Monday, October 31, 2011

News Nuggets 791 - Happy Halloween everyone!

A bulldog puppy in Danvers, MA.  From United Press International
A T-rex -- made from pumpkins.  From the Huffington Post.

King of Kings: The Last Days of Muammar Qaddafi (Jon Lee Anderson) from the New Yorker
"When is the right time to leave? Nicolae Ceausescu didn’t realize he was hated until, one night in 1989, a crowd of his citizens suddenly began jeering him; four days later, he and his wife faced a firing squad. Qaddafi, likewise, waited until it was too late, continuing to posture and give orotund speeches long after his people had rejected him. ... For Qaddafi, the end came in stages..."

Clinton Credited with Key Role in Success of NATO Airstrikes, Libyan Rebels from the Washington Post
"...the rift was quickly patched, thanks to a frenzied but largely unseen lobbying effort that kept the coalition from unraveling in its opening hours. “That,” the diplomat said, “was Hillary.”"

Islamist Victory in Tunisia a Win for Democracy (Noah Feldman) from the Bloomberg News Service
"...the deeper explanation has to do with the difference between a popular uprising and a democratic election. Revolutions are made by disaffected elites. Elections -- at least in countries where people care enough to vote -- express the preferences of a much broader public."

The New U.S. Neighborhood Defined by Diversity as All-white Enclaves Vanish (Carol Morello and Dan Keating) from the Washington Post
"McGovern Drive looked like the sanitized slice of suburbia presented on television in 1965, the year Wayne and Virginia Cole moved into a tidy brick ranch home just outside the Beltway in Montgomery County. The Coles, and everyone else who lived in the neighborhood back then, were white. Today their Silver Spring community of Hillandale is home to people of every race and ethnicity — the epitome of what one sociologist calls “global neighborhoods” that are upending long-standing patterns of residential segregation."
Indirectly, this is another nail in the coffin for the current version of the GOP.

Obama Takes Risky Stance Against the Rich (Richard McGregor) from the Financial Times [of the UK]
"With the US economy suffering through its deepest slump since the Great Depression, the Obama administration has designed a political strategy to match, with echoes of the campaign rhetoric deployed by Franklin Roosevelt in the 1930s."
FINALLY!  I hope he really brings it -- because it amounts to simply being where most Americans really are when it comes to the economy.  

Tax The Poor: Forget Occupy Wall Street, Conservatives Have A Different Idea (Michael McAuliff) from the Huffington Post
"The nation's ongoing economic downturn has sparked an odd response from a growing number of conservative and Republican leaders: a desire to blame the unfortunate and a demand for the poor to pay more."

Occupy Veterans Movement Growing Across U.S. from ABC News
"Since Occupy Wall Street protests have broken out in cities across the U.S. and abroad, support has come from what might seem like an unlikely corner: war veterans."

Report: NYPD Steers Drunks to Occupy Wall Street from Salon
"Those found drinking in city parks are told by officers to "take it to Zuccotti," the Daily News reports."
It seems we were just looking at this yesterday.  Local authorities looking to discredit the Occupy Wall Street protests.  Well, here's some evidence that we didn't have on Sunday.

And then you have this story:
NYPD Mum on Cops Allegedly Hurt in OWS (Justin Elliott) from Salon
"A police union official claims over 20 officers have been injured in the protests -- but he won't give details."
More BS!

Paul Ryan’s Frown Should Make Democrats Smile (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"We may be reaching an inflection point, the moment when the terms of the political argument change decisively. Three indicators: an important speech last week by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), the increasingly sharp tone of President Obama’s rhetoric and the success of Occupy Wall Street in resisting attempts to marginalize the movement."

How Tea Party Could Drive GOP to Disaster (David Frum) from CNN
"...sooner or later, the tea party Republicans must converge on a single choice. When they do, they will present the non-tea party Republicans with a troubling menu of possibilities."

Cain’s Campaign Made a Bad Situation Worse (Ruth Marcus) from the Washington Post
"In criminal law, the coverup is always worse than the crime. In politics, the response to the crisis can be worse than the crisis itself. Case in point? The astonishingly bungled response by Herman Cain’s campaign to a report that the National Restaurant Association paid two female employees to settle sexual harassment allegations against Cain, then the group’s president."

Waterlogged Thailand Turns to U.S. Military for Help as Fresh Crisis Threatens After Worst Flooding in Decades (PHOTOS) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
The photographs here are quite amazing.
"Fear gripped Bangkok early today as tides along the Gulf of Thailand crested at about 9am and pushed the city's main waterway, the Chao Phraya river, to its brink."

The Tea Party Pork Binge (Daniel Stone) from the Daily Beast
They brought the nation to the brink of default over spending, but a Newsweek investigation shows Tea Party lawmakers grabbing billions from the government trough. Plus, view the letters submitted by the 'Dirty Dozen.'"

Sunday, October 30, 2011

News Nuggets 790

A kingfisher out in the cold.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Just within the last 48 hours there has been a slew of stories like the following.  

Fights erupt among Occupy Wall Street protesters from USA Today

Occupation Wall Street Sanctioned for Public Masturbation from Powerline

Occupy Wall St. Gets Dangerous; NYPD Threatens to Sue Rowdy Demonstrators Who Initiate Violence from the New York Daily News

Woman Charged with Pimping Teen Recruited at Occupy NH Rally from the Manchester Union Leader

Occupy Madison Loses Permit Because Protesters were "Publicly Masturbating" from the Pundit Press

While I have no direct evidence concerning these specific cases, I recommend to people that, in the main, view them with deep skepticism.  Having failed to dismiss the Occupy movement through endlessly derisive commentary, I feel strongly that what we're seeing here are conservative-led efforts (often with the active assistance of local authorities and police) to find evidence that confirms the GOP's hippie/deviant narrative of OWS. Beginning under Nixon and carrying through the Bush/Gore recount of 2000 and up to the present, such coordinated staging has been STANDARD Republican procedure when the chips are down.  The GOP is desperate to discredit this movement -- so look for more and more of these types of stories to emerge!  What they are really afraid of are stories like this one from yesterday that clearly makes the case for who the protesters really are: just average desperate people.

