Blogs

A Global Recession?

| Mon Jan. 21, 2008 9:00 PM EST

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Not since 9/11 has the world seen markets tumble as quickly—or as dramatically—as they did today: While American markets were closed for the federal holiday, the MSCI World Index fell by 3 percent, and Europe's Dow Jones Stoxx 600 Index plummeted by 5.7 percent.

This means a few things:

First of all, Bush and Bernanke's attempt to prevent a recession by calling for a stimulus package didn't quite do the trick. In fact, globally speaking, it probably made things worse:

The selloff followed falls on U.S. markets on Friday that ended the worst weekly performance on Wall Street for five years and a round of bloodletting in Asian markets yesterday, as investors were left underwhelmed by U.S. President George W. Bush's package of measures aimed at stimulating the world's largest economy.

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What Do Nerds Dream About? Being Gang Leader for a Day

| Mon Jan. 21, 2008 8:05 PM EST

Or, at least, studying him.

In my fantasy life, I wouldn't be refurbishing a compound in Tuscany or climbing Mt. Everest with all the other mid-life crisis chicks. I'd be doing this—urban sociology WEB Dubois-style (he created the discipline, fyi). From the NY Times:

In a bit of bravado Mr. Venkatesh, who now teaches at Columbia, styles himself a "rogue sociologist." Dissatisfied with opinion surveys and statistical analysis as ways to describe the life of the poor, he reverted to the methods of his predecessors at the University of Chicago, who took an ethnographic approach to the study of hobos, hustlers and politicians. Much like a journalist, he observed, asked questions and drew conclusions as he accumulated raw data.
He also learned to hide what he was doing from his academic advisers. Mr. Venkatesh, reared in the comfortable suburbs of Southern California by Indian parents, crossed the line from observer to participant on more than one occasion as he penetrated deeper into the life of the Black Kings and its local captain, the ruthless, charismatic J.T.
When a rival gang sweeps by, guns blazing, he dodges bullets and helps drag a gang lieutenant to safety. When local squatters mete out street justice to a crackhead who has beaten a woman in the projects, he gets a boot in.

Not so much the helping adminster beat-downs part, but the fly on the wall, embedded study of urban culture. I've done a tad, but not nearly as much as I'd like. Instead, I bake cupcakes for the Jammie Day pre-school party and jealously read folks like him and her and him and her. Can't believe I almost forgot him!

Maybe All the Campaigners Should Learn B. Clinton's Art of Napping

| Mon Jan. 21, 2008 7:50 PM EST

Just not on camera.

Bill Clinton caught catching some much needed Z's during MLK Day observance. Can't say I blame him; nothing like hearing King's legacy drained of all complexity at great length by a wannabee to get one to nodding. It does bring home, though, how grueling our ridiculously expanded nomination/electoral process is. Maybe that's why he's been such a sphincter on the campaign trail. However dangerously vicious, homey is a senior citizen. I know I couldn't handle the stress, not without killing someone.

BTW, must be said: the NYP's headline rocks - Bill Clinton has a 'Dream.' Kudos.

Update: Video of Bill's nap after the jump.

Coachella Lineup Announced: No My Bloody Valentine, But Stoners Will Still Be Happy

| Mon Jan. 21, 2008 7:41 PM EST

Dark Side of Coachella

Goldenvoice announced the lineup for this year's Coachella festival at a press conference in Mexico City today, and the big surprise turned out to be a bit of a throwback: Roger Waters of Pink Floyd will be appearing on the main stage, in a special performance re-creating the 1973 album Dark Side of the Moon. Oooh-kay. Other big names include the reunited Verve, the Raconteurs, and Love and Rockets; on the electronic side, festival veterans Kraftwerk will return along with Justice, M.I.A. and Sasha & Digweed.

Criticism of the lineup for being a bit underwhelming is starting right up; it happens every year, and it's par for the course, since the pool of "gee-whiz" bookings has almost been exhausted for the nine-year-old festival. However, this year does seem a little heavy on the "artists who seem kind of tired" front: hello, Jack Johnson, Death Cab for Cutie, My Morning Jacket, and Fatboy Slim. But last year's lineup had its share of yawners (Crowded House, anyone?) and like always, the excitement is in the middle: from Animal Collective and Pendulum through Battles and Santogold down through Kid Sister and Modeselektor, the afternoon schedule will be chock full of great music. And hey, if a headliner sucks, that just means you can get back to the hot tub at your place earlier, right?

But yeah, think how awesome My Bloody Valentine would have been... oh well.

The Coachella festival takes place April 25-27 in Indio, California; tickets are on sale this Friday at Coachella.com. Full lineup (complete with new impressionistic poster) after the jump.

American Feminism: Alive and Kicking and Unfortunately, Need Now As Much as Ever

| Mon Jan. 21, 2008 6:24 PM EST

If you want to sign Katha Pollit's Open Letter from American Feminists (as at least one commenter does), check out her posting at The Nation. As of a few days ago, she's up to 700.

Need a reason why? Try this: Paraguay's Traffic Hub Imperils Female Teeens, from womensenews.

Ciudad del Este's surrounding Tri Border Area--where Paraguay meets Brazil and Argentina--has over the past five years attracted notoriety as a major hub in international people-trafficking.
Eighty-five percent of trafficking in Paraguay is for sexual exploitation, the International Organization of Migration estimates.
"Women are the victims," says Martha, who doesn't want her name mentioned. She says she has received anonymous death-threats for her anti-trafficking work in Paraguay and the wider region. "More than 90 percent of the victims are women, and more than 90 percent of the exploiters are men."

