Tuesday, May 31, 2011

News Nuggets 648

The morning sun shines over Inishowen in Ireland.  From National Geographic.

When You First Met Barack, Did You Think He Would Be President?

                                                    -- A Question to Michelle by an inner city girl at Oxford University
I've never heard Michelle share before what exactly she saw in Barack back when they first met.  Here it is.  Very inspiring! Some background: In case you missed it back in 2009, Michelle had this extraordinary session with inner city students at a girls' school in London.  Here, when she visited London last week she invited many of those same girls to a talk and Q&A at Oxford.  The WHOLE talk is quite inspiring and worth checking out!

'Scores Defect' from Gaddafi's Army from Al Jazeera English
"Eight high ranking officers and 120 military officials "abandon" armed forces amid growing pressure on Libyan leader."

Five Libyan Army Generals Defect from the Associated Press

"Eight top Libyan army officers, including five generals, who have defected from Moammar Gadhafi's regime appealed to their fellow officers Monday to join the revolt to hasten the end of Gadhafi's 40-year rule. ... One of the officers, Gen. Melud Massoud Halasa, estimated that Gadhafi's military forces are now "only 20 percent as effective" as what they were before the revolt broke out in mid-February, and that "not more than 10" generals remain loyal to Gadhafi."

Polish Jews Express Gratitude for President Obama's Visit from the Gazeta Wyborcza [of Poland in English]
"Despite being such an important and meaningful political figure, President Obama found time to stop for a moment and consider the lessons of history."

Mad as Hell: An Arab Spring ... in Europe? (Tony Dokoupil) from Newsweek

"The anger that fueled the Arab Spring is now boiling over in Europe. Could club-wielding protesters be in America’s future, too?

The Jet That Ate the Pentagon (Robert Haddick) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The F-35 is cutting into the Defense Department's most important priorities."

Detroit’s Rebound Is Built on Smaller Cars from the New York Times
"After years of being outgunned by Japanese rivals, the American auto industry has made small cars a central part of its strategy, seeking to capitalize on a fundamental shift in the preferences of consumers in an era of fast-rising gas prices."

Vermont Passes Single-Payer Health Care, World Doesn't End from Mother Jones Magazine
"Advocates celebrate, but critics warn: A few details—like, er, funding—have yet to be worked out."

Did California Same-Sex Marriage Foes Undermine Their Own Case? (Bob Egelko) from the San Francisco Chronicle
" the sponsors of Proposition 8 try toconvince the courts that the judge who overturned the measure had a built-in bias as a gay man with a longtime partner, their opponents are invoking that same campaign message: If Prop. 8 was meant to preserve opposite-sex marriages, they argue, then any judge, gay or straight, would have the similar conflict of interest."
WOW!  Now that is clever!

Two related education nuggets:
A Generation of Slackers? Not So Much from the New York Times
"Generation Y — or Millennials, the Facebook Generation or whatever you want to call today’s cohort of young people — has been accused of being the laziest generation ever. They feel entitled and are coddled, disrespectful, narcissistic and impatient, say authors of books like “The Dumbest Generation” and “Generation Me.” ... So is this the Laziest Generation? There are signs that its members benefit from lower standards. Technology has certainly made life easier. But there may also be a generation gap; the way young adults work is simply different."

Burnt Out on the High School Treadmill (Candy Schulman) from the Washington Post
"Rather than being inspired, they are given an inordinate amount of work, much of which is developmentally inappropriate. I once joked with an attorney that neither he, who writes persuasive depositions, nor I, a writing professor, could get higher than a B on our daughters’ English papers. How did our educational system turn into such a pressure cooker?"

How Roger Ailes Built the Fox News Fear Factory (Tim Dickinson) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"The onetime Nixon operative has created the most profitable propaganda machine in history. Inside America's Unfair and Imbalanced Network."

President Obama's Secret Weapon in Florida: Rick Scott from Politico
"Obama’s biggest asset in a critical swing state he won by a mere 2.8-percentage-point margin in 2008 might be Rick Scott, the wildly unpopular Republican governor Democrats are casting as Lex Luthor to Obama’s Clark Kent."

Right-Wing Fervor Drives Republicans into Suicide Pact (Jonathan Chait) from the Daily Beast
"It’s not unusual for a party to take risks to achieve its goals. But as Jonathan Chait notes, Republicans have voted for a budget that’s unpopular even with their own base."

The Right Aims at Texas (Peter Boyer) from Newsweek

"Behind the sudden conservative crush on Gov. Rick Perry—and why he’s got Bush on the brain."

The Upside of GOP Despair (Andrew Romano) from Newsweek
"Things look bleak for 2012, but Republicans have talent in the pipeline."
I think this is true -- and, of equal concern, I'm not at all sure if the Dems have much waiting in the wings for the post-Obama years.  Aside from Hillary (who is getting on in years), who else do they have?  There are those such as Kristen Gilibrand (Sen-NY) who potentially have potential -- but many of those who arose with Obama, to be frank, haven't panned out.  These would include John Edwards, Mark Warner, Tim Kaine, Bill Richardson, just to name a few.  I HOPE both next year and later that the Dems and Obama start promoting and/or encouraging a post-Obama generation so they will be ready by 2016. 

Palin: Queen of Right-Wing Reaction (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"Liberals are tempted to rejoice in Palin’s candidacy. But as Michael Tomasky argues, we should all dread the effect of her torrent of lies and demagoguery on our politics."
I think Tomasky is right here.  While I am captivated by the IDEA of a Palin run, I have a DEEPER desire for the GOP to actually become a real political party again, not just a traveling circus of extremist clowns.  For the sake of responsible governance, in practical terms we need to have TWO sane political parties.

School Kids Bring Home Alice the Afghan Stray (Thomas Ricks) from Foreign Policy Magazine

"You come home and it's hot or cold or you are wet or tired and there is always somebody who is real happy to see you," Taylor said. "You're not going to get a hug and a kiss from a Marine when you come back from patrol, but there is always a little girl like this to come up and give you a lick, put her head on her lap and remind you there is something nice in the world too."
A television news story on this dog can be seen HERE.

The New Science Of Understanding Dog Behavior (AUDIO) from NPR's Fresh Air program

"Animal behaviorist John Bradshaw says it's realizing that dogs are neither wolves nor furry humans and that dog owners have certain responsibilities to make sure their dogs are psychologically healthy."

The Great Kilowatt vs. Gallon Face-Off from the New York Times

"WITH Memorial Day upon us, and with it a summer driving season marked by high prices at the gas pump, it seems a fitting time to look at the electric car. How do the fuel and environmental costs of running one compare with the costs of a conventional car, or even the electricity to run appliances in your home?"

Document Suggests Hitler Knew of Hess' British Flight Plans from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]

"Was Rudolf Hess's infamous flight to Great Britain in 1941 coordinated with Adolf Hitler? Although historians have long believed that the Nazi Party's second-in-command was acting on his own, newly revealed statements by a senior Hess adjutant may suggest otherwise."
This episode has always mystified me (and many other historians).  EVERYTHING I ever read about Hess indicated that, in the Nazi world of Hitler sycophants, no one was more of a sycophant than Hess.  It seemed completely out of character for him to freelance this flight to the UK.  Der Spiegel has been doing an excellent series reexamining World War II.  Some other good recent installments can be found HERE and HERE.

