Good Morning Everyone!!
The media talking heads are going on and on about the supposed “bi-partisan agreement” on Immigration reform. I’m not really clear on what policies have been “agreed” on, but frankly, I’ll believe it when I see it. TPM reports: Gang Of 8’s Path To Citizenship Is Still A Rocky Road.
While reformers are excited that a path to citizenship for illegal immigrants is the centerpiece of the Senate’s new bipartisan immigration deal, it’s still unclear just how accessible that path will be for the undocumented population.
Without the proper components, experts warn the Senate plan could be the beginning of a long process to bringing illegal immigrants fully into American society, one that could take not years but decades.
So what does the process involve?
Under the plan, undocumented immigrants would receive a probationary status if they pass a criminal background check, pay a fine, and pay any back taxes owed to the government. After that, they’d have to wait to apply for permanent residency – a prerequisite to citizenship – until after a series of border security measures go into effect.
None of the new border measures, which will be overseen by a commission of southwestern state officials and community leaders, appear too difficult to implement at first glance (although there are concerns as to how much power conservative state politicians would wield in the process). The big question is what comes next when 11 million newly legal immigrants apply for a green card.
According to the framework, these applicants will then be required to “go to the back of the line of prospective immigrants.” But for many of them, a clear line doesn’t actually exist at the moment. Individuals can apply for green cards through a number of categories, mostly based on having family already in the country or on their employment status, which experts say are inadequate to the task of absorbing so many immigrants at once.
Greg Sargent says that the assumption that conservative Southern governors will control the process because they will be the ones to certify that the border is secure is “not true.”
I’ve now got clarification from Senate staff working on the bill, and it turns out that the enforcement commission’s judgments will only be advisory, and are entirely nonbinding. Congress’ actions will not be dictated by what this commission concludes; neither will actions taken by the Department of Homeland Security. The citizenship process will be triggered by other means (more on this soon).
This is central to the debate. If this commission had the power to dictate when the citizenship process begins, it could endanger the entire enterprise by giving people like Jan Brewer veto power. Second, this enforcement commission is being seen as a major concession Republicans won in exchange for agreeing to grant citizenship to the 11 million.
So what did Republicans get in this deal then?
The concessions Republicans got in this deal — in exchange for agreeing to citizenship for 11 million — include beefed up border security, a new program designed to help employers verify their employees’ status, tougher checks on immigrants overstaying visas, and the need for undocumented immigrants to go to the end of the immigration line.
Meanwhile, President Obama will roll out his own, supposedly “more liberal” immigration reform plan beginning today in a speech in Las Vegas.
The Obama administration has developed its own proposals for immigration reform that are more liberal than a separate bipartisan effort in the Senate, including a quicker path to citizenship for illegal immigrants, people with knowledge of the proposals said.
President Obama is expected to provide some details of the White House plans during a Tuesday appearance in Las Vegas, where he will call for broad changes to the nation’s immigration laws. The speech will kick off a public push by the administration in support of the broadest overhaul of immigration law in nearly three decades.
Obama plans to praise the proposals laid out Monday by an eight-member Senate working group, saying they reflect the core tenets of the administration’s immigration blueprint developed in 2011, a senior administration official said.
But the president’s remarks also are likely to emphasize differences that could foreshadow roadblocks to passage in Congress at a time when both parties say there is momentum for a comprehensive deal.
Naturally, the wingnuts in the House will provide roadblocks galore for whatever plan the Senate approves. Read all about it at Politico.
Politico reported yesterday on a possible collaboration between the Tea Party and Democrats in Kentucky to dump Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Big Democratic donors, local liberal activists and a left-leaning super PAC in Kentucky are telling tea partiers that they are poised to throw financial and organizational support behind a right-wing candidate should one try to defeat the powerful GOP leader in a 2014 primary fight.
The idea: Soften up McConnell and make him vulnerable in a general election in Kentucky, where Democrats still maintain a voter registration advantage. Or better yet, in their eyes: Watch Kentucky GOP primary voters nominate the 2014 version of Todd Akin or Richard Mourdock, weak candidates who may actually lose.
Interesting… Once again, I’ll believe it when I see it. Still, anything is possible. Plus McConnell is very unpopular in his home state according to the latest poll
With his re-election bid just a year away, those opposed to U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell outnumber his supporters 2-1 among Kentucky voters, according to the latest Courier-Journal Bluegrass Poll.
