Daily Archive: 12/06/2010

Dec 06 2010

Ann Wright: WikiLeaks and Accountability

Mary Ann Wright is a former United States Army colonel and retired official of the U.S. State Department, known for her outspoken opposition to the Iraq War. She is most noted for having been one of three State Department officials to publicly resign in direct protest of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq. (wikipedia)

“We were told as diplomats, ‘Don’t ever put anything in a cable you wouldn’t want on the front page of a newspaper.’ It shows that they’re a lot of arrogant people, that the system itself wasn’t checking itself,” says Wright of the latest documents released from WikiLeaks.  Meanwhile, several of the diplomatic cables released depict possibly illegal actions by the U.S. government, and Wright notes that the chances of anyone being held accountable are slim.

Ann Wright joined Laura Flanders of GritTV to discuss the latest releases from WikiLeaks, what they tell us about the U.S. Government and Defense and State departments, and what should happen, but probably won’t, to the people implicated therein.


GritTV.org

Although WikiLeaks has had problems since the latest release with hacking, denial of service attacks, web hosts closing their sites down, and domain name registrars pulling their domain name, you can always get to their site by navigating to any of the WikiLeaks mirror sites listed at wikileaks.info:  

Dec 06 2010

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”.

Robert Kuttner: What Now for the Democrats?

Let’s imagine the political possibilities of the next two years and beyond. So far, President Obama’s response to the drubbing of the mid-term has confirmed the progressive community’s worst fears. Astonishingly, he still seems to believe the following:

The American people care more about bipartisan compromise and budget cuts than about ending the economic crisis.

If he just compromises a little more, the Republicans might still meet him halfway.

The recipe for economic recovery has something to do with reducing the short term federal deficit.

All three of these premises are disastrously wrong — as politics and as economics.

Dan Froomkin: On Jobs, Robert Rubin Points In The Wrong Direction Again

WASHINGTON — On a morning when dire unemployment numbers underscored the desperate and urgent need to jump-start the job market, shameless financial arsonist Robert Rubin was hosting a massive exercise in distraction.

The job market is suffering from a terrible cyclical shortfall in aggregate demand brought upon by the financial crisis and the Great Recession, but Rubin wanted to talk about long-term structural issues affecting employment — like the need to reduce the budget deficit, or change corporate tax rates. His is a Wall Street agenda, not a Main Street agenda.

The setting was a policy conference hosted by Rubin’s pet think tank, the Hamilton Project, and its strange bedfellow, the liberal Center for American Progress.

As Clinton administration Treasury Secretary, Rubin presided over the nearly-fatal deregulation of the financial industry, then went on to make $126 million nearly driving Citigroup into bankruptcy, making him arguably one of the men most responsible for causing the financial crisis. But it was so lucrative for him that he can underwrite events like this one.

Thom Hartmann: Tax Cut Lies: The Day The News Died

The New York Times today jumped on board with a classic Frank Luntz “Big Lie.”

Democrats in the House and Senate put forth a bill that would reduce taxes on the first quarter-million, and then, when that failed, the first million dollars of income for every single American. . . .

   WASHINGTON – The Senate on Saturday rejected President Obama’s proposal to end the Bush-era tax breaks on income above $250,000 for couples and $200,000 for individuals, a triumph for Republicans who have long called for continuing the income tax cuts for everyone.

What? “Republicans who have long called for continuing the income tax cuts for everyone”??

EVERYONE would have gotten a tax cut under the Democrats’ proposal. Every single taxpayer in America, from the street-sweeper to Bill Gates. Everyone!

Dec 06 2010

YAB: Yet Another Betrayal

Monday Business Edition

While most commentators are focusing on Obama’s sell-out on Tax Cuts for Billionaires, in the background he’s also sold out on his campaign promise to Rust Belt Independents for no more NAFTAs.

Firedog Lake is practically the only site providing coverage-

Update:

Trade Does Not Equal Jobs

Paul Krugman, The New York Times

December 6, 2010, 9:43 am

One thing I’m hearing, now that all hope of useful fiscal policy is gone, is the idea that trade can be a driver of recovery – that stuff like the South Korea trade agreement can serve as a form of macro policy.

