It is hard to put into words the absolute devastation that we are seeing along many areas of the east coast right now. Boats have been washed ashore, homes have been razed, some coastal roads have been essentially destroyed, and large numbers of people are still trapped in their homes by flood waters. It is being reported that at least 39 people are dead and more than 8 million people along the east coast have lost power. Those without power might not get it back for a week or more. In New York City, an all-time record storm surge of almost 14 feet caused incredible destruction. It is going to take months for New York City to recover, and along the Jersey coast things are even worse. Hurricane Sandy really did turn out to be “the worst case scenario” for much of the eastern seaboard. At this point more than 15,000 flights have been cancelled, and nobody knows when subway service in New York City is going to be restored. More than 4 million people a day use that subway system, and right now many of the most important tunnels are absolutely flooded with water. Sadly, this crisis is far from over. The storm formerly known as Hurricane Sandy has moved inland over Pennsylvania where it continues to do a tremendous amount of damage. The full extent of the destruction caused by this storm will probably not be known for weeks.
We have truly seen some unprecedented things during this storm. For example, a 168 foot long tanker was driven ashore on Staten Island. Right now the tanker is sitting on Front Street.
In the beachfront Queens neighborhood of Breezy Point, a massive fire broke out and burned just about everything that was not already flooded. The blaze destroyed close to 100 homes, and by the end of the fire more than 190 firefighters were battling it.
Some areas in the West Virginia mountains have already had up to 3 feet of snow, and yet it just continues to fall. When all of that snow starts to melt in a few days, tremendous flooding is anticipated.
The northeast has never seen a storm quite like this, and the ripple effects are going to be felt for years to come.
The following are 18 startling quotes about the incredible destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy…
#1 New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
“The devastation on the Jersey Shore is some of the worst we’ve ever seen. The cost of the storm is incalculable at this point.”
#2 MTA Chairman Joseph Lhota
“The New York City subway system is 108 years old, but it has never faced a disaster as devastating as what we experienced last night. Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc on our entire transportation system, in every borough and county of the region. It has brought down trees, ripped out power and inundated tunnels, rail yards and bus depots. As of last night, seven subway tunnels under the East River flooded. Metro-North Railroad lost power from 59th Street to Croton-Harmon on the Hudson Line and to New Haven on the New Haven Line. The Long Island Rail Road evacuated its West Side Yards and suffered flooding in one East River tunnel. The Hugh L. Carey Tunnel is flooded from end to end and the Queens Midtown Tunnel also took on water and was closed. Six bus garages were disabled by high water. We are assessing the extent of the damage and beginning the process of recovery. Our employees have shown remarkable dedication over the past few days, and I thank them on behalf of every New Yorker. In 108 years, our employees have never faced a challenge like the one that confronts us now. All of us at the MTA are committed to restoring the system as quickly as we can to help bring New York back to normal.”
#3 Hoboken, New Jersey Mayor Dawn Zimmer
“The Hudson River came in and filled half of Hoboken like a bathtub”
#4 Little Ferry resident Leo Quigley
“I looked out and the next thing you know, the water just came up through the grates. It came up so quickly you couldn’t do anything about it. If you wanted to move your car to higher ground you didn’t have enough time”
#5 New Jersey resident Montgomery Dahm
“I mean, there’s cars that are just completely underwater in some of the places I would never believe that there would be water.”
#6 Mobile home park resident Juan Allen
“I watched a tree crush a guy’s house like a wet sponge.”
#7 Angela Valenta, mother of 9-year-old Angelo Valenta
“He kept saying, ‘Am I going to die?’”
#8 U.S. Representative Bob Turner
“I, along with many other Breezy Point residents, lost our homes last night and I am grateful that my family and I are safe after this destructive storm. I hope you will join me in lending a hand to those who were less fortunate and keep everyone impacted by this storm in your thoughts and prayers.”
