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Don't Ask, Don't Tell, Don't Hope

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

By John Sherffius
The Boulder Daily Camera



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The Global Warming Lie Detector

By Dean Baker
t r u t h o u t


The House's passage of the Waxman-Markey bill raises the possibility that the United States will finally do something on global warming. This prospect has the industry hacks screaming at top volume about the horrible fate that awaits the economy. Everyone should know not to take them seriously, as I will explain in a moment.

First, we should acknowledge the obvious: The bill is awful. It gives away permits to greenhouse gas emitters that should instead be auctioned. As a result, money that could be rebated to taxpayers or used to fund the development of clean technologies instead goes to the industries that are the source of the problem.

Second, the use of tradable permits rather than a tax is a rather questionable policy. Permits will almost certainly require more government enforcement bureaucracy than a system of taxes and subsidies. And, incidentally, permits will allow Goldman Sachs and our other Wall Street friends to make tens of billions of dollars on trading fees in the coming decades, a high priority for all Americans.

But a bad bill is almost certainly better than no bill. If Waxman-Markey doesn't get through, it is very difficult to see another bill getting through this Congress. And there is no reason to believe that the Congress that gets elected in 2010 will be any less indebted to the corporate lobbyists.

The Waxman-Markey bill should be viewed as a foot in the door. It is a modest first step toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions that both demonstrates a commitment and provides an opportunity to show the public that emissions can be lowered without imposing an enormous economic burden on the country....(Remainder.)

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Capehart Takes on Ratigan's Use of "Reverse Racism"

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Lying Sack of Dog Mess Thinks that Madoff is a "Small Fish"

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Beck Wants His Rabid "Followers" to Call "Wanted" GOP Reps That Voted for "Cap-and-Traitor"

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The Savage Weiner, Sewer Dweller, Doesn't Like Media Matters Calling Him on His Bullshit

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Completely Insane Glenn Beck Tries to Connect ACORN and AmeriCorps

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Intellectual Tsetse Fly, Beck, Criticizes Obama for Opposing Honduran Coup

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Labor Chief Deplores Defacing of Gay Pride Posters

By Janie Lorber
The Caucus at The New York Times


Labor Secretary Hilda Solis issued a warning letter to departmental employees late last week, after posters celebrating Gay Pride Month hanging in 35 department elevators since June 22 have been either defaced or removed altogether.

In an e-mail message sent to the entire department, Ms. Solis, who helped found the House of Representative’s Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Caucus when she was in Congress, said she was outraged by the behavior.

“It appears, however, that some members of the Labor Department team have a different view, as it has come to my attention that most of the posters have been continually defaced or removed,” Ms. Solis wrote. “On several occasions, even the poster frames have been torn completely off the elevator walls.”

“I do not believe these actions represent the majority of our employees, so I refuse to let this situation define us.

The posters will stay up throughout the month and will be replaced immediately if they are damaged or removed, according to the letter....(Remainder.)

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Wingnut Media, and the Freepers, Continue to Push Disputed Spanish Study on Green Jobs


By Media Matters

In recent days, conservatives in the media have continued to cite the findings of a widely disputed study, reportedly supported by an oil industry-funded think tank and rejected by the Spanish government, to assert or suggest that the United States will, in the words of Fox News' Glenn Beck, lose "2.2 jobs for every one green job created" if the American Clean Energy and Security Act passes.

The study, by Gabriel Calzada Álvarez, stated: "[W]e find that for every renewable energy job that the State manages to finance, Spain's experience cited by President Obama as a model reveals with high confidence, by two different methods, that the U.S. should expect a loss of at least 2.2 jobs on average, or about 9 jobs lost for every 4 created, to which we have to add those jobs that non-subsidized investments with the same resources would have created." It added:
Therefore, while it is not possible to directly translate Spain's experience with exactitude to claim that the U.S. would lose at least 6.6 million to 11 million jobs, as a direct consequence were it to actually create 3 to 5 million "green jobs" as promised (in addition to the jobs lost due to the opportunity cost of private capital employed in renewable energy), the study clearly reveals the tendency that the U.S. should expect such an outcome.
Conservatives in the media who have cited job losses of more than two jobs for every green job created or referred to Spain's purported loss of jobs as a result of its climate policy include:
  • Beck, who, on the June 26 edition of his Fox News show, in claiming that "[w]hile we're busy marching toward socialism, the rest of the world is running away from it because they've tried it already," asserted of the climate legislation: "It's already a complete failure in Spain, where it has resulted -- listen to this -- where it has resulted in 18.1 percent unemployment, more than double Europe's average." He added: "They are losing 2.2 jobs for every one green job created." …
(Remainder).

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Olbermann Awards The Oxy-Moron WPITW "Runner-Up" for SCOTUS/Sotomayor Comments

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They Hate Him Because He's a Progressive Gay. Period.

By Jeremy Hooper
Good As You


Over the past month or so, we've routinely been disgusted by the way the far-right social conservatives are defaming Kevin Jennings, a decent human being who has dedicated his life to making public schooling easier for LGBT kids and teens, so that they can reverse his appointment as head the Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. But now the Family Research Council has outdone all prior attacks, going so far as to launch an ad campaign and website wherein they isolate and de-contextualize quotes (mostly from his 2006 memoir, Mama's Boy, Preacher's Son) in order to make this accomplished, Harvard-educated public servant sound like an unreasonable, child-endangering pervert:




Oh, and the man who seems to be most behind this Jennings "research"? Well that would be FRC's Peter Sprigg, a man whose own quote bank includes this remarkably un-fireable nugget:
"I would much prefer to export homosexuals from the United States than to import them into the United States because we believe homosexuality is destructive to society."
Apparently in FRC's bizzaro world of "child protection," teaching kids that homosexuals are America's most needed export is simply a lesson in social studies, but a man's life work of genuinely keeping gays safe from harm is a call for a career-ruining game of "smear the queer." Oh how proud their parents must be....(Remainder.)

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President Speaks At Gay Pride Event At White House

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MSNBC Interviews Rep. Jared Polis About Gay Rights & Obama

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NBC Affiliate in Tampa Airs Anti-Gay Propaganda

By Keith Morelli
Tampa Bay Online

TAMPA - A flood of telephone calls and e-mails cascaded into WFLA News Channel 8 on Saturday afternoon and night over the airing of "Silencing Christians," a religious paid program that some say contained open hate speech against gays and lesbians.

Before the hourlong program ended at 8 p.m., the station had logged hundreds of telephone calls and more than 1,000 e-mails, all protesting the broadcast.

Stratton Pollitzer, deputy director of Equality Florida, has seen the program and said the message was clearly hate speech.

