Custom Search

The Daily Show: Balzheimers Disease

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart M - Th 11p / 10c
Balzheimers Disease
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic Crisis Political Humor


Masters and Johnson Faked All Their Evidence for "Curing" Homosexuality

Masters and Johnson claimed to convert gays to heterosexuality in a 1979 book. But did they?

By Thomas Maier
Scientific American

A British survey published last month found that one in 25 therapists would assist gay and bisexual patients attempting to convert to heterosexuality. That's despite the fact that many medical groups, including the American Medical Association, have for years condemned such practices, saying they don't work and can actually cause harm.

It may not be surprising that Christian Coalition founder Pat Robertson and televangelist pastor Jerry Falwell, among many others, have supported programs designed to convert homosexuals away from "sin" and into the arms of God-fearing heterosexuality. But what may surprise you is one of the research sources cited by the Catholic Medical Association in 2006 when it declared that science "counters the myth that same-sex attraction is genetically predetermined and unchangeable, and offers hope for prevention and treatment."

That source? William Masters and Virginia Johnson, a husband–wife team who are perhaps the world's most famous sex researchers.

Back in 1979, on Meet The Press and countless other TV appearances, Masters and Johnson touted their book, Homosexuality in Perspective—a 14-year study of more than 300 homosexual men and women—hoping to build on their groundbreaking sex studies of heterosexuals that had helped ignite America's sexual revolution. The results seemed impressive: Of the 67 male and female patients with "homosexual dissatisfaction," only 14 failed in the initial two-week "conversion" or "reversion" treatment. (The 12 cases of attempted "conversion" were for men and women who had always believed they were homosexual and were troubled by it, while the 55 "reversion" cases were in people who believed their homosexuality was more fleeting.) During five years of follow-up, their success rate for both groups was better than 70 percent....(Click for remainder.)


Chu Wasn't the 'Baffled' One

By Steve Benen
Washington Monthly

Arrogance is almost always unseemly, but I think there's an important distinction to be made between conceit and misplaced arrogance. The prior is merely unseemly; the latter is humiliating.

Yesterday, at a hearing of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, Rep. Joe Barton (R-Exxon), the committee's ranking member and former chairman, asked Energy Secretary Steven Chu how Alaska got oil and gas. Presumably, he meant geologically. Chu paused briefly, laughed, and tried to explain the science to the confused lawmaker.

Shortly thereafter, Barton tweeted, "I seem to have baffled the Energy Sec with basic question - Where does oil come from?" Indeed, when Barton's office posted the clip to YouTube, they included a message at the start of the video: "Where does oil come from? Question leaves Energy Secretary puzzled."

This is what I meant by "misplaced arrogance." Barton seems awfully pleased with himself for having asked a foolish question and not understanding the answer. Chu paused before answering the question, not because the Nobel Prize winning scientist was "baffled" and "puzzled" by the Republican's inquiry, but because Chu quickly realized he was responding to a lawmaker with the sophistication of a junior high-school student....(Click for remainder.)


100 Days of Progress, 100 Days of the Party of NO


The Latest on the Religious Right's "Right to Kill"

By John Aravosis

Focus on the Family, one of the lead religious right groups, published an article yesterday, opposing adding gender, disability, sexual orientation and gender identity to the existing Hate Crimes law that already covers race, religion and national origin.
Under "hate-crimes" laws like H.R. 1913, pastors could be prosecuted for preaching the biblical view of homosexuality. Similar laws have been used to prosecute religious speech in the U.S. at the state level and abroad.

"The homosexual activists' mantra is no longer tolerance — it's embrace and promote," said Ashley Horne, federal policy analyst at Focus on the Family Action. "Anything less will be silenced. Christians must speak up."
That's an outright lie. The law covers violent acts. It doe not cover speech. No pastor is going to be prosecuted unless he's an accessory to murder. And I seriously hope Focus on the Family is not suggesting that their pastors now have the religious right to murder people they disapprove of.

Second, Focus on the Family appears to be lying to its members about similar laws being used to prosecute religious speech. In Sweden, the only country they can point to, it was a "hate speech" law - a law that specifically regulated hateful speech directed at an entire class of citizens - that got a preacher in trouble (mind you, this is Europe we're talking about - they have a rather unique history of nasty men with mustaches using hate speech to kill millions). Regardless, we don't have hate speech laws in America, and if we did, they'd be unconstitutional and struck down by those "activist judges." The US Hate CRIMES law is about violent crimes, not about speech. And to the degree that anyone has tried to stifle speech under the US' existing hate crimes law, by filing a frivolous lawsuit, I'd love to hear about how successful those court cases have been. I'd be willing to bet that the religious right can't show one case where a pastor lost because he said something hateful in church....(Click for remainder.)


Forward to the Past, For the GOP

By Kos
Daily Kos

Republicans are so hilarious!

They go into the 2008 presidential election with a 300-year-old dinosaur as their standard bearer. That doesn't work out so well, and they exit the year fractured, demoralized, and rudderless. A normal party uses opportunities like these to change direction, reform, and rebrand. It's not easy -- we had a ton of resistance from the ineffective DLC-ish status quo when we got Howard Dean elected chair of the party and dragged the party kicking and screaming into a more anti-war posture. But our grassroots was eager for change, and we embraced those candidates who promised it, from Dean, to Ned Lamont, to Darcy Burner, to Jim Webb, to Eric Massa, to Barack Obama, and so on.

But Republicans? their own grassroots are so wedded to the status quo that anyone in the establishment attempting to move the party to a more electorally viable posture is branded a heretic and cast out of their club. They think they've lost elections because they haven't shouted the crazy loud enough (more teabagging please!), or because their insults just aren't as effective anymore (let's try "fascist" now!). So they stick to their old loser policies, from their pathological defense of the ultra wealthy, to their clinging to doomed opposition to gay marriage. And as for leadership? Well, who better to defend the status quo than the status quo?...(Click for remainder.)


Soup Kitchens and Tent Cities: Crisis Plunges US Middle Class into Poverty

By Gregor Peter Schmitz and Gabor Steingart
Spiegel Online

The financial crisis in the US has triggered a social crisis of historic dimensions. Soup kitchens are suddenly in great demand and tent cities are popping up in the shadow of glistening office towers. Even drug dealers are feeling the pinch.

