Tuesday, November 30, 2010

News Nugget 485

From the "Brave-but Potentially Foolhardy Photographer" files -- this winner of the Energizer Photography Award by National Geographic.  An exciting image indeed!

The New Rules: Setting the Terms for a US-China Grand Bargain (Thomas Barnett) from World Politics Review

"Lacking an obvious evil to fight, we are left with only an obvious collective good to preserve: globalization. This fortunate reality nonetheless encourages zero-sum thinking: China's inevitable rise is America's inevitable decline. Instead of a world to be shared and shaped, expert voices increasingly warn of a world to be divided and destroyed by wars over resources.To present an alternative to such zero-sum thinking, I've spent the past several months working with the Beijing-based Center for America-China Partnership."

Wikileaks Says Iran's Khamenei Has Cancer from Reuters
"U.S. diplomatic cables released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks include remarks from an Iran source in 2009 saying Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has terminal cancer, French daily Le Monde reported."
WOW!!  This is huge.  Ahmadinejad can't survive without Khamenei!  No wonder Obama has been trying to hold off on any military action on Iran (along with all the other reasons we've documented here).

WikiLeaks Cables: How China Lost Patience with North Korea (Simon Tisdall) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Chinese are willing to accept Korean reunification, secret cables show – but they want the US to take the lead."

More here:
WikiLeaks Row: China Wants Korean Reunification, Officials Confirm (Simon Tisdall) from the Guardian
"Chinese officials speak after Guardian US embassy cables reveal Beijing is leaning towards acceptance of reunification under Seoul's control"

Wikileaks Provides the Truth Bush Obscured (Richard Cohen) from the Washington Post
"The (Sunni) Arab world loathes and fears Iran on sectarian grounds and also because it espouses a revolutionary doctrine of the sort that kings and dictators find disquieting.
This is the world George Bush left us. It exists everywhere but in his book, where facts are either omitted or rearranged so that the war in Iraq seems the product of pure reason."

Why Obama's Iran Engagement "Worked" (Commentary) from RealClearWorld
"There's two things to note about this. The first is that it disproves a widely circulated talking point about the Obama administration's Iran policy - that it was some kind of naive foray, all carrot and no stick."

Iran Dealt Losing Hand In Gambia Gambit from Radio Free Europe
"As enemies go, it is hardly in the realm of the Great Satan. Yet the tiny West African republic of Gambia has just added its name to an exclusive club whose other members have more obvious reasons for enmity toward Tehran. In a move few saw coming, the country suddenly announced on November 23 that it was cutting economic ties with Iran and gave Iranian officials 48 hours to leave."

NATO and Russia Mend Fences After Years of Tensions from Time Magazine
"The Russian ambassador to NATO, Dmitri Rogozin, told TIME on Tuesday night that the divisions of the past two years, when official ties with NATO have been frozen, helped uncover the "red line" that the alliance is unwilling to cross. "

China Welcomes Growing African Trade, But Not the Africans That Facilitate It from the Christian Science Monitor
"By some counts, at least half the foreigners living in the Chinese trade hub of Guangzhou are Africans. Many face hassles ranging from visa expiration to police raids."
China's inhospitality to non-Chinese immigrants will seriously undercut it's long-term competitiveness -- particularly once the one-child policy begins hammering the workforce in a couple of decades from now.

China Shops at Pottery Barn (Douglas Paal) from the National Interest
"Under the urban mythical Pottery Barn rule, if you break it, you own it. China took ownership of North Korea’s behavior when it stood between Pyongyang and punishment by the United Nations Security Council for its sinking of the South Korean corvette, Cheonan, last March, with the loss of forty-six lives. China is the last lifeline to North Korea."
While I appreciate the sentiment, the sorry truth is that (like the super powers during the Cold War) China's capacity to tell North Korea "what to do" is quite limited.

Ireland Unveils Harshest Cuts, Tax Hikes in History from the Associated Press via Huffington Post
"The austerity plan axes thousands of state jobs, trims welfare benefits and pensions, and imposes new taxes on property and water. In all, it seeks to cut euro10 billion ($13.3 billion) from spending and raise euro5 billion ($6.7 billion) in extra taxes from 2011 to 2014."

Five Myths About Cutting the Deficit (William Gale) from the Washington Post
"As we go about reducing the deficit, who will pay which taxes? How will we defend our country? And how will we treat our elderly? Unfortunately, questionable thinking and outright distortions by critics from across the political spectrum are getting in the way of these and other difficult decisions."

Pentagon Study: Gays Could Serve with No Harm from the Associated Press
"Officials familiar with the 10-month study's results have said a clear majority of respondents don't care if gays serve openly, with 70 percent predicting that lifting the ban would have positive, mixed or no results. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the findings hadn't been released."
THIS is the study many GOP lawmakers have said they are waiting for to judge how they will vote on repeal.  Let's see what they say now.

Michelle Obama's White House, 'Not Camelot' from Politico
"The return to the White House of an attractive couple with two young children on a tide of idealism placed an impossible burden on both the president and his wife."

A Hobbled Pelosi Keeps on Playing (Joshua Green) from the Boston Globe
"Pelosi has been an uncommonly effective legislator, who already secured her place in history by winning the broad expansion of health care that eluded her many predecessors; and this was only the most prominent of the many important bills she pushed through that have made the 111th Congress the most accomplished in a generation."

The Biggest Vulnerability for Each GOP Presidential Hopeful (Aaron Blake) from the Washington Post
"We dissect the single biggest (known) vulnerability for each of the 10 top GOP contenders, based on interviews with smart people both inside and outside of the campaigns:"

Don't Run Sarah! (Mark McKinnon) from the Daily Beast

"Mark McKinnon finds Sarah Palin a captivating figure. He’s also dead-set against her seeking the White House in 2012. The ex-Bush adviser on why Palin would lose—and damage her party."
DON'T listen to this guy's beltway BS, Sarah!  GO FOR IT!!

Palin: ‘Obviously, We’ve Got To Stand With Our North Korean Allies’ from ThinkProgress

"Palin misspoke, but this was hardly the first time. While malapropisms can and should be forgiven for frequent public speakers, it’s worth remembering what happened the last time America elected a candidate known for gaffes."
One is misspeaking if you're clear that South Korea is our ally, not the North.  It's more than just misspeaking if what you say reflects a weak grasp of the world situation.  For Palin, it is largely the latter -- and she misspeaks in the latter fashion almost every day.

Veiled Rebellion from National Geographic Magazine

"Afghan women suffer under the constraints of tribalism, poverty, and war. Now they are starting to fight for a just life."

Genetic Tests May Prove Theory of China's Lost Roman Legion from the Sydney Morning Herald [of Australia]

"Genetic testing of villagers in a remote part of China has shown that nearly two-thirds of their DNA is of Caucasian origin, lending support to the theory that they may be descended from a ''lost legion'' of Roman soldiers."
More on this lost legion in China can be found HERE and HERE.