In the poll of 609 registered voters, 34 percent said they plan to vote against McConnell — while just 17 percent say they will vote to give him six more years. Forty-four percent said they will wait to see who is running against him before deciding, and 6 percent said they are not sure.
The poll, conducted by SurveyUSA, has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points. It comes as groups on both McConnell’s right and left seek candidates to challenge him in the primary and general elections in 2014. McConnell, the most powerful Republican in the Senate as minority leader, is seeking his sixth term.
More information is coming out
about the over-the-top prosecution that probably contributed to the suicide of genius cyber-activist Aaron Swartz. Rolling Stone reports:
Swartz’s friends and family have said they believe he was driven to his death by a justice system that hounded him needlessly over an alleged crime with no real victims. “[He was] forced by the government to spend every fiber of his being on this damnable, senseless trial,” his partner Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman said at the memorial, “with no guarantee that he could exonerate himself at the end of it.”
Two zealous federal prosecutors handled Swartz’s case: U.S. district attorney Carmen Ortiz and assistant attorney Stephen Heymann. In the days after his death, writers, tech experts, and many of Swartz’s friends have called out Heymann and Ortiz for prosecutorial overreach. A White House petition demanding the removal of Ortiz garnered well over 25,000 signatures, reaching the level which guarantees an eventual response from the Obama administration.
Some of Swartz’s advocates believe the prosecution sought excessive punishment to set an example in the age of Wikileaks and Anonymous.
Declan McCullough writes at CNet that when Swartz’s case was being prosecuted by the Middlesex County DA’s office, there was no thought of sending Swartz to prison for what was essential a minor, victimless crime.
State prosecutors who investigated the late Aaron Swartz had planned to let him off with a stern warning, but federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz took over and chose to make an example of the Internet activist, according to a report in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.
Middlesex County’s district attorney had planned no jail time, “with Swartz duly admonished and then returned to civil society to continue his pioneering electronic work in a less legally questionable manner,” the report (alternate link) said. “Tragedy intervened when Ortiz’s office took over the case to send ‘a message.’”
The report is likely to fuel an online campaign against Ortiz, who has been criticized for threatening the 26-year-old with decades in prison for allegedly downloading a large quantity of academic papers. An online petition asking President Obama to remove from office Ortiz — a politically ambitious prosecutor who was talked about as Massachusetts’ next governor as recently as last month.
Ortiz no longer has a political future, and other abuses of power by her office are now coming out. Read more at the link. I posted links to more damning information about Ortiz in a recent post.
The Massachusetts Lawyers’ Weekly post by Harvey Silverglate is behind a paywall, but it has been republished with permission at Media Nation.
The ill-considered prosecution leading to the suicide of computer prodigy Aaron Swartz is the most recent in a long line of abusive prosecutions coming out of the U.S. attorney’s office in Boston, representing a disastrous culture shift. It sadly reflects what’s happened to the federal criminal courts, not only in Massachusetts but across the country….
the palpable injustices flowing regularly out of the federal criminal courts have by and large escaped the critical scrutiny of the lawyers who are in the best position to say something. And judges tend not to recognize what to outsiders are serious flaws, because the system touts itself as the best and fairest in the world.
Since the mid-1980s, a proliferation of vague and overlapping federal criminal statutes has given federal prosecutors the ability to indict, and convict, virtually anyone unfortunate enough to come within their sights. And sentencing guidelines confer yet additional power on prosecutors, who have the discretion to pick and choose from statutes covering the same behavior.
This dangerous state of affairs has resulted in countless miscarriages of justice, many of which aren’t recognized as such until long after unfairly incarcerated defendants have served “boxcar-length” sentences.
Aaron Swartz was a victim of this system run amok. He was indicted under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, a notoriously broad statute enacted by Congress seemingly to criminalize any use of a computer to do something that could be deemed bad.
If you care about this issue, please go read the whole thing. Read Charles Pierce’s take on it here.
There have been some reports that Swartz had contacted Wikileaks’ Julian Assange and could possibly have been working with the organization, but it’s not clear what Swartz could have leaked to them. I can’t imagine Wikileaks being interested in distributing a bunch of academic journal articles that are already available to millions of people from numerous sources. Nevertheless, the Feds are so obsessed with Wikileaks and cyber-security generally that that could have led to their taking over Swartz’s case.