Business is poor in the New York banking district around Wall Street these days, even for drug dealers. In the good old days, they used to supply America's moneyed elite with cocaine and crack. But now, with the good times gone, they spend their days in the Bowery Mission, a homeless shelter with a dining hall and a chapel.

Alvin, 47, is one of them. His customers are gone, as is the money he earned during better times. And when another dealer higher up the food chain decided he was entitled to a bigger cut of the profits, things became too dicey for Alvin. "I'm afraid," he says.

Alvin, who is originally from Louisiana, cleared out his apartment and moved into the oldest homeless shelter in New York City. In the drug business, a dealer who doesn't pay his bills stands to get the maximum penalty: death. But Alvin feels safe in the Bowery Mission, even though beds have become scarce at the facility. "Last night I slept on the floor in front of the pulpit," he says....(Click for remainder.)


The Wail of the 1%

Oh my God! These people are so thoroughly disgusting!

As the privileged class loses its privileges, a collective moan rises from the canyons of Wall Street.

By Gabriel Sherman
New York Magazine

Shortly after 1:30 on the afternoon of March 18, two dozen traders in AIG’s financial-products division stepped away from their Bloomberg terminals and huddled around televisions to watch their boss, CEO Edward Liddy, testify before Congress. There was much at stake. These were the people who received the greater part of $165 million in “retention bonuses” that had suddenly become, to borrow a phrase, toxic.

As the hue and cry to return the money grew, the traders had thought that Liddy would stand up for them. The ruddy-faced, 63-year-old former Allstate CEO, who had been installed by Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson in September, was, if not exactly one of them, at least someone who understood the rules of the game as it had been played—and who understood what they were entitled to under those rules, even if those rules were unspoken. In AIG’s glory years, executives like Joseph Cassano, the former head of financial products, took home more than $300 million. That was the kind of money you couldn’t talk about.

But as Andrew Cuomo stoked public outrage by threatening to release the names of the bonus recipients, it became clear that the game was changing. When AIG employees had arrived at their desks that morning, they found a memo from Liddy asking them to return 50 percent of the money. The number infuriated many of the traders. Why 50 percent? It seemed to be picked out of a hat. The money had been promised, was the feeling. A sacred principle was at stake, along with, not incidentally, their millions.

Everyone on Wall Street is prepared to lose money. Bankers have expressions for disastrous losses: clusterfuck, Chernobyl, blowing up … But no one was prepared to lose money this way. This felt like getting mugged....(Click for remainder.)


The Wingnuts Have it Out for Napolitano

By Patrick O'Connor

House Republicans are calling on Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to step down or be fired in the wake of a controversial department memo that has sparked indignant battle cries from conservatives and some veterans.

“Singling out political opponents for working against the ruling party is precisely the tactic of every tyrannical government from Red China to Venezuela," said Texas Rep. John Carter, a member of the party's elected leadership who has organized an hour of floor speeches Wednesday night to call for Napolitano's ouster. “The first step in the process is creating unfounded public suspicion of political opponents, followed by arresting and jailing any who continue speaking against the regime.”

In particular, conservative members of the Republican Study Committee raised repeated concerns about the report and Napolitano's subsequent defense of its findings on Wednesday, calling on party leaders to raise the issue with President Barack Obama during a White House meeting on Thursday.

The Department of Homeland Security issued a report earlier this month warning federal, state and local law enforcement officials that the slumping economy "could create a fertile recruiting environment for right-wing extremists and even result in confrontations between such groups and government authorities similar to those in the past."...(Click for remainder.)


Hell No, I Won't Go


A Call to Service


Fundamentally Different

That's what American capitalism will be once Obama's done with it.

By John B. Judis
The New Republic

My colleagues Frank Foer and Noam Scheiber have written a compelling account of the Obama administration's approach to economic policy. And although I don't pretend to know the president's mind, I might agree with their summary statement that "Obama has no intention of changing the nature of capitalism." Still, I want to make what may seem to be a paradoxical argument: that regardless of the president's intentions, he will change American capitalism in fundamental ways--in particular, he will alter the relationship between the government and the economy. My argument rests on what he has actually proposed to do and how his proposals, if enacted, would situate his administration in the history of American economic reform.

Americans have been notoriously loath to undertake reforms that increase the role of government. That goes back partly to our Lockean liberal heritage of minimal government that marks us off from Europe with its absolutist past. The only times that Americans have permitted major changes in government's role have been during economic crises, social upheavals, and war--that is to say, during the Civil War, the Progressive Era and World War I, the New Deal and World War II, and the Sixties (circa 1961-1974). If you look at these periods, and at the intervals between them, you find certain patterns that may help explain what is going on today.
Reform and reaction: Periods of major reform have invariably been followed by periods of reaction: the Civil War by the era of Robber Barons and Social Darwinism; the Progressive Era and World War I by the Twenties of Calvin Coolidge and Andrew Mellon; the New Deal and World War II by the Robert Taft Congresses and the Eisenhower presidency; and the Sixties by Ronald Reagan, Newt Gingrich, and George W. Bush.
(Click for remainder.)


Islam, Virgins and Grapes

By Nicholas D. Kristof
The New York Times

In Afghanistan, 300 brave women marched to demand a measure of equal rights, defying a furious mob of about 1,000 people who spat, threw stones and called the women “whores.” The marchers asserted that a woman should not need her husband’s consent to go to school or work outside the home.

In Pakistan, the Taliban flogged a teenage girl in front of a crowd, as two men held her face down in the dirt. A video shows the girl, whose “crime” may have been to go out of her house alone, crying piteously that she will never break the rules again.

Muslim fundamentalists damage Islam far more than any number of Danish cartoonists ever could, for it’s inevitably the extremists who capture the world’s attention. But there is the beginning of an intellectual reform movement in the Islamic world, and one window into this awakening was an international conference this week at the University of Notre Dame on the latest scholarship about the Koran.

“We’re experiencing right now in Koranic studies a rise of interest analogous to the rise of critical Bible studies in the 19th century,” said Gabriel Said Reynolds, a Notre Dame professor and organizer of the conference....(Click for remainder.)


