Thursday, June 30, 2011

News Nuggets 678

The animal trainer who wrestles a fully grown 800 lb. polar bear - and even lets her clamp her mouth around his head from the Daily Mail of the UK.

Syria Pulls Armed Forces Back From Some Areas from the New York Times
"The Syrian military and the government’s security forces have largely withdrawn from one of the country’s largest cities as well as other areas, residents and activists said Wednesday, leaving territory to protesters whose demonstrations have grown larger and whose chants have taunted a leadership that once inspired deep fear."

2011 is Turning Out to be a Bad Year for Very Bad Men (David Rothkopf) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"The Axis of Evil may never be the same. A changing of the guard is looming for the James Bond villains of the world, and the bedtime stories with which we scare our children are going to have to go searching for new bogeymen."

Where the Axe Will Fall in Greece from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"The Greek government on Wednesday voted to approve highly divisive austerity measures that have led tens of thousands of people to take part in heated street protests this week. With its radical savings program, the government in Athens hopes to save close to 80 billion euros. SPIEGEL ONLINE provides an overview of the plans."

Hacker Attack Cripples al-Qaida Web Communications from NBC News

"Computer hackers shut  down al-Qaida's ability to communicate its  messages to the world through the Internet, interrupting the group's flow of videos and communiqués, according to a terrorism expert. "Al-Qaida's online communications have been temporarily crippled, and it does not have a single trusted distribution channel available on the Internet," said Evan Kohlmann, of Flashpoint Global Partners, which monitors the group's communications. "

Nuked: An FP Special Roundtable on Japan’s Post-Tsunami Future from Foreign Policy Magazine

"After centuries of earthquakes, tsunamis, war, and a long list of other disasters, natural and unnatural, the Japanese people are accustomed to building back stronger -- but how do they recover from such a devastating blow, and what will that new future look like? FP's latest ebook, Tsunami: Japan's Post-Fukushima Future, the in-depth look at the quake's aftermath, assembles an exclusive collection of the top writers and scholars working in Japan today to answer these questions."

Rhode Island Lawmakers Approve Civil Unions from the New York Times

"Less than a week after same-sex marriage was legalized in New York, the Rhode Island State Senate on Wednesday evening approved a bill allowing not marriage, but civil unions for gay couples, despite fierce opposition from gay rights advocates who called the legislation discriminatory."

The Health Care Mandate’s Big Win in the Sixth Circuit (Andrew Koppelman) from the New Republic

"On Wednesday, the Obama Administration won its first Court of Appeals battle over the constitutionality of the health care mandate. ... The big news is Sutton’s vote to uphold the law. This is the first time in this protracted battle that voting on the constitutionality of health care did not follow party lines."
The NY Times has related commentary on this decision HERE.

Hot Under the Collar in the Shale Gas Boom (Steve LeVine) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Is there an exaggerated quality to the extraordinary projections and tens of billions of dollars pouring into shale gas, the newly available fuel that has shaken up markets and geopolitics? The answer is yes -- estimates for global shale gas reserves and future production are all but certainly over the top; likewise, the world's major energy companies -- ExxonMobil, Shell, Total, Sinopec, Statoil, and so on -- have probably committed excessive sums to this new source of energy."

Why the Blame Game Matters for Obama (Steve Benen) from Washington Monthly
"Fifty percent of voters said they had favorable impressions of him, while 44 percent didn’t, and by 2-1 Americans said that today’s economic conditions mostly were something the president inherited rather than the result of his own policies."

What the Media Gets Wrong About Huntsman (Michael Medved) from the Daily Beast

"Pundits won't stop talking about Jon Huntsman's remarkable "civility”—and predicting his niceness will doom his campaign. But Michael Medved says Hunstman's biggest Achilles’ heel has nothing to do with demeanor."

Crows' Excellent Memory Helps Them Tell Human Friend from Foe from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"They may not crow about it, but if you get on the wrong side of them, they’re not going to forget it in a hurry. Crows have an excellent memory for human faces, a study has revealed."

New Leonardo Da Vinci Painting To Be Made Public (PHOTO) from Huffington Post

"A lost work by Leonardo da Vinci has been found in a private American collection. The painting " Salvator Mundi," (below) which shows Christ raising his hand in blessing, will be unveiled a the National Gallery in London later this year."

'Biggest-ever' Haul of Ming Dynasty Pottery Found in Shipwreck... and it's Worth £43 Million from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"Divers have discovered the 'biggest-ever' haul of Ming Dynasty pottery in a shipwreck, worth an incredible £43million. The artefacts, which date from around 1580, have been found on the ocean floor 93 miles off the Indonesian coast and 600ft below the waves."

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

News Nuggets 677

Death Valley in California.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Ahmadinejad Denounces Allies' Arrest On Corruption Charges As 'Politically Motivated' from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post
"Dozens of the president's allies have been detained over the past months in an evolving power struggle between Ahmadinejad and Iran's clerical leaders. Four senior government officials were arrested last week. There have also been calls by hard-liners for the arrest of Ahmadinejad's chief of staff."

How the Demise of a Trusted Adviser Could Bring Down Mahmoud Ahmadinejad from the Independent [of the UK]
"Iran's President has survived mass uprisings, but a corruption row engulfing his inner circle may soon be his undoing. Robert Fisk reports from Tehran"

Libya Rebels Seize Kadafi Arms Depot from the Los Angeles Times

"After two opposition fighters are killed and government forces flee, rebels plunder the vast arsenal that residents had avoided for fear of the Libyan leader's wrath."

Greek Parliament Approves Austerity Plan from the New York Times
"Stock markets, which began rallying earlier in the day across Europe and much of Asia amid indications that the measures would be approved, continued to climb higher after the vote. Investors had feared that a collapse in Greece might have repercussions throughout the international financial system."
While the markets are happy -- there is a lot to be concerned about with Europe -- as this and the following item make clear.

Leaderless in Europe from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"The survival of the common European Union currency, free movement across national borders and trans-Atlantic collective security are all in serious doubt. Europe’s leaders are in denial or paralyzed. How could any European leader let these pillars of the Continent’s well-being be jeopardized? The problem is there are no European leaders, just a German chancellor, a French president, an Italian prime minister and others who profess a continental vision but never look much beyond their local political interests."

Sixth Circuit Panel Upholds Individual Mandate from Politico
"The panel of three judges — two nominated by Republican presidents — upheld the mandate 2-1, with one GOP-nominated judge ruling in favor of the mandate and the other dissenting. The ruling marks the first time a Republican-nominated judge has ruled in favor of upholding the mandate."

Obama Comes Out Swinging (Howard Kurtz) from the Daily Beast
"The president's fiery tax speech today was the battle cry liberals have been waiting for. Howard Kurtz on whether Obama will follow through on the rhetoric this time."

Catholic New Yorkers Approve Of Cuomo 3-1, Quinnipiac University Poll Finds; Cuomo Tops Other Governors, Over Christie By 20 Points from Quinnipiac University
"New York State voters approve 64 - 19 percent of the job Gov. Andrew Cuomo is doing, 20 points better than New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie and leading governors in other states surveyed by Quinnipiac University. White Catholic voters approve 62 - 22 percent. "

Utopia on the Hudson (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times

"Just as his father seized a social issue and established himself in opposition to the church with his Notre Dame speech on abortion, now the son has seized a social issue and established himself in opposition to the church with gay marriage."