Thursday, November 25, 2010


A Connecticut Thanksgiving Proclamation
[given in 1936 in the midst of the Great Depression
See the Thanksgiving Scripture item below.  

For decades, CT students were required to learn it]

State of Connecticut

By His Excellency WILBUR L. CROSS, Governor


Time out of mind at this turn of the seasons when the hardy oak leaves rustle in the wind and the frost gives a tang to the air and the dusk falls early and the friendly evenings lengthen under the heel of Orion, it has seemed good to our people to join together in praising the Creator and Preserver, who has brought us by a way that we did not know to the end of another year. 
In observance of this custom, I appoint Thursday, the twenty-sixth of November, as a day of
Public Thanksgiving
for the blessings that have been our common lot and have placed our beloved State with the favored regions of earth -- for all the creature comforts: the yield of the soil that has fed us and the richer yield from labor of every kind that has sustained our lives -- and for all those things, as dear as breath to the body, that quicken man's faith in his manhood, that nourish and strengthen his spirit to do the great work still before him: for the brotherly word and act; for honor held above price; for steadfast courage and zeal in the long, long search after truth; for liberty and for justice freely granted by each to his fellow and so as freely enjoyed; and for the crowning glory and mercy of peace upon our land; -- that we may humbly take heart of these blessings as we gather once again with solemn and festive rites to keep our Harvest Home.
Given under my hand and seal of the State at the Capitol, in Hartford, this twelfth day of November, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred and thirty six and of the independence of the United States the one hundred and sixty-first.
Wilbur L. Cross

Virtual Field Trip to Plimouth Plantation from the Plimouth Plantation website

A wonderful historical look at the original Plymouth colony and the first Thanksgiving.

The Real Story Behind Thanksgiving (Nick Bunker) from the Daily Beast

What exactly was the first Thanksgiving like? Historian Nick Bunker sifts through the myths and says it was a mixture of Native American ritual, Christianity, and English patriotism. 

Here's a similar story:
Who Brought the Turkey? The Truth About the First Thanksgiving from NPR's Robert Krulwich

Kirk Crew, Refugees Retell Vietnam Rescue Saga (Joseph Shapiro) from All Things Considered

You WILL be moved by this story.
"Paul Jacobs, retired captain of the USS Kirk, reunites with the Le family, who were helped by the men on his ship 35 years ago when he led a rescue mission that saved 20,000 to 30,000 Vietnamese refugees."

The original stories about the USS Kirk are HERE.

Giving Thanks for American Resilience (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"I've heard it a lot lately, from departing Obama administration officials, global leaders, and my family and friends. There's a sense that something is torn in the national quilt, and nobody quite knows how to mend it. I'm as prone to "declinism" as the next over-mortgaged middle-aged guy. But this Thanksgiving, let me offer some reasons why we should temper a proper concern about this future with some hope that the American essentials are still in place."

Gratitude the Hard Way (Robert Wright) from the New York Times
On Monday of this week, I got another blessing. While listening to Philadelphia’s NPR affiliate, I heard an interview with the psychologist Robert Emmons, author of “The Psychology of Ultimate Concerns” and an advocate of systematic blessing counting. He recommends keeping a “gratitude journal.”

Thanksgiving 2010: In These Hard Times, Are Americans Thankful? from the Christian Science Monitor
"Thanksgiving 2010 finds Americans politically divided and struggling financially. But poll data suggest that Americans are fiercely resilient, a quality that is strengthened by feeling gratitude."

Bless the Orange Sweet Potato (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"As we all prepare to gain a few pounds over Thanksgiving, I promise not to be a buzz kill wagging my finger about starva ... well, never mind. You see, this is that rarest of birds: a happy column about hunger."

Thanksgiving Scripture (Lincoln Caplan) from the New York Times
"In 1936, with the Great Depression persisting, the governor of Connecticut issued a Thanksgiving Proclamation so inspiring that people in the state learned it by heart as if it were scripture."

Color-Coded Terror Alerts to be Dropped by Homeland Security from the New York Times
"The nation has generally lived in the yellow and orange range. The threat level has never been green, or even blue."
Good riddance to what will be viewed as the "duck-and-cover" of America's "War on Terror."

AND, what the heck! Who said we couldn't have a bit of partisan gratitude:
DeLay Convicted of Money Laundering Charges from the Houston Chronicle
"Eight years after former U.S. House Majority Leader Tom DeLay helped engineer a Republican takeover of the Texas House and state congressional delegation, a Travis County jury Wednesday convicted him of felony money laundering in the 2002 elections."
The justice system finally caught up with this world-class jerk.  Some commentary from Eric Alterman HERE and the New York Times Editorial Board HERE.

Video: Baby Squirrel Adopted by Cat and Fellow Kittens from CNN via Americablog

"Absolutely adorable.  Though I still worry that the owner is in for a surprise when baby squirrel grows up."

Lincoln: A Beard is Born from the New York Times

"We’ve seen its features so many times – on pennies, five-dollar bills and ads for Presidents’ Day sales – that they’ve become almost invisible. It’s hard to believe that there was a moment when it came into being, a moment when Abraham Lincoln’s face as we know it was invented."

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

News Nugget 484

A baby Asian elephant at the Taronga Zoo, in New South Wales, Australia, learning to play with a ball.  See the Elephant Nugget below.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

How to Sound Smart on Thanksgiving (Samuel Jacobs) from the Daily Beast
"From Kate Middleton to the Ireland’s economy, your all-ages conversational guide to impressing your friends and loved ones."

Ahmadinejad's Days Are Numbered (Reza Aslan) from the Daily Beast
"Iranian lawmakers—including former supporters—have moved to impeach President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for law violations that could land him in prison. Reza Aslan reports on the bombastic leader’s flagrant missteps."

Israel Backs Off of Iran - for Now from Politico
"The apparent willingness of the Israelis to postpone a demand for confrontation by months – at least – represents a success for the Obama administration, which has sought to convince Israel that it should give sanctions a chance to work.  It also, Israelis said, represents the belief on both sides that Iranian technical difficulties – some of them reportedly the result of a computer virus attributed to Israeli intelligence – have slowed the program"
WHAT a surprise!!

Is China's Competitive Edge Already Eroding? (Megan McArdle) from the Atlantic

"China does manipulate its exchange rate to subsidize exports to the US; and its labor is very cheap.  Both of those factors, however, are changing."

