Friday, June 29, 2007
The prevalence of these misperceptions, however, depended crucially on where people got their news. Only 23 percent of those who got their information mainly from PBS or NPR believed any of these untrue things, but the number was 80 percent among those relying primarily on Fox News. In particular, two-thirds of Fox devotees believed that the U.S. had "found clear evidence in Iraq that Saddam Hussein was working closely with the Al Qaeda terrorist organization."
According to director Judd Apatow's family values, beautiful women drag men into adulthood. Then what?Last night I finally saw Knocked Up, Judd Apatow's hilarious new movie, a raunchfest with a family-values core --- carrying on with accidental pregnancies, marriage as responsible adulthood, staying together for the sake of the kids. I'm not going to get into that here, except to second Dana Stevens' great piece in Slate on Hollywood and TV's cowardice about abortion (referred to in Knocked Up by the hero's slacker roommate as "rhymes with shmashmortion" and, by the heroine's ice-cold mother, as "taking care of it").
As she points out, legions of single women in their twenties who get pregnant accidentally like Alison (Katherine Heigl) or Jenna (Keri Russell) in Waitress, have abortions; on the big or small screen, they have miscarriages or babies. In the movies, I might add, accidental babies solve the very issues (men, work, money, dreams) that, in real life, they often worsen. Jenna gives birth, dumps her abusive ox of a husband, wins the baking contest he'd barred her from entering and opens her own pie diner. Alison falls in love with Ben (Seth Rogen), her one-night drunken stand, and, after spending the whole movie hiding her pregnancy to keep her celebrity-reporting job at E!, gets outed -- and promoted. Pregnancy polls really well-- who knew?
Thursday, June 28, 2007
GORDO-BADAKHSHAN AUTONOMOUS OBLAST, Tajikistan -- Finally! I waited 43 years and traveled to one of the most remote places on earth to find it, but find it I have: American tax dollars being spent productively. "USA," the label on the bag reads in Helvetica Bold. "US-AID Flour." Just like the '70s, when my little kid heart swelled at the sight of "Gift of USA" food bags being delivered to starving African villagers! Thank God, America still finds time to help poor Third Worlders in between all the bombing and torturing.
As I chewed a nan bread my Pamiri hosts had baked using US-AID flour, I got the warm fuzzies. The struggle for hearts and minds never tasted so good.
People who have no idea what happened in the Vietnam War should stop making arguments about the war. Which means: most conservatives.
Here's a blogger at the American Scene ruminating about the war's role in the rise of Reaganism:
I presume he means the Democrats by "the party that worked to shut off aid to South Vietnam." He should shut up.
Whatever else you want to say about "stab in the back" myths being spread later on, the public's response to the collapse of South Vietnam and Cambodia was not one immediately politically damaging to the party that worked to shut off aid to South Vietnam.
By Ken Fisher | Published: June 27, 2007 - 06:07PM CT
The Federal Trade Commission today dealt a serious blow to "Net Neutrality" proponents as it issued a report dismissive of claims that the government needs to get involved in preserving the fairness of networks in the United States.
The report, entitled "Broadband Connectivity Competition Policy," was drafted in response to growing concerns about broadband competitiveness and network neutrality. The FTC intends the report to be consulted as a guideline by policy makers and legislators, but it has no binding force. Nevertheless, the report's findings are yet another sign that US government agencies are not particularly interested in the network neutrality problem right now. In fact, the FTC is essentially saying that they can find no evidence of a problem to begin with.
EVANSTON, Ill. --- Juries across the country make decisions every day on the fate of defendants, ideally leading to prison sentences that fit the crime for the guilty and release for the innocent. Yet a new Northwestern University study shows that juries in criminal cases many times are getting it wrong.
In a set of 271 cases from four areas, juries gave wrong verdicts in at least one out of eight cases, according to “Estimating the Accuracy of Jury Verdicts,” a paper by a Northwestern University statistician that is being published in the July issue of Journal of Empirical Legal Studies.
Ten years ago this October, somewhere between 500,000 to one-million -- depending on who was doing the tallying -- Christian men gathered in Washington, D.C., to "Stand in the Gap." At the time, the Promise Keepers (PK), the chief organizer of the event, appeared on the verge of becoming a major force in conservative politics. Within a few years, however, money dried up, media interest peaked and peeled off, and leadership squabbles ensued. The bubble burst. Despite scaling down their activities and continuing to function, the organization pretty much dropped off the radar screens of the traditional media.
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A just-released report slams the federal government for failing to coordinate the work of U.S. law enforcement agencies overseas to fight terrorism.
The Government Accountability Office found that in one country a lack of clarity about the roles and responsibilities of the FBI and the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency may have compromised several investigations intended to identify and disrupt potential terrorist activities.
The GAO did not name the country in its report.
Monday, June 25, 2007
NEW YORK: One entry, dated April 14, 1954, was about I. F. Stone, who was described as a writer from New York. Stone, it was noted, condemned Senator Joseph McCarthy's "persecution of innocent citizens" and likewise the House Committee on Un-American Activities and the Senate's corresponding committee.
Another on Oct. 24, 1966, noted that as a result of a FBI-approved counterintelligence operation, Richard Lawrence Davis, who was running for a seat on the state committee of the Michigan District Communist Party, was cast under a cloud of suspicion as part of an effort to sow division in the group.
Ever wonder why fear-mongering seems to work so well at the polls—while appeals to reason often leave the electorate cold? A new book applies neuroscience to politics to figure out why the Democrats struggle to push the buttons in voters’ brains.
