How do we stop the ignorance, hate, & violence directed against people just trying to live their lives in peace (& in theory, equality)? A simple question. One answer from a post on my Facebook wall: We all have to start standing up to the[...]
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Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
This is one of the first images taken by NASA's Curiosity rover, which landed on Mars the evening of Aug. 5 PDT (morning of Aug. 6 EDT). It was taken through a "fisheye" wide-angle lens on the left "eye" of a stereo pair of Hazard-Avoidance cameras on the left-rear side of the rover. The image is one-half of full resolution. The clear dust cover that protected the camera during landing has been sprung open. Part of the spring that released the dust cover can be seen at the bottom right, near the rover's wheel.
On the top left, part of the rover's power supply is visible.
Some dust appears on the lens even with the dust cover off.
The cameras are looking directly into the sun, so the top of the image is saturated. Looking straight into the sun does not harm the cameras. The lines across the top are an artifact called "blooming" that occurs in the camera's detector because of the saturation.
As planned, the rover's early engineering images are lower resolution. Larger color images from other cameras are expected later in the week when the rover's mast, carrying high-resolution cameras, is deployed.
Not too bad for government work, eh?
From the White House:
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 6, 2012
Statement by the President on Curiosity Landing on Mars
Tonight, on the planet Mars, the United States of America made history.
The successful landing of Curiosity - the most sophisticated roving laboratory ever to land on another planet - marks an unprecedented feat of technology that will stand as a point of national pride far into the future. It proves that even the longest of odds are no match for our unique blend of ingenuity and determination.
Tonight's success, delivered by NASA, parallels our major steps forward towards a vision for a new partnership with American companies to send American astronauts into space on American spacecraft. That partnership will save taxpayer dollars while allowing NASA to do what it has always done best - push the very boundaries of human knowledge. And tonight's success reminds us that our preeminence - not just in space, but here on Earth - depends on continuing to invest wisely in the innovation, technology, and basic research that has always made our economy the envy of the world.
I congratulate and thank all the men and women of NASA who made this remarkable accomplishment a reality - and I eagerly await what Curiosity has yet to discover.
Next up, a private equity firm acquires the planet, sells of its assets, fires all the employees, and then selects their CEO as Emperor.
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You cannot make this up:
John Sununu joined the growing number of Republicans claiming that Sen. Harry Reid is lying about Mitt Romney?s tax returns, calling him a ?bumbling Senate leader? and alleging that President Barack Obama is ?behind this dishonesty and misrepresentation.? [...]So, Mitt Romney's refusal to release his tax returns to prove to everyone?including all those Republicans who also are getting awfully curious about them?that he has actually paid taxes is now Obama's fault because Obama is hiding something, and he's using "bumbling Senate leader" Reid to help Obama hide Mitt Romney's tax returns, which is, of course, "Chicago-style gutter politics"? That's what Romneyland is going with now?
?The Obama campaign and President Obama are the ones that are behind this dishonesty and misrepresentation because they are trying to hide the failure of this abysmal presidency that we have had in office the last four years.?
What? I'm sorry, but what?
Even better, Sununu then contradicts his own claim that Obama is behind it all:
Sununu quipped that Reid ?probably? came up with the claim while ?talking to the mirror while he was shaving.?Ha. Ha. Ha. Sooooo funny. What are you, John, five?
Mitt Romney keeps saying that we should all just trust him. Just trust him. If you don't, you're a jerk and liar.
If only there were some way for Mitt Romney to prove that everyone else is wrong about their speculations. If only there were some way ...
Romney thinks some voters are
more equal than othersMitt Romney's latest harebrained outrage:
Mitt Romney attacked a lawsuit brought by President Obama?s campaign seeking the restoration of early voting rights for Ohio voters by falsely implying that Obama is trying to take away the early voting privileges for members of the military.
?President Obama?s lawsuit claiming it is unconstitutional for Ohio to allow servicemen and women extended early voting privileges during the state?s early voting period is an outrage,? Romney said in a statement Saturday.
Actually, the Obama campaign?s lawsuit, filed by the campaign in mid-July, explicitly asks a federal court to restore in-person early voting rights to all eligible Ohio voters on the three days preceding Election Day.
The suit does not seek to prevent members of the military from voting in person during that period, rather it seeks to force Ohio to give other voters (including, for instance, cops and firefighters) the same opportunity to vote.
The partial repeal, however, maintained the arbitrary cutoff for early voting of the Friday before the election. Military personnel, however, were given a special exemption to the cutoff, giving them three extra days to vote. The Obama campaign's lawsuit supports maintaining their ability to vote early, but asks that all voters be given the same opportunity to vote. This position, according to Romney, "is an outrage."
