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Final Edition

Friday, February 27, 2009

Final Edition from Matthew Roberts on Vimeo

After 149 years and 311 days, the Rocky Mountain News published its final edition on February 27, 2009.


Business,US economic growth and recession,US economy shrinks at worst pace in 25 years

Dow plunges in early trading as commerce department says US gross domestic product contracted at 6.25%

By Daniel Nasaw
The Guardian UK

The US economy contracted at the worst pace in 25 years in the last three months of 2008, as nervous businesses and consumers spent less money and exports declined.

Markets dropped on the economic news. On the New York stock exchange, the Dow Jones industrial average of blue chip stocks plunged more than 100 points in the first hour of trading, to 7,049, the lowest level since October 1997.

The US gross domestic product contracted at a frightening 6.25%, a rate much higher than the 3.8% decline in the third quarter of 2008, according to preliminary statistics released today by the US department of commerce.

The worsening economic climate, combined with near daily news of job losses, could mean even less business investment and consumer spending in the coming months, despite the federal government's massive $787bn effort to jump-start the economy.

"Right now we're in the period of maximum recession stress, where the big cuts are being made," economist Ken Mayland, president of ClearView Economics, told the Associated Press.

The economy grew 1.1% in 2008, compared with a 2% increase the previous year and 2.8% growth in 2007. Economists said the GDP slowdown was preliminarily caused by a decline in consumer spending and business spending on equipment and software.

A decline in computer and automobile purchases subtracted 0.01 percentage points and 2.04 percentage points from the total change in gross domestic product....(Click for remainder).


Climate of Change

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

Elections have consequences. President Obama’s new budget represents a huge break, not just with the policies of the past eight years, but with policy trends over the past 30 years. If he can get anything like the plan he announced on Thursday through Congress, he will set America on a fundamentally new course.

The budget will, among other things, come as a huge relief to Democrats who were starting to feel a bit of postpartisan depression. The stimulus bill that Congress passed may have been too weak and too focused on tax cuts. The administration’s refusal to get tough on the banks may be deeply disappointing. But fears that Mr. Obama would sacrifice progressive priorities in his budget plans, and satisfy himself with fiddling around the edges of the tax system, have now been banished.

For this budget allocates $634 billion over the next decade for health reform. That’s not enough to pay for universal coverage, but it’s an impressive start. And Mr. Obama plans to pay for health reform, not just with higher taxes on the affluent, but by putting a halt to the creeping privatization of Medicare, eliminating overpayments to insurance companies.

On another front, it’s also heartening to see that the budget projects $645 billion in revenues from the sale of emission allowances. After years of denial and delay by its predecessor, the Obama administration is signaling that it’s ready to take on climate change....(Click for remainder).


'Fast Break' Obama

Moving at the speed of light, the new president aims to score early victories, and keep critics on their toes.

By Howard Fineman

The president is moving so fast, so sweepingly, that we may as well call him "Fast Break" Obama. For several reasons—the urgency of the economic crisis, a backlog of frustrated Democratic dreams and his own shrewd strategic sense—he's racing up the basketball court of American public life at a furious pace.

Obama wants to pile up a crushing lead on the scoreboard early in the game—when his popularity is high and he can still lay all the blame on his predecessor—and hope that the resulting momentum will impress the world (he goes to Europe for the G-8 in April), reluctant global investors (the sovereign wealth funds are sitting on trillions) and, of course, American voters and consumers.

The guy appears laid back, and he can be patient when he has to be, but right now he believes in motion—lots of it. If you move fast enough, he also knows, people don't have time to flyspeck details—and some of the details in his new budget, the outlines of which he released Thursday, are either squishy, controversial or both. There are literally hundreds of things in the budget to focus on, but I will pick out just three:

1. War Arithmetic. In a clever bit of budget making, Obama is taking advantage of George W. Bush's dishonesty to make his own budget look better. The former president's administration never counted spending on Iraq and Afghanistan in the regular budget it sent to Congress. By taking the hit early, and including that spending—now roughly $140 billion a year—Obama will be able to claim major savings down the road. In 2011 and 2012, that spending is slated to decline to $50 billion a year. So Obama and his budget crew can book savings of $180 billion—assuming, of course, that Obama is in fact able to wind down those wars....(Click for remainder).


Statue of gay activist to be placed at Utah's Capitol?

By ABC4 Salt Lake City

Senator Chris Buttars meet Harvey Milk.

