Saturday, August 30, 2014

News Nuggets 1482

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Gila River in New Mexico.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Obama's Minimalist Foreign Policy

Actually, Obama Does Have a Strategy in the Middle East (Peter Beinart) from the Daily Beast
"The president is neither a dove nor a hawk. He’s a fierce minimalist."

Foreign Policy "Rot" in the GOP

Fight the Powers That Be from the Economist [of London]
"William Kristol, as ever, manages to distill the rot down to its ludicrous essence: “What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens? ... The fact that Americans are outraged by oppressive governments, but lack a realistic theory of how stable governments come into being, means that it is easy to generate political support for attacking undesirable states and organisations, but hard to generate support for building anything to replace them."
"“What’s the harm of bombing them at least for a few weeks and seeing what happens?..."  This is so breath-takingly stupid -- and yet, it really DOES distill so much of what passes for the GOP's approach to foreign affairs.

The Deadly Logic of Intervention in Syria

What Going to War in Syria Would Really Mean for the U.S. (Conor Friedersdorf) from the Atlantic
"A brutal dictator, a violent terrorist group, and the morally fraught tradeoff that interventionists face."

The Cost of Joining Assad Against ISIS

A Bad Case for Allying with Assad (Daniel Larison) from the American Conservative
"Fighting wars of choice is bad enough, but it is simply perverse to insist on making deals with ugly regimes in order to facilitate the war of choice. If the most effective way of fighting ISIS requires the U.S. to go to war in Syria in concert with the Syrian government, that is just one more argument against waging a war on ISIS in the first place."

On Foreign Policy, Does a President Need a Policy?

Obama’s Anti-Doctrine Doctrine (Matt Bai) from Yahoo News
"...  at the core of these criticisms is a much deeper question that divides Republicans from Democrats, and some Democrats from one another. Should such a thing as a foreign policy even exist? Or do world events defy some unifying theory?"
Captives held by Islamic State were Waterboarded from the Washington Post  
"At least four hostages held in Syria by the Islamic State, including an American journalist who was recently executed by the group, were waterboarded in the early part of their captivity, according to people familiar with the treatment of the kidnapped Westerners."
Whew!  Well, at least they didn't torture the hostages!

Finally, PA Governor Does the Right Thing

Pennsylvania Strikes Deal With Feds To Expand Medicaid Under Obamacare from Talking Points Memo
"The state, under Gov. Tom Corbett (R), and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been negotiating for much of the last year to expand coverage to 500,000 low-income Pennsylvanians. Under the waiver approved by CMS on Thursday, coverage will start in January 2015."
GREAT!  Ok -- so now what about those exchanges?!

Obama's Record for US Workers

Obama Did A Huge Thing For Workers, Now States Should Do The Same from Talking Points Memo
"This year, workers across the country have a lot to celebrate, thanks in part to a series of executive orders signed by President Obama, including the Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Executive Order, which cracks down on federal contractors who violate labor laws."

The Hollowness of Educational "Reform"

Imagining Successful Schools (Joe Nocera) from the New York Times
"... tests, as Marc S. Tucker points out in a new report, Fixing Our National Accountability System, that are used to decide which teachers should get to keep their jobs and which should be fired. This system has infuriated and shamed teachers, and is a lot of the reason that teacher turnover is so high, causing even many of the best teachers to abandon the ranks.  All of which might be worth it if this form of accountability truly meant that public school students were getting a better education."

White Rage in Ferguson

Ferguson Isn’t About Black Rage Against Cops. It’s White Rage Against Progress (Carol Anderson) from the Washington Post
"... white rage doesn’t have to take to the streets and face rubber bullets to be heard. Instead, white rage carries an aura of respectability and has access to the courts, police, legislatures and governors, who cast its efforts as noble, though they are actually driven by the most ignoble motivations. ... A rash of voter-suppression legislation, a series of unfathomable Supreme Court decisions, the rise of stand-your-ground laws and continuing police brutality make clear that Obama’s election and reelection have unleashed yet another wave of fear and anger."
Very interesting opinion here.  It actually explains quite a bit.

On Guns, What Kind of Country Have We Become?

Get Rid of Assault Weapons (Jay Parini) from CNN
"The question that the whole world asks is this: Why was a 9-year-old girl allowed even to try to shoot a submachine gun? I have a further question: Why does anybody not on the front lines of the military in a war zone need to have access to a submachine gun? ... What kind of country have we become? Was this what the Founding Fathers had in mind?"

Another bromidic gun control article by an author who lacks the most elementary knowledge of firearms. Current FBI statistics reveal that handguns account for ten times the number of homicides as assault rifles. True, assault rifles have a sick cache that appeals to a certain kind of person (I have never met a combat veteran who wanted one), but a deer hunting rifle is more powerful and accurate than an assault rifle. Regardless, if you want to seriously reduce gun violence, you go after hand guns. I can see a majority of American women getting behind hand gun control if the movement is well organized. I would add that the best “well-regulated militia” article is by WWII combat veteran, U Penn professor and author, Paul Fussell.

Posted by: hopeandespair

Finding the GOP's "Full Measure"?

Another Government Shutdown? Not Gonna Happen (Byron York) from the Washington Examiner
"Ryan remembers thinking as the shutdown became a reality. "This can't be the full measure of our party and our movement. If it is, we're dead, and the country is lost.""
I love this quote -- because it so captures the on-the-ground reality for hard-right lawmakers who seem to be calling the shots on such matters.  This IS the "full measure" of the GOP and the Conservative movement right now -- and yes, the current version of the Republican Party IS dead!  It just doesn't know it yet.  The final piece about the "country is lost" says more about why right-wingers are in such a nihilistic state of mind in the first place.  The country is actually doing OK -- it's only conservatives who are lost -- as in they have no idea where they are or where the rest of the country is.  -- Nuggetsman.

On Women, GOP "Stuck in the Past"

GOP Poll of Women: Party 'Stuck in Past' from Politico
"A detailed report commissioned by two major Republican groups — including one backed by Karl Rove — paints a dismal picture for Republicans, concluding female voters view the party as “intolerant,” “lacking in compassion” and “stuck in the past.” Women are “barely receptive” to Republicans’ policies, and the party does “especially poorly” with women in the Northeast and Midwest, according to an internal Crossroads GPS and American Action Network report obtained by POLITICO."

The Economic "New Normal" = A Lower, Poorer Quality of Life

Most Americans Think The Economy Is Permanently Damaged from the Huffington Post
""Looking at the aftermath of the recession, it is clear that the American landscape has been significantly rearranged," Rutgers professor Cliff Zukin said in a press release. "With the passage of time, the public has become convinced that they are at a new normal of a lower, poorer quality of life.""

Americans are not looking back very far when they make economic comparisons. The stellar growth of the economy from 1985 to 2007 was for the most part based on anomalies like cheap oil, consumer credit and the addition of everyone’s mom to the workforce. It was never sustainable. Now Americans have become accustomed to gas guzzling vehicles, big houses and multiple cash munching data contracts. The plateau is much higher now. Now the good news. If the Mideast war stays away from the big oilfields, if China doesn’t suffer a meltdown, and if the rains finally arrive in the American Southwest, things might get better.

