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Sunday, October 31, 2010

News Nuggets 463


A Japanese Maple in autumn.  From National Geographic.

Angry America from the Editorial Board of the Economist [of the UK]
"Barack Obama and the United States are both doing a little better than Americans seem to believe."

China's Fast Rise Leads Neighbors to Join Forces from the New York Times
"China’s military expansion and assertive trade policies have set off jitters across Asia, prompting many of its neighbors to rekindle old alliances and cultivate new ones to better defend their interests against the rising superpower. A whirl of deal-making and diplomacy, from Tokyo to New Delhi, is giving the United States an opportunity to reassert itself in a region where its eclipse by China has been viewed as inevitable."

New Alliance for U.S., Russia: Fighting Heroin from the Washington Post
"While the two countries have been getting along famously in recent months, resolving serious differences over arms control, Iran and trade, they have not agreed on what to do about the mountains of heroin cascading from Afghanistan. The complaints from Russia grew ever louder - until Friday."

There has to be more to it than this! 

Reform Must, and Will, Come to Russia (Op-Ed) from the Los Angeles Times
"Yukos' imprisoned leader sees a new political generation coming, one unable to accept the current power elite's corruption."

Miss the Middle Ages? Try Afghanistan (Op-Ed) from the Los Angeles Times
"The political model that best illustrates the philosophy and practice of the Afghan government is a medieval court."

It's Morning in India (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

"What is most striking to me being in India this week, though, is how many Indians, young and old, expressed their concerns that America also seems at times to be running away from the world it invented and that India is adopting."

The War Recovery? (David Broder) from the Washington Post
"I know that Democrats have fallen into a peck of trouble and may lose control of Congress. But even if they do, Obama can still storm back to win a second term in 2012. He is that much better than the competition. In what respects is he enduringly superior? Let's start with the basics."
For the first time in ages Broder captures my view precisely -- until the last two paragraphs where his "war" comment strikes me as wildly off-base.

Can Republicans Rescind Obamacare? (Lawrence R. Jacobs and Theda Skocpol) from the Los Angeles Times
"They may be able to chip away at it, but they probably won't get the votes they need to get rid of Obamacare wholesale."

In Midterm Elections, Democrats May Surprise Everyone -- by Activating the Black and Latino Base (Errol Lewis) from the New York Daily News
"There's abundant evidence - often ignored or discounted by mainstream media outlets - that the organized base of the Democratic Party is stirring in ways that pollsters and pundits are likely to miss."

The Grand Old Plot Against the Tea Party (Frank Rich) from the New York Times
"The Tea Party’s hopes for actually affecting change in Washington will start being dashed the morning after. The ordinary Americans in this movement lack the numbers and financial clout to muscle their way into the back rooms of Republican power no matter how well their candidates perform."

BOOK NUGGET!!
Nation-Building: A Review of Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 by Pauline Maier

"To like this book, you have to like politics. “Ratification” is an ur-text of the Almanac of American Politics. It has process, issues, arguments, local context, major players, minor players — and hoopla."

MOVIE STUDIO NUGGET!!
Film Giant MGM Strikes Bankruptcy Rescue Deal from Agence France Presse

"James Bond seems set to live another day after debt-ridden film giant MGM secured a deal to end months of financial deadlock, which put the latest 007 movie on ice along with the studio's fate."

HALLOWEEN NUGGET!!
Halloween 2010: History, Top Costumes, Myths, and More from the National Geographic News

"Get the facts on Halloween 2010 and Halloween history, this year's most popular costumes, record-breaking pumpkins, and more in National Geographic News's Halloween roundup."

Friday, October 29, 2010

News Nuggets 462

The first photograph with a human being in it -- from 1838.  See the Photography Nugget below.  From the Atlantic.

Our ON-THE-MONEY Pundit of the Day!!
Obama Speaks Truth About Power (Philip Stephens) from the Financial Times [of London]

Barack Obama's crime has been to see the world as it is rather than as many Americans would like it to be. The president’s foreign policy acknowledges the limits as well as the reach of US power. In the age of rising states, America cannot presume it will always get its own way. To own up to as much does not make for great domestic politics."

Iran Ready for Nuke Talks from the Atlantic
An interesting review of what might be going on behind the scenes concerning Iran's wiliness to resume talks.

From the "Mysterious Doings" Department:
Russia, US Conduct Joint Afghan Drug Raid from the Telegraph [of the UK]

"Russia and the United States destroyed four drug laboratories in their first joint anti-drug operation in Afghanistan, Russia's top drug control official has revealed."
Just yesterday I posted an item concerning Russian troops returning to Afghanistan.  In combination with this missive, I have to ask "WHAT has shifted over in Moscow?!"  I know they have a serious heroin problem in Russia -- but there has to be more to it than that.

Russia vs. Its History (Op-Ed) from the New York Times
"Dealing with the past is first and foremost a challenge for the Russians themselves. We must show that we can deal with our past. The West has other problems, and former Soviet republics can justify their history by blaming Russia. We don’t have this luxury."

Five Reasons Americans Are So Wrong About Major Economic Facts (Derek Thompson) from the Atlantic
"According to a new Bloomberg poll, six in ten Americans think most of the money spent to rescue banks will be lost forever. Six in ten think the economy shrunk over the past year. One in two think federal income taxes have gone up in the past two years.  Wrong. Wrong. And wrong."

Voters, Beware a Bum's Rush (George McGovern) from the Los Angeles Times
Before voters decide whom to vote for on Tuesday, they should consider the sources of our soaring deficits and national debt."

Most Troops Wouldn't Oppose Serving with Gays from the Washington Post
"A majority of active-duty and reserve service members surveyed by the Defense Department would not object to serving and living alongside openly gay troops, according to multiple people familiar with the findings."

COLD WAR HISTORY NUGGET!!
Wrong Turns in Korea (Robert Dallek) from American Heritage Magazine

"Miscalculations and blunders by world leaders precipitated the Korean War 60 years ago."

PHOTOGRAPHY NUGGET!!
Colorized Daguerreotype Brings Out Details, Additional People from the Atlantic

"Shot by Daguerre in 1838 in Paris, the image clearly shows one man on the sidewalk near the bottom left corner getting his shoes shined. … By colorizing the photograph to help distinguish one item from another, Charles Leo believes he may have identified some additional people as well as the time of day and season during which it was taken.

PLANET MARS NUGGET!!
Mars Rover Spirit Finds Evidence of Water from Discovery News

"Stuck in the sands of Mars, the grounded Spirit rover unearthed evidence of subsurface water in the planet's recent past."

BOOK REVIEW NUGGET!!
A New Generation's Washington: A Review of George Washington: A Life from the Boston Globe

"The challenge facing his biographers, even those as acclaimed and talented as Ron Chernow, is embodied in the phrase “everything that can be said has been, though not everyone has said it.’’  Chernow rises to the challenge."
I've been a Ron Chernow fan for years!!

