Monday, May 31, 2010

Due to networking limitations, between now and Wednesday, my postings may not be daily.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

News Nuggets 363

Agricultural workers in Manila in the Philippines.

America Turning Over a New Leaf (Editorial) from the Times of India [in English]

"Obama can't be faulted for pursuing American national interests. But these are being defined in a manner which make them more compatible with the rest of the world, a welcome shift in emphasis. It's good that the era of American triumphalism following the demise of the Soviet Union has ended."

Hillary's Quiet China Victory (Dan Levin) from the Daily Beast

"Escalating tension over North Korea dominated news reports about Secretary Clinton's trip to Beijing. But behind closed doors, she was quietly hammering away at strategic agreements to boost U.S. business interests."

Obama vs. Al Capone (Fareed Zakaria) from Newsweek

""It is better to be feared than loved," Dick Cheney used to say, quoting Machiavelli. Donald Rumsfeld chose a less upmarket source, often citing Al Capone's line: "You will get further with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word." Have we forgotten the results of this experiment in foreign policy as machismo? America's oldest allies in Europe turned against the United States. Governments publicly criticized Washington on policy after policy and refused to support its efforts. By 2007, large majorities of people in country after country, even historically pro-American places like Britain, had turned against America."

Weakening America: Mitch McConnell Shows How (James Fallows) from the Atlantic

"Yes, people endure worse hardships than being made to wait for Senate confirmation for a fancy job. "I still tell myself this will be worth it in the end, assuming it ends," the nominee said. But it is bad for America to leave so much of its governmental and diplomatic leadership vacant for months or years at the beginning of each administration -- and it's worse, in the long run, to allow a process that makes many talented people think, Why would I ever want to go through that?"

Fox News Show: Gitmo 'Suicides' Torture Gone Wrong? from Raw Story

"When three detainees at Guantanamo Bay were found hanged in their cells on June 9, 2006, the official explanation was suicide. Human rights attorney Scott Horton, however, believes that "clearly these were homicides.""

I have long suspected this to be the case. Who knows if this story will get more attention.

Poll: 51 Percent of Americans Oppose Offshore Oil Drilling from LiveScience

"As the Deepwater Horizon leak continues to dump oil into the Gulf of Mexico, American opinions about offshore oil drilling have begun to shift. More than half now believe the risks of offshore drilling outweigh the benefits, according to a nationwide survey by Virginia Commonwealth University released today."

This may be the silver lining to the mess in the Gulf.

Dems Bring Out Hardball Tactics from The Hill

"Facing newly aggressive political maneuvering from Republicans, House Democrats are playing their own version of hardball. Democrats successfully pushed through an expansive science re-authorization bill on Friday, less than two weeks after the GOP rebuffed their offer of a scaled-down version of the measure to address concerns about cost."

California Passes Bill to Counteract 'Disturbing' Texas Curriculum from Raw Story

"Measure ensures Texas standards don't 'creep into our textbooks,' senator tells Raw Story. The California Senate on Friday approved legislation that sends a clear message to Texas and textbook publishers: don't mess with our kids' minds."

VERY GREAT!! I hope other states follow California's lead!

Thousands in Phoenix Protest Arizona's Immigration Law from the Los Angeles Times

"There was no official crowd estimate, but the march was by far the biggest demonstration since Gov. Jan Brewer signed SB 1070 into law on April 23."

Are Vicious Primaries Hurting the GOP? (Ed Kilgore) from the Democratic Strategist

"... the many fractious GOP primaries around the country may well represent a Struggle for the Soul of the Republican Party, but shouldn't have too much general election impact, particularly if the correct (e.g., less rabid) candidates wind up winning. But I dunno. Evidence is beginning to accumulate that voters aren't real crazy about vicious primaries."

Disturbing Lessons from the Rand Paul Fallout (Sherrilyn Ifill) from The Root

"The Republican Party's response to Paul displays an ongoing nostalgia for pre-civil rights America."

With the coming of the 21st century, the GOP stopped looking forward with anything but fear and loathing. The only thing positive that they have to sell now are rose-colored countrified visions of the past. Usually it is 1950s America (before Brown v. Bd of Ed) and increasingly it is fantasyland versions of the 1920s (before the New Deal). In either case, as the GOP's focus has shifted backwards, it ceased to be a 'conservative' party and became in all respects (almost by definition) a reactionary party. They want to ignore the changes and the realities that are part of the 21st century and rewind the clock to a simpler (read whiter) time. In many ways, it is both sad and pathetic.

