Wednesday, June 30, 2010

News Nuggets 388

A white bengal tiger in Nehru Zoological Park in New Delhi.

"As Europe’s major economies focus on belt-tightening, they are following the path of Ireland. But the once thriving nation is struggling, with no sign of a rapid turnaround in sight. Nearly two years ago, an economic collapse forced Ireland to cut public spending and raise taxes, the type of austerity measures that financial markets are now pressing on most advanced industrial nations."
Many economists see Ireland's experience with austerity as  what the US and the rest of Europe can expect as the deficit hawks seem to be carrying the day at the moment.

Outraged Over Police Raid on Church Offices? Wait for What is Revealed (Barbara Blaine) from the National Catholic Reporter
"Six years ago, I watched closely as another law enforcement raid of a diocesan headquarters took place in my home town of Toledo. The deception it uncovered was stunning. And the evidence it obtained was later used in a trial to convict a murderer."

Belgium a 'Perfect Storm' on Sex Abuse Crisis (John Allen) from the National Catholic Reporter
"While there’s no good place for the Catholic church to experience a sexual abuse crisis, few places on earth are quite as combustible as Belgium."

Obama, the Ice Man (Jack White) from The Root
""Part of the frustration some of us feel is rooted in Obama's conciliatory approach to governing. He is the precise opposite of a traditional black leader -- a jelly-maker, not a tree-shaker, in Jesse Jackson's memorable phrase. His default stance is compromise, not confrontation. Such behavior makes Obama look both weak and cynical. We sometimes want him to be angry and unbending, not calm, cool and conniving."

"A study by the Government Accountability Office has found seven instances of improper burrowing -- political appointees shifting to career civil servant positions in a given agency -- during the Bush Administration, though none of the seven occurred close to the 2008 presidential election."
Like yesterday's news about former Alabama Governor Siegelman, today we are treated to another revisit to Bush's shennigans during the closing months of his administration.

WV-Sen: Filling Byrd's Seat (Reid Wilson) from the National Journal
"A special election is unlikely. State law says Manchin's appointment will be valid "until a successor to the office has timely filed a certificate of candidacy, has been nominated at the primary election next following such timely filing and has thereafter been elected and qualified to fill the unexpired term.""

"It was Illinois GOP Rep. Mark Kirk’s mea culpa moment.  ... After weeks of tough press and private criticism from frustrated GOP colleagues, Kirk attempted to clear the air Tuesday with a news conference in the far north suburbs of Chicago."
He's doing a "Blumenthal."  "Yeah, yeah.  I'll say 'I screwed up!' It worked for that guy in CT -- maybe it'll work for me!"  It remains to be seen if there is enough Blumenthal in him to pull it off.

"It was one of the most stunning displays of right-wing lunacy that I have ever seen in my entire life from a Republican candidate for Federal office (at least outside of the south). Here's a highlight reel, followed by a point-by-point summary of Angle's lunatic claims."
Normally I don't post partisan rants from predictably left-leaning blogs -- but this one nicely (and I think accurately) captures how badly Angle did yesterday in her encounter with a representative of the MSM.

Frum on Frum from the FrumForum
"I don’t think of myself as having gone squishy. I think of myself as having grown sober. And my conservative critics? On them, I think the most apt verdict was delivered by Niccolo Macchiavelli, 500 years ago: “This is the tragedy of man. Circumstances change, and he does not.”"
A cogent conservative looks at why he is on the outs with his party.  Here is some REACTION on this piece from Andrew Sullivan over at the Atlantic.

"The voyage was justifiably and immediately hailed as the stuff of legend. Against all odds, the Japanese space agency, with support from NASA, managed not only to bring Hayabusa back to Earth but also to do something never done before: take a sample from the surface of a distant asteroid and bring it home for study."

"Thousands of French people who collaborated with the Nazis are to be unmasked as secret files from 70 years ago are finally made public. The records, which include information passed on to the Gestapo by those who lived during the Occupation of 1940-44, will be published online."