Monday, May 30, 2011

News Nuggets 647

 The Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi.  From National Geographic.

Barack Obama Speaks At Joplin Memorial from KMBC-TV via YouTube
A very nice eulogy & tribute to those who died saving others during the tornado in Joplin.  It's relatively short and worth hearing in its entirety.

Gaddafi to be Told to Stand Down or Face Apache Attack from the Guardian [of the UK]
"If South African president Jacob Zuma's peace mission fails, Nato will deliver its heaviest blow to Libyan leader's forces."

Libya’s Opposition Offers Amnesty to Gaddafi Regime and Raises Pressure from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"Libya’s opposition provisional government has raised the pressure on the country’s embattled dictator, promising amnesty to his supporters if they switch sides immediately."

Russia 'Fires' Qaddafi (Editorial) from the Gazeta [of Russia in English]
“I have decided to dispatch my special envoy to Africa, Mr. Margelov. He is flying out to Libya immediately … If the colonel steps down voluntarily, then we can discuss how to go about it, what country might take him in, on what terms, what he can keep and what he must lose.”

Nuclear Talks Call Iran's Bluff (Meir Javedanfar) from the Guardian [of the UK]

"The west has already demonstrated how effective a two-pronged approach of diplomacy and sanctions can be."

Egypt’s Next Crisis: One of Self Discovery (Robert Worth) from the New York Times Sunday Magazine
"Three months after the revolution, Egypt is in the agony of self-discovery. As other Arab revolutions founder or lapse into civil wars, Egypt has achieved far more than its young rebels ever hoped for. "

US Put Pressure on Saudi Arabia to Let Women Drive, Leaked Cables Reveal from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Documents given to WikiLeaks show Obama administration pushed Saudis to give female citizens more rights."

The G8 Proves Its Relevance (Stewart Patrick) from the Council on Foreign Relations
"The G8 summit affirmed the group's importance as a U.S. partner as it seeks a common front on the "Arab Spring" uprisings, and in forging collective action on human rights and security matters, says CFR's Stewart Patrick."

On the Deficit, the Negotiations Behind the Negotiations (Ezra Klein) from the Washington Post
"Republicans are negotiating not over the deficit, but over tax rates and the size of government. ... Democrats, meanwhile, lack a similarly clear posture: most of them are negotiating to raise the debt ceiling, but a few are trying to survive in 2012..."

Debt Limit at Heart of GOP's Impending Civil War (Robert Reich) from the San Francisco Chronicle
"So the Street and big business are quietly trying to push the Tea Partiers in the House to moderate their hard-line demands. But Tea Partiers couldn't care less about the debt limit. To them, the debt limit is a giant bargaining chip to get their demands met."

Black Chatter, Not Leadership (Jill Nelson) from The Root
"Jill Nelson has had enough of the irrelevant, privileged-class debate about Cornel West's criticism of Barack Obama."

Myths about the 2012 GOP Field: Baloney on Rye, Served with Weak Tea from Daily Kos
"Media pundits and reporters have a wonderful ability to repeat nonsense often enough so as to start to believe it. Here are some examples."
A LENGTHY examination of many mythes about the GOP field generated and repeated by the MSM.  Very interesting.

Forecasting a Nasty 2012 Campaign (Jack White) from The Root

"RightWatch: White rage and a dearth of new Republican ideas should result in a noxious and racially tinged campaign next year."

Palin Trial Balloon (Shushannah Walshe) from the Daily Beast
"The former Alaska governor is using her bus tour to gauge interest in a presidential bid, says a knowledgeable source. Shushannah Walshe on the way to tell if she’s in or out."

The GOP’s Rolling Thunder Revue (Michael Hirsh) from the National Journal
"They’re either star-spangled mountebanks or "serious but boring." Can anyone be a real presidential candidate in a party that’s lost its way?"

Is a Sarah Palin State Visit Too Much to Hope For? Run, Sarah, Run! (Marina Hyde) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"The Arizona house, the movie, the bus tour – do we dare to dream Sarah Palin is going to run for the US presidency?"

If a Tornado were Headed Toward You, What Would You Do? from the Wichita Eagle [of Kansas]

"You might be shopping, visiting a nursing home, driving a car or attending a movie. Emergency officials recommend following these basic guidelines if you find yourself in an unfamiliar place when a tornado approaches:"
You have to figure the folks in Kansas know what they're talking about on this score!

This is a City Built for a Million People - but No One Lives Here: The Mongolian Metropolis Thrust into the 21st Century from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"There is no joy in asking if China has outgrown its strength after ten years of blazing, enthralling growth. But it may have done so. The hedge-fund managers, those canny vultures of finance, are beginning to circle slowly, high overhead. They are starting to bet on the bursting of the Chinese bubble. These people did not become very rich indeed by guessing wrong. And one of the reasons for their gloomy guesswork is here, in the strange, wistful landscape of Inner Mongolia, birthplace and home of Genghis Khan."

Here Comes Road-Trip Season: 20 Ways to Save Gas (Daniel Indiviglio) from the Atlantic

"As of May 23rd, the average price for a gallon of regular conventional gasoline was $3.79, according to the Department of Energy. A year earlier, the same gallon cost just $2.42. Luckily, there are steps you can take to use less gas."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

News Nuggets 646

A striking photo of a small "auto graveyard" in Pioche, Nevada.  From the Los Angeles Times.

One More Victory Like That and Israel is Done For (Yoel Marcus) from Al Haaretz [of Israel in English]
"A failure of the peace process is not an option. The status quo cannot be maintained. True friends tell each other the truth."

Signs That Bin Laden Weighed Seeking Pakistani Protection from the New York Times
"Documents seized at the compound where Osama bin Laden was killed show that he and his aides discussed making a deal with Pakistan in which Al Qaeda would refrain from attacking the country in exchange for protection inside Pakistan, American officials said Thursday."

Small Signs Suggest Waning Support for Gadhafi from the Associated Press
"The shaking cacophony of bangs and bullets one recent evening all served to camouflage the thin turnout at a pro-Gadhafi demonstration in his stronghold, the capital of Tripoli. Only several hundred showed up, and many seemed more interested in having fun than in showing solidarity with the regime. On Friday, nearly two dozen Libyan soldiers, including a colonel and other officers, fled their country in two small boats and took refuge in neighboring Tunisia, where thousands of Libyan refugees have settled."

Iranian Diplomat, Detained By Egypt from Reuters via Huffington Post
"Egypt has detained an Iranian who worked at Iran's diplomatic mission in Cairo, security sources said Saturday, in a potential setback to improving ties between the two countries. Al Arabiya television named the man as Kassem al-Hosseini and described him as a diplomat who had been detained for "passing information," without giving more details."
Long-term, Egypt and Iran will NOT be buddies.  For each, their regional rivalry and core interests will (I suspect) ultimately trump any momentary lessening of tensions.

Slums Into Malls in Calcutta (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times

"The Communist Party in China did a much better job fighting poverty than democratically elected Indian governments. India tolerated dissent, but it also tolerated inefficiency, disease and illiteracy. But after my trips to India and China this year, I think all that may be changing. Despite the global economic slowdown, India’s economy is now hurtling along at more than 8 percent per year. Yep, India is now a “tiger economy.”"