Illinois Senate Candidate Admits Claim About Military Award was Inaccurate from the Washington Post

"The Republican candidate for President Obama's old Senate seat has admitted to inaccurately claiming he received the U.S. Navy's Intelligence Officer of the Year award for his service during NATO's conflict with Serbia in the late 1990s."

Last time I looked he and his Dem opponent in this Senate race were close in the polls. Unlike Blumenthal's experience in CT, I think this will do some major damage to Kirk's campaign. I hate to be hyperpartisan -- but one of the things I've noted with the GOP candidate pool this election cycle is how the backgrounds and attitudes of so many of them are so ... problematic! It has me think that these folks somehow think that THIS is their big chance -- when the rhetoric of easy GOP wins has them think that they can just walk to victory in November and not have to face their own words and actions from the past. It seems to me that many of them are blinded by their own sense of entitlement and their own sense of righteous 'destiny."


How Arlington National Cemetery Came to Be from Smithsonian Magazine

"The fight over Robert E. Lee's beloved home—seized by the U.S. government during the Civil War—went on for decades."


Louvre on the Rocks: Cache of Aboriginal Art Revealed from AOL News

"Archaeologists have revealed the first detailed studies of what some call one of the world's most significant collections of rock art, a treasure trove of more than 3,000 stunning paintings and other images spanning as many as 15,000 years."


Sparky Lyle: Extra Innings from the New York Times

"The name is slightly familiar, but it’s the bushy mustache that tickles the memory. Back in the 1970s, the Yanks had a fun-loving, irreverent, gifted relief pitcher named Sparky Lyle, and darn if the mustache on that oversize cartoon hound dog doesn’t look like old Sparky’s."

It is hard for me to say what a HUGE baseball fan I was in the mid to late 1970s. As a Red Sox fan, I hated the Yankees -- but I will have to say, even then I both dreaded and highly respected Sparky Lyle. I believe there was one season where he was 28-3!! He was an amazing pitcher!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

News Nuggets 362

The psychedelic frogfish. From the National Geographic News


Australia Launches Legal Action Over Japan Whaling from Reuters via Scientific American

"Australia's government on Friday announced plans for legal action against Japan to stop Southern Ocean scientific whaling, but said it did not expect retaliation from its second-biggest trading partner."

WOW! Great news!!

Realpolitik Returns from the Editorial Board of the Economist [of London]

"Whereas the Bush document started by stressing America’s “unprecedented and unequalled” strength and influence, Mr Obama’s acknowledges the limits to America’s power. “No one nation—no matter how powerful—can meet global challenges alone,” it says."

Barack Obama Sets Out Security Strategy Based on Diplomacy Instead of War (Ewen MccAskill) from the Guardian [of the UK]

"Report described as clean break from Bush years addresses fresh challenges including rise of India and China."

Obama Showed He Grasps Depths of Global Challenge (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post

"There's another set of questions to be asked: Did Obama signal today that he grasps the magnitude of leadership that will be required to solve the deeper, underlying problem? Did he seize on the spill to push for a fundamental shift in our thinking, and will he continue to do so? The answer to those questions has to be Yes."

Bill Clinton Has Evolved Into Obama's Mr. Fix-It (Editorial) from the Washington Post

"Clinton has become the "Michael Clayton" of the Obama White House, a roving, always on-call fixer who lends his political skills to help Obama and the Democrats in tough situations."

GOP Makes Nonsense Argument About 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (Gabriel Winant) from Salon

"While rolling back the measure does have broad popular support, it's hardly the stuff of a political game-changer -- or really of much political significance at all, outside the activist core that supports it and the activist core that opposes it. In other words -- shockingly! -- conservatives are talking a bunch of bullshit."

The GOP Looks Left and to the West (Jacob Weisberg) from Newsweek

"One way to understand the divisions in the Republican Party is as a clash of regional philosophies. Northeastern conservatism is moderate, accepts the modern welfare state, and dislikes mixing religion with politics. Western conservatism is hawkish, hates government, and embraces individual freedom. Southern conservatism is populist, draws on evangelical Christianity, and often plays upon racial resentments. The big drama of the GOP over the past several decades has been the Eastern view giving way to the Southern one."

Tea Party Could Cost GOP Nine Senate Races This Fall (Steve Kornacki) from Salon

"Uprisings by the GOP base could produce weak Republican candidates in some of this year's biggest races."

This is precisely what I was suggesting yesterday!

