April 13, 2011

Photobucket of …

Filed under: General — Tom @ 2:35 pm

Pictures aren’t working right now, and yes, it’s really annoying.

I’m told, just as readers are, that Photobucket is undergoing maintenance right now. Hopefully things will return to normal reasonably shortly.

UPDATE, 8 PM: Finally, they’re back, hopefully to stay.

Absolutely Punked: AP Publishes False Story About GE Repaying Treasury

This is about as weak as it gets.

This morning as seen here (saved here at my web host for future reference), an unbylined 90-word Associated Press report at 9:57 a.m. told readers the following, in part:

Facing criticism over the amount of taxes it pays, General Electric announced it will repay its entire $3.2 billion tax refund to the US Treasury on April 18.

GE uses a series of foreign tax havens that the company says are legal and that led to an enormous refund for the 2010 tax year.

At 10:40 a.m., CNBC called BS on AP:

GE Rebuffs Tax Refund Report as ‘Hoax’

General Electric called an earlier media report Wednesday that it would repay a $3.2 billion tax refund to the Treasury Department a “hoax.”

Members of an activist group calling themselves the “Yes Men” claimed responsibility for the hoax, according to a report from Reuters.

… Earlier Wednesday morning, the Associated Press reported that the U.S. conglomerate — using “a series of foreign tax havens” — would repay the “enormous” refund it received for the 2010 tax year.

Shares of GE, which is a minority shareholder in NBC Universal, the parent company of CNBC.com, slipped on the AP report.

… “It’s a hoax and GE did not receive a refund,” said Deirdre Latour, a GE spokeswoman.

… “The “Yes Men” sent the release to draw attention to GE’s approach to taxes, according to Andrew Boyd who described himself in a phone interview with Reuters as a member of the group.”

AP’s retraction, currently time-stamped at 1:35 p.m. but apparently originally published at about 10:30 a.m., now reads as follows:

The Associated Press mistakenly published a story Wednesday about General Electric Co. that was based on a fake press release.

The fake release said that General Electric, responding to criticism over the amount of taxes it pays, would repay a $3.2 billion tax refund for 2010 to the Treasury Department.

The fake release, which was emailed to the AP, included a GE logo and a link to a website designed to look like GE’s website.

The idea that GE would voluntarily pay $3.2 billion in tax it apparently wasn’t required to legally pay is so absurd that the legitimacy of the press release upon which the Associated Press relied — apparently without calling or e-mailing for any kind of authentication (but that logo and fake web site sure looked OK!) — should have been seriously questioned from the start. But it clearly wasn’t.

The AP demonstrates more and more with each passing day that it is not a serious news organization and has inadequate controls to prevent false, misleading, and slanted news from being published. Its subscribing newspapers, radio outlets, and TV stations — and the American people — are being poorly served.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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BizzyBlog Update, April 14: Warner Todd Houston — “The fact is AP wanted this to be true more than they wanted to be factually correct.”


President in Denial as Tipping Point Is in View

Filed under: Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 1:34 pm

Andrew Malcolm on Barack Obama’s upcoming (as of the moment this post was written) speech today:

He’ll try to recapture control by adjusting the subject: Yes, yes the deficit is bad, though not as bad as you-know-which party makes it out to be. We do need to trim it with some cuts over time. But what we really need is more money to get stuff done.

Larry Kotlikoff, professor of economics at Boston University, and president of Economic Security Planning Inc., on what an incredible load of rubbish that belief of Obama’s really is:

Fiscal Meltdown in Spitting Distance

CBO’s (the Congressional Budget Office’s) baseline budget updates suggest the date for reaching what Carmen Reinhart, Kenneth Rogoff and other prominent economists believe is a critical insolvency threshold — a 90 percent ratio of federal debt held by the public to gross domestic product — has moved four years closer, in just nine months!

… Last June’s analysis had us going critical (crossing the 90 percent debt-to-GDP threshold) in 2021.

.. In January, the CBO modified its 10-year baseline forecast, taking into account the December deal. By my calculations, this meant the 90 percent threshold would be crossed in 2019.

On March 18, when the CBO released a new forecast that incorporated the president’s budget, the 90 percent mark had moved up to 2017.