ANOTHER BOOK NUGGET!!
The Worst of the Madness: A Review of Bloodlands: Europe Between Hitler and Stalin by Timothy Snyder and Stalin’s Genocides by Norman M. Naimark from the New York Review of Books

"MiƂosz explained, “the man of the East cannot take Americans [or other Westerners] seriously.” Because they hadn’t undergone such experiences, they couldn’t seem to fathom what they meant, and couldn’t seem to imagine how they had happened either. “Their resultant lack of imagination,” he concluded, “is appalling.”

Thursday, October 28, 2010

News Nuggets 461



An award-winning photo of Corfe Castle in Dorset in the UK. From the Daily Mail of the UK.
Most Americans Worry About Ability to Pay Mortgage or Rent, Poll finds from the Washington Post
"A majority of Americans now say they are worried about making their mortgage or rent payments, underscoring the extent of economic anxiety in the country heading into midterm elections."

This I can readily believe!!

The Reset Blooms (Editorial) from the National Interest
"Both Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev have built upon the initial foundation they laid during their 2009 summit meeting in Moscow and made conscious choices to downplay or put on the back burner some of the seemingly irreconcilable issues that had poisoned the well of U.S.-Russia relations during the closing terms of the George W. Bush and Vladimir V. Putin administrations."

Russian Military Could be Drawn Back into Afghanistan from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Nato officials explore joint initiatives ahead of landmark alliance summit, which is to include President Medvedev."

Sudan Vote Makes Modern Arab History (Rami Kouri) from the Daily Star [of Lebanon in English]
"A remarkable development will take place in Sudan in January which strikes me as among the most significant in the modern history of the Arab world: referendums by which the people of Southern Sudan will determine if they wish to remain part of Sudan or secede and become an independent country. This is remarkable because it may be the only explicit and credible case of Arab people exercising the opportunity to define their country’s shape and its ideological orientation."

Poll: Innovators on Obama and Palin in 2012 (Douglas Schoen) from the Daily Beast
"Across the board, participants are willing to pay more taxes in the future, 56 percent to 32 percent. … There are clear party differences on this question as well. By 74 percent to 13 percent, Democrats say they are willing to pay more taxes. Republicans are not willing to by a 58 percent to 25 percent margin."

How Obama's Educational Policies Benefit Blacks (Cord Jefferson) from The Root
As part of The Root's series about how President Obama's policies affect African Americans, we take a look at the administration's initiatives regarding education."

Tea Party Antics Could End Up Burning Republicans (Amy Gardner) from the Washington Post
"The tea party's volatile influence on this election year appears to be doing more harm than good for Republicans' chances in some of the closest races in the nation, in which little-known candidates who upset the establishment with primary wins are now stumbling in the campaign's final days."

The GOP's Coming Tea Party Hangover (Niall Stanage) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Just weeks ago, the Republican party was falling over itself to co-opt the Tea Partiers. Now that looks like a poor political bet."

Inside the Democrats' Post-Election Strategy for Congress (Howard Fineman) from the Huffington Post
"Rather, leadership aides tell me, they will want to do the minimum, pushing the toughest decisions on taxes, spending and debt forward to a newer, presumably more Republican, 112th Congress, which will convene for the first time on January 3, 2011.  Come January, the new Tea Party-infused GOP then would have to quickly confront the real-world consequences of its tax-cutting, budget-cutting, debt-reducing, anti-government rhetoric."

In Writings of Obama, a Philosophy is Unearthed (Patricia Cohen) from the New York Times
"When the Harvard historian James T. Kloppenberg decided to write about the influences that shaped President Obama’s view of the world, he interviewed the president’s former professors and classmates, combed through his books, essays, and speeches, and even read every article published during the three years Mr. Obama was involved with the Harvard Law Review (“a superb cure for insomnia,” Mr. Kloppenberg said). What he did not do was speak to President Obama. “He would have had to deny every word,” Mr. Kloppenberg said with a smile. The reason, he explained, is his conclusion that President Obama is a true intellectual — a word that is frequently considered an epithet among populists with a robust suspicion of Ivy League elites."

PENNSYLVANIA ENERGY NUGGET!!
Special Report: The Great Shale Gas Rush from National Geographic News

"U.S. energy industry innovators unlocked the natural gas found in deep shale rock by combining and super-charging old oil industry techniques."

BASEBALL NUGGET!!
China's Field of Dreams from Foreign Policy Magazine

"The Chinese are falling in love with America's national pastime. And it might not be long before a kid from Wuxi is throwing fastballs in Boston."

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

News Nuggets 460

The Fiordland National Park in New Zealand.  From National Geographic.

Blood On Our Hands from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Newly released war documents show how the U.S. military, in cable after grim cable, painstakingly chronicled Iraq's descent into bloody Shiite-on-Sunni violence. So why did top officials deny the obvious?"

US Operations in Kandahar Push out Taliban from the Washington Post
"With 2,000-pound bombs, 12,000 troops, and one illiterate but charismatic Afghan border police commander, the American military has forced insurgents to retreat from key parts of this strategically vital region, according to U.S. and Afghan commanders."

Will China Keep Rising or Succumb to its Paranoia? (David Ignatus) from the Washington Post
"This new China is at once cocky and scared -- anxiously looking over its shoulder even as it races ahead. Chinese officials keep reminding you how poor the country is, while also boasting of its success."

Turkey Steps Out (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"Davutogluism is a mouthful. It’s not going to make Fox News any time soon. But if I could escort Sarah Palin, Tea Partiers and a few bigoted anti-Muslim Europeans to a single country illustrating how the world has changed, it would be the home of the D-word, Turkey."

Former Chairman of Joint Chiefs Hugh Shelton: Bush officials pushed Iraq war ‘Almost to the Point of Insubordination’ from Raw Story
"Gen. Hugh Shelton, who served as the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from 1997 to 2001, told ABC's Christiane Amanpour on Sunday that top officials in the Bush Administration pushed for war in Iraq "almost to the point of insubordination.""

Falling into the Chasm (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times

"The tragedy here is that if voters do turn on Democrats, they will in effect be voting to make things even worse. The resurgent Republicans have learned nothing from the economic crisis, except that doing everything they can to undermine Mr. Obama is a winning political strategy. Tax cuts and deregulation are still the alpha and omega of their economic vision."

What Health Care Reform Means for African Americans from The Root
"Many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act are just starting to be implemented -- and black people may benefit more than most."

The Myth of Consensus Politics (Sam Tenenhaus) from the New York Times
"Democrats and Republicans seem destined to move even farther apart than they are now. How, then, will they forge the compromises that are the foundation of effective governance? The answer is: They may not need to. For most of the past century, consensus in American politics has been more phantom than fact, especially when it comes to staking out ideological ground."

The Tea Party and Immigration Reform: Obama's Ace in the Hole from El Universal [of Mexico in English]
"Anyone who thinks that Obama is another Carter is badly mistaken. The mulatto will use every lever of presidential power to look beyond the current situation. And that means, of course, advocating comprehensive immigration reform from the presidency. This would put Republican backs to the wall."

BOOKS NUGGET!!
That Seventies Show: A Review of Books on the 1970s (Rick Perlstein) from the Nation
"The sense that a decade of sheer uneventfulness had just passed was suggested by the conclusions arrived at in a 1978 book by the public opinion expert Everett Carll Ladd. The title—Where Have All the Voters Gone?—spoke to a widespread sense among opinion elites that the most eventful "thing" that "happened" in the 1970s was apathy."

