One of the benefits of working for high quality operations like the New America Foundation and The Atlantic is that one gets on a permanent learning track -- exposed to ideas, controversies, and personalities of consequence just about every other day.
Real knowledge deficits for me are issues about food production, obesity, and sustainability of a healthy and diverse ecosystem for global food consumption (among a lot of other topics -- particularly in health policy) -- but The Atlantic Food Summit has decided to smarten me up on this front.
The event is pretty full -- and I'm not posting this to get more attendees -- but if folks want to learn more about the program which will feature, among others, Martha Stewart (so cool that she told me she was coming while bumping into her at the White House Correspondents' Dinner), critically-celebrated chef Mario Batali, Revolution Foods' Kirsten Tobey, three-time Olympian and World Fit Foundation's Gary Hall, World Food Program President Rick Leach, and a bunch of other food industry reps of different stripes as well as writers and academics, register for the event that takes place at the W Hotel in Washington, DC on May 24th between 1:00 and 5:30 pm.
Atlantic LIVE will also be streaming the sessions live on this site during the event and posting video clips at a later time.
I'll be moderating a session on feeding a world of 7 billion people. Economics expert and Bloomberg View and Atlantic columnist Clive Crook will be moderating some of the meeting -- and we'll both be operating under the direction of Atlantic Senior Editor and James Beard award-winning food writer Corby Kummer.
-- Steve Clemons
In a long-awaited decision, the U.S. Commerce Department has issued a preliminary decision to apply tariffs to Chinese-made solar modules being imported into the U.S. The tariffs range from 31 percent to 250 percent.
The preliminary tariffs were issued after a lengthy investigation by the Commerce Department into whether Chinese companies are “dumping” solar panels into the U.S. market below cost. These tariffs follow a March decision to issue small countervailing duties on Chinese module producers that are getting illegal domestic subsidies, according to Commerce.
Today’s issued tariffs are as follows: Trina, 31.14 percent; Suntech, 31.22 percent; and 31.18 percent for all other Chinese producers that participated in the investigation. For companies that did not participate, Commerce has slapped a massive preliminary tariff of 249.96 percent.
The combination of these new tariffs and the countervailing duties will add substantial cost to imported Chinese solar panels. With panel prices hovering in the $1 per watt range, it could add around 30 cents to each panel for leading producers, and vastly more for producers that didn’t get involved in Commerce’s investigation.
These are preliminary fines and can be negotiated and changed before Commerce makes a final decision. The solar industry’s trade group, the Solar Energy Industries Association, has called on the U.S. and Chinese governments to negotiate a settlement — potentially resulting in more moderate tariffs:
“The solar industry calls upon the U.S. and Chinese governments to immediately work together towards a mutually-satisfactory resolution of the growing trade conflict within the solar industry. While trade remedy proceedings are basic principles of the rules-based global trading system, so too are collaboration and negotiations.
“Importantly, disputes within one segment of the industry affect the entire solar supply chain–and these broad implications must be recognized. In addition, the U.S. solar manufacturing base goes well beyond solar cell and module production and includes billions of dollars of recent investments into the production of polysilicon, polymers, and solar manufacturing equipment, products which are largely destined for export. If the U.S.-China solar trade disputes continue to escalate, it will jeopardize these U.S. investments.
“Given these broader implications, it is imperative that the U.S., China, and other players in the dynamic global marketplace work constructively to avert or resolve trade disputes that will ultimately hurt consumers and businesses throughout the solar value chain.”
The solar industry has been on edge since last October, when the manufacturer SolarWorld and six other anonymous companies issued a complaint about illegal trade practices. They argued that China’s subsidies were allowing companies to dump panels below cost, thus driving U.S.-based manufacturers out of business.
However, downstream developers have enjoyed falling panel prices — a factor that has allowed the industry to expand 109% in 2011. A group of solar companies known as the Coalition for American Solar Energy has been staunchly opposed to tariffs, saying they’ll dramatically drive up the cost of solar installations in the U.S.
CAP’s Analyst for China Energy and Climate Policy issued a statement on trade enforcement:
As expected, the antidumping tariffs are much higher than the subsidy tariffs announced in March. One reason for that difference is the fact that the Chinese market is not transparent. When China?s local government officials support local enterprises, that support is often off the books, and that makes it very hard for Commerce Department investigators to identify and measure exactly what type and level of subsidy Chinese companies are receiving. This is precisely why the World Trade Organization includes a second-stage determination, on dumping practices, specifically designed to address nonmarket economies such as China?s.