Geithner: U.S. Responsible for Recession

By Press TV

The US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner admits that the US is accountable for the global economic crisis which has spread across the world.

"Never before in modern times has so much of the world been simultaneously hit by a confluence of economic and financial turmoil such as we are now living through," Geithner said, addressing the Economic Club of Washington on Wednesday.

Geithner noted that the new economic forecast prepared by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) calculated that the global economic output will fall by 1.3 percent this year -- a decline unprecedented in more than six decades.

The United States entered recession after a housing and mortgage meltdown in December 2007, which later affected and spread through the world, resulting in major job losses.

Meanwhile, the US Federal Reserve envisioned deterioration of market conditions, forecasting little recovery in 2010.

The Obama administration earlier called on the G20 nations to increase their financial commitment to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) by a combined total of USD 500 billion ensuring that it has enough money to help poverty-stricken countries....(Click for remainder.)


U.S. Credit Card Bill Advances on Eve of Obama Meet

By John Poirier

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Legislation to curb credit card fees and limit consumer penalties cleared a congressional panel on Wednesday, a day ahead of a meeting between industry executives and President Barack Obama at the White House.

The bill is an early test of political will for Democrats pushing for regulatory reform amid the economic crisis and would mean sweeping changes for card-issuing banks, many of which have received government bailout money.

Members of the House Financial Services Committee voted 48 to 19 for the Credit Cardholders' Bill of Rights which in practice would codify into law restrictions on deceptive practices issued by the Federal Reserve in December.

The legislation would stop credit card issuers from imposing arbitrary interest rate increases and penalties, and halt certain billing practices.

Nine Republicans, or almost a third of that party's members on the committee, voted in favor of the measure.

Committee chairman Barney Frank told reporters after the vote he was not surprised the measure attracted bipartisan support. "The mood in the country has changed," he said....(Click for remainder.)


Normal Is As Normal Does

How changing our health care got so un-scary.

By E.J. Dionne, Jr.
The New Republic

WASHINGTON--Over time, certain ideas become irresistible. They start out as problematic. Later, no one can remember why.   

Consider Tuesday's bipartisan ceremony in which President Obama signed the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act. Thirteen years ago, Republicans in Congress tried to kill Bill Clinton's AmeriCorps program. This year, Republicans and Democrats joined together to pass the largest expansion of service opportunities in decades. Tomorrow isn't always defined by yesterday.

Bear that in mind as you hear reports about this or that snag, controversy or disagreement over the effort to pass comprehensive health care reform. Because of its defeat in 1994, there will be a temptation to treat every dispute--notably the recent reports of contention over the inclusion of a government-run option in a final bill--as the first step toward the collapse of the process.   

The "public plan" idea is a good one and the issue is important: if the government makes it possible for everyone to buy health coverage, one option among many should be a government-run health insurance plan akin to Medicare.

The genius here involves both politics and policy. Many liberals believe our entire health system should be scrapped in favor a government-run single-payer plan along Canadian or British lines. The problem is that single-payer is not only politically impossible; it would also cause significant disruptions in the existing system. The public option idea is a clever halfway house. It would allow the United States to move gradually toward a government-run system if--and only if--a substantial number of consumers freely chose to join such a plan. The market would test the idea's strength.   

Private insurers hate the idea because they think the public plan would undercut them in the marketplace. This argument is, in some ways, self-refuting. If the private insurers are right that the government would actually provide health coverage more cheaply than the private companies, why shouldn't that option be available? Wouldn't it save taxpayers money in the long run?...(Click for remainder.)


California Group Presses for Impeachment of Judge Who Wrote Torture Memo

By Frank Davies
San Jose Mercury News

WASHINGTON — For six years, a little-known federal judge, Jay Bybee, has worked in a Las Vegas courtroom, hearing cases for the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. Now, a furious debate over the use of torture by the Bush administration, fueled by the release of a memo written by Bybee giving legal protection to harsh interrogation tactics, has led to calls from liberal groups for his impeachment.

"He authorized illegal, unconscionable acts, and he should be held accountable," said Rick Jacobs, who chairs the Courage Campaign, a progressive grass-roots group in California. His group launched a petition drive seeking impeachment, and he hopes to spur the California Democratic Party to endorse that position at its convention this weekend in Sacramento.

Impeachment of a federal judge is the longest of long shots, but it illustrates the intense controversy in recent days over what to do about the Bush administration's interrogation methods — including simulated drowning, sleep deprivation, being slammed against walls and confinement in small boxes — used on suspected terrorists.

President Barack Obama repudiated and banned those tactics, and last week declassified several memos, including one by Bybee, to shed light "on a dark and painful chapter in our history."

As head of the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel, Bybee in August 2002 advised the CIA in an 18-page memo that it could use harsh tactics against Abu Zubaydah, an al-Qaida leader. The methods did not constitute torture, he found, because there was "no intent to cause severe pain or suffering" as defined by anti-torture statutes....(Click for remainder.)


Nobel Laureate Accuses Israel of 'Ethnic Cleansing'

By Agence-France Presse
Via Yahoo! News

JERUSALEM (AFP) – Nobel peace laureate Mairead Maguire on Tuesday accused Israel of "ethnic cleansing" policies in annexed east Jerusalem, where the municipality plans to tear down almost 90 Arab homes.

"I believe the Israeli government is carrying out a policy of ethnic cleansing against Palestinians here in east Jerusalem," said Maguire, who won the 1976 Nobel prize for her efforts at reaching a peaceful solution to the violence in Northern Ireland.

"I believe the Israeli government policies are against international law, against human rights, against the dignity of the Palestinian people," she said at a news conference.

It was held in a protest tent erected by residents of east Jerusalem's Silwan neighbourhood where 88 Arab homes are under demolition orders.

The Israeli authorities say the houses were built or extended without the necessary construction permits. Palestinians say the planned demolitions aim at forcing them out of east Jerusalem....(Click for remainder.)


Recognizing The Jewish State Of Israel

What are the consequences of Israel’s newest demand for recognition on the Palestinian people and prospects for peace?

