Tuesday, August 31, 2010

"Why is Social Security Under Examination?"

This from Angry Bear -- please follow link to original

"Why is Social Security Under Examination?"
Posted by Bruce Webb | 8/31/2010 10:38:00 AM
social security
36 comments

This is the title of a post of a diary at another site, one of no particular interest on its own because it just puts people on the wrong road.

A straight out analysis of the economic numbers underlying Social Security 'crisis' shows pretty clearly that there is no 'there' there. To the extent that there is a gap between future projected income and cost it is small, distant, based on pessimistic assumptions, and totally fixable even if we waited years to take the first step. You can show this on paper or in pixels and I have spent much of the last six years doing that here and there and mostly without numeric push-back, the counter-arguments tending to be thematic and not number based at all.

So why do they push this? Well simple, the Right cannot afford to have a Social Security system that is perceived to be working going forward. They can survive people liking Social Security as is, after all they can spin that as people just enjoying a Free Lunch via that ol' Backwards Transfer pushed by the nice folk at AEI, that just helps their overall 'mushy headed liberal' narrative, a modern day Grasshopper and the Ant. What kills them is to find out that the Grasshopper actually has an actuarial sound insurance policy in his back pocket, and one guaranteed by the Federal government, such a realization might lead the rest of the ants to doubt the 'Big Government is not the Solution, Big Government is the Problem' message being spread by the Ant Queen and her Drones.

In 1993 the anti-Social Security narrative revolved around Trust Fund Depletion, which was a real event which would have real consequences, if not as significant as people would have them (see 'Rosser's Equation' at a Google near you), but by the late 90's Trust Fund Depletion had been pushed so far out in time even as the cost to address it steadily dropped that there grew the need for a new crisis narrative. And so 'Phony IOU' was born. But otherwise nothing much had changed, the definition of 'crisis' was malleable but the solution was always the same: we needed to Destroy Social Security in Order to Save It.

Typically people on the Left tend to assign three motives for the desire of the Right to 'reform' Social Security. One is to get their hands on the assets in the Trust Funds. This is a total category mistake, those assets though real as real are not tappable in the way this narrative would require. A second is to get their hands on surpluses going forwards. Well this is the same mistake with a slightly different twist, cash surpluses which were as real as real could be in 1999 are existentially different today. And a third motive advanced was the fees that would be generated on private accounts. Well I don't think this pencils out as well as people would think at least for the accounts of people in the lower 50% of income, if it were a pure scheme for extracting account fees they wouldn't be pushing for universality, but instead for opt-out for higher-income workers.

Nope in my opinion the fundamental motive for opposing Social Security is not driven by greed as such but instead an ideology that depends crucially on the perception that Big Government is always and everywhere a failure, and that the bigger the counter-example the higher the risk to that overall paradigm. If Social Security was just headed for the cliff, its enemies would just stand back and watch it go, arguably this is where they were at in 1993. It is only when they see the coach driver beginning to get the team under control and steer it away from the cliff that they have to jump in and try to spook the horses again.

Which is why people asking why the actions of Social Security opponents don't seem to be particularly helpful in guiding the stage coach away from the cliff are asking the wrong question, looked at in that way their actions don't make sense at all. On the other hand if you flip it around a lot of things become clear, there being more than one definition of 'fixing'.

screw it

Screw politics. screw single issue voters. Screw Glen Beck and his insane revisionist history. Screw all the uber-religious-hate-mongers.

Let's have just a bit of common sense. Let's really look at what made America great -- not the nativist, racist, ranting of folks so frightened of losing anything they have they risk losing EVERYTHING they have.

Get out and vote. Vote Democratic simply because the Republicans will want to shut down the Government while we have two wars and a huge financial crisis.

In the meantime -- how about some music to bring us back to our senses.



http://www.jazzvideoguy.tv presents the immortal Count Basie featuring Clark Terry on trumpet, Wardell Gray- tenor sax, Buddy DeFranco-clarinet, Freddie Green-guitar, Jimmy Lewis-bass and Gus Johnson-drums.

In between Big Bands in the mid-50s, Basie led this smaller group.




losing hope

Once again, I hear "progressives" saying, "Social Security is 'in trouble'!". (L. O'Donnell on Countdown) -- then, my HEAD EXPLODES -- again -- making it impossible to blog, to write, to believe ANYTHING damn near ANYONE says.

Then I read Krugman's column in The Times today (Monday) -- at least someone is making sense.

BUT --- The Democrats seem to want to concede the election to The-Party-Of-NO-and-of-NONSENSE.

Where has my country gone? Where are folks who give a damn about "main street"? It's NOT any of The Tea Party folks. It's not any of the "Blue Dog" Demecrats. It's not any of the supposed "Centrists" (who are usually far to the right of Dwight Eisenhower, and Richard Nixon).

Who actually represents any of us? Who represents anyone who is not at the very least "well-to-do"?

Does anyone still give a damn about the working "middle class"? Does anyone care about anyone who is not, at the very least, a "professional"?

I do not think so. Everyone is so damn anti-union they tend to forget it was the Unions who brought so many folks into the "middle class". People are no longer happy to make a VERY good living ----- everyone wants to be "rich" ----- BUT, unless there is broad based prosperity, only the truly wealthy, those who actually OWN damn near everything will remain "rich" -- the rest of the greedheads will find there is no longer a market for their crap -- not enough folks will be able to afford it.

Welcome to "Great Depression II" ---- unless someone does SOMETHING (can you hear me OBAMA?)

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Climate change is bad for nuclear power, industry needs a shrinking cap on carbon to survive

The USA is insane -- we are too stupid to continue as a "superpower".


Climate change is bad for nuclear power, industry needs a shrinking cap on carbon to survive
August 26, 2010

Conservatives who oppose clean energy and real climate action typically tout uber-expensive nuclear power as the solution (see Lamar Alexander calls nuclear “the cheap clean energy solution,” renews GOP call for 100 new nukes, which would cost some $1 trillion). CAP’s Richard W. Caperton explains in this Wonk Room cross post how failure to pursue genuine action on climate change – a shrinking cap and rising price on carbon – actually harms the industry (see also “2009 summer heatwave puts a third of French nukes out of action“).

Southeast heatwaveNuclear reactor developers have a compelling reason to support a cap on carbon pollution: the effects of climate change could make it to impossible to run nuclear reactors. For example, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) has drastically reduced power generation at the Browns Ferry nuclear plant this summer:

The Tennessee Valley Authority has lost nearly $50 million in power generation from its biggest nuclear plant because the Tennessee River in Alabama is too hot….

“All the radiant heat gets in the river when you have a summer as hot as this has been,” TVA President Tom Kilgore said.

Browns Ferry is located on the Tennessee River in Alabama and uses river water for cooling. To protect wildlife in the river, TVA is not allowed to raise the river’s temperature above 90 degrees. But this year’s record heat have already raised the river temperature to near 90, so TVA can only use small amounts of water, which limits how much power they can produce. In fact, the air temperature has stayed below 90 only three days since June 9, far above the historical norm. In the 1990s, the TVA decided not to build extra cooling towers because they “estimated that the chance of exceeding the 90-degree temperature limit in the Tennessee River was very rare.”

This situation also gives us a stark reminder of how climate change will take money out of consumers’ pockets. TVA has had to buy more expensive power to make up for the lost production at Browns Ferry. They then pass this new cost onto consumers in the form of a fuel cost adjustment. The new fuel cost adjustment will increase consumer bills by $1 to $3. So, if your utility buys its power from TVA, that’s a $3 loss next month due to warming.

Fortunately, a comprehensive climate bill can fix this problem. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency found that climate legislation would significantly lower the risk of catastrophic climate change. Now we also know that the nuclear industry’s future depends on putting a cap on carbon.

Every piece of proposed energy legislation we saw this year included incentives for building new nuclear reactors, including loan guarantees, production tax credits, accelerated depreciation rules, and changes to permitting. These would all certainly be helpful, but they ignore the biggest incentive for the nuclear industry: putting a cap on carbon emissions.

Currently, coal-fired generation is less expensive than nuclear power, which adds to the risk of investing in new nuclear reactors. Putting a cap on carbon, however, would make coal-fired power more expensive than nuclear power, making it much more likely that an investment in a nuclear reactor will make money.

This dynamic is at play in Maryland, where Constellation Energy has applied for a loan guarantee for a new reactor from the Department of Energy. According to the Baltimore Sun, Constellation’s project is now at risk, whether or not they get a loan guarantee. Project chairman Michael J. Wallace told the Sun, “When we get the DOE loan guarantee, that certainly is a major step forward for us. We then need to go through calculations on all the other variables to see whether this project can go forward on an economically sound basis. And we have to continue to do that over the next several months.”

That is, a loan guarantee is certainly valuable, and is a critical ingredient in the project moving forward, but it won’t ultimately determine the project’s profitability. The project will sink or swim because nuclear power can compete with coal, which will only happen with a cap on carbon.

– Richard W. Caperton

some personal history

My father died at 93, my mother 6 years later at 94.

From the time he was about 70 he totally stopped thinking about politics, "world issues", local issues, etc., etc., etc. He was not registered to vote, nor was my mother. He stopped after 1972.

Whenever I'd ask him about it, his response was, "It's all a crock of s*@t. Doesn't make a difference if I vote or not." I was horrified. How could he say that?

