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Saturday, April 30, 2011

News Nuggets 617

A poppy field in Geneva, Switzerland.  From National Geographic. 
In Libya, the Price of Delusion (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"I had dinner with an official who’s met with the colonel several times and described him as coherent and articulate. Qaddafi is not mad. But never underestimate the human capacity for delusion."

Love of Medicare Chills Tea Party Fever (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune

"Seventy percent of those who identified themselves as supporters of the fiscally conservative movement in a new McClatchy-Marist poll oppose cuts to Medicaid and Medicare to solve the country's deficit woes."

The Politics of the Debt Ceiling (Gerald Seib) from the Wall Street Journal
"When the party in power needs the debt ceiling raised, its representatives in Congress do what they must to let the government pay its bills and keep the full faith and credit of the U.S. in order. Meanwhile, the opposition party gives posturing speeches about the evils of debt. When power changes hands, the roles reverse. In all cases, lawmakers are voting to limit debt they help create in the first place. The debt ceiling is, in short, a deeply flawed vehicle for an important conversation."

An Anatomy of Apathy (Thomas de Waal) from the National Interest
"Why Western-style democracy can't take root in bleak, fatalistic former-Soviet countries."

China May Grow Old Before It Grows Rich (Isabel Hilton) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"A rapidly ageing, gender-skewed population is giving China a headache – as are migrant workers who have moved off the land."

The Monarchy Earns Its Keep (Anna Whitelock) from the New York Times
"While only a small minority here favor a republican government, many Britons hope the wedding might signal the dawning of a more populist monarchy."

Economy Isn't as Bad as New Data Make it Look, Analysts Say from the McClatchy News Service
"Analysts remained confident that the U.S. economy will continue to grow despite the data showing a sharp slowdown during the first three months of the year, which raised concerns in some quarters that the fragile recovery may be sputtering back into weakness and rising unemployment."

Why Did Obama Take on the Birthers? (David Corn) from Mother Jones Magazine
"It had as much to do with the media as the right-wing crazies."

The Worst Place To Hide From a Twister from Slate

About half of those killed in tornadoes were in a mobile home."

GOP Strategists Fear Fallout From Obama Birth Record (David M. Drucker) from Roll Call
"The question of whether President Barack Obama was born on U.S. soil will have zero impact on the 2012 campaign but could significantly damage Republicans’ prospects for retaking the White House if it lingers. That was the consensus analysis of more than a dozen experienced GOP political strategists, consultants and operatives who were interviewed Wednesday within an hour of Obama going on national television to publicly release the long-form version of his birth certificate."

The President is Citizen Obama. Get Over It (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"Two ugly forces had to combine to produce the birth certificate sideshow, which can only be described as a national disgrace. One is a calculated attempt by Obama’s political opponents to de-legitimize his presidency. ... Also required was an increasing tendency for facts to be treated as personal accoutrements, as easily adopted or discarded as the newest-model smartphone."

The Birther Question Obama Shouldn’t Have Dignified with an Answer (Cedric Mobley) from the Washington Post
"Until Wednesday, what Obama said by not saying anything spoke volumes. In my native South, blacks historically had to take ridiculous tests to vote. “Quick, tell me how many jelly beans are in this jar” or “how many bubbles are in this bar of soap?” In other words, they could never be good enough. ... But here’s what I need him to know: Even though he may be able to let some things roll off his back, how he reacts to the way that he is treated as a black man affects all African Americans."

For Birthers, Obama's Not Black Enough (Melissa Harris-Perry) from the Nation
"Many on the left say that birtherism is just racism, but there’s more than simple racial animus behind it. I suspect that part of the problem is that Obama is indeed not black enough; specifically, the president is not sufficiently Negro—the historical variation of blackness that is uniquely and indisputably American."

Donald Trump's Lunacy Reveals Core Truth About the Republicans (Johann Hari) from the Independent [of the UK]
"He is the Republican id - finally entirely unleashed from all restraint and reality."

The Other (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"At the turn of the last century, Miles Romney was sent to Mexico by the bearded patriarchs of the Mormon Church, there to start a colony for those who thought it was divine right to have as many wives as they wanted. Romney’s father, George, was born in Mexico, a descendant of outlaws with harems. I started thinking about the extraordinary family past of the possible Republican presidential nominee after reading part of Janny Scott’s fascinating new book, “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother.”"

Dad’s Immigration File Offers More Evidence Of Obama’s Birthplace from the Arizona Independent
"Documents obtained from the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service through a Freedom of Information Act request offer evidence that President Barack Obama was born in Hawaii."

In U.S., Negative Views of the Tea Party Rise to New High from Gallup
"About half of Americans, 47%, now have an unfavorable image of the Tea Party movement, the highest since it emerged on the national scene."

ASIA NUGGET!!
Quality of Life: India vs. China (Amartya Sen) from the New York Review of Books

"The steadily rising rate of economic growth in India has recently been around 8 percent per year (it is expected to be 9 percent this year), and there is much speculation about whether and when India may catch up with and surpass China’s over 10 percent growth rate. Despite the evident excitement that this subject seems to cause in India and abroad, it is surely rather silly to be obsessed about India’s overtaking China in the rate of growth of GNP, while not comparing India with China in other respects, like education, basic health, or life expectancy."

PROTEST SONG BOOK NUGGET!!
Sing It Loud: Changing the World With a Stirring Cri de Coeur: A Review of 33 Revolutions Per Minute 33: A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day by Dorian Lynskey from the Sunday New York Times Book Review

"One good thing about “33 Revolutions Per Minute,” which is subtitled “A History of Protest Songs, From Billie Holiday to Green Day,” is that Mr. Lynskey doesn’t waste much time shooting bad political songs like fish in a barrel. He’s more interested in protest songs — Holiday’s “Strange Fruit,” Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young’s “Ohio,” Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” — that make the hair on your neck stand up, even decades later."

VIETNAM WAR OBITUARY NUGGET!!
Madame Nhu, Vietnam War Lightning Rod, Dies from the New York Times

"Madame Nhu, who as the glamorous official hostess in South Vietnam’s presidential palace became a politically powerful and often harshly outspoken figure in the early years of the Vietnam War, died on Sunday in Rome, where she had been living. She was believed to be 87."
From what I've read of Madam Nhu, she was quite a piece of work!

Friday, April 29, 2011

News Nuggets 616

 The shadow of a great oak in Sweden's Natural Reserve of Sandemar near Stockholm.  From National Geographic.

QUOTE OF THE DAY!!
On those who worship the "free market"
"Whereas formerly we were patients, parents, neighbors, citizens, congregants  and so on, now in most of life we're just consumers.  This crimped conception  flows directly from the modern American propensity to deify the free market.

While reducing us to consumers, free market fundamentalism also corrodes,
corrupts or demonizes all other basic social instruments, like effective
government programs and regulations.

The deification of the free market cannot coexist with a robust concern for the  common good and a dignified regard for what it means to be human."


Richard E. Sclove
Amherst, MA
Letter to the Editor, New York Times

The Riddle of Barack Obama and the Shifting Sands (Richard Spencer) from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"America's relationship with the Middle East is changing – and Egypt is its test case, says Richard Spencer."

Is Mahmoud Ahmadinejad About to Resign? (Meir Javedanfar) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"After the snub of having a minister he fired reinstated by the Ayatollah the Iranian president may sulk himself into resignation."

Fatah and Hamas: Tectonic Plates Start to Shift from the Guardian [of the UK]
"A future environment composed of free Egyptians, Jordanians and even possibly Syrians could well fashion Israel's borders."

Same Guys, New Jobs: Why Obama's Reshuffling of his National Security Team Makes Sense (Fred Kaplan) from Slate
"So the rumors of recent weeks, about the impending shuffles in President Obama's national-security team, turn out to be true. And under the circumstances, it's hard to imagine a shrewder set of moves, both politically and substantively."