June 27, 2007 - Do you remember when candidate George W. Bush berated Al Gore during the 2000 presidential debates for alleged funny business in his fund-raising? Bush said, “You know, going to a Buddhist temple and then claiming it wasn’t a fund-raiser isn’t my view of responsibility.” It was a direct attack on the honor of a fellow Southerner, and Gore wasn’t taking it. “You have attacked my honor and integrity,” the vice president shot back. “I think it’s time to teach you a few old-fashioned lessons about character. When I enlisted to fight in the Vietnam War, you were talkin’ real tough about Vietnam. But when you got the call, you called your daddy and begged him to pull some strings so you wouldn’t have to go to war. So instead of defending your country with honor, you put some poor Texas millworker’s kid on the front line in your place to get shot at. Where I come from, we call that a coward.
“When I was working hard, raising my family, you were busy drinking yourself and your family into the ground. Why don’t you tell us how many times you got behind the wheel of a car with a few drinks under your belt? Where I come from, we call that a drunk.
The study by the United Nations University suggests climate change is making desertification "the greatest environmental challenge of our times".
By Tom Engelhardt, Tomdispatch.com
Posted on June 28, 2007, Printed on June 28, 2007
Sometimes, numbers can strip human beings of just about everything that makes us what we are. Numbers can silence pain, erase love, obliterate emotion, and blur individuality. But sometimes numbers can also tell a necessary story in ways nothing else can.
This January, President Bush announced his "surge" plan for Iraq, which he called his "new way forward." It was, when you think about it, all about numbers. Since then, 28,500 new American troops have surged into that country, mostly in and around Baghdad; and, according to the Washington Post, there has also been a hidden surge of private armed contractors -- hired guns, if you will -- who free up troops by taking over many mundane military positions from guarding convoys to guarding envoys. In the meantime, other telltale numbers in Iraq have surged as well.
1 hour, 25 minutes ago
President Bush, in a constitutional showdown with Congress, claimed executive privilege Thursday and rejected demands for White House documents and testimony about the firing of U.S. attorneys.
His decision was denounced as "Nixonian stonewalling" by the chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Bush rejected subpoenas for documents from former presidential counsel Harriet Miers and former political director Sara Taylor. The White House made clear neither one would testify next month, as directed by the subpoenas.
A US company is taking plastics recycling to another level – turning them back into the oil they were made from, and gas.
All that is needed, claims Global Resource Corporation (GRC), is a finely tuned microwave and – hey presto! – a mix of materials that were made from oil can be reduced back to oil and combustible gas (and a few leftovers).
Tuesday, June 26, 2007; Page A20
THREE TERMS and a different Supreme Court ago, a five-justice majority sensibly upheld a provision of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance law designed to stem the flood of corporate- and labor-funded campaign commercials masquerading as "issue ads." The majority found "little difference" between "an ad that urged viewers to 'vote against Jane Doe' and one that condemned Jane Doe's record on a particular issue before exhorting viewers to 'call Jane Doe and tell her what you think.' " As the court explained, "although the resulting advertisements do not urge the viewer to vote for or against a candidate in so many words, they are no less clearly intended to influence the election."
The Bush administration’s top telecommunications official reportedly tried to “shout down” Net Neutrality and open access supporters after they called him out for spinning America’s Internet market as a wonderland of competition and consumer choice.
John Kneuer, assistant secretary of commerce and head of the National Telecommunications & Information Administration (NTIA), “quickly lost his temper and began shouting” after an audience of technology experts pressed him to explain how the U.S. had fallen so far behind other developed countries in providing Internet access to citizens.
By Robert Scheer
As the Iraq war that Vice President Dick Cheney created continues to shred American—and many more Iraqi—lives, further documentation has emerged proving that, even during failed wars, the merchants of death profit. No company has profited more from the carnage in Iraq than Halliburton, which Cheney headed before choosing himself as Bush’s running mate. One shudders at the blissful arrogance of this modern Daddy Warbucks, who sees no conflict of interest over the blood-soaked profits garnered by the once-bankrupt division of the company that left him rich.
Tue Jun 26, 6:39 PM ET
The CIA worked with three American mobsters in a botched "gangster-type" attempt to assassinate Cuban leader Fidel Castro in the early 1960s, according to documents released by the CIA on Tuesday.
The CIA hauled the skeletons out of its closet by declassifying hundreds of pages of long-secret records that detail some of the agency's worst illegal abuses during about 25 years of overseas assassination attempts, domestic spying and kidnapping.
CIA Director Michael Hayden released the documents to lift the veil of secrecy on the agency's past, even as the Bush administration faces criticism of being too secretive now.
By Guest Blogger
Posted on June 27, 2007, Printed on June 28, 2007
This post, written by Larisa Alexandrovna and Muriel Kane, originally appeared on Raw Story
Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger pushed for the 1974 Turkish invasion of Cyprus and allowed arms to be moved to Ankara for an attack on that island in reaction to a coup sponsored by the Greek junta, according to documents and intelligence officers with close knowledge of the event.
Nearly 700 pages of highly classified Central Intelligence Agency reports from the 1970's, known collectively as the "Family Jewels," are slated for public release today.
Tuesday, June 26, 2007
A sickening man named George Will has just laundered the historical reputation of a monster. His new column affects to analyze the varieties of third party candidates in the wake of Michael Bloomberg's suspected entrance into the presential race. Exhibit B: "A candidate can succeed in giving an aggrieved minority a voice—e.g., George Wallace, speaking for people furious about the '60s tumults," he writes in his new Newsweek column.