By Abu Yusef from occupied Palestine
Palestine Montor

Here in Palestine, we have been utterly confused as to why Israel has publicly backtracked from the Annapolis Peace Process over the last weeks, in the midst of overt US pressure to continue the broken negotiations.

We understand that parties like Shas, Likud, Israel Beitenu and others in the coalition do not want to achieve any meaningful peace, and that in fact they want only to extend the Israel’s civilian and military reach into the occupied Palestinian Territories…so why would they be adverse to what had taken place since Annapolis? If anything they should be the ones eagerly promoting a return to the process, while the Palestinians should be running for the hills.

After all, since Annapolis:

  • Not one of the over 6 million Palestinian refugees from abroad has been granted the right of return to either Israel or the occupied Palestinian Territories.
  • Gaza, while disengaged from by Israel in the civilian sense, remains occupied and controlled by Israel in every other way imaginable.
  • The number of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails has increased to over 11,000.
  • The Judaization of East Jerusalem has continued full bore with the destruction and seizure of hundreds of Palestinian homes.
  • The illegal annexation Wall has continued to grow in the occupied Palestinian Territories despite its condemnation in international and Israeli courts.
(Click for remainder.)


Keith Olbermann With General Karpinski: More Than A Few Bad Apples in the Bush Administration


Rachel Maddow: Interrogation Tactics Were Directed From Bush White House


AP Poll: Americans High on Obama, Direction of U.S.

As you read this article, keep in mind that Ron Fournier is totally in the bag for the right-wing scheme machine.  A simple search of the Media Matters website will yield numerous instances where Fournier has skewed the news against Dems and in favor of the Reich.

By Ron Fournier and Trevor Tompson
Associated Press via Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – For the first time in years, more Americans than not say the country is headed in the right direction, a sign that Barack Obama has used the first 100 days of his presidency to lift the public's mood and inspire hopes for a brighter future.

Intensely worried about their personal finances and medical expenses, Americans nonetheless appear realistic about the time Obama might need to turn things around, according to an Associated Press-GfK poll. It shows most Americans consider their new president to be a strong, ethical and empathetic leader who is working to change Washington.

Nobody knows how long the honeymoon will last, but Obama has clearly transformed the yes-we-can spirit of his candidacy into a tool of governance. His ability to inspire confidence — Obama's second book is titled "The Audacity of Hope" — has thus far buffered the president against the harsh political realities of two wars, a global economic meltdown and countless domestic challenges.

"He presents a very positive outlook," said Cheryl Wetherington, 35, an independent voter who runs a chocolate shop in Gardner, Kan. "He's very well-spoken and very vocal about what direction should be taken."...(Click for remainder.)


Shepherd Smith drops F-bomb during Freedom Watch: We do not F%$&ing torture!!!

Trust me, I'm certainly not one to give ANY credit to Fox News and the lying blowhards on that network, but I have to give Shepherd Smith credit on this. He's exactly right on this:


Douche-Nozzle Karl Rove Hears the Pidder Patter of Prosectuors Coming Up Behind Him

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars

Karl was positively freaking out yesterday afternoon over the prospect that some of his ex-colleagues at the White House might wind up being prosecuted -- or held responsible publicly -- for helping George W. Bush install a torture regime during his tenure, after President Obama's statement earlier in the day indicating he'd leave the decision up to the Attorney General.

Rove, appearing on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, was particularly frantic -- and when Rove gets frantic, he gets nasty:
Rove: Sure, as long as they've released the limits to which America will go to extract this information, let's share the information that was extracted, and saved America from further attacks. We know, for example -- it's already a part of the public record -- that the interrogation of these high-value targets kept them from being able to attack Los Angeles by flying airplanes into the Liberty tower, the tallest building in Los Angeles, which was one of their plans.

But look, let's step back for a minute. What the Obama administration has done in the last several days is very dangerous. What they've essentially said is, If we have policy disagreements with our predecessors, what we're going to do is we're going to turn ourselves into the moral equivalent of a Latin American country run colonels in mirrored sunglasses. And what we're going to do is prosecute, systematically, the previous administration, or threaten prosecutions against the previous administration, based on policy differences.

Is that what we've come to in this country? That if we have a change in administration from one party to another, that we then use the tools of the government to go systematically after the policy disagreements that we have with the previous administration? Now that may be fine in some little Latin American country that's run by, you know, the latest junta. It may be the way that they do things in Chicago. But that's not the way we do things here in America.
Hmmmm. Last I looked, Chicago was here in America....(Click for remainder.)


Liar for Christ

By tristero

Blood pressure too low? Watch this. It’s testimony before the Texas School Board regarding the teaching of evolution by "Dr." Don Patton, a man who not only knows he is lying (see PS below if you think the scare quotes around "Dr." are unfair or that I'm exaggerating), but does so with enormous enthusiasm and glee.

Just one example. I’ve read Niles Eldredge. He never so much as implied anything remotely like what this clown says he did. His words are ripped entirely out of context. Eldredge wasn’t for a moment claiming that the fossil record contradicts evolution, or evolution by natural selection, but rather that the patterns revealed were far more complex and curious than Darwin ever imagined. (No kidding: 150 years of intensive scientific research will often do that to a great theory.) Eldredge was making a criticism within evolutionary theory, not of it.

Notice something else about this jerk. He calls scientists “people with great faith in evolution,” “devout evolutionists,” and “fervent dogmatists,” even "evolutionary religious fanatics." This is a by-now ancient extreme right tactic, twisting and co-opting liberal rhetoric in ludicrous ways (am I the only one who remembers the pro-coathanger abortion chant, “All we are saying is give life [sic] a chance?”)....(Click for remainder.)


The Fog of Cyberwar

NATO military strategists are waking up to the threat from online attacks.

By Evgeny Morozov

Ghostnet sounds like something John le Carré would invent. This vast cyber-espionage operation spanned 1,295 computers worldwide, a third of them located in ministries of foreign affairs, embassies, international organizations and news media, some holding classified data. According to a report by three Canadian security think tanks in March, it included at least one unclassified computer at NATO headquarters in Mons, Belgium. Although the culprit is unidentified, some experts suspect China. Whether it exploited any of the data is hard to say. That it could obtain it so easily has raised eyebrows in the world's mightiest military alliance.