"I think this program is a piece of homophobic propaganda and it has no place on a major network like NBC," he said just after 7 p.m., as the program was airing.

The show was hosted by author and commentator Janet Parshall who, at the outset, said the homosexual community has established a plan for widespread acceptance at the expense of Christian morals and values.

"And to run it the same day as Gay Pride festival in St. Petersburg just adds insult to injury," Pollitzer said. "While tens of thousands of people in Tampa Bay area are celebrating diversion, WFLA is broadcasting homophobia."

"It's a dangerous show," he said, and stations in other markets have refused to run it because of its controversial content.

Pollitzer said he spoke with station executives around 4 p.m. Saturday and was told the program would be screened and a decision would be made. At 7 p.m., the show aired....(Remainder.)

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Talking Ass-Weasel, Kilmeade, Still Saying Energy Bill "Going to Cost Taxpayer $1,241 a Year"

Monday, June 29, 2009

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Fox News' Talking Monkey, Kilmeade, Still Lying About Spanish Green Jobs Study

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CBS Jumps a Whale Shark

By DarkSyde
Daily Kos


There are plenty of instances in the traditional media of honest mistakes or just plain sloppy journalism when it comes to science reporting. Then there are times when the only explanation is naked complicity in spreading disinformation. CBS has clearly crossed the line into the latter, by reporting the EPA suppressed information questioning the validity of anthropogenic global warming, to a degree that should leave any premium news organization embarrassed. We’re not going to award CBS traffic for this travesty (It’s linked with some additional info here) but some background on the report that was supposedly repressed can be found here:
It turns out that the report, written by Alan Carlin and John Davidson of the EPA’s National Center for Environmental Economics, is drawn heavily from the contrarian blogosphere, especially Ken Gregory of the Calgary-based "astroturf" group Friends of Science. And in one case, a lengthy "analysis" of a recent peer-reviewed paper has been lifted, without attribution, straight out of World Climate Report, the climate "news" blog run by uber-contrarian Pat Michaels.
Just for starters, the contrarian report that CBS accuses the EPA of 'suppressing' revives the old zombie lie that a warming sun is to blame for global warming, except when it's not, then the earth is actually cooling. There’s no need to point out that the sun, the most studied object in the universe after earth itself, shows no signs of doing anything of the sort, nor is there any point in presenting data showing unequivocally that the earth is not cooling unless one conveniently cherry picks an interval right after the hottest year on record. Because -- now follow along Republican boys and girls -- the sun can’t be the cause of global warming on a cooling earth. The rest of the so-called suppressed report is just as bad if not worse. Excluding nonsense heavily plagiarized from energy industry front groups is not an example of suppression. It’s an example of rightful rejection....(Remainder.)

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Time for Iron Man

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.
The Washington Post


Every general studies the mistakes of the last war, and President Obama's style has been much influenced by the difficulties of Bill Clinton's presidency.

In particular, Obama has shied away from handing Congress his own plans on "stone tablets," a phrase much loved by senior adviser David Axelrod, and instead allowed it room to legislate.

The president has won a lot, including a decent stimulus bill and laws on children's health coverage, tobacco regulation and employment discrimination that, in less exciting times, would have been seen as landmarks. But the stimulus bill was neither as good nor as large as it might have been, and Obama is still dealing with the problems created by the legislative train wreck over his Guantanamo policies.

And then there's his centerpiece campaign to reform the health-care system.

Obama's initial approach of laying out principles and giving Congress latitude was the right response to Clinton's mistake of offering a detailed proposal, only to see it mocked and rejected. Yet two big problems confront health-care reform that only Obama's intervention can solve.

The first is the absence of substantial Republican support for comprehensive change. Max Baucus, the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has done everything short of making ethanol a reimbursable prescription drug to win the heart of his good Republican friend from Iowa, Chuck Grassley....(Remainder.)

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And the Fag was Still There

By Mr. Fish
LA Weekly



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Hannity Continues to Push Debunked Cap-and-Trade Cost Figure

By Media Matters

During the June 26 edition of his Fox News program, referring to the American Clean Energy and Security Act -- which passed the House earlier that day -- Sean Hannity stated: "Most Americans don't know that we're going to lose two-and-a-half million new jobs and that your electricity bills, as a result of this vote tonight, will go up maybe as high as $3,000 per family." But the $3,000 per family figure -- which Hannity has cited before -- is based on Republicans' distortion of a 2007 study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and has been discredited by one of the study's authors. In contrast to the figure Hannity cited, the Congressional Budget Office estimated in a June 19 analysis of the version of the bill that passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee that in 2020, the bill would have an average cost of $175 per household per year. And the EPA estimated in a June 23 analysis of the bill that the average cost to households averaged over the years 2010 to 2050 will be between $80 and $111.

According to a May 28 FactCheck.org article, "Leading Republicans are claiming that President Obama's proposal to curb greenhouse gas emissions would cost households as much as $3,100 per year. The Republican National Committee calls it a 'massive national energy tax.' But the $3,100 figure is a misrepresentation of both Obama's proposal and the study from which the number is derived."

From the FactCheck.org article:
How do Republicans figure American households will be out $3,100? The figure is based in part on a 2007 study by the MIT Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change. The study estimated that a cap-and-trade market for 2015 would be worth $366 billion in revenue. Republicans, figuring that that amount would be passed from the energy companies to consumers, calculated the average cost per household by dividing $366 billion by 117 million households (a population of 300 million divided into households of 2.56 persons) to get $3,128, or roughly $3,100.

However, one of the authors of the MIT study disputes that figure....

(Remainder.)

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Why the GOP Can't Sink Sotomayor

With Senate confirmation practically a lock, big business plays nice with the likely next justice.

By Stephanie Mencimer
Mother Jones


For the past month, Republicans have done their best to tar and feather President Obama's nominee for the Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor. There's been talk-radio griping about her now-infamous "wise Latina" speech, charges of reverse racism, and lots of disparaging of "empathy" for the little people. But despite all the bluster, the GOP has secured just three known votes against Obama's nominee to replace retiring Justice David Souter, and they come from the party's far-right fringe: Pat Roberts (R-Kan.), James Inhofe (R-Okla.), and Sam Brownback (R-Kan.). That's not much of an army for a confirmation battle.

Some conservatives seem perplexed that their attacks haven't inflicted more damage. But they shouldn't be. One revealing clue came in an endorsement last week, when Mother Jones reported that former Clinton special prosecutor Kenneth Starr had endorsed Sotomayor. Starr is a die-hard conservative and towering icon of the religious right. But in his legal practice, he often represents business interests—a major GOP constituency that often trumps the party's fealty to its evangelical wing. With Democrats in control of the Senate, the GOP just doesn't have the numbers to keep Sotomayor off the bench (barring pubic-hair-on-the-Coke-can-type allegations or other emerging scandals). Regardless of how the base views her opinions on abortion or the death penalty, anyone who might have an issue before the court is loath to antagonize a woman who'll likely be deciding their cases.

