Monthly Archives: July 2012

Republican Congressman Blasts GOP: Party Caters To ‘Extremes,’ Is ‘Incapable Of Governing’


By Judd Legum on Jul 30, 2012 at 9:17 pm

Congressman Richard Hanna (R-NY) is fed up with the GOP.

Hanna singled out Michele Bachmann’s “suggestion that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin be investigated to see if she has ties to Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood” as an example of a party that has gone off the rails.

The Syaracuse Post-Standard has the story:

“I have to say that I’m frustrated by how much we — I mean the Republican Party — are willing to give deferential treatment to our extremes in this moment in history,” he told The Post-Standard editorial board.

…“We render ourselves incapable of governing when all we do is take severe sides…” he said. “If all people do is go down there and join a team, and the team is invested in winning and you have something that looks very similar to the shirts and the skins, there’s not a lot of value there.”

…“I would say that the friends I have in the Democratic Party I find … much more congenial — a little less anger,” he said.

BuzzFeed reports that Hanna is not alone and “moderate members of the House GOP conference feel that Boehner, who has struggled with an often raucous and openly defiant right wing, has forced them to go along with conservative demands but has provided them little in return.”

This isn’t the first time that Hanna, who was first elected to Congress in 2010, has been critical of the Republican party. At at women’s rights rally in March he advised the crowd to “contribute your money to people who speak out on your behalf, because the other side — my side — has a lot of it.”


How Low Can Facebook Go?

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Paul Sakuma / AP

How Low Can Facebook Go?

Facebook shares have fallen 36% since the IPO, which generated $9 billion for company insiders. “It has become a show-me story,” one analyst said.
By SAM GUSTIN | @samgustin | July 27, 2012

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Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in Sun Valley, Idaho on July 12, 2012.

Facebook shares plummeted to a new all-time low Thursday after the company reported a $157 million loss in its first full quarter as a publicly-traded company. Although Facebook’s results were roughly in line with analyst expectations, the report failed to ease investor skepticism about the company’s business model and its future prospects. Despite having built a user-base of nearly 1 billion users — and a talented top executive team — Facebook is still having trouble convincing the market that it can eventually justify the staggering $100 billion valuation that was implied by its blockbuster — and botched — IPO.

“Our goal is to help every person stay connected and every product they use be a great social experience,” Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s founder, CEO, and majority voter, said in a brief and anodyne earnings release. “That’s why we’re so focused on investing in our priorities of mobile, platform and social ads to help people have these experiences with their friends.”

(MoreZynga Plunges 40% in Tech Bloodbath)

To Zuck’s credit, after much speculation about whether he would be on the call, he was there, and he spoke with clarity, poise, and what struck me as a growing sense of maturity. Maybe it’s because he just got married; maybe it’s because he’s worth $14 billion; maybe it’s because he just secured a $6 million home loan for 1%. In any event, Zuck seemed more confident on the call than I’d heard him before, and I was impressed by his performance. In a note to clients, Scott Devitt, tech analyst for Morgan Stanley, Facebook’s lead underwriter, called the report “an encouraging start.”

I’ve written several posts about Facebook here, and I listened closely to the earnings call Thursday evening, which Zuck led, backed up by COO Sheryl Sandberg and CFO David Ebersman. I didn’t hear anything to shake my fundamental thesis about the world’s largest social network. Unlike Google and Amazon, which people use for search and shopping, people use Facebook to hang out with their friends. When your goal is to share links and photos, ads can seem like a distraction. Google, by contrast, is a site that people use — by definition — because they’re searching for something, so there’s a natural opportunity to present ads related to what people are looking for.

Social sites like Facebook have a harder time coming up with the right formula for advertising, not least of all because they don’t want to be annoying, like MySpace, which became overwhelmed with overbearing banner and pop-up ads. Over the last few weeks Facebook has pressed the case that its ads are a good value proposition for marketers, and COO Sandberg — a former top advertising honcho at Google — effortlessly rattled off a list of examples of how Facebook has made advertisers money. Facebook is apparently wooing General Motors back, after the auto giant pulled its ads earlier this year, because they didn’t seem worth it. Facebook conducted an internal study of its ad effectiveness, and consulted with respected outside agencies like comScore to study the issue. I’ve looked at the materials, and I remain unconvinced about Facebook’s ad strategy.