The Shifting GOP on the Environment from E: The Environmental Magazine
"New Hampshire aside, the reluctance within the GOP to advocate real action on climate change—often due to ideological resistance among the Republican base and particularly within the Tea Party—has left candidates like Mitt Romney with little room to develop and push for strong legislative solutions."

Poll: Obama Leads All Potential GOP 2012 Nominees from the Miami Herald

"Only 36 percent of registered voters say they'd definitely vote for President Barack Obama next year - but he still tops all Republican challengers in one-on-one matchups, according to a new McClatchy-Marist poll... But none of his potential GOP rivals would beat him today. Republican candidates, said Miringoff, "have not at this point developed credibility with voters."

A Religious Test for President? (Jeff Greenfield) from Politico
"What’s really going on here, I think, is that for many voters, the Mormon faith is, well, strange. The idea of multiple gods and universes, or a post-Resurrection Christ proselytizing among Native Americans, strikes unfamiliar chords. Which may be one reason why a smash-hit Broadway musical can treat the faith as a source of parody, if not ridicule."

WI Recall: New Daily Kos Polling Shows Path to Victory (David Nir) from the Daily Kos

"We've been asking for your help to support the recall campaign, and now we have some very interesting news to share. Over the weekend, we tested the waters in three races where Democrats are running against incumbent Republicans. This is what the state of play looks like:"

Tea Party Finds Power Leads to Policy Splits from the New York Times
"When Tea Party groups celebrated their victories here in November — they had helped take the governor’s office and the legislature — it seemed that one of their priorities, school choice legislation, would have an easy time passing. Instead, the bill, which would provide vouchers to poor families who want better schools for their children, has sparked what one Tea Party activist called a “fight within the family.”"

What the GOP Field Should Know About Rick Perry (William McKenzie) from the Dallas Morning News via the Sacramento Bee
"Let's assume Rick Perry runs for president. Once a high-profile leader says he doesn't want the job but then starts talking about it and giving speeches around the country as the election heats up, you can bet he's running. Here, then, are a few things his GOP opponents need to know about Texas' governor: Most of all, don't underestimate his ability to win."
I am QUITE skeptical.  Everything I've heard about Perry is that he's pretty dumb.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

News Nuggets 676

A male and female sand lizard in the Ukraine.  It sort of looks like they are on a date.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

In Syria, an Opening for the West to Bring about Assad’s Downfall (Ausama Monajed) from the Washington Post

"Conventional wisdom suggests that Syria’s Bashar al-Assad, like Moammar Gaddafi in Libya, will weather the Arab Spring by brutality alone. But the Assad regime’s days are numbered."

Libya Clashes Escalate But a Diplomatic Compromise Looms (Tony Karon) from Time Magazine
"Military and diplomatic signs point increasingly towards some measure of compromise by both sides in shaping an outcome that neither the regime nor the rebels would have countenanced when their struggle began."

Pakistan's Army Rule (Ashley J. Tellis) from the National Interest

"How US Navy SEALs took down the entire civilian government of Pakistan in one day."

Why China’s Heading for a Hard Landing, Part 1 (A. Gary Shilling) from Bloomberg News Service
"Few countries are more important to the global economy than China. But its reputation as an unstoppable giant -- as a country with an unending supply of cheap labor and limitless capacity for growth -- masks some serious and worsening economic problems."

China’s “Conflict Handbags”: Labor Unrest Time Bomb in China (Gordon Chang) from Forbes Magazine
"Worker anger is evident across Guangdong, which has been hit this month by a wave of strikes.  Hundreds of migrant workers fought police in Chaozhou in the eastern part of the province.  In the middle of the month, in the industrial center of Dongguan, 2,000 employees struck a plant owned by Japan’s Citizen Watch to protest long working hours and low pay. And in Zengcheng, the “Blue Jeans Capital of the World,” thousands of migrant workers rioted after government-hired thugs knocked down a pregnant 20-year-old itinerant vendor.  For three days, migrants overturned official vehicles and set fire to government buildings."

Blue Water Dreams: Why China Wants an Aircraft Carrier (James Holmes) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"...the best guide for figuring out what it all means in terms of China's naval strategy isn't the latest edition of Jane's Fighting Ships, but rather the two-plus-millennia-old History of the Peloponnesian War. In his chronicle of the protracted war between Athens and Sparta in the fifth century B.C., the Greek general and historian Thucydides proclaims that "three of the strongest motives" animating states' actions are "fear, honor, and interest.""

Obama's Non-Doctrine in Africa (G. Pascal Zachary) from the Atlantic
"How personal experience, domestic politics, and cautious foreign policy led him to a defensive, vague, and ultimately wise approach to his father's continent."

The Greek Mental-Health Crisis: As Economy Implodes, Depression and Suicide Rates Soar from Le Mond [of France] via Time Magazine
"While the rest of Europe may be tormented by the thought of having to cough up ever more money to bail out Athens, the once carefree Greeks are getting more depressed by the day. Psychiatrists say that the economic crisis has triggered a 25% to 30% increase in the number of patients seeking their help."

Does GOP Have a Compromise on Debt? from the Washington Post
"As President Obama prepares to meet Monday with Senate leaders to try to restart talks about the swollen national debt, some Republicans see a potential path to compromise: significant cuts in military spending." 

Cuomo, Obama and the Realm of the Possible (Nate Silver) from the New York Times
"It might well have been the right strategy — I don’t come to a conclusion about that. But I do think it’s fair to characterize it as a risk-averse strategy. And that, at the core, is what bothers some liberals about Mr. Obama’s approach to the presidency. Fairly or not, they want him to push the envelope more than he has and to take a few more chances — to expand the realm of the possible, as Mr. Cuomo seems to have done in New York."
A fair assessment of Obama v. Cuomo's approach and how they land for the Democrats' liberal base.  Given the enormity of the problems Obama has had to face, I think minimizing risk has served him pretty well.

President Cuomo (Robert Shrum) from The Week

"The bold New York governor who brought same-sex marriage to the Empire State has become a civil rights hero — and a 2016 contender."

I was Wrong About Same-sex Marriage (David Frum) from CNN
"Most conservatives have reacted with calm -- if not outright approval -- to New York's dramatic decision. Why? The short answer is that the case against same-sex marriage has been tested against reality. The case has not passed its test."

Behind N.Y. Gay Marriage, an Unlikely Mix of Forces from the New York Times
"The story of how same-sex marriage became legal in New York is about shifting public sentiment and individual lawmakers moved by emotional appeals from gay couples who wish to be wed. But, behind the scenes, it was really about a Republican Party reckoning with a profoundly changing power dynamic, where Wall Street donors and gay-rights advocates demonstrated more might and muscle than a Roman Catholic hierarchy and an ineffective opposition."

Andrew Cuomo Beats the Odds (Richard Cohen) from the Washington Post via RealClearPolitics
"To review how Cuomo got the Legislature to approve same-sex marriage -- it was, really, his bill -- is to see a shrewd politician apply his craft."

Rep. Gabrielle Giffords Appears, Stands Before Houston Crowd from ABC News
"Giffords, D-Ariz., entered, being pushed in a wheelchair, to a standing ovation from a crowd of hundreds at the awards ceremony auditorium at Space Center Houston, which is next to the Johnson Space Center. Her hair was much shorter than in previously published photos. She was wearing glasses, a beige scarf, a light shirt, jeans and sneakers. She smiled and waved to the crowd."

