Daily Archive: 06/13/2011

Jun 13 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”.

Paul Krugman: Medicare Saves Money

Every once in a while a politician comes up with an idea that’s so bad, so wrongheaded, that you’re almost grateful. For really bad ideas can help illustrate the extent to which policy discourse has gone off the rails.

And so it was with Senator Joseph Lieberman’s proposal, released last week, to raise the age for Medicare eligibility from 65 to 67.

Like Republicans who want to end Medicare as we know it and replace it with (grossly inadequate) insurance vouchers, Mr. Lieberman describes his proposal as a way to save Medicare. It wouldn’t actually do that. But more to the point, our goal shouldn’t be to “save Medicare,” whatever that means. It should be to ensure that Americans get the health care they need, at a cost the nation can afford.

And here’s what you need to know: Medicare actually saves money – a lot of money – compared with relying on private insurance companies. And this in turn means that pushing people out of Medicare, in addition to depriving many Americans of needed care, would almost surely end up increasing total health care costs.

Stephen M. Cohn: The Whistle-Blowers of 1777

FORTY years ago today, The New York Times began publishing the Pentagon Papers, a seminal moment not only for freedom of the press but also for the role of whistle-blowers – like Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the papers to expose the mishandling of the war in Vietnam – in defending our democracy.

Today, the Obama administration is aggressively pursuing leakers. Bradley E. Manning, an Army private, has been imprisoned since May 2010 on suspicion of having passed classified data to the antisecrecy group WikiLeaks. Thomas A. Drake, a former official at the National Security Agency, pleaded guilty Friday to a misdemeanor of misusing the agency’s computer system by providing information to a newspaper reporter.

The tension between protecting true national security secrets and ensuring the public’s “right to know” about abuses of authority is not new. Indeed, the nation’s founders faced this very issue.

John Nichols: Wisconsin GOP Batters Democracy With Sleazy “Fake Candidate” Strategy

One of the great contributions that the progressive reformers of a century ago made to the politics of Wisconsin and the nation was the open primary.

Before Robert M. La Follette and the Wisconsin progressive movement placed the issue of how candidates were nominated for partisan offices at the forefront of the national agenda, the designation process was controlled by political bosses who took money from the robber barons of the Gilded Age and then nominated Republican and Democratic candidates who owed their allegiance to the bosses and the political paymasters rather than the people.

La Follette decried “the menace of the political machine” and detailed the corruption of the American political system by corporations, wealthy individuals and their stooges.

Shanus Cooke: The Rich Are Destroying the Economy

Ever since the Great Recession shook the foundations of the U.S. economy, President Obama has been promising recovery. Evidence of this recovery, we were told, was manifested in the massive post-bailout profits corporations made. Soon enough, the President assured us, these corporations would tire of hoarding mountains of cash and start a hiring bonanza, followed by raising wages and benefits. It was either wishful thinking or conscious deception. The recent stock market meltdown has squashed any hope of a corporate-led recovery.

The Democrats fought the recession by the same methods the Republicans used to create it: allowing the super rich to recklessly dominate the economy while giving them massive handouts. This strategy, commonly referred to as Reaganomics or Trickle Down Economics, is now religion to both Democrats and Republicans; never mind the staged in-fighting for the gullible or complicit media.

Farzaneh Milani: Saudi Arabia’s Freedom Riders

THE Arab Spring is inching its way into Saudi Arabia – in the cars of fully veiled drivers.

On the surface, when a group of Saudi women used Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to organize a mass mobile protest defying the kingdom’s ban on women driving, it may have seemed less dramatic than demonstrators facing bullets and batons while demanding regime change in nearby countries. But underneath, the same core principles – self-determination and freedom of movement – have motivated both groups. The Saudi regime understands the gravity of the situation, and it is moving decisively to contain it by stopping the protest scheduled for June 17.

Jun 13 2011

Vox Frustrati (Vol. 2): Blame

 


Welcome to the Vox Frustrati diary series.  Vox is a persona and this project is a collaboration by a group of people.

Vox Frustrati is here to give voice to our progressive concerns.  He welcomes correspondence from you at VoxFrustrati at gmail dot com.

If you have something to say, a rant, a comment or a question, Vox might decide to lend you his voice, either anonymously or with your byline. It is your choice.  Vox does reserve editorial rights.

Jun 13 2011

On This Day In History June 13

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.