USG and PTA (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"If we’re going to get more Americans back to work, we will need more stimulus from the U.S.G. — the U.S. government — from the top down. But we will also need more stimulus from the P.T.A.’s — the Parent Teacher Associations — from the bottom up. The deeper problems fostering unemployment in America today can be summarized in three paragraphs:"

President Obama is Hostage to a Tepid Economic Recovery (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
"Obama and Vice President Biden, also in Indiana, tempered their optimistic remarks with a dose of reality, mindful that whatever improvements Kokomo is seeing are only a start on the road back for the nation's economic prosperity and may not be matched yet elsewhere."

Tea Party Activists Not Your Average Americans, Could Complicate 2012 for GOP: Poll (Alan Fram) from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post
"Tea party backers fashion themselves as "we the people," but polls show the Republican Party's most conservative and energized voters are hardly your average crowd.  According to an Associated Press-GfK Poll this month, 84 percent who call themselves tea party supporters don't like how President Barack Obama is handling his job – a view shared by just 35 percent of all other adults. Tea partiers are about four times likelier than others to back repealing Obama's health care overhaul and twice as likely to favor renewing tax cuts for the highest-earning Americans."

Pres-2012: No Rush to Jump into the 2012 Race for White House from CNN
"Since the midterm elections, at least four national polls in the next race for the White House have been released. But one thing's missing: Candidates."
They're all waiting to see what Sarah does.  If she gets in, more than half the field will head for the exit, especially those with Tea Party cred: Huckabee, Gingrich, and Hailey Barbour.

Why Jon Kyl, GOP Leaders Refuse to Make Hard Calls (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast

"Republicans want power, but won’t use it to make decisions. Peter Beinart on why Jon Kyl and his fellow leaders refuse to take responsibility—and the danger they put us in."

CT-Sen: Limited 2012 Options for Lieberman from Politico
"Joe Lieberman essentially has two options for 2012: Retire or become a Republican."
If he joins the GOP, he would likely face Linda McMahon in a primary -- and in such a match-up he would LOSE.

Baby 'Pele-phant' Shows Off His Silky Ball Skills from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"This cute baby elephant shows off his silky skills as he gives a first class demonstration in ball control under the watchful gaze of his proud mother."

Glowing Trees to Replace Glowing Lamps in Cities from Discovery News

"Nanoparticles turn a material that normally absorbs light into stuff that emits light."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

News Nugget 483

The Queen of the Andes plant is now in bloom -- which it does once about every 80-100 years.  Pretty spectacular!  From National Geographic.  See the Exotic Plant Nugget below.

Here's wishing you'all a happy Thanksgiving!  The nuggets will return 
as a regular feature next week.  If anything extra-amazing shows 
up, I may do some sporadic posts.  Keep well.  Jared

On the Menu: Thanksgiving 1900 from the New Yorker

"The menu comes to us via “Mark Twain Himself: a Pictorial Biography.” This book contains a description of the event and a reproduction of the physical menu, which featured a list of all nine courses surrounded by charming illustrations of scenes from Twain’s life."

How to Respond to North Korea (Max Fisher) from the Atlantic
"Korea analysts have long warned that the prospect of a North-South war, though highly unlikely, would rapidly eclipse the violence of Iraq or Afghanistan as some of the world's largest militaries converge on one of the world's most militarized borders. What options do the U.S., South Korea, China, and the rest of the world face for responding to this attack and deterring the escalation of violence that South Korea has already threatened?"

When It Comes to North Korea, Obama is as Hamstrung as His Predecessors (Matthew Cooper) from National Journal

"For 12 presidents, the peninsula has been a political and military minefield."

Assembly Pushes to Oust Iran President from the Wall Street Journal
"Iran's parliament revealed it planned to impeach President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad but refrained under orders from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, exposing a deepening division within the regime."
I suspect Khamenei knows that if Ahmadinejad goes, his enemies will force him out shortly thereafter.

Iran's Nuclear Program Reportedly Struggling from the New York Times
"Iran's nuclear program has experienced serious problems, including unexplained fluctuations in the performance of the thousands of centrifuges enriching uranium, leading to a rare but temporary shutdown, international inspectors are expected to reveal Tuesday."
The article is too brief for such a critical headline -- I could actually write a longer piece on why it might be struggling.. But this does further confirm my sense of this.  Can't wait for Tuesday's report!!

One Nation, Divisible from the Economist [of London]
Gotta check out the numbers presented here -- very interesting!

"The new Congress will be more polarised than at any time since Reconstruction, reckon some political scientists. But these swings, however large and consequential, are arguably only symptoms. If people feel as if the country is changing quickly, that’s because it is."

51 Percent of Americans Want to Keep or Expand Health Care Law from the McClatchy News Service
"A majority of Americans want Congress to keep the new health care law or actually expand it, despite Republican claims that they have a mandate from the people to kill it, according to a new McClatchy Newspapers-Marist poll."

Why are the Marines the Military's Biggest Backers of 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell'? (Tammy S. Schultz) from the Washington Post
"I am an openly gay woman, equally comfortable at Quantico and in Dupont Circle. Each of these worlds holds negative stereotypes about the other, and like all stereotypes, they tend to break down on an individual level. Yet for some in both cultures, the notion of a gay Marine seems almost impossible, as though this most masculine and punishing service simply isn't for gay people. You don't need to spend time with Marines, as I have, to realize how important the warrior ethos is to them. "

What Would the GOP Do? (Daniel Gross) from New York Magazine
"Probably nothing that different from what’s being done. And yet—outrage!"

How the Midterms Tilted the GOP Primary Battlefield for 2012 (Ed Kilgore) from the Democratic Strategist
"How will the Republican primary election of 2012 unfold? It's impossible to predict the exact result, but now that the midterms are over, we are in a position to make some educated guesses."

Attack on Michelle Obama Shows Palin's Ignorance of History (Richard Cohen) from the New York Times
"Michelle Obama, a young woman who felt, or was made to feel, "more aware of my 'blackness' than ever before." This was not a statement of racism. This was a statement of fact.
It's appalling that Palin and too many others fail to understand that fact - indeed so many facts of American history."

Motor Trend Magazine Disembowels Rush Limbaugh (Ray Gustin) from the Atlantic
"Writes Todd Lassa, the magazine's Detroit editor, in a scathing item addressed directly to Limbaugh: 'Assuming you’ve been anywhere near the biggest automotive technological breakthrough since … I don’t know, maybe the self-starter, could you even find your way to the front seat? Or are you happy attacking a car that you’ve never even seen in person?"
It is SOOO rare that anyone ever actually takes on these talk radio blowhard, when it happens it's really quite startling!

“Operation: Stop Palin” Gets Rolling (David Frum) from the FrumForum

"The Republican establishment’s increasingly frantic search for ways to stop the Palin for President campaign. Most of the search is happening below the surface of things. You see it in the flow of big-dollar money in every other direction but Palin’s."
This should be interesting!  There's some further discussion of this operation HERE and HERE.

