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Archive for December 26th, 2009

Larry’s List: Christmas Eve Edition

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 26th, 2009 5:42 am by HL

Larry’s List: Christmas Eve Edition
Twas the night before Christmas, and … eh, screw it. Enough of Christmas. Here are the newsy bits you’ve been craving more than that pumpkin pie: The Simpsons, torture, gay marriage, crime-fighting music and more. On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies. Newer links are on top. Decisions in 9th Circuit Challenge the DOMA and the Department of Justice I have had several people ask me off-blog about the “opinions” on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that have surfaced in the 9th Circuit. I may write more later, but for now I want to lay out the sequence of facts and actions and start the discussion. Mexico’s Indigenous Minority Converting to Islam El Sistema: When Music Cuts Crime and Saves Lives Julian Lloyd Webber visits Venezuela to witness the spectacular success of an orchestral project that he is determined to replicate here. Vatican Paper Says ‘The Simpsons’ Are Okely Dokely To put it as the devout Ned Flanders would, the Vatican’s newspaper thinks “The Simpsons” are an okely dokely bunch. A Short History of the Manipulation of Copyright Law It’s nearly the end of 2009. If the Copyright Act of 1790’s maximum term of 28 years were still in effect, everything that had been published by 1981 would be in the public domain—so the original “Ultima” and “God Emperor of Dune” would be available for remixing and mashing up. Anti-Socialist Bachmann Got 250K in Federal Farm Subsidies Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.—so fond of accusing the Obama administration of foisting socialism on an unwilling America—has apparently been the recipient of about a quarter of million bucks in government handouts. NYT Accuses Al Jazeera of Lacking Objectivity for Accurately Describing What the U.S. Did It’s amazing that The New York Times would claim that Al Jazeera’s description of the Bush administration’s conduct as it concerns al-Hajj and other detainees—“one of the victims of the human rights atrocities committed by the ex-U.S. administration”—departs from precepts of “journalistic objectivity.”  How can the lawless detention, brutal torture, numerous detainee deaths, obvious targeting of unfriendly media outlets and explicit renunciation of the Geneva Conventions be described in any other way? Had a Bad Experience With Peer Review? Improvise Everywhere Seasonal Strike Sorry, the Tablet Computer Won’t Save Newspapers Who can forget the excitement that the CD-ROM version of Newsweek generated in November 1992 when it was announced! Well, everybody. Health Care Industry Stocks Explode as Bill Progresses The president claims Democrats “stood up to special interests” as they get very rich on “reform.” Has the Left Missed the Boat on Climate Change? Make no mistake about it, formal negotiations in Copenhagen ended in a train wreck that no spin doctor can put a good face on and was a huge setback for the prospects of averting climate change in an equitable way. Physicians for a National Health Program on the Senate Bill Legislation “would bring more harm than good,” group says.

Twas the night before Christmas, and … eh, screw it. Enough of Christmas. Here are the newsy bits you’ve been craving more than that pumpkin pie: The Simpsons, torture, gay marriage, crime-fighting music and more.

On a regular basis, Truthdig brings you the news items and odds and ends that found their way to Larry Gross, director of the USC Annenberg School for Communication. A specialist in media and culture, art and communication, visual communication and media portrayals of minorities, Gross helped found the field of gay and lesbian studies.

Newer links are on top.


Decisions in 9th Circuit Challenge the DOMA and the Department of Justice
I have had several people ask me off-blog about the “opinions” on the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that have surfaced in the 9th Circuit. I may write more later, but for now I want to lay out the sequence of facts and actions and start the discussion.

Mexico’s Indigenous Minority Converting to Islam

El Sistema: When Music Cuts Crime and Saves Lives
Julian Lloyd Webber visits Venezuela to witness the spectacular success of an orchestral project that he is determined to replicate here.

Vatican Paper Says ‘The Simpsons’ Are Okely Dokely
To put it as the devout Ned Flanders would, the Vatican’s newspaper thinks “The Simpsons” are an okely dokely bunch.

A Short History of the Manipulation of Copyright Law
It’s nearly the end of 2009. If the Copyright Act of 1790’s maximum term of 28 years were still in effect, everything that had been published by 1981 would be in the public domain—so the original “Ultima” and “God Emperor of Dune” would be available for remixing and mashing up.

Anti-Socialist Bachmann Got 250K in Federal Farm Subsidies
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.—so fond of accusing the Obama administration of foisting socialism on an unwilling America—has apparently been the recipient of about a quarter of million bucks in government handouts.