(MoreIntel’s Earnings Warning is an Ominous Sign for the Tech Sector)

Then there’s the IPO. Facebook priced its offering at $38 per share. The stock is now trading below $24. That’s a 36% decline since the highly vaunted offering, just a few months ago, woefully under-performing the NASDAQ, where Facebook went public, the Dow Jones Industrial Average, and the S&P 500. The IPO was a big success for Facebook and its early investors and insiders, who sold $9 billion worth of shares that they had acquired at lower prices.

Angry shareholders have charged that analysts at Facebook’s underwriters lowered their financial forecasts for big, favored clients, but didn’t inform the investing public at large. Another lawsuit charges that the company’s IPO documents “were negligently prepared and failed to disclose material information about Facebook’s business, operations and prospects.” Specifically, the lawsuits charge that Facebook hid the financial impact of challenges to its mobile advertising business — challenges that would have been material information for prospective Facebook investors.

On Thursday’s conference call, not a single Wall Street bank analyst asked the Facebook executives about the company’s IPO. Facebook had 33 underwriters for its IPO, including every one of the top Wall Street banks.

Facebook’s post-earnings plunge reflects how spooked investors are about the global economy. On Tuesday, web game-maker Zynga’s delivered a dismal report. Tech investors had been bracing for bad news after Intel last week reduced its forecast for the rest of the year. On Wednesday, streaming video pioneer Netflix plunged 25% after analysts cut their estimates for the company, following its own disappointing earnings report. Facebook is just the latest tech company to face a market that is allowing almost no margin for error. As Nabil Elsheshai, a senior equity research analyst at Thrivent Financial, told Bloomberg: “It has become a show-me story.”

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Thai king suffers health problems: official statement

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Top News

Thai king suffers health problems: official statement

Fri, Jul 13 04:20 AM EDT

BANGKOK (Reuters) – Thailand’s 84-year-old King Bhumibol Adulyadej, the world’s longest-reigning monarch, experienced health problems overnight including bleeding in the brain but his heartbeat and blood pressure were now normal, an official statement said on Friday.

The king is revered by many of his subjects and his health is of particular concern because he is seen as a unifying figure in a country that has suffered often violent political upheaval in the past seven years.

Later on Friday, the Constitutional Court is due to make a ruling on proposals to amend the constitution that have divided opinion and could lead to another bout of unrest.

The king has been in hospital for almost three years but his health has improved in recent months, allowing him to make a trip to the ancient capital of Ayutthaya in May.

The palace said a trip out of Bangkok scheduled for Sunday had been canceled.

In a rare statement on his health, the Bureau of the Royal Household said that on Thursday night the king had experienced intermittent twitching of his right hand and his heartbeat had increased slightly.

A brain X-ray had revealed “minute subdural bleeding in the left frontal area”, it said in what it called an unofficial translation. “After medication was given intravenously last night, the seizure disappeared.”

“This morning the doctors reported that His Majesty had normal movement of his right hand. His Majesty’s heartbeat and blood pressure are normal,” it added.

The king’s doctors had asked him to halt royal activities for a period of time, it concluded.

(Reporting by Amy Sawitta Lefevre; Writing by Alan Raybould, Editing by Jonathan Thatcher)

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Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective

For the first time ever, scientists behind one of the world’s most comprehensive weather assessments say they can perceive the likely impact of human-influenced climate change on specific extreme weather events.

What the study found was increasing evidence that specific events, and patterns of events, can now safely be attributed to man-made global warming and its growing impact on intense storms, extreme floods, unusual cold spells, prolonged heat waves and drought.

The ‘State of the Climate’ report, issued jointly each year by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the American Meteorological Society (AMS), looks at global weather events, climate patterns, and the implications of flunctuating air temperatures and ocean currents.

This year, the group also released a supplemental paper, titled Explaining Extreme Events of 2011 from a Climate Perspective (pdf), which looks specifically at extreme weather events through the lense of global climate change.

“2011 will be remembered as a year of extreme events, both in the United States and around the world,”said Deputy NOAA Administrator Kathryn D. Sullivan, Ph.D. “Every weather event that happens now takes place in the context of a changing global environment. This annual report provides scientists and citizens alike with an analysis of what has happened so we can all prepare for what is to come.”

Peter Stott, from Britain’s National Weather Service which also contributed to the report, said: “We are much more confident about attributing [weather effects] to climate change. This is all adding up to a stronger and stronger picture of human influence on the climate.”