06/26/2007 @ 9:34 amFiled by Michael Roston
An article in July's edition of the journal Foreign Affairs gives Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell an opportunity to outline his plans for 'Overhauling Intelligence.' The article is notable both for what it includes - a discussion of domestic intelligence gathering activities - as well as what it leaves out.
While earlier public statements and writings from McConnell have emphasized the need to modernize the laws governing intelligence gathering, the nation's second National Intelligence Director excluded those issues from this article.
Deep in southwestern Alabama sits the town of Monroeville. It’s a sleepy place, not of much consequence since the cotton industry gave out. People in America may think they don’t know it. But then, perhaps they do. This town gave America two of its literary giants. It is the town described in To Kill a Mockingbird. It is the home of Harper’s Magazine contributors Harper Lee and Truman Capote. (Though New York City would go to the mat to contend with Monroeville for the honor of calling itself their home, in fairness the title should be shared.) So inconsequential as Monroeville may be on the Alabama roadmap, in the literary geography of America it is a place of great consequence. It is also a place forever associated with the struggle for justice.
06/25/2007 @ 11:36 amFiled by David Edwards and Muriel Kane
CNN spoke on Monday to prize-winning Washington Post reporter Barton Gellman, co-author of a current four-part series exposing Vice President Cheney's dominance of US policy decisions.Gellman first described Cheney's leading role in approving of enhanced interrogation methods, saying that "Dick Cheney decided early on, we're not going to win against al Qaeda unless we extract serious intelligence quickly from captured enemies, and he helped push through a fairly remarkable change in law, which was to establish a new distinction between 'torture,' which the United States government would not do, and 'cruelty.'"
Deep coal seams that are not commercially viable for coal production could be used for permanent underground storage of carbon dioxide (CO2) generated by human activities, thus avoiding atmospheric release, according to two studies published in Inderscience's International Journal of Environment and Pollution. An added benefit of storing CO2 in this way is that additional useful methane will be displaced from the coal beds.
Finding ways to store (sequester) the greenhouse gas CO2, indefinitely, is one approach being investigated in efforts to reduce atmospheric CO2 levels and so help combat climate change. CO2 might be pumped into oil wells to extract the last few drops of oil or be placed deep underground in brine aquifers or unmineable coal seams.
ROCHESTER, Minn. -- A search for the molecular clues of longevity has taken Mayo Clinic researchers down another path that could explain why some people who consume excessive calories don’t gain weight. The study, which was done in laboratory mouse models, points to the absence of a gene called CD38. When absent, the gene prevented mice on high-fat diets from gaining weight, but when present, the mice became obese.
The findings were published this month in the online issue of The FASEB Journal, the journal of the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. The study will appear in the November 2007 print issue of the journal.
Mon Jun 25, 2007 at 05:49:49 PM EST
Today, the Supreme Court ruled 5-4 against a lawsuit brought by the Freedom from Religion Foundation challenging the Bush Administration's faith-based funding conferences. The good news is that the majority opinion, written by Justice Alito, specifically declined the invitation of Scalia and Thomas to overrule Flast, the precedent which allows taxpayer standing in Establishment Clause cases.
The problem is: now that the Court has created this Establishment Clause safe-haven within the Executive Branch, will government agencies seek to take greater advantage of that allowance? Or will future administrations heed Justice Kennedy's admonition that the Executive Branch is required to follow the Constitution even when there is no means to be sued for not doing so? (And do these qualify for a round of Atrios' "simple answers to simple questions"?)
By Terrence McNally, AlterNet
Posted on June 26, 2007, Printed on June 26, 2007
"It will be the stroke of midnight for the rest of our lives. It is too late for heroes. We need an accelerated intertwining of the over 1 million nonprofits and 100 million people who daily work for the preservation and restoration of life on earth. ...The language of sustainability is about ideas that never end: growth without inequality, wealth without plunder, work without exploitation, a future without fear. A green movement fails unless there's a black-, brown-, and copper-colored movement, and that can only exist if the movement to change the world touches the needs and suffering of every single person on earth." --Worldchanging.org 12/26/06
Paul Hawken has spent over a decade researching organizations dedicated to restoring the environment and fostering social justice. From multimillion-dollar nonprofits to single-person dot.causes, these groups collectively comprise a movement that has no name, no leader, no location, and that has gone largely ignored by politicians and the media. Like nature itself, it is organizing from the bottom up. Hawken's new book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, explores the diversity of the movement, its ideas, strategies and hidden history.