In response to the senator's recent anti-gay comments, a Sandy man now wants to put a statue of the famous gay activist at the state capitol.

When Senator Buttars compared gays to radical Muslims and said gays represent America's greatest threat, Roger Carrier never thought he would hear a public official speak that way.

Roger Carrier: "When I heard Senator Buttars comments, I was disgusted and appalled."

To repair what he feels is Utah's badly damaged image, Carrier wants a statue built on Utah's Capitol Hill - a statue of gay activist Harvey Milk.

Carrier told ABC 4 News, "I thought that would help restore the reputation of the state of Utah that has been dragged through the sewer by Senator Buttars."

Carrier picked Milk because the slain San Francisco politician has become an instantly recognized martyr for the gay cause.

Carrier says, "If somebody wanted to set up an account to fund the memorial, I am willing to donate a hundred dollars of my own money."

Carrier, a retired teacher and now wed to the same woman for four decades, thinks gay marriage or civil unions are inevitable....(Click for remainder).


The Far Right's All Out Offensive Against Medical Research

By Gov. Howard Dean, M.D.
The Huffington Post

Opponents of fixing our broken health care system are at it again, attempting to use their same old scare tactics and falsehoods to kill a common-sense health care provision is the economic recovery package. Fortunately Congressional leaders have recognized these tactics for what they are and have wisely kept this provision in the legislation.

Under attack is a provision that is in the package that will help your doctor be better informed and more effective at the job they signed up to do in the first place - taking care of you and your family.

Comparative Effectiveness Research:

At issue is something called "Comparative Effectiveness Research" which basically means giving your doctor access to the latest research on what treatments and therapies work and which don't. This also helps doctors know which treatments are more expensive than others, and helps both patients and doctors decide if there is a cheaper treatment that is just as effective. As a doctor and the husband of a doctor, I know how important it is to have solid scientific research to make critical decisions for my patients.

This research will help doctors choose the best treatment for their patients' situation and help them make more informed choices rather than risk prescribing less effective or even potentially harmful treatments.

Essentially, in order to control costs and provide patients with better care as we reform health care, the Federal Government will fund and disseminate research that evaluates the effectiveness of different treatments and medicines. This research will give doctors and patients better choices, and most importantly better health care for their money....(Click for remainder).


Commanders In Iraq Challenge Petraeus On Pullout Risk

By Inter Press Service
Via The Huffington Post

WASHINGTON, Feb 17 (IPS) - CENTCOM Commander General David Petraeus and Multinational Force Iraq (MNF-I) Commander General Ray Odierno have submitted assessments of Iraq combat troop withdrawal plans to President Barack Obama based on the premise that his 16-month withdrawal plan would pose significantly greater risk to "security gains" than the 23-month plan they favour.

But a senior commander in Iraq appeared to contradict that premise last week by declaring that security gains in the Shi'a provinces of Iraq are "permanent", and a field commander in Iraq says there is no objective basis for any Petraeus-Odierno finding that Obama's plan carries greater risk than their 23-month plan.

Maj. Gen. Michael Oates, U.S. commander for the eight southern provinces of Iraq, denied in remarks to reporters Feb. 12 that the security gains in that region were fragile, contrary to the premise that Odierno has publicly asserted. Oates cited the dramatic reduction in activities by Shi'a militia fighters and the holding of the Jan. 31 elections without any major attacks.

In a previous press briefing Jan. 14, Oates had told reporters that, even if violence were to break out after provincial elections, Iraqi security forces "are well prepared to handle that".

He also cast doubt on Iranian involvement with Shi'a militias in the south, saying he had "no evidence or reports of people training in Iran", despite periodic "anecdotal intelligence reports" of such training camps.

Oates said he had already reassigned combat forces in the region to non-combat missions, either training or economic development, despite grumbling by soldiers....(Click for remainder).


Kill This Myth: Media Not The Reason for Sarah Palin's Demise

By Greg Mitchell
The Huffington Post

In the months after the November election, and then even more so since the Inauguration, we have heard from pundits and disgruntled GOPers that the media helped elect Obama by attacking, or mocking, Sarah Palin. These critics still allege that she had given John McCain a big boost in the polls when first named and that she would have help drive him to victory if not for the later treatment by Katie and Tina and Charlie Gibson and all the rest.

But this is not true. The myth should be put to bed.