"In what they describe as a ‘sensational’ discovery, archaeologists from Århus find the remains of 10th century king’s royal residence"

Meet the New Species from Smithsonian Magazine
"The discovery of new species is driven by new technologies, targeted surveys of little-studied ecosystems and a determined effort to identify plants and animals before their habitat is lost. The kipunji is one of 300 mammal species discovered in the past decade; it is thought to be Africa’s rarest monkey."

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

News Nuggets 387

The town of Gizab in Afghanistan.

What Will Happen to Byrd's Senate Seat? (Jeff Zeleny) from the New York Times
"Even Republican officials say this outcome is far from certain. Mr. Manchin has long held an interest in running for the seat, and other Democrats are also eager to serve, at least in an interim capacity."

Obama's Five Foreign-Policy Victories (Robert Kagan) from the Washington Post
"All administrations have ups and downs in foreign policy. It's like hitting a baseball: When you fail 70 percent of the time, you make the all-star team. So when the Obama administration has a month like this past one, it deserves recognition."

A Rose-Garden Ten Strike (Mark Halprin) from Time Magazine
"During some of the darker moments of his presidential campaign, Barack Obama would say, "I'm skinny, but I'm tough." Facing a two-day crucible over how to respond to intemperate remarks by General Stanley McChrystal and his aides published in Rolling Stone magazine, Obama showed just how tough — and smart — he can be."

Seven Days in June (Robert Shrum) from The Week
"A week ago, the president was on the ropes, and critics of all political stripes were questioning his ability to rise to the occasion. Today, no one should be."

Obama Changes Generals: A Sign of Political Confidence (Michael Crowley) from Time Magazine
"In taking that stand, and quickly installing Petraeus, Obama should quiet critics who have been mocking him for an allegedly timid approach to the BP oil spill in recent weeks."

"The 'Team of Rivals' seems to be working."

Beijing's Coalition of the Willing from Foreign Policy Magazine
"How failed states become China's diplomatic weapon."

"Israel’s Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren is reported to have told Israeli diplomats that the U.S. and Israel are experiencing a “tectonic rift,” not a temporary crisis. "

Watch List: Four Countries in Big Trouble from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Many hope that such a moment could be the game-changer in Iran -- when a majority of the country's people cease to buy into Ahmadinejad's portrayal of his regime. But the alternative scenario seems equally likely: that turmoil within the ruling cadre will simply seep down, squeezing dissidents and democracy advocates harder."

What Obama Learned from George Washington (Garrett Epps) from the Atlantic
"The Constitution alone did not establish civilian control of the military. Presidential moderation is just as important."

The Obama Gun Grab Myth (John Avalon) from the Daily Beast
"The Supreme Court’s Second Amendment ruling is yet another reminder: Obama is not, in fact, coming for your guns. John P. Avlon busts the right’s latest fear-mongering fantasy."

"[Haley Barbour], the Republican governor says his state isn't prepared for the spill and needs more help. Earlier in June, Barbour said, "Once [oil] gets to this stage, it's not poisonous," though he said it probably wasn't a good idea to brush one's teeth with it."
THIS GUY is such a DOPE!! For the sake of the cheapest form of transitory political points, he chatted up how the oil spill wasn't a serious problem.  He and his state should be last in line for those receiving assistance!

"In a surprise decision Tuesday morning, the United States Supreme Court vacated an earlier ruling by a lower court in the case of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, who was convicted of bribery and honest services fraud in 2006 in a case that has widely been criticized as politically motivated."
One of the long-forgotten ghosts of Karl Rove's tenure in the White House is this case in Alabama where Rove cronies orchestrated then-Governor Siegelman's (D) removal from office and then prosecuted him on trumped-up charges of influence peddling.  The whole case against Siegelman just got tossed!  Is he going to get re-instated as governor?!  NOT.  Is this type of no-holds-barred type of power politics what we will be seeing soon at the federal level in the House, Senate and the Executive branch?  Almost certainly.