[from the July 9, 2007 issue]
I thought I would hate The Dangerous Book for Boys, the publishing sensation by British brothers Conn and Hal Iggulden. Actually, it's irresistible, beginning with the cannily designed red-and-gilt, raised-letter cover reminiscent of Edwardian children's literature. A grab bag of militantly old-fashioned pastimes, skills and informational tidbits, it has brief chapters on how to skip stones, play stickball and make a pinhole projector, plus smatterings of nature lore, history, geography and culture (accounts of famous battles, all safely in the past; "Latin Phrases Every Boy Should Know"). Morse code! Star maps! Invisible ink made of pee! Captain Scott! Grammar! Remember grammar? There are three whole chapters on it. Neat! I have no idea if today's boys would rather identify trees or read about Julius Caesar's invasion of Britain than play Resident Evil 4 or download pornography, but it's a safe bet their parents wish they did. In fact, it's a safe bet parents would like to do some of this stuff themselves--teach a dog tricks, make a battery, read about the Wright brothers. Cool! Children's books are bought by parents--and grandparents, even better for the Igguldens' purposes, because you'd have to be nearly 60 to have grown up with the cultural references and worldview resuscitated here. In light of all this, it's no wonder The Dangerous Book for Boys was a huge success in Britain, sits atop the Amazon charts and is piled three feet deep at my local Barnes & Noble.
by CHRISTOPHER HAYES
[from the July 9, 2007 issue]
Is there any figure in American political discourse more reviled than the bureaucrat? Say the word and a potent caricature leaps to mind: the petty and shiftless paper pusher who wields his small amount of power with malice and caprice. Whatever the issue--from school reform to overhauling the nation's intelligence apparatus--the bureaucrat is on the wrong side of it.
It's slander with a long pedigree--Cicero called the bureaucrat "the most despicable" of men, "petty, dull, almost witless...a holder of little authority in which he delights, as a boy delights in possessing a vicious dog"--but in the last forty years, conservatives have converted this casual contempt into an ideological fixture. Since as far back as the Goldwater campaign, the American right has generally found that "the government" is too abstract an entity for most people to actively loathe. It's far more effective to demonize the people who execute its daily functions. Bureaucrats are to conservatives what the bourgeoisie was to Marx: an oppressive class of joyless knaves. Milton Friedman quipped that "hell hath no fury like a bureaucrat scorned"; Ronald Reagan said in 1966 that "the best minds are not in government" because if any were, "business would hire them away"; and George Wallace expressed his desire to "take those bearded bureaucrats" in Washington who were in the process of desegregating the South, "and throw them in the Potomac."
06/25/2007 @ 10:19 amFiled by Michael Roston
On a 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court ruled that a group of taxpayers did not have standing to sue the US government for its funding of faith-based initiatives with federal money. The decision, Hein v. Freedom From Religion Foundation, was written by Samuel Alito, the second Supreme Court Justice appointed by President George W. Bush, according to the website SCOTUSBlog.
The group People for the American Way slammed the decision as threatening the First Amendment.
The following is an excerpt from Glenn Greenwald's new book, A Tragic Legacy: How a Good vs. Evil Mentality Destroyed the Bush Presidency, to be released by Crown Publishing this Tuesday. The book is available now at Amazon.
Reuters, February 23, 2007:
New York Times, on former secretary of defense Donald Rumsfeld's farewell speech to the Pentagon, December 15, 2006:
President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said on Friday Iran should not show weakness over its nuclear program, a day after Tehran ignored a United Nations deadline to stop nuclear work which the West says could be used for making bombs. "If we show weakness in front of the enemy the expectations will increase but if we stand against them, because of this resistance, they will retreat."
"Today, it should be clear that not only is weakness provocative," Mr. Rumsfeld said, standing at a lectern with President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney at his side, "but the perception of weakness on our part can be provocative as well...
By Guest Blogger
Posted on June 25, 2007, Printed on June 26, 2007
This post, written by Faiz Shakir, originally appeared on Think Progress
Shortly after Bush was elected, "Cheney preferred, and Bush approved, a mandate that gave him access to 'every table and every meeting,' making his voice heard in 'whatever area the vice president feels he wants to be active in.'"
By Khody Akhavi, IPS News
Posted on June 25, 2007, Printed on June 26, 2007
As the George W. Bush administration struggles through its last two years in office, it appears that the agenda of neoconservative ideologues has finally lost its appeal among strategic parts of the U.S. foreign policy apparatus.
But as their influence has waned at the Pentagon and State Department, neo-conservative hawks have taken charge on the battlefield of public diplomacy.
By Martin Crutsinger, AP Economics Writer
In a troubling sign for the future, the inventory of unsold homes shot up to the highest level in 15 years, meaning more downward pressure on prices in the months ahead until the inventory glut is reduced.
Sunday, June 24, 2007
Senior judges from North America and Europe were in the midst of a panel discussion about torture and terrorism law, when a Canadian judge’s passing remark - “Thankfully, security agencies in all our countries do not subscribe to the mantra ‘What would Jack Bauer do?’ ” - got the legal bulldog in [Justice Antonin Scalia] barking.
Which party opposed giving women the right to vote? The Democrats.
Which party opposed the civil rights act? The Democrats.
Liberals. So ignorant of history.
Even at GOP Bloggers, this is considered to be some weakass shit. It is pointed out that the Dixiecrats who opposed the Civil Rights Act (and, for that matter, Truman’s integration of the military) ended up leaving the Democratic party and joining the Republicans, forcing sympathetic commenter KCJ to offer this novel defense:
Conservative Democrats like Robert “KKK” Byrd?
Published: 24 June 2007
Thousands of people who take prescription medicines for everyday conditions are gaining large amounts of weight as an unexpected side effect, scientists have warned.
Researchers, who found that some patients were putting on up to 22lbs in a year, say that the drugs may even be contributing to the nation's rocketing obesity epidemic.
6/24/2007 @ 6:35 pmFiled by RAW STORY
Michael Isikoff is reporting "a new Cheney-Gonzales mystery" in the current issue of Newsweek. It has recently become known that Cheney's office has refused to comply with an executive order requiring annual reports on security measures, claiming that the vice president is not part of the executive branch. The government official responsible for enforcing the order, J. William Leonard, complained about this last January to Attorney General Gonzales, asking for an official ruling, but he never received a response.
