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Howard Kurtz Notes "Suicide Watch" Beck "Trashed" Van Jones Without Mentioning Who He Actually Is

Monday, August 31, 2009

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Stupid Fucking Bitch, Liz Cheney, Says "Waterboarding Isn't Torture!" Ok, Let's Waterboard This Bitch!

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NPR's Kurt Andersen Discusses "Glenn Beck Nuttiness" & Dobbs' "Untruths" with Howard Kurtz

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Fear of Gun Limits Fuels a Burst of Demand for Bullets



Since President Obama's election, demand for guns and ammunition has skyrocketed. Gun shops have trouble keeping bullets in stock.

By W.J. Hennigan
Los Angeles Times
Photo:  Lawrence K. Ho (LAT)


There's a bull market for bullets.

Stacks of ammo, once piled high at gun shops across America, have dwindled. Prices paid by consumers for much-sought-after Winchester .380-caliber handgun bullets have doubled. At weekend gun shows, trailers loaded with boxes of ammunition are drained within hours.

Budget-pressed police departments, which can't be caught short, have increased their orders just to be safe, and the U.S. military, fighting two wars, has seen its need for bullets quadruple in recent years.

Bullets are in demand as the nation's appetite for firearms has soared. U.S. gun sales are up since the 2008 presidential election, during which the National Rifle Assn. poured millions of dollars into advertisements suggesting that Democrat Barack Obama would move to restrict gun sales if elected.

Sacramento businessman Strati Vourakis, 29, has been looking to get ammo for his semiautomatic Glock handgun for months. But prices have been too high, he said. "Everything's in short supply, and everything that's in is so expensive."

Like others, Vourakis says he fears that ammo sales may soon be restricted with Obama in the White House.

"The entire administration has a terrible record when it comes to gun rights," he said. "They're always trying to restrict guns in some way -- especially here in California."...(Remainder.)

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Vets' Group Assails Fox, GOP Over ‘Suicide’ Manual Claim

By Daniel Tencer
The Raw Story


Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's claim that a Veterans' Administration handbook urges veterans to "commit suicide" is an "asinine assertion with no basis in fact," says a veterans' group.

The group, Veterans for Common Sense, is demanding an apology from Steele for making the claim, and from Fox News for perpetuating the claim.

Steele made the comments on Fox Tuesday, during a debate about health care reform. Arguing that public health care would lead to people being forced to their deathbeds, Steele used the VA health system as proof this would come to pass.

"Just look at the situation with our veterans, when you have a manual out there telling our veterans stuff like, 'are you really of value to your community,' you know, encouraging them to commit suicide," Steele said.

"Let me be absolutely clear, Steele lied. There is no VA manual encouraging veterans to commit suicide," said Paul Sullivan, the executive director of VCS, in a press release.

The controversy began August 18, when an op-ed appeared in the Wall Street Journal, written by the former head of faith-based initiatives for the Bush administration, Jim Towey, claiming that the VA manual for veterans amounts to a "death book." Since then, the talking point has been picked up by opponents of health care reform....(Remainder.)

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Chris Wallace Asks Mr. "5-Deferrments, Traitor & War Criminal" Cheney if Democrats are Soft on National Security?

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Bogus Ex-Gay Research Touted by Evangelicals

By Max P.
The Progressive Puppy

Who knew that ex-gay ministries had such a high success rate?  (They don't, but pesky things like facts and accuracy never stopped religious conservatives from "proving" anything.)  Scientific methodology via Bible thumpers: You take a relatively small group of young gay Christians who have been threatened by their families and the church, bully them into submitting to indoctrination sessions, and then boast about the efficacy of ex-gay programs.

Florida Baptist Witness crows over the meaningless data:
In findings that directly contradict mainstream academic thought, 53 percent of subjects in a new seven-year study reported successfully leaving homosexuality and living happily as heterosexual or celibate persons.  The study by psychologists Stanton L. Jones of Wheaton College and Mark A. Yarhouse of Regent University is a follow-up to one released two years ago in the form of a book, Ex-Gays?  That study was called groundbreaking (by Christians who believe the earth is 6000 years old) and the latest set of data is no less significant, the researchers say.  (FBW concedes that the researchers' salaries were paid by Exodus International, the largest ex-gay ministry in the country.)
Among the questionable results...
  • 23 percent reported a successful conversion to heterosexual attractions.
  • 30 percent reported living a celibate life and were content with their reduction in homosexual attractions. Altogether, those latter two categories were combined for a 53 percent success rate, the researchers said.
  • 16 percent of subjects had modest decreases in homosexual attractions and weren’t satisfied with their degree of change but were committed to continuing the process.
  • 7 percent had seen no decrease in homosexual attractions but had not given up trying to change.
  • 25 percent of subjects were considered “failures,” either because they gave up on the process and once again identified as a homo­sexual (20 percent) or because they had not yet embraced a homosexual identity but nevertheless had given up (5 percent).
All the subjects were going through programs set up by Exodus International, a Christian ministry...  The latest findings were released four days after an American Psychological Association task force released a 130-page report that said "gay-to-straight" therapies are unlikely to work.  (The APA said that because it's true.  And, unlike Exodus, they don't have an anti-gay agenda to promote.)...(Remainder.)