Posted by: hopeandespair

When is a Climate Change Treaty Not a Treaty?

Obama’s Climate Deal Doesn’t Need the Senate (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"... unlike Obama’s reported plans to enact sweeping immigration reform without Congress — this is not a case of executive overreach. The case for an international treaty is threefold."

Re-examining Polling's "Special Sauce"

Senate Democrate are Outperforming Expectations from the Princeton Election Consortium
"Today I will show that in most cases, added assumptions (i.e. special sauce) have led the media organizations to different win probabilities – which I currently believe are wrong. I’ll then outline the subtle but important implications for a November prediction."

Governors' Races Point to the Future

2014 And The Limits Of Rage (E.J. Dionne) from the National Memo
"The short-term future of politics in the nation’s capital will be determined in large part by which party ends up in control of the Senate. But for a sense of the long-term future of politics in the country as a whole, watch the governors’ races."

Hagan Hanging in there in NC

SE-NC: Why Hagan wins North Carolina (Brent Budowsky) from The Hill
"The fact that Hagan is still standing after millions of dollars’ worth of personal attacks against her, financed by out-of-state ultra-conservative and hyperpartisan GOP money from the Koch brothers and others, is a testament to her political resilience and the good sense of many Tar Heel voters who are offended by the politics of personal destruction practiced by her opponents in the epic battle for North Carolina."

In the Civil War, Whose Side Was the Republican Party On?!

Some Southern Members of Congress Apparently Haven’t Gotten Over the Civil War (Jonathan Chait) from New York Magazine
"Mr. Kind [a sponsor for Cushing’s Medal of Honor] said some Southern colleagues were also less than enthusiastic. “There was some resistance to awarding a Union soldier the congressional medal at Gettysburg even 150 years after the fact,” Mr. Kind said."
"Southern colleagues" = southern Republicans. It nearly completes the arc of the modern GOP where they really ARE now the 21st century version of the Democrats of the 1850s.  

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

News Nuggets 1481

DAYLEE PICTURE: The Bajau people of Malaysia.  From National Geographic.

Turmoil and Unrest in France

France Thrown into Political Turmoil after Government Dissolved from the Guardian [of the UK]
"PM Manuel Valls told to form new government after minister's call to end austerity policies imposed by Germany triggers crisis."

Growing Intolerance Emerging in Europe

Europe's Slow Surrender to Intolerance (Jeffrey Goldberg) from the Atlantic
"A seemingly small incident at a London supermarket suggests a deeper problem."

Immigration Stokes Fear in Italy and the Rest of Europe

Italy's Latest Export Is Refugees, and the Rest of Europe Is Not Happy (Barbie Latza Nadeau) from the Daily Beast
"Head north, young migrant! That seems to be Italy’s policy, at least, according to German and other northern European leaders, who are furious at Rome’s handling of the refugee crisis."

Climate Change "Deal" Enrages the GOP

Obama Pursuing Climate Accord in Lieu of Treaty from the New York Times 
"President Obama’s climate negotiators are devising what they call a “politically binding” deal that would “name and shame” countries into cutting their emissions. The deal is likely to face strong objections from Republicans on Capitol Hill and from poor countries around the world, but negotiators say it may be the only realistic path."
Interesting how my perceptions have shifted over the years.  In my view now, if something faces "strong objections from Republicans" that means it will actually make a difference.  Indeed, the more objections they have, the more good it will actually do in the real world.  I didn't used to be this cynical.

You can see the same dynamic with the following issue:

On Obama's Immigration Decision, High Anxiety in Both Parties

Obama’s Immigration Decision Could Roil 2014 Election from the Washington Post
"Both political parties are in a state of high anxiety about the possibility that President Obama will allow millions of illegal immigrants to remain in the country, fearing that White House action on the issue could change the course of November’s midterm elections."

Obama's "Political Nuclear" Option on Immigration

Rep. Steve King (R): 'All Bets Are Off' On Government Shutdown If Obama Acts On Immigration from the Huffington Post
"One of the most vehement opponents of comprehensive immigration reform said Wednesday that he supports a tactic that could lead to another federal government shutdown. ... "If the president wields his pen and commits that unconstitutional act to legalize millions, I think that becomes something that is nearly political nuclear," King said..."
Boy -- Obama's immigration executive action must be really good if it is provoking this kind of reaction!

How NOT to Woo Latino Voters!

The GOP’s Great Latino Hope Dresses Down DREAMers (Greg Sargent) from the Washington Post
"As a number of us have argued, the House GOP’s hardening opposition to Obama’s programs to shield low-priority offenders from deportation is boxing Republicans into a position to the right of Mitt Romney’s 2012 “self deportation” stance. This is the opposite direction many GOP strategists hoped the party would move after its historic 2012 loss among Latinos."

Third Term’s the Charm

Political Mythbusting (Jeff Greenfield) from the Daily Beast 
"Despite assertions otherwise, Americans are probably pretty OK with giving a party a third term in the White House."

The Latest Crime Wave: Being Young, Black and Male

When Youthful Mistakes Turn Deadly (Eugene Robinson) from the Washington Post
"To be young, male and black in America means not being allowed to make mistakes. Forgetting this, as we’ve seen so many times, can be fatal."

What Arsenal Does Your Local Police Have?

PA Police have 18 Armored Vehicles and Other War Gear from the New Pittsburgh Courier
"Police departments in Pennsylvania have 18 armored military surplus vehicles – eight of which are classified as “mine-resistant” – and hundreds of surplus assault rifles obtained through a free Department of Defense program, according to the New York Times."

Migrating Dems Making Red States Competitive

The Growing Blue-State Diaspora (Robert Gebeloff and David Leonhardt) from the New York Times
"Californians have moved to Colorado and Nevada. Massachusetts natives have moved to New Hampshire. New Yorkers have moved to North Carolina and Virginia — and, of course, have continued moving to Florida. Over the last few decades, residents of many traditionally liberal states have moved to states that were once more conservative. And this pattern has played an important role in helping the Democratic Party win the last two presidential elections and four of the last six."

The Accuracy of Polls

Is The Polling Industry In Stasis Or In Crisis? (Nate Silver) from FiveThirtyEight
"We have seen no widespread decline in the accuracy of election polls, at least not yet. Despite their challenges, the polls have reflected the outcome of recent presidential, Senate and gubernatorial general elections reasonably well. If anything, the accuracy of election polls has continued to improve."
This article showcases the growing list of problems the polling industry faces in getting accurate polls.  One can easily see some polling groups (and maybe most) getting wildly off-the-mark results based on what Silver says here.

Wave or Wipe Out for Senate Dems in the Fall?

Surf's Up: Will there be a GOP wave in the Senate—or a wipeout? (Larry Sabato et al.) from Politico Magazine
"Assuming the GOP holds all its current seats and wins Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia, the party needs three more to take the Senate. At the moment, Republicans appear to have their best chances in these six states, roughly in this order: Arkansas, Iowa, Louisiana, North Carolina, Alaska and Colorado."

Dems Trying to Save the Senate -- One Seat at a Time

Inside the Democrats' Plan to Save Arkansas—and the Senate (Molly Ball) from the Atlantic
"The party's desperate bid to hang onto the majority rests on an unprecedented political organizing effort in red states like this one."