06/24/2007 @ 3:17 pmFiled by Josh Catone
A new Newsweek poll out this weekend exposed "gaps" in America's knowledge of history and current events.
Perhaps most alarmingly, 41% of Americans answered 'Yes' to the question "Do you think Saddam Hussein’s regime in Iraq was directly involved in planning, financing, or carrying out the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001?"
"That's a big no. The president believes . . . that it should be the goal of policymakers to protect the American way of life. The American way of life is a blessed one."
- Ari Fleischer, White House Press Secretary responding in May 2001 to whether Bush would ask Americans to curb their first-in-the-world energy consumption
Earlier this year, the world's top climate scientists released a definitive report on global warming. It is now "unequivocal," they concluded, that the planet is heating up. Humans are directly responsible for the planetary heat wave, and only by taking immediate action can the world avert a climate catastrophe. Megadroughts, raging wildfires, decimated forests, dengue fever, legions of Katrinas - unless humans act now to curb our climate-warming pollution, warned the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, "we are in deep trouble."
By this late date we should know the fix is in when the White House’s top factotums fan out on the Sunday morning talk shows singing the same lyrics, often verbatim, from the same hymnal of spin. The pattern was set way back on Sept. 8, 2002, when in simultaneous appearances three cabinet members and the vice president warned darkly of Saddam’s aluminum tubes. “We don’t want the smoking gun to be a mushroom cloud,” said Condi Rice, in a scripted line. The hard sell of the war in Iraq — the hyping of a (fictional) nuclear threat to America — had officially begun.
America wasn’t paying close enough attention then. We can’t afford to repeat that blunder now. Last weekend the latest custodians of the fiasco, our new commander in Iraq, Gen. David Petraeus, and our new ambassador to Baghdad, Ryan Crocker, took to the Sunday shows with two messages we’d be wise to heed.
"The Structural Imbalance of Political Talk Radio" found that 91 percent of weekday talk formats are given over to right-wing programming. No surprise, really, but good to have further evidence.
Published: June 23, 2007 8:20 PM ET
NEW YORK As E&P has noted in the past week, the U.S. military has increasingly referred to insurgents in Iraq as "al-Qaeda fighters" or "Qaeda militants." When and why this is happening is not certain, although linking the insurgents to those who attacked us on 9/11 would appear to have certain benefits in the court of public opinion.
In the past, however, both military and outside observers have long stated that so-called "foreign fighters" or members of the group Al-Qaeda in Mesopotamia have made up only a tiny fraction of those who are actively battling the U.S. occupation.
Published: June 24, 2007 12:35 PM ET
NEW YORK Six weeks ago, at the military hearings probing the killing of 24 civilians in Haditha in November 2005, a Marine officer testified about his view of the initial questions about the incident, and possible coverup, raised by the Time magazine reporter who broke the case.
The questions from Tim McGirk clearly provoked more rage than a determination to look into the evidence offered by eyewitnesses.
Saturday, June 23, 2007
-- by Sara
The first thing that strikes you about Thom Hartmann in person is that he looks about 20 years younger than he actually is. The second is that he's got an energy level that's unbelievable.
"I got off the plane from DC at 3:15 this morning," he admits, apologizing for getting a name wrong in a story he was telling. "And I had to be on the air at six, so I'm running on very little sleep." It's now getting on toward two in the afternoon, and he's been speaking for 45 minutes, bouncing around the platform with energy and a recall of names, people, places, dates -- hundreds of years of American and English history -- that dazzles. If this is what he's like when he's been up all night, he must be hell on wheels when he's well-rested.
By David Corn, TheNation.com
Posted on June 23, 2007, Printed on June 23, 2007
In 1971, Edgar Kaiser, the son of the founder of Kaiser Permanente, one of the first big HMOs, went to see John Ehrlichman, a top aide to President Nixon, to lobby the Nixon White House to pass legislation that would expand the market for health maintenance organizations (HMOs). Ehrlichman reported this conversation to Nixon on February 17, 1971. The discussion, which was taped, went like this:
Ehrlichman: I had Edgar Kaiser come in...talk to me about this and I went into it in some depth. All the incentives are toward less medical care, because the less care they give them, the more money they make.
President Nixon: Fine.
The next day, Nixon publicly announced he would be pushing legislation that would provide Americans "the finest health care in the world."
By Ben Lando, UPI
Posted on June 23, 2007, Printed on June 23, 2007
A military leader fresh from Iraq is the latest U.S. government official to push a common but false claim that the controversial draft oil law will lead to a just division of the proceeds from oil sales and pave the way for reconciliation in the war-torn nation.
Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey, former commander of the Multinational Security Transition Command-Iraq, forwarded claims made by the Bush administration and Congress that if Iraq passes an oil law, the fighting factions there will come together because revenue from oil sales will be distributed to all.
Friday, June 22, 2007
By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY
The federal government recorded a $1.3 trillion loss last year -- far more than the official $248 billion deficit -- when corporate-style accounting standards are used, a USA TODAY analysis shows.
The loss reflects a continued deterioration in the finances of Social Security and government retirement programs for civil servants and military personnel. The loss -- equal to $11,434 per household -- is more than Americans paid in income taxes in 2006.
Scientists close in on missing carbon sink
Forests in the United States and other northern mid- and upper-latitude regions are playing a smaller role in offsetting global warming than previously thought, according to a study appearing in this week's issue of Science.