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Chris Wallace Says Clusterfox's Bill Sammon "I Think It's Fair to Say You Tilt Conservative." More Like Crazy.

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Liz Cheney Can't Handle the Truth

During her remarkable summer media blitzkrieg, a stunning grasp of made-up facts

By Vincent Rossmeier
Salon.com


Liz Cheney, the easily exasperated eldest daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, has become a one-woman TV juggernaut in 2009, racking up more air time than a cloud as she defends her daddy's administration records.

And boy, is she wrong. Unlike so many TV pundits who spin and slide around the facts, Cheney makes no fuss about completely ignoring them, and sticking to talking points that have little relation to the truth.

Take her appearance Sunday, on ABC's "This Week," Liz Cheney, which was riddled with the sort of misstatements, obfuscations and downright lies that have now become a staple of her TV performances (video of the show is below).

When the discussion turned to Attorney General Eric Holder's decision to investigate the CIA's interrogation practices used on suspected terrorism suspects during the Bush Administration, Cheney adamantly argued against the probe. She said, "But this investigation has already been done. This was looked for five years by career prosecutors. They decided not to prosecute except in one case where a contractor has been convicted and is in jail."

The Justice Department's ethics office, the Office of Professional Responsibility, which handles attorney misconduct, recommended that nearly 12 prisoner abuse cases be revisited by Holder. This clearly suggests that the OPR is not satisfied with the previous investigations into the cases that occurred during the Bush Administration. As, according to the Justice Department Website, the OPR “is responsible for investigating allegations of misconduct involving Department attorneys,” it is likely the office concluded that the Bush-era attorneys who made the previous decisions erred in some way....(Remainder.)



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McCain Admits Bush Administration Violated International Law

By Daphne Eviatar
The Washington Independent


Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said on “Face the Nation” Sunday that — like most Republicans and even some Democrats, including some in the president’s cabinet — he thinks President Obama was right when he said “we ought to go forward, not back.”

But then he went on to say, as Glenn Greenwald tweeted yesterday, that “I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the Convention Against Torture that we ratified under President Reagan.”

Now, once you acknowledge that the CIA, at the direction of senior cabinet officials, violated international humanitarian law that requires the United States to prosecute the perpetrators, the only way to justify not investigating is to say that the executive branch of government is above the law — or, put more pragmatically, that it’s politically too messy to investigate senior leaders in the U.S. government.

Republicans didn’t hesitate to investigate when it involved Democratic President Bill Clinton, however, or to bring charges against him for lying about a personal matter. And Congress didn’t turn its backs on the Iran-Contra scandal during the Reagan administration, which led to 14 senior officials charged with crimes, and 11 convictions. And of course the Watergate affair led to the indictment and conviction of senior Nixon administration officials, and impeachment charges against the president. Congressional investigations of sitting and past administrations are far from unprecedented....(Remainder.)

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Colorado Primary Challenge Looks Like Win-Win for Dems

I say “Go! Andrew! Go!”  Bennet has been a disastrous and horrible choice by Ritter, and has been nothing but a shill for the corporatist wing of the Democratic party.  Time for Colorado to be represented in the U.S. Senate by a TRUE progressive.  Time to say “B-Bye Bennet!"  Log-on to “Draft Andrew Romanoff for US Senate” and show your support.

By Nate Silver
FiveThirtyEight


Last night, word leaked that Andrew Romanoff, a 41-year-old who was recently term-limited out of his job as Colorado House Speaker, will be challenging incumbent senator Michael Bennet for the Democratic nomination. Romanoff had been considered a candidate to succeed Ken Salazar as Colorado's Class III Senator when Salazar was appointed in December to head the Interior Department, but governor Bill Ritter went with the lesser-known Bennet, the former Denver Schools Superintendent, instead.

There is, in theory anyway, some room to challenge Bennet from his left. So far this year, Bennet has voted with the liberal position about 88 percent of the time, according to ProgressivePunch.org. But this ranks him just 46th of the 59 Senate Democrats. He has also frustrated many progressive activists with his waffling stance on EFCA, a pro-labor bill that now appears to lack the momentum to pass.

