Thursday Reads

Good Morning!!

I’m going to start out with a feel-good story this morning. I can’t find a print story about it, but you can watch video at the Weather Channel website.

A mother was driving in icy weather in Iowa, and ended up crashing. The car rolled over a couple of times and the woman was stuck, unable to check on her two children, ages one and four. Avery, the four-year-old girl got out of the car and walked up the road to a house where she found help. All three are OK now. Isn’t that an amazing and wonderful story? Watch the video and you’ll start the day with a smile.

Have you heard that President Reagan Obama plans to cut billions from the program that provides energy assistance to poor people?

President Obama’s proposed 2012 budget will cut several billion dollars from the government’s energy assistance fund for poor people, officials briefed on the subject told National Journal.

It’s the biggest domestic spending cut disclosed so far, and one that will likely generate the most heat from the president’s traditional political allies. Such complaints might satisfy the White House, which has a vested interest in convincing Americans that it is serious about budget discipline.

One White House friend, Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said earlier today that a Republican proposal to cut home heating oil counted as an “extreme idea” that would “set the country backwards.” Schumer has not yet reacted to Obama’s proposed cut. On Wednesday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H., declared: “The President’s reported proposal to drastically slash LIHEAP funds by more than half would have a severe impact on many of New Hampshire’s most vulnerable citizens and I strongly oppose it.” A spokesman for Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., declared similarly: “If these cuts are real, it would be a very disappointing development for millions of families still struggling through a harsh winter.”

In a letter to Obama, Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., wrote, “We simply cannot afford to cut LIHEAP funding during one of the most brutal winters in history. Families across Massachusetts, and the country, depend on these monies to heat their homes and survive the season.”

No matter how bad you think this President is, he can always get worse. I don’t know how we’re going to survive his incompetent administration.

Here’s another bill to eliminate abortion for all practical purposes. This time it’s in Ohio.

Republican lawmakers in Ohio unveiled legislation Wednesday that would ban abortions of any fetus found to have a heartbeat, a move that could ban most abortions in the state.

Under legislation sponsored by State Representative Lynn Wachtmann, doctors would be forbidden from performing an abortion the moment a heartbeat is detected in the fetus. Fetuses generally develop a heartbeat within six weeks of conception, and in some pregnant women a heartbeat can be detected within 18 days.

The Youngstown Vindicator describes the bill as “the most restrictive abortion ban in the country” and potentially “a precedent for other states eyeing comparable restrictions.”

Robyn Marty at Alternet reports that the “heartbeat bill” amounts to an almost total ban on abortion.

Republicans are determined to turn women into forced breeders with no control over their own bodies. It’s an outrage.

Newly leaked cables from Wikileaks suggest that peak oil is a lot closer than most people think.

The documents, dated between 2007 and 2009, point to a phenomenon known to many as “peak oil,” or the point of production where you cannot continue producing more, leading to a decline in availability and a spike in prices.

But far from being a mad prophet of doom, the US cables’ source is not someone whose credibility is easily questioned.

His name is Dr. Sadad al-Husseini, the former head geologist in charge of exploration for the Saudi oil firm Aramco. He retired in 2004, but stayed in touch with US officials.

According to al-Husseini, Saudi Arabian reserves may be smaller than thought, even though the Saudis are on a growth cycle aimed at pumping out over 12 million barrels a day over the next several years. But, al-Husseini warned, global output would likely peak before then, and potentially starting in 2012

That will coordinate perfectly with Obama’s cuts in aid to poor people who can’t afford to heat their homes.

Dakinikat link to this story in comments yesterday, but it bears repeating. Cables released by Wikileaks show that Egyptian secret police were trained in torture methods by the FBI at Quantico.

Egypt’s secret police, long accused of torturing suspects and intimidating political opponents of President Hosni Mubarak, received training at the FBI’s facility in Quantico, Virginia, even as US diplomats compiled allegations of brutality against them, according to US State Department cables released by WikiLeaks.

Why am I not surprised?

In a 2007 report, Amnesty International accused the Egyptian government of turning the country into a “torture center” for war on terror suspects.

“We are now uncovering evidence of Egypt being a destination of choice for third-party or contracted-out torture in the ‘war on terror’,” Amnesty’s Kate Allen said at the time.

