Tag Archives: current events

Saturday Blog and News Roundup

Cattle RoundupIt’s been a while since the last Round Up of good reading from the blogs, Nevada’s and from other parts of the country.  From the Nevada Progressive we learn that the radical fundies have put the kibosh on realistic sex education programs in the state of Nevada.  Heaven forefend we’d adopt curricula in this state which would alleviate the issue of unwanted pregnancies, provide accurate and adequate information about contraception, and prevent abortions….  There’s more on the topic from The Sin City Siren.

Looking for a concise summary of the tax issues before the Nevada legislature? Your first stop should be Sebelius’s “A Few Truths..” posting.   Hugh Jackson takes a gander at the Chamber of Commerce and its abiding love for education, just so long as it doesn’t cost them any coin of the realm — a taste of the full column.

“The chamber is “for” education. So a billionaire can sashay into a chamber gathering and win applause by saying that education needs more money — just so long as she qualifies her declaration as a “conceptual” need that merely requires the nodding of heads, as opposed to an actual need that demands businesses start paying some taxes.”

Add a bit of video to your news perusal by clicking over to Jon Ralston’s “Legislature poised to hide money and gifts.”   If all this is making you thirsty, click over to the Blue Nevadan for a list of Drinking Liberally sessions.   Another event worth noting is a rally for immigration justice in Reno on May 29th , details are available from the Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus.

Best of the Week

Speaking of Immigration — Crooks and Liars posts a good read on a federal judge’s ruling that “Sheriff Joe” has been engaging in good old fashioned racial profiling.  Surprised?

How many bridges have to collapse in this country before we get SERIOUS about funding infrastructure projects?  Add the I-5 bridge over Skagit River in Washington to the list of failed structures. There’s more on the story from Think Progress.  Click over to Demos for “The High Cost of Bad Infrastructure.”

I’d be much more in tune with the current Republican poutrage over the investigation of a Fox “news” reporter IF the network hadn’t called for a DoJ investigation of the New York Times beginning  in December 2005.  Perrspectives has a post devoted to this topic. “The next month, Deputy U.S. Attorney Matthew W. Friedrich told the Senate Judiciary Committee that the Bush DOJ thought that journalists or “anyone” could be prosecuted under the Espionage Act for publishing classified information.”   And, then:

“As it turned out, those words came as music to the ears of Fox News and the conservative commentariat. After all, they had been cheerleading for the Bush administration to prosecute the New York Times for months.”

The National Journal has an insightful piece about “How the GOP Will Keep Stirring the Scandal Stew Over Recess.”  Nomadic Politics asks “Why should Tea Party Groups have any tax exemptions?”  Good question!

Then we have the specter of the House Republicans imperiling the U.S. economy and governance in general by refusing to appoint their own conferees, as explained in Politicususa.   While you’re on the site, see how the GOP may not be a viable national party much longer if they keep putting the interests (read: profits) of the Big Banks over the needs of students.   Oh, for the Good Old Days of the Whigs?  The Booman Tribune takes a look at our dysfunctional Congress in “Talking to a Living Room Table.”  Well worth the click and read.

Have a Great Weekend!

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Filed under Nevada blogs, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Petty, Parsimonious, and Perverse: Daily Aggregation

Heller 2** Senator Dean Heller (R-American Bankers Association) is much perturbed about the publicity he’s getting from joining that small coterie of Nevada Republicans disinclined to move from their office spaces. [LVSun] The explanation du jour is that his aide was making a “joke,” and none of the flap should be taken seriously.

“According to unnamed sources cited in the article, Abrams told a staffer for Georgia Sen. Saxby Chambliss that Heller might have to start giving campaign funds to Chambliss’ Republican challenger in his 2014 election if Chambliss tried to take the office. The conversations took place before Chambliss announced he would retire at the end of the current congressional term.

Heller was incensed by the article, blaming “petty politics,” “petty politicians,” and “petty reporting” for turning Abrams’ conversation into a political football — or as the Nevada Democrats painted it, a “scandal.”

