Obama White House Enshrining Bush-Era Policies

The ACLU has issued a report on national security, Establishing a New Normal. It is an 18 month review that examines Pres. Obama’s record on national security and civil liberties. The report finds that while the President has some steps to curb torture, the CIA secret prisons and the release of the Bush administrations torture memos, according to Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director of the ACLU:

“President Obama began his presidency with a bang, signing executive orders that placed the power of the presidency behind the restoration of the rule of law and gave meaning to the president’s stated view that America must lead with its values. “Unfortunately, since that time, the administration has displayed a decidedly mixed record resulting, on a range of issues, in the very real danger that the Obama administration will institutionalize some of the most troublesome policies of the previous administration – in essence, creating a troubling ‘new normal.’ We strongly urge the president to shift course and renew his commitment to the fundamental values that are the very foundation of our nation’s strength and security.”

While the Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, was attacking the Left and Liberals for comparing President Obama’s polices to George W. Bush’s, the reality is we and the “professional left” aren’t wrong. This isn’t going to go away just because the Obama loyalists want us to shut up and vote.

This is a 30 minute video from Democracy Now. The last part is an interview with Jameel Jaffer, Deputy Legal Director of the ACLU. Take the time to watch.

On This Day in History: August 13

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

August 13 is the 225th day of the year (226th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 140 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1521, the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan falls to Cortes:

After a three-month siege, Spanish forces under Hernan Cortes capture Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire. Cortes’ men leveled the city and captured Cuauhtemoc, the Aztec emperor.

Tenochtitlan was founded in 1325 A.D. by a wandering tribe of hunters and gatherers on islands in Lake Texcoco, near the present site of Mexico City. In only one century, this civilization grew into the Aztec empire, largely because of its advanced system of agriculture. The empire came to dominate central Mexico and by the ascendance of Montezuma II in 1502 had reached its greatest extent, extending as far south as perhaps modern-day Nicaragua. At the time, the empire was held together primarily by Aztec military strength, and Montezuma II set about establishing a bureaucracy, creating provinces that would pay tribute to the imperial capital of Tenochtitlan. The conquered peoples resented the Aztec demands for tribute and victims for the religious sacrifices, but the Aztec military kept rebellion at bay.

After the conquest

Cortes subsequently directed the systematic destruction and leveling of the city and its rebuilding, despite opposition, with a central area designated for Spanish use (the traza). The outer Indian section, now dubbed San Juan Tenochtitlan, continued to be governed by the previous indigenous elite and was divided into the same subdivisions as before.


Some of the remaining ruins of Tenochtitlan’s main temple, the Templo Mayor, were uncovered during the construction of a metro line in the 1970s. A small portion has been excavated and is now open to visitors. Mexico City’s Zócalo, the Plaza de la Constitución, is located at the location of Tenochtitlan’s original central plaza and market, and many of the original calzadas still correspond to modern streets in the city. The Aztec sun stone was located in the ruins. This stone is 4 meters in diameter and weighs over 20 tonnes. It was once located half way up the great pyramid. This sculpture was made around 1470 CE under the rule of King Axayacatl, the predecessor of Tizoc, and is said to tell the Aztec history and prophecy for the future.

 3114 BC – According to the Lounsbury correlation, the start of the Maya calendar.

1516 – The Treaty of Noyon between France and Spain is signed. Francis recognises Charles’s claim to Naples, and Charles recognises Francis’s claim to Milan.

1521 – Tenochtitlan (present day Mexico City) falls to conquistador Hernan Cortes.

1536 – Buddhist monks from Kyoto’s Enryaku Temple set fire to 21 Nichiren temples throughout Kyoto in the Tenbun Hokke Disturbance. (Traditional Japanese date: July 27, 1536).

1553 – Michael Servetus is arrested by John Calvin in Geneva as a heretic.

1704 – War of the Spanish Succession: Battle of Blenheim – English and Austrians victorious over French and Bavarians.

1792 – Louis XVI of France is formally arrested by the National Tribunal, and declared an enemy of the people.

1814 – The Convention of London, a treaty between the United Kingdom and the United Provinces, is signed in London.

1831 – Nat Turner sees a solar eclipse, which he believes is a sign from God. Eight days later he and 70 other slaves kill approximately 55 whites in Southampton County, Virginia.

1889 – German Ferdinand von Zeppelin patents his “Navigable Balloon”

1913 – Otto Witte, an acrobat, is purportedly crowned King of Albania.

1913 – First production in the UK of stainless steel by Harry Brearley.

1918 – Women enlist in the United States Marine Corps for the first time. Opha Mae Johnson is the first woman to enlist.

1918 – Bayerische Motoren Werke AG (BMW) established as a public company in Germany.

1920 – Polish-Soviet War: Battle of Warsaw begins, lasts till August 25. The Red Army is defeated.

1937 – Battle of Shanghai begins.

1954 – Radio Pakistan broadcasts the National Anthem of Pakistan for the first time.

1960 – The Central African Republic declares independence from France.

1961 – The German Democratic Republic closes the border between the eastern and western sectors of Berlin, to thwart its inhabitants’ attempts to escape to the West.

1968 – Alexandros Panagoulis attempts to assassinate the Greek dictator Colonel G. Papadopoulos in Varkiza, Athens.

1969 – The Apollo 11 astronauts are released from a three-week quarantine to enjoy a ticker-tape parade in New York. That evening, at a state dinner in Los Angeles, they’re awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Richard Nixon.

1978 – 150 Palestinians in Beirut are killed in a terrorist attack during the Second Phase of the Lebanese Civil War.

1979 – The roof of the uncompleted Rosemont Horizon near Chicago, Illinois collapses, killing 5 workers and injuring 16.

2004 – Hurricane Charley, a Category 4 storm, strikes Punta Gorda, Florida and devastates the surrounding area.

2004 – 156 Congolese Tutsi refugees massacred at the Gatumba refugee camp in Burundi.

2008 – Michael Phelps sets the Olympic record for most the gold medals won by an individual in Olympic history with his win in the men’s 200m butterfly.

Bite Me Ben

Paralysis at the Fed

By PAUL KRUGMAN, The New York Times

Published: August 12, 2010

Ten years ago, one of America’s leading economists delivered a stinging critique of the Bank of Japan, Japan’s equivalent of the Federal Reserve, titled “Japanese Monetary Policy: A Case of Self-Induced Paralysis?” With only a few changes in wording, the critique applies to the Fed today.

At the time, the Bank of Japan faced a situation broadly similar to that facing the Fed now. The economy was deeply depressed and showed few signs of improvement, and one might have expected the bank to take forceful action. But short-term interest rates – the usual tool of monetary policy – were near zero and could go no lower. And the Bank of Japan used that fact as an excuse to do no more.

That was malfeasance, declared the eminent U.S. economist: “Far from being powerless, the Bank of Japan could achieve a great deal if it were willing to abandon its excessive caution and its defensive response to criticism.” He rebuked officials hiding “behind minor institutional or technical difficulties in order to avoid taking action.”

Who was that tough-talking economist? Ben Bernanke, now the chairman of the Federal Reserve. So why is the Bernanke Fed being just as passive now as the Bank of Japan was a decade ago?

Prime Time

Keith, Rachel and plenty of them.  More repeats from Dave.  We have Boys.

I have beefs with Alton’s treatment of lobster, there is no reason at all to snoot the Roe and Tomalley or do anything other than steam it and serve with butter and lemon.  He does have a good technique for extracting the minor claw meat.


On Jon Arcade Fire perform.  This is the first time I remember live musical guests.  I don’t think it worked for SCTV (and I like The Tubes) and I don’t think it works for Jon OR Stephen.