The study, which sheds light on the so-called missing carbon sink, concludes that intact tropical forests are removing an unexpectedly high proportion of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, thereby partially offsetting carbon entering the air through industrial emissions and deforestation.
The Science paper was written by a team of scientists led by Britton Stephens of the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colo. The research was funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF).
Military and civilian satellites need protection
Satellite tracking software freely available on the Internet and some textbook physics could be used by any organization that can get hold of an intermediate range rocket to mount an unsophisticated attack on military or civilian satellites. Such an attack would require modest engineering capability and only a limited budget. That is according to researchers writing in Inderscience Publishers' International Journal of Critical Infrastructures.
A terrorist organization or rogue state could threaten essential satellite systems, according to Adrian Gheorghe of Old Dominion University Norfolk, in Virginia, USA and Dan Vamanu of "Horia Hulubei" National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering, in Bucharest, Romania. Military satellites, global positioning systems, weather satellites and even satellite TV systems could all become victims of such an attack.
D.C. Results Typical, Federal Study Says
Friday, June 22, 2007; Page B01
Students in the D.C. school voucher program, the first federal initiative to spend taxpayer dollars on private school tuition, generally performed no better on reading and math tests after one year in the program than their peers in public schools, the U.S. Education Department said yesterday.
The department's report, which researchers said is an early snapshot, found only a few exceptions to the conclusion that the program has not yet had a significant impact on achievement: Students who moved from higher-performing public schools to private schools and those who scored well on tests before entering the program performed better in math than their peers who stayed in public school.
By Robert Parry
June 21, 2007
If you’re wondering why the Iraq War is likely to continue indefinitely despite mounting public outrage and a failed military strategy, part of the answer can be found in two words: Carl Levin.
Levin, a low-key Michigan Democrat who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, has wedded himself to a line of thinking that is both historically wrong and logically unsound. Yet, his faulty reasoning, if maintained, virtually guarantees that George W. Bush will keep winning every war-funding round with Congress through the end of his presidency.
On June 21, Levin spelled out his thinking in a Washington Post op-ed entitled “Lincoln’s Example for Iraq.” Levin asserted that he is modeling his Iraq War position on Abraham Lincoln’s stance on the Mexican War, launched by President James Polk in 1846 after a declaration of war by Congress.
Bear Stearns, a leading US finance firm, is trying to prevent the collapse of two hedge funds with major exposure to the high-risk mortgage sector.
Should it sell off investments cheaply, it is feared similar funds will follow suit, causing a crisis in confidence.
By Amy Goodman, Democracy Now!
Posted on June 22, 2007, Printed on June 22, 2007
Academy Award-winning filmmaker Michael Moore sat down with Amy Goodman ahead of the release of his new film SiCKO. The film is a seething indictment of the US healthcare system. It focuses not on the more than 40 million people who don't have healthcare but on the 250 million who do - many of whom are abandoned by the very health insurance industry they paid into for decades. "They are getting away with murder," Moore said of the health insurance companies. "They charge whatever they want. There is no government control, and frankly we will not fix our system until we remove these private insurance companies."
Wednesday 20 June 2007
We were reminded again this week that in this administration, no good deed goes unpunished, and that no scandal is so great that it can't be hidden until it's forgotten.
The sad spectacle that transpired inside the crumbling walls of Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq came roaring back to life with Seymour Hersh's on-target article in The New Yorker magazine telling the story of an honest general who investigated and reported on events that shocked the world.
Jill Tucker, Chronicle Staff Writer
Thursday, June 21, 2007
About 500,000 teachers across the country flee their jobs every year -- a persistent churn and burn that costs public schools an estimated $7.3 billion annually, according to a national report released Wednesday.
"Schools are able to hire enough teachers, but they just can't keep them in the classroom," said Tom Carroll, president of the National Commission on Teaching and America's Future, which conducted the study, released Wednesday.
By Michael Parks, AlterNet
Posted on June 21, 2007, Printed on June 22, 2007
Ninety years ago, the U.S. government used the Espionage Act to jail hundreds of Americans for speaking out against World War I. Shortly after the war, during America's first Red Scare, U.S. Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer authorized arrests of thousands of citizens, primarily immigrants, suspected of being Communists. These First Amendment abuses led to the foundation of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and set the stage for what has been a nearly century-long struggle for the realization of every American's right to freedom of speech.
In his book From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America, Christopher A. Finan chronicles how far we have come since World War I and how far we have yet to go. As the chair of the National Coalition Against Censorship and the president of the American Booksellers' Foundation for Free Expression, which has played an active role in lobbying against the USA Patriot Act since 9/11, Finan has over two decades of personal experience with his subject.
Tuesday, June 19, 2007
By Mark Danner
May 31, 2007
When my assistant greeted me, a number of weeks ago, with the news that I had been invited to deliver the commencement address to the Department of Rhetoric, I thought it was a bad joke. There is a sense, I'm afraid, that being invited to deliver The Speech to students of Rhetoric is akin to being asked out for a romantic evening by a porn star: Whatever prospect you might have of pleasure is inevitably dampened by performance anxiety — the suspicion that your efforts, however enthusiastic, will inevitably be judged according to stern professional standards. A daunting prospect.
The only course, in both cases, is surely to plunge boldly ahead. And that means, first of all, saluting the family members gathered here, and in particular you, the parents.
June 19, 2007 — By H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- Three powerful lobbying forces -- automakers, electric utilities and the coal industry -- are confounding Democrats' efforts to forge a less-polluting energy policy.
