Archive for January 26th, 2011
Washington, DC — The black hole, of course, is the Senate Rules. Efforts to make major reforms in the Senate this week — reforms that would allow the Senate to vote on public business — fell afoul of… the Senate Rules. Lacking a clear majority for significant changes, Senators Tom Udall and Jeff Merkley discovered that under the Senate Rules as they stand, there is virtually no way to get the issue of reforming the Rules onto the Senate floor, should there be resistance (continue reading…)
“We’ve lost it … no doubt about it.”
I was having dinner with an astronomer colleague who works at the Space Telescope Science Institute, and his downer of a message was in reference to a NASA telescope project that had hit a brick wall. Despite years of effort, it was unclear if the new instrument would ever be built. My friend thought that other nations were overtaking America’s lead in space exploration (continue reading…)
My father was an architect, but he was also an artist, an “art lifer” as I prefer to call him. This post was inspired by a profound encounter I had with a piece of my father’s art while I was home helping my mother after his funeral.
My father was an avid photographer and his office was full of boxes stuffed with grainy black and white images from my youth in the early ’60′s, including the one shown here. I have changed little since this picture was taken, as far as my essence goes (continue reading…)
If I were one of the writers who helped to put together President Obama’s State of the Union Speech last night, I would have added the following:
For you teachers out there wondering where the money for your raises that you so dearly deserve is coming from, I am instituting a sports tax on all stadiums. Each ticket sold, each concession stand purchase, each dollar that is given to parking for the big game will be taxed a small percentage and handed over to a national education fund that will be used to pay teachers. There is no reason why our brightest and most passionate people should not be encouraged to teach.
There is no reason that sports facilities should be build in low income communities and not give back to the people in those communities. If baseball is our national pastime, let our national pastime support our nation (continue reading…)
“We do big things”. One of the central themes in President Obama’s State of the Union address, “we do big things” was a reminder to all of the strength, character and ability of the nation. “We do big things” was a call to action for renewed innovation and creativity that defined much of our progress in years past, but these words were also a resounding call to appreciate and honor the American spirit. The day after this State of the Union speech, the NY Times ran a front-page story titled: “The Financial Crisis was Avoidable.” If we now distinctly know who was responsible for this economic debacle, and it is in fact time to do big things once again, the people can no longer be the scapegoat for corporations that are still laying off and demonizing workers at such a pivotal point in our country.
“The 2008 financial crisis was an ‘avoidable’ disaster caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street, according to the conclusions of a federal inquiry,” is the opening sentence to the NY Times’ cover story (continue reading…)
Former Miss Canada finalist Mary-Lu Zahalan-Kennedy signed up for the course at Liverpool Hope University when it launched in March 2009.
The 53-year-old, who has recorded three albums, was the first to graduate of the 12 full-time students who joined the Master of Arts course.
She said: “I am so proud of my achievement.”
“The course was challenging, enjoyable and it provided a great insight into the impact The Beatles had and still have to this day across all aspects of life,” she added (continue reading…)
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Hawk living in the US Library of Congress captured
A hawk that spent a week circling inside the main reading room of the US Library of Congress has been captured.
The Cooper's hawk was lured down from the ceiling of the library by two starlings, offered up to the predator as live bait, Ken Knowles of the Raptor Conservancy of Virginia said.
The long-winged predator first appeared in the building seven days ago and had escaped its captors' previous attempts.
The bird will be examined and later released, Mr Knowles said.
A net was pulled across the ceiling of the library during the past week to prevent the bird from flying down and injuring visitors in the reading room (continue reading…)
No time to page through thousands of eBay listings? Then just sneak a peek at my weekly eBay Roundup of Vintage Clothing Finds.
This eclectic mix of designer and non-designer vintage clothing and accessories caught my discerning eye because of their uniqueness, contemporary feel or highly collectible nature.
As always, buyer beware! Be sure to read the listings closely and contact the sellers with any questions.
This week’s finds include pieces by Halston, Thea Porter, Lilli Ann and Courreges. Be sure to check out the fabulous Gucci traincase and the amazing convertible fur coat.
Which item is your favorite? Leave a comment below and let me know.
GET READY, GET SET, BID!!!