“While we didn’t find evidence that climate change has affected the odds of all the extreme weather events we looked at, we did see that some events were significantly more likely. Overall we’re seeing that human influence is having a marked impact on some types of extreme weather.”

The Guardian’s Fiona Harvey reports:

Attributing individual weather events, such as floods, droughts and heatwaves, to human-induced climate change – rather than natural variation in the planet’s complex weather systems – has long been a goal of climate change scientists. But the difficulty of separating the causation of events from the background “noise” of the variability in the earth’s climate systems has until now made such attribution an elusive goal.

To attribute recent extreme weather events – rather than events 10 years ago or more – to human-caused climate change is a big advance, and will help researchers to provide better warnings of the likely effects of climate change in the near future. This is likely to have major repercussions on climate change policy and the ongoing efforts to adapt to the probable effects of global warming.

Researchers found the 2011 crop-destroying drought and heat wave in Texas was “roughly 20 times more likely” the result of man-made climate change — warming due to greenhouse gasses — than of natural climate variation, CBS News reported.

Other key findings:

NOAA’s State of the Climate in 2011 report was published today by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society. (Credit: NOAA).

Warm temperature trends continue: Four independent data sets show 2011 among the 15 warmest since records began in the late 19th century, with annually-averaged temperatures above the 1981–2010 average, but coolest on record since 2008. The Arctic continued to warm at about twice the rate compared with lower latitudes. On the opposite pole, the South Pole station recorded its all-time highest temperature of 9.9°F on December 25, breaking the previous record by more than 2 degrees.

Greenhouse gases climb: Major greenhouse gas concentrations, including carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide, continued to rise. Carbon dioxide steadily increased in 2011 and the yearly global average exceeded 390 parts per million (ppm) for the first time since instrumental records began. This represents an increase of 2.10 ppm compared with the previous year. There is no evidence that natural emissions of methane in the Arctic have increased significantly during the last decade.

Arctic sea ice extent decreases: Arctic sea ice extent was below average for all of 2011 and has been since June 2001, a span of 127 consecutive months through December 2011. Both the maximum ice extent (5.65 million square miles, March 7) and minimum extent (1.67 million square miles, September 9) were the second smallest of the satellite era.

Ozone levels in Arctic drop: In the upper atmosphere, temperatures in the tropical stratosphere were higher than average while temperatures in the polar stratosphere were lower than average during the early 2011 winter months. This led to the lowest ozone concentrations in the lower Arctic stratosphere since records began in 1979 with more than 80 percent of the ozone between 11 and 12 miles altitude destroyed by late March, increasing UV radiation levels at the surface.

Sea surface temperature & ocean heat content rise: 
Even with La Niña conditions occurring during most of the year, the 2011 global sea surface temperature was among the 12 highest years on record. Ocean heat content, measured from the surface to 2,300 feet deep, continued to rise since records began in 1993 and was record high.

Ocean salinity trends continue: Continuing a trend that began in 2004 and similar to 2010, oceans were saltier than average in areas of high evaporation, including the western and central tropical Pacific, and fresher than average in areas of high precipitation, including the eastern tropical South Pacific, suggesting that precipitation is increasing in already rainy areas and evaporation is intensifying in drier locations.


Next Time God May Produce UFO or Phenomenon

Sun Jul 8, 2012 10:11 PM EDT

The “Moon of Memphis” UFO phenomenon occurred on 11-22-1964 on a date that adds up to 26 which is the numeric sum of the word “God”.  It also appeared 33 days before Christmas.  This event suggest that God or intelligent life responsible for UFOs sometimes appear on numerically significant dates as a means to communicate with humans and other intelligent life forms that may exist.  Based on this event we may be able to predict the other times that may be ripe for UFO or other phenomenon that may be indications of non biological human life in our world.

The next best date for such events would be 9-29-2013.   This is the only date that will occur in 2013 which equals 26 for the word “God” and if you include the 29th  of September, you will have 88 days until Christmas.  8*8 = 64 which is the sum of the words “Israel”, “Zion”, and “Mercy”.  In addition, September 29th is often taught by religious leaders as the date that the baby “Jesus” was conceived by the Holy Spirit.