Some more on the subject is here:

Move Right and Lose: Evidence from the 2000-2008 US Senate Elections (Alan Abramowitz) from the Democratic Strategist

"It has become almost an article of faith in Republican circles that the best way for the GOP to regain the ground it has lost in the last two elections is to nominate candidates who take consistently conservative positions on the issues facing the country. ... But while the move right and win theory is extremely popular among Republican activists, it directly challenges the widely accepted view of American voting behavior among election scholars."

The Palin Brand (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times

"Between surreal appearances from Wasilla as the caged pundit of Fox News and quick, splashy landings in the lower 48 states, Palin has shown she still has the attention span of a hummingbird on a nectar jag. She does not do basic homework. Never has. The result is a string of endorsements for people whose lives are living contradictions of their stated philosophies."

PA-Sen: Joe Sestak Leapfrogs Over Pat Toomey from Daily Kos

"That's quite the primary victory bounce, +8 points. Where did the numbers shift?"

Woo woo!!

Connecticut Contest Gets Easier for Richard Blumenthal (Richard Adams) from the Guardian [of the UK]

"The chances of Richard Blumenthal winning in Connecticut increase after Republican Vietnam veteran rival withdraws."

The Tea Party vs. Common Sense (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune

"How quickly the bloom falls off the rose. What did Brown do that was so wrong? He voted for bills backed by President Barack Obama to stimulate jobs and overhaul financial regulation. For conservative hard-liners, voting for anything backed by Obama would be enough."

Controversial Tea Party Pick Remakes Race to Face Reid (Steve Friess) from Politics Daily

"In Nevada, where Democratic Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is up for re-election, there's a peculiar twist: The national Tea Party Express' endorsement of former state Assemblywoman Sharron Angle in the GOP contest has moved her from also-ran to front-runner in six short weeks. But it's also ticked off in-state tea partiers who resent having outsiders meddling with their election and fear Angle can't beat Reid. "

Has the Tea Party Done Anything for the GOP? (Marc Ambinder) from the Atlantic

"The Tea Party movement has helped to make the touch of the party in Washington toxic, even when the party has recruited otherwise excellent ideological and uncorrectable candidates whose only sin is that they were identified as viable by the party and encouraged to run. Even the hint of GOP backing has sent the GOP into paroxysms in places like Washington State. "


New Dinosaur Had Record-Sized Horns from Discovery News

"A newly discovered five-ton dinosaur has the largest horns ever found on a dinosaur, with a set that were 4-feet-long each, according to paleontologists who unearthed the hefty herbivore in Mexico. The name of the new species, Coahuilaceratops magnacuerna, translates in part to "great horned horny face."


Who Was Charles Dickens? (Robert Gottlieb) from the New York Review of Books

"There are a few writers whose lives and personalities are so large, so fascinating, that there’s no such thing as a boring biography of them—you can read every new one that comes along, good or bad, and be caught up in the story all over again. I’ve never encountered a life of the Brontës, of Dr. Johnson, of Byron that didn’t grip me. Another such character is Charles Dickens."


The Gadfly: A Review of Nomad (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times

"If there were a “Ms. Globalization” title, it might well go to Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Somali woman who wrote the best-­selling memoir “Infidel.” She has managed to outrage more people — in some cases to the point that they want to assassinate her — in more languages in more countries on more continents than almost any writer in the world today."

Boy -- it sounds great!!


Recent Winners of the Edward Bulwer-Lytton Prize from Writer's Digest via NPR's Car Talk

"As a scientist, Throckmorton knew that if he were ever to break wind in the sound chamber he would never hear the end of it."

Tom and Ray were going over some of these this morning -- they were hilarious!

Friday, May 28, 2010

News Nuggets 361

The latest for Pet Photo Friday from Americablog.

US Intel Official: North Korea is Bluffing from Newsweek

"Despite all the recent huffing and puffing from Pyongyang, U.S. officials say they’ve seen little physical evidence that North Korea might actually be preparing to go to war."

Hell in the Islamic Republic (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times

"An important book, “Death to the Dictator!”, written under the pseudonym of Afsaneh Moqadam. The book, published this month by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, plunged me back into Tehran in the harrowing days after June 12, 2009. It recounts a fairly typical story: A young man named Mohsen Abbaspour (not his real name), who moves from apolitical apathy to action in the weeks before the vote, is outraged by the outcome and joins massive street protests, before being grabbed by goons and “disappeared” into an unspeakable labyrinth of violence. The intensity of the account put me in mind of Bernard Fall’s “Hell in a Very Small Place.”"

China Won't Rule the Skies (Editorial) from The Diplomat

China won't rule the skies anytime soon, says Loren Thompson. It's a long way from having its own version of the F-22 fighter to challenge the US."

