Monday, April 6, 2009

Geithner Says Recovery Will Have "Fits And Starts"

Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner appeared on CBS' Face the Nation yesterday and warned that the economic recovery "is not going to be even. We're going to have fits and starts. There will be a period where it feels very bad and uncertain.” Translation: Lower your expectations!

Geithner also warned that there may be more job losses (last week, unemployment edged up to 8.5%, the highest in 26 years), "The typical pattern of recoveries is that growth recovers, growth starts to turn positive, people start to spend more. Businesses hire more, they invest more, before you see unemployment peak. That's the crude reality of recoveries. [Employment] lags." But he did find the low mortgage interest rates an "encouraging sign," "Millions of Americans now are going to be able to refinance their homes, take advantage of lower interest rates. That's cash in the hands of the American people, and that's very powerful." Translation: Spend!

However, when asked if the Treasury will need to ask for more stimulus funding, Geithner said, "I can't make that judgment at this time. Our first priority is to move on the programs that Congress has passed and put those in place as quickly as possible.” He did say the Treasury might consider removing management and boards of companies who require "exceptional assistance." Translation: Hello, Fritz.

The stock market rally of the past few weeks appears to be tempered by veteran bank analyst Mike Mayo's words today—"While certain mortgage problems are farther along, other areas are likely to accelerate, reflecting a rolling recession by asset clas. New government actions might not help as much as expected, especially given that loans have been marked down to only 98 cents on the dollar, on average." He also said losses will be bigger than Depression levels.

New Hall Of Famer Michael Jordan Tribute 2 Videos

It seemed fitting -- a bit poetic even -- that on the day North Carolina plays for a National Championship, one of its most famous sons was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in a ceremony in Detroit.

Twenty-seven years after Michael Jordan hit a shot to win the national title for North Carolina in 1982, he was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame on Monday.

Joining Jordan in the class of 2009 is former San Antonio Spurs center David Robinson, current Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan, former Utah Jazz great John Stockton and current Rutgers University coach C. Vivian Stringer.

Jordan, Robinson, Sloan and Stockton were all elected in their first year of consideration into the Hall of Fame, while Stringer has been named a finalist in prior years.

To be elected, finalists need 18 of 24 votes from the Honors Committee.

Michael Jordan (Impossible)

Today in History for April 5

Here's what happened on on this day in history.

The Long Rider: Jeff Gordon Finally Wins in Texas

The 17th time was the charm for Jeff Gordon.

On Sunday, the 4-time Sprint Cup Series champion finally got one that has long gotten away and in doing so snapped a Texas-sized slump.

Gordon held off Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jimmie Johnson to win the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. It snapped a 47-race winless streak dating back to the 2007 season.

Last year marked the first time since Gordon's rookie season in 1993 that he did not win a Sprint Cup Series event.

"It feels like the very first time I've ever won," Gordon said. "It's been a long streak. It's been a lot of ups and downs and tough times. . . . I knew we were going to get one eventually. I feel like we had some missed opportunities last season, even as we didn't have a great year. But there was still times we could have won. And so that just keeps you driving and driving hard and pushing forward."

Gordon, who came into the event on top of the standings, left Texas with a 162 point lead over Johnson, who jumped from fourth to second place.

It was the 82nd career win for Gordon but the his first in 17 starts at Texas Motor Speedway Gordon has now won on every track on the Sprint Cup Series schedule except for Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Despite the win, Gordon still wasn't ready to put Texas on his favorite's list of tracks.

"I would say 90 percent of the tracks we go to I've got pretty good idea what I need in the car and what I need to do as a driver to get around that track and be fast," Gordon said. "And I think that's what's helped contribute to our success. . . . And I'm telling you at Texas I'm just lost. This is just one of the toughest racetracks out there. The transitions getting into the corner, off the corner are unlike any other. Yet the corners are extremely fast. There's some pretty good bumps out there. I believe for me personally, as well as a lot of other guys who will probably back it up, this is the most challenging mile-and-a-half track that we go to."

Eminem: Run DMC, “Two Turntables And A Microphone, That’s All It Took To Change The World”

Eminem stepped out in front an audience for the first time in, what seems like an eternity to induct Run DMC into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on April 4th. Hey M&M why so much black? What are you trying to hide? Humm…is that why we haven’t seen yo’ a** in a while. You been dunkin’ the donuts?