A More Assured President Shifts from 'Name Brands' to the Obama House Brand… (David Rothkopf) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The overall message here is reassuring. While important issues remain to be resolved by this not-so-new team, it doesn't take an insider's eye to see that this president is internalizing and effectively applying the lessons of his first couple years in office even as he signals important, and smart, redirections in U.S. national security policy."

Don't Mean To Be Rude, But The Economy Sucks (Henry Blodget) from Business Insider
"In the past couple of months, a disconnect has developed between the perception of the US economy and the reality."
I put forward ust this sentiment the other day in reference to David Brooks' column.

Honoring Those Who Said No from the New York Times
"IN January 2004, Spec. Joseph M. Darby, a 24-year-old Army reservist in Iraq, discovered a set of photographs showing other members of his company torturing prisoners at the Abu Ghraib prison. The discovery anguished him, and he struggled over how to respond. “I had the choice between what I knew was morally right, and my loyalty to other soldiers,” he recalled later. “I couldn’t have it both ways.”"

Josh Marshall's New Taxonomy of Birtherism from Talking Points Memo

"...there's a vast sociological literature demonstrating that after the central prediction of apocalyptic cults goes unfulfilled many of members of the group will not give up but rather intensify their belief. And so it goes with birtherism in the aftermath of the release of President Obama's 'long form' birth certificate."

A New Era of Accusation and Innuendo from Politico
“There are no more arbiters of truth,” said former White House press secretary Robert Gibbs. “So whatever you can prove factually, somebody else can find something else and point to it with enough ferocity to get people to believe it. We’ve crossed some Rubicon into the unknown.”

The Roots of Birtherism Go Beyond Race (Steve Kornacki) from Salon

"Let's be clear: Birtherism itself has everything to do with race. It encourages -- and feeds off  -- emotional, culturally driven resentment of President Obama, a sense that he's not "one of us." But as Obama seeks to put all of the zany conspiracy theories to rest for good, it's worth remembering that there's a broader phenomenon that birtherism grew out of: the right's instinctive, aggressive rejection of Democratic presidents."

Rand Paul Has 'Birther' Demand for Trump: Prove You're a Republican from The Hill
"While speaking at a breakfast with New Hampshire Republicans one day after "The Donald" visited the Granite State, Paul riffed off the potential GOP presidential candidate's "birther" questions. "
Touche! I never associated Paul with this kind of wit!

What's Next For The Birthers? (Basically, More Birtherism) (Jason linkins) from Huffington Post
"Implacable Birtherism and all of its attendant annoyances will roll on, in some cases evolving, but never dying off. The only question is: In trying to kill it, do you make it stronger? For the moment, it appears that the birther true believers are just going to keep on believing."

What Birtherism Teaches Us About Polling: An Expert's Take (Chris Good) from the Atlantic
"How doubts over Obama's origins could change the way we look at surveys -- the most dominant metrics in American politics."

Today is certainly THE DAY for on-the-loose lunatic behavior!
Oklahoma GOP Lawmaker Sally Kern: ‘Blacks’ Don’t Work As Hard As White People from Think Progress
“We have a high percentage of blacks in prison, and that’s tragic, but are they in prison just because they are black or because they don’t want to study as hard in school? I’ve taught school, and I saw a lot of people of color who didn’t study hard because they said the government would take care of them.”
Believe it or not, this lawmaker has said things WAY more whacky than this.  see the link.

Total Recall in Wisconsin from MSNBC
"Today, the Committee to Recall Robert Cowles submitted over 25,000 signatures -- more than the required 15,960 -- to the state’s Government Accountability Board, becoming the ninth recall drive of state senators the board is reviewing that could eventually trigger a recall election. Of the nine, six target Republican state senators like Cowles, and three target Democratic state senators."

BELATED EASTER NUGGET [for the somewhat skeptical]!!
Bart Ehrman Talks About Authorship and the History of the Bible (VIDEO) from the Commonwealth Club of California

The always thought-provoking (and provocative) Prof. Ehrman discussing his latest book,
"Forged: Writing in the Name of God--Why the Bible's Authors Are Not Who We Think They Are"

Thursday, April 28, 2011

News Nuggets 615

The sun-touched Matterhorn looking out over Lake Zermatt in Switzerland.  From National Geographic.

Assad Dynasty Crumbles (Franck Salameh) from the National Interest
"This is the legacy of Arab nationalism in Syria; a legacy defined by despondency, servitude, suppression, and tragedy."

Syria Crackdown: Hundreds Resign from Ba'ath Party from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Members of president Assad's ruling party have resigned in protest as uprising claims at least 500 lives"
The situation seems to be slowly going to hell in a handbasket in Syria.

Iran's Ahmadinejad In Growing Rift With Top Cleric from the Associated Press via Huffington Post
"There is a growing rift between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has final say in all Iranian state matters. The confrontation stems from Ahmadinejad's recent dismissal of the intelligence minister, Heidar Moslehi, who was ordered by the president to resign last week"

Ryan Dodges Protesters in Police Car from Politico
"GOP Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan had to leave his last and most raucous town hall meeting Tuesday Elvis-style — ducking out a back entrance on advice of police as protesters surrounded his car."

Reid: The Senate Will Vote On Paul Ryan's Budget (Sam Stein) from the Huffington Post

"Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) announced on Wednesday that he would host a vote on Rep. Paul Ryan’s (R-Wis.) budget as a means of forcing moderate GOP senators to weigh in on the legislation’s controversial proposals."
GREAT news!  Given the roasting GOP House members have faced lately, why not share the love with their Senate colleagues?

Paul Ryan's Plan Puts 2012 Elderly Vote in Play from Politico
"Ryan’s plan, embraced by most Republicans, gives Obama a big opportunity in 2012 to regain lost ground in key battleground states and narrow the generation gap. “It finally gives us an argument to make with seniors… It’s a godsend,” said a Democratic operative ..."

The Right Budget Battle to Watch (Doyle McManus) from the Los Angeles Times
There's no need to panic over raising the debt ceiling; the real sparks will fly later."

From Gulf Spills to White House Frills, Trump Offered his Services to Obama (Al Kamen) from the Washington Post
"“I know how to run big projects,” Trump told Axelrod. “Why don’t you put me in charge?”"

Obama and the Elusive Idea of Race (Mary Curtis) from The Root
"Scientists increasingly conclude that ethnicity cannot be defined scientifically, but that hasn't stopped the racists, the Birthers and the confused from casting their insecurities onto the president."

White House Releases Obama’s ‘Long-form’ Birth Certificate (Debbi Wilgoren) from the Washington Post
"The White House on Wednesday released President Obama’s long-form birth certificate, a stunning reversal after years of ignoring of rumors--widely discredited--that the nation’s commander-in-chief had been born in a foreign country."
"Long-form"?  It's one page -- and on it it says "certificate of live birth" -- just like the document Obama and the State of Hawaii has been showing for years.  Too absurd for words!

Why Did Obama Take on the Birthers? (David Corn) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Why did Obama finally play the ultimate card?  ... Obama was sending a message to the media: c'mon guys."

Releasing Birth Certificate is a Good Move (Markos Moulitsas) at Daily Kos
"Sure, it might seem like "giving in" to the enemy -- responding to right-wing hysteria and releasing the long-form birth certificate. But here's why the move is a canny one:"

The Wingnuts Who Still Don't Believe (John Avlon) from the Daily Beast

"Obama has released his birth certificate as birthers long demanded, but instead of standing down, right wing extremists, Donald Trump, and even mainstream Republicans are attacking the president and dredging up new conspiracy theories. It’s all too predictable—and shameful, writes John Avlon."