Lockheed Martin Hit By Cyber Attack, Department Of Homeland Security Confirms from the Associated Press
"Hackers launched a "significant and tenacious" cyber attack on Lockheed Martin, a major defense contractor holding highly sensitive information, but its secrets remained safe, the company said Saturday."
As I've said here before, I think not only that these types of attacks will only increase but that ones like this are actually good in the long run.  So much of the US's cyber-infrastructure (both public and private) is NOT READY for major cyber attacks (like the Stuxnet worm that got thrown at Iran) and wake up calls are the order of the day.  Hopefully, the Dept of Homeland Security just got one.

Will President Obama’s European Spring Fling Last? from Politico
"For six days, President Barack Obama hopscotched through Europe, greeted by rapturous crowds that remain obsessed with all things Obama, from the bulletproof Cadillac that whisks him around to the kitten heels on the first lady’s feet. And for six days, Obama returned the affection of a continent that has often felt overlooked by his administration — reviving a European crush. But will it last?"

Cherchez les Femmes (Judith Warner) from Time Magazine

"The resentment — indeed, the rage — was a long time in coming. Yet no one in France was quite prepared for the wave of female anger that crested and broke in the wake of former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn's arrest in New York City for the alleged sexual assault and attempted rape of a Sofitel hotel housekeeper."

Attacking Sarah Palin from the Right (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"If the former governor runs for president, she'll have to spar with members of her own party for the first time at the national level."
Why Democrats Would Like Palin to Run (Perry Bacon Jr.) from the Washington Post
"Last October, top White House adviser David Plouffe told reporters of the 2012 GOP contest: “These guys are going to be running through hoops to please the far-right folks who are kind of the acolytes of Sarah Palin. Now maybe she’ll be running herself. Something tells me we won’t get that lucky.” He might be wrong."

A New Birther Conspiracy Theory: Trump Tricked Us (Stephanie Mencimer) from Mother Jones Magazine
"Farah and Corsi can't understand why Trump might not want to continue the fight over Obama's citizenship, so they seem to have cooked up yet another conspiracy theory: someone else put Trump up to it. "

How to Care for Your Mother: A Review of A Bittersweet Season: Caring for Our Aging Parents — and Ourselves by Jane Gross from the New York Times

"Gross, a former reporter for The New York Times who wrote pioneering stories about AIDS and autism, here takes on a subject she knows from experience: the trials of caring for an aging parent."

Paying with Life and Limb for the Crimes of Nazi Germany from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]

"After Hitler's war had been lost, millions of ethnic Germans in regions that are today part of Eastern Europe were expelled -- often under horrendous circumstances. It has been proven that at least 473,000 people died as they fled or were expelled. The Nazis' crimes had been far worse, but the suffering of ethnic Germans was immense."

Beyonce Surprises Students At Harlem School PS 161 For Her Let's Move! Flash Workout Event! from YouTube

Several days ago we captured Michelle Obama doing the "Dougie" with some middle school kids.  Here's Beyonce just showing up at a Harlem school.  Very surprising, inspiring, -- and generous on her part.  I've been hearing a lot of good things about Beyonce, a celebrity I've never thought much about one way or the other.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

News Nuggets 645

 A pretty "edgy" new form of camping.  See the story at the Daily Mail of the UK.

Struggling to Lead our Hectic World (Philip Stephens) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"The other day I was chided by a senior US official for writing that Barack Obama had been slow to respond to the uprisings. Measured against Washington’s response to, say, the fall of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines, Mr Obama had acted at the speed of light. This is true enough. But the world of the mid-1980s turned in slow motion."

Don't Bank on the Eclipse of the West (Mary Dejevsky) from the Independent [of the UK]

"Obama's thesis - that social progress is not just measured in GDP - can't just be dismissed as simplistic American cheerleading."

The Multipolar Middle East (Paul Pillar) from the National Interest

"The GCC aka The Arab Monarch's Club. Soon to be on the wrong side of history."

Saudi Arabia Scrambles to Limit Region’s Upheaval from the New York Times

"Saudi Arabia is flexing its financial and diplomatic might across the Middle East in a wide-ranging bid to contain the tide of change, shield other monarchies from popular discontent and avert the overthrow of any more leaders struggling to calm turbulent nations."

Hands Off the Wheel: The Most Ridiculous Saudi Arguments Against Women Drivers (Cameron Abadi) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Saudi Arabia has largely been immune to the uprisings and revolutions sweeping the region: minor rumblings by the Shiite minority in the Eastern Province were quickly quieted, and the government handed out billions of dollars to citizens in a preemptive measure to quell any would-be dissent. But a campaign by Saudi women claiming the right to drive -- the conservative gulf monarchy is the only country in the world that forbids women to operate automobiles -- threatens to shake-up the status quo."

Shale Boom in Texas Could Increase U.S. Oil Output But... from the New York Times

"Advocates of pulling oil from packed rock say it could raise the nation’s oil output by 25 percent, but evidence is mounting that the extraction technique threatens water supplies."

Meet the New Optimists (Ellis Cose) from Newsweek
"Despite all the problems facing the U.S. these days, one group is surprisingly upbeat: African-Americans."

If I Take Down Fox, Is All Forgiven? A Profile of David Brock (Jason Zengerle) from New York Magazine

"David Brock has spent the last decade apologizing to liberals for his role in creating the vast right-wing conspiracy. Now he’s trying something more ambitious and hoping it gains him the respect he craves from the White House."

Endangered Ryan-os (Charles Blow) from the New York Times

"Aside from the rich, the electorate is hurting — a pulsing mass of tender nerves, hypersensitive to things that portend pain, reflexively reacting to the thump of even the softest mallet. Needless to say, this is not the time for sledgehammer solutions. Yet that’s exactly what Paul Ryan offered."

NY's 26th is Not Alone from Democracy Corps
"Disapproval of the Republicans in the House of Representatives has surged from 46 percent in February to 55 percent in April to a striking 59 percent now.  Disapproval outnumbers approval two-to-one; intense disapproval by three-to-one."

Sarah Palin's Calling the Shots for the 2012 GOP Field (Mark McKinnon) from the Daily Beast
If the 2012 Republican field may be a circus, Sarah Palin is unquestionably its ringmaster, kicking off a bus tour next week that’s much more than a publicity stunt. But Mark McKinnon says she’s about to hit an immovable object."

In Northeast, Sarah Palin Goes Behind Enemy Lines from Politico
"“There’s no doubt in my mind the northeast is the least favorable area of the country to Sarah Palin,” said Terry Madonna, a longtime Pennsylvania pollster and analyst who directs the Center for Politics and Public Affairs at Franklin & Marshall College. “But she has to show she can broaden her appeal. She can’t just go to where she’s already won voters.”"

Rick Perry: The Coyote Candidate (Gail Collins) from the New York Times

"The G.O.P. is desperately seeking someone who can save the party from the fate of nominating Mitt Romney. But every time a non-Mitt throws his hat in the ring, the hat explodes."

Spotlight Takes Toll on First Lady's Staff from Politico
"The turnover, greater than under recent first ladies, underscores the pressure and high expectations of working in an operation known for its polish and discipline. A crucial political asset to her husband and his administration, Michelle Obama has enjoyed consistently high job approval ratings because of charm, activism — and by avoiding mistakes and controversy."