Oh, he has Chuck Close.

Alton does spices.  The Buddy System- Tim-Tom and Kevin.

Yahoo TV Listings

Evening Edition

Notice what’s missing today?

News about Deepwater Horizon and BP.

The 3 pieces that are too short to quote indicate-

Oh, and this one from Dan Froomkin at the Huffington Post

And this from Think Progress

(h/t AmericaBlog for the leads)

I’ll update this later with more news, right now I’m working on Prime Time.

59 Top Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Brazil’s pampered pets get best hospitals money can buy

by Marc Burleigh, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 1:50 pm ET

SAO PAULO (AFP) – When Pierre’s regular check-up revealed his kidneys were struggling and he needed dialysis, there was no question what to do.

His owner, Cibele Dominigues, admitted the little white terrier for weeks of costly treatment in Veterinarian Hospital Dr. Hato, an ultra-modern animal clinic in Sao Paulo that boasts it is the best and most sophisticated in South America.

There he had access to a dialysis machine, a round-the-clock staff of attendants and a level of care that would be out of reach for most of Brazil’s human population.

2 WikiLeaks to continue releasing Afghan war files: Assange

by Sam Reeves, AFP

35 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange insisted Thursday the whistleblower website still planned to release its final batch of US military files on the Afghan war, despite American demands it hold back.

Speaking via video link to an audience in London, Assange said the site was preparing to release the final 15,000 classified files, the remaining documents from a huge cache which were published last month.

“We are about 7,000 reports in,” he said, without giving a date when the files would be released.

3 Same-sex marriages can resume next week: judge

by Rob Woollard, AFP

42 mins ago

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Same-sex marriages will be able to resume in California next week, a federal judge ruled Thursday following his landmark decision to overturn the state’s ban on gay and lesbian weddings.

Judge Vaughn Walker’s ruling came as he rejected a formal motion by opponents of same-sex marriage to stay any further weddings until the appeals process had been exhausted.

But Walker disappointed couples who had been hoping to tie the knot immediately, saying in an 11-page finding that same-sex weddings would only be able to take place from August 18 onwards.

4 Russia steps up fire battle as crops wither

by Anna Smolchenko, AFP

2 hrs 52 mins ago

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia on Thursday stepped up efforts to halt wildfires near its main nuclear research site, as President Dmitry Medvedev said a quarter of crops had been lost in a record heatwave.

Fears were also raised that that fires could stir up radioactive particles on land still contaminated by the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear disaster but the authorities warned against any panic.

Medvedev reported success in containing the fires that have killed over 50 people and destroyed entire villages, saying he has given orders to lift the state of emergency in three of seven regions.

5 Under-fire Zardari visits Pakistan flood victims

by Hasan Mansoor, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 4:15 pm ET

SUKKUR, Pakistan (AFP) – President Asif Ali Zardari Thursday tried to fend off an outcry over his response to Pakistan’s catastrophic floods by visiting a hard-hit area for the first time and handing out relief.

His visit came as the United States increased its financial contribution to the flood relief effort by 21 million dollars, signalling Washington’s support for a key ally in combating terrorism.

Zardari came under fire from victims, the political opposition and critics for failing last week to cut short a visit to Europe to deal personally with what is now the country’s worst humanitarian crisis.

6 US jobless claims jump to six-month high

by P. Parameswaran, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 12:13 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The number of Americans filing new claims for jobless benefits jumped unexpectedly last week to the highest level in six months, the government said Thursday, adding to US recovery concerns.

Initial claims were well above most economists’ expectations of 465,000, climbing by 2,000 to 484,000 in the week to August 7 from the previous week’s upwardly revised figure of 482,000.

“Claims’ failure to move lower in the latest week was a disappointment and could point to further labor market weakness,” warned Moody’s Economy.com economist Andrew Gledhill.

7 UN aid push for Pakistan as US steps up relief

by Hasan Mansoor, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 1:58 am ET

SUKKUR, Pakistan (AFP) – The UN has appealed for 460 million dollars in urgent aid to cope with Pakistan’s devastating floods as a US carrier joins the relief operation and medics warn of a wave of disease.

UN humanitarian chief John Holmes on Wednesday said the funds would be used for food, clean water, shelter and medical supplies for the millions affected by the natural disaster in a nation already beset by extremist violence.

“We have a huge task in front of us to deliver all that is required as soon as possible,” he told donors in New York.

8 Boosted by big profit, GM preps for IPO with new boss

by Mira Oberman, AFP

1 hr 18 mins ago

CHICAGO (AFP) – Riding high on a 1.3 billion dollar quarterly profit, General Motors announced Thursday that Ed Whitacre will step down as CEO next month as the biggest US automaker prepares to break free from government control and relist on the stock exchange.

Revenues and profits swelled under Whitacre, 68, who was brought out of retirement last year by the Obama administration to lead the troubled company after a government-financed restructuring under bankruptcy protection.

“It was my public duty to help return this company to greatness and I didn’t want to stay a day beyond that,” said Whitacre, announcing he will step down as CEO on September 1 and as chairman of the board by year-end.

9 Day grabs clubhouse lead at PGA Championship

by Greg Heakes, AFP

2 hrs 53 mins ago

SHEBOYGAN, Wisconsin (AFP) – Australia’s Jason Day, who is competing in his first PGA Championship, shot a three-under 69 to take the clubhouse lead in the first round of the weather-hit final major of the season.

Day was in the opening group that teed off from the 10th hole but he had to wait over three hours to get started because of a fog delay.

He finished with five birdies and made the turn at 34 on the Whistling Straits course.

10 14-year sentence for Bin Laden cook at Guantanamo Bay

by Lucile Malandain, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 9:24 am ET

US NAVAL BASE AT GUANTANAMO, Cuba (AFP) – Osama Bin Laden’s former cook was sentenced to 14 years in prison Wednesday in the first prison term handed down by a Guantanamo Bay court since President Barack Obama took office.

But Ibrahim al-Qosi has already agreed a plea deal with prosecutors, the details of which remain secret, raising the possibility that he could serve a much shorter sentence, or be repatriated to Sudan.

The 10-member jury deliberated for just over an hour before handing down the sentence against the 51-year-old Qosi, who pled guilty in July to material support to terrorism.

11 Top Iraqi officer warns US must stay past 2011

by Salam Faraj, AFP

Wed Aug 11, 3:40 pm ET

BAGHDAD (AFP) – Iraq’s top army officer warned on Wednesday that a pullout of all US troops by the end of 2011 was premature as the White House insisted it was on track to end combat operations this month as planned.

Lieutenant General Babaker Zerbari said American forces may be needed in the conflict-wracked nation for a further decade, in comments that called into question Washington’s policy of a phased and “responsible drawdown.”

The general’s remarks, which could irk political leaders in Baghdad, came after eight of his soldiers were killed in a brazen attack that exposed shaky security here less than three weeks before US troop numbers fall to 50,000.

12 Car bomb explodes in Bogota, in test for new president

by Pablo Rodriguez, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 4:43 pm ET

BOGOTA (AFP) – A car bomb exploded in Bogota on Thursday, wounding seven people and damaging hundreds of buildings in an early challenge to the country’s new President Juan Manuel Santos.

The car exploded at 5:30 am (1030 GMT) near a building housing the offices of Radio Caracol, breaking windows and causing other damage but no deaths.

It had been packed with some 50 kilograms (110 pounds) of ammonium nitrate and a pipette of propane gas, said city mayor Samuel Moreno.

13 Iran stoning woman tortured to confess on TV: lawyer


Thu Aug 12, 1:25 pm ET

LONDON (AFP) – A lawyer for an Iranian woman sentenced to death by stoning in the Islamic republic told a British daily she was tortured before confessing on state television to involvement in her husband’s murder.

