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Weekly Address: President Obama on Judge Sotomayor's Experience

Saturday, May 30, 2009



THE WHITE HOUSE


Office of the Press Secretary
___________________________________________________________________________________
EMBARGOED UNTIL 6:00 AM ET, SATURDAY, May 30, 2009

WEEKLY ADDRESS: President Obama Calls for Thorough and Timely Confirmation for Judge Sonia Sotomayor


WASHINGTON – In his weekly address, President Barack Obama called for a rigorous, principled and swift confirmation for his Supreme Court nominee, Court of Appeals Judge Sonia Sotomayor. Judge Sotomayor’s extraordinary professional career, as a New York City prosecutor, a litigator, and as a judge for 17 years, is matched only by her remarkable life story, from growing up in a housing project to graduating from Princeton University and Yale Law School. With the depth of her experience, she will be a prudent Justice who respects and adheres to the Constitution and the law.

The full audio of the address is HERE. The video can also be viewed online at www.whitehouse.gov.

Remarks of President Barack Obama
Weekly Address
Saturday, May 30, 2009
Washington D.C.


This week, I nominated Judge Sonia Sotomayor of the U.S. Court of Appeals to replace Justice David Souter, who is retiring after nearly two decades on the Supreme Court. After reviewing many terrific candidates, I am certain that she is the right choice. In fact, there has not been a nominee in several generations who has brought the depth of judicial experience to this job that she offers.

Judge Sotomayor’s career began when she served as an Assistant District Attorney in New York, prosecuting violent crimes in America’s largest city. After leaving the DA’s office, she became a litigator, representing clients in complex international legal disputes. She was appointed to the U.S. District Court, serving six years as a trial judge where she presided over hundreds of cases. And most recently, she has spent eleven years on the U.S. Court of Appeals, our nation’s second highest court, grappling with some of the most difficult constitutional and legal issues we face as a nation. She has more experience on the federal bench than any incoming Supreme Court Justice in the past 100 years. Quite simply, Judge Sotomayor has a deep familiarity with our judicial system from almost every angle.

And her achievements are all the more impressive when you consider what she had to overcome in order to achieve them. Judge Sotomayor grew up in a housing project in the South Bronx; her parents came to New York from Puerto Rico during the Second World War. Her father was a factory worker with a third grade education; when she was just nine years old, he passed away. Her mother worked six days a week as a nurse to provide for her and her brother, buying the only set of encyclopedias in the neighborhood and sending her children to Catholic school. That’s what made it possible for Judge Sotomayor to attend two of America’s leading universities, graduating at the top of her class at Princeton University, and studying at Yale Law School where she won a prestigious post as an editor of the school’s Law Journal.

These many years later, it was hard not to be moved by Judge Sotomayor’s mother, sitting in the front row at the White House, her eyes welling with tears, as her daughter – who had come so far, for whom she sacrificed so much – was nominated to the highest court in the land.

And this is what makes Judge Sotomayor so extraordinary. Even as she has reached the heights of her profession, she has never forgotten where she began. She has faced down barriers, overcome difficult odds, and lived the American dream. As a Justice of the Supreme Court, she will bring not only the experience acquired over the course of a brilliant legal career, but the wisdom accumulated over the course of an extraordinary journey – a journey defined by hard work, fierce intelligence, and the enduring faith that, in America, all things are possible.

It is her experience in life and her achievements in the legal profession that have earned Judge Sotomayor respect across party lines and ideological divides. She was originally named to the U.S. District Court by the first President Bush, a Republican. She was appointed to the federal Court of Appeals by President Clinton, a Democrat. She twice has been overwhelmingly confirmed by the U.S. Senate. And I am gratified by the support for this nomination voiced by members of the legal community who represent views from across the political spectrum.

