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Archive for December 16th, 2009

Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ Awes the Skeptics

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:48 am by HL

Cameron’s ‘Avatar’ Awes the Skeptics
The film industry has produced no shortage of spectacles over the last hundred years, from “Ben Hur” to “Star Wars.” In terms of technological sorcery and visual wonder, James Cameron’s “Avatar” now ranks chief among them.

The film industry has produced no shortage of spectacles over the last hundred years, from “Ben Hur” to “Star Wars.” In terms of technological sorcery and visual wonder, James Cameron’s “Avatar” now ranks chief among them.

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Israeli-British Relations Hurt by Arrest Warrant
British Foreign Secretary David Milliband and other U.K. diplomats took some serious heat from Israeli officials after an arrest warrant was issued in London earlier this week for Israel’s former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (above), accusing her of committing war crimes against Palestinians during last winter’s war in Gaza.

Livni

British Foreign Secretary David Milliband and other U.K. diplomats took some serious heat from Israeli officials after an arrest warrant was issued in London earlier this week for Israel’s former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (above), accusing her of committing war crimes against Palestinians during last winter’s war in Gaza.

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House Democrats Propose $50 Billion For Jobs-Boosting Projects

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:47 am by HL

House Democrats Propose $50 Billion For Jobs-Boosting Projects
WASHINGTON — Responding to calls among rank-and-file Democrats for more infrastructure spending, House leaders Tuesday unveiled a plan to add almost $50 billion in spending…

Taylor Marsh: It’s Not Lieberman, It’s Obama
We’ve gone from the Teddy Kennedy health care bill to the Joe Lieberman bill. The Senate proving it’s a failed institution if the Democratic majority…

Nate Silver: Progressives Are Crazy to Oppose the Senate Health Care Bill
I understand that most of the liberal skepticism over the Senate bill is well intentioned. But it has become way, way off the mark. Where…


Right-wing blogs falsely claim decline in free mammogram screenings followed task force recommendations

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:46 am by HL

Right-wing blogs falsely claim decline in free mammogram screenings followed task force recommendations

Right-wing blogs Gateway Pundit and Say Anything recently seized on an Associated Press article which reported that 20 states facing budget strains have cut back on free cancer screenings, such as mammograms, to claim that the declines followed recommendations made by the US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) in November. In fact, as the AP article made clear, this statistic came from an American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network survey, which was conducted from July 2008 to April 2009, months before the USPSTF issued its recommendation.

Right-wing blogs claimed screening cuts came after task force recommendations

Gateway Pundit: “20 States Cut Mammograms After Government Report Released.” In a December 14 post titled, “Change!…20 States Cut Mammograms After Government Report Released,” Gateway Pundit’s Jim Hoft stated, “This won’t end well,” and falsely claimed that “[a] full 20 states have now cut funding for mammogram screenings for low income women after a government task force last month made its recommendations that women in their 40s should stop routinely having annual mammograms.”

Say Anything also tied free screening cuts to task force. In a December 14 post, Say Anything blog asserted that “the Obama administration came right out and said that the panel should be ignored.  But the panel hasn’t been ignored. A full 20 states have now cut funding for mammogram screenings after this task force made its recommendations.” The article also claimed “the point here is that when the government provides you with health care they tend to ration it. They make decisions for you, and those decisions aren’t usually so much made with your best interests in mind but theirs.”

Survey on screenings ended months before USPSTF issued mammogram recommendations

AP: The American Cancer Society survey was conducted from July 2008 to April 2009.  The AP article, which both Hoft and Say Anything cited in their posts, reported that through the Amercan Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network’s “unofficial survey of programs for July 2008 through April 2009, the organization found that state budget strains are forcing some programs to reject people who would otherwise qualify for free mammograms and Pap smears. Just how many are turned away isn’t known; in some cases, the women are screened through other programs or referred to different providers.”

USPSTF mammography recommendations were released in November of 2009. The USPSTF issued its recommendation for biennial mammogram screenings for woman aged 50-74 in November 2009. The task force had previously recommended that women have regular mammograms starting at age 40.

Decline in screenings reportedly attributed to budget shortfalls, not task force recommendations

AP: “The economy has forced cutbacks in screenings.”  According to the AP article, the American Cancer Society survey found that the cutbacks in free mammograms and Pap smears for low-income women were driven by state budget shortfalls: “In the unofficial survey of programs for July 2008 through April 2009, the organization found that state budget strains are forcing some programs to reject people who would otherwise qualify for free mammograms and Pap smears.” The article quotes Claudia Hutton, a spokesperson for the New York Department of Health saying, “We don’t do this lightly … This is not a cut that we would have made if the state had the money, but the state just does not have the money.”


Arpaio Turns to Former Bush DOJ Official To Stymie Federal Probe

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:44 am by HL

Arpaio Turns to Former Bush DOJ Official To Stymie Federal Probe
Sheriff Joe Arpaio has turned to a heavy-hitting former Bush Justice Department official and veteran Washington lawyer to help thwart a federal probe of his controversial law-enforcement tactics.

Obama Administration Will Restore Missing Bush White House Emails
The White House has announced a settlement in a lawsuit filed by two good-government groups concerning emails that went missing over a two-and-a-half year period during the Bush administration.


Judge Halts Ban On ACORN Funding — For Now
A judge has placed a preliminary injunction on the Congressional ban on funding ACORN.


