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2011 Budget Battle in Perspective

2011 Budget Battle in Perspective


Today the Cato Institute placed an ad in major newspapers highlighting specific spending cuts that policymakers should make to restore our country’s fiscal sanity and economic stability. Our public call for policymakers to demonstrate leadership on spending cuts comes in the midst of the on-going battle on Capitol Hill over funding the government for the remainder of fiscal 2011.

A graphic at the top of the ad measures the $61 billion in cuts that Republicans have proposed against fiscal 2011 estimates for total spending, the deficit, and interest on the debt. As the graphic shows and the ad notes, it is clear that “leaders and members of both parties are in deep denial about the fiscal emergency we face.”

There are news reports that Republican and Democrat negotiators are heading toward a compromise figure of $33 billion in spending cuts. Let’s put that figure in perspective alongside the GOP’s original proposal to cut a whopping $61 billion:

Record spending levels…trillion dollar plus deficits…mountainous debt…a weak economy…

What, Congress worry?

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EXCLUSIVE PHOTOS: Latest Satellite Imagery From Fukushima Tells Sobering Tale

Noting that the press has largely turned its resources off of the Fukushima complex, and needing up-to-date information on the status of the damage control efforts there, we secured the most up-to-date satellite photo from DigitalGlobe (dated March 31st), which we analyze below. This is the first photo of the damaged reactor site at Japan’s Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear facility made available to the public in over a week. That means you, our readers, are the first public eyes anywhere to see this photo.

Drawing upon the expertise of our resident nuclear engineer and Ann Stringer, imaging expert, we conclude that the situation at Fukushima is not stabilized: things are not yet at a place of steady progress in the containment and clean-up efforts. It’s still a dance, forwards and backwards, with the workers making gains here and there but the situation forcing them to react defensively all too often.

In this report, we will tell you what we know for sure, what we are nearly certain of, and what we remain forced to speculate about.

Here is a portion of a much larger image (covering 25 square kilometers in total) showing the reactor complex as of March 31, at roughly mid-day:

Photo Credit, 2011, DigitalGlobe

What We Can See

Here’s what we can directly observe in the

Five more photos

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Duncan Hunter rips CIA on Libya intelligence


The Central Intelligence Agency should have more intelligence on rebels in Libya by now, a member of the House Armed Services Committee said Friday.

In an interview with MSNBC, Rep. Duncan Hunter Jr. (R-Calif.) criticized the CIA for not being able to provide a sufficient amount of intelligence to American lawmakers to decide whether arming Libyan rebels to help battle dictator Col. Moammar Gadhafi is a good idea or not.

"You could say that the CIA kind of failed us in Libya. They were there until about a month ago in Tripoli, they didn't see any of this coming," Hunter said.  "They didn't pick out the bad actors and good actors prior to this. “

Hunter's criticism comes after media reports earlier this week that President Obama had secretly authorized providing aid to the rebels. Administration officials denied the reports and reiterated that the U.S. presence in Libya is to help enforce a United Nations Security Council no-fly zone resolution to protect Libyan civilians and allow Libyan rebels the opportunity to strengthen themselves enough to oust Gadhafi.

Obama and other administration officials have left open the possibility of arming the rebels despite criticism from lawmakers that the U.S. doesn't really know who the rebels are or what the end result could be of arming them.

"I'm not ruling [arming them] out. But I'm also not ruling it in," Obama said in an interview with NBC News on Tuesday.

Watch the video below:


Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


By Daniel Strauss


04/01/11 02:52 PM ET

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Stalemate in Libya increasingly viewed as a likely outcome

By Joby Warrick and Liz Sly, Friday, April , 9:07 PM

U.S. officials are becoming increasingly resigned to the possibility of a protracted stalemate in Libya, with rebels retaining control of the eastern half of the divided country but lacking the muscle to drive Moammar Gaddafi from power.

Such a deadlock — perhaps backed by a formal cease-fire agreement — could help ensure the safety of Libyan civilians caught in the crossfire between the warring sides. But it could also dramatically expand the financial and military commitments by the United States and allied countries that have intervened in the six-week-old conflict, according to U.S. officials familiar with planning for the Libyan operation.

New evidence of a possible impasse emerged Friday as an opposition spokesman called publicly for a cease-fire that would halt the fighting and essentially freeze the battle lines. The Libyan government rejected the proposal, saying it would not “withdraw from our own cities.”

At the same time, British officials privately disclosed a recent visit to London by a senior aide to one of Gaddafi’s sons, prompting new speculation that those close to the Libyan leader were exploring ways to end the fighting.

Gaddafi loyalists continued to pound rebel fighters in the key oil hub of Brega, a town that had been claimed by anti-government forces less than a week ago. Yet, despite repeated setbacks in recent days, intelligence assessments suggest that the rebels, with continuing NATO air support, are capable now of maintaining control of strongholds such as Benghazi as well as key oil fields in eastern Libya, according to two U.S. officials privy to classified reports from the region who agreed to discuss them only on the condition of anonymity.

U.S. analysts have concluded that Gaddafi will likely not step aside voluntarily, despite recent

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Coalition Air Strikes: Body Bags Begin Piling Up

Patrick Henningsen


April 1, 2011

Warning: Very graphic

It was only a matter of time before gungho western audiences and pundits would have to face the harsh reality that overwhelming military power produces: 1,400 air sorties and 700 Tomahawk cruise missiles later, the civilian body bags are beginning to mount up. And the political ramifications for the acting war parties in Washington, Britain and Paris are inescapable.