There are, of course, some in Washington who are attempting to draw old battle lines and playing the usual political games, pulling a few comments out of context to paint a distorted picture of Judge Sotomayor’s record. But I am confident that these efforts will fail; because Judge Sotomayor’s seventeen-year record on the bench – hundreds of judicial decisions that every American can read for him or herself – speak far louder than any attack; her record makes clear that she is fair, unbiased, and dedicated to the rule of law. As a fellow judge on her court, appointed by Ronald Reagan, said recently, "I don’t think I’d go as far as to classify her in one camp or another. I think she just deserves the classification of outstanding judge."

Congress returns this week and I hope the confirmation process will begin without delay. No nominee should be seated without rigorous evaluation and hearing; I expect nothing less. But what I hope is that we can avoid the political posturing and ideological brinksmanship that has bogged down this process, and Congress, in the past. Judge Sotomayor ought to be on the bench when the Supreme Court decides what cases to hear this year and I’m calling on Democrats and Republicans to be thorough, and timely in dealing with this nomination.

As President, there are few responsibilities more serious or consequential than the naming of a Supreme Court Justice. The members of our highest court are granted life tenure. They are charged with applying principles put to paper more than two centuries ago to some of the most difficult questions of our time. And the impact of their decisions extends beyond an administration, but for generations to come.

This is a decision that I have not taken lightly and it is one that I am proud to have made. I know that Justice Sotomayor will serve this nation with distinction. And when she ascends those marble steps to assume her seat on the Supreme Court, bringing a lifetime of experience on and off the bench, America will have taken another important step toward realizing the ideal that is chiseled above its entrance: Equal justice under the law.

Thanks.

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Suddenly It's OK to Call a Judicial Nominee a Racist

By Jamison Foser
Media Matter for America


When the nation learned in 2005 that Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito had belonged to a Princeton University alumni organization that advocated a cap on the number of women and minorities allowed at Princeton, the news media quickly circled the wagons to protect the Bush nominee.

When Alito was asked by Senate Democrats about his membership in the organization -- which he touted while applying for a job in the Reagan administration -- the media denounced them for going too far. The merest hint of a suggestion of an implication that Alito was a member of a racist organization was shouted down as an unfair slander; Democrats were pilloried for making Alito's wife cry with their inappropriate questions (though Mrs. Alito didn't actually start crying until Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham took to the microphone).

Gloria Borger, for example, said that the pertinent question was not whether Alito agreed with the Concerned Alumni of Princeton's clearly racist and sexist stance on university admissions, but "whether the Democrats took this a step too far today." Katie Couric added: "Too much to take: Supreme Court nominee Samuel Alito's wife driven to tears after Democrats question his integrity. Did they go too far?" The media consensus that Democrats went "too far" in questioning Alito continues to this day. Fox News' Megyn Kelly recently claimed that during Alito's confirmation hearings, his wife was "crying hysterically after Ted Kennedy made her cry."

So it seems the news media treat even a suggestion that a Supreme Court nominee might be guilty of involvement in a bigoted organization as a vile slur. Even if the nominee touted his membership in a group that sought to limit the number of women and minorities accepted into his alma mater. Even then, such questions are treated as inappropriate and abusive scrutiny that have no place in civil discourse.

As long, that is, as the nominee in question is a conservative white male, nominated by a conservative white male president....(Click for remainder.)

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During "White Males" Rant, Buchanan Calls Sotomayor "That Woman"; Shrum Calls on Him to Apologize

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Lawyers try to Explain to Dumb-as-a-Sack-of-Doorknobs O'Reilly That His "Rights" Aren't Violated by Criticism

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Olbermann Highlights Oxy-Moron's "David Duke" Comment, "Baseless Attack" on Sotomayor From Conservative Media

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Yet ANOTHER Michelle "Crazy Eyes" Malkin 'Investigative Scoop' Goes Pop, and Disappears

By David Neiwert
Crooks and Liars





Did someone in the Obama administration force Chrysler, as part of its reorganization, to order the closure of auto dealerships mostly among Republicans, while leaving Democratic-owned dealerships intact?