Starr himself has a pending Supreme Court case that Sotomayor will hear next term if she's confirmed. He represents a group called the Free Enterprise Fund, which has sued a nonprofit board created by the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to beef up corporate accounting standards. The suit alleges that the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board is unconstitutional because, among other things, it violates the separation of powers doctrine. If Starr wins, the suit could potentially impede the Securities and Exchange Commission's ability to take action against accounting firms—and force Congress to overhaul the entire act, which is deeply unpopular on Wall Street. The DC Circuit Court of Appeals rejected the suit in 2008 in a 2-to-1 decision. But the Supreme Court recently agreed to hear the matter next term, and Starr is no dummy. He certainly doesn't want to alienate Sotomayor by publicly opposing her. But he also has a lot to gain by endearing himself to the novice justice with a generous public endorsement....(Remainder.)

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Betraying the Planet

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times


So the House passed the Waxman-Markey climate-change bill. In political terms, it was a remarkable achievement.

But 212 representatives voted no. A handful of these no votes came from representatives who considered the bill too weak, but most rejected the bill because they rejected the whole notion that we have to do something about greenhouse gases.

And as I watched the deniers make their arguments, I couldn’t help thinking that I was watching a form of treason — treason against the planet.

To fully appreciate the irresponsibility and immorality of climate-change denial, you need to know about the grim turn taken by the latest climate research.

The fact is that the planet is changing faster than even pessimists expected: ice caps are shrinking, arid zones spreading, at a terrifying rate. And according to a number of recent studies, catastrophe — a rise in temperature so large as to be almost unthinkable — can no longer be considered a mere possibility. It is, instead, the most likely outcome if we continue along our present course.

Thus researchers at M.I.T., who were previously predicting a temperature rise of a little more than 4 degrees by the end of this century, are now predicting a rise of more than 9 degrees. Why? Global greenhouse gas emissions are rising faster than expected; some mitigating factors, like absorption of carbon dioxide by the oceans, are turning out to be weaker than hoped; and there’s growing evidence that climate change is self-reinforcing — that, for example, rising temperatures will cause some arctic tundra to defrost, releasing even more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere....(Remainder.)

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Guns, America & Nazi Germany

By Bruce Ticket
The Smirking Chimp


James W. von Brunn must think that murdering a black Protestant security guard like Stephen T. Johns, as alleged by authorities, was worth taking a few bullets and forcing the estrangement of his 32-year-old son.

Jews and African Americans came together at a church in Fort Washington, Md., to mourn Johns’ death, which left a son without a father, a wife without a husband and a mother without a son.

Johns’s death at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum on June 10 was preceded in less than a week by two other politically-charged killings, the shooting deaths of abortion-physician Dr. George Tiller and a soldier, William Long, 24, outside a recruiting station in Little Rock, Ark., allegedly by Carlos Bledsoe, a Muslim who abhorred military actions in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

The question of gun control enters the picture. Advocates for gun control have clamored for stricter laws for years as the bodies piled up. Gun control laws might not have helped to prevent Johns’s death since the alleged murder weapon could not be traced due to its age, at least 70 years. Such laws probably would have helped prevent most murders and injuries caused by firearms.

How hard is it to figure out our problem? Lunatics throughout this country have easy access to firearms. Unstable people have the opportunity to kill at will. As a society, we must be just as crazy to allow it.

That said, what makes America of 2009 any different from Nazi Germany?...(Remainder.)

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O’Reilly Sleight Of Hand On Sanford Affair: Make The Story About Liberal Viciousness, Ignore The Open Questions

By Ellen
News Hounds


The O'Reilly Factor took a break from the nearly non-stop Michael Jackson coverage Friday night (6/26/09) on Fox to spend three segments accusing Democrats, liberals, and the left, of "celebrating" Gov. Mark Sanford's (R-SC) fall from grace. Cleverly avoiding the substantive issues that surround Sanford's admission that he's been having an affair: his failure to arrange for someone else to be in charge while he was MIA, his hypocrisy as a supposed family values conservative, and his use of public funds to visit his mistress in Argentina, Bill O'Reilly, Karl Rove (videos below) and Bernard Goldberg repeatedly smeared their fellow Americans who happen to be Democrats and then accused THEM of being vicious. It was hard not to see it as a deliberate diversion from the sorry state of affairs (pun intended) otherwise known as the Republican Party. Unless it was a deliberate diversion from the continuing outcry against Bill O'Reilly's persistent attacks on abortion doctor George Tiller, later gunned down by an anti-abortion extremist, about which O'Reilly is obviously still smarting (from the attacks on him, that is, not Tiller's death). With video.

As soon as he heard the news of Sanford's affair, O'Reilly said, "I knew some on the left would celebrate because the governor's a conservative Republican." O'Reilly generously acknowledged that "reveling in the pain of others" is not limited to liberals and Democrats "but the far left has been especially vicious lately." I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that "lately" means since Dr. Tiller was killed and the world started scrutinizing O'Reilly's years-long campaign to destroy him.

O'Reilly went on to make the laughable claim, "The right has been fairly restrained about the John Edwards situation... Here at Fox News we reported the Edwards affair but did not dwell on it. Or celebrate it." That must depend on what the definition of "dwell" is. Because Hannity & Colmes, alone, spent one entire show on the subject (I didn't see any of FNC's prime time shows spending that much time on Sanford who, unlike Edwards, is still in office). And O'Reilly, himself, while proclaiming that he did not "relish this," used the occasion of Edwards' affair to air every other "very accurate" grievance O'Reilly had against Edwards and vowed to find out who sat on the story for several months. Funny, I didn't see any such journalistic spunk over the unanswered questions related to the Sanford case. In fact, I have seen no journalistic spunk at all about Sanford's downfall.

As an example of the left supposedly "celebrating" Sanford's fall, O'Reilly played a clip of Democratic strategist Paul Begala saying, "I'm sick of getting lectures from Republicans that I'm not a good husband, I'm not a good Christian, I'm not a good patriot. They ought to cut that crap and do their real job and stop lecturing the rest of us about gay rights and sex..."...(Remainder.)

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Scientists Study Foes' Ways at Creation "Museum"

Not surprisingly, the visitors object to depictions of evolution.

