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Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:06 PM


Weekend Economists Struck By Stars, Moons, Meteors February 15-18, 2013

Well, this is an interesting weekend. We have "stars" falling over Chelyabinsk, Russia:

Russian dashboard cameras, YouTube beam meteor explosion worldwide


As jumbled news reports of what appeared to be a meteor shower over Russia trickled out of the country, some of the best views of what happened were from the dashboards of Russian cars.

Over 400 people were injured in the event, many from broken glass, as explosions boomed across the region around the city of Chelyabinsk, according to news reports. Photos and video from the region showed buildings with smashed out windows and at least one factory with heavy damage to a large section of its ceiling and walls.

For those in other locations, however, the most dramatic scenes were captured by Russia's ubiquitous dashboard cameras, quickly uploaded to video sharing sites such as YouTube and copied among different users...Many Russian drivers install and run dashboard cameras constantly to capture evidence in the case of accidents or scams involving pedestrians purposely getting hit. The cameras have long provided a steady stream of YouTube hits, which are now commonly combined into compilations....

Isn't Technology Wonderful? We the People can record and broadcast LA police "indiscretions", massive Bill of Rights violations, real-time fraud, and now, galactic events, without anyone from the 1% getting between us.

So, let's keep that information flowing! Post what you've found HERE, this weekend!

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Reply Weekend Economists Struck By Stars, Moons, Meteors February 15-18, 2013 (Original post)
Demeter Feb 2013 OP
Demeter Feb 2013 #1
DemReadingDU Feb 2013 #21
Demeter Feb 2013 #23
Demeter Feb 2013 #25
Demeter Feb 2013 #26
Demeter Feb 2013 #27
Demeter Feb 2013 #2
DemReadingDU Feb 2013 #19
Demeter Feb 2013 #20
Demeter Feb 2013 #3
Demeter Feb 2013 #4
Demeter Feb 2013 #12
kickysnana Feb 2013 #16
Warpy Feb 2013 #5
Demeter Feb 2013 #6
Demeter Feb 2013 #7
Demeter Feb 2013 #8
Demeter Feb 2013 #11
Demeter Feb 2013 #9
Fuddnik Feb 2013 #13
Demeter Feb 2013 #10
Demeter Feb 2013 #14
kickysnana Feb 2013 #17
DemReadingDU Feb 2013 #28
Demeter Feb 2013 #15
hamerfan Feb 2013 #18
Demeter Feb 2013 #22
hamerfan Feb 2013 #33
Demeter Feb 2013 #24
Fuddnik Feb 2013 #30
Demeter Feb 2013 #31
Demeter Feb 2013 #29
DemReadingDU Feb 2013 #32
Demeter Feb 2013 #34
Demeter Feb 2013 #35
Demeter Feb 2013 #36
mother earth Feb 2013 #37

Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:14 PM

1. This week we began the Lunar New Year: Year of the Black Water Snake


There will be a party this Sunday at my condo clubhouse, in which we celebrate the Lunar New Year, Valentine's Day, and Presidents Day.

The menu will include Chinese dishes, lots of chocolate, and cherry pie. Something for everyone!

Come on over (if you can stand the weather)!

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Response to Demeter (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 08:03 AM

21. Sounds like fun!

You always seem to have something entertaining at your condo. It's nice to have things that get people out for a day of fun, and food. Hopefully, they each bring something, so you don't have to do all the work.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #1)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 08:12 AM

23. Why Was Libor Rate Rigging Committed Over the Bloomberg Terminal By Pam Martens



It is close to five years since the Commodity Futures Trading Commission referred the Libor rate rigging matter to the U.S. Department of Justice. Yesterday (DECEMBER 19, 2012) was the first time the Justice Department brought a criminal charge in the matter – not against a U.S. bank where it would have a smoother road to prosecution, but against a Japanese subsidiary of the Swiss banking giant, UBS, and two of its former traders, Tom Hayes and Roger Darin.

The UBS subsidiary has received a deferred prosecution agreement, meaning it won’t be criminally prosecuted if it abides by the terms of the agreement, which includes not disputing the charges and continued cooperation. UBS paid global fines of $1.5 billion in the matter with the bulk of that money going to the U.S. Department of Justice. Hayes and Darin have been criminally charged in a complaint filed December 12, 2012 in Federal court in Manhattan. The complaint was unsealed yesterday.

What the complaint makes clear is that it should not have taken five years to bring these charges. The traders effectively handed the Justice Department a slam dunk case by documenting each maneuver to rig the international interest rate benchmark known as Libor via instant messages recorded on a Bloomberg computer terminal. There were thousands of these messages over at least a five year period. Three questions arise: did Wall Street engage in a legal battle to prevent the release of these communications on the basis of trade secrets or proprietary/confidential trading communications; did the Bloomberg business empire, owned by Michael Bloomberg, the Mayor of New York City, immediately turn over the instant messages when requested to do so; why did traders feel their criminal messages would be protected on a Bloomberg computer terminal?


