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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

News Nuggets 733


Hot air ballooning over Turkey.  From National Geographic.

Good Riddance, Gaddafi (Dirk Vandewalle) from the Daily Beast
"Many fear turmoil and strife after the dictator’s fall. In fact, there’s reason to believe that Libya will be just fine."

Fault Lines in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood (Stephen Glain) from the Nation
"Seemingly within reach of unprecedented power in a post-Mubarak Egypt, the group faces the prospect of implosion."

WikiLeaks’s Harmful New Dump (P.J. Crowley) from the Daily Beast
"The latest revelations from Julian Assange will inhibit diplomacy, see some ambassadors’ tours curtailed, and raise the risk faced by U.S. sources who have been named. Former State Dept. spokesman P. J. Crowley on the fallout."

On Al Qaeda, the GOP's Sounds of Silence (Dick Polman) from WHYY [of Philadelphia]
"Basically, if Republicans can't tag Obama as a terrorist appeaser, or caricature him as a wuss committed to a "pre-9/11 mindset," or joke that he'd rather read terrorists their Miranda rights, they aren't programmed to say anything at all. Confronted with the factual truth that Obama's counter-terrorism strategy is demonstrably superior to the Bush-Cheney strategy (the latter featured an invasion of the wrong country under false pretenses, far from the al Qaeda epicenter, at a cost approaching $1 trillion), the Republicans are rendered mute."

Struggling with a Great Contraction (Martin Wolf) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
An important assessment of the global economy that should be read in its entirety.
"What has the market turmoil of August been telling us? The answer, I suggest, is three big things: first, the debt-encumbered economies of the high-income countries remain extremely fragile; second, investors have next to no confidence in the ability of policymakers to resolve the difficulties; and, third, in a time of high anxiety, investors prefer what are seen as the least risky assets, namely, the bonds of the most highly rated governments, regardless of their defects, together with gold. Those who fear deflation buy bonds; those who fear inflation buy gold; those who cannot decide buy both. But few investors or corporate managers wish to take on any longer-term investment risks."

The New Resentment of the Poor from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"These Republican leaders, who think nothing of widening tax loopholes for corporations and multimillion-dollar estates, are offended by the idea that people making less than $40,000 might benefit from the progressive tax code. They are infuriated by the earned income tax credit (the pride of Ronald Reagan), which has become the biggest and most effective antipoverty program by giving working families thousands of dollars a year in tax refunds. They scoff at continuing President Obama’s payroll tax cut, which is tilted toward low- and middle-income workers and expires in December."

The Cheney Regency (Jefferson Morley) from Salon
"In his new book the former vice president disses his boss -- and boasts of power."

A related story:
Former Powell Chief of Staff: Cheney "Fears Being Tried as a War Criminal" from ABC News
"In no uncertain terms. Cheney, Wilkerson told ABC News, "was president for all practical purposes for the first term of the Bush administration" and "fears being tried as a war criminal.""
Not that he ever repents anything, Cheney may eventually repent that he used his memoir to settle so many scores.  The reaction from Powell and others has been, low and behold, to begin to *tell the truth* about Cheney's role in the Bush administration.

Never-Fail Prediction System Shows 2012 Win for Obama from Raw Story
"Lichtman created a formula that has correctly predicted the winner of each election since 1984, beginning with the reelection of President Ronald Reagan, U.S. News and World Report reported. The formula that predicted Obama's 2008 win is again showing that the incumbent president will win the election, despite the term-low approval rating Obama has been maintaining for past weeks."

Obama Targets GOP for Fall Offensive from The Hill
"President Obama is preparing to fight a political war this fall on two fronts -- the first against Republicans who want his job and the second against Republicans who want to make his job more difficult. Obama is taking dead-aim at the latter group, targeting Congress in a fall offensive that the president’s reelection campaign hopes will bruise the overall GOP image beyond repair."
This sounds like a version of Truman's successful "do nothing congress" message of 1948.  Given public attitudes about congress right now, this strategy has potential -- but Obama and his team will have to really BRING IT to the GOP!  His pattern has been to come forth with a tough message, get some pushback form the GOP, and then scale back the tough messaging or abandon it completely.

Tea Party Senate Primary Campaigns to Watch (Ben Adler) from the Nation
"Tea Party activists are not happy with Republicans in Washington, and they're preparing to challenge a whole bunch of them."

Rick Perry Panic Fires the Left from Politico
"In his two weeks as a presidential candidate, Rick Perry has done something that neither Barack Obama nor Mitt Romney could do: wake up the left."
This is the best political news I have heard in months!  Since the 2010 elections, the left has been indulging in angsty hand-wringing and over-done bitching about Obama.  Now is the time to get clear that a Perry presidency (or Romney or Bachmann) would be CATASTROPHIC for EVERYTHING progressives (and even most moderates) care about.  Time to get straight about that.  W. Bush was able to secure a second term in '04 by his base rousing itself and rising to the moment.  It is time for folks on the left to do the same!

Rick Perry's God (Christopher Hitchens) from Slate
"Does the Texas governor believe his idiotic religious rhetoric, or is he just pandering for votes?"

PUBLIC EDUCATION NUGGET!!
Confessions of a Bad Teacher (John Owens) from Salon
"I took a job in the NYC public school system because I wanted to make a difference. I ended up living a nightmare."

LITERATURE NUGGET!!
Modern Steinbecks Emerge to Chronicle Tough Times (Jeff Martin) from Salon
"A burgeoning literary movement is telling the story of the Great Recession through those hurting the most."

HITLER'S HENCHMEN NUGGET!!
'He Got Away Lightly with Suicide': Goebbels' Secretary, 100, Breaks Vow of Silence to Reveal Secrets of Hitler's Propaganda Minister from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"The former secretary of Hitler's propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels has broken a 66-year vow of silence to talk about her service for the man who made Germans hate the Jews. ... after five months of negotiations she has given a single interview to Bild, Germany's biggest newspaper, in which she describes her four years as the chief secretary of the man closest to Hitler."
An amazing story.  The Daily Beast has more on this interview HERE.


Tuesday, August 30, 2011

News Nuggets 732


Palms reflected in rain puddles in Florida.  From National Geographic.

Libya Rebels Demand Algeria Return Gaddafi Family from Reuters
"The development threatened to create a diplomatic rift just as the rebel National Transitional Council (NTC) worked to consolidate its position as Libya's new government. An NTC spokesman said the council would seek to extradite the Gaddafis."
Is the new Libyan government about to declare war on Algeria?  No.  But if you are the Algerian regime, you've got to worry about what the NTC might do to "assist" the Arab Spring revolt that is already underway in Algeria.  It has not gotten the coverage of many other countries in the region -- but it has been in evidence from the beginning. 

The Free Shores of Tripoli (James Kirchick) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Libyans are ecstatic about the overthrow of Qaddafi, and they love America."
Oh really? We'll see.