What follows are the top must-read "in-case-you-missed-them-the-first-time" stories for this last week's news nuggets:

1.  Libya’s Sexual Revolution (Ellen Knickmeyer) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"How the uprising turned young Libyan men from hopeless layabouts into marriageable heroes."
A VERY interesting story that explains a lot about what has been driving the 'Arab Spring.'

2.  Oil’s New World Order (Daniel Yergin) from the Washington Post
"For more than five decades, the world’s oil map has centered on the Middle East. ... But today, what appeared irreversible is being reversed. The outline of a new world oil map is emerging, and it is centered not on the Middle East but on the Western Hemisphere. "

3.  Scandal in the Age of Obama (Jonathan Alter) from the Washington Monthly
"In all that time—a record span, according to scholars—there has been no major Obama scandal to speak of. ... Other stories that might have paralyzed earlier administrations just fizzled. The question is why."

4.  The Romney Economy (Benjamin Wallace-Wells) from New York Magazine
"At Bain Capital, Romney remade one American business after another, overhauling management and directing vast sums of money to the top of the labor pyramid. The results made him a fortune. They also changed the world we live in."

5.  Islamism Fills the Vacuum Left by Socialism (David Warren) from the Ottawa Citizen [of Canada]
A very clear-eyed assessment of what we might expect from the anticipated elections that are coming with the 'Arab Spring'.
"At the crudest level, this reflects the situation throughout the Arab world. Islamism presents itself as the only possible future, given political cultures in which secular parties only point toward the "Nasserite" and economically disastrous past. Opposition to Islamism comes from the ideological leavings of past dictatorships, and there has never been an opportunity for secular parties to develop except under this unfruitful shade. Islamism now fills the ideological vacuum left by socialist failures."

6.  Magical Mystery Treasure from National Geographic Magazine
"Buried in the English countryside. Anglo-Saxon in origin. Who hid it and why?"
CHECK OUT what this guy found in his lawn!

7.  Occupy Wall Street: It’s Not a Hippie Thing (Roger Lowenstein) from Bloomberg Businessweek
"Don’t be fooled by the drum circles. Today’s protests have more in common with the anti-Hoover 1930s than the antiwar ’60s and ’70s."

8.  Why Many in China Sympathize with Occupy Wall Street (Damien Ma) from the Atlantic
"Income inequality, a feeling of disenfranchisement, and a sense of injustice are fueling popular curiosity about the movement, in which a number of Chinese see parallels with their own complaints against their government."
A very BLEAK portrait of the achievers and strivers who are "making it" in a super-modernizing China.

9.  Sex and the Somme: The Officially Sanctioned Brothels on the Front Line Laid Bare for the First Time from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"This establishment — marked by its red lamp — was one of the legendary maisons tolérées, or legalised brothels that dotted the towns of northern France. They housed professional prostitutes who worked under the discipline of a madame and were subject to regular medical inspections. By 1917, there were at least 137 such establishments spread across 35 towns."
A surprisingly rich long-form story from the Daily Mail!

Some new nuggets just for today!!

Europe's Last Two Options (David Frum) from the National Post [of Canada]
"What if they had a revolution, and called it a debt crisis? This is the real story of what is going on in Europe right now. It's not about Greece. It's not about budget deficits."

The Pope's Failing Health (Barbie Latza Nadeau) from the Daily Beast
"Pope Benedict is now 84, the same age his predecessor was at the time of his death, and he’s clearly starting to slow down. But he might not have to die to relinquish the papacy—he could retire."
One person's opinion: The man should have resigned in the face of the global sex abuse scandals that have emerged.

Democratic Women Vow a Comeback (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"For liberals, 2010 was an unfriendly year. Hoping to put those historic losses behind them, several are trying to surge back in 2012, Eleanor Clift reports."

The Tale of the Dueling Economists: A Review of Keynes Hayek: The Clash That Defined Modern Economics by Nicholas Wapshott from the New York Times
"This lively book explores one of the most pressing economic questions of our time: To what extent should government intervene in markets? And in that search, it traces the interaction of the two men most responsible for the way we approach this question: the British economist Keynes and the Austrian economist Hayek."

From the Cave to the Kennel from the Wall Street Journal
"What the evolutionary history of the dog tells us about another animal: ourselves. From a cave in France, a new picture has emerged of canines as our prehistoric soulmates."

Saturday, October 29, 2011

News Nuggets 789

Austfonna in the Svalbard archipelago in Norway, the largest ice cap in the Eurasian Arctic.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

Why Tunisians Voted for the Islamists from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"In a major setback for Tunisia's elite, the Islamist Ennahda Party looks set to lead the country's first democratically elected government. They appealed to the common people who sought greater credibility in politics. But concerns the country might soon become a new theocracy are exaggerated, because Tunisian Islamists are looking to Turkey as their model."

No Apology Necessary: Barack Obama Shouldn't Have to Make Excuses for Sending Troops to Uganda (James Traub) from Foreign Policy Magazine
" The moral case for action against the LRA is much stronger than, say, the case for joining the NATO bombardment of Muammar al-Qaddafi's Libya. No less important, the Obama White House, State Department, and Pentagon have designed a complex and sophisticated approach that seems to have a real chance at bringing the LRA to book."

GOP Not Giving Obama Enough Credit on Libya (Norman Ornstein) from Roll Call
"In a functional political system, there would be bipartisan kudos for a president who has been tough enough to take on his own left while nailing Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki ... but this should be the occasion for cooperation in the national interest, instead of ham-handed, partisan spite of the sort we have just seen from Rubio."

Oil’s New World Order (Daniel Yergin) from the Washington Post
"For more than five decades, the world’s oil map has centered on the Middle East. ... But today, what appeared irreversible is being reversed. The outline of a new world oil map is emerging, and it is centered not on the Middle East but on the Western Hemisphere. "

Occupy Wall Street: It’s Not a Hippie Thing (Roger Lowenstein) from Bloomberg Businessweek
"Don’t be fooled by the drum circles. Today’s protests have more in common with the anti-Hoover 1930s than the antiwar ’60s and ’70s."

