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Arab Reaction Overwhelmingly Positive to Obama Nobel Prize

Friday, October 09, 2009

By Edward Yeranian
VOA News


Initial reaction in the Arab world - among leaders and the public at large - has been overwhelmingly positive to the news that President Obama is the winner of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

In Cairo, many were startled by the development, with some commenting that Mr. Obama had only been in office for under a year, and that it was "unusual for such a young president" to win the peace prize.

Former Egyptian Foreign Minister and Arab League Secretary-General Esmet Abdel Meguid, who was involved in Middle East peace talks for many years, said that Mr. Obama's award appears to be a positive development for peace in the region.

"I want to say that we feel that Obama has achieved a lot for his country and for the world and he deserves what has been granted to him. It is a positive move that would lead to more understanding and relations between the United States and other countries, including Egypt. So, I feel that this is a good occasion to build on that for the future," he said.

In Lebanon, which has known long periods of instability in recent years, Paul Haidostian, who is the president of Haigazian University, believes that Mr. Obama's Nobel is a step in the right direction and is a positive omen for the future....(Remainder.)

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The Uneducated American

By Paul Krugman
The New York Times

If you had to explain America’s economic success with one word, that word would be “education.” In the 19th century, America led the way in universal basic education. Then, as other nations followed suit, the “high school revolution” of the early 20th century took us to a whole new level. And in the years after World War II, America established a commanding position in higher education.

But that was then. The rise of American education was, overwhelmingly, the rise of public education — and for the past 30 years our political scene has been dominated by the view that any and all government spending is a waste of taxpayer dollars. Education, as one of the largest components of public spending, has inevitably suffered.

Until now, the results of educational neglect have been gradual — a slow-motion erosion of America’s relative position. But things are about to get much worse, as the economic crisis — its effects exacerbated by the penny-wise, pound-foolish behavior that passes for “fiscal responsibility” in Washington — deals a severe blow to education across the board.

About that erosion: there has been a flurry of reporting recently about threats to the dominance of America’s elite universities. What hasn’t been reported to the same extent, at least as far as I’ve seen, is our relative decline in more mundane measures. America, which used to take the lead in educating its young, has been gradually falling behind other advanced countries....(Remainder.)

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Rockefeller Says Health Insurance Premiums Have Doubled Since 2001

By Louis Jacobson
PolitiFact


Sen. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va., recently wrote an opinion piece for the Capitol Hill newspaper Roll Call in which he said, "Insurance companies have seen their profits soar by more than 400 percent since 2001, while premiums for consumers have doubled." We address the first part of this statement in another item; we'll take up the second half here.

The 2009 Employer Health Benefits Survey, published by the Kaiser Family Foundation and the Health Research and Educational Trust, is considered the definitive source for health benefits cost information, and its data stretch from 1999 to 2009. (Even though Rockefeller didn't explicitly say it, we'll assume he was talking about the period since 2001 when he made this assertion.)

In 2001, average annual premiums for single people were $2,689, a number that rose to $4,824 by 2008 — a 79 percent increase. The amounts for family coverage rose over the same period from $7,061 to $13,375 — an 89 percent increase.

So, in neither case did the cost of benefits actually double, although they are in the ballpark. However, if you read Rockefeller's language closely, he did say, "premiums for consumers have doubled" — and if you use the data for the employee-paid portion of health benefits by itself, he's right....(Remainder.)

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Birther Talk-Radio Hose Boyles Now '80% Sure' Obama Was Born in Hawaii

By Joseph Boven
The Colorado Independent


Talk-radio host and voice of the “birther” movement in Colorado Peter Boyles yesterday told Joseph Farah, editor of right-wing website World Net Daily, that he was “80 percent sure [Barack Obama] was probably born in Hawaii.”

The admission came during a discussion in which Farah and Boyles celebrated a recent decision by a California judge to hear a case on Obama’s eligibility to be president.