America’s Secret Libya War (John Barry) from the Daily Beast
"The U.S. military has spent about $1 billion on Libya’s revolution, and secretly helped NATO with everything from munitions to surveillance aircraft. John Barry provides an exclusive look at Obama’s emerging 'covert intervention' strategy."

NATO’s Teachable Moment from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"...it would be a mistake to deny the serious problems revealed by the six-month campaign. This was NATO’s first attempt at sustained combat operations with the United States playing a support role. Europe’s military capabilities fell far short of what was needed, even for such a limited fight."

Score One for Interventionism (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"It will be two decades next year since the outbreak of the Bosnian war — and since the debate on interventionism began to rage, becoming one of the most acrimonious moral questions of our times. Now Libya, a successful Western intervention, will be placed on the scales."

Libya and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention (Stewart Patrick) from Foreign Affairs Journal
"The fall of Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi is a significant foreign policy triumph for U.S. President Barack Obama. By setting overall strategy while allowing others to shoulder the burden of implementing it, the Obama administration achieved its short-term objective of stopping Qaddafi's atrocities and its long-term one of removing him from power."

African Union Rattled by Gadhafi's Collapse from the China Post [of Taiwan in English]
"The toppling of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi by rebels has left the African Union (AU) sidelined, members divided and anger high at a Western-led bombing campaign, analysts say."
The AU, for the most part, has been buddy-buddy with Gadhafi for decades -- so no surprise here.  Half their member governments are authoritarian regimes and have a great deal to fear if the 'Arab Spring' goes south of the Sahara.

No Soft Power Here: Leadership with Chinese Characteristics (Richard Zalski) from the Asia Sentinel [of Hong Kong in English]
"A common theme in the international media and academic papers emphasizes China’s rise vs. America’s decline and presents China as the coming superpower. However, the question is how China can lead the globe if it is not trusted in its own turf."

Accidental Release of US Cables Endangers Sources from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"A WikiLeaks file containing the original leaked US State Department cables has inadvertently been released onto the Internet. The documents have not been edited to protect sources, meaning that the lives of informants could be at risk."
No surprise here.  From the very beginning, when Wikileaks did their big document dump of state department documents, their was very little evidence of meaningful "editing" of that material.  It actually takes a substantial amount of expertise to really vet such a diverse collection of communications -- expertise that Wikileaks has never had.  Moreover, the sheer volume of material Wikileaks had makes meaningful review a mathematical impossibility.  Remember -- we're talking about tens of thousands, purportedly hundreds of thousands of documents.  And no -- throwing caches of documents to a universe of anonymous bloggers for review won't cut it!

Growing Concerns Over Fracking (AUDIO) from NPR's Diane Rehm Program
"The S.E.C. has asked oil and gas companies for details about a controversial natural gas drilling method. Growing concerns over fracking and the role of natural gas in the U.S. economy."

In New Memoir, Dick Cheney's Domestic Spying and Attempts to Rewrite History from Time Magazine
"One of Cheney’s most surprising claims involves the Bush administration’s internal crisis over domestic surveillance by the National Security Agency."
A very interesting story.  HERE's more reaction to Cheney's book.

Romney’s Plan to Beat Perry (Marc A. Thiessen) from the Washington Post
"If Perry fails to implode and continues to surge in the polls, Romney eventually will have to go on the attack — an assault his advisers say will commence “at a time of our choosing.” Romney strategists are quick to note that in his book, “Fed Up!,”"
I actually don't hear much of a plan here.  I don't see anything that will seriously offset Perry's strengths.

Why Mitt Romney Will Fail (Ana Marie Cox) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Most pundits still think Romney's the Republican frontrunner for 2012, but no one loves a loser – and Romney's not much loved."

Perry Calls for Aggressive Foreign Policy from the San Antonio Express News
"Despite being asked by convention leaders to appear as state governor and not a presidential candidate, Gov. Rick Perry endorsed an aggressive foreign policy doctrine, including support for the concept of pre-emptive strikes, in his welcoming remarks Monday at the Veterans of Foreign Wars national convention. ... “It's a dangerous world that we live in today,” Perry said. “As the 10th anniversary of the attacks of 9-11 approach, we must renew our commitment to taking the fight to the enemy, wherever they are, before they strike at home.”"
Of course.  These days, GOP foreign policy is given purely by domestic political concerns.

Is Rick Perry Dumb? (Jonathan Martin) from Politico
"Doubts about Perry’s intellect have hounded him since he was first elected as a state legislator nearly three decades ago. In Austin, he’s been derided as a right-place, right-time pol who looks the part but isn’t so deep — “Gov. Goodhair.” Now, with the chatter picking back up among his enemies and taking flight in elite Republican circles, the rap threatens to follow him to the national stage."

E-BOOK NUGGET!!
Oh, the Pages that Glow! from the Boston Globe
"In snaring young readers, will e-books succeed? Seems 98 3/4 percent guaranteed."

Monday, August 29, 2011

News Nuggets 731


An historic image from the Atlantic Magazine's wonderful series of World War II photographs!  This one shows part of the Battle of Midway and the Aleutian Campaign.  Check out the rest of these rarely seen images HERE.

Libya: Nato Must Learn from its Success from the Editorial Board of the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"Telegraph View: The campaign in Libya demonstrates that Nato cannot afford to reduce its military capability any further."

What the Arab Papers Say from the Economist [of London]
"AS REBELS celebrate taking of Tripoli and the world ponders the whereabouts of Muammar Qaddafi, we look at reactions in the Arab press to the fighting in Libya."

Libya Intervention's Proves Obama Right (P.J. Crowley) from the Daily Beast
"Gaddafi isn’t done yet, but the rebel surge into Tripoli means that the NATO intervention in Libya was a resounding success says P.J. Crowley—and a warning to the region."

A Body Blow Against al-Qaeda (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"The death of Atiyah Abd al-Rahman in an Aug. 22 drone attack in Pakistan may appear to be just another in the revolving-door fatalities among al-Qaeda’s operations chiefs. But it was a crucial blow to the core group that once surrounded Osama bin Laden."
Time Magazine has more on this story HERE.

Damascus Protests Show Signs of Escalation from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"Activists from the Local Co-ordination Committees reported dozens of protests continuing in Damascus suburbs, while other activists said security forces fired on protesters attempting to march into the city itself."

The Baghdad Syndrome (Larry Kaplow) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Eight not-so-simple steps to making sure that Libya doesn't repeat Iraq's mistakes."

Imagining a World Without Dictators (William J. Dobson) from the Washington Post
"Totalitarianism, the ultimate expression of dictatorship, is virtually extinct. It was just too expensive. The Joseph Stalins, Pol Pots, and Idi Amins belong to a distinctly 20th-century version of dictatorship. No one wants to be North Korea or Burma. Police states are passĂ©. Maybe we don’t need to fear the men in white coats after all. ... Just one problem: The end of some of the harshest dictatorships has not necessarily spelled a more free world."

