Sunday Reads

Out of Town News, Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA

Good Morning!!

Since it’s Sunday, I’ll begin with a religious item: Catholic bishops say more exorcists are needed

Citing a shortage of priests who can perform the rite, the nation’s Roman Catholic bishops are holding a conference on how to conduct exorcisms.

The two-day training, which ends today in Baltimore, is to outline the scriptural basis of evil, instruct clergy on evaluating whether a person is truly possessed, and review the prayers and rituals that comprise an exorcism. Among the speakers will be Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, archbishop of Galveston-Houston, Texas, and a priest-assistant to New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

Now there’s a serious issue for you. Never mind the disintegrating economy, the President’s Catfood Commission, our multiple wars of aggression in the Middle East, and the likelihood that very far right Republicans will likely control Congress and the White House for the next 30 years (if the country survives that long). No, the really important issue is the need for priests who can drive out demons.

On second thought, maybe some of those nuts DC could benefit from exorcisms…

Despite strong interest in the training, skepticism about the rite persists within the American church. Organizers of the event are keenly aware of the ridicule that can accompany discussion of the subject. Exorcists in U.S. dioceses keep a very low profile. In 1999, the church updated the Rite of Exorcism, cautioning that “all must be done to avoid the perception that exorcism is magic or superstition.”

So how do you know when an exorcism is needed?

Signs of demonic possession accepted by the church include violent reaction to holy water or anything holy, speaking in a language the possessed person doesn’t know and abnormal displays of strength.

The article does say that diseases and psychological disorders must be ruled out before someone is determined to be possessed.

Emptywheel has an interesting take on why George W. Bush plagiarized much of his memoir, Decision Points, from other authors: It’s Safer When You Don’t Let the President Reflect for Himself.

She suggests that Bush may have copied from published sources in order to keep his story straight. He presumably told so many lies over the eight years of his presidency that he might slip up if he tried to write anything from memory. She does note that:

Bush admitted to war crimes in his book, so he did exhibit a general lack of caution in his presentation of some of the touchy legal issues dealt with in the book. But unlike Cheney (who has explicitly said that the statute of limitations will have expired on some of the crimes he’ll describe in his upcoming memoir), Bush may well need to finesse…issues [such as his decision not to pardon Scooter Libby].

Speaking of war crimes, the Obama administration has taken the coward’s way out once again in regard to the trial of Khalid Sheik Mohammed. From the Washington Post: Opposition to U.S. trial likely to keep mastermind of 9/11 attacks in detention

Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, will probably remain in military detention without trial for the foreseeable future, according to Obama administration officials.

The administration has concluded that it cannot put Mohammed on trial in federal court because of the opposition of lawmakers in Congress and in New York. There is also little internal support for resurrecting a military prosecution at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The latter option would alienate liberal supporters.

The administration asserts that it can hold Mohammed and other al-Qaeda operatives under the laws of war, a principle that has been upheld by the courts when Guantanamo Bay detainees have challenged their detention.

Spencer Ackerman:

So can the Obama administration manage to reach a decision more craven than this one? According to the Washington Post, the months-long internal administration deadlock over trying Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and the other 9/11 co-conspirators has resulted in a decision: apoplexy. No trying them in federal courts in New York; no trying them at Guantanamo Bay in a military commission. Just… nothing. [….]

And that’s the maddening thing. The Obama team talks about a “different political environment” as if it has nothing to do with creating one. Attorney General Holder talks about federal courts’ capability for handling terrorism trials — you see dangerous secrets leaking out of the Ahmed Khalfan Ghailani trial? Or al-Qaeda storming Manhattan, Cobra-style, to free their comrade? — and then undercuts his own arguments with a defense of military commissions and indefinite detention without trial.

Well, then make a case, and make it consistently. Build support and maintain it. Be willing to stake political capital on it. Or concede that you never meant what you said about justice.

You could say something similar about most of Obama’s campaign promises versus his real actions as President.

Rahm Emanuel has announced his candidacy for Mayor of Chicago.

The former North Side congressman and White House chief of staff laid out a broad agenda, declaring he’d work to help generate jobs, improve education and decrease crime at a juncture in the city’s history when all three need to be addressed.

And he plans to do all that–you guessed it–without raising taxes! That’s what all the Republicans say. Oh wait–he’s running as a Democrat. Good luck Chi-town, you’re going to need it.

