Tuesday, November 30, 2010
FoxNews.com - Mystery Surrounds Cyber Missile That Crippled Iran's Nuclear Weapons Ambitions:
"In the 20th century, this would have been a job for James Bond.
The mission: Infiltrate the highly advanced, securely guarded enemy headquarters where scientists in the clutches of an evil master are secretly building a weapon that can destroy the world. Then render that weapon harmless and escape undetected.
But in the 21st century, Bond doesn't get the call. Instead, the job is handled by a suave and very sophisticated secret computer worm, a jumble of code called Stuxnet, which in the last year has not only crippled Iran's nuclear program but has caused a major rethinking of computer security around the globe..."
"President Obama is often blamed for not reaching out to Republicans. In truth, as Monday morning's announcement that Obama wants to cut the pay of all federal employees illustrates, he has the opposite problem. Obama frequently proposes essentially Republican policies, which makes it impossible for him to use those ideas to buy Republican votes for bipartisan legislation.
When legislation to limit greenhouse gas emissions was being negotiated in the Senate Obama undermined the bargaining process by simply unilaterally opening up new areas for offshore oil drilling. Increased drilling was supposed to be one of the things Democrats gave to Republicans in a comprehensive energy reform bill as an inducement to vote for it. Republicans hardly applauded Obama for the move, and the average swing voter seems not to have given the Democrats any credit for it in the recent election. In fact, the BP oil spill turned the drilling decision into a potential liability for Democrats..."
Monday, November 29, 2010
"...The wounds of conflict in Yeonpyeong are still too fresh to discuss a revival of negotiations. Some observers have pointed out that North Korea tends to do its worst when a new leader is set to assume power. In this case, Kim is reportedly preparing to turn over power to one of his sons, and a show of North Korean military might could give the succession an aura of strength.
South Korea’s defense minister resigned following the attack, and President Lee Myung-bak has vowed to make the North “pay the price” – but for future attacks. This could be seen as an indication that the South will be provoked into a full-scale war only with utmost reluctance. This is as it should be; Seoul deserves commendation for this difficult balancing act. The price of war is too steep and everyone stands to lose..."
The Real Threat to America - NYTimes.com:
"... I don’t doubt the patriotism of the Americans involved in keeping the country safe, nor do I discount the threat, but I am sure of this: The unfettered growth of the Department of Homeland Security and the T.S.A. represent a greater long-term threat to the prosperity, character and wellbeing of the United States than a few madmen in the valleys of Waziristan or the voids of Yemen.
America is a nation of openness, boldness and risk-taking. Close this nation, cow it, constrict it and you unravel its magic.
There are now about 400 full-body scanners, set to grow to 1,000 next year. One of the people pushing them most energetically is Michael Chertoff, the former Secretary of Homeland Security.
He’s the co-founder and managing principal of the Chertoff Group, which provides security advice. One of its clients is California-based Rapiscan Systems, part of the OSI Systems corporation, that makes many of the “whole body” scanners being installed...."
Sunday, November 28, 2010
"Republicans are relishing the coming of a new day on Capitol Hill. But across the country in California, the party of Nixon and Reagan is drifting toward obscurity.
The latest sign of imperiled health: In a year Republicans notched big victories in Congress, governor's offices and statehouses around the nation, California Democrats made a clean sweep of eight statewide contests on Nov. 2. Democrats padded their majority in the Legislature, where the party controls both chambers and no congressional seats changed parties..."
"The Republican senator who opposes ratification this year of a new nuclear arms treaty with Russia made clear Sunday that politics, not policy, is the main issue.
Arizona Sen. Jon Kyl told NBC's 'Meet the Press' program that the Senate won't have enough time in December's 'lame-duck' session to properly consider the so-called START Treaty with Russia..."
Saturday, November 27, 2010
"The Israelis are developing an airport security device that eliminates the privacy concerns that come with full-body scanners at the airports.
It’s a booth you can step into that will not X-ray you, but will detonate any explosive device you may have on you. They see this as a win-win for everyone, with none of this crap about racial profiling. It also would eliminate the costs of a long and expensive trial. Justice would be swift. Case closed!
You're in the airport terminal and you hear a muffled explosion. Shortly thereafter an announcement comes over the PA system:
'Attention standby passengers — we now have a seat available on flight number XXXX. Shalom!' "...
"You’ve heard of the Social Security crisis. And you’ve probably heard that the pensions promised to state employees are terribly underfunded. And maybe you’ve even heard that most Americans don’t have enough money in their 401(k)s.
Too often, these are three separate conversations. They shouldn’t be. We don’t just have a Social Security problem or a 401(k) problem. We have a retirement-security problem. And when we look at one or another piece in isolation—as most of the deficit-reduction proposals do—we run the risk of making it much worse. To be more specific, we run the risk of continuing the great risk shift of the last decades of the 20th century, in which uncertainty that was once borne by employers and the government has increasingly been shunted onto individuals..."