Years pass -- I'm now 71 -- I'm beginning to come around to his way of thinking. We gear up, elect Obama, and discover he does not have a clue. Even when he does do something, it's like he's afraid to talk about it too much. He sets up the "Cat Food Commission" to "study" Social Security -- and packs it with people who only want to abolish it. He seems afraid of doing ANYTHING that will upset his MASTERS.

I'm beginning to understand what my father meant. I'm beginning to understand how his years of experience made him such a cynic.

He was reasonably well off -- so it did not matter to him what was going on. He had simple tastes and didn't want, or need, "The LATEST" anything.

I think he was right -- we are sliding toward a totalitarian state -- and the very people who yell the loudest about "LIBERTY" are totally in favor of it.

It seems to be "Liberty" for the rich -- the hell with "the little people".

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Guitar and Mandolin playing Sweet Georgia Brown

Please listen to this one. Curtis Jones (guitar), Jeff Midkiff (mandolin) and Andy Hohwald (upright bass) playing an acoustic version of Sweet Georgia Brown.


Django Reinhardt - Sweet georgia brown

Here's a classic from a master

Francoise Hardy & Iggy Pop: I'll be seeing you

Oh S&*T -- what has happened! So cheesy.


Bernadette Peters -- I'll Be Seeing You

Bernadette Peters -- The Way You Look Tonight

Oran "Hot Lips" Page -- Rockin' At Ryans

Recorded: New Yrork, March 8; 1944
Oran "Hot Lips" Page (tp) (vcl), Lem Johnson-Eli „Lucky" Thompson (ts), Ace Harris (p), John Simmons (b), Sidney "Big Sid" Catlett (d)

Oran Thaddeus Page (27 January 1908 -- 4 November 1954) jazz trumpeter, singer, bandleader born in Dallas, Texas, better known as Hot Lips Page by the public, and Lips Page by his fellow musicians. He was known as a scorching soloist and powerful vocalist.

In his early years, Page travelled the southwest backing such blues singers as Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Ida Cox. He moved to Kansas City, Missouri in 1928 and played with leading bands, including the Walter Page's legendary Blue Devils, Bennie Moten, and Count Basie's original Reno Club orchestra.

Just before Basie left for New York City and national success, Page went on his own with Louis Armstrong's manager Joe Glaser, but did not have comparable success. Nonetheless, he was a popular and successful musician, leading several bands and combos of his own, both in Kansas City and New York. He was featured in Artie Shaw's Orchestra and played on many recording sessions, including duets with Pearl Bailey on "The Hucklebuck" and "Baby, It's Cold Outside




Climate Change Is Bad For Business

This from "Climate Progress" -- please follow link to original -----


Climate change is bad for business
August 21, 2010

Look no further than today to get a glimpse of what the future holds if we continue with business as usual: Record temperatures in the United States, Europe, and Canada; wildfires and hurricanes in Russia; and flooding in Pakistan and China. Climate change is here and there’s more to come. Thousands of lives have been lost, and millions of people have been displaced from these recent disasters. But the economic tolls are also hurting businesses. CAP’s Rebecca Lefton and Richard W. Caperton have the story in this cross-post from the Center for American Progress.

Economists estimate that Russia’s economy will lose $15 billion this year from the country’s recent disasters—a full percentage point of its expected GDP growth. About half of that loss will come from agriculture and the rest from “lower industrial output, lower demand and lower productivity.” Russia had been gaining ground from a 7.9 percent GDP loss last year, but shoppers are staying home to avoid the toxic smog and heat during the hottest summer on record. Offices are closing and factories are shutting down.

Rising food prices are already limiting spending power. Now the government has banned wheat exports through the end of the year as grain output is down by at least a third. Tourism is suffering, and the U.S. State Department issued a travel warning urging Americans to postpone trips to Russia this summer. To make matters worse, strong storms with hurricane-strength winds in northwestern Russia are further disrupting the country.

Sadly, Russia is only one “poster child for the perils of global warming” this summer. Pakistan’s floods—now covering one-fifth of the country or around the size of England—are causing one of the worst humanitarian crises ever. Pakistan’s economy was already struggling and heavily dependent on international loans. Now the International Monetary Fund says the flooding will cause “major harm to the economy,” including tens of billions of dollars in agricultural losses. Last but not least, unusually heavy rains in China earlier this summer preceded Pakistan’s disaster. They led to flooding that caused tens of billions of dollars of damage.

Countries like Pakistan are ranked as some of the most at-risk because of their vulnerability to climate change and lack of resources to respond. But these disasters are hitting us at home, too. “Biblical” floods in Tennessee this past May caused power outages and “shuttered” businesses. Before that, catastrophic rains soaked the Northeast, the Southeast, and the Midwest. So it’s clear that even developed economies are not immune to the harms of climate change. Further, these economies bear financial responsibility for aiding countries affected by climate-related events.

And these events will get worse. It’s not possible to claim that global warming causes any one event, but Dr. Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, says that, “Nowadays, there’s always an element of both [global warming and natural variability].” And according to Jay Lawrimore, chief of climate analysis at the National Climatic Data Center, “Extreme events are occurring with greater frequency, and in many cases with greater intensity.” As a result, Russian officials are signaling an overdue shift in climate policy seriously addressing the need to “get ahead” on global warming for the first time.

Climate-related disasters like we’ve seen across the world and at home will inevitably harm American businesses. That’s why the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, which is tasked with making sure that investors are aware of an investment’s risks, has made it clear for the first time that climate change will have a sizeable impact on some businesses’ profits.

The SEC warned in a guidance issued this spring that, “Significant physical effects of climate change, such as effects on the severity of weather (for example, floods or hurricanes), sea levels, the arability of farmland, and water availability and quality, have the potential to affect a registrant’s operations and results.” Investors who rely on this information should expect to see more companies disclosing climate-related risks as climate change’s effects become more evident.

Investors are also paying more attention to climate change when choosing their portfolios. This year investors filed a record 101 resolutions urging 88 U.S. and Canadian companies to address the risks and opportunities climate change poses.

Businesses are suffering from an uncertain policy environment as well. This is true of both traditional energy companies, who need certainty to guide their investments, and clean energy companies, who will help the United States transition to a low-carbon economy.

The United States is losing out on billions of dollars in clean energy investments by sitting on the sidelines of the clean energy race. Deutsche Bank recently decided to spend the majority of its climate change capital in Europe and China where there are “government policies that provide transparency, longevity and certainty.”

Kevin Parker, global head of Deutsche Bank’s Asset Management Division, says the United States is missing out because it’s “asleep at the wheel on climate change, asleep at the wheel on job growth, asleep at the wheel on this industrial revolution taking place in the energy industry.” That’s why out of the nearly $7 billion in green investments that Deutsche Bank holds, only $45 million originated in the United States. American companies have formed a new Chambers for Innovation and Clean Energy advocating for a market-based solution to climate change precisely because they recognize the vast economic benefits their country is losing.

The upshot is that all U.S. companies—those that need to avoid climate disasters, that want investment certainty, and that want to unleash economic growth—stand to gain from a climate bill. A U.S. Environmental Protection Agency analysis finds that passing a climate bill will result in fewer emissions and lower the risk of catastrophic climate change. Moreover, the Peterson Institute for International Economics shows that passing a climate bill will stimulate the economy, create jobs, and make businesses healthier.

The bottom line is that U.S. businesses are being affected by climate-related disasters and will face more of them in the future. Congressional delay in passing climate and energy legislation hurts businesses by allowing global warming to go unheeded, and it also creates an unfriendly environment for companies waiting to win in the clean energy race.

This is cross-posted from the Center for American Progress. Rebecca Lefton is a Researcher and Richard W. Caperton is a Policy Analyst at American Progress.

118

Press Releases
Westamerica Bank, San Rafael, California, Assumes All of the Deposits of Sonoma Valley Bank, Sonoma, California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2010
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez
Phone: (202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922
Email: ghernandez@fdic.gov

Sonoma Valley Bank, Sonoma, California, was closed today by the California Department of Financial Institutions, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Westamerica Bank, San Rafael, California, to assume all of the deposits of Sonoma Valley Bank.

The three branches of Sonoma Valley Bank will reopen on Saturday as branches of Westamerica Bank. Depositors of Sonoma Valley Bank will automatically become depositors of Westamerica Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of Sonoma Valley Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Westamerica Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other Westamerica Bank branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Sonoma Valley Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, Sonoma Valley Bank had approximately $337.1 million in total assets and $255.5 million in total deposits. Westamerica Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 2.0 percent to assume all of the deposits of Sonoma Valley Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Westamerica Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

Customers who have questions about today's transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-913-3062. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time (PDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., PDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., PDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., PDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/sonoma.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $10.1 million. Compared to other alternatives, Westamerica Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Sonoma Valley Bank is the 118th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the ninth in California. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Los Padres Bank, Solvang, earlier today

117

Press Releases
Pacific Western Bank, San Diego, California, Assumes All of the Deposits of Los Padres Bank, Solvang, California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2010
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez
Phone: (202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922
Email: ghernandez@fdic.gov

Los Padres Bank, Solvang, California, was closed today by the Office of Thrift Supervision, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Pacific Western Bank, San Diego, California, to assume all of the deposits of Los Padres Bank.