NATO is only just beginning to recognize that the Internet has become a new battleground, and that it requires a military strategy. As economic life relies more and more on the Internet, the potential for small bands of hackers to launch devastating attacks on the world economy is growing. To counter such threats, a group of NATO members, including the U.S. and Germany, last year established a kind of internal cybersecurity think tank, based in a former government building in Tallinn, Estonia. The 30 staffers at the Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence analyze emerging viruses and other threats, and pass on alerts to sponsoring NATO governments. They are also working to bring the allies together on the elusive issues that deepen the fog of cyberwar.

Experts with backgrounds in the military, technology, law and science are wrestling with such questions as: What qualifies as a cyber "attack" on a NATO member, and so triggers the obligation of alliance members to rush to its defense? And how can the alliance defend itself in cyberspace? Already, the debate is producing strikingly different answers: as Washington moves to create a new "cybersecurity czar" and new funds for cyberdefenses, Estonia is moving much of the job into civilian hands, aiming to create a nation of citizens alert and wise to online threats....(Click for remainder.)


China Unveils Fleet of Submarines in Bid to Build Global Trust

By Tania Branigan
The Guardian

China will unveil its nuclear submarines this week at an international fleet review marking the 60th anniversary of its navy, official media reported yesterday.

The first known public appearance of the craft, off the northern port of Qingdao, will underscore the growing might of the People's Liberation Army navy and its attempts to build goodwill by increasing transparency.

China's nuclear submarines have gained prominence lately thanks to participation in the fleet battling pirates off the coast of Somalia - the first active mission outside the Pacific - and a confrontation with the US in the South China Sea last month.

The Chinese navy's commander, Admiral Wu Shengli, said the celebrations, which would include 21 ships from 14 foreign countries, would show his country as a force for "peace, harmony and co-operation" at sea, the Liberation Army Daily reported.

Wu told foreign commanders yesterday that navies needed to work together to confront transnational security threats such as piracy and terrorism. "Suspicions about China being a 'threat' to world security are mostly because of misunderstandings and lack of understandings about China," Wu's deputy, Vice-Admiral Ding Yiping, told the state news agency Xinhua. "The suspicions would disappear if foreign counterparts could visit the Chinese navy and know about the true situation."...(Click for remainder.)


Rice Delivered OK to Waterboard as Bush's Advisor

By Pamela Hess
Associated Press via Yahoo! News

WASHINGTON – Then-national security adviser Condoleezza Rice verbally OK'd the CIA's request to subject alleged al-Qaida terrorist Abu Zubaydah to waterboarding in July 2002, a decision memorialized a few days later in a secret memo that the Obama administration declassified last week.

Rice's role was detailed in a narrative released Wednesday by the Senate Intelligence Committee. It provides the most detailed timeline yet for how the CIA's harsh interrogation program was conceived and approved at the highest levels in the Bush White House.

The new timeline shows that Rice played a greater role than she admitted last fall in written testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

The narrative also shows that dissenting legal views about the severe interrogation methods were brushed aside repeatedly.

But even the new timeline has yet to resolve the central question of who inside the Bush administration first broached the idea of using waterboarding and other brutal tactics against terror detainees in the months after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States....(Click for remainder.)


Socialist Successes

By Sen. Bernie Sanders
The Huffington Post

Representative Spencer Bachus is one of the only people I know from Alabama. I bet I'm the only socialist he knows. I'm certainly the only one the congressman from Birmingham could name after darkly claiming that there are 17 socialists lurking in the House of Representatives.

I doubt that there are any other socialists, let alone 17 more, in all of the Congress. I also respectfully doubt that Spencer Bachus understands much about democratic socialism. I hope this is an opportunity to shed some light on a viewpoint that deserves more attention throughout America and in our capital.

At its best, Washington brings people like us together to fight for our principles and work things out for the good of the country. Spencer and I used to serve together on the House Financial Services Committee. I don't mean to hurt him back home, but the truth is that he even cosponsored an amendment of mine once on credit card ripoffs.

At its worst, Washington is a place where name-calling partisan politics too often trumps policy. A standard refrain in John McCain's presidential stump speeches last fall was a claim that Barack Obama's Senate voting record was more liberal than Senate's only socialist, yours truly. That is nonsense on several levels. Even as political hyperbole, the attack didn't work out all that well for my colleague from Arizona.

Still, branding someone as a socialist has become the slur du jour by leading lights of the American right from Newt Gingrich to Rush Limbaugh. Some, like Mike Huckabee, intentionally blur the differences between socialism and communism, between democracy and totalitarianism. "Lenin and Stalin would love this stuff," Huckabee told last winter's gathering of the Conservative Political Action Conference....(Click for remainder.)


EFCA Backers Step Up Efforts, Begin Calling Out Democrats, Obama

By Sam Stein
The Huffington Post

Whether out of despair, frustration, or the political calculus that more sheer aggression is needed, labor officials and progressives are taking a far more forceful tone in their advocacy for the Employee Free Choice Act.

Over the past few days, national and grassroots efforts have been launched in support of the union-backed legislation aimed not only at the Republican swing vote in the Senate, but at wavering Democrats and even the president. The strategy is in contrast to the campaign waged up to this point, when supporters of the bill -- which would allow for unions to more easily organize -- had largely tried to frame it in a more acceptable light for moderate Senators.

With several of those moderates now expressing reservations over EFCA, labor hands are expanding the scope of their efforts: calling on the wavering and even ostensibly pro-EFCA Democrats to stand with them.

"I wouldn't say [it is] so much getting tougher on 'where they stand' since they've been talking about it," said one union official, "but getting tougher on saying they need to stand with America's workers."

Even the White House is in the spotlight. Acknowledging the need to "hunt for a solution" for labor law reform this year, Service Employees International Union chief Andy Stern nevertheless did something a bit rare during a recent interview with the Washington Post: he subtly digged Barack Obama for not offering more help....(Click for remainder.)