The UK Guardian reports that McDonald’s, KFC, and PepsiCo will help write the UK’s new policies on “obesity and diet-related diseases.”

The Department of Health is putting the fast food companies McDonald’s and KFC and processed food and drink manufacturers such as PepsiCo, Kellogg’s, Unilever, Mars and Diageo at the heart of writing government policy on obesity, alcohol and diet-related disease, the Guardian has learned.

In an overhaul of public health, said by campaign groups to be the equivalent of handing smoking policy over to the tobacco industry, health secretary Andrew Lansley has set up five “responsibility deal” networks with business, co-chaired by ministers, to come up with policies. Some of these are expected to be used in the public health white paper due in the next month.

The groups are dominated by food and alcohol industry members, who have been invited to suggest measures to tackle public health crises. Working alongside them are public interest health and consumer groups including Which?, Cancer Research UK and the Faculty of Public Health. The alcohol responsibility deal network is chaired by the head of the lobby group the Wine and Spirit Trade Association. The food network to tackle diet and health problems includes processed food manufacturers, fast food companies, and Compass, the catering company famously pilloried by Jamie Oliver for its school menus of turkey twizzlers. The food deal’s sub-group on calories is chaired by PepsiCo, owner of Walkers crisps.

This sounds like something U.S. politicians would do. Is our insanity taking over the world? Or is it demon possession?

Scientists say that naked body scanners are bad for your health.

US scientists warned Friday that the full-body, graphic-image X-ray scanners that are being used to screen passengers and airline crews at airports around the country may be unsafe.

“They say the risk is minimal, but statistically someone is going to get skin cancer from these X-rays,” Dr Michael Love, who runs an X-ray lab at the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry at Johns Hopkins University school of medicine, told AFP.

“No exposure to X-ray is considered beneficial. We know X-rays are hazardous but we have a situation at the airports where people are so eager to fly that they will risk their lives in this manner,” he said.

The possible health dangers posed by the scanners add to passengers and airline crews’ concerns about the devices, which have been dubbed “naked” scanners because of the graphic image they give of a person’s body, genitalia and all.

They could be bad for your mental health too. Here is one example of what can happen if you are selected for naked body scanning and choose to “opt out.”

Andrew Burmeister had been searched using an airport scanner before and didn’t like it at all. On a return trip from Charlotte, he was selected for another body scan screening and chose to opt out, as the sign said he was entitled to do. Burmeister said the screeners became rude and made him sit down, away from his belongings, which were now sitting unattended on the end of the conveyor belt. Eventually a team allowed him to collect his belongings and, after a turn through the metal detector, he was taken to a private area to be screened.

Mr. Burmeister says these screeners were much friendlier, but despite this, his story is still particularly unsettling. They patted him down and asked him lots of questions. They also swabbed his belongings, removing each one individually and scanning it for explosives. But that’s not the unsettling part. While they were busy going through his belongings, they were chatting to him. One mentioned that he was ‘lucky’ that this was all that was happening because after October 31, the screening for passengers who opt out of a body scan would become a lot more “intimate.”

Here’s another piece about this at The Chicago Tribune.

For the camera-shy, TSA will offer an alternative: “enhanced” pat-downs. This is not the gentle frisking you may have experienced at the airport in the past. It requires agents to probe aggressively in intimate zones — breasts, buttocks, crotches.

If you enjoyed your last mammography or prostate exam, you’ll love the enhanced pat-down. And you’ll get a chance to have an interesting conversation with your children about being touched by strangers.

Reviews of the procedure are coming in, and they are not raves. The Allied Pilots Association calls it a “demeaning experience,” and one pilot complained it amounted to “sexual molestation.” The head of a flight attendants’ union local said that for anyone who has been sexually assaulted, it will “drudge up some bad memories.”

Have I told you lately that I’ve decided I’m never going to fly again? If you do need to fly, and having your genitals stared at by beefy TSA morons is troubling to you, you might want to check into National Opt-Out Day, scheduled for Wednesday, November 24–the day before Thanksgiving and one of the busiest travel days of the year.

