From Huffington Post:
WASHINGTON — Facing political pressurefrom Republicans and farming groups, the White House has decided to scrap rules proposed last year that would have prevented minors from performing certain agricultural work deemed too dangerous for children.
The Labor Department announced the decision late Thursday, saying it was withdrawing the rules due to concern from the public over how they could affect family farms. “The Obama administration is firmly committed to promoting family farmers and respecting the rural way of life, especially the role that parents and other family members play in passing those traditions down through the generations,” the department said in a statement.
Just a few paragraphs below this remarkable quote, this very same story points out that actual family farms were exempt from these rules. It follows that parents passing along traditions have a rational self-interest in not seeing their kids’ legs cut off under a combine. Corporations, unfortunately, have no such interest… which is why these rules were sought in the first place.
I’m guessing this piece was hastily put together, since a little further down, Sarah Palin is quoted thusly: “If I Want America To Fail, I’d Ban Kids From Farm Work.”
It would seem then, that the Obama Administration and Sarah Palin see roughly eye-to-eye on the matter of exploiting child labor on factory farms. How can one call this “pressure” from the GOP when the two parties clearly agree on something?
Now perhaps I’m wrong about this, but the thought occurs that most parents (or even people who simply appreciate their own non-exploitive childhoods), would be aghast at what’s happening on factory farms. This could be a good issue to attack a party that wants to roll back all of our child labor laws and state so every chance they get.
This is just the latest example of why this election cycle is full of petty, personal attacks that amount to nothing… while real issues of import are almost completely ignored.
“When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.” — George Bernard Shaw
Howard Dean, erstwhile lobbyist for a whacky group of Iranian ex-pats known as MEK (or Mujahadeen-e-Khalq) must be happy today. His clients have finally found favor with the Obama Administration, while some of America is still glowing from its collective wargasm brought on by the demise of one of the world’s worst persons. Some might find the timing of such a humanitarian effort a tad confusing.
This from the New York Times:
WASHINGTON (AP) — An American diplomat says the U.S. will try to broker a deal to move a threatened Iranian opposition group away from its camp near Iraq’s border with Iran.
The solution would be temporary, until the 3,400 members of the People’s Mujahedeen can be resettled outside Iraq. It’s unclear if the government or group will agree.
The United States, like Iran, considers the group a terrorist organization. But it wants to protect members from violence. An Iraqi army attack last month killed 34 people.
Emphasis mine, of course.
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Notwithstanding the tragic loss of life in the Gulf of Mexico, we achieved an exemplary statistical safety record as measured by our total recordable incident rate and total potential severity rate.
I think we should take them at their word, that compared to their “total potential severity rate” they did pretty good. In other words, their operation is so dangerous we were lucky to only get one huge, life destroying event — according to them.
Seriously, this is how out of whack the executive culture is these days. They believe they deserve more money for anything and everything. They can do no wrong.
In case you want to share the experience, create a jigsaw puzzle with your favorite royals:
Can’t get enough royal wedding hoopla? Neither can we! So to celebrate the regal nuptials, we’re rolling out Royal Wedding Jigsaws, featuring this millennium’s favorite fairytale duo, Prince William and Kate Middleton. Watch love blossom as you piece together gorgeous photos of the stately lovebirds. You keep playing and we’ll keep posting puzzles — from royal courtship to the aisle at Westminster Abbey. Fall in love forever when you play Royal Wedding Jigsaws today!
Contemplate their obvious superiority as you put them back together again. I “did” Princess Diana with Baby Wills in 27 minutes (96 pieces), and yes I cheated by using the hint feature. How about you?
This also might be considered an open thread on the Royal Wedding this week (?), Brits, British royalty, aristocracy, and the like. Or you can think of it as a break from more serious matters.
History is a race between education and catastrophe. – H.G. Wells
Well, it’s that time of year again. It’s Earth Day, when reasonable people, trying to grasp at some notion of a nicer world to live in, go plant trees, clean up beaches and write checks to environmental groups that take far too much corporate (read: polluter) money––to shut up at inopportune occasions. Those members, of course, actually do give a shit about the world they live in. Those nice folks on television tell us what we can do as individuals, to make the planet a little greener. Buy the right light bulbs, remember to recycle and buy a new car with marginally better gas mileage. Somehow, making the planet––and thusly our own existences–– healthier always seems to involve buying more shit, mostly made in countries with no labor or environmental laws to speak of. Countries in which the workers who actually make these wonders of environmental goodness are wallowing in their own sea of toxic waste, open sewers and are forced to work under conditions which kill rather a lot of them in the process.
And yet Americans still seem attached to this notion of individualizing everything under the sun. We’re starting to buy electric cars now, but they really should be called Coal Cars, because that’s what charging most of them up in this country. Are the drivers of those cars wondering about the miners with Black Lung or the communities being destroyed by Fly Ash Pond ruptures or the mountains that were but are no longer? How do my purchasing decisions provide adequate pressure to change this arrangement? Grrr. They don’t!