Sakineh Mohammadi-Ashtiani’s lawyer told The Guardian newspaper on Thursday that his client, a 43-year-old mother of two, was forced to give the interview, recorded in Tabriz prison where she has been held for the past four years.

“She was severely beaten up and tortured until she accepted to appear in front of camera,” lawyer Houtan Kian said on the newspaper’s website.

14 Shanghai rankings rattle European universities

by D’Arcy Doran, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 12:03 pm ET

SHANGHAI (AFP) – Research fraud and limited academic freedom make China an unlikely arbiter for international university excellence, but a Shanghai school’s rankings are making Europe’s education ministers sweat.

France’s higher education minister travelled to Jiaotong University’s suburban campus last month to discuss the rankings, the Norwegian education minister came last year and the Danish minister is due to visit next month.

Dozens of university presidents have also made the trip.

15 ‘Rage against US’ motivated Kampala bombing ‘mastermind’

by Ben Simon, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 11:10 am ET

KAMPALA (AFP) – The suspected mastermind of the July 11 bomb attacks in Kampala said Thursday he was driven by “rage against the Americans” as Ugandan authorities declared all suspects in the blasts had been arrested.

Issa Ahmed Ruyima said he was a member of Somalia’s Islamist insurgent group Shebab, which has claimed responsibility for the double suicide blasts that killed 76 people on the evening of the football World Cup final.

Ruyima, 33, identified as the ring-leader of the attack gang, was presented to the media with three other suspects by Ugandan authorities who said all those behind the blasts had been captured.

16 Global equities rocked by economic recovery fears

by Roland Jackson, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 6:45 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – World stock markets slid on Thursday as many investors ditched risky assets on mounting fears over the global economic recovery, and the dollar wallowed close to a 15-year low point against the yen.

“Safe-haven trades are back in the ascendancy as investors increasingly fret about the outlook for the global economy,” said Nick Stamenkovic, macro strategist at RIA Capital Markets in London.

A worldwide sell-off erupted on Wednesday after the US Federal Reserve and the Bank of England cut their outlooks this week, while investors also shunned risk on signs of slowing industrial growth and rising inflation in China.

17 US sticks to Iraq withdrawal timetable

by Andrew Gully, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 6:07 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Despite warnings from Iraq’s top officer, the United States has said its drawdown was “on target” and suggested as few as “dozens” of US embassy troops might remain in Baghdad after 2011.

There are now 64,000 American soldiers in Iraq, but this number is due to fall to 50,000 by the end of the month when the United States is set to declare an end to combat operations and switch to a training and advisory mission.

“We’re on target by the end of the month to end our combat mission,” White House spokesman Robert Gibbs told a press briefing.

18 England manager calls time on ‘ageing’ Beckham

by Steve Griffiths, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 5:24 am ET

LONDON (AFP) – England manager Fabio Capello admitted he called time on David Beckham’s international career on Wednesday without first breaking the bad news to the star.

Beckham was unable to play in the World Cup due to an Achilles injury suffered while on loan to AC Milan in March, but the LA Galaxy midfielder had hoped to return to England duty when he was fully fit.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid star went to the World Cup as part of Capello’s backroom staff but the Italian, speaking ahead of Wednesday’s friendly against Hungary at Wembley, which England won 2-1 without Beckham, said there was no chance of a recall for the Euro 2012 qualifying campaign.

19 Russia says Chernobyl-area radiation normal


Thu Aug 12, 4:04 am ET

MOSCOW (AFP) – Russia on Thursday insisted that radiation was normal in regions contaminated by the Chernobyl disaster amid concerns forest fires could send a cloud of radioactive particles as far as Moscow.

“We have a full network of monitoring and we carry out frequent observations,” the deputy head of Russian state weather forecaster Rosgidromet Valery Dyadyuchenko told the Interfax news agency.

“A worsening of the radiation situation and a growth in the background radiation as a result of a transfer of materials from the fires have not been recorded anywhere in Russia,” he said.

20 First use of tools pushed back a million years

by Marlowe Hood, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 4:02 am ET

PARIS (AFP) – Human ancestors were using stone tools to carve meat from the bone of wild animals nearly a million years earlier than thought, according to a recently unveiled study.

Two mammal bones found in Ethiopia’s Afar region with chips missing that could only have been removed by sharp-edged tools are about 3.4 million years old, said the study, published in Nature.

Cut marks show that implements were used to slice flesh, while hammer-like marks suggest blows used to crack open the bone to get at nutritious — and perhaps tasty — marrow.

21 Gloom reigns as US recovery slows

by Andrew Beatty, AFP

Thu Aug 12, 12:42 am ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – World markets were thrown into turmoil as investors worried that US growth — a key engine of the global economy — is coming coughing and spluttering to a halt.

Investors from New York to Tokyo poured money into safer assets after the Federal Reserve warned the US recovery would be “more modest” than expected.

In an effort to bolster market confidence the central bank on Tuesday announced a return to crisis-era stimulus spending. But the policy shift was seen more like a plumb line that revealed the depths of the Fed’s concerns.

22 Congressional election fails to stir voters

By Nick Carey and James B. Kelleher, Reuters

Thu Aug 12, 8:51 am ET

GEORGETOWN, Kentucky (Reuters) – Democratic control of Congress and the fate of President Barack Obama’s agenda are on the line in U.S. congressional elections this November, but some voters do not seem thrilled with their choices.

Discontent with Obama and his fellow Democrats in Congress as the economy struggles and the deficit soars has energized some conservatives, including the Tea Party movement, and boosted Republican chances of winning the House of Representatives and perhaps even the Senate.

A Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday for Ohio confirmed national surveys showing Republicans with a big advantage in enthusiasm, with 75 percent of registered Republicans in the battleground state certain they would vote, compared with 52 percent of Democrats.

23 GM CEO steps down on cusp of IPO filing

By David Bailey and Kevin Krolicki, Reuters

1 hr 3 mins ago

DETROIT (Reuters) – General Motors Co Chief Executive Ed Whitacre resigned on Thursday in an abrupt move that renewed questions about leadership at the automaker as it readied a stock offering critical to paying back its controversial U.S. government bailout.

Dan Akerson, 61, a veteran private equity investor little known in auto circles, replaces Whitacre, 68, as of September. Akerson had been appointed by the Obama administration as one of the directors meant to safeguard the government’s $50 billion financing to restructure GM.

Whitacre’s departure had been expected, but the timing of his announcement caught even GM insiders off guard, just a day before GM was expected to file the paperwork for a landmark stock offering that would mark its reemergence as a publicly traded company a year after bankruptcy.

24 California gay marriage can resume next week-judge

By Dan Levine, Reuters

2 hrs 52 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A federal judge on Thursday ruled that gay marriages can resume next week in California, while his landmark ruling last week that overturned a ban on same-sex matrimony is appealed.

The order to allow gay marriage will take effect at 5 p.m. PDT on Wednesday.

That will give an appeals court time to consider “in an orderly manner” whether the voter-approved ban, known as Proposition 8, should be left intact while appellate judges weigh the merits of the overall case, U.S. District Court Chief Judge Vaughn Walker ruled.

25 Jobless claims rise highlights economy’s ills

By Corbett B. Daly, Reuters

Thu Aug 12, 5:10 pm ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The number of U.S. workers filing new claims for jobless benefits unexpectedly rose last week to the highest level in close to six months, the latest evidence the economy’s recovery is faltering.

Thursday’s data came two days after the Federal Reserve spooked investors by downgrading its assessment of the economy. The increase in jobless claims added to worries in the stock market, which has failed to make any gains this year.