ANCIENT (AND MODERN?) EGYPT NUGGET!!
Egypt's Plans for Luxor: Vegas on the Nile? from Time Magazine

"Luxor has long been Egypt's prize possession. It was here that the ancient Egyptians at one time built their capital of Thebes; where Pharoahs dedicated massive temples to their gods; and where Howard Carter unearthed the world-famous boy King, Tutankhamen, in his tomb full of riches in 1922. … In an effort to preserve the riches — and beef up the number of tourists they attract — local authorities have been pressing an ambitious project to reinvent and revive Luxor; rehabilitating tombs, and expanding the city's tourist infrastructure at a dizzying pace to the tune of hundreds of millions of U.S. dollars."

POLITICAL HISTORY NUGGET!!
Top 10 Historic Midterms Elections from Smithsonian Magazine

"While not as memorable or studied as presidential campaigns, the midterm elections also stand as pivotal moments in U.S. history."

OUTER SPACE NUGGET!!
Humans to Asteroids: Watch Out! (Op-Ed) from the New York Times

"Thanks to telescopes that can see ever smaller objects at ever greater distances, we can now predict dangerous asteroid impacts decades ahead of time. We can even use current space technology and fairly simple spacecraft to alter an asteroid’s orbit enough to avoid a collision. We simply need to get this detection-and-deflection program up and running."

Sunday, October 24, 2010

News Nuggets 459

Crater Lake in Oregon. From Huffington Post.

Studio Kabul from the Sunday New York Times Magazine
"Cultural change for Afghan women may come from an unlikely source: Afghanistan’s first TV soap opera."

Barack and Michelle's Mumbai Darshan Plans from the Times of India [in English]
"US President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle will be extremely busy in Mumbai, upon landing on November 6 for a two day India visit. As the world’s most powerful man and his wife zip around the city visiting the 26/11 memorial on Marine Drive, the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA), Mani Bhawan and other locations in south Mumbai, the security obviously will be water-tight . "

Iran to Pare Food, Gas Subsidies from the Wall Street Journal
"Moves to withdraw supports on basics appear risky for Ahmadinejad; showing sanctions."

Juan WIlliams and the First Amendment (Michael Tomasky) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"There is a broad misunderstanding in my country of the First Amendment. It does not mean a person can say anything, anywhere. It most certainly does not mean a person can say anything, anywhere and expect to be paid for it. And it definitely does not mean that any time a person is punished for speech, his or her First Amendment rights are being trampled upon"

Ex-Companion Details 'Real' Thomas from the New York Times
“The kind of Clarence I knew at the time that these events occurred is the kind of Clarence that did not emerge from the hearings, I’ll say that. It was not him, and he probably would not have been on the court if the real Clarence had actually been revealed.”
Normally, I leave this kind of old, hyper-partisan stuff alone -- but I'll have to say that Ginny Thomas asked for this!

Can Democrats Still Win? (Greenberg and Carville) from the New York Times
"There are two patterns in today’s polls that indicate voters might still be listening and just might be open to supporting Democrats. "

In a Divisive Election, Consensus Eludes Forecasters Too (Carl Bialik) from the Wall Street Journal
"Thanks to the wide variety of tools forecasters employ, their predictions diverge, sometimes sharply, on the extent of Republican gains and even over whether the pickup will be big enough to transfer control of the House."

Poll: Obama Approval Rating Jumps, Democrats Close ‘Enthusiasm Gap’ from Newsweek
As the president’s numbers climb sharply, results suggest that Democrats may be succeeding in firing up their base.

Gauging the Scope of the Tea Party Movement in America (Amy Gardner) from the Washington Post
"A canvass of hundreds of tea party groups reveals an organization that is not so much a movement as a disparate band of vaguely connected gatherings that do surprisingly little to engage in the political process."

PUBLIC RADIO NUGGET!!
All Programs Considered from the New York Review of Books

"About one in ten Americans tune in to public radio each week; if you landed in a spaceship someplace in America searching for thoughtful and nonpartisan culture, your first stop would be the public radio stations that usually show up below 92 on the FM dial."

OUTER SPACE NUGGET!!
Is Warp Speed Possible? from Discovery News

"Plug in the numbers, Obousy says, and you face some staggering fuel costs. To accelerate an object to the speed of light, you'd need nothing short of an infinite amount of energy. There has to be a better way, right?"

HIGHER ED NUGGET!!
Putting a Price on Professors from the Wall Street Journal

"A 265-page spreadsheet, released last month by the chancellor of the Texas A&M University system, amounted to a profit-and-loss statement for each faculty member, weighing annual salary against students taught, tuition generated, and research grants obtained."

BIG ANIMALS NUGGET!!
Over-sized Animals (PHOTOS) from Huffington Post

"Just as there are animals out there with adorable mini versions of themselves, there are also gigantic species that boggle the mind. Some are innocuous, some are dangerous. All of them represent the upper limits of animal size."

PRISON NUGGET!!
The Readers Behind Bars Put Books to Many Uses: A Review of The Adventures of an Accidental Prison Librarian from the New York Times

"But a funny thing happens to “Running the Books” as it inches forward. Mr. Steinberg’s sentences start to pop out at you, at first because they’re funny and then because they’re acidly funny."

Friday, October 22, 2010

News Nuggets 458


A cormorant fisherman in China.  The birds actually do the fishing for him!  From National Geographic.

UP-FRONT POLITICAL MUSICAL SPOOF NUGGET!!

Obama! A Modern U.S. President from U-Tube
THE funniest musical spoof video I have seen in years!! Courtesy of Nuggets reader, Carolyn S.

Are We Starting To Win? (Fred Kaplan) from Slate
"New weapon systems—and, even more, improved intelligence—may be giving Americans an edge in Afghanistan."
GOD!! I hate the win/lose box that neo-cons insist on putting every US conflict in.

The Real Danger to the Economy (George Soros) from the New York Review of Books
"What the government had to do in the short run—keep the economy from collapsing—was the exact opposite of what was needed in the long run—correct the underlying imbalances, particularly between consumption and investment…. Where the Obama administration did go wrong, in my opinion, was in the way it bailed out the banking system."

Large, Loud Crowds Cheer Obama at Campaign Rallies from the Associated Press
"Focused on turning out base voters, President Barack Obama is being cheered at raucous rallies and spreading this message: Don't turn your back on the change happening in Washington."
But … but that doesn't fit the MSM's prepackaged narrative!! He's so unpopular!

US Tea Party Should Keep Its Hands Off Hitler (Charles Hawley) from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"Many on the American right have developed a taste for including a bit of German history in their stump speeches. Hitler comparisons abound and the Berlin Wall even made a cameo recently. But the flippant references to the Holocaust are ignorant and offensive. And they should stop."