"He did not want to stop to take questions because most of them would probably have been about why he embellished his record as a Navy reserve officer. ... But the issue of Kirk avoiding the press goes deeper than the last few weeks.

The Feuding Fathers (Ron Chernow) from the Wall Street Journal
"Americans lament the partisan venom of today's politics, but for sheer verbal savagery, the country's founders were in a league of their own. Ron Chernow on the Revolutionary origins of divisive discourse."

Maimed Cat Gets Bionic Legs from Discovery News
"A cat whose back legs were chopped off in a farming accident has been given a new bionic pair, in a ground-breaking feline first in Britain."

Obama's Voters Represent Future Electorate (Steven Levingston) from the Washington Post
"In the view of John Kenneth White, a professor of politics at Catholic University in D.C., the Reagan era is dead and buried. One need look no further than the election of Barack Obama. In his book “Barack Obama’s America: How New Conceptions of Race, Family, and Religion Ended the Reagan Era,” White argues that Reagan represented where we had come from: a 1950s and 1960s America made up of Church-going married couples who were largely white and suburban. Obama, by contrast, represents where we are and where we’re going."

Bill Wilson's Gospel (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"The article is noteworthy not only because of the light it sheds on what we’ve learned about addiction, but for what it says about changing behavior more generally."

Monday, June 28, 2010

News Nuggets 386

Llamas graze in a valley in Bolivia.  From the Guardian.

Obama's Unbelievable Winning Streak (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"So he hasn’t plugged the leak, and his poll numbers are sagging. Truth is, Obama has exceeded in 18 months what Clinton and Carter achieved in a combined 12 years."

Take the Long View (Charles Blow) from the New York Times
"When conditions improve, Republicans will still have to face an underlying reality: that this is the twilight of their rigid, empty ideology, particularly as it relates to social issues. They must change or wither."

The 36 Hours That Shook Washington (Frank Rich) from the New York Times
"THE moment he pulled the trigger, there was near-universal agreement that President Obama had done the inevitable thing, the right thing and, best of all, the bold thing. But before we get carried away with relief and elation, let’s not forget what we saw in the tense 36 hours that fell between late Monday night, when word spread of Rolling Stone’s blockbuster article, and high noon Wednesday."

"The Vatican expressed “shock” on Friday at the raid on Thursday by the Belgian police of church offices in their search for hidden evidence of child sex abuse by priests. It also voiced its “indignation” at what it called the “violation” of two cardinals’ tombs in the search."
You have to ask yourself, what were the Belgian police up against there that they would take these steps?  Possible answer: complete stonewalling (almost literally perhaps in the case of the cardinals' tombs).

In Belgium, Anti-pedophile Priest Rips 'Silence and Omissions' of Bishops (John Allen) from the National Catholic Reporter
"Devillè, 65, served for thirty years as the pastor of the Church of St. John Bosco in Buizingen, in the southern zone of Brussels. In 1992, Devillè began collecting information on charges of sexual abuse by priests. Today he claims that an association he founded, “Rights and Liberty in the Church,” has more than 300 files on such cases."
Belgium = new ground zero in the sex abuse scandals of the Catholic Church.  Now ... if you're the Pope, you can't view this guy's statements as very helpful.  One suspects that this critic was one of the people police were listening to when they raided the church offices in the first place.

"A morning flight over the Mississippi Sound showed long, wide ribbons of orange-colored oil for as far as the eye could see and acres of both heavy and light sheen moving into the Sound between the barrier islands. What was missing was any sign of skimming operations from Horn Island to Pass Christian."
Why should there be!  GOP Gov. Haley Barbour has been saying for weeks that things are just jake in MS!!

The Age of Nancy (Gail Collins) from the New York Times
"The Republicans have turned Pelosi into the Demon Grandmother — in ads, a satanic figure in the flames of deficit spending, or a 50-foot monster smashing houses with her big-government feet. ...  But even the public that likes the legislation she’s been churning out tends to underestimate her."

