Archive for March 12th, 2010

Australia’s NewStatesman — Rupert Murdoch’s overweening power goes unchallenged in Australia, where all the main parties pay fealty to the media baron

Friday, March 12th, 2010

The national broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, has long been intimidated by the Murdoch press in the obsessive manner of the campaign waged against the BBC. Funded directly by governments, the ABC has none of the nominal independence afforded by a licence fee. Last year, HarperCollins, owned by Murdoch, was awarded a lucrative “partnership” with ABC Books.

In 1983, there were 50 major corporations dominating the world’s media. By 2002, this had been reduced to nine. Rupert Murdoch says that eventually there will be three, including his own. If we accept this, media and information control will be the same, and we all shall be citizens of a murdochracy.

Houston Chronicle — Texas board endorses conservative-backed curriculum

Friday, March 12th, 2010

AUSTIN – The State Board of Education tentatively approved new standards for social studies on Friday with members divided along party lines – some blasting them as a fraud and conservative whitewash, others praising them as a tribute to the Founding Fathers that rightly portrays America as an exceptional country.

The standards, which will influence history and government textbooks arriving in public schools in fall 2011, were adopted by 10 Republicans against five Democrats after weeks of debate and across a racial and ideological chasm that seemed to grow wider as the proposal was finalized Thursday.

Financial Times — Google to shut China search engine

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Google has drawn up detailed plans for the closure of its Chinese search engine and is now “99.9 per cent” certain to go ahead as talks over censorship with the Chinese authorities have reached an apparent impasse, according to a person familiar with the company’s thinking.

In a hardening of positions on both sides, the Chinese government also on Friday threw down a direct public challenge to the US search company, with a warning that it was not prepared to compromise on internet censorship to stop Google leaving.

NY Times — Texas Conservatives Win Curriculum Change

Friday, March 12th, 2010

AUSTIN, Tex. – After three days of turbulent meetings, the Texas Board of Education on Friday approved a social studies curriculum that will put a conservative stamp on history and economics textbooks, stressing the superiority of American capitalism, questioning the Founding Fathers’ commitment to a purely secular government and presenting Republican political philosophies in a more positive light.

Wash Post — Clinton rebukes Israel over East Jerusalem plans, cites damage to bilateral ties

Friday, March 12th, 2010

State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley described the nearly 45-minute phone conversation in unusually undiplomatic terms, signaling that the close allies are facing their deepest crisis in two decades after the embarrassment suffered by Vice President Biden this week when Israel announced during his visit that it plans to build 1,600 housing units in a disputed area of Jerusalem.

US Attorney general failed to give legal briefs to Senate

Friday, March 12th, 2010

(Reuters) – Attorney General Eric Holder failed to tell the Senate about seven legal briefs he signed when lawmakers considered his nomination to his current job, according to a letter released on Friday.

PC World — FCC’s National Broadband Plan: What’s in It?

Friday, March 12th, 2010

The U.S. Federal Communications Commission plans to release a national broadband plan next week that will lay out an ambitious set of goals for broadband deployment and adoption.

SF mayor Newsom to run for CA lieutenant governor

Friday, March 12th, 2010

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - After dropping out of the gubernatorial race last year, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom announced Friday that he is running for lieutenant governor.
Newsom’s announcement wasn’t a surprise-he filed papers Feb. 17 with the secretary of state, a necessary step to run again for a statewide office. But he had refused to confirm his candidacy until Friday’s deadline.

America’s Foreign-Owned National Debt — Bruce Bartlett

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Virtually every budget expert knows that the U.S. federal debt is on an unsustainable course. This means that something beyond our control is eventually going to force us to live within our means. Historically, it has been foreign bond holders who ultimately imposed fiscal austerity on profligate nations. That is why America’s growing foreign debt should be a matter of concern to policymakers.