Sinking G.O.P. Poll Numbers May Put Florida in Play from the New York Times
"Mr. Scott’s sinking popularity has Republican politicians and some strategists worried that his troubles could hamper their chances of tilting the state’s 29 electoral votes back into their column in 2012. President Obama won Florida by 2.8 percentage points in 2008."

What Being a "Flake" Really Means (Steve Kornacki) from Salon

"..the GOP's elites will suddenly be forced to confront the possibility that she could roll to the nomination -- unless they unite to send clear, unmistakable signals to rank-and-file Republican voters that supporting her would not be healthy for the push to unseat Obama. They may not use the specific term "flake," but make no mistake, at that point a chorus of elites will speak up to deliver the same basic message that Wallace communicated on Sunday."

Michele Bachmann: Can She Survive Being Taken Seriously? (Ed Kilgore) from the New Republic
"...this week, with the impeccably timed formal launch of her presidential campaign, Bachmann is about to enter a period of enormous peril in which her background, ideology, and rhetorical habits are about to get the kind of exposure only a Kardashian could enjoy. Can she possibly survive as a viable contender?"

Monday, June 27, 2011

News Nuggets 675

A surfer in Indonesia.  From National Geographic.

Libya: Fierce Fighting South-West of Tripoli from the BBC
"Rebel forces in Libya have clashed with troops loyal to Col Muammar Gaddafi about 80km (50 miles) south-west of the capital, Tripoli."
I have noted an interesting phenomenon in the media coverage of the Libya conflict.  In the European press (and virtually everywhere else in the world) the war is covered largely as a military story -- while in the US media, the military story has been largely ignored, papered over, or covered badly.  In its place, what you get instead is Libya as a political story or, at best, as a foreign policy story where the focus is on Obama, Congress or how the war is impacting the polls.  To really get a feel for how the war is going on the ground, read the international press or go to Al Jazeera English or the BBC. 

My Syria, Awake Again After 40 Years (Mohammad Aliatassi) from the New York Times
"... the Syria that has been out of sight for the 40 years of the Assads’ rule, a country and its aspirations placed on a shelf and forgotten for decades in the name of stability. Now this other Syria is appearing before our eyes to remind us that it cannot be forever set aside, that its people did not spend the decades of the Assads’ rule asleep, and that they aspire, like all people, to live with freedom and dignity."

Obama’s Prudent Policy on Afghanistan (E.J. Dionne Jr.) from the Washington Post
"Prudence went on vacation during the administration of the second President Bush, but it’s back as the hallmark of President Obama’s approach to foreign policy. And it was the underlying theme of Obama’s speech on Afghanistan last week.  You would think this would be popular. But it turns out that Obama finds himself almost alone in his effort to define a broad new middle ground in international affairs. It’s not that the center isn’t holding. It’s that most politicians don’t seem to want to go near it."

Ups and Downs: The Making of a Hegemon: A Review of Why the West Rules—For Now: The Patterns of History, and What They Reveal about the Future by Ian Morris (Camille Pecastaing) from World Affairs Journal
"Now, as the pendulum continues to swing in an ever diminishing arc, there are renewed doubts about the place of the United States in the world and its ability to deal with radical Islamists and the economic power of China. In Why the West Rules—For Now, Stanford archaeologist Ian Morris puts these and other questions of decline and renewal into a larger context."

How China Sees the World: An Emerging Global Power Hashes Out its Foreign Policy (Thanassis Cambanis) from the Boston Globe
"As scholars look deeper into China’s approach to the world around it, what they are finding there is sometimes surprising. Rather than the veiled product of a centralized, disciplined Communist Party machine, Chinese policy is ever more complex and fluid—and shaped by a lively and very polarized internal debate with several competing power centers."

Africa Trip Has Been a Time for First Lady Michelle Obama to Shine from the Washington Post
"If Michelle Obama arrived at the White House as a reluctant first lady, her visit to southern Africa over the past week has offered the best view yet of how that aversion has fallen away as she has embraced the power that comes with her role.  On her trip — part official diplomatic mission, part personal pilgrimage — she has displayed her version of soft diplomacy."
I'll be curious to hear more if her skepticism about presidential "power"  and such have REALLY changed.  I doubt it.

Flickers of Hope in Somalia from Die Welt [of Germany in English]
"Plagued by civil war, terrorism and poverty, Somalia and its capital Mogadishu are often described as hell on earth. But thanks to international help and a handful of courageous citizens, some light has appeared at the end of the tunnel for the troubled African nation."
One can always hope.

Why U.S. Teachers Work the Most But U.S. Students Stay Average (Ujala Sehgal) from the Atlantic
""This statistic refutes the argument that teachers should be paid considerably less than other workers because 'teachers only work 9 months of the year.'"  One conclusion to be drawn from this is, as the Journal writes, "American teachers are the most productive among major developed countries." But it also notes that "student achievement in the U.S. remains average in reading and science and slightly below average in math when compared to other nations in a separate OECD report.""

Should Flogging Be an Alternative to Prison? from Time Magazine
"Despite what you may think, Moskos is not pushing flogging as part of a "get tougher on criminals" campaign. In fact Moskos, who teaches at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, begins not by arguing that the justice system is too soft on criminals, but the opposite."

Inside Nancy Pelosi’s Drive to Win the House Majority Back for Democrats from the Washington Post
"Nancy Pelosi no longer has a balcony with the grandest view in Washington. The size of her staff has been cut by a third. And it took months, she said, to get rid of the smell of cigarette smoke from the second-floor suite she received in her swap with now-House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio). ... The fact that the pale-yellow walls remain bare suggests that Pelosi has no intention of getting settled in her new offices."

Pelosi Cranks Up Heat on GOP: 'The Republicans Are The Incumbents' from the Huffington Post
"In the lead-up to the 2012 elections, both President Obama and Democratic leaders will likely argue that the continued economic malaise the country has experienced is owed to the inflexibility of the Republican Party."
I am skeptical that this argument will play with the voting block the Dems need to win.

In GOP Presidential Field, Only Three are for Real (John P. Avlon) from CNN
"The first is to run to promote yourself. The second is to run to promote ideas. The third is to actually run for president of the United States. The Republican presidential hopefuls running on this old-fashioned third notion are a distinct minority. And that says a lot about the state of our politics: bread and circuses meets reality TV."

Why Michele Bachmann is the Iowa Frontrunner (Chris Cillizza and Aaron Blake) from the Washington Post
"Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann will formally announce her presidential campaign on Monday in Waterloo, Iowa — and will immediately become the early favorite to win the state’s February 2012 caucuses. The new Des Moines Register poll, which was released late Saturday night, tells the story."

World War II: The Invasion of Poland and the Winter War from the Atlantic

"Collected here are images of these tumultuous first months and of Allied forces preparing for the arduous battles to come."
These are some of the most arresting pictures I've ever seen of the opening hours and months of World War II.

Atop TV Sets, a Power Drain That Runs Nonstop from the New York Times

"Those little boxes that usher cable signals and digital recording capacity into televisions have become the single largest electricity drain in many American homes, with some typical home entertainment configurations eating more power than a new refrigerator and even some central air-conditioning systems."

Puppy Shrinks, Kitty Therapy: Inside the World of Pet Psychologists from Time Magazine

"Right now, about 10% of dogs are suffering from mental disorders. The same goes for us human beings. And 50% of canines are prone to mental illnesses at least once in their lives. Again, the same goes for us. At certain points in their lives they may feel anxious, depressed and have phobias, just as we do. All this can ruin not only their lives, but the lives of their masters as well."

