TONY PEYSER FOR BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
For the right-leaning mainstream media
This was their best story ever, pure gold:
A field day under the belt of the Beltway
That never seemed to them to get old.
Brains weren't needed to write about this story;
Into reality minds didn't wander.
A prurient buffet that just refused to go away ---
A never-ending double entendre.
When today's crop of journalists have all retired
They'll look back, sigh, and with wonder dare
To fondly recall their brief but glorious Camelot
Of a congressman seen without his underwear.
Direxion announced (pdf) the addition of five new ETFs to its lineup last week (6/15/11). Four of the new funds are 3x leveraged bullish and bearish plays on the materials and health sectors. The fifth is a non-leveraged total U.S. stock market bear fund.
Direxion Daily Basic Materials Bull 3x Shares (MATL) seeks daily investment results of 300% of the price performance of the S&P Materials Select Sector Index with a 0.95% expense ratio. Overview and fact sheet (pdf).
Direxion Daily Basic Materials Bear 3x Shares (MATS) seeks daily investment results of 300% of the inverse (opposite) of the price performance of the S&P Materials Select Sector Index with a 0.95% expense ratio. Overview and fact sheet (pdf).
Direxion . . . → Read More: Direxion Adds Materials, Health, and Total Market ETFs
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National Labor Relations Board proposes new rules to speed up the process for holding votes for union representation. Expect a fight on this one. [...]
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It’s said that Rhode Island is the birthplace of the diner, and the Liberty Elm keeps the tradition alive. I’m between Warwick and Providence today, so I get to stop off on Elmwood Ave.
Today there’s lime and coconut muffins ( for some reason that rings a bell with me) that are really good grilled with butter. It looks like it’s going to pour any minute, but when the sun comes back out the Liberty will have outdoor dining, with a scenic view of the train tracks out back and the RIPTA bus depot across the street.
Support your locals, folks.
Here's Huffington Post on the news:
The New York Times reported Monday that the network is developing a show for Chris Hayes, the Washington correspondent for The Nation. Hayes is a frequent guest host for both Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O'Donnell. The two of them got their shows by... being frequent guest hosts.It couldn't happen to a better writer. This is Digby on Chris's work, well worth clicking through to read. (This one is a good place to start.) And here's a great profile of Chris by Adele Stan at Alternet.
The Times writes that Hayes is one of a number of people who MSNBC has preemptively signed to new, long-term contracts to prevent them from making any deals with Current TV in the wake of Keith Olbermann's move there. Olbermann, whose new show starts Monday night, has already announced his own line of regular contributors, including Michael Moore and Markos Moulitsas[.]That's presented as "competition," but I prefer "expanded opportunity" for the best among us. Nice to see it.
In some ways India and its neighborhood is about as different from the U.S. as you can possibly be. I've been writing about that since I first went there in 1969. But viewed from Kathmandu, Nepal-- where the tourist scene these days is almost all Indian and where the English-language TV channels are all Indian-- India is very much like the U.S.
Oh, not that India. The other one, the 21st-century one, the one that watches Glee, How I Met Your Mother, HBO and Indian TV shows that display a culture so disgustingly celebrity-oriented that it even puts our own to shame... well almost. I don't know what they call Madison Avenue in Mumbai, but God, do these guys ever run the show.
I just watched an episode of a popular show, India's Most Desirable. I don't recommend it... but go ahead:
India has (another) problem. It's surrounded by the world's most-failed states. True, Africa's worse. Somalia's No. 1. But Chad, Sudan, Nigeria, Congo, Zimbabwe, Central African Republic, Ivory Coast, Guinea, Niger, Burundi, Kenya, Guinea Bissau, even Ethiopia are right up there among the world's most vulnerable countries. However, none of those places are as much like our country as India is. And India's neighbors... no fewer than seven of them made the Top 50 of the most-failed states index:
#7 -- Afghanistan
#12 -- nuclear-armed Pakistan
#18 -- Myanmar
#25 -- Bangladesh
#27 -- Nepal
#29 -- Sri Lanka
#50 -- Bhutan
On Pakistan, the report said, "Pakistan has long been dubbed the world's most dangerous country in Washington policy circles" and "yet Pakistan isn't just dangerous for the West-- it's often a danger to its own people."