Why Many in China Sympathize with Occupy Wall Street (Damien Ma) from the Atlantic
"Income inequality, a feeling of disenfranchisement, and a sense of injustice are fueling popular curiosity about the movement, in which a number of Chinese see parallels with their own complaints against their government."

Americans ’Hooked’ on Government Benefits from Bloomberg News Service
"Political dysfunction is often blamed for Congress’s inability to curb the U.S. budget deficit. An even bigger obstacle may be the American public. A record 49 percent of Americans live in a household where someone receives at least one type of government benefit, according to the U.S. Census Bureau."

Nope, Just Debt: The Next Big Credit Bubble? from the Economist [of London]
"Two things, however, are clear. The size of student debt is vast (see chart), and lots of borrowers are struggling."

Obama’s Miracle Is a Scandal-Free White House (Jonathan Alter) from the Bloomberg News Service
"President Barack Obama goes into the 2012 with a weak economy that may doom his reelection. But he has one asset that hasn’t received much attention: He’s honest. ... Although it’s possible that the Solyndra LLC story will become a classic feeding frenzy, don’t bet on it."

Hackers Threaten Fox News Over Occupy Wall Street Coverage from Reuters
"Anonymous, a group of hackers that has previously attacked Sony and Bay Area Rapid Transit, said it will shut down the Fox News website on November 5."

Few Americans Take Immigrants’ Jobs in Alabama from the Charlotte Sun and Weekly Herald [of Florida]
"“You can’t find legal workers,” Horner said. “Basically they last a day or two, literally.” ... She plans to stop growing organically and start using a machine to pick the berries. “I did everything I possibly could to be legal and honest and not part of the problem,” Horner said."
Everything ... but pay your workers more.  Isn't it interesting how the law of supply and demand ceases to function when it might work in the favor of workers.

GOP Campaign vs. the World (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune
"Bachmann's flub would not be a big deal if it didn't appear amid a Republican field infected with a nose-thumbing strain of willful ignorance about the rest of the world."

Elizabeth Warren’s Winning Formula (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post
"By the time the candidate arrived for the meeting – a prosaic organizing session for volunteers — there were nearly 300 people crammed into Local 7 to catch a glimpse of her. When she took the stage, a sea of cameras and smartphones rose, as if at a rock concert. All this for a law professor who specializes in contracts? But Elizabeth Warren, the former adviser to President Obama who is now trying to unseat Republican Sen. Scott Brown, is no mere professor, or candidate. She is a phenomenon."

Romney So Far: No Core Beliefs, Many Flip-Flops (Douglas MacKinnon) from the  Investors Business Daily
"Is there anyone sane left in the GOP establishment? Does plain old common sense and gut instinct no longer matter to those who purport to speak for the party? Have conservative principles and traditional values become nothing more than meaningless rhetoric to those so desperate to hang on to imagined power? As the Republican establishment lines up like lemmings behind Mitt Romney, it would be illuminating and in fact critical to look at the news for just the last couple of days with regard to this untethered and pliable candidate."

Just Like Dukakis, Romney is Taking the Fun Out of New Hampshire (Steve Kornacki) from Salon
"This is shaping up to be the least suspenseful, least consequential New Hampshire primary since 1988."

Mitt Romney, the Pretzel Candidate (George F. Will) from the Washington Post
"Will conservativism really settle for this increasingly unelectable candidate?"

No Easy Way Out of Debates for Rick Perry (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"If he skips some of the upcoming GOP debates, the Texas governor will reinforce the idea he's not ready for prime time."

Rick Perry Has a Path to Recovery—and He's Already on It (Ed Kilgore) from the New Republic
"Perry may still yet emerge as the Viable Conservative Alternative to Mitt Romney. He might have failed his first audition for that role with the conservative wing of the GOP, but he still has an eminently viable path to recovery, one that he already appears to be employing with zeal: moving even further to the right."

Where Rick Perry’s Campaign Went Wrong (Jay Newton-Small) from Time Magazine
"...overconfidence may have been part of the problem. Perry and his team haven’t been in a close contest in more than a decade. ...they entered the campaign unprepared. Though Carney disputes this, several sources say they did little opposition research on their own candidate–a staple of modern presidential campaigns–assuming that he’d already been vetted by his six statewide wins."

Sex and the Somme: The Officially Sanctioned Brothels on the Front Line Laid Bare for the First Time from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"This establishment — marked by its red lamp — was one of the legendary maisons tolérées, or legalised brothels that dotted the towns of northern France. They housed professional prostitutes who worked under the discipline of a madame and were subject to regular medical inspections. By 1917, there were at least 137 such establishments spread across 35 towns."
A surprisingly rich long-form story from the Daily Mail!

Just Follow the Red Line: New Sat-Nav Projects Route in Head-up Display Over the Landscape (PHOTOS) from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Companies already make very basic units which just project a sat-nav display on screen - but Making Virtual Solid has unveiled a product that paints information 'into' the real world you see ahead of you."
Interesting display -- a little creepy actually.

Friday, October 28, 2011

News Nuggets 788

The remote village of Tongguan in Guizhou province in China.  From the Atlantic.

We Need Liberals Now! (Leslie Gelb) from the Daily Beast
"Whatever you may think of the left, it is liberals and moderates who are leading the way in debates about where we should go on national security policy. Agree or disagree, we have to pay attention."

What the Libya Intervention Achieved (Marc Lynch) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Libya will travel a long and winding road to full democracy. There will be difficult days ahead." But for all those concerns, the intervention in Libya should be recognized as a success and real accomplishment for the international community."

Dictators Get the Deaths They Deserve (Simon Sebag Montefiore) from the New York Times
"...the death of a tyrant is always a political act that reflects the character of his power. If a tyrant dies peacefully in bed in the full resplendence of his rule, his death is a theater of that power; if a tyrant is executed while crying for mercy in the dust, then that, too, is a reflection of the nature of a fallen regime and the reaction of an oppressed people."