The Egyptian government acknowledged in 2005 that the US had transferred 60 to 70 detainees to Egypt since 2001.

Here is one of the cables linked in the story, posted by the Daily Telegraph.

I’ll end with some links to the latest news from Egypt.

From The New York Times: Wired and Shrewd, Young Egyptians Guide Revolt

They are the young professionals, mostly doctors and lawyers, who touched off and then guided the revolt shaking Egypt, members of the Facebook generation who have remained mostly faceless — very deliberately so, given the threat of arrest or abduction by the secret police.

Now, however, as the Egyptian government has sought to splinter their movement by claiming that officials were negotiating with some of its leaders, they have stepped forward publicly for the first time to describe their hidden role.

There were only about 15 of them, including Wael Ghonim, a Google executive who was detained for 12 days but emerged this week as the movement’s most potent spokesman.

From the Wall Street Journal: Rallies Fan Out as Regime Closes Ranks

Protest organizers say they aim to slowly extend the swath of real estate they control downtown, and to pull in the support of labor unions, which are historically Egypt’s most effective protesters.

Protesters set up camp outside the iron gate of the parliament building, and blocked the street; the occupation forced the relocation of a cabinet meeting from the Council of Ministers, on the same street, to the outskirts of Cairo, state television reported.

State television also showed footage of angry workers in the health, telecommunications and power sectors protesting at a number of locations across Cairo. Many were contract workers or part-timers demanding full-time work and benefits.

From Politico: White House, State Department move to end Egypt confusion

The White House is moving to stamp out reports that top officials — including Vice President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — are sending conflicting signals about how best to resolve the crisis in Egypt.

On Wednesday, the White House and the State Department staged a 50-minute conference call for reporters Wednesday to insist that the administration’s messages on the standoff between embattled President Hosni Mubarak and demonstrators demanding his ouster have been consistent both in public — and private.

Uh huh. That must be why there is so much “confusion.”

The Daily Telegraph: Egypt crisis: protesters reject smooth transition

On the 16th day of protests, street leaders were emboldened to take a more militant line against the regime than the opposition parties that have entered talks with Hosni Mubarak’s vice President Omar Suleiman.

Mr Suleiman, who held more talks on constitutional reforms yesterday, has increasingly emerged as the focus of popular anger. He enraged demonstrators yesterday by warning that the regime would not tolerate prolonged demonstrations, stating that the options were either “dialogue” or “coup”.

“He is threatening to impose martial law, which means everybody in the square will be smashed,” said Abdul-Rahman Samir, a Tahrir Square spokesman. “But what would he do with the rest of the 70 million Egyptians who will follow us afterward.”

Asia One: Google exec’s role in Egypt a corporate dilemma

Business experts said Ghonim’s high-profile role in the protests poses a dilemma for management, even for a company like Google that has not hesitated to take on countries such as China in the past.

“I’m sure Google is very nervous about having their employees publicly associated with politics,” said Charles Skuba, an international business professor at Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business.

“It’s a slippery slope,” Skuba told AFP. “Whenever an employee of a company becomes publicly associated with a political situation there’s often more peril for the company than there is advantage.”

Google campaigned vigorously for the release of Ghonim, a 30-year-old Egyptian who is the company’s marketing chief for the Middle East and North Africa, after he went missing in Cairo on January 27.

Sooooo…What are you reading and blogging about today?


30 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

    Sorry the roundup is so late. I scheduled it to post as usual, but for some reason it didn’t go up.

  2. zaladonis says:

    On Wednesday, the White House and the State Department staged a 50-minute conference call for reporters

    You know, all that comes to mind is WTF.

    Why a conference call for reporters? Why not a press conference televised, even just on CSPAN or the Internet so we — you know the people who pay them to represent us — can see and hear for ourselves the full context of what they say?

    And on the heels of the news that Obama proposes to cut billions in energy assistance to poor people, I am so damned sick of these smarmy “folks.”

    Two of the people I adore most, really close friends for many years, are coming to stay with us for the weekend. They’re ardent Obama supporters and I really don’t know how I’m going to hold it together. It’s getting to be too much.

    • cwaltz says:

      WTF

      Win the Future (hee hee)

      The actors in kabuki theater need a dress rehearsal and have invited a marketing crew. Isn’t that special?

