Thursday Reads

Good Morning!! Here are the stories that caught my eye this morning.

Reuters: Exclusive: Obama authorizes secret help for Libya rebels

President Barack Obama has signed a secret order authorizing covert U.S. government support for rebel forces seeking to oust Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, government officials told Reuters on Wednesday.

Obama signed the order, known as a presidential “finding”, within the last two or three weeks, according to government sources familiar with the matter.

Such findings are a principal form of presidential directive used to authorize secret operations by the Central Intelligence Agency. This is a necessary legal step before such action can take place but does not mean that it will.

Washington Post: In Libya, CIA is gathering intelligence on rebels

The Obama administration has sent teams of CIA operatives into Libya in a rush to gather intelligence on the identities and capabilities of rebel forces opposed to Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi, according to U.S. officials.

The information has become more crucial as the administration and its coalition partners move closer to providing direct military aid or guidance to the disorganized and beleaguered rebel army.

Although the administration has pledged that no U.S. ground troops will be deployed to Libya, officials said Wednesday that President Obama has issued a secret finding that would authorize the CIA to carry out a clandestine effort to provide arms and other support to Libyan opposition groups.

I can’t imagine why anyone would be surprised that the CIA is involved in Libya (they are everywhere). But the progs are looking down their noses in strong disapproval.

Emptywheel: Where Will Obama Try Himself for Material Support for Terrorism?

After all, according to Holder v. Humanitarian Law Project any help to a terrorist group–even counseling on how to make peace–is material support. And no matter how we try to spin arming rebels as an act of peace, it’s a good deal more help than legal counsel.

And, as the DC Circuit’s decision yesterday in Uthman Abdul Rahim Mohammed Uthman’s habeas suit makes clear, it’s not enough for a person to stop associating with al Qaeda in the 1990s, nor does the government need any real evidence of a tie between someone in al Qaeda’s vicinity to claim that person is a member of al Qaeda.

Glenn Greenwald: The wisdom and legality of arming Libyan rebels

Then there’s the question of the legality of arming Libyan troops. Salon’s Justin Elliott reported on Monday that the administration was actively considering arming the rebels despite an absolute arms embargo imposed by U.N. Resolution 1970 (“imposing an arms embargo on the country”). Today, The Guardian elaborates by citing numerous legal experts insisting that it would be a violation of the U.N. Resolution for the U.S. to arm the rebels. For its part, the U.S. insists that it is legally entitled to do so, with Hillary Clinton announcing that the arms embargo has been “overriden” by the broad mandate of U.N. Resolution 1973, allowing “all necessary measures” to be used to protect Libyan civilians.

On the strictly legal issue, this seems to be a close question. Can the specific arms embargo really be “overriden” by a general clause allowing the protection of civilians? That seems redolent of the Bush arguments that specific prohibitions in the law (such as the ban on warrantless eavesdropping) were “overriden” by the broad war powers assigned by the AUMF. More to the point, can it really be said that arming Libyan rebels is necessary for the protection of civilians? That sounds much more like what one does to help one side win a civil war.

I don’t know, and I admit I don’t like the idea of this action in Libya expanding too far. I remember when Reagan armed the “Contras.” Of course back in those days we were arming right-wing groups and the US was involved in countless human rights violations. In Libya, the opposition forces are trying to depose a genuinely evil dictator who has been involved in terrorist attacks.

But here’s my question: why don’t the progs convince the guy they supported to get us the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan? They wanted this guy, they forced him on us, and now they’re whining. and what are they doing to find a decent alternative? A big nothing.

I’m not going to be happy if we get involved in a ground war in Libya or anywhere else, but it hasn’t happened yet. We’ve been in Afghanistan for almost ten years!

Raw Story: Most Americans think Obama does not deserve re-election, according to new poll

Obama’s approval rating is also at its lowest point ever, at 42 percent, while his disapproval rating rose from earlier in the month to a new high of 48 percent.

A similar Quinnipiac poll published March 3 found President Obama with 46 percent approval and 46 percent disapproval.

