As expected, Stage 7 (a 218 kilometer from Le Mans to Chateauroux) turned out to be another day for the sprinters. And the best sprinter of the day was British rider Mark Cavendish (HTC-Highroad), who finished first to notch his second stage win in this year's Tour. Finishing in second place was Italian rider Alessandro Petacchi (Lampre). The third place finisher was Germany's Andre Greipel (Omega-Lotto). Norwegian Thor Hushovd (Garmin-Cervelo) finished with the winning group and will wear the yellow jersey again tomorrow.
This year's Tour has been marred by a lot of crashes, and today was no different. One of the best sprinters, belgium's Tom Boonen (Quick Step) had to drop out of the race today because of a crash he suffered yesterday. About 37 kilometers from the finish in stage 7 there was a massive crash. It split the peloton and caused Brit Bradley Wiggins (Sky Procycling) -- who was in sixth place overall -- to be injured seriously enough to have to leave the race.
American Levi Leipheimer (Radio Shack) survived the crash but lost even more time today because of it (about 3 minutes). At the start of the Tour Leipheimer was one of the favorite to finish on the podium at the end of the Tour. That dream has now evaporated, since he is now 4' 29" behind the race leaders. He is a good climber and the high mountains are yet to come (starting next Thursday), but that is a lot of time to make up. American Christopher Horner (Radio Shack) was even more negatively affected today. He started today only 18" out of the lead, and finished the day 12' 59" behind the leaders.
The two American riders closest to the leaders are Tom Danielson and Christian Vande Velde (both on the Garmin-Cervelo team). They are both 1' 57" behind.
The overall standings could be shaken up tomorrow. The race enter a "medium mountain" stage and will probably prove a little too difficult for a sprint finish. Stage 8 is a 189 kilometer mostly uphill run from Aigurande to Super-Besse Sancy. There are two category 4 climbs, and then near the end of the course is a category 2 climb. Then the race finishes uphill on a category 3 climb. It should be an interesting day.
Here are the current standings:
YELLOW JERSEY (INDIVIDUAL LEADER)
1. Thor Hushovd, Norway (Garmin-Cervelo)
2. Cadel Evans, Australia (BMC Racing)..........01"
3. Frank Schleck, Luxembourg (Leopard-Trek)..........04"
4. David Millar, Great Britain (Garmin-Cervelo)..........08"
5. Andreas Kloden, Germany (Radio Shack)..........10"
6. Jakob Fuglsang, Denmark (Leopard-Trek)..........12"
7. Andy Schleck, Luxembourg (Leopard-Trek)..........12"
8. Tony Martin, Germany (HTC-Highroad)..........13"
9. Peter Velits, Slovakia (HTC-Highroad)..........13"
10. Robert Gesink, Netherlands (Rabobank)..........20"
24. Alberto Contador, Spain (Saxo Bank)..........1' 42"
25. Tom Danielson, USA (Garmin-Cervelo)..........1' 57"
26. Christian Vande Velde, USA (Garmin-Cervelo)..........1' 57"
GREEN JERSEY (SPRINTERS)
1. Jose Joaquin Rojas, Spain (Movistar)..........167 pts
2. Philippe Gilbert, Belgium (Omega-Lotto)..........156 pts
3. Mark Cavendish, Great Britain (HTC-Highroad)..........150 pts
4. Thor Hushovd, Norway (Garmin-Cervelo)..........130 pts
5. Romain Feillu, France (Vacansoleil)..........99 pts
6. Cadel Evans, Australia (BMC Racing)..........98 pts
POLKA DOT JERSEY (CLIMBERS)
1. Johnny Hoogerland, Netherlands (Vacansoleil)..........4 pts
2. Anthony Roux, France (FDJ)..........3 pts
3. Cadel Evans, Australia (BMC Racing)..........2 pts
4. Philippe Gilbert, Belgium (Omega-Lotto)..........1 pt
5. Mickael Delage, France (FDJ)..........1 pt
6. Anthony Delaplace, France (Saur-Sojasun)..........1 pt
7. Lieuwe Westra, Netherlands (Vacansoleil)..........1 pt
8. Alberto Contador, Spain (Saxo Bank)..........1 pt
1. Garmin-Cervelo (USA)
2. Leopard-Trek (Luxembourg)..........4"
3. Radio Shack (USA)..........10"
4. HTC-Highroad (USA)..........13"
5. Quick Step (Germany)..........1' 21"
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It was fun while it lasted, though I never thought this Administration would try anything so risky. And indeed, today the Treasury Department's General Counsel, George Madison, via an email to the New York Times, says that they have no ability to issue[...]
