If you believe the government numbers - and you can't completely since they're always inflated - the Chinese economy grew at a slower pace to start the year than it has in the past three. Many observers have been following some of the more trustworthy numbers, such as steel and iron ore purchases which indicate construction activity (and which are now flat). The lower growth numbers are still impressive numbers, but not impressive enough if China wants to keep up with its struggle to provide enough jobs for incoming workers.
The other concern is that the first quarter numbers are the fifth straight quarter of declining growth. That is a trend that nobody likes to see. It may not mean the economy is on the rocks, yet, but it does suggest that the Chinese bubble is no longer expanding. There are still plenty of economists who suggest this is part of a soft landing, rather than a hard crash -- but soft landings rarely happen in the real world, as we all known too well. China, in particular, doesn't do easy transitions. More on the latest numbers.
?What do you call a thousand attorneys at the bottom of the ocean?? ?A good start.?
Dust off all the old lawyer jokes for their biggest extravaganza since the O.J. Simpson trial two decades ago. Legal talking heads are back in abundance (including Simpson prosecutor Marcia Clark, ever-present Alan Dershowitz as well as Fox?s Greta Van Susteren, who got her start gabbling about O.J.) along with a raft of sleazy-looking new ones from the Sunshine State.
CNN will have to clone their award-winning analyst Jeffrey Toobin, who goes straight from superb coverage of the Supreme Court health care mandate case to Trayvon trial minutae.
Viewer anguish to come is previewed by Jon Stewart with a take on Special Prosecutor Angela Corey?s announcement of second-degree murder charges against George Zimmerman, after lecturing us on Florida jurisprudence and introducing almost every lawyer in the state.
We are back in more-than-we-need-to-know territory here and should petition cable companies for a wake-me-when-it?s-over switch.
?Why don?t sharks attack lawyers?? ?Professional courtesy.?
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Congress last month was forced to adopt a three-month extension of transportation funding, after House Republicans failed to either accept a bi-partisan funding bill that passed the Senate or pass a bill of their own. And evidently the GOP is not done messing around with this crucial infrastructure funding. According to Roll Call, Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) plans to attach approval of the controversial Keystone XL pipleine to another 90 day extension that he is prepping. Boehner has made a habit of attaching approval of the pipeline to various pieces of legislation over the past several months, in a bid to win Tea Party votes.
At a campaign event yesterday, former GOP congressman and current Senate candidate Pete Hoekstra said the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009 should not be law because it interferes with job creation. The law has been in the news lately after presumed GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney hedged on his support for it earlier this week. But Hoekstra, who is running against Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), was clear.
When an attendee asked Hoekstra if he would “work to repeal” the law — which empowers women to hold employers accountable for pay discrimination — Hoekstra replied, “It shouldn’t be the law“:
“Will, you know, will repealing it be a priority? If you came back and said, you know, that’s really the thing that’s hurting my business the most. My guess is there are other things that we can do that have a higher priority in terms of what I, what I believe might need to be done. I think you know we need to create — that thing is a nuisance. It shouldn’t be the law,” replied Hoekstra.
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How do you tell the life story of a saint? In the old days, the formula for a Christian hagiography was simple: isolation, a hint of torment, prayer and the timely intervention of God. But when the saint is Buddhist, and Burmese, and has a husband, you make something rather more like Luc Besson’s The Lady, a flawed but moving biopic of Aung San Suu Kyi that arrives in theaters just as the lady herself has finally been freed and elected to the role in Burma’s political life she has long deserved.
I have to be blunt: a lot of what I enjoyed about the movie was simply that it looked different from Hollywood’s normal white monochrome. I adore Michelle Yeoh, who’s nailed Aung San Suu Kyi’s gestures and body language to a ridiculous extent here, and I appreciated that the movie showed her, for example, sweating through silk blouses as she campaigns or as she heads to the British Embassy for yet another call home to Michael that will be interrupted by Burma’s wiretappers. Rather than erasing differences between the Burmese people Suu works with and the kind of Western folks we see on TV, Besson rests in them. The woman who runs Suu’s house through her years of exile wears a kind of face paint that, as it later becomes clear in the movie’s long province-based campaign sequences, is a sign membership in one of Burma’s regional ethnic groups. Suu’s male advisors are mostly dudes who are shorter than she is. No one’s exceptionally handsome or beautiful, and the Burmese soldiers who enforce Suu’s house arrest aren’t particularly ripped or menacing. They’re all just people, and it’s so nice to have the vast majority of them be non-white.
Half the movie, though, is dedicated to one white dude: Michael Aris (David Thewlis, less angsty here than as Remus Lupin in the Harry Potter movies), Suu’s husband, who raised their children in England during her years of house arrest, campaigned for her Nobel Peace Price, and stayed steadfast during their years of separation. He died of prostate cancer in England after the Burmese regime grotesquely denied him a visa on the grounds that the country couldn’t possibly provide adequate medical care during his stay and suggested Suu leave. The lead-up to that final decision to stick with principle, for Suu and Michael to embrace the love of Burma that was the core of their marriage even if it denied them a final good-bye, is the core of the movie.
And that’s both the strength and the weakness of The Lady, a political drama that is inherently and necessarily a domestic drama. Before her arrest, Suu travels the country in one of the few sequences I wish had been a more developed exploration of Burma’s politics rather than a slide show. But afterwards, she’s mostly alone, and the same sequences repeat over and over: calls to Michael and the boys, the boys clenched in her arms when they can get to Burma, pulled tight to Michael when they return, or when the family suffers an emotionally crippling setback. These sequences aren’t unaffecting, but they lose their impact on repetition, and made me wish that we could have swapped several of them out in exchange for more scenes with Suu’s advisors or with the clandestine political networks they mobilize. It’s a joy seeing information move from person to person in defiance of the brutal regime, and I wish we had a better sense of the people who set those networks in motion, who went to jail while Suu endured a more comfortable house arrest (she apparently told Besson that his favorite movie of hers was The Fifth Element).