Disputes over automobile fuel economy, use of coal as a motor fuel, and requirements for utilities to use more wind or biomass to generate electricity have threatened to stall energy legislation in both the Senate and House.
For years in the United States, liberalism was the political persuasion that dared not speak its name, but now the Left is buzzing with hope and proclaiming the death of "the conservative era."
Republicans, from the 1980s onward, demonized even the term "liberal" as the left took a pounding. More recently, President George W. Bush's political guru Karl Rove was among those talking of a permanent conservative majority.
Filed by Michael Roston
As Democrats in the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform plow ahead with their investigation of the intelligence used by the Bush administration to build the case for the Iraq War, their Republican colleagues are attempting to up the ante. Last week, Rep. Tom Davis (R-VA), the ranking minority member of the committee, alleged that former covert CIA agent Valerie Plame Wilson had given false testimony and prepared to threaten her with a subpoena.
by Eric Boehlert
How hard is it to figure out if a book has footnotes? When it comes to Al Gore's new, national bestseller, The Assault on Reason (Penguin Press, May 2007), it's trickier than you think for some disdainful members of the Beltway press corps.
On June 10, The Washington Post published an opinion column by Andrew Ferguson about Gore's new book. Personally, I give The Assault on Reason high marks as a spot-on, truth-telling critique of the Bush administration, as well as for the insightful concern Gore expresses about the fragile state of American democracy. Or, "what passes for a national conversation," as Gore puts it.
By Steve Connor, Science Editor
Published: 19 June 2007
Six scientists from some of the leading scientific institutions in the United States have issued what amounts to an unambiguous warning to the world: civilisation itself is threatened by global warming.
They also implicitly criticise the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) for underestimating the scale of sea-level rises this century as a result of melting glaciers and polar ice sheets.
A Government Accountability Office report confirms that Bush's use of presidential signing statements have the effect of nullifying the law in question in about 30 percent of cases.
Well, it's official: President Bush doesn't much respect the laws Congress passes. A Government Accountability Office (GAO) report -- commissioned by Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) and Rep. John Conyers (D-MI) and released today -- confirms that Bush's use of presidential signing statements are, in fact, utterly without precedent.
Though they've been used by American presidents for about 200 years, signing statements -- edicts issued by the president to declare his intent to construe a provision within a law differently than Congress does -- are Constitutionally questionable. But George W. Bush's use of them far exceeds his predecessors', both in number and in severity, and he has consistently used them to flout the will of the legislative branch.
As recent legislation shows, drug companies and their direct-to-consumer marketing campaigns need diligent monitoring -- especially when it looks like they need it the least.
Ten years after the FDA first approved pharmaceutical direct-to-consumer (DTC) advertising, the Senate has finally resolved to step up DTC regulation. Sponsored by the bi-partisan coalition of Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) and Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), the bill passed by a resounding 93-1. The House has a similar bill on its calendar and a full vote is expected in July.
Problem is, although the legislation has been touted as a victory over the big, bad drug companies, the success is actually Big Pharma's.
Mon Jun 18, 8:38 AM ET
The new Democratic-led Congress is drawing the ire of voters upset with its failure to quickly deliver on a promise to end the Iraq war.
This is reflected in polls that show Congress -- plagued by partisan bickering mostly about the war -- at one of its lowest approval ratings in a decade. Surveys find only about one in four Americans approves of it.
"I understand their disappointment," said Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid (news, bio, voting record) of Nevada. "We raised the bar too high."
By Daniel Gross
Posted Friday, June 15, 2007, at 5:48 PM ET
What do Iraq and the U.S. housing market have in common? At first blush, not much. Iraq, which has taken the lives of thousands and ruined America's reputation abroad, is far more disastrous than the housing collapse, which has been merely financially devastating.
Nonetheless, the twin debacles, which are defining the foreign policy and domestic economy of the second Bush term, have significant similarities, especially in the way that their public- and private-sector architects and promoters have behaved. Iraq and the housing market offer a case study in how two phenomena can go from being extremely popular to deeply unpopular in a matter of months. And with Iraq having turned into a disaster about two years before housing did, the way Iraq is playing out in the culture may predict what will happen in housing.
While the George W. Bush administration didn't invent cronyism -- handing over administration jobs to friends, funders and longtime supporters -- it certainly has put its own unique stamp on the concept. When the history of the Bush Administration is written, "cronyism" will be writ large with Bush's paean to former FEMA chief Michael Brown, "Brownie, you're doing a heck of a job," leading the way. The hiring -- and ultimate firing -- of "Brownie," however, is only one example of how the uninformed, the unprepared, the prejudiced, and the unqualified have made their way to administration posts.
The Senate is preparing to take up the Employee Free Choice Act today with a possible vote on Thursday.
Sixty years ago this month, US labor law was dramatically altered in the interests of capital when the Republican-led 80th Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act over intense opposition from organized labor. The legislation survived a veto by President Harry Truman, who described the act as a "slave-labor bill", arguing that it would "conflict with important principles of our democratic society."
"It's disgusting that people are still obsessed with Gotti and the mob," she told The Daily News. "They should be obsessed with that mob in Washington. They have 3,000 deaths on their hands." She demanded to know if the president and vice president have relatives on the front lines. "Every time I watch the news and I hear of another death," she said, "it sickens me."