By Jeffrey McMurray
Associated Press via MSNBC


PETERSBURG, Kentucky - In one of the largest gatherings of critics since the Creation Museum in northern Kentucky opened two years ago, six dozen paleontologists in the area for a conference this week took a field trip to get a glimpse of the marketing tactics used by the other side of the evolution debate.

Paleontologists spend their careers studying evolution, and here they were visiting a place where nearly every room is dedicated to disproving it through Creationism, a fundamentalist Christian belief based on a literal interpretation of the Bible that contends God created the universe just a few thousand years ago.

"The real purpose of the museum visit is to give some of my colleagues an opportunity to sense how they're being portrayed," said Arnold Miller, a professor of paleontology at the University of Cincinnati, which is hosting the conference. "They're being demonized, I feel, in this museum as people who are responsible for all the ills of society."
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Miller and other paleontologists object to numerous other aspects of the museum they say imply science is doing more harm than good.

For example, multiple rooms are devoted to the great flood, which a strict biblical interpretation might explain was a rebuke for questioning God. The implication, some of the paleontologists say, is that their studies concluding Earth is millions of years old — not thousands as creationists claim — must pose a similar threat to mankind.

Scientists also disagree with the depiction of Noah's ark itself. Inside a miniature ark is a compartment holding two small dinosaurs, living alongside the monkeys, cows and other animals....(Remainder.)

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And If Anyone Knows a Pile of Shit When He Sees It, It's John Boehner

"I'm a sad clown."
By watertiger
Firedoglake


Irony just called and is more than a little pissed off it keeps getting abused by Republicans:
Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) had a few choice words about House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's (D-Calif.) landmark climate-change bill after its passage Friday.

When asked why he read portions of the cap-and-trade bill on the floor Friday night, Boehner told The Hill, "
Hey, people deserve to know what's in this pile of s--t."
As we all know, the Republicans spent the last eight years doing nothing but passing legislation that benefited the American people, not lobbyists and corporations, and gave the bills enough time for honest and spirited debate on the House floor so that everyone had the opportunity to read the bills before they voted on them.

AH-HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Don't get me wrong -- the bill that was passed on Friday night leaves a metric assload to be desired. But this pretty much sums up Boehner's position:
[O]ne Democratic aide quipped, "What do you expect from a guy who thinks global warming is caused by cow manure?"
(Original.)

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Spies In the Classroom: The Government Is Running a Secretive Intelligence Recruitment Program in Schools

The "Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program" may become a permanent budget item, making universities unwitting agents of state intelligence.

By David Price
CounterPunch via AlterNet


As the continuities and disjunctures between the Bush and Obama administrations come into focus it becomes increasingly clear that while Obama’s domestic agenda has some identifiable breaks with Bush’s, at its core, the new administration remains committed to staying the course of American militarization. Now we have an articulate, nuanced president who supports elements of progressive domestic policies, can even comfortably say the phrase LGBT in public speeches, while funding military programs at alarming levels and continuing the Bush administration’s military and intelligence invasion of what used to be civilian life.

The latest manifestation of this continuity came last week when Dennis C. Blair, Director of National Intelligence, announced plans to transform the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRISP) from a pilot project into a permanent budget item. Blair also announced plans to establish a “Reserve Officers' Training Corps” to train unidentified future intelligence officers in US college classrooms. Like students receiving PRISP funds, the identities of students participating in these programs would not be known to professors, university administrators or fellow students -- in effect, these future intelligence analysts and agents would conduct their first covert missions in our university classrooms.

Four years ago I wrote a series of CounterPunch exposés on the Pat Roberts Intelligence Scholars Program (PRISP), then a pilot project funded under section 318 of the 2004 Intelligence Authorization Act. PRISP links undergraduate and graduate students with US security and intelligence agencies like the NSA or CIA, and unannounced to universities, professors or fellow-students, PRISP-students enter American university campuses, classrooms, laboratories and professor’s offices without disclosing links to these agencies. PRISP was originally conceived by anthropologist Felix Moos, long a proponent of using anthropological knowledge in waging of counterinsurgency campaigns -- an area of growing interest to the Obama administration as it prepares for prolonged soft power counterinsurgency campaigns in Afghanistan....(Remainder.)

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WaPo Reporter to HuffPo Blogger: "You're Such a D**k"

By David Edwards and Daniel Tencer
The Raw Story


The Washington Post’s Dana Milbank and Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney got into a tense confrontation on CNN’s Reliable Sources Sunday over the controversy surrounding President Barack Obama’s decision to take a question from Pitney during a press conference last Tuesday.

According to Pitney, shortly after the segment aired, Milbank leaned into Pitney’s ear and whispered, “You’re such a dick.”

The controversy centers around President Obama’s desire to take a question from the Iranian public during a press conference last week.

It was clear in that conference that Obama knew Pitney was going to ask a question on behalf of an Iranian citizen. And — as Milbank pointed out during the CNN discussion — Pitney had, in fact, declared the night before that Obama planned to call on him, and that he — Pitney — was soliciting questions from Iranians for the president.

The incident ruffled many feathers in the Washington media establishment. On CNN, Milbank took Pitney to task on the issue, accusing the Huffington Post blogger of “working in collusion” with the White House.

“The White House should not be calling somebody the night before and saying, ‘We are going to call on you if you ask a question on a particular subject, asked in a particular way’,” Milbank said.

Pitney retorted that the issue was one of “jealousy” on the part of Washington’s reporters, implying that the traditional media are resentful of the arrival of Internet-based news services and blogs....(Remainder.)


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How a Loophole Benefits GE in Bank Rescue

Industrial Giant Becomes Top Recipient in Debt-Guarantee Program

General Electric Co. CEO Jeffrey Immelt, center, is applauded by Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm during a news conference Friday, June 26, 2009, in Birmingham, Mich. Immelt announced GE will build a $100 million manufacturing technology center in Michigan that will eventually employ more than 1,100 workers. At right is Ed Montgomery, President Barack Obama's director of recovery for auto communities and workers. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)
By Jeff Gerth and Brady Dennis
ProPublica and The Washington Post


General Electric, the world's largest industrial company, has quietly become the biggest beneficiary of one of the government's key rescue programs for banks.

At the same time, GE has avoided many of the restrictions facing other financial giants getting help from the government.

The company did not initially qualify for the program, under which the government sought to unfreeze credit markets by guaranteeing debt sold by banking firms. But regulators soon loosened the eligibility requirements, in part because of behind-the-scenes appeals from GE.

As a result, GE has joined major banks collectively saving billions of dollars by raising money for their operations at lower interest rates. Public records show that GE Capital, the company's massive financing arm, has issued nearly a quarter of the $340 billion in debt backed by the program, which is known as the Temporary Liquidity Guarantee Program, or TLGP. The government's actions have been "powerful and helpful" to the company, GE chief executive Jeffrey Immelt acknowledged in December.