Qaddafi's Son Is Making a Break for The Hague, Libya Says from the Atlantic
"Wanted by both the International Criminal Court and the Libyan government, Col. Muammar Qaddafi's only living son Saif al-Islam looks to be trying his hardest to surrender to the former before the latter catches him."

Libya’s Sexual Revolution (Ellen Knickmeyer) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"How the uprising turned young Libyan men from hopeless layabouts into marriageable heroes."

Do Graves of Dictators Really Become Shrines? (Uri Friedman) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"A tour of contentious burials from Qaddafi to Hitler."

Economic Growth in U.S., Though Still Modest, Speeds Up from the New York Times
"Economic growth in the United States picked up in the last quarter in the latest encouraging sign that the recovery, while painfully slow, had not stalled."

U.S. Grows at 2.5% Pace in Q3—Is the Recovery Back On Track? (Daniel Indiviglio) from the Atlantic
"The rise in GDP was the briskest in a year, but it won't be enough to create the jobs the nation needs."

Good News: Rise in GDP Growth Shows Long-Term Trends from the National Journal
"While 2.5 percent GDP growth hardly signals boom times, it seems to fly in the face of those major headwinds. But economists say it reflects a gradual climb out of recession rather than a rapid shift in the country’s fortune."

The Study that Shows Why Occupy Wall Street Struck a Nerve (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"The hard-right conservatives who dominate the Republican Party claim to despise the redistribution of wealth, but secretly they love it — as long as the process involves depriving the poor and middle class to benefit the rich, not the other way around."

Republicans Aim to Discredit OWS (Carter Eskew) from the Washington Post
"It is pretty clear why some Republicans would like to paint the OWSers with a demon’s broad brush. Most of the protestors I have read about are simply fed up with a status quo that doesn't trouble most Republicans. Their major complaint seems to be income inequality, and, at the risk of sounding overly partisan, Republican policy either exacerbates income transfer from the middle class and poor to the wealthy or ignores the problem altogether."

When Theocons Attack! Vatican Edition (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast
"You knew the Church's effective endorsement of Occupy Wall Street would prompt a sudden outbreak of heterodoxy on the theocon right, didn't you? I mean any Catholic challenge to Randian orthodoxy in the GOP must be smacked down quickly, right? And, sure enough, the theocon blogosphere rises as one in dissent."

A College Degree Isn't What It Used To Be (GRAPH) (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast
Sullivan gets a two-fer today!
"Michael Mandel reports that the "real wages for college graduates continue to plunge.""

A more personal and poignant view expressed here:
Boomer Parent’s Lament (Timothy Egan) from the New York Times
"What we talk about when we talk about tomorrow is the great fear that our kids will never find their way, now that opportunity is just another word for no. By we, I mean parents of a certain age. I fell into one of these conversations a few weeks ago with a mother of two grown children, both boys, both graduates from terrific universities, both shackled to college loans as heavy a ship’s anchor."

David Brooks’s Awful Advice to Obama (Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein) from the New Republic
"David Brooks has now offered some free campaign advice to President Obama: Drop the angry and divisive populist talk; link your reelection to the Congressional supercommittee to tackle the deficit; lower the ideological temperature. Political independents now recoil from big government, Brooks argues, so Obama should be blurring, not highlighting, the differences between the two parties over the role of government. Obama should say thanks, but no thanks for the advice."
I COMPLETELY agree.  I think for the first time as president, Obama is slightly ahead of the shifting center of public opinion.  Disgust with Congress, with Wall Street, and the no-action-on-jobs agenda of the GOP is rising -- and Obama's populist message is SPOT-ON.

White House Turns the Screws on Congress Over 9 percent Approval from The Hill
"A number of White House officials, sensing momentum on their side, blasted Republicans in Congress and on the campaign trail, mocking recent measures and Congress's 9 percent approval rating."

Sad-Sack Congress-critters Hate Themselves Almost As Much As Everyone Else Hates Them (Jason Linkins) from the Huffington Post
"I've been taking the pulse of the public for a long time, and I can state pretty definitively that the reason why "91 percent of the country believes that the Congress is detached from reality" is because that's precisely the way Congress behaves."

Right Fight: Activists vs. House GOP from Politico
House Republicans have a grade for conservative interest groups that apply a litmus test to their every action: F. The outside groups have become more aggressive and punitive in recent years, and the criteria they use to rate Republicans’ purity are constantly shifting, sometimes within hours or days on the same topic. That’s inspired a fiery backlash from folks who suddenly find themselves branded apostates by organizations they once saw as allies."

Live and Learn (Louis Menard) from the New Yorker
"Why we have college."

THIRD REICH NUGGET [of a sort]!!
Poland Reopens Long-dormant Investigation into Auschwitz and Other Concentration Camp Crimes from the Washington Post
"One aim of the new probe is to track down any living Nazi perpetrators, according to an announcement Thursday by the Institute of National Remembrance, a state body that investigates Nazi and communist-era crimes."

Towers of trees: Vertical Forests in the Sky are the Height of Green Living from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Towering over the city skyline, these are the world's first forest in the sky apartments, complete with a living space that is also your garden. With trees equal to one hectare of forest spanning 27 floors, these 365 and 260-foot emerald, twin towers will be home to an astonishing 730 trees, 5,000 shrubs and 11,000 ground plants."

Thursday, October 27, 2011

News Nuggets 787

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula of Iceland.  From National Geographic.

An amazing statement!!
"To all those in the United States currently occupying parks, squares and other spaces, your comrades in Cairo are watching you in solidarity. Having received so much advice from you about transitioning to democracy, we thought it's our turn to pass on some advice."

"Moammar Gadhafi, Libya’s all-powerful leader for four decades, spent his final weeks shuttling from hideout to hideout in his hometown of Sirte, alternating between rage and despair as his regime crumbled around him, said a regime insider now in custody."

"In the capital Sanaa, the women spread a black cloth across a main street and threw their full-body veils, known as makrama, onto a pile, sprayed it with oil and set it ablaze. As the flames rose, they chanted: “Who protects Yemeni women from the crimes of the thugs?”"
A very hazardous Yemeni version of bra-burning.  Good luck to them.