The Birther Disgrace (David Frum) from the FrumForum
"How did this poisonous and not very subtly racist allegation get such a grip on our conservative movement and our Republican party? I know there will be Republican writers and conservative publicists who will now deny that birtherism ever did get a grip. Sorry, that’s just wrong."

GOP Pivots Away from Birthers from Politico

"Here’s what leading Republicans were saying moments after President Obama released the long form of his birth certificate in an effort to quash the conspiracy theory that he wasn’t born in the United States:"

Confronting the Coded Racism of Donald Trump (Ari Melber) from the Nation

"Launching an investigation into Obama's birthplace in 2011 is not really objective journalism - it's an overreaction to conspiracy theories masquerading as fact-checking."

The Legacy of Malcolm X: Why his vision lives on in Barack Obama (Ta-Nehisi Coates) from the Atlantic
"Bull Connor’s world fell as the fortunes of Barack Obama rose. Yet its collapse was not assured until November of 2008. Now I see its amazing doom in ways both absurd and replete—Will Smith’s conquest of cinema, his son as the new Karate Kid, the wild utterings of Michael Steele, the kids holding out for Lauryn Hill’s mythical return. As surely as 2008 was made possible by black people’s long fight to be publicly American, it was also made possible by those same Americans’ long fight to be publicly black."
This is an EXCELLENT long-form contemplation of Malcolm's legacy and his link to Obama!

Donald Trump’s Circus Act (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post
"Trump makes Mitt Romney look unalterably steadfast in his positions. Trump was for abortion rights before he was against them. Ditto with a tax increase on the wealthy and universal health care. He makes Sarah Palin look like a deep thinker."

The NRA Abets Gun Violence (Joseph Bielevicz) from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"What suggestions do you have that go beyond catching bad guys with guns and locking them up after the damage has been done? Because, I have to tell you, in my 18 years of law enforcement, I've seen that done to death, yet bodies continue falling, corner stores are still being held up and lately cops are getting shot more than ever. So give me something I can use. How do you suggest we keep guns away from people before they have a chance to threaten, rob, shoot and kill? And what role and responsibilities do you see for law-abiding gun owners in this effort? I won't hold my breath awaiting proposals, for the NRA has made clear it does not want the public to concern itself with how violent criminals gain access to guns."

In PA, Big Jump in Disapproval of Gov. Corbett from Quinnipiac University Survey
"Pennsylvania voters say 50 - 39 percent that Gov. Corbett's budget-cutting proposals are unfair to people like them, the independent Quinnipiac University survey finds."

ANCIENT EGYPT NUGGET!!
Pharaoh Statue Unearthed In Egypt from the Associated Press via Huffington Post

"Archaeologists unearthed one of the largest statues found to date of a powerful ancient Egyptian pharaoh at his mortuary temple in the southern city of Luxor, the country's antiquities authority announced Tuesday. The 13 meter (42 foot) tall statue of Amenhotep III was one of a pair that flanked the northern entrance to the grand funerary temple on the west bank of the Nile that is currently the focus of a major excavation."
FORTY-TWO feet tall!! That's as tall as a 3-4 story building!

TITANIC TRAGEDY NUGGET!!
Titanic's Unknown Child Given New, Final Identity from LiveScience

"...researchers believe that they have finally resolved the identity of the unknown child -- concluding that he was 19-month-old Sidney Leslie Goodwin from England. [Photo of Sidney Goodwin]"

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

News Nuggets 614

Grassland in the Cheyenne River Tribal Park in South Dakota.  From National Geographic.

Open Wide: How Libya revealed the huge gap between U.S. and European military might (Lawrence F. Kaplan) from the New Republic
"The president, after all, has inaugurated “a new era of international cooperation” and has said it would be best for America “to act multilaterally rather than unilaterally.” This paradigm responds to multiple needs unrelated to national security as such. It testifies to the virtue and good intentions of its architects. "
At some point, the Europeans MUST get their s%#@ together when it comes to defense matters.  It seems to me that elites and the people in general are not in reality about such issues; they're relying on the US, and, as the US cuts back its commitments in the region, they (sadly) can't simply further cut their own defense budgets and then expect to be taken seriously on the international stage.  AND, as they have at times during the Libya operations, they won't look so incompetent.  Their vital interests are much more at stake in Libya than the US's.

From Rome To Damascus, Via Tripoli: The Mediterranean Chessboard from La Stampa [of Italy in English]
"Silvio Berlusconi’s decision for Italy to join the bombing campaign against Gaddafi has roots and reverberations across a region where all is connected, and nothing is certain."

China As No. 1? Give Us A Break from the Editorial Board of the Investors Business Daily
"This just in from the International Monetary Fund: China could pass the United States as the world's largest economy as early as 2016. With all due respect, the IMF has it wrong again."

The Obama Conundrum: A French Glance Toward Election Day from Les Echos [of France in English]
"Barack Obama’s bid for re-election in 2012 could be smooth sailing, but is he chipping away at America’s leading role in the world?"

As Oil Profits Soar, Obama Seeks Political Wedge (Dan Froomkin) from the Huffington Post
"So far, Republicans must be pleased. A good chunk of the hit to President Barack Obama’s approval rating can be chalked up to pain at the pump. But with the biggest oil companies set to announce sky-high first-quarter profits starting Wednesday morning -- and with those huge increases directly attributable to higher oil prices -- Democrats see a chance to put Republicans on the defensive."

Paul Ryan's 'Spinal Tap' Tour (John Nichols) from the Nation
"We know how Paul Ryan’s playing in Washington. But how’s he playing in Kenosha? That’s the question that will be answered today as the House Budget Committee chair makes a rare visit to the city that lost an auto plant and much of the rest of its industrial base under watch of the free-trade supporting congressman. It could be a rude awakening for Wall Street’s favorite son"

GOP Town Halls: Reps Forced To Screen Questions, Duck Out Of Meetings In Secret (Sam Stein) from the Huffington Post
"The wave of town hall protests targeting House Republicans, and aided by labor and progressive groups, is forcing lawmakers to put restrictions on the forum’s traditionally open structure."
Well, I guess that solves that problem!

VT State Senate Gives Final Approval to Single Payer Health Care bill from the Burlington Free Press [of VT]

"Under the bill, the state would move in 2017 to a consolidated health insurance system that covers all Vermont residents..."
There's more on this HERE from Think Progress.

Republicans are Being Held Hostage by their Base (Harold Meyerson) from the Washington Post
"“Friends of Barbour,” reports The Post’s Dan Balz, “said that he had come to the conclusion that Republicans can win only if they are totally focused on serious issues and not distracted by some side issues, such as Obama’s birthplace, that have arisen in the early going.” But Republicans are massively distracted by birtherism."

Why Republicans May Be Skipping 2012 Presidential Run (Michael Shear) from the New York Times
"Haley Barbour’s decision to forgo a run for the presidency in 2012 puts him in the company of a half-dozen top Republicans who have considered — and rejected — a challenge to President Obama next year. The question is: why?"
My short version answer: The 'heavy guns', folks who might be quite formidable, are holding off until 2016.  As I have said before, these folks include: Chris Christie, Marco Rubio, and Jeb Bush.  Even though he's making noises about running now (and probably still will as an exercise) I include Jon Huntsman among this crowd.  Why wait?  Simple.  Anyone who wants to take on Obama KNOWS they will need to reliably raise AT LEAST $750 million if not $1 bil or more!  Obama's campaign team just happen to have announced their fund-raising goals just a few weeks ago.  No one seriously doubts that Obama can fulfill on this goal.  In contrast, with the exception of Romney, the GOP dwarves that are gathering for the 2012 race mostly I suspect are either running for the VP slot (see Santorum), using the 2012 race to lay a foundation for 2016 (Huntsman again) or are simply blinded by their own self regard (the rest).  Romney is the only one for whom this is it, this is HIS shot.  He laid the foundation for this run in '08 and there's no turning that train around now.  One other reason I suspect is in the background: why take on a formidable sitting incumbent during a time of UNPRECEDENTED problems both foreign and domestic if you have the option of putting it off and running against a lame duck when times might be much better?