The 14 branches of Los Padres Bank will reopen on Monday as branches of Pacific Western Bank. Depositors of Los Padres Bank will automatically become depositors of Pacific Western Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of Los Padres Bank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Pacific Western Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other Pacific Western Bank branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Los Padres Bank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, Los Padres Bank had approximately $870.4 million in total assets and $770.7 million in total deposits. Pacific Western Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 0.45 percent to assume all of the deposits of Los Padres Bank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Pacific Western Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC and Pacific Western Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $579.8 million of Los Padres Bank's assets. Pacific Western Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/lossshare/index.html.

Customers who have questions about today's transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-640-2751. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time (PDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., PDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., PDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., PDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/lospadres.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $8.7 million. Compared to other alternatives, Pacific Western Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Los Padres Bank is the 117th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the eighth in California. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Butte Community Bank, Chico, earlier today.

115 &116

Press Releases
Rabobank, National Association, El Centro, California, Acquires All the Deposits of Two Banks in California
Butte Community Bank, Chico, and Pacific State Bank, Stockton

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2010
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez
Phone: 202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922
Email: ghernandez@fdic.gov

Butte Community Bank, Chico, California, and Pacific State Bank, Stockton, California, were closed today by the California Department of Financial Institutions, which then appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver for the two banks. To protect depositors, the FDIC entered into purchase and assumption agreements with Rabobank, National Association, El Centro, California, to assume all the deposits and essentially all the assets of the two failed banks, which were not affiliated with one another.

Collectively, the failed banks operated 23 branches, which will reopen as branches of Rabobank, National Association under their normal business hours, including those offices with Saturday hours. Butte Community Bank has 14 branches, and Pacific State Bank has nine branches. Depositors will automatically become depositors of Rabobank, National Association. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage.

Customers of the two failed banks should continue to use their former branches until they receive notice from Rabobank, National Association that it has completed systems changes to allow other Rabobank, National Association branches to process their accounts as well. Over the weekend, depositors can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, Butte Community Bank had total assets of $498.8 million and total deposits of $471.3 million; and Pacific State Bank had total assets of $312.1 million and total deposits of $278.8 million. Rabobank, National Association will pay the FDIC a premium of 4.05 percent to assume all of the deposits of Butte Community Bank, but it did not pay the FDIC a premium for the deposits of Pacific State Bank.

The FDIC and Rabobank, National Association entered into loss-share transactions on $425.4 million of Butte Community Bank's assets; and $249.7 million of Pacific State Bank's assets. Rabobank, National Association will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/lossshare/index.html.

Customers who have questions about today's transactions can call the FDIC toll free: for Butte Community Bank customers, 1-800-450-5417; and for Pacific State Bank customers, 1-800-640-2693. The phone numbers will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m. Pacific Daylight Time; on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. PDT; on Sunday from noon until 6:00 p.m. PDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. PDT.

Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web sites: for Butte Community Bank, http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/butte.html; and for Pacific State Bank, http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/pacificbk.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) for Butte Community Bank will be $17.4 million; and for Pacific State Bank, $32.6 million. Compared to other alternatives, Rabobank, National Association's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF.

These closings bring the total for the year to 116 banks in the nation, and the seventh and eighth in California. Prior to these failures, the last FDIC-insured bank closed in the state was Granite Community Bank, National Association, Granite Bay, on May 28, 2010.

114

Press Releases
Urban Partnership Bank, Chicago, Illinois, Assumes All of the Deposits of ShoreBank, Chicago, Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2010
Media Contact:
David Barr
Phone: 202) 898-6992
Cell: (703) 622-4790
Email: dbarr@fdic.gov

ShoreBank, Chicago, Illinois, was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with Urban Partnership Bank, Chicago, Illinois, a newly-chartered institution, to assume all of the deposits of ShoreBank.

The 15 branches of ShoreBank will reopen as branches of Urban Partnership Bank, including those in Detroit, Michigan, and Cleveland, Ohio, under their normal business hours, including those offices with Saturday hours. Depositors of ShoreBank will automatically become depositors of Urban Partnership Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of ShoreBank should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from Urban Partnership Bank that it has completed systems changes.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of ShoreBank can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, ShoreBank had approximately $2.16 billion in total assets and $1.54 billion in total deposits. Urban Partnership Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 0.50 percent to assume all of the deposits of ShoreBank. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, Urban Partnership Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets except for the marketable securities and fixed assets.

The FDIC and Urban Partnership Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $1.41 billion of ShoreBank's assets. Urban Partnership Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/lossshare/index.html.

Customers who have questions about today's transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-523-8503. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time (CDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., CDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., CDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/shorebank.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $367.7 million. Compared to other alternatives, Urban Partnership Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. ShoreBank is the 114th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the fifteenth in Illinois. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Palos Bank and Trust Company, Palos Heights, on August 13, 2010.

Friday, August 20, 2010

113

Press Releases
River Community Bank, National Association, Martinsville, Virginia, Assumes All of the Deposits of Imperial Savings and Loan Association, Martinsville, Virginia

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2010
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez
Phone: (202) 898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922
Email: ghernandez@fdic.gov

Imperial Savings and Loan Association, Martinsville, Virginia, was closed today by the Office of Thrift Supervision, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with River Community Bank, National Association, Martinsville, Virginia, to assume all of the deposits of Imperial Savings and Loan Association.

The sole branch of Imperial Savings and Loan Association will reopen on Monday as a branch of River Community Bank, N.A. Depositors of Imperial Savings and Loan Association will automatically become depositors of River Community Bank, N.A. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of Imperial Savings and Loan Association should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from River Community Bank, N.A. that it has completed systems changes to allow other River Community Bank, N.A. branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Imperial Savings and Loan Association can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, Imperial Savings and Loan Association had approximately $9.4 million in total assets and $10.1 million in total deposits. River Community Bank, N.A. did not pay the FDIC a premium for the deposits of Imperial Savings and Loan Association. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, River Community Bank, N.A. agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

Customers who have questions about today's transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-517-1843. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Eastern Daylight Time (EDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., EDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., EDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., EDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/imperialsvgs.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $3.5 million. Compared to other alternatives, River Community Bank, N.A.'s acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Imperial Savings and Loan Association is the 113th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the first in Virginia. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Greater Atlantic Bank, Reston, on December 4, 2009.

111 & 112

Press Releases
CenterState Bank of Florida, National Association, Winter Haven, Florida, Acquires All the Deposits of Two Banks in Florida
Community National Bank at Bartow, Bartow, and Independent National Bank, Ocala

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2010
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez
Phone: (202)898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922
Email: ghernandez@fdic.gov

Community National Bank At Bartow, Bartow, Florida, and Independent National Bank, Ocala, Florida, were closed today by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which then appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver for the two banks. To protect depositors, the FDIC entered into purchase and assumption agreements with CenterState Bank of Florida, National Association, Winter Haven, Florida, to assume all the deposits and essentially all the assets of the two failed banks, which were not affiliated with one another.

Collectively, the failed banks operated five branches, which will reopen as branches of CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. under their normal business hours, including those offices with Saturday hours. Community National Bank At Bartow has one branch, and Independent National Bank has four branches. Depositors will automatically become depositors of CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage.

Customers of the two failed banks should continue to use their former branches until they receive notice from CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. that it has completed systems changes to allow other CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. branches to process their accounts as well. Over the weekend, depositors can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, Community National Bank At Bartow had total assets of $67.9 million and total deposits of $63.7 million; and Independent National Bank had total assets of $156.2 million and total deposits of $141.9 million. CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. did not pay the FDIC a premium for the deposits of the two failed banks.

The FDIC and CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. entered into loss-share transactions on $51.9 million of Community National Bank At Bartow's assets; and $119.7 million of Independent National Bank's assets. CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/lossshare/index.html.

Customers who have questions about today's transactions can call the FDIC toll free: for Community National Bank At Bartow customers, 1-800-450-5668; and for Independent National Bank customers, 1-800-913-3058. The phone numbers will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time; on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT; on Sunday from noon until 6:00 p.m. EDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EDT.

Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web sites: for Community National Bank At Bartow, http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/cnbbartow.html; and for Independent National Bank, http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/inatbank.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) for Community National Bank At Bartow will be $10.3 million; and for Independent National Bank, $23.2 million. Compared to other alternatives, CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A.'s acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF.

These closings bring the total for the year to 112 banks in the nation, and the twenty-first and twenty-second in Florida. Prior to these failures, the last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Bayside Savings Bank, Port Saint Joe, on July 30, 2010

111 & 112

Press Releases
CenterState Bank of Florida, National Association, Winter Haven, Florida, Acquires All the Deposits of Two Banks in Florida
Community National Bank at Bartow, Bartow, and Independent National Bank, Ocala

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 20, 2010
Media Contact:
Greg Hernandez
Phone: (202)898-6984
Cell: (202) 340-4922
Email: ghernandez@fdic.gov

Community National Bank At Bartow, Bartow, Florida, and Independent National Bank, Ocala, Florida, were closed today by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, which then appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver for the two banks. To protect depositors, the FDIC entered into purchase and assumption agreements with CenterState Bank of Florida, National Association, Winter Haven, Florida, to assume all the deposits and essentially all the assets of the two failed banks, which were not affiliated with one another.