Hating Woodrow Wilson: The New and Confused Attacks on Progressivism (David Greenberg) from Slate
"If anything, the reformist president of the Progressive Era, once a great icon of democrats worldwide, has been flayed more often by the left—for his idealistic internationalism (given a bad name by George W. Bush), his wartime suppression of dissent (of which Bush, again, reminded liberals), and his racist predilections (a stain on his record now impossible to ignore). The right had largely ignored or forgotten him. Until now. "

On Juan Williams, the First Amendment Never Protected Your Job (Jena McGregor) from the Washington Post

"Does the First Amendment give Williams the right to free speech? Yes. But does it give him the right to a job? No."

Strong Turnout for Democrats in Early Voting from CBS News
"1st Figures on Early Balloting Show GOP Gains on 2008 Numbers, But Democrats Hold Edge in Some Key States."

Polls: PA Statewide Races Too Close to Call from KDKA
"Public Policy Polling of likely voters has Republican Tom Corbett and Democrat Dan Onorato in a statistical dead heat, with Corbett at 48 percent, Onorato at 46 percent and six percent undecided.  Undecided voters also hold the key in the Senate race between Republican Pat Toomey and Democrat Joe Sestak, also a statistical tie."
WOW!  I had written off Onorato weeks ago!! 

Karl Rove's Flameout (Matt Latimer) from the Daily Beast
"The GOP guru’s campaign cash binge this fall is the last gasp of a guy with rich friends. Ex-Bush aide Matt Latimer on how Rove hurt his boss, and why the right thinks he’s a fraud.  "

ANCIENT EGYPT BOOK NUGGET!!
The Queen of Denial: A Review of Cleopatra: A Life from Newsweek

"Schiff’s Cleopatra: A Life, is startling. Rarely have so distant a time and obscured a place come so powerfully to life. It is a great achievement. It is also a provocative one."

GALACTIC NUGGET!!
The Rare Exoplanet with a Double Sunset from Discovery News

"How realistic is it to have a stable planet orbiting one (or both) of the stars in a binary system? According to some fascinating research led by astronomers at Tennessee State University (TSU), such a double-sunset scene may not be too far fetched. By developing a technique called precision astrometry, the researchers have discovered a Jupiter-mass exoplanet orbiting the primary star of the binary system of HR 7162 (or HD 176051), some 49 light-years from Earth. They've called it "Inrakluk.""

ANIMATION HISTORY NUGGET!!
The Black Cauldron: Is the Movie that Almost Killed Disney Really That Bad? from Slate

"Recognized by animation fans as the nadir of Disney's post-Walt dark days, The Black Cauldron's flop marked the end of the studio's old way of making animated features. … Watching The Black Cauldron now, on a not-very-special "25th Anniversary Special Edition" DVD, it's easier to appreciate the movie's grand ambitions, which were undercut by bad luck, executive panic, and yes, some poor filmmaking."
As an avid Disney animation buff when I was young, I vividly recall the hype for this film -- and the disappointment that I felt when it finally came out.  Thank God they got their shit together later in the 1980s.

BIG BONG NUGGET!!
Mexican Soldiers Burn 105-ton Mountain of Cannabis Seized During Drugs Raid from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"With an estimated street value of £215million, the vast haul will have to be burnt over two days to avoid clouds of cannabis smoke affecting local people."

Thursday, October 21, 2010

News Nuggets 457


Thunder Lake in Minnesota.  From National Geographic.

The Future of the US-Led World Order (John Ikenberry) from The Politic
"This, it seems to me, is the big agenda: to reestablish the foundations for a system of multilateral cooperation, partnerships, and alliances across the global system. To the extent we succeed in this, the crisis of the current moment could give way to a new kind of equilibrium."

Coalition Forces Routing Taliban in Key Afghan Region from the New York Times
"American and Afghan forces have been routing the Taliban in much of Kandahar Province in recent weeks, forcing many hardened fighters, faced with the buildup of American forces, to flee strongholds they have held for years, NATO commanders, local Afghan officials and residents of the region said."

The above item is intimately linked with this next nugget:
Making Peace with the Taliban from the Washington Post
"Senior administration officials briefed President Obama on Wednesday about the Afghan government's accelerating push for peace with the Taliban, as several streams of potential negotiations emerged."

Dr. Greg and Afghanistan (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"What can we do instead? Some useful guidance comes from the man whom Afghans refer to as “Dr. Greg” — Greg Mortenson, an American who runs around in Afghan clothing building schools, as chronicled in the best-selling book “Three Cups of Tea.”"
I'm surprised it has taken this long for Kristof to get around to Mortenson's work.

Coercing Iran (Paul Pillar) from the National Interest
"One issue is why this Iranian nuclear business should be such a preoccupation in the first place. I.e., what exactly is the danger we are trying to avert, and what makes it so dangerous?"

Unemployment: Just How Bad Is It? from Foreign Policy Magazine
"For American job seekers, it's the autumn of their discontent. Unfortunately, they have some worldwide company. Here's FP's guided tour of the grim numbers."

DADT Conflict Explained: Why Obama Administration Lawyers Fight for a DADT Policy Obama Opposes from Huffington Post
"President Barack Obama opposes the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy on gays in the military, so why are Obama administration lawyers in court fighting to save it?  The answer is one that perhaps only a lawyer could love: There is a long tradition that the Justice Department defends laws adopted by Congress and signed by a president, regardless of whether the president in office likes them."

NPR Commentator Loses Job Over Muslim Remark from the Los Angeles Times
"Juan Williams, speaking on Fox's 'The O'Reilly Factor,' says people in Muslim garb on planes make him 'worried' and 'nervous.' NPR says the remarks 'were inconsistent with our editorial standards.'"
I have long thought that Juan Williams was a bad fit for NPR.  His right to right-of-center views thinly disguised often came thru -- often in the form of damning with faint praise.  In addition, his 'analysis' was routinely sprinkled with GOP talking points.  Good riddance!

America's Tea Party Fraud (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"The British just showed how real conservatives behave—with the biggest cuts in government spending since World War II. Peter Beinart on how pathetic U.S. Republicans look by comparison."

Blue Surge Emerging in Sante Races (Ed Kilgore) from the Democratic Strategist
"National patterns really stand out in the Senate races. That is why I am encouraged by what I am seeing in the last few days of polling. Democratic candidates in a bunch of different races around the country seem to be gaining ground, in most cases even though they are being dramatically outspent. Check out this pattern: …"

Hurricane Sarah: How Sarah Palin Wreaks Havoc on the Campaign Trail from Politico

"According to multiple Republican campaign sources, the former Alaska governor wreaks havoc on campaign logistics and planning. She offers little notice about her availability, refuses to do certain events, is obsessive about press coverage and sometimes backs out with as little lead time as she gave in the first place. "

PET-LOVERS' NUGGET!!
Dog Adopts Kitten from Americablog

A very charming story about a very protective dog and her kitten.

CHILDREN'S BOOK NUGGET!!
Unpublished Dr. Seuss Manuscript Drawing All Sorts of Attention from Time Magazine

"The 19-page version of All Sorts of Sports grossed a bid of $19,000 on Wednesday. The piece chronicles the trials and tribulations of an indecisive character named Pete, who tests out 100 different athletic activities."