If some corroboration was needed, THIS JUST IN!
RNC Chairman Wants to Limit GOP Presidential Debates in Primaries from the Wall Street Journal
"The new chairman wants to limit the number of Republican primary debates by putting the official RNC stamp of approval on a handful that would start this summer and go up until the primaries kick off early next year."
You MUST be joking!?  In my view, this is the RNC conceding almost in advance that their candidate pool is going to REALLY STINK and that they're fearful that whoever is the nominee will drag down the rest of the ticket.  If they were planning for a no-holds-barred battle for the WH, you would think they would want AS MUCH EXPOSURE as possible, particularly given how so few of the possible contenders are really known, even among GOP voters.  IN-credible!

Trump’s Donation History Shows Democratic Favoritism from the Washington Post
"Billionaire Donald J. Trump, an early presidential favorite among tea party activists, has a highly unusual history of political contributions for a prospective Republican candidate: He has given most of his money to the other side."

Donald Trump's New Obama Conspiracy Theory (Michelle Goldberg) from the Daily Beast
"Not content with questioning the president’s birthplace, Donald Trump is now wondering how a “terrible student” got into the Ivy League. Michelle Goldberg traces the far-right history of the claim—which reassures resentful whites that this seemingly brilliant black man isn’t so smart after all."

Countdown with Keith Olbermann Returns June 20, 2011 from Daily Kos

""We're creating a great platform for Keith's style, which includes a very sophisticated digital presence for him—that we think will appeal to his very enthusiastic and active following. The show will also appeal to new viewers tuning into Keith for the first time.""

Obama for Queen (Geoffrey Robertson) from the Daily Beast
"With the royal wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton looming, some Commonwealth nations have signaled they no longer want a British monarch reigning over them. Offering the scepter to an ex-President Obama is one option, writes Geoffrey Robertson."
Oh Boy!! Obama can go on to be the first ex-president to go on to be ... king of the British Empire!

BACKYARD NUGGET!!
If Your Shed is Common or Garden Variety, Take Some Inspiration from These from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"Entries for the Shed of the Year are already taking shape with a wide range of pubs, diners and other creations among those entered into the nationwide competition." 
Everyone knows the Brits obsess about their back yards, but the pictures of what people have done with backyard garden sheds are REALLY interesting!!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

News Nuggets 613


Holland's fields of tulips right before they are to be harvested.  See the Spring Flowers Nugget below for more images.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

The Arab Gyre (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times

"This year has seen a dramatic acceleration of history in the Arab world, the falling apart of a rotten order; an unraveling that has birthed the “rough beast” of new societies where people will have a say in how they are governed rather than being trampled by Paleolithic tyrants. Just what the embryonic beasts will turn into — whither they slouch — is impossible to say for now. But no foul volley of bullets from Syria’s Bashar al-Assad can stop the convulsive movement of the gyres"

The Epic Arab Battle Reaches Syria (Rami G. Khouri) from the Daily Star [of Lebanon in English]
"Syria is now the critical country to watch in the Arab world, after the homegrown regime changes in Tunisia and Egypt, and the imminent changes in Yemen and Libya. ... The next few weeks will be decisive for Assad..."

Iran: Authority Deficit (Ali Ansari) from The World Today via Chatham House [of the UK]
"People are no longer willing to accept or tolerate what they are being told. You simply cannot expect to fool all of the people all of the time. One might have thought that this message had come through loud and clear in the aftermath of the last elections: people were no longer willing to believe what they were being told and were fed upwith being treated as fools. This reall ywas the heart of the political crisis in authority facing the government. We may choose to label it 'democratic' or a 'Green movement', but at its core the problem was not complicated. It was about human dignity and the rights of the citizen, above all to be taken seriously by those who seek to govern them."

The Big Disconnect (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"Over the past months, we’ve seen a fascinating phenomenon. The public mood has detached from the economic cycle. In normal times, economic recoveries produce psychological recoveries. At least at the moment, that seems not to be happening."
A remarkable column by Mr. Brooks today!  A actually like David Brooks quite a bit -- but this column captures in micro the pervasive myopia of most talking heads one reads or hears these days.  The title of his piece is appropriate -- but not as he presents it.  The "disconnect" is between those who say there is a meaningful economic recovery going on and the overwhelming majority of average Americans who see NO SIGN of this in their own lives.  There remain few job opportunities out there; the housing market remains terrible; young people (many already tied down with enormous student loans and/or few marketable skills) are still being disproportionately hit by unemployment and underemployment; gas prices are only making matters worse; and, add to this that in virtually every state jobs, programs, mass transit, and other services (many of them quite basic) are being slashed.  For many average Americans, this has been their life since 2008.  In the face of this experience, what they get from DC and from state houses and from pundits and lawmakers alike is a lot of "recovery" happy talk mixed with heated budget debates that involve "further sacrifices".  No matter whose plan "wins", these "sacrifices" will disproportionately hit this *same group of shell-shocked voters*.  In the face of all this, who cares about "immigration, energy or tax reform"?!  It speaks volumes about who runs Washington these days.  There's a recovery when US corporations and businesses "recover".  Earth to David: average workers have "recovered" virtually nothing -- and nobody in gov't or the media seems to give a damn.   

Law Firm Won't Defend Marriage Act for GOP from The Hill

"The firm House Republicans hired to argue in favor of the Defense of Marriage Act has withdrawn from the case following a backlash from the gay and lesbian community. "
Wow, the GOP's lawsuit didn't get very far.  More on the story HERE.  I'm sure SOME other firm will pick it up.

Republicans in Swing Districts Take Heat for Supporting Ryan's Medicare Plan from National Journal
"Republicans who used seniors’ rage over health care changes to sweep into office last fall are now facing the same type of heat over the same issue: Modifications in Medicare and Medicaid."

With that comes this related story:
Pawlenty, Romney React to Ryan Budget from National Review
Here's Romney:
"I applaud Rep. Paul Ryan for recognizing the looming financial crisis that faces our nation and for the creative and bold thinking that he brings to the debate. He is setting the right tone for finally getting spending and entitlements under control. Anyone who has read my book knows that we are on the same page."
Now -- the wording here is too clever by half.  On it's face, it looks like an endorsement of the Ryan plan. However, I'm confident that, if things go south on the Ryan plan (which we can already see from the previous article), Romney THINKS he has left himself some wiggle room here.  He wants the Tea Partiers to hear "I categorically endorse the Ryan Plan" -- but he's enough of a political realist to know that he will need seniors to have any chance of winning.  Sadly, the Ryan plan has simply exposed Romney (once again) as someone with few core convictions beyond his own self-regard.  He has once more *set himself up* to be "Multiple Choice" Mitt. 

What Barbour’s Decision Means (Robert Costa) from National Review
"The remaining contenders are breathing a sigh of relief — and eyeing his staff."

The Trump Backlash (Howard Kurtz) from Newsweek
"The Donald’s free ride is over. As the 2012 race begins, time for more reality, less reality TV."

In WI, Walker: Too Many Recalls 'Makes It Very Hard' To Get Things Done from Talking Points Memo
Walker says, "At some point if you have a recall after every vote, you could have those continuously, one-after-another-after-another and it makes it very hard in a Republic for things to get done."
In a REAL republic, there is this wonderful thing could "compromise." It's what the executive branch does in lieu of doing as it pleases.  And when the executive tries to do as it pleases, SHOCKERS, governing can indeed get hard.

