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Piracy?

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Just skimmed the Guardian UK website and this headline stood out:

Pirates seize oil tanker with UK crew

Just a few weeks ago the US was / may still be involved in monitoring pirates' seizure of a ship near Somalia which had some weapons and parts which should not fall into the wrong hands. Then the link next to it drew my attention.

Live piracy map

That's a lot of virtual pins on the map.

Why is there such a resurgence of piracy? Or is this something that's always been there and is just now getting more press?

Paul Krugman: Keeping them honest

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Paul Krugman highlights a Republican talking point that emerged during Arnold Schwarzenegger's appearance on This Week yesterday.

He asserted, as a simple matter of fact, that "government created the housing bubble", because Fannie and Freddie made all these loans to people who couldn't afford to pay them.

This is utterly false. Fannie/Freddie did some bad things, and did, it turns out, get to some extent into subprime. But thanks to the accounting scandals, they were actually withdrawing from the market during the height of the housing bubble -- the vast majority of the loans now going bad came from the private sector.

Yet it's now clear that the phony account of the crisis -- that it's all due to Fannie, Freddie, and nasty liberals forcing poor Angelo Mozilo to make loans to Those People -- is setting in as Republican orthodoxy, part of what you have to believe to be a respectable member of the party.

That's almost as good as Krugman's appearance on the This Week roundtable discussion in which he repeatedly schooled George Will and the others. It was so nice to have someone who actually knows what they're talking about right there on the spot to correct the talking heads.


Retired Judge: Guantanamo Like Serbian War Camps

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Posted without comment from The Hill:

"I was struck by the similarity between the abuse they suffered and the abuse we found inflicted upon Bosnian Muslim prisoners in Serbian camps," wrote Patricia M. Wald, a retired appointee to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals by President Jimmy Carter, about Guantanamo prisoners. Wald penned the foreword to a report on "Guantanamo and its Aftermath" published by the Human Rights Center at the University of California-Berkeley.

"The officials and guards in charge of those prison camps [in Serbia] and the civilian leaders who sanctioned their establishment were prosecuted...for war crimes, crimes against humanity and, in extreme cases, genocide," Wald wrote.

A participant in previous matters in the War on Terror, Wald was a member of the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction established by the Bush administration to investigate the intelligence failures in the run-up to the War in Iraq.

Michael Lewis - The End of Wall Street's Boom

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Michael Lewis, author of Liar's Poker, has penned a very readable account of how Wall Street brought down our economy. It's full of entertaining black humor and insight into just how shaky the house of cards was all along. [via]

Peter Schiff Was Right

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Andrew Sullivan pointed this one out. To be honest, I'd not heard of Peter Schiff before but I give him credit for being so clear about what was coming and sounding the alarm bell. The contrast between him and Art Laffer (a name I recognize from econ class) is remarkable. Laffer couldn't have been more wrong.



For those who have any money left or even if you're just curious on where he thinks the future is headed, Mr. Schiff posts regularly at his website and offers a free newsletter.

Hell freezing over

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Well, maybe not but I never thought I'd be writing these words about a Fox News anchor but way to go, Shepard Smith. Via Ta-Nehisi, Shep Smith denies that the "liberal media" doomed McCain.

IOKIYAR: Talk Radio Secrets Revealed by Insider

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IOKIYAR -- That's dkos shorthand for "It's OK If You Are Republican". A term which is applied to all the duplicitous actions of Republicans at all levels of government as well as the hands-off non-investigative attitude that the media has displayed in the last 8 years. And now it seems a wing-nut talk radio insider, Dan Shelley, has confirmed what the left-wing blogosphere has long known. Shelley was the news director for WTMJ's show with Charlie Sykes, wingnut talk show host extraordinaire.

Via kossack worried sick:

This long article in the Milwaukee Magazine confirms what thinking people have said all along.  Here's the talk radio formula.

Rule #1:  Appeal to perceived victimization

"To begin with, talk show hosts such as Charlie Sykes - one of the best in the business - are popular and powerful because they appeal to a segment of the population that feels disenfranchised and even victimized by the media. These people believe the media are predominantly staffed by and consistently reflect the views of social liberals. This view is by now so long-held and deep-rooted, it has evolved into part of virtually every conservative's DNA."

Rule #2: Host always wins

"There is no way to win a disagreement with Charlie Sykes. Calls from listeners who disagree with him don't get on the air if the show's producer, who generally does the screening, fears they might make Charlie look bad. I witnessed several occasions when Sen. Russ Feingold, former Mayor John Norquist, Mayor Tom Barrett or others would call in, but wouldn't be allowed on the air."