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Response to Demeter (Reply #23)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 08:20 AM

25. Libor Scandal: Why the N.Y. Fed Must Be Investigated By Eliot Spitzer



So now the records are beginning to seep out.

The New York Federal Reserve knew about Libor games being played by the banks years ago and seems to have done precious little about it—except perhaps send a memo parroting the so-called reform ideas proposed by the banks themselves. Then nothing more. No prosecutions, no inquiries of the banks to see if the illegal behavior had stopped—just a live-and-let-live attitude.

Of course, this was the New York Fed led by Tim Geithner—who testified at his confirmation hearings to be treasury secretary that he had never been a regulator. Huh? As president of the N.Y. Fed, he was the most important regulator out there, and he didn't even know it?


We need an investigation of the New York Fed and its board by someone we can trust. And so far that doesn't seem to be any of the existing government agencies. Let's get a special prosecutor, maybe Louis Freeh, to find out what happened, who spoke to whom, and why the Fed once again did nothing.

And maybe the prosecutor can find out one other thing: If Tim Geithner wasn't a regulator, what was he?


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Response to Demeter (Reply #25)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 08:31 AM

26. When Big Banks Like HSBC Are Not Prosecuted Criminally, It May Be Killing Us MARK KARLIN



Matti Taibbi has a devastating piece on how the soon-to-be-departed head of the Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal division, Lanny Breuer, admits that the DOJ won't prosecute banks too big to fail, such as HSBC and UBS – among many others. Why?

Because as Taibbi quotes Breuer: "Our goal here is not to destroy a major financial institution."

Breuer also justified overlooking criminal activity at HSBC (and by implication other banks that have been given fines that amount to slaps on the wrist) with the reasoning that criminal activity must be tolerated to ensure that the international financial/banking system is not disrupted: "Had the U.S. authorities decided to press criminal charges," said Breuer "HSBC would almost certainly have lost its banking license in the U.S., the future of the institution would have been under threat and the entire banking system would have been destabilized."

...US has a double standard that allows banks who engage in (CRIMINAL) activity to do so with impunity, while the individuals who are considered terrorists by the executive process, without due process, are targeted for assassination (and are killed along with an unrevealed numbers of collateral damage civilians). Furthermore, Truthout and BuzzFlash at Truthout have documented how the alleged US war on drugs in Mexico has resulted in the deaths of more than 120,000 Mexicans during the six years of the just-ended administration of Mexican President Calderon. BuzzFlash at Truthout has lacerated the DOJ and regulatory agencies for treating financial firms as if they were the clients of the US executive branch – instead of these executive branch divisions serving the interests of the American people....

What Taibbi emphasizes yet again, as BuzzFlash has been repeatedly doing on its commentary pages, is that there are two standards of justice. The banks get away with what other people are put on a "kill list" for doing, particularly in the area of facilitating terrorism and drug cartels. If the executive branch and Congress are serious that Al Qaeda and the narco traffickers are a mortal threat to the US, then our own government is endangering our lives by letting banks and their executives knowledgeable about illicit activity escape prosecution. As Taibbi succinctly puts it, "An arrestable class and an unarrestable class. We always suspected it, now it's admitted. So what do we do?"

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:16 PM

2. It appears no banks have failed, but this is a 3 day weekend


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Response to Demeter (Reply #2)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 07:59 AM

19. Covenant Bank, Chicago, IL

On Friday, February 15, 2013, Covenant Bank, Chicago, IL was closed by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation - Division of Banking, and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) was named Receiver. No advance notice is given to the public when a financial institution is closed.

The FDIC has assembled useful information regarding your relationship with this institution. Besides a checking account, you may have Certificates of Deposit, a car loan, a business checking account, a commercial loan, a Social Security direct deposit, and other relationships with the institution. The FDIC has compiled the following information, which should answer many of your questions.

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Response to DemReadingDU (Reply #19)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 08:03 AM

20. Must have been a real mess. I looked at 7:17PM (6:17 Chicago time) and it wasn't posted


Covenant Bank, Chicago, Illinois, was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation – Division of Banking, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Liberty Bank and Trust Company, New Orleans, Louisiana, to assume all of the deposits of Covenant Bank.

The sole branch of Covenant Bank will reopen during normal business hours as a branch of Liberty Bank and Trust Company...As of December 31, 2012, Covenant Bank had approximately $58.4 million in total assets and $54.2 million in total deposits. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Liberty Bank and Trust Company agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets...