The Chinese government will no doubt respond negatively to this announcement. They may even threaten to take retaliatory action against U.S. companies. If so, Washington must respond with a steady hand. If China wants to negotiate, the United States should be ready to listen. If China tries to force the U.S. government to back down in this dispute by threatening U.S. companies, however, that is not negotiation. Backing down to those threats would be capitulation, and capitulation is a losing game. Just as we cannot allow powerful corporations to bully and harass citizens who file legal complaints against them, we cannot allow China to bully and harass U.S. companies over trade complaints.
If China wants to contest these numbers, they should follow the U.S. example and do so according to the law and within the framework of our mutually agreed trade institutions. At the recent Strategic and Economic Dialogue meetings in Beijing, Chinese leaders promised to follow global trade rules and support rather than undermine the rules-based global trading system. Now the world will be watching to see if they uphold that promise.
You can feel the heat being turned up on Europe. Greece is in the middle of what the Guardian has called a bank jog. In the 10 days since the elections which led to a political stalemate, a caretaker government, and new elections, Greek depositors have[...]
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Once every year gold and stocks form a major yearly cycle low. Commodities form a major cycle bottom every 2 1/2 to 3 years. Every once in a while all three of those major cycles hit at the same time. I’m pretty sure that’s what is happening right now.
The implications are that once the CRB has completed this major cycle bottom that we should see generally higher prices over the … [visit site to read . . . → Read More: MAJOR LONG-TERM BOTTOMS FORMING IN GOLD AND COMMODITIES
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(Right Wing Watch)About a week ago, one of the closest runners-up for America's Dumbest Congressmen, Louie Gohmert (no, you will not be able to convince me he is dumber than Rep. Allen West, so save your breath on that one) held a prayer event at the Capitol. It was under the pretense of honoring George Washington's presidential inauguration, presumably because George Washington would have loved nothing better than to be forced to sit in a room listening to several hours worth of hard-right conservative preachers telling America what God and George Washington most wanted them to do. It sounds like the main focus was on how sin and abortion was leading America to ruin, and how the only solution is to put Republican Jesus in charge of both Congress and the Federal Reserve.
This bit, from ultra-right preacher Jim Garlow, I think serves as a nice little object lesson on why religion and politics should not be allowed to dance together too closely. An occasional hoedown is probably fine, but if they stay together too long, or aren't chaperoned closely as the long night wears on, things lead to things and after a while you've got a whole bunch of little Official State Religion Jesus-Law babies crawling all over the place, getting into everything. Yes, I know that metaphor went a bit off the rails there. I don't care. All I know is that religion is very, very promiscuous, and politics doesn't always think decisions through.
All right, so go ahead and watch that tape up there, and let's go through it and add some commentary to noted homophobe Dr. Jim Garlow's little speech as we go:
What would happen if we stop saying right versus left, as if they're moral equivalents, and start talking about right versus wrong that are not moral equivalents, in the pulpits of the day.Why the hell are you talking about right versus left at all, in the pulpits of today? Are you saying it would be nice to switch things up and start preaching about right versus wrong, but you're just too consumed with talk about the political right and left and so there's just no time for the right versus wrong stuff? Then give up your damn tax exemptions, at the very least.
If 350,000 pulpits stood, would have stood for the last fifty, sixty, seventy, eighty years. We wouldn't have a debt of sixteen trillion in unfunded liabilities that can cause us to economically self-destruct.So Jesus is, apparently, deeply against deficit spending and unfunded liabilities? I entirely missed that part of the Bible; I guess it must have been in the long-lost Gospel According to Paul Ryan. And Lo, for Jesus visited that guy in the wilds of Wisconsin, and told him that economic downturns should always be met with severe government austerity or the poor people wouldn't learn the proper lesson.
