Monday, February 13, 2012

Spicoli would be happy about this news

A Cincinnati high school is paying its students to come to school.

The Dohn Community High School has launched a $40,000 incentive program to get students to come to class.

According to the Cincinnati Enquirer, students will get Visa gift cards for showing up everyday for school, being on time for class and not getting into trouble. Seniors would get $25 while underclassmen would get $10.

Budget fail from POTUS

Yuval Levin writing at the National Review:
The interesting thing about the early responses to the president’s budget today is how focused they have been on the tax increases on the wealthy, and the class-warfare argument the budget implicitly advances. The budget has been treated as an electioneering document, and that is surely what it is. But we are struck by its class-warfare components first and foremost because we have come to take for granted what really ought to be the most glaring and astonishing fact about this budget: its sheer, incredible, and utter fiscal irresponsibility. It completely fails to budget.

Obama budget 'worthy of Greece'

Krauthammer calls Obama budget 'worthy of Greece,' 'truly scandalous'.

The Washington Post columnist then likened Obama’s budget proposal to being worthy of the beleaguered Eurozone nation Greece.

“I’m rarely accused of not being cynical enough, so let me be even more cynical,” he continued. “The president knows that we are headed over a cliff. He just wants to get past Election Day as he does on everything — on Keystone, on debt ceiling limits, on everything. But this is a budget worthy of Greece and for the president of the United States to offer it knowing how dire our situation is, is truly scandalous.”

Magnitude-5.6 quake strikes Northern California


A moderate earthquake struck Northern California's coast Monday afternoon, rattling nerves around the Oregon border but yielding no immediate reports of major injuries or damage.

The magnitude-5.6 quake struck at 1:07 p.m. about 18 miles (30 kilometers) east of Trinidad, in an unincorporated part of Humboldt County, the U.S. Geological Survey said. The epicenter was a rural area near the small community of Weitchpec on the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation, about 240 miles (350 kilometers) north of San Francisco and about 60 miles (96 kilometers) south of the Oregon border.

Moody's in a probable downgrade tear through the EU and United Kingdom

Rating agency Moody's warned on Monday it may cut the triple-A ratings of France, the United Kingdom and Austria, while it downgraded the ratings of Italy, Portugal, Spain, Slovakia, Slovenia and Malta.

Obama re-election campaign to field 'Truth Teams'

“The Truth Team is a network of supporters of President Obama who are committed to responding to unfounded attacks and defending the President’s record. When you’re faced with someone who misrepresents the truth, you can find all the facts you need right here—along with ways to share the message with whoever needs to hear it.”

David Horsey on the GOP's conundrum

Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and others won't quit

The Simpsons creator gives $500,000 to UCLA

UCLA’s film school is getting some d'oh!

"The Simpsons" creator Matt Groening has donated $500,000 to UCLA’s School of Theater, Film and Television, creating an endowment for working professionals to teach students in the school’s animation program, university representatives announced Monday.

Pentagon May Oust Troops Involuntarily to Meet Reductions in Budget Plan

Viola Gienger and Roxana Tiron writing at
The Defense Department may have to force soldiers, Marines or other members of the military out of the services for the first time since the aftermath of the Cold War to achieve the spending reductions in its budget proposal.

The Pentagon plans to cut 67,100 soldiers from active and reserve Army units and the Army National Guard in the five years starting Oct. 1, as well as 15,200 from the active and reserve ranks of the Marine Corps as part of an effort to save $487 billion over a decade, according to the budget sent to Congress today. The Navy and Air Force would lose fewer people -- 8,600 and 1,700 respectively -- because of their role in a strategic shift toward the Asia-Pacific region and the Middle East.

Justice Breyer robbed by machete-wielding intruder

WASHINGTON – A Supreme Court spokeswoman says Justice Stephen Breyer was robbed last week by a machete-wielding intruder at his vacation home in the West Indies.

Spokeswoman Kathy Arberg said Breyer, wife Joanna and guests were confronted by the robber around 9 p.m. EST Thursday in the home Breyer owns on the Caribbean island of Nevis. Arberg said the intruder took about $1,000 in cash and no one was hurt.