In that earlier poll, voters also split on whether Obama deserves reelection, with 47 percent saying yes and 45 percent saying no.

The latest poll reflects the president’s sliding fortunes in other studies, with a full 50 percent now saying that he does not deserve to stay in office beyond 2012.

The big problem with this is that the Republicans are bound to nominate someone who is to the right of Atilla the Hun and about as crazy and unempathetic as Muammar Gaddafi. I refuse to vote for Obama, but what if we end up with Michelle Bachmann or Mike Huckabee as President?

Anyway, the Tea Party’s polls are in the crapper along with Obama’s.

Just 32 percent of respondents viewed the tea party favorably, while a record-high 47 percent had a negative view of the movement that propelled Republicans to dramatic Congressional victories last November. Fourteen percent had no opinion, and 7 percent said they’ve never heard of the tea party.

I sure hope the Congresspeople find out about that.

Russ Feingold doesn’t think Jeffrey Immelt is a very good jobs czar. No kidding, lol.

Feingold’s new group, Progressives United, is set to launch a new campaign to pressure General Electric CEO Jeffrey Immelt to step down as the head of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competiveness. Feingold’s campaign — which I’m told will be joined by Move On later today — is based on two pieces of news that, Feingold says, render Immelt unfit for the gig of Obama jobs chief: GE paid no American taxes in 2010; and Immelt’s compensation doubled .

In an email to members of his new group, Feingold will argue that if Immelt doesn’t step down, Obama should fire him, arguing that Dems need to stop coddling corporations whose behavior undermines our economy:

I’ve got a couple of semi-humorous stories to get your mind off all the bad news. Get out your tiny violin. Did you know that the super-rich are unhappy and dissatisfied with their lives?

The Atlantic: Secret Fears of the Super-Rich

Does great wealth bring fulfillment? An ambitious study by Boston College suggests not. For the first time, researchers prompted the very rich—people with fortunes in excess of $25 million—to speak candidly about their lives. The result is a surprising litany of anxieties: their sense of isolation, their worries about work and love, and most of all, their fears for their children.

Awwwww. Too bad, so sad. Then give your money away to people who actually need it, why don’t you. And then get a real job.

Raw Story: Death anxiety linked to acceptance of intelligent design: study

Research conducted at the University of British Columbia and Union College found that people’s death anxiety was associated with support of intelligent design and rejection of evolutionary theory.

Death anxiety also influenced those in the study to report an increased liking for Michael Behe, a prominent proponent of intelligent design, and an increased disliking for Richard Dawkins, a well-known evolutionary biologist.

The findings suggest that people are motivated to believe in intelligent design and doubt evolutionary theory because of unconscious psychological motives.

Okay, time out. Because? No. This is a correlational study, and as we all should have learned long ago, Correlation does not equal causation.

The study was lead by UBC Psychology Assistant Professor Jessica Tracy and and UBC psychology PhD student Jason Martens. It was published in the March 30 issue of the open access journal PLoS ONE.

“Our results suggest that when confronted with existential concerns, people respond by searching for a sense of meaning and purpose in life,” Tracy said. “For many, it appears that evolutionary theory doesn’t offer enough of a compelling answer to deal with these big questions.”

There are a lot of variables unaccounted for in this description of the study. Maybe death anxiety is just associated with fundamentalist Christianity. I guess I could look up the study and see what the findings really were… But I probably won’t.

That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?


40 Comments on “Thursday Reads”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Great roundup BB, especially the end. Those are some interesting links. Here is the latest from Japan.

    Up to 1,000 bodies left untouched near troubled nuke plant | Kyodo News

    Radiation fears have prevented authorities from collecting as many as 1,000 bodies of victims of the March 11 earthquake and tsunami from within the 20-kilometer-radius evacuation zone around the stricken Fukushima nuclear plant, police sources said Thursday.

    One of the sources said bodies had been ”exposed to high levels of radiation after death.” The view was supported by the detection Sunday of elevated levels of radiation on a body found in Okuma, Fukushima Prefecture, about 5 km from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station.

