Timing is everything, Mitt. The day after Romney blasted Obama for the Solyndra collapse, Romney's own Solyndra filed for bankruptcy. Does this now mean that Mitt Romney is also a complete failure because one of his state loan investments went under? Boston Herald:Lowell-based Konarka Technologies announced late yesterday that it filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and will cease...
The campaign finds itself on the defensive after Konarka, a Romney-backed solar company, went belly up just a day after the governor sought to exploit the Obama administration’s loan to renewable energy company Solyndra. Konarka has filed for bankruptcy and is ceasing operations, laying off its staff of 85 and liquidating all of its assets.
In an effort to defend Romney’s deal, Gillespie said that the $1.5 million grant Romney gave to Konarka in 2003 was not supported by the governor, and was made by a committee independent of the governor’s control:
GILLESPIE: In Massachusetts, there is a board that does approve these loans. There is a big story about this Konarka, for example, that was in the news today. The fact is, that was approved before Governor Romney even took office. You don’t have control over what this board does.
WALLACE: He signed on to a bunch of these companies, you know that.
GILLESPIE: What I know is that when he was Governor of Massachusetts he said the state should not be investing in private enterprise and he tried to reprogram the money away that into other government spending in Massachusetts.
That’s almost the exact opposite from what actually happened. During an event in January 2003 at the headquarters of Konarka Technologies, Romney called for more grants to the renewable energy sector, and diverted money towards those companies, not away from them. “The trust fund has been growing for years, and I believe now is the time to refocus its assets in such a manner that it can become a major economic springboard for the Commonwealth by focusing on job creation in the renewable energy sector,” he said.
The Massachusetts legislature did create a $160 million trust fund in 1998 to promote “green power” energy projects before Governor Romney took office, as Gillespie suggested. But the fund was ineffective, doling out less than $30 million by the time Romney took office in 2003. Instead, Romney ordered $24 million from the fund to be shifted directly towards investments and loans for renewable energy start-up companies, including Konarka. Of that total, $9 million went to grants for Konarka Technologies and four other clean energy companies in Massachusetts. The other $15 million were diverted into a Green Energy Fund to provide loans and venture capital to companies invested in clean energy production across the state.
Despite his embrace of clean energy as governor, Romney now actively campaigns against job creation in the renewable energy sector and is “ready to concede the clean energy race and future jobs” to China.
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Ed Gillespie, an adviser to GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, on Sunday said that a loss for Gov. Scott Walker (R) in Wisconsin's recall election would not "factor into November," but a win would mean that labor unions shouldn't be "too greedy."
"I think this recall is about Wisconsin and the reforms that Gov. Walker enacted there," Gillespie told Fox News host Chris Wallace. "I think it's going to be close and I think that he's going to win and the voters are going to reject the recall."
"I don?t know at the end of the day how much that?s going to factor into November," he added. "There is something going on in Wisconsin and all across the Great Lakes, where it is moving away from liberal Democratic policies toward more reform-oriented Republican policies."
"If Walker wins, what's the statement to big labor?" Wallace wondered.
"I think the statement to big labor and to big government employee unions, government worker unions is that you can't be too greedy," Gillespie explained. "You need to understand that times are tough and a lot of these legacy costs that you imposed are due for some reforms and some restructuring."
Wisconsin voters will go to the polls on Tuesday to decide between Walker and Democratic Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
(h/t: Talking Points Memo)
Walt Whitman was right. We Sing the Body Electric.[...]
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Unfortunately for Eric Ferhnstrom, a senior campaign advisor to the Romney campaign, Paul Krugman (who's been on a tear lately) was on "This Week" Sunday morning to dismantle all of his vapid talking points.
First, he pointed out that government spending has been cratering since 2010 -- and openly mocked the idea that Mitt Romney has an answer to unemployment.
KRUGMAN: Well, the economy is weak. It's not terrible, but it's weak. The bitter irony here has to be for Obama, certainly for people like me, is that if the Republican answer is "let's slash spending, let's have low taxes," that's actually the policy we've been following. It's amazing, actually. Especially if you look at the last couple of years, what we've actually seen is sharply...
STEPHANOPOULOS: Let me show you -- we have a chart in your blog this morning.
KRUGMAN: Yeah, this is...
STEPHANOPOULOS: We created it. It shows the point you're making.
KRUGMAN: Yeah, this is real government spending, so it's federal, state and local combined, deflated, you know, adjusted for population growth and inflation, and it is plunging. It's plunging mostly because of cutbacks at the state and local level, because the aid that they were receiving in the stimulus has run out, but also because unemployment benefits have been expiring because Congress won't -- you know, Republicans in Congress won't extend them.
So in effect - and, by the way, if you extend that chart backwards, there's been nothing like this since the demobilization after the Korean War. We're actually practicing government austerity on a scale that we haven't seen in 60 years. It's not the president's policy. In effect, we've already got the policies that Republicans say they will impose if they take the election, and yet, of course, it may lead to the defeat of this president.