The Adventures of Samuel Clemens: A Review of the Autobiography of Mark Twain, Volume 1 (Edmund Morris) from the Wall Street Journal

"Twain's autobiography confirms that he was a fabulously successful writer who had a black view of himself that went beyond questions of sex or mendacity."

The Zealotry Of Free Thinkers: A Review of A Wicked Company from the Wall Street Journal

"He has an admirable ability to get to the heart of what Spinoza, Hume or Voltaire argued. If readers weary of the ins and outs of philosophical materialism, never mind, since another bodice-ripping liaison dangeureuse is just around the corner."

Exotic Plant's Once-a-Century Bloom in Pictures from National Geographic News

"A man surveys a flowering Queen of the Andes plant—which blooms only once in its 80- to 100-year lifetime—near Thumi, Bolivia, in a picture taken last week."

Miracle on 33rd Street (Tom Scocca and Choire Sicha) from the New York Times

"Why New York’s reviled Penn Station is really a triumph."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

News Nugget 482

The Wind River Roadless Area in Wyoming.  From National Geographic.

Russia to Aid NATO on Anti-Missile Network in Europe from the Washington Post
"Russia agreed Saturday to cooperate with NATO on building a U.S.-planned anti-missile network in Europe as part of what was described as a new era in security relations between the former Cold War enemies."
This is QUITE A MILESTONE in the post-Cold War era.

Tanks to Afghanistan: Great Idea or Recipe for Disaster? from the Atlantic
"For the first time in the nine-year war, the U.S. is deploying tanks in Afghanistan. The M-1 Abrams marks a significant shift for the U.S.-led strategy of driving the Taliban out of Afghanistan and handing control of the country over to local and national forces."
HERE's some comments on tank deployment from an Iraq veteran.

Computer Worm Can Deal Double Blow to Nuclear Program from the New York Times
"The German software engineer who in September was the first to report that a computer worm was apparently designed to sabotage targets in Iran said Friday that the program contained two separate “digital warheads.” The malicious program, known as Stuxnet, is designed to disable both Iranian centrifuges used to enrich uranium and steam turbines at the Bushehr nuclear power plant, which is scheduled to begin operation next year, said the engineer, Ralph Langner, an industrial control systems specialist based in Hamburg, Germany."
Designed to disable just THOSE types of centrifuges and THOSE types of turbines.  Gee.  Imagine that.

Get Over the Gitmo Acquittal (Karen Greenberg) from the Daily Beast
"The trial that found Gitmo detainee Ahmed Ghailani guilty on only one of 285 counts was reached by a jury. Why can’t the nation accept its verdict?"
It's a statement as to how much this country has collectively lost its way.

Teaching for America (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"President Obama got this one exactly right when he said that whoever “out-educates us today is going to out-compete us tomorrow.” The bad news is that for years now we’ve been getting out-educated. The good news is that cities, states and the federal government are all fighting back. But have no illusions. We’re in a hole."

A Forecast That Obama Could Love from the New York Times
"What is there for Mr. Obama and his supporters to cheer about? Try this: Based on the facts at hand right now, Mr. Obama is likely to win the 2012 election in a landslide. That, at least, is the prediction of Ray C. Fair, a Yale economist and an expert on econometrics and on the relationship of economics and politics."
Let's repeat that: "Mr. Obama is likely to win the 2012 election in a landslide."  You betcha!

The Tea Party's Whiny Takeover (John Bachelor) from the Daily Beast
"The Tea Partiers talked of changing the system, but when they got to the House Republican caucus last week, the revolution was over on day one. John Batchelor on a coup that's all talk."

Could She Reach the Top in 2012? You Betcha (Frank Rich) from the New York Times
"Logic doesn’t apply to Palin. What might bring down other politicians only seems to make her stronger: the malapropisms and gaffes, the cut-and-run half-term governorship, family scandals, shameless lying and rapacious self-merchandising. In an angry time when America’s experts and elites all seem to have failed, her amateurism and liabilities are badges of honor. She has turned fallibility into a formula for success."
I take issue with Mr. Rich here -- slightly.  What's missing from his story (and most of the assessments of Palin) is the off-the-cliff drop in credibility of virtually every genuine source of real information out there.  Conservatives have spent the last forty years systematically discrediting (let's see if we can count them): the mainstream media, academics of every stripe, social scientists, formal education at almost all levels, experienced politicians (the more experience, the more discredited they are), and, of course, conservatives are now working very hard to discredit scientists (and make no mistake -- they are succeeding)!  Indeed, we now live in a world where the most educated, the most experienced, the most informed, those most immersed in a given issue, are, by those very facts, simply not to be trusted.  If people aren't getting their info from these sources, where are they getting their information from? Glenn Beck, Bill O'Reilly, and, lo and behold, people just like Sarah Palin!!

Pres-2012: Obama Looking Good in Virginia from Public Policy Polling

"Barack Obama was the first Democratic Presidential candidate to win Virginia in a generation in 2008 and a new PPP survey finds that with the most mentioned possible 2012 GOP hopefuls viewed dimly in the state he'd probably do it again if he had to stand for election today."
Indeed, it is the "bear and tennis shoes" phenomena again.   Haven't heard that one?  See HERE.

AK-Sen: Murkowski Unleashed Against GOP Foes from Politico
"That means that in a year when numerous Republicans were cast aside by an angry party base, Murkowski will be the lone lawmaker who lost to a tea party- and Palin-backed challenger in a primary — but is returning to Washington anyway.  And like any good action-movie character mistakenly left for dead, Murkowski’s coming back with a vengeance, picking fights with Palin and the party’s activist wing."
This could get really interesting.

The Pilgrims were … Socialists? (Kate Zernike) from the New York Times
"Forget what you learned about the first Thanksgiving being a celebration of a bountiful harvest, or an expression of gratitude to the Indians who helped the Pilgrims through those harsh first months in an unfamiliar land. In the Tea Party view of the holiday, the first settlers were actually early socialists."
Given the lousy education most Americans are getting and the oceans of misinformation they are exposed to (as noted in several posts above), this should be no surprise.

The Greatest Movie Franchises of All Time from the Atlantic

"So, yes, if you don't adjust for inflation, Harry Potter has made more money than any other franchise in the history of movies.  But is it The Greatest franchise ever?"

Marc Eliot's Biography of Paul Simon from the Washington Post

"Were Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel lovers? No, but Marc Eliot's serviceable biography of the duo's more prolific, more successful, shorter half gets kudos for raising that question about two folk superstars who loved the sound of bickering more than the sound of silence."

This Dog's Life: The Rise of the Pet Memoir from The Week

"Our furry friends are dominating the publishing industry. Why are "dogoirs" doing so well?"

Saturday, November 20, 2010

News Nugget 481

The Nankoweap Canyon stretch of the Grand Canyon in Arizona.  From National Geographic.