I have a number of other suggested reads that I’ll list link dump style.
Alex Pareene at Salon: 3 reasons to be skeptical that immigration reform will pass /
Irin Carmon at Salon: Is abortion about women?
USA Today: Iran says it launched a monkey into space (Video)
ABC News: Bigfoot: Is Mysterious Screech Sasquatch? (Hey, is Bigfoot really any weirder than the Tea Party Republicans? I don’t think so.)
So….what’s on your reading and blogging list today? I look forward to clicking on your links!
Today’s post is bringing you a mixture of different links, a potpourri if you will…
But before we get to the bowl of fragrant, colorful, natural, synthetic, faded, smelly, moldy, dried, limp, withered reads, let us touch on something that I find hilariously ironic.
Look at this headline:
I don’t think there is anything else to say about that. Except maybe add this nugget of news from TPM:
It seems that the Obama kids are not protected by armed guards at the Sidwell Friends School.
I would not go so far as to say that the NRA are big liars, cough, but you decide.
Another headline for you:
Personally, I think that there should be mandatory full-time armed police person inside schools…and that they should be paid from a tax on ammunition. But I feel strongly, and passionately, that these armed individuals should not be volunteers, teachers, janitors and/or any vigilante obsessed gun-toting “concerned” citizens.
Okay then, moving right along, the links today are going to be in link dump fashion, since my head is killing me and this computer screen is burning my eyes.
The first couple of links I have for you are chilling and extremely disturbing. Be sure to read them in full.
After reading Mac’s article, I think it is fair to say…yes, PTSD is contagious.
Coupled with these infographics that tell a sad story: Charts: Suicide, PTSD and the Psychological Toll on America’s Vets | Mother Jones
Another post that is related to traumatic experiences: Can Eye Movements Treat Trauma?: Scientific American
Studies are showing that moving your eyes back and forth like a ping-pong ball can help deal with PTSD. The technique is called eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).
This next article discusses Afghanistan: The 13-Year War- As we draw closer to the withdrawal in Afghanistan promised at the close of 2014, a look back at America’s longest war.
Emptywheel takes a look at the connection between Adam Swartz and the government’s investigation into Wikileaks. The Fishing Expedition into WikiLeaks
Here is an update on the ongoing hunt for pythons in Florida’s Everglades: Florida’s python update: 21 caught so far in Everglades hunt
And another update on the story we’ve followed about those possible Spitfires in Burma: No ‘lost Spitfires’ buried in Burma-Dig near Rangoon International Airport proves fruitless but Lincolnshire farmer insists search will continue elsewhere in the country
Want to see a list of Representatives who did not vote for Sandy aid? MAP: In These 22 States, Every House Republican Voted Against Sandy Aid
Take a look at this photo, it is still a messy situation.
Almost three months after Hurricane Sandy ravaged the East Coast, the GOP-controlled House approved a bill that provides $50.7 billion in disaster relief for the storm’s victims. While passage of the bill is being hailed as a bipartisan success by some (the vote was 241-180), a closer look at how the parties voted by state lines indicates otherwise. GOPers overwhelmingly voted against funding—unless, of course, their state was hard hit.
In 22 states, every last Republican representative voted against HR 152 or abstained on the bill, which includes $17 billion for immediate repair and an amendment introduced by a Republican, New Jersey Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, that tacks on another $33.7 billion for long-term recovery and prevention. These included Maryland and the Carolinas (remember Hugo and Floyd?), states that are vulnerable to seasonal hurricanes but were largely spared by Sandy.
And…in the plastic yuk department: Plastics Suck Up Other Toxins: Double Whammy for Marine Life, Gross for Seafood
Combine that with the yuk from Coke’s sugary drinks: Coke: Wait, People Thought Vitaminwater Was Good for You?
Makes you think, what the hell are we doing to ourselves?
If it doesn’t make you question our self-destructive actions, this next link will…Labiaplasty: An investigation of the most popular trend in the field of ‘vaginal rejuvenation’ surgery.
You may need some eye bleach and a break from reading after that article. Ooof!
Why would any woman do that to herself? I mean, that is just fucked-up.
