38 posts tagged with politics by saulgoodman.
Displaying 1 through 38 of 38.
In an interview with German television station ARD TV, Edward Snowden has alleged that the NSA is actively engaged in industrial espionage on behalf of US economic interests, targeting German engineering firm, Siemens and other international industrial concerns in its data collection activities, with no legitimate intelligence aims in mind. While the international response to the new allegations is still developing, back home in the US, Snowden has already been accused of disloyalty by US officials on both sides of the aisle, and at least one NSA analyst is on record stating he would personally "love to put a bullet in his head." (Previously)
With the government shutdown now well underway and the effects beginning to be felt, the first debt default by a major world power in modern history since the collapse of the Soviet Union speeding toward us in what could be as little as a week, what will Americans and the world think of the US Congress that refused to pay the nation's outstanding debts, making America look like a dead-beat nation to potential investors around the world? Polls show Americans overwhelmingly blame congressional Republicans for the political standoff and shutdown. With some Republican congressmen on the record arguing that a US debt default may actually be necessary to rein in further government spending, it's easy to see why many Americans blame them. [more inside]
Retail prices 'rigged for a decade': The European offices of BP and Shell were raided by European officials earlier this week in the beginning of an investigation into allegations of illegal market collusion and price fixing dating back to at least 2002. [more inside]
Scientific American reports: "An isolated population of Arctic foxes that dines only on marine animals seems to be slowly succumbing to mercury poisoning." Though a definitive causal link is difficult to establish, an isolated population of arctic foxes on Russia's Mednyi Island is believed to be collapsing due to mercury contamination as a result of its seafood-heavy diet. Where does all that mercury in the environment come from anyway? Why, it's another biproduct of burning fossil fuels, of course, and predictably, rates of mercury pollution are only expected to increase. In some places in the US, even rainwater is showing high levels of contamination. [more inside]
In the five day period between July 8th and July 12th, Greenland saw a dramatic and unprecedentedly rapid thawing across 97% of its surface ice cover. Initially, NASA and other experts questioned the satellite data, viewing such a rapid melting as too unlikely to be true, but NASA has since confirmed the results. [more inside]
Obama Announces Full Troop Withdrawal from Iraq by Year's End. Confirming reports that emerged last week that the US does not plan to maintain a residual troop presence in Iraq, the US will pull out of Iraq completely by the end of 2011, bringing to a close a bloody chapter in international history that first began in March 20, 2003. With other recent reports that the administration is considering a faster withdrawal from Afghanistan in the aftermath of Osama Bin Laden's death at the hands of US special forces in May of this year, an end to America's longest running military conflict also seems likely to come soon.
A glimpse inside the Republican Party's little known Red Map Project: "Last fall, we worked together and achieved unprecedented success with the RedMap Project—an effort to capture legislative majorities across the country in preparation for the decennial redistricting process that will redraw districts for 2012 and beyond. The result was the pick up of an unprecedented 20 legislative chambers and over 700 seats." [more inside]
Eric Holder has announced a full criminal investigation into the deaths of two detainees in CIA custody. The breaking story is also being reported by Talking Points Memo. This latest development comes as a result of a preliminary DOJ investigation into possible criminal acts stemming from the Bush torture policies that President Obama requested in August 2009, which was broadly criticized at the outset as not going far enough.
Montel Williams has announced a partnership to bring a high-end, deluxe medical marijuana dispensary to Sacramento, California. This is not the first time Williams has brought the issue of medical marijuana into the media spotlight, having put in previous public appearances to discuss his own firsthand experiences using medical marijuana to treat the symptoms of his multiple sclerosis. This latest venture puts Williams at the head of a growing list of celebrity marijuana legalization adocates, including Drew Carey, Justin Timberlake and others (this last link is possibly NSFW). But does all the Sturm und Drang around the issue of marijuana legalization really signal a changing political reality? Depending upon your perspective, the polls, at least, are starting to look pretty good.