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t know why they don’t quit pretending we’re a “democracy” and just put the authoritarianism right out front.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Maybe they’ll see the light. Can they really support cutting billions in fuel assistance to the poor?

      Or you could always go off on them–that’s what I usually end up doing. LOL

    • Fannie says:

      I wish I had some words of wisdom in regards to those coming to visit………about 5 months ago, my cousins said Obama will be recorded in history as the best president ever……..I came unglued and we haven’t spoke since then. Oh, well.

    • mjames says:

      WTF is right, in its original meaning.

      I find it best when dealing with Obama supporters to stick to the facts. What is it they find so wonderful about Obama? And why? Go thru issue by issue. That’s what I do. Factually, they lose. And I know you have the facts at your fingertips. That’s the same approach I take with the righties who call him a Socialist. I’m a socialist myself, so I love proving them wrong on that front.

      I have had some measure of success. The other choices are self-medication and just plain getting angry. The stupid it burns.

      Good luck.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    Tim Geithner:

    “The job of government is to create the conditions for businesses to expand and to thrive and what we need to do in Washington is make sure we’re creating a better environment for business to act with a little more confidence about the future,”

    Because upholding the Constitution, and life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are so obsolete these days.

    • cwaltz says:

      He must have gone to the Scalia School of Constitutional Law- You know the school where they teach that businesses are people that can not be discriminated against but women are unprotected from discrimination.

  4. Pat Johnson says:

    What amazes me is that these GOP congress critters are able to stand before a camera and basically tell the American people that they favor cuts being made to the most vulnerable among us, more so now when the economy itself is in freefall and so many are suffering as a result.

    It is truly incredulous that instead of working on “behalf of the American” people they so often refer to, they are working against any form of empathy and compassion. And they do so without batting an eye.

    Where did they park their conscience when they took the oath of office? How can inviting even more misery into the everyday lives of their fellow Americans solve the enormity of the problems most of us grapple with on a daily basis? How is increasing the livlihood of the rich supposed to make us a stronger, healthier nation? When does grinding poverty and the withholding of medical services guarantee the “freedoms” they insist have been lost?

    Is this “the message” that was sent in November to get even with the Dems has wrought? If so, then that message has been distorted in favor of these thieves whose actions trump common decency.

    You get what you voted for.

  5. Peggy Sue says:

    I find the news about budget cuts in fuel to the poor absolutely obscene. This during one of the coldest winters the country has experienced in years. While corporate and Wall St. greed is in high gear, we’re pulling the rug from beneath the weakest among us. I also heard there’s a push to deeply cut women and children nutrition funds. Why not? If we can’t freeze them out, maybe we can starve them out. Because we all know that single women with children, the elderly, and the unemployed are at the root of all evil.

    What is wrong with these people????

    As for the push against any and all abortion, I heard one of the better counter arguments from Rachel Maddow. I don’t watch her show often but she made a point the other day that struck me as very smart and a way to underscore the rank hypocrisy of the Right. How is it possible to embrace small government principles while insisting that they [right-wing nut cases] should control and direct every frigging pregnancy in this country? Or can we come to the conclusion that women, particularly pregnant women, don’t count when we’re talking about ‘personal liberty?’

    Good question.

    In addition, Maddow had a story from Wyoming, a state which is trying to push one of the more draconian anti-abortion bills. Three female Republican legislators stood before their colleagues and argued against passage of the bill.

    The man pushing said bill went back and ‘revised’ the language but is pushing passage again. Obviously, even Republican women do not count.

    The story of the woman and her kids is nothing short of miraculous. Nice to have some good news. I was glad to hear that Giffords is beginning to speak. It’s a good sign. She still has a very long haul but the fact that her speech center is intact is very positive.

    • KC says:

      “What is wrong with these people????”

      The simple fact is that they don’t work for us.

      As bostonboomer quotes Tim Geithner above: “The job of government is to create the conditions for businesses to expand and to thrive…”

      That’s pretty clear, and we get the same message from others every day. “Our” government is not concerned about us. It’s all about banks and corporations now. Nearly every action taken by the federal government proves it.

    • cwaltz says:

      Not just pregnancy- the GOP feel it’s important to legislate every personal decision from what religion is acceptable to whom you should be allowed to marry, to when you should be required to have children, to whether or not you should be allowed to die with dignity. Leave no personal decision behind.