World Net Daily reports the lawsuit was brought by parties that include former U.S. ambassador Alan Keyes as well as Wiley Drake and Markham Robinson of the American Independent Party.

Alan Keyes, who ran against Barack Obama for the Illinois Senate, has also stated that Obama is “an evil man and needs to be stopped.”

For the past year Boyles has hosted World Net Daily writers and editors to ask the question “Where is the birth certificate?” Recently, as the Colorado Independent reported, Boyles and World Net Daily posted billboards in Denver asking the same question....(Remainder.)

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Michael Moore Claims in 'Capitalism' That During Reagan Years, Productivity Went Up While Wages Remained Frozen

By Robert Farley
PolitiFact

In his new film, Capitalism: A Love Story, Michael Moore contends the economic policies of President Ronald Reagan were the turning point toward widening the gap between the rich and everyone else. Once Reagan was elected, Moore said, the government was run like a business, and the president's tough stance on unions and his theory of "trickle-down" economics ended up hurting working Americans.

In this item, we will look at Moore's claim in the movie that as productivity rose during the Reagan years, "wages for working people remained frozen."

We'll get right to the numbers from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

People generally look at "output per hour" for workers in the nonfarm business sector to track these kinds of trends. Essentially, it's the amount of value of product produced per hour of work by an employee.

Generally, productivity has steadily increased for as long as those kind of statistics have been kept as people and businesses learn to work more efficiently. But by the late 1970s, productivity had begun to slow.

During Reagan's time in office (1981 to 1989), however, the numbers grew from 81.7 to 92.8. So it's certainly fair to say productivity increased during the Reagan administration.

Now on to wages. There are several ways to look at this. First is the hourly wages paid in current dollars (what workers were actually paid). By that count, average hourly wages increased from $7.44 to $9.80. But these were high inflation years, and so when you look at the hourly wages adjusted for inflation ("real hourly compensation"), wages remained fairly flat. In fact, based on 1982 dollars, real wages dipped slightly from $7.89 in 1981 to $7.75 in 1989....(Remainder.)

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Payday Lenders Prep to Battle Reform in Colorado

Under increased scrutiny, industry doubles lobbying expenditures, reworks strategy

By Mary Kane
The Colorado Independent

Stung by losses in states that either refused to authorize its high-rate, short-term loans or moved to limit finance charges, the payday lending industry isn’t giving up without a fight. Its lobbyists are pressing hard in states where it sees opportunity to stave off reform, including Colorado, site of a major coming battle, where lenders are already making financial contributions to minority groups to win favor.

In Wisconsin, payday lenders are fighting legislation that would impose a 36 percent rate cap on payday loans, a move the industry claims will put it out of business. And in Washington, D.C., payday lenders have sharply increased their Capitol Hill spending and profile at a time when other types of political fundraising is on the decline, hoping to dissuade Congress from imposing any additional federal limits on the industry. Payday lenders are also wary of a new Consumer Financial Protection Agency, which would have oversight of mortgages and other financial instruments, even though proposals don’t specifically single out payday lending.

“Obviously, the industry has gotten its hat handed to it at the state level, and it appears to be spending a lot of time and money trying to win friends and influence people on the Hill,” said Jean Ann Fox, director of consumer protection for the Consumer Federation of America.

Not a single state has authorized payday lending since Michigan did so in 2005, Fox said. The last payday lender shut down and left Arkansas in August, not long after a crackdown by the state Attorney General. Voters in Arizona and Ohio last year approved rate caps on payday loans, despite aggressive opposition from the industry. In 2007, the District of Columbia approved a 36 percent rate cap, after a heated fight. The decisions have shifted the momentum in the payday lending battle, given that prior to the financial crisis, the industry regularly won victories at the state level to authorize their lending with no limits....(Remainder.)