Dead Libyans: Not ready for corporate media primetime.

According to yesterday’s report from Reuters, at least 40 civilians were killed in air strikes by Western forces on Tripoli, a top Vatican official in the Libyan capital told a Catholic news agency on Thursday, quoting witnesses. “The so-called humanitarian raids have killed dozens of civilian victims in some neighborhoods of Tripoli,” said Giovanni Innocenzo Martinelli, the Apostolic Vicar of Tripoli. Martinelli goes on to add, “I have collected several witness accounts from reliable people. In particular, in the Buslim neighborhood, due to the bombardments, a civilian building collapsed, causing the death of 40 people”.

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Michele Bachmann tops Mitt Romney in fundraising

Michelle Bachmann and Mitt Romney are shown in a composite. | AP Photos

Michele Bachmann became the queen of 2011 fundraising this quarter, bringing in a combined $2.2 million for the quarter – bigger than the $1.9 million that frontrunner Mitt Romney reported bringing in, officials confirmed for POLITICO.

Bachmann raised $1.7 million for her congressional committee, and another $500,000 for her leadership PAC, Bachmann adviser Andy Parrish said.

The numbers are sure to roil the early presidential-watching, as the Minnesota congresswoman gears up for a likely run for the White House in 2012.

Much of her donations are reportedly small checks.

Bachmann, a tea party favorite, has been getting increasing attention as Sarah Palin appears increasingly unlikely to run.

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Democratic Led Recall Efforts Raise Nearly $250K

Democratic Led Recall Efforts Raise Nearly $250K

by Media Trackers

The Wisconsin Government Accountability Board released today the filing reports for the recall committees of eight Republican state senators. A look at the numbers does not reflect a grassroots effort to raise money but large donations from the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the Wisconsin Progress PAC.

Included among the expenditures is money allocated for paid staff. These totals amount to more than 12 times the money raised by efforts to recall Democratic senators.

Committee to Recall Kapanke

-Democratic Party of Wisconsin-$8,589

-Wisconsin Progress PAC-$6,586.12


Committee to Recall Darling

-Democratic Party of Wisconsin-$7,404.73

-Wisconsin Progress PAC-$8,775.12

-Friends of the Committee to Recall Alberta Darling- $634.57



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Think Tank Receives Death Threats

Think Tank Receives Death Threats Over Labor-Related FOIA Request to Universities

by Liberty Chick

Apparently, the Big Labor-related death threats aren’t limited to Wisconsin.  Or to lawmakers.

This following email is just in from our friends at The Mackinac Center for Public Policy:

<start email>

“The Mackinac Center for Public Policy received numerous death threats and bomb threats in the aftermath of national publicity about a Freedom of Information Act request it sent to three public universities.

The messages were left on the Center’s voice mail Thursday night and early Friday morning, but it is unclear at this point if one or two women were responsible for the threats.

Mackinac Center President Joseph Lehman said the Mackinac Cente

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New Zeal: Socialist Labor Bosses Plan Mass Actions Across America

An Emergency Labor Meeting was held in Cleveland, Ohio on March 4-5, 2011. 

Ninety-six union leaders and activists from 26 states and from “a broad cross-section of the labor movement” gathered at the Laborers Local 310 Hall in Cleveland in response to an invitation sent out in January urging them to “explore together what we can do to mount a more militant and robust fight-back campaign to defend the interests of working people.”

Three weeks prior to the Emergency Labor Meeting (ELM), “unionists and community and student activists in Wisconsin unleashed a resistance movement against Governor Scott Walker’s union-busting and concessionary attacks that in a short time has breathed new life into the labor movement”.

Participants in the ELM took “full note of the new situation and of the grave dangers to the U.S. labor movement and to workers’ and democratic rights posed by Governor Walker’s attacks”.

They pledged to make the “fight against union-busting and the budget cuts/concessions in

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Gallup Finds U.S. Unemployment Rate at 10.0% in March

March 31, 2011

Underemployment falls to 19.3% from 19.9% at the end of February

by Dennis Jacobe, Chief Economist

PRINCETON, NJ — Unemployment, as measured by Gallup without seasonal adjustment, was 10.0% in March — down from 10.2% in mid-March and 10.3% at the end of February, but above the 9.8% at the end of January. U.S. unemployment was 10.4% at the end of March a year ago.

Gallup's U.S. Unemployment Rate, January 2010-March 2011


The percentage of part-time workers who want

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We’ve Become a Nation of Takers, Not Makers

More Americans work for the government than in manufacturing, farming, fishing, forestry, mining and utilities combined.

If you want to understand better why so many states—from New York to Wisconsin to California—are teetering on the brink of bankruptcy, consider this depressing statistic: Today in America there are nearly twice as many people working for the government (22.5 million) than in all of manufacturing (11.5 million). This is an almost exact reversal of the situation in 1960, when there were 15 million workers in manufacturing and 8.7 million collecting a paycheck from the government.

It gets worse. More Americans work for the government than work in construction, farming, fishing, forestry, manufacturing, mining and utilities combined. We have moved decisively from a nation of makers to a nation of takers. Nearly half of the $2.2 trillion cost of state and local governments is the $1 trillion-a-year tab for pay and benefits of state and local employees. Is it any wonder that so many states and cities cannot pay their bills?

Every state in America today except for two—Indiana and Wisconsin—has more government workers on the payroll than people manufacturing industrial goods. Consider California, which has the highest budget deficit in the history of the states. The not-so Golden State now has an incredible 2.4 million government employees—twice as many as people at work in manufac

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