The number of new claims for state unemployment insurance rose by 2,000 to 484,000 in the week ended August 7, the second straight increase, the Labor Department said. Economists had expected claims to edge down to 469,000.

26 Pentagon cautions WikiLeaks over new document dump

By Sue Pleming, Reuters

Thu Aug 12, 5:12 pm ET

SAN DIEGO, California (Reuters) – The Pentagon on Thursday told WikiLeaks it would be the “height of irresponsibility” if it went through with a new threat to publish outstanding documents it had on the Afghan war.

Amid news reports that WikiLeaks plans to soon release about 15,000 documents it had held back last month, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell repeated a U.S. demand for the whistle-blower site to expunge all classified material from the Internet and return the material it had to the U.S. government.

“It is hard to believe anything WikiLeaks says, but our position on this matter should be well-known by now to everyone,” said Morrell, who was traveling with U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates on a trip to California.

27 Pakistani president tries to comfort flood victims

By Faisal Aziz, Reuters

Thu Aug 12, 10:16 am ET

SUKKUR, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari tried to comfort victims of devastating floods on Thursday on his first visit to the area after criticism of his trips abroad and his government’s perceived slack response.

The floods, triggered by torrential monsoon downpours, have swamped Pakistan’s Indus river basin, killing more than 1,600 people, forcing two million from their homes and disrupting the lives of about 14 million people, or 8 percent of the population.

The deluge, which began two weeks ago, has caused extensive damage to the country’s main crops, agriculture officials said, after the United Nations appealed for $459 million in emergency aid and warned of a wave of deaths if help failed to arrive.

28 "I am a terrorist," Omar Khadr allegedly told U.S.

By Jane Sutton, Reuters

1 hr 42 mins ago

GUANTANAMO BAY U.S. NAVAL BASE, Cuba (Reuters) – Canadian prisoner Omar Khadr told interrogators he was an al Qaeda terrorist and described pulling the pin of a grenade that killed a U.S. soldier in Afghanistan, a prosecutor told Khadr’s war crimes tribunal on Thursday.

But Khadr’s defense attorney said those were the words of a scared and wounded child whose interrogators frightened him into giving a false confession by making up a tale of a young boy gang-raped and killed in prison.

“It is only after that story is told to Omar Khadr that he admits to throwing anything. He told them what they wanted to hear,” Army Lieutenant Colonel Jon Jackson said in defense opening statements.

29 India to shut BlackBerry if security not addressed

By Bappa Majumdar and Paul de Bendern, Reuters

Thu Aug 12, 10:30 am ET

NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Research In Motion’s encrypted BlackBerry email and instant messaging services will be shut down if the Canadian maker does not address Indian national security concerns by August 31, the government said on Thursday.

The ultimatum was issued hours after senior officials from government, intelligence and state-run telecom operators met to discuss how to gain access to the content, the latest global headache for Research In Motion (RIM).

In a matter of a few weeks, the BlackBerry device — long the darling of the world’s CEOs and politicians, including U.S. President Barack Obama — has become a target for its sealed email and messaging services with governments around the world.

30 Special Report: Shorting Wall Street on the campaign trail

By Steve Eder, Reuters

Thu Aug 12, 11:34 am ET

COLUMBUS, OHIO (Reuters) – As Lehman Brothers spiraled to its doom in the summer of 2008, John Kasich could not help but worry. After all, Kasich, a former Ohio Congressman turned investment banker, had a chunk of his personal wealth invested in the free-falling firm.

“I would make a few calls to friends of mine, like one guy in Chicago, and we would just sit there and say, ‘Is the stock going to go any lower?'” Kasich, 58, said during an interview at his gubernatorial campaign headquarters in Columbus, Ohio, the city where he ran a two-man investment banking office until after Lehman’s bankruptcy on September 15, 2008. “I didn’t really fixate on it. You just kept doing your job and you saw crazy things happening.”

In the wake of Lehman’s demise, some of its 26,000 employees found new jobs with Barclays, Nomura Holdings or other surviving rivals. Others headed for the unemployment lines with the tarnished Lehman name atop their resumes.

31 Are the Iraqi security forces ready or not?

By Jim Loney, Reuters

Thu Aug 12, 11:49 am ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – With Washington determined to stick to its timetable for a pullout, an Iraqi general has called into question whether his troops are ready to defend Iraq against a stubborn insurgency and external threats.

U.S. military leaders, engaged in a massive troop withdrawal that will see American forces reduced to 50,000 by month’s end from about 150,000 at their peak, say Iraq’s army and police are up to the challenge of militant attacks.

Under the security pact between Baghdad and Washington, all U.S. troops are scheduled to leave by the end of next year.

32 Bank repossessions drive up July foreclosures

By Lynn Adler, Reuters

Thu Aug 12, 10:31 am ET

NEW YORK (Reuters) – More Americans fell into foreclosure in July as a sour job market kept them from making payments, and banks took over homes at a near record pace.

Banks repossessed the second highest monthly number of homes ever last month, working through distressed loans already on their books rather than sharply stepping up new default notices, real estate data company RealtyTrac said on Thursday.

This reflects problem management instead of a fix of the root problem, said the company, which expects more than 1 million homes to be repossessed this year.

33 U.S. braces for Kandahar fight

By Phil Stewart, Reuters

Thu Aug 12, 6:26 am ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Targeted strikes by U.S. special forces against insurgents around Kandahar are yielding results, but war planners expect tough fighting ahead and more casualties, a U.S. military official said on Wednesday.

The campaign to secure the Taliban’s birthplace of Kandahar in southern Afghanistan is a central objective of President Barack Obama’s revised war effort and will factor prominently in a White House strategy review in December.

But U.S. officials are playing down expectations of any quick turnaround, despite Obama’s July 2011 deadline to start withdrawing forces from Afghanistan, conditions permitting.

Hey, what do you know.


34 Officials testing seal at BP’s busted Gulf well

By TOM BREEN, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 5:56 pm ET

NEW ORLEANS – In the strongest indication yet that BP’s broken oil well in the Gulf of Mexico may be plugged for good, officials on Thursday said they’re conducting tests to determine if further work to seal the well is needed.

A final decision was expected Friday on whether crews need to go ahead with drilling relief wells to allow for a so-called “bottom kill,” in which mud and cement are pumped from deep underground to permanently seal the well.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the Obama administration’s point man on the oil spill, said at a news conference that an earlier effort to temporarily plug the well may have had the unintended effect of creating a permanent seal.

35 Judge keeps gay marriage on hold – for now

By PAUL ELIAS, Associated Press Writer

39 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO – The federal judge who struck down California’s gay marriage ban said Thursday that same-sex weddings can resume next week unless an appeals court intervenes before then.

The news raised hopes among gay couples that they soon could tie the knot after years of agonizing delays.

“We just want equal rights. We’re tired of being second-class citizens,” said Amber Fox, 35, who went to the Beverly Hills Municipal Courthouse on Thursday morning in hopes of marrying her partner. The couple wed in Massachusetts in June but wanted to make it official in their home state.

36 GM posts another profit, moves toward stock sale


2 hrs 46 mins ago

DETROIT – In a signal moment for the turnaround of the American auto industry, General Motors is edging toward a public stock sale, and its profits are now solid enough that the demanding CEO will step aside, saying his work is done.

GM said Thursday that it made $1.3 billion from April through June, its second straight quarter in the black and a complete reversal from last year, when it was forced into bankruptcy and the U.S. government took a majority stake.

CEO Ed Whitacre said he would leave his post Sept. 1. He said the GM board knew all along that he would do so after the company returned to health, and industry analysts said it was an important step leading up to the stock sale.