Collectively, the failed banks operated five branches, which will reopen as branches of CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. under their normal business hours, including those offices with Saturday hours. Community National Bank At Bartow has one branch, and Independent National Bank has four branches. Depositors will automatically become depositors of CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship to retain their deposit insurance coverage.

Customers of the two failed banks should continue to use their former branches until they receive notice from CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. that it has completed systems changes to allow other CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. branches to process their accounts as well. Over the weekend, depositors can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, Community National Bank At Bartow had total assets of $67.9 million and total deposits of $63.7 million; and Independent National Bank had total assets of $156.2 million and total deposits of $141.9 million. CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. did not pay the FDIC a premium for the deposits of the two failed banks.

The FDIC and CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. entered into loss-share transactions on $51.9 million of Community National Bank At Bartow's assets; and $119.7 million of Independent National Bank's assets. CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A. will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/lossshare/index.html.

Customers who have questions about today's transactions can call the FDIC toll free: for Community National Bank At Bartow customers, 1-800-450-5668; and for Independent National Bank customers, 1-800-913-3058. The phone numbers will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time; on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. EDT; on Sunday from noon until 6:00 p.m. EDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. EDT.

Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web sites: for Community National Bank At Bartow, http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/cnbbartow.html; and for Independent National Bank, http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/inatbank.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) for Community National Bank At Bartow will be $10.3 million; and for Independent National Bank, $23.2 million. Compared to other alternatives, CenterState Bank of Florida, N.A.'s acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF.

These closings bring the total for the year to 112 banks in the nation, and the twenty-first and twenty-second in Florida. Prior to these failures, the last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Bayside Savings Bank, Port Saint Joe, on July 30, 2010.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Boycott

Remember -- boycott Arizona, boycott Coors, boycott Domino's, boycott Carl's Jr., boycott Wendys, boycott Nissan, boycott Jamaica, and -- don't forget -- boycott Target -- as much because they sell crap as anything else.

I never thought I'd be defending Wal-Mart, but their stuff tends to be better made than much of the stuff sold at Target. It may look nice, it may be nicely designed, but a lot of it is garbage -- pretty garbage, but garbage just the same.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

One of my heroes has died

Bobby Thomson -- N.Y.Giant, the man who hit "The Shot Heard 'Round The World has died. He was 86.

"A right-handed batter with good power and excellent speed, Thomson was in his fifth full season with the Giants in 1951. He got off to a slow start, playing center field, then went to the bench in May when the Giants called up a 20-year-old rookie named Willie Mays. But Thomson was playing regularly again by late July, this time at third base, and he hit better than .350 over the final two months of the season.

In mid-August, the Giants trailed the first-place Dodgers by 13 ½ games, and the Dodgers’ manager, Charlie Dressen, had proclaimed, “The Giants is dead.” But they went on a 16-game winning streak, and they tied the Dodgers for the National League lead on the season’s final weekend.

The Giants won the playoff opener, 3-1, at Ebbets Field, behind Thomson’s two-run homer off Branca, the Dodgers starter. But the Dodgers romped, 10-0, the next day at the Polo Grounds."

I was at that second game. Though they were down 10-0, I refused to leave until the last out -- the bitter end. The next day, I came home from school, was watching the game on TV when my mother ORDERED me to go to the bakery to pick up some rolls for dinner -- I did not want to go -- but, I had to. Anyway, my mother said, the Giants have lost -- so go, before they close.

On the way home, carrying my paper sack of fresh rolls, it was as if the entire city ERUPTED! Windows were thrown open, people screamed and yelled. It was both background and foreground noise -- the Giants had won!

It was amazing to hear the news as a collective roar, a strange voice, cluster of voices, carried across the entire city, across the open air, like tribal drumbeats. I do not know if any church bells rang -- they might have, though I don't think so -- it was just news carried across the "ether".

The man who hit that mighty blast is dead. Another part of my youth is gone. I guess I am getting old.

Above my computer desk is a framed, "authorized" by MLB copy of a famous newspaper photo showing the home run, and a dotted line showing the ball's trajectory into the left field seats. It is autographed by both Thomson and Branca -- today I'm so happy I bought that. Reminders of bygone years fade in this "new" USA.


10 Signs The U.S. is Becoming a Third World Country

More doom and gloom -- please follow link to original


10 Signs The U.S. is Becoming a Third World Country
Activist Post

The United States by every measure is hanging on by a thread to its First World status. Saddled by debt, engaged in wars on multiple fronts with a rising police state at home, declining economic productivity, and wild currency fluctuations all threaten America's future.

The general designations of the ranking system for world status date back to the 1950s, and have included countries at various stages of economic development. Since the Cold War, the definition has come to be synonymous with repressive countries where a wealthy class of ruling elites segment society into the haves and have-nots, many times capitalizing on the conditions that follow an economic crisis or war.

While much of the world is still mired in poverty, the reduced cost of innovative tools such as computing and connectivity ironically puts traditional Third World countries at the forefront of a new lean-and-mean economy that is based on ideas of empowerment for the disenfranchised. For better or worse, the world is leveling due to Globalism. However, America and other over-leveraged countries face this re-balancing of the globe at a time when they have dwindling resources. We can speculate about who and what is to blame for America's fantastic fall, but for the purposes of this article we shall focus on the obvious signs that the United States is beginning to resemble a Third World country.

1. Rising unemployment and poverty: Unemployment numbers, food stamps, and home foreclosures continue to reach new record highs. The ugly reality of those numbers was recently on display when 30,000 people showed up to apply for public housing in East Point, GA for 455 available vouchers. Fights broke out, people were fainting from the heat while in line, and riot police showed up to handle the angry poor.

2. Economic dependence: The United States finished 2009 with a debt-to-GDP ratio of 85%, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The current trend projects the United States to finish 2010 at 94% and 2011 at 98%. The 90% level has become the IMF's make-or-break point for countries hoping to grow their way out of debt. If the government debt load climbs above 90% of GDP, economic growth slows so much that growth is no longer a viable solution for reducing that debt, and the IMF insists on austerity measures. Surpassing this debt threshold has also caused China's lead credit rating agency to cut America's credit rating.


3. Declining civil rights: Everyday freedoms are often a casualty of a society in collapse. As the anger of the populace mounts in response to declining economic conditions and political corruption, the government counters by increasing draconian measures that restrict the political rights and civil liberties of its citizens.

America is becoming a country like China, which has one of the lowest scores according to Freedom House. In America, private discussions and movements are monitored, free speech is corralled, the freedom to assemble for protest is by government decree, and independent thought that questions the political system is increasingly looked upon with suspicion. A final indicator is when the government insists upon secrecy for its own actions, while new laws and systems are created to put the individual under nearly constant surveillance.

4. Increasing political corruption: When political corruption becomes the accepted norm, as opposed to the exception, then there's a good bet your country resembles the Third World. Congress and all major institutions face a growing crisis in confidence, where a record-low 11% of the population believe Congress is doing a good job. It now seems obvious to all observers that big corporations directly control the agenda in Washington -- much like typically corrupt Third World countries.

5. Military patrolling the streets: The rise of a militarized police state is a hallmark of most Third World countries, particularly in times of rapid economic collapse. America's declaration of the War on Terror has created a constant threat to National Security that has allowed for the military to be deployed on American soil. Building upon the War on Drugs, this has created a fusion between the military and local police, where military-grade weapons and tactics are being used against American citizens in a cascade of violent confrontations over non-violent offenses. Military checkpoints are moving farther inland, away from meaningful border control functions, and a full-blown military presence in American cities has been planned by the U.S. Army War College.

6. Failing infrastructure: As 46 of 50 states are on the verge of bankruptcy, cities are going dark, asphalt roads are returning to the stone age, and nationwide budget cuts are leaving students without teachers, supplies, or a full-time education. These are common features one will see as they travel through the poorest of Third World countries.

7. Disappearing middle class: During the last presidential debate season, they argued that a family income of $250K was solidly middle-class. Well, Census data shows less than 15% of families make over $100K, and only 1.5% of families make over $250K. The income gap between the rich and poor has increased at a staggering pace, while many more middle-class folks join the ranks of the poor every day. Cavernous income gaps may be what Third-World nations are best known for.

8. Devalued currency: The value of the Federal Reserve Note (U.S. dollar) has declined 96% since the inception of the Federal Reserve in 1913. The value of the dollar is based on its supply in circulation and, to a lesser extent, the demand for those dollars. For the last three years, the money supply has spiked literally off the charts. It can be argued that the dollar has become America's top export as the world's reserve currency, and if the volatile dollar is scrapped, which the U.N. and IMF now suggest, then demand will plummet, killing the currency.

9. Controlling the media: A government-influenced media that censors information is a key component of Third World countries. In some countries it is openly owned by the State. In America, privately-owned major media is not as balanced or as diverse as it seems; the concentration of ownership has led to censorship when national and corporate interests have sometimes overlapped. The persecution of high-profile investigative journalists such as WikiLeaks is set amid a backdrop of the proposed Internet censorship of bloggers who wish to remain anonymous. The end of net neutrality creates a pay-to-play system that can lead to further corporate and government control of information and opinion. Cybersecurity initiatives are the final nail in the coffin, as the entire free flow of information can be vetted in a China-style system of "identity management." On the street, the police state and media control have converged in the recent rise of arrests for those who videotape the police. This is a huge blow to First Amendment rights and the role of photojournalists who wish to document public police behavior.