Then again, voting with one's party 88 percent of the time is still voting with one's party 88 percent of the time, and Bennet has been a long way removed from the Evan Bayhs and Ben Nelsons of the world, who have Progressive Punch scores in the 50s or 60s. He also appears poised to support progressives' latest raison d'être, the public option. In addition, Colorado Democrats traditionally take more moderate stances on fiscal policy, but more liberal ones on social policy, the environment, and perhaps foreign policy. So far this year, the Senate has voted almost exclusively on matters of fiscal policy, which might not give someone like Bennet a chance to show off his more liberal stripes....(Remainder.)

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Health Care Industry Contributes Heavily to Blue Dogs

By Halimah Abdullah
McClatchy Newspapers


WASHINGTON — As the Obama administration and Democrats wrangled over the timing, shape and cost of health care overhaul efforts during the first half of the year, more than half the $1.1 million in campaign contributions the Democratic Party's Blue Dog Coalition received came from the pharmaceutical, health care and health insurance industries, according to watchdog organizations.

The amount outstrips contributions to other congressional political action committees during the same period, according to an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity, a nonprofit watchdog organization. The Blue Dogs, a group of fiscally conservative lawmakers, successfully delayed the vote on health care overhaul proposals until the fall.

"The business community realizes that (the Blue Dogs) are the linchpin and will become much more so as time goes on," former Mississippi congressman turned lobbyist Mike Parker told the organization's researchers.

On average, Blue Dog Democrats net $62,650 more from the health sector than other Democrats, while hospitals and nursing homes also favor them, giving, respectively, $5,680 and $5,550 more, according to the Center for Responsive Politics, a nonprofit organization that tracks the influence of money in politics....(Remainder.)

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What the WaPo's NOM Profile Left Out

By Jamison Foser
Media Matters


On Friday, I noted that the Washington Post devoted more than 2,000 words to a profile of National Organization for Marriage executive director Brian Brown -- without ever once quoting a criticism of Brown or NOM.

That's an appalling omission, but it only scratches the surface.  The article was an extended mash note to Brown and his right-wing group, describing them as "rational," "mainstream," "sane," people put upon by shrill opponents who irrationally demonize them.

The Post headline set the tone for the fawning that followed:
Opposing Gay Unions With Sanity & a Smile

NOM Head Moves His Cause to D.C.
Then this:
But this country is not made up of people in the far wings, right or left. This country is made up of a movable middle, reasonable people looking for reasonable arguments to assure them that their feelings have a rational basis.

Brian Brown speaks to these people. He has a master's degree from Oxford, and completed course work for a doctorate in history from UCLA. He shoulders the accusations of bigotry; it's horrible when people say that your life's mission is actually just prejudice. He tries to help people see that opposing gay marriage does not make them bigots, that the argument should have nothing to do with hate or fear, and everything to do with history and tradition.

The reason Brian Brown is so effective is that he is pleasantly, ruthlessly sane.
Gee, isn't Brian Brown just swell?  Isn't the National Organization for Marriage just swell?...(Remainder.)

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Who Isn't John Galt? Part 2

By Robbie Gennet
The Huffington Post


Since the posting of my recent John Galt piece and all of it's ensuing commentary, I thought I would clarify a few things that may not have come across in the original article.

Firstly, I am not anti-Capitalism; I am anti-greed and evil. This country has been built on Capitalism and there are a great many people who work hard, pay taxes and amass great fortunes, which is terrific for them and for the country. America has made it possible for people to rise from nothing and reach the highest of heights and it is part of what makes this a great country: opportunity. Capitalism offers opportunity to those who seek it and many of those people have great intentions, good hearts and solid ethics and morals. However, there have been far too many examples of evil and greedy people who will stop at nothing to rook, cheat and swindle as much as they can, giving a bad name to honest Capitalists and the system as a whole. This is why we have and need regulation and financial oversight. A couple of "Capitalist Pigs" and all of Wall Street can look like a trough, when in fact there are many honest and hard-working people who contribute positively to Wall Street and the economy. A few bad apples can tarnish undeserving reputations in any industry, but in an industry where you deal with peoples homes and life savings, you are hitting them where it hurts the most. The term "Wall Street" itself has been used recently as a scapegoat for a cadre of evil and greedy people who tanked whole banks and institutions (and almost the entire economy) in their greedy quest for more money, more money, more money. It is that drive- the "Panzer tank mentality" I spoke of -- which I am wholly against. I am totally behind the drive for success and I feel sorry for the good folks out there that can and do make "Wall Street" a positive economic force and have been maligned along with the bad apples. Partly it is the media to blame; they love a juicy scandal but have little interest or incentive in promoting positive stories. This is why you hear every detail of Bernie Madoff's ills and barely a peep about the financial planners and wealth managers who have done a sterling job steering their clients through the wreckage....(Remainder.)