Will China Be Rome or Greece? (Richard Weitz) from The Diplomat
"The Pentagon’s new report on China’s military underscores the rapid progress it is making. But what exactly is this build-up for?"

All Together Now (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"HOLD onto your hats and your wallets. Since the end of the cold war, the global system has been held together to a large degree by four critical ruling bargains. Today all four are coming unstuck at once and will need to be rebuilt. Whether and how that rebuilding happens — beginning in the U.S. — will determine a lot about what’s in your wallet and whether your hat flies off."

Consumer Fears Put Economy on the Brink (Peter Whoriskey) from the Washington Post
"While the Dow Jones industrial average and the unemployment rate get more attention, the shoppers outside a Wal-Mart in Northern Virginia offer a taste of what some economists believe is the more immediate reason that the U.S. economy may be on the verge of another recession. Americans are still spooked."

How Lesbians Live in Iran (Omid Memarian) from the Daily Beast
"A controversial new movie explores the lives of lesbians forced to live in the shadows. Omid Memarian talks to women in Iran who say the movie doesn’t do their predicament justice."

Republicans Against Science (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Mr. Hunstman has been willing to say the unsayable about the G.O.P. — namely, that it is becoming the “anti-science party.” This is an enormously important development. And it should terrify us.  To see what Mr. Huntsman means, consider recent statements by the two men who actually are serious contenders for the G.O.P. nomination: Rick Perry and Mitt Romney."

A Political Junkie's Guide to Cheney's Memoir (Jonathan Martin) from Politico
"Cheney’s political career began well before 2000, and “In My Time” includes more than a few behind-the-scenes nuggets spanning his time in the Nixon, Ford and first Bush administrations, as well as his tenure as a member of Congress from Wyoming."

More on Cheney's book:
George Will Slams Dick Cheney For Not Apologizing For Iraq (VIDEO) (Nicole Belle) from Crooks and Liars
"WILL: Five hundred and sixty five pages and a simple apology would have been in order in some of them. Which is to say, the great fact of those eight years is we went to war—big war, costly war—under false pretenses. And…to write a memoir in which you say essentially nothing seriously went wrong..."
I can't recall the last time I even remotely agreed with George Will about anything, never mind as whole-heartedly as I agree with him here!

Bush, George W.: Will History Judge His Presidency the Way it Did Truman’s? (Robert Dallek) from New York Magazine
"Bush seems likely to remain somewhere in the bottom rank of presidents, sharing an unwanted distinction with James Buchanan, Warren G. Harding, Herbert Hoover, and Richard Nixon."

Loneliness of the Long Distance Mitt. Can Romney the Tortoise Overcome Rick Perry the Hare? (Toby Harnden) from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"Despite everything, however – his longevity as a candidate, his willingness to do “what it takes”, as the title of Richard Ben Cramer’s classic volume about the 1988 campaign put it, and endure the loneliness and the humiliating scrutiny – some of his supporters now fear it will be for naught."

Mitt Romney vs. Rick Perry 2012: It's Personal from Politico
"It’s the worst-kept secret of the GOP presidential primary: Mitt Romney and Rick Perry have never liked each other very much."
Since 2008, I have yet to hear from anyone in the GOP who actually "likes" Mitt Romney.  The Atlantic has further observations on this topic HERE.

Rick Perry Has Distanced Himself from George W. Bush’s Brand of Conservatism from the Washington Post
"In his writings and speeches before he entered the race, Perry shared the view, widely held among conservatives, that Bush’s government spending habits in office were a betrayal of the GOP’s core fiscal principles. But Perry went further, dismissing “compassionate conservatism,” the central tenet of Bush’s domestic policy, as just more overreach by the federal government."

Seeds of Discontent for Bachmann in Iowa; Told to Cut the 'Barack Obama Rock Star Crap' from Fox News
""(Perry) sat with people, talked with people. (Bachmann) acted like a rock star, refused to eat dinner with us," he said. "If Michele Bachmann is the hometown girl, from Waterloo, she should dine with us." Instead, Saul points out Bachmann spent time on her campaign bus, only entering for her turn to speak at the event after she was introduced twice."

UNIVERSITY LIFE NUGGET!!
Why Do College Students Love Getting Wasted? (Thomas Rogers) from Salon
"New research uncovers the secret attraction of binge drinking. An expert explains the surprising results."

BRITISH TV DRAMA NUGGET!!
The Brits' Surprising Emmy Hit (Jace Lacob) from the Daily Beast
"‘Downton Abbey’ creator Julian Fellowes and the cast of the critically acclaimed period drama talk to Jace Lacob about their Emmy nominations, the show’s insane popularity, and what’s coming up on Season 2."
I thought this was a great series!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

News Nuggets 730


The Neptune Memorial Reef Cemetery in Florida. From National Geographic. 

UP-FRONT INSPIRING OBAMA 'NUGGET-WITHIN-A-NUGGET' [from yesterday]
For those looking to represence why they voted for Obama and why it REALLY DOES MAKE A DIFFERENCE that he is in White House.
"Marines #1: "Since I'm a single officer in the Marine barracks and I've got the highest security clearance you can get, I also serve at the White House in close quarters with President Bush and President Obama at social events. Very seldom was the president ever alone, but one time the president had said, 'Go and get the vice president,' and all the straphangers went, and the president went in the Blue Room and was just standing there waiting for Biden. And there was no Secret Service around or anything, and I went, 'Fuck it, I'm going to go and talk to the president about "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." ' He was looking out south—there's an incredible view down past the Washington Monument to the Jefferson. And I just stepped in and said, 'Sir?' and he turned around and walks to me and I just started: 'You know, sir, I want to let you know that there are a number of us that work very close to you who appreciate very much what you're doing on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"—more than you probably realize.' And he was shaking my hand, he looks up and it's like...he got it. I said, 'I want to thank you for this.' And he goes, 'No, I want to thank you. Thank you for your service, and thank you for your courage.' ""

Grim Evidence of Fighting’s Toll Becomes Clearer in Libya from the New York Times
"Amnesty International said Friday that it had evidence that forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi had killed rebels who had been held in custody in two camps. In one camp, it said, guards killed five detainees held in solitary confinement, and in another they opened the gates, telling the rebels they were free to go, then tossed grenades and fired on the men as they tried to run for freedom."

Libyan War Goes a Long Way to Improve the Pentagon’s View of France as an Ally from the New York Times
"Eight years ago the French were called the “cheese-eating surrender monkeys” who opposed the Iraq war. They inspired “freedom fries” and jokes meant to boost American military morale. “Have you heard about the new French tank?” a United States Marine commander asked his men in Kuwait in March 2003, only days before his unit crossed the border into Iraq. “It’s got six gears — all in reverse.” But something has happened on the bombing runs over Libya. France played a major role in this war, winning grudging respect from a Pentagon that has long looked down on many European militaries."