MVP of Obama's Security Team: Hillary 'The Hammer' Clinton (Editorial) from the Christian Science Monitor

"One of my friends is a classic Republican: He’s a businessman from a Southern “red state,” and a Marine Corps veteran of Vietnam who earned a Silver Star for heroism at Hué. To put it mildly, he’s never been a fan of Hillary Rodham Clinton. Yet he recently called to acknowledge a conversion like Paul’s on the road to Damascus. He now kind of likes her."

This is a very interesting assessment of Clinton's tenure at State.

Gulf Oil Spill Blame Game (Joe Klein) from Time Magazine

"The more predictable Republican response to an event so inconvenient to the party's ideology was to blame Barack Obama. Sarah Palin accused Obama of being in bed with Big Oil — an accusation that, like oil itself, was rich and crude, given her own and her party's close ties to the petroleum industry."

Drilling for Certainty (David Brooks) from the New York Times

"The real issue has to do with risk assessment. It has to do with the bloody crossroads where complex technical systems meet human psychology."

Oil Spill Alters Views on Environmental Protection from Gallup

"Between March and today, with the Gulf of Mexico oil spill intervening, Americans' preferences for prioritizing between environmental protection and energy production have shifted from a somewhat pro-energy stance to an even stronger pro-environment stance."

Why Conservatives Should Oppose Arizona's Immigration Law (former Sen. Connie Mack) from the Washington Post

"This law clearly challenges citizens' freedoms, and it does so by putting some Americans at risk of losing their freedoms while others stand little or no chance of being affected."

BP Oil Leak Spills Into Florida Senate Race from The Hill

"Florida Gov. Charlie Crist wants to call state lawmakers into a special session in order to pass a constitutional amendment permanently banning drilling off Florida’s coast — a position supported by two of his Senate rivals but not Republican candidate Marco Rubio."

This could help Crist put some distance between himself and Rubio. I don't see Rubio gaining anything by opposing this ban.

Obama: Day of "Partnership" Passed from Politico

"Noting that sometimes conservative activists portray him with a Hitler mustache, Obama seemed to put to rest any notion that there could be broad-based bipartisan cooperation — something he promised to try to bring to Washington during his 2008 campaign"

Rand Paul's Latest Enemies? Other Libertarians (Andrew Romano) from Newsweek

"You'd think, amid all the hubbub, that Paul could count on the support at least one set of allies: his fellow libertarians. But even they are turning against the Kentuckian. What did he do wrong now?"

The New Fundamentalists (Bill Schneider) from the National Journal

"The tea party movement is not just a reaction to the sins of Obama. It's also a reaction to the failures of George W. Bush and his "Big Government" Republicanism. When "moderation" fails, fundamentalism rushes in."

Kill the 17th Amendment (Marc Ambinder) from the Atlantic

"Here is something I don't think Republican strategists in Washington...many of them, anyway, understand about conservative voters now. Their discontent with the party is NOT about ideology. It is, quite simply, about them. The consultants. The leaders. The people who were NOT able to prevent Obama from becoming president. "

More tea party nutiness. If true, this leaves open the real possibility that the results from the November election might actually do a lot more harm to the GOP than most pundits are predicting now. Even now, most post-primary senate race polls all are seeing upward movement for the Democrats.

A Real Senate Race iN Kentucky from Daily Kos

"Paul's favorabilities are down among Independents -- from 62-16 to 58-20, and among Democrats -- from 37-45 to 29-57."


"Book review of Kim Phillips-Fein, Invisible Hands: The Making of the Conservative Movement from the New Deal to Reagan (New York: W.W. Norton, 2009) from Monthly Review

"Kim Phillips-Fein has provided us with a very fine account of how we got where we are—in a stranglehold of big business conservatism that has by no means been broken by the liberal electoral victory of 2008. She has not only absorbed a considerable amount of secondary literature, but has also combed through the archives, combining her impressive research and insights with a well-paced narrative populated with a variety of interesting personalities..."

Thursday, May 27, 2010

News Nuggets 360

A South American Sea Lion in an aquarium in Tokyo.


'Top Kill' Effort Succeeds in Blocking Oil Leak, Coast Guard Admiral Says from the Los Angeles Times

"Thad Allen, who is coordinating the government response, says the well still has low pressure, but cement will be used to cap the well permanently as soon as the pressure hits zero."

We'll see if this story-line holds up. There is a lot of skepticism about this procedure and its workability at 5,000 feet. Let's hope it's true. UPDATE: the Times-Picayune is reporting the same story HERE.