Um, no.

Our macro problem is insufficient spending on U.S.-produced goods and services; this spending is defined by

Y = C + I + G + X – M

where C is consumer spending, I investment spending, G government purchases of goods and services, X is exports, and M is imports. Trade agreements raise X – but they also lead to higher M. On average, they’re a wash.

This, by the way, is why claims that the Smoot-Hawley tariff caused the Great Depression are nonsense. Yes, protectionism reduced world exports; it also reduced world imports, by the same amount.

There is a case for freer trade – it may make the world economy more efficient. But it does nothing to increase demand.

Business News below.

Dec 06 2010

On This Day in History: December 6

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

December 6 is the 340th day of the year (341st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 25 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1884, the Washington Monument is completed.

In Washington, D.C., workers place a nine-inch aluminum pyramid atop a tower of white marble, completing the construction of an impressive monument to the city’s namesake and the nation’s first president, George Washington.  As early as 1783, the infant U.S. Congress decided that a statue of George Washington, the great Revolutionary War general, should be placed near the site of the new Congressional building, wherever it might be. After then-President Washington asked him to lay out a new federal capital on the Potomac River in 1791, architect Pierre L’Enfant left a place for the statue at the western end of the sweeping National Mall (near the monument’s present location).

The Washington Monument is an obelisk near the west end of the National Mall in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate the first U.S. president, General George Washington. The monument, made of marble, granite, and sandstone, is both the world’s tallest stone structure and the world’s tallest obelisk, standing 555 feet 5 1/8 inches (169.294 m). There are taller monumental columns, but they are neither all stone nor true obelisks. It is also the tallest structure in Washington D.C.. It was designed by Robert Mills, an architect of the 1840s. The actual construction of the monument began in 1848 but was not completed until 1884, almost 30 years after the architect’s death. This hiatus in construction happened because of co-option by the Know Nothing party, a lack of funds, and the intervention of the American Civil War. A difference in shading of the marble, visible approximately 150 feet (46 m or 27%) up, shows where construction was halted for a number of years. The cornerstone was laid on July 4, 1848; the capstone was set on December 6, 1884, and the completed monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885. It officially opened October 9, 1888. Upon completion, it became the world’s tallest structure, a title previously held by the Cologne Cathedral. The monument held this designation until 1889, when the Eiffel Tower was completed in Paris, France. The monument stands due east of the Reflecting Pool and the Lincoln Memorial.

Dec 06 2010

Morning Shinbun Monday December 6




Monday’s Headlines:

Climate change threat to tropical forests ‘greater than suspected’

USA

Bush Tax-Cut Deal With Jobless Aid Said to Be Near

Europe

French court to rule on Concorde crash

Greek police arrest six for suspected terrorist links

Middle East

Saudi Arabia is ‘biggest funder of terrorists’

Iran talks set to open in Geneva

Asia

How a kind offer led to death sentence for blasphemy

Lashkar planned to kill Narendra Modi: Wikileaks

Africa

Mbeki in Côte d’Ivoire as tensions rise

Latin America

Dozens feared buried in Colombia landslide

E-mails from the front lines of the Iraq war

E-mails from sources in Iraq describe the daily carnage; these terse missives are an almost poetic chronicle of the war. No commas. No names. Is punctuation necessary when meaning is so clear?

By Jeffrey Fleishman, Los Angeles Times

December 6, 2010


Reporting from Cairo – They arrive nearly every day, these sad, strange e-mails from Iraq.

They are unsentimental and hard, gathered by stringers scattered across a country at war. They’re often tough to follow, terse poems with broken rhythms and words landing in wrong places. But there’s an unadorned power that speaks to things beyond style and grammar.

“An IP source said that some gunmen assassinated yesterday evening staff brigadier general in the Iraqi army and his wife in Tobchi (west Baghdad) while he was driving his car… both were killed instantly.”