“The goal of National Opt-Out Day is to send a message to our lawmakers that we demand change,” reads the call to action at, set up by Brian Sodegren. “No naked body scanners, no government-approved groping. We have a right to privacy, and buying a plane ticket should not mean that we’re guilty until proven innocent.”

This isn’t big news for most people, but The New York Times has a front page piece on “U.S. aid for ex-Nazis.”

A secret history of the United States government’s Nazi-hunting operation concludes that American intelligence officials created a “safe haven” in the United States for Nazis and their collaborators after World War II, and it details decades of clashes, often hidden, with other nations over war criminals here and abroad.

The 600-page report, which the Justice Department has tried to keep secret for four years, provides new evidence about more than two dozen of the most notorious Nazi cases of the last three decades. [….]

Perhaps the report’s most damning disclosures come in assessing the Central Intelligence Agency’s involvement with Nazi émigrés. Scholars and previous government reports had acknowledged the C.I.A.’s use of Nazis for postwar intelligence purposes. But this report goes further in documenting the level of American complicity and deception in such operations.

The Justice Department report, describing what it calls “the government’s collaboration with persecutors,” says that O.S.I investigators learned that some of the Nazis “were indeed knowingly granted entry” to the United States, even though government officials were aware of their pasts. “America, which prided itself on being a safe haven for the persecuted, became — in some small measure — a safe haven for persecutors as well,” it said.

And let’s not forget that George W. Bush’s family actively supported the Nazi regime before WWII, and he was elected President of the U.S.

I’ll finish with a bit of conspiracy news (my favorite kind). For years I’ve been following the investigation and cover-up of David Kelly’s death. From Raw Story:

Dr. David Kelly was found dead in a field near his home in Oxfordshire in 2003, shortly after he was revealed to be the source of a BBC leak that accused Tony Blair’s government of exaggerating the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. His death prompted suspicions among many that he may have been killed in retaliation for the leak.

Kelly himself had predicted he would be “found dead in the woods” if the UK invaded Iraq.

Now the Daily Mail is reporting new evidence that Kelly was murdered.

Dr Andrew Watt, an experienced clinical pharmacologist, says he has told Thames Valley Police it is not possible Dr Kelly could have swallowed more than a ‘safe’ dose of two coproxamol tablets because there was so little in his system after death.

He said: ‘I reported to the Thames force that I believe that the death of Dr Kelly may have been murder. I have received an acknowledgement and they have given me an incident number.

‘I have been told that the inquiry is being conducted by a very senior officer.’
A second development also casts doubt on the suicide verdict of the Hutton inquiry – which took the place of a formal inquest.

The Mail has established that Dr Kelly left an upbeat answerphone message to his friend Nigel Cox just days before his body was found on July 18, 2003. Dr Kelly said he was looking forward to joining him for a game of cards on July 23.

An interesting sidelight to the Kelly case is that Kelly sent an e-mail to then NYT “reporter” Judith Miller shortly before his death. Emptywheel mentions this in a recent post about the work of the National Security Archive:

…as I was reading it, all I could think of was David Kelly’s last email to Judy Miller, warning of dark actors playing games, followed shortly by Tony Blair’s apparently unplanned trip to the US, just in time for him to be out of the country when Kelly was suicided (not to mention for him to be here in the aftermath of the Plame outing which Dick Cheney had ordered Judy to be included in). After all, its hard to look at the timeline the NSA lays out without also thinking of Judy Miller’s key pieces of propaganda–boosting claims about the aluminum tubes–on September 8 and 13, 2002 (indeed, those articles appeared at the same time as the Brits were strengthening these claims, which makes me wonder whether her work wasn’t a key part of pushing the UK to make its claims about the tubes stronger).

We knew the Brits and the US built their propaganda for war together. We knew that Judy Miller was an integral part to that. But when we see the emails going back and forth commenting on each others drafts, it raises once again the question of where the emails back and forth to the war effort’s chief propagandist got disappeared to.

It’s all connected. What is Obama’s role in the giant cover-up? Is he just in the WH to make sure none of the secrets get out, or does he have a more active role in future “dark actions?”

Taking my tinfoil hat off now.

[MABlue’s Sunday picks]

Cigarette companies are evil.
Cigarette Giants in a Global Fight on Tighter Rules

As sales to developing nations become ever more important to giant tobacco companies, they are stepping up efforts around the world to fight tough restrictions on the marketing of cigarettes.