Heller was careful to say that when he was complaining about politicians, he did not mean to slight Chambliss or any sitting senators, merely criticize their staffers.”  [LVSun]

OK.  Petty, petty, and petty. But, of course, NOT to include politicians like his cohort Senator Chambliss, thus the major Petty must be for the reporters who first published the story.  And, perhaps the professional flack catchers otherwise know as Staff.

** Nevada Governor Sandoval is pleased to tell us that the unemployment rate drop in the Silver State must be due to ongoing efforts to diversify the Nevada economy [RGJ] Nevada’s overall unemployment rate fell to 9.7%, while the YOY job growth is now at 2.5%.  The U.S. unemployment rate is currently  7.9%. [DETR]  Before we become too enamored of our economic recovery, there are some caveats to note:

(1) Some of the good news is that the worst didn’t happen.  For example, initial estimates for job losses were that 22,600 jobs would be lost based on historical trends.  Happily only 16,000 were eliminated overall.  However, here comes the kicker — 2,400 jobs were added in the Las Vegas Metro area, another 600 added in Reno, but 300 were lost in the Carson City region.  Those would most likely be public sector (or private sector jobs related to public sector employee spending).  [NLDB ppt]

(2) The chart for job growth by sector shows we’re still primarily dependent on traditional Nevada business activities:

Nevada Job Growth by sector

Leisure and hospitality (gaming to us, gambling to our visitors) showed the most job growth.  Trade, transportation, and utilities is the second highest blue bar, with construction showing job growth as well.  However, look what’s happened to the bottom blue bar — professional and business services.  We seem to have lost ground in that sector.

(3) We do need to look a public sector hiring, since no one’s yet come up with another formula for calculating gross domestic product/aggregate demand for the state of Nevada (or the nation for that matter.)  DETR notes from July 2012 (pdf) offer some cause for concern, especially for local governments.  Local government jobs were down by 15,000 as of July 2012 from their peak in October 2008.  We’ve lost about 2,000 more state jobs since early 2011.   There are those who would view these numbers with glee, and as an indication we’re shaving off those idle, lazy, bureaucrats lounging at taxpayer expense in comfortable offices.    However, job descriptions don’t match the mythology — these are more often teachers, firefighters, police officers, health inspectors, highway maintenance workers, public health nurses, social workers, employment counselors, data entry specialists, IT personnel, DMV staff, archive and record keeping specialists, accountants, actuaries, statisticians….

There are numbers associated with these categories.   Nevada had lost 4.08% of its state workforce, and another 10.77% of its local government workforce between January and April 2008. [Governing.com]  However much privatization forces and their minions may wish to raise a clamor about public sector employees being “over-paid” or redundant, the hard truth remains that their spending power is part of the equation by which we calculate our gross domestic product for Nevada, and that spending doesn’t fall into a Black Hole, it forms part of the aggregate demand for goods and services usually purchased from local retailers and service providers.

** The Sin City Siren posts a comparative piece on the Ryan Budget and its Senate counterpart from Senator Patty Murray (D-WA).  Water, Water, and the SNWA can be followed at the Nevada Progressive.   The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus points out that by the lights of the Not-So family friendly Family Research Council, “Unmarried people should be denied birth control and punished for having sex..”  which should come as something of a shock to the 80% of unmarried Christian evangelicals who report they have performed the beast with two backs?

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Filed under Heller, Nevada economy, nevada unemployment

Sunday Roundup of Recommended Reading

Cattle Roundup Nevada Legislative News:    For an analysis of the tax reform battle currently on view in the Nevada Legislature, see “Mining for Clarity,” from the Nevada Progressive.  You’ll find some context in “Let’s Talk Tax Reform and Mean It” from a February edition of the Nevada Public Employees Focus, and a bit more from The Nevada View.  For more information see: “Nevada Funds Mining’s Big Mistakes,” in CityLife.  And, there’s more from the mining corporations in “Mining Rep: Republican Effort to Tax Us in Punitive,” Las Vegas Sun.