Pitbull vs. Kitten from YouTube

"Introducing the dog Spike - my majestic American Pitbull Terrier - and Visa, my 2 months old cat."

The 25 All-TIME Best Animated Films from Time Magazine
"They've enthralled or terrified generations of kids, and now they're giant worldwide blockbusters. So what are the best animated features of all time? Using an obscure system of weights and measures, TIME movie critic Richard Corliss has compiled and annotated the countdown, from No. 25 (Lady and the Tramp) to No. 1 (see for yourself). Are your favorites on the list?"
I've been a long-standing fan and student of animated films.  This is an interesting list -- with MANY films which were not the best of anything -- and some MONUMENTAL omissions.  Where's Fantasia, Beauty and the Beast, Bambi ... or Watership Down for that matter? Lady and the Tramp is supposed to be better than these?! No way!!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

News Nuggets 674

A wonderful image of the Empire State Building following New York's historic vote on gay marriage.  See the stories and analysis below.  From the New York Times.

Libya's Rebels Expect to Receive an Offer from Muammar Gaddafi "Very Soon" that Could End the Four-Month-Old War from Agence France Press via Al Jazeera English
"Abdel Hafiz Ghoga, vice chairman of the National Transitional Council, said intermediaries had indicated that a proposal from the Libyan strongman was in the works, offering the faintest glimmer of hope for a deal to end the bloodshed."
I'll believe it when I see.  Gaddafi seems incapable of either telling the truth or relinquishing power.

'We're Tracking Gaddafi's Every Move as He Flees from Lair to Lair, Says Nato  from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"NATO forces are successfully tracking Colonel Gaddafi from lair to lair around Libya, Whitehall sources revealed yesterday. ... He has been ‘racing from one place to another’ over the past few weeks to  avoid falling into enemy hands as his grip on the country loosens, the Daily Mail has learned."
Now, let me say that I think NATO is *trying* to do this.  If they were REALLY doing this, Qaddafi would already be toast.  I suspect that there is a certain amount of "head gamesmanship" going on here.  NATO folks are just messing with him -- and I suspect they are doing it with some success.  As the saying goes about paranoid people: sometimes the world really is out to get them!

Western Libya Earns a Taste of Freedom as Rebels Loosen Qaddafi’s Grip from the New York Times

"...after an improbable series of military victories over the past three weeks — with fewer than 100 rebel fighters killed, their military leaders say — residents of a broad area in this mountain region are celebrating virtual secession from Colonel Qaddafi’s Libya."

Iran’s Hardline Fashion Police (Babak Dehghanpisheh) from the Daily Beast
"As Iran heats up this summer, the morality police are cracking down more than before. Men are not allowed to wear necklaces, and women can be fined for wearing nail polish."

Gay Marriage Vote a Milestone in New York from the Editorial Board of the Washington Post
"New York joins Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont and the District of Columbia in allowing gays to wed. A court challenge to a 2008 amendment to the California state constitution that banned gay marriage there is wending its way through the federal appeals court process. If marriage-equality proponents succeed in the Golden State, 23.3 percent of Americans will live in states where gay couples can legally wed."

To Know Us Is to Let Us Love (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times
"Those who seem to be unlikely supporters of same-sex marriage have had their opinions influenced by knowing someone who is gay."

On a related subject:
DADT: Sergeant Major Of Marine Corps, On Gay Rights: "Get Over It!" from the Huffington Post
""Get over it." That's the ultimate message delivered to marines by the top non-commissioned officer of the Marine Corps regarding the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" (DADT)."

Even for Cashiers, College Pays Off (David Leonhardt) from the New York Times

"ALMOST a century ago, the United States decided to make high school nearly universal. Around the same time, much of Europe decided that universal high school was a waste. Not everybody, European intellectuals argued, should go to high school. It’s clear who made the right decision."

Getting Serious About the 2012 GOP (Mark McKinnon) from the Daily Beast
"The until-recently blobular lineup of Republican candidates is finally solidifying. Mark McKinnon on who's ahead—and why Rick Perry, not even yet in the race, leads in momentum."

Jon Huntsman Fever: Catch It Here from Politico
"Like Jon Huntsman, each of them — Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — was dismissed at one time or another as too exotic or too singularly flawed. There were powerful political currents that made their nominations unthinkable to many in their own party. Yet all three understood the most basic rule in presidential politics: The first step in catching electoral lightning in a bottle is to recognize when the right atmospheric conditions exist."
Big talk.  We shall see. 

Andrew Cuomo 2016 Speculation Heating Up from Politico

"With his successful push to pass a gay marriage law, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo overnight became a national contender, putting down a major marker among the liberal party base that dominates the primaries."
A liberal marker ... in a governing record in Albany that until now has looked VERY Clintonian, classic 1990s centrist in character.  I'm skeptical that the Dem primary voters will feel drawn to an old-style DNC type candidate.  Cuomo still has some work to do.

Wisconsin Judge Prosser Allegedly Grabbed Fellow Justice by the Neck from the Wisconsin State Journal
"They say an argument that occurred before the court’s release of a decision upholding a bill to curtail the collective bargaining rights of public employees culminated in a physical altercation in the presence of other justices. Bradley purportedly asked Prosser to leave her office, whereupon Prosser grabbed Bradley by the neck with both hands."
What #$%@ is going on!?

(1) Fracking Makes Earthquakes? from PRI's Living on Earth program

"Greenbrier, Arkansas is home to one of the world’s largest natural gas fields. It also felt a swarm of earthquakes recently. Geologists and state regulators noticed that when they capped some of the deep injection wells, the earthquakes nearly stopped."

(2) Natural Gas and Greenhouse Gasses from PRI's Living on Earth program
"The boom in production of natural gas is shaking up energy markets around the world, but what does it mean for the world’s climate? Some scientists say the glut of gas could bring a global warming benefit by knocking out dirtier coal. But others say gas is more likely to add to our climate conundrum."

(3) Insiders Sound an Alarm Amid a Natural Gas Rush from the New York Times

Another important story from the NY Times intrepid reporter, Ian Urbina!
"In the e-mails, energy executives, industry lawyers, state geologists and market analysts voice skepticism about lofty forecasts and question whether companies are intentionally, and even illegally, overstating the productivity of their wells and the size of their reserves. Many of these e-mails also suggest a view that is in stark contrast to more bullish public comments made by the industry, in much the same way that insiders have raised doubts about previous financial bubbles."

Meet Robomutt... The World's First Bionic Dog from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"Plucky pet damaged by frostbite gets four new mechanical paws. ... 'They don't feel sorry for themselves.' Since undergoing the pioneering surgery Naki'o can leap and bound with the best of them. Christie is amazed at her pet's motivation and joy for life.'He was always a happy dog, but now he's much more confident,' she said."
At first, I thought this story was a bit creepy -- but then I realized that this dog lost his paws as a small puppy and had NEVER been able to walk. Check out the photos -- they are quite charming.  Video of the dog in action can be found HERE.

Is This Our Future? (Joe Nocera) from the New York Times

"THE moment I realized that driving the new Chevrolet Volt was fundamentally a new experience ... The experience of driving it meshes with the way we think about using a car."

Saturday, June 25, 2011

News Nuggets 673

Flood waters near Wyatt Missouri.  From the Atlantic.