Actually, 2017 is optimistic. Uncle Sam’s creditors will soon start charging exorbitant interest rates — like those Greece, Ireland and Portugal now face. The market’s concern with those countries’ bonds is outright default, which is unlikely in the U.S. What is likely is rising inflation as the Federal Reserve continues to print vast quantities of money to help pay the Treasury’s bills.

Earth to Obama: 2017 is only six years away, and I agree that critical threshold day is likely on track to occur sooner. That anyone can be so out of touch as to talking about the need for additional “investment” instead of serious spending adjustment and reform is really hard to take. Or are the people who have been claiming all along that the president’s goal is really the country’s ruination being proven right before our very eyes?

Disclosure: Yours truly is involved with Prof. Kotlikoff in certain Pajamas Media-related projects.

Lickety-Split Links (041311, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:41 am

At a CNN blog: “No Opening Day for the White House” —

Neither President Barack Obama nor Vice President Joe Biden have the nation’s pastime on their schedules today, marking the first time in the administration that Opening Day ceremonies won’t have White House participation.

… Presidents have been throwing out the first pitch for more than one hundred years. William Howard Taft started the tradition of the first pitch for Opening Day in 1910 when he pitched from the mound at a Washington Senators game. Every president except for Jimmy Carter has taken part in the tradition ever since.

Another related story asserts that Obama “appears to be smarting from criticism he faced for filling out his NCAA brackets on ESPN.”

Zheesh. These supposedly smart people are incredibly tone-deaf. Nobody minds the President participating in traditional or ceremonial events (though we reserve the right to note their pitching prowess, or lack thereof). Gosh, at least send Biden. What many do mind is the President’s seeming habit of making it all about him. A simple thing like sending in his brackets and having someone else read his Final Four would have deflated most of the criticism.

Otherwise, I like the Carter comparison. Hopefully the reelection results will also be comparable.

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Speaking of media unions which are on board against AOL/HuffPo (see second item here earlier this morning), here’s an offering from the Newspaper Guild demonstrating why its members can’t do journalism:

Today (April 12) is Equal Pay Day, marking how much longer the average woman had to work to earn as much as the average man earned in 2010. Just one year out of college, working women already earn less than their male colleagues earn, even when they work in the same field with the same degree.

Sorry, guys and gals: “There Is No Male-Female Wage Gap” –

Feminist hand-wringing about the wage gap relies on the assumption that the differences in average earnings stem from discrimination. Thus the mantra that women make only 77% of what men earn for equal work. But even a cursory review of the data proves this assumption false.

It takes a special degree of deliberate ignorance to buy into the myth. Thankfully, even the Bloghers of the world seem not to be on board. Well, there is hope after all.

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If you are a union member, this web site will automatically generate a letter that you can print and mail to your union representative to claim your individual refund. UnionRefund will also send a courtesy notification letter to your union to ensure a quick resolution for your request. It’s that easy!”

Well, it may be “that easy” to get the letters out, but this BizzyBlog post from 2007 explains why in most states it’s not going to be “that easy” to actually obtain your refund.

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This decision absolutely reeks (HT PJ Tatler) of disgraceful, spiteful politics, and is a slap in the face to an awful lot of brave people and their families:

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Tuesday announced that Space Center Houston will not receive a retired space shuttle. The orbiters will instead be housed in Florida, California, Washington, D.C., and New York City.

Specifically, the space shuttle Atlantis will retire to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Endeavour will be housed at the California Science Center, just outside of Los Angeles.

Discovery, as previously promised, will go to the Smithsonian Institute.

The prototype Enterprise, which is currently housed at the Smithsonian, will be moved to the Intrepid Museum in New York City.

… Many legislative and business leaders, including Bob Mitchell of the Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership, were calling for a Congressional investigation into why Houston wasn’t chosen.

… Rep. Pete Olson said the decision “smacked of a political gesture,” and Sen. John Cornyn said it was “clear that political favors trumped common sense and fairness.”

The families of the victims of the Columbia and Challenger disasters released a joint statement Tuesday afternoon, saying they were heartbroken by the decision.

“Home is where the heart is, and Houston has served as the heart of the space shuttle program since its inception nearly four decades ago,” the families said.

