Latest Posts

UC Follows CSU to the Tuition Increase Game

Yesterday, it was CSU's turn to raise tuition.  Apparently, today is the UC's turn:

University of California regents today voted to raise tuition by about $1,070, sending the total cost to $12,192 for the upcoming school year.

After a recently approved $650 million cut in state funding, UC regents said they had no choice but to raise tuition to close about a quarter of the system's $1 billion budget deficit. When combined with a previous hike, tuition will be 18 percent more -- about $1,890 -- in fall 2011 than it was in fall 2010. Each campus also charges undergraduates about $1,000 in additional fees. (SacBee)

The university systems are both on the hook for another $100 million in the triggered cuts if we don't reach the higher, hopeful, revenue figure. By the way, the Controller announced today that we aren't actually $230 million behind where we need to be, but $85 million, because somebody forgot to tally a big check from the unclaimed property account.

That being said, the discussion about the additional cuts was bumped until a later date, but don't be shocked if more increases aren't on the horizon.

One vote against the increase: LG Newsom.

"The biggest threat to our democracy is income inequality, the loss of the middle class," Newsom said. "And here we are once again, putting the nail in the coffin of the middle class. That's exactly who gets hurt in this debate."


Factoid O The Day

From the latest Quinnipiac poll:

What do you think is more important, reducing the federal budget deficit or reducing unemployment?

Reducing deficit 32
Reducing unemployment 62

I'll be very anxious to hear the plan for doing that once the deficit (and stimulus) are "off the table." Maybe we could get Rick Perry to hold one of those prayer sessions.

*Should note that the poll also show more support for the President on the deficit negotiations than the Republicans. That's means nothing to me since the president's policy proposals are what I might have expected to come from Newt Gingrich in 1997, but I'm sure the campaign is pleased. It fits quite nicely with their electoral strategy.


Google announces Q2 earnings: $9.02 billion in revenue, $2.51 billion in net income

It's everybody's favorite time of year. Yup, the Q2 earnings results are coming in, and Google's leading the pack, reporting $9.02 billion in gross revenue for the second quarter of 2011: a 32 percent increase over the same period in 2010. CEO Larry Page notes, that's a "record breaking over $9 billion of revenue," with net income reaching $2.51 billion, up from $1.84 billion in Q2 2010. Google's various sites apparently made up 69 percent of the $9.02 billion in revenue, generating $6.23 billion -- 2010 numbers were $4.50 billion. Operating expenses saw a notable increase over 2010, cutting into profits by $2.97 billion, up from $1.99 billion.

Larry Page has just announced some Android usage numbers, pointing out that 550,000 devices, rocking the little green robot, are being activated per day. That's up from the 500,000 announced late last month. Android Market numbers are also up, with 6 billion total downloads.

We're now on the earnings call (which you can listen into here), and we'll keep you posted if we learn anything new.


Continue reading Google announces Q2 earnings: $9.02 billion in revenue, $2.51 billion in net income

Google announces Q2 earnings: $9.02 billion in revenue, $2.51 billion in net income originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 14 Jul 2011 16:07:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  sourceGoogle  | Email this | Comments

A small eruption in Loki?!? [Dynamics of Cats]

Mystery flashflood reveals new hydrothermal system and probable small subglacial eruption this week, or two, or three...

Read the rest of this post... |

Read the comments on this post...

Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


Spotify US premium service hands-on

Like The Beach Boys' Smile and Duke Nukem Forever before it, the US version of Spotify has been elevated to a sort of mythological status by collective anticipation. Music nerds and tech geeks all over this fine nation of ours have waited with bated breath for the service to work out all of its licensing kinks and finally make its way to our shores. In an interview earlier this week, a Spotify higher-up promised us that the service will be pretty much the same as the one that Europe has already come to love -- the question, then, is whether or not disappointment is inevitable after so much waiting. Spotify gave us the opportunity to take the premium desktop and mobile versions of the service for a spin. Check out the result below.

Continue reading Spotify US premium service hands-on

Spotify US premium service hands-on originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 14 Jul 2011 15:42:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |   | Email this | Comments

Corrupt reformers

Supposing you really hate Democrats right now. I know a lot of you do. But if it ever occurs to you to think that Republicans might actually do a better job at "reforming" the system, consider this:

The House Oversight Committee's investigation into the government commission that was supposed to figure out the cause of the the financial crisis appears to have backfired on the Republicans who lead the committee.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) and his investigators had been looking into the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission because, Issa said, it went over budget and commissioners and staffers "may have conflicts of interest created by their previous roles in the public and private sectors."

Issa said he was troubled by "extensive ties of some of the senior staff at a putatively bipartisan commission to partisan Democrat politics" and said the FCIC "served as nothing more than a cheering section for the Administration and congressional Democrats in their efforts to defend a partisan and ineffective financial regulatory reform bill."

