06/26/2011 archive

The Abbreviated Evening Edition

Due to playing in the mud (don’t ask, trust me it’s messy), the Evening Edition will brought to you by c’est moi.

Greek rebel lawmakers may block austerity: deputy PM

ATHENS (Reuters) – Greece’s deputy prime minister warned on Sunday that rebel lawmakers may block some reforms sought by international lenders, though parliament will probably back an overall austerity package this week to avert national bankruptcy.

Adding to Socialist Prime Minister George Papandreou’s dire problems, the conservative opposition rejected appeals from the government and senior European Union politicians to vote in favor of the five-year plan.

Republicans firm on taxes ahead of Obama meeting

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Senate’s top two Republicans on Sunday stood firm against including tax increases in any deal to raise the debt limit and shrink budget deficits one day before a meeting with President Barack Obama, but said the showdown need not go down to the “11th hour.”

Obama is to meet separately with Senate Democratic and Republican leaders on Monday to try to revive negotiations that collapsed on Thursday when Republicans walked out over Democrats’ demands for tax increases.

Sunday Train: Making a ‘national HSR plan’ into a National Network

Burning the Midnight Oil for Living Energy Independence

A repeat of a post from February of this year

Way back before the Super Bowl, the White House had a series of exciting announcements, covered at The Transport Politic under the heading The White House Stakes Its Political Capital on a Massive Intercity Rail Plan.

That article is accompanied by the map reproduced here ~ and I stress that the map if Yonah Freemark’s work, not a map presented by the White House ~ of what a HSR system that rises to the “80% of Americans” target would look like.

And one reaction to that map is the same as the reaction to the designated DoT HSR corridors: how is that a national network? Its just bits and pieces.

How to fix this image problem, while also providing a substantial upgrade to the program, below the fold.

Rant of the Week: Stephen Colbert

Generic Republican Presidential Nominee

Jon Huntsman announces his presidential candidacy, and Stephen finds the perfect generic Republican presidential candidate.

On This Day In History June 26

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.

Click on images to enlarge.

June 26 is the 177th day of the year (178th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 188 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1959, St. Lawrence Seaway opened.

In a ceremony presided over by U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II, the St. Lawrence Seaway is officially opened, creating a navigational channel from the Atlantic Ocean to all the Great Lakes. The seaway, made up of a system of canals, locks, and dredged waterways, extends a distance of nearly 2,500 miles, from the Atlantic Ocean through the Gulf of St. Lawrence to Duluth, Minnesota, on Lake Superior.


The Saint Lawrence Seaway was preceded by a number of other canals. In 1871, locks on the Saint Lawrence allowed transit of vessels 186 ft (57 m) long, 44 ft 6 in (13.56 m) wide, and 9 ft (2.7 m) deep. The Welland Canal at that time allowed transit of vessels 142 ft (43 m) long, 26 ft (7.9 m) wide, and 10 ft (3.0 m) deep, but was generally too small to allow passage of larger ocean-going ships.

The first proposals for a binational comprehensive deep waterway along the St. Lawrence came in the 1890s. In the following decades the idea of a power project became inseparable from the seaway – in fact, the various governments involved believed that the deeper water created by the hydro project were necessary to make the seaway channels feasible. American proposals for development up to and including the First World War met with little interest from the Canadian federal government. But the two national government submitted St. Lawrence plans, and the Wooten-Bowden Report and the International Joint Commission both recommended the project in the early 1920s. Although the Liberal Mackenzkie King was reluctant to proceed, in part of because of opposition to the project in Quebec, in 1932 the two countries inked a treaty. This failed to receive the assent of Congress. Subsequent attempts to forge an agreement in the 1930s came to naught as the Ontario government of Mitchell Hepburn, along with Quebec, got in the way. By 1941, President Roosevelt and Prime Minister King made an executive agreement to build the joint hydro and navigation works, but this too failed to receive the assent of Congress. Proposals for the seaway were met with resistance from railway and port lobbyists in the United States.

In the post-1945 years, proposals to introduce tolls still could not induce the U.S. Congress to approve the project. Growing impatient, and with Ontario desperate for hydro-electricity, Canada began to consider “going it alone.” This seized the imagination of Canadians, engendering a groundswell of St. Lawrence nationalism. Fueled by this support, the Canadian Louis St. Laurent government decided over the course of 1951 and 1952 to construct the waterway alone, combined with a hydro project (which would prove to be the joint responsibility of Ontario and New York – as a power dam would change the water levels, it required bilateral cooperation). However, the Truman and Eisenhower administrations considered it a national security threat for Canada to alone control the deep waterway, and used various means – such as delaying and stalling the Federal Power Commission license for the power aspect – until Congress in early 1954 approved an American seaway role via the Wiley act. Canada, out of concern for the ramifications of the bilateral relationship, reluctantly acquiesced.

