Monday, September 26, 2011

Senate approves short-term spending measure. No government shutdown.

The Senate reached a bipartisan agreement intended to end a dispute over disaster relief spending that threatened to cause a partial shutdown of the government at the end of the week.

In two votes, the Senate approved short-term spending measures to fund the government for the start of the new fiscal year that begins Saturday. The deal hinged on FEMA's new assessment that it has sufficient funding for the rest of the current fiscal year.

Euro Debt Crisis Is Worse Than US in 2008: George Soros

Europe lacks the same mechanisms that the U.S. had to deal with its financial crisis three years ago, making the dangers even greater, billionaire investor and activist George Soros said.

"The European crisis is more serious than the crisis of 2008," Soros said in an appearance at the meeting here of the World Bank and International Monetary Fund . "The authority needed (in 2008) was in place."

Soros, who has for many years supported various liberal political causes, has called for a number of measures to take on the European Union sovereign debt crisis, including the establishment of a unified Treasury.

Dow Jones industrial avg. up 272 points today

Stocks had their biggest gains in more than two weeks Monday after European officials vowed to take action to resolve the region's debt problems. The Dow Jones industrial average jumped 272 points, making up about a third of last week's losses.

Google digitizes Dead Sea Scrolls

The oldest known biblical manuscripts will be available online in a high-resolution format thanks to a partnership between Google and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. The Dead Sea Scrolls Digital Project, to be launched today, features searchable, fast-loading images of five complete Israeli scrolls of the Second Temple Period, the time of the birth of Christianity and Rabbinic Judaism. The pictures come with explanatory videos and background information on the texts and their history.

Maxine Waters wonders why Obama is singling out blacks for "complainin"

Rep. Maxine Waters on Monday called President Barack Obama’s comments to black Americans that they should stop complaining “a bit curious” and said she doesn’t “know who he was talking to.”

The California Democrat told CBS’s “Early Show” the president would never have addressed other communities like gays or Jews or Hispanics in the way he did at the annual awards dinner for the Congressional Black Caucus on Saturday when he told the audience to “stop complaining.”

Village Voice writer muses about killing 53 New York billionaires

...and taking their assets.

I keep seeing this kind of call for violence from the Left. Many of them call the Tea Party a hate group without any evidence, yet seem to yearn for a French-type revolution complete with death and mayhem.

A gathering awareness

Gallup: “49% of Americans believe the federal government has become so large and powerful that it poses an immediate threat to the rights and freedoms of ordinary citizens. In 2003, less than a third (30%) believed this.”

Bloomberg: Buffett Rule is theatrics

“The Buffett thing is just theatrics. If Warren Buffett made his money from ordinary income rather than capital gains, his tax rate would be a lot higher than his secretary’s,” he said.

U.S. Government Used Taxpayer Funds to Buy, Sell Weapons During 'Fast and Furious,' Documents Show

Not only did U.S. officials approve, allow and assist in the sale of more than 2,000 guns to the Sinaloa cartel -- the federal government used taxpayer money to buy semi-automatic weapons, sold them to criminals and then watched as the guns disappeared.

This disclosure, revealed in documents obtained by Fox News, could undermine the Department of Justice's previous defense that Operation Fast and Furious was a "botched" operation where agents simply "lost track" of weapons as they were transferred from one illegal buyer to another. Instead, it heightens the culpability of the federal government as Mexico, according to sources, has opened two criminal investigations into the operation that flooded their country with illegal weapons.

Woods has new caddy

Disgraced golfer teams up with pro caddy, Joe LaCava

Welcome aboard: Tiger Woods has taken on caddie Joe LaCava (left)

LaCava was the long-time caddy of fellow pro, Fred Couples, who is reducing his play time.

Lemurs catching some ZZZZZs

Sleeping like a log: The seven lemurs caught having a snooze

Lemur alone - I'm trying to sleep! These sleeping lemurs were photographed at Colchester Zoo in Essex by public transport manager Jonathan Chown as he visited on a birthday treat

This long line of seven ring-tailed lemurs sits on a log as they catch up on some sleep at Colchester Zoo in Essex. Public transport manager Jonathan Chown took the photograph while on a visit to the zoo to celebrate his birthday with his wife and son. The 37-year-old stood and watched the animals for 10 minutes without seeing them move once.

Help, momma!

What a cliffhanger! Lion cub saved by mom in dramatic scenes caught on camera as he cries out pitifully for help

Mother's rescue of lion cub in Mara National Park, Kenya

Stuck down a cliff, this cub had got himself into a rather tricky situation. But after one abortive rescue mission, one single factor determines who will risk her life to save his - motherly love. Teetering on the brink, the mother agonisingly edges her way down towards her terrified son, using her powerful claws to grip the crumbling cliff side, before grabbing him in her jaws.

Passage of time

All grown up: Baby on the cover of Nirvana's Nevermind album turns 20


California Democratic Party among Solyndra’s creditors

Out of the hundreds of out-of-work employees, vendors, investors and other creditors in the bankruptcy of government-backed solar-panel maker Solyndra LLC, one name stands out: the California Democratic Party.

Why California Democrats would be creditor to a company that received more than a half-billion dollars in federal loans to build a solar-panel plant isn’t clear. Even party officials say they’re not sure.