Don’t expect any significant event relating to UFOs and God based on numerology because the number 26 does not occur in any date in 2012.  This may be why some may feel that it is an unlucky year or devil’s year.  August may have a date that equals 15,  8-2-2012.  Fifteen is associated with the letter “O” which is sometimes associated with UFOs.  Don’t be concern though because God and/or non human intelligent life will not disappear in 2012, for they are always with us.  If the UFOs or other phenomenon choose to appear on special dates, then they are trying to give humans proof of their existence and for the chosen, the opportunity to see God and be blessed with Holy Light and maybe receive spirits to communicate with in the future.


Anderson Cooper: “The Fact Is, I’m Gay.”

Anderson Cooper: ‘The Fact Is, I’m Gay’

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[Re-posted from earlier today.]

Last week, Entertainment Weekly ran a story on an emerging trend: gay people in public life who come out in a much more restrained and matter-of-fact way than in the past. In many ways, it’s a great development: we’re evolved enough not to be gob-smacked when we find out someone’s gay. But it does matter nonetheless, it seems to me, that this is on the record. We still have pastors calling for the death of gay people, bullying incidents and suicides among gay kids, and one major political party dedicated to ending the basic civil right to marry the person you love. So these “non-events” are still also events of a kind; and they matter. The visibility of gay people is one of the core means for our equality.

All of which is a prelude to my saying that I’ve known Anderson Cooper as a friend for more than two decades. I asked him for his feedback on this subject, for reasons that are probably obvious to most. Here’s his email in response which he has given me permission to post here:

Andrew, as you know, the issue you raise is one that I’ve thought about for years. Even though my job puts me in the public eye, I have tried to maintain some level of privacy in my life. Part of that has been for purely personal reasons. I think most people want some privacy for themselves and the people they are close to.

But I’ve also wanted to retain some privacy for professional reasons. Since I started as a reporter in war zones 20 years ago, I’ve often found myself in some very dangerous places. For my safety and the safety of those I work with, I try to blend in as much as possible, and prefer to stick to my job of telling other people’s stories, and not my own. I have found that sometimes the less an interview subject knows about me, the better I can safely and effectively do my job as a journalist.

I’ve always believed that who a reporter votes for, what religion they are, who they love, should not be something they have to discuss publicly. As long as a journalist shows fairness and honesty in his or her work, their private life shouldn’t matter. I’ve stuck to those principles for my entire professional career, even when I’ve been directly 12039_084asked “the gay question,” which happens occasionally. I did not address my sexual orientation in the memoir I wrote several years ago because it was a book focused on war, disasters, loss and survival. I didn’t set out to write about other aspects of my life.

Recently, however, I’ve begun to consider whether the unintended outcomes of maintaining my privacy outweigh personal and professional principle. It’s become clear to me that by remaining silent on certain aspects of my personal life for so long, I have given some the mistaken impression that I am trying to hide something – something that makes me uncomfortable, ashamed or even afraid. This is distressing because it is simply not true.

I’ve also been reminded recently that while as a society we are moving toward greater inclusion and equality for all people, the tide of history only advances when people make themselves fully visible. There continue to be far too many incidences of bullying of young people, as well as discrimination and violence against people of all ages, based on their sexual orientation, and I believe there is value in making clear where I stand.

The fact is, I’m gay, always have been, always will be, and I couldn’t be any more happy, comfortable with myself, and proud.

I have always been very open and honest about this part of my life with my friends, my family, and my colleagues. In a perfect world, I don’t think it’s anyone else’s business, but I do think there is value in standing up and being counted. I’m not an activist, but I am a human being and I don’t give that up by being a journalist.

Since my early days as a reporter, I have worked hard to accurately and fairly portray 19447_001_1563_CCgay and lesbian people in the media – and to fairly and accurately portray those who for whatever reason disapprove of them. It is not part of my job to push an agenda, but rather to be relentlessly honest in everything I see, say and do. I’ve never wanted to be any kind of reporter other than a good one, and I do not desire to promote any cause other than the truth.

Being a journalist, traveling to remote places, trying to understand people from all walks of life, telling their stories, has been the greatest joy of my professional career, and I hope to continue doing it for a long time to come. But while I feel very blessed to have had so many opportunities as a journalist, I am also blessed far beyond having a great career.

I love, and I am loved.

In my opinion, the ability to love another person is one of God’s greatest gifts, and I thank God every day for enabling me to give and share love with the people in my life. I appreciate your asking me to weigh in on this, and I would be happy for you to share my thoughts with your readers. I still consider myself a reserved person and I hope this doesn’t mean an end to a small amount of personal space. But I do think visibility is important, more important than preserving my reporter’s shield of privacy.