Archaeologists Discover 15 Previously Unknown Monuments Buried Around Stonehenge from the Huffington Post
"The mystery surrounding Stonehenge has suddenly deepened -- literally. A first-of-its-kind study suggests that 15 previously undiscovered or poorly understood monuments lie hidden under the ancient stone monument and its surroundings."


A homeless dog living on the railroad tracks gets rescued right before a train passes by from Hope-for-Paws

An abandoned dog on the railroad tracks gets rescued - you must see this! 

Monday, August 25, 2014

News Nuggets 1480

DAYLEE PICTURE: A blue heron at Great Falls National Park
in Maryland.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: In Ferguson, the Police More Engaged in Covering Their Asses Than Calming Demonstrations or Pursuing Justice

Black America and the Burden of the Perfect Victim (Toure) from the Washington Post
"An information war is being waged in Ferguson, Mo., each salvo meant to shape public perceptions of Michael Brown and Darren Wilson."

Details About WHO is Protesting in Ferguson

Who Are The Protesters Getting Arrested In Ferguson? from WESA Pittsburgh Public Radio
"More than 160 people have been arrested since the protests began, nearly two weeks ago. Arrest records provide details about where the protesters are coming from."

Dems Need to Stand Up for Obamacare ... or Be Killed by Opponents

Obamacare has Growing Support, Even if its Name Does Not (E.J. Dionne) from the Washington Post
"This consultant says of Democrats who voted for the law: “You’re going to be stuck with all the bad about this but not benefit from any of the good unless you advertise” what the Affordable Care Act does. This is what Pryor has decided to do."

Why Tear Down Old Public Housing?

A RAD-ical Housing Experiment (Rebecca Burns) from In These Times
"Baltimore public housing tenants will serve as guinea pigs for a new national privatization plan."
Certainly sounds interesting.

Walker's Tactics in Recall May Sink His 2016 Prospects

Documents Allege Scott Walker Pressured Groups To Donate To Campaign from the Huffington Post
"The documents released Friday by a federal appeals court also show that prosecutors believe Walker personally solicited donations for conservative group Wisconsin Club for Growth to get around campaign finance limits and disclosure requirements as he fended off the recall attempt in 2012."
No sooner does some vaguely plausible GOP contender for 2016 (Christie, Perry) set up an exploratory committee or a PAC then he gets NAILED for political and/or ethical shenanigans that send their presidential hopes into a tailspin.  Who next?  Rand Paul's campaign ship has been listing for months. -- Nuggetsman


Is this America's new 'space taxi'? Boeing blasts into the lead in race to replace the shuttle from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Boeing has taken a major step forward in its bid to replace the space shuttle. The aerospace giant has completed a key review of its design for a new commercial venture to fly astronauts to the International Space Station."


Botched Nazi spy mission was act of sabotage, says historian from the Guardian [of the UK]
"German intelligence officials opposed to Hitler's plans chose agents with poor English for Operation Lena, book suggests."
Sounds like an espionage caper more inkeeping with the musical comedy, The Producers.


Touched by a Wild Mountain Gorilla from Youtube
I posted this several years ago but it seems to have disappeared from News Nuggets site -- and it's too good not to have readily available!!


Elephant Seal Falls In Love With Woman from Youtube


The Power of Vulnerability from TED Talks
"BrenĂ© Brown studies human connection — our ability to empathize, belong, love. In a poignant, funny talk, she shares a deep insight from her research, one that sent her on a personal quest to know herself as well as to understand humanity. A talk to share."
Here's her other related talk that is also quite inspiring!


Remembering the Passenger Pigeon, 100 Years Later from Allegheny Front
"This marks the 100th year since the last Passenger Pigeon died. Passenger Pigeons once flew over Pennsylvania in flocks measuring in the billions. The birds were so numerous they would darken the skies, and sometimes brighten them when the sun shown through the space between the irridescent birds soaring overhead."

Friday, August 22, 2014

News Nuggets 1479

Rudolf Island in Russia's Franz Josef Land.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The Invisibility of White Privilege ... to Whites

Ferguson: A Failure Of Empathy (Connie Schultz) from the National Memo 
"What struck me about this exchange, beyond the inappropriateness of the venue, was his assumption that our mutual whiteness meant I would agree with him. I left feeling as if I’d just time traveled back to 1972 for an argument with my dad about race. ... I think what bothers me most is that I know he represents a significant segment of white America — so certain in his assumptions, so blind to the privilege of race that fuels them."

Obama vs. ISIS

This Time It's Personal (Eli Lake) from the Daily Beast 
"When ISIS beheaded an American journalist, it meant to intimidate—and provoke—the United States. It should be careful what it wishes for. The gloves just came off. ... it will be hard for the Republicans to sound more hawkish than the president, whose tone and evident intentions are strikingly different today than they were only a few weeks ago."

When Terrorists Fail ... and When they Begin to Know It

The New Battle Against Evil (David Ignatius) from the Washington Post 
"The life and death of Osama bin Laden illustrate why the terrorist strategy is destined to fail — if civilized nations maintain their will. Obama authorized the mission that pursued the al-Qaeda leader to his lair in Abbottabad, Pakistan. But in the months before his death, bin Laden knew he had failed."

France's (and Europe's) Political Woes Becoming More Apparent

The French Resistance Would Weep from the New York Times
"Seventy years after the liberation of Paris, the ascending force in French politics recalls the spirit of Vichy."

Measuring Obama's Successes

Obama Cares. Look at the Numbers from the New York Times
"A true measure of a president’s priorities lies hidden in plain sight in his budget proposals. Under that standard, Mr. Obama has been more committed to communities like Ferguson than any Democratic president in the past half century."

LBJ and the Paradox of Being a "Tough" Politician

We Want our Politicians to Act like LBJ. But Not Really (Matt Bai) from Yahoo News
"What we really need, I guess, is an executive in the mold of a Chris Christie or an Andrew Cuomo or a Rick Perry, all of whom are more extroverted and more brazen about wielding their power as governors than Obama is — and all of whom, not incidentally, are now fending off prosecutors and investigations while scrambling to keep their national ambitions afloat. And this illustrates an interesting paradox of modern politics: We love this idea of the ruthless and effective political operator, right up until the moment we're confronted by the reality."

Testing for Bad Science in the Media

How to Tell When a Scientific Study Is Total B.S. (Russell Saunders) from the Daily Beast
"New studies are published every day claiming breakthroughs. But most of them are full of bad science. Here’s what to look out for."

Scalia's Most Historic Opinion

The Twilight of Antonin Scalia (Garrett Epps) from the Atlantic
"The conservative hero's fiery 2012 dissent on same-sex marriage could be his most influential opinion—but not in the way he intended."

African America and the NRA

Why Isn't the NRA Defending Ferguson’s Blacks? (Cliff Schecter) from the Daily Beast 
"Every dystopian warning of the gun group has come true in Missouri, yet the organization is offering no sympathy for the African American victims."
This question perfectly showcases one (of many) of the NRA's hidden assumptions: that white people need access to guns to protect themselves against (1) the government; and (2) black people.  One can only speculate what the organization's position would be if black young men embraced the same in-your-face "right to guns" nihilism that the NRA espouses for its members.  