NYT Accuses Al Jazeera of Lacking Objectivity for Accurately Describing What the U.S. Did
It’s amazing that The New York Times would claim that Al Jazeera’s description of the Bush administration’s conduct as it concerns al-Hajj and other detainees—“one of the victims of the human rights atrocities committed by the ex-U.S. administration”—departs from precepts of “journalistic objectivity.”? How can the lawless detention, brutal torture, numerous detainee deaths, obvious targeting of unfriendly media outlets and explicit renunciation of the Geneva Conventions be described in any other way?

Had a Bad Experience With Peer Review?

Improvise Everywhere Seasonal Strike

Sorry, the Tablet Computer Won’t Save Newspapers
Who can forget the excitement that the CD-ROM version of Newsweek generated in November 1992 when it was announced! Well, everybody.

Health Care Industry Stocks Explode as Bill Progresses
The president claims Democrats “stood up to special interests” as they get very rich on “reform.”

Has the Left Missed the Boat on Climate Change?
Make no mistake about it, formal negotiations in Copenhagen ended in a train wreck that no spin doctor can put a good face on and was a huge setback for the prospects of averting climate change in an equitable way.

Physicians for a National Health Program on the Senate Bill
Legislation “would bring more harm than good,” group says.


Russia Arms Myanmar Regime
While the U.S. is by far the world’s largest arms supplier, Russia has reportedly signed a deal with Myanmar—against which many in the West have imposed sanctions—to provide the country formerly known as Burma with 20 MiG-29 fighter planes. For, you know, uh, defense.  —JCL The BBC: Russia has signed a contract to deliver 20 MiG-29 fighter planes to Burma, Russian media reports say. The contract is worth 400m euros (£356m; $570m), sources close to the Russian arms firm Rosoboronexport say. Many countries in the West have imposed sanctions against Burma, in response to its poor human rights record. But the country’s military rulers still receive many goods, including arms, from its neighbours China and India, as well as Russia. Read more

monks marching in Burma

While the U.S. is by far the world’s largest arms supplier, Russia has reportedly signed a deal with Myanmar—against which many in the West have imposed sanctions—to provide the country formerly known as Burma with 20 MiG-29 fighter planes. For, you know, uh, defense.? —JCL

The BBC:

Russia has signed a contract to deliver 20 MiG-29 fighter planes to Burma, Russian media reports say.

The contract is worth 400m euros (£356m; $570m), sources close to the Russian arms firm Rosoboronexport say.

Many countries in the West have imposed sanctions against Burma, in response to its poor human rights record.

But the country’s military rulers still receive many goods, including arms, from its neighbours China and India, as well as Russia.

Read more



C-SPAN Caller: I’m So Mad About Health Bill Passing, I Took My Christmas Tree Down! (AUDIO)

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 26th, 2009 5:41 am by HL

C-SPAN Caller: I’m So Mad About Health Bill Passing, I Took My Christmas Tree Down! (AUDIO)
On the day before Christmas, one C-SPAN viewer took their unhappiness with the Senate’s newly passed health care legislation to a new, personal, level: taking…

Millions Of Americans Will Not Feel Effect Of Health Care Changes: NYT
Now that the Senate has caught up with the House by passing a sweeping health care bill, lawmakers are on the verge of extending coverage…

Frank Dwyer: How Reid and Obama Could Have Gotten a Good Bipartisan Bill
Why didn’t they think of offering to pay state Medicaid costs in perpetuity for all the Republican Senators? The health care bill would have passed…

Chris Weigant: My 2009 “McLaughlin Awards” [Part 1]
Welcome once again to our year-end wrapup and awards ceremony. Honesty dictates that I immediately genuflect to The McLaughlin Group, from whom I have stolen…

Rodent Infestation Closes Pennsylvania Capitol Cafeteria; No Inspection For 4 Years
HARRISBURG, Pa. — Why is the cafeteria at the Pennsylvania Capitol infested with mice? Probably because health inspectors didn’t visit it for four years. State…


Lawyer From Far-Right Group Picked For Key Legal-Aid Post

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 26th, 2009 5:40 am by HL

Lawyer From Far-Right Group Picked For Key Legal-Aid Post
To help run a key legal-aid body, Senate Republicans have picked an attorney from a far-right legal organization that has a history of ideological opposition to legal aid work.