But there’s no denying that the story’s tremendous. And there’s something very valuable about having The Lady hit theaters just at the time that Aung San Suu Kyi’s taking her seat in Burma’s parliament. If nothing else, it’s a reminder of what she was subjected to. The military junta may have been dissolved, and President Thein Sein may be making surprising and encouraging moves. But that history is far from expunged, and now, more than ever, is a time to remember it with hope for the future and a fierce determination not to return to the past.
Cassidy was asked by a constituent in Thibodaux on April 10 whether there was any difference between Mitt Romney’s health care law in Massachusetts and Obamacare. Though Cassidy claimed Romney’s had evolved differently, he conceded that the two were “very similar.” “The fact is that the president plan depends upon that Massachusetts plan as a model,” said the Louisiana Republican:
CONSTITUENT: Is there any difference between the Massachusetts medical care program and Obamacare?
CASSIDY: One of the differences between the Massachusetts medical program and the president’s health care program, the president’s health care program closed its heart and soul to how the Massachusetts program has evolved. Its heart and soul is based on that. In fairness to Governor Romney, he points out that it’s evolved differently than he originally planned. That’s a fair statement. But the fact is that the president plan depends upon that Massachusetts plan as a model. And they’re having all the problems that we can imagine we’re going to have as a country.
CONSTITUENT: Were they very similar?
CASSIDY: Very similar. Very similar.
Indeed, Cassidy is correct that they are quite similar. As ThinkProgress’ Igor Volsky has shown, the two plans are similar in nearly every respect. The White House even consulted Romneycare advisers when they were designing the outlines of Obamacare.
However, Cassidy is mistaken in implying that the Massachusetts plan is riddled with problems. Since it was enacted six years ago, health care costs have gone down as health care access has gone up. Now, nearly all nonelderly adults in Massachusetts have health insurance and access to care when they are sick.
A new study from Boston University’s School of Public Health adds to the growing collection of research that shows that coming out as gay, lesbian, or bisexual is good for a person’s health, as is parental support when coming out occurs. After surveying 5,658 LGB adults in Massachusetts, researchers found that coming out was associated with better health for lesbian and bi women, but gay and bi men were more greatly impacted by their parents’ reactions. Men whose parents did not affirm them were six or seven times more likely to face serious depression and engage in binge drinking. Women in the same situation were still five times more likely to develop serious depression and 11 times more likely to use illicit drug use. The study has significant implications for the way families and communities support gay youth and talk about LGBT issues with young people.
Yemen’s army clashed with Al Qaeda-linked groups near the southern city of Lawdar today, leaving at least 34 dead according to official and tribal sources. Nearly 200 people have died since Yemen’s government launched an offensive against Islamic insurgents on Monday. An email statement from Ansar al-Sharia, a group allegedly affiliated with Al Qaeda, claimed that its fighters had launched a rocket at the house of the security chief in the southern city of Aden and killed three security officers in ensuing clashes on Thursday.
Mitt Romney gave a keynote speech at the National Rifle Association (NRA) this afternoon, but you wouldn’t know it by listening to his speech, as his remarks had almost nothing to do with guns.
In fact, he mentioned the word “gun” just once — the same number of times he referenced the Second Amendment. The only other time he mentioned firearms was when he read the full name of the NRA. Instead, Romney delivered a speech of platitudes on economic and religious “freedom” (a word he mentioned 31 times).
Perhaps it’s not surprising that Romney doesn’t have much to say to gun-rights activists, as his record should be anathema to them. As with virtually every other conceivable policy, Romney’s conservatism on gun rights is new.
In 2002 he said, “We do have tough gun laws in Massachusetts — I support them. I won’t chip away at them. I believe they help protect us, and provide for our safety.” The NRA has fought many of those laws.
As governor of in 2005, he signed into law a permanent ban on assault riffles, saying, “Deadly assault weapons have no place in Massachusetts.” “They are instruments of destruction with the sole purpose of hunting down and killing people.” The NRA opposes similar legislation on the federal level.
When he ran for president for the first time in 2007, Romney said, “I have a gun of my own. I go hunting myself. I?m a member of the NRA and believe firmly in the right to bear arms.” That turned out to not be true. A few days later he said he did not, in fact, own guns, but his son did and he had used them “from time to time.”
That year, he also infamously said, “I’ve made it very clear, I’ve always been a, if you will, rodent and rabbit hunter all right. Small, small varmints, if you will. … More than two times.”
Romney has since bought two shotguns, not to repeat the same mistake.
When running for the Senate in 1990s, he supported a bill that imposed a five-day wait for people buying guns. “That’s not going to make me the hero of the NRA,” he told the Boston Herald. Indeed.
Despite House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA)’s 2010 pledge of a “zero-tolerance policy” for ethical violations, the number of House Republicans under scrutiny for ethical lapses continues to grow. Yesterday, the non-partisan Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against Rep. Paul Broun (R-GA). The watchdog group alleges that Broun illegally hid the source of more than $300,000 in loans made to his 2007-2008 campaign. Like with his colleagues under investigation, Cantor and the Republican leadership have made no effort to remove Broun from his post as chairman of the Committee on Science, Space and Technology’s Subcommittee on Investigations and Oversight. Broun’s office did not respond to a request for comment on the allegation.