Iran Nuclear Standoff: The Fog of Sanctions (Editorial) from World Politics Review

"No less perilous than the "fog of war" that besets generals, the "fog of sanctions" prevents pundits and politicians from having a clear view of the power and potential of this draft document (.pdf), which may be the strongest set of smart sanctions ever developed by the Security Council. "

It's Lehman the Sequal, with Merkel as Bush (Editorial) from the Times [of London]

"The big lesson of the financial crisis was that no bank must be allowed to fail. The same applies now to Greece."

Europe's Burqa Rage (Michael Gerson) from RealClearPolitics

"The real purpose of burqa bans is to assert European cultural identity -- secular, liberal and individualistic -- at the expense of a visible, traditional religious minority. A nation such as France, proudly relativistic on most issues, is convinced of its cultural superiority when it comes to sexual freedom. A country of topless beaches considers a ban on excessive modesty."

Obama's Pre-Emptive Doctrine (Marc Ambinder) from the Atlantic

"It's a pre-emption strategy of sorts, but not one that relies on projecting overwhelming military force. Indeed, the belief inside the administration is that a strategy that starts out by bragging about the continued dominance of the U.S. military invites the sort of opposition that the declaration is intended to ward off. "

CBO: Economic Effects of Stimulus Bigger Than Projected from the Wall Street Journal [Subscription needed for full text]

"The $800 billion U.S. stimulus package has had a slightly bigger effect on the U.S. economy than was projected."

Democrats Claim Votes Are There to Nix 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' from The Hill

"Lawmakers and gay-rights activists predicted Wednesday that both the Senate and House will have enough votes to repeal the “Don’t ask, don’t tell” law. Legislation to scrap the ban on openly gay service members in the military is expected to clear a major hurdle Thursday in the Senate Armed Services Committee."

GOP Gears Up for Fight Over Gays in the Military from Roll Call

"Opponents of overturning the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy are cranking up their rhetoric and threatening roadblocks on multiple fronts, including what promises to be a fierce Senate floor fight, as the tide appears to be turning against them."

Urban Native Americans Say Arizona Law Will Target Them from the Navajo Times

"Both typically have dark hair and brown skin. Some have accents when they speak. It is the shared characteristics that have some Native Americans worried about being targeted under Arizona's controversial new immigration law."

Justice Department Poised to Challenge Arizona Immigration Law from the Los Angeles Times

"Nine police chiefs meet with Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. to tell him the measure would hinder local law enforcement and ask that the Obama administration block it."

First Thoughts: GOP and Immigration (Chuck Todd et al.) from MSNBC

"Bad news for GOP in NBC/MSNBC/Telemundo poll on immigration… The poll shows that Latino voters are swinging widely for the Democrats, while their support for the GOP is dropping like a rock… Has the GOP learned the Pete Wilson lesson?"

Sister Margaret's Choice (Nicholas Kristof) from New York Times

"We finally have a case where the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy is responding forcefully and speedily to allegations of wrongdoing. But the target isn’t a pedophile priest. Rather, it’s a nun who helped save a woman’s life. Doctors describe her as saintly."

Harry Reid's Re-Election Hopes on the Rise in Nevada (Jay Newton-Small) from Time Magazine

"Reid has risen in the polls from lows in the mid-30s in January to the low-40s now, though he still trails all three of his potential opponents. But a silver lining for him has been the disarray in the June 8 GOP primary race."

Blumenthal Shows Why We're Still Fighting the Vietnam War from the Christian Science Monitor

"The Vietnam War – like the Civil War – probably won’t be over until the last vet checks out. And even then, it’ll keep being argued by the remnant of the baby-boom generation. For men especially, the question remains: “What did you do in the war?”"

The Sestak Affair: High Crimes or Politics as Usual? (Joe Conason) from Salon

"Right-wing pundits claim the alleged White House offer was criminal. But nonpartisan lawyers disagree."


Divers Explore Sunken Ruins of Cleopatra's Palace from Discovery News

"Many archaeological sites have been destroyed by man, but Alexandria's Royal Quarters simply slid into the sea after cataclysmic earthquakes."

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

News Nuggets 359

A possible plane design of the future. See the Airplane Nugget below.