10. Capital Controls: Many nations have enforced capital controls as their economies collapse. It most recently happened in Argentina and Venezuela as they sought to keep the remaining wealth within their borders. The SEC already has adopted policies to allow money market funds to suspend withdrawals during a financial crisis, while the recent HIRE bill (HR 2487) puts restrictions on Americans moving capital to foreign countries. Some economists suggest that the national debt has gotten so high that the government must now force investment of private capital into U.S. Treasury debt.

Key economic indicators point to a situation potentially worse than the Great Depression. The land of opportunity for so many is devolving into a system of government corruption, corporate looting, and military rule that threatens to sink the American Dream. The capital flight from America has left a dwindling middle class holding an empty bag. This style of underinvestment in the foundation of society is similar to what already has led to the exodus from the rural Midwest. Now, there are ominous signs of a silent exodus of young, intelligent professionals seeking opportunities to realize their dreams outside of America; they are becoming known as Generation Xpat. Lastly, many skilled immigrants have returned to their home countries to seek a better quality of life, which might be the scariest indicator of al

Monday, August 16, 2010

Some Assembly Required

Here's a taste of "Some Assembly Required" -- follow link to original for the rest.


Unprejudiced: In an attempt to ensure a fair trial for the 15 year old terrorist, prosecutors dismissed the only juror who thought Guantanamo should be closed. The remaining jurors all think the war in Afghanistan is just peachy, that the US never uses torture, and when it does it only uses it on the worst of the worst, like impressionable teenagers.

Two Thoughts: Obama is warning that if the GOP retakes Congress this fall they will seek to destroy Social Security. 1. What makes him think they are not seeking to destroy it now? 2. To prevent this horrible fate, will he be true to form and help the GOP destroy it now, just to take away their future options?

Tippy Toeing: Greenland's ice will entirely disappear if global temperatures rise more than 2ÂșC. That much of an increase will locked into the atmosphere within a decade or two and the irreversible melting will eventually raise sea levels over 20 feet. Don't worry, no need to panic –odds are you won't be around. Just your kids.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

This Week In Holy Crimes

Once again, This Week In Holy Crimes direct from Joe.My.God. -- please follow link to original

Sunday, August 15, 2010
This Week In Holy Crimes

Over the last seven days...

Israel: Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira arrested for incitement to kill non-Jews.
Arkansas: Pastor Joshua Wilson arrested in prostitution sting.
New York: Convicted child molester Rabbi Baruch Leibovits demands and gets special kosher meals in prison.
New York: Father Thomas Kresier resigns in embezzlement scandal.
Virginia: Pastor James Bolton arrested for statutory rape.
Ontario: Father Kenneth O'Keefe arrested for child molestation.
British Columbia: Father Philip Jacobs arrested on numerous counts of child molestation.
Ireland: Father Patrick McCabe arrested on numerous counts of child molestation. McCabe was transferred to the U.S. twenty years ago when the accusations first began.
Ontario: Father William Marshall charged with numerous counts of child molestation. Marshall was principal at a Catholic high school.
Pennsylvania: Diocese of Pittsburgh sued after molestation victim commits suicide.
North Carolina: Father William Casey pleads guilty to child molestation.
Illinois: Father Daniel McCormick sued by child molestation victim.
Ohio: Pastor James Blaine pleads guilty to embezzling over $100K from his parishioners.

This Week's Winner
Texas: Pastor Randy Scott has been arrested for meeting young men online and forcing them into sex. Posing as a young man, Scott would exchange emails with his victims, then appear at their homes pretending to be the step-father of the person they thought they'd been corresponding with. Scott would then threaten to call the police unless the young men gave him oral sex. At least one of the victims is underage. Scott, who is married with children, has resigned from his church.

A looming oxygen crisis and its impact on our oceans

This also from "Climate Progress" -- follow link to original

A looming oxygen crisis and its impact on our oceans
August 15, 2010

We’ve known for a while that we are poisoning the oceans and that human emissions of carbon dioxide, left unchecked, would likely have devastating consequences. A 2010 study found that oceans are acidifying 10 times faster today than 55 million years ago when a mass extinction of marine species occurred.

And we’ve known those impacts might last a long, long time —a 2009 study concluded ocean dead zones “devoid of fish and seafood” are poised to expand and “remain for thousands of years.” Worse, a Nature study just found that global warming is already the likely cause of a 40% decline in the ocean’s phytoplankton: “Microscopic life crucial to the marine food chain is dying out. The consequences could be catastrophic.”

Carl Zimmer, a noted science writer and winner of the 2007 NAS Communication Award, reveals some more chilling facts about the path our oceans may be on in this repost from Yale’s Environment 360 online magazine.

As warming intensifies, scientists warn, the oxygen content of oceans across the planet could be more and more diminished, with serious consequences for the future of fish and other sea life.

The Deepwater Horizon oil spill is overshadowing another catastrophe that’s also unfolding in the Gulf of Mexico this summer: The oxygen dissolved in the Gulf waters is disappearing. In some places, the oxygen is getting so scarce that fish and other animals cannot survive. They can either leave the oxygen-free waters or die. The Louisiana Universities Marine Consortium reported this week that this year’s so-called “dead zone” covers 7,722 square miles.

Unlike the Deepwater Horizon disaster, this summer’s dead zone is not a new phenomenon in the Gulf. It first appeared in the 1970s, and each summer it has returned, growing bigger as the years have passed. Its expansion reflects the rising level of fertilizers that farmers in the U.S. Midwest have spread across their fields. Rain carries much of that fertilizer into the Mississippi River, which then delivers it to the sea. Once the fertilizer reaches the Gulf, it spurs algae to grow, providing a feast for bacteria, which grow so fast they use up all the oxygen in their neighborhood. The same phenomenon is repeating itself along many coastlines around the world. This summer, a 377,000-square-kilometer (145,000-square-mile) dead zone appeared in the Baltic Sea. In 2008, scientists reported that new dead zones have been popping up at an alarming rate for the past 50 years. There are now more than 400 coastal dead zones around the world.

As serious as these dead zones are, however, they may be just a foreshadowing of a much more severe crisis to come. Agricultural runoff can only strip oxygen from the ocean around the mouths of fertilizer-rich rivers. But global warming has the potential to reduce the ocean’s oxygen content across the entire planet. Combined with acidification — another global impact of our carbon emissions — the loss of oxygen could have a major impact on marine life.

Scientists point to two reasons to expect a worldwide drop in ocean oxygen. One is the simple fact that as water gets warmer, it can hold less dissolved oxygen. The other reason is subtler. The entire ocean gets its oxygen from the surface — either from the atmosphere, or from photosynthesizing algae floating at the top of the sea. The oxygen then spreads to the deep ocean as the surface waters slowly sink.

Global warming is expected to reduce the mixing of the ocean by making surface seawater lighter. That’s because in a warmer world we can expect more rainfall and more melting of glaciers, icebergs, and ice sheets. Since freshwater is less dense than salt water, the water at the ocean’s surface will become lighter. The extra heat from the warming atmosphere will also make surface waters expand — and thus make them lighter still. The light surface water will be less likely to sink — and thus the deep ocean will get less oxygen. Instead, more of the oxygen will linger near the surface, where it will be used up by oxygen-breathing organisms.

The prospect that global warming could reduce the ocean’s oxygen has led some scientists to wonder if the predicted decline has already begun. It’s a maddeningly hard thing to determine, however. We can be very confident that humans have driven up the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere because scientists have recorded a steady increase over the course of decades. The signal of human-produced carbon dioxide is stronger than the noise of nature’s ups and downs.

Fluctuations in oxygen levels, on the other hand, are a lot noisier. As ocean currents oscillate naturally, upwellings of deep-ocean water can deliver nutrients to coastal waters, triggering an explosion of growth and driving down oxygen levels. Volcanoes can alter oxygen levels, too, by creating a haze that blocks sunlight, thus temporarily cooling the ocean’s surface and allowing more oxygen to dissolve into the water.

In recent years some worrying signals have started to emerge from the noise. In 2006, for example, oxygen levels off the coast of Oregon dropped to record lows. Reefs that had been packed with rockfish and other animals suddenly became ecological ghost towns. Instead of agricultural run-off, studies on the Oregon dead zone suggest that global warming was partly responsible. Higher temperatures have reduced the oxygen in the ocean currents that deliver water to the Oregon coast.

It’s much harder for scientists to figure out what’s happening in the open ocean than along the coastlines, because the records are far spottier. But some recent studies have also offered cause for worry. In April, for example, Lothar Stramma of the University of Kiel and his colleagues published a study in Deep Sea Research in which they compared records of oxygen levels in the tropical ocean from two periods: from 1960 to 1974 and from 1990 to 2008. In some regions, the oxygen levels have gone up, the scientists found, but in most places they’ve gone down. In fact, the area of the global ocean without enough oxygen for animals to survive (less than 70 micromoles per kilogram to be exact) expanded by 4.5 million square kilometers (1.7 million square miles). That’s an area about half the size of the United States.

