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Saturday, 30 July 2011

Votes that pushed us into the red - The Washington Post

In the debate over the nation's rising debt, rhetoric trumps reality. In January 2001, the U.S. budget was balanced for the first time in decades and the Congressional Budget Office was forecasting surpluses totaling $5.6 trillion by 2011. A decade later, the national debt is larger, as a percentage of the economy, than at any time in U.S. history except for the period shortly after World War II.

So what happened?

The impact of three policies
on the federal debt

Shown as a percent of GDP

Debt without tax cuts, stimulus and wars

In classic Washington style, neither party wants to take responsibility. “Washington has a spending problem, not a revenue problem,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in April.

“Republicans made the contradictory promises that cutting taxes would lead to higher revenues and would force lower spending,” House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer shot back in a speech later the same month. “They did neither.”

The reality falls somewhere in between. In fact, 75 percent of the members currently serving in Congress voted for at least one — and in most cases more than one — of three policies that contributed to fully one-third of the $12.7 trillion swing from projected surpluses to real debt: President George W. Bush's 2001 and 2003 tax cuts, funding for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and President Obama's 2009 stimulus bill.

A new take on the overlapping priorities that led us to record deficits, and who voted for them.

  • House
  • Senate

Roll over for names of the 310 members who voted for these measures that remain in the House

Voted only for wars
(Voted for at least two supplemental appropriations bills to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during Bush's last two years in office or Obama's first two years.)

Voted only
for stimulus
(Voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus bill.)

Voted for wars
and stimulus

Voted only for
tax cuts
(Voted for at least one of the two tax-cut measures enacted in 2001 and 2003, known as the Bush tax cuts.)

Voted for wars
and tax cuts

Voted for
and tax cuts


Voted for
all three

Voted only for wars

Bachmann“Our troops in combat deserve to be sent the resources and the
that they
deserve to succeed
in their mission in
Iraq without strings and
without delay.”
- Michelle Bachmann
(R-Minn.), April 25, 2007
(Was not in office
during tax-cut votes)

Ryan“What we are simply saying is that rather than take your money and find new ways to spend it for you here in Washington, we want to give it back to the American people.”
- Paul Ryan (R-Wis.),
May 16, 2001

Ron Paul (R-Tex.)                                          

Paul “My commitment to voters is simple: I follow the Constitution and I fight to make government smaller. This committment compels me to vote for all tax cuts and against all spending increases.”
March 30, 2001

Rick Larsen (D-Wash.)

Larsen “This legislation is not a cure-all, and our country faces difficult times ahead. But the need for aggressive action is clear to shorten the recession and lessen its impact on the American economy.”
Jan. 28, 2009

Roll over for names of the 86 current senators who voted for these measures

Voted only for wars
(Voted for at least two supplemental appropriations bills to fund the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq during Bush's last two years in office or in Obama's first two years.)

Voted only
for stimulus
(Voted for the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also known as the stimulus bill.)


Voted for wars
and stimulus

Voted only for
tax cuts
(Voted for at least one of the two tax-cut measures enacted in 2001 and 2003, known as the Bush tax cuts.)

Voted for wars
and tax cuts

Voted for
and tax cuts



Voted for
all three

Voted only for wars

“This jolt to the economy will help us recover from the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.”
- Bernard Sanders
(I-Vt.), Feb. 13, 2009

McConnell “This bill is about righting wrongs in the tax code that are so flagrant as to transcend partisan rancor...I am proud to say that I believe that this surplus belongs to the American people.”
- Mitch McConnell
(R-Ky.), May 26, 2001

Jim DeMint (R-S.C.)                                        

DeMint “Democrats will attempt to end the Bush tax cuts. Doing so violates the rights of individuals to keep their hard-earned money, and it hurts free enterprise.”
March 1, 1007

Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.)

Dianne Feinstein “It seemed an appropriate time to return some of that surplus to taxpayers, just as a business would do when that business was doing well.”
May 14, 2003



CORRECTION: An earlier version of this graphic incorrectly attributed a quote to

Friday, 29 July 2011

Come August and you can start your Company in 24 hours; MCA proposal to spur entrepreneurship - Economic Times

It took Kishore Biyani almost three months to incorporate Pantaloon Retail; Tulsi Tanti needed a month to float Suzlon Energy; Ramesh Chauhan says it took him ages, and he had to agonise over 50-100 pages of documentation; Kiran Mazumdar Shaw recollects she did it in a "record time" of three months in 1978, an era in which six months was the norm. But come August, entrepreneurs dreaming about walking in their footsteps can float a company in exactly 24 hours, doing everything that's needed online. At least, that's the promise the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) is holding out to start-up aspirants across the country.

In a circular issued last Saturday, the ministry outlined several measures including online verification and clearance of the name of the company being incorporated, online submissions of statutory forms, and issuing digital certificates of incorporation. "The simplified process of online incorporation of companies is likely to be implemented with effect from 11th August, 2011," the circular signed by Assistant Director Monika Gupta said.

"This will spur entrepreneurship and kick start the economy. The amount of time consumed in setting up companies is huge deterrence for the entrepreneurial growth," says Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, Chairman & Managing Director, Biocon.