Green-Wood Cemetery Staff ID More Than 4,000 Civil War Graves from the Huffington Post

"Today, the 478-acre expanse of greenery and statuary covering the cemetery's rolling hills is believed to be the final resting place of about 8,000 Civil War veterans. A team of volunteers and Green-Wood staff has spent nearly a decade trying to identify all those graves. When the project began in September 2002, cemetery officials figured they had, at most, 500 veterans of the nation's bloodiest war buried here."
What an inspiring effort!

The Very Violent Road to America: A Review of Before the Revolution: America’s Ancient Pasts by Daniel K. Richter (J.H. Elliott) from the New York Review of Books

"Over the last fifty years the writing of North American colonial history has undergone a great transformation.  ... Over the past few decades all three pillars supporting the structure of colonial history have come to look increasingly insecure, partly as a consequence of changes in the discipline of history, but also because of the enormous political, social, and cultural changes that have transformed the world itself."

Friday, May 27, 2011

News Nuggets 644

This is a fossa, a large cat-like relative of the mongoose found in the wild only in Madagascar.  From Wikipedia.

BREAKING: Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin Makes History By Signing Into Law Single Payer Health Care from Think Progress

"Last month, the Vermont Senate passed legislation, approved earlier by the House, that would establish a single payer health care system in the state. The legislation would make Vermont the first state in the nation to, as Gov. Peter Shumlin (D) said, make health care “a right and not a privilege.”"
I actually found myself surprisingly moved by this announcement. 

Mullah Omar, Where Are You? (Sami Yousafzai) from the Daily Beast

"Rumors of the Taliban leader’s death were transparently false, but they shook up his Afghan insurgent followers. That was probably the point. Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau on why Omar needs to break his long silence—and why America needs him alive."

Blinded by the Right (Michael Cohen) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"The GOP's blatantly partisan love for Bibi obscures a dangerous reality: that unwavering support for Israel actually hurts wider U.S. interests in the Middle East."

Netanyahu's Boorish Performance Gives Obama the Edge (Robert Dreyfuss) from the Nation
"Obama has put the focus where it belongs: on Palestine, Israel’s borders and the need for a Palestinian state. Netanyahu didn’t help his case by displaying a stunning set of bad manners. He was rude, boorish and recklessly arrogant. Pocketing the support of the Israel lobby, neoconservatives, hawks and the Republicans (including the 2012 presidential candidates), Netanyahu decided that rather than deal with the issue at hand, he’d instead play American politics, rallying opponents of Obama in a challenge to the president’s political future. That won’t work."

China Wants Pakistan? Great, Let Them Have It (Clyde Prestowitz) from Foreign Policy Magazine
While probably not practicable, I appreciate the author's sentiment here.  A lengthy excerpt is in order here.
"I'm serious. We Americans have for too long been thinking backwards or upside down. Our top priority has been to extend our geo-political influence in order to provide global public goods  in the form of relative freedom and safety of the seas along with the stability and relative calm of the international system of nation states. To this end, we have established  over 800 U.S. military bases and missions around the globe and have involved ourselves in endless disputes and armed actions in Asia, Europe, Africa, and Latin America. We provide this often unrequested and unwanted service to the rest of the world to the tune of over $1 trillion annually even as we struggle to raise debt limits and reduce federal deficits. Meanwhile, our global partners like Germany, China, India, Japan, Brazil, and many others are focusing single mindedly on becoming or staying rich through economic development."

Deadly Blasts in Eastern China from Al Jazeera English
"Three explosions at government offices in the city of Fuzhou kill two and injure six, state media reports." 
I'm surprised this story has not gotten more attention in the western media.  These sound like very organized terrorist attacks, something China has not had to deal with very much.  Given China's rather ambiguous roles in nuclear proliferation, I'll be curious to see who or what the source(s) are for this wave of bombings.

The Incredible Shrinking Ahmadinejad (Barbara Slavin) from Foregin Policy Magazine
"Iran's president is looking weak, and that's just what the supreme leader wants."

Manufacturing Renaissance In The Rust Belt (Tom Ashbrook) from NPR's On Point
"Hiring is up in the rust belt. Could tried and true American manufacturing bring back America’s economy?"

On the other side of the above story:
Eclipsed: Why the White Working Class is the Most Alienated and Pessimistic Group in American Society (Ronald Brownstein) from National Journal
"Amid all of this change, whites without a four-year college degree remain the largest demographic bloc in the workforce. College-educated whites make up about one-fifth of the adult population, while minorities account for a little under one-third. The picture is changing, but whites who have not completed college remain the backbone of many, if not most, communities and workplaces across the country. They are also, polls consistently tell us, the most pessimistic and alienated group in American society."

Hope, Change, Nietzsche: A Review of Reading Obama: Dreams, Hope, and the American Political Tradition by James T. Kloppenberg (David Greenberg) from the New Republic

A very interesting long-form look at Obama's leadership and his intellectual roots.
"Along with his historic achievement in becoming our first black president, it was this esteem that seems to have generated the large literature about him, by journalists (David Remnick’s The Bridge, Jonathan Alter’s The Promise) and scholars (Tom Sugrue’s Not Even Past, William Jelani Cobb’s The Substance of Hope). Of this latter group, none has gotten more attention than James T. Kloppenberg’s book."

Where Are the Obama Scandals? (Brendan Nyhan) from the University of Virginia Center for Politics
"One of the least remarked upon aspects of the Obama presidency has been the lack of scandals. Since Watergate, presidential and executive branch scandal has been an inescapable feature of the American presidency, but the current administration has not yet suffered a major scandal, which I define as a widespread elite perception of wrongdoing. What happened, and what are the odds that the administration’s streak will continue?"
I have been noting this for some time.  So far -- not even the faintest hint of corruption, wrong-doing, etc.

Wisconsin Union Law Struck Down By County Circuit Judge from the Associated Press via Huffington Post
"Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi ruled Thursday that Republican legislators violated Wisconsin's open meetings law during the run up to passage. She says that renders the law void. ... Lawmakers could also pass the law again in order to nullify open meeting concerns that led to the judge's ruling Thursday."

Wisconsin GOP Could Simply Re-pass Law, but Recall Elections Causing Delay from Daily Kos
"Since union households account for almost the entire swing in Wisconsin public opinion, re-passing a union-busting bill right before the election elections would be harmful to Republican chances. That's the real reason why Wisconsin Republicans are waiting on the courts to enact the law for them."

Huntsman: The GOP's 'Cool Uncle' (Joshua Green) from the Atlantic
"During his five-day swing through the state, Huntsman's events were mobbed by reporters, who often outnumbered actual citizens. Part of the interest stemmed from the anticipated clash with conservatives upset at having a moderate in their midst. That confrontation never came, and one reason why it didn't is that Huntsman showed himself as much more conservative than advertised."

First Thoughts: Who Wins (and Loses) if Palin Runs (Chuck Todd et al.) from MSNBC
"While we’re still unsure she actually runs (it could simply be a gambit to get into the political spotlight), a Palin bid would have a profound effect on the rest of the field."

Palin's "Exploratory" Campaign: A Nationwide Bus Tour (Scott Conroy)from RealClearPolitics
""Starting this weekend, Sarah Palin will embark on a ‘One Nation' tour of historical sites that were key to the formation, survival, and growth of the United States of America," SarahPAC treasurer Tim Crawford said in a statement to RealClearPolitics. "The tour will originate in Washington, D.C. It will proceed north up the east coast.""
And where is she going?  Her rough itinerary is HERE.  First stop: an event clearly tied to the formation of modern America! The annual Rolling Thunder motorcycle rally!! 