The economy:  The battle over the provisions of the Dodd-Frank Act have moved into the caliginous rule making phase.  The efforts were the subject of an MSNBC piece (video), which (finally) picks up on a review from The Hill, in which it was reported that more than half of the Dodd-Frank Act rules are still “in the works” from January 28, 2013.   There’s more from the Angry Bear economics blog,  in which we find the fraudsters now seeking to use the Sequester to cut funding for rule making and implementation.  The following does not bode well for assisting the various Federal agencies tasked with keeping up with the “creative” machinations of the Wall Street Wizards:

“Aside from federal civil and voting rights programs, investment law enforcement agencies and commissions on the chopping block include the Securities and Exchange Commission (a possible $115 million reduction), Commodity Futures Trading Commission ($17 million), federal courts ($384 million at risk), Public Accounting Oversight Board ($18 million) and the Securities Investor Protection Corporation ($23 million). In sum, $557 million could be cut from investor protection programs, barring Congressional intervention.”  [Angry Bear]

Naked Capitalism has an excellent piece on the prevarications of banking regulators who are supposed to be keeping an eye on the welfare of Americans who have money in the banks, not just the bankers who are raking in more American money, they call it “safety and security” — they mean “profitability.”  In a more general vein, there’s a MUST read post from Henry Blodget, “In Case You Needed More Proof That It’s Stupid To Cut Government Spending In A Weak Economy…” in Business Insider.    And, if you have not already read Michael Hiltzik’s piece for the Los Angeles Times, “The five biggest lies about entitlement programs,” please click over and read his summarization.  Here’s a taste:

“As efforts to cut Social Security and Medicare gather steam in the budget wrangling in Washington, you’ll hear these mega-trillions being thrown around more and more. Beware. They’re numbers designed to terrify, not edify.  The assertion comes from something called the “infinite horizon” projection. It’s a calculation of funding gaps projected out to the limitless future and then converted to present value — meaning what the cost would be if we had to pay it all today. For Social Security, the figure was $20.5 trillion, as reported in the program trustees’ latest report. For Medicare, the number comes to about $42.7 trillion. Even professional actuaries say this calculation is bogus.”

Media and Politics Finally! Someone calls out the Village Press Corps for continuing to bleat that the “President should reach out more…,” another Must Read is Dee Evan’s blast of sanity “More Selective Memory…” in the Huffington Post.

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Filed under Economy, financial regulation, media, nevada education, Nevada legislature, Nevada politics

Nevada Roundup

Cattle RoundupThere’s some good writing and commentary going on around the Nevada blogosphere; here’s some of it:

Nevada Progressive reports the NRA is planning a closed door seminar for members of the Nevada Legislature.  Here’s the obvious question – If the gun manufacturer’s lobby isn’t trying to play sneaky with its legislative agenda, then why the closed doors?  Because it’s “invitation only?”  Ralston Reports: The National Rifle Association is hosting an “elected officials-only classroom and range tutorial” this month to educate lawmakers on the “purpose and practical use of semi-automatic firearms and the differences between semi-automatic and automatic function.”  Let’s guess — the gun manufacturer’s lobby is out to demonstrate to the faithful that (1) “guns are just guns” and it’s just entirely too tricky to ban assault style weapons because of the definitional technicalities; or (2) “lots of guns are semi-automatic,” and we’d not want to revert to the days of the revolver?  And, what might the purpose be for the “automatic function?”

This, after Media Day at the Boulder Pistol and Rifle Range, Boulder City, NV yesterday, which by the NRA count garnered some 1,275 members of the media, to gape at the “… rifles, pistols, targets, holsters, ammunition, all-terrain vehicles, optics, and more, Media Day has a little bit of everything.”  Except perhaps, an acknowledgement that NYC Police Commissioner Ray Kelly may be on to something when he says that 85% of all the children killed by gun violence on this planet reside in the United States.

The Damned Pundit aka Gleaner adds a specific bit of information concerning the next session of the Assembled Wisdom:

“A freshly elected Republican Assemblywoman from Las Vegas by the name of Michele Fiore is leading the charge to not only let hungover 13th-graders take a semi-automatic 9MM pistol with a 17-round clip to History 101 at your local community college. Fiore also wants to arm K-12 teachers and administrators.”