"European leaders, in a significant step toward resolving the euro zone financial crisis, early Thursday morning obtained an agreement from banks to take a 50 percent loss on the face value of their Greek debt."

Crony Capitalism Comes Home (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times
"... while alarmists seem to think that the movement is a “mob” trying to overthrow capitalism, one can make a case that, on the contrary, it highlights the need to restore basic capitalist principles like accountability. To put it another way, this is a chance to save capitalism from crony capitalists."

Obama Wrote Fewer Rules Than Bush, Cost More from the Bloomberg News Service
"Obama’s White House has approved fewer regulations than his predecessor George W. Bush at this same point in their tenures, and the estimated costs of those rules haven’t reached the annual peak set in fiscal 1992 under Bush’s father, according to government data reviewed by Bloomberg News."
God forbid that the truth should intrude on a nice divisive narrative!

"Valerie Jarrett plays a lot of roles. She is the president’s closest personal adviser, the first couple’s first friend and the chief liaison for the White House. She has also, for many of the administration’s discouraged supporters, embodied Obama’s cold shoulder. But now, like her boss, she’s warming up."

"The first and perhaps most welcome part of the plan moves up the start date on the income-based repayment program passed by Congress last year from 2014 to 2012."

More Diesel Fuel in Frac Fluid Than Previously Thought from the Energy Inc. blog at the Pittsburgh Business Times
"Reporting mistakes from leading oil and gas frac companies underestimated by more than 50 times the number of gallons of frac fluid used in Pennsylvania that contained diesel fuel."

"... when asked by reporters, Romney said he wasn’t going to take a position on the issue? Well, that was yesterday. Today it appears Romney does have a position..."
WHAT IS IT WITH THIS GUY!?  When it came to any given issue, I thought Bill Clinton was someone who could shift his positions on a dime -- but Romney's like a whirling dervish!!

More on this:
Mitt Romney Can't Afford Any More Flip-Flops (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"His shifts on the Ohio unionizing bill have done little to counteract arguments he's a political animal who lacks conviction. ... In an election where Republican voters want an authentic champion to channel their anger, Romney hasn't managed to shake the rap that he's the kind of politician who has to check the record to figure out where he stands on a particular issue."

Rick Perry May Skip Future Debates from Talking Points Memo
"The former GOP frontrunner has been on a downward spiral in the polls pretty much since he first opened his mouth during a national debate. So, his team appears to be reasoning that if he loses support each time he appears at a debate, then maybe there’s one pretty easy way to help: just don’t show up."
Straight from the Sarah Palin Presidential Playbook ... and a clear preview of where GOP presidential campaigning is going in the future!  I actually view this as something of a turning point (not for Perry who's cooked) but for politics generally.  Can you win a presidential nomination or a presidential campaign ... without ever facing tough questions?  Can you avoid real reporters, town hall meetings, debates, etc. and still win?!  Sarah Palin and the McCain campaign test-drove that proposition in '08.  Looks like Perry's going to be taking it to the next logical level.

The True Intent of Rick Perry's Tax Plan (David Frum) from The Week
"Policy wonks warn that Rick Perry's flat-tax plan is pure fantasy. But that's not a bug. It's a feature."

Perry: From Bluster to Blunder (John Dickerson) from Slate
"Does Rick Perry have the discipline to revitalize his campaign?"
I think enough GOP voters have made up their minds about Perry that his fate is sealed.  Maybe next time.

"Another day, another baffling abortion comment: Does he even know what "pro-life" means?"

"From an Elizabeth Warren volunteer meeting held last night in Framingham, Massachusetts. I can almost feel the enthusiasm through my screen:"
Quite a crowd showed up!!

"Marine archaeologists say they have uncovered a wreck from one of Kublai Khan's 13th century Mongol invasion fleets just yards off the coast of Japan. Scientists are hoping to be able to recreate a complete Yuan Dynasty vessel after the discovery of a 36ft-long section of keel just below the seabed off Nagasaki."

Magical Mystery Treasure from National Geographic Magazine
"Buried in the English countryside. Anglo-Saxon in origin. Who hid it and why?"
CHECK OUT what this guy found in his lawn!

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

News Nuggets 786

A lemon shark swimming through a mangrove swamp in the Bahamas.  From National Geographic.

U.S. Iraq Withdrawal a Gift to Iran? No, the U.S. Iraq Invasion Was the Gift to Iran (Tony Karon) from Time Magazine
"Outlandish posturing on foreign policy matters is par for the course in a U.S. electoral season, but the claim that President Barack Obama will deliver Iraq on a plate to Iran by honoring the U.S. treaty obligation to withdraw American troops by New Year's Day is worth closer scrutiny. ... Bringing down the Taliban and Saddam Hussein had been Iranian objectives long before the Bush Administration adopted them. And Tehran prospered, geopolitically, in the years that followed, even as the U.S. ability to influence events in the Middle East began to decline."
A powerful rejoinder to the Iraq war dead-enders out there who have been slamming Obama for honoring Bush's agreement with the Iraqi gov't (that we set up in the first place) to leave at the end of 2011.  Malaki et al aren't being the good puppets neo-cons want them to be.

Barack Obama Gets No Credit for Protecting Nation (Roger Simon) from Politico
“Domestic policy can only defeat us,” John F. Kennedy used to say. “Foreign policy can kill us.” Times change. Barack Obama is having a lot more success at foreign policy than domestic policy, but few seem willing to give him credit for this."

As Tunisia Counts its Votes, Can the West Stop Worrying and Learn to Love the Islamists? (Tony Karon) from Time Magazine
"Democratically elected governments in the Arab world — most of which are likely to include a strong Islamist component, particularly when emerging from years of secular dictatorship -- are highly unlikely to follow U.S. policy on Israel or Iran, but that doesn't preclude them establishing pragmatic, cooperative relationships with the West."