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Shep Smith Provides Top Notch Kennedy Funeral Coverage

By Priscilla
News Hounds


For those who might say that I am consumed by hatred of all things Fox, I need to set the record straight. While I criticize, what I feel, is right wing propaganda, I am willing to give credit where it is due and today that credit is due Fox News’ Shepherd Smith who provided non partisan and very poignant coverage of funeral coverage for the late Massachusetts Senator, Edward Kennedy. And let me say that I was not watching Fox to see if there was bias; but rather because the coverage on another network could have been better. I’m glad I changed the channel.

The MSNBC “Morning Joe” coverage was fun and interesting; but the political reminiscences of Joe Scarborough and Pat Buchanan got a bit tedious especially when they talked over the priest’s blessing of the casket at the Kennedy Library. When Chris Matthews came along, I really had to change the channel as I couldn’t deal with his self indulgent commentary peppered with what he thinks are deep thoughts. Curious as to who was covering the event at Fox, I changed the channel – intending to head for CNN or C-Span if that proved irksome. But there was no need to do so because Shep Smith was providing really good “color.” Unlike the MSNBC commentators, who were so engrossed in their commentary that they didn’t identify many of the family members and politicians in attendance, Smith was able to do so without interrupting what Martha MacCullum (who was at the church) was saying. Because Smith wasn’t as close to Kennedy as some of the MSNBC folks, he didn’t concentrate on his memories. Rather, he referenced a more macrocosmic overview of Kennedy’s achievements and family history. Smith’s co correspondent was Ed Klein, who has written a biography of Ted Kennedy, “The Dream that Never Died.” MacCallum’s commentary reflected her respect for the somber moment. After the service she remarked about how Ted Kennedy lived to eulogize his brothers and now he is being eulogized by the first African American president – something that represents a profound moment in history. There was no partisan sniping from anybody....(Remainder.)

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Beware Authoritative "Inside Washington" Sources Who Say The Public Option is Dead

By Robert Reich
Robert Reich's Blog


Washington, D.C. is an echo chamber in which anyone who sounds authoritative repeats the conventional authoritative wisdom about the "consensus" of inside opinion, which they've heard from someone else who sounds equally authoritative, who of course has heard it from another authoritative source. Follow the trail to its start and you often find an obscure congressional or White House staffer who has seen some half-assed poll number or briefing memo, but seeking to feel important hypes it a media personality or lobbyist who, desperate to sound authoritative, pronounces it as truth. In any other place on the planet it would be called rumor, gossip, or drivel. In our nation's capital it's called "inside information." The process would be harmless except that it creates self-fulfilling prophesies. Since most of our elected representatives would rather not stick their necks out lest they lose their heads, they tend to rush toward whatever consensus seems to be emerging -- which, of course, is based on authoritative reports about the emerging consensus.

In the last few days authoritative sources have repeatedly told me that the public option is dead, that the President won't be able to get a comprehensive health care bill, and that the White House and congressional leadership already know the best they'll be able to do now is move incrementally -- starting with insurance reforms such as barring insurers from using someone's preexisting health conditions to deny coverage -- with the hope of more reforms in the years ahead. The rightwing media fearmongers and demagogues have won.

Don't believe it. The other thing about Washington is how quickly conventional authoritative wisdom changes, especially when the public is still in flux over some large matter. Rightwing fearmongers and demagogues thrive only to the extent the mainstream media believes they're thriving. Although polls continue to show that while most Americans like the health care they're getting, they also dislike their insurance companies, worry that they or their families will be denied coverage, and are anxious about the increasing co-payments, deductibles, and premiums they're facing. Most are still eager for reform....(Remainder.)

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Enzi Jumps Ship; Democrats Have No More Excuses

By Transplanted Texan
MyDD


I am a bigger fan of bipartisanship than most here in the liberal blogosphere, and after all that's been said about Ted Kennedy's record the past few days, I don't think I need to explain why. However, while bipartisanship should be an important part of any legislative process, the end goal of the legislative process is, as that phrase would imply, legislation. I cheered my former boss, Max Baucus, when he began his Senate Finance Committee negotiations, but my cheering was short-lived. You can only hold out an unshook hand for so long before your arm muscles get tired. Mine got tired when the August recess began and Baucus's Republican counterpart Charles Grassley started shilling for Glenn Beck.

Some folks have stronger arm muscles than mine. Fair enough, but after today's news, no one can continue to hold out that arm without an illegal dose of morphine. Mike Enzi (R-WY), another member of Baucus' working group, jumped ship today in his party's official weekly radio address.
A leading GOP negotiator on health care struck a further blow to fading chances of a bipartisan compromise by saying Democratic proposals would restrict medical choices and make the country's "finances sicker without saving you money." The criticism from Sen. Michael Enzi, R-Wyo., echoed that of many opponents of the Democratic plans under consideration in Congress. But Enzi's judgment was especially noteworthy because he is one of only three Republicans who have been willing to consider a bipartisan bill in the Senate...

