarter in a row of zero growth or worse.

Perhaps more worrisome, the data showed that Spain, Portugal and several other countries remain far from the kind of recovery that would bring increased tax receipts and help them overcome their debt problems. European leaders, who have benefited from a tenuous calm on financial markets in recent months, are likely to face additional pressure to ease the government austerity programs that have undercut growth in Southern Europe.



A recession is often defined as two quarters in a row of falling output, though many economists say it is important to take other data into account. But with unemployment in the euro area at 11.6 percent and nearly 26 million people out of work, few would dispute that the region is in a deep downturn.

“Leading indicators suggest that the euro zone recession will broaden and deepen in the current fourth quarter,” said Martin van Vliet, an economist at ING Bank.



(I)n Western Europe the economic decline spread to Austria and the Netherlands, which had been growing in previous quarters. The Austrian economy contracted 0.1 percent, while the previously healthy Dutch economy plunged 1.1 percent, catching economists off guard.

One reason for the decline was that Dutch consumers cut back purchases of cars, illustrating how the crisis in the European auto industry is having a broader effect. Slower export growth and a decline in construction also had an effect, according to Statistics Netherlands, the official data provider.

Euro Area Slips Into Recession Second Time in Four Years

By Marcus Bensasson, Bloomberg News

November 15, 2012

Europe’s economic malaise is deepening as governments across the region impose budget cuts to narrow their fiscal deficits. Spain and Cyprus this year joined the list of countries seeking external aid, following Greece, Portugal and Ireland. Unions across the region have held protests against austerity measures.

“Overall I think it’s remarkable that we haven’t seen so far in the last year a stronger decrease in economic activity considering the strength of the euro-zone debt crisis,” said Alexander Krueger, chief economist at Bankhaus Lampe in Dusseldorf. “Stopping the downward trend is the story for the first half of next year.”



Euro-area industrial production dropped 2.5 percent in September from the previous month, the most in more than three years, led by double-digit declines in Portugal and Ireland. German investor confidence unexpectedly declined in November, the ZEW Center for European Economic Research in Mannheim said on Nov. 13.

Siemens AG, the biggest engineering company in Europe, on Nov. 8 unveiled a 6 billion-euro savings plan to restore profitability, acknowledging it was slow to react to shrinking demand. Commerzbank AG, which is forgoing its dividend, on Nov. 8 reported profit that missed analysts’ expectations on losses from non-core assets and a decline in consumer banking earnings.

How about England and our Neo-Liberal friend David Cameron?

UK risks triple-dip recession, Mervyn King warns

Josephine Moulds, The Guardian

Wednesday 14 November 2012 08.46 EST

The UK economy risks suffering from a triple-dip recession amid a period of persistently low growth that will last until the next election, the governor of the Bank of England has warned.

Sir Mervyn King cut Britain’s growth forecast to 1% next year and warned that output was more likely than not to remain below pre-crisis levels over the next three years. “There seems a greater risk that the UK economy may be in a period of persistent low growth,” he said on Wednesday.

The UK economy emerged from a double-dip recession in the third quarter of this year, when the economy grew by 1%, but King warned that this was driven by one-off factors. “Continuing the recent zig-zag pattern, output growth is likely to fall back sharply in the fourth quarter as the boost from the Olympics in the summer is reversed – indeed output may shrink a little this quarter,” he said. If that period of contraction continues into 2013, the UK could drop into a triple-dip recession.

How are people reacting?  As you would expect there are massive protests all across Europe.

Europe unites in austerity protests against cuts and job losses

Tom Kington in Rome, Helena Smith in Athens, Kim Willsher in Paris and Martin Roberts in Madrid, The Guardian

Wednesday 14 November 2012 14.30 EST

Hundreds of thousands of Europeans mounted one of the biggest coordinated anti-austerity protests across the continent on Wednesday, marching against German-orchestrated cuts as the eurozone is poised to move back into recession.

Millions took part in Europe-wide strikes, and in city after city along the continent’s debt-encrusted Mediterranean rim, thousands marched and scores were arrested after clashes with police.

There were banners declaring “Austerity kills,” Occupy masks, flares, improvised loudspeakers and cancelled flights. But there was also a violent, even desperate edge to the demonstrations, particularly in Madrid and several Italian cities. In the Spanish capital, police fired rubber bullets to subdue the crowd; in Pisa, protesters occupied the Leaning Tower, and in Sicily cars were burned.

“There is a social emergency in the south,” said Bernadette Ségol, the secretary general of the European Trade Union Confederation. “All recognise that the policies carried out now are unfair and not working.”

Workers Across Europe Synchronize Protests

By RAPHAEL MINDER, The New York Times

Published: November 14, 2012

The breadth of the demonstrations, which affected scores of cities, reflected widespread unhappiness with high unemployment, slowing growth and worsening economic prospects in Europe, and the resistance that European governments confront as they push plans for more belt tightening. Occasional clashes with the police were reported in some cities.

Among those striking on Wednesday were railroad workers in Belgium; airline workers, autoworkers and teachers in Spain; civil servants in Italy; and transit workers in Portugal. Union leaders called the coordinated actions historic.