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $21.8 million. Compared to other alternatives, Liberty Bank and Trust Company's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Covenant Bank is the 3rd FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in Illinois. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Citizens First National Bank, Princeton, on November 2, 2012.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:20 PM

3. So, events like this make one wonder about one's future health....


Obama admin winds down plan for 'uninsurables'


Citing financial concerns, the Obama administration Friday began quietly winding down one of the earliest programs created by the president's health care overhaul, a plan that helps people with medical problems who can't get private insurance. In an afternoon teleconference with state counterparts, administration officials said the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan will stop taking new applications. People already in the plan will not lose coverage. YET.

Designed as a stopgap solution until the law's full consumer protections are in effect next year, PCIP is currently serving more than 100,000 people, a lifeline for patients with serious medical problems such as cancer and heart failure. But Congress allocated a limited amount of money, and the administration's technical experts want to make sure it doesn't run out.

"We're glad this program was here and able to help," said Amie Goldman, who oversees the program in Wisconsin. "I'm certainly disappointed we won't be able to serve everyone who has a need for this coverage."

The plan covers people who have had problems getting private insurance because of a medical condition and have been uninsured for at least six months. Premiums are keyed to average rates charged in each state, which means they're not necessarily cheap, often amounting to several hundred dollars a month for middle-aged individuals. Starting next January 1, insurance companies will no longer be able to turn anyone away because of poor health. At the same time, the federal government will begin subsidizing coverage for millions of individuals who have no access to employer plans. That means many of the people currently in the PCIP program may end up with lower premiums once the government's financial help is factored in.

The enrollment suspension will take effect immediately in 23 states where the federal government administers the program, Goldman said. Residents of states that run their own programs may have longer. Wisconsin residents, for example, have until March 2 to apply. Enrollment around the country has been lower than expected, partly because some people could not afford the premiums. But individual cases have turned out to be costlier than originally projected. In documents provided to the states, the administration said the program has spent about $2.4 billion in taxpayer money on medical claims and nearly $180 million on administrative costs, as of Dec. 31. Congress allocated $5 billion to the plan.

"From the beginning (the administration) has been committed to monitoring PCIP enrollment and spending closely and making necessary adjustments in the program to ensure responsible management of the $5 billion provided by Congress," PCIP director Richard Popper wrote in a memo. "To this end, we are implementing a nationwide suspension of enrollment."

The sole exception: program beneficiaries who move to another state will still be able to get coverage in their new home.


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Response to Demeter (Reply #3)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:25 PM

4. Quick Look at Obama's Health Care Law



The new health care law was devised in Washington, but it's in the states where everyone will find out if it works. A thumbnail glance at how it's designed:

—The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act is the biggest safety-net legislation since Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.

—At a cost of $1.7 trillion over the next decade, it's meant to move the U.S. closer to other industrialized nations providing health care for all. IN THE MOST EXPENSIVE, COMPLICATED, AND INCOMPLETE FASHION MANAGEABLE

—Coverage takes effect Jan. 1, 2014. It's expected to help about 30 million Americans who now lack health insurance. Insurers won't be able to turn away people with health problems.

—The law mandates that individuals have coverage, provides subsidies to help pay premiums and penalizes those who don't get the insurance. It imposes penalties on businesses with 50 or more full-time workers that don't offer coverage.

—Health insurance exchanges set up in each state will offer subsidized private coverage to middle-class households. And Medicaid, the government's health insurance for the poor, will be expanded to cover low-income people making up to about $15,400 for an individual. States can opt out of the Medicaid expansion.

—Enrollment in the system opens Oct. 1, 2013.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #4)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 09:00 PM

12. Health Care Spending: A 21st Century Gold Rush



Winston Churchill once remarked, “Americans will always do the right thing, once they’ve exhausted all alternatives.” His observation, at least the second half of it, is proving itself as we continue to struggle with our health care system, especially its out-of-control costs that are crippling the budgets of businesses and government alike.

There is a lot of money in our health care system, and no enforceable budget. That leads to carelessness when it comes to spending that money.

What are some of the reasons health care costs continue to rise? Here are a few examples....


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Response to Demeter (Reply #3)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 01:44 AM

16. A sibling's family is not elegible for this for this program another 60 days.

After searching the only private insurance that allowed them to apply was $20000 a year and $5000 yearly deductible per person plus high per event deductibles. All four were eventually turned down for preexisting conditions.

Expensive medication and the monitoring of it is a matter of life and death for all 4 of them currently.

That being a big selling point for this plan is at least cowardly and more like bait and switch give-away to the insurance companies.

(Hope will have to be redefined now as it was used, won't it?)

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:28 PM

5. I'd been wondering why so many dashcams were in operation

so thanks for answering that question. I guess they're installed over there as options as well as all those car alarms that started to hoot when the blast wave arrived.