What's Visible When Your TV News is on Mute

Black And White In Ferguson And Journalism (Jaime Steihm) from National Memo
"When you don’t know if the violent scenes on the evening news are in Iraq or in Ferguson, Missouri, then things are bad."

Why No Democrat Wants to Run Against Hillary

Clintonphobia (Peter Beinart) from the Atlantic
"Strong frontrunners have drawn challengers before. But given the Clintons' reputation for retaliating for betrayals, it's just not worth it in 2016."

The GOP’s “Deep Bench” Just Completely Fell Apart

Down Goes Perry!  (Joan Walsh) from Salon
"Pity the billionaire Republican donors, trying to choose among Christie, Walker and now-indicted Rick Perry for '16."
As I have argued elsewhere, the whole notion that the GOP had a "deep bench" looking forward to 2016 was always a media conceit and a delusional representation from the right-wing alternative universe.  The pressing question now is: will the GOP be able to field an even remotely plausible candidate in two years? -- Nuggetsman

Obama Has the Power to Make Substantive Change in Several Areas

How to Wreck the GOP in 3 Easy Steps! (Thomas Frank) from Salon
"Congress is a mess, but that doesn't mean Obama is powerless. Now's the time for change — and here's how to make it."

For Perry, Bribery vs. Constitutional Exercise of Authority?

Why Rick Perry Will Be Convicted (James Moore) from the Huffington Post 
"Perry is accused of using his veto authority to coerce a publicly elected official into leaving office. And when the veto threat, and later the actual exercise of the veto didn't work, he may have tried a bit of bribery, which is why he is facing criminal charges.  Not because he exercised his constitutional veto authority."


20 U.S. Cities You Must Visit In Your 20s from the Huffington Post
"... these twenty cities make perfect locations for an urban vacation or worthy spots along a road trip. And if you're a few years past your 20s, that's quite alright -- you'll love these cities too."
Damn the 20s bit -- these are ALL great places to visit no matter your age!! -- Nuggetsman


Gordon Parks' 1950s Photo Essay On Civil Rights-Era America Is As Relevant As Ever from the Huffington Post
"These are the types of everyday, seemingly innocuous activities that wound up before the lens of iconic civil rights photographer Gordon Parks. Parks, a self-taught artist, believed in the photographic medium as a weapon of change, capable of awakening people's hearts and undoing prejudice."


Stray Dog gets hit by a Car and Finds Refuge Under a Homeless Man's Cart from Hope for Paws 

Monday, August 18, 2014

News Nuggets 1478

A Japanese Giant Hornet.  From the Huffington Post.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: What's Driving the Ferguson Police Now

Ferguson Police Released Robbery Video Despite DOJ Concerns from the Huffington Post
"The Ferguson Police Department on Friday released a video that allegedly shows Michael Brown robbing a convenience store. Critics lashed out at police, saying that the footage's release was an attempt to disparage Brown's character. CNN revealed on Saturday that the Department of Justice found out about the video earlier this week and asked police not to make it public. According to CNN, the DOJ was worried that the footage would spark more violence in Ferguson."
Sad to say, this news does not surprise me -- and it showcases perfectly a central fact: the DOJ and the MO governor are focused on reducing tension and ending the rioting -- and the Ferguson police are concerned about ... something else. This is where I'd love to hear people's speculation as to what that something else is.  Here is my theory: the Ferguson police are now in a defensive fetal position where everything they do is about validating their actions over the last week and portraying the black community of Ferguson as an out-of-control, unruly mob for whom shootings, HUMVs, tanks, and all their other military toys and tactics are the only defense. In this light, it makes perfect sense that they would ignore the DOJ's concern and do something they KNEW would throw gasoline on the fire rather than calm things down.  Releasing the video has the added benefit of muddying the legal waters in a Treyvon-Martin-kind-of-way as all the white authorities there brace themselves for the hurricane of law suits that is doubtlessly headed their way.  Prediction: for any trials that come out of the Michael Brown case, look for Ferguson's white police and leadership to demand a change of venue -- to some nearby all-white community where they could get a sympathetic all-white jury.  I suspect that, for the Ferguson authorities, it has been their all-white constituents who are the only ones they've had any concern about all along. -- Nuggetsman

The Palestinians' "Nonviolent" Solution

Searching for a Palestinian Dr. King (Dean Obidiah) from the Daily Beast 
"There are some nonviolent Palestinians, but they get crowded out by Hamas—and the Israelis, who aren’t exactly nonviolent either."

What It Means to be a "Moderate" in Today's Middle East

The Fantasy of Middle Eastern Moderates (Fareed Zakaria) from the Washington Post
"Over the past decade, the United States helped organize Iraq’s “moderates” — the Shiite-dominated government — giving them tens of billions of dollars in aid and supplying and training their army. But, it turned out, the moderates weren’t that moderate."

America as "Master of the Universe"? -- Never Was ... and Never Will Be

Obama is right, Clinton wrong, on foreign policy (Armando) from Daily Kos  
“The media likes to talk about foreign policy "achievements" the way they talk about legislatures "doing something." They believe the mere act of having "done something" is an accomplishment in itself and that governments have to "do something" to have effective foreign policies. This is the essential problem of foreign policy "experts." ...  They see NOT "doing something" as failure in and of itself. This is the type of thinking that leads to "doing stupid shit," as the president was reported as saying."
Given the difficulty the US has in striking the right balance here at home [in places like Ferguson, MO], how can we play the role of "Masters of the Universe" in places as complex as Iraq and Syria?  Neo-cons and their liberal internationalist allies will never comprehend this.

The Obama Doctrine: Doing Nothing Better Than Doing Something?

Two Ways of Looking at the Hillary Clinton Interview (James Fallows) from the Atlantic
A similar take:
"It sinks for her, that she thought this would make her sound tough or wise; it sinks for the Democratic Party, that this is the future foreign policy choice it’s getting; and it sinks for the country, if this is the way we’re going to be talked to about our options in dealings with the world. The easiest and least useful stance when it comes to foreign policy is: Situation X is terrible, we have to do something. Or its cousin: Situation X is terrible, you should have done something."

Europe's Economy -- Bad and Getting Worse

Europe is in an Epic Depression — and it's Getting Worse (John Aziz) from The Week
"The euro zone (below in blue) has been in a depression since the financial crisis. That's because in terms of gross domestic product, the euro zone has not risen back to its pre-financial-crisis levels. The U.S. (below in red), on the other hand, has gotten out of its slump and continues to grow at a decent clip:..."

US Needs to Learn from Europe's Economic Mistakes

The Forever Slump (Paul Krugman) from the New York Times
"Recovery is far from complete, and the wrong policies could still turn economic weakness into a more or less permanent depression. In fact, that’s what seems to be happening in Europe as we speak. And the rest of us should learn from Europe’s experience."

A Mind is a Terrible Thing to Waste at Yale

A Review of William Deresiewicz’s “Excellent Sheep” from the Washington Post
“The system manufactures students who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it.”

The Misguided Spending Spree Going on in Higher Ed

The Hi-Tech Mess of Higher Education (David Bromwich) from the New York Review of Books
"The model seems to be the elite club—in this instance, a club whose leading function is to house in comfort thousands of young people while they complete some serious educational tasks and form connections that may help them in later life."