    Radiation level in seawater hits new high near Fukushima plant | Kyodo News

    In a sign that radiation is continuing to leak from the troubled Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, radioactive iodine-131 at a concentration of 4,385 times the maximum level permitted under law has been detected in seawater near the plant, according to the latest data made available Thursday morning.

    Japanese authorities were also urged to consider taking action over radioactive contamination outside the 20-kilometer evacuation zone around the plant, as the International Atomic Energy Agency said readings from soil samples collected in the village of Iitate, about 40 km from the plant, exceeded its criteria for evacuation.

    The authorities denied that either situation posed an immediate threat to human health, but the government said it plans to enhance radiation data monitoring around the plant on the Pacific coast, about 220 kilometers northeast of Tokyo.

    • paper doll says:

      Up to 1,000 bodies left untouched near troubled nuke plant.

      ..awful. They need an army of bulldozers to descend on the area for these poor people and the plants….now. The area is dead…it has to be buried. Like with BP over and over the government is helping the company over its citizens

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      More bad news:

      Radioactive substance exceeding limit found in beef in Fukushima Pref. | Kyodo News

      The health ministry said Thursday that beef in Fukushima Prefecture, where the crippled nuclear power plant is located, contained a radioactive material exceeding the legal limit, making it the first such detection in beef.

      The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said 510 becquerels of radioactive cesium was detected in beef from Tenei, Fukushima Prefecture, above the 500-becquerel legal limit set under the food sanitation law.

      But an official for the Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency said in Fukushima early Friday that it will conduct a fresh examination on beef, citing a significant gap in radiation levels between the sample taken in Tenei and other meat samples.

      Tenei is located nearly 70 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

      ==Kyodo

  2. Minkoff Minx says:

    And this from Reuters, no surprise here:

    U.S. lawyers say BP, spill partners harmed cleanup crew | Reuters

    BP Plc and other companies who had used chemical dispersants to fight the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill should compensate the cleanup crew and residents harmed by those toxic chemicals, lawyers suing the firms said in a court filing.

    To date, BP and its contractors have used more than 1.8 million gallons of Nalco Holding’s chemical dispersants in the Gulf of Mexico in connection with the oil spill, according to the complaint. Nalco was also named in the complaint.

  3. Minkoff Minx says:

    BB you covered this a few weeks ago, but it is good to see it getting more attention:

    When a Girl is Executed…for Being Raped – NYTimes.com

    Fortunately, Bangladesh has a robust civil society, which has reacted with outrage to the case. A court ordered the body exhumed after word leaked out, and an examination revealed severe injuries. Lawsuits are now underway against the doctors who had called her death a suicide, and several people have been rounded up — including the alleged rapist. The Bangladesh press is on the case. But Hena’s family is under police protection because of concern that other villagers will take revenge at them for getting the imam and others in trouble.

    Let’s hope that the public reaction and punishments are so strong that the word goes out to all of Bangladesh’s villages that such misogynist fatwas are not only immoral but also illegal. And that the crime lies not in being raped, but in raping.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      And one more:

      House GOP wants to use tax code to curb abortions – Yahoo! News

      Supporters say the bill is necessary because current law doesn’t go far enough in ensuring that no tax money is used to subsidize abortions.

      “We’re just trying to have a very clear line of demarcation on where our taxpayer funds may be used for abortion,” said Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. “It’s really using the tax code and taxpayer dollars to assist with the procurement of abortion, and we’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

      Opponents say the bill would make it difficult, if not impossible, for many women to obtain medical coverage that covers abortions — even if they pay for it with their own money.

      “This is overkill plus, and the purpose of it escapes me,” said Rep. Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., a member of the committee. “We’re debating an issue that is so inconsequential to the lives of most Americans. I will not support this. I’m annoyed that we’re even taking time on the Ways and Means Committee to do something that’s obviously very ideological and has nothing to do with the health care bill, and nothing really to do with taxes or getting people back to work.”

      • dakinikat says:

        I wish I could opt my tax dollars from going to anything with a religious group attached to it. I’m not even going to start on what kind of businesses subsidies and war subsidies that I’d prefer to defund too. I don’t get why these religious fanatics get their way and the rest of have to pay for their insanity.