“All the astronauts lost were Houston’s residents.”

There shouldn’t be an investigation. There should be a reversal of the award to either New York City or LA. Period.

Quick-Hit Headlines (041311, Morning)

Filed under: Lucid Links — Tom @ 6:21 am

Glenn Reynolds believes that the minimum drinking-age decision should be left to the states, and that the age should be lowered to 18. Glenn Reynolds is absolutely correct.

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An unpaid blogger is suing Arianna Huffington for a piece of Huffington’s Heist, unleashing a cacophony of Marxist rhetorical hilarity. Unionized media reporters should be disclosing to readers, listeners, and viewers that their union has backed an unrelated action against against AOL/HuffPo asking unpaid bloggers to withhold their services. But they won’t.

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At AP“WH: Obama regrets vote against raising debt limit.” He doesn’t regret that nearly as much as millions of people regret voting for him.

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Not This Mitt AgainUpdate: He’s exploring. Tea Partiers and sensible conservatives (a redundant term) need to dissuade him.

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At P/O’d Patriot (HT Gateway Pundit): “SEIU Members Arrested in WA After Pushing State Troopers.” The related local TV video never identifies the protesters as unionized workers, only as “health care providers.”

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This is a couple of weeks old, but given David Solway’s outstanding rundown of climate change fraud, phoniness, and deception, it should be noted: “Krugman: No ‘Scientific Impropriety’ in ClimateGate - ‘Hide the Decline’ an ‘Effective Graphical Presentation.’” What a maroon.

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Will collective-bargaining reform-backing Wisconsin petitioners really be able to place the names of eight Fleebaggers on recall ballots?

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At NewsBusters on Monday“Chris Matthews: Paul Ryan’s Medicare Plan Will ‘Kill Half the People Who Watch My Show.’” Would that be his mom or his dad (towards whom I obviously wish no real harm)?

Positivity: Pro-life ‘godfather’ celebrated for 38 years of activism

Filed under: Life-Based News,Positivity — Tom @ 5:58 am

From Chicago:

Apr 7, 2011 / 06:02 am

On April 2, more than 400 friends and supporters of Pro-Life Action League founder Joe Scheidler paid tribute to his 38 years of activism at a banquet in downtown Chicago. On the streets outside, his cause continued to provoke the kinds of dramatic responses he’s come to expect.

“We had a contingent of protesters outside, screaming their heads off,” Scheidler recalled. “Then a group of kids came out, who called themselves the ‘Crusaders.’ There were about a hundred kids with yellow balloons that said ‘LIFE’ on them, and they rolled out a red carpet for us.”

“It’s a battle all the time. During the banquet, they were slicing the tires of people who had pro-life stickers on their cars. If it was a gay-rights group that was having a party, and somebody sliced their tires, they’d have the FBI on it. But they treat us like we deserve it.”

Scheidler told CNA that he felt “very much humbled” by the tribute banquet, sponsored by Citizens for a Pro-Life Society.

“It was very touching for me to hear everyone – they had 23 speakers, for three minutes each, just saying how they got to know me. Many of them were there to say, ‘You know, Joe got us started.’”

In the early years of the pro-life movement, Scheidler’s book “Closed: 99 Ways to Stop Abortion” was a foundational text. He traveled the world speaking on the ethics of abortion and outlining practical forms of activism that he had developed and tested. In the process, he inspired others to follow his lead.

“I would be watching, during my talks, and find the people who were listening most intensely,” he recalled. “I’d talk with them afterward, and suggest they go full-time in the movement. And a number of them did.”

Scheidler’s own career as an activist was an unexpected calling, but one he is “absolutely convinced” he was born to fulfill.

“I spent eight years in the seminary, and four years in the monastery, wanting to be a priest,” he said. “But when I was preparing for ordination, I thought, ‘Nope – this is not what I’m called to do.’ And then suddenly, everything started to fall together.”

“I read the Roe v. Wade decision, in 1973, and it was an atrocity – it was a great big lie. There is no ‘constitutional right’ to kill children. I was working as an account executive for a public relations firm at the time, and I just had to quit and do full-time pro-life work.” …

Go here for the rest of the story.