The videos must have hit the web within half an hour of the event, as soon as they could manage to get them uploaded.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:29 PM

6. Consumers sitting on $9 billion in old iPhones: Just 20% of iPhone owners sell their older models



More than half of American consumers say they have two or more unused cell phones in their household, according to a new survey released Friday. The trade-in value of all those old gadgets: $34 billion, according to resale site SellCell.com — which has a vested interest in tapping into this possible gold mine. Old iPhones account for roughly a quarter of that sum. Apple has been able to release a new model every year since 2007 — 85 million phones and $50 billion in revenue — partly because it’s easy and inexpensive for customer to sell their old ones for new models. But clearly large numbers of users never part with their old devices.

“If more iPhones flooded the market, the resale price would drop, and there would be less incentive for users to upgrade,” says technology analyst Jeff Kagan. The high price of old iPhones helps fuel demand for the latest gadget, he says. The retail price of a new iPhone starts at $650, but most people pay wireless carriers a subsidized price of $199 with a two-year contract. Since many resale sites offer $200 for previous iPhone models, customers are often able to upgrade to the new model for free.

And while some of the phones may be damaged beyond repair, almost one-in-five of those surveyed say they are just “too lazy” to sell their old devices, the survey found. The same number of respondents were worried about jeopardizing their personal data by throwing away or recycling their unused cell phone, while others still don’t realize they can make cash from their old phones, says Colin White, managing director of SellCell.com. Only 20% sell or recycle them, he says...

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:32 PM

7. RUSSIAN METEOR UPDATE: spaceweather.com


On Friday, February 15th at 9:30 am local time in Russia, a small asteroid struck the atmosphere over the city of Chelyabinsk and exploded. According to reports from news organizations and Russian authorities, as many as 1000 people received minor injuries from the shock wave. This is the most energetic recorded meteor strike since the Tunguska impact of 1908.

Researchers including Prof. Peter Brown of the University of Western Ontario along with NASA experts have conducted a preliminary analysis of the event. "Here is what we know so far," says Bill Cooke, head of NASA's Meteoroid Environment Office. "The asteroid was about 15 meters in diameter and weighed approximately 7000 metric tons. It struck Earth's atmosphere at 40,000 mph (18 km/s) and broke apart about 12 to 15 miles (20 to 25 km) above Earth's surface. The energy of the resulting explosion was in the vicinity of 300 kilotons of TNT."

"A shock wave propagated down and struck the city below, causing large numbers of windows to break, some walls to collapse, and minor damage throughout the city," he continued. "When you hear about injuries, those are undoubtedly due to the effects of the shock wave, not due to fragments striking the ground. There are undoubtedly fragments on the ground, but as of this time we know of no recovered fragments that we can verify."

Videos of the event may be found here and here. In many of the videos you can hear the sound of windows shattering as the meteor's loud shock wave reaches the ground. Onlookers cry out in Russian as alarms and sirens sound in the background. This pair of wide-angle gif animations is also worth watching: #1, #2.

It is natural to wonder if this event has any connection to today's record-setting flyby of asteroid 2012 DA14. Paul Chodas of the Near Earth Object Program at JPL says no. "The Russian fireball is not related to 2012 DA14 in any way. It's an incredible coincidence that we have had these two rare events in one day."

MANY VIDEOS AT LINK: http://say26.com/meteorite-in-russia-all-videos-in-one-place

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:41 PM

8. Some People Get Blasted by Man-Made Objects, However


and I will probably be droning on about them, until they are banned from the earth.


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Response to Demeter (Reply #8)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:55 PM

11. Leaked White Paper the "Tip of the Iceberg": An Interview With Marjorie Cohn About Targeted Killings



The white paper allows the government to kill a US citizen, who is not on the battlefield, if some high government official, who is supposedly informed about the situation, thinks that the target is a senior al-Qaeda leader who poses an imminent threat of a violent attack against the United States. So how do they define "imminence?" Well, it doesn't require any clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future. So it completely dilutes this whole idea of imminent threat. Under well-established principles of international law and the UN Charter, one country can use military force against another only in self-defense. But under the Caroline case, which is the gold standard here, the "necessity for self-defense must be instant, overwhelming, leaving no choice of means and no moment for deliberation." That means we are going to be attacked right away and we can use force. But the very nebulous test that the white paper lays out even allows the targeted killing of somebody who is considered to be a "continuing" threat, whatever that means.The most disturbing part of it says that US citizens can be killed even when there is no "clear evidence that a specific attack on US persons and interests will take place in the immediate future." So we have a global battlefield, where if there is someone, anywhere, who might be associated with al-Qaeda, according to a high government official, then Obama can authorize (it's not even clear Obama himself has to authorize these targeted killings, these drone attacks) on Terror Tuesday (thanks to The New York Times expose several months ago) who he is going to kill after consulting with John Brennan. John Brennan, of course, is his counter-terrorism guru who is up for confirmation to be CIA Director. Very incestuous. John Brennan has said that targeted killings constitute lawful self-defense.