GE's finance arm is not classified as a bank. Rather, it worked its way into the rescue program by owning two relatively small Utah banking institutions, illustrating how the loopholes in the U.S. regulatory system are manifest in the government's historic intervention in the financial crisis....(Remainder.)

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Pawlenty Whacks Sanford: "Troubling and Hypocritical"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post


Gov. Tim Pawlenty (R-Minn.) offered one of the harshest rebukes from within the Republican Party of Mark Sanford, suggesting on Sunday that the South Carolina governor was hypocritical and had damaged the GOP at a time when the brand was already hurting.

"It's hard to quantify [the damage he has done]," said Pawlenty. "But clearly there has been damage. Any time you have leading figures who are engaged in behavior that's sad and troubling and hypocritical other people are going to look at that and say, 'Hmmm, they don't walk the walk. And so the words and the actions don't ring true."

Later in his segment on CNN's "State of the Union," Pawlenty would not push back against suggestions that Sanford had been directly derelict in his duties when he traveled to Argentina to conduct his affair. "Your staff has to be able to reach you and reach you quickly," Pawlenty said. "He should not have left the state and not allowed people to know how to contact him if something happened. That's obvious."

Both Pawlenty and Sanford have been discussed as possible contenders for the Republican presidential nomination in 2012. Sanford, naturally, has dropped from that discussion after his admission of marital misconduct. Still, it was curious to see Pawlenty take a shot at his gubernatorial compatriot. Other Republicans have either avoided the Sanford topic altogether or framed the issue as a personal, not professional, miscue....(Remainder.)

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Members of US House Financial Services Committee Snapped Up or Dumped Bank Stocks as Bottom Fell Out of Market


The day before the House passed the financial rescue package, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite (right) of Florida grabbed up Citigroup stock. (Photo: Getty Images)

By Stephen Koff and Sabrina Eaton

Cleveland Plain Dealer


WASHINGTON -- As financial markets tumbled and the government worked to stave off panic by pumping billions of dollars into banks last fall, several members of Congress who oversee the banking industry were grabbing up or dumping bank stocks.

Anticipating bargains or profits or just trying to unload before the bottom fell out, these members of the House Financial Services Committee or brokers on their behalf were buying and selling stocks including Bank of America and Citigroup -- some of the very corporations their committee would later rap for greed, a Plain Dealer examination of congressional stock market transactions shows.

Financial disclosure records show that some of these Financial Services Committee members, including Ohio Rep. Charlie Wilson, made bank stock trades on the same day the banks were getting a government bailout from a program Congress approved. The transactions may not have been illegal or against congressional rules, but securities attorneys and congressional watchdog groups say they raise flags about the appearance of conflicts of interest.

"I don't think that any of these people should be owning these types of financial instruments," said Brian Biggins, a Cleveland securities lawyer and former stock brokerage manager. "I'm not saying they shouldn't be in the stock market. But if they're on the banking committee and trading in these kinds of stocks, I don't think that's right."

For example, Rep. Ginny Brown-Waite, a Florida Republican, bought Citigroup stock valued between $1,001 and $15,000 on Oct. 2, the day before the House passed the financial rescue bill and President George W. Bush signed it into law, records show. She opposed the bill....(Remainder.)

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Wrong Response to the Wrong Question

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly


It hasn't gotten too much attention -- all things considered, that's probably a good thing -- but MSNBC picked up on the calls from some conservatives for a boycott of General Motors. (The idea also got some airtime recently on "The Colbert Report.")
A sizable share of Americans, recent surveys show, are reluctant to buy from a bankrupt automaker. Complicating matters, the bailout is triggering a harsh reaction from the conservative end of the political spectrum, with some high-profile pundits calling for an outright boycott of what many are calling "Government Motors."

Among the most vocal is Hugh Hewitt, who has frequently called for a boycott to protest the "Obamaization of the American car business," both on his syndicated radio show and on his blog.

Hewitt insists that "individual Americans" must resist buying the automaker's products because, as he wrote in one blog entry, "every dollar spent with GM is a dollar spent against free enterprise."

I rarely agree with Joe Scarborough, but two weeks ago, he described the idea of a GM boycott as "stupid," and the conservative proponents of the boycott "morons."

While that's probably an impolite way of putting it, Scarborough's larger point is certainly true. As we talked about earlier this month, these conservative activists have the situation backwards....(Remainder.)

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I Want My Money Back! (Pres. Obama!)

By Marie Marchand
Common Dreams


I want my money back.

I gave $20 a week for seven months, plus $60 every once in a while for a t-shirt and sticker. I gave of my modest purse joyfully. Once I add that all up, it makes a grand total of... $106 billion?! Wait a minute, I thought I was supporting change I could believe in, not more of the same bloodshed and war!

Betrayal is a part of life. After awhile, you just come to expect it. Yet, the initial shock always hits you as a surprise. Alas, the nature of betrayal. Humans are vulnerable to being betrayed because underneath our husky shells, our pain and hardened hearts, we are soft and trustful creatures. We want to believe in people.

I'm not that young, so I possess some cynicism. But I'm not that old either, so I manage some idealism. Sure, I am used to being betrayed by my government. But I thought my days of calling the White House in tears were over. To think that Barack Obama preyed on this naive hope in me and millions like me is unforgivable.

I expect the Republicans to throw money at the Military Industrial Complex. Yet, from the Democrats, I was promised a different direction (like OUT of the Middle East). Regrettably, there has been minuscule change. There is still nothing to believe in.

It is against my religion to say the Pledge of Allegiance. (I am a Christian so I pledge allegiance only to God.) I did, however, pledge my time and treasure to Barack Obama. On November 4, 2008, I danced in the streets waving the American Flag, feeling proud to be an American. I was pathetically close to bustin' out some Toby Keith ditties....(Remainder.)

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Michele Bachmann Claims Constitution Only Requires You To Answer How Many People Are In Your Household

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times


U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is no stranger to the Truth-O-Meter. So far, her comments have decidedly bent the needle to the left and, on one occasion, set the meter on fire.

We swear we're not trying to pick on her, but we just couldn't let this latest one go. Recently, Bachmann went on record to declare that because of ACORN's involvement in the census and other privacy concerns, she would only tell 2010 census takers how many people are in her household -- and nothing more.