Afghans to Be `Masters in Their House' With NATO Security Handover by 2014 from Bloomberg News Service
"President Barack Obama and leaders of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization said the alliance’s 130,000 troops will “stay as long as it takes to finish our job,” though a province-by-province handover should be completed in about four years…"
It's not 2012 -- but I don't think anyone thought it was really going to be that anyway.  This sounds realistic.  The fact that this is coming from Obama AND NATO make the declaration pretty solid.  The Europeans are even hotter to leave than we are, and they wouldn't be lining up behind this statement if they didn't have better-than-the-average-bear assurances that it was going to happen.

Top Al Qaeda Leader Killed in US Drone Attack from Sify News [of India in English]
"A senior Al Qaeda leader, Mufti Ali Muhammad, has reportedly been killed along with two of his accomplices in a US drone strike Friday in Pakistan's North Waziristan district along the Afghan border.  The pilotless drone fired four missiles at a vehicle, in which Mufti was travelling along with three other militants near Mir Ali village of Miranshah in the restive tribal area."

Retired General: Senate GOP Doesn't Trust Our Military (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"Jameson, referring to the wide array of current and former military leaders who support New Start, said it was "quite puzzling" that all this military support is being "ignored." He added: "I don't know what that says about the trust that people have and the confidence they have in our military.""

Here's the bigger picture:
Conservatives Split with U.S. Military Leaders over U.S.-Russia Nuke Treaty from the Washington Post

"An unusual split has opened between conservative Republicans and the American military leadership over the U.S.-Russia nuclear treaty, with current and former generals urging swift passage but politicians expressing far more skepticism. Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) "essential to our future security." Retired generals have been so concerned about getting it ratified that some have traveled around the country promoting it."
For the GOP to sign onto the treaty they would have to walk back on SO MUCH partisan, anti-Obama rhetoric, they can't bring themselves to do it.  It amounts to confessing that "Yes, Mr. & Mrs. America --  we lied our asses off.  The treaty REALLY is in the country's national interest."  Are there enough responsible GOP senators in the lame-duck session?  I guess we'll find out!

Obama and the Book of Job (Jon Meacham) from the New York Times
"In the history of the American presidency, reversal happens time and time again: Lyndon Johnson declining to run four years after his landslide victory in 1964, George H. W. Bush losing re-election after winning the Persian Gulf war of 1991, Bill Clinton in the 1994 midterms, and now Barack Obama. The connection between the trials of Job and the president’s midterm rebuke came to mind as I read what I think is the political book of the season: THE WISDOM BOOKS: Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes (Norton, $35), a new translation and commentary by Robert Alter. "

Republicans in a Post-Post-9/11 World (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"Republicans seem to have entered a post-post-9/11 era, in which national security is no longer a higher priority than their interest in undermining President Obama. There's no need to resort to the demagoguery once used against Democrats, but neither would it hurt the White House and congressional Democrats to point out that their opponents are trying to weaken Americans' security."

Hiding from Reality (Bob Herbert) from the New York Times
"Wherever you choose to look — at the economy and jobs, the public schools, the budget deficits, the nonstop warfare overseas — you’ll see a country in sad shape. Standards of living are declining, and American parents increasingly believe that their children will inherit a very bad deal. We’re in denial about the extent of the rot in the system, and the effort that would be required to turn things around. It will likely take many years, perhaps a decade or more, to get employment back to a level at which one could fairly say the economy is thriving."
Some straight, blunt talk from Mr. Herbert today.  I can't find fault with his pessimistic assessment concerning how the next decade will look.

Let's Rescue the Race Debate (Charles Blow) from the New York Times
"The argument of these whites minimizes the victimization of others while magnifying their own victimization. While their argument may hold for some individuals, when you look at blacks writ large, the argument falls apart."

Why Sarah Palin Shouldn't Run (Mona Charen) from
"By telling Barbara Walters that she thinks she can defeat President Obama, Sarah Palin has dimmed hopes cherished by sensible Republicans that she might decide against a run for the White House in 2012. Here are just some of the reasons she should not run."
This is the first appearance of Mona Charen among the nuggets and it's a rare day indeed when anything from Townhall makes it here.  A rare two-fer today!!

The Last Hero: A Review of Hero: The Life and Legend of Lawrence of Arabia by Michael Korda from the Daily Beast

"A new biography by Michael Korda captures T. E. Lawrence’s epic life and his role in forming the modern Middle East. Brad Gooch on his strange life and legacy."

Baby Tiger Cubs Debut at Pittsburgh Zoo (VIDEO) from Huffington Post

"These cubs are Amur (or Siberian) tigers, the world's largest cat species. The tiger is found mostly in forests of eastern Russia. Although together in the zoo, the tiger lives alone in the wild, scent-marking its territory to keep away rivals."

Mark Twain’s Autobiography Flying Off the Shelves from the New York Times

"When editors at the University of California Press pondered the possible demand for “Autobiography of Mark Twain,” a $35, four-pound, 500,000-word doorstopper of a memoir, they kept their expectations modest with a planned print run of 7,500 copies. Now it is a smash hit across the country, landing on best-seller lists and going back to press six times, for a total print run — so far — of 275,000. The publisher cannot print copies quickly enough, leaving some bookstores and online retailers stranded without copies just as the holiday shopping season begins."
I am surprised that UCal Press so underestimated the demand for this book.  I know I've been waiting anxiously for it since I first saw word of it last summer.  Glad to see that people are scarfing it up!

Friday, November 19, 2010

News Nugget 480

Wadi Hitan in Egypt.  From National Geographic.

Obama Turns New START Treaty into Showdown with GOP from the New York Times
"Just two weeks after an election that left him struggling to find his way forward, President Obama has decided to confront Senate Republicans in a make-or-break battle over arms control that could be an early test of his mettle heading into the final two years of his term."
Obama needed to do this to send the word out to the GOP that, like Clinton in '94, he is "still relevant."

The Case for the New START Treaty (Robert Gates) from the Wall Street Journal

"The treaty has the unanimous support of America's military leadership." 
Some interesting analysis is HERE and HERE from Democratic Arsenal

Worm was Perfect for Sabotaging Centrifuges from the New York Times
"Experts dissecting the computer worm suspected of being aimed at Iran's nuclear program have determined that it was precisely calibrated in a way that could send nuclear centrifuges wildly out of control. Their conclusion, while not definitive, begins to clear some of the fog around the Stuxnet worm, a malicious program detected earlier this year on computers, primarily in Iran but also India, Indonesia and other countries."
WHO CALLED IT!!  Let's go back and see HERE!  Some further analysis is HERE from AOL News.

Guilty Until Proven Guilty (Karen Greenberg) from Mother Jones Magazine
"The presumption of innocence and the trial of Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani. Karen Greenberg on how the Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani verdict signals a return to sanity for America."