One of the most disturbing things here is the amassing of executive power with no review by the courts, no checks and balances. So the courts will have no opportunity to interpret what "imminence" means, or what "continuing" threat means. The white paper cites John Yoo's claim that courts have no role to play in what the president does in this so-called War on Terror where the whole world is a battlefield. I say so-called War on Terror because terrorism is a tactic. It's not an enemy. You don't declare war on a tactic. And the white paper refers to Yoo's view that judicial review constitutes "judicial encroachment" on the judgments by the president and his national security advisors as to when and how to use force. The white paper cites Hamdi vs. Rumsfeld which says the president has the authority to hold US citizens caught on the battlefield in Afghanistan as enemy combatants. But in Hamdi, the Supreme Court stated that a US citizen who is being detained as an enemy combatant is entitled to due process. Due process means an arrest and a fair trial. It doesn't mean just taking him out with a drone. Also, there's another interesting passage in this white paper. It says "judicial enforcement [a court reviewing these kill orders of the executive] of such orders would require the court to supervise inherently predictive judgments by the president and his national security advisors as to when and how to use force against a member of an enemy force against which Congress has authorized the use of force." Inherently predictive. Does that mean that the court can't review decisions made with a crystal ball because it's too mushy? I don't know. Certainly courts are competent to make emergency decisions under FISA, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act. The FISA Court meets in secret and authorizes wiretaps requested by the executive branch. Courts can do this. Courts can act in emergencies to review and check and balance what the executive is doing. That's what our constitution is all about...

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:47 PM

9. P.S.: Our Atomic Dominoes Are Falling



[li]Wisconsin’s fully licensed Kewaunee reactor will now shut because it can’t compete in the marketplace.

[li]Florida’s Crystal River will die because its owners poked holes in the containment during a botched repair job.

[li]UBS and other financial experts say Entergy is bleeding cash at Vermont Yankee. After blacking out the SuperBowl, Entergy has no problem stiffing a state that has sued to shut its only reactor.

But in the face being crushed by renewables and gas, the money men may finally pull the plug.

The same could happen to New York’s Fitzpatrick and Ginna reactors, as well as the two at Indian Point, which need water permits and more from an increasingly hostile state. New Jersey’s Oyster Creek, slammed by Hurricane Sandy, and Nebraska’s Ft. Calhoun, recently flooded, are also on the brink. The list of crippled, non-competitive and near-dead reactors lengthens daily. Few are more critical than San Onofre Units Two and Three, perched on an ocean cliff in the earthquake-tsunami zone between Los Angeles and San Diego...More than 8 million people live within a 50-mile radius of where San Onofre’s owners botched a $600 million steam generator replacement. As radiation leaked, they may have lied to federal regulators, prompting US Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) to demand an investigation. After being down more than a year, Unit Three will almost certainly never reopen. Unit Two may well stay shut at least through the summer. If a rising grassroots movement can bury them both, it will mark a huge turning point in a state where renewables are booming with new revenue and jobs....

This latest stretch of shut downs does not mean the death of the industry. Both Georgia and Florida are being assaulted with legislation that would allow utilities to build new reactors while ratepayers foot the bill. And some activists concerned about global warming still dream of carbon-free reactors they hope might someday alleviate the situation. But they miss the reality that such plants will likely never exist. Every promise this industry has made---from “too cheap to meter” to “reactors don’t explode” to “radiation is good for you”---has turned toxic. They also forget that a fragile pool laden with enough fuel rods to poison countless millions still sways 100 feet in the air at Fukushima. It remains horrifically vulnerable to seismic activity that could send it crashing down to a permanently contaminated earth. Overall the industry’s back is dangerously to the wall. We know it will squeeze every last cent from these dying reactors with less and less care for safety, especially since the federal government still insures them against the financial consequences of a major catastrophe. Every day they operate heightens the odds on something truly apocalyptic to follow in the wake of Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima...

This may yet become the first year in decades that the US has fewer than 100 operating commercial reactors. It will also be the biggest year worldwide for the booming Solartopian industries that are transforming how we get our energy, create our jobs and grow our economy.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #9)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 09:02 PM

13. They're still charging us to build Crystal River's replacement.

Which in all likelihood will never be built. But our state legislature gave Progress Energy, now Duke Energy a license to steal. They won't even have to refund any of the money if they cancel it.