Demographic Change and the Future of the Parties (Ruy Teixeira) from the Center For American Progress Action Fund
" In short, the “party of no” has a limited shelf life. That strategy might help the party make significant gains in 2010, but it will not be enough to restore it to a majority status. For that, a conservatism must be built that is not allergic to government spending when needed and even to taxes when there is no responsible alternative. The party must paradoxically find a way to combine its standard antigovernment populism with pro-government conservatism."

What Not to Do (Charlie Cook) from the National Journal
"What's more likely is that they heard that some top Republican was defending BP. Whether they could win a "Jeopardy" round on "this senior Republican member of Congress apologized to BP after the Gulf oil spill" is beside the point. They know one did."

"While the Arkansas Republican offered diplomatic praise for his colleagues -- while candidly admitting that he too was thinking of mounting a bid -- his remarks stood out for their coldness to one: Mitt Romney."
No hatchets buried yet from the Huckabee camp I guess.  This could really bode poorly for Romney's chances in 2012 if Huck is still holding a grudge.  In my view, Mitt is one of the few GOP prospects for 2012 who could actually defeat Obama.

"Burr is leading Marshall by 50 percent to 40 percent with Libertarian Mike Beitler, a business professor at UNC-Greensboro, polling 6 percent."
He was leading by 1 according to the often erroneous Rasmussen Poll -- but even so.  Leading by 10 isn't bad for Marshall in my view.

The Real Science Gap from Miller-McCune Magazine
"It’s not insufficient schooling or a shortage of scientists. It’s a lack of job opportunities. Americans need the reasonable hope that spending their youth preparing to do science will provide a satisfactory career."

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

News Nuggets 385

A secretary bird at the Tierpark Friedrichsfelde zoo in Berlin.  From Getty images.

The Nuggetsman will be away for several days.  We will resume daylee postings on Sunday.

Let me just say -- I can't believe the subtitle they used for this article!
"A continent away from Kyrgyzstan, Africans like myself cheered this spring as a coalition of opposition groups ousted the country's dictator, President Kurmanbek Bakiyev. "One coconut down, 39 more to harvest!" we shouted. There are at least 40 dictators around the world today, and approximately 1.9 billion people live under the grip of the 23 autocrats on this list alone. There are plenty of coconuts to go around."

McChrystal Tests Obama's Priorities from the New York Times
"Whether General McChrystal stays or goes for what he said to Rolling Stone — and for his staff’s vivid, MacArthur-like declarations that their civilian bosses were clueless and their European allies were wimps — the nation is likely to learn a lot about Barack Obama."

Obama and His Generals (Peter Feaver) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The put-downs are remarkably sophomoric -- "Biden? Did you say: Bite me?" -- and the entire affair reads like a bad high school feud (cue the writers of Glee looking for material for next season). Like a petty high school feud, this new flare-up is just the latest round in a back-and-forth that has gone on for a long time."

"The White House made it clear Tuesday that Gen. Stanley McChrystal's job is very much in doubt. ...  Asked whether the general's job was safe following his comments and those of his aides in Rolling Stone, Gibbs said "we'll have more to say" after the President's meeting with McChrystal Wednesday. "

"Public and private signs from the administration point to President Barack Obama firing — or accepting the resignation of — Gen. Stanley McChrystal after careless, smart-aleck comments he and his staff made to Rolling Stone. "

Why McChrystal Has to Go from the Editorial Board of the Wall Street Journal
"He is one of the fathers of victory in Iraq, because his organization dismantled the leadership of al Qaeda there. Few Americans know, or will know, how well he has served this country—and as a shrewd, humane commander, not merely a lethal one. President Obama should, nonetheless, fire him."