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Jon Stewart Interviews David Gregory

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c
David Gregory
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political Humor Ron Paul Interview

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One Nation, Under God

By Chris Korbey
Good



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An Atheist's Perspective on Quantum Mechanics

By Brian Kaufman
The Gaythiests


Hello gaytheists. I’d like to introduce myself. I’m Bryan “Actually Knows What He’s Talking About” Kaufman, your resident scientist. You can call me Dr. Fagballs. I’d like to tell you a story about some of my recent experiences with quantum mechanics and dinner parties.

I was at a dinner party a couple of weeks ago, and word got out that I was a physicist, and of course there was the token guy that read a bit about quantum mechanics, and insisted on telling me about it. I’ll spare you his words, because I’ve blocked them out of my memory, but his point was that quantum mechanics leaves room for God in physics. Long story short, it doesn’t, and it’s this kind of shit that pisses me off more than anything else about people who try to inject their own beliefs into the science that they’ve learned about.

The physics at hand is the idea that quantum mechanics is probabilistic. Imagine picking a card at random. There’s some probability of picking the ace of spades. But if you knew everything about the deck of cards, you would know exactly when you would draw that card. When things get small, however, there’s not much you can do about it. If you want to know where an electron, per se, will go, there’s no way of knowing where it’ll go, no matter how much you know about everything. Sound good? I thought so.

Now here’s where the religious/spiritual bullshit comes in and we lay the sciencey details to rest. Saying that you can find room for God in quantum mechanics is only slightly different than saying that because we don’t fully understand evolution, God’s hand could be present. The difference is that we know exactly how quantum mechanics works. God has no place in quantum mechanics. The thing is, not only do we know that we don’t know how something will happen, we know that there’s no way to know. Let me go back and go through that again, but slowly....(Remainder.)

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Tancredo Celebrates Napalm & White Photsphorus, Calls Bans 'UN Crap'

By Joseph Boven
The Colorado Independent


Wednesday, retired radio talk show host “Gunny” Bob Newman spoke with former Colorado U.S. Representative and occasional stand-in host Tom Tancredo on the Obama Administration’s strategy in Afghanistan. They ended discussing incendiary weapons and lamenting laws that regulate their use. Tancredo, who was hosting the show, pointed to the terrorizing effect that came of burning the enemy alive with napalm in Vietnam. Newman agreed. “I’m on fire. I’m on fire,” he said in a mock Asian accent.

Tancredo asked why the U.S. should be prevented from using white phosphorous on our enemies in the war on terror. “I mean, against what law? Some sort of UN crap?”

In 2007, as a candidate for president, Tancredo called for the U.S. to deter terrorist attacks on U.S. soil by threatening the destruction of Islamic holy sites.

“If it is up to me, we are going to explain that an attack on this homeland of that nature would be followed by an attack on the holy sites in Mecca and Medina,” Tancredo said. “If I am wrong, fine, tell me, and I would be happy to do something else. But you had better find a deterrent, or you will find an attack.”

After criticism poured in, Tancredo stood by his comments. Indeed, in 2007, Tancredo was merely repeating the idea. He had floated it two years earlier on a radio show....(Remainder.)


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Rachel Maddow Takes on the Knuckle-Draggers at "WorldNetDaily"

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Keith Olbermann Health Care Special Comment

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Reichsführer Beck & Gensui Rikugun Taishō Pig-Man Stokes Fears About H1N1 Vaccine

By Media Matters

In recent days, both Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh have suggested that the H1N1 flu vaccine may be unsafe and questioned the Obama administration's recommendation that Americans get vaccinated, with Limbaugh asserting that "[y]ou'll be healthier" if you don't believe what the government says and Beck suggesting that the vaccine may be "deadly." However, health experts have repeatedly stated that the vaccine is a safe and necessary tool to combat the virus, and that, in CDC chief Thomas Frieden's words, "This flu vaccine is made as flu vaccine is made each year, by the same companies, in the same production facilities, with the same procedures, with the same safety safeguards" and "[t]hat enables us to have a high degree of confidence in the safety of the vaccine."



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Betsy McCaughey Gets Owned by Dylan Ratigan and Anthony Weiner

By Heather
Crooks and Liars

This was truly a thing of beauty. Betsy McCaughey gets smacked down by Dylan Ratigan and Anthony Weiner on MSNBC's Morning Meeting.