The Health Care "Free Market"'s Predictable Effect in Poor Countries

Transplant Brokers in Israel Lure Desperate Kidney Patients to Costa Rica from the New York Times
"Facing the prospect of impossibly long waiting lists for organs, some Israelis are turning to an underground trade that pairs them with people willing to sell an organ."
Now, there you go!  The elegant simplicity of free market solutions!

Federal and State Authorities Become More Involved in Ferguson

Federal, state officials take sweeping steps in response to Ferguson, Mo., unrest from the Washington Post
"Federal and state officials unveiled a sweeping response Thursday to violent clashes between police and protesters over the shooting death of an unarmed black teenager, with Missouri taking over security operations from local police and authorities agreeing to accept Justice Department help in handling protests."

Reactions to Ferguson crisis Don't Track Usual Ideological Paths

Libertarians make their voices heard on police in Ferguson, Mo. (Dan Balz) from the Washington Post
"The killing of 18-year-old Michael Brown by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., has produced a rare and surprisingly unified response across the ideological spectrum, with Republicans and Democrats joining to decry the tactics of the city’s police force in the face of escalating protests."

Ferguson Police and their Views of the People of Ferguson

Why are Ferguson cops so completely out of control? (Amanda Marcotte) from Pandagon
"...From the way they’re carrying on, in fact, you start to get the strong impression that they don’t quite believe that the people of Ferguson are free people who are allowed to be outside in their community if they damn well please—indeed, according to the best eyewitness to the Mike Brown shooting, the idea that there’s something unsavory about people, black people anyway, merely existing outside in their own communities is the mentality that allegedly caused the altercation that led to Brown’s death in the first place."

The DOJ Getting More Involved in Investigation of the Brown Case

Eric Holder Authorizes Second Autopsy Of Michael Brown from the Huffington Post
US AG Holder: "Due to the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family, Attorney General Holder has instructed Justice Department officials to arrange for an additional autopsy to be performed by a federal medical examiner," Justice Department spokesman Brian Fallon said in a Sunday statement.""
Given what serial mishandlers the Ferguson authorities have been around the Brown case, don't be surprised if they try to block Holder's effort here.

A Militarized Police and the Limits on "Crowd Control:"

Playing Soldier in the Suburbs (Ross Douthat) from the New York Times 
"Militarized tactics that are potentially useful in specialized circumstances — like firefights with suicidal terrorist groups — can be counterproductive when employed for crowd-control purposes by rank-and-file cops. (The only recent calm on Ferguson’s streets came after state cops started walking through the crowds in blue uniforms, behaving like police instead of storm troopers.)"

White supremacy’s latest round in Missouri

Retracing the real history of Ferguson (Falguni Seth) from Salon
"The Ferguson nightmare is just another reminder of a world exemplified by slavery, Jim Crow and "stop and frisk"."

How Ferguson Police Ran their Town

The Day Ferguson Cops Were Caught in a Bloody Lie (Michael Daley) from the Daily Beast
"The officers got the wrong man, but charged him anyway—with getting his blood on their uniforms. How the Ferguson PD ran the town where Michael Brown was gunned down."
It is remarkable how ridiculously implausible the police's story sounds -- now that the Ferguson authorities have absolutely, positively ZERO credibility any longer.

Obama's Upcoming Immigration Change: The GOP's Pre-Response Response

Why the Republican freak-out over Obama's immigration order is both dumb and inhumane (Joel Dodge) from The Week
"Critics have labeled his impending executive action "domestic Caesarism." But the conservative backlash is out of touch with reality."

Will It Be Clinton-Castro in 2016?

Hillary Clinton said to be grooming Obama official Julian Castro for vice president from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Clinton is said to be keeping the new Housing and Urban Development Secretary 'very close'.  Castro had dinner with the Clintons earlier this month and appeared at an event with Hillary in July.  Castro is the former mayor of San Antonio, Texas and is a rising star in the Democratic Party."

More Trouble for Gov. Perry

Texas Gov. Rick Perry Indicted For Abuse Of Power from the Associated Press
"A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for allegedly abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption — making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state's first indicted governor in nearly a century."

More Trouble for Christie

Chris Christie Faces Mounting Suits Over Public Records from the Huffington Post
"New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie took into office promising "a new era of accountability and transparency." Yet after he won a second term last year and as he explores a run for president, his administration stands accused of routinely stonewalling even the most basic requests for public records. Attorneys involved in lawsuits filed in search of public records say they have seen a spike in the number of such cases in the past six months."


When Lauren Bacall Stood Up To Congress's Communist Scare from National Journal
"Lauren Bacall died Tuesday at 89, the end of life as a prominent film star from the Golden Age of Hollywood. Onscreen, she was known for her husky voice and "The Look." Offscreen, however, Bacall spent decades in political advocacy—and it all began with a congressional confrontation."


You CAN teach an old dog new tricks! Lassie prepares to make a comeback... with the help of Ryan Seacrest from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"She is one of America’s most beloved characters and Lassie is about to spend some more time in the spotlight. The adorable pooch is slowly but surely making a comeback with a slew of public appearances. But the New York Times reports that fans of the franchise shouldn’t get too excited, because there are no plans for a new movie or TV show starring the loveable hound."

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The Politics of Texas a Poor Foundation for Perry's 2016 Aspirations

What the Hell Just Happened in Texas, and Why Was Rick Perry Just Indicted? from the Daily Beast
"The scandal that erupted Friday night involved millions of dollars, statehouse power plays—oh yeah, and alcohol, police, and masks."
I am beginning to wonder if the geographical calculus of presidential campaigns hasn't shifted in the last ten years or so.  For almost 100 years (following the Civil War) it was neigh impossible for a true southerner to get elected President.  LBJ broke that mold and since then four of the six elected presidents have been southerners (Carter, Bush I, Clinton, and Bush II).  I look out on the electoral landscape now, and (in more ways than one) I think real southern candidates (and I don't count Hillary as one of these) are now borderline unelectable to the big chair.  It was for a time in the Democratic Party that they felt like they had to chart a centrist path and felt attracted to southern Dems (Lloyd Benson, Anne Richards) -- but I think the landscape has transformed enough now that southern Dems are too conservative for the larger Democratic Party while the base of the GOP has become too southern and too conservative wingnut to play outside the south.  Rick Perry is exhibit No. 1 for this theory.  In GOP circles, this clown was viewed as a "serious contender", as a real "heavyweight" and a genuine threat to Obama in 2012 and someone who seemed to be reclaiming some of his reputation so far in the GOP's pre-primary sweepstakes.  It has long been my contention that this talk was all largely an illusion.  This guy should never have been taken seriously.  Only within the southern, conservative alternative reality did he seem credible.  What passes for normal politics in the south and what behaviors go by with little or no commentary from the thoroughly desensitized press there will come into glaring relief on the national stage, a stage strewn with banana peels that, as Perry found out in '12, will send the Perrys, the Gingrichs, the Rubios, the Jindals, and the Huckabees careening into the orchestra pit in very short order.  Looking ahead, I take it for granted that anyone the GOP nominates in 2016 will have a lock on about 40% of the electorate -- but who out there in GOP-land has the right combination to get substantially more or to get on the other side of 50%?  I don't see anyone at this point who could even come close. -- Nuggetsman

