Monday, April 30, 2012

News Nuggets 954

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Hoh Rain Forest in Olympic National Park in Washington state.  From National Geographic.

Ehud Olmert, Former Israel Prime Minister, Against Iran Strike from the Associated Press via the Huffington Post
"A former Israeli prime minister added his voice Sunday to a growing chorus of Israeli officials against a military strike on Iran's nuclear facilities. ... "There is no reason at this time not to talk about a military effort," he said, "but definitely not to initiate an Israeli military strike.""

France’s New Right Eyes the Mainstream (Lysiane Gagnon) from the Globe and Mail [of Toronto]
"Beyond their official labels, Mr. Mélenchon and Ms. Le Pen have much in common: They’re both shameless populists. They both loathe globalization, capitalism and “liberalism,” a word the French equate with unregulated market forces. They both resent the European Union – Mr. Mélenchon campaigned against the Maastricht Treaty while Ms. Le Pen wants to opt out of the euro zone and reinstall borders around France. "
Prediction: These are precisely the kinds of folks who will emerge across the EU in the coming years, a product of the recession and the misguided economic policies of EU leaders over the last two years.

Who Will Care for These Lost and Abused Children of Britain? (Yasmin Alibhai-Brown) from the Independent [of the UK]
"These are the best of times for the rich and middle classes and the worst of times for the disadvantaged, hopeless and vulnerable. I am talking about the children of Britain. Most are better looked after and loved than ever before in history while the rest are as wretched and impecunious as poor Victorian children. Exceptional individuals and committed organisations do try to save these lost kids, but the rest of society seems not to give a damn. More attention is paid to the recycling of rubbish than to the many kids trashed by families and disregarded by the state."

Myth Of Decline: U.S. Is Stronger and Faster Than Anywhere Else (Daniel Gross) form the Daily Beast
"Listen, the U.S. is better, stronger, and faster than anywhere else in the world."

Oil's Dark Heart Pumps Strong: A Review of Private Empire: Exxon Mobil and American Power by Steve Coll (Dwight Garner) from the New York Times 
"Steve Coll’s book details Exxon Mobil’s harassment of scientists, its entanglements in wars, its withholding of information from Congress, its arrogant culture — and yet it is surprisingly impartial."

Wasting Our Minds (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"What should we do to help America’s young? Basically, the opposite of what Mr. Romney and his friends want. We should be expanding student aid, not slashing it. And we should reverse the de facto austerity policies that are holding back the U.S. economy — the unprecedented cutbacks at the state and local level, which have been hitting education especially hard. Yes, such a policy reversal would cost money. But refusing to spend that money is foolish and shortsighted even in purely fiscal terms. Remember, the young aren’t just America’s future; they’re the future of the tax base, too."

Foreclosed Homes Destroyed By Previous Owners (VIDEO) from the Huffington Post
"With millions of Americans still facing foreclosure, the phenomenon of homeowners ransacking their houses on their way out may only continue. In Florida, one in every 336 housing units received a foreclosure filing in March, according to RealtyTrac. The glut of foreclosures across the country is weighing on property values, and with former homeowners leaving their houses completely stripped, the houses are likely to drag down neighboring property values even more."

Radioactive: Revelations on Nuclear Plants Sound a Warning from the Editorial Board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"Like a dark family secret long suspected but never confirmed, the shock of discovery is all the more lurid for coming into the light years later. So it is with the news of radioactive material released into the air -- at levels higher than any seen in the nation -- at closed nuclear fuels plants in Armstrong County. ... The plants operated in Apollo and Parks Township from 1958 through 1984. Mr. Ring found "numerous large-scale releases of ionizing radiation into the neighboring environment" during the operating lives of the plants."

Wheeling Woman's Fight with Debt Collectors Goes on Air from the Pittsburgh Tribune Review
"Diana Mey has played David to some of the biggest Goliaths of her time, winning judgments worth millions of dollars from telemarketers, debt collection agencies and credit card companies. In August, a West Virginia circuit court judge awarded her $10.8 million in a lawsuit in which she alleged harassment and violations of state law after debt collectors threatened her with sexual assault over a debt she did not owe."

Hardly a Close Ally, Clinton Teams With Obama to Raise Cash and Votes from the New York Times
"The 44th president is enlisting the 42nd president, both as a historical validator of his own leadership and as a PIN to one of the richest A.T.M.’s in American politics. Rather than viewing him as a relic of the past, Mr. Obama is embracing Mr. Clinton as a party wise man who can reassure both the general public and the well-heeled benefactors needed to win re-election."
VERY good!

The Legendary Paul Ryan (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Ryan’s rise occurred so rapidly that an old hand like Gingrich hadn’t yet fully grasped the fact that he had become unassailable, though most (and, by now, virtually all) of his fellow Republicans had. Ryan’s prestige explains, among other things, the equanimity with which movement conservatives have reluctantly accepted the heresies of Mitt Romney. They may not have an ideal candidate, but they believe Romney could not challenge Ryan even if he so desired."

Mitt Romney’s Road to Presidency This Fall Looks Narrow on Electoral Map (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"It’s no secret that former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has a narrow path to win the presidency this fall. Nowhere is that reality more apparent than when examining the electoral map on which Romney and President Obama will battle in November. A detailed analysis of Romney’s various paths to the 270 electoral votes he would need to claim the presidency suggests he has a ceiling of somewhere right around 290 electoral votes."

Election Between Obama and Romney Will Be Boring—and That’s Fine (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"Mitt Romney peddling Muzak. The U.S. retreating from war and recovering from recession. A less-toxic culture war. The 2012 election is shaping up as a boring contest—and that’s good for America."

Excerpt from The Death of Hitler : The Full Story with New Evidence from Secret Russian Archives (Ada Petrova and Peter Watson) from the Washington Post
"On a cold afternoon at the end of March 1945, General Dwight D. Eisenhower sat down at his headquarters in Reims, north-eastern France and drafted an unprecedented and historic cable. It was sent to Moscow, for the personal attention of Joseph Stalin. This was the first time in all the years of war that the Supreme Commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force had communicated directly with the Soviet leader, but there were now urgent and pressing reasons for doing so. ... In the climate of suspicion that was developing between America and Britain on the one hand, and Russia on the other, such a clash had to be avoided at all costs. It could bring catastrophe at this vital stage of the War."

Saigon: The Last Day (Lopren Jenkins) from NPR
"NPR Senior Foreign Editor Loren Jenkins was a reporter for Newsweek in Saigon when the city fell to the North Vietnamese in late April 1975. He recounts the chaotic final hours at the U.S. Embassy as the last Americans pulled out of Vietnam."

Sunday, April 29, 2012

News Nuggets 953

DAYEE PICTURE: Randy Scott Slavin's 360-degree photo of Battery Park in New York City.  Check out the other amazing images  from his show, 'Alternate Perspectives' Photo Series Shows A 360 Degree World.  From the Huffington Post.
1.  The Fall of Bo Xilai (Robert Keatley) from the National Interest 
"The dramatic story of China's ousted princeling reveals much about the country's deep-rooted corruption—and its aversion to reform."

2.  One Year After Bin Laden's Death: A New World (Michael Hirsh) from the National Journal
"Even U.S. conservatives are battling over how to handle the ‘post-al-Qaida era.’"

3.  The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret (Michael Hastings) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"An inside look at how killing by remote control has changed the way we fight."