Naaaah. What, are you kidding me? But, you know, it sounded really good to Michelle Malkin. Mostly because she loves to fancy herself an "investigative journalist" and these kinds of "scoops" entrance her on a regular basis. Of course, the fact that none of them ever pan out seems not to deter her in the slightest.

Malkin, along with her intrepid pals at Newsbusters and a variety of other right-wing blogs, were all over it yesterday. Malkin appeared on Fox and Friends in the morning to tout her latest liberal-perfidy theory.

Too bad it took only a flick of Nate Silver's wrist to blow it all to smithereens. Seems that when you go looking at political donations by occupation, people who list "auto dealers" or some variation thereof are Republican by about an 8-1 margin:
Overall, 88 percent of the contributions from car dealers went to Republican candidates and just 12 percent to Democratic candidates. By comparison, the list of dealers on Doug Ross's list (which I haven't vetted, but I assume is fine) gave 92 percent of their money to Republicans -- not really a significant difference.

There's no conspiracy here, folks -- just some bad math.

It shouldn't be any surprise, by the way, that car dealers tend to vote -- and donate -- Republican. They are usually male, they are usually older (you don't own an auto dealership in your 20s), and they have obvious reasons to be pro-business, pro-tax cut, anti-green energy and anti-labor. Car dealerships need quite a bit of space and will tend to be located in suburban or rural areas. I can't think of too many other occupations that are more natural fits for the Republican Party.

(Click for remainder.)

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Judge Asks for Investigation of Siegelman Prosecution

By fast2write
Democrats.com


In the latest development in the federal case against former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, retired Chief U.S. District Judge U.W. Clemon of Birmingham recently wrote a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder seeking a probe of misconduct by federal prosecutors.

He cited alleged "judge-shopping," jury-pool "poisoning" and "unfounded" criminal charges in an effort to imprison Siegelman and forestall his election campaign in 2006.

Judge Clemon, a highly respected jurist and one of the first African American judges in the American South, took this unusual step because he felt duty bound to report corruption that occurred on his watch, according to an announcement from the non-profit Velvet Revolution.

This development comes days after detailed evidence revealed that Siegelman’s trial judge, Mark Fuller, was chosen to preside over the trial because he had a “grudge” against Siegelman which bordered on hatred because Siegelman appointed an investigator to look into Fuller’s shady activities: Siegelman Deserves New Trial Because of Judge’s ‘Grudge’, Evidence Shows.

Moreover, the new evidence makes a strong case that Judge Fuller labors under conflicts of interest because he owns a majority share in Doss Aviation, which receives hundreds of millions in contracts from the military and has ties to CIA activities....(Click for remainder.)

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Senator Levin Unleashed a Smackdown on DICK

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Tom "KKK" Tancredo vs Bush & McCain on La Raza

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Colin Powell: No Good Samaritan

By Ray McGovern
Consortium News


Watching retired Gen. Colin Powell cite Jesus's parable of the Good Samaritan during Sunday’s Memorial Day ceremonies on the Mall in Washington, it struck me that Powell was giving hypocrisy a bad name.

Those familiar with the parable of the Good Samaritan and the under-reported behavior of Gen. Powell, resurgent star of the Fawning Corporate Media (FCM), know that the two do not mesh.

Powell’s well-documented disregard for those who have borne the brunt of the battle places him in the company of the priest and the Levite – in the Good Samaritan parable – who, seeing the man attacked by robbers on the side of the road, walked right on by.

Sadly, Powell has a long record of placing the wounded and the vulnerable on his list of priorities far below his undying need to get promoted or to promote himself. Powell’s rhetoric, of course, would have us believe otherwise.

At the Memorial Day event, Powell hailed our “wounded warriors” from Iraq and Afghanistan as the cameras cut to several severely damaged veterans. Lauding the “love and care” they receive from their families, Powell noted in passing that some 10,000 parents are now full-time care providers for veterans not able to take care of themselves.

