Sunday, July 31, 2011

What could go wrong?

The Truck That Invades Your Privacy, Photographs Your Genitalia, Records The Photograph For Posterity, And May Cause You To Die Of Cancer

The description of a leftist

Facebook and Twitter are creating a vain generation of self-obsessed people with child-like need for feedback, warns top scientist

The debt and how best to reduce it.

The Facts About Spending Cuts, the Debt, and the GDP

Separating economic myths from economic truths

Editor's Note: Reason columnist and Mercatus Center economist Veronique de Rugy appears weekly on Bloomberg TV to separate economic fact from economic myth.

Raising the debt limit might put off a downgrade disaster in August, but that still isn’t enough—asStandard & Poor’s recent warning made clear. Perhaps the most important shot not heard around the world was S&P’s other admonition: Namely, that the U.S. bond rating will be downgraded in three months, if not sooner, unless we do something about government spending. Beyond raising the debt limit, S&P laid out clear criteria for avoiding a downgrade: 1) reduce the debt by about $4 trillion; 2) agree to a credible plan within three months; and 3) guarantee that this newfound fiscal discipline will actually stick.

If S&P isn’t bluffing, then lawmakers should get serious about reducing the debt-to-GDP ratio, and they should do it quickly. But how do we achieve such a task?

Myth 1: You cannot reduce the deficit to an appropriate level without also raising taxes.

Fact 1: Spending cuts are the most effective way to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio.

We are not the first nation to struggle with a dangerous debt-to-GDP ratio, and thankfully, the academic world has already produced great insights into what can be done to reduce this ratio without hurting the economy.

Take the work of Harvard’s Alberto Alesina and Silvia Ardagna. They examined 107 efforts to reduce the debt in 21 OECD nations between 1970–2007. Their findings suggest that tax cuts are more expansionary than spending increases in the cases of a fiscal stimulus. Also, they found that spending cuts are a more effective way to reduce the debt-to-GDP ratio:

For fiscal adjustments we show that spending cuts are much more effective than tax increases in stabilizing the debt and avoiding economic downturns. In fact, we uncover several episodes in which spending cuts adopted to reduce deficits have been associated with economic expansions rather than recessions. We also investigate which components of taxes and spending affect the economy more in these large episodes and we try to uncover channels running through private consumption and/or investment.

As you can see in this chart, in cases of successful fiscal adjustments—defined by the cumulative reduction in debt-to-GDP ratio three years after fiscal adjustment greater than 4.5 percentage points—spending as a share of GDP fell by about 2 percentage points while revenue also fell by half a percentage point (left bars). On the other hand, unsuccessful fiscal adjustment packages—cumulative increases in debt-to-GDP ratio—were made of smaller spending reductions (only 0.8 percentage-point reduction) and large revenue increases (right bars).

The IMF found similar results and reports that fiscal adjustment on the requisite scale of what we need today is actually not unprecedented:

During the past three decades, there were 14 episodes in advanced economies and 26 in emerging economies when individual countries adjusted their structural primary balance by more than 7 percentage points of GDP. Several economies were also able to sustain large primary surpluses for five or more years afterwards, though the record is more mixed in this regard.

For those who are not ideologically inclined toward austerity measures, it is key to remember that this research is consistent with the work of former Obama Council of Economic Advisers chairman Christina Romer and her economist husband, David Romer, which shows that increasing taxes by 1 percent of GDP for deficit-reduction purposes leads to a 3 percent reduction in GDP. In fact, Alesina and Ardagna discuss the work of Romer and Romer starting on page five of their paper.

Myth 2: Lawmakers facing economic catastrophe forget about politics and adopt measures that address genuine fiscal issues.

Fact 2: Politicians rarely put politics aside. Historically, four out of five fiscal adjustments were primarily comprised of tax increases—and were unsuccessful.

Following and building on Alesina and Ardagna’s work, a new paper by Andrew Biggs, Kevin Hassett, and Matthew Jensen of the American Enterprise Institute studies fiscal adjustments covering over 100 instances in which countries took steps to address their budget gaps. Their results are consistent with those of the Harvard economists; expenditure cuts outweigh revenue increases in successful consolidations. Moreover, their work shows that even in a time of crisis (or especially in a time of crisis), lawmakers tend to adopt policies for the sake of politics. Countries in fiscal trouble generally got there through years of catering to interest groups and pro-spending constituencies (on both sides of the political aisle), and their fiscal adjustments tend to make too many of the same mistakes.