INTERGALACTIC NUGGET!!
Can Starships Survive the Journey? from Discovery News

"Just surviving the encounter would be problematic. We’d be plopping artificially intelligent entities down in the middle of an extraterrestrial Serengeti -- as dramatized in the Discovery Channel program "Alien Planet.""

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

News Nuggets 456

A common kingfisher in Warsaw, Poland.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Taliban Elite, Aided by NATO, Join Talks for Afghan Peace from the New York Times
"Talks to end the war in Afghanistan involve extensive, face-to-face discussions with Taliban commanders from the highest levels of the group’s leadership, who are secretly leaving their sanctuaries in Pakistan with the help of NATO troops, officials here say."

Has the US Turned the Corner on Afghanistan? from the Diplomat
"after long resisting the idea of direct talks with the Taliban leadership, sometime over the summer, the Obama administration reversed course. ‘This is the way you end insurgencies,’ said General David Petraeus."

Stepped-up U.S. Operations in Pakistan Taking Serious Toll on Al Qaeda, CIA Chief Says from the Los Angeles Times
"The stepped-up pace of CIA operations in Pakistan "is taking a serious toll" on Al Qaeda's operational abilities, CIA Director Leon E. Panetta said Tuesday."

Just Knock It Off (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"Israel today really is behaving like a spoiled child. Please spare me the nonsense that President Obama is anti-Israel. … It is a measure of how spoiled Israel has become that after billions and billions of dollars in U.S. aid and 300,000 settlers already ensconced in the West Bank, Israel feels no compunction about spurning an American request for a longer settlement freeze — the only purpose of which is to help the United States help Israel reach a secure peace with the Palestinians."

France in 'Chaos' from The Week
"Gas stations are shut. Stores are out of food. Rioters are clashing with police. Why is France in such disarray?"

Resets and Spheres of Influence (Ted Galen Carpenter) from the National Interest

"Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice famously (or infamously) insisted that the concept of a sphere of influence was both obsolete and pernicious. But that viewpoint is dangerously erroneous. The tensions between the United States and Russia and those between the United States and China confirm that point."

Military to Accept Openly Gay Recruits from USA Today
"Openly gay recruits can now join the military as a result of a federal court ruling striking down the "don't ask, don't tell" law, but they are being warned that they can still be discharged if the ruling is overturned."

Democrats Pin Hopes on Obama (Gerald Seib) from the Wall Street Journal
"Democrats are riding the back of President Barack Obama in a last-lap attempt to contain damage in the midterm elections, and for good reason: Bruised though he may be, the president remains the best asset Democrats have."

The Tea Party Will Prove Transient (Michael Lind) from the Financial Times [of London]
"Major losses for the Democrats in November’s mid-term elections are widely expected, with Republicans predicted to recapture at least the House of Representatives. No matter what the final tally is, instant analysis will proclaim that American politics has been transformed by the Tea Party movement. But the instant analysis will be wrong."
I so rarely like anything written by Lind -- so this was something of a surprise - because I share his sentiment about the Tea Party.

PA-Sen: Sestak Surging in Pennsylvania from National Journal
"Pennsylvania's Senate race, which only two weeks ago seemed irretrievably lost for Democrats, is suddenly a wellspring of hope after an independent poll unveiled late Tuesday showed Rep. Joe Sestak (D) leading by 3 points over former Rep. Pat Toomey."

EDUCATION NUGGET!!
Teaching Teachers (Op-ed) from the Los Angeles Times

"As educators struggle with the issue of teacher improvement, a program in Tennessee shows that struggling teachers can gain a lot from watching great teachers in action."

AUTOMOTIVE NUGGET!!
2025: A Lot of Old People on the Road from the New York Times "Room for Debate" section

"The number of drivers over 70 will triple in the next 20 years. How will they stay safe and mobile?"

ANCIENT EGYPT NUGGET!!
Egypt Priest's Tomb Found Near Pyramids from National Geographic News

"A painting on the wall of a newfound Egyptian tomb shows the occupant, Rudj-Ka, and his wife. Rudj-Ka probably lived during the end of ancient Egypt's 5th dynasty, roughly 4,350 years ago, archaeologists say"

NATURE PHOTOGRAPHY NUGGET!!
The Ice Man Cometh - to take Some Photos: Meet the Photographer who Documents the Eerie World Beneath the Glaciers from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"These are the amazing pictures from the 'Ice Man' - a frosty photographer who is prepared to go to extraordinary lengths to capture the perfect picture.  Eric Guth is the real life Jack Frost spending days hiding out in some of the world's most spectacular glacier caves."

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

News Nuggets 455

The Big Cypress Reservation in Florida.  From National Geographic.

Going Long Liberty in China (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times

"It is truly “The Big Short,” and that is betting that China can’t continue to grow at this pace indefinitely by only permitting its people to have economic liberty without political liberty."

Obama, Bill Clinton a Study in Contrasts on Campaign Trail (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
"There are no more celebrated communicators in the Democratic Party than President Obama and former president Bill Clinton, but on the campaign trail they are a study in contrasts."

Rice Meets with Obama, Then Defends His Administration's Approach from the Washington Post
"Rice rolled her eyes at the notion that Obama is a closet Muslim, and she defended him from criticism - led by former vice president Richard B. Cheney - that Obama had weakened the country."

Patraeus Rewrites the Playbook in Afghanistan (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"The American commander is adopting something of the same two-sided approach in Kabul, four months into his job as the leader of NATO forces in Afghanistan. He is shooting more, increasing special-operations raids and bombings on Taliban commanders. But he is also talking more -- endorsing President Hamid Karzai's reconciliation talks with Taliban officials and guaranteeing their safety to and from Kabul as a confidence-building measure."

The Rage Won't End on Election Day (Frank Rich) from the New York Times
"In the final stretch of 2010, the radical right’s anger is becoming less focused, more free-floating — more likely to be aimed at “government” in general, whatever the location or officials in charge. The anger is also more likely to claim minorities like gays, Latinos and Muslims as collateral damage."

Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels Earns Conservative Ire for Tax Remarks from Newsweek
"The normally mild-mannered Indiana governor has occasionally made headlines for his controversial statements, and he's back at it. Speaking at a dinner at the conservative Hudson Institute on Thursday, Daniels said a value-added tax might be a good way to discourage
consumption while driving up savings rates at some point in the future."
This is exactly why Daniels could be a formidable candidate in 2012 -- he is actually sane.  So far, his sanity has not cost him support -- although these tax comments will test how far he can stray.

America’s Holy Writ (Andrew Romano) from Newsweek

"Tea Party evangelists claim the Constitution as their sacred text. Why that’s wrong."

PA-Sen: Let Me Tell You About Joe Sestak (Chris Bowers) from Daily Kos
"As someone who worked on his campaign, I’m not surprised Joe Sestak is making a big push. It isn’t surprising internal polls on both sides show the campaign getting tighter, and that Republicans are scrambling to make new ads to save their precious wingnut champion Pat Toomey."

Was President Obama's Father Murdered? (David Remnick) from the New Yorker
"Lately, I’ve been reading the galleys of Peter Firstbrook’s “The Obamas,” a history of the African side of the President’s family and a fascinating look at their tribe, the Luo. The book will be published in the spring by Crown; it is already out in the U.K. Firstbrook, a former director and producer for the BBC, interviewed Obama family members, friends, and
scholars in Kenya and adds many interesting details to what we know of the President’s heritage."