From Think Progress:
Throughout the interview, McCaughey was constantly on the defensive, complaining that she was being shut out of the debate. “Anthony, you are ignorant about health insurance,” she said, before insisting to Ratigan that “this will go down in history as one of the most browbeating interviews in television history.” “I hope that it does,” Ratigan replied. “And maybe you’ll learn at that point then to answer questions as opposed to go on television and cast accusations.”

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And Bob Cesca noted:
Jamison Foser makes a good point: why is McCaughey on television in the first place? While it's frustrating that cable news continues to elevate wingnuts and crazies, there's actually an upside to bringing in people like McCaughey. I'll explain. In the case of this Ratigan segment, he's doing the opposite of what Fox News does all the time. Fox News claims "balance" by including occasional liberals. Weak, barely articulate, outnumbered liberals who are way out of their depth. So the debate is automatically stacked in favor of the conservatives, while Fox News can claim "balance" in a very superficial way. Ratigan, today, lined up a strong liberal against a weak wingnut, and Ratigan is clearly more sympathetic to Weiner's position on healthcare. That meant two pro-reform voices against one weak anti-reform voice. It's a start.
Yes it is....(Original.)

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Reichsführer Beck & Right-Wing Douche-Nozzle, Scott Baker, Says People Should be Afraid of Bhargava

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Uber-Racist Reichsführer Beck Attacks Yet Another Brown Person

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Baron of Batshit Beck Dreams Up Fantastical Community-Organizer Conspiracy to Attack Financial System

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It's OK for Reichsführer Beck to Go On Witch Hunt, but NOT OK for Media to Look Into Him

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Batshit Bloviater Beck Inexplicably Attacks Bhargava to Create Crises

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Reichsführer Beck Tells Imus "If I'm...Dead in the Streets" Van Jones Did It

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David Brooks Says "Loons" Beck, Limbaugh & Levin Don't Run GOP

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Terry "Still Waiting for His Balls to Drop" Jeffrey Says Sen Graham Doesn't speak for Neo-Nazi Conservatives Like Him

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McKinnon Calls Out Mark Levin's Hate Language About the President

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The Retarded Baby Jesus Still Pushing "Statutory Rape" Smear of Jennings, Even After Disproved by FOX!

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More Laughable Wingnutitude by the Retarded Baby Jesus: McCain & Graham Want to Take GOP to the Left

By Media Matters

On October 1, Fox News writer Maxim Lott acknowledged that he did not know whether the former student at the center of Fox's smear campaign against Kevin Jennings was in fact only 15 years old when -- 21 years ago -- that student told Jennings of his involvement with an "older man." But despite Fox's own reporter's questions about the accuracy of the story, Fox host Sean Hannity subsequently repeated the false allegation that Jennings failed to report to authorities the "statutory rape" of a 15-year-old....(Remainder.)

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Barack Obama Has Won the Nobel Peace Prize

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Rep. Steve King (R-Homophobic-Douchebagistan) Says Jennings is "Poster Boy for NAMBLA"

By Media Matters

Last night on Fox News, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) continued his homophobic attacks on Kevin Jennings, the head of the Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools.  During an interview with Sean Hannity, who has also been going after Jennings hard, King attempted to link the safe schools adviser to NAMBLA -- or the North American Man-Boy Love Association.  "I think Kevin Jennings has got to be the poster boy for NAMBLA," King declared.





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President Barack Obama Wins Nobel Peace Prize

By Karl Ritter and Matt Moore
Associated Press via Google News


OSLO — President Barack Obama won the 2009 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for "his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples," the Norwegian Nobel Committee said, citing his outreach to the Muslim world and attempts to curb nuclear proliferation.

The stunning choice made Obama the third sitting U.S. president to win the Nobel Peace Prize and shocked Nobel observers because Obama took office less than two weeks before the Feb. 1 nomination deadline. Obama's name had been mentioned in speculation before the award but many Nobel watchers believed it was too early to award the president.