Just one day after a news that an internal audit found that FBI agents abused a Patriot Act power more than 1,000 times, a federal judge ordered the agency Friday to begin turning over thousands of pages of documents related to the agency's use of a powerful, but extremely secretive investigative tool that can pry into telephone and internet records.
The order for monthly document releases commencing July 5 came in response to a government sunshine request by a civil liberties group, which sued in April over the FBI's foot-dragging on its broad request.
by Seymour M. Hersh June 25, 2007
On the afternoon of May 6, 2004, Army Major General Antonio M. Taguba was summoned to meet, for the first time, with Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in his Pentagon conference room. Rumsfeld and his senior staff were to testify the next day, in televised hearings before the Senate and the House Armed Services Committees, about abuses at Abu Ghraib prison, in Iraq. The previous week, revelations about Abu Ghraib, including photographs showing prisoners stripped, abused, and sexually humiliated, had appeared on CBS and in The New Yorker. In response, Administration officials had insisted that only a few low-ranking soldiers were involved and that America did not torture prisoners. They emphasized that the Army itself had uncovered the scandal.If there was a redeeming aspect to the affair, it was in the thoroughness and the passion of the Army’s initial investigation. The inquiry had begun in January, and was led by General Taguba, who was stationed in Kuwait at the time. Taguba filed his report in March.
Monday June 18, 2007
The man who led the initial American effort to reconstruct Iraq after the war believes the country is on the brink of a genocidal civil war and its government will fall apart unless the US changes course and allows a three-way federal structure. He has also urged talks with Iran and other regional players.
Jay Garner, the former US general appointed two months before the invasion to head reconstruction in Iraq, admitted that before the 2003 war coordination between the various US departments and military had been disjointed.
Saturday, June 16, 2007
Friday 15 June 2007
We have yet another remarkable revelation of the mindset of Washington's ruling clique of neoconservative elites - the people who took us to war from the safety of their Beltway bunkers. Even as Iraq grows bloodier by the day, their passion of the week is to keep one of their own from going to jail.
It is well-known that I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby - once Vice President Cheney's most trusted adviser - has been sentenced to 30 months in jail for perjury. Lying. Not a white lie, mind you. A killer lie. Scooter Libby deliberately poured poison into the drinking water of democracy by lying to federal investigators, for the purpose of obstructing justice.
During a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, Bradley Schlozman, the controversial former senior political appointee in the Civil Rights Division, was battered with questions about his efforts to politicize the division.
A number of those questions from senators centered on Schlozman's efforts to purge the appellate section of the Civil Rights Division -- the small, but important section that handles civil rights cases in the court of appeals. What were they getting at? An anonymous complaint against Schlozman sent to the Justice Department's inspector general in December of 2005 spelled out the allegations. The complaint, obtained by TPMmuckraker, was filed by a former Department lawyer. You can read it here.
No, I’m not talking metaphorically about our loss of moral authority in the wake of Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. I’m literally talking about feet and inches.
To the casual observer, Europeans — who often seemed short, even to me (I’m 5-foot-7), when I first began traveling a lot in the 1970s — now often seem tall by American standards. And that casual observation matches what careful researchers have found.
BUZZFLASH: Connecticut for Lieberman Party Chairman John Orman called Tuesday for Sen. Joe Lieberman to resign...
"He has crossed the line," said Orman, a professor of politics at Fairfield University. "His unilateral warmongering could lead to a new World War III."
During an appearance on "Face the Nation" on CBS Sunday, Lieberman said the United States should consider a military strike against Iran because of Tehran's involvement in Iraq.
Saturday, June 16, 2007; Page A01
BAGHDAD -- Private security companies, funded by billions of dollars in U.S. military and State Department contracts, are fighting insurgents on a widening scale in Iraq, enduring daily attacks, returning fire and taking hundreds of casualties that have been underreported and sometimes concealed, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials and company representatives.
While the military has built up troops in an ongoing campaign to secure Baghdad, the security companies, out of public view, have been engaged in a parallel surge, boosting manpower, adding expensive armor and stepping up evasive action as attacks increase, the officials and company representatives said. One in seven supply convoys protected by private forces has come under attack this year, according to previously unreleased statistics; one security company reported nearly 300 "hostile actions" in the first four months.
Did you know that corporate crime inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined? This and 19 more amazing facts about the state of corporations in America.The following is text from a speech delivered by Russell Mokhiber, editor of Corporate Crime Reporter to the Taming the Giant Corporation conference in Washington, D.C., June 9, 2007.
20. Corporate crime inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined.
Whether in bodies or injuries or dollars lost, corporate crime and violence wins by a landslide.
The FBI estimates, for example, that burglary and robbery -- street crimes -- costs the nation $3.8 billion a year.
Wednesday, June 13, 2007
Tue Jun 12, 6:24 PM ET
A 50-ton bowhead whale caught off the Alaskan coast last month had a weapon fragment embedded in its neck that showed it survived a similar hunt — more than a century ago.
Embedded deep under its blubber was a 3 1/2-inch arrow-shaped projectile that has given researchers insight into the whale's age, estimated between 115 and 130 years old.
"No other finding has been this precise," said John Bockstoce, an adjunct curator of the New Bedford Whaling Museum.
CHICAGO (AFP) - Chronic sleep deprivation can do more than leave you short-tempered: it can also stress your heart and raise your risk of cardiovascular disease and death, according to a study released Wednesday.
The neurological and behavioural effects of long-term sleep loss have been well-documented, ranging from lowered concentration and hand-eye coordination to poor mood.