      Heaven forfend that we regulate enterprise though, the markets must be allowed to remain “free.”

      It’s completely creepy and beyond ignorant to suggest that conscienceless entities who are governed by numerous people with varying interests that potentially can affect the entire nation(ie our entire economy) are trustworthy but a single person with sole self interest is somehow not to be trusted with a decision that primarily affects them.

      • B Kilpatrick says:

        Democrats do much the same thing, just in different areas.
        Deciding between Democraps and Repugnants is like decided whether you’d like your leg irons and manacles to be made from stainless steel or galvanized steel.

  6. Pat Johnson says:

    Perhaps this is what they meant when they ran on the premise of “job creation”. Hiring “hall monitors” to be present in every examining room across the nation that attends pregnant women.

    A room large enough to hold the patient, doctor, nurse and “notetaker” whose job is to monitor and report back to the Politburo.

    After giving birth to the unwanted child, she is on her own since all services which may have been in place to aid her plight have been dissolved owing to “balancing the budget”.

    But she will be offered a card expressing thanks and a recipe for “making lemonade out of lemons” and a blessing which she will be thankful for.

    All good!

  7. bostonboomer says:

    Just saw on Twitter that John Kyl is retiring after this term.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      The question is whose lobbying organization he has been hired to represent.

      Isn’t this usually how it plays out?

      In some cases from congress to lobbying and back to congress again.

      The American dream!

  8. grayslady says:

    Obama must think he’s going to just cruise to victory in 2012, because he’s obviously not receiving astute political advice about his budget priorities. If you take a look at which states use the most LIHEAP funds, NY is far and away the winner at almost half a billion dollars. At a quarter of a billion dollars or more are CA, IL, PA, OH, and MI, followed closely by MA, TX and VA. Doesn’t anyone in his re-election entourage understand that you don’t cut money to swing states in an election year? The man is an idiot, surrounded by idiots.

    It only remains to add that in January, 2011, half of the emergency funds for 2011 had already been used up. That’s *before* the blizzard and the sub-zero temps we’re currently experiencing here in the Midwest.

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’m starting to think Obama wants to lose in 2012, usher in another Bush and then start working on becoming a billionare.

    • Pat Johnson says:

      Well they are “smart enough” to look at the sorry field of potential GOP candidates lining up for 2012 and probably feel a sense of superiority.

      Gingrich, Palin, Bachmann, Pawlenty, Huckabee, Romney, Santorum with a hint of a Jeb Bush waiting in the wings? Even I who cannot abide Obama has a sense of “victory” facing that slate of lackluster stars all dragging a heavy baggage of non electability in their wake.

      The problem for Obama is that he has yet to understand that the same “celebrity” that surrounded his win can easily be transmitted to another dimwit with just the right marketing tools that eased his victory.

      And never underestimate an uniformed public voting against itself. But for now Obama can afford to feel “safe” in 2012.

      I underscore “for now”.

      • B Kilpatrick says:

        The GOP primary lineup is going to be
        Someone you’ve never heard of
        Someone you’ve never heard of
        Ron Paul (fluctuating between #2 and 3)
        GOP standards like Romney
        And then GOP Clinton-era retreads like Eye of Newt

  9. dakinikat says:

    They’re saying ON CNN that Mubarak will resign shortly.

  10. B Kilpatrick says:

    In re peak oil, the problem isn’t that petroleum reserves are declining, but that the quality of available reserves is declining. There’s a lot less light, sweet crude available. Most of the stuff from Brasil, Mexico, Venezuela, Canada, and Russia have a lot of sulfur, nitrogen, and higher viscosity. It’s lower quality, and that’s why you’re starting to hear about those countries becoming important petroleum producers.

    • cwaltz says:

      It’s all so darn depressing because we have done little to explore alternatives to oil and to create an infrastructure that will be unreliant upon it. I have no doubt because those “moral” oil companies want to wring every last penny out of their investments that we’re going to screwed.

      We spent trillions bailing out banks when we should have spent the money on infrastructure like electrical grids that are set up to convert solar energy or created incentives to innovate more mass transit options for citizens.

      • B Kilpatrick says:

        Whenever that day comes, we’ll probably wind up gasifying coal or biostock because the choice will be between using what largely exists now and accepting higher costs, or redesigning EVERYTHING and accepting higher costs for less efficient technology.