4.  In Afghanistan, Underground Girls School Defies Taliban Edict, Threats from the Washington Post
"A U.S.-funded girls school about a mile away was shuttered by insurgents in 2007, two years after it opened. They warned residents that despite a new government in Kabul and an international aid effort focused on female education, the daughters of Spina were to stay home. For a while, they all did."

5.  The Ayatollah Under the Bed(sheets) (Karim Sadjadpour) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"In the Islamic Republic of Iran, all politics may not be sexual, but all sex is political."

6.  Bullying the Nuns (Garry Wills) from the New York Review of Books 
"The Vatican has issued a harsh statement claiming that American nuns do not follow their bishops' thinking.  That statement is profoundly true.  Thank God, they don't.  Nuns have always had a different set of priorities from that of bishops.  The bishops are interested in power."

7.  Fighting Back from the New Republic
"Domestic violence homicides in Maryland have dropped by 40 percent since 2007—and its success is attributed to a simple new approach to helping victims: ..."

8.  Ready for the Fight: Rolling Stone Interview with Barack Obama (Jann Wenner) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"The president, in the Oval Office, discusses his job, the opposition and the coming campaign."

9.  Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans are the Problem (Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein) from the Washington Post
Note: Ornstein is no left-wing hack.  He is a decades-long premier right-of-center observer of congress.
"We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party."

10.  The Ghost of Joe McCarthy in Today's Republican Party (Bill Moyers) from Alternet
"By now, little of what Allen West says ever surprises. He has called President Obama “a low level Socialist agitator,” said anyone with an Obama bumper sticker on their car is “a threat to the gene pool” and told liberals like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to “get the hell out of the United States of America.”  ...  But this time, we shook our heads in disbelief: “78 to 81 Democrats… members of the Communist Party?” That’s the moment the memory hole opened up and a ghost slithered into the room. The specter stood there, watching the screen, a snickering smile on its stubbled face. Sure enough, it was the ghost of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin farm boy who grew up to become one of the most contemptible thugs in American politics."

Now, to our regular nuggets for Sunday, April 15.

U.S. Signals Major Shift on Iran Nuclear Program (Paul Richter) from the Los Angeles Times
"The Obama administration might support letting Iran continue enriching uranium up to 5% purity if it agrees to other U.N. restrictions."

Peter Bergen’s Manhunt: The Decade-Long Hunt for Osama bin Laden (Bruce Reidel) from the Daily Beast
A new book chronicles the 10-year search for the world’s most-wanted terrorist. Ex–CIA official Bruce Riedel on the myths of Osama—and what the Pakistanis don’t know."

The United States is a Low-wage Nation (Laura Clawson) from Daily Kos 
"The United States is a low-wage country. (Here a chorus of Republicans pipes up: Yes, but it's the greatest low-wage country in the world, and don't you forget it!) In fact, in 2009 the United States led developed nations, with 24.8 percent of workers earning less than two-thirds of the median income."
Check out the table that accompanies this article.

My Faith-Based Retirement (Joe Nocera) from the New York Times
"The only thing I haven’t dealt with on my to-do checklist is retirement planning. The reason is simple: I’m not planning to retire. More accurately, I can’t retire. My 401(k) plan, which was supposed to take care of my retirement, is in tatters."

American Enterprise Institute And Brookings Must-Read: ‘The Republicans Are The Problem’ (Joe Romm) from Think Progress
"I’ll excerpt the piece by Norman Ornstein and Thomas Mann at length for two reasons. First, the problem they describe in detail is the central reason the United States failed to act on climate change when it had the chance in 2009 and 2010, and the central reason this country is poised to abandon any hope of maintaining  leadership in what will certainly be the biggest job creating sector of this century — low-carbon technologies and strategies. Until it is fixed Second, they issue some advice to the media on the dangers of false balance in a world where there isn’t actually balance between the two “sides.”"

Demographics Favor Obama Over Romney in November Election (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast
"Millennials and minorities, who boosted Obama in 2008, are growing, while white working-class voters, Romney’s bread and butter, are declining. But those loyalties could shift in the coming years, analysts tell Eleanor Clift."

Romney Advisers Concede the Personality Contest (Sara Murray) from the Wall Street Journal
"Mitt Romney may be conceding — the likability battle, that is. Eric Fehrnstrom and Peter Flaherty, senior advisers to the Romney campaign, acknowledged in the starkest terms yet that instead of trying to win the likability race against President Barack Obama, they’ll focus on their candidate’s credentials. “This is not an election that’s going to be decided on issues like dogs or likability,” Mr. Fehrnstrom said at a Washington Post Live event Saturday, referencing the now infamous story of the candidate’s dog Seamus."
BIG mistake!! As I've documented before, in the age of the modern-media presidency (since FDR) the "likable" candidate has (with one exception: Nixon-Humphrey) always won.  Moreover, the gaffe-prone Romney won't be able to carry the "competency" argument against an incumbent like Obama.  What I hear in the background here is that the Romney team has bought into the GOP rhetoric that compares Obama to Carter.  Only committed right-wingers (who will never vote for Obama anyway) are buying that argument.  If this article is correct, it further reinforces my sense that Romney's team is not up for the big show.  Their performance in the primaries has been underwhelming.  It's possible his handlers are just desperate and have very little to work with in Romney.  I don't see that though.  Romney is not THAT BAD a candidate.  For Romney to win, he MUST compete with Obama on the likability/human connection front.  Otherwise he will join the Hoover-Landon-Wilkke-Dewey-Stevenson-Nixon-McGovern-Ford-Carter-Mondale-Dukakis-Bush-Dole-Gore-Kerry-McCain less-likable-then-the-winner club of candidates who ran and lost.

Here's another take on the same issue:
Will Romney Let a Hair Down? (Ann McFeatters) from the Dickinson Press [of North Dakota]
And now we have the great loosening-up campaign. The problem? Nobody can really imagine living next door to Mitt Romney, let alone exchanging house keys with him in case of emergency. That is how Howard Baker, the Republican former senator from Tennessee and all-around good guy, once described a hypothetical perfect presidential candidate."

And, believe it or not, another take on the same topic:
The GOP’s Fear of a Cool Obama (Leslie Savan) from the Nation
"Republicans used to exult in fielding candidates that voters would like “to have a beer with.” This year, of course, their candidate doesn’t drink beer—in fact, Mitt Romney’s so socially challenged that his advance team is wary about letting him share cookies with voters. But lately Obama has been raising the ante on social comfort, asking which candidate would you like to share a song or nod to a pulsing beat with, and the GOP clearly considers this to be some kind of dirty trick."

A GOP version of the story:
John Boehner’s Blues (Joan Walsh) from Salon
"He says the president picked a "false fight" on student loans. Is he trying to throw the youth vote to the Dems?"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

News Nuggets 952

DAYLEE PICTURE: A sea nettle jellyfish off of Monterey, California.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

One Year After Bin Laden's Death: A New World (Michael Hirsh) from the National Journal
"Even U.S. conservatives are battling over how to handle the ‘post-al-Qaida era.’"

The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret (Michael Hastings) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"An inside look at how killing by remote control has changed the way we fight."