      • dakinikat says:

        But get this one that’s driving Dr. Daughter nuts in Nebraska. How prolife is this? (from about a year ago)

        Less than 48 hours after a top state lawmaker told Nebraska Watchdog he was confident Governor Dave Heineman (NE-R) would back a controversial move to provide pre-natal care to the unborn children of illegal immigrants, the Governor has issued a statement clearly indicating he won’t.

        On Monday, Omaha State Senator Brad Ashford, the Chairman of the Legislature’s Judiciary Committee said, “I’m not convinced the Governor won’t support pre-natal care

        But according to published reports, following a Wednesday evening meeting with the Governor, Ashford had all but given up.

        Ashford and other lawmakers armed with $3 million dollars in private money, the state match for federal funds, had planned to attach the contentious measure to a pro-life bill heading to the floor of the Legislature on Thursday.

        But following Wednesday’s meeting Ashford is ready to drop the issue altogether. The Governor issued a statement repeating his support for prenatal care for legal residents but Heineman went on to say, ”I do not support providing state-funded benefits for illegal individuals.”

        Turning out unhealthy American citizens from Kimball to Brownville, that’s Nebraska.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Damn, hey Kat, when your daughter finishes her residency can she go to a different state to practice?

  4. bostonboomer says:

    Moussa Koussa, Libyan foreign minister who defected, will not be given immunity from prosecution.

    http://feb17.info/general/live-libyan-unrest-march-31-2011/

  5. dakinikat says:

    Jim Imahofe, Senator and xtian Taliban supports brutal dictators and killing homosexuals in Africa with your tax dollars even when it’s against our established national policy.

    The Fellowship, founded in 1935, cultivates relationships with people in positions of power in both the United States and abroad (it has long been active in Africa) to promote conservative evangelical values. It has drawn controversy for, among other things, running the C Street House, where several members of Congress live, and its ties to proposed legislation in Uganda that would provide for the death penalty for the “crime” of homosexuality.

    Gbagbo’s backing from the Christian right has come from a few sources, some of which share a common link to the Fellowship. The reasons for the support are not clear, though it may have to do with both long-standing relationships between Gbagbo and evangelicals active in Africa, and the fact that Gbagbo is Christian and his opponent, Alassane Ouattara — the internationally recognized president of Ivory Coast — is Muslim.

    Chief among Gbagbo’s American supporters is Inhofe, who is the most influential Republican in the Senate when it comes to African affairs. Inhofe has been traveling to Africa regularly since the late 1990s and, while the trips are paid for by the taxpayer and typically involve some official business, the senator also engages in missionary work. He has been to Ivory Coast nine times and knows Gbagbo personally. That’s why, early on in the post-election crisis, when the State Department was frantically looking for intermediaries to reach out to Gbagbo to try to convince him to leave the country peacefully, the Obama administration asked Inhofe to talk to Gbagbo. But, according to a source familiar with the situation, Inhofe declined to do so.

  6. paper doll says:

    I can’t imagine why anyone would be surprised that the CIA is involved in Libya (they are everywhere).

    Exactly……

    But the progs are looking down their noses in strong disapproval

    because their dreamboat, Obama, is doing something. He’s not supposed to do…he’s just supposed to “be” and there fore be perfect ( and pure) . You might fail if you actully do something….they don’t like it