Rethinking ‘the Long War’ on Terrorism (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post

"Gen. John Abizaid used the phrase “the long war” to describe America’s battle with Islamic extremism after Sept. 11, 2001. ... Behind this decades-long battle, Abizaid said, was the political modernization of the Islamic world — the explosive process of change that he likened to the revolutions and anarchic movements that swept across Europe in the 19th century. This is the overarching conflict from which Barack Obama wants to withdraw American troops — not because the turbulence is over but because big American expeditionary forces aren’t the right answer"

Let's Make a Deal (James Traub) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"The United States and the Taliban should be able to work out a compromise on Afghanistan. But will the Afghans be able to live with it?"

The Road Home from Kabul (Sen. John Kerry) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Drawing down troops from Afghanistan is the right move. Now it's time to focus on the real threat in the neighborhood: the one coming from Pakistan."

Obama’s Growing Trust in Biden Is Reflected in His Call on Troops from the New York Times
"Convinced he was seeing mission creep, Mr. Biden came home and pressed the president on a point he had making since the first troop debate in 2009: the United States needed to stop nation-building in Afghanistan. The military, he argued, was going beyond Mr. Obama’s goals of defeating Al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from toppling the Afghan government and improving security. In ordering the withdrawal of 30,000 troops by next summer, Mr. Obama finally sided with Mr. Biden."

Iran Nuclear Experts Killed in Russian Plane Crash from YNET News [of Israel in English]
"Iranian nuclear efforts suffer major setback as five leading figures in design of its nuclear facilities perish in crash."
Wow -- five Iranian nuclear scientists die in a plane crash!  Imagine that!  Some real bad luck on their part. 

Iran's Nuclear Threat to Europe: A Visit to Ahmadinejad's Nuclear Laboratory from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"A recent United Nations report reinforces suspicions that Iran's nuclear program may be serving military purposes -- and that it is being infiltrated and attacked by computer viruses. During a recent visit by SPIEGEL reporters to Tehran's contested nuclear laboratory, scientists wouldn't comment on the developments, but the sensitivity of the issue in Iran is clear."

Getting on in China: The Consequences of an Aging Population from the Economist [of London]
"Over the next few years China will undergo a huge demographic shift. The share of people over 60 in the total population will increase from 12.5% in 2010 to 20% in 2020. By 2030 their number will double from today’s 178m. ... Put another way, China’s “demographic dividend”—the availability of lots of young workers—which helped fuel its growth will soon begin to disappear. "
This is a KEY reason why China's economic road ahead will NOT be as smooth as it has appeared in the last two decades.

New York Passes Gay Marriage: This Is the Tipping Point (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast
"The marriage equality fight was a critical test of mainstreaming a cutting-edge issue. John Avlon on how America has finally come to embrace the era's defining civil rights issue."

New York Gay Marriage Legalization Transformed National Debate: Legal Experts from Reuters via Huffington Post
"When New York became the sixth and by far the largest state to legalize same-sex marriage, following a grueling overtime session in the state Legislature Friday, it immediately transformed the national debate over the issue, legal experts said."

The Biggest Victory for Gay Marriage Yet (Alex Pareene) from Salon
"Gay marriage in the third-most populous state in the nation, passed by the elected legislature and not through the courts. And voted for by Republicans. Plural! Just a few years ago, all of that would've seemed absurd or impossible. "

Did the Energy Agency Just Deliver a QE3 Quick Fix? (Larry Kudlow) from CNBC via RealClearPolitics
"Did the International Energy Agency (IEA) just deliver the oil equivalent of Quantitative Easing 3? The decision to release 2 million barrels per day of emergency oil reserves -- with the U.S. covering half from its strategic petroleum reserve -- is surely aimed at the sputtering economies of the U.S. and Europe following an onslaught of bad economic statistics and forecasts. This includes a gloomy Fed forecast that Ben Bernanke unveiled less than 24 hours before the energy news hit the tape. I wonder if all this was coordinated."
Of course it was coordinated. I've been predicting for months that he would do this.  It is my recollection that both Clinton and Bush II did some version of this about 16 months out from an election.

Them That’s Not Shall Lose: Washington Doesn't Understand the Sting of Poverty (Charles Blow) from the New York Times
"“Anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.” James Baldwin penned that line more than 50 years ago, but it seems particularly prescient today, if in a different manner than its original intent."

Reaping What They’ve Sown in Georgia (Steve Benen) from Washington Monthly
"Georgia Republicans recently passed a very harsh anti-immigrant measure into law, successfully driving a lot of undocumented workers out of the state. Republicans who championed the measure said the new law would improve Georgia’s economy. As Jay Bookman explained, now they’re saying something different."
They will find it MUCH HARDER to undo what they have done.  Given the dominance of Tea Party sentiment among the GA GOP, big Ag in the state will have to move to the Dems if they really want to repeal this measure -- and I can't see them doing that.

John Boehner Debt Ceiling Talks May Determine His Political Fate from Reuters via the Huffington Post
"Republican John Boehner faces his greatest test yet as the leader of the U.S. House of Representatives, one that may determine his political fate and the country's fiscal well-being."

Huntsman Running a Cool Campaign in a Hot Climate from National Journal
"Will Huntsman’s slow-burn model of campaigning catch fire in a political environment against rivals who are frequently slinging explosives? His four day, five-state rollout as an official candidate, which ended on Friday in Nevada, has raised, but not yet answered, the question. In a primary season dominated by tea party ideologues and religious conservatives, Huntsman is trying to position himself as the candidate of reason."

Queen of the Tea Party: The Presidential Campaign of Michele Bachmann (Matthew Continetti) from the Weekly Standard
"“I think Bachmann’s chances of landing on Jupiter are higher than her chances of being nominated,” Republican strategist Mike Murphy told me in an April interview for Well, get ready for an interplanetary expedition. Bachmann is a far more serious candidate for the Republican nomination than her reputation would suggest."

Andrew Cuomo, 2016 Dem Frontrunner? (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"The passage of a same-sex marriage bill late Friday night in New York drew considerable national coverage to the Empire State and was broadly touted as a major victory for first term Gov. Andrew Cuomo. It’s also stoked talk that Cuomo is rapidly transforming himself into a first among equals when it comes to the jockeying for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination."

Personal Car-Sharing Takes Off as States Ease Insurance Laws from USA Today

"Seeing a business opportunity in millions of cars that sit idle at office parking lots or on weekends, several start-up companies have introduced "peer-to-peer" car-sharing services aimed at matching urban dwellers without cars and car owners looking to make some extra cash."

Once Upon a Time in Bombay (Ty McCormick) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"From horse-drawn carriages to rugby players, street scenes of India's megalopolis at the turn of the century."

Friday, June 24, 2011

News Nuggets 672

Temples in the morning mist in Bagan, Myanmar.  From National Geographic.

'Mission Accomplished' (Leslie Gelb) from the Daily Beast
"Obama didn’t say it, but he should have. Leslie H. Gelb on how thoroughly the surge worked—and why the president needs to start nation-building here at home."

Seized Phone Offers Clues to Bin Laden’s Pakistani Links from the New York Times

"The discovery indicates that Bin Laden used the group, Harakat-ul-Mujahedeen, as part of his support network inside the country, the officials and others said. But it also raised tantalizing questions about whether the group and others like it helped shelter and support Bin Laden on behalf of Pakistan’s spy agency, given that it had mentored Harakat and allowed it to operate in Pakistan for at least 20 years, the officials and analysts said."
No surprise.  Sadly, this news will send the Pakistanis into a new spasm of victimization and "kill-the-messenger" self-denial.  It will not be pretty.