Because the records of oxygen levels in the past are so incomplete, many scientists are calling for a push for more research. An international collaboration started in 1995, the Climate Variability and Predictability Repeat Hydrography Program — CLIVAR for short — is beginning to gather better data. But in the latest issue of Annual Review of Marine Science , Ralph Keeling of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and his colleagues warn that the CLIVAR program may need 20 to 30 years to establish long-term trends of oxygen levels. To speed up the process, they call for a global network of floating sensors known as Argo to be brought into the effort. If scientists put oxygen sensors on a few hundred of the 3,000 Argo floats, Keeling and his colleagues predict that a clear pattern would emerge in as little as five years. Keeling and his colleagues believe that it’s urgent to speed up this research, because the deoxygenation of the oceans could have a major impact on marine life.

In order to project how global warming will alter oxygen in the oceans, climate scientists are developing a new generation of computer models. The models are still too crude to capture some important features of the real world, such as the way winds can change how deep water rises in upwellings. But the models are good enough to replicate some of the changes in oxygen levels that have already been recorded. And they all predict that the oxygen in the world’s oceans will drop; depending on the model, the next century will see a drop of between 1 and 7 percent.

That could be enough to have a profound effect on life in the ocean, according to Daniel Pauly, a fisheries biologist at the University of British Columbia. In his new book, Gasping Fish and Panting Squids: Oxygen, Temperature and the Growth of Water-Breathing Animals, Pauly argues that getting oxygen is the most important constraint on the growth of fishes and many other marine animals. That’s because it takes a lot of energy to extract oxygen from water, and the bigger animals get, the more energy they have to invest.

Pauly and his colleagues are working on computer models to project how global warming will affect the world’s fisheries. Many species of fishes will shift their ranges away from water that’s too warm for them. But this flight from heat may force them into regions of the ocean with low levels of oxygen, where their growth will be limited. Pauly and his colleagues predict that the drop in the ocean’s oxygen and pH levels will together reduce the world’s fish catch by 20 to 30 percent by 2050.

While fishes and other animals with high oxygen demands suffer, jellyfish may thrive. Jellyfish can tolerate lower oxygen levels than fish, in part because they can store reserves of the gas in their jelly. Free from competition and predators, jellyfish will be able to feast on the microscopic animals and protozoans that feed on algae. They may thus leave more food for bacteria, spurring a further drop in oxygen levels.

A drop in oxygen may also cause the ocean’s bacteria to change. Bacteria that need oxygen will no longer be able to thrive in oxygen-free zones of the ocean. But these dead zones will foster the growth of many species of bacteria for whom oxygen is toxic. Some of these oxygen-hating microbes produce nitrogen compounds that are among the most potent greenhouse gases ever measured. In other words, a drop in oxygen levels could further intensify global warming.

Unless we find a way to rein in our carbon emissions very soon, a low-oxygen ocean may become an inescapable feature of our planet. A team of Danish researchers published a particularly sobering study last year. They wondered how long oxygen levels would drop if we could somehow reduce our carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2100. They determined that over the next few thousand years oxygen levels would continue to fall, until they declined by 30 percent. The oxygen would slowly return to the oceans, but even 100,000 years from now they will not have fully recovered. If they’re right, fish will be gasping and squid will be panting for a long time to come.

– Carl Zimmer

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Climate experts agree: Global warming caused unprecedented Russian heat wave

This from "Climate Progress" -- please follow link to original


Climate experts agree: Global warming caused unprecedented Russian heat wave
Carver: "Without contributions from anthropogenic climate change, I don’t think this event would have reached such extremes or even happened at all."
August 14, 2010

The World Meteorological Organization says this “unprecedented sequence of extreme weather events … matches IPCC projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming.” NASA says July 2010 is “What Global Warming Looks Like.”

Top climate scientists — Peter Stott, head of climate monitoring and attribution at UK’s Met Office and Kevin Trenberth, head of climate analysis at the National Center for Atmospheric Research — have been making the link between the record-smashing extreme weather and human caused global warming (see here)

In this cross-post, Wonk Room’s Brad Johnson has more on what scientists are saying, including Meteorologist Rob Carver, the Research and Development Scientist for Weather Underground.

Friday, August 13, 2010

110

Press Releases
First Midwest Bank, Itasca, Illinois, Assumes All of the Deposits of Palos Bank and Trust Company, Palos Heights, Illinois

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 13, 2010
Media Contact:
David Barr
Office Phone: (202) 898-6992
Cell Phone: (703) 622-4790
Email: dbarr@fdic.gov

Palos Bank and Trust Company, Palos Heights, Illinois, was closed today by the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation - Division of Banking, which appointed the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) as receiver. To protect the depositors, the FDIC entered into a purchase and assumption agreement with First Midwest Bank, Itasca, Illinois, to assume all of the deposits of Palos Bank and Trust Company.

The five branches of Palos Bank and Trust Company will reopen on Saturday as branches of First Midwest Bank. Depositors of Palos Bank and Trust Company will automatically become depositors of First Midwest Bank. Deposits will continue to be insured by the FDIC, so there is no need for customers to change their banking relationship in order to retain their deposit insurance coverage. Customers of Palos Bank and Trust Company should continue to use their existing branch until they receive notice from First Midwest Bank that it has completed systems changes to allow other First Midwest Bank branches to process their accounts as well.

This evening and over the weekend, depositors of Palos Bank and Trust Company can access their money by writing checks or using ATM or debit cards. Checks drawn on the bank will continue to be processed. Loan customers should continue to make their payments as usual.

As of June 30, 2010, Palos Bank and Trust Company had approximately $493.4 million in total assets and $467.8 million in total deposits. First Midwest Bank will pay the FDIC a premium of 1.0 percent to assume all of the deposits of Palos Bank and Trust Company. In addition to assuming all of the deposits of the failed bank, First Midwest Bank agreed to purchase essentially all of the assets.

The FDIC and First Midwest Bank entered into a loss-share transaction on $343.8 million of Palos Bank and Trust Company's assets. First Midwest Bank will share in the losses on the asset pools covered under the loss-share agreement. The loss-share transaction is projected to maximize returns on the assets covered by keeping them in the private sector. The transaction also is expected to minimize disruptions for loan customers. For more information on loss share, please visit: http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/lossshare/index.html.

Customers who have questions about today's transaction can call the FDIC toll-free at 1-800-913-3053. The phone number will be operational this evening until 9:00 p.m., Central Daylight Time (CDT); on Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., CDT; on Sunday from noon to 6:00 p.m., CDT; and thereafter from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m., CDT. Interested parties also can visit the FDIC's Web site at http://www.fdic.gov/bank/individual/failed/palosbank.html.

The FDIC estimates that the cost to the Deposit Insurance Fund (DIF) will be $72.0 million. Compared to other alternatives, First Midwest Bank's acquisition was the least costly resolution for the FDIC's DIF. Palos Bank and Trust Company is the 110th FDIC-insured institution to fail in the nation this year, and the fourteenth in Illinois. The last FDIC-insured institution closed in the state was Ravenswood Bank, Chicago, on August 6, 2010.

none yet

5:54 PM CDT -- no banks killed yet. Is it fear of Friday the 13th? Let's wait a bit longer

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Go to Brad DeLong's Blog -- follow link

OH, By The Way .....................

Robert Gibbs MUST resign!

July 2010 — What Global Warming Looks Like

(Follow link to original) -- This is from "Climate Progress"



NASA reports hottest January-July on record, says that 2010 is “likely” to be warmest year on record and July is “What Global Warming Looks Like”
WMO: "Unprecedented sequence of extreme weather events ... matches IPCC projections of more frequent and more intense extreme weather events due to global warming."
August 12, 2010

Both NASA and the World Meteorological Organization both have excellent posts I’m going to excerpt at length. The first, from NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies website, is titled

July 2010 — What Global Warming Looks Like

From "Some Assembly Required"

This from "Some Assembly Required" (follow link to original) -- this is just a "taste" -- there is much, much, more


The Hail Mary: Obama Administration says that it will waste at least $3 billion giving no-interest 'loans' to people who are at least three months behind on their mortgages “and have a reasonable likelihood of being able to resume mortgage payment within two years.” Go long, I'll throw it as far as I can...

Throwing in the Towel: Stephen Hawking says that “our population and our use of fine resources” mean that our species can survive the next century only if we go forth and infect the universe. Say 'Goodnight' Gracie.

Key Concept: “Structural unemployment” is being tossed around more and more by the talking heads and financial blogeratti. For the uninitiated, 'structural unemployment' is an economist's way of throwing up his hands and saying there is no way to fix the problem, because it is built into the structure of the system. Politicians will grasp the concept with both hands and hide behind it.

Jurisprudence: In some, places interrogators threaten wounded prisoners – even teenagers- with gang-rape in order to obtain confessions, which their courts then permit to be used at trial.

Sample Season: This summer's deadly heat, torrential downpours and raging wildfires will soon be looked back at as the good old days.

America’s Biggest Jobs Program — the U.S. Military

This from Robert Reich (please follow link to original)



America’s Biggest Jobs Program — the U.S. Military

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

America’s biggest — and only major — jobs program is the U.S. military.

Over 1,400,000 Americans are now on active duty; another 833,000 are in the reserves, many full time. Another 1,600,000 Americans work in companies that supply the military with everything from weapons to utensils. (I’m not even including all the foreign contractors employing non-US citizens.)

If we didn’t have this giant military jobs program, the U.S. unemployment rate would be over 11.5 percent today instead of 9.5 percent.