Wall of Fear

By Robert Koehler
The Huffington Post

"Frankly, this does look a lot like Jimmy Carter. Carter tried weakness, and the world got tougher and tougher, because the predators, the aggressors, the anti-Americans, the dictators -- when they sense weakness, they all start pushing ahead."

The chicken hawks still have a mega-forum. This was Newt Gingrich the other day, discussing "the handshake" on "Fox and Friends," and having his words -- no matter how simplistic they were, no matter the moral cowardice they masked -- widely and uncritically quoted throughout the media afterward.

The handshake! The empire trembles. Hugo Chavez, president of Venezuela, grinning like only a "harsh critic of America" can grin, shakes hands with Barack Obama, the naive young president, at the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago last weekend. They have their pictures taken. Click, gotcha! Then Chavez really pushes the envelope, giving Obama a '70s-era book, The Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent, by Uruguayan writer Eduardo Galeano -- which is critical of Europe, the West, colonial exploitation. The world's only superpower may not recover from this unprovoked assault on its ignorance. Or something.

"Jimmy Carter tried weakness, and the world got tougher and tougher . . ."...(Click for remainder.)


Fox Noise Runs With Dubious Claim That KSM's Interrogation Thwarted L.A. Plot

By Media Matters

In recent days, several Fox News hosts and contributors have advanced the claim by former Bush speechwriter Marc A. Thiessen that the use of harsh interrogation techniques -- including waterboarding -- on Khalid Shaikh Mohammed "stopped an attack on the Library Tower in Los Angeles." But the claim conflicts with the chronology of events put forth on multiple occasions by the Bush administration, as's Timothy Noah has noted. Indeed, the Bush administration said that the Library Tower attack was thwarted in February 2002 -- more than a year before Mohammed was captured in March 2003.

During an interview with Thiessen on the April 17 edition of Fox News' The Live Desk, co-host Rick Folbaum stated, "We haven't had a terror attack since 9-11 here in the United States. Might these techniques have been the reason that we haven't been attacked since then?" Thiessen responded, "It absolutely is. This attack -- this program stopped an attack on the Library Towers in Los Angeles." Neither Folbaum nor co-host Martha MacCallum challenged Thiessen's claim. Later, former federal prosecutor John Flannery said, "[T]he truth is people will say anything when they're tortured, including that the program worked." Thiessen replied, "That's absolutely false. ... The interrogation of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed -- the interrogation of Salid [sic] Shaikh Mohammed led to the capture of a cell of Jemaah Islamiyah terrorists who were planning to hijack a plane and fly it into the Library Tower in Los Angeles. And if it had not been for this program, there would be a hole in the ground in Los Angeles to match the one in New York City."

Thiessen repeated these claims in an April 21 Washington Post op-ed. Later that day on Fox News' Special Report, Fox News contributor and Roll Call editor Mort Kondracke said, "You know, we were scared to death that there was going to be more attacks. And there would have been more attacks. As Marc Thiessen points out in today's Washington Post, the interrogation, the waterboarding of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed resulted in information, which foiled an attack on a tower in Los Angeles, the second so-called 'second-wave attack.' "...(Click for remainder.)


Media Ignore Falsehood in Miss California's Same-Sex Marriage Drivel

By Media Matters

Following Carrie Prejean's first runner-up finish at the 2009 Miss USA pageant, numerous media figures have claimed that Prejean, Miss California, did not win because she "supports traditional marriage" and suggested that she was punished for giving "an honest answer." For instance, during the April 21 edition of CNN's No Bias, No Bull, CNN contributor Roland Martin asserted: "I still can't get over Miss California getting raked over the coals for giving an honest answer to a direct question. She doesn't believe in same-sex marriage, and she said so. And it may have cost her the Miss USA crown." But in asserting that Prejean was merely giving her opinion, these media figures ignore a factual falsehood in Prejean's response.

During the pageant, when asked by pageant judge Perez Hilton whether states should legalize same-sex marriage, Prejean responded: "Well, I think it's great that Americans are able to choose one or the other. We live in a land that you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage." Prejean continued: "And, you know what? In my country, and in my family, I think that I believe that a marriage should be between a man and a woman." However, contrary to Prejean's claim that "Americans are able to choose one or the other," only a handful of states have legalized same-sex marriage or recognize same-sex marriage licenses from other states....(Click for remainder.)


Hillary Clinton Fires Back Against Darth Cheney


Spitzer in Exile

When your résumé says 'disgraced ex-governor,' what do you do next?

By Jonathan Darman

There is no success so exquisite as the kind you find in Manhattan and no disgrace so excruciating as the kind you find on Manhattan's Upper East Side. Residents of the rarefied blocks north of the Plaza Hotel and east of Central Park marvel at the smallness of their neighborhood, how each day they run into friends—strolling through the park, marching down the wide avenues, sitting in thewell-lit restaurants. This familiarity is a comfort to the neighborhood's better sorts, the knowledge that most anyone they know, most anyone who matters, might be about to round the corner. For pariahs, it is torture, a torture they have no choice but to endure. They can hole up in the country for the weekend … but the children must go to school. They can send the laundry out, they can order food in … but even the airiest apartments turn stuffy after a while. Eventually, they have to go out, onto the street.

Eliot Spitzer goes out to walk the dogs. For three days after resigning as governor of New York in March 2008, he stayed in his Upper East Side apartment, out of the cameras' view. In those early days of exile, his name was on the lips of most everyone in the city—the disgraced governor …

Silda's no-good husband … Client No. 9. Along Fifth Avenue, outside his apartment building, the photographers and press hounds formed a thick line. Watching from inside, Spitzer was amazed by the spectacle. He wondered, is there nothing else going on in the world?

But dogs have needs that transcend damage control. And so the first images of Eliot Spitzer, private citizen, were of a man in baggy sweatpants, trailing after his wheaten terrier, James. The photographers followed them. "I explained to James that he was a good-looking dog," Spitzer recalls. "People wanted to take his picture." He didn't know what he would encounter outside his door, but there was nothing he could do about it. "You put up barriers and sort of prepare yourself."...(Click for remainder.)