Orly Taitz And The Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year
The last year has been full of setbacks for the attorney/dentist who is the country’s most prominent purveyor of the conspiracy theory that President Obama is not a natural born U.S. citizen. Here are the low points.


Conservative Attorney: Secret Service ‘Violated My Civil Rights’ Outside White House
Attorney Larry Klayman, the founder of Judicial Watch who first attained gadfly status during the Clinton years, is alleging that the Secret Service mistreated him when he went to the White House last week as part of an effort to force President Obama to reveal details of closed-door meetings with health care lobbyists.


Another Fox viewer strikes

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 26th, 2009 5:37 am by HL

Another Fox viewer strikes
Excerpt: Warren Taylor, the alleged gunman accused of taking three people hostage in a Virginia post office, was angry “about the government taking over the right to bear arms … he was angry at the government over taxing us,” and railed against President Obama, according to hostage Jimmy Oliver, who spoke to the Associated Press. From where could […]


New Year’s Resolutions To Help Make Corporate Fat Cats and Our Politicians Human Again

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 26th, 2009 5:36 am by HL

New Year’s Resolutions To Help Make Corporate Fat Cats and Our Politicians Human Again
I was working on my list of New Year’s resolutions when it occurred to me that some of the people running our country could benefit from my suggestions.

I was working on my list of New Year's resolutions when it occurred to me that some of the people running our country could benefit from my suggestions.

Will Our ‘Green Jobs’ Dollars Help a Ritzy Car Company Open a Toxic Manufacturing Plant?
Tesla makes a sleek electric roadster at $110,000. A new model’s generating buzz, but one possible manufacturing site’s haunted by ghosts of the old economy.

Tesla makes a sleek electric roadster at $110,000. A new model's generating buzz, but one possible manufacturing site's haunted by ghosts of the old economy.


Moving up the Pace of Reform

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 26th, 2009 5:35 am by HL

Moving up the Pace of Reform
When Congress passed Medicare in 1965, it went into effect one year later. In contrast, the major provisions of the health-care reforms now before Congress would not go into effect for three years (January 1, 2013, under the House…



MedicareHealth careUnited States CongressSenateHealth

Building Single Payer Systems in the States with the Senate Bill
One reason I’m less negative on the Senate bill than some is that I know states will continue to build on its framework with improvements — and most of those states need just majority vote in normally apportioned chambers, so…



United States SenateHealthHealth PolicyMajoritarianismHealth care


Health Insurance Industry Registers Its Disapproval Of Senate Health Care Bill

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 26th, 2009 5:34 am by HL

Health Insurance Industry Registers Its Disapproval Of Senate Health Care Bill
In the New York Times today, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman writes in defense of the Senate health care bill. “[F]or all its flaws and limitations, it’s a great achievement,” he says. “It will provide real, concrete help to tens of millions of Americans and greater security to everyone.” But the health insurance industry and […]

karen ignagniIn the New York Times today, Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman writes in defense of the Senate health care bill. “[F]or all its flaws and limitations, it’s a great achievement,” he says. “It will provide real, concrete help to tens of millions of Americans and greater security to everyone.” But the health insurance industry and business lobbyists weren’t quite as joyous in their reaction.

The Hill writes, “the health insurance industry expressed disappointed opposition…and big-business groups slammed the bill.” The Indianapolis Star adds, “The big losers, at the moment, seem to be insurers.” Here’s a sampling of their reactions:

– The health insurance lobby, America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP), criticized the Senate health care bill, arguing it would “increase, rather than decrease, health care costs; reduce coverage options; and disrupt existing coverage for families, seniors and small businesses.”

– The health insurance company Aetna complained that the bill “has not done enough on addressing costs,” and is lobbying for greater subsidies that — in the absence of a public plan — would help pay for more expensive private coverage.

– Bruce Josten, the executive vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also criticized the bill, calling it “counterproductive” and argued “it is not reform.”

The Wall Street Journal reports that health-care stocks “fell after the Senate’s approval of the health bill.” Insurance giants “WellPoint, Humana and Aetna were among the health-care sector’s decliners Thursday. WellPoint dropped 1.3%, while Humana fell 1% and Aetna was also off 1%.”


Obama faces tough fight in Senate to deliver on climate pledges made overseas

Posted in Main Blog (All Posts) on December 26th, 2009 5:33 am by HL

Obama faces tough fight in Senate to deliver on climate pledges made overseas
By brokering a climate deal in Copenhagen a week ago, President Obama has committed himself to a more daunting task: pushing for comprehensive climate legislation in the Senate next year.