Thursday ReadsPosted: February 10, 2011
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.”
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.