As a result, failed fiscal consolidations are the rule rather than the exception. Indeed, 80 percent of the fiscal adjustments Biggs, Hassett, and Jensen studied were failures. The United States cannot afford to follow this pattern.

Myth 3: We have had higher debt-to-GDP ratios before so we shouldn’t worry now.

Fact 3: We should worry. The debt-to-GDP ratio actually underestimates the size of the government’s real liabilities.

As government debt and deficits have swollen, we often look to the past for guidance. From that point of view, history appears to be reassuring, since several advanced countries have had debt-to-GDP ratios much higher than the one we have now. The United States after World War II had a public debt/GDP ratio of roughly 110 percent, while Britain’s was 250 percent. In fact, the UK’s national debt has averaged almost 100 percent of GDP since its creation in 1693. France's public debt was about 280 percent of GDP at the end of World War II. And yet neither of these countries defaulted. So why should we worry?

Two main reasons: First, while our debt is big now, it’s only going to get bigger in the coming years. This year, the debt held by the public is $9.7 trillion, which is roughly 69 percent of GDP. According to the Congressional Budget Office, it will reach 200 percent in 2037--if the economy doesn’t collapse first (which it likely will). These projections aren’t surprising considering that the president’s budget doubles the debt held by the public from $9 trillion today to $18 trillion in 2021.

Second, the debt-to-GDP ratio actually underestimates the scale of our debt problem. Here is why:

1. Intragovernmental debt. This $4.6 trillion of debt is money that the federal government owes to its various trust funds. In other words, it’s a liability to the government but an asset to the trust funds, so in accounting term it’s zeroed out. However, over time the programs will redeem the IOUs as they need the money to fund benefits. As that happens, the intragovernmental debt decreases but debt held by the public increases. Eventually, this $4.6 trillion will be converted into public debt.

2. Unaccounted liabilities. There exists a broad range of liabilities that are debt, yet are not captured in the debt-to-GDP ratio. To take one example, the Financial Statement of the United States values the government’s civil-service pension liabilities (that is, the contractual claims on government accumulated to date by civil servants) at $5.7 trillion. That amount is not captured by the debt-to-GDP ratio. A share of this $5.7 trillion will be paid for by IOUs included in the intragovernmental debt, which we know will be converted into public debt. In addition, the unfunded share of this liability will have to be paid for with more debt, which isn’t accounted for in the debt/GDP metric. The Financial Statement of the United States shows another $1.5 trillion of such liabilities, including payments due to government-sponsored enterprises.

3. Unfunded liabilities. There is a balance of $39 trillion in unfunded liabilities over 75 years for programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

While we can’t add all these numbers up because it would be the equivalent of comparing oranges to apples (some of these numbers represent the net present value of beneficiaries’ future claims on the government), considering them in context still helps to illustrate why the debt-to-GDP ratio underestimates how much present and future debt has been accumulated over the years. Hopefully, this also helps illustrate why the current debt-ceiling debate shouldn’t just focus on Treasury’s ability to pay our bills today, but must focus on our overall debt problem.

Contributing Editor Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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The new tone of civility from the left, right?

Charles Krauthammer Scolds Margaret Carlson for Saying Tea Party 'Strapped Explosives to the Capitol'

We knew that the new tone of civility wouldn't apply to the left for two reasons. First their hatred of anyone not agreeing with them is so strong they cannot control their hateful vitriol. Second, they think themselves so righteous that they're entitled to spew venom.

Dos this sound familiar to you?

Eric Holder's Newest Witch Hunt

The Department of Justice is executing a "Witch Hunt" against banks. Through the DOJ's Civil Rights Division, Attorney General Eric Holder is forcing banks to "relax their mortgage underwriting standards and approve loans for minorities with poor credit as part of a new crackdown on alleged discrimination," according to a published report by Investor's Business Daily after reviewing court documents.

The DOJ has already extorted $20 million for weak and poor credit loans from banks that "settled out of court rather than battle the federal government and risk being branded racist." The DOJ admits another 60 banks are already under "investigation." Holder's demanding the banks sign "non-disclosure" settlement agreements barring them from talking while allowing the DOJ to operate behind a curtain of secrecy.