STEPHANOPOULOS: And that's the point Stephanie was making, so bringing it back to you, what would Governor Romney do right now -- not in the future -- right now, to get the economy moving again?
FEHRNSTROM: Well, it's not just, as Paul says, tax policy. That's part of it, of course, but it's also spending policy, it's regulatory policy. It's confronting China on their unfair trade practices. It's -- it's a whole -- it's labor policy, George.
The governor has laid out very detailed plans. People can go to mittromney.com and learn about them for themselves. But I think what we really have here...
KRUGMAN: ... ...I know from detailed plans and there is nothing there. There is not...
Then, Krugman throws cold water on Willard's big "get tough with China and that will create jobs" plan.
CUTTER: ... he's going to deregulate Wall Street, which we know how that turns out. We're going to go back to risky financial deals that crashed our economy. And on China, you know, we've been hearing this blustering on China for quite a while now. What exactly is the governor going to do? There's...
STEPHANOPOULOS: ... I want to bring in George Will.
FEHRNSTROM: He'll do what this president has failed to do in China, which is to declare that China is a currency manipulator. Look, we're all in favor of free trade. In fact, we don't think this president has done enough to reinvigorate trade talks -- trade talks with our friends, but China is -- is robbing us blind. They're stealing...
KRUGMAN: I was very much for that. I've been demanding that we declare -- but the window for that has passed. Right now, the Chinese economy is tanking. So if you were thinking you were going to get a big boost out of beating up on the Chinese now, two years ago I thought was really a good time to do that. But my god, now that is totally out of date.
Last but not least, he exposes the flimflammery of the Ryan plan -- after George Will got Ferhnstrom to commit to it.
WILL: On another matter, I didn't hear a robust answer to George's question. Where does the governor stand, Governor Romney, on the Ryan plan? Does he endorse it?
FEHRNSTROM: Oh, he's for -- he's for -- he's for the Ryan plan. He believes it goes in the right direction. The governor has also put forward a plan to reduce spending by $500 billion by the year 2016. In fact, he's put details on the table about how exactly he would achieve that. So to say he doesn't have a plan to -- a plan to restrain government spending is just not true.
KRUGMAN: Can I say, the Ryan plan -- and I guess this is what counts as a personal attack -- but it isn't. It's not an attack on the person; it's an attack on the plan. The plan's a fraud. The plan is a big bunch of tax cuts, some specified spending cuts, basically for poor people, and then a huge magic asterisk which is supposed to turn into a deficit reduction plan, but, in fact, if you look what's actually in it, it's a deficit-increasing plan.
And so to say that -- just tell the truth that there is really no plan there, neither from Ryan, nor from Governor Romney, is just the truth. That's not -- if that's -- if that's being harsh and partisan, gosh, then I guess the truth is anti-bipartisanship.
FEHRNSTROM: So may I ask you, Paul, do you prefer the president's plan?
KRUGMAN: Oh, yeah. I mean, the president -- at least it's -- you know, I don't approve of everything, but there are no gigantic mystery numbers in his stuff. We do know what he's talking about. His numbers are -- you know, all economic forecasts are wrong, but his are not -- are not insane. These are -- these are just imaginary.
Whenever Krugman is on one of these shows, putting some hapless Republican blowhard in his place, I'm reminded of the Marshall McLuhan scene from "Annie Hall."
Eduard Zilberkant: The Young Concert Artists' Evenings of Piano Concerti veteran conducted two of the four EPC IV concerts and was the unquestioned star.
We're still talking about New York Concert Artists' latest "Evenings of Piano Concerti" series, EPC IV, which as I noted in Friday night's preview gave me an unexpected measure of sheer musical pleasure, with the largest dose coming thanks to the spirit of the playing conductor Eduard Zilberkant drew from the little pickup orchestra in the two concerts he conducted, the first and third.
But for today I thought we'd scale back and just focus on one of the two concertos I mentioned had particularly delighted me in the performance offered by 22-year-old Shiran Wang and Zilberkant in the third concert, Mozart's K. 414. We already heard the slow movement, with that beautiful main theme the composer borrowed as a form of tribute to the recently deceased J. C. Bach.
Before we turn to the complete concerto, I just wanted to highlight a little Mozartean surprise that occurs in the concluding rondo, in the form of what I will call the "countertheme." I don't know if it will have the same effect it does on me, but it's the kind of thing that has a way of seizing control of my brain and not letting go. (Some readers may recall the October 2009 Sunday Classics post called "Surprise! With wizards like Bach and Mozart, you never know what you may hear next," in which the Mozart surprise was a wonderful little figuration that bursts out of nowhere in the cello in the final variation of the theme-and-variations slow movement of the A major String Quartet, K. 464, and then works its way up through all the instruments.)