"I heard a lot of frustration and anger as I traveled across my home state this last few weeks," said Enzi, who has been targeted by critics for seeking to negotiate on legislation. "People in Wyoming and across the country are anxious about what Washington has in mind. This is big. This is personal. This is one of the most important debates of our lifetime."... Enzi said: "This will result in cutting hundreds of billions of dollars from the elderly to create new government programs."
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Who Isn't John Galt?

By Robbie Gennet
The Huffington Post


Watching the recent attention given to Ayn Rand and her Objectivist philosophy has been bittersweet. I must admit that I was shocked years back finding out that Dick Cheney loved her books, because what he represents is the polar opposite of what I thought the books were really about. You see, I'm not a raging greed-fueled Capitalist, I'm an Artist. Not that I don't want to make a good living doing what I do, but I was affected in a radically different way by Rand's writings and philosophy and feel strongly that The Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged were by far the two most important books I've ever read. Their impact on my own beliefs still resonates today in every aspect of my life, which is why I've found myself rather horrified by the vitriol spewed towards Rand in the general media.

But I would posit that there are two very different books in each of her novels and, depending on the reader, you get one or the other, but not both. They both have to do with selfishness but one veers towards Evil while the other, towards Salvation. Let me explain.

If you are a Capitalist or fan of Capitalism in general, then Rand's books speak to your inherent desire to make as much money as possible, pay as little taxes as possible and basically get yours regardless of others. The Dick Cheneys of the world douse their selfish mantle with the hot cologne of "Fuck You" hovering around their every move, their vision and purpose focused on the almighty dollar while ignoring the human chattel crushed beneath their Panzer tank mentality....(Remainder.)

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Academic Standards & Religious Doctrine Don't Mix

By Zack Ford
ZackFord Blog


I recognize that my opinion on religiously-affiliated universities is “controversial.” I have been admonished and challenged by my peers and colleagues for suggesting that any religious doctrine is an obstacle to rigorous academic study. You can’t expand human thinking if you are being told how to think. You can’t explore different opinions (academic freedom) and different forms of diversity if you are surrounded by people who believe (by mandate) the same as you. My argument is not that you can’t have a positive learning experience attending a religiously-affiliated school, but that we shouldn’t treat them as if they are “on par” with other institutions whose environment is not so limited.

I want to specify that I’m not talking about schools with loose affiliations to certain religious organizations, but schools like Wheaton College, Liberty University, Bringham Young University, and Oral Roberts University where religious belief dictates campus policy. These include rules for what students can and cannot do on campus (or even what information they can or cannot access), rules for what professors can teach, oaths that all students and staff are expected to take regarding what they believe and do not believe. By letting beliefs dictate knowledge instead of the other way around, these schools inherently lack the open critical exploration that the highest standards of academia demand. They have a right to exist, they have a right to do what they please, but I don’t think they should be immune to critique from academics for the learning environments they create (or rather, don’t create).

News this week from Calvin College in Michigan demonstrates just how limiting this set-up can be not only in the professional lives of the school’s community members, but in their personal lives as well. Here’s what happened:
College employees received a memo last week saying the Board of Trustees has revisited issues surrounding the college’s position on homosexuality, concluding it is “unacceptable” for faculty and staff to teach, write or advocate on behalf of the issue.
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World Health Organization Says Swine Flue Spreading at 'Unbelievable' Rate

By Agence France-Presse
Yahoo! Canada News


PARIS (AFP) - Swine flu spreads four times faster than other viruses and 40 percent of the fatalities are young adults in good health, the world's top health official warned in an interview appearing Saturday.
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"This virus travels at an unbelievable, almost unheard of speed," World Health Organisation Director General Margaret Chan told France's Le Monde daily in an interview.

"In six weeks it travels the same distance that other viruses take six months to cover," Chan said.

"Sixty percent of the deaths cover those who have underlying health problems," Chan said. "This means that 40 percent of the fatalities concern young adults -- in good health -- who die of a viral fever in five to seven days.

"This is the most worrying fact," she said, adding that "up to 30 percent of people in densely populated countries risked getting infected."

Chan's warning came a day after the WHO said the virus had overtaken others to become the most prevalent flu strain.

"Evidence from multiple outbreak sites demonstrates that the A(H1N1) pandemic virus has rapidly established itself and is now the dominant influenza strain in most parts of the world," the UN agency said in a statement.

"The pandemic will persist in the coming months as the virus continues to move through susceptible populations," it added....(Remainder.)