37 WikiLeaks preparing to release more Afghan files

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER and ANNE FLAHERTY, Associated Press Writers

Thu Aug 12, 6:23 pm ET

LONDON – WikiLeaks spokesman Julian Assange said Thursday his organization is preparing to release the rest of the secret Afghan war documents it has on file. The Pentagon warned that would be more damaging to security and risk more lives than the organization’s initial release of some 76,000 war documents.

That extraordinary disclosure, which laid bare classified military documents covering the war in Afghanistan from 2004 to 2010, has angered U.S. officials, energized critics of the NATO-led campaign, and drawn the attention of the Taliban, which has promised to use the material to track down people it considers traitors.

The Pentagon says it believes it has identified the additional 15,000 classified documents, and said Thursday that their exposure would be even more damaging to the military than what has already been published.

38 Obama to sign $600M border security bill Friday

By JIM ABRAMS, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 13 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Determined to show a commitment to stopping the flow of illegal immigrants, the Senate convened a special session Thursday and passed a $600 million bill to put more agents and equipment along the Mexican border.

The voice vote in the nearly empty Senate chamber sends the legislation to President Barack Obama, who planned to sign it into law on Friday. Obama had urged Congress to channel more money toward border security amid complaints from states besieged by undocumented immigrants and illegal drug trafficking.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., the chief sponsor, said the measure would provide Obama and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano “with the boots on the ground and the resources necessary to combat the crime and violence.”

39 Lawyer: NY flight attendant wants to return to air

By VERENA DOBNIK and DAVID B. CARUSO, Associated Press Writers

Thu Aug 12, 6:33 pm ET

NEW YORK – The fed-up flight attendant who set a new standard for quitting when he abandoned his job via an emergency chute apparently isn’t as much of a quitter as everyone thought.

Steven Slater, 38, said through his lawyer Thursday that he loves flying and wants to go back to work.

“His hope is to return to the aviation business,” his attorney, Howard Turman, told reporters as Slater stood by his side outside his home in Queens. Flying, he added, “is in his blood.”

40 India sets Aug. 31 deadline for BlackBerry info

By MUNEEZA NAQVI, Associated Press Writer

1 hr 57 mins ago

NEW DELHI – India’s Home Ministry threatened Thursday to block BlackBerry corporate e-mail and messaging services unless the device’s manufacturer makes them accessible to its security agencies by Aug. 31.

The ministry said that if no technical solution is provided by then, it will take steps to block the services from the country’s mobile phone network. The phones are made by Canada’s Research In Motion Ltd.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have also threatened to cut off popular BlackBerry services unless they get greater access to user information. Like India, they’ve cited security concerns in pushing for access to encrypted information sent by the cell phones that gets routed through servers overseas.

41 GM CEO Whitacre says will step down Sept. 1


Thu Aug 12, 3:47 pm ET

DETROIT – General Motors Co. chief Ed Whitacre said Thursday he’s stepping down as CEO on Sept. 1, his mission accomplished as the company reported its second straight quarterly profit.

Whitacre, 68, will be replaced by GM board member Daniel Akerson. Like Whitacre, Akerson has a background of leading telecommunications companies.

Akerson, 61, will be GM’s fourth CEO in 18 months when he takes over the job. He could be the executive who takes GM public again if an expected public offering takes place later this year.

42 Long, hot summer of fire, floods fits predictions

By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent

Thu Aug 12, 4:20 pm ET

NEW YORK – Floods, fires, melting ice and feverish heat: From smoke-choked Moscow to water-soaked Iowa and the High Arctic, the planet seems to be having a midsummer breakdown. It’s not just a portent of things to come, scientists say, but a sign of troubling climate change already under way.

The weather-related cataclysms of July and August fit patterns predicted by climate scientists, the Geneva-based World Meteorological Organization says – although those scientists always shy from tying individual disasters directly to global warming.

The experts now see an urgent need for better ways to forecast extreme events like Russia’s heat wave and wildfires and the record deluge devastating Pakistan. They’ll discuss such tools in meetings this month and next in Europe and America, under United Nations, U.S. and British government sponsorship.

43 Jobs picture dims as unemployment claims rise


Thu Aug 12, 7:04 pm ET

WASHINGTON – The economy is looking bleaker as new applications for jobless benefits rose last week to the highest level in almost six months.

It’s a sign that hiring remains weak and employers may be going back to cutting their staffs. Analysts say the increase suggests companies won’t be adding enough workers in August to lower the 9.5 percent unemployment rate.

First-time claims for jobless benefits edged up by 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 484,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. That’s the highest total since February. Analysts had expected claims to fall.

44 Stocks fall after Cisco earnings, jobless data

By JOYCE M. ROSENBERG, AP Business Writer

Thu Aug 12, 5:33 pm ET

NEW YORK – Technology companies led the stock market to its third straight loss Thursday after an earnings report from Cisco Systems raised more questions about the economy.

A weekly employment report that was weaker than expected also made investors uneasy about the strength of the economic recovery. The Dow Jones industrial average fell 58 points and now has an almost 380-point loss the past three days. The Dow has also fallen five of the last six days. The Nasdaq composite index had a steeper loss in percentage terms, a reflection of the drop in tech stocks.

Cisco Systems Inc. released earnings after the market closed Wednesday. Cisco is seen by many traders and analysts as an indicator of the economy’s health, and it disappointed investors in several ways. The computer networking company’s revenue for its fiscal fourth quarter and forecast for revenue fell short of analysts’ expectations. Investors are focused on the connection between revenue and the economy. If revenue is weak, that could be a sign that consumers are reluctant to spend and could start to affect companies’ profits.

45 Claims of Afghan civilian deaths spark protest

By AMIR SHAH, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 9:20 am ET

KABUL, Afghanistan – A crowd of about 300 villagers yelled “Death to the United States” and blocked a main road in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday as they swore that U.S. forces had killed three innocent villagers, officials said.

NATO forces rejected the claim, saying they had killed several suspected insurgents and detained a local Taliban commander in the overnight raid.

The gulf between the two accounts is a reminder of how sensitive every NATO operation in Afghanistan has become. In Taliban-heavy areas it is hard to distinguish villagers from insurgents and sometimes public opinion turns against coalition forces even when they say they are certain they targeted the correct people.

46 Watchdog panel cites global impact of US bailout

By MARCY GORDON, AP Business Writer

Thu Aug 12, 6:20 am ET

WASHINGTON – The $700 billion U.S. bailout program launched in response to the global economic meltdown had a far greater impact overseas than other countries’ financial rescue plans did on the U.S., according to a new report from a congressional watchdog.

Billions of dollars in U.S. rescue funds wound up in big banks in France, Germany and other nations. That was probably inevitable because of the structure of the Treasury Department’s program, the Congressional Oversight Panel says in a new report issued Thursday.

The U.S. program aimed to stabilize the financial system by injecting money into as many banks as possible, including those with substantial operations overseas. Most other countries, by contrast, focused their efforts more narrowly on banks in their nations that usually lacked major U.S. operations.

47 Former Calif. priest faces sex charges in Ireland

By JULIANA BARBASSA, Associated Press Writer

44 mins ago

SAN FRANCISCO – An Irish priest faces extradition after evading a trail of sex abuse complaints by shuttling between his native country and the U.S., serving in California parishes and eventually retiring in a waterfront suburb.

Patrick Joseph McCabe, 74, faces charges he sexually assaulted six boys in Ireland from 1973 to 1981. He turned himself in to federal authorities July 30 and is being held without bail.