Misreading the Midterm Tea Leaves (Young & Clark) from Reuters News Service
"Pundits and politicos alike would have us believe that the Obama era is over, with the general elections in 2012 being a mere formality to an imminent Republican resurgence. Obama went too far left, or so the argument goes, and the Republican gains this year are a leading indicator of a re-adjustment. In our view, this perspective is fundamentally wrong: the results of the present mid-term elections have little to do with the probable outcome of the general election in 2012. Obama, contrary to the expert opinion, is still very much in the driver’s seat. Here’s why."

NPR hails 'Good Judgment' in Congress for Voting Down Funding Cuts from The Hill
"NPR hailed a failed vote by Congress to cut off its funding through the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), which funds both NPR and PBS."
The dirty little secret about NPR is that a substantial group of GOP lawmakers (and most of leadership) in Congress rely on NPR as a major source of "unbiased" news.  Even Newt Gingrich (God forbid) has confessed that he listens every day.

CT-Sen: McMahon and Kennedy Jr., May Challenge Lieberman in '12 (Dennis House) from WFSB TV News [of Hartford]
"We in the media love a good race, and this three way contest would have  journalists salivating:   Ted Kennedy, Junior for the Democrats;  McMahon for the Republicans; and Lieberman the independent. "
Can't say I know much about Teddy Junior.  It isn't Massachusetts! He'll have to bring more than his name to win in CT.  Based on his Wikipedia site HERE he sounds plausible.  At least he's lived in the state for quite a while and has had some real world experience.

Rebellion in Boston Harbor: A Review of Defiance of the Patriots: The Boston Tea Party & the Making of America by Benjamin L. Carp from the Boston Globe

"Retracing the story of the Tea Party, the patriots’ act of defiance in 1773."

Thursday, November 18, 2010

News Nugget 479

Sunrise over the Plaza de Mulas base camp for Mount Aconcagua in the Andes in Argentina.  From National Geographic. 

True to His Word (James Kloppenberg) from Newsweek
"Note to critics: Read (or reread) his books. Obama is doing just what he said he would do."

Obama: Senate Approval of START is 'Imperative' This Year from the National Journal
""We cannot afford to gamble on our ability ot verify Russia's strategic nuclear arms," he said, jumping into the White House's continued offensive to get the treaty through the Senate."
He should GO TO THE MAT for this treaty -- it really is too important to let it slide away.

Obama's Choice: Military Quagmires or Economic Opportunities (Leon Hader) from the Huffington Post
""The Americans don't have to oust regimes, to invade countries or to remake our region in order to maintain their trade and military presence in Asia," the diplomat noted, adding: "In fact, we are pleading with them to become even more engaged in the lucrative economic frontier of Southeast Asia while they seem be drawn into the never-ending strife in Southwest Asia" [where the "Middle East" is if you look at it from East Asia]. "
Normally I don't link to any of the ever-expanding cast of Huffington Post "columnists" -- but Hader was on-the-money here -- and seems to have a relevant background.

Sticking it to the Unemployed from the Editorial Board of the Los Angeles Times
"Cutting off extended benefits for the unemployed not only hurts individuals who've been laid off but could dampen the economic recovery."

A Victory for the Rule of Law (Adam Serwer) from the Washington Post
"The verdict yesterday in the case of former Gitmo detainee Ahmed Ghailani, who stood accused of helping facilitate the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, was a victory for the rule of law. Conservatives arguing that the trial was a failure because Ghaliani was acquitted on most of the charges are missing the point -- the integrity of American justice is more important than any single conviction, and, as it stands, Ghailani will very likely spend the rest of his life in prison for his crimes."

How GM IPO Proves the Tea Party Wrong (Editorial) from Newsweek
"The Tea Party and its predecessors, who eschewed federal loans to GM, simply got it wrong, failing to perceive that a "bailout" can just as easily be called an "investment." What we have is not perfect, but it's far better than what might have been."

Ohhh, America, You're So Strong (Matt Miller) from the Washington Post
"Oooh, you're so strong, baby, so handsome. You're the greatest.  I'm talking about you, America. You're . . . why, you're exceptional! Does anyone else think there's something a little insecure about a country that requires its politicians to constantly declare how exceptional it is? A populace in need of this much reassurance may be the surest sign of looming national decline."
I could not have mocked it better!!

Climate Scientists Strike Back from Mother Jones Magazine
"A year after ClimateGate, can a trio of scientists clear the air of global warming misinformation?"

US Sen: 2012 Senate Battles on Democratic Turf from Roll Call
"An early look at the 2012 landscape shows Democratic incumbents are the most vulnerable heading into the next cycle, with double the number of Democrats on the ballot as Republicans."

Nancy Pelosi, Bloodied but Unbowed from the Guardian [of the UK]

"Her poll ratings are abysmal, but being minority leader is about focus and discipline. Democrats still need Pelosi's power play"

Is the Tea Party Out to Banish Bush-style Conservatism? (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"…this embrace of a purely symbolic approach to deficit reduction is a sign that the Tea Party's central goals may lie elsewhere - in an effort to push the Republican Party away from those aspects of George W. Bush's legacy that tried to steer the conservative movement in a new direction. The real point may be to get the GOP to say goodbye to the idea of a compassionate conservatism and to Bush's peculiar but real brand of multiculturalism."

Gotcha!: Anti-hydrogen Atoms are Captured for the First Time from the Economist [of London]

"In the current issue of Nature, members of the ALPHA experiment report that they have been able to trap a very small amount of antihydrogen—the simplest type of anti-atom—for the first time. Since the hydrogen atom is one of the best-measured systems in all of science, this opens the door to a series of experiments testing just how similar matter and antimatter really are."

Unfilmable Books: 15 Great Books Never Coming to a Theater Near You (PHOTOS) from Huffington Post

"Is it true that some books tell a story that no matter which way Hollywood cuts it, it just won't work as a movie? In an attempt to answer that question, we looked for the books that we thought Hollywood wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole."

Final Scenes From a Life of Bully Adventure: A Review of Colonel Roosevelt by Edmund Morris (Janet Maslin) of the New York Times

"Edmund Morris’s biography of Theodore Roosevelt deserves to stand as the definitive study of its restless, mutable, ever-boyish, erudite and tirelessly energetic subject."

A Review of Joe Louis: Hard Times Man by Randy Roberts from the Chicago Tribune

"A look at the life and times of this American hero."

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

News Nugget 478

A sunrise over the Painted Hills of Oregon.  What an astonishing spectrum of natural color!  From National Geographic.

Triumph in New Delhi from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Critics have assailed Obama's Asia trip as a failure. They're ignoring the strategic victory that the president won in India."