SUSAN BOYLE-LIKE TV NUGGET!!
Edward Reid: Nursery Rhymes Audition (VIDEO) from Britain's Got Talent via Utube 

A wonderful, brave -- and hilarious -- performance on Britain's Got Talent!  Check it out!
"In the words of the immortal David Hasselhoff, Jack and Jill will never be the same. And it's true: Edward Reid has put a whole new spin on age-old nursery rhymes."

ISLAMIC CULTURE NUGGET!!
It's Not Just the Veil (Joshua Keating) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"Technology and globalization have reinvented other traditional Muslim practices in some surprising ways."

PHOTOGRAPHY NUGGET!!
Imprint of a Tumultuous Century from Newsweek

"As far as luminaries go in the world of photography, John G. Morris is Olympian. As the London photo editor of Life magazine during World War II, Morris worked closely with the likes of Robert Capa and Henri Cartier-Bresson to publish now-iconic images of Europe besieged."
The samples they have at this site are WONDERFUL!!

SPRING FLOWERS NUGGET!!
The Stunning Tulip Fields that Look Like They Have Been Created with a Giant Pack of Crayons from the Daily Mail [of the UK

"The vibrant blues, reds, pinks and yellows sprawl as far as the eye can see in Lisse, western Netherlands, where farmers hope to make huge profits selling them to florists and supermarkets around the world."
The photographs with this article are truly spectacular!!

Monday, April 25, 2011

News Nuggets 612

The edge of a thermal pool at Yellowstone.  From National Geographic.

NATO Strike hits Gaddafi compound from the Associated Press via the Sydney Morning Herald [of Australia]
"NATO airstrikes have targeted the centre of Muammar Gaddafi's seat of power, destroying a multi-storey library and office and badly damaging a reception hall for visiting dignitaries."

Obama's Cuts His Rhetorical Deficit (Hendrik Hertzberg) from the New Yorker

"One of the mysteries of the Obama Presidency has been Obama’s inability—or disinclination, I’m not sure which—to give sustained emotional sustenance to a certain slice of his supporters. I don’t mean the “Democratic base,” especially the institutional “interest group” base. And I don’t mean the disillusioned left, which is easily, almost perpetually disillusioned because it has such an ample supply of illusions. (A lot of lefties, notwithstanding their scorn for “the system,” seem to have an implicit naive faith in the workability of the mechanisms of American governance. Hence their readiness to blame the disappointments of the Administration’s first two years mainly on Obama’s alleged moral or character failings—cowardice, spinelessness, insincerity, duplicity, what have you.)"

The Consequentialist: How the Arab Spring Remade Obama’s Foreign Policy (Ryan Lizza) from the New Yorker
"One of Donilon’s overriding beliefs, which Obama adopted as his own, was that America needed to rebuild its reputation, extricate itself from the Middle East and Afghanistan, and turn its attention toward Asia and China’s unchecked influence in the region. America was “overweighted” in the former and “underweighted” in the latter, Donilon told me."
There is a lot of interesting stuff in this long-form essay on Obama's foreign policy.

US Prepares Syria Sanctions from the Wall Street Journal
"The U.S. is preparing to impose unilateral sanctions on senior officials in the Syrian regime, the Wall Street Journal reported."

The Freedom Movement Comes to Syria (Fouad Ajami) from the Wall Street Journal
"It is unlikely that the Gadhafis and Mubaraks could have entertained thoughts of succession for their sons had they not seen the ease with which Syria became an odd creature—a republican monarchy."
There was a time when I appreciated the analysis of Fouad Ajami -- and then he completely embraced the Iraq War and all kinds of neo-con thinking.  His analysis since has been (at best) pedestrian.  Today's column has some interesting historical dimensions -- but I am struck by the headline, this on the *precise day* when the tanks are rolling into the rebel centers of Syria to crush the very freedom movement Ajami has just gotten around to trumpeting. 

The Real Value of False Choices (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"...if there are false false choices, there are also real false choices. And here I should acknowledge my personal stake in this debate. Twenty years ago, I wrote a book called “Why Americans Hate Politics” arguing that liberals and conservatives often imposed a series of false choices on voters that prevented them from expressing their true preferences. Many voters preferred an intelligent “both/and” politics to an artificially constrained “either/or” approach. The classic case for me was the phony division of Americans into “feminist” and “pro-family” camps."

Mideast Unnerving North Korea in Sentaku Magazine [of Japan in English]

"North Korea's ruler and his heir apparent are scared stiff at the prospect of prodemocracy movements spreading from the Middle East and northern Africa to their home turf."

Inequality in China from the Editorial Board of the Irish Times [of ... ahem, Ireland]
"EVER GROWING social inequality and the persistance of endemic poverty in China are increasingly the most glaring anomalies in the country’s professed road to what Deng Xiaoping called “Socialism with Chinese characteristics”."

An Interview with Garrett Graff about The Threat Matrix from NPR's Diane Rehm Show [scheduled for later 11am today]
Giving people the heads-up on this now -- this sounds REALLY interesting!
"Since the 9/11 attacks, the FBI has undergone a radical transformation. Under the leadership of Robert Mueller, the bureau has become a worldwide anti-crime and anti-terrorism network with more than 13,000 agents serving in nearly 80 countries. Drawing on unprecedented access to Director Mueller and previously classified documents, journalist Garrett Graff details the history of the FBI and its work today in hot spots and war zones around the world."

The 2012 Speculatron Weekly Roundup (Linkins & Siegel) from the Huffington Post
"This week, a black cloud settled over the 2012 campaign when a bunch of polls came back and the results showed that no one was all that happy about the state of the GOP field."

Trump and Bachmann Woo GOP Voters in South Carolina (Patricia Murphy) from the Daily Beast
"The Palmetto State has picked the GOP nominee every year since it began holding the first-in-the-South primary in 1980. Patricia Murphy visits and finds lots of love for two unlikely candidates."

Trumpery (Hendrik Hertzberg) from the New Yorker
A two-fer for Mr. Hertzberg today!  See up top.
"For the Donald, thinking less and less seems to be working more and more…"

Trump Donated $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel's Mayoral Bid from the Illinois Review
"Real estate billionaire Donald Trump gave Chicago mayoral candidate Rahm Emanuel $50,000 in December 2010, just months before hinting to the media he is seriously contemplating a bid to be the Republican Party's 2012 presidential nominee."
???  Go figure!

The Anti-Palin Crusaders from Politico

"She is a promiscuous, petty and unintelligent, yet deviously conniving warmonger intent on capturing the Oval Office and, from there, the world.  Those are just some of the opinions about Sarah Palin held by members of a small but extremely active network of gadflies, bloggers and authors who have devoted much of the last 2½ years to proving their case to American voters. This self-styled anti-Palin movement — whose members span the globe and are mostly but not exclusively liberals — has been behind some embarrassing revelations about the former Alaska governor, her family and allies."
One sees this type of obsessive *digging* on the right all the time.  But, as a liberal, I can't IMAGINE the energy it takes to pursue this kind of "hatred" hobby.  At this point, SURELY, there must be something more constructive these folks could be doing with their time!

OBAMA BOOK NUGGET!!
The Apple Fell Far from the Tree: A Review of The Obamas: The Untold Story of an African Family by Peter Firstbrook (Kwame Anthony Appiah) from the New York Review of Books

"it’s easy to escape your wider family. Families have contracted; the claims of kin are increasingly optional. Ancestor hunting is one of the more harmless addictions enabled by the Internet, but many Americans still couldn’t give the maiden name of both their grandmothers. In much of the rest of the world—as for most of human history—the web of kinship is rather stickier."

ENVIRONMENT NUGGET!!
America's 25 Greenest Cities by The Daily Beast

"Earth Day was celebrated Friday, but how does your city fare the other 364 days of the year? The Daily Beast crunches the numbers to determine the 25 cities with the greenest citizens."
Sorry -- Pittsburgh is not on the list.

