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Archive for May 31st, 2009

Climate Change Kills

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 31st, 2009 4:40 am by HL

Climate Change Kills

Climate Change :(

Researchers have issued a report declaring that climate change is already killing 300,000 people a year and that the number will only increase as heat, flood, storm and fire combine to create “the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.”

The Guardian:

Climate change is already responsible for 300,000 deaths a year and is affecting 300m people, according to the first comprehensive study of the human impact of global warming.

It projects that increasingly severe heatwaves, floods, storms and forest fires will be responsible for as many as 500,000 deaths a year by 2030, making it the greatest humanitarian challenge the world faces.

Economic losses due to climate change today amount to more than $125bn a year — more than the all present world aid. The report comes from former UN secretary general Kofi Annan’s thinktank, the Global Humanitarian Forum. By 2030, the report says, climate change could cost $600bn a year.

Civil unrest may also increase because of weather-related events, the report says: “Four billion people are vulnerable now and 500m are now at extreme risk. Weather-related disasters … bring hunger, disease, poverty and lost livelihoods. They pose a threat to social and political stability”

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U.S.-Israel on the Rocks

Israel US

Tensions have been mounting between the U.S. and its usual BFF, Israel. President Obama’s demand for an end to the construction of settlements in the West Bank was rejected by Israel earlier this week. Obama has responded by suggesting that Israel’s intransigence endangers U.S. security.

The Guardian:

Increasingly fractious relations between the US and Israel hit a low unseen in nearly two decades yesterday after the Jewish state rejected President Obama’s demand for an end to settlement construction in the West Bank, and the president responded by suggesting that Israeli intransigence endangers America’s security.

The dispute, which blew in during the open hours before Obama met the Palestinian leader, Mahmoud Abbas, reflects the depth of the shift in US policy away from accommodating Israel, and towards pressuring it to end years of stalling negotiations over the creation of a Palestinian state as it continues to grab land in the occupied territories.

Obama put down a marker at a difficult meeting with the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, in Washington last week when he demanded a halt to the expansion of settlements, which now house close to 500,000 in the West Bank and occupied East Jerusalem, as they are a major obstacle to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.

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Richard Clarke Slams Cheney, Rice: “The Trauma Of 9/11 Is No Excuse”

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 31st, 2009 4:39 am by HL

Richard Clarke Slams Cheney, Rice: “The Trauma Of 9/11 Is No Excuse”
Top officials from the Bush administration have hit upon a revealing new theme as they retrospectively justify their national security policies. Call it the White…

Obamas Date Night PHOTOS: Barack Takes Michelle To NYC For Dinner, Broadway Play
NEW YORK (AP) – President Barack Obama made good on a campaign promise to his most important supporter Saturday night — his wife, Michelle. The…

Leah Anthony Libresco: Wikipedia Removes Semi-Protection from Civil Liberties
The public square just got a whole lot less open. On May 29th, Wikipedia, “the encyclopedia anyone can edit” banned all IP addresses affiliated with…

Obama Administration Vows To Keep Using ‘States Secrets’ Defense
The Obama administration has informed a federal judge it will continue to invoke the “state secrets” privilege in a legal battle with an Islamic charity…

George Lakoff: Empathy, Sotomayor, and Democracy: The Conservative Stealth Strategy
We cannot let conservatives get away with redefining empathy as irrational and idiosyncratic personal feeling. Empathy is the basis of our democracy and its true meaning must be defended.


NY Times continues to mislead on Ricci

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 31st, 2009 4:38 am by HL

NY Times continues to mislead on Ricci

In a May 29 article titled, “Sotomayor’s Focus on Race Issues May Be Hurdle,” The New York Times reported that “[i]n one of the few cases dealing with” affirmative action that Supreme Court nominee Judge Sonia Sotomayor “helped decide on the federal appeals court, Ricci v. New Haven, she ruled in favor of the city’s ‘s [sic] decision to discard the results of an exam to select firefighters for promotion because too few minority firefighters scored high enough to advance.” The article went on to uncritically quote the assertion by Gary Marx, executive director of the conservative Judicial Confirmation Network, that Sotomayor’s “nomination and the Ricci case have brought racial quotas back as a national issue.” The article did not note, however, that the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, in an opinion written by one of Sotomayor’s colleagues and joined by Sotomayor and three other judges, that precedent in interpreting Title VII’s employment discrimination prohibitions compelled the decision in the Ricci case.

The city of New Haven, Connecticut, has argued that it was not implementing “racial quotas,” but rather was, in the words of SCOTUSblog contributor and H&R partner Kevin Russell, “simply trying to avoid a violation of Title VII’s disparate impact provision.” In addition to the 2nd Circuit ruling, Supreme Court Justice David Souter — whom Sotomayor would replace — made comments during oral argument in which he identified what he said was a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation” faced by the city of New Haven in its efforts to comply with Title VII’s prohibitions on employment discrimination.

As Media Matters for America documented, a May 28 Times article similarly uncritically quoted Committee for Justice executive director Curt Levey’s claim that Sotomayor “had a very specific agenda” in the Ricci case without providing these facts which undermine that claim.

From the May 29 Times article:

As a lawyer, she joined the National Council of La Raza and the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund, two Hispanic civil rights groups that advocate for vigorous affirmative action. As a judge, she has repeatedly argued for diversity on the bench by alluding to the insights she gleaned from her Latina background.