In the United States, Dr. N.R. Danelian (who was the Director of the 13 volume St. Lawrence Seaway Survey in the U.S. Department of Navigation (1932-1963)), worked with the U.S. Secretary of State on Canadian-United States issues regarding the Seaway and worked for over 15 years on passage of the Seaway Act. He later became President of the Great Lakes St. Lawrence Association to further the interests of the Seaway development to benefit the American Heartland.

The seaway opened in 1959 and cost $638 million in Canadian dollars, $336.2 million of which was paid by the U.S. government.[1] Queen Elizabeth II and President Dwight D. Eisenhower formally opened the Seaway with a short cruise aboard Royal Yacht Britannia after addressing the crowds in St. Lambert, Quebec.

The seaway’s opening is often credited with making the Erie Canal obsolete, thus setting off the severe economic decline of several cities in Upstate New York.

Keeping The Door Open To Torture

During his confirmation hearings to replace Leon Panetta as CIA director, General David Petraeus, the Nato commander in Afghanistan, told Senate Intelligence Committee that:

(Sen. Mark) Udall was clearly trying to get Petraeus to reiterate his opposition to torture – he read back several quotes Petraeus himself had given saying such techniques are immoral and when they’ve been used, they’ve “turned around and bitten us in the backside.” Udall asked, “do you see torture any differently in a CIA context than in a military context?”

But Petraeus instead pivoted to the TV-ready “ticking time bomb” scenario, and said torture might be justified if you have a “special situation” where an “individual in your hands who you know has placed a nuclear device under the Empire State Building. It goes off in 30 minutes, he has the codes to turn it off.” Then he urged legislators to consider crafting such an exception into the law:

I think that is a special case. I think there should be discussion of that by policymakers and by Congress. I think that it should be thought out ahead of time. There should be a process if indeed there is going to be something more than, again, the normal techniques employed in such a case. And again, I — I would certainly submit that that would be very helpful if that kind of debate could be held and if some resolution could be made as to what should be done in a case like that so that it is worked out ahead of time, rather than under an extraordinary sense of pressure in such a situation.

Torture is not a value that Americans have died for and it is beyond being stupid, it is illegal.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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”.

The Sunday Talking Heads:

This Week with Christiane Amanpour: This week’s guest are Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) and House Assistant Minority Leader James Clyburn (D-SC).

On the roundtable George Will, former White House communications director Anita Dunn, Thomson Reuters’ Chrystia Freeland and ABC’s senior political correspondent Jonathan Karl discuss the debt limit. A second roundtable will examine the Afghan withdrawal wit George Will, ABC News’ senior foreign affairs correspondent Martha Raddatz and professor of international politics at Tufts University Vali Nasr.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer:Mr. Schieffer’s guest will be Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN).

The Chris Matthews Show: This Week’s Guests Norah O’Donnell, David Ignatius, The Washington Post Columnist, Michael Duffy, TIME Magazine Assistant Managing Editor and Helene Cooper The New York Times White House Correspondent who will discuss the Afghan withdrawal and the dilemma for the Tea Party if either Romney or Huntsman is nominated.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: Gusets are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Armed Services Committee members Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI) and Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA).

Roundtable: Decision 2012 and more with the BBC’s Katty Kay, The NYT’s Matt Bai and David Brooks

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Guests are Rep. Mike Rogers, the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, conservative Sen. Jim DeMint, Bill Burton, former deputy press secretary for President Obama, and Michael Gerson, former speechwriter for President George W. Bush..

Fareed Zakaris: GPS: A world-wide exclusive with Afghan President Hamid Karzai, PIMCO’s CEO Mohamed El-Erian and CNN senior legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin.

Now you can all go back to bed or celebrate Gay Marriage in New York

Maureen Dowd: Why Is He Bi? (Sigh)

HE was born this way.


Not bisexual. Not even bipartisan. Just binary.

Our president likes to be on both sides at once.

In Afghanistan, he wants to go but he wants to stay. He’s surging and withdrawing simultaneously. He’s leaving fewer troops than are needed for a counterinsurgency strategy and more troops than are needed for a counterterrorism strategy – and he seems to want both strategies at the same time. Our work is done but we have to still be there. Our work isn’t done but we can go.

On Libya, President Obama wants to lead from behind. He’s engaging in hostilities against Qaddafi while telling Congress he’s not engaging in hostilities against Qaddafi.

Mark Weisbrot: European Authorities Risking Financial Contagion in Greek Showdown; Where Is the U.S. Government?

The US had better be ready for the economic shock

The European authorities are playing a dangerous game of “chicken” with Greece right now. It is overdue for US members of Congress to exercise some oversight as to what our government’s role is in this process, and how we might be preparing for a Greek debt default. Depending on how it happens, this default could have serious repercussions for the international financial system, the US economy and, indeed, the world economy.

New York Times Editorial: Whose Stimulus?