Islamism Fills the Vacuum Left by Socialism (David Warren) from the Ottawa Citizen [of Canada]
A very clear-eyed assessment of what we might expect from the anticipated elections that are coming with the 'Arab Spring'. 
"At the crudest level, this reflects the situation throughout the Arab world. Islamism presents itself as the only possible future, given political cultures in which secular parties only point toward the "Nasserite" and economically disastrous past. Opposition to Islamism comes from the ideological leavings of past dictatorships, and there has never been an opportunity for secular parties to develop except under this unfruitful shade. Islamism now fills the ideological vacuum left by socialist failures."

Papers From Iraqi Archive Reveal Conspiratorial Mind-Set of Hussein from the New York Times
"The deliberations within Mr. Hussein’s inner sanctum are chronicled in a voluminous archive of documents and recorded meetings that American forces captured after they invaded Iraq in 2003."

Crisis of 2012 May Be Harder on China Than U.S. (William Pesek) from the Bloomberg News Service
"If the last few years taught us anything, it’s that the unthinkable has an uncanny knack of happening. From Arab Spring protests to China bailing out Europe’s markets to a U.S. presidential candidate suggesting it’s treasonous for the Federal Reserve to do its job, the world really is upside down."

Obama Bypasses Congress to Offer Lower Student Loan Payments for Millions (Laura Clawson) from Daily Kos
"The Obama administration today announced some actions it can take to bypass Republican obstruction and reduce the burden of student loans for millions of current students and recent graduates, at no new cost to taxpayers."

The Scientific Finding that Settles the Climate-Change Debate (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"“Global warming is real,” Muller wrote last week in The Wall Street Journal. Rick Perry, Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann and the rest of the neo-Luddites who are turning the GOP into the anti-science party should pay attention."
Too late.  As I've mentioned here before, climate scientists have basically lost the PR battle in the US.  While they were off doing the field work etc. to prove the existence of global warming for the last twenty+ years, conservatives think tanks and ideologues have focused most of their efforts on the public arena -- where they have been very successful in poisoning any possibility of the US taking any meaningful action on global warming.  Our current generation of leaders will not act in the face of enormous public skepticism that is now rampant.  It's up to the next generation now.  

Poll Shows 6 of 10 Ohio Voters Want Repeal of Anti-union Law from Reuters
"Ohio voters by 57 percent to 32 percent support the repeal of the law, which forbids government workers from going on strike, according to the poll, conducted by Quinnipiac University. In a late September Quinnipiac poll, the margin was 51 percent to 38 percent."

The Right's Failed Protest Smear (Michelle Goldberg) from the Daily Beast
"Right-wing figures like Bill Kristol are pushing the idea that Occupy Wall Street is anti-Semitic to scare Jews and embarrass politicians like Obama, but the tactic is not gaining traction."

Obama Would Be Crazy to Drop Biden From Ticket: Margaret Carlson (Margaret Carlson) from the Bloomberg News Service
" Joe Biden is about as good as vice presidents get. Born into a working-class family in Scranton, Pennsylvania, he has the bouncing personality of a Saint Bernard; he’s lovable enough to cast a warm glow even on Barack Obama’s cool restraint. A bearhugging veteran of 36 years in the Senate, he knows how to reach across the aisle, and he passed a raft of legislation during his career."
I really don't have a strong position one way or the other on Obama's VP for next year.  But I will say that if he is still sinking in the late spring of next year, he will need to do something to shake things up -- and a new VP should certainly be considered if that's what it will take to win.

Conservatives Slam Mitt Romney for Going Weak-kneed in War on Public Employees (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"The fight is a hugely important one to conservatives, with right wing money flowing into the state, and conservative bloggers erupted in fury at Romney, asking how it is that he can be running for president when he isn’t willing to take a firm stand against the scourge of public employees."

How to Speak Republican (Jonathan Bines) from the Huffington Post
" the hopes of facilitating cross-party dialogue and mutual understanding, I have compiled what I believe to be the first comprehensive Republican-to-English dictionary, featuring words commonly used by Republicans, and their English translations, alphabetized for your convenience:"

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

News Nuggets 785

A grasshopper on a Devil's-bit Scabious flower.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

'Best of the World' Right Here, National Geographic Says from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
""Extreme Metropolitan Makeover." That's how National Geographic Traveler magazine describes the Steel City's "revolutionary" transformation over the past quarter century in its recommendation to visit Pittsburgh in its "Best of the World 2012.""

Why Bombing Iran is Still a Bad Idea (Dalia Dassa Kaye) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Even assuming the worst -- Iranian Government involvement at the most senior levels -- a military response is just what it was before the plot became known: a dangerous and unpredictable option that should be avoided.   Much remains unclear about the alleged terrorist plot itself."

Gaddafi to be Buried in Secret Desert Grave: NTC from Reuters
"Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will be buried on Tuesday in a secret desert grave, a National Transitional Council official said, ending a wrangle over his rotting corpse that led many to fear for Libya's governability."

The Beauty of EU Institutions (Roger Cohen) from the New York Times
"The European Union was not created to deliver Europeans to postmodern bliss but to prevent another hell. It’s doing just that. "

Scandal in the Age of Obama (Jonathan Alter) from the Washington Monthly
"Why Washington feeding frenzies aren't what they used to be."

More Jobs Predicted for Machines, Not People (Steve Lohr) from the New York Times
"The automation of more and more work once done by humans is the central theme of “Race Against the Machine,” an e-book to be published on Monday. “Many workers, in short, are losing the race against the machine,” the authors write."

A slightly more optimistic view:
Where Human Workers Can Still Beat Robots (at Least for Now) from the Atlantic
"In jobs from the retail floor to the developers' office, workers are losing the race against machines. Who can still compete against androids -- and for how long?"

Outside Cleveland, Snapshots of Poverty’s Surge in the Suburbs from the New York Times
"The poor population in America’s suburbs ... rose by more than half after 2000, forcing suburban communities across the country to re-evaluate their identities and how they serve their populations. The increase in the suburbs was 53 percent, compared with 26 percent in cities. The recession accelerated the pace: two-thirds of the new suburban poor were added from 2007 to 2010."

Why Homelessness Is Becoming an Occupy Wall Street Issue (Barbara Ehrenreich) from the Nation
"It is illegal, in other words, to be homeless or live outdoors for any other reason. It should be noted, though, that there are no laws requiring cities to provide food, shelter or restrooms for their indigent citizens."