BIG KITTIES PLAYING VIDEO NUGGET!!
Big Cats and Easter Eggs [filled with Cat NIP?] from Bigcatrescue.org via Americablog

"I always love seeing how the big cats play just like the little ones."

GAY-LESBIAN HISTORY NUGGET [of a sort]!!
Lesbian Nation (Ariel Levy) from the New Yorker

"Lesbianism in the seventies promised a life of radical empowerment, and women were drawn by ideology as well as by desire."

Saturday, April 23, 2011

News Nuggets 611

 A reflection of El Capitan in the Merced River in winter in Yosemite National Park.  From National geographic.

REGIONAL ENVIRONMENT NUGGET!!
Bradford County Fracking Spill Stopped After Two Days Of Leaking Chemicals In Pennsylvania from the Associated Press via Huffington Post

"Thousands of gallons of brine water used in the hydraulic fracturing drilling operation leaked from the out-of-control well following the equipment failure Tuesday night. Some of the drilling fluid crossed farm fields and entered a stream, but company officials say there was minimal environmental impact."

In The East, Plans For A Post-Gadhafi Libya (Peter Kenyon) from NPR's Morning Edition Saturday
"Although the battle is still raging in Libya, the people in the eastern part of the country are already making plans for the new society they hope to have if and when Moammar Gadhafi falls."
While the storyline out of Lybya lately has been one of stalemate, the people Kenyon interviews remind us how truly revolutionary (in a good way) even the ideas of "democracy" and "freedom" can be.

Syria: Is Assad's Clan Turning Against Him? from Time Magazine
"...some now believe that inside the regime, the President isn't as powerful as he might seem. One activist said: "We wonder who really makes decisions in this country.""
As I noted in an earlier post, I had suspected that this split was growing.

What Happens When the Arab Spring Turns to Summer? (David Ignatius) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates had it right when he said in March that this is "dark territory"; it's impossible to read the overhead imagery, so to speak, and know what's down there in terms of outcomes. In what follows, I want to offer a skeptical analytical look -- not predicting failure, but warning of obstacles ahead."

Libyan Army Ordered To Retreat From City Of Misrata, Says Wounded Government Soldier from Reuters via the Huffington Post
""We have been told to withdraw. We were told to withdraw yesterday," the soldier, Khaled Dorman, told Reuters."
All may not be what it seems with this story.  The tribes that support the Qaddafi regime have apparently communicated to him that, if the army can't take Misrata, the army should get out of the way and the tribes will take the city.  While I know nothing about these tribes, I'm curious -- are they better armed than the army?!  Till now it has seemed that advanced armaments have been the decisive advantage Qaddafi had.  What do the tribes have that the army doesn't?

Is America Still a Serious Nation? (Robert Shrum) from The Week
"A serious nation would not shortchange an intervention in Libya that's as right as Vietnam was wrong."
I do not share Shrum's sense of moral clarity concerning a comparison of Libya and Vietnam -- even as I agree with his critique of the intervention as being per-se inevitably some new version of Vietnam.  I often think that, for those on the right, intervention becomes justified because they are locked into a non-interventionist narrative shaped by Munich, 1938 where all dictators become Hitlers and all those willing to negotiate become Neville Chamberlains.  In contrast, on the left the narrative is shaped by Vietnam where intervention is inevitably futile and greater involvement equals a costly, values-destroying quagmire.  As a historian, I find analogies from the past routinely to be quite useful and insightful.  In these two circumstances, however, I find both to be so completely worn out by their adherents as to be more ideological litmus-tests than evidence of people genuinely *learning* from the past.  In my view, US intervention in Libya was driven NOT by any high "rescuing freedom" narrative but more by an emerging condition where doing nothing involved as much geopolitical and moral peril as taking action.  I'll say more later.

The 3-Word Phrase That Signals Obama's Intentions on Taxes (Joshua Green) from the Atlantic
"it's when he said that "millionaires and billionaires" could afford to pay a little more. A cheer went up in the room where he was watching, one Democrat told me, when Obama uttered it. In fact, Obama used it four times. ... Thus, when Obama invoked "millionaires and billionaires," he was signaling to his party that he means business."

Conservative Strategists Warn GOP About Economic Risks Of Pushing Debt Ceiling Debate Too Far from the Huffington Post
"If the markets get spooked, U.S. treasury bond yields will spike, driving up interest rates and increasing the price of borrowing money for everyone from the federal government to municipalities to consumers, Fratto warned. The cascading effects on the economy would be severe and long-lasting."

Wanna Buy a Turnpike? (Gail Collins) from the New York Times
"Right now you’re probably asking yourself: How are all the angry new governors doing? Great! Fear and loathing may abound, but it’s business-friendly fear and loathing."

One and a Half Cheers for the Bishops (Mark Shields) from Creators Syndicate

"Signed by Bishops Henry Hubbard of Albany, N.Y., the chair of the Bishops Committee on International Justice and Peace, and Stephen Blare, chair of the Committee on Domestic Peace and Human Development, the letter was clear and unambiguous that "a central moral measure of any budget proposal is how it affects 'the least of these' (Matthew 25). The needs of those who are hungry and homeless, without work or in poverty should come first." Toward that objective, "a just framework for future budgets cannot rely on disproportionate cuts in essential services to poor persons.""

Genetic Breakthrough May Stop Mosquitoes Spreading Malaria from the Independent [of the UK]
"Scientists have figured out a way to block the spread of malaria using genetically-modified (GM) mosquitoes that carry synthetic genes to curb the transmission of the blood parasite when the insect bites its human host."

Wall Street Front Group Loading Up Conservative Activists With Soft Ball Questions For GOP Town Halls from Think Progress
"Slate’s Dave Weigel reports that American Action Network, a relatively new conservative front group founded by a group of Wall Street bankers, is loading up conservative activists with softball questions and talking points to bolster Republican lawmakers on the Ryan plan"
Here's Weigel's original story.

Town Hall Citizens Confront Rep. Sean Duffy For Voting To Privatize Medicare And Defend Tax Breaks For Rich from Think Progress
"All across America, a Main Street Movement has broken out to defend the middle class against right-wing attacks on labor rights and basic public services.... On Tuesday, Rep. Sean Duffy (R-WI) was the latest congressman to face the ire of Main Street America during a town hall event with constituents who stopped being polite and started getting real."

Of Donald, Dunces and Dogma (Charles Blow) from the New York Times

"Let me be clear: Trump’s little game doesn’t reflect American ideology as much as it exposes the flaws within it.  It further exacerbates a corrosive culture on the right that now celebrates the Cult of Idiocy — from Glenn Beck to Michele Bachmann — where riling liberals is more valuable than reason and logic, and where intellectualism and even basic learnedness are viewed with suspicion and contempt."
Out pundit-of-the-day!!

RELIGION NUGGETS!!
David Brooks started a very interesting conversation about the nature of 21st century religious faith in his column about the qualities of the recent musical "The Book of Mormon".  Andrew Sullivan at the Daily Beast has a great response!!

Friday, April 22, 2011

News Nuggets 610


The Nyiragongo Lava Lake near Goma in the Congo.  From National Geographic.

Libyan Rebels Reclaim Misurata City Center, Credit NATO Airstrikes from the Washington Post

"Libyan rebels claimed Friday that they have recaptured the center of the besieged western city of Misurata, partly thanks to weeks of NATO airstrikes, and said they hoped deployment of U.S. armed Predator drones could help them drive Moammar Gaddafi’s forces out of the city completely."

The Coming Arab Renaissance (Parag Khanna) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Forget Gamal Abdel Nasser. The time for Arab unity is now."

Can NATO Save Misrata? from the Economist [of London]
"It is vital for Muammar Qaddafi’s foes that they hold on to Misrata."

