Music Night. Happy Birthday, Roy

Roy Orbison, b. April 23, 1936. Died 1988. Quite simply, one of the greatest American songwriter/singers of all time. One particular song jumped out at me for tonight, because it’s not only my personal favorite, but because this duet with K D Lang was even an improvement over Orbison’s solos. I’ve never been able to listen to Crying without getting goosebumps. (more after the jump–see how many musicians you recognize in the third video)

This post brought to you courtesy of time machines and technology. At the time you’re viewing this, I’m drinking beer and eating something great in Chicago. I’ll raise you a pint and a hot dog.

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The Watering Hole: April 23, Britpolitics

Now this shall be unusual if it happens. The UK is heading for a general election on May 6th and this time it could result in a hung Parliament. Due to the first past the post voting system within a hitherto two-party system that has rarely ever  happened before.

The real surprise is the rise of Liberal Democrat leader Clegg, who is likened to, who else, Barack Obama. After the first televised debate of the candidates he was leading in the polls, after the second one he is neck on neck with David Cameron the Tory leader. There is nothing much that Gordon Brown can do, even if he was scored some points in the debate. The British want change, even at the price of a hung parliament.

This is our Open Thread. You can comment on this and that and everything.

Update on yesterday’s post: Greece has formally asked for aid now. € 30 billion from the EU and a further 15 billion from the IMF. Read this, too: The Economist sets Greece’s need for aid at €75 billion.

Across the Pond: The Euro’s Birth Defects cannot be healed.

Since January 1, 2002 most European countries share a single currency, the Euro. I remember paying 1 Million Lire for a week’s lodging in the Marches region of Italy and the next year € 500,–. The introduction made travel easier and prices immediately comparable. Convenient.

For European businesses a single currency made trade much easier, more plannable and got rid of the risk of undulating exchange rates.

A logical, well meant and politically desired move to a more economically powerful European Union. But well planned?

When the euro came into being, monetary policy became the responsibility of the independent European Central Bank (ECB), which was created for that purpose, and the national central banks of the Member States having adopted the euro. (read more)

The Stability and Growth Pact was meant to safeguard public finances and limited budget deficits to 3% of GDP.

The dissuasive part of the Pact governs the excessive deficit procedure (EDP). The EDP is triggered by the deficit breaching the 3% of GDP threshold of the Treaty. If it is decided that the deficit is excessive in the meaning of the Treaty, the Council issues recommendations to the Member States concerned to correct the excessive deficit and gives a time frame for doing so. Non compliance with the recommendations triggers further steps in the procedures, including for euro area Member States the possibility of sanctions. Continue reading

Financial Regulation: The President’s Speech on Wall Street Reform

Source: The White House

This is a full transcript of President Obama’s Speech on Wall Street Reform in Cooper Union. A video is not yet available.

THE PRESIDENT:  Thank you very much.  Everybody, please have a seat.  Thank you very much.  Well, thank you.  It is good to be back.  (Applause.)  It is good to be back in New York, it is good to be back in the Great Hall at Cooper Union.  (Applause.)

We’ve got some special guests here that I want to acknowledge.  Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is here in the house.  (Applause.)  Governor David Paterson is here.  (Applause.)  Attorney General Andrew Cuomo.  (Applause.)  State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli is here.  (Applause.)  The Mayor of New York City, Michael Bloomberg.  (Applause.)  Dr. George Campbell, Jr., president of Cooper Union.  (Applause.)  And all the citywide elected officials who are here.  Thank you very much for your attendance.

It is wonderful to be back in Cooper Union, where generations of leaders and citizens have come to defend their ideas and contest their differences.  It’s also good to be back in Lower Manhattan, a few blocks from Wall Street.  (Laughter.)  It really is good to be back, because Wall Street is the heart of our nation’s financial sector.

Now, since I last spoke here two years ago, our country has been through a terrible trial.  More than 8 million people have lost their jobs.  Countless small businesses have had to shut their doors.  Trillions of dollars in savings have been lost — forcing seniors to put off retirement, young people to postpone college, entrepreneurs to give up on the dream of starting a company.  And as a nation we were forced to take unprecedented steps to rescue the financial system and the broader economy.

And as a result of the decisions we made — some of which, let’s face it, were very unpopular — we are seeing hopeful signs.  A little more than one year ago we were losing an average of 750,000 jobs each month.  Today, America is adding jobs again.  One year ago the economy was shrinking rapidly.  Today the economy is growing.  In fact, we’ve seen the fastest turnaround in growth in nearly three decades.