Run DMC is the second Rap/hip hop act to be inducted, Grand Master Flash was inducted in 2007, both groups coming straight from Queens.

“Two turntables and a microphone, that’s all it took to change the world. Three kings from Queens made rap music in the b-boy stance a global phenomenon”, Eminem said of the group members, Joseph “Reverend Run” Simmons, Darryl McDaniels, and DJ Jason (Jam Master Jay) Mizell.

Run DMC dominated the Hip Hop World in the late 80’s and early 90’s. So, where is Run DMC now? Simmons is now Rev. Run and has a hit Reality show, McDaniels raps/ Deejay’s under D.M.C, and sadly Jam Master J was shot to death in a Queens recording studio in October 2002. The 2002 shooting is still unsolved.

It’s nice to see Eminem out and about. Is he getting ready to tour again? Will his new CD be as bangin’ as the first one? I hope its his hottest yet…and btw, before I forget, he really needs to drop the black outift. Is he a “K-FED” underneath it all?……OUCH

UN: No new sanctions against North Korea

It seems that Barack Obama strong words of condemnation will be the only response the U.S. gives to the North Korean rocket launch of last weekend:

“North Korea broke the rules, once again, by testing a rocket that could be used for long-range missiles,” Obama said in Prague. “This provocation underscores the need for action, not just … in the U.N. Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons.”

Council members met for three hours Sunday but failed to release even a customary preliminary statement of condemnation _ evidence of the challenges in agreeing on some kind of punishment. China, the North’s closest ally, and Russia hold veto power and could water down any response.

Diplomats privy to the closed-door talks say China, Russia, Libya and Vietnam were concerned about further alienating and destabilizing North Korea.

“Our position is that all countries concerned should show restraint and refrain from taking actions that might lead to increased tensions,” Chinese Ambassador Zhang Yesui said after the talks.

And once again the United Nations proves to be completely powerless, because divided, on the major issues facing the world.

'Fast And Furious 4' Post Top Ticket Sales

'Fast and Furious 4' opened this weekend and crushed any other opening weekend so far this year. Raking $72.5 million this weekend. Coming in a distant 2nd was 'Monsters vs Aliens' which made $59.3 million it's opening weekend.

It also set the record for April debuts demolishing Adam Sandler's record holding 2003 hit 'Anger Management' which opened at $42.2 million.

'Fast And Furious 4' also brought in over $33 million internationally.

Chris Brown will plead NOT GUILTY!?

Supposedly, Chris brown is going to plead not guilty to two felony charges. The counts include assault and making criminal treats.

He’s scheduled for arraignment in regards to the alleged beating of his now ex-girlfriend Rihanna.

Sandi Gibbons, the spokesperson for the DA’s office, said that it is up to the court to decide what sentence Brown will face, but that sentencing guidelines call for anything from probation to probation with jail time, up to a maximum of four years and eight months in federal prison.
Source: MTV

Sources say that while he wants to resolve the situation, he will plead not guilty. Brown’s attorney Mark Geragos did not return any calls for comments.

The couple seemed to reconcile in late February. They reunited on a trip to Miami. A few weeks ago the couple split and decided to throw in the towel.

It’s been said that Rihanna will testify against Brown. He’s due in court on Monday, April 6.

Good luck to the both of them…

Farrah Fawcett Is Hospitalized

People reports Farrah Fawcett has been hospitalized in Los Angeles since Thursday, the latest setback in her long battle with cancer.

First diagnosed in 2006, the 62-year-old actress has undergone chemotherapy and aggressive alternative treatments in the past. She saw her cancer go into remission, then return in May 2007.

This is a troubled week for Fawcett. Just this weekend her son, Redmond O'Neal (with Ryan O'Neal), was arrested for possession of narcotics and for bringing narcotics into a jail facility.

Redmond, who's currently serving probation for a June 2008 DUI and drug possession conviction, is also facing drug charges in another case that involved his father to which he pleaded not guilty less than two weeks ago. He remains in police custody, and is being held in lieu of $25,000 bail. A court hearing for this latest arrest has been set for April 7.

Obama tells Turkey: U.S. ‘not at war with Islam’

In parliament, president calls for greater partnership with Islamic world

ANKARA, Turkey - Barack Obama, making his first visit to a Muslim nation as president, declared Monday the United States "is not at war with Islam" and called for a greater partnership with the Islamic world.