Syriana: After Bashar al-Assad, the Deluge (Robert Kaplan) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The unrest in Syria brings the Middle East perhaps to a precipice. Peaceful or not, the future of the region will be one of weakened central authority."

Is BRICS a Real Bloc? (Richard Weitz) from The Diplomat
"Tensions and diverging interests between China and Russia loomed large over the group’s latest meeting. Will BRICS ever find a unified voice?"

The US Government's Deficit, Explained (David Case) from the Global Post
"America's debt is its biggest national security challenge, according to top Pentagon brass. Here's why."

Obama vs. Ryan: Who's Winning the Deficit Debate? (Ari Berman) from the Nation

"The disconnect between deficit-crazed Washington and the concerns of the American public—high unemployment, rising gas prices—appears to be increasing. Poll after poll shows that the country favors job creation over deficit reduction, but neither party seems to be listening."

GOP Struggles to Dent the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau from the Nation
"Republicans brought these indirect assaults into the recent government shutdown standoff, requesting many of these funding reductions and structural changes. But none of them were accepted in the final appropriations bill signed by President Obama last week."

Blacks’ Migration to Suburbs Will Have Big Impact on Congressional Redistricting from the Washington Post
"As lawmakers across the nation begin the once-a-decade process of redrawing their congressional boundaries, a significant migration of blacks from cities to suburbs is having a widespread political impact"

One Undocumented Teen's Tale (Kristina Rizga) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Rejected by his parents, accepted by 13 colleges, a Mission High wrestling star defies deportation."

The Danger of Donald Trump (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"But the more you watch Trump crash around the land, leaving shards of fabrication for the rest of us to sweep up, the more you realize who he’s really like: Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian prime minister who has served longer than any leader of his country since Mussolini goose-stepped over bell’Italia."

Trumping Romney (David Corn) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Donald Trump may be a presidential punchline—but for Mitt Romney he's no laughing matter."

OUTER SPACE NUGGET!!
Pluto's Atmosphere Found Poisonous and Surprisingly High from Space.com

"Poisonous carbon monoxide gas has been discovered in the atmosphere of the dwarf planet Pluto, after a worldwide search that lasted nearly two decades, according to a new study that also detected the planet's atmosphere extending much higher above the surface than previously thought."

Thursday, April 21, 2011

News Nuggets 609

The Milky Way Galaxy as seen from the Balanced Rock at Arches National Park near Moab, Utah.  From National Geographic.

LOCAL ENVIRONMENT NUGGET!!
Pennsylvania's GOP Governor Lets Gas Industry Have Its Way With Public Parks from The Nation

"Last October, outgoing Democratic Governor Ed Rendell sought to slow the pace of the natural gas industry's scramble for Marcellus riches -- and address growing concerns about the environmental and public health impacts of drilling -- by signing an Executive Order prohibiting the issuance of any new drilling leases on public lands. But newly elected Republican Governor Tom Corbett has pledged to overturn Rendell's moratorium. Since taking office in January, Corbett has rolled back environmental oversight of natural gas drilling on public lands."

U.S., Europeans Step Up Efforts to Aid Libyan Rebels (Karen DeYoung) from the Washington Post

"The United States and its allies have entered a new stage of involvement in Libya, sending assistance and advisers directly to opposition military forces, which have been unable to break Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi’s stranglehold over much of the country despite help from NATO airstrikes."

From Twitter to Tura Prison (Aluf Benn) from Al Haaretz [of Israel in English]
"From Twitter to Tura prison: the Arab revolution now resembles the breaking up of Yugoslavia rather than the 'velvet' revolutions of Eastern Europe."

The American World Turned Upside Down (Dominique Moisi) from Project Syndicate
"While Americans are relieved by France’s display of determination, they cannot refrain from expressing a sense of bemusement: Do the French really know what they are up against? What has happened to them? We know what war means, but they seem to have forgotten!"

‘The Shining’ — National Debt Edition (Matt Miller) from the Washington Post
"“The House Republican budget adds $6 trillion to the debt in the next decade yet the GOP is balking at raising the debt limit. The House Republican budget adds $6 trillion to the debt in the next decade yet the GOP is balking at raising the debt limit.” I thought about making this week’s column that one sentence printed over and over 30 times. It would have been the opinion page equivalent of a Dada-esque protest against the inanity of the debate — and a cry for every news outlet to focus on this simple, clarifying fact."

‘Three Cups of Tea,’ Spilled (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"I’ve visited some of Greg’s schools in Afghanistan, and what I saw worked. Girls in his schools were thrilled to be getting an education. Women were learning vocational skills, such as sewing. Those schools felt like some of the happiest places in Afghanistan.  I also believe that Greg was profoundly right about some big things."
Our ON-THE-MONEY pundit of the day!  I continue admire Mortenson quite a bit for EXACTLY the reasons Kristof lays out here!

Doyle McManus: GOP Wannabes (Doyle McManus) from the Los Angeles Times
"Less politely, it means that none of the potential candidates now testing the waters — Romney, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, to name the most prominent — has caught fire yet. ... So the GOP race is becoming more open, not less."

Trump Candidacy for White House Gaining Ground from the Wall Street Journal
"Dismissed just days ago as an exercise in self-promotion, Donald Trump's flirtation with a White House run appears to be picking up steam as the real-estate magnate moves toward establishing the rudiments of a campaign."

Donald Trump: The President We Deserve (Andrew Leonard) from Salon
"He's got Reagan's blarney, Clinton's libido and plenty of experience with massive debt and bankruptcy. Perfect!"

Trumped: The GOP Establishment’s Futile Battle Against Donald Trump (Ed Kilgore) from the New Republic
"During the last few days Karl Rove, George Will, and the Club for Growth have all trashed Trump very aggressively. But a closer look at the PPP findings should reveal the weakness of this elite strategy. What they show is not a desire to support the faux tycoon per se, but a raging right-wing, anti-establishment fever that has only gotten stronger in recent months."

Donald Trump Gets the Palin Treatment: Heightened Scrutiny (Jonathan Capehart) from the Washington Post
Capehart takes us down the Trump-Palin memory lane.
"NBC Nightly News aired a report from Michael Isikoff in which he did the kind of reporting and interview with Trump that the real estate mogul better get used to. Trump was called to account for his business dealings, his numerous bankruptcies, the multiple lawsuits against him and his net worth."

Donald Trump's Media Moment (Jonathan Martin) from Politico
"A latter-day P.T. Barnum with an insatiable appetite for attention and a knack for getting it,Trump has capitalized on two defining and interrelated features of the political-media landscape in the Obama era — the symbiosis between political provocateurs and traffic-conscious news organizations and the rise of a conservative constituency that hungers for voices that will attack President Obama in sharp and unapologetic terms."
BINGO!!  People on the hard right have been enduring a 3 year slow burn over the praise Obama has received from other quarters.  They want SOMEONE of stature to agree with them!!

Only 26% of Iowa Republicans Believe Obama Born in US from Americablog
"I will say one thing.  This is a testament to the power of a good message, and message unity.  If the Republicans can sell this, then Democrats truly need to rethink why it is their messages don't filter out as well as the GOP's."

Citizens Group Files Petition To Recall Power-Hungry Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder from Think Progress
"Now, one group of Michigan citizens that is standing up to Snyder and his radical remaking of his state is filing a petition to recall the governor. ... The group has set up a countdown clock to July 1 — the date that Snyder can legally face a recall election — on a website called FireRickSnyder.org."

OBAMA FAMILY NUGGET!!
Obama’s Young Mother Abroad (Janny Scott) from the New York Times Sunday Magazine

A lengthy, long-overdue profile of Obama's mother.
"To describe Dunham as a white woman from Kansas turns out to be about as illuminating as describing her son as a politician who likes golf."