Senate drops public option, Medicare buy-in from health bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:40 am by HL

Senate drops public option, Medicare buy-in from health bill
Excerpt: Senate Democrats have ceded two key components of President Obama’s health care reform proposals: The proposed Medicare buy-in for those ages 55-64 and a public option. These components of the bill were apparently dropped in a cave-in to Republicans, centrist Democrats, and Joe Lieberman (I-CT). Sen. Lieberman, a crucial vote if the bill is to garner […]


Lieberman May Run Again as a Republican

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:39 am by HL

Lieberman May Run Again as a Republican
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) said that he would not rule out running for re-election in 2012 as a Republican, CNN reports.

Said Lieberman: “I like being an independent, so that’s definitely a possibility. But I’d say all options are open.”


Congress’s Attempt at Financial Reform Is Very Weak Broth

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:38 am by HL

Congress’s Attempt at Financial Reform Is Very Weak Broth
The latest efforts to reform Wall Street don’t away with too-big-to-fail banks, and that’s a big problem — here’s what progressives are saying about it.

The latest efforts to reform Wall Street don't away with too-big-to-fail banks, and that's a big problem — here's what progressives are saying about it.

Health-Care Bill After Compromise with Lieberman: Worse Than Nothing
Thanks to Joe Lieberman, the Senate health-care bill — now with no public option or Medicare buy-in — leaves progressives no choice but to kill it.

Thanks to Joe Lieberman, the Senate health-care bill — now with no public option or Medicare buy-in — leaves progressives no choice but to kill it.

Meet the FBI Operative Who Threatened My Life, and the Gov.-Elect Who May Have Helped Him
Did NJ Republican Chris Christie grant legal protection to neo-nazi radio host Hal Turner for his undercover role in a federal program to "flush out" violent far-right plots?

Did NJ Republican Chris Christie grant legal protection to neo-nazi radio host Hal Turner for his undercover role in a federal program to "flush out" violent far-right plots?

Tea Party Activist: Lieberman Staffer Threatened to Have Me Arrested
At a Capitol Hill rally today, the Tea Party Patriots’ Mark Meckler claimed that a Lieberman staffer threatened to have the right-wing activist arrested.

At a Capitol Hill rally today, the Tea Party Patriots' Mark Meckler claimed that a Lieberman staffer threatened to have the right-wing activist arrested.


Goldman Sachs: Friend of Planet Earth

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:37 am by HL

Goldman Sachs: Friend of Planet Earth
O.K., I have now said something nice about Goldman Sachs. And, there is actually some truth in this title. Some people have pointed out that Goldman Sachs is one of the main forces lobbying for the cap-and-trade system of…


EarthEnvironmentClimate changeCarbon CycleCarbon Management

Republican Gomorrah or Kingdom of God?
Max opens our conversation with a question: “can a shattered Republican Party reunite in time for 2012, or will its fixation on ideological purity and the histrionics of its leaders prevent it from returning to national power?” His starting…


RepublicanJames DobsonUnited StatesJohn EnsignPolitics


Top commander: Afghan withdrawal timeline will be delayed.

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:36 am by HL

Top commander: Afghan withdrawal timeline will be delayed.
In his speech announcing that he will be sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, President Obama said that we would “begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.” Following this announcement, several of Obama’s closest advisors — including Gen. David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates — downplayed […]

ustroops1 In his speech announcing that he will be sending an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, President Obama said that we would “begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011.” Following this announcement, several of Obama’s closest advisors — including Gen. David Petraeus and Defense Secretary Robert Gates — downplayed a timeline for withdrawal and suggested that troops may actually not start exiting the country by the July 2011 deadline. Now, the Christian Science Monitor is reporting that a top commander told the press that the new troops may not be fully deployed until November, which would considerably delay our exit from the country:

The full complement of American forces deploying to Afghanistan under President Obama’s new strategy will not arrive until November, a top commander here said. The new, more gradual timeline means it will take longer for Mr. Obama’s surge of forces to arrive, thus potentially blunting their impact in the surge’s initial phases and leading to a slower drawdown of forces after July 2011. […]

Originally, the Obama administration had hoped to accelerate the deployment of the 30,000 additional forces in its get-in-and-get-out approach. The idea was to deploy new forces quickly and then begin a gradual withdrawal in July 2011. Senior administration officials said Dec. 1, the day Obama announced his new strategy, that it would take six months for all 30,000 troops to arrive.

But in subsequent testimony on Capitol Hill, Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the bulk of the forces would deploy in the summer and “finish out by fall.” But the commander for day-to-day operations here said Monday it will probably take a bit longer. “It will happen between nine and 11 months by the time you get it all done,” Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of the International Security Assistance Force’s (ISAF) Joint Command, told reporters in Kabul Monday.

“The more we hear about the timeline, the more doubts I have that it is a meaningful timeline, in terms of transiting the military force out of the country,’’ Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) told the press following a congressional hearing on the war last week.


U.S. gave up billions in tax money in deal for Citigroup’s bailout repayment

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 16th, 2009 5:35 am by HL

U.S. gave up billions in tax money in deal for Citigroup’s bailout repayment
The federal government quietly agreed to forgo billions of dollars in potential tax payments from Citigroup as part of the deal announced this week to wean the company from the massive taxpayer bailout that helped it survive the financial crisis.

Public cooling to health-care reform as debate drags on, poll finds
As the Senate struggles to meet a self-imposed, year-end deadline to complete work on legislation to overhaul the nation’s health-care system, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll finds the public generally fearful that a revamped system would bring higher costs while worsening the quality of thei…

Obama urges Senate to pass health-care bill; Lieberman signals support
President Obama urged Senate Democrats on Tuesday to overcome lingering disputes and push a health-care overhaul through the chamber before Christmas, as vigorous negotiations continued behind the scenes to lock down the last votes needed for final passage.

Federal Diary: Abortion-payment story draws reader response
The Federal Diary gets lots of mail, some of it fit to print.