CHECK OUT this, um, slightly attention-getting bus she's taking on her national "Restoring the Good in America [Read: "Restoring My Reputation"] tour! Whether she plans to run or not, I'm clear this is ALL about herself.  Things to look for: is she charging for her appearances?  To what extent is this simply a glorified book-and-movie promotional tour?

GE Sees Solar Cheaper Than Fossil Power in Five Years from Bloomberg News Service

"Solar power may be cheaper than electricity generated by fossil fuels and nuclear reactors within three to five years because of innovations, said Mark M. Little, the global research director for General Electric Co. "

Thursday, May 26, 2011

News Nuggets 643

 A climber next to the Klettern Falls in Switzerland.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

In the UK, the Speaker of the House of Commons introduced Barack Obama in Westminster Hall with the following quote from Abraham Lincoln:

"Nearly all men can stand the test of adversity, but if you really want to test a man's character, give him power."

I think that Bush 43 and his people failed this test, that the the current President is a demonstration of the principle, ... and that the Speaker chose this quote for just these reasons!

Israelis See Netanyahu Trip as Diplomatic Failure from the New York Times
"Palestinians now say, Mr. Netanyahu’s speeches convinced them that they have no negotiating partner. They plan to intensify their United Nations efforts, leaving Israelis worried about increasing international isolation and pressure, especially in light of the popular uprisings across the Arab world."

Where Netanyahu Fails Himself and Israel (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"Conventional wisdom is fast congealing in Washington that President Obama was wrong to demarcate a shift in American policy toward Israel last week. In fact, it was Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu who broke with the past — in one of a series of diversions and obstacles Netanyahu has come up with anytime he is pressed. He wins in the short run, but ultimately, he is turning himself into a version of Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Gromyko, “Mr. Nyet,” a man who will be bypassed by history."

'Netanyahu Had His Triumph, But Israel Will Pay' from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"In a speech before the US Congress, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected President Barack Obama's call for a Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders. Netanyahu's move may be popular at home, but it was disastrous for the Middle East peace process, argue German commentators."

Cutting Iran Down to Size (Afshin Molavi) from the National Interest
"British diplomats posted in Iran, often frustrated by the stifling nature of the political environment and their inability to achieve their aims, would often marvel at their reputation. As one British diplomat told me: “I only wish half of it were true. Life would be much easier for us.” But dig further and there is a grudging respect inherent in the accusation: Ah, those clever British, the undercurrent of the narrative goes, they may be constantly exploiting us, but they understand Iran better than anyone."

Have Democrats Cracked the Code for 2012? from Politico
"The battle over the federal deficit hasn’t flipped in favor of the Democrats. The GOP isn’t suddenly at grave risk of losing its House majority. But after two years of getting pummeled over spending and the size of government, Democrats now appear to have found a political weapon that’s capable of evening out the fight: Medicare."

Top Republican Promises Wall Street that GOP is Bluffing on Debt Limit (Jed Lewison) from Daily Kos
"Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, is telling Wall Street that the GOP is bluffing on its threats to force the United States into default on its obligations and that plans to vote against raising the debt limit are designed to pander to teahadists."

Paul Ryan: 2012’s Goldwater? (David Frum) from the FrumForum
"Now we’re likely headed to the worst of all possible worlds. The GOP will run on a platform crafted to be maximally obnoxious to downscale voters. ... What does the GOP have to say to hard-pressed voters? Thus far the answer is: we offer Medicare cuts, Medicaid cuts, and tighter money aimed at raising the external value of the dollar. No candidate, not even if he or she is born in a log cabin, would be able to sell that message to America’s working class."
CHECK OUT the findings of the GOP pollster Frum cites in this article!

The GOP’s Cast of Clowns (Markos Moulitsas) from The Hill
"[Pawlenty] actually attempting to be the Bob Dole of 2012 in a year in which nearly all serious Republicans have decided they have better things to do than lose to President Obama. So rather than a high-caliber presidential field, the Republicans have put together a cavalcade of clowns."

Speaking of clowns:
Signs Grow That Palin May Run After All from the New York Times
"Former Gov. Sarah Palin is fortifying her small staff of advisers, buying a house in Arizona — where associates have said she could base a national campaign — and reviving her schedule of public appearances. The moves are the most concrete signals yet that Ms. Palin is seriously weighing a Republican presidential bid."

Walker's Numbers Continue to Get Worse from Public Policy Polling
"Scott Walker's popularity has continued to decline over the last three months and Wisconsin voters now say they would vote to recall him if there was an election today. They also say they would pick either Russ Feingold or Tom Barrett over Walker in a head to head match up."

What Does NY-26 Mean? from Taegan Goddard's Political Wire

You can find here a broad range of pundit reaction to the NY-26 House race.

Michelle Obama Catches Up with North London Schoolgirls at Oxford University from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Two years after she met them at an Islington school where 54% get free meals, the first lady urges children to aim high"

Sex Trafficking of Americans: The Girls Next Door from Vanity Fair

"Sex trafficking is not something that only happens to foreigners—in America, more than 100,000 girls, some as young as eight, are caught up in the sex trade every year. Amy Fine Collins reports."

Mars Rover Down: Spirit is Dead from Discover News

"After getting stuck in a sand trap nicknamed "Troy" in Gusev crater in Apr. 2009, NASA admitted defeat at trying to free the six-year old Spirit in Jan. 2010 -- Spirit (and sister rover Opportunity) only had a mission profile lasting three months."
From three months -- to six years!  What an amazing little unit!!

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

News Nuggets 642

The erupting Grimsvotn Volcano in Iceland.  From National Geographic.

I found the following two columns an interesting set of bookends concerning the recent tempest over Obama's comments on Israel-Palestine:
Lessons From Tahrir Sq. (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"Being back in Cairo reminds me that there are two parties in this region that have been untouched by the Arab Spring: the Israelis and the Palestinians. Too bad, because when it comes to ossified, unimaginative, oxygen-deprived governments, the Israelis and Palestinians are right up there with pre-revolutionary Egypt and Tunisia."
I think this is right -- and that Obama's statement on Israel last week was an effort to inject the two parties with this reality.

Then there's this: 
Into Netanyahu’s Arms (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"[Obama] unwittingly strengthened Israeli hawks such as Netanyahu and made the already remote prospect of peace that much more distant. Of this, Inna herself is evidence: Though she’s a moderate who was suspicious of the uncompromising Netanyahu, the episode turned her into a supporter."
I suspect that both authors are correct -- that Obama's comments may have helped consolidate Israeli support behind Netenyahu's entrenched pessimistic vision of peace in Israel.  However, speaking for myself and as someone who has tended to support Israel's position over the last 20+ years, I think Bibi made a serious error with what he's said this last week.  Even as he may consolidate Israeli support behind his position, he has almost certainly undercut his support within the US generally (if my own reaction is any indicator).  Despite the Congressional cheering yesterday, I found Bibi's on-going criticism of Obama to be not just offensive but based on a deep misunderstanding of what's going on right now (see Friedman) and an obvious and extraordinary effort to meddle directly in US domestic politics leading up to next year's presidential elections.  In a carefully crafted message yesterday, he has tried to fashion Obama's statement on peace into a weapon for the GOP to use against him next year.  Indeed, what has struck me most about Bibi's statements is the extent to which they "smell and taste" like the "alternative reality" political narratives that Fox News peddles and that GOP conservatives in the US live in:  Peace now is impossible; negotiations are a useless exercise; to even consider rational talks is an existentially threatening sign of weakness and naivete, blah, blah, blah.  The BIG problem with this view (it's the same problem the GOP 2012 contenders are dealing with; see Newt Gingrich) is that there really is a REALITY out there -- and that all the actors know it.  As many have said, Obama simply spoke the truth.  Outside the GOP base, I think Bibi's comments will drive average US voters away from Israel, leaving it even more isolated.  My fear now is that, in their scramble to get on what they perceive to be the "right side" of the issue, lawmakers in Congress will line up behind the "unreality" that Bibi outlined and that his misleading rhetorical fireworks will become the newest layer of talk-show "unreality" and political litmus testing to further calcify America's domestic political scene.