I was one of 5 original plaintiffs in the lawsuit against them. We lost in the State Supreme Court, and the law firm filed a different suit, with new plaintiffs, of which my wife is one.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 08:51 PM

10. The Great Tax-Cut Experiment By Gerald Friedman



Since the late 1970s, during the Carter Administration, conservative economists have been warning that high taxes retard economic growth by discouraging productive work and investment. These arguments have resonated with politicians, who have steadily cut income taxes, especially those borne by the richest Americans. The highest marginal tax rate, which stood at 70% by the end of the 1970s, was cut to less than 30% in less than a decade. (The marginal rate for a person is the one applied to his or her last dollar of income. A marginal rate that applies to, say, the bracket above $250,000, then, is paid only on that portion of income. The portion of a person’s income below that threshold is taxed at the lower rates applying to lower tax brackets.) Despite increases in the early 1990s, the top marginal rate remained below 40%, when it was cut further during the administration of George W. Bush. These dramatic cuts in tax rates, however, have not led to an acceleration in economic growth, investment, or productivity.

Falling Tax Rates for the Richest: The federal government has been cutting taxes on the richest Americans since the end of World War II. The average tax paid by the richest taxpayers, as a percentage of income, is typically less than the top marginal rate. Some of their income (the portion below the threshold for the top marginal rate, any capital-gains income, etc.) is taxed at lower rates. Some is not subject to federal income tax because of deductions for state and local taxes, health-care costs, and other expenses. The decline in the average tax rate for the richest, however, does follow the cuts in the top marginal income-tax rate. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1: Federal Taxes on Richest Americans,Marginal and Average Rates, 1945-2010

Comparisons with Other Countries: Americans pay a smaller proportion of total income in taxes than do people in any other advanced capitalist economy. As recently as the late 1960s, taxes accounted for as high a share of national income in the United States as in Western European countries. After decades of tax cuts, however, the United States now stands out for its low taxes and small government sector. (See Figure 2.)

Figure 2: Tax Revenue as a Percentage of GDP, 2008

Higher Growth When Taxes Are Higher: On average, the economy has grown faster during presidential administrations with higher tax rates on the richest Americans. Growth was unusually slow during George W. Bush’s two terms (Bush II) and during Obama’s first term, when the Bush tax cuts remained in effect. On average, every 10 percentage-point rise in the average tax rate on the richest has been associated with an increase in annual GDP growth of almost one percentage point. (See Figure 3.)

Figure 3: Average Tax Rates on Richest and Real GDP Growth, by President, 1947-2010

Declining Tax Rates Haven’t Stimulated Investment: Cutting taxes on the richest Americans has not led them to invest more in plant and equipment. Over the past 50 years, as tax rates have declined, there has been no increase in investment spending as a percentage of GDP. (The flat trend line shows that changes in the highest marginal income-tax rate have not affected investment much, one way or the other.) Instead, the investment share of the economy has been determined by other factors, such as aggregate demand, rather than tax policy. (See Figure 4.)

Figure 4: Top Marginal Income-Tax Rateand Investment Share of GDP, 1963-2011

Lower Taxes, Slower GDP Growth: Despite lower and declining tax rates, especially on the rich, the United States has had slower productivity growth over the last several decades than other advanced economies. Overall, lower taxes are associated with slower growth in GDP per hour worked. A 10 percentage point increase in taxes as a share of GDP is associated with an increase in the productivity growth rate of 0.2 percentage points. (See Figure 5.)

Figure 5: Tax Share of GDP and Productivity Growth

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 09:04 PM

14. How High Could the Minimum Wage Go?



A 70 percent boost - to $12.30/hour - would help millions of workers, without killing jobs.

The minimum wage needs a jolt—not just the usual fine-tuning—if it’s ever going to serve as a living wage. Annual full-time earnings at today’s $7.25 federal minimum wage are about $15,000 per year. This doesn’t come anywhere near providing a decent living standard by any reasonable definition, for any household, least of all households with children. But among the seventeen states that either have active campaigns to raise their minimum wage or have raised them already this year, none have suggested raising the wage floor by more than 20%.

How high can the minimum wage go? As it turns out, a lot higher. Economists typically examine whether current minimum-wage laws hike pay rates up too high and cause employers to shed workers from their payrolls in response. But the current stockpile of economic research on minimum wages suggests that past increases have not caused any notable job losses. In other words, minimum wages in the United States have yet to be set too high. In fact, if we use past experience as a guide, businesses should be able to adjust to a jump in the minimum wage as great as 70%. That would push the federal minimum wage up to $12.30. In states with average living costs, full-time earnings at $12.30 per hour can cover the basic needs of the typical low-income working household (assuming both adults in two-adult households are employed).

