Since when is $787 billion not enough?


The Charleston Post and Courier has a story here about where the stimulus money is going. Much of it has been used to maintain existing programs such as Medicaid and education, the paper reports.

What was interesting was the first half of a paragraph midway through the story:

Some economists and critics from the political realm have argued the $787 billion package championed by the Obama administration was too small, and would be spent too slowly, to stimulate the economy. Others have said the stimulus spending is too expensive, and fear that adding to the nation’s considerable debt will have dire consequences.

While certainly opponents of the stimulus program have made their voices heard, it’s somewhat surprising that there are folks out there, particularly economists, who think $787 billion isn’t enough money to get the economy back on track.

You either believe in the stimulus concept or you don’t, but let’s say you are enamored with the idea of the government using tax money to “stimulate” the economy but don’t think the federal government has set aside enough taxpayer money yet. Just how much more would you propose we spend if $787 billion isn’t enough?


Poles remember Warsaw Uprising


Saturday marked the 65th anniversary of the ill-fated revolt by Polish partisans against Nazi occupiers, a brave effort which ended with the razing of Warsaw.

Traffic drew to a halt and pedestrians stopped to observe a minute’s silence Saturday, and a huge crowd also flocked to Warsaw’s main military cemetery to lay flowers on the graves of those who died in the 63 days of bitter street fighting, which sparked brutal Nazi reprisals.

The Aug. 1, 1944, uprising was led by the Home Army — commanded by Poland’s London-based government-in-exile — which secretly deployed around 50,000 fighters in Warsaw.

Around 18,000 Polish fighters died in the revolt, and some 17,000 Nazi troops. Around 200,000 civilians were massacred, or killed by crossfire and bombing, as the Nazis took Warsaw back street by street, according to the AFP wire service.

It was intended to last for only a few days until the Soviet Army reached the city. By mid-September, Soviet forces were just a short distance from Polish positions, across the Vistula River, but advanced no further. 

That led allegations that the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin had wanted the insurrection to fail so that the Soviet occupation of Poland would be uncontested.

The Polish Home Army capitulated on Oct. 2 when Germany agreed to treat its members as prisoners of war rather than execute them as “bandits.” The Nazis expelled Warsaw’s remaining 500,000 inhabitants and razed the city.

Today, some 3,500 veterans of the uprising remain.

New-found Mozart pieces unveiled


A pair of piano pieces created by Mozart as a child were unveiled Sunday in the composer’s hometown of Salzburg, Austria.

The works — an extensive concerto movement and a fragmentary prelude — are part of “Nannerl’s Music Book,” a well-known manuscript that contains Mozart’s earliest compositions, the International Mozarteum Foundation revealed while presenting the pieces, according to The Associated Press.

“We have here the first orchestral movement by the young Mozart — even though the orchestral parts are missing — and therefore it’s an extremely important missing link in our understanding of Mozart’s development as a young composer,” the wire service quoted Mozarteum’s research leader, Ulrich Leisinger, as saying.

The music consists of 35 measures of a piano prelude and the solo part, 75 measures long, of a complete movement of a keyboard concerto, according to Reuters.

Mozart, who was born in 1756, began playing the keyboard at age 3 and composing at 5. By the time he died of rheumatic fever on Dec. 5, 1791, he had written more than 600 pieces.

Leisinger said Mozart likely wrote the two newly attributed pieces when he was 7 or 8 years old, with his father, Leopold, transcribing the notes as his son played them at the keyboard, according to The Associated Press.

While “Nannerl’s Music Book” has been in the foundation’s hands for more than a century, the pieces were considered anonymous creations until Leisinger and his team took a closer look.

“These two pieces struck us because they were so extravagant,” Leisinger said, adding that the two works share a number of similarities but that the prelude — believed to have been written after the concerto movement — was “much more refined.”

Posthumous discoveries of Mozart pieces are rare but not unheard of.

Last September, another newly unearthed Mozart composition was unveiled.

A library in Nantes, France, announced it had found a previously unknown piece of music handwritten by Mozart in its archives. The work is described as a preliminary draft of a musical composition, according to CBC News.

Palmetto Bancshares loses $17.9 million


Palmetto Bancshares of Laurens, SC, reported a loss of nearly $17.9 million during the quarter ended June 30. That compares with a gain of $4.3 million during the same period in 2008.

The parent of The Palmetto Bank was hurt by loan loss provisions of $30 million during the quarter, up from just $687,000 in 2008.

“Beginning in the fourth quarter of 2008 and continuing into 2009, we recognized that construction, acquisition and development projects were slowing, guarantors were becoming financially stressed, and increasing credit losses were surfacing,” the company said in a statement.

“These issues manifested themselves in our borrowers in the second quarter as our loan delinquencies and nonperforming assets increased significantly,” the company added.

Closely held Palmetto Bancshares recently announced signficant changes within its management structure. Sam Erwin was named chief executive and president, replacing Bill Stringer, who retired.

Also, Lee Dixon was named chief operating officer of both the holding company and the subsidiary, Andy Douglas was named vice chairman of retail banking and Jack McElveen was hired as chief credit officer.