RELIGIOUS HISTORY NUGGET!!
Bones of Christian Martyrs May Have Been Identified from the Archeology News Network

"The skeletons of two married, early-Christian saints—said to have been buried alive nearly 2,000 years ago—may have been identified in Italy, scientists announced Thursday. "

ROBOT NUGGET!!
Human-like Robot Built for Assembly Line from Discovery News

"The Swiss firm, ABB, unveiled its robot, Frida, and offered a glimpse of the future of factory robots."
http://news.discovery.com/tech/human-like-robot-built-for-assembly-lines-110421.html

WHALE NUGGET!!
Friendliest Whales in the World (VIDEO) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"The whales love a pat on the head and a rub on their smooth and sometimes barnacle-covered 45foot-long bodies. Groups of tourists travel from all over the world to play with the families of grey whales, who live in San Ignacio lagoon, on the west coast of Baja California, Mexico, where they migrate to each year to breed and give birth"

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

News Nuggets 608

This surprisingly beautiful creature is an ornate day gecko of Mauritius, an island country east of Madagascar.  From National Geographic.

How US Intends to End War with Taliban (Ahmed Rashid) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"After more than two years of internal disputes and rivalries, the Obama administration is for the first time united on stepping up its secret talks with the Taliban. It also wants to start wider talks with regional countries such as Pakistan, which hold the key to a peaceful settlement as the US and Nato prepare to pull out their troops by 2014."

Time to Up the Ante on Egypt (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post

"We should spend less on Afghanistan and more on Egypt."

A two-fer from Ignatius today:
Syria’s Assad, Caught Between Reform and Repression (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"With his regime hanging by a thread, Syria’s President Bashar Assad faces two interlocking challenges this week that will determine his political fate: He must somehow calm the centers of protest, and he must convince the public that he means what he promised about reform."
Not going to happen.  I am coming to the view that Assad himself is not fully in charge right now, that hard-liners are increasingly directing events.   I suspect that the manic quality of the gov't's actions reflects an increasingly split Ba'ath Party leadership.

A Day After Crackdown in Syria, Activists Regroup (Anthony Shadid) from the New York Times
"A day after the Syrian regime crushed one of the biggest demonstrations yet by protesters in Homs, a cautious calm fell over the city Wednesday as activists prepared for demonstrations on Friday."

Inside Iran: the Art of Resistance (Jason Rezaian) from the Global Post
"With street demonstrations in Iran effectively crushed, music, photography and painting are now a leading way to express a desire for change."

NSC Security Advisor Samantha Power and Her Subjects (Jacob Heilbrunn) from the National Interest
"Today this Wilsonian doctrine is sold as a form of atonement for past wrongdoings—that, unless we intervene decisively in what is often a civil war to tip the balance of the scales to one side, America will once again have blood on its hands. Never again, in other words, will become ever again. IT WOULD be hard to think of a more ardent promoter of this doctrine than Samantha Power."

Cape Wind, First U.S. Offshore Wind Farm, Building Plan Approved from the Associated Press via Huffington Post
"A federal agency approved a construction and operations plan for the Cape Wind project off the Massachusetts coast, clearing the way for work to begin on America's first offshore wind farm as early as this fall, U.S. Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar announced Tuesday."

The GOP's Budget Backfire (Kirsten Powers) from the Daily Beast

"Not only are Republicans wasting time with the Paul Ryan proposal, their cynical gambit on the even more drastic House Republican Study Committee came back to bite them. They may be under pressure to keep campaign promises about balancing the budget—but they're running a huge risk of electoral disaster with their overreach."

The Decade the GOP Hopes You've Forgotten (Steve Kornacki) from Salon
"If this anti-tax adamance -- and the dire warnings of what life in a post-tax hike America would look like -- sounds familiar, it's for good reason. Republicans issued the exact same warnings the last time a president proposed addressing exploding deficits (in part) through tax increases on the wealthy. This was back in 1993..."

Poll: Best Way to Fight Deficits: Raise Taxes on the Rich from the McClatchy News Service

"Alarmed by rising national debt and increasingly downbeat about their country's course, Americans are clear about how they want to attack the government's runway budget deficits: raise taxes on the wealthy and keep hands off of Medicare and Medicaid."

In WI, What Prosser's Victory Means for the Recall Elections (Sean Trende) from RealClearPolitics
"Wisconsin clearly remains a bright "purple" state. This reality has significant implications for the upcoming recall elections, which we can now examine in more detail..."

Here's an up-date:
Four Wisconsin Recall Petitions Filed, Control of State Senate Now a Toss-Up (Chris Bowers) from Daily Kos
"Four recall petitions have now been filed against Republican state Senators in Wisconsin: Dan Kapanke (April 1), Randy Hopper (April 7), Luther Olsen (April 18), and Sheila Harsdorf (April 19, today). The petitions will likely all be challenged by the Senators against whom they were filed, but given that the petitions all exceeded 140% of the minimum amount required and were closely examined before being submitted, all the challenges will fail."
I think Trende is closer to the mark here in arguing that actually REPLACING the GOP lawmakers will be very hard to pull off.

The GOP’s Donald Trump Birther Problem is of its Own Making (Adam Serwer) from the Washington Post
"The GOP’s elite anti-birther backlash against Trump is now in full swing, as Trump rises in the polls and everyone tries to figure out whether his candidacy is legitimate or Andy Kaufman-esque political performance art. George Will is warning that Trump could “make a shambles of the Republican debate just by being there,” while Charles Krauthammer proclaimed that Trump is the GOP’s Al Sharpton."

The Right's First Trump Attack (Lloyd Grove) from the Daily Beast
"The Club for Growth came out swinging at the Donald, casting him a liberal big-spender. Lloyd Grove talks to Trump about why he’s drawing fire—and how he doesn’t know who his assailant is."

Trump did NOT help himself with this vacuous response he gave on MSNBC concerning the "Right-to-Privacy"'s link to Roe v. Wade:
Pro-Lifers: Donald Trump Doesn't Understand How Pro-Life Works (VIDEO) from Talking Points Memo
"Trump apparently thinks he can split the difference, and appeared to have no understanding of the connection between the view of a right to privacy and the abortion debate. "I guess there is, I guess there is," Trump said when Guthrie asked if there's a Constitutional right to privacy. "And why, just out of curiosity, why do you ask that question?" Guthrie informed him of the connection to abortion, but Trump seemed surprised that the two went together...  The pro-life establishment was not impressed."
New York City, let me introduce you to Kansas.  Kansas, this is New York City.  There is SO much about Trump that won't translate to the rest of the country.  This is only the beginning.

Huntsman: He Worked for Obama. Can He Beat Him? (Jeff Zeleny) from the New York Times
"On paper, given his affiliation with Mr. Obama, Mr. Huntsman would seem to be facing a tough time in a primary where anti-Obama sentiment is expected to run high. But in a crowded field, with many Republicans signaling dissatisfaction with the candidates thus far, his supporters hope he could get beyond short-term challenges with a long-term pitch of electability."
He has nothing to lose by throwing his hat in.

BLOGGER PROFILE NUGGET!!
Glenn Greenwald: Life Beyond Borders (Fred Bernstein) from Out Magazine

"With his provocative columns and scathing political commentary, the journalist has never shied away from controversy. We step into his complicated world."
I routinely find Greenwald to be annoying -- but there is no denying that he is one of the most brilliant, encyclopedic, and prolific bloggers out there.  In many ways, he has become the conscience of the progressive blogosphere, constantly reminding liberals (and everyone else) where we are not being true to what we profess.

HISTORICAL CRIME NUGGET!!
FBI Dossier Reveals Chilling Profile of Jack the Ripper... Shame It was Released 100 Years Too Late from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"A secret FBI dossier, which has just been declassified and made public, reveals how one of its acclaimed secret agents - and a pioneer of criminal profiling - attempted in vain to unmask the serial killer."