Daily Archive: 02/07/2011

Feb 07 2011

Under The Radar: Open Thread

Or the stuff you won’t hear from the MSM. The blogosphere is a big place and there is a lot going on that gets lost in all those pixels. The subtle background, the nuances to the top political news that don’t get aired in prime time. Lots of stories get buried or just ignored in news dumps. The White House does it all the time releasing stories late on Friday nights in hopes that in the rush to start the weekend, the media will miss what they’ve been doing, like caving to the right wing and blocking the habeas corpus rights of prisoners.

* We are finally seeing and hearing from the foreign press. Producers and Editors from foreign news organizations are turning up on NBC, ABC and the major cable network news programs giving their perspective on not just the Egyptian protests but the world in general. It took a revolution and the internet to start waking Americans to the reality that they aren’t be told all the facts. Al Jazeera may be coming to a cable service near you.

Since its inception in 2006, Al Jazeera English has been fighting for access to American viewers. Distributors have been unwilling to carry the service, but Mr. Anstey, the managing director, said in an interview that renewed talks with the major distributors were now under way. “There’s a growing call for Al Jazeera. That’s clear,” he said.

Al Jazeera English has contacted Comcast, for instance, and a meeting has been scheduled for later this month.

In an indication that perceptions of Al Jazeera may be changing, one of its correspondents in Washington reported on Thursday that people there “are all of a sudden very welcoming” to the network. “We’re on TVs all across the city.”

Of course, this scares the pants off the right wingers and Fox news, who sent one of it fear mongering minions, former United States ambassador to Morocco and a former contributor to Fox News, Marc Ginsberg, rushing to post an opinion at Huffington Post with wild accusations that Al Jazeera is fueling the unrest by “using events in Tunisia to fuel its favorite political pastime of disgorging its anti-authoritarian editorial bias across all of its media platforms — much to the anger and hostility of most Arab rulers, particularly those Al Jazeera views as too pro-western (Al Jazeera gives quite a pass to the despotic Syrian regime as well as to its Qatari benefactors).”

Feb 07 2011

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”

Frank Rich: Wallflowers at the Revolution

A month ago most Americans could not have picked Hosni Mubarak out of a police lineup. American foreign policy, even in Afghanistan, was all but invisible throughout the 2010 election season. Foreign aid is the only federal budget line that a clear-cut majority of Americans says should be cut. And so now – as the world’s most unstable neighborhood explodes before our eyes – does anyone seriously believe that most Americans are up to speed? Our government may be scrambling, but that’s nothing compared to its constituents. After a near-decade of fighting wars in the Arab world, we can still barely distinguish Sunni from Shia.

The live feed from Egypt is riveting. We can’t get enough of revolution video – even if, some nights, Middle West blizzards take precedence over Middle East battles on the networks’ evening news. But more often than not we have little or no context for what we’re watching. That’s the legacy of years of self-censored, superficial, provincial and at times Islamophobic coverage of the Arab world in a large swath of American news media. Even now we’re more likely to hear speculation about how many cents per gallon the day’s events might cost at the pump than to get an intimate look at the demonstrators’ lives.

Paul Krugman: Droughts, Floods and Food

We’re in the midst of a global food crisis – the second in three years. World food prices hit a record in January, driven by huge increases in the prices of wheat, corn, sugar and oils. These soaring prices have had only a modest effect on U.S. inflation, which is still low by historical standards, but they’re having a brutal impact on the world’s poor, who spend much if not most of their income on basic foodstuffs.

The consequences of this food crisis go far beyond economics. After all, the big question about uprisings against corrupt and oppressive regimes in the Middle East isn’t so much why they’re happening as why they’re happening now. And there’s little question that sky-high food prices have been an important trigger for popular rage.

Laurence Lewis: Egypt Is the Future

While many have been surprised by the seemingly sudden uprising in Egypt, the real question isn’t about how it happened but why it didn’t happen sooner. Despite brave and noble opposition efforts by various individuals and groups over the past decades, it seems nevertheless to have been taken for granted by much of the world that the Egyptian people would live under oppression indefinitely. It seems to have been taken for granted that the revolutionary movements that have shaken half the globe in the past half century somehow couldn’t touch one of the world’s oldest nations, as if that very ancient history stultified the very modern Egyptian people. Of course, most of the efforts within Egypt have been ignored by much of the world for decades, and if noticed at all, were mostly written off as but spasms of extremism. So the surprise at current events is not, itself, surprising. The grace and humanity of the current revolutionary opposition is a wake-up call not for Egypt, but for the world.

Feb 07 2011

Monday Business Edition

Go Pack!  I think I’ll get to the economics of the upcoming NFL lockout later.

From Yahoo News Business

1 AOL to buy The Huffington Post for $315 million

By Anthony Boadle, Reuters

Mon Feb 7, 3:08 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – AOL Inc has agreed to buy The Huffington Post, the influential and rapidly growing news, analysis and lifestyle website, for $315 million, the struggling U.S. Internet company announced on Monday.

The move will create a media group that will have a combined base of 117 million visitors a month in the United States, and reach 270 million people globally, AOL said in a statement.

The deal follows efforts by AOL’s chief executive Tim Armstrong to turn around the dial-up Internet access business by trying to turn it into a media and entertainment powerhouse, despite difficulties in attracting investors.

Feb 07 2011

HuffPo Bought By AOL

This morning’s news says that beleaguered, dinosaur of dial up AOL has bought Huffington Post and made the doyenne of digital, Arianna, an executive.  Here’s the news from the New York Times:

The two companies completed the sale Sunday evening and announced the deal just after midnight on Monday. AOL will pay $315 million, $300 million of it in cash and the rest in stock. It will be the company’s largest acquisition since it was separated from Time Warner in 2009.