Companies like Philip Morris International and British American Tobacco are contesting limits on ads in Britain, bigger health warnings in South America and higher cigarette taxes in the Philippines and Mexico. They are also spending billions on lobbying and marketing campaigns in Africa and Asia, and in one case provided undisclosed financing for TV commercials in Australia.

“A” Rating for Hamas? The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has been running a scam grading. What a disgrace!
Terror Group Gets ‘A’ Rating From Better Business Bureau?

The Better Business Bureau, one of the country’s best known consumer watchdog groups, is being accused by business owners of running a “pay for play” scheme in which A plus ratings are awarded to those who pay membership fees, and F ratings used to punish those who don’t.

To prove the point, a group of Los Angeles business owners paid $425 to the Better Business Bureau and were able to obtain an A minus grade for a non-existent company called Hamas, named after the Middle Eastern terror group.

Patrick Smith, who runs the blog Ask The Pilot has a thoughtful column about the panicky and incoherent reaction to something we’ve been living with forever, only with more composure.
News flash: Deadly terrorism existed before 9/11

With respect to airport security, it is remarkable how we have come to place Sept. 11, 2001, as the fulcrum upon which we balance almost all of our decisions. As if deadly terrorism didn’t exist prior to that day, when really we’ve been dealing with the same old threats for decades. What have we learned? What have we done?

Well, have a look at the debased state of airport security today. We continue enacting the wrong policies, wasting our security resources and manpower. We have implemented many important changes since Lockerbie, it’s true (actually, many of the new protocols are post-9/11), but much of our approach remains incoherent. Cargo and packages go uninspected while passengers are groped and harassed over umbrellas and harmless hobby knives. Uniformed pilots are forced to remove their belts and endure embarrassing pat-downs.

Frank Rich has been writing really good columns lately. I’m not going to stop him while he’s on a roll.
Who Will Stand Up to the Superrich?

The top 1 percent of American earners took in 23.5 percent of the nation’s pretax income in 2007 — up from less than 9 percent in 1976. During the boom years of 2002 to 2007, that top 1 percent’s pretax income increased an extraordinary 10 percent every year. But the boom proved an exclusive affair: in that same period, the median income for non-elderly American households went down and the poverty rate rose.

It’s the very top earners, not your garden variety, entrepreneurial multimillionaires, who will be by far the biggest beneficiaries if there’s an extension of the expiring Bush-era tax cuts for income over $200,000 a year (for individuals) and $250,000 (for couples). The resurgent G.O.P. has vowed to fight to the end to award this bonanza, but that may hardly be necessary given the timid opposition of President Obama and the lame-duck Democratic Congress.

Is anyone even surprised by this?
Spanish priest arrested over ‘21,000 child porn images’

A Catholic priest in Spain has been arrested over the alleged possession of thousands of images of child sex abuse.

Who has the better argument?
Parties battle over bare breasts

The Danish People’s Party wants pictures of bare breasts in an introduction film to scare away fundamentalists.

But, Conservatives counter with a good point:

“Bare breasts are not a protection against fundamentalism,” [Conservative Integration Spokesman] Khader says on his Facebook page.

“Quite on the contrary. Fundamentalists as so sex crazy that bare breasts would make them flock to the country. Perhaps one should try naked pigs and pork – that’ll keep them away…”

I’ll score this one for the Conservatives.

What does your hair say about your health? Check it here:
8 Things Your Hair Says About Your Health

When it comes to our hair, most of us worry most about what to do with it: how short to cut it, how to style it, whether to color it once it begins to go gray. But experts say that our hair says a lot more about us than how closely we follow the latest styles. In fact, the health of our hair and scalp can be a major tip-off to a wide variety of health conditions.

Some interesting wonky stuff abou the devastatingly lasting effect of slavery.
The historical roots of inequality

US commentators regularly lament the country’s racial and ethnic inequality. This column presents data from 1870 and 1940-2000 to argue that the divide has its roots in the slave trade and that its legacy persists today through the racial inequality in education.

It’s Sunday. You can enjoy your gossip column. It looks like the life of the Hell’s Kitchen Chef is unraveling.
The cook, the grief, his wife & his (alleged) lover

For Gordon Ramsay, the past few weeks have been like living in his very own Kitchen Nightmare. Only it has extended beyond his kitchen and into every other room of his house. Like an unwatched pot, the TV chef’s personal and professional life has boiled over in spectacular fashion, leaving the mother of all cleaning-up jobs.