June 13 is the 164th day of the year (165th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 201 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1966, The Miranda rights are established.

The Supreme Court hands down its decision in Miranda v. Arizona, establishing the principle that all criminal suspects must be advised of their rights before interrogation. Now considered standard police procedure, “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can, and will, be used against you in court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford one, one will be appointed to you,” has been heard so many times in television and film dramas that it has become almost cliche.

Miranda v. Arizona 384 U.S. 436 (1966), was a landmark 5-4 decision of the United States Supreme Court. The Court held that both inculpatory and exculpatory statements made in response to interrogation by a defendant in police custody will be admissible at trial only if the prosecution can show that the defendant was informed of the right to consult with an attorney before and during questioning and of the right against self-incrimination prior to questioning by police, and that the defendant not only understood these rights, but voluntarily waived them. This had a significant impact on law enforcement in the United States, by making what became known as the Miranda rights part of routine police procedure to ensure that suspects were informed of their rights. The Supreme Court decided Miranda with three other consolidated cases: Westover v. United States, Vignera v. New York, and California v. Stewart.

The Miranda warning (often abbreviated to “Miranda”) is the name of the formal warning that is required to be given by police in the United States to criminal suspects in police custody (or in a custodial situation) before they are interrogated, in accordance with the Miranda ruling. Its purpose is to ensure the accused is aware of, and reminded of, these rights under the U.S. Constitution, and that they know they can invoke them at any time during the interview.

As of the U.S. Supreme Court decision Berghuis v. Thompkins(June 1, 2010), criminal suspects who are aware of their right to silence and to an attorney, but choose not to “unambiguously” invoke them, may find any subsequent voluntary statements treated as an implied waiver of their rights, and which may be used in evidence.

Jun 13 2011

Six In The Morning

Missing Iraq money may have been stolen, auditors say

U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion, sent by the planeload in cash and intended for Iraq’s reconstruction after the start of the war.  

By Paul Richter, Los Angeles Times

June 13, 2011  


Reporting from Washington– After the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq in March 2003, the George W. Bush administration flooded the conquered country with so much cash to pay for reconstruction and other projects in the first year that a new unit of measurement was born.

Pentagon officials determined that one giant C-130 Hercules cargo plane could carry $2.4 billion in shrink-wrapped bricks of $100 bills. They sent an initial full planeload of cash, followed by 20 other flights to Iraq by May 2004 in a $12-billion haul that U.S. officials believe to be the biggest international cash airlift of all time.

This month, the Pentagon and the Iraqi government are finally closing the books on the program that handled all those Benjamins. But despite years of audits and investigations, U.S. Defense officials still cannot say what happened to $6.6 billion in cash – enough to run the Los Angeles Unified School District or the Chicago Public Schools for a year, among many other things.




Monday’s Headlines:

Egypt: Mohamed ElBaradei not sure to run for president

Refugees take flight as troops launch attacks on rebel stronghold

Dutch scientists claim breakthrough in combating E.coli

Libya govt says rebels’ victory claims ‘wishful reporting’

High level of strontium found at Fukushima plant

Jun 13 2011

Pique the Geek 20110612: Boron, Essential and Uncommon

Boron, the chemical element with an atomic number (Z) = 5, is an uncommon element.  The reason is that there is no really easy way for stars to make it except through going supernova.  A more technical way of saying this is that stellar nucleosynthesis is not a viable pathway to produce boron.  As a matter of fact, it is the least common very light element except for lithium.

Tonight we shall look into some of the properties and uses of boron, as suggested by Kossack shrike Friday evening during comments on Popular Culture.  The interest that shrike has in some new medical uses for boron, and we shall go into some detail near the end of the piece.

Jun 13 2011

Sunday Train: Fighting Economic Sabotage

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

There was shocking news early this June about May economic performance: GDP growth in May was about the same as the average for the first quarter of 2011, and so employment growth was virtually stagnant, and indeed fell behind growth of the labor force.

What was shocking, of course, was that this was news to anybody. For anyone with the basics on how the economy works, it was obvious that economic growth would be sluggish.

Of course, the Republicans in Congress and the White House, both for their own reasons, completely missed the boat ~ the White House arguing if we ease off the accelerate and tap the brakes, but do it intelligently, that will eventually speed up the economy, and the Republicans insisting that, no, we have to slam on the brakes to fix things.

With such a broken political discussion, what can be done?