Vegas Jessie adds a well informed, and cogent rant on the firearms question and the participants therein.  The Sin City Siren speaks of another gathering — those celebrating the Roe v. Wade decision on January 22nd.  Then, click over to “People who live in glass states shouldn’t heckle Mississippi,” for information regarding the accessibility of legal, safe, abortion medical procedures by state.

Speaking of the nation paying its bills — we might want to question some of the charges Congress has authorized in the past — like the $1 trillion (yes, trillion with a T) which has been paid to fraudulent defense contractors.  The Nevada Rural Democratic Caucus posts Senator Bernie Sanders’ comments in full.

And, who we aren’t paying?  That would be public employees — for the factually challenged who believe that public employment is a bountiful brunch at the public trough, NSEF reminds us:

“The average state employee makes about $49,000 a year while the average Nevadan, about $50,000. Further, a fifth of all state employees make less than $25,000. State employees are paid up to 30 percent less than local government employees who have collective bargaining rights.  State employees are not getting rich working for the state.”

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Filed under abortion, Gun Issues, Nevada legislature

Meanwhile in the rest of the world…

While the corporate media covers the “Akin Story” better than one sheet, two blankets, and three warm dogs on cold winter night — there are some other items of interest in the news.

Isn’t Africa a country?   Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi died this week, [WaPo] and while he was praised for his strong stance against terrorism and for his support for infrastructure improvements in his country, his legacy is shadowed by incidents illustrating a lack of tolerance for political and intellectual dissent.

Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton issued this statement concerning Zenawi’s death:

“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Prime Minister Meles Zenawi of Ethiopia.

I admired the Prime Minister’s personal commitment to transforming Ethiopia’s economy and to expanding education and health services. He was an important and influential voice in Africa, and we especially valued his role in promoting peace and security in the region. I am confident that Ethiopia will peacefully navigate the political transition according to its constitution.

On behalf of the American people, I would like to offer my sincere condolences to the people of Ethiopia, and to reaffirm our commitment to a strong partnership focused on strengthening development, democracy and human rights, and regional security.”

Perhaps the American people would like to know:

#1.  While the U.S. government may have valued his role in keeping conflicts minimized, what realistic concerns should we have over the unresolved issues with Eritrea?  And, is a new Ethiopian government expected to provide the same cooperation in military operations in Somalia?

#2.  Secretary of State Clinton affirms her belief that Ethiopia can make the transition to a new government peacefully, but the Kenyan Prime Minister Railia Odinga is not quite so confident, saying that the factions in Ethiopian politics makes the situation very “fragile.” [BBC] The question is not whether one view is more accurate than the other, but whether regional and U.S. interests can be advanced in a country in which the leadership has been supportive of U.S. interests but which also has a highly questionable human and civil rights record?  [NYT]

#3. What are the major factions in Ethiopian politics? Where are their allegiances and alliances?

Another U.S. ally, the Republic of South Africa, has endured serious unrest after the strike at the Marikana Mine (owned by Lonmin) during which 34 miners were killed.  [BBC] The New Yorker covered the conflict, but the miner’s issues and the negotiations (or lack thereof) have barely dented the consciousness of most Americans.

#1. Has the U.S. issued directives to our diplomats in RSA concerning any position taken by the State Department in regard to the Marikana strike and resulting police attack, the most serious since the apartheid era?

#2. Does the income inequality gap in the RSA compound the issues underlying the Marikana Strike, including the substandard housing for most of the platinum miners?

Are we Orient-ed?  The U.S. has extremely close ties to China, Korea, and Japan.   How does the economic growth of the South Korean economy affect its (and our) relations with China?  With Japan?

#1. What position should the U.S. take regarding South Korea’s recent issues over maritime boundaries with Japan?

#2. What does South Korean interest in forging closer economic ties with China mean for the Tri-lateral Free Trade Talks?

#3. If there are conflicts over both economic interests and maritime boundaries between the South Koreans and the Japanese, then how are American interests to be preserved as both are U.S. allies and close economic partners?

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Filed under Foreign Policy