These next two stories give you a clearer sense of how fast-moving the changes are that are sweeping the Middle East right now:
Hosni Mubarak Charged with Murder from the Guardian [of the UK]

"Former president's sons Alaa and Gamal are also referred to criminal court days before more planned protests in Egypt."
WOW!  And they are talking very seriously here about giving Mubarak the death penalty!

Ahmadinejad's Going Down (Omid Memarian) from the Daily Beast

"Not only has the Iranian president managed to make the entire world angry, now he’s outraged the supreme leader. Omid Memarian on the face-off in Iranian politics."
If he falls, don't be surprised if Ahmendinejad ends up facing the same music that Mubarak is now facing.

UN Team to Probe Japan Nuke Plant; New Info Suggests 2 More Units Suffered Partial Meltdowns from the Washington Post
"A major international mission to investigate Japan’s flooded, radiation-leaking nuclear complex began Tuesday as new information suggested that nuclear fuel had mostly melted in two more reactors in the early days after the March 11 tsunami. That would mean that all three of the most troubled reactors at the plant have suffered partial meltdowns."

Parisian Chat About Straus-Khanikov (Philip Gourevitch) from the New Yorker
"According to the stories, he grabbed women in elevators, he cornered them in gardens, and if they resisted he liked to pursue, with phone calls and text messages. Everyone knew, the dinner guests said."

Strauss-Kahn's Pals Bid to Pay Off Woman's Kin in Africa from the New York Post
"Friends of alleged hotel sex fiend Dominique Strauss-Kahn secretly contacted the accusing maid's impoverished family, offering them money to make the case go away since they can't reach her in protective custody, The Post has learned. The woman, who says she was sexually assaulted by the disgraced former head of the International Monetary Fund, has an extended family in the former French colony of Guinea in West Africa, well out of reach of the Manhattan DA's Office. "They already talked with her family," a French businesswoman with close ties to Strauss-Kahn and his family told The Post. "For sure, it's going to end up on a quiet note.""
This is predictable.  Kahn's US lawyers have probably communicated to him that he is TOAST if his case ever gets to court and that he's easily looking at 5+ years in the slammer -- UNLESS the victim DROPS the charges.  Thus -- the bidding war begins through third parties.  It is so beyond VILE -- but what can one say!?  As much as I would love to tell this poor maid to stand by her charges, if she's offered the biggest multi-million dollar paydays ever, could you blame her for taking the deal?

But then there's this:
The Maid's Family Doesn't Want DSK's Money from the Atlantic
""In our family, we are above material things," said Mamoudou, a 50-year-old man who says he is the brother of DSK's accuser. (Reuters said it withheld his family name or the name of his home village "to protect the identity of the alleged assault victim.") He adds, "Even if you are a billionaire, we don't care. The most important thing for us is how you follow God's path.""

The DSK Case: Flirting, Groping, and Rape (Nina Sutton) from the Daily Beast

"French journalist Nina Sutton grew up in a country and time where women were routinely fondled. That history may help explain why France is still reluctant to condemn Dominique Strauss-Kahn, she writes."

DSK: Would You Vote for a Sexual Predator? (Clovis Rossi) from Folha [of Brazil in English]
"I'm not saying that in the United States everyone is equal before the law. The 'do you know who you're talking to' is a universal practice. But here, would an accusation from a 32-year-old Guinean hotel maid and mother of two, against the all-powerful chief of a large organization, be taken seriously?"

What Obama's Political Team Thinks of the Republican Field (Marc Ambinder) from the National Journal

"Romney seems the most formidable, they think, while relieved that Daniels got out."

FreedomWorks' Goal: Stop Mitt Romney In 2012 (Jon Ward) from the Huffington Post
"A top goal of the nation’s most influential national Tea Party group is to stop Mitt Romney from winning the Republican nomination for president.  Interviews with top officials at FreedomWorks, a Washington-based organizing hub for Tea Party activists around the country, revealed that much of their thinking about the 2012 election revolves around derailing the former Massachusetts governor."
WOW!! This could get really exciting!

Democrats Try to Woo Consumer Advocate to Run from the New York Times
"Officials in the Democratic Party are wooing Elizabeth Warren to run for the Senate against the Massachusetts Republican Scott P. Brown rather than have her continue to set up the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau."
This is a BAD IDEA.  Warren is an exceptionally partisan figure right now, and I'm not convinced that she is somehow a gifted political figure.  If the Dems are *serious* about taking on Brown, they will need to get some top drawer talent with some real political skills and experience in MA.  I hate to say it -- but I actually smell a rat in all this Warren-for-Senate talk.  I DON'T see that she would have ANY chance against Brown -- but it would definitively take her out of the running for a recess appointment to the newly created Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.  Wall Street power brokers are working feverishly to prevent her appointment -- and I suspect that is what is underlying some of this conversation.

Democrat Wins G.O.P. Seat; Rebuke Seen to Medicare Plan from the New York Times

"Democrats scored an upset in one of New York’s most conservative Congressional districts on Tuesday, dealing a blow to the national Republican Party in a race that largely turned on the party’s plan to overhaul Medicare."
You have to wonder if this will be the GOP's "Scott Brown" moment when they realize that the electorate is REALLY upset with them!  I doubt that their there yet.

Are We Done with Rush Limbaugh Yet? (Alex Pareene) from the Salon

"Are we sick of Rush Limbaugh yet? We might be! Crains reported yesterday that the April Arbitron report showed the conservative movement's most powerful mouthpiece -- and Sean Hannity, his much-dumber distant rival -- slumping in the ratings after the midterms:"

Michelle Obama Brings Style and Substance to the Palace from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Queen and Camilla outshone by first lady's cheerful informality, but Kate wins the transatlantic glamour title."

Egyptian Pyramids Found by Infra-Red Satellite Images from the BBC

"Seventeen lost pyramids are among the buildings identified in a new satellite survey of Egypt."

America's Forgotten Presidential Sex Scandal (Charles Lachman) from the Daily Beast

"Forget Arnold Schwarzenegger or John Edwards. One of the greatest political sex scandals happened to Grover Cleveland. Journalist Charles Lachman reveals the sordid details of rape, an unwanted child, and the coverup."
TWO books have just appeared about this scandal.  For these authors their TIMING could not have been better!  Grover Cleveland just got a lot more interesting!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

News Nuggets 641

The Old Town section of Sydney, Australia.  From the National Geographic.

