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Longwood Gardens. May, 2012. Photo credit: joanneleon
Cinco de Mayo—or the fifth of May—commemorates the Mexican army's 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations. Cinco de Mayo traditions include parades, mariachi music performances and street festivals in cities and towns across Mexico and the United States.


April jobs report suggests slowing economy; unemployment drops to 8.1 percent

WASHINGTON — Concerns that the U.S. economy’s recovery is stumbling intensified Friday with the government’s second consecutive subpar monthly-jobs report.

Employers added an anemic 115,000 jobs in April, as a shrinking workforce shaved the unemployment rate to 8.1 percent, down slightly from 8.2 percent in March, the Labor Department said. Friday’s numbers were well below the 170,000 new jobs that mainstream economic forecasters had expected.

This is a segment from the Maddow show. Check out the charts. Krugman says we are in a depression.  Note that both Maddow and Krugman (Maddow especially) let the Democrats off the hook and blame the republicans for being the extreme party of the 1% whose policies expand income inequality and favor the very rich.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Yes, it's a depression and yes, it's all about demand.
Paul Krugman on How to Fix the Economy - and Why It's Easier Than You Think

The worst part? It doesn't have to be this way. Or so says Paul Krugman. In a new book, End This Depression Now!, the Nobel-winning economist and New York Times columnist makes an urgent, even passionate case that our economic problems are, at root, fairly simple, and we have the knowledge and the tools to solve them. We've been here before, Krugman argues, during the Great Depression, and the actions that got us out of that crisis will get us out of this one, too.

The basic issue, says Krugman, is a lack of demand. American consumers and businesses, aren't spending enough, and efforts to get them to open their wallets have gone nowhere. Krugman's solution: The federal government needs to step in and spend. A lot. On debt relief for struggling homeowners; on infrastructure projects; on aid to states and localities; on safety-net programs. Call it "stimulus" if you like. Call it Keynesian economics, after the great economic thinker (and Krugman idol) John Maynard Keynes, who first championed the idea that government has an essential role in saving the free market from its own excesses. Whatever you call it, it worked in the late nineteen-thirties and forties, when the U.S. government started shelling out on the military in the build-up to World War II, bringing an abrupt end to years of economic misery and laying the foundation for decades of prosperity. Krugman is not calling for an increase in military spending, much less a global war! But the WWII example shows that large-scale government spending can kick-start the economy. It worked then, he says, and it will work now.

UN chief Ban Ki-moon called mounting journalist deaths ‘outrageous’

UN leader Ban Ki-moon on Thursday led international outrage at the growing number of journalists killed in the line of duty amid widespread calls for greater protection for reporters.

Ban told a World Press Freedom Day event at the UN headquarters that journalists now face “dire threats” and highlighted that more than 60 were killed in 2011.

[ ... ]

“Such attacks are outrageous. I call on all concerned to prevent and prosecute such violence,” Ban said.
Reporters Without Borders said that 22 reporters and six bloggers and “citizen journalists” have already been killed since the start of the year.

Harassment authorizations?
Shell receives permits for Arctic Ocean drilling

A spokesman for Shell Alaska says the company is a step closer to exploratory drilling off Alaska's northern shores.

Curtis Smith says the National Marine Fisheries Service on Wednesday issued the company harassment authorizations for whales and seals.

New Fracking Rules Come Up Short Leaving Communities, Earth Unprotected
'Seriously inadequate' proposal disappoints

Today, the Obama administration proposed new rules on the fracking industry's procedures and oversight on public lands. Outdated fracking regulations have been replaced with out of touch fracking regulations, falling short of protecting communities from toxic pollution, according to environmental groups.

The new proposal would require that companies get approval before fracking, and would require companies to reveal chemicals they use in hydraulic fracturing; however, the companies will only be required to reveal their chemicals after they complete the process.

Also, the rules only apply to public lands and would not affect drilling on private land, where the bulk of fracking occurs.

I'm sure this will get him those Republican votes!
New U.S. Proposal on Fracking Gives Ground to Industry

The pullback on the rule followed a series of meetings at the White House after the original regulation was proposed in February. Lobbyists representing oil industry trade associations and individual major producers like ExxonMobil, XTO Energy, Apache, Samson Resources and Anadarko Petroleum met with officials of the Office of Management and Budget, who reworked the rule to address industry concerns about overlapping state regulations and the cost of compliance.

[ ... ]

President Obama has strongly endorsed the new production as a boon to the economy and energy security. And the president, under intense criticism of his energy policies from Republicans and oil industry officials as he faces a re-election contest, has recently taken steps to ease government regulation of oil operations.

[ ... ]

Interior Department officials said that having a record would allow scientists to trace any future contamination and that it did not matter whether the fluids were disclosed before or after drilling.

By contrast...
Argentina approves YPF oil takeover

Argentina's takeover of its formerly state-owned energy company from Spanish shareholders won easy approval from legislators.

Congress' lower house voted 207-32 to give the force of law to what President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner surprisingly decreed two weeks earlier: the expropriation of the Spanish company Repsol SA's 10.5 billion US dollar stake in the YPF oil company, without a single centavo paid in advance.

The expropriation measure was worded to make any energy company operating in Argentina a potential target for government intervention.

Boulder's famous 'falling bear' killed on U.S. 36

The bear famously tranquilized on the University of Colorado campus last week, and immortalized in a viral photo by CU student Andy Duann, met a tragic death early Thursday in the Denver-bound lanes of U.S. 36.

Kent State, 40 years on: the shredding of constitutional liberty still goes on
To this day, military repression permeates the US. But as history has shown, resistance will always follow

Again and again, we learn that war abroad will find a way home.