Al-Qaida's Number Two Killed in Pakistan from the Guardian [of the UK]
"A senior US official claims al-Qaida's second in command, Atiyah Abd al-Rahman, has been killed in Waziristan."

Britain’s Embarrassing Collective Response to the London Riots (Geoffrey Wheatcroft) from the New Republic
"England endures a turbulent summer, as riots sweep through the cities, newspapers fulminate, and politicians pontificate. Yes, 1981 seems almost like yesterday—which makes it eerier that history should repeat itself just 30 years on."
A NY Times Op-Ed comments in a similar vein HERE.

Obama Seeks Jobs Plan as U.S. Workingman Status Further Erodes (Mike Dorning) from the Bloomberg News Service
"The portion of men holding a job—any job, full- or part-time—fell to 63.5 percent in July, hovering stubbornly near the low point of 63.3 percent it reached in December 2009. These are the lowest numbers in statistics going back to 1948. ... Men who do have jobs are getting paid less. After accounting for inflation, median wages for men between 30 and 50 dropped 27 percent--to $33,000 a year from 1969 to 2009, according to an analysis by Michael Greenstone..."
The picture here is very bleak.  Daily Kos has some good analysis HERE.

Columnist Frank Bruni has his own take:
The Fall This Summer (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times
" this summer crystallized a growing sense that our country’s can-do spirit was being replaced by a make-do resignation, and that our best days might well be behind us. I kept finding myself in the same conversation, over and over, and only occasionally was I the one to initiate it. It concerned whether children in America today were likely to enjoy lives as privileged as their parents’. The usual conclusion — that they weren’t — represented an unsettling erosion of American confidence and a pivot in the nation’s psyche from a swaggering optimism to something more subdued."

Whole Foods versus Cracker Barrel: How Americans Are Self-Sorting (Charlie Cook) from National Journal
"More and more, politically like-minded Americans are living next to each other. Polarization is one result."

Why Washington Really Likes Itself (Catherine Rampell) from the New York Times
"The latest index report shows that the District of Columbia is far more confident in the economy than any state, by a long shot. ... What’s going on? How can an economy ravaged by double-digit joblessness be so Pollyannaish?"

What If Journalists Stopped Trying to Be Political Insiders? (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"Jay Rosen says the press is obsessed with savvy politicking and that it tempts voters to focus on style over substance."

Darth Vader Vents (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times
"WHY is it not a surprise to learn that Dick Cheney’s ancestor, Samuel Fletcher Cheney, was a Civil War soldier who marched with Sherman to the sea? Scorched earth runs in the family. Having lost the power to heedlessly bomb the world, Cheney has turned his attention to heedlessly bombing old colleagues."

HIGHER ED NUGGET!!
Relief for Student Debtors from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"The schools sometimes push these students into high-cost private loans that they can never hope to repay, even when they are eligible for affordable federal loans. Because the private loans have fewer consumer accommodations like hardship deferments, the borrowers often have little choice but to default. Worse yet, these loans and the bad credit history follow the debtors for the rest of their lives. Even filing for bankruptcy doesn’t clean the slate."
This is desperately needed!

OUTER SPACE NUGGET!!
Space Hotel to Give Rich a Thrill That's Out of This World from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Russian aerospace engineers join race to provide wealthy thrill-seekers with the ultimate holiday destination."

BBC TV DRAMA NUGGET!!
Readers Have Their Say: The 10 Greatest British TV Dramas of All-Time from BBC America
"... we asked readers to submit their choices for the Greatest British TV Drama of all-time. And certainly the top 10 picks display the diversity of British drama, from grim and gritty crime thrillers, to sumptuous costume drama, to high-concept sci-fi."
NO Elizabeth R with Glenda Jackson!?  NO Wives of Henry VIII!?  NO Poldark!?  Outrageous!  But at least it's better than what the Daily Beast did several months ago.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

News Nuggets 729


This is a micro-crack in a piece of steel after multiple bending tests.  The image was taken  by an electron microscope. From the Huffington Post.

Libyan Rebels Prepare to Attack Sirte After Nato Raids from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Tanks, heavy artillery and rocket launchers abandoned by fleeing Gaddafi forces are being assembled for attack."

Gaddafi Has Crossed the Line Between Murderous Tyrant and Plonker from the Guardian [of the UK]
"All dictators know that the biggest threat to their power is ridicule. And now the people of Libya are laughing."
"Plonker"?!  This was a new one for me.  It is a "stupid or inept person."

Gaddafi's Defeated Forces Face Up to a New Reality from the Guardian [of the UK]
"With Tripoli's hospitals now in rebel hands, Gaddafi's wounded loyalists admit the truth at last."

Behind the Curtain (David Remnick) from the New Yorker
"... as Libyans rejoice at the prospect of a world without an unhinged despot, many of Obama’s critics still view a President who rid the world of Osama bin Laden (something that George Bush failed to do) and helped bring down Muammar Qaddafi (something that Ronald Reagan failed to do) as supinely selling out American power. Yet the Administration’s policies—a more apt description, admittedly, would have been “leading from behind the scenes”—were tailored to limiting circumstances."

What Qaddafi’s Fall Means for His Evil Minions in South America, Asia, and Africa (Joshua Kurlantzick) from the New Republic
"From the time he assumed power, Qaddafi leveraged Libya’s oil money, and his own willingness to have his country become a pariah state, to support insurgencies from East Asia, to South America, to southern Africa. With any luck, a number of long-running civil wars will disappear from the world stage together with Qaddafi himself."

The Kingdom of Magical Thinking (Robin Mills) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Widely assumed to be a fabulously wealthy welfare state, Saudi Arabia is in fact an economic basket case waiting to happen."

Germany Adrift from the Editorial Board of the Irish Times
"Helmut Kohl – a former chancellor and her onetime political mentor ... Germany, he said, has lost its “old dependability” leaving allies confused and perplexed about the direction of the country’s foreign policy. He paints a depressing picture of a leader who has lost her political bearings, one who travels hopefully without benefit of compass or maps, unsure of where she is and uncertain of where she wants to go."

You Think Obama’s Been a Bad President? Prove It (Jonathan Alter) from Bloomberg News Service
"..identify where Obama has been a poor decision-maker. What, specifically, has he done wrong on policy? What, specifically, would you have done differently to create jobs? And what can any of the current Republican candidates offer that would be an improvement on the employment front?"

Carmakers' Rebound is Driving Jobs in U.S. from the Los Angeles Times
"The industry that once needed bailing out could be the one to stave off recession."

Tell: An Intimate History of Gay Men in the Military (Chris Heath) from GQ
"As "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" comes to an end, we sent Chris Heath to interview dozens of gay servicemen from the past and present to find out what life was really like as America's military struggled with its last great identity crisis"

When Schools Depend on Handouts (Michael Rebell and Jessica Wolff) from the New York Times
"Although praiseworthy as a matter of personal philanthropy, the donation by the mayor and the others, whose names were not disclosed, is highly distressing as a matter of public policy. It is disgraceful that essential components of our public education system now depend on the charitable impulses of wealthy citizens."