Not that anyone is rushing to pull on the Marigolds; quite the contrary. In typical fashion, Ramsay has heaped more coals this weekend on to a fire he lit three weeks ago when he sacked his father-in-law, Chris Hutcheson. Specifically, he claimed his wife Tana has much to learn about what her father gets up to when not running restaurants, lashing out after his wife’s parents wrote to their daughter, urging her to dump the man she married 14 years ago, aged 22.

So what news articles and blog posts do you recommend today?

50 Comments on “Sunday Reads”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Ireland’s young flee abroad as economic meltdown looms
    Many young people are seeking to emigrate rather than face a life of hardship as the republic lurches towards financial collapse

    This is something I find interesting.

    • Laurie says:

      Yes-add to that the Brit student protests, destroying and occupying the Conservative party HQ, because of projected tuition fee rises from £3,290 to possibly £9,000.

      As I write, about 200 people have occupied the building, and bonfires burn outside. Some arrests have been made and eight people – protesters and police officers – have been injured. Protesters have broken windows and made their way on to the roof. Twitter reports indicate that some have taken a sofa from inside Millbank and put it outside, with the quite reasonable argument that “if we’re going to be kettled we may as well be comfy”.

      Direct action this most certainly was, the kind writers such as John Pilger have recently been calling for. It is hard to see the violence as simply the wilfulness of a small minority – it is a genuine expression of frustration against the few who seem determined to make the future a miserable, small-minded and debt-filled place for the many.

      The protest as a whole was extremely important, not just because of the large numbers it attracted, and shouldn’t be understood simply in economic terms as a complaint against fees. It also represented the serious anger many feel about cuts to universities as they currently stand, and the ideological devastation of the education system if the coalition gets its way. It was a protest against the narrowing of horizons; a protest against Lib Dem hypocrisy; a protest against the increasingly utilitarian approach to human life that sees degrees as nothing but “investments” by individuals, and denies any link between education and the broader social good.

      The siege of the Millbank office complex, ending with the smashing of the windows and the occupation of the building, was a violent break-away from what had until then been a noisy but good-natured march against raising tuition fees.

      There had been a huge turnout for the demonstration – much more than the 20,000 that had been expected.

      Student leaders later said there could have been 50,000 crowded on to the streets of Westminster.

      There were strong feelings on the march – with much vitriol targeted towards Prime Minister David Cameron and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

      Banners and pictures particularly accused Mr Clegg, often in unambiguous terms, of betraying students.

      There were students, articulate and animated, ready to tell anyone who would listen that they were enraged by the raising of fees.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Minkoff Minx,

      Robert Reich was on MSNBC a couple of days ago talking about that. He said Ireland should pull out of the European Union, because they are being forced to bail out bankers in other countries rather than benefiting.

    • Laurie says:

      Minx-I’ve just remembered about another Berlusconi gaffe my son was going on about around 10 days ago. There is a youtube but in Spanish, satirically hilarious.

      Berlusconi was replying to a question by young Party members on youth unemployment-what did he suggest as PM of Italy that young people should do…….?

      1, They should go to Berlin, Moscow or Los Angeles-somewhere like that and find a job there.

      2, They should absolutely avoid reading left wing journals.

      3, Girls should get themselves rich husbands.

      Answer-all three.

  2. brian in the tamar valley says:

    Just to clear up a common misconception, that has been perpetuated in your post, regarding the finding of Dr Kelly’s body. His body was discovered in the wood on Harrowdown Hill, not in a field. The white tent seen in media photographs and video footage wasn’t erected over the position of Dr Kelly’s body, in fact it was provided close to the scene as a shelter where police officers, the forensic pathologist, etc could write up notes should the weather become inclement.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Thanks for that info, Brian. I think that was in a quote from a news story, so I can’t edit it. I’ll check though

  3. Pat Johnson says:

    Considering that most of the problems in this world have been caused by religion in one form or another, the latest attempt to bring the 4th century back into play by the Catholic bishops shows just how little we have come as we still rely on “fantasism” as still playing an active role in our lives.