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Teddy's Final Letter to the Pope: The Cause of My Life is Universal Health Coverage

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Taliban's Growth in Afghanistan's North Threatens to Expand War

By Jonathan S. Landay
McClatchy Newspapers


 BAGHLAN-I-JADID, Afghanistan — Taliban insurgents have taken over parts of two northern provinces from which they were driven in 2001, threatening to disrupt NATO's new supply route from Central Asia and expand a war that's largely been confined to Afghanistan's southern half, U.S. and Afghan officials said.

Insurgents operating out of Baghlan district along the highway from Tajikistan launched coordinated attacks during the Aug. 20 presidential elections, killing the district police chief and a civilian, while losing a dozen of their own men, local officials said. It was the worst bloodshed reported in the country that day.

The violence has been on the rise in recent months, however, as the Taliban and al Qaida-linked foreign fighters have staged hit-and-run attacks, bombings and rocket strikes on German, Belgian and Hungarian forces in Baghlan and neighboring Kunduz provinces.

The insurgents now control three Pashtun-dominated districts in Kunduz and Baghlan-i-Jadid, a foothold in a region that was long considered safe. With a force estimated at 300 to 600 hard-core fighters, they operate checkpoints at night on the highway to the north, now a major supply route, local officials said, and are extorting money, food and lodging from villagers....(Remainder.)

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The WaPo Declares Itself Unable to Find the Truth

By emptywheel
Firedoglake

The WaPo wants you to know that it--one of the most storied newspapers in American history--is absolutely incapable of sorting through the facts about whether Khalid Sheikh Mohammed's torture turned him into a helpful college professor of terror.
The debate over the effectiveness of subjecting detainees to psychological and physical pressure is in some ways irresolvable, because it is impossible to know whether less coercive methods would have achieved the same result.
So, throwing up its institutional hands and declaring itself unable to find the truth, let's look at what it does instead.

First, in a 1,400 word article written with the assistance of both of WaPo's spook reporters, they neglect to mention that, after KSM's most intense torture ended, the CIA started to use rapport-based interrogation with him. I guess they didn't think that little detail--that the treatment of KSM immediately preceding the time when he was so cooperative and helpful actually adopted a different approach to interrogation--was worthy of mention....(Remainder.)

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Tax Reform’s Lesson for Health Care Reform

By Bill Bradley
The New York Times


THE chance of bipartisan agreement on health care seems to be waning as August draws to a close and ideologues mount increasingly vitriolic attacks on President Obama's health care initiative. The debate is beginning to sound more and more like the politics President Obama decried in his campaign — partisan, mean and progress-free. It needn't be that way.

In 1986, before President Ronald Reagan, a Republican Senate and a Democratic House succeeded in passing landmark tax reform, Washington insiders and the press predicted — as they are doing now — that it would never happen. There are lessons from the 1986 legislative experience that can be applied to health care reform today.

In the end, the tax bill passed because each party got something it wanted: Republicans got a lower marginal tax rate, and Democrats eliminated special-interest loopholes. By adhering to the principles of equity (equal incomes should pay equal taxes) and efficiency (the market is a more efficient allocator of capital than Congress), the bipartisan coalition produced a bill that lowered the top tax rate from 50 percent to 28 percent, eliminated $30 billion annually in loopholes and resulted in the wealthy contributing a higher percentage of income-tax revenues than they had before the reform....(Remainder.)

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Why America Pretends to Separate Church and State

By Patricia Nell Warren
The Bilerico Project

The other day, the Washington Post carried a seemingly innocuous little story about [merchant of hate and bigotry] Brian Brown, head of [homophobic] NOM, who is now establishing his organization in the nation's capital. The newspaper actually tried to make the point about how "sane" and "reasonable" Brown is, in comparison with "fringey" figures like Pat Robertson and John Hagee. According to the Post, Brown's "sanity with a smile" is making the far-right's marriage message go down more smoothly with the middle-of-the-road American voter, who is also desperately looking for sanity and reason.

To me, the NOM message is a little like that slippery coating on an antidepressant pilll that might otherwise stick in your throat. It's pure political Prozac. The pill slides down smoothly -- but the "treatment" is aimed at acting on America's brain, so that most people will accept religion's growing choke-hold on every aspect of American life.

And what is the psychotropic "pill" that Americans are being given?

NOM's campaign for "traditional marriage" continues to push down our throats the idea that it's okay to permit a long-standing violation of the Constitution's establishment clause. This violation is bigger than just helping the right to manipulate marriage the way they do. It actually gives the clergy special powers and privileges. Today the violation screams to be challenged.

Dark Side of Our History

The fact is -- during and after our nation's formative period, the believers among our founders and national legislators saw to it that religion was quietly cut a deal.

