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Archive for December 19th, 2009

Dozens of Pakistani Politicians Called to Corruption Courts

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:45 am by HL

Dozens of Pakistani Politicians Called to Corruption Courts
Pakistan’s Supreme Court dealt a blow to many in the country’s ruling elite Friday by reopening corruption cases against “thousands of politicians,” according to The New York Times, and calling for dozens of those officials to appear before the courts. Included on the list was President Asif Ali Zardari, but his position grants him immunity against prosecution. The same can’t be said, however, for a couple of his key ministers.  —KA The New York Times: But as Mr. Zardari and his party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, the biggest in Pakistan, battled to survive, a groundswell of media and public opinion seemed to exult in the decisiveness of the Supreme Court decision, suggesting there would no longer be a tolerant attitude toward corruption among politicians in Pakistan. “We’ve never seen the mighty in this country held accountable,” said Babar Sattar, a Harvard-trained constitutional lawyer. Now that the court, backed by public opinion, had come down hard on corruption in a way not seen before in Pakistan, the affected politicians were not sure how to react, Mr. Sattar said. The confused response was evident when Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani dismissed the Interior Secretary, Qamar-uz Zaman Chaudhry, and three officials of Federal Investigation Agency Friday evening for barring Mr. Mukhtar, the defense minister, from traveling abroad on Thursday. The incident was an embarrassment to the ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party and the defense minister, who was leaving for China on an official visit and called the move “shameful.” Read more

Zardari

Pakistan’s Supreme Court dealt a blow to many in the country’s ruling elite Friday by reopening corruption cases against “thousands of politicians,” according to The New York Times, and calling for dozens of those officials to appear before the courts. Included on the list was President Asif Ali Zardari, but his position grants him immunity against prosecution. The same can’t be said, however, for a couple of his key ministers.? —KA

The New York Times:

But as Mr. Zardari and his party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, the biggest in Pakistan, battled to survive, a groundswell of media and public opinion seemed to exult in the decisiveness of the Supreme Court decision, suggesting there would no longer be a tolerant attitude toward corruption among politicians in Pakistan.

“We’ve never seen the mighty in this country held accountable,” said Babar Sattar, a Harvard-trained constitutional lawyer.

Now that the court, backed by public opinion, had come down hard on corruption in a way not seen before in Pakistan, the affected politicians were not sure how to react, Mr. Sattar said.

The confused response was evident when Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani dismissed the Interior Secretary, Qamar-uz Zaman Chaudhry, and three officials of Federal Investigation Agency Friday evening for barring Mr. Mukhtar, the defense minister, from traveling abroad on Thursday.

The incident was an embarrassment to the ruling Pakistan Peoples’ Party and the defense minister, who was leaving for China on an official visit and called the move “shameful.”

Read more

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Forecast Uncertain at Copenhagen Conference’s End
The world leaders who showed up for the final stretch of the Copenhagen climate summit, perhaps assuming that their lesser representatives would have paved the way for a relatively easy finale, were in for some long hours and tough talks lasting into the night. Things didn’t go as planned, it seems, and rifts between countries weren’t being resolved in time Friday to strike the deals they sorely needed to make.  —KA Update: The New York Times has filed this report, describing some drama that went down Friday, as well as the pared-down agreement that the assembled leaders eventually reached. The Guardian: Enter Barack Obama. All week long, negotiators at the Copenhagen summit have been expressing hope that Obama would harness his personal charm and his authority as leader of the world’s biggest economy to ease the divisions between rich and poor, and old and new superpowers, and come to a deal. Air Force One touched down in Copenhagen at around 9am yesterday morning, and Obama immediately went into a huddle with 18 other world leaders. But there was one significant absence. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, sent his vice minister for foreign affairs, He Yafei, in his place. Amid the sense of rising dread, the United Nations machinery moved ahead, opening the gathering of world leaders which was supposed to be a showcase for a global action plan to keep the world from warming beyond 2C. The air of desperation was almost palpable. “I implore you,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN-general, pleading with world leaders to find a way out of the chaos. Exercise your conscience, he said. You hold the fate of future generations in your hands. “It will be your legacy for all time.” But the leaders seemed incapable of thinking of the global good. Instead, the second fissure of this summit – China versus the industrialised countries – opened up even further. Read more

polar bears

The world leaders who showed up for the final stretch of the Copenhagen climate summit, perhaps assuming that their lesser representatives would have paved the way for a relatively easy finale, were in for some long hours and tough talks lasting into the night. Things didn’t go as planned, it seems, and rifts between countries weren’t being resolved in time Friday to strike the deals they sorely needed to make.? —KA

Update: The New York Times has filed this report, describing some drama that went down Friday, as well as the pared-down agreement that the assembled leaders eventually reached.