MUSIC AUDIO NUGGET!!
Inside Beethoven's Ninth Symphony from NPR's On Point

"The year of its premier, 1824, in Vienna, was a time of great repression, of ultra-conservative nationalism, as old dynasties pushed back against years of Enlightenment and revolution.
This Hour, On Point: Beethoven’s Ninth, in the tide of history."

BOOK NUGGET!!
Under God … or Not: A Review of The Pledge: A History of the Pledge of Allegiance by Jeffrey Owen Jones and Peter Meyer from the New York Times

"It contained a subtle political message. Amid the heightened class conflict of the Gilded Age, the phrase “liberty and justice for all” was an idealist’s demand as well as a patriotic affirmation. So, too, was the idea of “one nation indivisible.”"

ANOTHER BOOK NUGGET!!
Book review: 'Magic and Mayhem: The Delusions of American Foreign Policy From Korea to Afghanistan' by Derek Leebaert from Washington Post

"How refreshing to read a smart, polemical book that is deliciously rude to many grand poohbahs of our time while making good sense about the mess the United States now finds itself in across the globe."

INTERVIEW NUGGET!!
The Queen: An Interview with Stacy Schiff from the New York Times

"In your new biography of Cleopatra, you take issue with historians who have attributed her achievements to her looks and implied that she slept her way to the top."

Saturday, October 16, 2010

News Nuggets 454


A hilarious cartoon from Salon today!

MUST-READ UP-FRONT OBAMA NUGGET!!
The Case for Obama (Tim Dickinson) from Rolling Stone Magazine

"If the passions of Obama's base have been deflated by the compromises he made to secure historic gains like the Recovery Act, health care reform and Wall Street regulation, that gloom cannot obscure the essential point: This president has delivered more sweeping, progressive change in 20 months than the previous two Democratic administrations did in 12 years. "

Top Taliban Commander Killed in US Drone Strike from rediff news
"In a major setback to Taliban, missiles fired from US drones have killed its top commander and group's deputy chief Qari Hussain Mehsud, mastermind of many suicide attacks across Pakistan, sources claimed on Friday. "

Holbrooke: Contacts with Taliban Picking Up from the Associated Press via RealClearWorld
"Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special envoy for Afghanistan and Pakistan, said Friday that Taliban associates have been reaching out for talks about ending the war but that formal negotiations are not taking place."
"Formal" negotiations … interesting choice of words.

Threat Response (Charles Blow) from the New York Times
"The Democrats’ appeal is to black voters, the most unwavering portion of President Obama’s base, and the message is simple: The president is under attack, and black voters must mobilize to protect him. … This strategy could prove extremely effective."

This Brew Cannot Last (Tim Rutten) from the Los Angeles Times
"In this crazy election year, the tea partyers have shown surprising strength. But the internal contradictions are so numerous, it's hard to see how their influence will last."

Tides Foundation CEO To Fox News Advertisers: Drop Glenn Beck Or Have Blood On Your Hands (Sam Stein) from the Huffington Post
"In an extraordinary move to nip the inflammatory commentary coming from Glenn Beck, the founder and CEO of the Tides Foundation (a frequent Beck target) has written advertisers asking them to remove their sponsorship of the Fox News program or risk having "blood on their hands.""

Not so fast, Tea Partiers (David Frum) from The Week
"Why a big win in November will only strengthen the case for moderate reform of the Republican Party."

The Bill O'Reilly Fallacy (Reuel Gerecht) from the New Republic
"Among the Shiite faithful, suicide bombing had a short run. Hezbollah’s Hassan Nasrallah is a wicked zealot who loves to kill Jews, but he is, like his counterparts in Iran, Ali Khamenei and Mahmud Ahmadinejad, of no religious standing. As counterintuitive as it seems to some Americans, it may be divines who are among the most effective opponents of such men."

ENERGY NUGGET!!
Wind Power Without the Blades: Big Pics from Discovery News

"Noise from wind turbine blades, inadvertent bat and bird kills and even the way wind turbines look have made installing them anything but a breeze. New York design firm Atelier DNA has an alternative concept that ditches blades in favor of stalks."

NEW YORK CITY NUGGET!!
Rare Books About New York from the New York Times

"Many of the best nonfiction titles are out of print, and difficult to find. Once upon a time, you had to haunt out-of-print bookstores for years, and certainly there is nothing more wonderful than time spent wandering among old books. But now you can go online to sources like abebooks.com and bookfinder.com, or to the Web sites of stores like the Strand and Westsider Books."

MEDICAL NUGGET!!
Berkeley Firm’s Bionic Device Allows Paraplegics To Walk from CBS-5 in San Francisco

"Eighteen years ago, Amanda Boxtel was paralyzed in a skiing accident; today, a futuristic invention is helping her walk upright again."

AUTOMOBILE NUGGET!!
Plug and Play from Foreign Policy Magazine

"The fast, clean, green automobile is no longer a dream. It's right around the corner and coming soon to your driveway."

Friday, October 15, 2010

News Nuggets 453

Peyto Lake in Canada.  From the Huffington Post.

The Power Struggle Among China's Elite from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Reminbi revaluation, South China Sea brinksmanship, a Nobel scuffle. What's making the Chinese act so crazy? Hint: it's election season in Beijing and no one really knows who's in charge."

The Sources of Soviet Iranian Conduct from Foreign Policy Magazine
"How George Kennan is still the best guide to today's villain inside a victim behind a veil."

Modernization Is Not Perestroika (Editorial) from the Moscow Times
"In short, Russia is a relatively free society with an authoritarian government — a symbiosis impossible from the standpoint of classical Western sociological theory, but one that seems to fit Russia."

The Best Analysis Of Obama's Dilemma (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic
"another reason we supported him is that after eight years of Rove, we actually wanted a president who got the policy right. I think his success in this is quite remarkable, in fact."

Pentagon to Comply with Court Order to End 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' from the Washington Post
"The Pentagon announced Thursday that it will comply with a court order to stop enforcing its "don't ask, don't tell" policy barring gays from serving openly in the military, even as the Obama administration asked a federal judge to delay implementation of the ruling."

The Quiet General Strikes Back (Lloyd Grove) from the Daily Beast
"Hugh Shelton was impeccably apolitical while serving as the nation’s top military man under Presidents Clinton and Bush. Now, not so much. He talks to Lloyd Grove about Bill Clinton (good), Donald Rumsfeld (bad), and John McCain (crazy), among others."

The Mortgage Morass (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"An epic housing bust and sustained high unemployment have led to an epidemic of default, with millions of homeowners falling behind on mortgage payments. So servicers — the companies that collect payments on behalf of mortgage owners — have been foreclosing on many mortgages, seizing many homes. But do they actually have the right to seize these homes?"