#9 Long Branch, New Jersey resident David Arnold
“The ocean is in the road, there are trees down everywhere. I’ve never seen it this bad.”
#10 New York resident William Yaeck
“I am looking outside of my sixth-floor apartment, and I see that a new lake has formed in the parking lot adjacent (to) my building”
#11 Motel owner Peter Sandomeno
“There are boats in the street five blocks from the ocean”
#12 West Virginia meteorologist Reed Timmer
“It’s 3 feet of heavy snow. It’s like concrete”
#13 Maryland State Police dispatcher Bill Wiltson
“It’s like a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs up here”
#14 Con Edison spokeswoman Sara Banda
“This is the largest storm-related outage in history”
#15 John Miksad, senior vice president for electric operations at Con Edison
“This will be one for the record books”
#16 New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg
“Clearly the challenges our city faces in the coming days are enormous”
#17 New York Governor Andrew Cuomo
“You want to talk about a situation that gets old very quickly. You are sitting in a house with no power and you can’t open the refrigerator”
#18 National Weather Service meteorologist Joe Pollina
“It was an extremely devastating and destructive storm, hopefully one that people will only see once in their lifetime”
So what will this storm ultimately cost the U.S. economy? Well, Fox News is reporting that the total cost could reach 45 billion dollars. Others estimate that the economic toll may be even higher than that.
But one thing is for certain – at a time when layoffs are already surging, this is definitely not going to help. The U.S. economy is showing lots of signs of slowing down again, and this storm may have just nudged us even farther in that direction.
Hopefully we will have some time to recover before the next major crisis strikes, but with the election coming up early next week that does not seem too likely.
View full post on The Economic Collapse
By Michael F. Cannon
In Wednesday night’s presidential debate, Mitt Romney claimed that ObamaCare’s Independent Payment Advisory Board is “an unelected board that’s going to tell people ultimately what kind of treatments they can have.”
President Obama officially denies it, yet he confirmed Romney’s claim when he said, “what this board does is basically identifies best practices and says, let’s use the purchasing power of Medicare and Medicaid to help to institutionalize all these good things that we do.”
The Independent Payment Advisory Board perfectly illustrates liberalism’s itch to remove choices from individuals, and from their elected representatives, and to repose the power to choose in supposed experts liberated from democratic accountability.Beginning in 2014, IPAB would consist of 15 unelected technocrats whose recommendations for reducing Medicare costs must be enacted by Congress by Aug. 15 of each year. If Congress does not enact them, or other measures achieving the same level of cost containment, IPAB’s proposals automatically are transformed from recommendations into law. Without being approved by Congress. Without being signed by the president.
These facts refute Obama’s Denver assurance that IPAB “can’t make decisions about what treatments are given.” It can and will by controlling payments to doctors and hospitals. Hence the emptiness of Obamacare’s language that IPAB’s proposals “shall not include any recommendation to ration health care.”
By Obamacare’s terms, Congress can repeal IPAB only during a seven-month window in 2017, and then only by three-fifths majorities in both chambers. After that, the law precludes Congress from ever altering IPAB proposals.
Because IPAB effectively makes law, thereby traducing the separation of powers, and entrenches IPAB in a manner that derogates the powers of future Congresses, it has been well described by a Cato Institute study as “the most anti-constitutional measure ever to pass Congress.”
Our paper is titled, “The Independent Payment Advisory Board: PPACA’s Anti-Constitutional and Authoritarian Super-Legislature.” It broke the news that, as Will writes, ObamaCare “precludes Congress from ever altering IPAB proposals” after 2017.