Spain Is Still Awaiting the Payoff From Austerity from the New York Times 
"Since the beginning of the debt crisis in Europe more than two years ago, defenders of the euro currency union have stuck to a basic argument: if the euro zone’s weaker economies would only keep pursuing policies of austerity, even as growth collapsed and job losses mounted, they would be rewarded by investors more willing to buy their bonds. ... That approach, though, has failed in Greece, Ireland and Portugal. And now it is being severely tested in Spain..."

Asia’s Century One of Turbulent Transition and Volatility (S. Mahmud Ali) from the East Asia Forum [of Australia]
"International security literature has developed a new sub-genre focusing on the upcoming ‘Asian Century’. Anxiety is rooted in fears of what a truly powerful China could demand of the system as it asserts its interests and its capacity for action. If China becomes as powerful as hegemonic actors such as the US and Britain were in the past, the familiar Euro–Atlantic systemic core will eventually become unrecognisable."

Bosnia's Lesson: When American Intervention Works (Partly) (David Rohde) from the Atlantic
"Contrasting the U.S. experiences in the wars here, in Iraq, and in Afghanistan."

A Velvet Fist in Serbia (Emma Wiliams) from Intelligent Life Magazine
"Profile of Srdja Popovic, who was a member of Otpor (Resistance), the nonviolent group that helped topple Serbia’s dictator, Slobodan Milosevic, in 2000. He's since formed an NGO called Canvas, which advises rebels in 40 countries on how to use the tools of nonviolent struggle: ..."

Occupy the Regulatory System! Taking on Wall Street from the Inside (Suzy Khimm) from the Washington Post
"As the more visible signs of Occupy Wall Street fade, a minority of wonks has doubled down on policy work behind the scenes, wading deep into federal regulations and banking practices."

The Death Penalty: The Myth of Deterrence from the Editorial Board of the New York Times
"Supporters of the death penalty claim that it deters potential murderers, but there is no research to show that, scholars now say."
More and more I am coming to the view that support for the death penalty has nothing to do with deterrence or any other reason based on rational assessment.  Support is much more id driven: severe punishment for the sake of severe punishment in the face of what many see as a culture of no-accountability and permissiveness.  For supporters, it becomes a nice substitute issue for those who also silently support corporal punishment of children, bullying, police and gun intimidation of suspect groups, and the use of death threats and hate speech as valid forms of free speech.  No surprise, these are also often the same people who view Rush Limbau's show as just "entertainment."

The EPA’s Most Important Decision this Year Could be Over... Vegetable Oil? from the Washington Post
"Currently, there’s a fierce battle in the United States over whether the Environmental Protection Agency should allow more diesel made from palm oil to be used by U.S. refineries. Agribusiness groups are lobbying for its use. Environmentalists are trying to block it — with some saying this could be the EPA’s most important climate-change decision of the year."

A Teacher, a Student and a 39-year-long Lesson in Forgiveness (Tom Hallman) from the Oregonian
"When he was 12 years old, the boy did something he only later realized probably hurt his seventh-grade teacher. It was minor -- he was, after all, a kid -- but in time, when he was older and wiser, he wanted to find this teacher and apologize. "

Fighting Back from the New Republic
"Domestic violence homicides in Maryland have dropped by 40 percent since 2007—and its success is attributed to a simple new approach to helping victims: ..."

With Joe Biden’s Speech, The Democrats Finally Man Up on Foreign Policy (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"Democrats are finally sounding confident on foreign policy—thanks to Joe Biden’s muscular speech."

Let’s Just Say It: The Republicans are the Problem (Thomas E. Mann and Norman J. Ornstein) from the Washington Post
Note: Ornstein is no left-wing hack.  He is a decades-long premier right-of-center observer of congress.
"We have been studying Washington politics and Congress for more than 40 years, and never have we seen them this dysfunctional. In our past writings, we have criticized both parties when we believed it was warranted. Today, however, we have no choice but to acknowledge that the core of the problem lies with the Republican Party."

A Faith-based Lesson for Paul Ryan (Dana Milbank) from the Washington Post 
"A week after Ryan’s boast, the bishops sent letters to Congress saying that the Ryan budget, passed by the House, “fails to meet” the moral criteria of the Church, namely its view that any budget should help “the least of these” as the Christian Bible requires: the poor, the hungry, the homeless, the jobless. ... To their credit, Catholic leaders were not about to let Ryan claim to be serving God when in fact he was serving mammon."
The entire column is worth reading.  As regular readers of this blog know, I have been pretty critical of the bishops -- but it is about time SOME Christian leaders with national stature started calling out the Republicans and conservatives on this!

The Next Battle in the War Over Women (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"It’s official: Senate Democrats will soon hold a vote on the Paycheck Fairness Act, which would update and strengthen the Equal Pay Act of 1963, a senior Democratic Senate aide confirms to me. “This vote is going to happen,” the aide says. The vote means this will likely be the next major battle in the war over women, and it could put Mitt Romney in a delicate political spot."

Romney’s Advice To Students: Borrow Money From Your Parents (Annie-Rose Strasser) from Think Progress
"If you’re young and you want to start your own business, Mitt Romney’s has some advice from you: Borrow money from your parents. At a “lecture” for students at Otterbein University in Ohio today, Mitt Romney told students that, his friend, Jimmy John, started a business by borrowing $20,000 from his parents at a low interest rate. Romney suggested anyone in the audience could do the same:.."
Breathtaking. Can this man truly be THIS disconnected?

Given this missive above, the following headline is no surprise:
Crowd-Working 101: Romney Struggles To Hold College Students’ Attention from Talking Points Memo
"The volume levels at the colleges President Obama spoke at this week as part of his campaign to keep student loan rates down hovered somewhere between “NBA playoff game” and “supersonic jet.” Mitt Romney’s address Friday at Otterbein University was not quite there yet. Mostly sticking to his go-to stump topics, Romney delivered a sleepy address to students at the Ohio school, some of whom seemed to struggle to stay awake. Sometimes it was a losing struggle."

Tucker Carlson’s Downward Spiral (Alex Pareene) from Salon
"Once a promising young magazine writer, the bow-tied Daily Caller pundit has come to epitomize right-wing hackdom."
Another right-wing pundit biting the dust ... are we seeing a trend yet?

Andrew Young Lashes Out at Edwards's Defense Attorney During Cross Examination (Diane Dimond) from the Daily Beast
"After five days of grueling testimony, ex-staffer Andrew Young, until now quiet and compliant, struck back on Friday during cross examination. Diane Dimond reports from the courtroom."

Egypt to Bring in Law Allowing Man to Have Sex with Dead Wife from the Hindustan Times [of India in English]
Boy -- this has been the week for strange stories about sex and culture coming out of the Middle East. Is this for real?  I read the whole thing and I'm still not sure.
"Egypt’s new Islamist-dominated parliament is preparing to introduce a controversial law that would allow husbands to have sex with their deceased wives up to six hours after death. Known as the "farewell Intercourse" law, the measure is being championed as part of a raft of reforms introduced by the parliament that will also see the minimum age of marriage lowered to 14 for girls."

Friday, April 27, 2012

News Nuggets 951

DAYLEE PICTURE: Mount Moran in the Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming. From National Geographic.

U.S. Sees Positive Signs From China on Foreign Policy from the New York Times
"China’s changing positions on Iran, Syria and North Korea are being hailed as steps toward unity among the world’s major powers, but its motives are a mystery."