The settlements already extracted from banks force them to make "prime-rate mortgages to low income blacks and Hispanics" with credit problems, even if they are living on welfare. According to IBD, the DOJ has ordered banks to advertise that minorities cannot be turned down for a loan "because they receive public aid, such as unemployment benefits, welfare payments or food stamps." No job; no problem!

In other words, the DOJ is forcing banks to make loans to people that they know don't qualify for them and likely won't be able to afford to repay them, which is precisely the kind of failed public policy that precipitated the financial collapse and recession in 2008.

The DOJ ordered Midwest BankCentre to provide "special financing" in the predominantly black areas of St. Louis for fixed prime rate conventional home loan financing for borrowers "who would ordinarily not qualify for such rates for reasons including the lack of required credit quality, income or down payment."

Eric Holder and the head of his Civil Rights Division, Tom Perez were both protégés of Janet Reno who launched a similar attack on banks in the early years of the Clinton Administration. That led to an expansion of the Community Reinvestment Act, CRA, and an explosion of forced lending to low-income, poor credit risk borrowers and the sub-prime mortgage industry that collapsed in 2008. Under the weight of massive guarantees of poor quality and defaulted mortgages, the federal government was forced to seize Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. To date about $150 billion has been required to bailout the two agencies to keep them solvent.

Like Reno, Holder and Perez are pushing their own social agenda, and ramifications to the financial sector and total economy are meaningless to them. They willingly pervert the law and leverage the full weight of the Justice Department to intimidate banks to accomplish their objectives.

Credit analysis and repayment ability of the borrower matter none to Holder and Perez. To them, if a minority is turned down for a loan, it must surely be evidence of racial discrimination. Perez has gone so far as to compare bankers to the Ku Klux Klan. The only difference between bankers and the KKK, he says, is that bankers discriminate "with a smile" and "fine print," but they are "every bit as destructive as the cross burned in a neighborhood."

Holder and Perez appointed another Janet Reno alumnus, Eric Halperin, as Special Counsel for Fair Lending. Previously, Halperin was a lobbyist for the leftist Center for Responsible Lending (CRL) where he pressed congress and the various agencies for continued relaxing of lending standards. Just how objective do you suppose this "special lending cop" is in applying the law?

CRL's website reveals their leftist perspective and agenda; "lenders have strong incentives to engage in unfair, deceptive practices and to aggressively market loans designed to fail." That's pure hooey, of course. Banks make a profit if loans are paid back. They sustain losses when loans fail. But, this phony theory of "disparate impact" or "red-lining" has been used by the left for decades to convince politicians and bureaucrats to force unsound, unsafe lending practices, the consequences of which have been manifested in the current economic mess.

The forced settlements have gone well beyond lending. The concessions that DOJ has imposed have even required banks to fund inner-city "community organizers." According to IBD, "lenders are being forced to bankroll Acorn clones that often exist just to shake them down for risky loans."

As DOJ strong arms banks to relax lending standards to satisfy the Obama Administration's racialist social agenda, other federal agencies are telling banks to do just the opposite. "Banks are damned if they do, damned if they don't," according to Ernest Istook, a Heritage Foundation fellow and former Member of Congress who is critical of DOJ for forcing "affirmative action lending."

The current economic crisis has stressed even the strongest of banks. Bank safety and soundness examiners from the Federal Reserve, the OCC, FDIC, OTS, and NCUA have put the fear of God into banks all across the nation demanding tightened credit standards. They have forced banks to increase capital, add to reserves for losses, mark down asset value of existing credit assets, and questioned virtually every loan the banks make. The CEO of one historically successful community bank told me a regulator demanded, "You will not make another commercial real estate loan." How that bank was supposed to meet the needs of the small businesses in the community while not making loans on commercial real estate was of no concern to the regulator.

The newspapers are full of reports that the government has seized and closed banks, removed management and boards of directors, placed banks on written agreements so tightly drafted that the government has essentially assumed management of the bank while the shareholders, directors and management are still stuck with full risk and liability.

Banks are selling, consolidating, and closing all across America, and going with them is the access to capital and importantly the personal relationship that historically has been vitally important to the success of our entrepreneurial free-market economy. Over 1400 bank offices have closed in the last two years, and many more are expected in 2011. In the wake are exasperated small businessmen wondering what to do next.