His defense attorney, David Cohen, did not return calls for comment. Dublin authorities and archdiocese officials also declined comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

48 Judge poised to dismiss informant’s suit vs. FBI

By GILLIAN FLACCUS, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 6:36 pm ET

SANTA ANA, Calif. – The FBI should be removed from a federal lawsuit filed by a former informant who infiltrated a California mosque and helped build a case against a man with alleged ties to Osama bin Laden, a judge said in a tentative ruling Thursday.

U.S. District Judge James Selna’s ruling removes an FBI supervisor from Craig Monteilh’s lawsuit and dismisses the only cause of action against the U.S. government with prejudice, meaning the case cannot be refiled. The claims against the FBI supervisor, however, can be amended and refiled within 20 days.

Selna plans to hear arguments and issue a final ruling Friday.

49 NY governor’s aide charged with assault

By COLLEEN LONG, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 6:19 pm ET

NEW YORK – An aide to New York Gov. David Paterson was charged Thursday after a domestic violence complaint that touched off an evidence-tampering investigation and ultimately helped the governor decide to abandon his bid for a full term.

The now-suspended aide, David Johnson, did not enter a plea at his arraignment Thursday in Bronx Criminal Court and was released but ordered to stay away from his accuser, ex-girlfriend Sherr-una Booker. He had surrendered earlier in the day on charges of assault, menacing, harassment and criminal mischief, all misdemeanors.

Johnson, wearing a suit, did not comment outside court as he got into his attorney’s silver Mercedes, while Booker’s attorney said his client felt a step closer to getting justice.

50 Professor claims NY college favored gays over him

By CAROLYN THOMPSON, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 6:06 pm ET

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. – A professor who was fired from a small private college says he was discriminated against for being heterosexual, Hungarian and a man; that his bosses favored gay colleagues known as the Merry Men; and that he was let go in retaliation for complaining to the state.

The college says he was simply unqualified and that a state investigation that found probable cause this month to support his allegations was “poor and incomplete.”

Dr. Csaba Marosan, 53, is awaiting his day in court against Trocaire College in Buffalo, a two-year school founded by the Sisters of Mercy.

51 Immigration chief: ‘We’re going to get this right’

By AMANDA LEE MYERS, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 5:33 pm ET

PHOENIX – The federal government has deported more illegal immigrants from the U.S. than ever before, the director of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said Thursday as part of an effort to push back on the suggestion Washington isn’t doing enough.

“For those who doubt the federal government’s resolve in the enforcement of immigration law, let me say this: We are committed to strong, effective immigration enforcement, and the facts speak for themselves,” ICE Director John Morton said.

He said his agency removed a record 380,000 illegal immigrants from the U.S. last fiscal year, and about a third of them were convicted criminals. So far this fiscal year, ICE removed 136,000 illegal immigrants who are convicted criminals, also a record, Morton said.

52 Atheist sues for grant refund from landmark cross

By JIM SUHR, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 4:52 pm ET

ST. LOUIS – An atheist is suing to force the administrators of a towering cross in southern Illinois to return a $20,000 state grant toward its restoration, saying Thursday it was “blatantly unconstitutional” to spend taxpayer money on a Christian symbol.

Caretakers of the 11-story Bald Knob Cross of Peace near Alto Pass, Ill., some 130 miles southeast of St. Louis, insist the grant was legally awarded to the 50-year-old landmark in mid-2008 by classifying it as a tourist attraction, not a religious symbol.

Rob Sherman disagrees, pressing in his federal lawsuit in Springfield, Ill., that the grant violates the U.S. Constitution’s establishment clause used to argue a separation of church and state.

53 Still Waters: Lawmaker remains popular at home

By JACOB ADELMAN, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 2:11 pm ET

LOS ANGELES – Congressional ethics charges have tarnished Maxine Waters’ reputation in Washington. But in the struggling, mostly Hispanic and black neighborhoods she represents, residents still hold the 10-term Democratic congresswoman in high esteem.

“If it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t even be in school,” Carol Jones, 51, said after finishing classes for the day at the Maxine Waters Education & Career Center, one of the institutions the congresswoman has supported during her decades in state and federal government.

“Whenever somebody is doing something good for the community, they’ll find something to make them look bad,” said Jones, who is enrolled in high-school equivalency and nursing programs at the gleaming mirrored glass and adobe building on an otherwise run-down boulevard of shops and homes. “That’s just the way the world is.”

54 Refugees prepare for next challenge: School in US

By DEEPTI HAJELA, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 12:38 pm ET

NEW YORK – For their first fire drill, students at the Refugee Youth Summer Academy trooped out of the building behind their teachers. All that was missing were the sirens.

The blaring alarms had been muted, for fear they could trigger terror in children who recently arrived from war zones and other conflict areas. The silent fire drill was part of the balancing act for staff at the six-week program that helps youngsters who have survived wars and refugee camps prepare for a new experience – American public school.

For some of the kids, formal education has been haphazard or nonexistent, said Elizabeth Demchak, principal of the school, run by the International Rescue Committee, which works with refugees and asylum-seekers.

55 Money fair showcases $100,000 bills, rare coins

By RODRIQUE NGOWI, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 8:55 am ET

BOSTON – In an economic downturn, it might be tough to get your head around this: rare sheets of $100,000 bills, fabulous gold treasures dating back to the California Gold Rush era, rare coins including those tied to the first stirrings for America’s independence and federal government securities worth more than a billion dollars.

That’s the backdrop of the country’s premier money show, the World’s Fair of Money, which has brought about 1,000 coin dealers and hundreds of collectors to Boston, seeking to tap into the surprising resilience of the coin industry.

Held in a sprawling hall monitored by armed uniformed and undercover police officers, federal agents, private security contractors, electronic surveillance equipment and vigilant participants, the fair features seldom-seen gold treasurers brought from the Smithsonian Institution’s vaults including America’s first $20 gold coin – valued by independent experts at $15 million today – and its last $20 coin.

56 AP Interview: US. contractor recounts kidnapping

By JULIE WATSON, The Associated Press

Thu Aug 12, 5:37 am ET

SAN DIEGO – A U.S. Army contractor kidnapped in Iraq earlier this year described how his captors easily maneuvered past Iraqi checkpoints as he was held bleeding on the floor of their car.

In his first media interview since he was freed safely in March, Issa Salomi told The Associated Press he was handed over in exchange for four militants in Iraqi detention.

Shiite extremist group Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or “the League of the Righteous,” claimed responsibility for his kidnapping. The group is believed to be close with Iran, and agreed last year to lay down its arms and join the Iraqi political process. Their current role is unclear.

57 Sovereign citizens spin history, reject government

By ANDREW WELSH-HUGGINS, Associated Press Writer

Thu Aug 12, 12:23 am ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio – They call themselves sovereign citizens, U.S. residents who declare themselves above state and federal laws. Many don’t register children’s births, carry driver’s licenses or recognize the court system.

Some peddle schemes that use fictional legal loopholes to eliminate debt and avoid foreclosures.

A few such believers are violent: Two police officers in Arkansas died in a shootout in May after stopping an Ohio sovereign citizen and his son.

58 Atty: Top Detroit cop, subordinate had affair

By COREY WILLIAMS, Associated Press Writer

Wed Aug 11, 8:51 pm ET

DETROIT, Mich. – A female officer who is dating Detroit’s recently fired police chief was previously romantically involved with the married and current acting chief, and she has the text messages to prove it.

David Robinson, a lawyer for Lt. Monique Patterson, said Wednesday that he has more than 100 text messages sent to her in 2009 and 2010 from her boss, acting Police Chief Ralph Godbee, including messages that show the two had romantic “rendezvous.”

He said Patterson ended her relationship with Godbee when she started dating Warren Evans last year.