China's Watergate from the Editorial Board of the National [of the United Arab Emirates in English]
"For China analysts, it is the gift that just keeps on giving. The Bo Xilai scandal has seen the former Chongqing party boss cast out of politics, while his wife Gu Kailai has been arrested on charges of murdering a British business associate, Neil Heywood. To make it even juicier, Ms Gu is rumoured to have been engaged in an adulterous affair with Heywood."

Intrigue in Chongqing (Qui Xiaolong) from the New York Times
"Bo Xilai once walked off with my Ping-Pong racket, but I would never have guessed what’s happening to him this spring."

Enhanced Interrogation Techniques: Little Evidence That Harsh Treatment Used By CIA Produced Any Counter-Terrorism Breakthroughs from the Huffington Post
"A nearly three-year-long investigation by Senate Intelligence Committee Democrats is expected to find there is little evidence the harsh "enhanced interrogation techniques" the CIA used on high-value prisoners produced counter-terrorism breakthroughs."

In Europe, a Marriage Shows Signs of Fraying (Floyd Norris) from the New York Times
If the European monetary union is something like a bad marriage, what can be done to avoid a messy and disastrous divorce? Enlarge This Image. "Broadly speaking, there are now two prescriptions. One calls for sacrifices and compromises from all sides. The other, echoing the law that used to exist in many societies, is simple: the husband — Germany — should rule. Did not the wife promise to obey? It is too late to try to get out of that agreement."

Death of an Austerity Fairy Tale (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"This was the month the confidence fairy died. For the past two years most policy makers in Europe and many politicians and pundits in America have been in thrall to a destructive economic doctrine. According to this doctrine, governments should respond to a severely depressed economy not the way the textbooks say they should — by spending more to offset falling private demand — but with fiscal austerity, slashing spending in an effort to balance their budgets."

Mitt: The Real European (Andrew Leonard) from Salon
"Romney bashes Obama for "making us like Europe." But he's the one pushing failed European austerity measures."

The Soul of the Christian South: Fundamentalist and Progressive Churches Square Off in Gay Marriage Debate (Lynn Parramore) from Alternet
"N.C. is the only state left in the Southeast without a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. What voters decide on May 8 will send a strong signal throughout the nation."

Should Catholic Schools Be Able to Fire Teachers Over Fertility Treatments? (Jennie Rothenberg Gritz) from the Atlantic
"A priest explains the Church's stance on assisted reproduction -- and the internal politics that cost an Indiana woman her job."

Catholics Confront Ryan on Budget Plan (Eliza Newlin Carney) from Roll Call
"A widening rift between House Budget Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) and Catholic bishops and activists over federal spending captures the power and unpredictability of the Catholic vote this year."

Rove's Forecast Shows Obama Way Ahead from Taegan Goddard's Political Wire 
"Karl Rove's latest electoral vote forecast finds President Obama with 220 votes and another 64 votes which "lean Obama." Mitt Romney has 93 votes with another 79 which "lean Romney." The remaining 82 votes are "toss ups." Most interesting: Rove lists both South Carolina and Missouri as "toss up" states."

Facts, 360 B.C.-A.D. 2012: In Memoriam: After Years of Health Problems, Facts Has Finally Died (Rex W. Huppke) from Chicago Tribune
"Facts is survived by two brothers, Rumor and Innuendo, and a sister, Emphatic Assertion. Services are alleged to be private. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that mourners make a donation to their favorite super PAC."

Bill Clinton Brings The Heavy Lumber (David Kurtz) from Talking Points Memo
"Bill Clinton steps up to the plate for President Obama and plays serious hardball against Mitt Romney, using Osama bin Laden, in this new campaign video."

The Ghost of Joe McCarthy in Today's Republican Party (Bill Moyers) from Alternet
"By now, little of what Allen West says ever surprises. He has called President Obama “a low level Socialist agitator,” said anyone with an Obama bumper sticker on their car is “a threat to the gene pool” and told liberals like Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi to “get the hell out of the United States of America.”  ...  But this time, we shook our heads in disbelief: “78 to 81 Democrats… members of the Communist Party?” That’s the moment the memory hole opened up and a ghost slithered into the room. The specter stood there, watching the screen, a snickering smile on its stubbled face. Sure enough, it was the ghost of Senator Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin farm boy who grew up to become one of the most contemptible thugs in American politics."
What ghost?  Joe McCarthy would almost pass as a moderate in today's GOP.

Self-Awareness, Republican-Style (Steve Kornacki) from Salon
"There are hints that Republicans may be learning to temper their most destructive political impulses – for now."

The GOP's Demographic suicide (Robert Reich) from Salon
"Why Republicans can't stop alienating Hispanics, women and young people."

NB-Sen:Nebraska Battle Complicates GOP Effort to Retake Senate (Alexander Bolton) from The Hill
"The Senate Republican primary in Nebraska has turned into a proxy war between conservatives and establishment Republicans that could complicate efforts to wrest control of the Senate from Democrats.  Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.), a leading voice for Tea Party conservatives in Washington, has made an aggressive bid to defeat Jon Bruning, the front-runner in the primary, because of lingering doubts about his commitment to conservative principles. "

A Singular Empire: A Review of Greg Woolf's Rome: An Empire’s Story (Adrian Goldsworthy) from the National Interest
"In his excellent study of the Roman Empire, Greg Woolf provides sharp insights while wisely avoiding simplistic comparisons, instead mixing a broad perspective with telling details to provide a fascinating picture of the empire par excellence."

Thursday, April 26, 2012

News Nuggets 950

DAYLEE PICTURE: A colorized version of a classic Lincoln portrait.  It gives him a very different (and interesting) look! From the Daily Mail [of the UK]

Ready for the Fight: Rolling Stone Interview with Barack Obama (Jann Wenner) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"The president, in the Oval Office, discusses his job, the opposition and the coming campaign."

Israel's Top General Says Iran Unlikely to Make Bomb from Reuters
"Israel's military chief said he does not believe Iran will decide to build an atomic bomb and called its leaders "very rational" - comments that clashed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's assessment."

CIA Drone Strike Kills Top Al-Qaeda Operative Who was Trained by Osama Bin Laden - as FBI Director Pledges to Help Stop Islamist Insurgency from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Mohammed Al-Umda, trained by Bin Laden, was killed in weekend strike.  FBI chief vows to help crush insurgency and spoke with Yemen's president Yemen President Hadi says he's committed to working with U.S."

Ousted Chinese Leader Is Said to Have Spied on Other Top Officials from the New York Times
"... the hidden wiretapping, previously alluded to only in internal Communist Party accounts of the scandal, appears to have provided another compelling reason for party leaders to turn on Mr. Bo.  The story of how China’s president was monitored also shows the level of mistrust among leaders in the one-party state. To maintain control over society, leaders have embraced enhanced surveillance technology. But some have turned it on one another — repeating patterns of intrigue that go back to the
beginnings of Communist rule."
How much wiretapping was actually done?  Are there ... transcripts? I'll bet there are.  Are they just of visitors to Chongquing?  Or were they done elsewhere in the country?  Bo Xilai could be sitting with a LOT of dirt on his Communist Party compatriots.   

Libya Bans Religious Parties from Politics from Al Jazeera English 
"National Transitional Council issues law banning parties based on religion, drawing concern from Islamic organisations."