[ ... ]

Today, the permanent wars carried out by the US military and its Nato spawn bring home their own violence and tragedy. Witness the mass killings at Fort Hood, astronomical suicide rates for returning veterans, widespread rape and assault on women in the military by their fellow soldiers, attempted assassinations of politicians, and the galloping arms race among ordinary citizens and residents who are increasingly arming up and carrying concealed weapons to work and play. Add to that the quiet violence of a 20% child poverty rate in the richest nation in history, a prison gulag of mass incarceration sweeping up 2.5 million people, harsh economic "austerity" resulting in severe slashing and degradation of education, health care, housing, public transportation and jobs at home – all of it hitting people of colour disproportionally. Empire and constant military wars not only squander the public wealth and directly destroy the lives of millions, they inevitably bring about a Panopticon-like national security state and a militarised domestic life at home.

Fascism rises from the depths of Greece's despair
A neo-Nazi party that wants work camps for immigrants is on course to win its first seats in parliament on Sunday

It started, as many days do in Greece, with a trip to the kiosk to buy cigarettes. Still half-asleep, Panayiotis Roumeliotis was surprised to be asked to show his identity card by two young men with shaved heads. It was his first direct contact with the vigilante groups that have become a feature of everyday life in some areas of the Greek capital.

"They were calling themselves the residents association but they were just fasistakia (little fascists)," said the 28-year-old.

Rioting Egyptians at Defense Ministry say street protests are more effective than elections

CAIRO — Two weeks before presidential elections here, amid continuing clashes between Egyptian civilians and security forces, protesters are saying that they are back in the streets because they do not trust elections to bring about the kind of revolutionary change they had hoped for.

The melee began as thousands of people chanting phrases such as “Down, down, military rule” moved toward the ministry. Then security forces grabbed a protester and began beating him before hauling him away. The protesters ran and began throwing rocks they’d already gathered. The police threw the rocks back, then sprayed the crowd with tear gas and water. The crowds then advanced again, and the cycle repeated itself for hours. The projectiles grew bigger as protesters began to break up the sidewalk for new ammunition.

“This is the same tactic they have been using toward us since the beginning,” shouted Abdel el Saghees, a 23-year-old graphic designer, gesturing to the scores of security forces lined up in front of him. “They are trying to incite violence,” he said, to force the government to postpone elections.

Sarkozy sinking as voters declare Hollande winner of TV debate
Socialist challenger seen as serene and persuasive while President lost out in heated exchanges

President Nicolas Sarkozy was widely judged yesterday to have "lost" his bad-tempered television debate with his Socialist challenger, François Hollande, just before the final round of the presidential election.

[ ... ]

There was a further, serious setback last night for Mr Sarkozy, who trails Mr Hollande by five to eight points in polls before 45,000,000 French voters choose their next president on Sunday.

The centrist leader, François Bayrou, who scored 9 per cent in the 10-candidate, first round on 22 April, announced that he would vote for Mr Hollande on Sunday. He accused his former ministerial colleague, Mr Sarkozy, of "trampling the values of Gaullism and the French Republic" in his "headlong race" after far-right votes in recent days.

Robert Fisk: Did Osama really believe I would polish his image?

O Lordy, lordy. So there's Bin Laden, hiding in Abbottabad and he's waffling on about Fisk.

Should The Independent's man in the Middle East and my old chum Abdul Bari Atwan be given exclusive material on the 10th anniversary of the international crimes against humanity of 9/11 (my definition, not OBL's)? Can OBL be sent a translation of an article by Fisk entitled: "The most important things about al-Qa'ida"?

ACLU seeks broad public access to secret testimony in 9/11 trial at Guantanamo

WASHINGTON — The public should be allowed to hear the five alleged 9/11 conspirators describe what the CIA did to them in secret overseas prisons, the American Civil Liberties Union said in a motion filed at the Guantanamo war court late Wednesday.

"The eyes of the world are on this military commission," the civil liberties group wrote in its motion. It was posted on the court website uncensored and included graphic references to water torture from a leaked International Red Cross report.

More federal judge abdication
The branch designed to be insulated from political pressures has been the most craven of all in the post-9/11 era

The abdication of U.S. federal judges in the post-9/11 era, and their craven subservience to Executive Branch security claims, has been a topic I’ve written about several times over the past couples of weeks. Yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals adopted the argument of the Obama DOJ that John Yoo is — needless to say — fully immune from any and all liability for having authorized the torture of Jose Padilla, on the ground that the illegality of Yoo’s conduct was not “beyond debate” at the time he engaged in it. Everything I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the identical shielding of Donald Rumsfeld by federal courts and the Obama DOJ from similar claims applies to yesterday’s ruling, and The New York Times has a good editorial today condemning this ruling as “misguided and dangerous.”

'Ring' Criticism, Rescinded

WQXR pulled a blog posting critical of the Metropolitan Opera’s new “Ring” cycle last month after the Met’s general manager, Peter Gelb, personally complained to the radio station’s top executive.

[ ... ]

The Met has invested enormous amounts of money, energy and time in the $16 million production by Robert Lepage, which has received mixed reviews.

Ms. Giovetti introduced her summary by quoting the New Yorker music critic Alex Ross as writing of the “Ring” production, “Pound for pound, ton for ton, it is the most witless and wasteful production in modern operatic history.” She said one of the production’s chief problems was failing to live up to the hype that had preceded it.

Some of her comments were also directed at Mr. Gelb. “Like any good marketer,” she wrote, “he firmly believes in his product, even if no one else does.”

Originally posted to Team DFH on Sat May 05, 2012 at 07:00 AM PDT.

Also republished by DKOMA.

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