Thursday, August 14, 2014

News Nuggets 1477

The McCloud Waterfalls in Shasta-Trinity National Forest in California.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: The Media's Foreign Policy Filters

Obama's Foreign Policy Record: TBD (Robert Kaplan) from Real Clear World 
A lengthy excerpt is in order here:
"In much of this criticism there is a phenomenon operating in the background that goes unmentioned: The opinion pages of the large circulation dailies in New York and Washington are either liberal internationalist or neoconservative, meaning they all have a bias for action, for doing dramatic things to make the world a better place. Realism, which has a sturdier pedigree -- going all the way back to Thucydides' "The History of the Peloponnesian War" -- encapsulates how most people in government and business actually think, but it has relatively few followers in the major media.  And realism counsels caution, because a bias for action can often lead to disaster. Because Obama has had until this recent Iraq crisis the opposite -- a bias for inaction -- the major media simply hate him. So let's see how he is doing. ..."

TODAY'S OTHER BIG NUGGET: Mostly Black Community Governed Mostly by Whites? A Good Idea?

Ferguson Is Mostly Black. Why Is Its Government So White? (Jordan Weissmann) from Slate
"Ferguson, Missouri, is a majority-black city governed mostly by whites. The mayor is white. The police chief is white. The police force is 94 percent white. Only one of its six city council members is black. These facts, as much as anything, have shaped the protests over the police shooting of Michael Brown. Ferguson, with a 67 percent black population, is a place where the largest community has little political voice."
You have to wonder what the white leaders in this community have been thinking all these years.  You'd expect this ... in 1965.  But in 2014, you'd have to have rocks for brains to think this would pass without some tragedy happening as we have seen.  

Assault on WaPo Reporter Provides Window into Ferguson Crackdown

In Ferguson, Washington Post reporter Wesley Lowery gives account of his arrest from the Washington Post
"Then they walked away. Moments later, the police reemerged, telling us that we had to leave. I pulled my phone out and began recording video. ... We asked to speak to a commanding officer. We asked to see an arrest report. No report, the officer told us, and no, they wouldn’t provide any names."

Accountability and Transparency -- Lost in the Clouds of Tear Gas

Anonymity in Police Shooting Fuels Anger from the New York Times
"Since an unarmed man was killed by a police officer in Ferguson, Mo., the selective release of information, and the anonymity granted the officer, has stoked frustrations."

The Cold Realism of America’s Defense Secretary

Chuck Hagel’s world from the Economist [of London]
"Now, high above Asia in his airborne command post, Mr Hagel notes a puzzle: since its founding America has been unusually wary of foreign entanglements, yet at the same time uniquely confident that it can fix the largest problems. That is a good balance. A turbulent world needs America to keep sight of it."

New Economic Data Under Scrutiny

By Any Measure, The Job Market Is Getting Better (Ben Casselman) from FiveThirtyEight
"U.S. employers listed 4.7 million available jobs at the end of June, 700,000 more than a year earlier and the most since 2001, according to new data released Tuesday. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed workers has been falling steadily and is now below 10 million."
The thing that always kills me about these jobs report is statements like the following: "There are now two unemployed workers for every job opening, down from about seven at the height of the unemployment crisis."  Now, consider the ACADEMIC job market for the Arts and Humanities: for as long as I can remember, most job postings receive between 100 and 300 applications.  People are welcome to comment on this state of affairs because I know we have a disproportionate number of academics who follow this site.

Companies Won't Hire Those Most in Need of a Job

Many Jobs, Few Hires from the Daily Dish
"Matt Phillips throws cold water on the news. He proclaims that “American companies want workers—they just aren’t actually hiring them yet” ..."

The Humanities' Import in the 21st Century

Don’t Dismiss the Humanities (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times 
"So let me push back at the idea that the humanities are obscure, arcane and irrelevant. These three philosophers influence the way I think about politics, immigration, inequality; they even affect what I eat."

The History Culture Wars in Academic Testing

Republican National Committee Condemns New AP History Framework from Education Week
"The Republican National Committee is calling for a fight against the College Board's new framework for Advanced Placement U.S. History, claiming that it  "deliberately distorts and/or edits out important historical events." The new framework "reflects a radically revisionist view of American history that emphasizes negative aspects of our nation's history while omitting or minimizing positive aspects,..."
Conservative-leaning president of the National Association of Scholars (NAS) has his lengthy critique of the new framework HERE.

I've actually been thinking about this quite a bit in the last several years.  There is ONE area where I share the NAS president's concern (even as I find the larger intellectual landscape he lives in to be absurdly reactive).  Some may find this to be odd, given my background as a social historian, but here it is: I now think social historians made a mistake back in the 1970s and later when they caste their claim to intellectual and pedagogical turf as one IN OPPOSITION TO traditional political, intellectual and military history and biography.  Without in any way negating the importance of social history (and the extraordinary historical worlds they have opened up and put into classrooms everywhere), I think social historians forgot the essential element "traditional" historical methods and topics had or could have in developing an informed foundation of what used to be called "civics" or "informed citizenship."

Based on my own experience as a student (lo those many years ago) and as a teacher, I have the fear that we (those of us who care about us having a historically informed population) have largely lost two generations of students who are astonishingly clueless on how our government has functioned, what are its guiding lights or principles, and what that government has done and not done in the last 230+ years.  I have seen it in both my contemporaries (non-historian types in our generation) and now my students at CMU and elsewhere.  Make no mistake, I think my students at CMU were GREAT students!  And that fact makes it doubly vexing.  I have been deeply disturbed by what fodder they (and their parents) have become for the sweeping, baseless assertions made by every right-wing windbag (Glenn Beck University!) and FOX News twisted "news brief".  Bill O'Reilly and legions of others make historical claims that are so wildly off-base -- and yet average people and now even **reporters** are so poorly grounded in "traditional history" that such claims go out largely unchallenged.

It is RARE that I meet anyone of our generation (born in the mid-1960s) or younger who has ANY grasp at all of US history (traditional or otherwise).  Ask any non-academic person of a certain age or younger to name ONE cause of World War One -- you will almost assuredly be greeted by silence.  As a committed social historian, I have reluctantly concluded that we need to put some version of political and military history BACK IN.  It would not be INSTEAD OF what social history has provided, but in addition to.  Moreover, we don't need the "great white man" version of the story or one where memorizing names, dates, and a set narrative are the focus -- but more on the constitution, the bill of rights, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War II, etc., etc. would be a good thing.  I also suspect there is a real LONGING out in the country for more focus on these issues. -- Nuggetsman

Clinton Belittles Obama at Her Peril

Hillary Clinton, Barbed and Bellicose (Frank Bruni) from the New York Times
"The question isn’t whether she’s running: Of course she is, and the only newsworthy announcement down the road would be that she’s getting out of the race. The question is whether she can belittle Barack Obama as much as she must in order to win, but not so much that it plays as an act of sheer betrayal."