If you're confused by the mixed signals and heavy-handedness of government, how would you like to be a banker? Little wonder that banks are afraid to lend and many are almost in lock down. Politicians can talk all they want about getting capital and the economy moving again, but the uncertainty and mixed signals coming from Washington are big reasons why both lenders and borrowers are hiding out in their bunkers.

Thomas Lifson, writing in American Thinker about the DOJ's witch hunt, notes that bankers tend to be "a cowardly lot when confronted by the power of the State." Who can blame them when the government has the power to lock their doors and seize their assets?

Lipson goes on, "Nobody in a highly regulated business wants the government publicly charging racism. A comparatively small group within the Civil Rights Division at the Justice Department has assumed the role of national bank regulators with the intent of favoring groups they support. It's a corruption of the legitimate role of government." Corruption may be an overly polite description.

Added to the bi-polar treatment from the DOJ and other regulators is the fact the very government that controls their every move is now a larger source of consumer credit that all of the private sector banks combined. Recently released Federal Reserve Bank data documents a remarkably rapid and substantial shift to the government as the new credit goliath.

As recently as 2006, the private banking sector provided $2 in outstanding home mortgages and consumer credit for every $1 of government financed loans. The data from the Fed, however indicates that government loans and guarantees now total $6.32 trillion, up from just $4.40 trillion at the end of 2006. For the same period, the private sector market share shrunk to $6.58 trillion from $8.48 trillion.

Curiously, the Fed doesn't count the half-trillion dollars worth of guaranteed student loans as part of the government's total. Historically, local banks originated and financed the Federal Family Education Loan program and the government insured the loans against any loss. But, in 2009 as part of the ObamaCare legislation, the private sector was completely eliminated and beginning in 2010 the government took total control of the entire program. When student loans are added, the government surpasses the entire private sector totals. Even without student loans, with the current trend the government is poised to eclipse the private lenders likely within the current quarter.

The almost overnight collapse of the market for mortgage backed securities as a result of the sub-prime lending debacle – largely precipitated by misguided federal policy forced on lenders – evaporated the private mortgage market, and left Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac – that had been seized by the government – as the only game in town for home mortgages.

In the blink of an eye, the federal government went from the small player facilitator to the dominant force in the financial industry dwarfing the combined efforts of the entire private sector competitors. Additionally, the Top Dog in the credit market place is also the all-powerful regulator over the little dogs in the private sector wielding absolute and largely unaccountable authority over their every move. Through the Federal Reserve, that same government controls the price, the access, the circulation, and amount of the currency on which the rest of the market must be dependent. With a national debt of $14.5 trillion and growing, the largest supplier of loans in the world also has the world's greatest demand for credit sucking up massive amounts of available investment capital to finance the growing national debt before the rest of the market gets a chance.

In reality, the federal government during the last two years has essentially seized the banking industry. What the government doesn't do directly, it controls by regulation, intimidation, and by sheer force and power. Obama got in the car business, the health care business, the energy business, and he's got the government holding most of the cards in banking, too. That's the change; the hope is that he gets fired by the voters in 2012.

True-believing progressives like to flaunt their "transformed" definition of a Free-Market Economy: "The freedom of the government to compete with the private sector." They find a little humor in it, but it's far from funny. What has happened in barely two years has seriously altered the rules of the road, the natural order of things, even what it means to be American. Time will tell if these are permanent changes or just a significant deviation in our long-term course. The outcome rests with us: "We the people."

Same as Obama's energy policy=deprivation is the goal

Cool! Cuba lifts restrictions on air conditioners, fridges

HAVANA — Cuba is renewing sales of energy-sucking appliances, reversing a pillar of Fidel Castro’s “energy revolution” in response to popular demand and to support the growing ranks of independent workers under an economic overhaul launched by President Raul Castro.

The measure covers appliances such as air conditioners, electric stoves, coffee makers, grills and sandwich makers.

The appliances will begin going on sale gradually as they become available, according to a notice published in the Official Gazette and dated Friday.

Appliance sales have been largely restricted since 2003, and they were key targets of former President Fidel Castro’s “energy revolution.”

That initiative sought to replace aging, inefficient kitchen appliances that taxed Cuba’s shaky electrical grid and contributed to frequent summer blackouts that lasted for hours.

Since then, the antiquated electrical grid has been overhauled and blackouts are not as frequent or severe today, though officials still urge conservation.