Government officials generally played down the disruptions caused by the actions and said their countries had no alternative but to cut spending and reduce their deficits. The Spanish economy minister, Luis de Guindos, said his government “is convinced that the path we have taken is the only possible way out.”

The tumbrils are closer than you think.

Nov 16

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning


Tweak 3a

Nov 16

Dirty Hippies vs. Geeks – Football on a different plane

Yeah, yeah, I know that Arabs and Jews are savaging each other while Arabs are doing even worser to each other, the .1 percenters continue looting us 99.9 percenters while another Great Dying like that 250 million years ago may finish the job this time.

But there are more immediate concerns.

When did you ever hear of a more classy football game than hippies vs. geeks except for the football game between heaven and hell.  [“What are you laughing at, Devil?” asked St. Peter. “We have all the great coaches and great players of the past.”  Satan could not contain his laughter.  “We have all the referees.”]

Every literate person knows Stanford is an Ivy League-class school but I am not sure how many know that Eugene, Oregon where the Oregon Ducks waddle around when they aren’t flying to the goal line is hippie heaven.

Oregon is #1 rated in the nation by all but the high-speed idiots and a three-touchdown favorite by the gambling sort but is a wounded duck despite its hyper-accelerated offense.  Freshmen were taken from their warm benches for defense last week and about all that were left were the cheerleaders to fill in.  Oregon has even been discussing using one of  its superstar receivers (in lieu of cheerleaders or waterboys or watergirls) to contain the scholars.  Hey, we might have triple digit scores on both sides.  

Football may never be the same with a budding Greek tragedy in view.

ACADEME, n.

   An ancient school where morality and philosophy were taught.

ACADEMY, n.

   [from ACADEME] A modern school where football is taught.

– The Devil’s Dictionary

Best,  Terry

Nov 16

Late Night Karaoke

Nov 16

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness News, a weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

The Kugel Challenge

Kugel

Recently I received an e-mail from a reader describing a kugel made with carrots and quinoa that she’d tasted at a buffet dinner. “It was delicious served at room temperature, cut into cubes, which were firm in texture, sweet but not overly, and  prepared with quinoa,” she wrote. “I am wondering if you might be willing and able to conjure up the ingredients to make this particular kugel incorporating quinoa.”

~Martha Rose Shulman~

Quinoa and Carrot Kugel

This caraway-scented kugel will be a big hit at your family table.

Quinoa and Cauliflower Kugel With Cumin

If you have cooked quinoa in the freezer, this dish comes together even more quickly.

Sweet Millet Kugel With Dried Apricots and Raisins

Millet, a light, fluffy gluten-free grain, lends itself beautifully to both sweet and savory kugels.

Cabbage, Onion and Millet Kugel

This savory kugel is substantial enough to serve as a main dish.

Sweet Potato and Apple Kugel

Basting the top of this kugel with melted butter lets the sweet potato soften properly without the top drying out.

Nov 16

The Fiscal Obstacle Course

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Starting with Fiscal Cliff, Obama’s 2nd Term Rests on Organizing, Not Cheerleading

President Obama will open deficit reduction talks on Friday with a call for a $1.6 trillion tax hike on corporations and the wealthiest Americans over the next 10 years. Obama and House Speaker John Boehner are sitting down to avert the so-called “fiscal cliff” of expiring tax cuts and automatic spending reductions set to take effect at the end of the year. We’re joined by Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who says the protection of “entitlement” programs will depend on action from Obama’s progressive supporters. “The question is: Will the Democratic Party, and specifically the progressive and liberal component of the Democratic Party, change its behavior from cheerleader, from blindly supportive, partisan apparatchiks … into some kind of a force where they actually fulfill their duties as citizens, which is to hold political leaders accountable?” Greenwald asks.

Transcript can be read here

Why Washington’s “Fiscal Cliff” is a Myth

by  Mattea Kramer and Chris Hellman, National Priorities Project

They don’t call it the “cliff” for nothing. It’s the fiscal spot where a nation’s representatives can gather and cry doom. It’s the place – if Washington is to be believed – where, with a single leap into the Abyss of Sequestration, those representatives can end it all for the rest of us.

In the wake of President Obama’s electoral victory, that cliff (if you’ll excuse a mixed metaphor or two) is about to step front and center. The only problem: the odds are no one will leap, and remarkably little of note will actually happen. But since the headlines are about to scream “crisis,” what you need to understand American politics in the coming weeks of the lame-duck Congress is a little guide to reality, some Cliff Notes for Washington.

As a start, relax. Don’t let the headlines get to you. There’s little reason for anyone to lose sleep over the much-hyped fiscal cliff. In fact, if you were choosing an image based on the coming fiscal dust-up, it probably wouldn’t be a cliff but an obstacle course – a series of federal spending cuts and tax increases all scheduled to take effect as 2013 begins. And it’s true that, if all those budget cuts and tax increases were to go into effect at the same time, an already weak recovery would probably sink into a double-dip recession.

But ignore the sound and fury. While prophecy is usually a perilous occupation, in this case it’s pretty easy to predict how lawmakers will deal with nearly every challenge on the president’s and Congress’s end-of-year obstacle course. The upshot? The U.S. economy isn’t headed over a cliff any time soon.