The Top Ten Lessons of the Global Economic Meltdown (Walter Russell Mead) from the American Interest

"Even if we don’t yet know where the economy is headed, we’ve already learned some important lessons about where we stand and where we are headed. Here are the ten most important so far:"

The Greeks Get It (Chris Hedges) from Truthdig

"Here’s to the Greeks. They know what to do when corporations pillage and loot their country. They know what to do when Goldman Sachs and international bankers collude with their power elite to falsify economic data and then make billions betting that the Greek economy will collapse. ... Call a general strike. Riot. Shut down the city centers. Toss the bastards out. Do not be afraid of the language of class warfare... . The Greeks, unlike most of us, get it."

Inside the Mind of Kim Jong Il (Editorial) from the Brookings Institution

"I am puzzled by the Americans' response. I had expected Obama to back down from his firm stance of last year and beg us to re-engage. After Bill Clinton was here, I was sure that we were on the way to the bilateral talks I have always preferred and to more American aid. But it didn't happen. I had hoped that Cheonan would cause a split between the Americans and the South, but that didn't happen either. Obama has more backbone than I thought."

As Ugly as it Gets (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

"Turkey and Brazil are both nascent democracies that have overcome their own histories of military rule. For their leaders to embrace and strengthen an Iranian president who uses his army and police to crush and kill Iranian democrats — people seeking the same freedom of speech and political choice that Turks and Brazilians now enjoy — is shameful."

As Free Market Democracies Fail, Watch Out for China (Ian Bremmer) from USA Today

"What do all these countries have in common? They're free-market democracies in various stages of economic trouble. Where do we go to find a popular government? How about China? Three decades of double-digit economic growth can buy a government plenty of popular goodwill."

I think the author is off-base here in saying that the Chinese gov't is genuinely popular. I've read a lot of analyses that suggest the opposite. The real point here is that what the US and others really have to fear from China is an attractive governing structure that combines the worst features of capitalism with the worst features of totalitarianism. In my view, this IS what they have right now -- and other regimes around the world are watching. There are, however, many indicators that strongly suggest that China cannot sustain what they are doing for much longer.

Islamists to the UN: Grant Death for Blasphemy (Editorial) from the Indian Express [of India in English]

"Demanding a permanent ban on Facebook, over two dozen Pakistani religious groups working under the umbrella of the JuD have decided to contact the UN for enacting a global law "against blasphemy of prophets and awarding death penalty to violators.""

Great. Just great.

Hillary Clinton to Defense? How About VP? A Musical Chairs Scenario (Eleanor Clift) from Politics Daily

"Obama's loyalty only goes so far. He is proving to be one of the least sentimental chief executives, dispatching people once they're no longer useful. Plus, he could argue that the talents of each player are better utilized with Hillary in the White House. As the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Biden would be a natural at the State Department. He has long coveted the job of secretary of state and could argue it is a step up that takes full advantage of his background."

An interesting speculation.

BP Engineers Prepare 'Top Kill' Attempt to Stop Oil Flow Into the Gulf from the Washington Post

"Now the equipment for the top kill is in place at the sea bottom and engineers are beginning a set of diagnostic tests on the five-story-tall blowout preventer that sits atop the wellhead. By probing conditions inside the blowout preventer, BP will learn how much pressure must be overcome when the drilling mud is injected into the well."

Prediction: This will not work.

A Promise Kept (Jonathan Alter) from Newsweek

"As the finishing touches are being put on a major revision of "don't ask, don't tell," it's not yet time for opponents of the 17-year-old discriminatory policy to rejoice; the Pentagon hasn't completed its review. But the signs are good that DADT will be effectively dead soon."

How They Did It (Part Five) (Jonathan Cohn) from the New Republic

"This is the final installment of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform."

Deportation Nightmare: Eduardo Caraballo, US Citizen Born In Puerto Rico, Detained As Illegal Immigrant from Huffington Post

"Despite presenting identifying documents and even his birth certificate, Caraballo was held by federal immigration authorities over the weekend and threatened with deportation, according to an NBC Chicago report. He was only released when his congressman, Luis Gutierrez -- a vocal supporter of immigration reform -- intervened on his behalf."

So it begins.

What Rand Really Believes (Joe Conason) from the New York Observer

"So considering Dr. Paul’s background, extremism is a reasonable concern—and the only way to find out what he really believes is for him to start answering a lot of questions."

Scott Brown Falls Out of Favor With Tea Party from Raw Story

"During his fight to win Sen. Ted Kennedy's seat in Massachusetts, Scott Brown was hailed as the Tea Party candidate. Now the newly elected junior senator is under fire from the very groups that are credited with his victory."

Quite predictable. I would say the more he distances himself from those folks the better his chances of getting re-elected in MA.