Arab Youths Have Just Started to Act (Rami G. Khouri) from the Daily Star [of Lebanon in English]
"If you want to know why I remain optimistic, you need only have been with me during the past few weeks when I had two particularly uplifting encounters with young men and women from different parts of the Arab world, often including engagement with their counterparts from the United States and Europe. "

Europe’s Gathering Economic Storm (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"With Socialist leader Francois Hollande likely to become the next president of France, Europe’s hot populist anger is about to confront the cold austerity measures required by the euro zone, with a predictable result: a storm that rattles the foundations of the European economic house. Financial traders and treasury ministers are debating this week just how much damage this political-economic collision will bring."

Austerity Drives Greece, Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Now Britain into Recession. Next? (Meteor Blades) from Daily Kos
"Britain, Spain, Portugal, Greece and Ireland are all now in recession. The Netherlands and France have not yet succumbed, but weak economic data have roiled their governments, contributing to the collapse of the Dutch parliamentary coalition and French President Nicolas Sarkozy's loss in the first round of voting over the weekend. Behind it all is European austerity policy, the very stuff Republicans in the United States have been promoting for the past three-plus years."

Greece’s Election Supernova (John Psaropoulos) from the Daily Beast 
"With Greek elections looming, the country’s mainstream political forces are melting down and splintering into smaller, more radical factions, all of which are vowing to deliver Greece from its EU bailout terms."

Bullying the Nuns (Garry Wills) from the New York Review of Books
"The Vatican has issued a harsh statement claiming that American nuns do not follow their bishops' thinking.  That statement is profoundly true.  Thank God, they don't.  Nuns have always had a different set of priorities from that of bishops.  The bishops are interested in power."

Behind the Right's Phony War on the Nonexistent Religion of Secularism (Rick Perlstein) from Rolling Stone Magazine
"That's the way, in my experience, the ecology of right-wing smears works: Insane horror stories – Clinton is running cocaine out of an Arkansas airport! Barack Obama had gay sex in the back of a limo! – bubble up from the collective conservative Id at the outset of an election year; professional conservatives in Washington identify the ones that seem most promising and launder them through the suckers in the "balance"-hungry mainstream media; and presto, before you know it, it's death-panel-palooza, 24/7."

The 'Clinton Party' Wins In Pennsylvania: Is 2016 Next? (Howard Fineman) from the Huffington Post
"We have three leading political parties in America today: Republican, Democratic and Clinton. The last is a mom-and-pop operation, with a Chelsea. It's been 12 years since they had a president in office, but they still keep score, tend to their base and ponder what to do next with their political, financial and charitable clout."
I cannot imagine the Clintons would be playing this game if Hillary wasn't seriously looking at running in 2016.

City Slickers: The Growth of Urbanized Areas Could Shift Some States from Red to Blue Over Time (Reid Wilson) from the National Journal
"In political vernacular, “urban” issues have long been code for policies of primary concern to minorities. In coming decades, that stereotype will start to look outdated as Americans of increasing diversity move to the nation’s big cities. That migration is affecting our politics."

QE2 NUGGET [of a sort]!!
Resplendent in Red! Queen Brightens the Gloom as She Names Gloriana, the First Royal Barge to be Built in 100 Years from the Daily Mail [of the UK] 
"The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh today braved heavy rain and driving winds to name a spectacular barge built to mark the Jubilee.  The royal couple travelled to the East London dock where Gloriana is currently moored, awaiting the moment when it will make its way to Wandsworth Bridge on the Thames from where it will lead the  Jubilee pageant on 3 June."
JUST what the taxpayers of the UK have been demanding lo these many years!  It looks great -- but I'll have to say her timing is terrible!  Her country just went tripping back into recession, and, for all the world, she seems to be playing a "Chinese empress Tz'u-Hsi" thing here with a royal barge.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

News Nuggets 949

DAYLEE PICTURE: The recent eruption of Mount Etna on Sicily in Italy.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

China Steps Back from Supporting Assad, Parts Ways with Russia  from the Debka File [of Israel in English]
"Beijing has decided to distance itself from the Assad regime of Syria. Notice of this policy shift came about in a secret exchange of messages with the Obama administration, revealed here exclusively by DEBKAfile’s Washington sources. The latest message received in the latter half of last week said: China will no longer be a problem for America in dealing with Assad. That leaves only Russia."
Now -- I will have to say I have routinely found Debka File, a widely-read Israeli intelligence news website, to be either exaggerated or otherwise not entirely accurate.  We'll see what the Chinese do now.

N. Korea Missiles at Parade Were Mock-Ups: Experts from Defense News 
"Apparently new long-range ballistic missiles displayed at a North Korean military parade this month were mock-ups, according to two German experts who termed the exercise “a nice dog and pony show”."
Boy, the new leader of North Korea isn't getting away with much on the international stage lately.  You have to wonder how much of their histrionics ARE just stagecraft.

In Afghanistan, Underground Girls School Defies Taliban Edict, Threats from the Washington Post
"A U.S.-funded girls school about a mile away was shuttered by insurgents in 2007, two years after it opened. They warned residents that despite a new government in Kabul and an international aid effort focused on female education, the daughters of Spina were to stay home. For a while, they all did."

The Putin Generation: What Russia’s Protesters Believe (Paul Starobin) from the New Republic
"These are people—call them the Putin Generation—who came of age during the near-chaos of the 1990s and have known no leader other than Putin for perhaps the entirety of their adult lives. Having grown up in an atmosphere of upheaval, they are generally wary of dramatic change—and are more apt to sound like pragmatic gradualists than fervent revolutionaries."

Philippines to Seek Counsel from the U.S. in Standoff Over Chinese Ships from the Los Angeles Times
"The Philippines plans to seek counsel from the United States military over its two-week standoff with Chinese ships operating in the Scarborough Shoal, a new step in the simmering dispute. Chinese officials have repeatedly expressed their commitment to resolving tensions in the area through diplomatic channels."

Drones for “Urban Warfare” in the US from Salon
"Manufacturers are targeting U.S. police forces for sales, as drones move from the Middle East to Main Street."

Britain Falls Back into Recession from the Globe and Mail [of Toronto]  
"Britain’s economy is in its second recession since the financial crisis, data showed on Wednesday, heaping pressure on Prime Minister David Cameron’s coalition government as it battles a series of political embarrassments. The unexpected contraction in the first three months of 2012 - a 0.2 per cent dip in gross domestic product - confounded forecasts for 0.1 per cent growth."
"Unexpected"?!  By who?  In Europe, across the board, those countries that have embraced strict austerity have (to my knowledge) all tripped right back into recession.  Why should Britain be any different?

Housing Declared Bottoming in U.S. After Six-Year Price Decline from the Bloomberg News Service
"The U.S. housing market is showing more signs of stabilization as price declines ease and home demand improves, spurring several economists to call a bottom to the worst real estate collapse since the 1930s."

Latest Record Results Show Apple a Bigger Global Power Than Most Nations (Zachary Karabell) from the Daily Beast
"The tech behemoth is not just a cool computer/phone/tablet company, but a multibillion-dollar ecosystem and society with more influence and clout than most countries."

Secret Service Lessons: Knuckleheads and Clean Houses (Amy Davidson) from the New Yorker
"What can politicians—and the public—take away from the Colombian prostitution scandal?"