Couldn’t they just “think” about it and get the same benefit, if you could call it that. Check this out: AsapSCIENCE Demonstrates The Power Of Imagination- Thinking About Doing Something Is Pretty Much The Same As Doing It [Video] | Geekosystem
Ready for a strange and uncomfortable fact to start your Friday morning? Sure you are, and here it is, courtesy of the fine cartoonists and deep thinkers over at AsapSCIENCE: when you think deeply about a thing — seeing the letter ‘B,’ for example, or fixing a sandwich — the same parts of your brain involved in performing that action light up. Some studies even suggest that you can improve your piano skills just by thinking diligently about playing while not actually touching a piano. Check out AsapSCIENCE’s latest video below and learn more about how your brain is just weird sometimes.
Well, I guess all of us procrastinators will appreciate that video. (I won’t even begin to try and fix the f’d up grammar in that sentence.)
I’ve got another video for you: The deer that thinks it’s a sheep | Earth | EarthSky
You will love this video. The deer attached himself to the sheep in early December 2012. He shows no sign of leaving.
Have you all seen this bit of twisted news in the world of ballet?
Bolshoi artistic director Sergei Filin ‘blinded’ by acid attack that left him with chemical burns- The former ballet star had acid thrown in his face by a man – it is thought the attack is linked to his position
Wow, this post is getting long, and I am very late in getting it posted. Quickly…here are the rest of the links I have saved to share with you today.
Today it is the 100th birthday of Danny Kaye. From MovieMorlocks.com – Happy 100th, Danny!
Also from Movie Morlocks, some wonderful photography: William Edward Cronenweth: A Legacy in Photos
More science links:
And finally, a travel piece: Swept away by a Sicilian symphony
Have a great day…and enjoy those links!
A little over a week ago, I emailed bostonboomer that I wanted to do a post about Monsanto. She was kind enough to share older posts done by Sima about Monsanto. After reading Sima’s posts I have to admit that I was intimidated by her detailed, informative and brilliant commentaries. Her knowledge of Monsanto’s business and political dealings, stemming from her experience as an organic farmer, is incredible. I highly recommend going back and reading or re-reading them. I’m going to try to bring you up to date on what has been happening since her last post. I just hope that I can do both Sima and the subject justice.
Once I became involved in the animal rights movement in 1990, a formerly unseen world opened up to me. It was akin to looking behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Learning about how the animals we call food are raised, what they are fed and the chemicals that are put into their bodies, was disturbing to say the least. Since that time, the major media outlets, along with independent filmmakers, have covered issues such as factory farming, the overuse of antibiotics and the rise of antibiotic resistance, along with other issues that affect the food supply. A good place to get started is with the film Food Inc. and its website.
Monsanto popped up on my radar around 1993 with the introduction of rBGH, recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone. Although there was an overabundance of milk on the market, this chemical was being introduced to increase the supply of milk available for consumption. Why? One of the reasons was to drop the price of milk. That would be good for the consumer, right? Well, corporations are not in the business of making their products more affordable for their customers, as we all know. The ploy was to drive prices low enough so that family dairy farmers could not afford to stay in business, leaving the business to Monsanto’s real customers, giant dairies who would use their product(s). With family dairy farms bankrupt, Monsanto could better control the market and prices. From a study by the Economic Research Service/USDA.
Between 1970 and 2006, the number of farms with dairy cows fell steadily and sharply, from 648,000 operations in 1970 to 75,000 in 2006, or 88 percent (fig. 1). Total dairy cows fell from 12 million in 1970 to 9.1 million in 2006, so the average herd size rose from just 19 cows per farm in 1970 to 120 cows in 2006.1 Moreover, because milk production per cow doubled between 1970 and 2006 (from 9,751 to 19,951 pounds per year), total milk production rose, and average milk production per farm increased twelvefold.
Monsanto has since sold its posilac (rGBH) business to the Big Pharma company, Eli Lilly. If you still believe that advertising slogan, “Milk, it does a body good”, you might want to read this.