Or This: In Somalia, Refugee Rape Left to Clan Justice. Also from Womensenews:

The 300 Somehow Manages to Avoid "Worst Picture" Razzie Nomination

| Mon Jan. 21, 2008 2:58 PM EST

Them's some bad movies

Now this is an awards ceremony I can appreciate. The Razzies have been honoring the worst films and performances for 27 years now, and the 2007 nominees were just announced today. While the Lindsay Lohan vehicle I Know Who Killed Me led the pack with nine nominations including Worst Picture, Eddie Murphy's Norbit received eight, with Murphy getting five of those on his own: four for performances and one for his screenplay. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry also received eight nominations including "Worst Screen Couple;" it's nice to see people come around on this one since the producers really seemed to bamboozle gay rights organizations into acceptance when it came out. Feature-length commercial Bratz and Fred Savage-directed Daddy Day Camp rounded out the Worst Picture nominees, and as I said, neo-fascist paean to pectorals The 300 slipped by without a single nod—you'd think it'd get its own special achievement category or something.

The Razzies will be awarded at a lavish ceremony on February 23rd at, um, Magicopolis in Santa Monica. Full list of nominees after the jump.

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Obama Hypocrisy on Homophobia

| Mon Jan. 21, 2008 2:26 PM EST

Barack Obama went before Dr. Martin Luther King's church yesterday and delivered a stirring speech that, amongst other things, decried homophobia in the black community.

For most of this country's history, we in the African American community have been at the receiving end of man's inhumanity to man. And all of us understand intimately the insidious role that race still sometimes plays – on the job, in the schools, in our health care system and in our criminal justice system.
And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.
We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

How Far Rudy Has Fallen

| Mon Jan. 21, 2008 12:45 PM EST

So now Rudy Giuliani is a factor. His plan until this point was to solidify his formidable support in the February 5th states by campaigning there while all of his competitors fought over Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and the rest of the early states.

That plan has most definitely not worked, thanks in large part, to John McCain. Giuliani is currently behind in the polls in, of all places, New York.

The Siena College poll [showed]... Giuliani trailed McCain by 12 percentage points, a sharp reversal from the former New York City mayor's 33-point lead over the Arizona senator in December. McCain had the support of 36 percent of New York Republicans, while Giuliani had 24 percent and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney had 10 percent.
Siena's Steven Greenberg called the latest numbers "a stunning turnaround."

That's a 45-point reversal! That's an awfully long way to fall. Things aren't any better in the rest of the tri-state area, supposedly the core of Rudy's support. He's down in Connecticut and in New Jersey. He's now losing in Pennsylvania. His Florida lead is dwindling, and he is no longer the national frontrunner.

When questioned in early November about how Giuliani's leads in all of these states might be affected by the momentum Giuliani's competitors would gain by winning early states, the Giuliani campaign said that his leads were "momentum-proof." Whoops.

McCain Wins South Carolina; Enter Giuliani

| Sun Jan. 20, 2008 9:36 AM EST

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John McCain's victory in South Carolina is a testament to his resilience and ability to appeal to Republican voters of all kinds. But don't call him the frontrunner. Rudy Giuliani, until recently the long-time leader in national polling, enters the race on January 29 in the Florida primary, and nothing can be judged until he competes.

McCain took the stage last night to deliver his victory speech at The Citadel and said, "What's eight years among friends?" It was an awfully forgiving line. Eight years ago, South Carolina (particularly the George W. Bush operatives there) tore John McCain apart, with allegations that his adopted Bengali daughter was actually an illegitimate black lovechild and that he had abandoned his fellow POWs in Vietnam. Those charges and others cost McCain the state and derailed his presidential chances. This time around, McCain ran into some of the same dirty tricks (a flier once again claimed that he had betrayed his fellow POWs), but his main competition, Mike Huckabee, never attacked McCain directly and McCain used a rapid-response team that immediately shot down any wild claims. (Huckabee actually stated in his concession speech that he would rather take second honorably than win using negative attacks, furthering speculation that he would love to be John McCain's VP.)

Nevada Results Reveal A Big Challenge for Obama: How To Win Die-Hard Dems?

| Sat Jan. 19, 2008 5:17 PM EST

Ever wake up in Las Vegas the morning after a not-so-good night? Barack Obama has not yet gotten the chance to sleep off the Nevada caucus returns--and he's not likely to be getting much sleep between now and Supersaturated Tuesday on February 5--but the Nevada results ought to be troubling for the Obama camp (even though the Nevada caucus was a rather odd affair). Exit polls showed that Hillary Clinton, who won by 6 points, scored well with women, Hispanics, and working-class voters fretting about the recession. The problem for Obama: this is a big chunk of the Democratic electorate.

Sasha Abramsky focuses on the lemonade: Obama was competitive with Clinton in rural white areas. But even if Obama can scoop up John Edwards voters in future contests--Edwards ran a distant third in Nevada, bagging about 5 percent of the vote--Clinton is sitting on a damn good base at the moment: women, Latinos and blue-collar Dems. It will be hard to win the Democratic nomination without those blocs.

Obama could well triumph in South Carolina, depending on how African-Americans vote. But his true political challenge is besting Clinton among the critical die-hard Democratic slices. And with February 5 fast approaching, he doesn't have much time to win over these voters.