The Guardian:

Enter Barack Obama. All week long, negotiators at the Copenhagen summit have been expressing hope that Obama would harness his personal charm and his authority as leader of the world’s biggest economy to ease the divisions between rich and poor, and old and new superpowers, and come to a deal.

Air Force One touched down in Copenhagen at around 9am yesterday morning, and Obama immediately went into a huddle with 18 other world leaders. But there was one significant absence. Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, sent his vice minister for foreign affairs, He Yafei, in his place.

Amid the sense of rising dread, the United Nations machinery moved ahead, opening the gathering of world leaders which was supposed to be a showcase for a global action plan to keep the world from warming beyond 2C.

The air of desperation was almost palpable. “I implore you,” said Ban Ki-moon, the UN-general, pleading with world leaders to find a way out of the chaos. Exercise your conscience, he said. You hold the fate of future generations in your hands. “It will be your legacy for all time.”

But the leaders seemed incapable of thinking of the global good. Instead, the second fissure of this summit – China versus the industrialised countries – opened up even further.

Read more

Related Entries



Limbaugh Calls For “Massive Bombing Raids,” War With Iran (AUDIO)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:44 am by HL

Limbaugh Calls For “Massive Bombing Raids,” War With Iran (AUDIO)
On his show Friday, Rush Limbaugh warned his listeners that “if we don’t pound Iran into submission at some point they are going to get…

Rob Richie: Instant Runoff Voting News: IRV a Hit in Twin Cities, in Media, on Campus and in the UK
Here’s an excerpt from the FairVote Reformer for December 2009 focused on instant runoff voting. Elections on November 3rd marked a big advance for instant…

David Sirota: White House Drug Importation/PhRMA Deal Scandal Thickens with New Contradictions…
NOTE: For background on this scandal, see this and this previous post. TPM has a new story up about the now-thickening drug importation scandal -…

COBRA Help For Laid-Off Workers May Come By Christmas
WASHINGTON — Laid-off workers may soon get a reprieve from one of their worries: health insurance. A proposal to extend the health insurance subsidies…


Fox & Friends outrage over Franken-Lieberman exchange undermined by Lieberman himself

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:43 am by HL

Fox & Friends outrage over Franken-Lieberman exchange undermined by Lieberman himself

During the December 18 edition of Fox News’ Fox & Friends, hosts Steve Doocy, Gretchen Carlson, and Brian Kilmeade repeatedly attacked Sen. Al Franken — calling him “uncivil,” a “newbie,” and “an angry clown” — for denying Sen. Joe Lieberman extra speaking time on the Senate floor. The Fox & Friends hosts ignored that, in fact, Franken, Lieberman, and Majority Leader Harry Reid all stated on December 17 that Franken was following Reid’s orders not to grant any speech extensions.

Fox & Friends hosts attack Franken for denying Lieberman extra speech time

Kilmeade: Franken “is an angry clown. He’s a liberal who’s mad at Joe Lieberman.” Kilmeade stated that Franken was an “angry comedian” and “now he’s an angry senator.” Kilmeade also stated that Franken “needs to be chastised by Senator Reid. … He needs somebody in his own party that has power over him to say, ‘Al, you’re embarrassing us.’ ” He later stated, “He’s an angry clown. He’s a liberal who’s mad at Joe Lieberman for standing up for his conscience.”

Carlson: Franken is part of “trend” of “newbie politicians that don’t know exactly the protocol.” Carlson suggested that Franken is part of a “trend” of “newbie politicians that don’t know exactly the protocol.” She later added, “You have the senior senator John McCain saying I’ve never seen this happen before, and the freshman senator Al Franken maybe not knowing how the rules are played.”

Doocy: “Stay classy, Al Franken.” Doocy stated during the program that Franken was “uncivil” and “not very polite” in the “snippy” exchange. He later added, “Stay classy, Al Franken.”

But Franken, Reid, Lieberman say Franken was following request not to grant extensions

Franken: “I really just had no choice.” Minnesota Public Radio reported on December 17 that “Franken says Majority leader Harry Reid ordered all senators who presided today to keep speeches to their ten minute limits and not grant any extensions” for senators of either party:

Franken says he wasn’t trying to slight Lieberman and in fact supports the amendment to the health care bill Lieberman was discussing.

