Burma – Democracy Still Dead

The corrupt government in Burma is still there, still imprisoning monks, still reppressing its people.
Myanmar’s missing monks still a mystery months after crackdown,

Bangkok – Two months after Myanmar’s brutal crackdown on peaceful protests in Yangon led by Buddhist monks, the former capital is noticeably short of monks, a senior US diplomat said Friday.
‘Prior to September, almost any place you looked in Rangoon (Yangon) there were 25 to 50 monks, they were everywhere, but now you only see one or two,’ said Shari Villarosa, charge d’affaires of the US embassy in Myanmar, also known as Burma.

Don’t forget about Burma.

Australia – How Cool Is This?

Former Midnight Oil rocker Garrett named Australia’s environment minister

Peter Garrett – the towering, baldheaded former singer of the disbanded Australian rock group Midnight Oil – continued his long, strange tour from pop star to politician Thursday when he was named Australia’s environment minister.
With his wild dancing and strident voice, Garrett was one of Australia’s most recognizable singers until his band broke up in 2002, after belting out politically charged hits for more than 25 years.
Garrett founded Midnight Oil when he was a law student in 1973, but the semi-punk rock group did not achieve global fame until its 1987 track “Beds are Burning” – a protest song about Aboriginal land rights in Australia.

Live version:

And another great one:

Continue reading

Very Bad Economy = Soaring Stock Market

What he said.
Fed vice-chairman says

that the Fed “will act as needed” to address the volatility of the current economic situation.

So the stock market goes up over 300 points.
Right. As Kevin said,

“Uncertainties about the economic outlook are unusually high right now,” he said. “In my view, these uncertainties require flexible and pragmatic policy making.”

Now see, if it were me I’d be running for the hills at this news.

Sanctuary Mansions and Conspiracy Highways

I’m watching the authoritarian Republican debate. Giuliani just accused Romney of not only having “Sanctuary Cities” in Massachusetts, but of having a “Sanctuary Mansion” by hiring undocumented workers himself.
And Ron Paul, wow – black helicopters started flying out of his ears, talking about a conspiracy highway between Mexico and Canada…
Question – Spending is out of control. NAME the top three programs you would cut. Will we hear an actual answer?
Thompson – “Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid,” then, “No I didn’t say that.”
Ron Paul – Education, Energy and Homeland Security. And Defense.
Huckabee – Get rid of the IRS, bring in the “Fair Tax”. Homeland Security.
None of the others were asked to answer.
A bunch of white guys talking about black crime – and the answer is that those people need more moms and dads. I’m so tough on crime…
Romney mentions “I didn’t have a police commissioner.” I wonder what he meant by that?
It is really irritating how only one or two of the candidates are asked to answer any question.
Huckabee came across as the honest candidate. I really don’t understand the Republican base but I suspect he’ll be way ahead after tonite. But the Ron Paul appeal could well have been enhanced.

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Sales Drop, Inventories At Record

Existing-home sales fall 1.2% to 4.97 million pace in Oct – MarketWatch,

Sales of existing homes fell further in October even as more homes came on the market, driving the supply of homes to the highest level in 22 years, the National Association of Realtors reported Wednesday. Sales dropped 1.2% to a 4.97 million seasonally adjusted annualized pace in October, the real estate advocacy group said. The sales pace is the lowest since 1999. The inventory of unsold homes rose by 1.9% to 4.45 million, representing a 10.8 month supply, the highest since 1999. For single-family homes alone, the inventory of 10.5 months is the highest since July 1985.

CNN Promises Easy Questions For Republicans – Unlike Those For Dems

In the Democratic CNN/YouTube Presidential primary debate CNN included questions like,

“I’d like to know, if the Democrats come into office, are my taxes going to rise like usually they do when a Democrat gets into office?”

This question reinforced the Republican-spread conventional wisdom about “tax and spend” Democrats.
But CNN promises not to do any such thing for the upcoming Republican debate.
See Media Matters – CNN pledges no Dem ‘gotchas’ in Republican YouTube debate — so why did CNN allow partisan ‘gotchas’ in Dem debate?

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – How Far The Fall?

Calculated Risk: LA Times: How Far Will House Prices Fall?

If SoCal prices fall 25%, then prices in other areas – like Miami and Las Vegas – will probably decline a similar amount.

Keep in mind my own observation that houses near here are not selling even after a price cut of almost a third.
OTHER bubbles, like the “dot com” bubble, have seen prices fall right back to where they would have been without the bubble. In fact, haven’t ALL other bubble fallen like that? Why will this one be different? And that means you’re looking at 50% or more.

Still Thinking Dems Will Win In ’08?

Are you still thinking Dems are shoo-ins for 2008?
New poll shows Clinton trails top 2008 Republicans,

Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton trails five top Republican presidential contenders in general election match-ups, a drop in support from this summer, according to a poll released on Monday.

Don’t try to take good news from the next part:

Clinton’s top Democratic rivals, Barack Obama and John Edwards, still lead Republicans in hypothetical match-ups ahead of the November 4, 2008, presidential election, the survey by Zogby Interactive showed.

the Republicans just haven’t cranked up their machine on the other candidates yet.
Update – Why do Democrats think anything is changed? Conservatives and Republicans talk to the general public, and use a megaphone. Fox News is still there, just like they have been for a while. Rush Limbaugh is still there, spreading his lies, and his audience is still huge. Same for the rest of their machine – newspapers, other talk radio… And then there is their online effort, including the viral e-mails.
Sure, the public is dismayed about Iraq and the economy. But the Republicans have the megaphone and will blame Democrats. And they’ll go along with it.
The solution is to develop a progressive infrastructure that reaches the general public and explains the benefits of and creates demand for progressive values, policies and candidates.

GPS Question

A question – do any readers have experience with a GPS unit? I’m thinking of buying one. I have received many recommendations for a Garmin, but Costco has a good deal on a Magellan 4250 which has AAA Tour Guidebooks in it as well as lots of points of interest.
Do any readers have any suggestions?
Update – I bought a Magellan 4250 at Costco. I used it for an hour and it froze four times and wouldn’t turn on one time until I pushed a pin into the reset hole (like on a PalmPilot), so I returned it. I think I’ll order a Garmin Nuvi 360 from Amazon, going for the smaller screen so it is easy to carry when walking in a city… Any comments?

Today’s Housing Bubble Post – Marked Down From $725K To $495K, Still Not Selling

A for-sale house around the corner from us (SF Bay peninsula) has gone through all the stages, and now even the “price reduced” sign is gone. The house is empty. The flyers are still there, however. Walking the dog the other day I picked one up to see what they’re offering.
The house, a modest three-bedroom in a modest neighborhood, was originally listed at $725,000. Now that is crossed off by hand on every flyer and $495,000 is written in.
So, marked down from $725,000 to $495,000 it still isn’t selling. No one is looking at it. It is still priced higher than the average person can or will pay for a house like this to live in this neighborhood. House prices around here still have a long way to fall, but you can’t expect other houses around here to sell for a lot more than $495,000 now – not with that one sitting there. But most of them are still priced in the $600-700,000 range.
That leaves a long way left to fall.