Ed Stein: Valuable Information

By Ed Stein


A Clownish, Vindictive Amateur

By Steve Benen

Reihan Salam, a prominent conservative blogger and Republican strategist, has defended Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R) quite a bit over the last several months. He's promoted her, made excuses for her shortcomings, and tried to convince any who'd listen that she's really not as awful as she might seem. Up until recently, Salam has argued valiantly that Palin is a credible national figure and a plausible presidential aspirant.

Now, however, Salam has reluctantly given up.
Palin's campaign antics can be forgiven. What can't be forgiven is the ham-handed way she's tried to build her national profile since she returned to Alaska. She's abandoned the bold right-left populism that won over Alaska voters -- and me -- in the first place in favor of an increasingly defensive and harsh partisanship. After making her name as a determined enemy of Alaska's corrupt Republican establishment, she recently called for Democratic Sen. Mark Begich to step down so the hilariously crooked Ted Stevens could get another crack at the seat. She loudly promised to leave federal stimulus money on the table before clawing that promise back with a whimper. One can't help but get the impression that Palin is a clownish, vindictive amateur.

Now, for example, Palin is raising hackles for naming colorful crackpot Wayne Anthony Ross to be Alaska's attorney general. It turns out that Palin may have consulted with Ross over a state senate appointment, a move that would have been against state law. As a general matter, state law is something you might want your AG to be on top of.

What I'm wondering is: Has Sarah Palin undergone some kind of secret lobotomy?
Notwithstanding the possibility of secret brain surgery on the governor, Salam is arguably understating the case. As we talked about last week, Palin's on-the-job performance since last year's presidential election has been a train-wreck. (It's apparently getting worse, too, with a new ethics complaint having been filed against her this week.)...(Click for remainder.)


Don't Prosecute -- and Scapegoat -- Torture Operatives; Go for the Top

By Naomi Wolf
The Huffington Post

As citizens' outrage over the torture memos heats up, and Congress is barraged with calls to appoint a special prosecutor, we may be about to commit an egregious error.

Today Republicans accused Democrats in Congress of having "blood on your hands too" in relation to the escalating calls to investigate. I would like to say that this is exactly right.

I will go further: not only do Congressional Democrats have "blood on their hands" -- but so do we, the American people. And CIA agents may be about to be sacrificed to assuage their, and our, guilt.

Today's suddenly urgent calls by our Congressional Democratic leaders, and even by many of the American people, to prosecute CIA operatives, military men and women and contractors who were certainly involved with, colluded in or turned a blind eye to torture are not only the height of hypocrisy, they are a form of unconscionable scapegoating. The scapegoating is political on the part of Congressional leaders, and psychological on the part of many Americans who are now "shocked, shocked" at what was done in their name....(Click for remainder.)


Special Forces Officer Schools Bill Orally in Debate on Torture


On Torture, the Pressure Builds

By Ray McGovern
Consortium News

Well, well. The New York Times has finally put a story together on the key role that two controversial psychologists played in devising the Bush administration's torture policies. Guess we should be thankful for small favors.

Apparently, a NYTimes “exposé” requires a 21-month gestation period; just by way of pointing out that the substance of the Times “exposé” appeared in an article the July 2007 issue of Vanity Fair.

Katherine Eban, a Brooklyn-based journalist who writes about public health, authored that article and titled it “Rorschach and Awe.” It was the result of a careful effort to understand the role of psychologists in the torture of detainees in Guantanamo.

She identified the two psychologists as James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, who she reported were inexperienced in interrogations and "had no proof of their tactics' effectiveness" but nevertheless sold the Bush administration on a plan to subject captives to "psychic demolition," essentially severing them from their personalities and scaring them "almost to death."

In Wednesday's New York Times, reporters Scott Shane and Mark Mazzetti plow much the same ground. But please do not misunderstand. They deserve praise for finally pushing their own article past the Times’ censors, but let’s not pretend the startling revelations are new....(Click for remainder.)


The Right to Kill

By John Aravosis

I've written before about the religious right's newest cause celebre, the Right to Kill. Extreme right fundamentalist Christian leaders are demanding that American civil rights laws provide an exemption for their "right" to kill their political opponents, or any other American they disprove of, provided they claim the murder was inspired by their faith.

(We tend to avoid the usually-overplayed Nazi comparison, here at AMERICAblog. But in this case, the notion of protecting the majority's right to murder and incite violence against minorities is historically troubling.)

It's not entirely clear why the religious right, which professes to care so much about "life," especially when its coffers are running dry, is now suddenly interested in the right to kill. Have there been a rash of religious right murders of gays, blacks, women and other minorities that they've historically oppressed? Or is the religious right planning, or hoping, to incite violence against those groups and others in American society? (And they wonder why Homeland Security is interested in their more violent members.)

The religious right's main legislative effort surrounding their right to kill is centered around the hate crimes amendment being debated in the House this week. As Joe wrote earlier, the hate crimes amendment takes the current US hate crimes law, that has been on the books for decades, and applies it to everyone....(Click for remainder.)


Obama Has to be More Than the 'un-Bush'

By Andrew J. Bacevich

(CNN) -- At every stop during his recent trips abroad, President Obama went out of his way to assure observers that he is the un-Bush: a pragmatist rather than an ideologue, with both his feet firmly planted in the reality-based world.

To yesterday's untouchables, like Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, the cordial Obama offers smiles and handshakes. Although all to the good, this falls well short of being good enough.

Pragmatism devoid of principle provides an inadequate basis for coherent strategy. At the end of the day, there is no avoiding what the elder George Bush once called "the vision thing": a conception of how the world works, where it is headed and the role the United States should play in getting it there.

Obama's sympathetic nod to "soft power" and willingness to listen rather than preach do not qualify as that vision. Nor does his pledge to engage the Islamic world in respectful dialogue while working toward the abolition of nuclear weapons. They are at best markers that may suggest the outlines of something larger.

When it comes to national security, "changing the way Washington works" will require Obama to provide concrete answers to three distinct sets of questions.

First, what defines the current hierarchy of U.S. security interests? To what degree does that hierarchy take into account non-traditional or previously secondary concerns such as climate change, international organized crime and demography? Where does Islamic radicalism, George W. Bush's obsession, fall in that hierarchy? Absent clearly defined priorities, strategy inevitably takes a back seat to improvisation....(Click for remainder.)