She said the robbery was reported to local authorities, but she did not know if an arrest has been made.

UT Researchers Find China’s Pollution Related to E-Cars May Be More Harmful than Gasoline Cars’

Electric cars have been heralded as environmentally friendly, but findings from University of Tennessee, Knoxville, researchers show that electric cars in China have an overall impact on pollution that could be more harmful to health than gasoline vehicles.

Chris Cherry, assistant professor in civil and environmental engineering, and graduate student Shuguang Ji, analyzed the emissions and environmental health impacts of five vehicle technologies in 34 major Chinese cities, focusing on dangerous fine particles. What Cherry and his team found defies conventional logic: electric cars cause much more overall harmful particulate matter pollution than gasoline cars.

Particulate matter includes acids, organic chemicals, metals, and soil or dust particles. It is also generated through the combustion of fossil fuels.

For electric vehicles, combustion emissions occur where electricity is generated rather than where the vehicle is used. In China, 85 percent of electricity production is from fossil fuels, about 90 percent of that is from coal. The authors discovered that the power generated in China to operate electric vehicles emit fine particles at a much higher rate than gasoline vehicles. However, because the emissions related to the electric vehicles often come from power plants located away from population centers, people breathe in the emissions a lower rate than they do emissions from conventional vehicles.

Still, the rate isn’t low enough to level the playing field between the vehicles. In terms of air pollution impacts, electric cars are more harmful to public health per kilometer traveled in China than conventional vehicles.

Dem congressman says Obama's budget proposal is a 'nervous breakdown on paper'

"This budget is a nervous breakdown on paper," said Cleaver during an interview on CNN's "Starting Point" Monday morning. "We're still in a recession, we're still struggling. Unemployment is still too high," he said.

The Hill story here.

Obama proposes $800 million in aid for "Arab Spring"

Susan Cornwell reporting from Reuters:

The White House announced plans on Monday to help "Arab Spring" countries swept by revolutions with more than $800 million in economic aid, while maintaining U.S. military aid to Egypt.

In his annual budget message to Congress, President Barack Obama asked that military aid to Egypt be kept at the level of recent years -- $1.3 billion -- despite a crisis triggered by an Egyptian probe targeting American democracy activists.

Why don't we spend $800 million on a gigantic 'Kick Me' sign instead?

WashPost fact checker gives Obama's Chief of Staff four Pinocchios

"But we also need to be honest. You can’t pass a budget in the Senate of the United States without 60 votes and you can’t get 60 votes without bipartisan support. So unless Republicans are willing to work with Democrats in the Senate, Harry Reid is not going to be able to get a budget passed. And I think he was reflecting the reality of that that could be a challenge.”

--White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew, on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Feb. 12, 2011

Lew is completely wrong when he claims that 60 votes are needed to “pass a budget in the Senate.” As he well knows, a budget resolution is one of the few things that are not subject to a filibuster. In fact, that is one reason why a bill based on reconciliation instructions cannot be filibustered.

You don’t even need 50 votes, just a simple majority. Here are a few of the recent close votes for the budget resolution, as listed by CRS: 48-45 (2009 budget); 51-49 (2006); 51-50 (2004); 50-48 (2001). Senate Democrats may have reasons for failing to pass a budget plan—such as wanting to avoid casting politically inconvenient votes—but a GOP filibuster is not one of them.
Asked for an explanation of Lew’s remarks, a White House official said: “The Chief of Staff was clearly referencing the general gridlock in Congress that makes accomplishing even the most basic tasks nearly impossible given the Senate Republicans’ insistence on blocking an up or down vote on nearly every issue.”

We might be tempted to think Lew misspoke, except that he said virtually the same thing, on two different shows, when he was specifically asked about the failure of Senate Democrats to pass a budget resolution. He even prefaced his comment on CNN by citing the “need to be honest.”

We wavered between three and four Pinocchios, in part because the budget resolution is only a blueprint, not a law, but ultimately decided a two-time budget director really should know better.

Apple's stock selling at $500; market value near $500 billion

Apple, whose price hit $500 for the first time on Monday, could be the first company ever to reach a trillion dollar valuation.