59 APNewsBreak: ‘Research hunts’ weighed for wolves

By MATTHEW BROWN, Associated Press Writer

Wed Aug 11, 8:32 pm ET

BILLINGS, Mont. – Wildlife officials in the Northern Rockies said Wednesday they are considering hunting gray wolves in the name of research to get around a recent court ruling that restored federal protections for the animals.

Environmentalists derided the proposal, vowing to challenge in court any new plans for hunting the estimated 1,367 wolves in Idaho and Montana.

“They’re adopting the Japanese whaling approach of holding hunts under the obviously erroneous concept of research,” said Mike Leahy, Rocky Mountain director for Defenders of Wildlife. “They’re trying to be too clever by half.”

Judge Will Lift Stay on Same Sex Marriage on August 18: Up Date x 2 with Video

Judge Vaughn Walker rules today that the stay he issued on his ruling that Prop 8 banning of gay marriage was unconstitutional, will be permanently lifted on August 18. At that time, all districts will cease to enforce Prop 8 and allow all to register to marry.

Order on Motion to stay (warning pdf file)

The clerk is DIRECTED to enter judgment forthwith. That judgment shall be STAYED until August 18, 2010 at 5 PM PDT at which time defendants and all persons under their control or supervision shall cease to apply or enforce Proposition 8. (vrwlc1, COURT STAFF) (Filed on 8/12/2010)

There was also a question of the standing of the proponents to appeal this stay and the ruling since this is a state law and the state of California has decided not to pursue an appeal.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

From Right Wing Watch

Will The Right Sacrifice California to Save Marriage Amendments Elsewhere?

Earlier today I posted audio  of David Barton talking with Tim Wildmon and Marvin Sanders of the American Family Association about his relationship with Glenn Beck, but now I want to highlight a more important piece of that discussion that occurred later in the interview when they were discussing the Prop 8 ruling.

   Barton: Right now the damage is limited to California only, but if California appeals this to the US Supreme Court, the US Supreme Court with Kennedy will go for California, which means all 31 states will go down in flames, although right now this decision is limited only to California.

   So there’s an effort underway to say “California, please don’t appeal this. I mean, if you appeal this, its bad for you guys but live with it, but don’t cause the rest of us to have to go down your path.”

   Wildom: So you think the better situation here would be California not to appeal …

   Barton: Well, I’m telling you that that’s what is being argued by a lot of folks now because the other Supreme Court attorney who watched this from afar said “on no, you left too many arguments on the table, you stayed technical.” And now, knowing what Kennedy has already done in two similar cases to this and knowing that he’s the deciding vote, the odds are 999 out of 1000 that they’ll uphold the California decision.

   If they do, there’s not a marriage amendment in the country that can stand. And so the problem is that instead of California losing its amendment, now 31 states lose their amendment. And that won’t happen if California doesn’t appeal this decision. It’s just California that loses its amendment.

Yes, there will be consequences. So whose is to say that GLBT couples will not challenge the ban on gay marriage in those other states? I certainly hope they do with success.

In fairness

Perhaps you think I was unduly harsh to Rachel last night since she came up with this-

Well, I don’t think so at all.  I think it’s a pattern with this administration and I think her ‘special’ interest depends on who’s ox is gored.

The comment section is for you to tell me how wrong I am in that assessment, but the real purpose of this diary is to experiment with MSNBC embeds since Google (and therefore YouTube) has gone evil on Net Netrality and to point out these excellent posts on AmericaBlog (h/t for the Maddow video)-

Please, please, please. Interview an actual liberal as to why they’re upset before just assuming why they’re upset.

by John Aravosis (DC) on 8/11/2010 11:30:00 PM

(It’s a fallacy t)hat the President has passed the bulk of his agenda because he has passed a number of bills that bear the title of his agenda. It’s really not the same thing. While a rose may smell as sweet under any other name, legislation is judged by its substance not by its title. Health Care Reform was a serious disappointment because the President simply didn’t try to push for what he promised during the campaign. Just because he passed a bill is not sufficient reason for praise. We wanted him to at least try to pass the bill he promised us during the campaign. And he not only didn’t get it passed, he didn’t try to get it passed.

Dear Ruth Marcus, how was George Bush so effective when he didn’t have 60 votes in the Senate?

by John Aravosis (DC) on 8/12/2010 03:43:00 AM

I just find all this “woe is us” talk — about how we don’t have 60 votes in the Senate, and that being the reason that Obama fails to fight for so much of what he promised — to be incredibly naive.

Punting the Pundits

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.

Paul Krugman: Social Security Madness

Has the Washington Post gone mad asks Dean Baker, reading the Post’s latest editorial on Social Security. The answer is no: it has been mad all along.

Dean points out, correctly, that the Post’s argument here is: “In the future, Social Security might have to cut benefits. To prevent these possible future benefit cuts, we must cut future benefits.”

But this isn’t new – the same argument was rolled out in 2005.

Dean Baker: Has the Washington Post Gone Mad?

Confused readers may wonder based on its lead editorial complaining that supporters of Social Security: “pursue a maddening  strategy of minimizing the existence of any problem and accusing those who seek solutions of trying to destroy Social Security.”

The piece begins by telling readers that: “THIS YEAR, for the first time since 1983, Social Security will pay out more in benefits than it receives from payroll taxes — $41 billion. This development is not an emergency, but it is a warning sign (emphasis in original).” It certainly is a warning sign. The falloff in Social Security tax revenue is a warning that the economy is seriously depressed due to the collapse of the housing bubble. Double digit unemployment leads to all sorts of problems, including the strains that it places on pension funds like Social Security.

In a sane newspaper the next sentence would be pointing out the urgent need to get back to full employment. Instead the Post tells readers:

“Too soon, this year’s anomaly will become the norm. By 2037, all the Social Security reserves will have been drained and the income flowing into the program will only be enough to pay 75 percent of scheduled benefits. If that sounds tolerable, consider that two-thirds of seniors rely on Social Security as their main source of income. The average annual benefit is $14,000. Those who care most about avoiding such painful cuts ought to be working on ways to bolster the program’s finances — and soon, when the necessary changes will be less drastic than if action is postponed.”

Timothy Egan: The Mirthless Senate

The United States Senate, which still flatters itself with the misnomer “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” counts a former Major League Baseball player,  an organic wheat farmer, far too many lawyers and a member who  describes herself as a mom in tennis shoes among its select 100.

Last year, when this club added someone with a most unlikely working background – Al Franken, the professional comedian who is the junior senator from Minnesota – I thought the upper chamber would finally get something it most lacked:  a sharp sense of humor.

Like many who followed Franken’s career since his early  days as a writer and performer on “Saturday Night Live,” I anticipated  a flash of funny from him after he waded  into the pool of poll-tested, pundit-vetted, lobbyist-cowering politicians.

Shuja Nawaz: Hope amid Pakistan’s tragedy

The rains that have for the past two weeks caused the worst flooding in northwest Pakistan in eight decades have shifted attention from the country’s battle against insurgency and militancy and the fragility of its relationship with the United States. As the monsoon rains move south, numerous roads, bridges and dams have been damaged. Crops have been destroyed. It is likely that next year’s crops will not be planted. Yet amid all this destruction are reasons for optimism.

Rapid U.S. action to support Pakistan’s relief efforts may help improve America’s image among a population that generally resents the United States. Washington’s $55 million aid pledge makes it the largest donor among the international community. U.S. Chinooks — seen as angels of mercy after the 2005 earthquake — are helping Pakistanis over flood-ravaged mountains and plains, and represent both U.S. ability to help Pakistanis and the Pakistani military’s willingness to work with its U.S. counterparts. This collaboration will go a long way toward building relationships among rank-and-file service members. The head of Pakistan’s air force is visiting the United States this week to see joint air exercises in Nevada. Such encounters will educate people and help both countries dispel false notions about each other.