The Cowboy in Crisis, or Male Anxiety in American Politics (Victoria Bekiempis) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"The cowboy has been a Republican icon from Ronald Reagan to Rick Perry. But the modern US is no country for old white men"

NPR’s Michele Norris Steps Down, Husband Broderick Johnson Gets Obama Job (Nia-Malika Henderson) from the Washington Post
"National Public Radio’s Michele Norris will step away from her hosting duties as host of All Things Considered after her husband took a job with the Obama campaign."
I have always liked Michele Norris and I will miss her.

The Romney Economy (Benjamin Wallace-Wells) from New York Magazine
"At Bain Capital, Romney remade one American business after another, overhauling management and directing vast sums of money to the top of the labor pyramid. The results made him a fortune. They also changed the world we live in."

Rick Perry Readies Assault on Mitt Romney from Politico
"After weeks battling questions about how he plans to salvage his listing presidential bid, the Texas governor has finally started spelling out an answer. It involves opening his $15 million campaign war chest, hitting Mitt Romney harder and moving to reclaim the role of the populist conservative outsider in the race."
Oh good.  He's "readying his assault".  This headline simply reinforces how not-ready-for-primetime the Perry campaign was and continues to be.  They should have had multiple plans to destroy Romney A YEAR AGO!  What? -- are they surprised that Romney is their main opposition?!  That Romney wouldn't simply withdraw from the field when Perry showed his smug face?  Amazing!

On the Road: America's Loveliest Drives (SLIDES) from Slate
"They’re scenic drives, yes, but they’re also classically American. And once you find the right route, it’s easy to rediscover the exuberant freedom of the open road."

Monday, October 24, 2011

News Nuggets 784

Stratus clouds over Inglefield Bay in Greenland.  From National Geographic. 

No Occupation near you? Can't camp out? Here's one way to Occupy Wall Street anywhere from Daily Kos
"Now, you might not be able to realistically spend your days (and nights) at an Occupation in your area. Or there might not even be one near you, even if you wanted to participate. Maybe you even feel like you're the only one in your town who even would support such a thing. "

Gaddafi's Last Words as he Begged for Mercy: 'What Did I Do to You?' from the Guardian [of the UK]
"As National Transitional Council fighters fought their way into Sirte, radio intercepts spoke of 'an asset' in the besieged city. But no one knew until the final moments that the deposed dictator was within their grasp."

In partial answer to the great leader's question, there's this item:
As Libya Takes Stock, Moammar Kadafi's Hidden Riches Astound from the Los Angeles Times
"New estimates of the former leader's assets — more than $200 billion — are called 'staggering.' If they prove true, he would rank among the world's most rapacious leaders. ... Moammar Kadafi secretly salted away more than $200 billion in bank accounts, real estate and corporate investments around the world before he was killed, about $30,000 for every Libyan citizen ..."

The Rights of a Deposed Despot: Libyans Don't Really Give a Hoot from Time Magazine
"As the debate continues over whether rebel fighters executed Gaddafi after capturing him — in violation of international rules of war — the issue has raised stark differences between Libya's new leaders, who suffered for decades under a suffocating dictatorship, and the views of some of their closest Western allies."

Tunisians Vote in a Milestone of Arab Change from the New York Times
"Millions of Tunisians cast votes on Sunday for an assembly to draft a constitution and shape a new government, in a burst of pride and hope that after inspiring uprisings across the Arab world, their small country could now lead the way to democracy."

The Iraq War is Finally Over. And it Marks a Complete Neocon Defeat (Jonathan Steele) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Thanks to the toppling of Saddam Hussein, Iran's greatest enemy, Tehran's influence in Iraq is stronger than America's."

Satisfying Times for Defenders of Freedom (Adam Michnik) from Gazeta Wyborcza [of Poland in English]
"This time, democratic nations stood by the oppressed and against the despot. This was a signal for all people subject to tyranny: dictatorships don’t go unpunished; dictators are not immortal."

The Hole in Europe’s Bucket (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"If it weren’t so tragic, the current European crisis would be funny, in a gallows-humor sort of way. For as one rescue plan after another falls flat, Europe’s Very Serious People — who are, if such a thing is possible, even more pompous and self-regarding than their American counterparts — just keep looking more and more ridiculous."

The Class War Has Begun (Frank Rich) from New York Magazine
"And the very classlessness of our society makes the conflict more volatile, not less."

One Country, Two Revolutions (Thomas Friedman) from the New York Times
"I was on Wall Street two weeks ago, and I’ve been in Silicon Valley this past week. What a contrast! While Wall Street is being rattled by a social revolution, Silicon Valley is being by transformed by another technology revolution — one that is taking the world from connected to hyperconnected and individuals from empowered to superempowered. It is the biggest leap forward in the I.T. revolution since the mainframe computer was replaced by desktops and the Web."

So Cheap, There’s Hope in Detroit from the Economist [of London]
"Having lost a quarter of its population in a decade, America’s most blighted big city could be turning the corner."

Why Dems are Winning the Money War from Politico
"...even with the prospect of an entirely GOP-controlled federal government in 2013, Democrats are outraising their GOP counterparts in month after month. In September alone, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee nearly doubled the National Republican Congressional Committee’s take, while the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee raised $1 million more than the National Republican Senatorial Committee. What gives?"

GOP Campaign vs. the World (Clarence Page) from the Chicago Tribune
"How important is it to have presidential candidates who, when talking about Libya, know where Libya is?"

Yes, the GOP Just Might Nominate a Candidate Patently Unqualified to Be President (Walter Shapiro) from the New Republic
"...neither party has nominated a patently unqualified candidate for president in more than a century. But ever since voters in primaries and caucuses replaced party bosses at the center of the nominating process, there has always been a theoretical risk that the unofficial vetting system could break down. And this year, in particular, there’s a substantial case to be made that all bets and vets are off."