"Only very rarely has a person to the same extent as Obama captured the world's attention and given its people hope for a better future," the committee said. "His diplomacy is founded in the concept that those who are to lead the world must do so on the basis of values and attitudes that are shared by the majority of the world's population."

The committee said it attached special importance to Obama's vision of, and work for, a world without nuclear weapons.

"Obama has as president created a new climate in international politics. Multilateral diplomacy has regained a central position, with emphasis on the role that the United Nations and other international institutions can play," the committee said.

Theodore Roosevelt won the award in 1906 and Woodrow Wilson won in 1919. Former President Jimmy Carter won the award in 2002, while former Vice President Al Gore shared the 2007 prize with the U.N. panel on climate change....(Remainder.)

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NATO Chief Condemns Kabul Bombing

By Yan
Xinhua


BRUSSELS, Oct. 8 (Xinhua) -- NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday condemned the terrorist bombing in the Afghan capital of Kabul that killed 17 people.

"I strongly condemn the terrorist bombing today in Kabul, which has killed and injured scores of innocent people," said Rasmussen in a brief statement.

"This is another example of the Taliban's total disregard for the lives of the Afghan people," he said.

A suicide car bomb exploded outside the Indian embassy in downtown Kabul on Thursday morning, killing 17 people and injuring dozens of others. Among the injured were two members of the European Union police training mission.

NATO is leading a 67,700-strong International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan....(Original.)

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Going Rogue by Sarah Palin

By Clay Bennett
Chattanooga Times Free Press



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With Hate Crimes Legislation Included, Defense Authorization Conference Report Passed House

By Joe Sudbay
AMERICAblog


By a vote of 281 - 146, the House of Representatives passed the conference report for the Department of Defense Authorization. This bill includes the hate crimes language, which, as you can see from the Boehner video below, was very controversial.

The Senate will consider the Defense Authorization Conference report next week.

October 12th marks the anniversary of Matthew Shepard's murder. His mother, Judy, has been the driving and inspirational force behind this legislation.

Here are the remarks from Rep. Jared Polis earlier today. A nice contrast to Boehner:




(Original.)

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Anderson Cooper and Lt. Dan Choi Utterly DESTROY Homophobic Cunt Elaine Donnelly's Bullshit

By John Aravosis
AMERICAblog


Elaine Donnelly, the bigot debating Dan Choi, made the same illogical argument she's always made. She's fine with gays and lesbians serving so long as they don't admit who they are. But then, she argues that if gays are permitted to be open about who they are, it would be like a male soldier sharing a shower or a bedroom with a female soldier.

Cute. Except that she already admitted that the gays and lesbians are already serving, they're already there, they're simply not disclosing who they are. In other words, that female soldier is already in your shower and your bedroom, you just aren't sure which fellow service member she is, so you end up suspecting everyone and trusting no one. And more generally, the point is therefore moot - if your privacy is being violated at all, it already is under the current policy, so changing the policy does nothing in that regard....(Original.)



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Ex-Gay Michael Glatze: Obama is ‘Utterly Disgusting Because He is Black’

By David Roberts
Ex-Gay Watch


Some may remember Michael Glatze from his ex-gay debut a couple of years ago. Formerly co-editor of XY Magazine, Glatze and boyfriend of ten years, Benjie Nycum, set out in 2004 to found YGA, another magazine designed for GLBT Youth.  Nycum and Glatze also co-authored the book XY Survival Guide while still working with XY in 2000.  YGA seems to have published only six issues and stopped publication after 2006.

While all this makes a fine resume for a thirty-something, there is no evidence that Glatze was ever the kind of major "gay rights leader" that conservative commentators claimed when presenting him to the world as having "left homosexuality."  While many had at least heard of XY, no one in this writer's acquaintance had ever heard of Glatze until the World Net Daily article in July 2007.