The Historic Polling Heights of Hillary Clinton (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post
"Great poll numbers and high-profile supporters don’t matter at all if Clinton has, in her heart of hearts, put away the idea of running for president again. If that door is left open even a crack, however, these are the sorts of developments that could push it open wider."

Romney's Plan to Govern Country So Vague, Allies Question Intentions from the Associated Press
""You have to campaign to govern, not just to win," Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said in recent days after endorsing Romney. "Go ahead and have the confidence in the voters to explain the fix we're in and then tell them with some specificity what we can do to get out of it in a way that's good for everybody. Romney doesn't talk that way." It's a sentiment other Republicans decline to express so publicly, and Daniels later downplayed his comment. But it's one that accurately describes the presumptive Republican presidential nominee's general aversion to detail."
I think it can be safely said that Mitch Daniels will not be on Romney's VP short list.

Cute Or Creepy? Nine Animals Which Could Be Aliens from the Huffington Post 
""Aliens are everywhere, not just in space," ... To illustrate his point, Bugeyes introduced me to the Blobfish, who I've chosen as my first of "9 Animals Who Could Be Aliens.""

A Review of Bad Religion by Ross Douthat (Mark Oppenheimer) from the New York Times
"In his new book, Ross Douthat links the decline of mainstream faiths in postwar America to a decline in traditional American values."
I have to say, I don't agree with several of Douthat's conclusions in this book.  I think he lets mainstream institutional churches off the hook for their declines way too easily.  But he raises many interesting questions here.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

News Nuggets 948

DAYLEE NEWS NUGGETS: A tulip farm in Norfolk in the UK.  From the Daily Mail.

The Fall of Bo Xilai (Robert Keatley) from the National Interest
"The dramatic story of China's ousted princeling reveals much about the country's deep-rooted corruption—and its aversion to reform."

Le Pen Shocks France as Far Right Hits Historic Heights from France 24 [of France in English]
"Having secured nearly one in five votes cast in the first round of France’s presidential election on Sunday, far right National Front candidate Marine Le Pen has the potential to swing what is likely to be a close second round on May 6."
This move to the hard right is the real danger of the EU's arm-twisting austerity binge.  You can see it in Greece, Spain, Portugal, Hungary and elsewhere: the rise of real hard-right movements the likes of which have not been seen in Europe in many decades -- with a corresponding decline of support for centrist/mainstream political parties.

The Ayatollah Under the Bed(sheets) (Karim Sadjadpour) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"In the Islamic Republic of Iran, all politics may not be sexual, but all sex is political."

The Other Foreign-Policy Woman (John Heilmann) from New York Magazine 
"U.N. ambassador Susan Rice plays hardball as hard as Hillary. Can she succeed her?"

The Creative Monopoly (David Brooks) from the New York Times
"In fact, Thiel argues, we often shouldn’t seek to be really good competitors. We should seek to be really good monopolists. Instead of being slightly better than everybody else in a crowded and established field, it’s often more valuable to create a new market and totally dominate it. The profit margins are much bigger, and the value to society is often bigger, too."
It HAS been a while since Mr. Brooks had anything genuinely valuable to say.  This column is at least thought-provoking.

With High Premarital Sex And Abortions Rates, Evangelicals Say It's Time To Talk About Sex from the Huffington Post
"The statistics, some evangelicals say, can no longer be ignored. Eighty percent of young evangelicals have engaged in premarital sex, according to a new video from the National Association of Evangelicals. and almost a third of evangelicals' unplanned pregnancies end in abortion. It's time to speak honestly about sex because abstinence campaigns and anti-abortion crusades often aren't resonating in their own pews, evangelical leaders say."

How are We Going to Pay for College? from the Editorial Board of the Denver Post
"For now, lower student loan rates make sense, but the U.S. must discuss education's long-term costs."

High-schoolers on Strike (Natasha Lennard) from Salon
"Occupy has caught young students' attention -- and some are planning to join the May 1 general strike."

Transgender Breakthrough from Metro Weekly [of Washington DC]
"EEOC ruling that gender-identity discrimination is covered by Title VII is a ''sea change'' that opens the doors to employment protection for transgender Americans."

Shift on Executive Power Lets Obama Bypass Rivals from the New York Times 
"One Saturday last fall, President Obama interrupted a White House strategy meeting to raise an issue not on the agenda. He declared, aides recalled, that the administration needed to more aggressively use
executive power to govern in the face of Congressional obstructionism."

Swing-state Unemployment Down, Obama’s Chances Up (Paul Wiseman) from the Associated Press via the Boston Globe
"Recent polls have shown Obama gaining an edge over his likely Republican challenger, Mitt Romney, in several so-called swing states — those that are considered up for grabs. What’s made the difference is that unemployment has dropped more sharply in several swing states than in the nation as a whole. A resurgence in manufacturing is helping the economy — and Obama’s chances — in the industrial Midwestern states of Ohio and Michigan."

Rubio Is Latest Possible Running Mate to Join Romney on the Campaign Trail from the New York Times
"As Mr. Rubio campaigned with him on Monday, standing at his side quietly as Mr. Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, fielded questions on illegal immigration, he also became the latest member of the up-and-coming Republican establishment to try out as a potential vice-presidential candidate with the party’s likely nominee."
In my view, there is no down side for Rubio in running with Romney this year.  He isn't up for reelection; it's unlikely he'll be blamed if Romney loses; and he'll get some national exposure -- and all he really needs to do is not be as bad as Palin was in 2008.  Even Rubio should be able to clear that bar.

Why The Latino Vote Isn’t Really Up For Grabs from Talking Points Memo 
"“There’s no play in the immigration debate for Republicans — the states that it would move people are already in the R column,” said Doug Usher, a managing director with the bipartisan firm Purple Strategies and a former pollster for Sen. John Kerry’s (D) presidential campaign. But it’s equally unlikely to put new states on the map for President Obama, though Usher says he thinks Latino support could help him hold Colorado and Virginia."

Jon Huntsman Trashes GOP, Expresses Campaign Regrets from BuzzFeed 
"Former Republican presidential candidate compares his party to Communist China. Says Reagan would have trouble winning GOP primary in this political environment. Regrets opposition to 10-1 spending cuts to tax increase deficit deal."
Why is this man a Republican?!

Is the Tea Party Still Relevant? (Chris Cillizza) from the Washington Post 
"Is the tea party breaking up? After playing a dominant role in a number of elections in 2010 — Christine O’Donnell, anyone? — there is growing evidence that the power (and visibility) of the movement has faded somewhat of late. To wit: ..."

The Trap Democrats are Laying for Mitt Romney (Jonathan Bernstein) from the Washington Post
"The emerging Democratic strategy is to find popular issues that Republican Members of Congress oppose, and to force votes on them. The goal: To try to make Mitt Romney choose between either appearing ideologically extreme or risking conflict within his own party."

Gorbachev, in Chicago, on Obama: ‘I Will Support Him’ from the Chicago Sun-Times
"Former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev made a near-endorsement of President Barack Obama on Monday, speaking to Chicago high school students prior to the World Summit of Nobel Laureates. Then he joined former President Jimmy Carter, former Polish President Lech Walesa and other Nobel winners on a stage at the University of Illinois at Chicago urging high school and college students to take up the cause of world peace."
Good to see that Mikhail is still out and about.  I'm not sure how much Obama was actively courting this endorsement.  I guess he'll have the ex-soviet premieres vote locked up.