  7. Glenn McGahee says:

    That Imahofe dude from Oklahoma is senile. Here he is insisting on keeping earmarks in place but doesn’t mind gutting the rest of the budget for religious shit and of course to benefit his “contribute nothing” state. He’s actually considered to be one of the most influential Republicans?
    http://tinyurl.com/4goe4p5
    In another blurb on his website, he knocks Obama’s response to the gulf oil mess citing the use of chemical dispersant, which I do too, although he’s part of the movement to relax regulations and dismantle the EPA ( I watched it on CSPAN yesterday).
    Tell me Obama hasn’t decided Reagan got away with Iran/Contra and since he was such an inspirational leader (choke), Obama will help manufacture some GE created weaponry to help escalate a civil war and those weapons will eventually fall into the hands of the very person, Gaddafy, that we would like to see disposed of. The CIA has been involved in every single uprising we’ve witnessed so far. “Social media” my ass. Thats all I needed to convince myself that Facebook has become a tool for more warrantless eavesdropping and manipulation of the masses.
    Who is it again that was going to focus like a lazer beam on jobs, jobs, jobs?
    Who was it that condemned our misadventures in Iraq and Afganistan, promising to close Guantamono? and alternative fuels?
    What have we gotten?
    Abortion, gays, gardens, obesity, more Faith Based expenditures, higher food costs, higher oil prices, more homelessness, pollution, private health insurance profits and gridlock and Tea Parties.
    Please, let us paray that somebody, anybody, comes out of the woodwork and decides to run against both parties next year. I’ve never seen a better opportunity in my lifetime for a third party to run and win.
    BB,thanks for a great round-up. I wish there was something around for me to kick. Luckily, its just me and my little sweet dog so he’s safe.

    • gregoryp says:

      I don’t care who is responsible for these uprisings but it is definitely in everyone’s interests that the citizens of these countries have freedom and democracy. This dictatorship crap isn’t working out to well an only serves to oppress people. Unfortunately, our government has a history of propping up dictators that serve our purposes.

      Oppressed people lash out and are susceptible to becoming terrorists or to buy into extreme thinking. Having a free and open Arab world where their citizens are respected is exciting to me. Having people not crushed under political and economic ruin is exciting to me.

      Now this Qaddafi fellow has been a terrorist for a long, long, long time. He is directly responsible for Pan Am flight 103 being bombed and the deaths of those 270 people are on his head. It is time he is brought to justice for that crime and others.

  8. Peggy Sue says:

    Well, here’s something to make us all proud to be 21st century Americans:

    http://thinkprogress.org/2011/03/30/tennessee-evolution-education-bill/

    Thinly veiled regression by Republicans, which is what the party seems to embrace the best.

    Add this to the Indiana GOP proclamation that anti-choice legislation needs to be air tight because, ‘women could always fake rape to demand an abortion,’ we can now say we’ve entered the Dark Ages redux!

    Witch trials/burnings are right around the corner.

  9. Minkoff Minx says:

    Alleged rape victim to meet with journalists, Libyan government says – CNN.com

    A woman who was dragged away by Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s officials after telling journalists that some of his troops had raped her will finally be seen by journalists in the coming days, a government spokesman said Thursday.

    Eman al-Obeidy will “hopefully” be visited by two or three female journalists by Saturday, Mousa Ibrahim said.

    He added that he did not know where she was Thursday.

    “The only place she will be other than her family house” is a shelter for women who have been raped, kidnapped, or otherwise victimized, he said. “Maybe she is there.”

    But al-Obeidy’s mother, Aisha Ahmad, told CNN on Tuesday that she had not seen her. The family is worried about her.

    I sure hope we get some sort of news that she is okay…

    • bostonboomer says:

      I’ll believe it when I see it. I suspect the woman is dead.

      • bostonboomer says:

        If not, she will have been tortured until she agreed to say the rapes never happened. That’s probably why Ibriham said “hopefully.” They may be trying to break her down now, if she is still alive.

  10. Minkoff Minx says:

    Hey y’all, just want to say great comments today! A lot of thought going into them.

  11. Dario says:

    The information has become more crucial as the administration and its coalition partners move closer to providing direct military aid or guidance to the disorganized and beleaguered rebel army.

    I shouldn’t be, but I’m a little bit surprised that the U.S. intelligence apparatus is now figuring out who the leaders of the rebellion in Libya are. Isn’t that a little late?

    I’ve come to the conclusion that democracy is overrated. We know that our government, the biggest democracy in the world, is not of the people, by the people, or for the people.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Hillary met with the some of the leaders before all this started–have you forgotten that? But there are “leaders” in every city and town.