Jim Cramer: My List for the Gallows

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Reading the findings this morning about how Lehman executives went about destroying a bank that was too big to fail reminded me that perhaps it’s time for the investigators, whether they be from Congress or the Angelides Commission — the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission that is supposed to tell this country what really happened — to interview the real bad guys, the guys who bankrupted and crushed their own institutions.

$642 million to clean up Lehman — and counting

Friday, March 12th, 2010

NEW YORK (Fortune) – Unraveling the biggest-ever U.S. bankruptcy case isn’t cheap.

A report released Thursday by the examiner in the Lehman Brothers Chapter 11 case exposed the games the defunct investment bank’s executives played to stay in Wall Street’s good graces.

Time — China’s Property: Bubble, Bubble, Toil and Trouble

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Link.

Investor’s Business Daily — The Budget That Devoured America?

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Federal Spending: It’s a good thing President Obama isn’t in the private sector. If he was, the budget he just put forward for the next 10 years just might get him indicted for fraud.

Of all the promises the president made during the 2008 presidential campaign and last year’s budget debates, none rings so hollow now as the pledge of “fiscal responsibility.”

Now is a smart time to buy stocks

Friday, March 12th, 2010

By Kevin Marder
LOS ANGELES (MarketWatch) — Historically, on average there have been two particularly auspicious times to buy stock each year. Right now is one of those times.

We are very bullish on shares, and for the following reasons:

WSJ on Maryland’s Mobile Millionaires — Income tax rates go up, rich taxpayers vanish

Friday, March 12th, 2010

We reported in May that after passing a millionaire surtax nearly one-third of Maryland’s millionaires had gone missing, thus contributing to a decline in state revenues. The politicians in Annapolis had said they’d collect $106 million by raising its income tax rate on millionaire households to 6.25% from 4.75%. In cities like Baltimore and Bethesda, which apply add-on income taxes, the top tax rate with the surcharge now reaches as high as 9.3%-fifth highest in the nation. Liberals said this was based on incomplete data and that rich Marylanders hadn’t fled the state.

Well, the state comptroller’s office now has the final tax return data for 2008, the first year that the higher tax rates applied. The number of millionaire tax returns fell sharply to 5,529 from 7,898 in 2007, a 30% tumble. The taxes paid by rich filers fell by 22%, and instead of their payments increasing by $106 million, they fell by some $257 million.

Barron’s — Middle Class Money Angst Still Apparent in Data

Friday, March 12th, 2010

IF THERE IS A RECOVERY IN AMERICANS’ FINANCES, they don’t see it.

The Federal Reserve reported Thursday that the net worth of U.S. “households” increased at about a 5% annual rate in the fourth quarter, a good deal slower than the blistering 20% pace over the two previous quarters, but still a solid increase.

Not long after the news was posted on the Wall Street Journal’s Web site early that afternoon, the vituperative comments began to flow. Many simply dismissed the data as inaccurate or worse. The numbers simply didn’t jibe with what they were seeing in their own finances or those around them.

AP — Kansas State, Kansas romp in Big 12 quarterfinals

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Link.

KSN — Governor to sign smoking ban on Friday

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Link.

KSN — Kansas House to vote on expanding passenger rail service

Friday, March 12th, 2010

The proposal would connect Fort Worth, Oklahoma City, Wichita and Kansas City and could be moving full speed ahead if supporters can get lawmakers on board.

“It’s been an exciting project to be a part of because it keeps gaining momentum as it goes along,” said Joni Johnson of the Northern Flyer Alliance, a group who’s lobbying for the project.

Recycling, Wichita — CITY PASSES TIGHTENS RULES FOR SCRAP DEALERS

Friday, March 12th, 2010

On March 9, the Wichita (Kansas) City Council voted 6-0 in favor of an ordinance that aims to significantly reduce the theft of scrap metal in the city.

In 2007, the Kansas Legislature passed legislation regulating scrap metal dealers. Wichita incorporated many of the policies, but added a number of additional features to tighten the rules.