Here's how she explained it in a Washington Times interview (which you can listen to here):

"Now ACORN has been named one of the national partners, which will be a recipient again of federal money," Bachmann said. "And they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public. This is very concerning because the motherload of all data information will be from the census. And, of course, we think of the census as just counting how many people live in your home. Unfortunately, the census data has become very intricate, very personal (with) a lot of the questions that are asked.

"And I know for my family the only question that we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."

There's a lot wrong in her statement, so we divided it into two Truth-O-Meter items. You can read the one on ACORN's involvement in a different item. In this item, we'll address Bachmann's claim that she's only constitutionally obligated to provide the number of people in her household.

Here's what the Constitution actually says:

"Representation and direct taxes shall be apportioned among the several states which may be included within this Union, according to their respective numbers...the actual enumeration shall be made within three years after the first meeting of the Congress of the United States, and within every subsequent term of ten years, in such manner as they shall by law direct."...(Remainder.)

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Glenn Beck Plays With Live Turtles Named "Barney" & "Frank"

Okay, seriously? What the hell is wrong with this guy? I mean honestly. Is this guy just completely off his rocker?


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John Boehner Throws Hour Long Hissy Fit on the House Floor


By Heather
Crooks and Liars


While the cable news channels decided that nothing else was going on other than the death of Michael Jackson, John Boehner was on the floor of the House doing his best job to pretend he is in the Senate filibustering a piece of legislation. He was supposed to be using his two and a half minutes alloted to him to wrap up debate on the energy bill and carried on for well over an hour instead.

The entire fiasco looked like nothing less than cheap showmanship and games to me, with Michelle Bachmann for the better part of the hour in the background with the rest of the Republican peanut gallery yelling "Yeah!!! You go John!!!...Keep going!!!" every chance she got.

The party of "No" isn't too good at governing when given the opportunity, but they sure are good at theatrics.

You can watch the entire thing at CSPANJunkie's new site: Minority Leader John Boehner On The Clean Energy & Climate Change Bill. I've just got the last few minutes of his freedom lovin' diatribe here.

The bill passed, barely, but all this exercise appeared to be to me was Boehner seeing if he could talk long enough to make a few members of the House get tired of listening to him and leave. Games. Political theater, pure and simple. No one likes this bill on either side and it appears the sausage makers have mucked it up enough that is not a good bill. Boehner didn't need an hour long rant to get that point across....(Remainder.)

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Glenn Beck Claims U.S. is Only Country With Automatic Citizenship Upon Birth

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times


On his June 10, 2009, Fox News program, host Glenn Beck raised an immigration hot button that has gained some legislative traction in recent months: the issue of whether the United States ought to continue to grant citizenship to any child born in the country, even if the parents are illegal immigrants.

"You know, the anchor baby thing has always really hacked me off," Beck said. "You know the anchor baby. You know what that is. It's when a child that is born here, becomes a citizen and they help the illegal parents become citizens, right?"

He continued, sarcastically, "Remember empathy. Oh, empathy. No one wants to separate that family. Oh, that baby is a child. It's an anchor. It's an anchor to stay here."

"Why do we have automatic citizenship upon birth?" Beck asked. "Do you know? We're the only country in the world that has it. Why?"

Beck went on to explain that the 14th amendment granting citizenship to "all persons born or naturalized in the United States" was drafted after the Civil War "to protect newly freed slaves and their children and guarantee their rights as citizens. Last I checked, I don't think we're having that problem anymore. Can we have some common sense?"

Beck touches on an issue that has caught the attention of a growing number of Republicans in Congress.

In April, Rep. Nathan Deal, a Republican candidate for governor of Georgia, proposed H.R. 1868, the Birthright Citizenship Act of 2009. It seeks to amend immigration law so that babies born in the United States would only be granted U.S. citizenship if one of the parents is 1) a U.S. citizen or national; 2) a legal permanent resident of the United States; or 3) is serving in the U.S. armed forces. The bill currently has 77 cosponsors, 76 Republicans and one Democrat....(Remainder.)

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Eliminationists on Parade: Coulter, Joe the "Not Really A" Plumber & Military Chaplains' Leader Wish for Deaths


By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars


The right-wing pundits have been busy whipping a fresh batch of eliminationist rhetoric this week.

Leading the parade, as is often the case, was Ann Coulter, appearing on Bill O'Reilly's show on Monday:
Coulter: Well, apparently, this one random nut who shot Tiller -- I don't really like to think of it as a murder. It was terminating Tiller in the 203rd trimester.

... I am personally opposed to shooting abortionists, but I don't want to impose my moral values on others.

... OK, their logic is, if you don't believe in abortion, don't have an abortion. If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, don't shoot an abortionist.

Coulter actually was just regurgitating this week's column for cable consumption:
I'm not justifying it, but I understand when you take democracy away from people, some of them will react violently. The total number of deaths attributable to Roe were seven abortion clinic workers and 40 million unborn babies.

... I wouldn't kill an abortionist myself, but I wouldn't want to impose my moral values on others. No one is for shooting abortionists. But how will criminalizing men making difficult, often tragic, decisions be an effective means of achieving the goal of reducing the shootings of abortionists?

Following the moral precepts of liberals, I believe the correct position is: If you don't believe in shooting abortionists, then don't shoot one.
(Remainder.)

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Michele Bachmann claims ACORN getting money to work for Census Bureau

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times


Rep. Michele Bachmann sparked a new controversy recently when she declared she would provide the bare minimum to census takers because she was concerned about the Census Bureau's partnership with ACORN, a left-leaning group that has become a popular villain for Republicans.

(You remember ACORN: Formally known as the Association of Community Organization for Reform Now, it was lambasted in 2008 by many Republicans because its voter registration efforts included some fraudulent names such as Mickey Mouse. ACORN leaders said they discovered the fake names, notified authorities and fired some workers who cut corners. But Republican leaders still say it was a willful effort to manipulate the election to help the group's liberal agenda.)

Here's how Bachmann explained her concerns in a Washington Times interview (which you can listen to here):

"Now ACORN has been named one of the national partners, which will be a recipient again of federal money," Bachmann said. "And they will be in charge of going door-to-door and collecting data from the American public. This is very concerning because the motherload of all data information will be from the census. And, of course, we think of the census as just counting how many people live in your home. Unfortunately, the census data has become very intricate, very personal (with) a lot of the questions that are asked.

"And I know for my family the only question that we will be answering is how many people are in our home. We won't be answering any information beyond that, because the Constitution doesn't require any information beyond that."...(Remainder.)

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Burqa Politics in France

What happens when feminism and sexual liberation become tools for nationalism?