Dec 06 2010

Pique the Geek 20101205: The Food Safety Modernization Act

After the food contamination incidents over the past couple of years, the Congress has put forth a revamp of food safety law in the United States.  This bill bass the House back in 2009 and was tied up in the Senate until last week.  The Senate passed its version (with amendments) and so it has gone back to the House for either passage of the Senate version or to head for a conference committee for resolution.

This act (S. 510) has created an outcry from both the extreme right and some “back to nature” types on the left.  Herein we shall examine some of the key provisions of the proposed law and make some judgments.  My personal feeling is that it will die before the Congress completes action on other, critical legislation like the tax issue, unemployment benefits, the federal debt ceiling, and funding the government, but who knows?

I have done quite a bit of research on this legislation and find it, for the most part, a pretty good thing.  It is designed to be proactive in that it stresses prevention of the production and distribution of contaminated or adulterated food rather than just merely reacting to an event after it occurs.  Certainly, there are reactive provisions as well, but prevention is the primary focus.

The legislation specifically applies to the following operations (from the summary posted http://www.govtrack.us/congress/bill… (This is from Title I [Improving Capacity to Prevent Food Safety Problems] of the bill):

…each person (excluding farms and restaurants) who manufactures, processes, packs, distributes, receives, holds, or imports an article of food permit inspection of his or her records if the Secretary believes that there is a reasonable probability that the use of or exposure to such food will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.

Note that farms and restaurants are specifically exempted.  This becomes important later.  There is also a part that delays implementation for small businesses until a later date, the specifics of which I have not been able to find.  It is a long bill.  Each operation specified above has to pay a $500 annual registration fee and comply with the recordkeeping requirements.  The thrust of the bill is to require such establishments to conduct proper hazards analyses and implement controls to reduce the probability that contamination or adulteration will occur.

Dec 06 2010

Prime Time

Zap2it hates me again, large chunks of their schedule are blank so the research is harder than normal.  For instance The Amazing Race is missing, which I note out of deference to my canine rescuing friend who loves to travel and thinks it’s the best show ever.  I pretty sure it’s a premier.

The Simpsons, The Cleveland Show, and American Dad all have Holiday specials.  The Cleveland Show one is an hour long.  There is also Throwball, Steelers @ Ravens.  Non-broadcast-

Take what you can.  Give nothing back.

Season Finale of Boardwalk Empire.

Later-

In addition to Tim & Eric’s Crimbus Special (don’t much care for them actually, stupid comedy), Adult Swim is also premiering Christmas in December II (no idea what that is about).

Ladies, will you please shut it! Listen to me.

Yes, I lied to you.

No, I don’t love you.

Of course it makes you look fat.

I’ve never been to Brussels.

It is pronounced egregious.

By the way, no. I’ve never actually met Pizarro, but I love his pies.

And all of this pales to utter insignificance in light of the fact that my ship is once again gone. Savvy?

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Dec 06 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Rivals declare new I.Coast government as war fears mount

by David Youant, AFP

1 hr 21 mins ago

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Rivals challenging Laurent Gbagbo’s claim to the presidency of Ivory Coast declared they had formed a new government Sunday, as international mediators tried to settle the standoff amid fears of civil war.

Former South African president Mbeki stepped in to try to head off violence after both the incumbent Gbagbo and his old rival Alassane Ouattara swore themselves in as president following a disputed runoff vote on November 28 in the divided country.

But after Mbeki held emergency talks with the two rivals, Ouattara upped the ante, pressing the mediator to demand Gbagbo quit as his own allies declared they had formed a new government.

Dec 06 2010

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Rivals declare new I.Coast government as war fears mount

by David Youant, AFP

1 hr 21 mins ago

ABIDJAN (AFP) – Rivals challenging Laurent Gbagbo’s claim to the presidency of Ivory Coast declared they had formed a new government Sunday, as international mediators tried to settle the standoff amid fears of civil war.

Former South African president Mbeki stepped in to try to head off violence after both the incumbent Gbagbo and his old rival Alassane Ouattara swore themselves in as president following a disputed runoff vote on November 28 in the divided country.

But after Mbeki held emergency talks with the two rivals, Ouattara upped the ante, pressing the mediator to demand Gbagbo quit as his own allies declared they had formed a new government.