"South Korean protesters demanding a harder line against neighbouring North Korea have on Saturday scuffled with police outside the defence ministry in the capital, Seoul..."
I wonder if they still want the US to go home.
Friday, November 26, 2010
"...Some explanation: There’s a legal limit to federal debt, which must be raised periodically if the government keeps running deficits; the limit will be reached again this spring. And since nobody, not even the hawkiest of deficit hawks, thinks the budget can be balanced immediately, the debt limit must be raised to avoid a government shutdown. But Republicans will probably try to blackmail the president into policy concessions by, in effect, holding the government hostage; they’ve done it before.
Now, you might think that the prospect of this kind of standoff, which might deny many Americans essential services, wreak havoc in financial markets and undermine America’s role in the world, would worry all men of good will. But no, Mr. Simpson “can’t wait.” And he’s what passes, these days, for a reasonable Republican..."
Wednesday, November 24, 2010
"...Cabinet secretaries, top congressional leaders and an exclusive group of senior U.S. officials are exempt from toughened new airport screening procedures when they fly commercially with government-approved federal security details.
Aviation security officials would not name those who can skip the controversial screening, but other officials said those VIPs range from top officials like Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and FBI Director Robert Mueller to congressional leaders like incoming House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, who avoided security before a recent flight from Washington's Reagan National Airport..."
Tuesday, November 23, 2010
Monday, November 22, 2010
"...A US Army Staff Sergeant, now serving in Afghanistan, points out that he is not allowed to do these invasive, Enhanced Pat-Downs on women and children while conducting searches of local nationals over in Afghanistan, even when involved with security tasks within his Infantry company. Something that would probably save lives.
To avoid offending the Afghan people. To avoid presenting the US government as oppressors. To avoid feeding the Taliban’s hatred. And yet, according to you Mr President these enhanced pat-downs are not only acceptable but necessary for the American traveling public..."
"The U.S. military launched what is billed as its largest-ever spy satellite on Sunday.
A Delta IV Heavy rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 5:58 p.m. on Sunday, carrying what an Air Force press release called a classified payload for the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO).
While the Air Force did not give further detail on the mission, Bruce Carlson, director of the NRO, said in a September 13 speech that his agency would be putting “the largest satellite in the world” aboard a Delta rocket for a launch from Cape Canaveral this fall..."
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Saturday, November 20, 2010
"After decades of fierce opposition to the use of all contraception, the pontiff will end the Church's absolute ban on the use of condoms.
He will say that it is acceptable to use a prophylactic when the sole intention is to 'reduce the risk of infection' from Aids..."
Friday, November 19, 2010
"...On Thursday, Congressman Ron Paul introduced legislation to counter what he called the 'calamity' of airport security. It proposes barring the government from doing what ordinary citizens would not be allowed to do to strangers – photographing them naked or touching their private parts.
'If we can't take nude photos of people why do we allow the government to do it? We would go to jail,' he said. 'Something has to be done. Everybody's fed up. The people are fed up. The pilots are fed up. I'm fed up. What we're putting up with at the airport is so symbolic of us just not standing up and saying enough is enough. I know the American people are starting to wake up but our government, those in charge, Congress, are doing nothing...'"
Thursday, November 18, 2010
"A WOMAN is suing over an incident where airport staff allegedly pulled down her top and joked about her breasts in public view.
The 23-year-old traveller, from Amarillo, US, is suing the US Government for the emotional distressed she says the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents caused..."
"An effort to continue assistance for millions of jobless people who will see their benefits run out in coming weeks failed in the U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday.
By a vote of 258 to 154, the proposal to extend jobless benefits for three months fell short of the two-thirds margin needed to pass the House under special rules that limit debate..."
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Yeah, well, we'll see how long that lasts.
'...Dispatched in the Republican primary by Joe Miller, a protégé of Ms. Palin, Ms. Murkowski is on the verge of an historic upset, having emerged as the new vote leader after running a write-in campaign to keep her seat.
And she’s taking aim at her nemesis.
I just do not think that she has those leadership qualities, that intellectual curiosity that allows for building good and great policies,” Ms. Murkowski told Katie Couric during an interview on CBS. “You know, she was my governor for two years, for just about two years there, and I don’t think that she enjoyed governing...”'
Neither trait slowed George Bush down, much to our detriment.
Monday, November 15, 2010
Sunday, November 14, 2010
"...We pay twice as much for health care as the other industrialized nations. At some point we’re gonna have to consider not just WHAT we’re willing to pay for but also HOW MUCH we’re willing pay for EVERYTHING, including routine care.