Sarah Palin's Fact-Free Commentary on Paul and BP (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post

"Has Sarah Palin learned anything since she was plucked from obscurity almost two years ago? Not that I can tell."

Sarah Palin's Strange, Unprofessional and Paranoid Grudge (David Weigel) from the Washington Post

"Sarah Palin took to her Facebook account today to inform her readers that Joe McGinniss, an award-winning reporter and author, had rented the house next door. I saw Ben Smith flag this earlier today but did not really appreciate how strange and, frankly, immature Palin's post was until I read it."


MIT-Designed Futuristic Airplanes Use 70% Less Fuel Than Current Models from

"The goal was to look 3 generations ahead of the current planes (that's around the 2035 timeframe) and improve substantially on current tech in the areas of fuel-efficiency, noise, NOx emissions, safety, etc. Two plane designs came out of the research project"

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

News Nuggets 358

A newly discovered pink handfish. See the Fish Nugget below. From National Geographic News.

"It's BP's Oil": Running the Corporate Blockade at Louisiana's Crude-Covered Beaches (Kevin Drum) from Mother Jones Magazine

"It wasn't BP that was yelling at us, it was the sheriff's office," we say. "Yeah, I know, but we have…a very strong relationship." "What do you mean? You have a lot of sway over the sheriff's office?" "Oh yeah." "How much?" "A lot.""

BP Oil Spill: A Deadly, Brown Beach Leaves a Bitter Trail from the Miami Herald

"Grand Isle, a mile wide, hardly eight miles long, offers a brutal model in miniature of what a giant oil spill brings to a tourism economy built around the beach and the sea. The town, with only 1,500 permanent residents, lives off the 300,000 visitors a year who come to fish and swim and play on the beach and bath in the Gulf of Mexico waters. None of that was evident Friday. ``The only paying people I have at Cajun Holiday are workers helping with the clean-up,'' Rhobus said. ``This could just about kill Grand Isle.'"

How They Did It (Part Four) (Jonathan Cohn) from the New Republic

"How Obama saved the House bill from near-death and what Olympia Snowe really wanted from Congress."

Deal Reached for Ending Law on Gays in Military from the New York Times

"President Obama the Pentagon and leading lawmakers reached agreement Monday on legislative language and a time frame for repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy, clearing the way for Congress to take up the measure as soon as this week."

The Hotbed that Produced Obama (Terence Samuel) from The Root

"In an exclusive excerpt of his new book, "The Upper House," Terence Samuel reveals the workings of the U.S. Senate and the young senator from Illinois who used it to his own benefit."

Hispanics Swing to Democrats in the West (Ben Smith) from Politico

"This has always been Democrats' belief about immigration politics: That among the voters for whom this is a single, motivating issue, whites may get more attention, but Hispanics are more numerous."

See also Public Policy Polling's findings HERE.

Study: Excluding Cellphones Introduces Statistically Significant Bias in Polls (Nate Silver) from

"This is not a new problem -- in fact, it's one we've written about on several occasions. But it's continuing to get worse. The percentage of people who have replaced their landlines with cellphones has climbed at a remarkably steady rate. ... Bear in mind that these figures are already somewhat out of date. The fraction could be in the high 20s by the time we get to November."

RNC Document Reveals Bleak Financial Standing from CNN

"An internal Republican National Committee document obtained by CNN paints a damning picture of the committee's financial standing compared to the past five election cycles."

The GOP Establishment Turns on the Tea Party (Gabriel Winant) from Salon

"In wielding the Tea Party as a rhetorical cudgel against the president and his party, elite Republicans made a crucial miscalculation. By making the approval of the Tea Partiers the measure of legitimacy, they entrusted their own fate to this new group of activists. And now the establishment of the GOP is stuck trying to wrest control of the party back from these ruffians, whom they wanted to exploit without actually empowering."


Jim DeMint's Capitalist Fairy Tales (Thomas Frank) from the Wall Street Journal

"Who is Jim DeMint, this hero of the tea partiers? One way to find out is to read his 2009 manifesto, "Saving Freedom: We Can Stop America's Slide Into Socialism." The book hit the best-seller lists last summer, and if we want to understand the thinking of the newest right, it may be the place to start. ... The hero of the tea partiers is not much of a historian."

Rand Paul and the Limits of the 'Tea Party' Revolution from the Christian Science Monitor

"Rand Paul, Republican candidate for US Senate from Kentucky, is perhaps the closest thing there is to a 'tea party' candidate. In that light, his recent controversial comments are telling."