Addressing the Turkish parliament, Obama called the country an important U.S. ally in many areas, including the fight against terrorism. He devoted much of his speech to urging a greater bond between Americans and Muslims, portraying terrorist groups such as al Qaida as extremists who did not represent the vast majority of Muslims.

"Let me say this as clearly as I can," Obama said. "The United States is not at war with Islam. In fact, our partnership with the Muslim world is critical in rolling back a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject."

Al Jazeera and Al Arabiyia, two of the biggest Arabic satellite channels, carried Obama's speech live.

'Not at war with Islam'

Obama acknowledged in his speech that relations between the United States and the Muslim world has been strained. So he said, "Let me say this as clearly as I can: The United States is not at war with Islam."

(Someone better tell the muslim world who has been at war with us since 1979. What the fuck was 9/11? An Air Traffic Controller mistake? THIS MAN WILL GET US ALL KILLED. -- mr)

In fact, Obama said, the partnership between the U.S. and the Muslim world is critical in rolling back what he called a fringe ideology that people of all faiths reject.

"America's relationship with the Muslim world cannot and will not be based on opposition to al Qaida," he said. "We seek broad engagement based upon mutual interests and mutual respect."
"We will convey our deep appreciation for the Islamic faith, which has done so much over so many centuries to shape the world for the better, including my own country," Obama said.

Obama also said, to a round of applause, that the United States supports Turkey becoming a member of the European Union.

Tribute to nation's founder

Earlier on Monday, Obama paid tribute to the memory of modern Turkey's founding father.
"I'm honored to pay tribute to his name," Obama said at wreath-laying ceremony during a morning visit to the tomb of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

The tomb is a large limestone, columned complex on the top of a high hill with a dramatic view of Turkey's capital city.

Obama stood at a podium and wrote in a guest book for nearly four minutes.

Obama's visit is being closely watched by an Islamic world that harbored deep distrust of his predecessor, George W. Bush.

Obama was spending two days in Turkey as he wraps up an event-packed, eight-day international trip that also saw stops in Britain, France, Germany and the Czech Republic.

In his inaugural address in January, Obama pledged to reach out to the Muslim world.
At a luncheon Sunday for leaders of the European Union's 27 nations in Prague, he said the West should seek greater cooperation and closer ties with Islamic nations. He suggested one way was by allowing Turkey to join the European Union — a contentious subject for some European countries. French President Nicolas Sarkozy said after Obama's remarks that the decision was the EU's to make, not Washington's.

Americans remain unsure of what to make of Islam even as most people in the United States think Obama should seek better relations with the Muslim world, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll. About 55 percent of Americans say they lack a good, basic understanding of the religion, the poll found, and 48 percent have an unfavorable view of it.

Turkey is a member of both the G-20 and NATO and is trying to get into the EU with the help of the United States.

‘Great advantage’

Turkey has the largest army in NATO after the United States. It and tiny Albania, recently admitted, are the only predominate Muslim members of NATO.

"Obama starts with a great advantage because his name is not George Bush," said Bulent Aliriza, director of the Turkey Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington-based think tank.

While Bush was extremely unpopular in Turkey and the Islamic world, "there's a sense of goodwill toward the United States — and particularly toward President Obama. And the entire Islamic world will be watching" Monday's speech to the Turkish Grand National Assembly,
Aliriza said.

Officials: Somali pirates hijack 3 ships

Somali pirates hijacked three vessels in less than two days, diplomats and officials said Monday, with the pattern of attacks suggesting the pirates are trying to evade warships patrolling the Gulf of Aden.

The Taiwanese ship Win Far 161 was seized early on Monday with 29 crew onboard near an island in the Seychelles in the Indian Ocean, said Lt. Nathan Christensen, a spokesman for America's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet. It is the second attack in the Seychelles within a week.

A small Yemeni boat was also hijacked in the Indian Ocean Sunday and a 32,000-tonne British-owned bulk carrier, the Malaspina Castle, was hijacked early Monday in the Gulf of Aden, officials said.

The hijacking of the Taiwanese vessel and Yemeni boat are the latest in a series of attacks in the Indian Ocean. A 20,000-ton German container ship, the Hansa Stavanger, was also seized there on Saturday.