This story line supplements our second Wall Street Nugget for today:
'Mortgage Loan Pools' Latest Thing Looming Over Banks (David Faber) from CNBC
"As if the problems in foreclosures weren't enough, another potential problem for the nation's big banks is raising its head today and is the key reason that shares of banks such as Bank of America are down sharply and CDS's (credit default swaps) for some banks are widening."

The Great Battery Race from Foreign Policy Magazine
"A 19th-century technology could determine which nation triumphs in the 21st. Steve LeVine reports from the global competition to replace the combustion engine."

Black Voters May be Just as Engaged as They Were in 2008, Polls Show from the Washington Post
"Historically, black turnout for midterm elections has lagged behind the national average, but two new reports offer a bullish outlook for this year."

2010: The Year of Politicking Insanely (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"When has there been an election with so many looney tunes running under the banner of one of our major parties? It's not that they are ultraconservative, … It's just that there is a difference between being smart but wrong and being O'Donnell."

DE-Sen: Ignorance as Authenticity (Joe Klein) from the Time Magazine
"There is something profoundly diseased about a society that idolizes its ignoramuses and disdains its experts. It is a society that no longer takes itself seriously."
Our ON-THE-MONEY PUNDIT of the day!

The Barack Obama Sr. I Knew (Bruce L.R. Smith) from the Washington Post
"I suspect I am one of the few Americans still alive and modestly in possession of his faculties who knew President Obama's father, and I see nothing of the man I knew in Dinesh D'Souza's Oct. 8 Washington Forum commentary"

FICTION/HUMOR NUGGET!!
Novel Maladies: Darth Vader, Tintin, and Squirrel Nutkin Diagnosed from Mother Jones Magazine

"Real researchers figure out what's ailing famous fictional characters."
This item is pretty hilarious.  I wish it looked at more fictional characters.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

News Nuggets 452

A Llama at an animal park in Longvilliers, France. From Huffington Post.

Chinese Communist Party Veterans Defy Censors with Call for Free Speech from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Former party officials renew attack on 'invisible black hand' after open letter erased from websites."
The open letter in question can be found HERE.  Interesting development.  Change is still a long way off though.

Post-Peace Prize (Timothy Garton Ash) from the Los Angeles Times
"As the West applauds Liu Xiaobo's Nobel, China sees another attempt to impose Western values on it."

Elements of Taliban are 'Ready' to Talk Peace, Key Afghan Negotiator Says from MSNBC
"A former Afghan president who heads a new peace council said Thursday that he's convinced the Taliban are ready to negotiate peace."

This story was bolstered later in the day with this headline:
Push on Talks With Taliban Confirmed by NATO Officials from the New York Times
"The United States is helping senior Taliban leaders attend initial peace talks with the Afghan government in Kabul because military officials and diplomats want to take advantage of any possibility of political reconciliation, Obama administration and NATO officials said Thursday."

What Oman Can Teach Us (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"Just 40 years ago, Oman was one of the most hidebound societies in the world. There was no television, and radios were banned as the work of the devil…. Visit Oman today, and it is a contemporary country with highways, sleek new airports, satellite TV dishes and a range of public and private universities. Children start studying English and computers in the first grade. Boys and girls alike are expected to finish high school at least."

Stuxnet and the Pentagon's Cyber-Strategy from World Politics Review

"Many analysts predictably speculated that the attack represents a coordinated cyber attack on Iran's nuclear program, which the Iranians deny.The strategic environment may warrant such speculation, but other explanations are also plausible."

Education of a President (Peter Baker) from the New York Times
"While proud of his record, Obama has already begun thinking about what went wrong — and what he needs to do to change course for the next two years. He has spent what one aide called “a lot of time talking about Obama 2.0”."

Build'Em and They'll Come (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"The Singaporean is aghast. He simply can’t believe that at a time when his little city-state has invested more than a billion dollars to make Singapore a biomedical science hub and attract the world’s best talent, America is debating about spending mere millions on game-changing energy research. Welcome to Tea Party America. Think small and carry a big ego."

The New Oil: Should Private Companies Control Our Most Precious Natural Resource? from Newsweek
"Proponents of privatization say markets are the best way to solve that problem: only the invisible hand can bring supply and demand into harmony, and only market pricing will drive water use down enough to make a dent in water scarcity. But the benefits of the market come at a price."

Truth Lies Here (Michael Hirschorn) from the Atlantic
"How can Americans talk to one another—let alone engage in political debate—when the Web allows every side to invent its own facts?"

The Crisis of the Humanities Officially Arrives (Stanley Fish) from the New York Times
"The speculated that it “will be a sad, sad day if and when we allow the humanities to collapse.”  What he didn’t know at the time is that it had already happened, on Oct. 1, when George M. Philip, president of SUNY Albany, announced that the French, Italian, classics, Russian and theater programs were getting the axe."

Tea Party Suppression Campaign Reportedly in the Works (J. P. Green) from the Democratic Strategist
"The primary targets, as usual, would be Latino and African American voters: "We are worried this year that we could see large-scale efforts to challenge voters at the polls," said Wendy Weiser of the Brennan Center, a nonpartisan public policy and law institute based at New York University."

Michelle Obama, On the Trail as Mom-in-Chief from the Washington Post
"Her presence on the trail, a welcome one for struggling Democrats in need of money and a reenergized base, adds another layer to Obama's role as first lady - one she, like other first ladies, took to with some reluctance but then seemed to embrace."

HISTORY NUGGET!!
The Tyranny of Metaphor (Robert Dallek) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"Three historical myths have been leading American presidents into folly for nearly a century. Is Obama wise enough to avoid the same fate?"

GERMANY NUGGET!!
A Visit to Germany's First-Ever Hitler Exhibition from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]

"On Friday, the German History Museum is opening postwar Germany's first-ever comprehensive exhibition on Adolf Hitler. Curators went out of their way to avoid creating an homage -- yet they are still concerned about attracting cheering neo-Nazis and angry protesters."

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

News Nuggets 451

A tornado moving across Utah.  From National Geographic.

Iran, the Paper Tiger (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"What do all his words amount to? I’d say not a whole lot beyond unnecessary misery for 71 million isolated Iranians. This guy is all hat and no cattle. Ahmadinejad is odious but I don’t think he’s dangerous."
I suspect Cohen is correct here.

In Afghanistan, the First Hints of Success (Michael Gerson) from the Washington Post
"Success in Afghanistan is beginning to come in the first muddy trickles after a long drought."
As much as I would like to think that the administration may end up with some successes in Afghanistan, I think Gerson's statements here stem more from the looming battle between Obama and the Pentagon over continuing this mission than through any objective assessment of conditions on the ground.  The military brass are looking for any means to leverage more time and more resources out of the WH for this conflict -- and I think that is what's driving Gerson's "timely" squib.

Plotting Hillary's Future (Robert Shrum) from The Week

"Hillary for president? For vice president? Here's how to read the sudden profusion of tea leaves."

Disputes May Affect 9 Million Foreclosures, Morgan Stanley Says from Bloomberg News Service
"As many as 9 million U.S. mortgages in the foreclosure pipeline or already through the process may face legal challenges because of questions about the validity of documents, according to Morgan Stanley."
Jesus -- what a nightmare!