New, Pink and Rare from National Geographic News

"Using its fins to walk, rather than swim, along the ocean floor in an undated picture, the pink handfish is one of nine newly named species described in a recent scientific review of the handfish family."

Monday, May 24, 2010

News Nuggets 357

Apparently goslings often mistake other geese for their mother. The mothers don't seem to mind. This is one astounding result. HERE's the story from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

Globalization Threatens the Hold on Power of the Iranian Regime (Editorial) from the Daily Star [of Lebanon in English]

"The fundamentalists are trapped in a losing battle. Their views were shaped by negative reactions to rapid Westernization under the last shah, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. A majority of Iran’s current population, which was born after the 1979 revolution, now chafes under the obscurantist yoke. The regime, which is eager to participate in and even influence the modern world, has failed to keep secular influences at bay. Globalization has reached Iran and is here to stay."

Obama Running Out of Patience as BP Misses Oil Slick Deadlines from the Independent [of the UK]

"The US Government is threatening to remove BP from the operation to halt the Gulf oil spill, and send it the bill at a later date, saying that the job of cleaning up after what will soon become the industry's worst ever environmental disaster has thrown the British firm into an "existential crisis"."

The Old Enemies (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

"Corporate America, however, really, truly hates the current administration. Wall Street, for example, is in “a state of bitter, seething, hysterical fury” toward the president, writes John Heilemann of New York magazine. What’s going on?"

How They Did It (Part Three) (Jonathan Cohn) from the New Republic

"This is the third of a five-part series explaining, in remarkable detail, how Obama and the Democrats came to pass health care reform."

Discrimination High Against Latinos, Poll Finds from the Los Angeles Times

"The immigration debate has raised the profile of the problem, advocates say."

The Arizona Backlash: Immigration Debate Stirs Historic Passions (Lou Cannon) from Politics Daily

"Although that concern is focused on illegal immigration across the 1,950-mile border shared by Mexico and the United States, the Pew Hispanic Center estimates that roughly half of the 10.75 million illegal immigrants in the United States arrived legally and overstayed their visas. ... Historically, anxiety about immigrants had less to do with their legality than with the race, ethnicity or religion of the newcomers."

Which Side of History Do You Want to Be On? (Joseph Persico, noted biographer) from the [Albany, NY] Times Union

"Everywhere we turn, it seems, we hear the voices of doom. Our Constitution is being sabotaged. Our country is headed in a dire direction. The government is taking over our lives. To those who make these charges, I ask only this: Do we know of anyone who has been deprived of free speech? Do we know of anyone denied the right to vote the rascals in or out? Do we know of any laws enacted by anybody but our duly elected representatives? And what is this government that is supposed to be trying to take over our lives?"

Mark Souder, You Broke My Heart (E.J. Dionne) from the New Republic

"So I do hope that Souder finds a way to work out his redemption. But it is precisely because this story hit me personally that I want to shout as forcefully as I can to my conservative Christian friends: Enough! Enough with dividing the world between moral, family-loving Christians on the one side and supposedly permissive, corrupt, family-destroying secularists on the other. ... How many scandals will it take for right-wing Christians to rediscover humility?"

Suddenly Cracks Appear in the Tea Party Revolt (Andrew Sullivan) from the Times [of London]

"The latest victory for right-wing Republicanism has also exposed its big weakness."

Bonfire of the Inanities (Eliza Carney) from the National Journal

"To hear leading conservatives tell it, the specter of book banning looms large in the United States."

Rand Paul Will Have to Meet the Press Eventually (Gabriel Winant) from Salon

"Paul's opposition to fairly bedrock pieces of American law, however, raises a whole host of other questions that he really ought to answer before he expects people to vote for him. If he's anything like consistent, it's hard to imagine that he believes in social security or Medicare, the minimum wage -- just to name a few. But how can we be sure? What will he admit to? In other words, he's exactly the kind of candidate who should be going on Meet the Press."


A Look at Wave Hill in NYC from Daily Kos

"Wave Hill is a truly fascinating legacy and this is a good time to remember some American who once held a deep respect for nature."


What's Up, Doc? New Looneys from the New York Times

"Ask a first grader to identify Bugs Bunny and the response more likely than not will be a blank stare. Dora, sure. Mickey, alive and kicking. But Porky who? Worried that the low profile of the Looney Tunes cast of characters among children is the start of th-th-th-that’s all folks for the historic cartoon franchise, Warner Brothers is embarking on a five-alarm rescue effort."

The Atlantic has some reactions to this article HERE.


Globish for Beginners from the New Yorker

"If the whole world speaks English, will it still be English?"

The photos here are amazing!