Why is such a large increase possible? It’s because minimum-wage hikes—particularly those in the 20-to-30% range adopted in the United States—impose very modest cost increases on businesses. This is true even for the low-wage, labor-intensive restaurant industry. And because these cost increases are so modest, affected businesses have a variety of options for adjusting to their higher labor costs that are less drastic than laying off workers....


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Response to Demeter (Reply #14)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 01:59 AM

17. In 1981, with a rediculously low house payment, fully paid for car, gas was cheap.

I figured I needed $11 an hour to afford to work outside my home, at that time I did yet have a choice but the Reagan recession decimated BMET pay to $6 and hour, no benefits down from $17k with full benefits when I started school in 1979.

Since then health care is expected by the IRS to cost a family of 4 with mandated insurance $20000 a year minimum. Now they condemn houses immediately here if the homeowner has utilities shut off. Welfare has a 5 year maximum and you must work if you can. Simple neighbor/friend/relative daycare is in short supply as grandmothers are having to work until they drop (and take care of their elderly parents, sometimes aunts and uncles.) Our HUD building prohibits daily day care in the lease.

Pretty grim living in America today.

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Response to kickysnana (Reply #17)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 09:36 AM

28. Health insurance is a scam

Who can afford that high of insurance, Crazy!

I basically have insurance for catastrophic incidents with a $5000 deductible, $217 monthly.
I pay for doctor & dental visits and prescriptions, though I am allowed 1 'free' female checkup per year.

My cholesterol is a bit high, but that is genetic, as well as small thin bones. The doctors want me to take prescription medicines for both of these conditions, but I refuse. The prescriptions are just too expensive, and besides, there are numerous warnings of horrible side effects.

Those doctors sure do try to make one feel badly for not taking those prescriptions. But I try to eat healthy and exercise. It's my money and I decided I don't want to enhance the compensation of those pharma and insurance CEOs any more than I have to.

With more and more people losing jobs or being cut to part-time with no health insurance, they will have to pay the penalty to be on ObamaCare, the government single payer plan. But what if they can't pay the penalty?

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Fri Feb 15, 2013, 10:06 PM

15. Good night, sleep tight


The odds of a meteor falling on you tonight are astronomical....

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 03:04 AM

18. Musical Interlude

Stars On The Water by Jimmy Buffett:

PS... Since this is the only place on DU I go to anymore, THANK YOU for the heart! Whoever you are....

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Response to hamerfan (Reply #18)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 08:08 AM

22. Thank you for sticking with us, hamerfan


DU isn't even a shadow of its former self. It resembles junior high in all its cruelty and rudeness. And as a source of information...hah! The worthless rag I deliver has more...and that's not to its credit, but a shame for the formerly formidable Democratic Underground.

Sadly, I don't see how it's going to ever turn around...but still, we must try.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #22)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 05:17 PM

33. Thank you, Demeter!

For all the work and effort you put into SMW and WEE.
I don't dare start thanking everyone by name because of all the ones I would inadvertently forget.
But a huge THANK YOU to all the regulars here, and you DO know who you are!
Still a breath of sanity here in a world of confusion, and thank you all for this.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 08:17 AM

24. Hurricane Sandy Shows Folly of $150 Million Spy Center for Wall Street By Pam Martens



Over the past five years, more than $150 million of taxpayer money has been dumped into a spy center in Lower Manhattan where employees of Wall Street firms and real estate behemoths sit side by side with municipal police to spy on the comings and goings of pedestrians on the streets around Wall Street...the question arises as to whether that $150 million of taxpayer money, both city and Federal funds, could have more wisely been put to use in securing Lower Manhattan with sea gates and storm barriers...New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly call significant owners or occupants of commercial property in Lower Manhattan “stakeholders.” Goldman Sachs is a major stakeholder as is Citigroup, JPMorgan Chase, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York (which bought the landmark 33 Maiden Lane building for $207.5 million in February).

The largest stakeholder in Lower Manhattan is Brookfield Office Properties Inc., which played such a significant role in the crackdown and eventual eviction of Occupy Wall Street protesters from the public space, Zuccotti Park, which it owns. Brookfield is a majority owner of One, Two, Three and Four World Financial Center, One Liberty Plaza, One New York Plaza, and a 44.6 percent owner of World Financial Center Retail. (Brookfield also owns commercial property in other areas of Manhattan including The Grace Building in midtown.)