    There is little difference in the insanity of one religion calling for a worldwide jihad when another is calling for exorcism in driving out the devil. Both are based on superstitions and fear devised by man to keep the masses in check.


    • Laurie says:

      Have you heard the latest about Catholic machinations-“the Ordinariate for England and Wales”, which will be established under the provisions of the Apostolic Constitution Anglicanorum Coetibus.:

      Five Church of England bishops opposed to the ordination of women bishops will take up an offer by Pope Benedict and convert to Roman Catholicism, heralding a possible exodus of traditionalist Anglicans.

      The bishops will enter full communion with Rome through an ordinariate, a body proposed by the pope last October to let traditionalists convert while keeping some Anglican traditions, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales announced.

      The ordinariate will let married clerics become Catholic priests, in an exception to the Vatican’s celibacy rule, but not bishops. Married Anglican bishops who convert may be granted a special status almost equivalent to their former rank.

  4. bostonboomer says:

    This is horrifying:

    There are rapidly emerging signs the Obama Administration and Congress may be actively, quickly and covertly working furiously on a plan to retroactively legitimize and ratify the shoddy, fraudulent and non-conforming conduct by MERS on literally millions of mortgages.

    From CNBC:

    When Congress comes back into session next week, it may consider measures intended to bolster the legal status of a controversial bank owned electronic mortgage registration system that contains three out of every five mortgages in the country.

    The system is known as MERS, the acronym for a private company called Mortgage Electronic Registry Systems. Set up by banks in the 1997, MERS is a system for tracking ownership of home loans as they move from mortgage originator through the financial pipeline to the trusts set up when mortgage securities are sold.

    Just to make clear the implications of this craven action, the White House and Congress are conspiring to give a get out of jail free bailout card to the biggest banks and finance companies in the country to cover up and mask their illegal behavior and behavior that did not conform with state, county and local laws throughout the United States. On at least sixty (60%) percent of the existing mortgages in America.

    There are dozens of implications to individuals and both private and public entities. At a root minimum, it will likely decimate, if not bankrupt, most counties in every state of the union.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Yes, BB I saw this yesterday…what will they think of next?

    • Sima says:

      It’s as if they are deliberately pushing people, harder and harder.

      I don’t think, like Ian Welsh, the only protests will come from the Conservative side. I think they will come from both sides and be bloody indeed.

  5. Pips says:

    Thanks for the roudnup bb!

    Reading this from Reuters, I expected it to be an objective account of Obama’s Asian trip. Then I realized that the author was yet another White House Correspondent. They seem unable to not give Obama eternal unearned praise:

    But his major triumph in Jakarta was his connection with the public. His use of the local language and shared childhood memories thrilled Indonesians, who hailed him as a returning hero and son.

    But does he really speak Indonesian? All I ever heard him say was “Hello”. (So does that mean that he also “speaks” Chinese?)

    Looking for an answer I came across this: “President Obama Speaks Indonesian at Dinner in His Honor”. Hey! I can do that! And I most certainly don’t speak Indonesian!

    I get the impression that his “speaking Indonesian” is on par with JFK speaking German … which I don’t recall anyone ever praising him of despite his “Ich bin ein Berliner”.

    • Pips says:

      Oops! Thanks to MaBlue too! Only just noticed the addition.

      About the Danish news? My bets are on the Conservatives too, but mostly my reaction is of the lolsob variety. 😆 😥

  6. janicen says:

    Gosh, there’s so much to digest in this post. Thank you BB and MABlue, for putting it all together.

    I have to admit that I chuckled when reading about the shortage of exorcists in the Catholic church. Now there’s a cause for concern. I guess they lost so many priests as a result of the molestation and brutality scandals, that they need some replacement workers. Would outsourcing work? Could you get an exorcism by calling a call center in Bangalore?

    • bostonboomer says:

      My favorite is the David Kelly story.

      • janicen says:

        That one is almost too terrifying to consider. It’s not as if his murder would shut him up, the story was already leaked. This would be retribution for something that already happened, and a warning to anyone else who considers telling the truth. *shivers*

      • Laurie says:

        Yes, I’ve always found the David Kelly story to be disquieting.