Let me start off with yesterday’s article by Jim Hightower, although it’s mostly about Dow Chemical, Monsanto gets some space as well. And there are some great comments. For more on 2, 4-D check out these links:
Monsanto is a multi-tentacled corporation attached to all aspects of our lives. At their facilities in Dayton, OH during WWII they were involved with the development of the first nuclear bomb. One of their early successful inventions was Astroturf. They have manufactured Agent Orange (the defoliant/herbicide used during the Viet Nam war), and PCBs (banned in the U.S. in 1979 but still found in the environment since PCBs don’t break down easily). For more information, you can download the free E-book, A Small Dose of Toxicology. In recent years, Monsanto has focused on the world food supply, whether it’s chemicals to kill weeds, like Roundup, or creating genetically modified (GM) seeds for which they hold patents. Natural News began a July, 2010 post with this unsettling paragraph:
At a biotech industry conference in January 1999, a representative from Arthur Anderson, LLP explained how they had helped Monsanto design their strategic plan. First, his team asked Monsanto executives what their ideal future looked like in 15 to 20 years. The executives described a world with 100 percent of all commercial seeds genetically modified and patented. Anderson consultants then worked backwards from that goal, and developed the strategy and tactics to achieve it. They presented Monsanto with the steps and procedures needed to obtain a place of industry dominance in a world in which natural seeds were virtually extinct.
Some of the crops grown with Monsanto’s GM seeds include corn, soy, sugar beets, alfalfa and cotton. Monsanto also produces and sells Stevia and Aspartame. To preserve their ownership of these patented seeds, farmers using them cannot save seeds produced from the crops they grow. The farmers must buy new seeds each year for their annual crops. Monsanto has sued farmers suspected of harvesting seeds along with their crops.
One of the most recent areas Monsanto wants to exploit are public lands. In November, several groups filed a lawsuit to prevent the planting of GM crops on refuges.
The Center for Food Safety, Beyond Pesticides and Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility sued Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and its director, in Federal Court.
Fish and Wildlife signed agreements allowing farmers to plant crops, including genetically modified soybeans and corn, on refuges and wetlands in eight Midwestern states, according to the complaint.
And planting on public lands isn’t just limited to U.S. lands. World Wildlife Fund (WWF), one of the most respected conservation groups worldwide has ties to many multinational corporations, including Monsanto. They are helping to promote GM crops in other countries.
On the federal tax front, Monsanto paid an average of 22% in taxes for years 2008 – 2010. This report lists the 2008 – 2010 period detailing the profits, taxes and rates for 280 of U.S. corporations.
ALEC Exposed has a page dedicated to Monsanto, detailing much of their history and activities. As with most multinational corporations, Monsanto is heavily invested in lobbying. Interestingly, the years they spent the least money on lobbying were during the reign of King George II, otherwise known as GW Bush. Monsanto’s highest expenditures were in 1999, 2000 and 2008 – 2011. Open Secrets has an overview of Monsanto’s lobbying expenditures, the lobbyists, the issues in which their lobbying efforts were focused along with the agencies and the associated bills before Congress. Open Secrets is quite an informative site, also covering PAC contributions and campaign contributions to specific elected officials.
In our current political climate, campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures aren’t a surprise. After all, it is how the system is fueled. Open Secrets has a recent blog post detailing Monsanto’s activities so far this year. The Monsanto/government connections go even deeper though. During Clarence Thomas’ confirmation hearing, he worked as a counsel for Monsanto. When a recent case involving Monsanto came before the Supreme Court, not surprisingly, Thomas did not recuse himself. The Organic Consumers’ Union’s site, Millions Against Monsanto, has a list of both elected officials and agency appointments of former Monsanto employees from Bush Sr. to Obama. Sadly, Bill Clinton appointed more than any other president listed. Unfortunately, they don’t list U.S. diplomats who also once worked for Monsanto. What a wonderful way to help promote the products of their former employer in countries all around the world.
Wikileaks posted documents showing connections between Monsanto and U.S. Ambassadors. Several EU countries have rejected the use of Monsanto’s GM seeds. Fearing loss of export income, the possibility of pressuring or even retaliating against these countries were discussed in the diplomatic cables Wikileaks obtained. You can read Sima’s post here: http://skydancingblog.com/2010/12/28/wikileaks-and-gmogm-food-more-cables-more-fun/
Monsanto’s reach extends around the world. GM cotton was promoted as a boon to small farmers, but the reality is different. This story details the results in one village and the collaboration between Monsanto and The Times of India. Stories from Africa aren’t any better. The Gates Foundation is investing millions to promote and encourage the use of GM crops. I find it disturbing with a number of NGOs, researchers and politicians who are working hand in hand with Monsanto and other GM companies seemingly without concerns for the possibilities of the damage to the world food supply, public health and the environment. Alternet has posted a story about Kenya and the support from The Gates Foundation for Monsanto’s GM crops. For another opinion on The Gates Foundation/Monsanto/Africa issue, check out this Opinion piece in the Seattle Times written by Glenn Ashton.