Big businesses are telling Washington that they are willing to do their bit for the economy – if the price is right. Multinational companies say they could repatriate hundreds of billions in foreign profits and pump them into domestic investment and hiring, but only if Congress and the White House agree to cut the tax rate on those profits to 5.25 percent from 35 percent. They call their plan “the next stimulus.” Sounds more like extortion.

In the last five years American businesses have kept abroad more than $1 trillion worth of foreign earnings, according to government data. An article by David Kocieniewski in The Times last week noted that Microsoft has $29 billion offshore, Google has $17 billion and Apple has $12 billion.

Robert Naiman: Kucinich: Ensure Safety of U.S. Citizens on The Audacity of Hope

In many arenas of human endeavor, there is no plausible way to convince someone through abstract argument that an endeavor that appears to be incredibly difficult is nonetheless not impossible. There’s nothing for it but to create an example.

Efforts to get Members of Congress to do anything related in any way to the basic human rights of Palestinians that is not slavishly pro-Likud is a prime example of this phenomenon. Many are convinced – not without evidence that makes their position seductive – that it is an immutable law of the universe that all Members of Congress must always express fealty to right-wing views on this topic.

Frank Bruni: To Know Us Is to Let Us Love

IN the mid-1980s, when I was in college, what concerned and frustrated my peers and me was how few states had basic statutes forbidding discrimination against gay men and lesbians: laws that merely prevented someone from being denied a job or apartment on the basis of whom he or she loved. At that point only Wisconsin and the District of Columbia provided such protection. The decade would end with just one addition, Massachusetts, to that meager list.

Same-sex marriage? I don’t recall our talking – or dreaming – much about that. We considered ourselves realists. Sometimes idealists. But never fantasists.

John Nichols: Wisconsin Governor Walker’s Chief Judicial Ally Accused of Physically Attacking Jurist Who Defended Rule of Law

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser, who mentored controversial Governor Scott Walker when both served as Republican legislators, has positioned himself as the primary defender of Walker’s radical anti-labor and anti-local democracy agenda on the court.

And it appears that the justice, whose unstable behavior and violent language has been highlighted in media reports, is willing to go to any length to protect Walker from legal accountability.

Justice Prosser, who retained his seat on the court only after the recount of results from an April statewide election that saw charges of fraud and political abuse aimed at the justice’s campaign, now stands accused of physically attacking a justice who disagreed with his push to make the high court an amen corner for the governor.

Six In The Morning

Attackers in uniform add to anxiety in Afghanistan  

Foreign troops say they’re increasingly concerned about the ‘enemy within,’ as deadly assaults by men who appear to be police or soldiers become more frequent. But those Western personnel also stress the importance of keeping anxiety in check in a climate of deepening mutual distrust.

By Mark Magnier, Los Angeles Times

June 26, 2011

Reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan– In late May, a NATO soldier was killed as he emerged from his tent. Two weeks earlier, two NATO soldiers were killed while eating a meal. In late April, eight U.S. troops were shot dead at a meeting at Kabul airport.

The attacks had one thing in common: The killers all wore Afghan military or police uniforms.

Foreign troops serving in Afghanistan say they’re increasingly concerned about the “enemy within.” Yet they emphasize the importance of keeping anxiety in check amid a climate of deepening mutual distrust.

“You can’t go out scared every day,” said Sasha Navarro, an Air Force staff sergeant based at Camp Mike Spann in the northern province of Balkh. “You have to be confident in your training, and keep your head on a swivel.”

Sunday’s Headlines:

World turning blind eye to 10 million child brides each year, charity warns

What has the war in Afghanistan really achieved?

Gaddafi ‘unable to breathe’

Peru’s new highway to the future

China frees dissident Hu Jia

The Abbreviated Evening Edition

Due to playing in the mud (don’t ask, trust me it’s messy), the Evening Edition will brought to you by c’est moi.

NATO says hit military targets in Libya’s Brega

TRIPOLI (Reuters) – NATO said Saturday its missiles had hit a site in Libya used by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces to stockpile military supplies and vehicles, while Gaddafi’s state media said 15 civilians had been killed.

A top rebel official said rebels would be ready to discuss any political settlement that did not involve Gaddafi remaining in power, although no proposals had emerged yet at talks with Gaddafi allies that were taking place through intermediaries.

New York’s same-sex marriage law sets off waves of engagements

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Waves of gay couples rushed on Saturday to make wedding plans that had been dreams for decades, as euphoria over New York’s legalization of same-sex marriage promised to turn a traditional pride parade into an enormous roving engagement party.

In the minutes and hours after the law was passed and signed by Democratic Governor Andrew Cuomo late on Friday, sparkling rings were offered and accepted and champagne corks flew to kick off wedding plans likely to add an estimated $284 million to the state’s economy, according to a report by the Independent Democratic Conference.