On Bangladesh: "Two of five Bangladeshis live under the poverty line. Any improvements will also be fighting the environmental clock. If sea levels rise just by 1 metre, scientists warn, 17 per cent of the country could be submerged."
On Nepal: "Nepal is the poorest country in South Asia, according to the United Nations, and that's unlikely to change until the peace process is implemented and security restored. There are signs that the Maoists may be losing patience-- and thinking about going back to the trenches to fight for more."
On Sri Lanka: "The government's final push against the rebels relied on the shelling of civilians and other atrocities, according to a 2010 report by the International Crisis Group. . . . The most recent statistics from last year indicate that some 327,000 are still displaced from the conflict. . . . Despite the pronounced fractures still lingering, the Sinhalese-dominated government in Colombo seems eager to forget the past."
These are some very fat cats.As has been amply documented, income inequality in the United States has soared to historic (in a bad way) levels, with the richest 1% getting 24% of the income. If numbers like that don't convince you that corporations are doing their best to increase income inequality, consider this:
According to a new report called ?S.& P. 500 Executive Pay: Bigger Than ?Whatever You Think It Is,? put together by the independent research firm R. G. Associates, there are currently 32 companies that actually spent more on compensation for their top executives in 2010 than they paid in corporate income taxes:
Total executive pay increased by 13.9 percent in 2010 among the 483 companies where data was available for the analysis. The total pay for those companies? 2,591 named executives, before taxes, was $14.3 billion?Warming to his subject, Mr. Ciesielski also determined that 158 companies paid more in cash compensation to their top guys and gals last year than they paid in audit fees to their accounting firms. Thirty-two companies paid their top executives more in 2010 than they paid in cash income taxes.
But by Republican logic, the answer to all our nation's problems is definitely lowering the tax rate on both the corporations and their executives.
Via Immigration Equality Action Fund: Today, Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) introduced a comprehensive immigration reform bill that includes the provisions from the Uniting American Families Act (UAFA) and the DREAM Act. If passed, it would help keep binational same-sex couples together and would create paths to citizenship for undocumented youth, many of whom identify as LGBT.
The New York Times reports: “President Obama plans to announce Wednesday evening that he will order the withdrawal of 10,000 American troops from Afghanistan this year, and another 20,000 troops, the remainder of the 2009 ‘surge,’ by the end of next summer, according to administration officials and diplomats briefed on the decision.”
The Politico Pulse reported this morning that Sens. Tom Carper (D-DE), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Bob Corker (R-TN), Scott Brown (R-MA), and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) all “plan to introduce a bill today that they say would enact stronger penalties for Medicare fraud, curb improper payments and establish stronger fraud and waste prevention strategies, curb the theft of physician identities, identify more Medicaid overpayments and improve fraud data sharing.” The measure would “improve security of the database of Medicare providers to ensure “dead” doctors can’t place Medicare orders.”
All this is well and good — anti fraud legislation can save a significant amount of money and usually attract bipartisan support. But these measures can also provide cover for politicians to argue that Medicare (aka “government health care”) is full of the kind of waste and fraud that is absent in market-driven private health insurance.
The National Health Care Anti-Fraud Association (NHCAA) estimates that 3 percent of all health care spending ? or $68 billion ? is lost to health care fraud, but notes that fraud is a “systemic problem affecting public and private insurers alike, in the individual market, the employer-sponsored group market, and public programs.” Medicare patients may be particularly susceptible to fraud given their age and vulnerability. As a recent report from George Washington University concluded, “Medicare and Medicaid fraud may reflect the vulnerable nature of the populations that depend on the program rather than any failing on the part of either program. As a result, simply moving away from Medicare and Medicaid coverage and toward a system of private health insurance subsidies would in and of itself do nothing to curb fraud; it simply would privatize the victimizing of the poor and vulnerable.”