It was a moving ceremony, but only if you were able to keep your eye on the grand old flag and stay in denial about thousands of wasted American lives, not to mention tens and tens of thousands wasted Iraqi lives — as well as many thousands more incapacitated for life — and not ask WHY....(Click for remainder.)

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Mormon Favorability Rating Drops Over Last Year

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog


I guess grave robbing and hate aren't growth businesses now that the Republicans are out of power.

The Washington Post has a story today about how the Mormons are having a bit of a bad year, after it was revealed that they've been trying to steal Anne Frank's soul, the soul of President Obama's late mother, and then there's that little thing about murdering love in an entire state (which is ironic since a wing of Mormons are still fighting, violently, for their right to polygamy).

I suspect part of the problem is that while every religion has its fantastic tales, Christians probably aren't thrilled when they learn that the Mormons believe that Jesus and the devil are brothers, and that Jesus married (and presumably slept with) his mother, Mary. Then there's the magic underwear. And the forced, secret baptism of dead non-Mormons (i.e., your relatives) against the wishes of their families - ostensibly forcibly converting your family to Mormonism, whether you like it or not. I can't think of any religion in America that does that. Even the evangelicals aren't as pushy as the Mormons. Mind you, the evangelicals are pretty pushy in their own right, and will talk your ear off about why you need to convert to their faith. I had one try to start the "have you accepted Jesus into your heart" conversation while I was stuck in a 10 hour layover at NY Kennedy after just arriving from Europe. The conversation didn't go so well....(Click for remainder.)

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Obama Needs to do More Than Just Swap Liberal Justices

By Matthew Rothschild
The Progressive via AlterNet


While everyone’s talking about how the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor may affect the Supreme Court, we need to keep our eye on the current court — and on Obama’s arguments in there.

For on the same day that Obama nominated Sotomayor, the Court came down with a horrendous decision on a defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel.

By a 5 to 4 vote, the Court said that a defendant who has already been appointed counsel may be interrogated by police without that counsel present.

Amazingly, Obama’s Justice Department argued in favor of the decision that Justice Scalia handed down. It said the 23-year-old precedent, Michigan v. Jackson, "serves no purpose."

Distressed, Justice John Paul Stevens, who wrote the Michigan decision, took the unusual move of reading his heated dissent aloud from the bench.

"The police interrogation in this case clearly violated petitioner’s Sixth Amendment right to counsel," he said, adding that the court, by overturning a previous Supreme Court ruling, engaged in a "gross undervaluation" of precedent.

Stevens made the unassailable point that "if a defendant is entitled to protection from police-initiated interrogation under the Sixth Amendment when he merely requests a lawyer, he is even more obviously entitled to such protection when he has secured a lawyer."...(Click for remainder.)

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Asshat #1, Glenn Beck Laments: "When did we get to the place in America to where we can't have disagreements without demonizing each other?"

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The 'Sith Lord' Darth Cheney, is Pissed That Bush is Not Attacking Obama

By Mike Allen
Politico


Former President George W. Bush is sticking by his promise to leave President Barack Obama alone — prompting some second-guessing by allies of Vice President Dick Cheney, who is determined to confront the new president.

Bush has stuck to his memorable declaration that he owes Obama his silence, while Cheney continues to grant colorful interviews in which he warns that the Democrat’s policies are making the country less safe.

One Cheney supporter referred to “confusion” and “bewilderment” among conservatives that Bush has not taken the same tack.

“A lot of conservatives would have like to have heard from President Bush on this issue,” the Cheney supporter said. “On such a fundamental issue, when such clear untruths are being told, conservatives have wondered why President Bush has been silent.”

A Cheney source said: “Not only does President Obama disagree with the policy, he goes out of his way to attack us. The notion that we shouldn't publicly defend our record, and tell the American people the truth, makes no sense."