Ted Galen Carpenter and Malou Innocent: Hamid Karzai and America’s Vietnam mistake

In dealing with the erratic and unreliable Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, Washington is replicating the pattern of exaltation and subsequent blame-shifting it took five decades ago toward South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem.

Amid growing debate about whether the United States should stay in Afghanistan, one issue of agreement is that Afghanistan’s president, Hamid Karzai, is both the central figure in the war and its weakest link.

Recent embarrassing controversies between Karzai and Washington – including a move this month by the Afghan leader to hinder U.S.-backed anti-corruption investigations in Kabul – reveal a troubling pattern in U.S. foreign policy. U.S. leaders have a tendency to hail flawed foreign leaders as the saviors of their countries, only to publicly disparage them later for not meeting America’s lofty expectations.

In dealing with the erratic and unreliable Karzai, Washington is replicating the pattern of exaltation and subsequent blame-shifting it followed five decades ago with South Vietnamese leader Ngo Dinh Diem. That episode produced famously disastrous results.

Joshua Green: The raid on food stamps

ON TUESDAY, President Obama signed a $26 billion bill to help state and local governments cover Medicaid payments and avoid having to lay off teachers and other public employees. In what passes for high drama in Washington, the House of Representatives was called back from its summer recess to vote on the package, and the successful outcome was hailed as a major Democratic victory. “We can’t stand by and do nothing while pink slips are given to the men and women who educate our children or keep our communities safe,” Obama said. “That doesn’t make sense.”

No, it doesn’t. But only by the occluded standards of contemporary Washington could this aid package be considered a victory. What began three months ago as a $50 billion emergency spending bill limped to the president’s desk at half that size and was largely paid for – “offset” in the clinical terminology of the budget – by cutting $12 billion from the food stamp program. In other words, a measure designed to help one group struggling in the recession came at the expense of another that is even worse off – and growing rapidly.

A Mote Of Dust Suspended In A Sunbeam

(10 pm. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

The Pale Blue Dot

Carl Sagan


From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

On This Day in History: August 12

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

On this day in 1990, fossil hunter Susan Hendrickson discovers three huge bones jutting out of a cliff near Faith, South Dakota. They turn out to be part of the largest-ever Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton ever discovered, a 65 million-year-old specimen dubbed Sue, after its discoverer.

Amazingly, Sue’s skeleton was over 90 percent complete, and the bones were extremely well-preserved. Hendrickson’s employer, the Black Hills Institute of Geological Research, paid $5,000 to the land owner, Maurice Williams, for the right to excavate the dinosaur skeleton, which was cleaned and transported to the company headquarters in Hill City. The institute’s president, Peter Larson, announced plans to build a non-profit museum to display Sue along with other fossils of the Cretaceous period.

 30 BC – Cleopatra VII Philopator, the last ruler of the Egyptian Ptolemaic dynasty, commits suicide, allegedly by means of an asp bite.

1099 – First Crusade: Battle of Ascalon  Crusaders under the command of Godfrey of Bouillon defeat Fatimid forces led by Al-Afdal Shahanshah. This is considered the last engagement of the First Crusade.

1121 – Battle of Didgori: the Georgian army under King David the Builder wins a decisive victory over the famous Seljuk commander Ilghazi.

1164 – Battle of Harim: Nur ad-Din Zangi defeats the Crusader armies of the County of Tripoli and the Principality of Antioch.

1323 – Signature of the Treaty of Noteborg between Sweden and Novgorod (Russia), that regulates the border between the two countries for the first time.

1480 – Battle of Otranto: Ottoman troops behead 800 Christians for refusing to convert to Islam.

1499 – First engagement of the Battle of Zonchio between Venetian and Ottoman fleets.

1624 – The president of Louis XIII of France’s royal council is arrested, leaving Cardinal Richelieu in the role of the King’s principal minister.

1676 – Praying Indian John Alderman shoots and kills Metacomet, the Wampanoag war chief, ending King Philip’s War.

1793 – The Rhône and Loire (Lêre) départments are created when the former département of Rhône-et-Loire is split into two.

1806 – Santiago de Liniers re-takes the city of Buenos Aires after the first British invasion.

1851 – Isaac Singer is granted a patent for his sewing machine.

1877 – Asaph Hall discovers the Mars moon Deimos.

1883 – The last quagga dies at the Artis Magistra zoo in Amsterdam.

1898 – An Armistice ends the Spanish-American War.

1898 – The Hawaiian flag is lowered from Iolani Palace in an elaborate annexation ceremony and replaced with the flag of the United States to signify the transfer of sovereignty from the Republic of Hawai’i to the United States.

1914 – World War I: the United Kingdom declares war on Austria-Hungary; the countries of the British Empire follow suit.

1944 – Waffen SS troops massacre 560 people in Sant’Anna di Stazzema.

1944 – Alençon is liberated by General Leclerc, the first city in France to be liberated from the Nazis by French forces.

1952 – The Night of the Murdered Poets: 13 prominent Jewish intellectuals are murdered in Moscow.

1953 – Nuclear weapons testing: the Soviet atomic bomb project continues with the detonation of Joe 4, the first Soviet thermonuclear weapon.

1953 – The islands of Zakynthos and Kefalonia in Greece are severely damaged by an earthquake measuring 7.3 on the Richter scale.

1960 – Echo 1A, NASA’s first successful communications satellite, is launched.

1964 – South Africa is banned from the Olympic Games due to the country’s racist policies.

1964 – Charlie Wilson, one of the Great Train Robbers, escapes from Winson Green Prison in Birmingham, England.

1969 – Violence erupts after the Apprentice Boys of Derry march in Derry, Northern Ireland, resulting in a three-day communal riot known as the Battle of the Bogside.

1976 – Between 1,000 and 3,500 Palestinians are killed in the Tel al-Zaatar massacre, one of the bloodiest events of the Lebanese Civil War

1977 – The first free flight of the Space Shuttle Enterprise.

1977 – The Sri Lankan riots of 1977, targeting the minority Sri Lankan Tamil people, begin, less than a month after the United National Party came to power. Over 300 Tamils are killed.

1978 – The Treaty of Peace and Friendship between Japan and the People’s Republic of China is signed.

1980 – The Montevideo Treaty, establishing the Latin American Integration Association, is signed.

1981 – The IBM Personal Computer is released.

1982 – Mexico announces it is unable to pay its enormous external debt, marking the beginning of a debt crisis that spreads to all of Latin America and the Third World.

1985 – Japan Airlines Flight 123 crashes into Osutaka ridge in Gunma Prefecture, Japan, killing 520, to become the worst single-plane air disaster.

1992 – Canada, Mexico and the United States announce completion of negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

1994 – Major League Baseball players go on strike. This will force the cancellation of the 1994 World Series.

2000 – The Oscar class submarine K-141 Kursk of the Russian Navy explodes and sinks in the Barents Sea during a military exercise.

2005 – Sri Lanka’s foreign minister, Lakshman Kadirgamar, is fatally shot by an LTTE sniper at his home.

2007 – The bulk carrier M/V New Flame collides with the oil tanker Torm Gertrud at the southernmost tip of Gibraltar, ending up partially submerged.

Holidays and observances

   * Christian Feast Day:

       * Euplius

       * Herculanus of Brescia

       * Pope Innocent XI

       * August 12 (Eastern Orthodox liturgics)

   * Glorious Twelfth (United Kingdom)

   * HM the Queen’s Birthday and National Mother’s Day (Thailand)

   * International Youth Day (International)

   * The first day of Awa Dance Festival (Tokushima)

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