"When a Nobel Prize Isn't Enough." With a sharply-worded rebuke of the congressional GOP, Nobel Prize-winning economist Peter Diamond has announced he is withdrawing as a candidate for the Federal Reserve's Board of Governors due to GOP obstructionism. Republican Sen. Richard Shelby of Alabama, a leading critic of Diamond's appointment, welcomes the announcement and raises a predictable call for a candidate "capable of garnering bipartisan support in the Senate."
Your 2010 Federal Taxpayer Receipt. "In his State of the Union Address, President Obama promised that this year, for the first time ever, American taxpayers would be able to go online and see exactly how their federal tax dollars are spent. Just enter a few pieces of information about your taxes, and the taxpayer receipt will give you a breakdown of how your tax dollars are spent on priorities like education, veterans benefits, or health care." [more inside]
Rick Scott is taking aim at public hospitals in Florida. Former private hospital executive and current Florida governor Rick Scott recently established a commission to conduct a study into the possibility of privatizing all public hospitals in the State of Florida. Scott, a multi-millionaire who made his fortune as chief executive of Columbia/HCA, a large private hospital chain with a significant market presence in Florida, was previously implicated in the US's largest medicare fraud settlement involving Columbia/HCA under his leadership. Although the terms of the settlement did not charge Scott specifically with any wrongdoing, both whistleblowers and federal officials party to the investigation have reported that Scott was closely involved in determining the illegal business practices that led to the fraud allegations. [more inside]
Is India an oligarchy? Late last year, when India's income tax office tapped the phone of well-connected lobbyist, Niira Radia, they were looking for evidence of tax evasion and money laundering. But what they found instead was what many consider evidence of an even bigger problem: "[T]he tapes reveal that the country that prides itself on being the world's largest democracy is really ruled by a small coterie of powerful people." Some of the leaked tapes that sparked the scandal are available online, on the website of the weekly magazine that first broke the story, as well as a few transcripts. [more inside]
Obama Justice Department Finds DOMA Unconstitutional, Will Not Defend in Court The Justice Department just today sent a letter to John Boehner and other house leaders informing them of the decision. Here is the DOJ's official statement on the decision.
Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says the National Guard is prepared to respond to unrest among state workers: "Gov. Scott Walker says the Wisconsin National Guard is prepared to respond if there is any unrest among state employees in the wake of his announcement that he wants to take away nearly all collective bargaining rights." NY Times offers more reporting on Walker's proposals here. Notably, Walker is reportedly refusing even to negotiate with the public employee unions. Though Walker's carefully worded announcement avoided any specific commitments about how guard troops might be used much beyond noting the Wisconsin Governor's concern that "some union leaders will try to incite their members," a look back at the history of the labor movement in the US reveals that this wouldn't be the first time in US history the National Guard has been called upon to respond to labor unrest, and that the results haven't always been pretty. [more inside]
Miami Police Set to Become First State in the US to Use Drones. As also discussed here on TPM, the new drones offer "unique hover and stare capability... advanced intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) with real time video documentation." If things proceed to plan, this will represent the first use of such devices both in the US and outside of combat environments. The resemblance between these Honeywell-manufactured devices and the ubiquitous, menacing City Scanners that populate the dystopian landscape of the popular video game series Half-Life is striking.
"The rich are different than you and me." A new study out of the Harvard Business School suggests that frequent use of luxury goods and services may encourage a narrower, more self-interested view of the world. Here's a link to the report itself. (Achtung! it's a PDF.)
"Retiring Judge Accuses Colleague Of Corruptly Siding With Major Financial Firms Over 20 Years." As also reported by Washington Post and elsewhere, retiring Judge George Painter recently leveled the explosive claim that a colleague, Judge Bruce Levine, had privately admitted to entering into a secret agreement with Wendy Gramm, former Republican chairwoman of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission, to rule against investors in every case brought before his court. "On Judge Levine's first week on the job, nearly twenty years ago, he came into my office and stated that he had promised Wendy Gramm, then Chairwoman of the Commission, that we would never rule in a complainant's favor," Painter wrote. "A review of his rulings will confirm that he fulfilled his vow," Painter wrote. Murdoch's Wall Street Journal meanwhile runs with a slightly different take on the story (behind pay-wall).