Karl Rove, Bush's former senior adviser, replied: “I know President Bush and Vice President Cheney talk with regularity. I know the former president appreciates Dick’s forthright defense of the administration’s polices. And I know Vice President Cheney understands the special role that the former president occupies. Others who are quoted as commenting in the article appear to settling old interoffice scores without a real knowledge of the relationship between the two.”...(Click for remainder.)

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Katrina Victims to be Evicted — AGAIN!

By Murial Kane
The Raw Story


The Federal Emergency Management Agency has decided to enforce a June 1 date — originally established by the Bush administration — for the eviction of several thousand victims of Hurricane Katrina who are still living in temporary trailers after nearly four years.

In a Friday press release, the US Human Rights Network stated that this decision "not only lacks basic compassion but is also a derogation of the government's responsibilities to uphold fundamental human rights."

"Instead of carrying out the former administration's callous plan for eviction," the press release continues, "the Obama administration and Congress should apply the United Nations' Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, a human rights policy that, for several years, has guided our government in providing temporary and permanent homes for people in foreign countries who become displaced by earthquakes, typhoons, and flooding."

Earlier this month, the Los Angeles Times reported that more than 90% of those still living in temporary trailers have received rebuilding money from the government, but in two out of three cases it is not enough to cover the needed repairs....(Click for remainder.)

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Serial Adulterer and Pathological Liar, Newt Gingrich, Digs in on Sotomayor-Bashing

By Eric Kleefeld
Talking Points Memo


Newt Gingrich does not seem to be deterred by the new message of the Republican leadership, such as Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), that he and Rush Limbaugh should stop calling Sonia Sotomayor a racist.

Gingrich has now sent out a fundraising e-mail, asking for help to send blast faxes to every member of the Senate demanding that the Sotomayor nomination be defeated. He even says that she shouldn't even get a vote in the Senate, but should just have to withdraw.

Gingrich warns that all of American civilization is at stake here. "If Civil War, suffrage, and Civil Rights are to mean anything, we cannot accept that conclusion," he writes. "It is simply un-American. There is no room on the bench of the United States Supreme Court for this worldview."...(Click for original.)

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Sessions 'Uneasy' With Gingrich's 'Rhetoric' Against Sotomayor

By Matt Corley
Think Progress


On Wednesday, Former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich drew attention to himself when he tweeted that Judge Sonia Sotomayor should “withdraw” her nomination for the Supreme Court because she’s a “Latina woman racist.” Since then, some Senate Republicans have sought to distance themselves from Gingrich. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he disagreed while Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) called it “terrible.” Now, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), the ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, has told the Washington Post that he is “uneasy” with the rhetoric:
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said today he was “uneasy” over allegations by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and talk-show host Rush Limbaugh that Sotomayor is racist. Sessions, who lost a 1986 bid for a federal judgeship amid concerns over his own racial sensitivity, said Republicans should focus on Sotomayor’s legal record to try to divine what sort of a Supreme Court justice she would make.

“I’m uneasy,” Sessions said in a 30-minute interview in his office in the Russell Senate Office Building. “I don’t think that’s good rhetoric. The question is, has the judge gone too far or not, given the established law of the land?”
Read more on right-wing hate in today’s Progress Report....(Click for original.)

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GOP Wants 100 New Nukes by 2030

By Joseph Romm
Grist.org

In Finland, around the globe, and in every state, the nuclear industry makes people sing the same old song: “What do you get when you buy a nuke? You get a lot of delays and rate increases….
This year, authorities permitted Florida Power & Light to start charging millions of customers several dollars a month to finance four new reactors. Customers of Georgia Power, a subsidiary of the Southern Co., will pay on average $1.30 a month more in 2011, rising to $9.10 by 2017, to help pay for two reactors expected to go online in 2016 or later.
As an aside, if Public Utility Commissions allowed on-bill financing of energy efficiency, which is under half the cost of any new power generation — and 5 times cheaper than new nukes — we could stop electricity demand growth in this country for two decades while lowering consumer electric bills by tens of billions of dollars a year (see “Energy efficiency is THE core climate solution, Part 1: The biggest low-carbon resource by far” and “Part 3: The only cheap power left“).