      What the investigators want to find out is how well trained the fighters are and whether they can handle weapons, etc.

      I don’t really like the idea of arming them myself.

    • dakinikat says:

      We don’t have a democracy. We have a republic.

  12. bostonboomer says:

    NATO warns Libyan rebels not to attack civilians, because the UN resolution requires them to protect civilians. The rebels aren’t immune from bombing if they do so.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/01/world/africa/01civilians.html?src=twrhp

    That should answer some questions we’ve had here about the consistency of the coalition in carrying out the resolution.

  13. bostonboomer says:

    Another Libyan official has resigned.

    Ali Abdessalam Treki, a former foreign minister and U.N. General Assembly president, had been named to represent Libya at the United Nations after a wave of defections early in the uprising. But Treki, who is currently in Cairo, said in a statement posted on several opposition websites that he was not going to accept that job or any other.

    “We should not let our country fall into an unknown fate,” he said. “It is our nation’s right to live in freedom, democracy and a good life.”

  14. affinis says:

    “The big problem with this is that the Republicans are bound to nominate someone who is to the right of Atilla the Hun and about as crazy and unempathetic as Muammar Gaddafi. I refuse to vote for Obama, but what if we end up with Michelle Bachmann or Mike Huckabee as President?”

    Everyone knows what I think about Obama. Worked my heart out to stop him in the 2008 election. Yet if the Republicans do nominate Atilla the Hun, I’m beginning to consider the possibility of casting a vote for Obama. Republicans already have the House and will probably retain it, and also will likely capture the Senate. I largely sat out the last election here in Wisconsin, out of disgust with what has happened to the Democratic Party (voting only for those candidates who really earned my vote, and abstaining in the other races). I think a lot of other Democrats in Wisconsin did the same. So we ended up with Walker. Bitter bitter consequences.

    It rankled when I saw many of the frontpagers at FDL (e.g. Rayne, etc.) trying to shut down discussion of rebellion against the Democrats in the last election (i.e. trying to shut down those who were arguing for abstaining or voting third party). But Walker (and the Fitzgerald brothers) are insane. Now I’m living in Fitzwalkerstan.

    As Sam Smith recently put it “the rapid rise of apparent mental instability in the Republican Party. You used to just disagree with Republicans; now you have to worry whether your children will be safe in their proximity.”

    • paper doll says:

      Yet if the Republicans do nominate Atilla the Hun, I’m beginning to consider the possibility of casting a vote for Obama

      Well that’s their plan of course. Make it seem a choice. But here’s not a wit of diffreance betwen them….just perhaps in style.

      If installed, the Hun will attack everything we hold dear. If Obama is reinstalled, he will watch and cheer theit ideas as Huns attack everything we hold dear…

      • Branjor says:

        Yes. The Huns have found out they don’t need to be in the majority or have the WH in order to be in charge.

        “To the right of Atilla the Hun” – I first read that expression in “Rubyfruit Jungle” by Rita Mae Brown. Love it.

      • affinis says:

        Well, I can’t argue with you that strongly, since your argument is the one the I’ve heretofore generally been making. And I agree that Obama will cheer many of the Hun’s ideas. When Joseph Cannon was arguing about this with the folks at Corrente (several months back), my views were on the Lambert/Corrente side. But the experience of living in Fitzwalkerstan is having an impact. The Republicans these days are much closer to JBS.

        • dakinikat says:

          Most of the Republicans these days are no better than what’s running Iran. They’re out for some kind of religious/business oligarchy.

  15. paper doll says:

    I wish I was more surprised

    Libyan rebels massacre black Africans

    http://tinyurl.com/4jqhb3c

    …“Because mercenaries from Chad and Mali are presumed to be fighting for him [Gaddafi], the lives of a million African refugees and thousands of African migrants are at risk. A Turkish construction worker told the British radio station BBC: ‘We had seventy to eighty people from Chad working for our company. They were massacred with pruning shears and axes, accused by the attackers of being Gaddafi’s troops. The Sudanese people were massacred. We saw it for ourselves.’ ”