Wednesday, April 13, 2011

News Nuggets 601

The rare, primitive rabbit, the Amami Rabbit located only on two tiny islands in Japan.  From National Geographic.
States of Conflict: An Update from the New York Times
"LEAVING aside all the new conflicts in the Middle East, how are our nation’s longstanding struggles in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan going?"

America's Arab Comeback (Daoud Kuttab) from the Globe and Mail [of Toronto]
"Without much fanfare, the past few months have seen no anti-American demonstrations and no burning of U.S. flags across the Arab world. Arabs seem increasingly willing to accept – and even applaud – the Obama administration’s policy toward the region."

Egypt Detains Mubarak and Sons from Al Jazeera

"Top prosecutor says ex-leader and two sons will be held for 15 days pending a probe into abuse of authority and graft."
If you are any living US president, this is probably not good news.  Mubarak and his sons know where 30 years worth of bodies (literally and figuratively) are buried -- and if any of them are facing real time I suspect they will say whatever they need to say to avoid that fate.

American Public Sees Democratization of Middle East as Positive for US from World Public Opinion
"Favors Democratization Even if Countries Become Less Friendly to US."

A darker, probably closer-to-the-mark perspective on where things are headed:
Pray. Hope. Prepare. (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"In the Arab world, almost all these countries are Yugoslavia-like assemblages of ethnic, religious and tribal groups put together by colonial powers — except Egypt, Tunisia and Morocco, which have big homogeneous majorities. So when you take the lid off these countries, you potentially unleash not civil society but civil war. That is why, for now, the relatively peaceful Arab democracy revolutions are probably over. "

How Close Did the United States Come to Launching a War against Iran? (Christopher Preble) from the National Interest
"As early as 2005, Israel determined that it could not deliver a knockout blow against Iran’s nuclear facilities, Ha’aretz reported over the weekend. Documents obtained through Wikileaks reveal that Israeli officials informed U.S. diplomats in December 2005 “that there is no chance of a military attack being carried out on Iran.”"

What Does 'Fukushima Is Now as Bad as Chernobyl' Actually Mean? from the Atlantic
"Even though the Japanese spokesperson for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency took pains to differentiate the crisis from Chernobyl, Fukushima is now classified as a level 7 alongside it. In the most basic terms, what does that mean?"

China: On the Defensive from the Economist [of London]
I had posted this last week -- but the following image still sticks in my mind:
"... the [Communist] party seems to have concluded, to crack down long and hard now than to wait and see. In George Orwell’s novel “1984”, an intellectual party hack paints a vision of the future as “a boot stamping on a human face—for ever”. China has updated that."

More Pentagon Papers Donald Rumsfeld Did Not Want You to See (John Cook) from Gawker

"In July 2004, as the Iraq War spiraled out of control, Donald Rumsfeld ordered a staffer to draw up a "What Did Not Happen?" memo—a list of potential bad outcomes that had been avoided—to make himself feel better. Things could be worse, right? Then they started happening. The "What Did Not Happen?" memo—which Gawker obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, along with thousands of pages of other documents from Rumsfeld's tenure—is practically a parody of Rumsfeld's truculent blindness to his own failures."
What else is there to say about this clueless clown that hasn't already been said!?

Ship, Sub Building Efforts Back on Track: U. S. Navy Undersecretary from Defense News
"The U.S. Navy's major shipbuilding and aviation programs are largely setting into stability, but questions are rising about the strategic outlook for the Navy and Marine Corps and the forces they will need in the future, all in the context of a declining defense budget."
Well, boys and girls, with defense budget cuts an ESSENTIAL element of any progressive version of the up-coming budget plan, it is useful to begin to get GROUNDED in how truly ENORMOUS our military is.  I will be posting easy-to-grasp nuggets on this for the coming weeks.

The Follower? Republicans Question the President's Leadership on the Budget. Do They Have a Point? (John Dickerson) from Slate
Short answer: No.
"The president and his aides made a tactical decision to be followers on the budget deficit... If the president had led in this way, say White House advisers, his proposals would have become a target, and nothing major would have gotten done. ... The Obama approach was ratified at the time by a leader of the party now criticizing the president for his lack of leadership. On the day of the president's State of the Union address, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Mike Allen of Politico that if he were president, he wouldn't speak in public about the details of an entitlement overhaul."