We can’t control M&M costs without addressing the entire health care market. And the best way to do that is a little thing called “single-payer.” While medical professionals deserve to be well compensated, “for-profit” health care makes as much sense as “for-profit” police and fire departments..."
God help us, we do.
Saturday, November 13, 2010
"...On the other hand, giving the top 1 percent a two-year extension would cost the Treasury $130 billion over two years, thereby blowing a giant hole in efforts to get the deficit under control.
Alternatively, $130 billion would be enough to rehire every teacher, firefighter, and police officer laid off over the last two years and save the jobs of all of them now on the chopping block. Not only are these people critical to our security and the future of our children but, unlike the top 1 percent, they could be expected to spend all of their earnings and thereby stimulate the economy..."
"Defense Secretary Robert Gates is opening an investigation to determine who in the Defense Department leaked information to The Washington Post that showed a majority of the military would not object if the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy were lifted.
Gates is angry that two unnamed officials cited in the Post article have “selectively revealed aspects of the draft findings” of the Pentagon’s Working Group, according to a statement released late Friday afternoon by Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell..."
"While almost nothing went right for Democratic candidates this fall, one issue turned out to be a winner in some of the closest Senate races in the nation: abortion.
By branding Republican challengers as outside the cultural mainstream on the issue, Democrats managed to hold on to at least a slice of the political center by courting and winning over moderate women in a handful of key states..."
Friday, November 12, 2010
The Learning Channel don't do much teachin' no more. It's mostly gawking.
"President Obama said today his top priority is to extend the George W. Bush tax cuts for middle class Americans, and he will talk with Republicans next week about what to do with the tax rates for wealthier Americans.
'I continue to believe that extending permanently the upper-income tax cuts would be a mistake and that we can't afford it,' Obama told reporters at the G-20 summit in Seoul, South Korea. 'And my hope is, is that somewhere in between there we can find some sort of solution...'"
Thursday, November 11, 2010
Wednesday, November 10, 2010
"...Among the controversial proposals, the plan in its current form would end or cap a wide range of breaks relied on by the middle class, including the deduction for home-mortgage interest. It would tax capital gains and dividends at the higher rates now levied on wage income. To compensate, one version of the plan would dramatically lower and simplify individual rates, to 9%, 15% and 24%.
For businesses, the plan would significantly lower the corporate tax rate—from a current top rate of 35% to as low as 26%—but also eliminate a number of deductions. It would make permanent the research and development tax credit. Overall, the plan would cut the federal deficit by $3.8 trillion by 2020..."
Tuesday, November 09, 2010
"British officials said today there was no evidence to support claims by George Bush, the former US president, that information extracted by 'waterboarding' saved British lives by foiling attacks on Heathrow airport and Canary Wharf. In his memoirs, Bush said the practice – condemned by Downing Street as torture – was used in CIA interrogations of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the 9/11 attacks on the US..."
Monday, November 08, 2010
"...The book's excerpts and the interviews offer new insight into Bush's presidency, but show a familiar certainty and self-assuredness about the decisions he made.
On the decision to launch a war with Iraq, Bush expressed no hesitation when asked if he would make the same choice again, knowing all that he knows today..."
"...It’s true that things aren’t as bad as they were during the worst of the Depression. But that’s not saying much. And as in the 1930s, every proposal to do something to improve the situation is met with a firestorm of opposition and criticism. As a result, by the time the actual policy emerges, it’s watered down to such an extent that it’s almost guaranteed to fail.
We’ve already seen this happen with fiscal policy: fearing opposition in Congress, the Obama administration offered an inadequate plan, only to see the plan weakened further in the Senate. In the end, the small rise in federal spending was effectively offset by cuts at the state and local level, so that there was no real stimulus to the economy.
Now the same thing is happening to monetary policy..."
Sunday, November 07, 2010
"The Republican in line to lead the House Budget Committee acknowledged Sunday that the GOP is unlikely to get a repeal of a Democratic-backed health care law because President Obama can veto it, but said House Republicans will move forward on a vote anyway.
Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin said Republicans have some opportunities to slow the advance of the Democratic plan by defunding actual rollouts, but acknowledged the president would have to sign that legislation..."
Saturday, November 06, 2010
"...Olbermann was suspended without pay Friday for making donations to three Democratic candidates in this week's mid-term elections..."
Friday, November 05, 2010
"...She also lit into those quoted, telling Greta Van Susteren they "want to lead the nation and run the world" and yet "they're not brave enough to put their name in an article." She called them "the GOP the establishment -- the self-proclaimed elite" and added that "if they would man up and if they would, you know, make these claims against me, then I can debate them."
UPDATE: Palin has now sarcastically referred to Politico and other detractors "puppy-kicking, chain-smoking porn producers" in an email to the Daily Caller..."