Countertheme of the Rondo of Mozart's K. 414 Concerto
This is nuts, I know, but I've extracted the portions of the Rondo that are based on this countertheme, starting with its first statement, from Murray Perahia's recording, which we'll here complete immediately afterward. In this clip we hear ripped-out chunks that representing the following bits of the 6:19 whole: (1) 0:12-0:31, (2) 0:58-2:15, (3) 2:39-2:46, (4) 3:36-4:13, (5) 4:19-4:51 (including the start of the cadenza at 4:40 -- or 0:20 of our clip).
Now here's the whole movement.
MOZART: Piano Concerto No. 12 in A, K. 414:
English Chamber Orchestra, Murray Perahia, piano and cond. CBS/Sony, recorded June 16-18, 1979
NOW LET'S HEAR THE WHOLE OF K. 414 -- CLICK HERE
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Syrian President Bashar Assad is defending the government’s crackdown against opposition forces by comparing his actions to a surgeon saving a patient. “When a surgeon in an operating room … cuts and cleans and amputates, and the wound bleeds, do we say to him your hands are stained with blood?” Assad asked in a speech to parliament on Sunday. “Or do we thank him for saving the patient?” Up to 13,000 people have been killed in the Syrian uprising, but the strongman denied responsibility for last week’s internationally-condemned massacre of more than 100 people, “saying not even ‘monsters’ would carry out such an ugly crime.”
by Andrew Freedman, via Climate Central
The largest wildfire in New Mexico?s history continues to burn, having already charred an area larger than New York City. Known as the Whitewater-Baldy Fire Complex, the wildfire has become another in a series of ?megafires? to torch the American West due to an unprecedented combination of drought conditions, climate change, and alterations in land-management practices. To make matters worse, according to The Guardian newspaper, congressional budget cuts may restrict the federal government?s firefighting efforts during what is widely expected to be a busy wildfire season.
The Whitewater-Baldy Complex is burning in New Mexico?s rugged and mountainous Gila Wilderness, an area with steep terrain that has rendered much of the fire off limits to firefighters. Instead of attacking it from within, firefighters are trying to dig in around it, hoping to slow its spread.
The megafire is the result of a merger of two separate, relatively modest-sized fires. When the two merged in late May, the fire dramatically expanded, burning 70,000 acres in just one day. As of Friday, the fire had burned 216,000 acres, and was only 10 percent contained. More than 1,200 personnel were battling the fire. There have been no fatalities or major injuries.
The fire has surpassed New Mexico?s record fire, which occurred just last year. The Las Conchas fire burned more than 156,000 acres and came perilously close to Los Alamos National Laboratory, the birthplace of the atomic bomb.
New Mexico Gov. Susanna Martinez took a helicopter tour of the fire on May 31. ?She described the terrain as “impossible,” saying there was no way for firefighters to directly attack the flames in the rugged areas of wilderness,? the Associated Press reported. She warned that it would continue to burn more acres as firefighters struggle to contain the blaze.
Much of New Mexico is experiencing drought conditions. Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor.
As Climate Central reported on May 23, the 2012 fire season is likely to continue the trend of severe wildfire seasons in the Southwest, due largely to the prevalence of long-term drought conditions in the region. Long-burning, massive wildfires have become more common in the U.S. recent years.
In fact, the recent Southwestern megafires stand out as unusual in the context of the past 1,500 years in that region, according to a recent study. The study found that land-management changes, such as years of fire suppression activities that stifled small fires, thereby priming forests for larger blazes, have combined with climate change to create forests that are altogether different ? and which burn differently ? from what existed in this area for generations.
“The U.S. would not be experiencing massive large-canopy-killing crown fires today if human activities had not begun to suppress the low-severity surface fires that were so common more than a century ago,” said Christopher I. Roos, an assistant professor in the SMU Department of Anthropology, according to Science Daily.
– Andrew Freedman is a senior science writer for Climate Central, focusing on coverage of extreme weather and climate change. Prior to working with Climate Central, Freedman was a reporter for Congressional Quarterly and Greenwire/E&E Daily.
This piece was originally published at Climate Central and was reprinted with permission.
JR: Here’s more from the Guardian story, “Wildfire budget cuts in Congress put communites in danger, experts warn“:
Fire experts are warning that $512m in congressional budget cuts could leave communities dangerously exposed in an early and active fire season.
Such warnings have sharpened with the early onset of this year’s fire season, and the record-setting outbreak in New Mexico.
Experts fear the shortfall will leave fire crews scrambling for resources, and force government agencies to dip into other non-fire budgets to cover the gap….
But the economic downturn and a Congress dominated by Republicans who want to shrink the role of government make it extremely complicated to divert more funds to forest fighting.
Instead, funding for preventing and putting out wildfires has fallen by $512m, or about 15%, since 2010.
Campaigners say that leaves the federal government agencies responsible for preventing and putting out wildfires under-funded ? especially given projections suggesting a rise in wildfires over the next 20 years.
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