Although most of Cuba’s electricity is generated by crude oil, there have been efforts to increase renewable sources like solar.

Raul Castro launched an economic overhaul last year that aims to rescue Cuba’s perennially weak economy by including a taste of the private sector.

However, Castro emphasizes that the government is “updating” its socialist model, not embracing capitalism.

Why are the Democrats and the ACLU in favor of vote fraud?

Voter fraud claims ruffle feathers in New Mexico

GOP Secretary of State Dianna Duran is taking fire from Democratic legislators and others who say she has overstated her case on illegal voting and object to her use of state police in the matter.

Lt. Cotton, the NY Times and what the left believes about patriotism and self sacrifice


Political Grit

"CCW holders, in the aggregate, have been shown to be more law-abiding than the broader public, he said."

10 years after concealed weapons law, unclear why many in state were gun-shy

Lockerbie bomber

'Dead' man laughing

Two years after he was supposed to die of prostate cancer, the Lockerbie bomber is still ticking.

That much was clear last week when Abdel Basset al-Megrahi, the only person convicted in the 1988 terrorist strike that killed 270 people, was trotted out for a pro-Moammar Khadafy rally in Tripoli.

Scottish officials released the “terminally ill” Megrahi in 2009, ostensibly on compassionate grounds.

He faced a death sentence “imposed by a higher power,” they claimed. Megrahi’s despicable life, the world was led to believe, would be all over in a matter of weeks — not years.

Abdel Basset al-Megrahi
Abdel Basset al-Megrahi

et somehow, in Dr. Khadafy’s talented hands, Megrahi not only miraculously survived, but blossomed into a full-fledged . . . propaganda tool.

How do you like that?

One wonders what Scottish officials — and their pro-release British counterparts, who at the time were drooling over the prospect of a juicy Libyan oil contract — think about this true medical marvel.

Then again, in Libya, it’s not just Megrahi who’s defied prediction; his boss, the kooky colonel himself, was supposed to be gone long ago — if not dead or under arrest, then at least out of power.

Remember, the US campaign in Libya was supposed to last days, not weeks.

Yet President Obama’s war of choice is now in its fifth month — having long reached the point of stalemate.

The State Department says “it’s up to Libyans where [Khadafy] ultimately ends up” — even though US and NATO allies have been trying to bomb him into dust since March.

France and Britain, meanwhile, have decided the Mad Dog of the Middle East can remain in Libya, as long as he steps down.

Truth is, NATO has been operating with UN approval precisely because Libyans have no say in the matter. And the only way Khadafy will surrender power is if a barrel of a rifle is jabbed into his back (or a drone’s bomb makes that unnecessary).

Then again, when facing the West, Libyans like Megrahi and Khadafy tend to suddenly discover remarkable reservoirs of staying power.

Lucky them.

Too bad for everyone else.

Democrat respect for elections and honesty.

Pols in 'dead' heat

New York Dems reallyaredie-hards.

Three dead city residents from the same East Village housing complex rose from the grave last month to sign petitions in a hotly contested race for party positions.

Alfred Elkan, a German-born social worker, died in 1999, but on June 16 his ghostly signature appeared on a petition supporting Linda Belfer and Jeff Galloway, two allies of powerful Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver who are running to be district leaders in his 64th Assembly District.

The signatures of David Stone and George Karnet, who died in 2006 and early 2011, respectively, also mysteriously appeared, according to city records.

Deceased Dems usually tell no tales, but those and other discrepancies were noted by a rival party organization that hopes to knock Belfer and Galloway out of the Sept. 13 primary.

Belfer, the incumbent district leader, and Galloway, a lawyer with Hughes & Hubbard, are part of the Lower Manhattan Democrats, a club formed in 2009. The two broke away from the older Downtown Independent Democrats when that group didn't endorse Silver's preferred City Council candidate.

Now the rival Downtown Independent Democrats are backing longtime Silver foe Paul Newell for district leader over Galloway, and Jenifer Rajkumar over Belfer.

Newell, a community activist, in 2008 mounted a strong primary challenge to oust Silver, forcing the incumbent to bring in Democratic honchos like Hillary Rodham Clinton to campaign for him. The race was particularly contentious because Newell was vocally supported by two women who had accused a former Silver aide of rape and condemned the speaker's handling of the allegations.