Farewell to McChrystal, Hello to Mattis? (Thomas Ricks) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"My bet is that Gen. Stanley McChrystal will be gone within a week or so. Defense Secretary Gates canned Admiral Fallon as Central Command chief in the spring of 2007 for less pointed remarks, so he will look like a hypocrite if he does less here in response to McChrystal dissing Obama, Biden, and the White House in a new  article in Rolling Stone. At any rate, it may be time for a whole new team in Afghanistan."

With McChrystal, the Pope Mouths Off (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic
"It doesn't take a genius to see this contempt as rooted in the growing recognition among many and the growing fear among the McChrystal clique that Biden has been right all along, that the McChrystal strategy was a product of hope over experience, and that the arrogance that drove it was part of what had long been wrong with the conduct of both tragically flawed wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. You see the same fear in McChrystal's contempt for Eikenberry, who took the Biden position."
Sullivan's critique rings the most true of the ones I've read so far.

"Mr. Geithner told a watchdog panel that banks had repaid about 75 percent of the bailout money they received, and the government’s investments in those banks had brought taxpayers $21 billion."

Whaling Reduction Talks Collapse Amid Scandal (Jonathan Adams) from Politics Daily
"Talks on a resumption of commercial whaling broke down today on the third day of an international whaling meeting that's being held under a cloud of scandal and legal disputes."
Unclear what this means for this year's whaling season.

Impolite Pols May Face Doom (Roger Simon) from Politico
"“Two out of three Americans consider a general lack of civility to be a major problem for the nation, and 72 percent think that poor behavior has gotten worse in recent years,” according to a new study by Powell Tate/Weber Shandwick in partnership with KRC Research. (How did all of them get along? I wonder.) "

Orrin Hatch: Drug Test the Unemployed (Ryan Grimm) from Huffington Post
Oh, YES!!  DO IT!!  Then you'll find out how much the unemployed are just regular voting Americans!!  This says volumes about how the GOP views the unemployed -- even in a global recession like the one we have now.
"Utah voters have reacted enthusiastically to Sen. Orrin Hatch's legislation to drug test the unemployed and those receiving other forms of government cash assistance, the Utah Republican told the Huffington Post after introducing his measure last week."

Crazy Texas Republicans (John Avalon) from the Daily Beast
"Joe Barton and the state GOP’s anti-gay platform are just the tip of the iceberg in the Lone Star State. John Avlon on how Texas Republicans risk becoming a national embarrassment."

PA-Sen: Sestak, Toomey Tied from Public Policy Polling
"Joe Sestak and Pat Toomey are tied in the Pennsylvania Senate race, representing a six point improvement for Sestak from when PPP last polled the race in late March and found Toomey ahead 42-36."

Home Away from Rome from Smithsonian Magazine
"Excavations of villas where Roman emperors escaped the office are giving archaeologists new insights into the imperial way of life."

"Dating from the end of the 4th century, the full-face paintings depict three of Jesus’ original 12 apostles -- St. Peter, St. Andrew and St. John -- as well as St. Paul, who became an apostle after Christ’s death."

World's Largest Dinosaur Graveyard Found from the Vancouver Sun [of Canada]
"A 2.3-square-kilometre bonebed containing thousands of bones belonging to a horned dinosaur called the centrosaurus was found near Hilda, Alta., a community near the Saskatchewan border, according to David Eberth, a senior research assistant with the province's Royal Tyrrell Museum."

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

News Nuggets 384

A wild ferret at La Palma in the Canary Islands.  From the Guardian.

"The cancellation of the sale of the S-300 air-defense system by Russia to Iran, on the eve of President Dmitri Medvedev’s visit to Washington for his summit with President Obama, is a clear signal that the strategy of offering the Kremlin concrete incentives rather than vague assurances of goodwill is more likely to produce results."

Danger Signs in Turkey's Strategic Depth (Editorial) from the Asia Times [of Hong Kong in English]
"It is not yet possible to see with any certainty if Erdogan and Davutoglu are waving triumphantly in a sea of ''strategic depth'' or gradually drowning in it. "

"Two things have been missed in much of the foreign coverage of these strikes and the government's response: the significance of workers toiling for foreign-owned companies, and the rich symbolism of the mid-May dates."