Even worse, of course, is nuclear power. It’s an industry built up primarily on lies. They said it would be “too cheap to meter.” Heh. That’s one of the best tropes anyone ever invented. They said it was safe, until TMI and Chernobyl, when people stopped believing it. They still say no one was killed by TMI and only 48 people were killed by Chernobyl. Indeed, even during this current disaster at Fukushima Daiichi, our betters amongst the ruling class are still saying everything’s great and full speed ahead. Why, some nuclear salespeople are even going so far as to compare the relative radioactivity of a Fly Ash pond (which is very toxic, actually) to typical, routine releases from nuclear power stations. Thing is, most people don’t realize that there are routine releases and even worse, when they do actually make the news, they’re not routine at all. But the worstest thing of all is the simple fact that none of these asswipes ever put serious accidents into their statistical models. So what do our guardians of the public interest do when things go awry?
When you can’t control the situation, control the information
Silence seems to be the best option and failing that, just fucking lie. A major nuclear power accident is by nature (both literally and figuratively) a global event. What happens here will also end up there. Western Europe learned that after Chernobyl. Yet in perusing the US media, the most notable aspect of coverage of the Fukushima accident is… that there isn’t any. If you’re anything like me––and I hope for your sake you’re not, although I could use the company!––then you undoubtedly share in my fuming frustration at the lack of actual news that is available for those of us unfortunate to not speak Japanese. But even the Japanese have been complaining for weeks about the lack of useful data being issued by TEPCO and the governmental regulatory agencies. Still, there are items that pop up with some regularity and they simply aren’t being addressed in a constructive fashion.
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It would seem that expecting people to be convinced by the facts flies in the face of, you know, the facts.
Chris Mooney offered up a veritable briar patch of stochastic possibilities with his recent article, The Science of Why We Don’t Believe Science, at Mother Jones.
This is not a new topic for the Open Left crowd. Some topics, however, may benefit from being repeated. There’s a lot of “motivated reasoning”, I think, in the deference so many on the leftish end of the US political spectrum show toward Obama and the Democratic Party in general. This is not a novel idea. It has been hashed over by others.
There is much to be discussed about the motivations that beget the kind of rational use of the irrational that underlies this phenomenon. Or is it, the irrational use of rationality? Ivy League lawyer, Dan Kahan, sums it up:
The study subjects weren’t “anti-science”—not in their own minds, anyway. It’s just that “science” was whatever they wanted it to be.
This is the time in the show when we like to mention that we generally run the show in two parts.
There’s the first part and the second part. We like to run the show in that order.
In between the two parts is another part that we like to call “Intermission”.
Intermission is a time when you can go out to the lobby and smoke (they don’t have to smoke). You don’t have to smoke! You can go out and drink (they don’t have to drink either). You don’t have to drink, you don’t have to smoke. If you don’t want to smoke, you certainly don’t have to smoke. You don’t have to drink either, hardly enough time for anything else, although it has been done.
Intermission: 15 fun-filled minutes without smoking or drinking. Have fun.
We interrupt the White House’s post-speechifying lovefest with a quick note about the economy: Yes, Virginia, it’s failing once again and you can’t reduce deficits without growth in jobs, wages and thusly tax revenues. Cutting spending reduces aggregate demand, which results in job losses, which results in fewer tax revenues, which results in higher deficits and more spending cuts. Ad nauseum.
One might think the Ivy League nitwits currently gulping down the refined air of the Rose Garden and it’s environs would get this. One might also ponder the possibility that even completely self-interested careerists might look at the economy as a fair guesstimation as to national sentiment down the road, if only for their own sakes. It seems one would be wrong to do so.
So here we are, with almost the entire First World’s leadership putting their respective populations on a strict diet of austerity. And lo, what do we see? Why, we see plummeting GDPs in nice countries like the UK, coupled with rising unemployment and Neo-Liberal “reforms.” Here in the US, the real budget austerity hasn’t even fully kicked in yet and we’re already heading south for the economic winter. From Calculated Risk, via the derisively pointed Decline Of The Empire:
From MarketWatch: Q1 GDP estimates slashed post-trade data (ht jb)
Morgan Stanley slashed their estimate to 1.5% from 1.9% after what they called “a very weak report.” RBS Securities cut their estimates to 1.7% from 2% …And from Catherine Rampell at Economix: G.D.P. Forecast for First Quarter Slides
Today, after an especially weak report on February’s trade deficit, the [Macroeconomic Advisers'] economists lowered their first quarter G.D.P. estimate to a sorry 1.5 percent annualized.So Macroeconomic Advisers’ forecast has gone from a “paltry” 2.3% to a “sorry” 1.5%!
The advance GDP report will be released on Thursday April 28th. Still time for more downgrades. What comes after “paltry” and “sorry”? Putrid?
Add in oil that is trading in a range of $106 – $112 or so:
Add in all the various state and local budget cuts and higher resulting unemployment from those and we have a tightly configured downward spiral ahead of us.
