As most of you know, I was hoping for a “Yes” vote in the Greek referendum, especially as the proposal which the Tsipras government put forth this week encompassed most of the demands which Greece’s creditors had been making.
The Syriza proposals were approved by the creditors, and sent to the Eurozone finance ministers. And then Germany got in the act.
In an act of suicidal hubris, Germany is demanding nothing short of humiliation for Greece. Even though I had hoped for a Yes vote, this petty revenge is unbelievable from a country which plunged Europe into two World Wars. It is Germany’s gambit to establish the EU as merely a Greater German Co-Prosperity Sphere.
Here is where we stand at the moment.
Translation: Trust has been lost; Doubts of Greece’s willingness to reform.
Translation: Greece has driven a wedge between France and Germany
Tasneem Raja: At 5:20 a.m. on Monday, four hours before the Boston Marathon’s elite runners took off, a group of 15 active-duty soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard gathered at the starting line in Hopkinton. Each soldier was in full combat uniform and carried a “ruck,” a military backpack weighing about 40 pounds. The rucks were filled with Camelbacks of water, extra uniforms, Gatorade, changes of socks—and first-aid and trauma kits. It was all just supposed to be symbolic. These soldiers, participating in “Tough Ruck 2013,” were doing the 26 miles of the Boston Marathon to honor comrades killed in Iraq and Afghanistan, or lost to suicide and PTSD-related accidents after coming home.
(Military Friends Foundation)
When the explosion went off, Fiola and his group immediately went into tactical mode. “I did a count and told the younger soldiers to stay put,” Fiola says. “Myself and two other soldiers, my top two guys in my normal unit, crossed the street about 100 yards to the metal scaffoldings holding up the row of flags. We just absolutely annihilated the fence and pulled it back so we could see the victims underneath. The doctors and nurses from the medical tent were on the scene in under a minute. We were pulling burning debris off of people so that the medical personnel could get to them and begin triage.”
CTV Atlantic: Nova Scotia Premier Darrell Dexter announced today that the provincial government will donate $50,000 to the Massachusetts General Hospital for Children in response to the bombings at the Boston Marathon.
“When we were in need, Bostonians were there,” says Dexter. “There is a border and hundreds of miles between us, but Massachusetts is always close to the hearts of Nova Scotians. We will do everything we can to support our neighbours and friends in their time of need.”
Washington Post: Months after their Jan. 28 announcement of a tentative compromise on immigration reform, the bipartisan “Gang of Eight” has finally unveiled its bill, or at least a summary of the proposal. It includes sweeping changes in treatment of both existing undocumented workers and aspiring immigrants. Here are the key points, culled from summaries in the Post and Politico as well as the actual bill summary, posted by Talking Points Memo here.
Even more news on the Senate’s immigration bill, Gun control vote, Budget, Reinhart and Rogoff’s failed pro-austerity economic study, the IMF’s warning against excessive fiscal austerity, etc; in the Washington Post’s WonkBlog
Steve Benen: For reasons that have never been clear, House Republican leaders gave Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) a seat on the House Intelligence Committee, affording the right-wing lawmaker access to some of the nation’s most sensitive national security information, and giving the congresswoman an opportunity to ask questions of the intelligence community.
Occasionally, that’s not a good idea. Late last week, Bachmann asked CIA Director John Brennan questions that left him visibly confused. As part of a line of inquiry that apparently related to Benghazi, the Minnesota Republican asked about armed drone strikes in Libya before last September.”Armed drone strikes in Libya?” Brennan replied, clearly baffled. “I’m unknowing of such.” There is a moral to the story. It’s unfortunate that ridiculous candidates will be elected to Congress, but to give these lawmakers seats on the intelligence committees is never a good idea.
Zack Beauchamp: Tuesday afternoon, Mike Konczal transformed the debate over austerity and growth by reporting new study finding that a paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff that served as one of the principal intellectual justification for austerity turns out to be have been fatally flawed. Its conclusions, for example, were based in part on an elementary Excel coding error (Reinhart and Rogoff, for their part, aren’t conceding the game)
But let’s be honest: most journalists had no real way of knowing whether or not Reinhart/Rogoff had actually provided *good* proof of the 90 percent theory. The reason economists tend to have PhDs is that economics is a difficult, technical profession; assessing the robustness of any individual finding requires a degree of econometric expertise, background knowledge, and free time that the vast majority of journalists simply don’t have. This a deeper problem for journalists than many will care to admit.
ThinkProgress: A bipartisan group of senators this morning introduced comprehensive immigration reform legislation that provides a path to citizenship for the 11 million undocumented immigrants currently living in the United States, as well as reforms to other existing worker and visa programs. Still, temporary status gives those immigrants the ability to contribute directly to the American economy, and the benefits for the overall economy, including American workers, would be substantial over the next decade.