The Rise of the Pseudo-Conservative. Out of context, one could be forgiven for reading the following words as a critique of the political philosophy embraced by the modern-day Republican party and the various Tea Party groups organized around it: "It can most accurately be called pseudo-conservative. . . because its exponents, although they believe themselves to be conservatives and usually employ the rhetoric of conservatism, show signs of a serious and restless dissatisfaction with American life, traditions and institutions. . . Their political reactions express rather a profound if largely unconscious hatred of our society and its ways — a hatred which one would hesitate to impute to them if one did not have suggestive clinical evidence." [more inside]
Breitbart strikes again. Conservative media activist and propagandist Andrew Breitbart made news again this week, bringing to light apparent video evidence of racism among the NAACP's ranks, in the form of USDA official Shirley Sherrod, who was allegedly caught on tape in a speech to the NAACP, admitting that race had influenced her decisions not to provide assistance to white farm workers. But despite the fact that Sherrod was summarily dismissed from her USDA post as a result of Breitbart's accusations, the complete, unedited footage of the speech reportedly confirms Sherrod's claims that "her comments were taken out of context... that the anecdote was part of a larger story, one in which she explains how she overcame her initial prejudice" and that in fact, the reported incidents took place before Sherrod worked for the USDA, when she worked for the Federation of Southern Cooperative/Land Assistance Fund. The white farmers described in the story have since confirmed to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that, in fact, Sherrod saved them from bankruptcy. [Via] [more inside]
Obama ban on deepwater drilling overturned. While many critics on the left have complained all along that the six month moratorium announced by the Obama Administration doesn't go far enough, and while polls still show nearly 60% of Americans supporting the temporary ban, the industry and its supporters meanwhile have gone into full-time spin mode, saturating all available bandwidth with opinions denouncing the moratorium, and now the courts have chosen to side with the industry.
Oil from the Deepwater Horizon spill hits the Louisiana wetlands. More photos here. Meanwhile, the state department confirms US officials have begun talks with Cuba about how to help the small island nation deal with the environmental impacts of the disaster. And as McClatchy and other news agencies are now reporting, the latest independent scientific estimates appear to confirm a rate of flow much higher than BP has previously been willing to acknowledge, in the likely range of 95,000 barrels a day, amounting to roughly an Exxon Valdez size spill every three days. Meanwhile, ProPublica reports that the industry seems intent on keeping the lid on just how bad things really are in the Gulf, and quotes company spokesmen as saying that the actual rate and amount of flow is “not relevant to the response effort.”
If hundreds of innocent individuals had to suffer in order to detain a handful of hardcore terrorists, so be it.
"George W. Bush Knew Guantanamo Prisoners Were Innocent." In a signed declaration filed as part of a pending lawsuit on behalf of former Guantanamo Bay detainees and obtained by The Times, Lawrence Wilkerson, a high ranking aide to former Republican Secretary of State Colin Powell, makes the stunning claim that: "George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld covered up that hundreds of innocent men were sent to the Guantánamo Bay prison camp because they feared that releasing them would harm the push for war in Iraq and the broader War on Terror." (via)
Bad News for Net Neutrality: "A federal appeals court has ruled that the Federal Communications Commission lacks the authority to require broadband providers to give equal treatment to all Internet traffic flowing over their networks." The ruling is being viewed as a major setback for the FCC's National Broadband Plan.
Texas votes to adopt new education standards and curriculum designed to give history instruction a conservative slant. Among other vital corrections to the historical record, the school board: "managed to cut Thomas Jefferson from a list of figures whose writings inspired revolutions in the late 18th century and 19th century, replacing him with St. Thomas Aquinas, John Calvin and William Blackstone. (Jefferson is not well liked among the conservatives on the board because he coined the term “separation between church and state.”)