It wouldn't have happened. You know why? Because pulpits would have said thou shalt not steal from future generations. It's morally wrong. It's obscene. And people would have gone into voting booths with that riveting in their heart and would affected, and shaken, the kind of legislation that would take place in this great city.I imagine it's less wrong to promise someone social insurance benefits after they've paid a lifetime of taxes, then cheat them back out of it because you've decided you want to spend their money on some spiffy new (insert war here), but nobody ever talks about that one. For that matter, the pulpits are damn quiet about the (insert war here) part, because Jesus said smite those guys, they probably have it coming. Me, I say Jesus says thou shalt have a decent transportation infrastructure, so thou dost not get thy economic ass kicked by other countries more willing to invest in themselves. Oh, and Jesus says pollution makes God cry, and he's going to smite the tar outta you if you keep pumping it up there into his backyard. The angels have to breathe that crap, you jerks.
If we'd had 350,000 pulpits across America understanding the potential of a holocaust that up to this point has cost us 55 million of our citizens there would have been declaration, the tearing up babies in the womb is a wrong thing and it needs to be stopped now, and it would have never happened,Translation: If we lived under religious law, things would be different. Namely, the rest of you would do what our particular religion says and believe what our personal sect believes. And we believe all sorts of stuff that the rest of you disagree with, which for some reason means we should have been trying harder to force you to do what we say anyway. The rest of you don't get your own religious law, though?we're going to pass laws forbidding that. It's just ours.
if we had pulpits in America that would understand the dimension of the catastrophic price when you mess with the definition of the most fundamental institution there is, one man, one woman, in marriage. It would have been declared from every pulpit, and we wouldn't have the discussions going on we have going on today.Yes, yes, it's the end of the world. Marriage is properly between one man and one woman's father, who is allowed to sell his daughter off to the highest bidder or in order to further his political or business ambitions. How dare you take that away from us.
I don't particularly care what Jim Garlow has to say on anything. It is, though, a nice instructive little reminder of how in general it is good to keep a nice little moat between the laws we all have to follow and what people like Jim Garlow have to say about anything. Having a political opinion is fine. Dressing your opinion up in the trappings of What God Wants is not fine, especially if your opinion is that the world needs to treat women, poor people, homosexuals, and the vast majority of everyone else much worse, just because your own invented morality says so.
This is probably why Americans are still not sold on the whole church-state blender idea, according to a recent Pew poll:
A majority of Americans (54%) say that churches and other houses of worship should keep out of political matters, while 40% say they should express their views on social and political questions. After a decade in which the balance of opinion tilted in the opposite direction, this is the third consecutive survey in the past four years in which more people say churches should keep out of politics than say churches should express their views on social and political issues.Personally, I'm fine with churches expressing opinions on social questions. Have at it! Political questions, too, so long as you're willing to toss the tax exemptions aside and be honest about it. But there's still a difference between expressing an opinion and demanding the United States government write their laws in order to codify your opinion as the only valid one. People like Garlow don't understand the difference, and think that their mission in life is not just to tell their own followers how to live their lives, but to make damn sure the rest of us have to as well.
The killing of Trayvon Martin was "ultimately avoidable" if George Zimmerman had just stayed in his vehicle instead of pursuing the unarmed teen, Florida police investigators concluded in one of a series of reports on the case released late Thursday.
Instead, the Sanford Police Department investigators wrote, Zimmerman confronted the teen, ended up in a struggle and eventually shot him in the chest. In the end, Martin was dead and police were recommending the neighborhood watchman be brought up on a criminal charge of manslaughter.
The conclusions came to light on Thursday as part of a huge release of evidence by the Florida prosecutors who later performed their own investigation and charged Zimmerman with the more serious crime of second-degree murder. Totaling 183 pages, the heavily redacted documents include police narratives, witness interviews, autopsy reports and photos of Zimmerman bloodied after the Feb. 26 struggle.
"The encounter between George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin was ultimately avoidable by Zimmerman," the report said, "if Zimmerman had remained in his vehicle and awaited the arrival of law enforcement, or conversely if he had identified himself to Martin as a concerned citizen and initiated dialogue in an effort to dispel each party's concern. There is no indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter."
The investigators' conclusions were in a document dated March 13. Zimmerman wasn't charged until April 11 after special prosecutor Angela Corey was assigned to the case by Florida Gov. Rick Scott. By then, the killing was already the focus of international attention and outrage.
Previously, Zimmerman has said he believed the teen looked "suspicious" as he crossed through the gated neighborhood in Sanford, Fla. Zimmerman called 911 at the time but ignored the requests of a police dispatcher who told him not to pursue the teen.
Zimmerman has pleaded not guilty to the second-degree murder charge, claiming he acted in self defense, saying Martin attacked him first and he had to shoot him to save his own life.