One of the many reasons Rand Paul will NOT be the GOP's presidential nominee in 2016

Rand Paul skips out on evangelical voter event, and they're peeved from Daily Kos
"The first rule of dodging ultra-religious, ultra-conservative voters is that you can't let them find out you're dodging them ..."

The Right-Wing PACs' Playbook

Lose Races, Rake In the Cash from the Daily Beast
"As Tea Party-affiliated Super PACs keep losing elections, their grassroots fundraising keeps going up, up, up. What’s the mentality there?"


They’re not in Kansas anymore! Rare storyboard paintings used to plan out The Wizard of Oz emerge 75 years after film’s release. from the Daily Mail [of the UK]


Would YOU grow your child in an artificial womb OUTSIDE of a human body? Ectogenesis could be widely used in 30 years from the Daily Mail [of the UK]
"Ectogenesis technology has been in development since 2001 and American-Hungarian futurist Zoltan Istvan believes it will be widely available by 2044."


A scared homeless dog gets rescued, transformed, kissed by Betty White, and then... you'll see from Hope for Paws

Monday, August 11, 2014

News Nuggets 1476

The Island of Pyros in Greece.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Censorship in the US: The 21st Century Version

The War Photo No One Would Publish from the Atlantic
"When Kenneth Jarecke photographed an Iraqi man burned alive, he thought it would change the way Americans saw the Gulf War. But the media wouldn’t run the picture."

China's Influence Goes Beyond the Exercise of Military Power

China’s 50,000 Secret Weapons in the South China Sea from the National Interest
"... , thanks to a recent report in Reuters, we now know a little more about China’s stepped up efforts to alter conditions in the water. It may just end up that Beijing’s greatest weapon may not be its military—it might just be its fishing boats."

New Layers Beneath the Crisis in the Ukraine

Before the fear of war, fear of fracking in Ukraine (Anna Nemtsova) from Al Jazeera America
"People in the embattled Donbass know the shale beneath their feet could be the real reason for conflict in their towns."

New Levels of Anti-Semitism in Europe

Hate Crimes Against Jews On The Rise In Europe from NPR
"Some Europeans say anti-Semitism has increased in the wake of the Israel-Hamas conflict. NPR's Lourdes Garcia Navarro talks with correspondents Eleanor Beardsley and Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson."

Water Wars in the West

In dry California, water goes to those who drill the deepest (Haya El Nasser) from Al Jazeera America
"In one of the most regulated states in the nation, no laws apply to groundwater pumping, which means some people go dry."

American Attitudes on Child Border Crossers

What do Americans say should happen to child border crossers? from CBS News
"When asked what should happen to the Central American children who have recently crossed the border into the U.S. illegally, 50 percent of Americans say they should be returned to their home country as soon as possible..."

Despite Primary Loses, the Tea Folks Are Winning the "War"

Battles and Wars in the GOP (Ed Kilgore) from Washington Monthly
"...  the main function of the Tea Party Movement has been to intensify and defend a rightward movement in the Republican Party that’s been underway for decades but has gained hellish momentum since the 2008 elections, regularly overwhelming the efforts of GOP elites to instill some “pragmatic” caution. In that sense, the Tea Folk are winning “the war” even if they lose a number of primary “battles.”"

Tennessee Strikes Back!

String of Same-sex Marriage Rulings Broken from the SCOTUS Blog
"For the first time in nearly fourteen months, a state’s ban on same-sex marriage has withstood a constitutional challenge in court.  A state judge in Tennessee ruled last week that “neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee what has traditionally been a state’s responsibility.”"
Can anyone forget that Tennessee is the home of Dayton ... of the Scopes Monkey Trial fame?  The sentiment expressed here ["neither the Federal Government nor another state should be allowed to dictate to Tennessee..."] suggests not much has changed since the 1920s.  

Obama's Short- ... and Long-term Prospects

Obama Outlines His Post-Presidency (Eleanor Clift) from the Daily Beast 
"With prospects for major legislation nonexistent, Obama is looking to plant seeds that he hopes his successors can cultivate."

The Crisis Facing Working Class Men

Is a Hard Life Inherited? (Nicholas Kristof) from the New York Times 
"... many are oblivious of their own advantages, and of other people’s disadvantages. The result is a meanspiritedness in the political world or, at best, a lack of empathy toward those struggling — partly explaining the hostility to state expansion of Medicaid, to long-term unemployment benefits, or to raising the minimum wage to keep up with inflation. This has been on my mind because I’ve been visiting my hometown of Yamhill, Ore., a farming community that’s a window into the national crisis facing working-class men."

HRC's Road to the Nomination

Three Reasons Why Hillary Really Is Inevitable for Democrats in 2016 (Joshua Green) from Bloomberg Businessweek
"... her incipient 2016 presidential campaign seems to be repeating many of the mistakes of her failed 2008 one. But stumbling now, two years before the Democratic National Convention, doesn’t mean she won’t win the nomination anyway. Let me lay out once and for all why:"

The Source of All the "Impeach Obama" Talk?

Fringe Tea Party Groups Organizing 'National Impeach Obama Week' from Talking Points Memo
"The groups are organizing protests during the week of August 23 to call for Obama's impeachment, according to a blog post by activist Robert Ogden on the conservative blogging site, Western Journalism."
What are the talking heads going to say now?  That it is actually the Democrats and the liberals who are covertly organizing these events?

Right-wing Conferences as Group Therapy Sessions

What I Saw at Iowa’s So-Co Circus (Ben Jacobs) from the Daily Beast 
"... it wasn’t really a political rally, despite the presence of nearly a half dozen presidential hopefuls. And it wasn’t a revival meeting, despite the fact it had more preachers than a seminary faculty. Instead, it often played out like a group therapy session for frustrated conservatives to share their dismay over the direction of the country."

The Proper Way of Dealing with Muslims - The Right Wing Version

Local Kansas GOP official: ‘Offending Muslims is the duty of any civilized person. Especially with a .45.’ from the Kansas City Star
"Gavin Ellzey, the vice chairman of the Kansas Republican 3rd Congressional District Committee, advised on Twitter in early July that “offending Muslims is the duty of any civilized person.” Ellzey added, “Especially with a .45.” In an interview with The Star, the Overland Park resident acknowledged writing the tweet in response to television news reports about Christians being “crucified” overseas."

Thursday, August 7, 2014

News Nuggets 1475

Sea lions cavorting off of the Galapagos Islands.  From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: Teeth That Bite in the Latest Sanctions

Europe Puts Putin in a Corner from the editors of Bloomberg
"These new steps -- which the U.S. subsequently complemented -- impose significant pain on Russia's $2 trillion economy and on some European firms."

Germany and the Ambiguities of Being a "Great Power"

Germany faced up to its past but now has to act like a great power (Charles Moore) from the Daily Telegraph [of the UK]
"A hundred years on from the Great War, the Hun has turned into Mother Hen under Angela Merkel - but it needs to confront Russia over the Ukraine."

Dissipating Concerns About Iran's Nuclear Program

Sorry, Skeptics: The Iran Nuclear Deal Is Working (Greg Thielmann) from the National Interest
"Looking back, it is clear that many congressional skeptics of the diplomatic process were wrong about the interim agreement in several ways. ... Last fall, the trend lines were ominous regarding Iran’s
ever-expanding options for breaking out of its nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations. But as soon as the November 24 “Joint Plan of Action” (JPOA) was initiated in January, the most acute proliferation concerns began to dissipate."