Reuters Poll: Obamacare Is Still Unpopular After High Court Decision Read more on Reuters Poll: Obamacare Is Still Unpopular After High Court Decision Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama’s Re-Election? Vote Here Now!


Sunday, 01 Jul 2012 11:55 AM

By Newsmax Wires

Voter support for President Barack Obama’s healthcare overhaul rose after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld it, but most people still oppose the law, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll on Sunday.

The online survey showed increased backing from Republicans and, crucially, the political independents whose support will be essential to winning the Nov. 6 presidential election.

Read more on Reuters Poll: Obamacare Is Still Unpopular After High Court Decision
Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama’s Re-Election? Vote Here Now!

Meanwhile, Republican leaders in Congress are banking on the fact that voters will have the final word on healthcare in the November elections, and the GOP is betting that the law’s unpopularity will be enough to drive Democrats from power.

The White House’s response? Bring it on.

According to the Reuters/Ipsos poll, 38 percent of independents support the healthcare overhaul in the poll conducted after the court ruled Thursday the law was constitutional. That was up from 27 percent from a Reuters/Ipsos poll taken days before the justices’ ruling.

Among all registered voters, support for the law rose to 48 percent, from 43 percent before the court decision.

“This is a win for Obama. This is his bill. There’s not really any doubt in people’s minds that it belongs to him,” said Julia Clark, vice president at Ipsos Public Affairs. “It’s his baby. It’s literally been labeled Obamacare . . . which maybe it works in his favor now that there’s a little bit of a victory dance going on.”

Republican opposition to the law stayed strong, if somewhat weaker than before the high court ruled. Eighty-one percent of Republicans opposed it in the most recent survey, down from 86 percent in the poll conducted June 19-23.

Underscoring the intense polarization on the issue, three-quarters of Democrats backed the bill, the same as a week earlier.

In some good news for Republicans, the Supreme Court ruling is energizing opposition to the 2010 healthcare overhaul.

In the new poll, more than half of all registered voters — 53 percent — said they were more likely to vote for their member of Congress if he were running on a platform of repealing the law, up from 46 percent before the ruling.

“This is galvanizing both sides,” Clark said.

Obama’s Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, has made it clear that he will run against Obamacare. Within hours of the Supreme Court’s ruling, the former Massachusetts governor asked voters to throw Obama out of office to get rid of the law, which he promises to repeal and replace if he wins the White House in November.

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell tells “Fox News Sunday” that the health law is a “job-killing, tax-increasing” measure that has angered voters.

McConnell says the law’s opponents have “one last chance here to beat Obamacare, and we can do that in the November election.”

In a separate interview, White House Chief of Staff Jack Lew insisted on Fox that voters are tired of the healthcare debate and want to focus instead on job creation.

There have been some early signs that the Republicans are gaining traction with the issue among voters. On Friday, Romney’s campaign said the former Massachusetts governor raised $4.6 million in the 24 hours following the Supreme Court’s decision.

Romney has offered few specifics on how he would replace the Obama reforms, although he said he would work to retain popular provisions such as blocking insurance companies from forbidding coverage of patients with pre-existing medical conditions.

The Reuters/Ipsos poll showed little change in the strong support for that and most of the other major provisions of the bill, including requiring companies with more than 50 employees to provide insurance for their employees and allowing children to stay on their parents’ insurance until age 26.

Most Americans still oppose the requirement that U.S. residents own health insurance, the so-called “individual mandate,” which the Supreme Court found was constitutional under the government’s right to impose taxes.

Despite the court labeling the mandate a tax — which Republicans have seized on in campaigning against Obama — the new survey found support for it unchanged. Thirty nine percent of all Americans backed the mandate, compared with 61 percent who opposed it.

Obama has credited the state plan Romney instituted as Massachusetts governor, which used a system of subsidies and mandates to expand health coverage, as a blueprint for his national plan.

The survey interviewed 991 Americans online from June 28-30. The precision of the Reuters/Ipsos online polls is measured using a credibility interval. In this case, the poll has a credibility interval of plus or minus 3.6 percentage points.

Read more on Reuters Poll: Obamacare Is Still Unpopular After High Court Decision
Important: Do You Support Pres. Obama’s Re-Election? Vote Here Now!