Obama and the Budget Civil War (Howard Fineman) from Huffington Post
A moving statement about the historic opportunity that Obama has today.
"..., in a speech to the nation, a Lincoln-loving Obama will offer viewers and voters a strong defense of the moral role of the federal government. He has no choice, but it also is an opportunity if he is willing to seize it with eloquence and conviction. He and his advisors see the GOP's attack on Medicare as a fateful blunder, one that can allow Democrats to reframe the debate away from deficit-reduction to the need to preserve the social safety net and sense of one nation. History moves in generational waves, and this is both the conclusion of one and the beginning of something, the course of which no one can predict."

Obama to Draw Sharp Contrast with GOP Over Deficit from the Los Angeles Times
"In a speech Wednesday, the president is expected to call for higher taxes on wealthier Americans, as opposed to Republican plans to slash Medicare and Medicaid."

Al Sharpton: Obama's Go-To Black Leader (Wayne Barrett) from the Daily Beast
"The president’s extraordinary embrace of Al Sharpton last week has as much to do with his rejection of Jesse Jackson, Cornel West and Tavis Smiley as it does with the once-embattled reverend."

Base Politics (Chuck Todd et al.,) from MSNBC
"The dilemma for Democrats: To win national elections, they have to win a larger share of the moderate vote than Republicans do. And that’s why Democratic presidents -- whether they’re Bill Clinton or Barack Obama or the next one -- often disappoint their base."

In WI, Democrat on Waukesha County Vote Panel Speaks Out from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Kitzinger 'shocked' in retrospect not to have been told of major error."

Business Breaking With Kasich Over Union Busting Bill from TalkingPointsMemo
"Now, as the fight over SB5 shifts to a massive ballot repeal initiative organized by labor, Democrats and progressives in Ohio, Kasich's got a new problem on his hands: the support of the state Chamber of Commerce, which broke with tradition and made Kasich the first gubernatorial candidate to ever get its endorsement, is fracturing."

PPP's Own Poll Shows Bad News for Republicans from Daily Kos
""Republicans taking control of the House may have been one of the best things that could possibly have happened for Obama's reelection prospects." Indeed, despite a still-sucky economy and middling-at-best approval ratings, the extremism of the GOP is helping to keep Obama afloat."

Speaking of bad news for the GOP:
CNN Poll: Trump Tied for First in GOP Horserace from CNN
"Donald Trump is now tied with Mike Huckabee for first place when Republicans are asked who they support for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012, according to a new national poll. But while a CNN/Opinion Research Corporation survey released Tuesday indicates that the real estate mogul and reality TV star has nearly doubled his support since mid-March, it doesn't mean he has smooth sailing ahead."
I find this to be pretty hilarious.  It's a classic case of if you spout nothing but BS long enough, eventually you will wind up surrounded by nothing ... but BS.  Given the rhetoric of the GOP over the last three years, they DESERVE a candidate like Trump, someone who could VERY EASILY turn their nominating process into a clown cars' demolition derby.  Can you IMAGINE what the candidate debates might look like?!  I can't wait to see it!! 

Hoping to avoid this kind of prolonged farce, we see this:
Mitt Romney to Birthers: Barack Obama Was Born Here. Period. from Politico
"Mitt Romney forcefully said Tuesday night that he believes President Barack Obama was born in America and that “the citizenship test has been passed.”"
Ah, we caught you this time, Mitt!  Trying to be sane in the Happy House!  It tells you something about the state of the GOP when saying this actually represents COURAGE on Romney's part.  But -- sorry, dude.  Fifty percent of the voters YOU WANT to nominate you aren't buying it -- and I predict that they won't any time soon.

Chicago School Bans Homemade Lunches, the Latest in National Food Fight from Yahoo News

My view: the likes of Andrew Breitbart thrive with this kind of mandated overreach.
"Students who attend Chicago's Little Village Academy public school get nothing but nutritional tough love during their lunch period each day. The students can either eat the cafeteria food--or go hungry. Only students with allergies are allowed to bring a homemade lunch to school, the Chicago Tribune reports. ... For parents whose kids do not qualify for free or reduced price school lunches, the $2.25 daily cafeteria price can also tally more than a homemade lunch."

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