It takes an average of 29 days to start a new company in India now, according to the India edition of Doing Business 2011, a report co-produced by the World Bank and the International Finance Corporation. Often, the wait is longer.

Serial entrepreneur Mukund Mohan, who floated four businesses in Silicon Valley before moving to India to start three businesses here, says the latter took him 2-3 months each. In contrast, "it took me between 5 hours to 2 days to start my businesses in the Valley," he says. Adds Vinod Ambavat, partner, Jain Ambavat and Associates, an auditing firm: "It takes over a month to complete this process." Twelve different procedures need to be completed before a company is incorporated, making India one of the least efficient countries in the world. The World Bank report, which covered a universe of 183 countries from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, ranked India 165 when it comes to ease of starting a business

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Machu Picchu Pictures -- National Geographic

Photo: Double rainbow and llama at Machu Picchu

Of course RIM is downsizing. The BlackBerry is over. - ComPost - The Washington Post

Of course RIM is downsizing. The BlackBerry is over.

Sorry, Torch. Next time try naming your phone for a technology not from the Stone Age! (Andrew Harrer)
BlackBerry missed the memo.

Can’t play Angry Birds on it? Kiss that smartphone goodbye.

Besides, BlackBerrys are hardly smartphones. They’re phones that were told they were smart until they got to college and discovered they were incapable of doing basic math. They’re small fish that once dominated the pond, until it was invaded by larger, more competent fish with better features. (In this metaphor, iPhones are Asian carp.)

The BlackBerry’s parent company, RIM (Research in Motion) just shed 11 percent of its workforce.

And I can believe it.

A scant two years ago, I was overjoyed to have a BlackBerry. My friends and I would BBM late into the night. “Ooh, a free message,” we’d say. “This is like texting but better. How great this keyboard is! I feel so futuristic!”

Then iPhone guy arrived. We regarded him as something of an upstart. Sure, he had these mystical things called apps, but so did we! We could get Google Maps to load very slowly and direct us to travel miles out of our way to Ballston because the satellite was malfunctioning. We once downloaded the Yelp app, but it kept causing our BlackBerry to make strange noises and turn purple and actually sweat in frustration, so we decided to stop. And we had a keyboard, preventing us from sending embarrassing texts about midget mechanics. Surely these iPhone things were a passing fad, although they were fun for playing games and booking plane tickets. Try doing that on a BlackBerry!

“Al Gore had a BlackBerry before this iPhone was a twinkle in your eye,” we said, suddenly realizing how uncool we sounded.

Once BlackBerrys were the go-to accessory of the Washington insider. There was a customary chorus of faint clicking on the Metro as we typed Important Messages. “I’ll BBM you,” we said, getting ill-advised tattoos that read “Rollerballs For Lyfe.”

But iPhone guy infiltrated first one office, then the other. It was just so much more efficient, even if we kept mistyping things. And you could play Angry Birds!

It didn’t help that BlackBerry didn’t keep up with the times. “Apps? Who needs apps?” RIM asked. “This phone caters to people who want small screens, limited functionality and a keyboard! There will never be any technology more gripping than a keyboard!” Then Android came along and we were — up a creek.

Having a BlackBerry is something like having a pager. Once it showed that you were a first-adopter. Now it indicates that you’re something of a stegosaurus. We’re trapped on the wrong part of the S-curve.

I don’t have Internet in my home, and trying to use a BlackBerry to find the Internet has made me almost painfully aware of the device’s limitations. It takes a fairly terrible device for you to complain that “I can’t really enjoy YouTube videos, given the limitations of the screen.” YouTube videos are designed to be watched on maybe a three-inch diameter screen with limited contrast, given that they are about as subtle and nuanced as a Mel Gibson diatribe.

Frankly, the BlackBerry is not designed for web-surfing or app-using. Sure, you can download apps, but they have all the delightful functionality of getting your hand caught in an icemaker. And it has the delightful bonus characteristic of falling instantly to pieces whenever you drop it but reassembling fairly quickly, having forgotten all your contacts. Some would call it a piece of — but let’s not get carried away.

It’s gotten so bad that I’ve started pretending that I have an iPhone for social reasons. “It’s one of the new red iPhones,” I say. “It has a keyboard.”

With news of the layoffs, here’s yet another once ubiquitous technology that’s going the way of the dodo. Even the dodo once was hip and cutting edge.

“This dodo is a fabulous, fearless Mauritian bird!” we once said. “All the insiders have them!”

“Can it fly?”

“No.” We swallowed nervously. “But I think Al Gore has one.”

So long, BlackBerry.

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Justice Shivaraj V Patil appointed new Karnataka Lokayukta - The Economic Times

FormerSupreme Court judge, Justice Shivaraj V Patil, was on Tuesday appointed the new Lokayukta of Karnataka to succeed Santosh Hegde.

GovernorH R Bhardwaj has cleared the name of Patil, who had earlier served as Chief Justice of Rajasthan High Court as well as Acting Chairman of the National Human Rights Commission, Raj Bhavan sources said.

71-year-old Patil, who hails from Karnataka, replaces Hegde, a former Supreme Court judge who completes his term on August two.

Patil also served as the one-man committee that went into the processes and procedures followed by the Department of Telecommunications in the allocation of licences and spectrum between 2001 and 2009.