The one beacon of hope has been some EU countries. The people have loudly spoken out against GM foods. However, the picture may not be as rosy as it has been portrayed. Gaia Health digs deeper into the announcement in February, 2012 that both Monsanto and BASF are pulling out of Europe.
Let’s not forget about the stock market either. Monsanto has signed an exclusive licensing agreement with Marina, a bio-tech company. I especially liked (not really!) this from the post:
Time and again, the company’s collaborations with agri-business research firms and molecular-bred hybrid technologies have proved effective. Although instances of societal resistance to new technology and poor acceptance of new products by farmers continue to raise anxiety, continuous increase in production led by technology upgradation helps balance such unease.
The personal is the political, and what is more personal than the food you eat and the food that you feed your families? If you are interested in digging deeper, here is the documentary The World According to Monsanto
You can also get more information about the many issues and areas of concern about food at the Center for Food Safety site. I hope I didn’t give you too much to “chew” on.
Good Morning!!! Gee, that title doesn’t look so cheery, does it? Sorry, but please read on. Since we just ended a long holiday weekend, there’s not a whole lot of news happening, but I located a few interesting reads for you.
Dakinikat has been hammering away at the lack of economic knowledge in the media and in our government. Yesterday, she pointed me to this great piece by Mark Thoma in which he once again explained what actually caused the economic meltdown and why our “leaders” are doing the wrong things to help the economy recover.
I’ve written about this so much it’s hard to muster the will to take it on yet again, especially with the attitude it deserves, and I liked the second column better. But with David Brooks, George Will, and a new book by Gretchen Morgenson and Josh Rosner recently pushing the idea that Fannie, Freddie, and Democrats caused the financial crisis it’s important to push back. The right is very good at repeating their story line over and over and over, and if that redundancy goes unmatched — if they are allowed to have the last word many, many times over — they stand a good chance of capturing the narrative.
Actually, they’ve already “captured the narrative,” and President Obama has bought into it too. I don’t know if I can excerpt this piece, you really need to read the whole thing. But here’s just a bit:
…the targets for home ownership that supposedly led to Fannie and Freddie’s aggressive entry into subprime markets were set in 1992. If these targets were the problem, why didn’t the crisis occur sooner?
….if Fannie and Freddie had never existed, securitization would have likely happened anyway. As Barry Ritholtz notes, “securitized credit card receivables, auto loans, small biz loans, etc. took place without GSEs. I assume there would likely have been a private sector version for conforming loans, the way there was a private sector securitizing response to the demand for non-conforming (sub-prime) loans.”
The bottom line is that the case that the CRA, Fannie, and Freddie – and by implication Democrats supporting these institutions – were key players in the crisis is at odds with the evidence. Don’t get me wrong, there are lots for reasons to be concerned about Fannie and Freddie, and I’m not trying to defend them or their choices, but the idea that support of these institutions caused the financial crisis is wrong.
Hey, I’ve said this till I’m blue in the face, but I’ll say it again. We needed to put a Democrat in the White House in 2008.
Paul Krugman is also lamenting the economic ignorance in high places.
Watching the evolution of economic discussion in Washington over the past couple of years has been a disheartening experience. Month by month, the discourse has gotten more primitive; with stunning speed, the lessons of the 2008 financial crisis have been forgotten, and the very ideas that got us into the crisis — regulation is always bad, what’s good for the bankers is good for America, tax cuts are the universal elixir — have regained their hold.
And now trickle-down economics — specifically, the idea that anything that increases corporate profits is good for the economy — is making a comeback.
On the face of it, this seems bizarre. Over the last two years profits have soared while unemployment has remained disastrously high. Why should anyone believe that handing even more money to corporations, no strings attached, would lead to faster job creation?
Nonetheless, trickle-down is clearly on the ascendant — and even some Democrats are buying into it.
Once again, if we had put a Democrat in the White House in 2008, perhaps things would be different….
Via Kevin Drum, this article about NJ Governor Chris Christie contains some priceless quotes from NJ Senate President Stephen Sweeney.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney went to bed furious Thursday night after reviewing the governor’s line-item veto of the state budget. He woke up Friday morning even angrier.