Analysts say the pirates have moved many of their operations out of the Gulf of Aden, which is heavily patrolled by naval warships from countries including China, the United States, France and India.

Instead, they are targeting ships coming out of the Mozambique Channel, an area of the Indian Ocean further south between the southeastern Africa coast and Madagascar.

Few details were known about the hijacking of the Malaspina Castle but the mixed nationality crew are believed to be safe, the European Union's Maritime Security Center for the Horn of Africa said in a statement. The cargo ship is Italian-operated, the center said. A Nairobi-based diplomat said the ship flies a Panamanian flag.

The Yemeni boat had seven crew on board when it was hijacked, an official with Yemen's Interior Ministry said Monday. Authorities received a distress call from the captain saying his boat was being hijacked in the Indian Ocean on Sunday, the official said.

The diplomats and officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Although small boats like the Yemeni fishing vessel do not fetch large ransoms, the pirates often use such boats as 'mother ships', which tow the small speedboats the prates use hundreds of miles out to sea. The mother ships also hold fuel and food for the pirates while they wait to attack more valuable vessels.

The multimillion-dollar ransoms from large ships with valuable cargos are a rare source of cash in Somalia, where nearly half the population is dependent on food aid and clan-based militias are tearing the country apart. The lawless Horn of Africa nation has not had a functioning government since 1991.

Italy lives with quake threat

Powerful tremors are an ever present danger in Italy.

The region is seismically very active, and some events bear comparison with the most catastrophic anywhere in the world.

In 1908, thousands died in a 7.2-magnitude quake which reduced the Sicilian city of Messina to rubble. A tidal wave followed causing more devastation.

Experts say quakes have influenced everything in Italy from the distribution of the population and adaptation of architecture to the dialect spoken in different parts of the nation.

The US Geological Survey said Monday's quake was a 6.3-magnitude event, striking at 0330 (0130 GMT) close to L'Aquila city, about 95km (60 miles) north-east of Rome.

Italy's National Institute of Geophysics put it at 5.8. Disagreements about the amount of energy involved are not unusual in the immediate aftermath of a quake and later analysis will likely refine numbers further.

The hypocenter - the point below the surface where the strain in the rocks was released - appears to have been some 10km down.

"An earthquake of magnitude six on average we get about one every three days somewhere in the world," explained Dr Roger Musson, head of seismic hazards at the British Geological Survey.

"But of course a lot of these are in places out at sea where they don't cause any damage and so people don't realise they're so frequent. It's when you get an earthquake in a populated area like central Italy that they become a serious matter."

Major fault system

On the big scale, Mediterranean seismicity can be seen in the context of the great collision between the African and Eurasian tectonic plates; but when it comes down to the specifics of Monday's event, the details are far more complicated.

Routine earthquake prediction is not possible anywhere in the world

Dr Roger Musson
British Geological Survey

Set against Africa's march northward at about 2cm a year, Italy is also being pulled and pushed in some complex motions.

The Tyrrhenian Basin, or Sea, which lies to the west of the country, between the mainland and Sardinia/Corsica, is slowly opening up.

Scientists say this is contributing to extension, or "pull-apart", along the Apennines, the belt of mountains that runs down through central Italy.

And to the east, in the Adriatic, there is some evidence that the Earth's crust continues to move under (subducting) Italy, although there is considerable debate about this. Recent GPS data suggests this region, too, is shifting to the northeast.

What is not in doubt from all this complexity is the major fault system that runs the length of the Apennines and the series of smaller faults that fan off to the sides.

Aftershocks are likely to be common. There was M4.8 event just a few hours after the main quake on Monday, and others of similar scale could follow, warn seismologists.

The 1997 M6.4 event, which caused serious damage to the Basilica of St Francis in Assisi, ruining priceless Mediaeval frescoes, occurred about 50km to the north.

It was marked by a series of aftershocks on following days. One of these measured 5.1 and caused considerable further damage.

"Routine earthquake prediction is not possible anywhere in the world," said Dr Musson.

"Given the chaotic nature of earthquake occurrence, it may never be possible. In the case of the L'Aquila earthquake, some warning might have been taken by the series of foreshocks that preceded it - though there is no way to discriminate between foreshocks and normal small-magnitude seismicity, other than with the benefit of hindsight. Aftershock activity has been intense so far."