A peek at the obstacles ahead makes that clear. [..]

Among all the spending and tax changes in the queue, and all the hype around the cliff, the great unknown is whether it’s finally farewell to the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. And that’s no perilous cliff. Letting those high-end tax cuts expire would amount to a blink-and-you-miss-it 0.003% contraction in the U.S. economy, according to Moody’s, and it would raise tens of billions of dollars in desperately-needed tax revenue next year. That’s no small thing when you consider that federal revenue has fallen to its lowest point in more than half a century. Ending these tax cuts for the wealthy would bring in cash to reduce deficits or increase funding for cash-starved priorities like higher education.

It’s impossible to say how Congress will come down on this final issue, though we do know how lawmakers will arrive at their decision. At least Congress is consistent. On this, as on all other matters in the fiscal obstacle course, it’s not the economy.

It’s the politics, stupid.

Nov 16

West and Smiley: Obama is Not a Progressive

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Tavis Smiley, Cornel West on the 2012 Election & Why Calling Obama “Progressive” Ignores His Record

As the most expensive presidential election in U.S. history comes to an end, broadcaster Tavis Smiley and professor, activist Dr. Cornel West join us to discuss President Obama’s re-election and their hopes for a national political agenda in and outside of the White House during Obama’s second term. At a time when one in six Americans is poor, the price tag for combined spending by federal candidates – along with their parties and outside groups like super PACs – totaled more than $6 billion. Together, West and Smiley have written the new book, “The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto.” Both Tavis and Smiley single out prominent progressives whom they accuse of overlooking Obama’s actual record. “We believe that if [Obama] is not pushed, he’s going to be a transactional president and not a transformational president,” Smiley says. “And we believe that the time is now for action and no longer accommodation. … To me, the most progressive means that you’re taking some serious risk. And I just don’t see the example of that.” West says that some prominent supporters of Obama “want to turn their back to poor and working people. And it’s a sad thing to see them as apologists for the Obama administration in that way.”

Transcript can be read here

Obama is a ‘Republican in Blackface’

“In a recent interview on Democracy Now!, ex-Princeton professor and frequent Obama critic Dr. Cornel West lashed out against the president as well as pundits Michael Eric Dyson, Melissa Harris-Perry and Rev. Al Sharpton.

West called Obama a “Rockefeller Republican in blackface” and said Dyson, Harris-Perry and Sharpton were all “for sale.”

West, along with TV personality Tavis Smiley, has been one of President Barack Obama’s loudest and harshest African-American critics. Although West endorsed and campaigned for Obama during the 2008 campaign, he has since complained that the first black president turned his back on impoverished Americans.”

Cenk Uygur and Jayar Jackson discuss West’s comments and racial attitudes toward Obama in general. Is there a way he should act as both the president and a leader for the black community? How would he manage that?

Nov 16

The Myth of the “Fiscal Cliff”

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

No one actually cares about the deficit

Chris Hayes, host of Up with Chris Hayes,  discusses the stand-off between President Obama and House Republicans over the “fiscal cliff,” the name given to the combination of the expiration of the Bush tax cuts and the sequestration cuts mandated by last year’s debt ceiling agreement. Chris’ “filibuster” in the first segment is a “Cliff Note” summation of the debate about the so-called “fiscal cliff.”

Chris is joined for a comprehensive, and somewhat wonky, discussion with Hakeem Jeffries, newly elected Congressman representing the 8th Congressional District in Brooklyn, New York State Assemblyman; Teresa Ghilarducci (@tghilarducci), labor economist and director of the Schwartz Center for Economic Policy Analysis at The New Schoo; Edward Conard, former partner at Bain Capital from 1993-2007 and author of “Unintended Consequences: Why Everything You’ve Been Told About The Economy Is Wrong;” Ohio Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown; and Molly Ball (@mollyesque), national political reporter for The Atlantic.

I found this article  about the debt/deficit/”fiscal cliff” from letdgetitdone quite interesting. It presents a very compelling argument, point by point, why this entire discussion about a “fiscal cliff” is a myth. He concludes his argument:

So, current claims that we have a fiscal crisis, must debate the debt, must fix the debt, and must immediately embark on a long-term deficit reduction program to bring the debt-to-GDP ratio under control, all misconceive the fiscal situation because they are based on the idea that fiscal responsibility is about developing a plan to bring the debt-to-GDP ratio “under control,” when it is really about using Government spending to achieve outputs that fulfill “public purpose.” There is no fiscal crisis that will require “a Grand Bargain” and cuts to popular discretionary spending and entitlement programs. It is a phoney issue.

The only real crisis is a crisis of a failing economy and growing economic inequality in which only the needs of the few are served. MMT policies can help to bring an end to that crisis; but not if progressives, and others continue to believe in false ideas about fiscal sustainability and responsibility, and the similarity of their Government to a household. To begin to solve our problems, we need to reject the neoliberal narrative and embrace the MMT narrative about the meaning of fiscal responsibility. That will lead us to fiscal policies that achieve public purpose and away from policies that prolong economic stagnation and the ravages of austerity.