How Obama Should Handle McChrystal (Harold Evans) from the Daily Beast
"With the president ordering a face-to-face meeting with his Afghan general for publicly blasting the White House, Harold Evans reports on what Obama can learn from President Truman’s dismissal of General Douglas MacArthur."
Further analysis is HERE and HERE by Marc Ambinder, HERE from James Fallows, HERE from Joe Klein, and HERE from Jonathan Capehart

"A quenchless thirst for whale oil, then petroleum, pushed man ever farther and deeper. And with great hubris, great risk."

"The truth is this: Emanuel has said publicly and privately for months that if Rich Daley doesn't seek reelection (which he will determine at the end of the year) for mayor of Chicago, Rahm will move back home and jump in the race. He may leave his job then anyway, mostly because he's just tired. But he continues to enjoy Obama's full confidence and he has no political problem with the thrust of Obama's decisions."

"In the past year and a half, President Obama has quietly used his powers to expand federal rights and benefits for gays and lesbians, targeting one government restriction after another in an attempt to change public policy while avoiding a confrontation with Republicans and opponents of gay rights."

How Obama Changed the Right (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"Barack Obama's campaign promise of change did not include a pledge to transform American conservatism. But one of his presidency's major legacies may be a revolution on the American right in which older, more secular forms of politics displace religious activism."

How to Succeed in Politics (Patrick Allit) from the National Interest
"The Tea Party movement is blazing its anti-tax and anti-government agenda across the America. But this is a movement without a cause. If the Whigs, Populists and Feminists can be co-opted by the the Democrats and Republicans, it is clear this newest third party will suffer the same fate."

"While it remains unclear just how serious Bob Vander Plaats is considering an independent run for governor, one thing almost everyone agrees on is that his candidacy would almost assuredly guarantee another term for Democratic incumbent Gov. Chet Culver."

"Mr. Kirk literally ran out the hotel door rather than answer questions about a host of recent reports that he repeatedly has exaggerated his experience and credentials."

"This spring, the White House declined to say whether it would put any muscle behind the Illinois seat, saying that it would be evaluated with the rest of the competitive races in the midterm election year. The race, in the eyes of Democrats, apparently now seems worth the fight."

The Tea Party is a Turn-Off for US Moderates (David Frum) from the Telegraph [of the UK]
"America's angriest political force could learn from David Cameron, argues David Frum."

"The media's enduring, and understandable, fascination with the Tea Party movement continues unabated, as this weekend's coverage demonstrates. Unfortunately, what appear to be false notions of objectivity—or perhaps a lack of interest in policy—is preventing that coverage from illuminating what the movement actually represents and what it would do if empowered."
The Tea Party Movement is like a delicate flower that looks really great on TV -- too many questions, however, diminish its ratings ... eh, I mean its appearance.

"GOPers stung by a divisive intra-party battle last fall face the prospect of a split party, once again, in the race for an upstate NY House seat that should favor the minority."

The New Acropolis Museum from the New York Times [ from a year ago]
"The New Acropolis Museum, which cost $200 million and sits near the base of the Acropolis with a direct view of the Parthenon, is one of the highest-profile cultural projects undertaken in Europe in this decade."
Get a 360º view of the acropolis and the museum HERE -- pretty cool!

Radar Reveals Extent of Buried Ancient Egypt City from the Associated Press via Yahoo News
"Egypt was ruled for a century from 1664-1569 B.C. by the Hyksos, a warrior people from Asia, possibly Semitic in origin, whose summer capital was in the northern Delta area."

Monday, June 21, 2010

News Nuggets 383

A rare clouded leopard in Seblat National Park in Indonesia.  From the Guardian.