By Michelle Goldberg
The American Prospect


Photo used under Creative Commons license, courtesy of Flickr user superblinkymac.
On Monday, Nicolas Sarkozy became the first French president since Charles Louis-Napoleon Bonaparte to address the Parliament, thanks to recent reforms that scrapped a 19th-century law meant to protect the independence of the legislature. Given the occasion, it was rather odd that Sarkozy's strongest words were reserved for denouncing a garment that hardly any women in France wear. The burqa, he said, "is a sign of the subjugation, of the submission, of women." It is, he added, "not welcome in France." Headscarves have been banned in French schools since 2004. Now Sarkozy wants to go much further, banning burqas, loose, full-body veils that cover women entirely, as well as niqabs, or face veils, from being worn anywhere in public.

This was partly a rebuke to Obama, who outraged the French with parts of his Cairo speech. When Obama said that he rejects "the view of some in the West that a woman who chooses to cover her hair is somehow less equal," many people in France heard a shot at the country's republican laïcité, which demands that faith be wholly relegated to the private sphere. "There was a "great outcry and a sense of being gravely insulted," says Joan Scott, a historian at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, and author of the 2007 book The Politics of the Veil. "I think you can't read Sarkozy's words as anything but a response to that."

Perhaps more important than the anger itself was the opportunity it created, giving Sarkozy a chance to reach out to the anti-immigrant French right without offending the left. The clothing of Muslim women has long been a contentious political issue in France, as well as in several other European countries. The debate about headscarves, veils and burqas is a synecdoche for larger, more fraught questions of cultural identity in the age of mass Muslim immigration. Islam is changing European life in a way that makes many Europeans unhappy, but it's hard for Europeans to talk about without seeming racist or xenophobic. The one place where Europeans do feel confident about defending the superiority of their own culture is in sexual matters. Feminism and sexual liberation become tools of nationalism.

We saw this most clearly with Pim Fortuyn, the flamboyant, anti-immigrant politician who nearly became prime minister of the Netherlands before his 2002 assassination. Fortuyn crusaded against the threat he claimed Muslim immigrants posed to the famously tolerant Dutch culture. He spoke of men suddenly being afraid to hold hands in the streets, of teachers reluctant to admit their homosexuality to immigrant students. "I have no desire," he told a reporter, "to have to go through the emancipation of women and homosexuals all over again."...(Remainder.)

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Rove, O'Reilly Whine About Those Mean Liberals Who 'Coarsen' Politics by Talking About GOP Sex Scandals


By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars


Apparently, Rip-Van-Winkle-like, Bill O'Reilly and Karl Rove simply slept through the 1990s, when Republicans couldn't stop obsessing about the Mighty Clenis and its powers of seduction.

Yesterday on The O'Reilly Factor, they both were mewling piteously about the mean liberals who are having a bit of a heyday with Mark Sanford's Appalachian Trail Adventures:
O'Reilly: Some in the Muslim world believe in stoning people. Apparently, some in the USA believe in stoning as well -- stoning with words.
Because, of course, Bill O'Reilly never attacks people with his words. You Pinhead!

What really got Rove's goat was Paul Begala, having the audacity to point out that he, like a lot of us, have had enough of the GOP's Holier-Than-Thou schtick, which they use with great regularity to beat liberals about the head and neck for their supposed "licentiousness".
Rove: I guess what it comes down to is when you get to socially liberal ideas like abortion, and like gay marriage, the left will seize on any opportunity that they think they have in order to condemn those who are pro-life and pro-traditional marriage. And it's just -- you know, there are people who are maybe moderate in their views on economics, or maybe nationalist on their views on international affairs, but when it comes down to social questions, they're liberal, and it's an instinct, and they cause a lot of people -- you know, like Paul Begala.

O'Reilly: I was just going to say that. Is that unbelievable?

Rove: Unbelievable. I don't recall -- you know, who exactly is accusing him of being a poor father or a poor Christian or not a patriot. But this sort of artificial victimhood -- and again, the purpose of it is, is to say to people --

O'Reilly: But wasn't Begala the guy, that it was just about sex, he and Carville were running around -- that's all they said for two years!
Don't you just love it when the guy who perfected right-wing victimhood as a phony schtick indulges it right there onscreen -- and then accuses the left of it!...(Remainder.)

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Glenn Beck is a Crazed Street Corner Ranter by Nature, But He's Got a High-Paid FOX Megaphone and Number One Book



By Mark Karlin
Buzz Flash


If you've checked the mega-giant online retailer lately, Amazon.com, mutant demagogue Glenn Beck's latest book is number one (very possibly ghost written by some right wing failed comics) entitled, "Glenn Beck's Common Sense: The Case Against an Out-of-Control Government, Inspired by Thomas Paine."

Often right wing wacko authors are number one on Amazon.com. There are a lot of reasons for this, which we will get into, but one significant issue is that many progressives do not support liberal authors by buying their books and rest content that everything can be changed in D.C., rather than committing to creating a progressive culture by altering consumption and purchasing patterns.

This is the very basis of the BuzzFlash synergistic model of progressive journalism supported by creating a progressive, ecological, economic justice, and celebration of progressive culture marketplace. We wrote a must-read explanation on our unique model of self-sustaining reader-supported (with no advertising) journalism that helps to build an alternative culture of liberal, healthy, economically just and earth-healing consumption. In some ways, it's simple: Buy progressive and read progressive news and advocacy that creates an economic self-sustaining system of journalism that channels dollars away from destructive corporate policies and the "status quo for the wealthy and elite" media (increasingly on the Internet) that corporate advertising supports.

The creation of "perceived need" for often unhealthy products and food that we don't even remotely need -- along with corporate support for a media that distorts information to maintain a governing and economic system that dramatically favors corporations and the wealthy -- is the crowning glory of a corporate infrastructure that has amassed more power, in many ways, than the White House.

We were fortunate on Friday (June 26th) to meet with Margot Baldwin who has turned the Chelsea Green Publishing firm into a highly successful business (at a time when independent publishing is in decline) because of its wonderful selection of books on sustainable living, its occasional political offerings, and smart marketing practices....(Remainder.)

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A Fierce Democratic Donor Writes

Via John Aravosis
AMERICAblog


Dear DNC,

I truly "support" Democrats being elected in 2010 and 2012. I am a "fierce advocate" of the Democratic Party after all. I know that I have promised you my support over the past few decades and have done my best to follow through.

Even now I am "working towards" a financial donation to the Party. I do have to ask for your "patience" though, because as a gay man, my family and I are still second class citizens and are having to funnel our resources towards causes that protect and honor our basic civil rights. "We have a lot on our plate."

We are "proceeding" towards lifting the denial of funds to the DNC and are "developing a strategy" that will get us there by the end of Obama's time at the White House. As a matter of fact, my family has planned several "meetings" to discuss these very important donations and will be sending out a press release shortly to announce our "cocktail party" celebrating Democracy.