  7. janicen says:

    Regarding the cig companies fighting advertising restrictions, I don’t have a problem with it. They have a right to fight it. I’m not a defender of smoking or cig companies, but I have some questions about the recent story that the FDA has approved a recommendation to put graphic images on cigarette packs to discourage smoking. My main question is, does this apply only to cigarettes or to all tobacco products? If the images are to appear on cigarette packs, and not on pricey cigar packaging, then it seems to me that this is another example of the government applying rules and restrictions to poor and middle class people, and not to wealthy, white men who frequent cigar bars and puff away on their $20 and up cigars. If the rule would apply to all tobacco products, then fine, but then maybe they should consider photos of people mangled in drunk-driver related accidents to appear on all liquor, beer, and wine bottles.

    • bostonboomer says:

      It’s a silly way to fight smoking anyway. Aversion therapy is ineffective in most cases.

      • Laurie says:

        what kind of therapy is effective BB?

      • Sima says:

        It sure doesn’t work on my puppy (and gravatar). What works is positive reinforcement. My partner quit cigs that way. He just decided it was more important to breath easily and be able to smell than it was to smoke a cig. I’m glad we lived 400 miles apart then, he was a mean grouch for a while.

  8. Dee says:

    BB – your linked FDL comment (and its further link to an AP story) on MERS and cheating counties out of fees is the best explanation of the problem I have seen. Thanks.

    Although cheating counties out of billions of dollars in recording fees is reprehensible – I am more concerned that as a result of MERS (IMO it has always been an illegal entity) at least 60% of our county public records are no longer accurate. Probably the only accurate public records are for those properties that do not have a loan against them.

    Further -the MERS database only records some numbers and names but does not view, verify, retain, the actual paperwork related to the ownership. One typo on a street address in the MERS database can trigger a foreclosure action on the wrong house and there is no way for the homeowner to get it sorted out because none of the transactions in the secondary mortgage market are part of the public record and the MERS database errors can not fe fixed because the paper trail does not exist in their system.

    This is a nightmare and I think all foreclosures should be stopped that use data other than that in the public record. IoWs – if someone needs to foreclose on a property they must first record all the property interest transfers and pay the fees.

  9. Minkoff Minx says:

    David Axelrod Leaving White House In First Half Of 2011

    WASHINGTON — Top Obama administration adviser David Axelrod says he will leave the White House in the first half of next year to begin the president’s re-election campaign.

    • Sima says:

      Good, glad to see he will be un-employed. Because that re-election campaign is going to go NOWHERE (crosses fingers and begs pretty please to the great god of politics, Ralf).

  10. Dee says:

    This is sort of sad – my local NBC station doesn’t have any programming to run so starting at 11:00 am Est they put up a notice not to call them and they are sorry.

  11. Dee says:

    Let us have a conversation –

    Do you think tax policy should be changed and homeowners should no longer be allowed to deduct interest paid on mortgages?

    Should we be allowed to deduct just a portion of the interest?

    Maybe no interest deduction on equity loans? Maybe no interest deduction on 2nd homes?

    Or should we head the other way? Maybe we should be allowed (again) to deduct all interest paid on credit cards and student loans.

    What do you think?

    • dakinikat says:

      I think interest deductibles should be limited to necessities and should be capped to various incomes. It should only apply to one home. It should only apply to homes and incomes at the median or below. No credit card deductible. I actually think one car loan interest should be deductible with the same rules. Only one car per family and only up to a median value. I also think savings account interest should be tax free but capital gains on speculative things needs to go into higher taxes. Deductions should not be going to rich people. It’s ridiculous. They don’t need any help.

    • NWLuna says:

      Change the mortgage interest deduction to apply to the first X% of it, and without the requirement to itemize. Or get rid of it completely.

      I’ve been paying on a mortgage since 1990. But I’ve only been able to deduct the interest in maybe 1 or 2 years. There’s just not enough interest to qualify to deduct — and I’m in the lower-middle class income range. I put a big down payment down, helped by my parents, and bought something much, much cheaper than the real estate agents urged, or than what most others in my income bracket buy.

      I wanted a small enough mortgage that I could pay it even if I worked part time, or if I had a job loss or disability for several months. Seemed a little silly back then, but I’m glad now.

      The present system helps rich people and those going into larger debt. It’s useless for those going into smaller debt for their homes.