Under a deal originally crafted in 2005 with Goldman Sachs, and unearthed in documents filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly promised Edward Forst, a Goldman Sachs’ Executive Vice President at the time, that the NYPD “is committed to the development and implementation of a comprehensive security plan for Lower Manhattan…One component of the plan will be a centralized coordination center that will provide space for full-time, on site representation from Goldman Sachs and other stakeholders.” The spy center plan was officially known as the Lower Manhattan Security Initiative and the facility on lower Broadway is dubbed the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center. More than 2,000 private spy cameras owned by Wall Street firms, together with approximately 1,000 more owned by the NYPD, relay live video feeds of people on the streets in lower Manhattan to the center where the data is integrated. At least 700 cameras are in place in midtown with a feed to the center. The center is also equipped with video analytics which can track a person based on the color of their hat or jacket and live feeds from license plate readers. None of this high-tech snooping on pedestrians saved Lower Manhattan from the disaster of Hurricane Sandy.

Corporate spying on law-abiding citizens is so hush-hush that for more than a year this writer has been denied access to records under a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request of just which companies have a seat at the center. But thanks to an unlikely source, a foreign news service which was invited to a press briefing at the center, photographs of the following brass plates show these corporate occupants: Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, Bank of New York, New York Stock Exchange, Federal Reserve Bank of New York – and Brookfield Properties. (If it seems irrational to you that a foreign news service is allowed to photograph a super secret Wall Street spy center but a journalist is denied access to legally protected public records, you’re in good company with a lot of others.) Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly created the Lower Manhattan Security Coordination Center with no public hearings and no meaningful public oversight and now refuse to honor the law of New York State, the Freedom of Information Law which requires readily available documents to be turned over to the public within five business days...


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Response to Demeter (Reply #24)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 11:37 AM

30. I wonder just how many hundreds of billions we waste on illegal spying now.

FBI, CIA, DIA, Police Intel Units, DEA, NSA, and a couple of thousand "Private Contractors".

And the only thing it does is turn us into a bankrupt police state.

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Response to Fuddnik (Reply #30)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 12:05 PM

31. Not as much as we are going to be wasting


when building infrastructure and creating jobs and a happy, healthy populace is the only security there is in this world, you have to wonder where their heads are, let alone their hearts, these psychopathic Eliters.

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 11:08 AM

29. Well, It Couldn't Hurt


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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 03:01 PM

32. Harlem Shake (The Can Kicks Back edition)

2/15/13 Harlem Shake (The Can Kicks Back edition)

Alice Rivlin (former White House budget director) and David Walker (former U.S. Comptroller General - @DaveWalkerCAI) tell young people it's time to shake things up in Washington because the growing national debt threatens to sink our generation.


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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 09:49 PM

34. In Honor of Russia's Close Encounter of the 4th Kind


(nearly getting blown to bits by incoming)

the Kid and I went to see the latest Die Hard flick. It's supposedly set in Russia and Ukraine, Chernobyl, no less, and rather dreadful, unless you really hate dialog, plausibility, character and plot development, and can't live without a weekly fix of explosions, car chases, and a mummified Bruce Willis.

Some men age gracefully (Harrison Ford, Leonard Nimoy, Jack Benny, George Burns), some don't age at all (and some don't get the chance, dying far too young). Bruce isn't in any of the above categories. He and I are the same age (he's 16 days older)...he looks as old as my father who just turned 80, maybe moreso, except he's in better physical shape. Living in the California sun will do that to a man or a woman, I know. And genetics are hard to overcome, alas.

But I cannot recommend anyone see this movie. The "Russians" are probably Serbs, at best. If there was anything left of Moscow when they were done shooting, if it were done on location (I didn't stay for the credits), I'd be surprised. I left with a sour stomach, and I don't think it was the popcorn.

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Response to Demeter (Reply #34)

Sat Feb 16, 2013, 09:52 PM

35. The rest of the day was pretty good, though


Both Kids and I went to do some Retail Therapy...boots, for the most part. Some of that Xmas shopping we never did get to do. It was good to see the younger one for longer than 5 minutes.

Of course, this meant I sluffed off shamefully on the thread. and now, it's time to rest up for papers...I will try to do better tomorrow. I just really needed to feel like a person, not a drone....(pun intended).

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Response to Demeter (Original post)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 09:19 PM

36. Well, I must apologize for the shortness of the thread this weekend


It was incredibly cold this morning when the intrepid news carrier set out at 3 AM...and finished at 8 AM and went back to bed.

Then Up at noon to prep for the Chinese New Year/Valentines'/Presidents Day party.

My fellow board member and actual Chinese cook and I went shopping, then she set me to slaving for 3 hours in the kitchen.

The party was well attended (many more than signed up showed up--good thing we over-bought!) especially by our New Yorker contingent. Cabin fever must be setting in, for so many to come out in this weather...

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Response to Demeter (Reply #36)

Sun Feb 17, 2013, 09:41 PM

37. Demeter, you and all the contributors to these daily threads are tireless & remain unsung heroes

of DU. I cannot TY all enough for the info that is brought here.

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