Instead, the documents reviewed by congressional investigators, according to the Democrats' report on that matter, reveal that Republican commissioners and staffers were improperly sharing the FCIC's work with outside parties. Dems also say that emails show that one Republican commissioner was trying to use his position on the commission to bolster the GOP's chances of repealing financial services reform.

Yes, the Democrats are hardly progressive heroes of principle and integrity, to say the least. But there is nothing more fundamentally bankrupt than the GOP. Only people who are intellectually deficient and/or morally putrid could shamelessly flaunt their corruption the way these people do. It may only be a difference of degree, but it's an important one.


Governor Signs Landmark LGBT Inclusive Education Bill

When Jerry Brown took over the Horseshoe, there was some thought that now we would finally be able to get of really good progressive legislation enacted.  Turns out that wasn't entirely true, but nor was it entirely false.

Today, the Governor signed Mark Leno's SB 48, a bill that ensures that the historical contributions of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people and disabled individuals are accurately and fairly portrayed in instructional materials by adding these groups to the existing list of under-represented cultural and ethnic groups already included in the state's inclusionary education requirements.  As it stands right now, the state requires inclusion of minority groups contributions to the state, this law simply adds on the disabled and LGBT to that list.

From an immediate standpoint, this probably means that students are going to learn a thing or two about Harvey Milk in their history classes. But in the long run, this bill will help decrease bullying and protect LGBT youth in our schools.

"I am awed and humbled to be part of this historic moment," said Carolyn Laub, Executive Director of Gay-Straight Alliance Network. "By signing the FAIR Education Act and ending the exclusion of the LGBT community from instructional materials, Governor Brown has realized the hopes of youth who have been fighting for safe and inclusive schools, where all students learn about our history and gain respect for each other's differences as a result. This is a part of the American story that we can be proud to know all students will learn."


Griffin’s AppPowered Helo TC is a $50 iOS helicopter for your home’s airzone

Griffin Helo TC
Get to the chopper! Er, micro-copter. Say hello to Griffin's latest AppPowered gadget, the Helo TC. This indoor-heli lets users play pilot via an iOS app offering onscreen "Touch-to-Fly" or accelerometer based "Tilt-to-Fly" controls. After a half-hour's charge over USB, you'll be airborne for about eight minutes and can initiate one of three preset flight-paths if you want to go hands-off. Bummer though, you'll need to hook up a three-AAA packing IR sled to your iDevice for signal. Thankfully, this little guy's equipped for night flights with five LEDs, and you'll find extra rotors if you ever need to ditch into the linoleum. Expect to see these popping up during the holiday season for about $50 (£34.99), but for now you'll find details by flying past the break.

Continue reading Griffin's AppPowered Helo TC is a $50 iOS helicopter for your home's airzone

Griffin's AppPowered Helo TC is a $50 iOS helicopter for your home's airzone originally appeared on Engadget on Thu, 14 Jul 2011 14:59:00 EDT. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

Permalink   |  sourceGriffin Technology  | Email this | Comments

Whoa! Now ESIs will get an extra bump on their competing renewal NIH grants? [DrugMonkey]

Following some chatter at the Rock Talk blog I ran across some very interesting news from the NHLBI:

The NHLBI will continue a commitment to help ESIs by a policy of maintaining separate paylines for new competing (Type 1) R01 and First Renewal (Type 2) applications in accordance with NIH guidelines. Regardless of amendment status, the paylines for new competing (Type 1) and First Renewal (Type 2) ESI R01 applications will be 5 percentile points above the regular R01 paylines for unamended (A0) applications in FY 2011. In addition and also regardless of amendment status, new competing (Type 1) ESI R01 applications that are >5 but <=10 percentile points above the regular R01 paylines for unamended (A0) applications in FY 2011 may undergo an expedited review to resolve comments in the summary statement. The funding policies will apply to all new competing (Type 1) and First Renewal (Type 2) ESI R01 applications under special funding consideration regardless of the amendment status of the application. All awards to ESI applicants under this policy will be funded for all years recommended by the NHLBAC. Please note that the NHLBI considers both NI and ESI status to have been determined at the time of the initial A0 grant application submission.

This is going to really, really anger the late Assistant Prof folks out there who are looking down the barrel of tenure decisions. Decisions in which the ability to renew their first (very hard won) award looms large.

As well it should anger them.

Read the rest of this post... |

Read the comments on this post...

Also check out the featured ScienceBlog of the week: Inside the Outbreaks on the ScienceBlogs Book Club


John and Barack have drinks in the clubhouse

Time is featuring an insider "narrative" of the negotiating relationship between Boehner and Obama over deficits. Who knows who is the source here and who it's serving, but it's an interesting story if only for the way it evokes cherished Village nostalgia for the day of Tip 'n Ronnie.(If this keeps up I'm dying my hair blue and getting out the old GoGos LPs. If somebody offers up some Peruvian marching powder, I'm in, even if it gives me a heart attack.)