Weekly eBay Roundup of Vintage Clothing Finds
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Gaultier Haute Couture Spring/Summer 2011: Can You Do The Can-Can? (PHOTOS)
Givenchy Uses Only Asian Models At Haute Couture Show (PHOTOS)
Jessica Alba, Olivia Wilde & Anna Wintour Get Gussied Up For Gucci (PHOTOS, POLL)
How Men Should Refine Their Winter Wardrobes (PHOTOS)
Andrej Pejic Headlines Jean Paul Gaultier Men’s Show In A Dress (PHOTOS, POLL)
Charlene Wittstock’s Wedding Dress To Be Designed By Giorgio Armani (PHOTOS, POLL)
More information on all this week’s finds at Zuburbia.
read full news from www.huffingtonpost.com
Dams have impoverished tens of thousands of people and triggered serious human rights violations in Sudan. Now Chinese companies have won contracts to build three more hydropower projects in the country. Of particular concerns are plans to dam the Nile near Kajbar, on the lands of ancient Nubia. The Kajbar project has already caused massive human rights abuses (continue reading…)
Obama did not mention Amy Chua in his State of the Union.
But the Tiger Mother, who is everywhere these days, was hovering over his speech like Banquo’s ghost.
He mentioned China four times in the speech.
Meanwhile, nations like China and India realized that with some changes of their own, they could compete in this new world.
Just recently, China became the home to the world’s largest private solar research facility, and the world’s fastest computer.
China is building faster trains and newer airports. Meanwhile, when our own engineers graded our nation’s infrastructure, they gave us a “D.”
Recently, we signed agreements with India and China that will support more than 250,000 jobs here in the United States.
The implication was clear. Even as he talked about the “Sputnik” moment, he was really saying, America, this is the “Tiger Mommy” moment, wake up, because a “D” is NOT an acceptable grade.
He wrapped his speech in a nostalgic paean to American exceptionalism — the nation founded on an idea, the one that went to the moon. He laid out the American dream — the chicken in every pot became the car in every driveway (continue reading…)
Today, polls show that over 80% of the people in many Muslim majority countries dislike the United States. Over 50% of the people in the United States believe that Islam is a violent religion. But the vast majorities of the people who hold these opinions do not know each other, have never met, and have no factual knowledge of each other. This lack of education and interaction, fueled by media distortion, has elevated mistrust and misunderstanding into a crisis situation.
We cannot merely stand by and watch this issue continue to fester (continue reading…)
Four layers of clothing (including my Canadian-strength, winter jacket) couldn’t hinder the cold midnight air in the mountains of Dharamsala, India.
Earlier that day, I savoured the view on the ascent. My taxi drove winding roads above billowing clouds until they resembled ocean as opposed to sky. Now, the brain-numbing, high-altitude cold rendered the view a foggy memory.
His Holiness the Dalai Lama calls Dharamsala home (continue reading…)
As 2010 came to a close, StrategyOne, an Edelman public relations company, released the results of a survey on the public attitudes toward American business. The results were pretty ugly, but hardly surprising:
Six in ten respondents said corporate America didn’t meet expectations in 2010; seven in ten have higher expectations for 2011. When asked to grade how well corporate America did in 2010, 82 percent assigned a grade of ‘C’ or lower, and 40 percent assigned a grade of ‘D’ or ‘F.’ Eighty-eight percent of consumers found that corporations had recovered from the recession better than American families, and 85 percent thought corporations had better prospects for the coming year. Only 17 percent of those surveyed thought companies deserved an ‘A’ or ‘B’ for honest and moral conduct in 2010.
Surprised? No one who occupies a corner office today should wonder why Americans hold such a low opinion of them and their colleagues (continue reading…)
Getting our economy back on track depends on the success of our nation’s small businesses. Critical measures enacted last year like the Small Business Jobs and Credit Act and the extension of the Bush-era tax cuts delivered much needed tax relief to small businesses, especially the self-employed and micro-businesses, helping business owners keep their doors open and even expand their operations.
The latest messaging from the White House signals that President Obama is serious about continuing to support the small business community. During his State of the Union address, the President stated that he is open to fixing an element of the health care reform law that unwittingly created a significant regulatory burden for small business owners:
The President is referring to a small, but incredibly onerous provision buried in the health care reform bill requiring small business owners to submit IRS Form 1099 for every purchase of goods and services over $600, which will increase the time and money spent on tax preparation for three out of four business owners (continue reading…)
Wouldn’t it be nice if, after decades of hard work, scrimping and saving, you could retire and no longer have to worry about paying taxes? But that’s about as likely as the Cubs winning the World Series.
Even if your income drops significantly after retirement, chances are you’ll still be taxed on a portion of it. And, depending on where you choose to retire and your income sources, you’ll probably also face additional taxes on everyday purchases, real estate, capital gains, inheritances — the list goes on.