In Romney's view, only military personnel should be allowed to vote in the final three days before the election, even though everybody had that right in 2008 and 2010. Of course, Romney didn't complain about it back then. That's no shock?after all, he wasn't running for office, for Pete's sake. And the only thing that Romney is genuinely outraged about now is that he might not be able to rig the election to his advantage.
From the August 6 edition of Premiere Radio Networks' The Glenn Beck Program:
The closer we get to the presidential election, the more we are bombarded with facts, opinions, predictions, and the like from both ends of the political spectrum.
One thing I like about this analysis . . . → Read More: The Election, the Presidency, and Foreign Policy
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It may be the peak of vacation season in Europe, but the continent?s fiscal crisis has not taken a break. Last week, Wolfgang Schäuble, the powerful German finance minister, took time out from his holiday to have a sit-down with his American counterpart, Tim Geithner, in the North Sea island of Sylt. The last-minute meeting was organized at Geithner?s request. Less than a hundred days from the U.S. presidential election, it highlighted?as if more evidence were necessary?the Obama administration?s concern about how developments in the Eurozone could affect the vote come November 6.
The crisis calendar between now and then is certainly packed; if a week is a long time in politics, three months is an eternity in economics. Below, the Prospect sketches out a road-map of the pitfalls ahead.
We start, unsurprisingly, in Greece. The recently elected coalition government there is putting the final touches on a new austerity program?a condition for its second bailout. The program calls for 11.6 billion euros' worth (or 5 percent of GDP's worth) of spending cuts for 2013-2014. The measures, which include new wage, pension, and benefit cuts; a rise in the retirement age; and the closure of hospitals and university departments are already causing serious friction within the governing coalition. For a country already in its fifth year of recession and with a 23 percent unemployment rate, that?s no surprise.
Evangelos Venizelos, the former finance minister and the leader of the center-left PASOK party, has expressed reservations about the strategy adopted by prime minister Antonis Samaras and finance minister Yannis Stournaras. Even though Venizelos played a central role in negotiating the second bailout a few months ago, he now argues that the spending cuts must be spread out over a four-year period (2013-2016) to prevent the economy from collapsing. In contrast, Samaras and Stournaras argue?and have prevailed, for now?that the comprehensive package of cuts must first be presented to regain international credibility. Once that is done, they say, there can be negotiations for the country to be given more time, which also means more funding from its official creditors?something Northern Europeans are at present unwilling to grant.
Representatives of the troika of creditors (The European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) will return to Greece on August 27 to assess the latest austerity package. Their assessment will be presented at a meeting of Eurozone finance ministers, either on September 3 or (more likely) on the 14th of the month. A positive assessment will lead to the release of a massive, 31 billion-euro installment of the second bailout, critical for recapitalizing Greece?s banks and for repaying the government?s debt of over six billion euros to private creditors. A negative evaluation would leave the Greek government and the banking sector without funds, potentially triggering the country?s exit from the euro within weeks. Aside from the chaos that this would lead to in the country itself, it would cause a panicked flight from euro risk in the markets and pile the pressure on Spain and Italy, the elephants in the European room.
But Greece is not the only dark cloud on the horizon. On September 12, Germany?s Constitutional Court will decide whether to issue a temporary injunction against the European Stability Mechanism (ESM)?the new, permanent bailout fund that was meant to have replaced its predecessor, the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF)?and against the fiscal compact imposing tighter pan-European control of the national budgets of 25 of the 27 members of the EU. The German parliament approved both the ESM and the fiscal compact with a two-thirds majority. It is widely expected that the judges will reject the temporary injunction, a decision tantamount to a final approval. After all, while insisting on the rights of the Bundestag and setting a number of caveats, they have not blocked any of the major moves towards further European integration in the last few years (the Lisbon Treaty, the first Greek bailout, and the EFSF). But some analysts warn that the court may demand a referendum for the two treaties to be ratified, thus further delaying their activation and, by extension, the institutional reform necessary for the Eurozone to offer a meaningful policy response to its existing challenges.
On the same date that Germany?s top judges will issue their verdict, early parliamentary elections will be held in the Netherlands. The Netherlands is one of only four countries in the common currency area that retains a AAA credit rating, and it is closely aligned with Germany in opposing debt mutualization in the Eurozone. Dutch voters, in an economy on the verge of recession and facing severe spending cuts to bring the budget deficit into line with European rules, are proving receptive to the anti-austerity message of the Socialist party, which polls favor to come out on top. They are also receptive to the xenophobic populism of Geert Wilders, who plays on frustrations about taxpayers? money going to support welfare benefits for immigrants and bailouts for debt-ridden Southern Europeans. Coalition negotiations, always time-consuming, are expected to be particularly complicated on this occasion. If the new government is even more opposed to bailouts than the previous one, the efforts to protect Spain and Italy from the doubts of the bond markets will become all the greater.