In one of the few cases dealing with the subject that she helped decide on the federal appeals court, Ricci v. New Haven, she ruled in favor of the city’s ‘s decision to discard the results of an exam to select firefighters for promotion because too few minority firefighters scored high enough to advance. White firefighters who had scored well on the discarded test sued, and the Supreme Court heard arguments on the case in April.

“Her nomination and the Ricci case have brought racial quotas back as a national issue,” said Mr. Marx of the Judicial Confirmation Network.

The public response, however, is hard to foresee. Few groups conducted public polls on the issue as it faded in recent years, and the results from those that did reveal a consistent ambivalence, said Michael Dimock, a pollster with the nonpartisan Pew Research Center.

When asked a question about “affirmative action or preferential treatment for minorities,” the public has consistently opposed the idea by a margin of two to one. But when asked about “affirmative action programs designed to help women and minorities,” an even bigger majority has supported them.


Source: CIA Dissembles In Briefings

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 31st, 2009 4:37 am by HL

Source: CIA Dissembles In Briefings
Yet more evidence that the CIA may not have been totally up front with Nancy Pelosi during that contested torture briefing from 2002… A former “deep-cover” CIA operative tells CQ’s Jeff Stein that agency briefers often hide facts or shade…

Feds: Kerik Lied To White House
Looks like Bernie Kerik’s legal woes aren’t going away any time soon. The former NYC police commissioner and Giuliani crony has been indicted in Washington DC on charges of lying to the Bush White House officials who were vetting him…

In Push-Back On Torture Pics Report, Is Obama Mimicking Bush?
We’ve told you in recent months about the Obama administration’s disappointing tendency to mimic some of its predecessor’s more troubling war-on-terror tactics. But is the administration’s approach to public relations another area to add to the list? Yesterday’s aggressive push-back…






Ponzi Returns

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 31st, 2009 4:35 am by HL

Ponzi Returns


Sotomayor Helped Puncture Vince Foster Conspiracy Theories

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 31st, 2009 4:34 am by HL

Sotomayor Helped Puncture Vince Foster Conspiracy Theories
Among Sonia Sotomayor’s many judicial accomplishments is the piercing of one of the federal government’s unnecessary and counterproductive claims of secrecy–and the right-wing conspiracy theories it generated. As the Reporters Committee for Freedom of the Press notes, in 1995, Sotomayor…

Former Ambassador Indyk Tells Israelis Some Unpleasant Truths
Check out this blockbuster interview with former ambassador (twice) to Israel, Martin Indyk. It appears in Yediot Achronoth today in Hebrew and is very different from standard interviews with former and possibly future diplomats, Here’s a typical bit of Indyk…


Horton confirms reports that unreleased torture photos show rape and sexual assault.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 31st, 2009 4:33 am by HL

Horton confirms reports that unreleased torture photos show rape and sexual assault.
This week, the Daily Telegraph reported that the torture photos President Obama recently decided to withhold from the public depict “rape and sexual abuse.” The Pentagon denied the report, saying, “None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article.” But yesterday, Scott Horton reported that he has confirmed that […]

This week, the Daily Telegraph reported that the torture photos President Obama recently decided to withhold from the public depict “rape and sexual abuse.” The Pentagon denied the report, saying, “None of the photos in question depict the images that are described in that article.” But yesterday, Scott Horton reported that he has confirmed that the photos do, in fact, “depict sexually explicit acts,” including “a government contractor engaged in an act of sodomy with a male prisoner and scenes of forced masturbation,” as well as “penetration involving phosphorous sticks and brooms.” Horton writes further:

A senior military officer familiar with the photos told me that they would likely provoke a storm of outrage if released. … Some show U.S. personnel engaged in sexual acts with prisoners and each other. In one, a female prisoner appears to have been forced to expose her breasts to be photographed. In another, a prisoner is suspended naked upside down from the top bunk of a bed in a stress position. […]

Still other withheld photographs have been circulating among U.S. soldiers who served in Iraq. One soldier showed them to me, including a photograph in which a male in a U.S. military uniform receives oral sex from a female prisoner.

Horton also obtained what he characterizes as “rarely seen Abu Ghraib torture photos,” which can be viewed here.


How President Obama Made His Energy Platform ‘Pop’

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 31st, 2009 4:32 am by HL

How President Obama Made His Energy Platform ‘Pop’
After a long day of campaigning on July 8, candidate Barack Obama arrived at his Chicago headquarters for a three-hour brainstorming session about a suddenly hot issue: energy and climate change.


Strategy Is Being Devises to Protect Use of Bisphenol A and Block U.S. Ban
Manufacturers of cans for beverages and foods and some of their biggest customers, including Coca-Cola, are trying to devise a public relations and lobbying strategy to block government bans of a controversial chemical used in the linings of metal cans and lids.

As Burris Tries to Settle In at the Senate, He Faces New Questions
KANKAKEE, Ill. — Roland W. Burris entered the Senate in an exceptional fashion, but he has worked hard to reshape his tenure into a traditional one.

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Middle East Hangs on Obama’s Words

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on May 31st, 2009 4:29 am by HL

Middle East Hangs on Obama’s Words
Simon Tisdall, The Guardian

Illogical GM Plan Shows Obama is No Vulcan
James Pethokoukis, Reuters

Mr. Obama and Mr. Abbas

There’s No Room for Partisanship on Iran
Sen. Joseph Lieberman, WSJ