In Pakistan, Pro-American Sentiment is Rare from the Washington Post
"The United States and Pakistan have been allies for decades, but it has rarely been easy to be pro-American here. Now, following last month’s killing by U.S. Navy SEALs of Osama bin Laden, speaking out on behalf of the United States requires a degree of boldness that verges on a death wish."

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad Ally Arrested in Iran on Corruption Charges from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Arrest of Muhammad Sharif Malekzadeh comes amid growing rift between president and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei."

Showdown in Tehran (Vali Nasr) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is fighting for his political survival. But that doesn't mean his clerical enemies will be the winners."

How European Elites Lost a Generation from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"The European Union is in bad shape. Not only is the common currency in a shambles and the economies of many member states moribund, but young Europeans no longer see how the EU helps them. Millions of them are taking to the streets to demand a future."

Why Eric Cantor Won’t Make the Budget Deal (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
"Cantor is putting personal power before country here, and in a very dangerous way. If Boehner actually does manage to cut a decent deal despite Cantor’s effort to throw him under the bus, he may not hold on as leader of his party, but unlike Cantor, he’ll deserve to. For better or worse, this is when we learn whether anyone on the Republican Party’s leadership team is actually prepared to lead."
I can't say that I am surprised.

Babies Born to Ethnic Minorities Outnumber White Toddlers for First Time in U.S. History from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Ethnic minorities now make up the majority of babies in the United States, official figures revealed today. It is the first time that this has been the case and the change reflects a growing age divide between mostly white, older Americans and predominantly minority youths that could reshape government policies."

New GOP Governors Tanking Nationwide from Talking Points Memo
"We've already told you about the collapsing poll numbers for first-term Republican governors across the country. Now, thanks to the team at Bill Schneider's Inside Politics Newsletter, we've got a snapshot of the epic polling fail in a convenient visual form."

Is Rick Running? from the Wall Street Journal
"A Republican campaign veteran tells us that Texas Governor Rick Perry has decided to run for President, though the official word from Team Perry is still a definite maybe."

Ready to Rumble (Charlie Cook) from National Journal

"If Rick Perry enters the presidential race, look for him and Michele Bachmann to duke it out."

Tea Party Dilemma: What to Do about Mitt Romney from Politico

"The anybody-but-Mitt Romney faction developing within the tea party may pose a problem for the former Massachusetts governor’s presidential ambitions, but some tea party organizers worry it could also backfire against the movement itself."

Poll: Tea Party Poses ‘Real Danger’ to GOP in Florida from Raw Story
"Aligning yourself too closely to the tea party could be a great way to lose an election in Florida, apparently. So says a recent poll by Gainesville, Florida based polling firm War Room Logistics. In the poll, registered Florida voters said 2:1 that the tea party did not represent their views. War Room's Alex Patton says this could pose "a real danger to Republican candidates"."
See yesterday's story on Huntsman's strategy involving Florida.  Bet his people had already privately polled something like this.

Handicapping the Republican Field: Part I, the Top Tier (Nate Silver) from the New York Times
"What will follow, in a three-part series, is the way I would handicap the Republican field as of today. In this piece, we’ll look at the four top candidates, in my view."

Mongolia's Luxury Frontier from the Wall Street Journal

"What happens when a country previously hindered by vastness and foreign rule awakens to wealth on its doorstep? With Louis Vuitton on one corner and one of the world's largest gold deposits down the road, the previously nomadic society of Mongolia is putting down some rich roots."
The way that Mongolia is modernizing strikes me as dramatically unbalanced and troubling.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

News Nuggets 671

Swans in flight in Washington State.  From National Geographic.

As Politics of War Shift, Risks for Obama Ease from the New York Times

"When President Obama expanded the Afghanistan war a year after taking office, Republicans fiercely criticized his deadline to bring troops home. But his decision on Wednesday to accelerate their withdrawal came with few reprisals, a sign of a remarkable shift in the politics of war."

Obama Sides With Gates Over Petraeus (Yochi J. Dreazen and Marc Ambinder) from the National Journal
"Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. commander in Kabul, was adamant they stay until the end of 2012. The deadlock was broken by outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who sold Obama and his top civilian aides on a compromise plan that will leave most of the reinforcements in Afghanistan through next September but ensure they’re back well before the November elections."

Drawing Down, With a Vigilant Eye on Pakistan (David Sanger) from the New York Times
" Though the president could not say so directly, one of the constraints on America’s retreat from a hard and bloody decade is the recognition that, more than ever, the United States will be relying on Afghanistan’s help to deal with the threats emerging from Pakistan."

Afghan Troop Withdrawal: Beginning Of The End For Petraeus Counterinsurgency Strategy (David Wood) from the Huffington Post

"President Barack Obama's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan signals the beginning of the end for the ambitious counterinsurgency strategy that Army Gen. David Petraeus designed and has single-mindedly pursued in Iraq and Afghanistan."

A similar take:
In Declaring Drawdown, Obama Takes Back Control of Afghan War (Michael Cohen) from the Atlantic
"For the first time in ten years, the light at the end of the tunnel of the U.S. war in Afghanistan is suddenly visible"

Andrew Sullivan's take on Obama's speech:
"We Stand Not for Empire" (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast
"There is, as with the Iraq withdrawal, no triumphalism. But destroying half of al Qaeda's leadership, including Osama bin Laden, as Americans struggle in a stubbornly sluggish economy, is good enough. ... And Obama's pragmatism - his refusal to embrace either the Full McCain Jacket or the impulse to just get the hell out of there ASAP - has helped him."

What follows are two articles that cover ANOTHER reason we're hittin' the bricks in Afghanistan:
In Pakistan, Denial is Easier than Heartbreak (Nzaar Ihsan) from Christian Science Monitor
"Pakistanis have long revered their Army as heroic and pure. Now, they're coming to terms with the fact that it might not be as awesome as they thought. Denial is a natural reaction."

The Radicalization of Pakistan’s Military (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"As U.S. forces are gradually withdrawn over the next three years, it is Pakistan’s 600,000-strong army that will become the dominant military force in the region and will try to shape its future. But that military is undergoing a deep internal crisis of identity, its most serious since Pakistan’s founding in 1947. How it resolves this crisis will determine its future, the future of the Afghan war — and much else."

Syria's Cultural Revolution from the Guardian [of the UK]
"In their peaceful uprising young people have found art, comedy and music to be weapons Assad fears."
The multi-dimensional, multi-cultural impacts of the 'Arab Spring' are really startling.  It seems like a pent-up torrent has been loosed across the middle east.

The Things They Carried: The Tahrir Square Irregular (Max Strasser) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"Hazem Marghany, a 25-year-old architect, spent 18 days in Cairo's Tahrir Square during the revolution and has come back every Friday since. Here's what he packs in his black Adidas laptop bag."

China Unrest Becoming Commonplace from the Editorial Board of the China Post [of Taiwan in English]
"How did it come to this, that despite record-high government spending on internal security, China is still having to fight these brush fires of social unrest? The answer may be found in an observation made in a Qinghua University report on social management last year — that the methods used to maintain stability tend to breed even greater instability."
I'm curious that this story out of China has received so little attention in western media.