“This is all about him being a bully and a punk,” he said in an interview Friday. “I wanted to punch him in his head.”
Sweeney had just risked his political neck to support the governor’s pension and health reform, and his reward was a slap across the face. The governor’s budget was a brusque rejection of every Democratic move, and Sweeney couldn’t even get an audience with the governor to discuss it.
“You know who he reminds me of?” Sweeney says. “Mr. Potter from ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ the mean old bastard who screws everybody”….The governor’s budget, he says, is full of vindictive cuts designed to punish Democrats, and anyone else who dared to defy him. And he is furious that the governor refused to talk to him during the final week….“He’s mean-spirited,” Sweeney said in the Friday interview. “He’s angry. If you don’t do what he says, I liken it to being spoiled, I’m going to get my way, or else.” And: “He’s a rotten prick.”
Jeeze, why doesn’t he tell us how he really feels?
Glenn Greenwald has a great post up about Bradley Manning’s motives for whistleblowing, drawn from some recently released “chat logs and other on-line communications” between Manning and another young man. The information was published in New York Magazine in an attempt to make Manning look psychologically troubled, but Greenwald reads the information differently. Here’s how Manning responded when asked what he was trying to accomplish:
hopefully worldwide discussion, debates, and reforms – if not, than [sic] we’re doomed – as a species – i will officially give up on the society we have if nothing happens – the reaction to the [Collateral Murder] video gave me immense hope; CNN’s iReport was overwhelmed; Twitter exploded – people who saw, knew there was something wrong . . . Washington Post sat on the video… David Finkel acquired a copy while embedded out here. . . . – i want people to see the truth… regardless of who they are… because without information, you cannot make informed decisions as a public.
Greenwald goes on to argue that many of Manning’s goals have actually been achieved. He made a difference, and that’s why our government is persecuting him.
At Danger Room there’s a very interesting review of a new book by former CIA operative Glenn Carle. The memoir tells the story of a CIA “black site” and a supposed senior al-Qaida operative that Carle was assigned to break. Eventually, Carle realized the man was innocent.
Uneasy with the CIA’s new, relaxed rules for questioning, which allow him to torture, Carle instead tries to build a rapport with the man he calls CAPTUS. But CAPTUS doesn’t divulge the al-Qaida plans the CIA suspects him of knowing. So the agency sends him to “Hotel California” — an unacknowledged prison, beyond the reach of the Red Cross or international law….
Carle provides the first detailed description of a so-called “black site.” At an isolated “discretely guarded, unremarkable” facility in an undisclosed foreign country (though one where the Soviets once operated), hidden CIA interrogators work endless hours while heavy metal blasts captives’ eardrums and disrupts their sleep schedules. But Carle — codename: REDEMPTOR — comes to believe CAPTUS is innocent….
“We had destroyed the man’s life based on an error,” he writes. But the black site is a bureaucratic hell: CAPTUS’ reluctance to tell CIA what it wants to hear makes the far-off agency headquarters more determined to torture him. Carle’s resistance, shared by some at Hotel California, makes him suspect. He leaves CAPTUS in the black site after 10 intense days, questioning whether his psychological manipulation of CAPTUS made him, ultimately, a torturer himself. Eight years later, the CIA unceremoniously released CAPTUS.
The jury has begun deliberations in the Casey Anthony case. I have continued to watch the trial closely and listened to all of the closing statements.
I know I’ll probably get yelled at for saying this, but if I were on the jury, I would have to go with one of the lesser charges, because there just isn’t any evidence to show how the child was killed. I do believe Casey Anthony should go to prison for a long time, but this trial has turned into a witch hunt.
If a man had done what Anthony did, there would never have been this much publicity and this amount of rage against the perpetrator. I shouldn’t have to point out that both men and women kill their children every day in this country. Both women and children are devalued in this country, and they are routinely abused and murdered. There are a number of reasons why this woman has been treated differently, but what she did is far from unique.
I honestly think Casey’s father George was involved with the disposal of the body at least. What motive did he have? I’ll tell you. George and Cindy Anthony thought the father of the child could have been either George or Casey’s brother Lee. I am convinced there was sexual abuse in that family. I can’t see how Casey could have become what she is without severe abuse. JMHO, based on personal experience and serious study of the effects of child sexual abuse.