Monday, April 23, 2012

News Nuggets 947

DAYLEE PICTURE: A ghostly nudibranch from the waters off of Greece.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.

In case you missed it, this week's edition of On the Media from NPR focused on the publishing industry.  Sounds boring?  It was most certainly NOT.  Check it out!
Publishing: Adapt of Die (the whole program) (AUDIO) from NPR's On the Media
"On the Media's annual look at the publishing industry, including fears of Amazon becoming a monopoly and the little publishing house standing up to it, a Pulitzer snub for fiction, and the problem of knock-off books."

Threats Finished at Pitt, Email Claims from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
"A group calling itself "The Threateners" has declared an end to what it claims is its emailed bomb threat campaign against the University of Pittsburgh because Pitt officials have met its demand: withdrawal of the university's promised reward for any information leading to the arrest and conviction of whoever is responsible for the bomb threats."
First, I will have to say that I'm suspicious that these jokers are the real culprits.  Second, if they are, Pitt and the police won't need a big reward to track them down.  Once you have this level of high-profile, arrogant communication between perps and the police, it's only a matter of time.

Rachel Maddow Discusses Her Book: 'Drift' from the Commonwealth Club of California
"This year the sassy and smart-as-a-whip host of MSNBC’s politico program, The Rachel Maddow Show, joins the literary fold and takes on what she believes to be the debate between civilian life and the war machine in her new book, Drift. "
Now, let me say (and some may view me as a total Philistine), I am neither a watcher of nor a great fan of Rachel Maddow.  I don't put her into the same category of dislike as I have for Keith Olberman or Ed Schultz (left-wing hyperpartisan media creatures) -- but, as some know, out of principle I never watch TV news or analysis.  In my view, looking to TV as a major source of news information only makes you more stupid, anxious, angry and partisan.  Are their gems out there?  Yes -- but the effort it takes to find them is so time consuming and not-worth-it, I have for eleven years embraced cold-turkey abstinence as the only real way to avoid insanity and abject resignation when it comes to the direction our country is going in.  This is a long, round-about way of introducing this program where Maddow discusses her book, a very thoughtful and engaging text that showcases an important and under-reported dimension of US defense policy and accountability, an area we've been dabbling in here at the News Nuggets blog for some time.  Check it out -- it's worth your time.

A Body, a Scandal and China (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times 
"The scandal is the talk of China, and the government has lost control of the narrative. This scandal may have far-reaching effects on the national leadership, and it should, for it points to a larger truth: China’s political model is simply running out of steam."

MEANWHILE, on the other side of the Himalayas...
India Boosts its Cinderella Navy (Jennifer McArdle) from The Diplomat 
"India’s Navy has for too long been neglected when money has been allocated. The latest defense budget suggests that may be starting to change."

Egyptians Can Learn from American Presidential Race (Hamdi Radwan) from Amal al-Oumma [of Egypt in English]
“There are some media outlets that support the Republican Party, and most of these are religiously extremist. … It is fair to say that to some extent, there is fairness in presenting the ideas of both parties and enabling a heated debate without insults, where everyone can express their points of view before allowing the voter to decide.”
Note the skeptical tone in this editorial.  In more ways than one, this editorial showcases how far Egypt has to go before it will really embrace anything resembling pluralistic democracy.

On Old Walls, New Despair in Portugal (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times
"To comprehend Europe’s economic pain, just read what buildings in Portugal’s capital have to say."

Drone Use Takes Off on the Home Front from the Wall Street Journal  
"With little public attention, dozens of universities and law-enforcement agencies have been given approval by federal aviation regulators to use unmanned aircraft known as drones, according to documents obtained via Freedom of Information Act requests by an advocacy group."

American Nuns Stunned by Vatican Accusation of ‘Radical Feminism,’ Crackdown from the Washington Post
"“People are stunned,” said Sister Pat McDermott, president of the 3,500-member Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, based in Silver Spring. “They’re outraged, angry, frustrated, they don’t know where this came from and how to hold it.”"
I suspect that the Vatican would like them to "hold it" by the nuns holding their tongues and being silent on anything to do with women and the church.  Leave all of that to the bishops.  That's how I read it anyway.

1 in 2 New Graduates are Jobless or Underemployed from the Associated Press
"A weak labor market already has left half of young college graduates either jobless or underemployed in positions that don't fully use their skills and knowledge. Young adults with bachelor's degrees are
increasingly scraping by in lower-wage jobs — waiter or waitress, bartender, retail clerk or receptionist, for example — and that's confounding their hopes a degree would pay off despite higher tuition and mounting student loans."

The Mythical ‘Choice’ of the Stay-at-Home Mom (Judith Warner) from Time Magazine
"The fact that so much anger erupts at any perceived slight tells us many women are not truly choosing to be home with the kids."

Turned Off from Politics? That’s Exactly What the Politicians Want (Steven Pearlstein) from the Washington Post
"Negative advertising isn’t about changing minds; it’s about altering the composition of the voter pool on Election Day by turning moderate voters into non-voters. This is particularly true in low-turnout elections such as primaries and midterm contests. But it is even true these days in high-turnout elections."

Ten Telling Details about the Secret Service Scandal from The Week
"As major players in the headline-making prostitution controversy are identified and a clearer picture emerges, here's a look at the most scandalous tidbits."

Revealed: The Tough Secret Service Career Woman Who Busted Twelve of Her Fellow Agents in Colombian Prostitute Scandal from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
If true, this is a very interesting aspect of this story.  
"The female Secret Service officer responsible for disciplining 11 agents caught in a fight with Colombian prostitutes has been revealed as one of the agency's rising stars. Paula Reid, 46, recently became the Secret Service's South American chief after 21 years on the force. Her crucial role in uncovering the scandal came to light as a senior congressman predicted that nearly all the agents implicated in the embarrassing incident would have to leave their jobs."

Grassley: Were White House Staff Involved in Prostitution Scandal? from the Washington Times
Here it comes.
"Sen. Chuck Grassley, the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, is questioning the U.S. Secret Service about possible involvement of White House staff in the Colombian prostitution scandal."

Why No One Admits to Wanting Mitt Romney's VP Slot: 5 Theories from The Week
"The press has decided who should be on Romney's short list of running mates. Nobody seems to want the job, though — or at least that's what they're saying."

Mitt Romney’s Tough Sell: Blaming a Worsening Economy on Obama (Michael Tomasky) from the Daily Beast
"In some polls, Obama and Romney are neck and neck. But in truth, Mitt will only win if the economy tanks."

Book: GOP Freshman Class Turned into ‘a Monster’ for Boehner, Other House Leaders (Paul Kane) from the Washington Post
"Rebelling from the outset of the 112th Congress and later wreaking internal havoc during talks to increase the Treasury Department’s ability to borrow funds, the freshman class repeatedly created problems for House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio), according to a new book."

'Una Noche' Actors From Cuba Flee During Film's Tribeca Festival Premiere from the Huffington Post
You can't make this stuff up!
"The Tribeca Film Festival premiere of "Una Noche," a film about three Cuban teens trying to escape the Communist island nation for a better life in the U.S., was marred by the disappearance of two of the film's lead stars -- who went missing as soon as their plane from Cuba touched down in Miami."