Israeli Military Blames Civilian Deaths on 'Errors'

By Dion Nissenbaum
McClatchy Newspapers

JERUSALEM — After an internal investigation, the Israeli military said Wednesday that its soldiers had unintentionally killed dozens of Palestinian civilians in Gaza, but said there were no widespread abuses and declared that its soldiers never violated international law.

Innocent Palestinians were killed only as a result of "intelligence or operational errors," the Israeli investigation concluded.

"We didn't find one incident in which an Israeli soldier intentionally harmed innocent civilians," Maj. Gen. Dan Harel, the Israeli military's deputy chief-of-staff, told reporters in announcing the findings.

U.S., Israeli and Palestinian human rights groups called the Israel Defense Forces investigation a cover-up and called on Israel to allow an impartial probe of the Gaza offensive.

The military investigation examined charges that Israeli soldiers targeted civilians, killed medical crews trying to help wounded Palestinians, used white phosphorous shells in densely populated areas, needlessly demolished hundreds of Palestinian homes and attacked United Nations compounds....(Click for remainder.)


Meet The New GOP


Conyers to Hold Hearings on "Torture" Memos

By Jared Allen
The Hill via Truth Out

House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.) on Tuesday announced that he will soon hold hearings on the Bush administration's legal memos justifying the use of numerous enhanced interrogation techniques.

Conyers and other Democrats have labeled as torture the techniques explained in the memos, which provide a legal framework for the use of controversial interrogation practices such as waterboarding.

President Obama recently declassified the memos written by Bush administration lawyers, which also detail for the first time a number of additional interrogation techniques approved for use by the Central Intelligence Agency.

"Recently disclosed legal memoranda from the former Bush Administration raise grave legal, ethical, and constitutional questions," Conyers said in a statement. "The use of tactics described in these memos runs counter not only to basic notions of decency, but places our own prisoners of war at risk and weakens our national security. And the fact that these memos were authored and approved by senior lawyers of the Department of Justice challenges the very notion that we adhere to the Rule of Law in this country."...(Click for remainder.)


Supreme Court Says “No” to Government Effort to Deprive Immigrants of Fair Day in Court

By Cecilia Wang
Blog of Rights @ ACLU

Today the Supreme Court rejected the government’s effort to deprive immigrants seeking review of a removal order of a fair day in court. In Nken v. Holder, the Court considered the proper legal standard governing an immigrant’s application for a stay pending court review of an administrative removal order: Should the immigrant have to show “clear and convincing evidence that the entry or execution of [the removal] order is prohibited as a matter of law”? Or does the immigrant have to meet the lower traditional standard for preliminary relief, which is based on a balancing of factors in the case, including whether the petitioner is likely to win at the end of the day and whether he will suffer irreparable harm without the temporary relief?

To put it in plain English: After an immigrant gets ordered deported by an administrative immigration court, he petitions a federal court if he thinks the immigration court got it wrong. At the beginning of such cases, the immigrant always asks the federal court to issue an order freezing the removal order, to make sure that the government doesn’t send him away before the court can decide the case. Nken is about how hard it is to get that temporary order freezing the status quo.

This may seem like a technical question that only a lawyer could find interesting. But it can actually be a matter of life and death. If the government had its way in Nken, an immigrant who has been ordered deported by the administrative immigration courts would have to meet a higher standard to get a temporary order delaying the deportation until after the U.S. Court of Appeals has a chance to look at the case, than to win the case itself. The government cavalierly argued that immigrants could always keep their cases going after they were deported — but this ignored the fact that many immigrants are seeking court review precisely because they face torture or other persecution upon deportation to the foreign country. In such cases, by the time the immigrant has “won” his case in court, he will have an empty victory indeed. As Chief Justice Roberts noted in the Court’s opinion today, “[t]he choice for a reviewing court should not be between justice on the fly or participation in what may be an ‘idle ceremony.’”...(Click for remainder.)


Hannity Decries Use of "The 'B' Word," Unless Ted Nugent is Using it About Clinton

By Media Matters

On the April 21 edition of his Fox News show, Sean Hannity asked Miss USA runner-up Carrie Prejean: "What did you think when [blogger Perez Hilton] went on this rant and actually used the "B" word? I mean, I can't think of anything more vicious, more mean, more insulting, more degrading, just because you have a different opinion." However, as Media Matters for America has noted, on August 24, 2007, Hannity aired concert footage of rock musician and right-wing activist Ted Nugent calling then-Sen. Barack Obama a "piece of shit" and referring to then-Sen. Hillary Clinton as a "worthless bitch." After airing the clip, Hannity referred to Nugent as a "friend and frequent guest on the program."

In the video clip, Nugent holds up what appear to be two assault rifles, and says, "Obama, he's a piece of shit, and I told him to suck on my machine gun." He also says, "Hey, Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless bitch." After airing the clip, Hannity stated: "That was friend and frequent guest on the program Ted Nugent expressing his feelings towards Democratic presidential contenders Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton." Moments later, Hannity compared Nugent's comments to a statement by Obama, which Hannity distorted by claiming Obama "accus[ed] our troops of killing civilians." Hannity then asked Democratic strategist Bob Beckel: "What's more offensive to you? Is it Barack Obama's statement about our troops or Ted Nugent?" In response, Beckel asked Hannity if he was "prepared to disavow this lowlife," Hannity replied: "No, I like Ted Nugent. He's a friend of mine." When Beckel later said that Nugent "ought to never come on your show again, and if you have him on, you ought to be ashamed of yourself," Hannity responded: "Not at all. We have you on."

As Media Matters also noted, on the January 12 edition of Fox News' Hannity, during a discussion with Meat Loaf and Rev. Al Sharpton, who had led one of several demonstrations around the country against degrading lyrics in the music industry, Hannity said, "I don't like the lyrics that refer to women as 'B's' and 'ho's,' and we've had many discussions about this."...(Click for remainder.)



All material is the copyright of the respective authors. The purveyor of this blog has made and attempt, whenever possible, to credit the appropriate copyright holder.

  © Blogger template Newspaper by 2008

Back to TOP