The California Democratic Party’s communications director, Tenoch Flores, said the organization was not owed “any funds in any form” by the California-based company. He said he was unclear why the party would be listed as a creditor in Solyndra’s bankruptcy filing.

According to campaign-finance records, Solyndra donated $7,500 to the California Democratic Party in October 2010. It’s legal in California for corporations to make donations. But that doesn’t explain why the company would identify the Democratic Party as a creditor in its bankruptcy filing a year later.

Company officials visited the White House on numerous occasions, hired an expensive team of Washington lobbyists and, in the months before its bankruptcy, walked the halls of Congress to personally assure lawmakers that “business was booming,” as one lawmaker later recalled.

In the wake of the company’s collapse and subsequent raid by the FBI this month, Solyndra’s top two executives, citing their Fifth Amendment rights, refused to testify last week before the House Energy and Commerce investigations subcommittee, which has been looking at the Solyndra loan deal for months. In bankruptcy records, the company blamed stiff foreign competition and an oversupply of solar panels for its fast downfall.

Hanson on the future of our civilization

Victor Davis Hanson:

Redistribution of wealth rather than emphasis on its creation is surely a symptom of aging societies. Whether at Byzantium during the Nika Riots or in bread and circuses Rome, when the public expects government to provide security rather than the individual to become autonomous through a growing economy, then there grows a collective lethargy. I think that is the message of Juvenal’s savage satires about both mobs and the idle rich. Fourth-century Athenian literature is characterized by forensic law suits, as citizens sought to sue each other, or to sue the state for sustenance, or to fight over inheritances.

The subtext of Petronius’s Satyricon is an affluent, childless, often underemployed citizenry seeking inheritances and lampooning the productive classes that produce enough excess for the wily to get by just fine without working. Somewhere around 1985 in California I noticed that my students were hoping for a state job first, a federal job second, a municipal job third — and a private one last. Around 1990, suddenly two sorts of commercials were aired everywhere: how to join a law suit by calling a law firm’s 1-800 number or how to get a free power chair, scooter, or some other device by calling the 1-800 number of
a health care company that would do the paper work for Social Security on your behalf.
We all know what will save us and what is destroying us. But the trick is to see how the two will collide. A new tax code, simple rates, few deductions, everybody pays something; new entitlement reform, less benefits, later retirement; a smaller government, a larger private sector; a different popular culture that honors character rather than excess — all that is not, and yet is, impossible to envision. It will only transpire when the cries of the self-interested anguished are ignored.

Herman Cain's impressive resume

Even though he's known as the "pizza" candidate for his years as head of Godfather's Pizza, his background is much broader than that. After he graduated from Morehouse College with a degree in mathematics and a minor in chemistry in 1968, Cain landed a job as a ballistics analyst for the Department of the Navy, where he was responsible for the calculations that ensured battleship rockets hit their targets.

"It's not an easy thing to do," he said.

Cain later completed a master's degree in computer science and entered the business world where he led several companies--most recently Godfather's--and chaired the National Restaurant Association and the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City. His résumé--from mathematician and rocket scientist to restaurateur and now politician--isn't exactly a typical one for a presidential candidate. But Cain said that while his presidential run may look unlikely from the outside, it's actually part of his larger career trajectory of seeking out new ways to test himself.

"I'm bored if I don't have a challenge," he said.

Cain said the run for the White House is his toughest challenge yet--and it's been anything but boring. Despite the frustrations of running a national campaign, you can tell he's enjoying it. But it doesn't take much to get him riled up.

Reporters barred from Obama tech fundraisers

Carla Marinucci reporting from SanFranChronicle:

In a week in which Silicon Valley is the focus of intense news coverage, the White House that promised the “most open administration in history” has made an unusual move — barring local reporters from covering a pair of high priced presidential fundraisers in the tech region Sunday.
The President will star at two big Silicon Valley fundraisers Sunday, attending a $38,500 per person dinner at the Atherton home of COO Sheryl Sandberg, and starring at $2,500 and up fundraiser starring Bruce Hornsby at the Woodside home of Sandi and John Thompson.

But in a rare move — and a departure from the President’s previous trips to California – local media have been informed that the White House will not allow any of their representatives to act as a “pool” reporter and file reports from those events.

iPads, iPhones on the battlefield

As a Cobra attack helicopter pilot, Marine Capt. Jim "Hottie" Carlson was running support missions above Afghanistan last summer when it occurred to him that it was taking far too long to find where U.S. troops were under attack.

"Do you have any idea how long it takes to find the right map, unfold it, and find where you're going? It's agonizing," he said.

Frustrated that he had to flip through dozens of maps stuffed inside his chopper, Carlson, 31, loaded the documents onto his personal iPad, enabling him to zoom in, zoom out and quickly move from one map to another.

Carlson's brainstorm shortened the time it took to pinpoint a location from "three minutes to about 30 seconds," he recalled recently, and it soon helped change the way the military is thinking about warfare. The Marines now have more than 30 iPads in cockpits across their fleet of helicopters and fighter jets.

For soldiers in the 21st century, iPads, iPhones, Androids and other smart devices could eventually be as common on the battlefield as helmets, canteens and rifles.