  12. NWLuna says:

    Imported jobs:

    When German automaker BMW put out the call recently to hire a thousand factory workers here [South Carolina], the people who responded reflected the upheaval occurring in the U.S. economy.

    Among the applicants: a former manager of a major distribution center for Target, a consultant who oversaw construction projects in four Western states and a supervisor at a plastics-recycling firm. Some held college degrees and résumés in other fields where they made more money.

    But they’re all in the factory now making $15 an hour — about half of what the typical German autoworker makes.

    The trade debate in the United States usually focuses on the jobs lost to factories in the developing world. But the recession has forced countless skilled workers in this country to consider jobs they would have rejected in the past. They now offer foreign manufacturers a resource that was far less common just a few years ago: cheaper wages for better talent.

    “We are a low-wage country compared to Germany,” said Kristin Dziczek, director of Labor and Industry Group at the Center for Automotive Research. “And that helps put jobs here.”

    But the price of having a more globally competitive work force means more in America could fall well short of the middle-class living standards that manufacturing workers once could expect. Wages adjusted for inflation have declined for these workers since 2003.

    On one hand, I’m glad those people in SC have jobs above minimum wage. On the other hand, it says a lot about America that Germany can get cheap workers here.

  13. dakinikat says:

    The LATimes has a set of economists writing about what the economy needs. It’s sure split down the line between the freshwater and saltwater economists.

    • Dee says:

      dak – what do you think of Bartlett’s suggestion…?

      “What is desperately needed from the Fed is some action that will force the banks to lend and get the money that is sitting idle into the economy where it will finance consumption and investment. One idea would be to emulate Sweden and tax excess reserves rather than subsidizing them as the Fed now does by paying banks 0.25% per year on money that is not lent. “

      • dakinikat says:

        That’s a good idea. They keep giving the banks money and they keep investing instead of lending. It might work.

        • Dee says:

          I read it three times given that Bartlett was on the Reagan and Bush team. I thought it seemed like a good idea but then I am always aware that there might be another two dozen variables that I don’t have the capacity to add to the equation.

          Even if we only do half of the suggestion and take away the subsidy (which seems like a no brainer) that would be a start.

          Thanks for your comment.

  14. Boo Radly says:

    Great round up bb – found an interesting article linked at another blog – forget the name or I would credit them. It’s on the shrinking of the middle class – the second commenter at the end brought up a point that has been heavily on my mind. All politics are now a global situation. There are now too many of the little people in trouble to even offer a symbolical social assist. Global politics have been so hyper-skewered in favor of that 1% wealthiest for over a decade. These besotted greedy pigs, for lack of a better word, just can’t get enough.
    bb – I did not mean criticism of your comment on BC’s remarks about Bu$h’s book. I have such a disdain for all things Bu$h – I must recuse myself from commenting.

  15. Dee says:

    This is an interesting problem in Afghanistan.

    Chinese Mine in Afghanistan Threatens Ancient Find (AP)

    “Archaeologists are rushing to salvage what they can from a major seventh century B.C. religious site along the famed Silk Road connecting Asia and the Middle East. The ruins, including the monastery and domed shrines known as “stupas,” will likely be largely destroyed once work at the mine begins.

    Hanging over the situation is the memory of the Buddhas of Bamiyan — statues towering up to 180 feet high in central Afghanistan that were dynamited to the ground in 2001 by the country’s then-rulers, the Taliban, who considered them symbols of paganism.

    No one wants to be blamed for similarly razing history at Mes Aynak, in the eastern province of Logar. The Chinese government-backed China Metallurgical Group Corp., or MCC, wanted to start building the mine by the end of 2011. But under an informal understanding with the Kabul government, it has given archaeologists three years for a salvage excavation.”

    I hope the archaeologists win this argument but don’t have much faith that they will.

    • dakinikat says:

      I always want to cry when that sort of thing happens. I’m tired of Greed being the trump card on everything.

      • Sima says:

        Gah, once an archaeological site is excavated and destroyed, it’s gone forever. And new ideas, new technologies, can never be applied. Sometimes, heritage IS more important than the all-mighty dollar. Sheez.

        Makes me want to cry as well.

  16. Fior says:

    I love your blog. I’ve added it to my favorite bookmarks and subscribed in a reader. Looking forward to reading more posts by you. Thanks.