Nothing was overtly granted in the U.S. Constitution, of course. The Constitution was put out there in plain view, making its bold statement in the First Amendment that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." But quietly, ever so quietly, back in the shadows of government, Congress actually did just that. It made laws and regulations that favor religion -- especially through our tax code as it evolved....(Remainder.)

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Exodus Unable to Give a Numerical Success Rate

By Emily K
Ex-Gay Watch

In a post by Brad Sargent on the Exodus blog, the success rate of ex-gay therapy is addressed.  25 years ago, Brad became involved in Exodus. He started working for them in 1991, and was often addressed with the question, “What is your success rate?” Unable to give any numerical result, he was forced to respond thusly:
That question popped up so often, it became a frustration. There were no formal studies available from Exodus ministries then – who had funds or time to conduct such research? And yet, callers were anxious to know: If I’m going to invest myself in a transformation process, will it pay off? It’s just part of human nature to want a guarantee, but there was (and is) none we could give. What was our success rate? I was at the point of saying, “Well … 100 percent for those who follow Jesus Christ the rest of their life.”
Unable to give a clear, solid answer then or now, Exodus relies on the false dichotomy that “gay” and “Christian” oppose one another. And in fact, they incorrectly interpret- and therfore, deflect – the question at hand:
…I had to realize the REAL question hidden underneath the surface question. It was not ultimately about success rates, but about hope. Can I change? Can things be different? Can I live a normal life? Can I have hope?
Actually, when someone asks what the success rate is, it’s probably fair to assume that this is exactly what they’re asking for. They want some kind of hard data to assess whether it would be worth spending years – sometimes decades – of their lives and possibly thousands of dollars on therapy that will ultimately not make them any more opposite-sex attracted. If somebody gives a success rate of 15%, that person might not think it worth it to enter into a ministry. Others might cling to such a number, thinking they might be in the lucky 15% that wins the heterosexual lottery, so to speak. But giving an answer of “unknown” does not generally  instill confidence....(Remainder.)

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Pope Blames Atheists for Global Warming

By Micha J. Stone
Portland Humanist Examiner


The Pope blames atheists for global warming. Pope Benedict is claiming atheists are responsible for the destruction of the environment. The Pope made the claims in a recent speech given at the Vatican. The claim is a puzzling attack on atheism that frankly makes little sense.

Excerpt from the Pope's speech:
“Is it not true that inconsiderate use of creation begins where God is marginalized or also where his existence is denied? If the human creature's relationship with the Creator weakens, matter is reduced to egoistic possession, man becomes the ‘final authority,’ and the objective of existence is reduced to a feverish race to possess the most possible.”
The irony is that any historical evaluation places the blame for global warming and the degradation of the planet firmly in the lap of Christians and the Catholic church. The Holy Bible, a book atheists firmly reject for good reason, claims that God gave man dominion over the earth. Christians, including Catholics, took these words to heart. They used those words as carte blanche, a justification for all manners of planetary abuse.

Christianity, and Catholicism, are historically anti-environmental. In fact, if blame is to be placed for the current global environmental crisis, it is to be placed squarely upon the Judeo-Christian tradition. The fact that Christianity is anti-environmental is no secret. Indeed, many Christians have taken a perverse pride in claiming their dominion. For example, James Watt, who became U.S. Secretary of the Interior under Ronald Reagan in the early 1980s, wrote an influential and damning article entitled "Ours Is the Earth". Watt, speaking for countless Christians, made it abundantly clear that for believers the earth is "merely a temporary way station on the road to eternal life...The earth was put here by the Lord for His people to subdue and to use for profitable purposes on their way to the hereafter."...(Remainder.)

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3-2-1-Jesus!

By American Atheists
No God Blog


“SPACE MISSIONARY” MEMENTO IS INAPPROPRIATE CARGO ON LATEST SPACE SHUTTLE FLIGHT, SAY ATHEISTS

An Atheist-First Amendment public policy group charged today that NASA is violating the separation of church and state by permitting a “space missionary” memento on the latest Discovery Space Shuttle Mission.

On board the shuttle is a piece of an airplane that crashed in Ecuador in 1956 that carried members of the Missionary Aviation Fellowship. One of the shuttle astronaut contacted the Idaho-based group proposing that the item be taken into space as part of a government-funded exploration project. The event has re-ignited enthusiasm by religious groups for “space missionary” proselytizing.

“This is an inappropriate and unconstitutional use of resources,” charged Dr. Ed Buckner, President of American Atheists. NASA is a scientific and exploratory agency that is funded by taxpayers. Its mission should not include religious grandstanding, or efforts to use outer space as a pulpit for religion.”