Back to the delays and high cost of new nukes. It isn’t just this country (see “Turkey’s only bidder for first nuclear plant offers a price of 21 cents per kilowatt-hour“), and, of course, Finland — see my February post, “Nuclear meltdown in Finland” and today’s remarkable New York Times story (excerpted above):

In Finland, Nuclear Renaissance Runs Into Trouble

(Click for remainder.)

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The New York Times Finally Reports the Economic Disaster of New Nukes

By Harvey Wasserman
The Huffington Post


In a devastating pair of financial reports that might be called "The Emperor Has No Pressure Vessel," the New York Times has blazed new light on the catastrophic economics of atomic power.

The two Business Section specials cover the fiasco of new French construction at Okiluoto, Finland, and the virtual collapse of Atomic Energy of Canada. In a sane world they could comprise an epitaph for the "Peaceful Atom". But they come simultaneous with Republican demands for up to $700 billion or more in new reactor construction.

The Times' "In Finland, Nuclear Renaissance Runs Into Trouble" by James Kanter is a "cautionary tale" about the "most powerful reactor ever built" whose modular design "was supposed to make it faster and cheaper to build" as well as safer to operate.

But four years into a construction process that was scheduled to end about now, the plant's $4.2 billion price tag has soared by 50% or more. Areva, the French government's front group, won't predict when the reactor will open. Finnish utilities have stopped trying to guess.

Finnish inspectors say Areva allowed "inexperienced subcontractors to drill holes in the wrong places on a vast steel container that seals the reactor." The Finns have also cited Areva for "the attitude or lack of professional knowledge of some persons."

Areva hopes to build similar reactors in the US. Its boosters have promised cheaper, cleaner, faster nuke construction with standardized designs like the one at Okiluoto. But "early experience suggests these new reactors will be no easier or cheaper to build than the ones a generation ago" whose price tags soared by 700% and more, and whose completion schedules ran into the decades.

Areva's second "new generation" project at Flamanville, France, is also over budget and behind schedule. Cracks have turned up in critical steel and concrete components, along with revelations that critical work has been done by unqualified welders....(Click for remainder.)

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Forget Kim Jong Il. The Harder Problem is Burma



Why Washington is powerless to help Aung San Suu Kyi.

By Joel Brinkley
GlobalPost


If they stop to think about it, Obama administration officials and other Western leaders might see a glimmer of positive news in the North Korean nuclear test last week. The problem takes attention away from the show trial in Burma, the latest manifestation of a problem as intractable as any in the world.

When Burma’s military put Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on trial last week, for harboring a wandering American in her home for a day, on came the ritualistic denunciations of the junta and the calls for harsher penalties. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton called Suu Kyi's trial “outrageous,” while Javier Solana, the European Union's foreign policy chief, suggested new sanctions.

“It's not the moment to lower sanctions,” he proclaimed. "It's the moment to increase them.” That has been tried more than once before over the last 20 years. Every time, it has failed. The Burmese generals remain unchallenged, unmoved. Clinton acknowledged as much in February, when she said, “We are conducting a review of our policy. We are looking at what steps we could take that might influence the current government.”

But the United States has no other leverage. To understand why sanctions cannot work, consider what happened in the fall of 2007, when the Burmese junta crushed the monks’ pro-democracy demonstrations with arrests and shootings.

On clandestine radio and internet broadcasts, Burma democracy advocates pleaded with the world for help. Next door in New Delhi just then, while soldiers were torturing and killing monks, the Indian government proclaimed that Burma remained "a close and friendly neighbor" and dispatched its petroleum minister there to make a deal. He signed a three-year energy exploration agreement that fed cash to the junta....(Click for remainder.)