Legislation that included a faster path to citizenship, as CAP’s Patrick Oakford and Robert Lynch found in a recent study, would provide an even bigger boost to the economy. A five-year path to citizenship, they found, would add $1.1 trillion to the economy over the next decade while increasing Americans’ cumulative income by $618 billion and increasing job growth by 159,000 annually.
I remember, when 9/11 went down, my reaction was, “Well, I’ve had it with humanity.”
But I was wrong. I don’t know what’s going to be revealed to be behind all of this mayhem. One human insect or a poisonous mass of broken sociopaths.
But here’s what I DO know. If it’s one person or a HUNDRED people, that number is not even a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a percent of the population on this planet. You watch the videos of the carnage and there are people running TOWARDS the destruction to help out. (Thanks FAKE Gallery founder and owner Paul Kozlowski for pointing this out to me). This is a giant planet and we’re lucky to live on it but there are prices and penalties incurred for the daily miracle of existence. One of them is, every once in awhile, the wiring of a tiny sliver of the species gets snarled and they’re pointed towards darkness.
But the vast majority stands against that darkness and, like white blood cells attacking a virus, they dilute and weaken and eventually wash away the evil doers and, more importantly, the damage they wreak. This is beyond religion or creed or nation. We would not be here if humanity were inherently evil. We’d have eaten ourselves alive long ago.
So when you spot violence, or bigotry, or intolerance or fear or just garden-variety misogyny, hatred or ignorance, just look it in the eye and think, “The good outnumber you, and we always will.”
MooOOOOoooorning everyone. Wishing you all a safe and happy day. :D
TPM: A lesser-known but important provision in “Obamacare” that regulates how health insurance companies spend their money is yielding benefits for consumers, a new study finds.
By this August, insurers are projected to send consumers a total of $1.3 billion in rebates, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation analysis released Thursday – $541 million to large employers, $377 million to small businesses and $426 million to people with their own insurance plans.
The rebates are the result of a rule in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance companies to spend at least 80 percent or 85 percent of premium earnings on health care – as opposed to marketing and administrative activities – or otherwise provide rebates to their consumers.
Steve Benen: Joe Weisenthal published a pretty remarkable chart today noting economic growth in the United States, United Kingdom, and Europe over the last nine years….
…. Once President Obama took office and the Recovery Act/stimulus began putting capital back into the economy, the U.S. economy began growing again. In the U.K., the economy started to improve, right up until British officials began implementing an austerity agenda – at which point the national economy stagnated and slipped back into a recession.
Obama rejected austerity, and as a result, American growth, while fragile and insufficient, is easily outpacing Europe’s and UK’s, where austerity measures have ruled the day.
….When David Cameron’s austerity policies began, Republicans were not only certain they would work, they pleaded with American policymakers to follow the Tories’ lead …. The remarkable thing is, Republicans aren’t the least bit chastened by the track record of failure.
ThinkProgress: …. The Romney campaign organized a conference call today with three of Romney’s foreign policy advisers to push back (against VP Biden’s foreign policy speech). During the call, Romney adviser Ambassador Pierre Prosper attacked President Obama for dealing with Russia, albeit using geographical terms from the Cold War era:
PROSPER: ….. The United States abandoned its missile defense sites in Poland and Czechoslovakia….
Aside from the fact that “Czechoslovakia” broke up into the Czech Republic and Slovakia nearly 20 years ago, the Obama administration never “abandoned” missile defense sites because they were never there to begin with….
Michael Tomasky: It seems clear that the main issue Mitt Romney is going to use to try to reestablish himself as a moderate is immigration …. Can Romney, who staked out an immigration position during the primaries that left him sounding like Pat Buchanan, really pull this off? My bet: He’ll be smooth, he’ll do almost everything right, he’ll say all the right things — and he’ll end up with something very much like the 31 percent of the Latino vote John McCain got, maybe two or three points more, tops. The reason is simple: Romney, like his party, is just too white.
…. There is no signal, at least yet, that Rubio would make a whit of difference. Last weekend, a poll came out in which 1,000-plus Latinos were asked about Obama-Biden matchups against Romney-Rubio, and Romney paired with various other Hispanic Republicans ….. in Florida, Obama did better among Latinos against Romney with Rubio on the ticket, suggesting that maybe to know him isn’t to love him.
NYT: The group Americans for Prosperity just went up with a $6.1 million ad buy in swing states that accuses the Obama administration of squandering American taxpayer dollars on green energy projects, asserting that some of the money actually went to foreign entities….
In making the general assertion that “billions of taxpayer dollars spent on green energy went to jobs in foreign countries,” the ad cites as evidence $1.2 billion that went “to a solar company that’s building a plant in Mexico.” In fact, the company involved in the plant, SunPower, said that the $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee was for its solar ranch in California….
The ad also says that the Obama administration sent “half a billion to an electric car company that created hundreds of jobs in Finland.” …. Loans under the agency’s alternative vehicle program went to Fisker Automotive, an American electric car company based in California that has facilities in Finland, as well as China and Germany. The agency provided $169 million for engineering and tooling work, all carried out in the United States….