My memory of Donna Summer is from the 80′s– a class at Special Training, an annual women’s martial arts camp. The teacher, a charismatic and beautiful black woman named Tonie Harris, talked about living in the projects, and finding inspiration in a Bruce Lee film. She wanted to do that too, and fought her way up the belts to the respected title of Sensei.
It was a buzz for me to take lessons from a female sensei. That honorific title had only applied to men in the dojos I belonged to.
Tonie was an inspiration, and very much admired. She mentioned that she was engaged to a man and I heard a sound like ice tinkling– lesbian hearts were breaking all around me.
In my previous experience of karate school, warm-up for classes was an endurance contest. Push-ups on wooden floors to the sound of grunting and Sensei barking in Japanese (with a Rhode Island accent). The female senseis at Special Training were more innovative and inclined to add music to workouts–a new thing for me. Tonie was a big fan of Donna Summer. She played Donna’s hit song, ‘Love to Love You Baby’ to the class of about 100 gathered in an athletic field outside a college gym.
My fellow elderly will understand why I had always found that song embarrassing. But that day I discovered the power of context. I already knew that Donna Summer was a very smart and sensitive woman, from hearing her interviewed on the radio. ‘Love to Love You Baby’ may have meant one thing in the disco. In a room full of powerful women doing kata, Donna Summer’s song was an anthem.
I am sorry for the passing of Donna Summer, but she was a diva. She really lived. She left something beautiful to the world. We should all hope to do as well.
A remembrance of Pope John XXIII in Porto Viro,
in the Italian province of Rovigo (in the Veneto)
"Roncalli's selection was a surprise to all, most particularly to Roncalli, who arrived in Rome with a return train ticket to Venice and who hoped for a short conclave so that he could return home."
-- Wikipedia, on the October 1958 elevation of Angelo Cardinal
Roncalli (1881-1963), patriarch of Venice, then nearly 77
"John XXIII's personal warmth, good humour and kindness entirely captured the world's affections."
-- from the Wikipedia article on Pope John XXIII
Let me make clear at the outset that I am not a Catholic and so have no standing to interfere in internal matters of faith. But given the numbers of the Roman Catholic faithful over which the "papal monarchs," as Garry Wills has called them, exercise such dictatorial control, the way the Church conducts its affairs (oops, bad choice of words?) is of basic concern to all of us.
I was fascinated and even touched, though also more than a bit annoyed, by Washington Post columnist E. J. Dionne Jr.'s declaration of continued faith in the Church, in a column earlier this week, "I'm not quitting the church," his response to a recent full-page ad in his own newspaper run by the Freedrom from Religion Foundatio (FFRF) imploring "'liberal' and 'nominal' Catholics" to quit the Church.
I'm sorry to inform the FFRF that I am declining its invitation to quit. It may not see the Gospel as a liberating document, but I do, and I can't ignore the good done in the name of Christ by the sisters, priests, brothers and lay people who have devoted their lives to the poor and the marginalized.
And on women's rights, I take as my guide that early feminist Pope John XXIII. In Pacem in Terris, his encyclical issued in 1963, the same year Betty Friedan published The Feminine Mystique, Pope John spoke of women?s "natural dignity."
"Far from being content with a purely passive role or allowing themselves to be regarded as a kind of instrument," he wrote, "they are demanding both in domestic and in public life the rights and duties which belong to them as human persons."
The Vatican has issued a harsh statement claiming that American nuns do not follow their bishops' thinking. That statement is profoundly true. Thank God, they don't. Nuns have always had a different set of priorities from that of bishops. The bishops are interested in power. The nuns are interested in the powerless. Nuns have preserved Gospel values while bishops have been perverting them. The priests drive their own new cars, while nuns ride the bus (always in pairs). The priests specialize in arrogance, the nuns in humility.
Anne O'Connor was just the kind of nun the Vatican is now intent on punishing. She had been a social worker before she became a nun, work that she loved and went back to several times as a Dominican. She was quick to shed the old habit (which was designed to disguise the fact that there was a woman somewhere in that voluminous disguising of hair, breasts, and hips), and quick to take back her own name. After she took on several high offices in her order, she became the mother provincial of the California branch of the Dominican order during the 1960s, coping with the changes of that volatile era on her college campuses.