Five living residents in the same East Village complex as Elkan, Stone and Karnet have also signed affidavits stating that their signatures were forged on the Belfer and Galloway petitions.

Those affidavits, along with death certificates of the dead men, and numerous other allegations of forgery, fraud and other irregularities are part of a lawsuit filed last week in Manhattan Supreme Court by a member of the Downtown Independent Dems.

The challenges to 596 of the 997 names submitted for Belfer and Galloway were also filed with the city Board of Elections. A candidate needs 500 valid signatures to get on the ballot.

"If there's fraud, it must be stopped," said Jeanne Wilcke, president of the Downtown Independents.

The bulk of the suspect names were gathered over one June weekend by a mom-and-daughter duo paid $12.50 an hour, according to BOE records.

"As far as I know, the signatures were all valid," a bleary-eyed Kim Statuto, 51, told The Post last week.

She denied copying names of dead people from the mailboxes at the East Village complex, where Elkan, for one, is still listed.

Statuto said she and her daughter, Deidra, have gathered signatures for years on "too many politicians to remember."

Saturday, July 30, 2011

The totalitarian left

Paul Krugman of the New York Times apparently wants to censor those with whom he disagrees, and he wants to do so in the name of the economy. Are we seeing the beginning of liberal tyranny? Noel Sheppard and Ed Morrissey of Hot Air discuss Krugman's shocking blog column.
Tyranny: Paul Krugman of the NYTimes Calls for Censorship of Conservatives? Tyranny: Paul Krugman of the NYTimes Calls for Censorship of Conservatives?Tyranny: Paul Krugman of the NYTimes Calls for Censorship of Conservatives?

More proof civilization is at war with Islamists

Libya rebels say Younis killers were 'Islamist element'

National Transitional Council minister says rebel-aligned Obaida Ibn Jarrah group murdered defector from Gaddafi regime

Gaddafi government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim
Gaddafi government spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said the death of Abdel Fatah Younis proved the rebels could not govern Libya. Photograph: Tara Todras-Whitehill/Associated Press

The gunmen who shot dead the Libyan rebels' military chief Abdul Fatah Younis were members of an Islamist-linked militia allied to the campaign to overthrow Muammar Gaddafi, according to a National Transitional Council minister.

After 24 hours of confusion surrounding the death, the NTC's oil minister, Ali Tarhouni, said Younis had been killed by members of the Obaida Ibn Jarrah Brigade, a militia named after one of the companions of the Prophet Muhammad, suggesting that Islamist elements were involved.

Tarhouni told reporters in Benghazi that a militia leader who had gone to fetch Younis from the frontline had been arrested and had confessed that his subordinates carried out the killing. "It was not him. His lieutenants did it," Tarhouni said, adding that the killers were still at large.

The NTC leader Mustafa Abdul Jalil said on Thursday that Younis had been recalled for questioning to Benghazi but was killed before he arrived. Relatives said they retrieved a burned and bullet-riddled body.

The Gaddafi government has said the killing is proof the rebels are not capable of ruling Libya. Spokesman Moussa Ibrahim said: "It is a nice slap [in] the face of the British that the [NTC] they recognised could not protect its own commander of the army."

Ibrahim said Younis was killed by al-Qaida, repeating a claim that the group is the strongest force within the rebel movement. "By this act al-Qaida wanted to mark out its presence and its influence in this region," he said, adding: "The other members of the National Transitional Council knew about it but could not react because they are terrified of al-Qaida."

Younis's death has raised fear and uncertainty in Benghazi, the rebel stronghold. Thousands marched behind his coffin, wrapped in the rebels' tricolour flag, to the graveyard for his burial, chanting that he was a martyr "beloved by God". Troops fired a military salute as the coffin arrived, and angry and grieving supporters fired wildly into the air with automatic weapons.

At the graveside, Younis's son, Ashraf, broke down in tears as they lowered the body into the ground. And in a startling and risky display in a city so allied to the rebel cause, pleaded hysterically for Gaddafi's return to bring stability back to Libya. "We want Muammar to come back! We want the green flag back!" he shouted at the crowd, referring to Gaddafi's national banner.

Younis's death appeared to shake both the NTC and its western allies, who have heavily backed the rebels controlling most of eastern Libya.