“I agreed with every word he said for the entire 10 minutes, and I think he probably only had maybe 30 seconds left,” he said. “He didn’t take it personally at all.”

Franken says Majority leader Harry Reid ordered all senators who presided today to keep speeches to their ten minute limits and not grant any extensions.

“Usually you’re allowed to do this and, just, today we were told not to let it happen because there’s been some attempt to string out the debate,” Franken said. “So, I really just had no choice.”

Reid’s office reportedly said Franken was adhering to his request. Minneapolis Star Tribune correspondent Eric Roper reported on December 17: “A spokesman for Majority Leader Harry Reid said that Franken was merely adhering to a request from Reid to strictly enforce the rules because the Senate is already in session practically ’round the clock.’ ” Politico reported on December 18 that Reid spokesman Jim Manley stated of Reid’s request, “We did that to maintain order and that no senator had an unfair advantage over another in terms of speaking. … It was a simple request of the leader and Sen. Franken was adhering to the request of his leadership.”

Wash. Post: Lieberman said Franken “was following procedures … handed down by Senate leaders.” On December 17, The Washington Post‘s Joel Achenbach reported:

Lieberman laughed off the incident as much ado about nothing when he returned to the chamber a couple of hours later. He said that Franken apparently was following procedures for sticking to time limits that had been handed down by Senate leaders. Franken had made a good-natured gesture with his hands, Lieberman said, “as if to say ‘There’s nothing I can do’.”

Lieberman said he appreciated his good friend McCain coming to his defense.

“No hard feelings,” he said.

Sen. Begich similarly objected to request by Sen. Cornyn for more time earlier in the day

McClatchy: Begich also “asked to limit everyone to 10-minute speeches.” Politico reported that “[e]arlier on the floor, Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), presiding over the Senate, objected to Sen. John Cornyn’s (R-Texas) request for additional time to speak — clearly annoying Cornyn.” McClatchy reported that Begich “had been asked to limit everyone to 10-minute speeches to speed up proceedings” and that “Cornyn’s spokesman Kevin McLaughlin said they quickly figured out it was ‘obviously procedural.’ “


Presented By:

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:42 am by HL

Presented By:

Maddow Picks Up Chamber Story, Defends Hooters’ Honor (VIDEO)
Last night Rachel Maddow picked up TPMmuckraker’s reporting on the Chamber of Commerce anti-health reform effort involving what Maddow calls an “American family dining chain that’s famous for its wings.” That would be Hooters….


Harry Reid’s Chamber of Horrors

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:39 am by HL

Harry Reid’s Chamber of Horrors


7 Reasons for Atheists to Celebrate the Holidays

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:38 am by HL

7 Reasons for Atheists to Celebrate the Holidays
Even though the standard winter holidays are supposedly religious, there are ample reasons for atheists to celebrate, too.

Even though the standard winter holidays are supposedly religious, there are ample reasons for atheists to celebrate, too.

Quitting Meat Is at the Heart of 2009’s Health Zeitgeist, And Author Kathy Freston Is Leading the Debate
Have you been missing out on one of AlterNet’s most popular authors? Here are 10 of Freston’s best works from the year.

Have you been missing out on one of AlterNet's most popular authors? Here are 10 of Freston's best works from the year.

Copenhagen Talks End With Agreement, But No Binding Deal: So, How Screwed Are We?
‘The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.’

'The governments which moved so swiftly to save the banks have bickered and filibustered while the biosphere burns.'

Pockets of White America Are in the Throes of an Existential Crisis
As the Census "time bomb" ticks, fear mounts over a perceived loss of whites’ raw power – demographic, social, economic, and political.

As the Census "time bomb" ticks, fear mounts over a perceived loss of whites' raw power – demographic, social, economic, and political.


Slouching Toward Health Care Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:37 am by HL

Slouching Toward Health Care Reform
“Don’t make the perfect the enemy of the better,” says the President and congressional insiders when confronted with the sorry spectacle of a health-care bill whose scope and ambition continue to shrink, and whose long-term costs to typical Americans…


United StatesHealth carePresident of the United StatesSenateWhite House

Fundamentalism, Demonization, And Bipartisanship.
Since Max Blumenthal raised the issue of the Democratic Party and the religious right, I thought I’d add a few more thoughts on that and Republican Gomorrah….