Thanks for understanding. And hang in there!

Sincerely,
Liam

(Original.)

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Right-Wing Israeli Extremists Using Gay Rights to Justify Incursions Into Arab Villages

Gay Pride marches are being exploited by rabidly homophobic extremists who plan to parade through Arab towns, asserting their "Jewish pride."

By Marsha B. Cohen
AlterNet


Gay Pride parades in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are being invoked as the legal basis for ultra-right wing Jewish extremists to march through 15 Israeli Arab communities this weekend, waving Israeli flags and asserting their "Jewish pride."

Organizers of the 11th annual Tel Aviv Pride Parade estimate as many as 30,000 people may have participated in the June 14 march through Israel's largest city and cultural capital. Although their unions won't be recognized by the state of Israel, five gay couples exchanged rings and took commitment vows in a group ceremony on Gordon Beach, adding a new dimension to the event.

A smaller and more subdued hourlong march was scheduled to take place in Jerusalem between 5 and 6 p.m. on June 25, followed by a low-key rally.

These demonstrations of gay rights in Israel are being exploited by rabidly homophobic, ultra-right wing Jewish extremists, who plan to parade through Arab cities, towns and villages in the next few days, asserting their "Jewish pride."

Knesset member (parliamentarian) Michael Ben-Ari of the National Union party, and provocateurs Baruch Marzel and Itamar Ben Gvir are framing and justifying their march as retaliation for the desecration of Jerusalem by gays....(Remainder.)

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Nothing Sacred: What We Talk About When We Talk About Torture



By Clayton Whitt

The Humanist

The prisoners had their feet shackled to the floor and their hands cuffed close to their chins… Detainees were clad only in diapers and not allowed to feed themselves. A prisoner who started to drift off to sleep would tilt over and be caught by his chains. At one point, the agency was allowed to keep prisoners awake for as long as eleven days; the limit was later reduced to just over a week.
Waterboarding is now the most infamous torture technique practiced by the administration of George W. Bush. But Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee’s August 1, 2002, memo—one of four President Obama released in April that had provided the legal basis for the CIA’s use of torture—authorized ten different torture techniques. One of which was sleep deprivation, as described in the above excerpt from a May 10, 2009, Los Angeles Times article.

According to that report, sleep deprivation was used in this manner on at least twenty-five detainees. And the Justice Department actually classified this torture method as less coercive than the other techniques, intending it to be employed earlier in the interrogation process. Other authorized techniques included slamming the detainee into the wall, slapping the detainee in the face, and confining the detainee in a small, dark space (Bybee wrote that if the space was so small that the person couldn't stand, then only two hours of confinement at a time were authorized; if there was standing room, the detainee could be left in confinement for up to eighteen hours). Placing the detainee in stress positions and confining the detainee in a cramped space with an insect to induce fear were also listed, along with the now infamous waterboarding. The process is often described as “simulated drowning,” but voluntary waterboarding victim Christopher Hitchens, reflecting on his experience in the August 2008 issue of Vanity Fair, wrote:
You may have read by now the official lie about this treatment, which is that it “simulates” the feeling of drowning. This is not the case. You feel that you are drowning because you are drowning—or, rather, being drowned, albeit slowly and under controlled conditions and at the mercy (or otherwise) of those who are applying the pressure.
Hitchens, unlike the detainees in U.S. custody, was able to give a prearranged signal to the experienced military trainers and have the procedure halted. He wrote, “If waterboarding does not constitute torture, then there is no such thing as torture.”...(Remainder.)

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Naomi Klein Calls for Boycott of Israel

By Agence France-Presse
Via Canada.com


BILIN , West Bank - Bestselling author Naomi Klein on Friday took her call for a boycott of Israel to the occupied West Bank village of Bilin, where she witnessed Israeli forces clashing with protesters.

"It's a boycott of Israeli institutions, it's a boycott of the Israeli economy," the Canadian writer told journalists as she joined a weekly demonstration against Israel's controversial separation wall.



"Boycott is a tactic . . . we're trying to create a dynamic which was the dynamic that ultimately ended apartheid in South Africa," said Klein, the author of "The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism."

"It's an extraordinarily important part of Israel's identity to be able to have the illusion of Western normalcy," the Canadian writer and activist said.

"When that is threatened, when the rock concerts don't come, when the symphonies don't come, when a film you really want to see doesn't play at the Jerusalem film festival . . . then it starts to threaten the very idea of what the Israeli state is."

She briefly joined about 200 villagers and foreign activists protesting the barrier which Israel says it needs to prevent attacks, but which Palestinians say aims at grabbing their land and undermining the viability of their promised state.

She then watched from a safe distance as the protesters reached the fence, where Israeli forces fired teargas and some youths responded by throwing stones at the army....(Remainder.)

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Claims That the CBO Predicts Cap-and-Trade Will Cost About as Much as a Stamp a Day

By PolitiFact
St. Petersburg Times


Responding to Republicans who have said a cap-and-trade bill could cost thousands of dollars a year for the average family, the Democratic sponsors of the bill are citing a new study from the Congressional Budget Office that they say shows their plan will be affordable.

"For the cost of about a postage stamp a day, all American families will see a return on their investment as our nation breaks our dependence on foreign oil, cuts dangerous carbon pollution and creates millions of new clean energy jobs that can't be shipped overseas," Rep. Edward Markey said in a June 22, 2009, press release jointly issued with the co-sponsor, Rep. Henry Waxman.

Waxman and Markey, from California and Massachusetts respectively, are the authors of a bill that would set up a market for power companies and other polluters to buy and trade carbon credits. The goal is to force them to cut their harmful emissions and lower carbon pollution 83 percent by 2050. But critics say polluters will inevitably pass the cost of buying credits or cleaner technologies on to the consumer.

Putting a pricetag on such a complex plan is tricky and controversial, as we note today in our article Your Guide to the Cap-and-Trade Estimates. The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think-tank, says that cap-and-trade could raise the average family's annual energy bill by $1,241. House Republicans have said that cap-and-trade could cost consumers up to $3,100, a figure they say came from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology report. But the writers of that report admonished the GOP for incorrectly interpreting their work; intially, the authors predicted it would cost consumers about $340 annually, and have since updated that estimate to $800.

Waxman and Markey are relying on a June 19 Congressional Budget Office analysis of their bill. The CBO is a well-respected, independent arm of Congress, but we have found its findings are occasionally mischaracterized by members of Congress. So we wanted to check whether Waxman is correctly summarizing the CBO's findings....(Remainder.)

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