And without our military jobs program personal incomes would be dropping faster. The Commerce Department reported Monday the only major metro areas where both net earnings and personal incomes rose last year were San Antonio, Texas, Virginia Beach, Virginia, and Washington, D.C. — because all three have high concentrations of military and federal jobs.

This isn’t an argument for more military spending. Just the opposite. Having a giant undercover military jobs program is an insane way to keep Americans employed. It creates jobs we don’t need but we keep anyway because there’s no honest alternative. We don’t have an overt jobs program based on what’s really needed.

For example, when Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Monday his plan to cut spending on military contractors by more than a quarter over three years, congressional leaders balked. Military contractors are major sources of jobs back in members’ states and districts. California’s Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, demanded that the move “not weaken the nation’s defense.” That’s congress-speak for “over my dead body.”

Gates simultaneously announced closing the Joint Force Command in Norfolk, Virginia, that employs 6,324 people and relies on 3,300 private contractors. This prompted Virginia Democratic Senator Jim Webb, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, to warn that the closure “would be a step backward.” Translated: “No chance in hell.”

Gates can’t even end useless weapons programs. That’s because they’re covert jobs programs that employ thousands.

He wants to stop production of the C-17 cargo jet he says is no longer needed. But it keeps 4,000 people working at Boeing’s Long Beach assembly plant and 30,000 others at Boeing suppliers strategically located in 40 states. So despite Gates’s protests the Senate has approved ten new orders.

That’s still not enough to keep all those C-17 workers employed, so the Pentagon and Boeing have been hunting for foreign purchasers. The Indian Air Force is now negotiating to buy ten, and talks are underway with several other nations, including Oman and Saudi Arabia.

Ever wonder why military equipment is one of America’s biggest exports? It’s our giant military jobs program in action.

Gates has also been trying to stop production of a duplicate engine for the F-25 joint Strike Fighter jet. He says it isn’t needed and doesn’t justify the $2.9 billion slated merely to develop it.

But the unnecessary duplicate engine would bring thousands of jobs to Indiana and Ohio. Cunningly, its potential manufacturers Rolls-Royce and General Electric created a media blitz (mostly aimed at Washington, D.C. where lawmakers wold see it) featuring an engine worker wearing a “Support Our Troops” T-shirt and arguing the duplicate engine will create 4,000 American jobs. Presto. Despite a veto threat from the White House, a House panel has just approved funding the duplicate.

By the way, Gates isn’t trying to cut the overall Pentagon budget. He just wants to trim certain programs to make room for more military spending with a higher priority.

The Pentagon’s budget — and its giant undercover jobs program — keeps expanding. The President has asked Congress to hike total defense spending next year 2.2 percent, to $708 billion. That’s 6.1 percent higher than peak defense spending during the Bush administration.

This sum doesn’t even include Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs, nuclear weapons management, and intelligence. Add these, and next year’s national security budget totals about $950 billion.

That’s a major chunk of the entire federal budget. But most deficit hawks don’t dare cut it. National security is sacrosanct.

Yet what’s really sacrosanct is the giant jobs program that’s justified by national security. National security is a cover for job security.

This is nuts.

Wouldn’t it be better to have a jobs program that created things we really need — like light-rail trains, better school facilities, public parks, water and sewer systems, and non-carbon energy sources — than things we don’t, like obsolete weapons systems?

Historically some of America’s biggest jobs programs that were critical to the nation’s future have been justified by national defense, although they’ve borne almost no relation to it. The National Defense Education Act of the late 1950s trained a generation of math and science teachers. The National Defense Highway Act created millions of construction jobs turning the nation’s two-lane highways into four- and six-lane Interstates.

Maybe this is the way to convince Republicans and blue-dog Democrats to spend more federal dollars putting Americans back, and working on things we genuinely need: Call it the National Defense Full Employment Act.

Gibbs Stands By His 'Professional Left' Critique, Expects Liberals To Vote In 2010

Is this guy out of his mind? There is so much anger out here -- both right and left -- that there is a good chance even "yellow dog Democrats" like me will stay away from the polls.

The very least Robert Gibbs can do is resign.

(please follow link to original)


Speaking publicly for the first time since he disparaged the "professional left," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said he stands by his comments, has no plans to resign and that he fully expects progressive voters to go to the polls in 2010.

"I don't plan on leaving and there is no truth to the rumor that I've added an inflatable exit to my office," the press secretary said during Wednesday's briefing, referencing the recent incident in which a Jet Blue flight attendant bolted his plane in frustration.

Taking the podium after a day off to tend to a sore throat, Gibbs said he has not reached out to any Democrats to discuss his remarks, in which he chastised liberals for wanting to "eliminate the Pentagon" and pursue Canadian-style health care reform. Nor, he added, has he talked to the president about the matter.

Does he stand by the comments? "Yes," he replied.

It was suggested that the remarks may have been part of a cynical strategy to depict the White House as not beholden to the progressive base. But the press secretary insisted that there was nothing underhanded in his interview with The Hill. He had said what he said in a bout of frustration.

"There are many time when I read the transcripts... that I could have said things slightly differently. I watch lot of cable TV and you don't have to watch long to get frustrated by some of what's said."

As for remorse, however, little was offered. Gibbs noted that the president has achieved many of the objectives that he had pledged on the campaign trail, insinuating that he isn't getting enough credit for these accomplishments. The frustration came from there but the sentiments aren't wholly unique.
Story continues below

"I doubt I said anything you haven't already heard before," said Gibbs.

The press secretary did not name names when pressed as to whom he was targeting with his criticism. The professional left was defined by Deputy Press Secretary Bill Burton as primarily cable news pundits. But no one on the TV circuit, let alone in public office, has called for the Pentagon to be eliminated. Gibbs hinted, briefly, that Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) had done as much on the presidential campaign trail, only to have CBS's Chip Reid correct him. Kucinich had promoted a Department of Peace.

A day after the controversy over Gibbs' remarks was seemingly been put to rest by a quick walk-back from the press secretary, Wednesday's briefing seems likely to reignite the debate over the White House's relationship with liberals. But if there was nervousness over base voters not heading to the polls, Gibbs didn't show it:

"I don't think [liberal voters won't show up]," he said, "because I think what's at stake in November is too important to do that

Welcome to The Third World:

Go to "Some Assembly Required" - please follow link.

Here's a taste: "Welcome to The Third World: In America, income inequality is soaring, states are cutting once-essential services like schools, fire and police services, public transportation and road maintenance and street lighting. Many corporations pay no taxes while sales taxes burden the poor. Infrastructure is decaying, bridges and dams are unsafe. Unemployment hovers near 10% and is unlikely to improve in the foreseeable future. The housing crisis has barely begun. Wall Street takes 40% of corporate profits. Public health deteriorates while health costs soar. And corporations now own the political arena."

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Charlie Christian / Lester Young 1940 - Ad-Lib Blues

Recorded: Columbia Recording Studios NYC October 28, 1940

Personnel:
Charlie Christian - Electric Guitar
Buck Clayton - Trumpet
Lester Young - Tenor Sax
Freddie Green - Acoustic Guitar
Count Basie - Piano
Walter Page - Bass
Jo Jones - Drums



Lester Young 1939 - Lester Leaps In (Take 1)

Part 1 Duke Ellington -- Diminuendo & Crescendo In Blue

part 2

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Insanity, or Worse, In America

This from The New York Times -- follow link to original

Governments Go to Extremes as the Downturn Wears On

By MICHAEL COOPER
Published: August 6, 2010


Plenty of businesses and governments furloughed workers this year, but Hawaii went further — it furloughed its schoolchildren. Public schools across the state closed on 17 Fridays during the past school year to save money, giving students the shortest academic year in the nation and sending working parents scrambling to find care for them.

Many transit systems have cut service to make ends meet, but Clayton County, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta, decided to cut all the way, and shut down its entire public bus system. Its last buses ran on March 31, stranding 8,400 daily riders.

Even public safety has not been immune to the budget ax. In Colorado Springs, the downturn will be remembered, quite literally, as a dark age: the city switched off a third of its 24,512 streetlights to save money on electricity, while trimming its police force and auctioning off its police helicopters.

Faced with the steepest and longest decline in tax collections on record, state, county and city governments have resorted to major life-changing cuts in core services like education, transportation and public safety that, not too long ago, would have been unthinkable. And services in many areas could get worse before they get better.

The length of the downturn means that many places have used up all their budget gimmicks, cut services, raised taxes, spent their stimulus money — and remained in the hole. Even with Congress set to approve extra stimulus aid, some analysts say states are still facing huge shortfalls.

Cities and states are notorious for crying wolf around budget time, and for issuing dire warnings about draconian cuts that never seem to materialize. But the Great Recession has been different. Around the country, there have already been drastic cuts in core services like education, transportation and public safety, and there are likely to be more before the downturn ends. The cuts that have disrupted lives in Hawaii, Georgia and Colorado may be extreme, but they reflect the kinds of cuts being made nationwide, disrupting the lives of millions of people in ways large and small.

EDUCATION: HAWAII FURLOUGHS ITS CHILDREN

MILILANI, Hawaii — It was a Friday, and Maria Marte, an administrator for an online college that caters to members of the military, should have been at her office at a nearby Army hospital. Her daughters, Nira, 11, and Sonia, 9, should have been in school.