"There was in the city an old garden, and in that garden there were trees, and under the trees there were women. And there were no scarves on the heads of the women who sat under the trees in the old Kabul Women’s Garden. That was all something remarkable once upon a time, as it is even now. Screened from male scrutiny by the leafy canopies of almond or apricot trees, women could go outside as they pleased, dare to wriggle naked toes in fountain water or just gossip without the veil. Now this oasis of freedom for women, surrounded by the misogynist desert of the capital city, is undergoing a rebirth."

Obama's Good Deal for Gaza (Marc Lynch) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The contours of the response to the Gaza flotilla fiasco are now coming into sharper public view:  the Israeli government will significantly ease the blockade of Gaza in exchange for American support for a whitewash of the investigation of the flotilla incident. As I've said many times on Twitter, this is a good deal."

"The revolt of the Gizab Good Guys began with a clandestine 2 a.m. meeting. By sunrise, 15 angry villagers had set up checkpoints on the main road and captured their first prisoners. In the following hours, their ranks swelled with dozens of rifle-toting neighbors eager to join."

"Altogether, the top 10 slots have rotated among just 15 unhappy countries in the index's six years. State failure, it seems, is a chronic condition."
The 2010 Failed State Index and related articles at this site HERE are also quite interesting.

"For the last half-decade, the Fund for Peace, working with Foreign Policy, has been putting together the Failed States Index, using a battery of indicators to determine how stable -- or unstable -- a country is. But as the photos here demonstrate, sometimes the best test is the simplest one: You'll only know a failed state when you see it."
An AMAZING gallery of pictures with descriptions.

"The Obama administration has forced BP to ramp up its oil-containment efforts, and President Obama has staked a fair bit of credibility on BP's success. He claimed in his Oval Office speech that BP would collect 90 percent of the oil by the end of the month. So far, BP's redoubled efforts appear to be working."

"A recent batch of polls reveal that President Obama's job approval has remained steady over the last two months despite his presiding over the biggest environmental catastrophe in our nation's history.  Why might that be?"

Does it Matter if Obama Loses the Pundits (Adam Nagourney) from the New York Times
"“It’s the first Obama speech ever panned by the talking heads,” Mike Allen reported in the Politico Playbook.  But so what? Does it really matter if you lose the pundits anymore?"

Ignore the Right's Hillary Hype (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"Conservatives are buzzing about the prospect of Hillary Clinton challenging Obama in 2012. Peter Beinart on the GOP's desperate wishful thinking."

"Democratic strategist Chris Lehane, who watched the recall of Gov. Gray Davis in California up close, said, “The tea party is going to get to the jumping-the-shark phase here.”"

"It's not easy crafting an agenda for the fall elections. Just ask Republicans in Congress. They set up a website to solicit ideas, only to see liberals flood it with distinctly un-Republican suggestions. When Republicans invited the public to rank proposals online, critics lampooned the effort for small-bore notions such as ending a federal program for "historic whaling partners.  Republicans don't even agree on whether they need a new agenda."

"Ken Buck, the district attorney for sprawling Weld County in north central Colorado, may be on the verge of doing to former Lt. Gov. Jane Norton what Sharron Angle did to Sue Lowden in Nevada by riding a conservative-activist, Tea Party movement-fueled campaign to an upset victory in the state's GOP Senate primary, according to a Denver Post/News9 poll conducted June 15-17."

"A new Florida Chamber of Commerce poll suggests Charlie Crist may be widening his lead over Republican Marco Rubio and Democrat Kendrick Meek in the U.S. Senate race."

"Republican U.S. Senate candidate Marco Rubio and another Miami politician are facing foreclosure on a Tallahassee home they co-own for failing to make mortgage payments since January, Leon County court records show."
Weird story.  Part of an emerging pattern of financial strangeness coming out of the Rubio campaign.

"Tearing down old structures to build new green designs in their place often consumes many more resources than simply working with existing architecture. The most sustainable construction comes from taking existing establishments and turning them into new useful assets for the community."