Shortly after that article, and the small flurry of posts which followed, things began to appear a bit odd.  While Glatze was supposedly getting spiritual and moral support from, of all people, Peter LaBarbera, we started getting some of the background on him.  While Glatze was only 13, his father died of a heart condition.  His mother followed while Glatze was 19.

Glatze was said to have made some poor choices in his 20s, and to have suffered from intense and frequent panic attacks prior to his announcement in 2007.   Heart palpitations led him to obsessively consider that he might have the same heart issues that killed his father, and that his own death was imminent.  His (former by this time) boyfriend, Nycum, was concerned about Glatze' state of mind and well being.  The image of a very troubled man was emerging....(Remainder.)

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The Gayest Website on the Intertoobz is Family Research Council

(h/t Jeremy Hooper, Good as You)


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Rachel Maddow: Pressure On 'ConservaDems' To Pass Health Reform

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Obama Picks Openly Gay Lawyer for Ambassadorship

By Philip Elliott
Associated Press via The Guardian


WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama said Wednesday he planned to nominate an openly gay lawyer as the U.S. ambassador to New Zealand and Samoa. If confirmed by the Senate, David Huebner would become the third openly gay ambassador in U.S. history and the first pick by this administration. In a statement released from the White House, Obama said he looked forward to working with Huebner and is confident he will represent the United States well in the Pacific region.

Huebner is based in Shanghai, where he handles international arbitration and mediation cases for a U.S. firm. A graduate of Princeton University and Yale Law School, he is also the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation's general counsel and previously served on the group's board.

He also has chaired the California Law Revision Commission, served as president of the Los Angeles Quality and Productivity Commission and taught at the University of Southern California's Gould School of Law.

Obama's announcement is a gesture just days before he speaks to a gay rights fundraising dinner on Saturday and gay activists march on Washington on Sunday.

Obama's relationship with gay activists has been rocky since his election. Gays and lesbians objected to the invitation of evangelist Rev. Rick Warren's to participate in Obama's inauguration because of Warren's support for repealing gay marriage in California. Obama responded by having Episcopalian Bishop V. Gene Robinson, the denomination's first openly gay bishop, participate at another event....(Remainder.)

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Chamber Of Commerce Called Out For "Methodologically Flawed" Survey That "Provides Little Useful Information" and "Needlessly Endangers The Public"

By Walid Zafar
Media Matters


With some three million members, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce still has considerable clout, especially in Congress where it recently lobbied the Senate to loosen restrictions on tax dodgers.  Despite its power and influence, deep fissures have emerged between the Chambers and some in the business community.  The California utility company PG&E, Nike and Apple are just a few of the companies that have recently left the Chamber because of organization's opposition to climate change legislation and its obfuscation of the science to support it.

Not only is the Chamber unable to understand and accept the established science on climate change, but according to Professor Theodore Eisenberg, the Chamber lacks a rudimentary understanding of empirical analysis.

Eisenberg, a law professor at Cornell and a foremost expert on the use of empirical analysis, recently called out the Chamber of Commerce for its misrepresentation of empirical analysis.  In a paper entitled U.S. Chamber of Commerce Liability Survey: Inaccurate, Unfair, and Bad for Business, published in the Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, Eisenberg criticized the method with which the Chamber compiles its state liability ranking, which according to the Chamber is a "national sample of in-house general counsel or other senior corporate litigators to explore how reasonable and balanced the tort liability system is perceived to be by U.S. business." Eisenberg calls the methodology used in compiling the ranking:
[S]ubstantively inaccurate and methodologically flawed. It incorrectly characterizes state law; respondents provide less than 10% correct answers for objectively verifiable responses. It is internally inconsistent; a state threatened with judicial hellhole status ranked first in the survey while venues not on the list ranked lower. The absence of correlation between survey rankings and observable activity suggests that other factors drive the rankings.
(Remainder.)

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Clean Energy Economy Forum

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Trick of Treat

By Ed Stein
Ed Stein Ink



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