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The Gold Report: Metals and commodities guru, Jim Sinclair, says that gold is acting as a barometer of economic anxiety at the moment. Do you agree with that assessment?
Eric Hommelberg: I am more apt to call gold a barometer of our financial system’s health. When things get out of control and people start losing confidence in what governments and central banks are doing, then gold will start to outperform all fiat currencies in the world. That’s the transition from gold as a commodity to gold as currency. Today, gold has already reasserted itself as currency of choice since gold has outperformed all world currencies already for quite some time now.
TGR: But gold has come off its . . . → Read More: Eric Hommelberg: A 2,000 Dow or $10,000 Gold?
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(Illustration by DonkeyHotey)Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Rush Limbaugh, and their allies are claiming that Walker's union-busting has miraculously started working to alleviate budget problems immediately. The basis of their claim is a single school district that says it has turned a $400,000 deficit into a $1.5 million surplus.
But as Greg Sargent points out:
But here?s the thing: The collective bargaining ban, in and of itself, was not responsible for achieving these savings and this surplus. As the Appleton Post Crescent reports, the teachers union had already offered up financial concessions that would have produced almost identical savings and an almost identical surplus.
Walker's union-busting was always about union-busting, not about cost savings; the fact that he persisted in eliminating collective bargaining after public employee unions made financial concessions is really all the evidence you need of that.
Also, that's one school district. What's happening elsewhere in the state? Reuters reports that Racine and Milwaukee, for instance, will be forced to do things like lay off workers and stop buying textbooks. Measures like that, not $1.5 million surpluses, are what most Wisconsin school districts are seeing. In fact, here's what the state superintendent of schools says:
"We have heard that districts have the 'tools' to make up for these cuts, and that classrooms shouldn't be impacted," he said in testimony before Joint Finance on March 31. "Quite frankly, I don't think the numbers add up, and many school district officials from around the state agree. ... According to published reports from La Crosse to Green Bay, Milwaukee to Reedsburg, districts all across our state are preparing to make deep cuts this coming school year, and far deeper ones in 2012-2013."
Evers stands by that assertion, made back in late March. "Overall, I would guess that it's going to be 50 to 60 percent of the districts that will still be looking at making cuts in staff or programs this year, despite the so-called tools," Evers says. Many districts will find themselves in worse shape next year, he adds.
But don't expect Walker or Limbaugh to be broadcasting this reality any time soon.
Today marks six months since the tragedy in Tucson, Arizona that left six people dead and thirteen more wounded, including Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords.
In an op-ed to the Arizona Daily Star, President Obama called for fixing our gun laws and wrote that ?none of us should be willing to remain passive in the face of violence or resigned to watching helplessly as another rampage unfolds on television.? But in the months since, the Obama administration has left this promise unfulfilled.
And we?ve seen the violence continue. Since January 8th, 2011 more than 6,100 Americans have been murdered with guns.
The more than 600 U.S. mayors who make up Mayors Against Illegal Guns are sending an open letter to President Obama to say: It?s time for less talk and more action.
Join us in telling the administration to keep guns out of the hands of dangerous people. If you add your name to our letter before Tuesday at midnight, we?ll deliver your signature to the President.
Tell President Obama it?s time to crack down on illegal guns.
The President doesn?t need to wait on Congress to pass new laws in order to keep guns out of the hands of criminals, terrorists and other killers. In fact, the White House has been meeting with stakeholders for months to develop administrative reforms that will improve public safety.
Now it?s time to put them into place. Here are just four simple steps the President can take immediately to reduce gun violence:
TPM reader snaps pics of House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) kicking back with economist buddies and two $350 bottles of pinot noir in Capitol Hill bistro. [...]
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The Sun-Herald's Crawdaddy blog has an interesting observation up today. When their editorial board was interviewing the Republican Lt. Governor hopefuls, they noticed that Tate Reeves has a driver. That's interesting because, as they point out, Reeves is railing against the number of state-owned vehicles.
In an effort to become more familiar with legislative races around the state, I decided to look at candidates I had yet to hear a lot about. When I came to Republican candidate Jerrerico Chambers I found that he has been a guest on SuperTalk's Paul Gallo Show and that he says he is a conservative Republican by choice, albeit one who doesn't always toe the party line.