Don’t Panic, Mitt Romney! (Ross Douthat) from the New York Times
"Mitt cannot safely continue to just raise money and lie in the weeds hoping the 2012 nomination will be delivered to him.” Can’t he?"

Al Gore to Rick Perry: Climate Scientists Aren't Motivated by Money from The Hill
“These scientists don’t make a lot of money. They are comfortable, as they should be, but they don’t make a lot of money. That is not their motivation for doing what they do,” Gore added.
Gore needed to go the extra yard about this canard. Speaking as someone with a sub-specialty in environmental policy, the REAL money is to be made from the global warming denying side of the business.  In the media, it is actually rare to find an honest-to-God scientist condemning the science of global warming -- it is almost always policy pundits (say, from the CATO Institute) or right-wing lawmakers (like James Inhoff of Oklahoma, who DOES consider himself an expert on the subject).  For real scientists, (for that tiny five percent or so who genuinely don't believe in the science of global warming), they can make an exceptional amount of money!!  Big oil and many other large corporations and manufacturers will throw money by the truck load at anyone with real bona fides who can look credible for five minutes on television.

Rick Perry Hates D.C. — So Why Run? (Jennifer Rubin) from the Washington Post
"Perry dipped a toe in the national media market with an appearance on the Laura Ingraham radio show. ... Here’s the thing: When he does his anti-Washington shtick he sounds like someone who doesn’t have the patience or the skill to govern from there. He’s going to have a tough time governing in a place for which he already has shown contempt."
Now -- it is rare that i ever find anything of use in Jennifer Rubin's blog.  She is usually a very predictable partisan who buys a majority of what the Tea Party is selling these days.  So it's interesting that even SHE comes forth with this kind of critique.

Perry: GOP Savior or Goldwater II? (Robert Mann) from Politico
"Perry’s controversial statements – about Texas secession, the unconstitutionality of Social Security, his refusal to acknowledge climate change, his comparing homosexuality to alcoholism, his doubts about evolution and his questioning of President Barack Obama’s patriotism — may have already inflicted grave damage and, perhaps, destroyed his chance to become president."

Rick Perry, the Republicans’ Messiah? (Kathleen Parker) from the Washington Post
"Rick Perry’s rapid lead over previous Republican front-runner Mitt Romney was predictable. But it is not a good sign for Republicans hoping to reclaim the White House and further highlights the crucial battle within GOP circles: Who is the godliest of us all? That’s the mirror-mirror question for Republicans. Forget charisma, charm, intelligence, knowledge and that nuisance, “foreign policy experience.” The race of the moment concerns which candidate is the truest believer."

KING MEMORIAL NUGGET!!
Building the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial from Smithsonian Magazine
"For those working behind the scenes on the King memorial, its meaning runs deep."


Friday, August 26, 2011

News Nuggets 728


The Tuareg desert in Algeria.  From National Geographic.

Libyan Rebels Say Muammar Gaddafi Surrounded from Reuters
"A group of rebels besieging a cluster of apartment buildings near the compound of Muammar Gaddafi said they believed the man who led Libya for four decades was hiding in the buildings with some of his sons."
This story has been challenged this morning.  May be a false alarm. 

Going, Going…: End-game in Libya from the Economist [of London]
"The fall of Muammar Qaddafi will transform Libya, the Middle East and NATO."

Tripoli, the Morning After (Khaled Darwish) from the New York Times
"In Libya, citizens re-emerged on the day after Tripoli’s liberation to streets of damaged beauty."

The Arab Awakening (Rami G. Khouri) from the Nation
"The revolt we are witnessing is not about ideology. It is mostly about men and women who, so brutalized by their own and foreign powers, are asserting their fundamental humanity—their right to use all their human faculties; to read, speak, listen, think, debate, create and enjoy to the full extent of their God-given ability or desire, whether in culture, politics, art, media, technology or any other arena."

U.S. May Back Refinance Plan for Mortgages from the New York Times
"The Obama administration is considering further actions to strengthen the housing market, but the bar is high: plans must help a broad swath of homeowners, stimulate the economy and cost next to nothing. One proposal would allow millions of homeowners with government-backed mortgages to refinance them at today’s lower interest rates, about 4 percent, according to two people briefed on the administration’s discussions..."
An important development -- if Obama can do anything to get the housing market off its back, it could represent an important economic recovery measure.  Daily Kos provides some useful anaysis HERE.

Asking Candidates Tougher Questions About Faith (Bill Keller) from the New York Times
"If a candidate for president said he believed that space aliens dwell among us, would that affect your willingness to vote for him? Personally, I might not disqualify him out of hand; one out of three Americans believe we have had Visitors and, hey, who knows? But I would certainly want to ask a few questions. Like, where does he get his information? Does he talk to the aliens? Do they have an economic plan? Yet when it comes to the religious beliefs of our would-be presidents, we are a little squeamish about probing too aggressively."

How the Working Poor Became the New Welfare Queens (Ed Kilgore) from the New Republic
"...now, even as the "working poor" (the bipartisan heroes of welfare reform) are bearing much of the brunt of the Great Recession, they have become the objects of a new and intense wave of conservative hostility that treats them as parasites just like the "welfare queens" of yore."

Conservatives Can’t Stop Buying into the Myth of What Happened in Wisconsin (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"The fact that conservatives see the need to keep dissembling about the core truth here — that neither Wisconsinites nor the American people ever endorse Walker’s radical union-busting — is itself proof that they are well aware that Walker overreached in the eyes of the American people, and that there’s no meaningful public mandate for what you might call “Walkerism.”"

Perry’s Fragile Lead (David Frum) from the Frum Forum
"Do Republicans really want to run a candidate who has put in writing his opposition to Social Security and Medicare? ... House Republicans have already voted to end the Medicare guarantee for future generations. So deniability is getting to be a problem here. Or is the plan to follow Rumsfeld’s rule: If you can’t solve a problem, make it bigger?"

The Scary Thing About Rick Perry’s ‘Frontrunner’ Status (Stephen Stromberg) from the Washington Post
"I still think that Perry’s candidacy will flame out, a burst of know-nothing right-wing populism with a truly mean edge to it that ultimately can’t succeed with enough voters. ... Still, Gallup’s poll makes one wonder just what he’ll have to say to repel those who currently favor him."

Huntsman Up Close (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"... he cut a considerably more impressive, substantial figure in person. The Obama folks are right to hope he doesn't get near the nomination. ... Setting aside looks and atmospherics, he's just clearly a very knowledgable guy. So sounds like I was impressed? Yeah, I was."
I confess that, in the universe of GOP political figures, I have long been impressed with Huntsman.  I disagree with many of his positions -- but as he has said, he lives in the real world.