Two weeks ago 32 nations including the US made a major commitment by formally recognising the NTC as the country's legitimate government. On Wednesday the British foreign secretary, William Hague, declared the council Libya's "sole governmental authority" and invited the body to set up full diplomatic relations with London.

Western worries will likely be deepened if Younis's death opens major splits among the fractious rebels. Divisions would also weaken the opposition's campaign to oust Gaddafi, which has largely stalled in a deadlock despite the four-month-old Nato bombing campaign against regime forces.

In Washington, state department spokesman Mark Toner said the circumstances of Younis's death remained unclear. He pressed the opposition to shore up any cracks in their front against Gaddafi. "What's important is that they work both diligently and transparently to ensure the unity of the Libyan opposition," Toner said.

Is this the beginning of a backlash?

President Barack Obama takes debt battle to Twitter, loses more than 40,000 followers in one day

The media /Democrat/Obama complex.

New York Times reporter prompts White House media staff on Twitter

Message to Obama: companies will not commit businesscide.

Boston Scientific to lay off 1,200-plus

Company mum on effect in Mass.

Need more proof that Leftist politicians think that people/companies don't react to rule changes. I see the idiot Mass. politicians arew more concerned with getting their tax credits back then keeping jobs. What a bunch of incompetents.
And, GE is moving it's imaging business to China. Democrats, get a clue. You can attack capital but you cannot force it to stay without destroying it.

Typical CNBC...says Washington when them really mean Democrats.

Washington Is Annoyed at Wall Street's Failure to Panic

Friday, July 29, 2011

The fight to rule us against our will

Washington: Anti-Camera Referendum Sponsors Fight Back

Backers of ballot initiatives that would ban photo enforcement in a number of cities in Washington state are fighting back against municipal efforts to silence their vote. Traffic camera companies have become increasingly bold in their efforts to prevent the public from deciding whether red light cameras and speed cameras should be used in any given community.

American Traffic Solutions (ATS) scored its first victory in May when it found an activist judge in Chelan County willing to block residents from even filing a petition to their government regarding the use of traffic cameras in the community (read decision). Just days after the decision came down, the state supreme court discussed traffic camera initiatives, and several justices pointed out that blocking signature collection efforts would be a violation of the state constitution. Nonetheless, to bypass the legal blockade, initiative co-sponsor Matt Ericksonis circulating a second petition that schedules an advisory vote on taking down the cameras at every election until the devices are finally removed.

“Wenatchee Initiative Number Two will give the citizens of Wenatchee the chance to express their disgust with the council and their sleazy tactics and to pursue a public vote on an issue they clearly care about,” Erickson and his co-sponsors wrote to the city council. “The people of Wenatchee deserve a public vote on automatic ticketing cameras now, not later. And their decision should be implemented. You are elected to represent the people, not rule over them. We will continue to fight for the rights of Wenatchee’s voters who signed on to a public vote and we will not stop until they get it.”

The same tactic is being used in Monroe, where the mayor is planning to take the extraordinary step of spending public money on mailings to 5100 residents to encourage them to support red light cameras and speed cameras. Yesterday, initiative guru Tim Eyman wrote to the director of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission to intervene. On Monday he filed a complaint with the Public Disclosure Commission.

“With as many as three ballot measures on this November’s ballot, this is now a political debate over ticketing cameras in Monroe and so it is unquestionably unfair and inappropriate, and likely illegal, for the pro-ticketing-camera side of the debate to be subsidized by city revenue,” Eyman wrote. “Certainly, taxpayer-funded city officials will claim that they’re not propagandizing, that they’re just ‘putting out the facts.’ But as everyone knows, a political debate over ballot measures involves both sides bringing facts to the attention of voters.”

In Longview, sponsors of the anti-camera effort are circulating a second petition that, if adopted by voters, would prohibit city officials from using the court to block referendum efforts.

“The city may not sue citizens for participating in the initiative process or use any revenues to pay legal expenses related to challenging any initiative,” Longview Initiative Number Two states. “Citizens are guaranteed the right to collect and submit signatures for any initiative on any topic and the city must process the initiative petitions without delay… The city may not initiate, participate in, or pay for any legal challenge to any initiative or obstruct citizen participation in the initiative process in any way.”

Initiative sponsors expect their secondary efforts to be successful since they have already have a massive list of qualified voters who want the issue on their respective ballots.