Simply put, all this kabuki about the deficit has nothing whatsoever to do with said deficit. By continuing to froth in bi-partisan language, Obama is effectively placing himself at the head of the Parade of Economic Destruction. The thought occurs that POTUS is merely the CEO of Operation Shock Doctrine.
Many of the discussions here and elsewhere often come to a semantic juncture where the participants bemoan the need to use words to convey their message and/or points.
Let’s try to be proactive, eh?
Have at it.
And Haley Barbour is one of them.
On Feb. 11, Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, his wife and three aides flew in a luxury jet to Washington for a weekend of politicking, including an appearance on Fox News Sunday and a speech to the Conservative Political Action Conference. “Our problem is not that we tax too little,” Barbour told the gathering. “It’s that we spend too much.”
The potential presidential contender may have another problem: Mississippi taxpayers paid the tab for Barbour’s first-class travel. State documents obtained by TIME show that Mississippi shelled out $7,020 to shuttle Barbour and his entourage to and from D.C. on its Cessna Citation, a cost that Barbour says is justified by state work he did in D.C. over the same weekend.
There’s been lots of bad news lately, and my state, Arizona, hasn’t been shy about adding to it. Now this. If anything could prompt me to start reading Revelations, this just might be it. Is it true? Who knows, but God’s sense of humor being what it is, it does sound plausible.
Maybe you’ve already seen the story, or maybe you’ll get caught up in the hype tomorrow.
Sounds pretty cool, huh? Microfossils of cyanobacteria in very rare meteorites that “prove” life exists “somewhere else” in the universe than on this planet.
Not so fast, says PZ Meyers and David Dobbs. But the lesson here is deeper than understanding that this is a controversial finding. Pay attention to the reasons why Meyers and Dobbs doubt the validity of the claim. Then think back to my running dispute with metamars about the “science” behind climate change denial.
This story is slightly funny, a bit creepy and rather puzzling from the standpoint of a sitting president who seems interested in being re-elected in 2012.
First up, the oddly funny/creepy part, which these reporters gleefully scribbled into their notepads, in which an ostensibly Democratic POTUS seems to be kissing the ring of his seeming successor:
MIAMI – In his first year as Florida governor, Jeb Bush was vilified by Democrats as a “radical” for an education agenda they argued would undermine public schools. So it was a striking moment when, 12 years later, a Democratic president came here Friday to hail the Republican as a “champion of education reform.”
It was even more striking to consider that President Obama, introduced by Bush for a speech at a Miami high school, was teaming up with the younger brother of the man he replaced in the White House – a predecessor he has been quick to blame for many of America’s troubles. And even more intriguing to think that, if only his last name were not Bush, Jeb would probably be the Republican Party’s best hope of beating Obama next year.
Yet there they were, warmly shaking hands, exchanging laughs and declaring themselves brothers in arms when it comes to fixing the country’s schools.
“I’ve gotten to know Jeb because his family exemplifies public service,” Obama said, declaring he was “grateful to him for the work that he’s doing.”
Bush was more muted, withholding direct praise for Obama but adding: “Mr. President, as you have said, educational achievement is not a Republican or Democrat issue.”
The exchange served as a reminder that the president and the former Florida governor are two of the more pragmatic figures in American politics, and both no doubt saw much to be gained politically from at least the appearance of harmony.
(Emphasis mine, of course)
If you haven’t guessed yet, just think which company in the whole wild world of sports shouldn’t be getting dick from this government. Sure, I knew you could….
First Deepwater Drilling Permit Since BP Spill Goes to … a Well Co-Owned by BP
Offshore drilling regulators this week approved the first deepwater drilling permit since BP’s Deepwater Horizon disaster, and as many have pointed out, it’s going to a well owned and operated by Noble Energy.
But here’s a lesser-noticed fact, which Reuters reported today: BP co-owns the well—46.5 percent of it, to be exact. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the revamped offshore drilling agency, made no mention of BP’s ownership of the well in itspress release, which touted the newly approved permit as a “an important step towards safely developing deepwater energy supplies offshore.”
(BP confirmed with us its stake in the well, but referred further questions about its involvement in operating the well and its expected revenue to Noble Energy.)
Regulators had asked oil companies to prove their ability to contain oil spills occurring in deep water before granting any more permits for deepwater drilling, and two systems have been proposed—one by a company called Helix Energy Solutions and another by the Marine Well Containment Company, a group of oil companies led by Exxon. Just last month, Bromwich said that neither system was ready yet and allowing deepwater drilling would be “simply irresponsible.” He stated this week that Noble—which has acontract with Helix—”is capable of containing a subsea blowout.”
“This permit was issued for one simple reason: the operator successfully demonstrated that it can drill its deepwater well safely and that it is capable of containing a subsea blowout if it were to occur,” said agency chief Michael Bromwich. He said the agency expects more deepwater permits to be approved in the “coming weeks and months.”
Per usual, there’s some more at the link.
I’m beginning to wonder if the current regime is even remotely capable of experiencing embarrassment.