EXTRAORDINARY NEWS MEDIA NUGGET!!
Fox News: ‘Facts Are Certainly’ On The Side Of Global Warming, But ‘It Doesn’t Matter’ (Brad Johnson) from Think Progress
"On Fox & Friends Sunday, anchor Clayton Morris admitted that Fox News factcheckers have confirmed that man-made global warming is “certainly” real, but argued that it “doesn’t matter” because climate denial is popular among Fox News-watching conservatives."
World-altering environmental problem!!  We won't say so because our viewers don't like to hear about it.  Clearly, a news organization designed for the 21st century!  

THIRD REICH BOOK NUGGET!!
Adolf & Eva: A Review of Eva Braun: Life with Hitler by Heike B. Görtemaker from the National Interest
"Who was Eva Braun? Why did she link her fate so inextricably to that of the German dictator? Why was her existence kept so secret for so long?"
VERY INTERESTING review.

FRANCE NUGGET!!
The Decline and Fall of the French Language? (Gary Girod) from New Geography
"...though English has not — despite predictions — crushed all other languages (German, Russian, and Spanish, to cite the prime examples, all remain strong), one language does seem to be undergoing the predicted cataclysmic collapse. English may not yet have won the globe, but French has definitely lost it."

E-BOOK NUGGET!!
Bells and Whistles for a Few E-Books from the New York Times
"Booktrack, a start-up in New York, is planning to release e-books with soundtracks that play throughout the books, an experimental technology that its founders hope will change the way many novels are read."
I'm skeptical that this will in any way "enhance" my reading experience -- but who knows?

LIBERTARIAN EXPERIMENT NUGGET!!
Silicon Valley Billionaire Reveals Plan to Launch Floating 'Start Up Country' Off Coast of San Francisco from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"PayPal founder wants to create libertarian society on oil-rig style platforms."
A fiasco in the making.

GRAMMAR NUGGET!!
8 Common Grammar Mistakes (Sue Sommer) from the Huffington Post
"I've left out the copious regulations that govern spellings and word usage and instead have given simple ideas to assist you with what is generally accepted among the well informed."

PLANETARY NUGGET!!
Astronomers Discover Planet Made of Diamonds from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"It is certainly what you could call a gem of a discovery. Astronomers believe they have found an entire planet made of diamonds."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

News Nuggets 727


A brown bear ... at a photo shoot.  From a story about a photographer who specializes in studio photos of bears.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Libyan Rebels Advance on Gaddafi's Home Town from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Speculation grows that Muammar Gaddafi has fled to Sirte, as sporadic shooting continues in Tripoli."

Libya’s Bloody Road to Freedom (Azza Kamel Maghur) from the New York Times
"The young men of a Tripoli neighborhood went into the streets, intent on achieving freedom or martyrdom."

Why Libya Skeptics were Proved Badly Wrong (Anne-Marie Slaughter) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"Let us do a thought experiment. Imagine the UN did not vote to authorise the use of force in Libya in March. ... This is the scenario many wise heads were effectively arguing for with their strong stands against intervention to stop Col Gaddafi.
Slaughter (who I have been more and more impressed with as a foreign policy pundit) is channelling precisely my original views on the Libya intervention.  Most critics of the intervention live in a 20th century world where some version of Powell's "Pottery Barn" rule applied: "you break it, you own it."  Said another way: the costs for intervening will be enormous while not intervening leave responsibility for what happens elsewhere.  The Libya case showed how flawed this view can be.  Transformed by new media, inaction threatened some core US interests as much as action.  Read Slaughter's entire piece.

Assault on Tripoli 'Planned Weeks Ago' from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Details emerge of rebel and Nato plans to oust Gaddafi, involving bombing, sleeper cells and special forces squads."

What We’ve Learned in Libya (Jim Hoagland) from the Washington Post
"Rushing past the obvious is an occupational hazard for journalists and policymakers. Much of the official and media verbiage triggered by the rebels’ capture of Moammar Gaddafi’s Tripoli headquarters has missed essential contemporary and historical developments:"

The New Epicenter of China's Discontent (Christina Larson) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"This northeastern port city, with its gleaming skyscrapers, seaside yacht club, and Cartier and Armani boutiques on People's Road, might seem about the least likely site for one of China's largest protests in years. ... A dispatch from a city that wasn't supposed to be on the brink."

Immigration Laws in the South: a New Jim Crow (Paul Harris) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Lawmakers in southern states enacting harsh measures against illegal workers are exempting domestics – a stunning hypocrisy."

Pelosi v. Boehner from Daily Kos
"What the Democratic-controlled House under Speaker Nancy Pelosi is responsible for."

Florida's High-Speed Rail Money Officially Sent To Northeast Corridor (Sam Stein) from the Huffington Post
"Half a year after Florida Gov. Rick Scott rejected $2.4 billion in federal money to help build high-speed rail structures inside his state, the cash has been sent to other portions of the country."

House GOP Worries Voters' Anger Over Economy Say Sting Them from The Hill
"Fearing angry protests, some GOP lawmakers have decided to skip public town-hall meetings. Others have mustered courage to face constituents in unpredictable settings, sometimes with uncomfortable results."

Gluttons for Punishment: Blame Voters for the Dismal GOP Field (James Warren) from the Atlantic
"If the Republican presidential candidates fail to offer substance, it's because they're giving the public what it wants -- empty calories."

Mitt Romney Is 2012's Hillary Clinton (Elspeth Reeve) from the Atlantic
"As the Obama campaign looked weak in the months before the Iowa caucuses of 2008, there were tons of warnings that though Clinton looked strong, she was awfully cautious."
Perry's campaign does not look at all weak at this point.  Stupid, yes -- but not weak.

CORRECTION - Perry is weak in ways that will have little impact on whether he gets the nomination or not.  Case in Point:
Perry, Parties, and Pragmatism (Steve Benen) from Washington Monthly
Check out this interview where Perry can't respond to a question based on empirical data relating to abstinence programs and teen pregnancy in Texas.
"The problem here isn’t just that Perry has the wrong answer. The more meaningful problem is that Perry doesn’t seem to know how to even formulate an answer. He starts with a proposition in his mind (abstinence-only education is effective), and when confronted with evidence that the proposition appears false (high teen-pregnancy rates), the governor simply hangs onto his belief, untroubled by evidence. As Jon Chait put it, Perry seems to struggle “even to think in empirical terms.”"

LOCAL EDUCATION NUGGET!!
Grants Released for 26 Institutions That Applied, but Most Eligible Ignored the Funds from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"In a written release, Mr. Tomalis took to task 101 schools across the state that were eligible for funding but failed to apply. He said 141 schools met the criteria but only 40 submitted applications. ... According to a chart provided by the state Education Department, local schools that qualified for the funding this year but did not apply were Sto-Rox middle and high schools, Woodland Hills Junior High School and Career Connections Charter High School. In addition, in the Pittsburgh Public Schools, Murray, Northview, and Arsenal elementary schools and Arsenal Middle School qualified but did not apply. In the Philadelphia School District, more than 50 schools qualified but did not apply."
What's going on?  Really, that's my question.