Now the Vatican says that nuns are too interested in "the social Gospel" (which is the Gospel), when they should be more interested in Gospel teachings about abortion and contraception (which do not exist). Nuns were quick to respond to the AIDS crisis, and to the spiritual needs of gay people-- which earned them an earlier rebuke from Rome. They were active in the civil rights movement. They ran soup kitchens.
stripped the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, representing most American nuns, of its powers of self-government, maintaining that its members have made statements that "disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church?s authentic teachers of faith and morals." Archbishop Peter Sartain of Seattle has taken control of the Conference, writing new laws for it, supplanting its leadership, and banning "political" activity (which is what Rome calls social work). Women are not capable, in the Vatican's mind, of governing others or even themselves. Is it any wonder so many nuns have left the orders or avoided joining them? Who wants to be bullied?
but I wish our current bishops would think more about him, too. I wonder if the bishops realize how some in their ranks have strengthened the hands of the church's adversaries (and disheartened many of the faithful) with public statements -- including that odious comparison of President Obama to Hitler by a Peoria prelate last month -- that threaten to shrink the church into a narrow, conservative sect.
Do the bishops notice how often those of us who regularly defend the church turn to the work of nuns on behalf of charity and justice to prove Catholicism's detractors wrong? Why in the world would the Vatican, apparently pushed by right-wing American bishops, think it was a good idea to condemn the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, the main organization of nuns in the United States?
The Vatican's statement, issued last month, seemed to be the revenge of conservative bishops against the many nuns who broke with the hierarchy and supported health-care reform in 2010. The nuns insisted, correctly, that the health-care law did not fund abortion. This didn't sit well with men unaccustomed to being contradicted, and the Vatican took the LCWR to task for statements that "disagree with or challenge positions taken by the bishops."
Oh yes, and the nuns are also scolded for talking a great deal about social justice and not enough about abortion (as if the church doesn't talk enough about abortion already). But has it occurred to the bishops that less stridency might change more hearts and minds on this very difficult question?
None of the anti-Semitic ties of the Pius X crew matter to Rome, since that crew holds to the hard line against women priests, gay marriage, and contraception. They have also retained the Latin Mass, which Rome has been inching back toward. All these things, you see, are the work solely of male hierarchs, distrustful of the People of God?who are the church, as defined by the Second Vatican Council. Those Lefebvre defiers of the Council are all the things the nuns are not, and all the things Rome wants to restore. The real Gospel must be quashed in the name of the pseudo-Gospel of papal monarchs. Poor Anne O?Connor -- she thought caring for the poor was what Jesus wanted. She did not live to see that what Rome wants is all that matters.
Too many bishops seem in the grip of dark suspicions that our culture is moving at breakneck speed toward a demonic end. Pope John XXIII, by contrast, was more optimistic about the signs of the times.
"Distrustful souls see only darkness burdening the face of the earth," he once said. "We prefer instead to reaffirm all our confidence in our Savior who has not abandoned the world which he redeemed." The church best answers its critics when it remembers that its mission is to preach hope, not fear.
When you read housing data about how foreclosures are at their lowest rate since 2007, recognize that analysts credit more foreclosures, including those with faulty documents, in the previous year for that figure. And there is consensus among the[...]
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The glowing praise of the racist "Stop and Frisk" policy by the NYPD and city officials and the fuzzy math statistics that claim vastly reduced crime weren't enough to stop a federal judge today from granting class-action status in a lawsuit against the NYPD that claims the practice violates the constitutional rights of blacks and Hispanics.
Maybe it was the Jateik Reed video or the facts that revealed, among other things, that more young black men were stopped and frisked by police last year than actually live in the city, according to an analysis by the New York Civil Liberties Union.
The New York Times obtained Judge Shira Scheindlin's opinion, which stated that the evidence presented showed that the central tenets that make up the NYPD's stop-and-frisk policy led to many illegal stops. Judge Scheindlin writes:
It is rather audacious of the NYPD to argue that if it were possible to protect "the right of people to be secure in their persons" from unlawful searches and seizures by the NYPD, then the legislature would already have done so and judicial intervention would therefore be futile. Indeed, it is precisely when the political branches violate the individual rights of minorities that "more searching judicial enquiry" is appropriate.
(Emphasis is Judge Scheindlin's.) The NYPD is on track to break last year's record of 601,055 stops (that's 1,900 a day) in 2012.