Until we get serious about protecting children in this country, children will continue to die at the hands of their parents and other caregivers.
There is some possible news in the other case I’ve been following–the young Indiana University student who disappeared about four weeks ago, Lauren Spierer. The body of a woman has been found in a creek in Indianapolis. There are a couple of other missing women in Indiana, so it’s not clear this is Spierer. I just have a feeling it might be.
Police investigating the disappearance of Indiana University student Lauren Spierer are awaiting the results of an autopsy Tuesday of a decomposed female body found Sunday on the northeast side of Indianapolis.
The body, found a month after the Edgemont, N.Y., native went missing, had not been identified as of Monday night, and Bloomington, Ind., police have given no indication whether it may be her.
Spierer disappeared after a night when she had told her boyfriend she wanted to stay home. There are reports that they had had a fight. After midnight, she went out with some male friends, spent some time with them watching TV and then went with one of the young men to popular local bar. When she returned to her apartment with him, a group of men (possibly friends of her boyfriend) accosted them and punched her companion in the face.
The two then left and supposedly went to this young man’s apartment where he passed out. She then went to another apartment where another male friend lived. This man claims to have seen her leave his place at 4:30AM and turn the corner on her way home, but there is no independent confirmation of that.
At first this was investigated as a stranger abduction, but Spierer’s “friends” have all clammed up, and several have refused to talk to police and have retained lawyers. Most of them, including the boyfriend and the last guy to see Spirer, hightailed it out of town almost immediately. So now it looks like something bad happened to Spierer that night and these “friends” know something.
Since I grew up in Indiana and my sister lives in Bloomington, I’ve been following this case pretty closely. But women “disappear” every day too. Why do Americans tolerate it? Why do so many Americans seem to see the pervasive violence against women in this country as somehow normal?
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
I thought we needed a new thread to discuss the bin Laden breakthrough. I’ll continue to update if I find more new information.
In December 2009, the government of Tajikistan warned the United States that efforts to catch bin Laden were being thwarted by corrupt Pakistani spies.
According to a US diplomatic dispatch, General Abdullo Sadulloevich Nazarov, a senior Tajik counterterrorism official, told the Americans that “many” inside Pakistan knew where bin Laden was.
The document stated: “In Pakistan, Osama Bin Laden wasn’t an invisible man, and many knew his whereabouts in North Waziristan, but whenever security forces attempted a raid on his hideouts, the enemy received warning of their approach from sources in the security forces.”
Intelligence gathered from detainees at Guantanamo Bay may also have made the Americans wary of sharing their operational plans with the Pakistani government.
Hmmm…maybe those billions that are going to Pakistan would be better spend on dealing with unemployment here in the U.S.?
It is widely reported that the detained 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave his US interrogators the pseudonym of a man he described as Osama bin Laden’s most trusted courier, whose whereabouts were tracked last fall to a fortress-like compound in Abbottabad city, some 75 miles north of the capital Islamabad. But US intelligence was also monitoring the satellite calls made by bin Laden’s bodyguard, which also helped lead US forces to bin Laden’s hiding place.
Bin Laden avoided e-mail and phones for fear those lines could be tracked, and instead relied on a system of personal couriers who carried his messages to the outside world. His compound lacked any telephone or Internet connection, according to local sources, but he did have at least one satellite phone. Further backing their story, a Reuters reporter visiting the scene reportedly saw a satellite dish in the compound.
Here’s a fascinating story in the NYT about some of the intelligence work that went into finding out where bin Laden was hiding in plain sight.
A trusted courier of Osama bin Laden’s whom American spies had been hunting for years was finally located in a compound 35 miles north of the Pakistani capital, close to one of the hubs of American counterterrorism operations. The property was so secure, so large, that American officials guessed it was built to hide someone far more important than a mere courier.
American intelligence officials said Sunday night that they finally learned the courier’s real name four years ago, but that it took another two years for them to learn the general region where he operated.
Still, it was not until August that they tracked him to the compound in Abbottabad, a medium-sized city about an hour’s drive north of Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.
C.I.A. analysts spent the next several weeks examining satellite photos and intelligence reports to determine who might be living at the compound. A senior administration official said that by September the C.I.A. had decided that there was a “strong possibility” that Bin Laden himself was hiding there.