ROBOT NUGGET!!
A Small Step for a Robot, a Great Leap for Space Travel? from Big Think
"Robonaut is literally ascending its stairway to the moon in baby steps. Robonaut, aka R2, the first humanoid robot in space, was delivered to the International Space station on space shuttle Discovery's final flight this past February, and finally powered up this week."

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

News Nuggets 726


Crowds in Tripoli celebrating.  From the New York Times.

Rebel Forces Invade Qaddafi Compound from the New York Times
"Rebel fighters flooded into Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s sprawling compound on Tuesday, overwhelming what remained of its defenses and running pell-mell through the grounds, as the crackle of gunfire and rumble of explosions spread across a confused and wary Libyan capital in spasms of renewed fighting."

Applying the Lessons of Iraq to Libya (Fred Kaplan) from Slate
"Five concrete steps the West (and other allies) should take today."

Obama’s True Claim to Fame (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"Yes, the economic recovery is too slow. But events in Libya suggest that this may be a truly great foreign-policy president in the making. Michael Tomasky on what Obama’s doing right."
Too early for this kind of assessment -- but (accept for the blindly partisan) I think it's clear to most that Obama is a way-better-than-Bush foreign policy president.

Libya After Gaddafi Could Mean Good News For Obama, U.S. Economy from the Huffington Post
"How the country moves from turmoil to stability presents a new challenge for Obama and could determine how the public views not only his foreign policy, but in some measure the economy as well. Yet, the news for Obama on Monday could not have been better. The Libyan street was euphoric, Gaddafi was in hiding and the price of oil - a contributor to dangerous economic lethargy - was dropping."

Libya’s Greatest Advantage? The Modest Expectations of the Libyan People (Barak Barfi) from the New Republic
"Qaddafi’s despised Libya’s political indifference, its refusal to expect anything of its leaders beyond monthly paychecks and its equal refusal to offer anything back. But for the rebels marshaled against him, these shortcomings afforded them the time and patience they needed to overthrow Qaddafi. Those Libyans living in rebel-controlled areas for the past six months have tolerated the new leadership’s stumbles and missteps."

Rebels' Success 'Makes Mockery' of German Foreign Policy from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"The likely success of the rebels in Libya is proving an embarrassment for Germany, which abstained from the UN vote authorizing military action, and Berlin's credibility will probably suffer lasting damage. The country now needs to make amends by getting heavily involved in rebuilding Libya, say German commentators."

How Cities – and Governments – Fall (Martin Woollacott) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"With Libya on the brink of deposing Gaddafi, a look at the unpredictable final moments of other regimes."

Cognitive Dissonance: Conservative Media Respond to Libya's Liberation (Ben Adler) from the Nation
"Conservatives say the United States has an obligation to intervene militarily to depose hostile regimes such as Qaddafi’s. But it’s awfully embarrassing for them when it turns out that it is a Democrat who does so, and at considerably lower cost than we paid in Iraq. So how did the conservative media respond on Monday?"

In Libya's Wake, Pressure Builds on Assad from Time Magazine
"Perhaps the young ophthalmologist who inherited the presidency from his strongman father should be a little more concerned. The more blood is spilled, the harder it becomes for Assad to find the political solution he says he wants."

What Russian Empire? (Dmitri Trenin) from the New York Times
"The former Soviet republics are actually moving ever farther from Moscow."

Meet 'Generation Vexed' (Mary Sanchez) from the McClatchy News Service
"It is a moniker that is being applied to the nation's current crop of 20-somethings. They are said to be facing a dire job market, uncertain prospects for surpassing their parents' standard of living, and generally a long, hard slog before they will be able to find their way in life."

US Should Raise Taxes to Help Fix Deficits, Say Business Economists from the Christian Science Monitor
"US deficit-taming strategy should include boosting tax revenue, say a big majority of 250 business economists in the private sector. Their views, per a new survey, are at odds with GOP's position."

How Obama Can Win The Fall (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast
"They sense blood in the water. But that they wielded the stability of the entire global economy for a petty, short-term adrenaline shot tells you all you need to know about their fitness to govern. They are unfit to run a lemonade stand. But it seems also clear to me that the crucial fight - presaged by the debt ceiling nonsense - is still to be had in the next few months."

Contra Boehner, Business Economists Favor Some Tax Hikes from National Journal
"In fact, the survey of economists in question suggests something quite different: A wide majority of respondents believe the federal government should reduce its budget deficit with a combination of spending cuts and, at least in small part, tax increases. Only 12 percent said the deficit should be reduced "only with spending cuts.""

Progressives Plot Ballot Initiative Strategy To Roll Back GOP Laws (Amanda Terkel) from the Huffington Post
"Organizers are eyeing 2011 and 2012 elections as opportunities to put initiatives on the ballot that would overturn some of the measures passed by GOP legislatures and governors. The first three states likely to see fights are Ohio, Idaho and Maine."

Rewrite, Sugarcoat, Ignore: 8 Ways Conservatives Misremember American History—for Partisan Gain (Zachary Newkirk) from the Nation
"Right-wing pundits, politicians and pseudo-historians are nibbling away at objective historical truths to rewrite history for present-day purposes, and hardly any topic is off-limits: glorifying the “Reagan Revolution” to children, sugarcoating the Jim Crow South and revising textbooks to offer a favorable view on Phyllis Schlafly—among many others."

Poll: Obama Tops Perry (Tom Jensen) from Public Policy Polling
"Rick Perry is looking increasingly like the Republican favorite for President- he led in the Iowa poll we released this morning and he leads by double digits in the national poll we'll release tomorrow. The biggest beneficiary of Perry's rise? It might be Barack Obama. "

Rick Perry: Know-Nothing Neoconservatism Reincarnated? (Doug Bandow) from the National Interest
"With the economy stuck in the doldrums, President Obama faces a potentially difficult reelection fight. However, it will take someone to beat him, and so far the leading Republicans do not impress."

Vacation Elation from the Editorial Board of the Chicago Tribune
"Vacation elation is real. The first moments when the yoke is lifted, the cellphone silenced, the workaday cares receding — these are among the sweetest in life. Savor them. Role model No. 1 for our pro-vacation credo: President Barack Obama. ... A recent New York Times Magazine highlighted the perils of "decision fatigue": "No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can't make decision after decision without paying a biological price," reporter John Tierney wrote."

US WAR VETERANS NUGGET!!
Could U.S. Sailors Finally be Returned Home from Libya 200 YEARS After They Died in 'To The Shores Of Tripoli' War? from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"They’ve been buried for more than 200 years around 5,000 miles away from home - but it could finally be time for 13 U.S. sailors to come back."