Pretty Good for Government Work (Warren Buffett) from the New York Times
"Just over two years ago, in September 2008, our country faced an economic meltdown. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the pillars that supported our mortgage system, had been forced into conservatorship. Several of our largest commercial banks were teetering. One of Wall Street’s giant investment banks had gone bankrupt, and the remaining three were poised to follow. A.I.G., the world’s most famous insurer, was at death’s door.  … Only one counterforce was available, and that was you, Uncle Sam."

Where Did Our Debt Come From? (James Fallows) from the Atlantic
"...pressure is growing to cut Social Security (perhaps the most efficiently run program in government) while placing Defense (one of the most inefficiently run programs) off limits."

Too Good to Check (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

"On Nov. 4, Anderson Cooper did the country a favor. He expertly deconstructed on his CNN show the bogus rumor that President Obama’s trip to Asia would cost $200 million a day. This was an important “story.” It underscored just how far ahead of his time Mark Twain was when he said a century before the Internet, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” But it also showed that there is an antidote to malicious journalism — and that’s good journalism."

Can Obama Rise Again? (Michael Tomasky) from the New York Review of Books
"Counting on Republican overreach isn’t exactly what Obama and his admirers had in mind in 2008. But he must now fundamentally rethink the premises of his presidency."

The Long Goodbye (Editorial) from the Economist [of London]
"Is the white Southern Democrat extinct, endangered or just hibernating?"

Americans Against Themselves (Ronald Dworkin) from the New York Review of Books

"Why do so many Americans insist on voting against their own best interests? … For many Americans losing America’s preeminence means losing the country they know. They want America to stand alone on top again; they want politicians to tell them that it can, that God has chosen us but false leaders have betrayed us. The heroes of the Tea Party made reclaiming American triumphalism the heart of their victory speeches on Tuesday night. "

Why Democrats Don't Dump Nancy Pelosi from Politico
"Many of those same lawmakers will cast their votes for Pelosi in this morning's closed door Democratic caucus meeting – and the embattled San Franciscan will almost certainly win the validation she seeks. It's a vivid illustration of how congressional leadership elections are decided by factors often barely visible to the naked eye.."

The Way They Were (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times
"Together again were the president and vice president who invaded, deregulated, overspent, created a climate of fear and intensified the class divide with tax cuts — all so recklessly that our resources are sapped just as we need to step up and compete with our banker, China. “I wasn’t a very good economic prognosticator,” Bush told CNN’s Candy Crowley. No kidding."
Dowd hasn't said anything worth noting for a long time -- but this concise critique of Bush-Cheney BS is DEAD ON!!

The Coming Tea Party Civil War (Stephanie Mencimer) from Mother Jones Magazine

"The tea party's social conservative and libertarian wings are poised for a showdown that could decide the fate of the movement."

Tea Party's Anti-Earmark Crusade Gives More Power to President Obama from the National Journal
"The conservative insurgents' move will likely backfire, two scholars say."

No Clear Favorite for 2012 GOP Nomination (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post

"The timetable for announcements and serious engagement has been pushed into next year.  Is this a breath of sanity brought to a process that has moved ever earlier with each election? Perhaps. But there are more practical reasons that the candidates are heading for the starting gate at a more deliberative pace."

New Obama Book's Revelations (Richard Wolffe) from the Daily Beast
"From Obama’s fake temper tantrum to the president’s respect for Republicans, The Daily Beast’s Richard Wolffe’s new inside the White House book, Revival, gets a speed read for the 10 most revealing parts"

The Palin Network (Robert Draper) from the Sunday New York Times Magazine

"How the G.O.P.’s leading shadow candidate runs her guerrilla organization."
A VERY in-depth look at a very scary and shaky operation.

Baby Otters Learn to Swim (VIDEO) from Huffington Post

"Sumalee and Kasem, just 14 weeks old. In this video, the cute duo are learning to swim. They first were trained in a sink, then progressed to a bath, and now their skills are truly being tested... in a paddling pool."

Book Review: 'Autobiography of Mark Twain: Volume 1' from the Los Angeles Times

"The American literary lion roars back onto the publishing scene 100 years after his death with the first volume of his mammoth autobiography, and he's got quite a story to tell."

ANCIENT EGYPT NUGGETS [yes, there are two]!!
Sphinx-Lined Road Found in Egypt from Press TV

"Hundreds of ancient sphinxes were unearthed after archaeologists found 12 sphinxes along a road linked to an already discovered route known as Sphinx Avenue."
"Hundreds…"  Holy Cow!!  As I have said here and elsewhere, we are living through a 'golden age' of Egyptology where absolutely AMAZING discoveries are being made almost every week or so!

See also Statue Unearthed in Tomb of Tut's Grandfather from Discovery News
"Red granite statues of King Amenhotep III, believed to be the grandfather of King Tutankhamun, are popping up like mushrooms in Luxor, Egypt."

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

News Nugget 477

A huge skyscraper fire in Shanghai, China.  See the Towering Inferno Nugget below.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

A 'Hedge Strategy Toward China (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"By undertaking this trip to India, Japan, South Korea and Indonesia, Obama was making America's opening move in a new great power game unfolding in Asia. Until now, China's rise had been talked about more as an abstraction. But events over the past few months have made the rise of China tangible in the eyes of many Asians. They are watching how the United States will react.

A Breakthrough in the Middle East? (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic
"How Obama's carrot-and-stick approach is working."

Madam Secretary's Middle East (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"Hillary Clinton, unlike President Obama, has Israelis’ trust. She also has fierce new convictions about Palestine."

One in Four Americans is Enrolled in a Gov't Food Program from ABC News
"More Than 17 million Households Reported Having Difficulty Buying Food in 2009. Those food banks, which receive hundreds of millions of dollars worth of food from the federal government to supplement private donations, are also now inundated with the new poor."
These folks just haven't heard that the recession is over.

This Raging Fire (Bob Herbert) from the New York Times
"When I was a kid my Uncle Robert, for whom I was named, used to say that blacks needed to “fight on all fronts, at home and abroad.” By that he meant that while it was critically important to fight against racial injustice and oppression, it was just as important to support, nurture and fight on behalf of one’s family and community."

Oklahoma's Faith-Based Initiative (Michael Gerson) from the Washington Post
"Just to be on the safe side, voters in Oklahoma this month overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that prevents the Talibanization of the Sooner State. Henceforth, there will be no public stonings in Ponca City, no forced burqa wearing in Bartlesville, no sharia law in Lawton. … This is a novel use of American law - not to actually address a public problem but to taunt a religious minority."

Axelrod Says Plouffe to Replace Him at White House Next Year from National Journal
"President Obama's top adviser, David Axelrod, will likely be replaced by campaign strategist David Plouffe when he leaves the White House early next year.."
VERY good news!  As much as I like the Axe as a person, I think this change is overdue.  It suggests that we can expect NEW MESSAGING from the WH.  What they were doing had not been working for some time.