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Joe Lieberman: Senator from Aetna
Everyone’s trying to figure out: What’s with Joe Lieberman? To secure Lieberman’s support, in order to get 60 votes to avoid a filibuster, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid last week replaced the public option in the health reform bill with…



Joe LiebermanUnited StatesSenateGovernmentJohn McCain


Single-Payer Advocates Anthony Weiner And Bernie Sanders Argue The Benefits Of Passing Senate Bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:36 am by HL

Single-Payer Advocates Anthony Weiner And Bernie Sanders Argue The Benefits Of Passing Senate Bill
On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) — a stalwart proponent of a single-payer universal health care system — emphasized the merits of passing the watered-down Senate health care compromise. “It’s not that they got a bad bill on their hands, it’s a pretty good bill,” Weiner said. “I think that Howard Dean is […]

On MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) — a stalwart proponent of a single-payer universal health care systememphasized the merits of passing the watered-down Senate health care compromise. “It’s not that they got a bad bill on their hands, it’s a pretty good bill,” Weiner said. “I think that Howard Dean is wrong. And I don’t think we should let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” Explaining his reasoning, Weiner said:

WEINER: I understand there is no public option but there are 30 million people who are going to be getting health insurance who don’t have it today. Those people are going to be getting more efficient, less expensive care — not passing onto you and me higher costs. That’s a good thing. That’s an unvarnished good thing.

Watch it:

Last night on MSNBC’s Countdown with Keith Olbermann, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), also an avowed supporter of single-payer, reiterated that he’s “not sure” whether he’ll vote for the Senate bill, but is working on making it a “better bill.” But he added:

I’ve known Howard Dean for many, many years. I think a lot of his criticism of this bill is constructive. And I think he makes good points. On the other hand, as a United States Senator and a member of Congress, I got to deal with the reality that a lot of people are hurting out there. There are a lot of people who desperately need health insurance, so that has got to be taken into consideration.

We’ve all got to deal with the reality that if this bill goes down, what does it mean politically in this country. When is the next time legislation is going to come up which will increase health care reform for 30 million people, provide insurance, deal with some of the major abuses in terms of pre-existing conditions. … Is this a good bill? It is not a good bill. But we’re going to try to make it as good as we can.

In this morning’s New York Times, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman — himself a supporter of the single-payer concept — writes a column titled, “Pass the bill.” “Let’s all take a deep breath, and consider just how much good this bill would do,” he writes. “With all its flaws, the Senate health bill would be the biggest expansion of the social safety net since Medicare, greatly improving the lives of millions. Getting this bill would be much, much better than watching health care reform fail.”


Republicans point to new details in Walpin firing

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:35 am by HL

Republicans point to new details in Walpin firing
Congressional Republicans raised new concerns this week about the Obama administration’s firing of Gerald Walpin, who served as inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Ethics office closes inquiry into actions of Murtha, 2 others
A government office tasked with vetting ethics allegations against members of Congress has closed its investigation into the ties between three members of a powerful House subcommittee and a lobbying firm founded by a former Capitol Hill aide.

Analysis: Obama’s principles on the line in Copenhagen
In urging leaders Friday to sacrifice some national interests to forge a climate change agreement, President Obama risked more than the prestige of his office. He placed on the table a guiding principle of his foreign policy.

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States get more time to comply with Real ID
The Obama administration will abandon a Dec. 31 deadline for states to tighten security requirements for driver’s licenses, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano announced Friday.



Banks Don’t Belong in the Student Loan Business

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 19th, 2009 5:31 am by HL

Banks Don’t Belong in the Student Loan Business
Arne Duncan, WSJ
Since I arrived in Washington, I've been looking at every line item in the budget of the U.S. Department of Education with two questions in mind: Is this program helping students learn? And is it a good use of taxpayer money? In the case of the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) program, the answer to both questions is no. Under the current FFEL program, banks make loans to students. While those students remain in school, the federal government pays the interest on their loans; otherwise the interest accrues. Once the borrowers leave school or graduate, the lending agency collects on…

Reid, Thune Tell Tale of 2009
Chuck Raasch, USA Today
Coming into the year, Senate Democratic Leader Reid was heading a new super-majority and brimming with expectations of legislation that would fix the economy, reform health care, boost alternative energy production and clean up the environment.He and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi were partnered with a new president, Barack Obama, who had come in on a landslide and had promised big changes with the help of bigger Democratic majorities in the House and Senate.But Reid ends 2009 knowing that the $787 billion stimulus bill that passed in February did not prevent 10% unemployment. Energy and…

An Anniversary of Sorts
Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post

Closing Gitmo is a Colossal Mistake