Obama: The Acrobat from Tablet Magazine
"President Obama’s new Middle East diplomacy seems to eschew symbolic triumphs in favor of a pragmatic vision that keeps all sides guessing. Israel could have a lot to gain by signing on."

Netanyahu's Bizarre Response to Obama's Palestinian Proposal (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast

"President Obama’s parameters for a new round of Mideast peace talks were designed to head off U.N. recognition of a Palestinian state based strictly on 1967 borders—which would be catastrophic for Israel. Benjamin Netanyahu’s immediate rejection of the plan suggests he has no grasp of the real world."

A Proud Day for Obama (Josh Marshall) from Talking Points Memo
"Netanyahu believes that US power is forever and that the US political consensus to support Israel in almost any policy choice it makes will never change. So he can simply ignore the currents of history and international affairs and thumb his nose at every other country in the world. But neither is true."

Netanyahu: The Dick Cheney of Israel (James Fallows) from the Atlantic
"By "a Cheney" I refer to the vice presidential version of Dick Cheney, who (in my view) mistook short-term intransigence for long-term strategic wisdom, seemed blind and tone-deaf to the "moral" and "soft power" components of influence, profited from a polarized and fearful political climate, and attempted to command rather than earn support from allies and potential adversaries. "

Afghan Taliban Reject Reports Leader Mullah Omar Killed from RealClearWorld
"Security officials in Pakistan and diplomats, U.S. military commanders and government officials in Afghanistan all cast doubt on reports that Omar, one of the most-wanted men in the world, had been killed while traveling between Quetta and North Waziristan in Pakistan."

Why China’s Leaders Fear Inflation (Minxin Pei) from The Diplomat
"With the Communist Party leadership transition coming next year, China’s leaders are nervous about anything that could stoke instability."

The Symbolic Politics of DSKgate from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Whatever the outcome of the Dominique Strauss-Kahn case, it has already reset debates on class, race, gender and sexuality."

Strauss-Kahn Made Advances on Two Hotel Staffers, Flight Attendant from the New York Post

"Disgraced former IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn attempted to lure two attractive hotel employees to his $3,000-a-night hotel suite -- and later put the moves on an Air France flight attendant following his alleged sexual assault on a maid, The Post has learned. "What a nice ass!" he barked to the attendant, using the lewd French expression "Quel beau cul!" as she prepared the business-class cabin for takeoff last Saturday.
This guy's trial is going to be VERY UGLY!

When Austerity Fails (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Underlying this insistence have been economic fantasies, in particular belief in the confidence fairy — that is, belief that slashing spending will actually create jobs, because fiscal austerity will improve private-sector confidence.  Unfortunately, the confidence fairy keeps refusing to make an appearance. And a dispute over how to handle inconvenient reality threatens to make Europe the flashpoint of a new financial crisis."
I think Krugman is right on the money here.  In my view, the tentative quality of this "recovery" is hampered by continuing economic shocks (gas prices, Europe) compounded by a budgetary conversation in the US which (to be blunt) would sap the confidence of any consumer looking to the future.

Focus on the Family Head: "We've Probably Lost" on Gay Marriage (Tim Murphy) from Mother Jones Magazine

"Last week, a Gallup poll showed that a majority of Americans support gay marriage. It was the third such survey this spring, and if you add in the number of Americans who support civil unions, public support for same-sex relationships has become the dominant position. "

WI Board Clears Way For 3 GOP Recall Elections: Recalls Could Be Held July 12 from WISC-TV [of Madison]
"Kapanke, Hopper and Olsen are among nine lawmakers, six Republicans and three Democrats, targeted for recalls for their positions on GOP Gov. Scott Walker's proposal taking away collective bargaining rights from most state workers. The board plans to evaluate the challenges to the remaining six recall petitions at its May 31 meeting, and likely would certify all the petitions that same week."
Daily Kos has some analysis HERE.

GOP Braces for Medicare Blowback from Politico

"For Democrats, these crystallizing moments would affirm that their Medicare-centric attacks are working — and that they’re on the popular side of a major policy issue, maybe for the first time since the rise of the tea party movement two years ago. For moderate and vulnerable Republicans, these events have the potential to create a lot of hand-wringing and second-guessing for a party that’s been on a roll."

Recall Petition Against Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is Live from Daily Kos
"A recall petition effort to oust Republican Governor Rick Snyder has cleared a hurdle, and can begin collecting signatures aimed at getting the measure on the ballot, unless the governor files an appeal."

GOP Presidential Cattle Call 2012 - Week of 05/22/11 from Daily Kos
"As always, we'll use Markos's formula: "the rankings will be based on where I think they would place if the elections started today, using a mix of poll results, CW, media attention, buzz, and other intangibles.""

Lame GOP field good for Obama (Laura Washington) from the Chicago Sun-Times
"Every morning, Barack Obama must rise, pinch himself and wonder: Am I still dreaming, or is the 2012 Republican field really this lame?  Obama would be wise to keep knocking on wood, or shall I say the “wooden” Mitt Romney. The president’s run of personal political good luck is breathtaking."

Can Romney Win Without Fox News? (David Frum) from the FrumForum

"Three take-aways from Gabriel Sherman’s important piece on Fox News and the GOP in New York mag: 1) What Republicans have been producing since January 2009 is a television program, not a political opposition. No rational opposition would have nailed its colors to the mast on the predictably unpopular Ryan budget without the votes to pass it. ..."
This story is in response to THIS LONG ARTICLE from New York Magazine which I posted the other day.

Herman Cain top 2012 Presidential Candidate Among GOP primary Voters (Eric Dolan) from Raw Story
"Former CEO of Godfather's Pizza and Atlanta radio talk show host Herman Cain is the most popular choice of Republican primary voters in the race for the 2012 presidential nomination. Nineteen percent of GOP primary voters would like to see Cain run against President Barack Obama, according to a Zogby poll released Monday."

T-Paw’s Problem: Pawlenty Needs Time and Money. He'll be Hard-pressed to Find Enough of Both (Walter Shapiro) from the New Republic
"To run a competitive campaign, T-Paw will be forced to spend long hours each week ingratiating himself with wealthy donors in places like Houston and Atlanta. But in this cycle’s foreshortened campaign season, Pawlenty cannot afford to shirk even a minute of the face-to-face politics that have proven essential to winning the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary."
This is true for almost everyone in the GOP field -- with the possible exceptions of Romney and perhaps Bachmann.

Eighteen people huddle in a gas station's cold storage room as the tornado wipes out the building.  You can't see very much -- but it is absolutely terrifying!

Monday, May 23, 2011

News Nuggets 640

An amazing view of the night sky as seen from Australia. From National Geographic.

Obama's Historic Mideast Gamble (Leslie H. Gelb) from the Daily Beast

"The president's speech was sensible, courageous, and fair. Sadly, it was challenged for reasons good and bad in a region unable to transcend its ancient grudges. "

The Bibi-Barack Chess Game (Andrew Sullivan) from the Atlantic

"...the rank hysteria that immediately sprang from Jerusalem and quickly enveloped the far-right-wing-media-industrial-complex, revealed far more plainly than before that the gulf between Israel and the rest of the world is simply vast."
Sullivan's analysis here is right on-the-money!