I also learned that Mr. Chambers was an attendee at a recent Tea Party training event, at which Rep. Bubba Carpenter (R - Burnsville), among others, taught candidates like Chambers, Charles Busby, Jay Mathis, and Dorothy Wilcox.
But that wasn't all I learned.
To begin with, Chambers has quite a presence on both MySpace and Facebook. It's not your typical campaign stuff, however. Chambers decides to let us really see who he is. Literally.
I can't find a way to adequately describe what I found in words, so I'll just use screen shots:
To begin with, here's the front of his MySpace page.
Now, on to the pictures. First, his "Republican Presidential Attire." Next, Mr. Chambers shares with us his thoughts on the hot topic of "sagging." (I agree with his sentiment, if not his delivery.) Next, he decides to let us see a bit more of himself. And then a bit more. And finally, an invitation. (And if you doubt that this Jerrerico Chambers and the candidate are one in the same, I refer you to this comment on his MySpace page.)
So how about Facebook? Well, he has a campaign page up. Nothing out of the ordinary there. So what about his pictures on Facebook? A click on the "campaign button" picture reveals a blue and white logo that's fairly nondescript. But that's photo number 9 out of 26, so there's more to see here. I'm a read-things-backwards type of guy sometimes, so let's click back....WHAT THE HOLY HELL?!? (I edited this heavily in order to keep you, dear reader, from seeing what I saw on Mr. Chambers' publicly available Facebook page.)
I think most of us are already aware that the new healthcare law is a piece of Swiss cheese, and now David Sirota points out where some of the biggest holes are:
With 60 percent of all bankruptcies related to medical costs; with manyof those medical-related bankruptcies occurring among those who have private insurance; and with the fear of medical bankruptcy encouraging the insured to unduly skimp on medical services, the Obama healthcare bill did purport to address the issue via caps on out-of-pocket expenses. But those weak caps -- and the bill's failure to achieve universal coverage -- promise to allow the medical debt problem to continue, just as they have in the state whose "reforms" most closely mimic Obama's bill.
As the Los Angeles Times recently reported:
Studying medical bankruptcies in Massachusetts, whose recent healthcare reform was a model for national reform, researchers found that while new insurance rules increased the number of people who had coverage, those rules did not improve coverage -- leaving many still struggling with medical debt... Proponents of the national healthcare reform passed into law last year have claimed that it would reduce medical bankruptcy in the United States by helping more Americans get insurance. This new study, which was published Tuesday in the American Journal of Medicine, suggests that a reduction in bankruptcies is unlikely.
Add to all of this a new Center for Public Integrity report about how American wages are still being eaten up by private health insurance premium increases, and the trajectory is clear: Events are proving that "real reform" and strengthening insurance industry power are mutually exclusive goals. That is, they are proving the veracity of progressives' original criticism of President Obama's healthcare legislation.
This is, to be sure, a politically inconvenient truth to both parties and their insurance industry benefactors -- but alas, it is the truth. The longer we simply stare at it -- or pretend it doesn't exist -- the longer the healthcare crisis will continue.
Earlier this week, the Daily received a copy of the video deposition of former BP chief Tony Hayward. At one point during the testimony, plaintiff attorney Robert Cunninham questions Hayward about his relationship to the workers at the Deepwater Horizon rig. At first, Hayward expresses his profound sympathy. But moments later, he stumbles and says he can only remember the names of three out of the 11 workers who lost their lives. He only got one out of the three names correct (Karl Kleppinger):
CUNNINGHAM: And did you get the impression that they considered themselves all one big family even though they were from different companies?
CUNNINGHAM: Do you remember any of the names of the individuals who lost their lives?
HAYWARD: Uh, I remember some of them: James Anderson, Gordon Clark, Karl Kleppinger, I think. I can’t remember all of them.
Later in the video, Hayward becomes dodgy and refuses to answer a question about the timing of a BP report that blamed the explosion on the dead workers. Cunningham asked if the report, which was put out on the one year anniversary of the disaster, might have been insensitive to the families of the deceased. Hayward replied that he could not pass “any judgment one way or another” on the sensitivity of the report. After further prodding by the attorney, Hayward grudgingly conceded that the wives of the men could have been hurt by BP’s attempt to shift the blame.
As the Daily notes, Hayward admits to Cunningham later in the deposition that BP’s investigation of itself after the disaster neglected to examine possible failures by BP leadership. When he testified under oath before Congress, Hayward had promised a ?full and complete investigation? of his company and the mistakes that led to the Deepwater Horizon spill. The admission of an incomplete investigation suggests that Hayward lied under oath.