But you’re here and I’m here because we’ve got more work to do.  Until this progress is felt not just on Wall Street but on Main Street we cannot be satisfied.  Until the millions of our neighbors who are looking for work can find a job, and wages are growing at a meaningful pace, we may be able to claim a technical recovery — but we will not have truly recovered.  And even as we seek to revive this economy, it’s also incumbent on us to rebuild it stronger than before.  We don’t want an economy that has the same weaknesses that led to this crisis.  And that means addressing some of the underlying problems that led to this turmoil and devastation in the first place.
Now, one of the most significant contributors to this recession was a financial crisis as dire as any we’ve known in generations — at least since the ’30s.  And that crisis was born of a failure of responsibility — from Wall Street all the way to Washington — that brought down many of the world’s largest financial firms and nearly dragged our economy into a second Great Depression. Continue reading

The Watering Hole: April 22, A Greek Tragedy.. it not. The problem was foreseeable, given the prevailing corruption of a set in concrete political class, be it from the right or from the left.

For years now the Greek Prime Minister’s name is always either Papandreou or Karamalis. It’s a Papandreou right now. And I am willing to bet that the next one will be Karamanlis again, or someone from his immediate family.

So Greece is pulling down the Euro, asking for huge bailouts by the European Central Bank and the only economical data showing an upward trend is the deficit that the Greek allow for. Nevermind the real deficit, which we all can only guess at.

On the upside, if you like a good risk: Greek bond yields skyrocket.

This is our Open Thread. Don’t pull any punches.

Bernie Goldberg Fires Back..

From The Daily Show:

Jon apologizes for criticizing Bernie Goldberg and Fox News, but it’s only because they’re a terrible, cynical, disingenuous news organization.

I guess I missed the start of this ‘tiff’ between Bernie Goldberg from Fox Noise and Jon Stewart when Stewart told Bernie to “go f*@k yourself” in a segment last week. This response from Stewart to Goldberg’s latest criticism still has me laughing!!

Goldberg.. What a flipping blowhard. He faces the camera and addresses Stewart directly, starting out with a guilty plea to Jon Stewart’s charge that Goldberg generalizes when he talks about “liberals”, and then he tries telling Jon Stewart that if he (Jon) wants to be a good social commentator, he needs to find some guts..

Stewart asks how hard can it be for Goldberg to sit on Bill O’Reilly’s show and criticize ‘liberal elites’.. He reminds Goldberg that he is a comedian doing political satire, and that he “hasn’t moved out of the comedian’s box into the news box”, “the news box is moving towards me” ( Jon Stewart).

Goldberg goes downhill from there by accusing Stewart of being ‘a SAFE Jay Leno with a smaller audience who gets to use the “F bomb”‘ and then calls his (Stewart’s) audience “incredibly unsophisticated”. Stewart’s response is priceless.

Stewart goes on to school Goldberg on what satire is and isn’t, he then goes after Goldberg for not following his own tagline (Fox Noise’s so-called ‘fair and balanced’).

Stewart ends with calling Fox Noise “the Lupus of news”, and then addressing Goldberg and FOX directly, with the choir behind him singing backup, he says “As long as fair and balanced is how you sell yourselves..” (then) “GO F*@K YOURSELVES!”

The McVeigh tapes

On April 19, 1995, Timothy McVeigh parked a Ryder truck filled with a 7000 pound bomb in front of the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City and walked away, knowing that he was going to kill a lot of government employees and children in a day care.

This is McVeigh’s confession — chilling, sickening, and self-serving.

Part 1 of 12:

Part 2:

Part 3:

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The Watering Hole: April 20, Columbine

On April 20, 1999 Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold entered Columbine High School in Littleton. They carried shotguns, rifles and explosive devices. They killed twelve students and one teacher and twenty-four other students were injured as a direct result of the massacre. Three more were injured indirectly as they attempted to escape the school. Harris and Klebold are thought to have committed suicide about forty-five minutes after the massacre began.

Yesterday on the anniversary of the Oklahoma bombing the militias were coming out strong.

I am not afraid of guns, but very much so of those who are prepared to use them on fellow men. And my fear hyperboles when assholes like Timothy McVeigh are put on pedestals and made into Horst Wessels or Edwin Kerns.

Make sure to visit the Timothy McVeigh thread below. Thanks Zooey for posting it!

This is an Open Thread, go ahead and tell us all.

The Watering Hole: April 19 – Sächsilüütä


Today is “Sechsilütä”. Half a bank holiday here in Zurich (and Zurich only). Read here what it is all about. I have no news yet on the weather oracle, but I’ll tell you as soon as the Böögg has had his say.

This is an open thread, go ahead and tell us all.
UPDATE: It took 12 minutes and 54 seconds for the Böögg’s head to explode, which will give us a nice enough summer.