Coincidentally, Dr. Buckner’s late father, Rev. James C. Buckner of St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church in League City, Texas, collaborated with Apollo 8 astronaut Cdr. Frank Borman to insert religion on the first lunar orbital mission in 1968. That mission included a Christmas Eve religious service as the spacecraft circled the Moon — and prompted an unsuccessful lawsuit by American Atheists founder Madalyn Murray O’Hair. Ed Buckner stressed that “I loved my father, though I disagreed with him then and of course now. I did not reject my father when I rejected theism nor became an Atheist out of rebellion. I became an Atheist because theism ceased to make any sense to me.”...(Remainder.)

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5 Ways to Build a Fascist-Proof America

If we want to build a fascist-proof America for the long haul, we must stand up now for everything we believe and everything we are.


By Sara Robinson
Campaign for America's Future via AlterNet


August, die she must. The town hall freak show is winding down, the media circus is packing the cameras and satellite dishes and hairspray back into the vans, and Congress is soon heading back to the relative safety of Washington.

Yet, after all the fuss and bother, they're probably no more or less resolved to pass health care reform than they were back in June, when those first delirious fevers rose like clouds of infectious mosquito nymphs hatched from a thick, overheated carpet of soggy Astroturf.

Let's hope they succeed at getting it done. But, win or lose, we're crazy to think that the goon squads formed and trained to instigate this summer's health care wars will pack it in just because the silly season is over.

Those folks have tasted power, graduated from their introductory courses in Political Bullying 101, shared some camaraderie and beer and felt the heft of their own political muscle. That was fun. Now, what do we do next? Paralyze the school board over evolution in the textbooks? Intimidate the city council into shutting down the immigrants' services center -- or beat up some immigrants, so they'll just stop using it? Vandalize the cars and houses of known liberals? Get one of our own elected sheriff, so he can deputize the rest of us and make our posse official?

Nothin' but good times ahead. Now that they're organized up and had a little practice, the possibilities for further mayhem are limited only by the boundless paranoia and unfettered fantasies of the right-wing mind....(Remainder.)

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Critics Skewer Bill as Giving White House Control of the Internet

By Stephen C. Webster
The Raw Story


A bill being composed by aides of Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va) is causing concern among technology advocates for strikingly broad language in describing how the White House should direct private sector networks in the event of a cybersecurity emergency.

Effectively, it’s critics state, the bill would give the White House control over the American Internet in the event of a major electronic attack on the nation’s infrastructure or other emergency circumstance as declared by the President.

But, does it? The answer to that is as ambiguous as the bill’s language, though the Senate Commerce Committee insists that it does not.

Concern over the bill mainly stems from passages on pages 25 and 26 (PDF link) of the 55-page draft bill. In S.773, it states:
in the event of an immediate threat to strategic national interests involving compromised Federal Government or United States critical infrastructure information system or network—
(A) may declare a cybersecurity emergency; and
(B) may, if the President finds it necessary for the national defense and security, and in coordination with relevant industry sectors, direct the national response to the cyber threat and the timely restoration of the affected critical infrastructure information system or network;
(3) shall, in coordination with various critical infrastructure industry sectors, develop detailed cyber emergency response and restoration plans for each critical infrastructure industry sector;
(Remainder.)

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Grampy McCain Calls VA Booklet a Death Panel

By Heather
Crooks and Liars


John McCain embraces his former running mate Sarah Palin's "death panel" rhetoric on Sean Hannity's show last night and throws in a little fear mongering about socialized medicine for good measure. I want to know when McCain is going to give up his government health care since he thinks it's so scary.
HANNITY: Senator, your running mate, Governor Sarah Palin, came out with a very hard-hitting posting on Facebook, which I agreed with especially in light of what we've seen in Great Britain and Canada and elsewhere.

And then we had the Obama administration that brought back this book that the Bush administration had gotten rid of, "Your Life, Your Choices." They go through a series of scenarios with veterans at VA hospitals and nursing homes, which basically says, well, you know, you don't want to be a burden to society, to your family.

Is that the kind of death panel that maybe people were afraid of when they read pages 425 to 430 of the House bill?

MCCAIN: Yes, but I think they're also concerned because they're well read, they're well informed, they're knowledgeable. They know what's happening in other countries where basically there is a rationing of health care particularly when people reach a certain age as to what kind of treatment they can and if they can get it.

The incredible delays in acquiring that kind of care, so I think it's and not just that, I think it's the example of government-run health care in other countries which is not — America is not ready for that.
(Original.)

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Right-Wing Cunt Ingraham Attacks Obama Over 9/11 Day of Service

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The Oxy-Moron's Racist Drinking Game: A Drink for Every Black Person at Kennedy's Funeral

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Traitorous Michael Scheuer Says Obama is "Giving Aid and Comfort to the Enemy"

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