America's Foreclosure Crisis: What It Means for Your Mortgage from The Week
"Bank of America has frozen foreclosures, sparking calls for a nationwide ban on repossessions. Is that move likely, and how would it affect the average homeowner?"

'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Must Stop Now, Federal Judge Rules from Time Magazine
"The federal judge who ruled the Pentagon's "don't ask, don't tell" policy unconstitutional last month ordered the U.S. military to stop kicking openly gay men and women out of uniform Tuesday."

Hot Mess: Why Are Conservatives So Radical About the Climate? (Bill McKibben) from the New Republic
"I don’t have any expectation that conservatives will mute their tune between now and November—but it is worth thinking in some depth about what lies beneath this newly overwhelming sentiment. One crude answer is money."

Tea Party Supporters Want to 'Take Their Country Back'. To Where? (Gary Younge) from the Guardian [of the UK]
The party they are voting for and the candidates they back have actively worked to undermine what they really want.

NV-Sen: Harry Reid-Sharron Angle Race Fractures Nevada GOP from Politico
"Harry Reid is tearing the Nevada Republican Party apart. You’d think the party would be united in its efforts to oust the Senate majority leader, a top objective for both the state and the national parties. But in the months since tea-party-backed GOP nominee Sharron Angle staged an upset win in the contentious Senate primary, the pillars of the Silver State’s Republican establishment haven’t exactly kissed and made up."


BUSH ADMINISTRATION NUGGET!!
General Shelton: Rumsfeld was the Devil in the Shape of a Defense Secretary from Foreign Policy Magazine

"The McNamara-Rumsfeld model," as Shelton calls it, was "based on deception, deceit, working political agendas, and trying to get the Joint Chiefs to support an action that might not be the right thing to do for the country but would work well for the President from a political standpoint."
Very much confirms my impression of what was going on at the time.

STATE ECONOMIES NUGGET!!
The Best- and Worst-Performing State Economies in America from the Atlantic

"How well run are each of the 50 states?"

POLITICAL HISTORY NUGGET!!
Cofounding Fathers (Sean Wilentz) from the New Yorker

"Glenn Beck’s view of American history stems from the paranoid politics of the fifties.."

Monday, October 11, 2010

News Nuggets 450

A bamboo forest in Japan.  From National Geographic.

The Future of Power (Joseph Nye) from Project Syndicate
"The main dilemma that the international community faces is how to include everyone and still be able to act. The answer is likely to lie in what Europeans have dubbed “variable geometry.”"

China is Using Strong Language; Could that Mean it's Weak? (Jeffrey Wasserstrom) from the Daily Star [of Lebanon in English]
"A closer look reveals that President Hu Jintao’s words and deeds are often shaped by a mixture of insecurity and cockiness, and that Chinese officials alternate between playing up and playing down their country’s rise."

Obama's War with the Pentagon (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"The clash between the White House and the military brass over the Afghan war will grow more intense under the new national security adviser. Peter Beinart on the knife fight ahead."
This is a very important story, one that has not been receiving enough attention.

Obama's India Visit (Editorial) from the Asia Sentinel [of Hong Kong in English]

"Obama's visit could not only help clear cobwebs of misunderstandings but also help the two sides define the parameters of a more global, and thus more strategic, US-India partnership. According to the Ministry of External Affairs, Obama is attaching "immense importance" to his India visit and his administration has fleshed out an "ambitious agenda" to take bilateral relations to the next level."

China's Nobel Threats Backfire from the Daily Beast
"Beijing is a growing power, but blocking news of jailed rights activist Liu Xiaobo’s Peace Prize projects weakness—and warning that the honor would be seen as “an unfriendly act” may have helped him win."

Beijing Values the Nobels. That's Why This Hurts (Julia Lovell) from the Independent [of the UK]
"The Beijing government has seen the prize – like Olympic medals and entry to the World Trade Organisation – as an important source of international "face", as the chance to win global recognition as a modern world power. Since it first emerged, however, China's Nobel Complex has been mired in controversy."

More Black People Jailed in England and Wales Proportionally than in US from the Guardian [of the UK]
"New study finds seven times more black people per population are in prison – in the US number is just four times as many."
The issue of race will be one of Europe's biggest challenges for the 21st century.

Political Columnists Think America Is In Decline. Big Surprise. (David Bell) from the New Republic
"By comparing America to Rome and warning us about our imminent decline and fall, writers like Friedman think that they are issuing a necessary wake-up call; sounding an alarm in terms that cannot be ignored. But are they?"

America's Perpetual Decline (Megan McCardle) from the Atlantic
"It's worth remembering that the other declinists were powerfully convinced of their own argument.  The human brain is programmed to look for what is new, and what is dangerous.  That means that we're prone to ignore all the strengths of the American economy that are still there."
http://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2010/10/americas-perpetual-decline/64206/
For the most part, I share McCardle's opinion about the "declinists" in our midst.  Here's a related article from Daniel Drezner at Foreign Policy Magazine.

Shadowy Players in a New Class War (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"The 2010 election is turning into a class war. The wealthy and the powerful started it. This is a strange development. President Obama, after all, has been working overtime to save capitalism. Wall Street is doing just fine, and the rich are getting richer again. The financial reform bill passed by Congress was moderate, not radical. Nonetheless, corporations and affluent individuals are pouring tens of millions of dollars into attack ads aimed almost exclusively at Democrats."
I completely agree with Dionne about the class warfare.  The difficulty is that virtually no one is unambiguously on the side of low-income people.

GOP Gives Climate Science a Cold Shoulder (Ronald Brownstein) from National Journal

"His strong words make it easier to recognize that Republicans in this country are coalescing around a uniquely dismissive position on climate change. The GOP is stampeding toward an absolutist rejection of climate science that appears unmatched among major political parties around the globe, even conservative ones."

Dems Define Success Down (Major Garrett) from National Journal
"House Democrats are increasingly confident that they are going to beat back the Republican onslaught and keep control of the chamber -- even as they suffer massive losses across the country."

Democratic Upswing (Tim Fernholz) from the American Prospect
"TAP talks to the president of a progressive think tank who sees signs that November won't be so bad for Democrats after all."

Is 2010 the Year Voters Turn Polls on Their Heads? (Walter Shapiro) from Politics Daily
"The expectation of a GOP tidal wave is so ingrained in the media and politically sophisticated voters that it is easy to imagine the morning-after headlines: "In Stunning Rebuff to Republicans, GOP Only Picks Up 93 House Seats.""

Cable News Chatter is Changing the Electoral Landscape (Kurtz & Tumulty) from the Washington Post
"The increasing polarization of cable news is transforming, and in some ways shrinking, the electoral landscape. What has emerged is a form of narrowcasting, allowing candidates a welcoming platform that helps them avoid hostile press questioning and, in some cases, minimize the slog and the slip-ups of retail campaigning."

POLITICAL BOOKS NUGGET!!
Anatomy of an Uprising (Alan Brinkley) from the New York Times

"Trying to describe the ideas of the Tea Party movement is a bit like a blind man trying to describe the elephant. The movement, like the elephant, exists. But no one, not even the Tea Partiers themselves, can seem to get hands around the whole of it."