It's Not that Europe No Longer Matters, It's That It Will Matter Differently (David Rothkopf) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"in the emerging multipolar world in which shifting alliances among major powers will tip the balance in all international affairs and in which a chastened, economically-strapped United States will require true partners to get anything done and in which our strong natural affinities and common interests are with Europe, it is short sighted and a mistake to write off what will remain an absolutely central relationship to the United States for decades to come."

The GOP’s Growing Isolationist Rift (Patricia Murphy) from the Daily Beast

"With hawkish veterans like John McCain on one side and budget-conscious freshmen on the other, Republicans are divided over Obama’s Afghanistan troop-reduction plans, the war itself, and using billions in war money at home. The split has led to some unusual GOP-Democratic alliances, reports Patricia Murphy."

Mitt Romney and the GOP: Don’t Expect Republicans to Choose Electability Over Ideology (Ed Kilgore) from the New Republic
"The steady drumbeat of conservative media claims that Obama is a disastrous president—half Jimmy Carter, half Herbert Hoover—whose policies were decisively repudiated by the American people in 2010 has created a steady undertow of belief that virtually any credible GOP nominee could beat him."
I suspect that this tea-party narrative will diminish as the primary cycle quickens.  I sense a deeper thread of pragmatism emerging -- but who knows?  When it comes to elections, Obama has always been lucky when he needed to be.  Maybe this is where it will show up in '12.

Florida or Bust: Huntsman's Unorthodox Path to the GOP Nomination from the National Journal
"By laying down stakes in Florida, Huntsman significantly raises expectations of his performance in the nation’s fourth-largest state, which has never before been home base to a major Republican presidential campaign."

Jon Huntsman Sees Independents as Key from Politico

"In an interview with POLITICO, Huntsman made clear that he plans to capitalize on election rules in New Hampshire and South Carolina that allow independent voters to cast ballots in the GOP presidential primary."
Who called it?!  I have no idea how Huntsman will fare in the primaries -- but make no mistake, he is smarter than the average GOP bear.

Michele Bachmann's Holy War (Matt Taibbi) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"The Tea Party contender may seem like a goofball, but be warned: Her presidential campaign is no laughing matter."

Sarah Palin Reportedly Quits Bus Tour Halfway Through from Talking Points Memo
"Former half-term Gov. Sarah Palin has reportedly packed in her bus tour...halfway through."
Palin has since DENIED that her tour is over.

Palin Cancels Trip to Sudan (Amy Gardner) from the Washington Post

"Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin has canceled a trip next month to war-ravaged Sudan, one of the most unstable nations in the world and the focus of passionate advocacy within the U.S. evangelical community. Palin scrapped her visit to the North African country for scheduling reasons, several sources close to her said."
Yeah -- she now needs to show the "lamestream" media that her bus tour was NOT canceled.  Much better to resume the bus tour than waste her precious time in foreign countries like Africa.

South Africa Embraces Mrs. Obama With Fervor from the New York Times
"The prickly ambivalence that South Africans often show toward the United States, which is often perceived here as an overbearing superpower, seems to have been suspended for Mrs. Obama. South Africans have embraced her with stirring emotion since she arrived on Monday, and she has been hugging them back, one by one, stop after stop."

Self Publishing Writer Becomes Million Seller from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]

"An entrepreneur has turned the writing world upside down by becoming the first author to sell more than a million electronic books without a publishing deal."

11 Dangerous Things You Should Let Your Children Do (PHOTOS) from the Huffington Post

"The original idea for a whole book about dangerous things you should let your children do was a bit of a fluke. But after spending a weekend watching kids lick a 9-volt battery for the first time (at Maker Faire Bay Area) or reading about families who blog their way through the book (like the Johnsen Clan, featured in this slideshow) it's clear that what kids needs these days is... more danger in their lives!"

The Pittsburgh Speakers Series -- Now Available as Podcastes and Streaming from WQED Pittsburgh
The series has included notables such as Mark Shields, Karl Rove, and Thomas Friedman.  Check'em out!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

News Nuggets 670

 See the Up-Front Pet Nugget!

Dying Man's Final Wish to be Reunited With Dog from KCRG-TV [from Cedar Rapids IA]

I reposted this story from yesterday -- it's very touching.  See the still photos that go with the video HERE.
"The dog Yurt used to live with a homeless Cedar Rapids man, 57-year-old Kevin McClain, in his car. But a month ago he became ill with lung cancer. ... From the day Yurt and Kevin were separated, he asked to see her. It was his dying wish."

Avoiding a Summer of Blood (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
President Obama is embracing the logic of a political settlement for Afghanistan with his speech Wednesday night. With Osama bin Laden dead, Obama can claim that America's core mission of combating al-Qaeda is succeeding. He can bring some troops home, and also step up diplomatic negotiations with the Taliban to reach a broad peace deal by 2014."

Benghazi on the Hill: Why Libya is Still Worth Fighting For (Marc Lynch) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"Beyond the political jockeying, however, the sudden burst of attention to Libya should be an opportunity for the public to take a fresh look at what is actually happening in Libya. This is a good time to realize that the war in Libya was very much worth fighting and that it is moving in a positive direction."

Broadcasting to Libya in Berber from Al Jazeera English
"Berber culture and language revived in Libya after decades of neglect and mistrust under Gaddafi."

Ahmadinejad vs. The Ayatollah (Abbas Milani) from the National Interest
"A battle royal between the president and the supreme leader has engulfed Tehran. The result? Khamenei and his allies are methodically and ruthlessly establishing the planet’s most unabashed theocratic despotism."

Pakistan's Risky China Card (Kevin Rafferty) from the Japan Times [in English]
"Scared Pakistani political leaders are drawing the wrong conclusions. The enemies of Pakistan are not the Americans — nor India — but terrorists operating in the name of Islamic fundamentalism, plus the politicians themselves in failing to solve urgent domestic economic and social problems. But Pakistan is playing the China card, with potentially perilous consequences for the whole of Asia."

New Delhi's Abbottabad Mission (Bruce Riedel) from the National Interest
"Obama changed the rules of the game. India may want the next turn at bat."

Is the 'China Model' Failing? (Max Fisher) from the Atlantic

"The country's economic growth, long thought to ensure Communist Party rule, has done little to curb the protests and violence that have erupted across the country in recent weeks"

PIMCO Founder To Deficit-Obsessed Congress: Get Back To Reality from Talking Points Memo
"In a prospectus for clients, Bill Gross, a co-founder of investment management giant PIMCO, says members' of Congress incessant focus on deficit -- and in particular, the manner in which they obsess about deficits -- is foolhardy, and a recipe for disaster. What the country needs, Gross said, is real stimulus now, and a measured return toward fiscal balance in the years ahead."

Air Quality Concerns Threaten Natural Gas' Image from NPR's All Things Considered
"Gas production already has caused unhealthy air in Wyoming's Sublette County and Utah's Uintah Basin. And experts project that booming shale gas developments like Haynesville, that stretches through Texas and Louisiana, and Marcellus, which lies beneath several Mid-Atlantic states, will start contributing to unhealthy levels of ozone or smog in coming years."

The Sullivan Persuasion (Hendrik Hertzberg) from the New Yorker
"... over the past decade—especially since he manfully renounced his initial support of the Iraq war— Andrew Sullivan has become one of the more merciless critics of the increasingly unhinged “movement” conservatism of his adopted country."