Here are a few tax-related issues to consider when budgeting for your living expenses during retirement:
Taxes on Social Security benefits. Most people can begin collecting Social Security benefits as early as age 62, although if you draw benefits before your full retirement age, your benefit amount may be reduced significantly (continue reading…)
Bullying in schools is a constant focus of discussion, debate and concern. Not a week goes by, it seems, when there isn’t a news article about some aspect: cyber bullying, text-bullying, bullying on playgrounds, classrooms and sports fields. What has been largely missing from the uproar are accounts of the widespread bullying of children with disabilities by both students and teachers.
The recent stories in Toronto in The Sun about William Lau, the young student with cerebral palsy who was being bullied in school, are the exception. These articles show that while progress has been made, students with disabilities still experience isolation and punishment (continue reading…)
The past two years have been chock full of financial industry regulation. It all started with the CARD Act in 2009, followed closely by the Frank-Dodd Financial Reform Bill and the much-debated Durbin Amendment. We’ve been tracking all the changes closely, and went on record in back in May 2010 to say that the Durbin Amendment would no doubt create new fees for consumers.
A few months later, we argued that efforts to regulate the profit margins of big banks will be futile, and that a greater regulatory burden for financial services firms would result in the widespread elimination of free checking accounts. We pointed out that there’s nothing in any of the recent regulations that prevents banks from simply moving fee revenue around to other products.
And then in August, when most big financial institutions reported their earnings and held investor calls, their CEOs and CFOs came right out and said all the same things that we’d been warning about (continue reading…)
Last night, President Obama acknowledged that gays and lesbians will serve openly in the armed forces this year thanks to last year’s repeal of the so called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law. In exchange, the President has asked the college campuses and universities that banned the ROTC from recruiting on their campuses to let them return. I respectfully disagree.
Colleges and universities should focus all their energy on preserving the lives of their students, and students throughout the world. They should be harbors of peace, not war (continue reading…)
At President Obama’s direction, the U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA) is working hard to unleash the power of America’s innovators and entrepreneurs to build a green energy economy. By producing renewable energy — especially biofuels — America’s farmers, ranchers and rural communities have incredible potential to help ensure our nation’s energy security, environmental security, and economic security. Here are just some of the ways USDA is involved in helping create green energy jobs for the 21st century:
Creating Jobs and Improving the Economy in Rural America
Over the past two years, the Obama Administration and USDA have worked to build a foundation for sustainable economic growth in rural America. At the center of our vision is an effort to increase domestic production and use of renewable energy (continue reading…)
In this State of the Union address, much of the President’s attention was rightly focused on economic growth. It’s imperative that we continue adopting policies to revive our economy and create new jobs. That’s why the President was correct to call specifically for investment in clean energy — including the clean energy industries that are vital to our future. As the President said, this will “strengthen our security, protect our planet, and create countless new jobs for our people.”
Those who see a conflict between clean energy and economic growth have been wrong before, and they are wrong today (continue reading…)
This week marks the five-month countdown to the 39th anniversary of Title IX, the law prohibiting discrimination in educational programs receiving federal tax dollars, including sports.
Every year the secretary of education and countless women’s organizations commemorate the anniversary with praise for the program’s success, citing many impressive statistics. Since 1972 when the law passed, female participation in sports at NCAA member institutions has increased six-fold. At the high school level it’s even better — girls’ participation has increased ten-fold.
We know challenges remain, as opponents of women’s rights still claim Title IX robs men of opportunity and causes schools to drop men’s sports teams altogether. The truth of the matter is that men’s football (is there any other kind?) starves both women’s teams and lesser “valued” men’s teams (continue reading…)
Approval is conditional upon Intel making its products compatible with software from rival firms.
The deal has already been cleared by US regulators (continue reading…)
The central bank concluded its latest two-day policy meeting saying interest rates would remain near zero and its plan to buy 600bn of US government debt would proceed as scheduled.
The bank's rate-setting committee said the recovery was still too slow to bring down unemployment quickly.
It noted the recent rise in commodity prices, but said underlying inflation was still falling towards zero.
The Fed reiterated a previous warning that economic conditions were “likely to warrant exceptionally low levels for the federal funds rate for an extended period” (continue reading…)
The contrast between the values underlying President Obama’s State of the Union Address and Representative Paul Ryan’s Republican response could not have been more stark.
Ryan’s response to the President’s call that America win the future…was a demand that we return to the past.
His answer to Obama’s appeal that we are “all in this together” was an unvarnished vision of “law of the jungle” social Darwinism.
He responded to the hope that we can succeed….with the fear that “America’s best century will be considered the past century.”
And from the political point of view – most telling – he responded to Obama’s call that we invest in the future with what amounted to a call for austerity.
By framing the coming battle over national priorities as he did, President Obama set up a contrast with the Republicans that is a massive winner for Democrats and Progressives (continue reading…)