Obama's Visit Marks a New Special Relationship of the Super-realists (Jacob Weisberg) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"With a shared pragmatism on foreign policy, the president and Mr Cameron may have a good deal in common."

Iran's Supreme Leader and President Wrestle for Power from the Los Angeles Times
"The dispute between Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ignites concern inside the nation that the infighting weakens Iran's ability to project power internationally amid historic instability across the Mideast."

Ahmadinejad Has Fuelled Iran's Power Struggle from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disregard for the constitution has brought him up against both the supreme leader and parliament."

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: [Many] New Claims of Sexual Misconduct Add to Pressure on Former IMF Chief from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"Fresh allegations of sexual misconduct have emerged against Dominique Strauss-Kahn, the former head of the International Monetary Fund accused of sexually assaulting a New York chambermaid."
I will be curious if the chambermaid's lawyers will call any of these people as witnesses when the case goes to trial.

How Dominique Strauss-Kahn's Arrest Awoke a Dormant Anger in the Heart of France's Women from the Guardian [of the UK]
"When the former head of the IMF was taken into custody, many in the French elite saw him as a victim – until an outraged feminist movement began to speak out against what it saw as years of pernicious and ingrained sexism in French life."
GLAD to hear it!

Dominique Strauss-Kahn: Why French Women Put Up with It from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"The culture that allows French men to see female colleagues as fair game is still alive and well, says Anne-Elisabeth Moutet in Paris."

French Weekly Magazines Review the DSK Affair from Radio France International
"The French weeklies all put up special dossiers on the Dominique Strauss-Kahn affair. The right-leaning magazines aren’t mincing words. "Shame" headlines Le Figaro.”Downfall" writes Le Point.  "The scandal that changes everything" says l’Express and “descent to hell”, according to left-leaning Le Nouvel Observateur."

Haunted by Their Medicare Vote from the Editorial Board of the New York Times

"Democrats insist they have a chance of regaining the House next year. It will not be easy, but the Republican plan to radically reshape Medicare is alienating fence-sitting voters and highlighting the sharp differences between the two parties’ visions of government."

A Doctor’s Push for Single-Payer Health Care for All Finds Traction in Vermont from the New York Times

"Many people move to Vermont in search of a slower pace; Dr. Deb Richter came in 1999 to work obsessively toward a far-fetched goal. She wanted Vermont to become the first state to adopt a single-payer health care system, run and paid for by the government, with every resident eligible for a uniform benefit package"

In the End, Rapture Believers Weren't Going Anywhere from the Los Angeles Times

"To many who put stock in Harold Camping's prophecy about the end of the world, disillusionment was profound. It ended up being apocalypse … not."

Long Island Firefighter's Wait For the Rapture Goes Unfulfilled from New York Magazine

"“Wanna order a pizza?" Jeff asks. "I don’t know if we’ll have time to eat it, but we might as well get it.” ... Jeff orders a large Sicilian pie for delivery. “And please put a rush on it,” he tells the person taking his order. “We’re—we’re in a rush here.”"
I'll have to say that, for some of these folks, I just feel sorry for them.  The anguish of this guy -- and his long-suffering wife -- is palpable in this article.

Other Times the World Was Going to End and Didn’t (Does This Make Us Due?) (Alexandra Beggs) from Vanity Fair
"For the skeptics out there, here is a compilation of the Apocalypse’s greatest hits—mostly misses:"

GOP Primary Election Sees Democrats Meddle In Slow-Starting Race from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post
"Maybe President Barack Obama and his friends got tired of waiting for the 2012 campaign to start.  The early action was supposed to be in the competitive Republican primary. But the White House and its allies are meddling from the sidelines with a good cop, bad cop routine, hoping to exploit the GOP's late start."

The Elephant in the Green Room (Gabriel Sherman) from New York Magazine

"The circus Roger Ailes created at Fox News made his network $900 million last year. But it may have lost him something more important: the next election."

Mitch Daniels' Decision Not To Run For President Leaves GOP Floundering (Jon Ward) from the Huffington Post

"The fallout is two-fold: It will renew pressure on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan to consider a run and could potentially lure others who were waiting on Daniels' decision into the race . Second, it initiates a shift of GOP money and operatives..."

Why Mitch Daniels Said No (Erin McPike) from RealClearPolitics
"... she made it clear that she blames Cheri Daniels for breaking up her own family, and she speculated that the Danielses got back together at Mitch Daniels' urging because of his political ambitions -- such as his gubernatorial run."
If this is true, boy, did the Daniels family DODGE A BULLET here.  I actually think this says something positive about the compassion and/or character of Mitch Daniels -- that he wasn't willing to DRAG his family through a muddy media mine field for the next year and a half -- unlike some current and past candidates (re: John Edwards and Sarah Palin) who marched forward, seemingly blind to the costs to their spouses, their families, and the media meat grinder that presidential candidacies inevitably would put them through.

Newt Gingrich’s Meltdown on the Launch Pad (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post

"From Gingrich: “I want to make sure every House Republican is protected from some kind of dishonest Democratic ad. So let me say on the record, any ad which quotes what I said on Sunday is a falsehood, because I have publicly said those words were inaccurate and unfortunate.” A grateful nation thanks you, Newt Gingrich. The presidential campaign is just starting, and already you’ve given us a passage that will live in infamy — forever — in the annals of American political speech."

GOP Contender Herman Cain Demonstrates Clueslessness On Middle East Policy, Confused By ‘Right Of Return’ from Think Progress

"Wallace then helpfully offered Cain a definition of “right of return” — “Palestinian refugees, the people that were kicked out of the land in 1948, should be able to or should have any right to return to Israeli land.” Cain again showed his lack of knowledge, veering completely off his pro-Likud script. “I don’t think they have a big problem with people returning,” Cain said."
What is it with far right conservatives that they do SO LITTLE just-common-sense types of prepping before they officially "throw their hats into the presidential ring"?  This so reminds me of Palin back in '08. In a backhanded kind of way, it showcases the exceptional inadequacy of Fox News (and similar venues) as ACTUAL NEWS ORGANIZATIONS.  Folks like Cain, Palin, Bachmann, etc., can thrive for YEARS there and never face an even remotely challenging question.  Oddly enough, by so dismally failing to do their job, Fox and company actually end up torpedoing conservative candidates because those folks delude themselves into thinking they are ready for prime time.  After these last two weeks, I wouldn't be at all surprised if the GOP primaries devolved into an almost endless series of jaw-dropping gaffes from virtually all of the contenders!  With the exception of Romney, none of them have had to face the blowtorch fire of real media scrutiny.

Inside the Royal Suite Where the Obamas Will Stay During Their Visit to Buckingham Palace from the Daily Mail [of the UK]

"At Buckingham Palace, after their ceremonial welcome followed by the mandatory carriage drive along the flag-bedecked Mall, President Obama and the First Lady will be given the use of the Belgian Suite on the ground floor at the rear of the Palace."

Putting the O’ in Obama from the Boston Globe
"Tomorrow, the president visits the Irish hamlet his mother’s ancestors hail from. A kind of craze precedes him."

Dear Michelle Obama (Kira Cochrane) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"As the Obamas make their first official state visit to the UK, we have a warm welcome for the star of the show – the first lady."

In case you missed it, CHECK OUT our First Lady Michelle -- doing the Dougie at a DC Middle School!! What an AMAZING role model!!