In April the two men averted a government shutdown with just one hour to spare, crafting a $1 trillion stopgap spending bill for the rest of the year that included $38.5 billion in cuts. Boehner was a skilled and patient negotiator, holding up the White House day after day until he got closer to the deal he wanted. But when it turned out later that there were nearly as many bookkeeping gimmicks as real cuts in the deal, Boehner's freshman class lost some faith in his ability to deliver on their demands.

The two men kept at it. They had little choice: to do nothing was to risk another financial crisis, brought on by rising interest rates, a possible credit downgrade and a potential run on money-market funds. All along Pennsylvania Avenue there were whisperings about finally getting serious, showing the world that America could get her house in order.

Actually they certainly could have done nothing --- or rather just raised the debt ceiling as they've done every other time, but it's pretty clear that they both felt this was an opportunity to get significant spending cuts passed under pressure.

But I digress.

This timeline is instructive:

On April 13, Obama called on Congress to cut $4 trillion from the budget over 12 years. Though this was smaller than a plan to cut $6.2 trillion over 10 years, offered by Wisconsin Representative Paul Ryan, it was nonetheless an astonishingly large number for a Democrat.

Then Boehner went to Wall Street and gave a fiery speech, saying Congress would raise the debt ceiling through 2012 but only if the White House agreed to offset the increase — to the tune of $2.4 trillion in spending cuts. This was genuine hardball: Republicans would hold the full faith and credit of the U.S. hostage to deeper cuts in federal spending. But it held the kernel of a deal. Instead of knocking down this offer, the White House was noticeably quiet.

The official Let's Make a Deal competition moved to Blair House, where both parties sent delegations in May to work out a compromise. The goals of this group, run by Vice President Joe Biden, were not modest: they would work out areas of potential agreement, looking at all government spending and tax loopholes. It was easy to get to $1 trillion; $2 trillion was much harder, especially since neither side came to the meetings united. The Democrats were acting like classically disorganized Democrats, one observer remarked later, "and the Republicans were acting like Democrats too."

But the leaders, meanwhile, were acting like leaders. Only a President, elected to serve all the people, can do certain things — including reach out and lift up a friend or rival into the heady temple of Executive power. "I'm the President of the United States," Obama told Boehner. "You're the Speaker of the House. We're the two most responsible leaders right now." And so they began to talk about the truly epic possibility of using the threat, the genuine danger of default, to freeze out their respective extremists and make the kind of historic deal that no one really thought possible anymore — bigger than when Reagan and Tip O'Neill overhauled the tax code in 1986 or when Bill Clinton and Newt Gingrich passed welfare reform a decade later. It would include deeper cuts in spending, the elimination of all kinds of tax loopholes and lower income tax rates for all. "Come on, you and I," Boehner admitted telling Obama. "Let's lock arms, and we'll jump out of the boat together."

After a round of golf at Andrews Air Force Base in mid-June, they retired to the clubhouse for drinks. Obama asked Boehner how they should get the deal done. They agreed to begin meeting together at the White House, alone, without aides. They would keep the talks private.

The first meeting came four days later, when Obama hosted Boehner on the Truman Balcony. They met again on July 3 on the President's Patio. The next day, as thousands of military families gathered on the South Lawn to watch the fireworks, Obama slipped away to call Boehner. They were now talking once a day or once every two days. I don't think anyone considers Ezra Klein unconnected or hostile to the White House. So when he writes something like this, I assume they want it out there:

In my Bloomberg column today, I argue that the Obama administration is much more intent on reaching a deficit deal, and much less intent on making revenues a major part of it, than is commonly assumed. That’s led them to offer Republicans a deal that is not only much farther to the right than anyone had predicted, but also much farther to the right than most realize. In addition to the rise in the Medicare eligibility age and the cuts to Social Security and the minimal amount of revenues, it’d cut discretionary spending by $1.2 trillion, which is an absolutely massive attack on that category of spending.

This deal isn’t just a last-ditch effort to save the economy from the damage of a federal default. The White House would far prefer this deal to the McConnell plan, which would lift the debt ceiling without making any cuts at all. So why are administration officials so committed to striking a deal composed of policies they’ve mostly opposed? Here’s their thinking:

He goes on to say that they feel that if they can only get deficits "off the table" in a big way they will have the room to do other Big Things, that the only stimulus they can get is something small like extended unemployment insurance which is "better than nothing", we should want to have the Democratic President timing the massive cuts in this deal rather than grumpy Republicans in 2012 appropriations, it's good policy on the merits (really!) and finally, it will help Obama get re-elected, which is important because Mitt will make even deeper cuts.