View full post on Cato @ Liberty
The recent elections in France and in Greece have thrown the global financial system into an uproar. Fear and worry are everywhere and nobody is quite sure what is going to happen next. All of the financial deals that Greece has made over the past few years may be null and void. Nobody is going to know for sure until a new government is formed, and at this point it looks like that is not going to happen and that there will need to be new elections in June. All of the financial deals that France has made over the past few years may be null and void as well. New French President Francois Hollande seems determined to take France on a path away from austerity. But can France really afford to keep spending money that it does not have? France has already lost its AAA credit rating and French bond yields have started to move up toward dangerous territory. And Greek politicians are delusional if they think they have any other choice other than austerity. Without European bailout money (which they won’t get if they don’t honor their current agreements), nobody is going to want to lend Greece a dime.
And all of this talk about “austerity” is kind of silly anyway. It isn’t as if either France or Greece was going to have a balanced budget any time soon. Both nations were still running up huge amounts of debt even under the “austerity” budgets.
But the citizens of both nations have sent a clear message that they are not going to tolerate even a slowdown in government spending. They want to go back to the debt-fueled prosperity of the last several decades, even if it makes their long-term financial problems a lot worse.
Unfortunately, as I mentioned earlier, Greece does not have that option. Without the bailout money that they are scheduled to get, Greece does not have a prayer of avoiding a disorderly default. Private investors would have to be insane to lend Greece money if the bailout deal falls apart. Greece desperately needs the help of the EU, the ECB and the IMF and the only way they are going to get it is if they abide by the terms of the agreements that have already been reached.
The only way that Greece can avoid austerity at this point would be to leave the euro. Nobody would want to lend money to Greece under that scenario either, but Greece could choose to print huge amounts of their own national currency if they wanted to.
The situation is different in France. Investors are still willing to lend to France at reasonable interest rates, but if France chooses to run up huge amounts of additional debt at some point they will end up just like Greece.
What is even more important in the short-term is the crumbling of the French/German alliance on European fiscal matters. Angela Merkel and Nicolas Sarkozy were a united front, but now Merkel and Hollande are likely to have conflict after conflict.
Instead of moving in one clear direction, the eurozone is now fractured and tensions are rising.
So what comes next?
Well, investors are not certain what comes next and that has many of them deeply concerned.
The following are 11 quotes that show how worried the financial world is about Europe right now….
#1 Tres Knippa of Kenai Capital Management: “What is going on in Europe is an absolute disaster…the risk-on trade is not the place to be. I want to be out of equities and very, very defensive because the situation in Europe just got worse after those elections.”
#2 Mark McCormick, currency strategist at Brown Brothers Harriman: “We’re going to have higher tensions, more uncertainty and most likely a weaker euro.”
#3 Nick Stamenkovic, investment strategist at RIA Capital Markets in Edinburgh: “Investors are questioning whether Greece will be a part of the single currency at the end of this year.”
#4 Jörg Asmussen, a European Central Bank executive board member: “Greece needs to be aware that there is no alternative to the agreed reform program if it wants to remain a member of the eurozone”
#5 Tristan Cooper, sovereign debt analyst at Fidelity Worldwide Investment: “A Greek eurozone exit is on the cards although the probability and timing of such an event is uncertain.”
#6 Art Cashin: “Here’s the outlook on Greece from Wall Street watering holes. If a coalition government is formed or looks to be formed, global markets may rally. Any coalition is unlikely to make progress on goals, since austerity is political suicide. There will likely be another election around June 10/17. A workable majority/plurality remains unlikely, so back to square one. Therefore, Greece will be unable to attain goals by the deadline (June 30). Lacking aid funds, pensions are suspended and government workers are laid off. Protestors take to the streets and government is forced to revert to drachma to avoid social chaos. Pass the peanuts, please.”
#7 John Noonan, Senior Forex Analyst with Thomson Reuters in Sydney: “Sentiment is very bearish, The euro is under a lot of pressure right now. I get the feeling that it’s going to be a nasty move lower for the euro finally”
#8 Kenneth S. Rogoff, a professor of economics at Harvard: “A Greek exit would underscore that there’s no realistic long-term plan for Europe, and it would lead to a chaotic endgame for the rest of the euro zone.”