Sunday, April 22, 2012

News Nuggets 946

DAYLEE PICTURE: Orange, white and purple emperor shrimp from Ambon, Indonesia.  From the Daily Mail of the UK.
1.  The Stage is Set for a Deal with Iran (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post
"So far, Iran is following the script for a gradual, face-saving exit from a nuclear program that even Russia and China have signaled is too dangerous. The Iranians will bargain up to the edge of the cliff, but they don’t seem eager to jump."

If you have not been following Chinese defense policy (and America's response to it) the following two stories from this last week are MUST-READS!
2.  China's A Broken String of Pearls (Stefano Casertano) from The European  
"In 2004, the consultancy firm Booz Allen Hamilton coined a term for China’s energy supply strategy, terming it a “String of Pearls.” Loading barrels in the Middle East, Chinese tankers travel half of the globe to their home ports and are escorted by Chinese vessels along the way. A complex network of alliances provides for supplies and happy sailors’ nights out. The “pearls” are all those countries that are adjacent to the tankers’ sea lanes, such as Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, the Maldives, and Burma. ... The string has never been a full-fledged structure but rather a “strategic model” to be pursued through progressive actions that ranged from financial assistance to navy maneuvers and the construction of military bases abroad. ... China is revamping its energy supply: Away from global trade routes, and towards regional cooperation with Russia."

3.  Rotting From Within: Investigating the Massive Corruption of the Chinese Military (John Garnaut) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"In many fields of international competition, China is less sanguine about its abilities than outsiders. ... What should most worry Beijing, and provide some comfort to those who fear Chinese military expansionism, is the state of corruption in the People's Liberation Army (PLA)."

4.  The Rise of the Killer Drones: How America Goes to War in Secret from Rolling Stone Magazine
"An inside look at how killing by remote control has changed the way we fight."

5.  Truth or Consequences on Bush's Air National Guard Service (Joe Hagan) from Texas Monthly
"Eight years ago, Dan Rather broadcast an explosive report on the Air National Guard service of President George W. Bush. For 36 years, it made its way through the swamps of state government as it led up to the collision between two powerful Texans on the national stage. And by the time it was over, no one—not Dan Rather, not George W. Bush—would be left unbloodied."

6.  Obama Lessons in Robert Caro’s Lyndon Johnson (David Frum) from the Daily Beast
The latest volume of Robert A. Caro’s biography of Lyndon Johnson charts his transformation from an isolated and belittled vice president into a leader who wielded power with unmatched ruthlessness."

7.  'Bully': Getting Past 'Boys Will be Boys' (Laura Clawson) from Daily Kos 
"The warning the new documentary Bully deserves is not the R rating it fought over its depiction of kids saying "fuck" a few too many times. The warning it deserves is that you will cry. You will cry because every time you are tempted to think that what Alex, the boy the movie follows through a year of being bullied, endures is just the routine stuff of adolescence, you will be reminded that those experiences kill."

8.  The Provocateur: A Profile of Andrew Breitbart (David Carr) from the New York Times
"... even though his Web site, run by his business partner and lifelong friend Larry Solov, is fully staffed and unveiled a redesign after his death, there could be no real replacement. For good or ill (and most would say ill), no one did it like Mr. Breitbart."

9.  PETMAN Robot Climbs Stairs In New VIDEO From DARPA, Boston Dynamics from the Huffington Post
"PETMAN, a humanoid robot built in 2011 for the Department of Defense's Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), has been modified to climb stairs, as shown in this unsettling video."

10.  The Missionary's New Position: Former Pastor Opens Sex Shop For Christians (Alexander Krex) from Der Spiegel [of Germany in English]
Boy, they sure don't grow evangelicals in Europe the way they grow them in the US!!
"While lust might be considered a deadly sin by many Christians, one former Dutch pastor is on a crusade against lust "phobia." He has opened an online sex shop for Christians in the hope of improving their private lives and helping them to embrace sexuality."

Now, for the regular news nuggets of Sunday, April 22nd.

Successful Nuclear Diplomacy with Iran? (Sir Ricahrd Dalton) from the British think tank, Chatham House
"Two words stand out from the reporting of the recently concluded Iranian negotiations: constructive and useful. Six further words attributed to a Western diplomat tell of the relief experienced by the teams: 'No dramatic breakthroughs. No unpleasant surprises'. The Iranian negotiator went further. The talks were 'very successful'."

April Is the Cruelest Month … for China (Sophie Richardson) from Foreign Policy Magazine
"Beijing's leaders are finding out the hard way that being a superpower isn't all it's cracked up to be."

Voting for Yesterday in France (Olivier Guez) from the New York Times 
"The candidates and the citizens agree: Repeal the 21st century."

How America Came To Torture Its Prisoners (Larry Siems) from Slate 
"I read nearly 140,000 formerly classified documents about America’s abuse of prisoners since 2001. Here is what I learned."

The Paradox of College: The Rising Cost of Going (and Not Going!) to School (Derek Thompson) from the Atlantic
"Over the last three decades, the cost of going to college has increased at nearly the exact same rate as the cost not going to college. How can the price of getting something and not getting something both rise at the same time?  That is the paradox of college costs."

Obama’s Race to Save the Rust Belt (Andrew Leonard) from Salon
"Decades of bad industrial policies helped destroy the midwest. An old-school economic plan might be the cure."

Republican Rhetoric Over the Top (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"Nugent doesn’t just characterize those with different political views as misguided or wrong. He seeks to paint them as alien and anti-American — as enemies of this nation, rather than citizens with whom he disagrees. In a subsequent interview, Nugent called Nancy Pelosi a “sub-human scoundrel” and referred to liberals as cockroaches to “stomp” in November. This is what distinguishes the flame-throwers of the far right from those of the far left. Nugent and his ilk seek to deny their political opponents the very right to believe in a different philosophy. Agree with me, he says, or be stomped."

How Mitt Romney Beats the Press, Avoiding Most National Interviews (Howard Kurtz) from the Daily Beast
"The candidate is carefully avoiding most national interviews outside of Fox. Howard Kurtz on why Mitt resents the media—and what his isolation is costing him."
This has become standard GOP practice now. The right-wing universe is so unaligned with reality that their candidates can't risk the cosmic dissonance that would result from an unscripted encounter with it.

The Boys Who Cried Fox (Nicole Hemmer) from the New York Times 
"How did we get to the point where Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum could complain about the bias of Fox News and National Review?"

Near Death, Explained (Mario Beauregard) from Salon
"New science is shedding light on what really happens during out-of-body experiences -- with shocking results."

Recovered Letters Reveal the Lost History of the Hindenburg from the Atlantic
"The Smithsonian's National Postal Museum has created a new exhibit around the twin catastrophes called "Fire & Ice: Hindenburg and Titanic," focusing on letters that were recovered, and the stories they can tell about the people who were unlucky enough to be there."

He Made it Look Easy: A Review of Eisenhower in War and Peace by Jean Edward Smith (John Lewis Gaddis) from the New York Times
"Eisenhower knew how to lead without appearing to."
For those who may not have Smith's works on your nightstand, his bio, FDR, is an exceptional one-volume life of Roosevelt.  This is a review of his latest book.

I posted this viral video clip last year -- it was quite moving.  What is new here is the women's LONG BLOG POST describing her life after this event. Very, very interesting -- and very 21st century in how our media responded -- and then how she responded to that media coverage.
29 Years Old and Hearing Myself for the 1st Time from YouTube