Instead, Ms. Marte was sitting with a laptop in the dining room of her home in this neatly manicured suburb of Honolulu. “Did you already send your registration in?” she asked a client on the phone, trying to speak above the peals of laughter coming from the backyard, where the girls were having a water-balloon fight with some friends.

It was the 17th, and last, Furlough Friday of the year, the end of a cost-cutting experiment that closed schools across the state, outraging parents and throwing a wrench into that most delicate of balances for families with children: the weekly routine

“I have to pay attention to the customers, and make sure that I’m understanding what they need,” said Ms. Marte, 37, whose husband, Odalis, an Army major, had been deployed in Afghanistan for nearly a year. Then she nodded at the window, toward the girls. “But at the same time, I have to make sure that they’re not killing each other.”

For those 17 Fridays, parents reluctantly worked from home or used up vacation and sick days. Others enlisted the help of grandparents. Many paid $25 to $50 per child each week for the new child care programs that had sprung up.

Children, meanwhile, adjusted to a new reality of T.G.I.T. Getting them up for school on Mondays grew harder. Fridays were filled with trips to pools and beaches, hours of television and Wii, long stretches alone for older children, and, occasionally, successful attempts to get them to do their homework early.

But if three-day-weekends in Hawaii sound appealing in theory, many children said that they wound up missing school.

“I’m really not a big fan of furloughs,” said Nira Marte, a fifth grader, explaining that she missed the time with her friends and her teacher.

Four-day weeks have been used by a small number of rural school districts in the United States, especially since the oil shortage of the 1970s. During the current downturn, their ranks have swelled to more than 120 districts, and more are weighing the change.

But Hawaii is an extreme case. It shut schools not only in rural areas but also in high-rise neighborhoods in Honolulu. Suffering from steep declines in tourism and construction, and owing billions of dollars to a pension system that has only 68.8 percent of the money it needs to cover its promises to state workers, Hawaii instituted the furloughs even after getting $110 million in stimulus money for schools.

Unlike most districts with four-day weeks, Hawaii did not lengthen the hours of its remaining school days: its 163-day school year was the shortest in the nation.

The furloughs were originally supposed to last two years, but the outcry was so great — some parents were arrested staging sit-ins at the office of Gov. Linda Lingle, a Republican — that a deal was hammered out to restore the days next year.

On the last furlough day, Ms. Marte toggled back and forth between her girls — making them pizza, taking them to swim practice — and a stream of e-mails and calls. At one point, a soldier on the mainland was interrupted when his baby started bawling.

“Don’t worry, that’s fine,” Ms. Marte reassured him. “I’m in the same boat.”

TRANSPORTATION: A COUNTY SHUTS ITS BUS SYSTEM

RIVERDALE, Ga. — Kelly Smith was reading a library copy of “The Politician,” the tell-all about John Edwards, as his public bus rumbled through a suburb of Atlanta. It was heading toward the airport, where he could switch to a train to his job downtown, in the finance department of the Atlanta Public Schools system. But his mind was drifting.

It was March 31, the last day of public bus service. Clayton County had decided to balance its budget by shutting down C-Tran, the bus system, stranding 8,400 daily riders. Mr. Smith, 45, like two-thirds of the riders, had no car. He needed a plan.

“I think that what they’re doing is criminal,” Mr. Smith said as his 504 bus filled up. “I’ll figure something out, but I see a lot of people here who don’t have an out.”

The next morning, this is what he had figured out: a state-run express bus stopped around three miles from his apartment in Riverdale. So Mr. Smith rose at 5, walked past the defunct C-Tran bus stop just outside his apartment complex and hiked the miles of dark, deserted streets, many of which had no sidewalks.

“If I get hit by a car, it’s my fault,” he said as he crossed a highway. “Who wants to start their day off like this? This is why I don’t get up and jog.”

Mr. Smith was determined to get to the job he had landed in November, and to get there on time. “I was out of work for two and half years, with the economic crisis,” he said. “So the last thing I want to do is walk away from a job.”

Around the country, public transportation has taken a beating during the downturn. Fares typically cover less than half the cost of each ride, and the state and local taxes that most systems depend on have been plummeting.

In most places, that has meant longer waits for more crowded, dirtier and more expensive trains and buses. But it meant the end of the line in Clayton County, a struggling suburb south of Atlanta where “Gone With the Wind” was set and which is now home to most of Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

The county — hit hard by the subprime mortgage crisis and the wave of foreclosures that followed — decided it could no longer afford spending roughly $8 million a year on its bus system, which started in 2001. It hoped that some other entity — like the state — would pick up the cost.

If the threat to shut the system down was a game of chicken, no one blinked.

Now all five bus routes are gone, and riders are trying to adjust.

Jennifer McDaniel, a hostess at a Chili’s in the airport, was forced to spend her tax refund, and take out a big loan, to buy a car. Jaime Tejada, 36, a Delta flight attendant, wondered why transit was so much better in the countries he flies to.

And Tierra Clark, 19, who studies dental hygiene and works five nights a week at the Au Bon Pain at the airport, was left with an unwanted new expense. “I’ll have to call a taxi from now on — $13.75 every night,” Ms. Clark said, as she rode the very last C-Tran bus home.

Now there is talk of levying a new sales tax so the county can join the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority, which it voted not to join when it was created nearly four decades ago. That could get the buses up and running again.

Even if that happens, though, it could be years off — too late for Mr. Smith. After spending a carless Easter vacation trying to figure out a better way to get to work, or even to get his groceries, he ended up quitting his first job in two and a half years and moving just outside Dallas, where his girlfriend had landed a job with a bank.

“A lot of people are leaving Riverdale,” he said.

PUBLIC SAFETY: LIGHTS OUT IN COLORADO SPRINGS

COLORADO SPRINGS — It was when the street lights went out, Diane Cunningham said, that the trouble started.

Her tires were slashed, she said. Her car was broken into. Strange men showed up on her porch. Her neighborhood had grown deserted at night, ever since four streetlights in a row were put out on Airport Road, the street outside her mobile home park.

That is why Ms. Cunningham, 41, and her son Jonathan, 22, were carrying a flat-screen television out of their mobile home on a recent afternoon. “I’m going to pawn this,” Ms. Cunningham said, “to get a shotgun.”

It is impossible to say whether the darkness had contributed to any of the events that frightened the Cunninghams. But ever since Colorado Springs shut off a third of its 24,512 streetlights this winter to save $1.2 million on electricity — while reducing the size of its police force — many residents have said that they feel less safe.

A few miles down Airport Road a 62-year-old man, Esteban Garcia, was shot to death in April when he was robbed outside his family’s taqueria and grocery in a parking lot that had lost the illumination of its nearest streetlight. Gaspar Martinez, a neighboring shopkeeper, said that he believed the lack of the light was partly to blame.

“You figure the robbers think that if it’s dark, it’s the best time to hit,” said Mr. Martinez, 34, whose store, Ruskin Liquor, is in the same small strip mall. Mr. Martinez said that he put more lights up outside his store after the shooting.

The police, who arrested several suspects, said that there was no indication that the doused light had played a role in the crime — or, indeed, in any crimes in Colorado Springs, which remains safer than most cities of its size. But this might be a case, they said, where perception is as important as reality.

“All the sociologists have said this for years: what matters to people isn’t really the number of reported crimes, it’s their perception of safety,” said the city’s police chief, Richard W. Myers. “And let’s say we don’t see any bump in crime — that would be a good thing. But people don’t feel as safe. They’re already telling us that, even if the numbers don’t bear that out. So do we have a problem? I think so.”

Chief Myers said he worried that if law-abiding citizens stopped going out at night or visiting parks, the city’s deserted open spaces could attract more criminals.

One of most influential policing concepts in recent years has been the “broken windows” theory, which holds that addressing minor crimes and signs of disorder can head off bigger problems down the road. Colorado Springs is taking a different tack.

To close a budget gap — the city’s voters, many of whom favor smaller government, turned down a property tax increase in November, and a taxpayer’s bill of rights makes it hard for city officials to raise taxes — Colorado Springs has stopped collecting trash in its parks, stopped watering many medians on its roads and reduced its police force.

The sprawling city of roughly 400,000 at the foot of Pike’s Peak — which covers 194 square miles — made national news when it auctioned off its police helicopters. But less-heralded police cuts could have more impact: the force, which had 687 officers two years ago, is down to 643 and dropping. At any given time, the department estimates that there is a 23 percent chance that all units will be busy.

So it has reduced the number of detectives who investigate property crimes, cut the number of officers assigned to the schools and eliminated units that tracked juvenile offenders and caught fugitives. Officers no longer respond to the scene of most burglaries, at least if they are not in progress.

At the same time, the city joined others — from Fitchburg, Mass., to Santa Rosa, Calif., and began turning off streetlights. Several recent studies have suggested that streetlights help reduce crime — something residents here say is obvious.

Natalie Bartling, a new mother, could not believe it when the light outside her home was shut off in April. Ms. Bartling, 38, had successfully lobbied for the light five years ago after a wave of vandalism and petty thefts hit her middle-class block. So this time she called daily until the city agreed to turn it back on.

“When it got shut off, it was like missing something,” she said on a recent night, standing under its glow. “Part of your life.”