#9 Chris Tinker of Libra Investment Services: “It’s a binary decision. If Greece gets itself to the point where the European administration says, ‘We can’t play this game anymore,’ that starts a domino effect”
#10 Nicolas Véron, a senior fellow at Bruegel: “France has very limited fiscal space and actually has to engage in fiscal consolidation”
#11 80-year-old Greek citizen Panagiota Makri: “I’m confused. I feel numb and confused. Only God can save us now”
All of this comes at a time when much of Europe is already descending into a new recession. Economies all over Europe are contracting and unemployment rates are skyrocketing. Until things start improving, there is going to continue to be a lot of civil unrest across Europe.
Meanwhile, things are not so great in the United States either.
JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon claims that the U.S. economy is holding a “royal straight flush“, but the only part of that he got right was the “flush” part.
There are 100 million working age Americans that do not have jobs, the middle class continues to shrink, the rising cost of food and the rising cost of gas are severely stretching the budgets of millions of American families and the federal government continues to run up gigantic amounts of debt.
When Europe descends into financial chaos, the United States is not going to escape it. The financial crisis of 2008 deeply affected the entire globe, and so will the next great financial crisis.
Let us hope that we still have a little bit more time before the next great financial crisis strikes, but things in Europe are rapidly unraveling and at some point the dominoes are going to begin to fall.
View full post on The Economic Collapse
13 unforgettable Christopher Hitchens quotes
Published On Fri Dec 16 2011Email Print (12)
“If you gave [Jerry] Falwell an enema, he could be buried in a matchbox." Christopher Hitchens, seen here in 2004, left behind hundreds of such bon mots before dying of pneumonia Thursday. He was diagnosed with oesophagal cancer last year.
AMANDA EDWARDS/GETTY IMAGES
The prolific Christopher Hitchens gloried in being quotable, particularly when he was at his most irascible and incendiary. Hitchens died Thursday after a long battle with cancer. He was 62. His collected bon mots – in books, online essays and magazine articles – run into the hundreds, but here are a baker’s dozen of the best:
1. “It [Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize] would be like giving someone an Oscar in the hope that it would encourage them to make a decent motion picture.”
2. “Hatred, though it provides often rather junky energy, is a terrific way of getting you out of bed in the morning and keeping you going. If you don’t let it get out of hand, it can be canalized into writing.”
3. “A good liar must have a good memory. Kissinger is a stupendous liar with a remarkable memory.”
4. “Cheap booze is a false economy.”
5. About Sarah Palin: “She’s got no charisma of any kind, [but] I can imagine her being mildly useful to a low-rank porn director.”
6. “If you gave [Jerry] Falwell an enema he could be buried in a matchbox.”
7. “The governor of Texas, who, when asked if the Bible should also be taught in Spanish, replied that ‘if English was good enough for Jesus, then it’s good enough for me’.”
8. About Mother Teresa: “She was not a friend of the poor. She was a friend of poverty. She said that suffering was a gift from God. She spent her life opposing the only known cure for poverty, which is the empowerment of women and the emancipation of them from a livestock version of compulsory reproduction.”
9. “Everybody does have a book in them, but in most cases that’s where it should stay.”
10. “[O]wners of dogs will have noticed that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they will think you are god. Whereas owners of cats are compelled to realize that, if you provide them with food and water and shelter and affection, they draw the conclusion that they are gods.”
11. About George W. Bush: “He is lucky to be governor of Texas. He is unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things.”
12. About Michael Moore: “Europeans think Americans are fat, vulgar, greedy, stupid, ambitious and ignorant and so on. And they’ve taken as their own, as their representative American, someone who actually embodies all of those qualities.”
13. “The four most overrated things in life are champagne, lobster, anal sex and picnics.”
Statistics: Posted by yoda — Sat Dec 17, 2011 9:33 am
View full post on opinions.caduceusx.com