The Beginning of the End for the Tea Party? (Daniel W. Drezner) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Hey, remember a few months ago, when I wrote that, "the Tea Party's influence on American foreign policy has peaked and will be on the downswing for quite some time."?  How has time treated that statement? "

It's Grover Time: Huntsman Rejects No-Tax Pledge, Pawlenty Waivers (Howard Fineman) from the Huffington Post
"Most Republican presidential contenders have signed since Norquist started demanding that they do so back in 1988. But there are signs that his grip on the Party may be weakening a bit, which presents an opening for Huntsman and a dilemma for Tim Pawlenty."

Jon Huntsman’s First Step Toward Oblivion (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"I wish Huntsman luck in this noble pursuit, but the high road almost always leads to political oblivion. For Huntsman to maintain his course all the way to the Republican presidential nomination would turn politics on its head. More likely, he will join other decent men — Richard Lugar, Orrin Hatch — whose presidential campaigns were quickly forgotten."
For Obama's sake, I hope he is right.  I'm not betting on it though.

Newt Gingrich 2012 Campaign Finance Team Quits from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post
"The top fundraisers for Newt Gingrich's presidential campaign have abandoned his struggling bid amid anemic fundraising and heavy spending"
Gringrich's campaign is devolving into an epic joke.  Who thought this guy should be president?!

First lady Michelle Obama visits ex-president Nelson Mandela in South Africa from the Washington Post
"First lady Michelle Obama has said she hopes to inspire young adults during her visit this week to South Africa and Botswana, but she seemed inspired herself after a brief visit Tuesday with former South African president Nelson Mandela."

Meltdown from Foreign Policy Magazine

"For the first time, Boris Yeltsin's right-hand man tells the inside story of the coup that killed glasnost -- and changed the world."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

News Nuggets 669

A clearly surprised fox caught stealing an egg in a photo trap!  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Shove It, Karzai! (Leslie Gelb) from the Daily Beast
"The departing U.S. ambassador to Afghanistan had it right. Leslie H. Gelb on why President Karzai’s out-of-control comments should be a wakeup call to American hawks and doves alike."

Time to Quit Afghanistan (Richard Cohen) from the Washington Post
"From the start, America’s huge investment in Afghanistan has been a mistake. It was always necessary, not to mention just plain right, to go after Osama bin Laden and kill every last member of al-Qaeda. That job has mostly been done. But the rest — the routing of the Taliban and the building of a democratic state — is beyond America’s reach. The troops — most of them — should come home."
A clear, concise statement on where things are concerning troop withdrawal and what is and IS NOT at stake!  One of Cohen's better columns in a long time.

Turkey: Assad Has Less than Week to Heed Reforms Call from Reuters via the Jerusalem Post
"Turkish official warns Syrian there will be foreign intervention if Syria does not begin to implement reform; 1000s of civilians have fled Syria to Turkey."
Why "a week"?

A World of Our Making (G. John Ikenberry) from Democracy Journal

"The international order that America created will endure—if we make the transition to a grand strategy based on reciprocity and shared leadership."
A very interesting big-picture look at US foreign policy from one of America's leading Bush foreign policy critics.

All Ahmadinejad's Men (Ali Alfoneh) from the American Enterprise Institute

"...the move constitutes yet another public snub to Khamene'i, who seems unwilling and unable to protect his own protégés, thus opening the door to his further weakening. Is Khamene'i ready for a showdown with Ahmadinejad, or will he continue to watch his prestige crumble amidst his rival's provocations? Regardless of the outcome of the power struggle between the two, a third party could be the ultimate victor:"
This author presents a VERY different picture than most commentators concerning the struggles within the Iranian leadership. 

For contrast, see the following more conventional view presented in this story that appeared today:
Ahmadinejad’s Inner Circle Under Pressure from the Washington Post
"Although Ahmadinejad, who has become increasingly isolated, has relied closely on his tightknit group, the critics are demanding that the president cut all ties with his team."

Stuxnet Virus the World’s First ‘Open Source Weapon’ (VIDEO) from Raw Story
"What is the “Stuxnet” virus and why should you care? Simply put, it is the dawning of a new age of warfare, and a herald of things to come."

The Great Greek Illusion (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"Past glory is a wonderful thing — and a lousy guide for present policy. That’s true in the Holy Land, in Kosovo and in Athens. Greece should not have been allowed into the euro."

Farewell to GOP Interventionism? (Joe Scarborough) from Politico
"The fact that a few Republicans are advocating military restraint is a reason to cheer."
This view from one of the most prominent GOP talking heads!

GOP Eyes Tax Breaks, Loopholes from Politico
"Last week’s resounding votes on ethanol subsidies were just the start. Republicans are now starting to eye all sorts of tax breaks and special-interest loopholes once considered sacred cows as they seek ways to increase government revenue without actually raising tax rates."
Good news!! But the GOP will need to think AND PASS the unthinkable.  The sooner they get there the better.

The Rise of Uncompassionate Conservatism (Rich Lowry) from National Review
"The nomination of John McCain — himself no down-the-line conservative — obscured the anti-Bush feeling. Now, it’s in full flower and evident on all fronts, from spending and immigration to foreign policy, as Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns point out in Politico. Running on his message circa 1999, George W. Bush would be hard-pressed to gain traction in the current Republican party."

A related item:
Offensive Obama Impersonator Isn't Face GOP Should Put Forward (Doug Heye) from US News and World Report
"...if you want to know why many minorities have a problem with the GOP—a party that believes in empowerment, and the party of Lincoln—look no further than the hiring of an Obama impersonator telling “black jokes” to a Republican audience. When we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot, we have only ourselves to blame."
In certain respects these two stories are of a piece.  Somewhat thoughtful folks like Lowry still resist what's right in front of them: The extent to which loud, intolerant voices have found a GENUINE home in the GOP.  Until Republican and conservative leaders take an unambiguous stand against these people and their views, the GOP will push African Americans, Latinos and other minorities into the Democratic Party.

Mitt Romney Versus the Many from Politico
"The former Massachusetts governor has built up a solid early lead and looks as strong as ever; now, the burden of closing that gap falls to a group of relatively untested, unknown rivals who have yet to prove themselves on the national stage."
I think with Huntsman's entrance into the race today, this narrative will soon disappear.

12 Things Texans Know About Gov. Rick Perry That You Should, Too (Eileen Smith) from the Atlantic
"As momentum builds behind Perry's potential run at the White House in 2012, the national press is sure to delve deeper into his record. As that process begins, here's a list of things Texans know about Rick Perry that the national political audience should know, too."

The Mouth That Roared "Begins a New ‘Countdown' from the New York Times
"Keith Olbermann returned to cable television on Monday mad as hell and pointedly madder than other self-described liberal anchors on his former channel, MSNBC."

Edwards’ Life in Exile (Michelle Cottle) from the Daily Beast
"In John Edwards’ hometown, residents are disgusted by the fallen former presidential candidate's cheating on Elizabeth Edwards. Michelle Cottle visits Chapel Hill, where people snicker about his nightlife and his visits to his wife and son’s graves as tour buses drive by."
What a pathetic come-down!!

Dying Man Reunited with Dog from KCRG-TV via Americablog

Mysteries of a Nazi Photo Album (PHOTOS) from the New York Times

"There are certainly many photo albums of Nazi leaders and many photo albums of the Nazis’ victims. But it’s hard to imagine many albums depicting both, just a few pages apart."