In fact, Palin never really helped him except with his "base," which he would have won over anyway. She never had broad based appeal and, as I have written here previously (and in my new book, Why Obama Won), McCain had been fooled by false media coverage of the purported huge number of Hillary Clinton fans (women and the working class) who were eager to bolt Obama for the GOP. This never came to pass.

In reality, the undermining of Palin happened well before the networks and SNL got to her. The polls proved it. Her home state paper, the Anchorage Daily News was quick to expose elements of her past that raised questions and just days after she was named the Fairbanks, Alaska daily called her choice by McCain a silly one. And the evidence mounted from there, within days.

More than anything McCain was hurt by shattering his strongest calling card -- "experience" -- by picking a neophyte to serve one heartbeat away....(Click for remainder).

Greg Mitchell is the author of 'Why Obama Won'.


Sarah Palin In Trouble As Oil Prices Fall

By Rachel D'Oro
Associated Press via The Huffington Post

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin's first two years in office have been called a time of milk and honey, when the resource-rich state was flush with wealth from record oil prices.

The second half of her term isn't looking so rosy as Palin faces her first major financial challenge as governor.

The rapid decline of oil prices has left the state in a looming budget crisis and a late-entrant in the national recession. And that could have political repercussions for the former Republican vice presidential hopeful, who has signaled an interest in a 2012 presidential run but must stay visible in the Lower 48 to be successful.

"Given these bad times, she's going to have a much more difficult time traveling outside Alaska," said Larry Sabato, director of the University of Virginia's Center for Politics. "When times are good, people will let their governor roam. In bad times, citizens expect their governor to stay home and work on solving the problems."

Oil accounts for as much as 90 percent of state revenues. So the plunge of North Slope crude from an all-time high of $144.59 per barrel last July threatens to give the state an estimated budget shortfall of up to $1.5 billion in the fiscal year that ends June 30....(Click for remainder).


The Idiot Strikes Back

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

About a month ago, Rush Limbaugh proudly boasted that he hopes President Obama "fails" in office. More recently, Limbaugh added, "I want the stimulus package to fail." This sparked a fair amount of controversy, since it's odd for high-profile Americans to publicly root against the country.

Yesterday, South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford (R), without mentioning Limbaugh's name, said, "Anybody who wants [the president] to fail is an idiot, because it means we're all in trouble."

Today, the "idiot" responded.
"I am told that South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford called me an idiot, not by name. But he said, 'Anybody who wants Obama to fail is an idiot.' Well, I don't know anybody else who said it, so I guess he's talking about [me].... [P]oliticians have different audiences than I do and they've got to say things in different ways. So, after he said, 'Anybody who wants Obama to fail is an idiot,' then went on in his own way to say, 'Gosh, I hope this doesn't work.' ... He just had to say, 'We don't want the president to fail.'

"Hell we don't! We want something to blow up here politically. We want something to not go right.... We're talking about freedom that is under assault!"
Ryan Powers added that Sanford's communications director said the governor wasn't "referring to anyone" in specific when he talked about "idiots," and was not aware of Limbaugh's comments on the issue....(Click for remainder).


USGS Tells Gov. Jindal To Sit Down, And Shut Up Over Volcano Remark


Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's swipe at federal spending to monitor volcanoes has the mayor of one city in the shadow of Mount St. Helens fuming.

"Does the governor have a volcano in his backyard?" Royce Pollard, the mayor of Vancouver, Washington, said on Wednesday. "We have one that's very active, and it still rumbles and spits and coughs very frequently."

Jindal singled out a $140 million appropriation for the U.S. Geological Survey as an example of questionable government spending during the GOP response to President Obama's address to Congress Tuesday night.

The governor, a rising Republican star, questioned why "something called 'volcano monitoring' " was included in the nearly $800 billion economic stimulus bill Obama signed earlier this month.

"Instead of monitoring volcanoes, what Congress should be monitoring is the eruption of spending in Washington," Jindal said.

But Marianne Guffanti, a volcano researcher at the U.S. Geological Survey, said, "We don't throw the money down the crater of the volcano and watch it burn up."

The USGS, which received the money Jindal criticized, is monitoring several active volcanoes across the Pacific Northwest, Alaska and Hawaii. One of those is Mount St. Helens, about 70 miles north of Vancouver, Washington, and neighboring Portland, Oregon.

The volcano killed 57 people when it erupted in 1980 and sputters back into action periodically, most recently in late 2004 and early 2005, when it sent plumes of steam and ash thousands of feet into the air....(Click for remainder).