"...The United States is at the bottom of the barrel. We don't live well. Since the 1970s, the bottom 90 percent has experienced income stagnation, while the top 1 percent has seen its wealth skyrocket. In America, two-thirds of income gains in recent years went to the top 1 percent. The gap between rich and poor hasn't been so great since 1928, right before the first Great Depression, with the top 20 percent controlling 84 percent of the wealth. In Sweden, the top 20 percent owns 36 percent. Canada and Western Europe all have greater social mobility than the so-called 'land of opportunity,' and with far more generous benefits, over a month of vacation, real universal health care -- you get the picture. If the citizens of all of these advanced nations are living better than Americans, then what is so special about America?
And yet, this recent election is a testament to this country's proclivity -- with help from the bottom 90 percent -- to keep things the way they are, if not worsen them. Some people vote with the oligarchy against their own interests because they simply lack the proper information. There's lots of blame to go around..."
..."Bush: 'Yes. My record was strong, I felt, when it came to race relations and giving people a chance. And it was a disgusting moment.'
Lauer: 'I wonder if some people are going to read that, now that you've written it, and they might give you some heat for that. And the reason is this '
Bush [interrupting]: 'Don't care.'
Lauer: 'Well, here's the reason. You're not saying that the worst moment in your presidency was watching the misery in Louisiana. You're saying it was when someone insulted you because of that.'
Bush: 'No, and I also make it clear that the misery in Louisiana affected me deeply as well. There's a lot of tough moments in the book. And it was a disgusting moment, pure and simple...'"
This exchange speaks volumes about Skippy.
Thursday, November 04, 2010
"...I don’t care how the party gets Obama not to run in 2012. They can persuade him to give it up voluntarily like LBJ did, or they can start secretly funding Hillary for a primary win. But something has to be done to get him out of the White House and put a strong contender in his place.
The creative class will take us all down unless we strike back and tell them in no uncertain terms that we are not putting up with their $#@% anymore. Tuesday was the first blow. And we will continue to pound on them until they get the message. No candidate that has their support will ever have mine unless he/she embraces the working class. I don’t see that happening. So, the party is at a stalemate. The vast majority of us are held hostage by a tiny group of snobs who think very well of themselves and not of you.
So be it. The Democrats will be the Washington Generals to the Republican Globe Trotters until a new team comes along..."
"...The Reid campaign waited until the day after the primary to pounce, releasing a press release that told voters Ms. Angle had a 'radical' notion to do away with Social Security.
Ms. Angle had in fact spoken frequently of 'phasing out' social security. During the general election campaign she sought to moderate that position, explaining that she wanted to 'save' the popular program by amending it, but Mr. Reid continued efforts to remind voters even as late as Tuesday afternoon of her earlier position.
While Ms. Angle seemed to have all the momentum in an election year that favored tea party fervor and the Republican party, her missteps became too numerous to overcome. Eventually, Ms. Angle's campaign couldn't risk putting her in front of television cameras for fear that she might say something damaging..."
Wednesday, November 03, 2010
Tuesday, November 02, 2010
"...If O'Donnell, Johnson and their Tea'd-Off compatriots were even minimally serious about adhering to the founding document, they would all be thoughtful critics of the undeclared wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, ardent foes of the Patriot Act and steady opponents of free trade deals that remove the authority of Congress to represent and serve the interests of American workers, farmers and communities. But then they would be Russ Feingold, and it goes against the Tea Party narrative—at least as it has been framed by the movement's corporate paymasters and messaging consultants—to regard a progressive Democrat as the most ardent defender of the American experiment.
So it should be understood that O'Donnell, Miller, Angle, Buck, Johnson and the rest of the Tea Partisans who might be senators are not talking about the Constitution as it was written or as the founders intended it. Rather, they are talking about the Constitution as they would like to see it rewritten and reinterpreted—with the help of the most activist Supreme Court in American history. While their intents are radical, their prospects must be seen in light of the fact that Chief Justice John Roberts and his conservative majority have already reinterpreted the First Amendment's free speech protection in a manner that extends the natural rights that the founders reserved for human beings to multinational corporations..."
Monday, November 01, 2010
"Alcohol is more dangerous than illegal drugs like heroin and crack cocaine, according to a new study.
British experts evaluated substances including alcohol, cocaine, heroin, ecstasy and marijuana, ranking them based on how destructive they are to the individual who takes them and to society as a whole..."
"The chairman of the Republican Governors Association said that while he expects big wins for his party on Election Day, he understands it is not because voters love the GOP more than the Democrats.
Appearing on CBS' 'The Early Show' this morning, Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour said that tomorrow's voting represents a referendum on the policies of President Obama..."