WORLD WAR TWO SOVIET ART NUGGET!!
Calling All Comrades! The Long-lost Propaganda Posters that Rallied the Soviets Against Hitler from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Discovered in 1997, deep in a storage area in the Art Institute of Chicago, these monumental posters -- some up to 10 feet tall -- are now on display at that museum."

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

News Nuggets 725


Valleys of fog in the Adirondacks.  From National Geographic.

Libya Inspires the Arabs (Marc Lynch) from Foreign Policy Magazine
For anyone looking for a RICH assortment of deeper analysis of the Libya rebellion, Foreign Policy Magazine's website is FILLED with many great items today.  
".I don't see how anybody watching al-Jazeera, following Arab social media networks, or talking to people in the region could fail to appreciate the interconnected nature of Arab struggles. It's the same sense of shared fate and urgency that those who follow the Arab public sphere could feel in February and March. I supported the NATO intervention in Libya in large part because of that powerful Arab popular demand and the likely impact of the outcome in Libya across the region."

'It's Game Over, Gaddafi': Tripoli's Citizens See Violent Birth of a New Libya from the Guardian [of the UK]
It's apparent this morning that Gaddafi was reserving his best troops for some final inner-city fighting, something that may drag out for a time -- and that he seems to think that he's played a nice little trick ... on someone.  Make no mistake, he and his regime are toast.  There's very much a "Hitler in his bunker" mentality here with the "great leader" seeing ephemeral armies surging forward to destroy the rebels and propel him to ultimate victory.  Not happening.
"Most residents of the Libyan capital welcomed the rebels, but some had mixed feelings. And where was Gaddafi?"

Obama Trumps Libya Critics (Tara McKelvey) from the Daily Beast
"Republicans and intellectuals, united in their denunciation of Obama’s modest intervention against Gaddafi, are now taking a second look. But they’re not apologizing, says Tara McKelvey."

Top Ten Myths about the Libya War (Juan Cole) from juancole.com
FYI: Juan Cole is a noted Middle East scholar and liberal blogger.
" I hate war, having actually lived through one in Lebanon, and I hate the idea of people being killed. ... But here I agree with President Obama and his citation of Reinhold Niebuhr. You can’t protect all victims of mass murder everywhere all the time. But where you can do some good, you should do it, even if you cannot do all good."

Lessons of the Libya Intervention (Shadi Hamid) from the Atlantic
"The rebels looked hopeless until America and NATO acted"

More lessons -- for a slightly different constituency:
The Dictator's Survival Guide: Seven Lessons the World's Remaining Autocrats Can Learn from Qaddafi's Mistakes (Micah Zenko) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"... on the night of Aug. 21, he was reduced to issuing impotent, rambling audio messages as his former subjects closed in around him. We know now that it has all gone horribly wrong for Africa's longest-serving dictator. But what, exactly, went wrong?"

What Would Gaddafi’s Fall Mean for Oil Prices? (Brad Plumer) from the Washington Post
"Earlier this morning, markets showed some early signs of optimism, with Europe’s Brent crude index dropping more than 2 percent. ... But energy analysts warn that optimism might be premature."

First Thoughts: What Libya Means for Obama from MSNBC
"The fall of Tripoli, and likely eventual ouster of Moammar Khaddafy -- a thorn in American presidents’ sides for more than a generation -- is welcome news to a White House in need of good news."

The Reluctant War President from Politico
"Once again, there will be no flight suit photo-op or “Mission Accomplished” banner for Barack Obama. The ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Qadhafi represents yet another military victory for a president long cast as a gun-shy liberal uncomfortable with the use of force."

Libya a Victory for 'Leading from Behind'? from Politico
"...the low-profile, inexpensive ouster of Col. Muammar Qadhafi marks an important milestone for the administration, foreign policy analysts say — perhaps the most concrete evidence that the more modest American foreign policy approach that has become Obama’s hallmark and perhaps his biggest area of contrast with his more interventionist predecessor might actually work."

Dissent in Syria Emerges as Front Line of Arab Uprisings (Anthony Shadid) from the New York Times
"...In eight months, three strongmen have fallen in a region renowned for decades for its leaders dying on their thrones. While Libya and Syria have little in common beyond their repression, the arithmetic of the region seems to be betting against authoritarian rule that fails to reform."

Sharma to Step Down as S&P President from the Financial Times [of the UK]
That was fast!  Did the Standard and Poore's president really screw things up for the ratings agency?  Makes you wonder what those Congressional investigators are going to find?
"The McGraw-Hill board made the decision to replace Mr Sharma at a meeting on Monday, where it also discussed an ongoing strategic review."

Homeowners Need Help from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"Tens of millions of Americans are being crushed by the overhang of mortgage debt. And Congress and the White House have yet to figure out that the economy will not recover until housing recovers — and that won’t happen without a robust effort to curb foreclosures by modifying troubled mortgage loans."

The Hidden Costs of Higher Ed (Noah Bernstein) from the New York Times
"It’s not just the economy’s fault: even as they publicize lavish financial aid packages, colleges and universities are making it harder for average American families to afford higher education, while making it easier for the wealthy."

Path to White House is a Dirt Road from Politico
"Obama won’t win the traditionally conservative rural vote. He doesn’t need to. He only needs to keep Republican support low enough that the traditionally left-leaning urban vote can put him over the top."

The GOP is Fed Up with its Choices (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"In theory, Democrats should be nervous about Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s decision to enter the presidential race. In practice, though, it’s Republicans who have zoomed up the anxiety ladder into freak-out mode."

Rick Perry Should Stop and Think (Richard Cohen) from the Washington Post
"It’s not his thinking that’s scary. It’s the lack of any at all."

Give Obama a Break (David Frum) from CNN
A GREAT come-back on the Obama vacation vitriol.
"Almost nothing in American politics drives more people to say more ridiculous things than the subject of presidential summer vacations. ... The president of the United States never gets a vacation, not really. The nuclear football follows wherever the president goes. He receives the daily intelligence briefing every morning, including Christmas. The decisions never stop, the cares of state never lighten, the burden of responsibility is never lifted. When a president goes "on vacation," here's what happens:"

RAILROAD FANTASY NUGGET!!
Report: Tunnel Linking US to Russia Gains Support from MSNBC
"'The greatest railway project of all time' would enable trains to travel from NYC to London, England."

MOVIE PREVIEW NUGGET!!
Horseplay: Laura Jacobs and photographer Jason Bell salute the film adaptation of War Horse from Vanity Fair
"Joey—the stoic, “red bay” voice of Michael Morpurgo’s War Horse, of 1982—has joined the pantheon of maned-and-tailed storytellers with a moral message. Joey is witness to World War I, the last major war to employ cavalry and cart. ... This December, Joey leaps to the big screen in a movie directed by none other than Steven Spielberg."
This SOUNDs like it could be a really great movie!