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Obama Responds to Cyber Threat

By Joseph Menn and Daniel Dombey
The Financial Times


Barack Obama lifted cyber-security high up his administration’s agenda on Friday as he promised shortly to appoint a White House co-ordinator to oversee policy and responses to threats to government and private communications networks.

The US president cited an industry report that put losses from cybercrime – including industrial espionage and identity theft – at $1,000bn, saying the growing dependence on electronic banking and commerce made improved security both a matter of economic necessity and vital to national defence.

“Our defence and military networks are under constant attack,” he said. “Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups have spoken of their desire to unleash a cyberattack on our country – attacks that are harder to detect and harder to defend against.”

Releasing a review of federal policy on cyber-security, Mr Obama said the government had been hamstrung by the issue’s complexity and turf wars among agencies. “We’ve failed to invest in the security of our digital infrastructure. From now on . . . the networks and computers we depend on every day will be treated as they should be: as a strategic national asset.”

Security experts were delighted to see a president publicly address what has been a growing concern for a decade. “This is something we have been trying to educate on,” said David DeWalt, chief executive of McAfee, the antivirus software company....(Click for remainder.)

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EU Registers Drop in CO2 Emissions

By Elitsa Vucheva
EUObserver.com


Greenhouse gas emissions in the EU fell by 1.2 percent – or the equivalent of 59 million tonnes of CO2 – between 2006 and 2007, but a number of member states are still lagging behind the targets set by the UN's Kyoto Protocol on fighting climate change, the EU environment agency said on Friday (29 May).

Seventeen EU Member States reduced their emissions in 2007, with only Spain and Greece among the older member states not doing so, according to the Copenhagen-based European Environment Agency (EEA).

But among the member states having joined the EU since 2004, only Hungary, Slovakia, Romania and Poland reduced their emissions in 2007 compared to 2006.

In the 15 old member states, which alone produce around 80 percent of the bloc's gases, emissions fell by 1.6 percent, or a total cut of five percent since 1990.

Under the Kyoto Protocol, these countries should achieve an average eight percent reduction from the 1990 levels in the 2008 – 2012 period.

"The recent emission reductions among the EU-15 give us the confidence that we will successfully reach our Kyoto target," EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas said.

But the study also showed that some member states – such as Spain and Italy – are still lagging far behind their emission targets for 2012....(Click for remainder.)

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Health Care Reform Endanger by Liberal Circular Firing Squad

By Wendy Norris
The Colorado Independent


The risk of long-delayed health insurance reform collapsing under its own weight could come from an unlikely faction — the political Left.

That sinking reality was in full voice Wednesday at a Denver town hall forum featuring Howard Dean, the former Democratic National Committee chairman, ex-Vermont governor and a physician.

In his characteristically blunt political bedside manner, Dean rallied the crowd, “It’s not up to the right wing of the Republican Party, it’s not up to the health insurance companies, it’s not even up to Barack Obama … it’s up to you” to ensure Congress delivers patient-centric health insurance reform.

Whooping, hollering and a few crowd-pleasing political digs aside, Dean’s push for a universal “public option” that would allow people to buy into a government-run health care program, popularly known as Medicare for All, was met with cool skepticism by the left-leaning audience of 300 that clearly favored a single-payer plan and the abolition of private insurers.

But the political wisdom, such that it is in Washington, D.C., is that a single-payer plan is off the table according to U.S. Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., the chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee and a leader in health care reform on Capitol Hill. The single-payer showdown came to a head when Baucus had a disruptive group of five doctors and nurses ejected from a May 12 Senate hearing after they protested being excluded from the discussion.

Single-payer proponents were further left in the lurch when President Obama backed off campaign promises for a sole public health care financing program for the more moderate public option approach.

Dean dismissed concerns about the challenge of getting the steadfast single-payer faction to join a coalition with public option backers to fight the more entrenched insurance industry interests as congressional hearings advance toward the president’s August deadline for a health care reform package....(Click for remainder.)

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Talking Equality

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