To put all this slightly differently, White House officials believe a big deficit reduction deal would do them enough good, both politically and economically, that it’s worth making very significant compromises on the details of that deal. If you thought getting to $4 trillion in deficit reduction was a Republican goal, you’re wrong. It’s the White House’s goal, and the only reason it might not happen is Republicans won’t let them do it.

So it is as it appears to be. And not one element of it is even remotely compelling.

I still have a sneaking suspicion that the Republicans understand better than Obama that "the deficit" isn't what people care about and that hugely cutting spending won't help him be re-elected in 2012. (If they really believed that they would have done it themselves when they held the White House and the congress.) I think they'll sign on to a deal that massively cuts government spending and which only required concessions are something like Unemployment Insurance. Seriously, think about it.

Maybe they won't sign on out of sheer contrariness. In which case hurrah for them.

And they are threading a very fine needle on the electoral calculation. John Sides at the Monkey Cage games out the three scenarios:

Scenario #1: There is no deal.

Assume there is no deal and then assume, as Geithner and others have warned, that there are serious consequences for the economy when the debt ceiling isn’t raised. This will hurt Obama. And it will hurt him more than it will hurt the Republican Party. Presidents suffer the consequences of a bad economy. Divided government does not change this. Beware pundits who see silver linings for Obama in this scenario.

Scenario #2: There is a deal, but it hurts the economy.

Assume the Keynesians are right and the GOP and, for that matter, Obama are wrong. If so, fiscal austerity is only going to make the economy worse. Maybe not as bad as it would be if the debt ceiling weren’t raised, but still: worse. If so, Obama will suffer. End of story. It does not matter that the deficit will (in theory) go down. Election-year changes in the size of the national debt do not affect election outcomes. And it does not matter that a deal could make Obama appear “bipartisan.” Independent voters do not put political process ahead of the most tangible outcome: the economy. See also Matt Yglesias.

Scenario #3: A deal, with no effect on the economy.

Assume that there is some sort of deal, which in all likelihood will not be the grand bargain Ambinder mentions but some smaller deal built around the Biden talks. I will ignore for the moment what must then be negotiated in 2012. Assume that neither a 2011 deal nor any future deals affect the economy between now and November 2012. Then what? Let’s subdivide.

Scenario 3a: The economy is still weak throughout 2012, as some forecasts suggest. Obama will suffer. See Scenario #2. He may win, depending on the GOP nominee and the campaign itself, but it will not be easy. All the GOP has to do is hammer him on jobs, jobs, jobs and no one will remember his masterful bargaining over the debt ceiling, or what the debt ceiling is in the first place.

Scenario 3b: The economy does improve—somehow, someway. Now Obama has the edge, and the economy is what he should campaign on. Maybe it’s not morning in America, but election-year economic growth is a powerful elixir to myopic voters.

At this point, there is finally an advantage for Obama to a budget deal. The GOP nominee will need an issue to emphasize other than the economy. As Lynn Vavreck argues in The Message Matters, that issue must be one on which (1) the GOP nominee’s stance is closer to voters’ than is Obama’s and (2) Obama can’t easily weasel out of his position. By passing a budget deal, Obama will have made it harder for the GOP to use the budget and deficit as that issue. They may still try, but now Obama can take credit for cutting spending and the debt, all the while noting that many in the GOP sided with him.

That's a lot of hope there. And a lot of pain for real people on the off chance that the GOP attacks will be blunted.

So basically they really are still counting on Morning in America to magically appear in time and think that massively cutting government will ruin the Republicans' plans to complain.(Maybe that explains the Reagan comment yesterday.) The fact that they will also be selling deficit reduction as an economic elixir doesn't seem to bother them in the least. If you can't beat 'em, join 'em, I guess.

And Republicans have been running against Big Gummint/taxnspend liberals for as long as I can remember. A Democrat slashing spending won't stop them. And I know this because Bill Clinton declared that the era of Big Government was over and they impeached him for his trouble. The idea of Obama's campaign being based upon bragging that he has proved how much pain he can cause is rather nauseating.

My personal feeling is that it takes about 18 months for voters to feel the effects of a recovering economy and that window is rapidly closing. I think if they were less rigid about their re-election plan and able to adjust to current realities they might do things differently. But it's pretty clear that they've been counting on the Reagan Replay from the very beginning and changing circumstances just aren't going to sway them.

I can't cheer this even if the economy turns around and unemployment is way down by the time of the election. The level and type of spending cuts that the White House has already proposed is a betrayal of liberal ideology and economic reality to such a degree that I'm rooting for the McConnell proposal, which is just bizarre. But it's the most sane plan on the table.

(See this to understand just how deeply he is proposing to cut into vital services. This rationale just doesn't measure up in any way to the pain that this will cause and the danger we will all be living with in our daily lives as a result.)


‹ First  < 3132 3133 3134 3135 3136 >  Last ›