Obama Thinking REALLY BIG on Immigration?

With immigration reform, President Obama takes cue from Lincoln (Charles Lane) from the Washington Post
"Not since Abraham Lincoln pondered his Emancipation Proclamation in 1862 has a president considered ordering a more sweeping adjustment to membership in the American community than the mass relief for illegal immigrants that President Obama is said to be contemplating."

Climate Change and "Environmental Grief"

Doc: Climate Instability Shakes Mental Health from Allegheny Front 
"For psychiatric doctor Steven Moffic, the health risks from climate instability and other abrupt environmental shifts include post-traumatic stress disorder, drug abuse, autism, and something called "solastalgia."  "It's sort of a corollary of nostalgia," Moffic says."But it's this kind of environmental grief where where you live gets changed, against your will, obviously. You can't leave, and you feel this sadness for what you've lost right in front of you..."
Of course the climate is making people crazy. Scientists are going to have to invent new adjectives to describe the weather, "severe" and "extraordinary" have become routine. The days of being concerned about the climate are already well behind us. Consider the Southwest U.S. drought story right now. I saw both lake Powell and Meade earlier this year. They are both two thirds empty. Las Vegas is just completing an $800 million tunnel up through the bottom of Mead to drain the remaining water. Talk about collective insanity!  It's like something out of a 1950's science fiction movie! And yet, intelligent and educated people generally discuss global heating as a problem of the future. Maybe what were seeing is the insanity of denial.
Posted by-hopeandespair

You Want Big Decreases in the Number of Uninsured? We Know Where to Look!

In States Where It's Wanted, Obamacare Is Working Well from the Huffington Post
"States that expanded Medicaid and created their own health insurance exchanges, or worked closely with the federal government to cover more people, have shown the largest drops in their uninsured rates this year, according to a new poll released by Gallup and Healthways on Tuesday."

Newer (and Better?) Fast Food

Virtuous Fast Food from the New York Times
"Can a new wave of fast food restaurants nurture healthier alternatives and sustainable practices, or is it all just buzzwords and aggressive marketing?"

Differing Reports on CIA Torture

Senate Republicans to issue minority report on CIA 'torture' techniques from the Guardian [of the UK]
"Republicans on the Senate intelligence committee will soon release a minority report asserting that the CIA’s use of harsh interrogation techniques helped bring down Osama bin Laden and other terrorists, the panel’s top Republican said on Sunday. ... The Democrats’ majority report is expected to allege that the CIA’s use of techniques, such as waterboarding, did not help yield valuable intelligence and was not necessary."

A Parent's Big Gift: Letting Go

Relax, Your Kids will be Fine from the Economist [of London]
"Middle-class parents should give their children more freedom."

"ABD," a Career Crippling Status

ABD Company in Today's Graduate Schools from Slate
"What’s worse than getting a Ph.D. in today’s job market? Not finishing one."

The "War on Whites" Creates a Graveyard for the GOP

War Against Whites? I Think Not (Charles M. Blow) from the New York Times 
"Despite a Republican’s claim that Democrats are waging a divisive campaign, the G.O.P. has long been digging its own grave on issues of racial inclusion."

Throwing the Book at ... Somebody

Throw the Book at Him (Maureen Dowd) from the New York Times
"So now, symbolically washing his hands, W.’s putting out this cute little disingenuous book about his father that won’t mention that he bollixed up the globe, his presidency, and marred Jeb’s chances, all because he wasn’t listening to his father or “working the problem.” W.’s fear of being unmanned led to America actually being unmanned."
It has been ages since I have posted anything by Dowd, one of the most superficial pundits out there and one who reminds me of what separates skepticism from cynicism: skeptics say "show me" while cynics say "you don't need to show me -- I already know!"  Dowd's latest blast against George W. Bush accentuates this distinction.  Now, I should say up front that I think W's administration was a disaster -- I thought so at the time and criticized him at the time with more invective than I have any other president in my life.  However, HAVING SAID THAT, I find Dowd's unusually personal (and superficial, pop psychologizing) analysis here to be both unwarranted and even malicious at times (on W's history with his father) as well as off-base and simply wrong (on the link she draws to Obama).  Dowd lets loose a lot of pent up invective against both 43 and 44 here -- and most of it comes off as empty nastiness. -- Nuggetsman


Homeless Pit Bull in an industrial area gets and now needs your help. Please share.

Monday, August 4, 2014

News Nuggets 1474

DAYLEE PICTURE: Morocco's Erg Chebbi desert, part of the Sahara. From National Geographic.

TODAY'S BIG NUGGET: China's Bursting Real Estate Bubble?

China's Real Estate Bubble from CBS's 60 Minutes
Here at the News Nuggets, we've been tracking this story for some time -- but this segment of 60 Minutes shows how dramatically out of control and barely contained the looming real estate disaster is.  What's going on there, powerfully captured in this 60 Minutes story, simply put, is unsustainable!  

Could the War in Ukraine Bring Down the Kremlin?

The End of Vladimir Putin from Politico Magazine
"Russia’s European diplomacy now lies in the wreckage of the MH17. The package that was carried through this week looks set to hit the kleptocratic network that underwrites Putin hard. Russia’s economy is already teetering on the edge of recession."

European Democracies and their Disenchantments

Europe's Democratic Deficit Is Getting Worse (Matt Ford) from the Atlantic 
"Voter participation in European Parliament elections is low—and getting lower."

Anti-Western Invective Grows Louder in China

The War of Words in China (Andrew Jacobs) from the New York Times
"... the mounting anti-Western invective is largely a tactic aimed at shifting attention from the potential repercussions of a slowing economy, the glaring gap between rich and poor and the jaw-dropping accounts of official corruption that have become daily fare here. “There is a profound sense of vulnerability within the party, even a sense of crisis,” said Professor Chen..."

The Extraordinary Course of Same-Sex Marriage in the Courts

Justice Kennedy Opened the Door to Same-Sex Marriage, Will He Walk Through It Next? (Jeffrey Stone) from the Daily Beast
"Twenty-nine consecutive judicial decisions in the past year have held bans on gay marriage are unconstitutional. This is nothing short of extraordinary."

Millennials are Over Israel

A new generation, outraged over Gaza, rejects Washington’s reflexive support from Salon
"Angered by the immoral and inhumane assault on Gaza, Gen Y is shaking up the conventional view of Mideast politics."

The Relentless Logic (and Illogic) of Impeachment

Five Myths about Impeachment (Jonathan Turley) from the Washington Post 
"Obama is as likely to be impeached as he is to be installed as the next pontiff. And I say that as someone who has testified in Congress that this president has violated federal laws, unconstitutionally appointed various executive-branch officers and improperly transferred money."
The problem with Turley's comments and others who think impeachment won't happen is that the GOP is so beholden to their worst element, their House caucus will feel compelled to impeach -- and between the fringe leaders (like Cruz) and media extremists (like Limbaugh et al.) Republican lawmakers will feel compelled to  ignore "sensible" leaders like Boehner and do ... it ... anyway.