This brings us to the biggest shadow hanging over Europe, and the world economy, over the next few months: the fate of the big two of the European South. The prospect of a full sovereign bailout of the Spanish government now seems increasingly likely, if not imminent. A lot will depend on what the ECB is able to do in the next few weeks to bring down Spain?s borrowing costs, which have often exceeded 7 percent for ten-year bonds over the past month. The bank?s president, Mario Draghi, caused a short-lived euphoria in the markets when he stated in late July that "the ECB is ready to do whatever it takes to preserve the euro?and believe me, it will be enough." But last week, he said that a bond-buying program to bring down Spanish yields will only come after Madrid makes a formal request for assistance (and the same goes for Italy). Such a request comes with conditions that are tantamount to partial loss of fiscal sovereignty, which Spain?s prime minister Mariano Rajoy is desperate to avoid.
If Rajoy relents?as he has seemed more likely to in recent days?this will allow the EFSF to buy Spanish bonds in the primary market, after imposing terms. This in turn will give Draghi the political cover he needs with the Bank?s more conservative members, above all the German Bundesbank, to intervene in the secondary market and keep Spanish yields down to acceptable levels. A strong ECB intervention, it is hoped, will convince investors that it means business, and this will keep Rome?s borrowing costs below the danger zone, though the Spanish recipe could, in theory, be applied to Italy?s even larger bond market as well. Failure to do what is necessary for Spain and Italy would lead to solvency crises in the two Mediterranean giants and would in due course spell the end of the euro.
The European drama, then, is likely to climax repeatedly in the next few weeks and months. The White House will no doubt keep following it obsessively, and will make frantic phone calls when things threaten to get out of hand. At least until November 6.European UnionFinanceEuropeEurozoneEuroBailoutInternational Monetary FundGreeceTimothy GeithnerBusiness
Bond yields in the trouble spots of Europe have actually come down a bit, as observers get more comfortable with Mario Draghi's unfolding strategy at the ECB. He appears now to have at least qualified approval from Merkel's government, if not from the[...]
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I don't know about you, but this year I filed my taxes just before the April 15 deadline. Most people do. But if you need to, you can file for an extension from the IRS. That's what Mitt Romney did. And if you look around the discussion about his taxes, you'll find that everyone keeps referring to the "two years of tax returns" Romney has agreed to release. But what people don't mention is that Romney hasn't actually released two years of tax returns. He released one year, his 2010 return (and even that was incomplete). But we haven't seen his 2011 return. He keeps saying he'll release it when it's ready, but is it going to be ready before November?
In fairness, Mitt Romney's taxes are really, really complicated. He has so many different income streams and accounts and pass-throughs and roundabouts and double-flipping financial McTwists that it takes a team of accountants to prepare the documents. His 2010 return ran to more than 200 pages. But it's August. Maybe someone should ask whether the accountants are making progress.
My guess is that for the next three months, every time the question comes up, Romney will say that the return is being prepared, and he'll release it as soon as it's ready. And then lo and behold we'll get to election day never having seen it.
From Romney's perspective, this makes perfect strategic sense. Nobody seems interested in the 2011 return, so there isn't much cost to putting it off, and if he does release it, that'll mean a couple of days of stories about all the interesting stuff it contains. It's essentially the same calculation as he's using on the rest of his returns: there's a cost to not releasing them, but it's evidently smaller than the cost he anticipates from releasing them. So, voters: No tax returns for you!Mitt RomneyPratt?Romney familyBain CapitalTax returnRomneyGeorge W. RomneyPolitical positions of Mitt Romney
?They?re a bunch of cowards, and they?re avoiding the issue,? said David Krone, Reid?s chief of staff, in an interview with POLITICO on Sunday night. ?Lindsey Graham, Reince Priebus ? they?re a bunch of henchmen for Romney, and they?re all reading off the same talking points. They couldn?t hold a candle to Harry Reid.?I'm not sure why Republicans think getting into a fight with Harry Reid, who isn't running for anything, helps them out, but I can see why they don't want to actually address the issue: the fact that Mitt Romney refuses to release any tax returns before 2010. Given the precedent set by Romney's own father and by President Obama?and the fact that voters overwhelmingly want Romney to release his returns?I'd be scared to defend Romney's tax return secrecy too.
Krone added: ?What Harry Reid said is the fact of what he was told. To turn it around, all their childish rants this weekend about calling Reid a ?liar? and all that, it just shows you how scared they are that Harry Reid was telling the truth.?
But you know who's most scared of all about whatever lurks within Mitt Romney's tax returns? Mitt Romney. And that's why he won't release them.