Padua Fresco Puzzle Pieced Back Together from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
"Andrea Mantegna painted the fresco during the 15th century at the the Eremitani Church in Padua, a city in northern Italy. But it was destroyed by a bombing raid in 1944. Its virtual reconstruction can be seen in this image."

Graves of the Rich and Famous (PICTURES) from Salon
"From Lenin's solemn mausoleum to Wilde's lipsticked tomb, we visit the resting places of fascinating luminaries."

Colleges With The Lowest Acceptance Rates: US News List from the Huffington Post
"US News and World Report recently named the colleges with the lowest acceptance rates for fall 2010. Curtis Institute of Music topped the list with a mind-boggling acceptance rate of 4%. The music school offers free tuition in return for acceptance. Check out our slide show of the hardest schools to get into."

Sunday, October 23, 2011

News Nuggets 783

Lower Antelope Canyon in Page, Arizona. From National Best Photography Magazine.

The following item shows far and away the most graphic images of what appears to be Qaddafi's final minutes of life.  They are quite disturbing.  I suspect they also presage upcoming events in Syria and perhaps elsewhere in the Middle East.
Is This the Moment Gaddafi was Killed by a Bullet in the Head? from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"The last few moments of Gaddafi's life became clearer today as pictures surfaced of the moment a handgun was pushed to his temple. Seconds later the spluttering dictator can no longer be heard. The next scenes show the tyrant's lifeless body on the ground. His eyes are closed and he's not breathing."

Seeing Limits to ‘New’ Kind of War in Libya from the New York Times
"Even as Washington put a European mask of command on the operation — an effort described as “leading from behind” — shortages in allied intelligence-gathering aircraft, aerial refueling tankers and precision-guidance kits for bombs proved the United States remained the backbone of any NATO offensive."

Next Arab Domino May Be Oil Darling Algeria (Reuel Marc Gerecht) from the Bloomberg News Service
"With Qaddafi’s fall and next week’s elections in Tunisia, the odds are decent that the Great Arab Revolt will start to shake Algeria. The country is now surrounded by states in transition: Libya, Tunisia and Morocco, where the king just might be laying the groundwork for the Middle East’s first real constitutional monarchy"

Obama's Difficult Choice on Iraq: Democracy Over Security (Max Fisher) from the Atlantic
"The U.S. decision to honor Iraq's barely functional political process, even when it doesn't make the smartest choice, might be the best thing for both countries."

Good Riddance to a Woebegone War (Paul R. Pillar) from the National Interest
The whole thing is worth reading -- here are some lengthy excerpts.
"This long national nightmare will finally be ending. The return of the last combat troops from Iraq will be a good time to reflect on the nature and broader consequences of what future historians will regard as one of the biggest blunders in U.S. history. ... In response to any doubt that this is the right thing to do, the main question to ask is: if not after almost nine years, then when? Given that the troops' return merely fulfills an agreement that the previous U.S. administration reached with Iraq, one could also ask: if not George W. Bush, then who? Yet another question is: if the purpose of being in Iraq is supposedly to help another nation in need, why would we want to stay if the other country doesn't want us?"

On Iraq, Obama's GOP Critics Take the Political Low Road (Paul Thornton) from the Los Angeles Times
"Before the economy tanked in late 2008, the quagmire had already made President George W. Bush one of the least popular commanders in chief in history; it's the real reason we ended up with an Obama presidency. So when Obama (finally) makes good on his wildly popular campaign promise, the Republicans pointedly criticize him. Naturally."

World Becoming Less Violent: Despite Global Conflict, Statistics Show Violence In Steady Decline from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post
"Yes, thousands of people have died in bloody unrest from Africa to Pakistan, while terrorists plot bombings and kidnappings. Wars drag on in Iraq and Afghanistan. ... Yet, historically, we've never had it this peaceful."

US 'Misery Index' Rises to Highest Since 1983 from CNBC
"An unofficial gauge of human misery in the United States rose last month to a 28-year high as Americans struggled with rising inflation and high unemployment."

Speaking of misery, here's some that is long overdue:
Eurozone to Banks: Take Bigger Loss on Greek Debt from the Associated Press
"The eurozone's 17 finance ministers have agreed that banks must accept substantially bigger losses on their Greek bonds, and a new report suggests that writedowns of up to 60 percent may be necessary."

Can Obama Win as a War President? (Jill Lawrence) from the Atlantic
"With high unemployment and minimal job growth, Obama can't run on the economy. Can he win as commander in chief?"

Another Win for the Obama Doctrine (Michael Williams) from the Guardian [of the UK]
"In contrast to Bush's wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama's pragmatic approach of military restraint has borne fruit in Libya."

Farms Can't Find Pickers from the Christian Science Monitor
"In some areas, farm labor is so scarce that inmates in nearby penitentiaries are picking crops."
Yeah, God forbid that we should pay 4 cents more a pound for produce and actually pay living wages that would attract native born workers!

Drilling Down on the Family Farm (Seamus McGraw) from the New York Times
"But now that it was happening on our 100 acres, I could understand in a much more visceral way why the word to describe this process — fracking — stirs such fear. I could even feel the stirring of that fear myself."

You Say You Want a Revolution (Andrew Sullivan) from the Daily Beast
Andrew Sullivan on how he learned to love the ‘goddam hippies’—and why their protests aren’t going to end."

Undersea Volcano Erupts, Stains Seas (PHOTOS) from National Geographic News
"Since last week, the volcano has been spewing gas and fragments of smoking lava, staining the ocean surface green and brown, as seen above."

British Mustard Gas Attack Didn't Blind Hitler: His Invented Trenches Myth Concealed Bout of Mental Illness from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"He claimed to have been blinded by a British mustard gas attack as a heroic First World War soldier. Now research has exposed Hitler’s account of his own gallantry as a sham and revealed that his temporary loss of sight was actually caused by a mental disorder known as ‘hysterical blindness’."
As the recent study Hitler's First War has shown, Hitler lied about almost everything when it came to his WWI experience.  Interesting story nonetheless.

Bernie Sanders: America's No. 1 Socialist Makes his Move into the Mainstream from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Vermont senator, for years a political exile, insists his left-wing beliefs chime with Americans far more than people think."