The deal will allow AOL to greatly expand its news gathering and original content creation, areas that its chief executive, Tim Armstrong, views as vital to reversing a decade-long decline.

Arianna Huffington, the cable talk show pundit, author and doyenne of the political left, will take control of all of AOL’s editorial content as president and editor in chief of a newly created Huffington Post Media Group. The arrangement will give her oversight not only of AOL’s national, local and financial news operations, but also of the company’s other media enterprises like MapQuest and Moviefone.

Meanwhile, the bloggers at HuffPo, I’m told, the ones who provide the “original content creation” that was just sold, don’t get paid.  Correct me if I’m wrong.  And in an email to the bloggers this morning, Arianna told them that things would remain the same:

The HuffPost blog team will continue to operate as it always has. Arianna will become editor-in-chief not only of HuffPost but of the newly formed Huffington Post Media Group, which will include all of AOL’s content sites, including Patch, Engadget, TechCrunch, Moviefone, PopEater, MapQuest, Black Voices, and Moviefone.

Together, our companies will have a combined base of 117 million unique U.S. visitors a month — and 250 million around the world — so your posts will have an even bigger impact on the national and global conversation. That’s the only real change you’ll notice — more people reading what you wrote.

Far from changing the Huffington Post’s editorial approach, our culture, or our mission, it will be like stepping off a fast-moving train and onto a supersonic jet. We’re still traveling toward the same destination, with the same people at the wheel, and with the same goals, but we’re now going to get there much, much faster.

So my initial impression– I’m sure we’ll all have time to think about this today– is that once again the writers, the bloguer@s like you and me get to continue to tickle their keyboards and bang their heads on their monitors for free, while they create all of the “content” and the money, and it is huge money this time, will not find its way into their pockets.  Not a sou.

The other point has to do with consolidation of media and control of content.  The more consolidation the fewer outlets with potentially different points of view.  Consolidation of media is the opposite of creating a free, multiplicity of views.

Feb 07 2011

On This Day in History February 7

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.

February 7 is the 38th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 327 days remaining until the end of the year (328 in leap years).

On this day in 1795, The 11th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified. It dealt with each state’s sovereign immunity from being sued in federal court by someone of another state or country.

The Eleventh Amendment (Amendment XI) to the United States Constitution, which was passed by the Congress on March 4, 1794 and was ratified on February 7, 1795, deals with each state’s sovereign immunity from being sued in federal court by someone of another state or country. This amendment was adopted in order to overrule the U.S. Supreme Court‘s decision in Chisholm v. Georgia, 2 U.S. 419 (1793).]

Amendment Eleven:

   The Judicial power of the United States shall not be construed to extend to any suit in law or equity, commenced or prosecuted against one of the United States by Citizens of another State, or by Citizens or Subjects of any Foreign State.

By itself this Amendment is a little impenetrable. It was passed as a clarification of Article 3, Section 2 of the Constitution, specifically Clause One which reads:

Clause 1:

   The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;–between a State and Citizens of another State; between Citizens of different States,–between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects

Basically what this boils down to is the concept of Sovereign Immunity. Basically you can not use the Federal Government unless it agrees to let the case be heard. Yes, you read that right. The Government reserves the right to prevent you from suing it, as a citizen, except under very specific circumstances. The exceptions are detailed in the Federal Tort Claims Act and the Tucker Act. These acts allow a citizen to sue the Government if there is a claim resulting from either the actions of a federal employee or if there is a case involving contracts with the Federal Government.

Now, Amendment 11 extends this same sovereign immunity to the States in terms of the Federal Courts. What that means is that you as a citizen can not use the Federal Courts to sue your State Government, without the consent of the State. The Dog believes the reason for this is to prevent citizens from tying up their government with suits that arise from the normal operation of the government. As a practical matter it forces citizens that don’t like the way things are being run to replace their government officials instead of just suing the government.

Now, this does not apply to crimes committed by members of the government or the government itself. There is what is called a Stripping Doctrine that says when a government employee or official commits a crime, they have lost their immunity. So, in the case of torture or War Crimes there can be no reasonable sovereign immunity defense.

h/t Something the Dog Said

Feb 07 2011

Six In The Morning

For Some Reason They Don’t Trust Or Believe You  

Egyptian government offers concessions as street protests continue

The Egyptian government yesterday began to offer possible political concessions in an effort to control the crisis still engulfing the country, as tens of thousands of determined protesters rallied for a 13th day to demand the resignation of President Hosni Mubarak.

The new promises of political reform were treated with caution by the opposition groups as they held the first of a series of meetings – including the first between the hitherto outlawed Muslim Brotherhood and the regime – to discuss their demands with Mr Mubarak’s deputy, Omar Suleiman.

Feb 07 2011

from firefly-dreaming 6.2.11

Regular Daily Features:

Essays Featured Sunday, February 6th:

In Firefly Memories 1.0  Alma takes a look back at some of the Brilliant essays we’ve had in our first year in the tooobz. Today: No Impact Man

come firefly-dreaming with me….

Feb 07 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for February 5, 2011-


Feb 07 2011

Pique the Geek 20110206: Firearms 101

For good, for ill, or for neither, firearms are an integral part of American life.  Everyone knows in a general sense what guns are, but not so many know much more than that.  The conventional wisdom is that those of us on the left are less familiar with firearms than those on the right (a premise with which I do not agree), but the fact is that it important to have a basic understanding of how firearms work.

At the most basic, a firearm is a device used to deliver a projectile, usually at a high rate of speed, towards some sort of target using chemical propellants that are NOT carried onboard the projectile.  Firearms have evolved over the centuries from quite crude affairs to the highly sophisticated devices that are available currently.