Frustrated with congress' inability or unwillingness to pass comprehensive greenhouse gas regulation legislation and bolstered by a Supreme Court decision upholding the EPA's power to regulate greenhouse gases under the existing authority of the Clean Air Act, President Obama early in his term reversed the Bush administration's position and extended power to the EPA to do the job, partly to provide congressional Democrats with extra leverage to push for a meaningful deal. Fellow Democrat Jay Rockefeller (who recently drew progressive ire by announcing he wouldn't support a push to include the public option during the HCR budget reconciliation process) has helpfully just introduced a bill that would take the power to regulate greenhouse gases away from the EPA yet again.
Florida's Republican US Senate hopeful and self-identified "Conservative Outsider" Mark Rubio delivered a populist speech in defense of American exceptionalism and full of hope and change at today's CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference) event, while also taking the occasion to share a good chuckle over the subject of waterboarding terrorists with fellow conference attendees. Political rival, current Florida Governor Charlie Crist, offers a response in the form of a slightly different speech Rubio might have given. [more inside]
The Lobbying-Media Complex. The Nation explores the pervasive influence of paid lobbyists on the media landscape. [more inside]
Ever wonder how to get a book on the NY Times best seller list? Step one: Set up a PAC. ABCNews and others reporting on the recent revelation that Sarah Palin funneled upwards of sixty grand to a PAC she established to buy thousands of copies of her own recent "best-selling" book.
The Conservative Bible Project. Rod Dreher of Belief.net offers further analysis of a budding new Wiki project to rewrite the Holy Bible to eliminate what some young conservatives apparently now view as liberal bias in the scriptures (via Harpers).
Eric Holder releases newly revamped state secrets policy. In the face of a storm of recent criticisms from political commentators that President Obama's policies on state secrets privileges represent a continuation of the Bush administration's policies, the Obama administration has maintained all along that these policies were undergoing comprehensive Justice Department review, with the intent of releasing a new set of comprehensive rules governing the invocation and abuse of state secrets. Today, the Obama administration spelled out its new state secrets policy. [more inside]
TARP investments yield 15% returns. Almost trom the start, critics characterized the TARP program that first began under the Bush administration and that continued through early this year under President Obama as a taxpayer funded giveaway, while government officials insisted it was a long-term investment program whose initial costs would eventually turn a profit as economic recovery began. Now the NY Times reports that the program has already yielded $4 billion in profits, and a separate report reveals that related Federal Reserve loan programs aimed at economic stabilization have returned $14 billion in profits.
US News reports that in a new tell-all book, Tom Ridge admits manipulating terror threat levels for political motives. In the forthcoming book, Ridge reportedly acknowledges for the first time that he was pushed to raise the security alert on the eve of President Bush's re-election, something he "saw as politically motivated and worth resigning over." But as The Atlantic points out, Ridge apparently gave in to the White House demands anyway, resigning only after the election. Huffington Post also provides additional discussion on this developing story.
An amendment to the Defense Authorization Act currently under consideration in congress would force the notorious School of the Americas (currently known as "WHINSEC") to "release to the public the names, ranks, countries of origin, courses taken and dates of attendance of all the students and instructors at the institute." [more inside]
Why Does AT&T Hate Pearl Jam’s Freedom? Well, of course, they’re all apologies now… But this latest corporate misadventure seems to touch on all the hot buttons: Media consolidation, net neutrality and the future of political speech in America. (Newsfilter)
"Not knowing may kill us." Seed Magazine asks why the DSCOVR climate satelite (constructed for a paltry $100 million) is just sitting in a storage warehouse collecting dust when several nations outside the US are offering to launch the thing on their own dime.
Wired thinks it’s time to talk about how media consolidation affects freedom of the press in America. Al Gore seems to think it's a problem almost as serious as Global Warming (and in some ways, a closely related one). So just who does own the media these days? Maybe it’s time for a return to the days when we expected a little more fairness in our news coverage.
Cheney's Cheney and the Unitary Executive Theory. An excellent article from the New Yorker on the mysterious forces at work behind the Bush administration's expansion of executive powers.