What Sparked the Tea Party (Michael Hirsh) from National Journal

"Barack Obama’s policies get blamed (or credited) with triggering the movement. Actually, they were George W. Bush’s."

Westboro Protesters Face Jeers and Slashed Tires from the Tulsa World [of Oklahoma]
"Shortly after finishing their protest at the funeral of Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey of McAlester, a half-dozen protesters from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kan., headed to their minivan, only to discover that its front and rear passenger-side tires had been slashed. To make matters worse, as their minivan slowly hobbled away on two flat tires, with a McAlester police car following behind, the protesters were unable to find anyone in town who would repair their vehicle, according to police."
While I don't advocate tire slashing, what do these folks expect?

Pres-2012: Can Mitt Romney be President? (David Frum) from The Week

"Tea Party, Shmea Party. Post-election surveys suggest that Mitt Romney still leads as the favored Republican presidential candidate for 2012.  His lead looks especially big in New Hampshire: Almost 30 points. Does this big lead translate into a smooth ride to the nomination?   That depends on whether Romney's campaign follows the path of George W. Bush's in 2000 — or Hillary Clinton's in 2008."

Towering Inferno of Shanghai: 40 Dead as 28-Story Apartment Block is Engulfed in Flames from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"At least 40 people have been killed by a blazing fire in a high-rise residential building in the business centre of Shanghai, on the east coast of China."
WHAT a nightmare!!

Pocahontas's Wedding Chapel Found at Jamestown from National Geographic News

"The remains of the church where Pocahontas married an English tobacco farmer have been discovered at Jamestown, Virginia, the first permanent English settlement in the New World, archaeologists announced in October. "

Monday, November 15, 2010

News Nugget 476

A Mute Swan swims over some Chub fish in the Rhine River in Switzerland.  From National Geographic.

The Mandate from via Daily Kos

The 2010 midterm elections were a mandate for the new GOP sorta-but-not-really majority in Washington. The American voter has clearly demanded:
1. Social Security reform that guarantees my current level of benefits, alters someone else's, and cuts everyone's Social Security taxes to boot.
2. A world-class national infrastructure that can be built and maintained without tax dollars.
3. A balanced budget that doesn't sacrifice any of the government programs – especially the sacred military-industrial complex and the various old age benefits – that we like.
4. Clean air without pollution controls, clean water with a neutered and underfunded EPA, and businesses that do socially responsible things without any regulation whatsoever.
5. Consumer goods at Made in China prices that create high-paying jobs in America.
6. Giant trucks and SUVs that drive like Formula One race cars, look cool, fit into small parking spaces, cost under $18,000, and get the fuel economy of a Toyota Prius.
7. Complete freedom and complete security at the same time.
8. An America that acts like a swaggering, sociopathic asshole on the global stage yet is beloved by all the nations of the world.
9. Wars against every enemy, real or imagined, all of the time, with no U.S. casualties and no effect on the budget.
10. Incredibly rich and rewarding professional lives while supporting our employers' right to do whatever they want to us without recourse.
11. A vibrant, consumption-based U.S. economy with good jobs for anyone willing to look for one resulting from free trade policies that encourage money and capital flows to cheap labor markets.
12. A highly educated workforce produced by a school system that requires no tax dollars to achieve excellence, students who have no interest in learning, and a virulently anti-intellectual society.
13. Closed borders and an endless supply of cheap labor to keep prices low.
14. To buy whatever we want irrespective of what we can afford while maintaining the drumbeat of personal responsibility.
15. Health care that is cheap, superior, and readily available to me without the danger of the same being enjoyed by anyone I deem undeserving.

Obama Appears to Punch India's Buttons (Editorial) from the Japan Times [in English]
"Barack Obama's visit to India last week ended on a high note. After downplaying expectations for some months now, the U.S. president made all the right noises in his address to the Indian Parliament."

Insecurities Beneath China's Prosperous Exterior (Jim Hoagland) from the Washington Post
"The occasional shrillness and spitefulness of their public outbursts - the Nobel Prize denunciations are a prime example - betray a fragility that is usually missed in America's appreciation of this country's supposedly inexorable rise."

Who Will Stand Up to the Superrich? (Frank Rich) from the New York Times
"Unlike Whitman and the other defeated self-financing candidates, they are all but certain to cash in on the Nov. 2 results. There’s no one in Washington in either party with the fortitude to try to stop them from grabbing anything that’s not nailed down."

I Believe I Can Fly (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"Reading the headlines these days, I can’t help but repeat this truism: If you jump off the top of an 80-story building, for 79 floors you can think you’re flying. It’s the sudden stop at the end that tells you you’re not. It’s striking to me how many leaders and nations are behaving today as though they think they can fly — and ignoring that sudden stop at the end that’s sure to come. Where to begin?"

Islam (and Reason) on Trial in Tennessee (David Waters) from the Washington Post
"A handwriting expert testified Friday that she uncovered a secret plot by who knows how many Middle Tennessee Muslims to sign documents, including a site plan application to build a mosque in a rural area zoned for religious meeting places."

CT-Sen: Republicans: It's Time to Move Forward (Ben Davol) from The Day [of CT]
"One definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result. If the early whispers from some in the Connecticut Republican Party - and the rumors attributed to them - are true, the state's GOP needs a checkup from the neck up"

Who had the Worst Week in Washington? Michele Bachmann (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"Bachmann, who founded the tea party caucus in the House, was making bold proclamations about the power she wielded. She went so far as to tell Politico that she helped to "put that gavel in John Boehner's hand." Her colleagues - at least some of the more influential ones - didn't seem to agree."

50 Years Later, I'm Still Trying to Integrate My School (Ruby Bridges) from the Washington Post

"On the morning of my first day of first grade at a new school, 50 years ago Sunday, U.S. marshals knocked on my family's door. They had been sent by the president of the United States, they said, to take me to school. …"

Book World: Review of The Dead Hand by David Hoffman from the Washington Post

""The Dead Hand" argues convincingly that America's victory in the Cold War wasn't nearly as triumphant as the most self-congratulatory among us have tended to believe. When the arms race between the two superpowers ended in the 1990s, a second terrifying competition replaced the first."
I just finished reading this book recently -- it is a must-read for anyone who wants to know more about what the Cold War almost led to and how it ended.

Founders Lite: A Review of Joseph Ellis's First Family: Abigail and John from the New Republic

"Having read most of what Ellis has written over this past decade, I am troubled to see how many simple points he casually gets wrong."
A really TOUGH review!  I was wondering if it was just me that was dissatisfied with Ellis' work and quality of scholarship.

Aerial Drone to Hunt for Life on Mars from Discovery News

"Now, one scientist hopes to bring flight to Mars and explore what rovers and orbiters have left behind."