Professor Asks Chancellor to Fire John Yoo

This is an amazing letter from UC Berkley Professor J. Bradford Delong to the Chancellor asking that John Yoo be fired.

Thanks to Chip @ After Downing Street for the original post.



FACT CHECK: GOP Adrift On Small Business Claim

By Calvin Woodward
Associated Press via Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – Claims that President Barack Obama's tax plans are an assault on small business skirt the likelihood that most job-producing small businesses wouldn't feel that pinch at all.

Obama is proposing to raise taxes on households earning over $250,000 by increasing the rate on the top two tax brackets and limiting deductions, starting in 2011.

Republicans and other critics, knowing they will get little mileage from defending the rich, instead are casting the plan as a tax hit on people who run industrious little companies driving job growth.

That's not likely, according to one in-depth analysis, which found that more than 95 percent of small business owners would be off the hook.

Obama does not propose higher business taxes.

But critics reason that owners of many small companies report business income on their personal tax returns instead of filing corporate taxes. That exposes their business's earnings to Obama's higher tax rates on the wealthy.

To be sure, some business owners would get caught in that net.

But for one thing, most small businesses don't create jobs. They tend to be lawyers, accountants and other professionals who earn some of their money from partnerships or otherwise organize themselves as a business entity....(Click for remainder).


Barack Obama and Watermelons on the White House Lawn? Oh My God -- Did You Think That Up All By Yourself?

By Pat Morrison
The Huffington Post

How old do you have to be to be the mayor of Los Alamitos, California?

Because I can't believe that the guy who sent out this stupefying email is more than six -- at least his sense of humor, and that may be doing a disservice to six-year-olds.

The Orange County Register reported that Dean Grose, the Los Alamitos mayor, sent an email from his personal account that shows a picture of the White House. On its lawn are rows of watermelons, and the caption reads, "No Easter egg hunt this year."

I'll pause for a moment here while you recover from the gasping guffaws, the belly laughs that are no doubt incapacitating you right now as a consequence of that devastating thigh-slapper from Mayor Grose.

Do people really still tell these so-called jokes? Do people really still find them funny?

One recipient of the email was Los Alamitos council member Keyanus Price, who is black. Grose told the Associated Press that Price is a friend of his, that he didn't send it to offend her or African-Americans, and that he was unaware of the racial stereotype about black people and watermelons.


I'm white as a polar bear's belly and I'm offended....(Click for remainder).


White House Appoints Gay Man to Head AIDS Policy Office

By Will Dunham

WASHINGTON, Feb 26 (Reuters) - President Barack Obama named a Georgetown University health policy expert to head the White House AIDS policy office and coordinate efforts to reduce new HIV infections in the United States, officials said on Thursday.

Jeffrey Crowley, who previously worked for the National Association of People with AIDS activist group, was appointed to head the Office of National AIDS Policy, the White House said.

About 1.1 million Americans are infected with the human immunodeficiency virus that causes AIDS, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The CDC last year said more Americans are becoming infected each year than previously estimated, with 56,300 new HIV infections in 2006. Previous estimates put that number at about 40,000 a year.

Crowley comes to the job after serving at the Georgetown University's Health Policy Institute. He is a former U.S. Peace Corps volunteer, serving as a science teacher in Swaziland....(Click for remainder).


Bloggers and Unions Join Forces to Push Democrats to Left

By Jim Rutenberg
The International Herald Tribune

WASHINGTON: A group of liberal bloggers said it was teaming up with organized labor and to form a political action committee that would seek to push the Democratic Party further to the left.

Soliciting donations from their readers, the bloggers said they were planning to recruit liberal candidates to challenge more centrist Democrats currently in Congress.

The formation of the group is another step in the evolution of the blogosphere, which has proven effective at motivating party activists to give money and time to political campaigns, especially in local races.

But it also illuminates a deepening wrinkle for President Barack Obama, whose attempt to build a broad governing coalition — often by tempering some of his more liberal positions — has already angered some of his supporters on the left.

The new organization is in many ways the liberal equivalent of the Club for Growth, a conservative group that has financed primary challenges against Republicans it deems insufficiently dedicated to tax cuts and small government.

Organizers of the new group, called Accountability Now, said their intention was to enable Obama to seek more liberal policies without fear of losing support from the more conservative members of his party serving in Congress. But they did not rule out occasional friction with Obama, as well....(Click for remainder).



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