My blood pressure rises.

Rule #3: Dissenters face personal attacks

"How can Charlie do that? By belittling the caller's point of view. You can always tell, however, when the antagonist has gotten the better of Charlie. That's when he starts attacking the caller personally."

He goes on in great detail and there's lots of juicy reading. He mentions that "the more talk show hosts squawk about something ... the more they're worried about the issue" and cites the Swiftboating of Kerry as an example. We've always talked about wingnut cognitive dissonance here, and he lists up several examples that were gratifying.

• Perjury was a heinous crime when Clinton was accused of lying under oath about his extramarital activities. But when Scooter Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's top aide, was charged with lying under oath, it was the prosecutor who had committed an egregious act by charging Libby with perjury..

Shelley finally got out when Katrina hit, when the attacks on the residents of NOLA were too much for even him to handle.

Nouriel Roubini's "Blog Teaser"

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Nouriel Roubini has received much acclamation by those who know much more than I do about economics for his long time predictions of the financial and economic debacle we now face. I've seen Roubini's comments and writing referenced in more than one blog so I decided to do a little research and found Dr. Roubini's webpage at NYU on which he lists all his various writings and venues in which he is active including his blog.

My Global Economics Blog

Which, as it turns out is part of this:

My Roubini Global Economics (RGE)Monitor (ranked as the #1 Web Site in Economics in the world by The Economist Magazine)

Actually his Global Economics Blog should be called a "blog teaser" because only the title and the first sentence or so of each post is accessible unless you pay the RGEmonitor's premium for admission. And that's not in my budget. Guess we'll have to hope that other bloggers with deeper pockets or better access quote from Roubini's posts for the rest of us.

The New Yorker: Joe Biden

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Ryan Lizza trailed Joe Biden around for awhile and did a little investigative work on how Joe came to be the Vice-President-elect. Long article but interesting reading.

What's next?

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One of dkos's resident economist-types has written another post which makes me feel sick to my stomach. My reaction to some of his past posts over the last couple of years was to read them and then hope that he was being overly pessimistic. Unfortunately, what he wrote about has now come to pass over the last 2-3 months and I find I'm less inclined to ignore what he says no matter how uncomfortable and depressing.

Stranded Wind references another economic blog, The Automatic Earth, which has some uncomfortable reading. The principal writers are Stoneleigh and Ilargi. Stoneleigh and Illargi are alumni of The Oil Drum who spun off into their own blog when their financial and economic analysis spread into areas not directly energy-related. Stoneleigh's bio via the Wayback Machine notes that she "is an energy policy analyst and free-lance academic with a background in science, psychology and law and an abiding interest in economics." It looks like one to be added to a regular reading list if you're interested in where the economy is headed.

Add The Oil Drum to your reading list for meaningful analysis on the global energy situation. The not-to-be-missed Drumbeats feature is a great summary of energy-related news all on its own.

Disaster continuity planning for the US government

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I never thought about it this way but it seems that our government has the same problem that many companies have: outdated, practically non-existent disaster recovery continuity plans that indicate how to continue when disaster strikes the people who head up the various branches and departments of government.

We all know that the VP steps in for the Prez and that the Speaker of the House steps in if the VP isn't available. But the planning doesn't go much beyond that. Knowing what we now know about how large a disaster, whether natural or man-made, might be, those plans for keeping the government of the United States of America running are clearly insufficient. And in business terms, they altogether fail the standards of good continuity planning. The Wall Street Journal has an article that starts the discussion but knowing what I do know about what we did for disaster and continuity planning back when I was in the corporate world, I have to say that it only starts the discussion.

The New York Times as of July 4, 2009

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As the real New York Times reported

In an elaborate hoax, pranksters distributed thousands of free copies of a spoof edition of The New York Times on Wednesday morning at busy subway stations around the city...

The paper is dated July 4, 2009, and imagines a liberal utopia of national health care, a rebuilt economy, progressive taxation, a national oil fund to study climate change, and other goals of progressive politics.

The hoax was accompanied by a Web site that mimics the look of The Times's real Web site. A page of the spoof site contained links to dozens of progressive organizations, which were also listed in the print edition.

The Associated Press reported that copies of the spoof paper were also handed out in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington, and that the pranksters ... financed the paper with small online contributions and created the paper to urge President-elect Barack Obama to keep his campaign promises.

The spoof website looks amazingly like the real one and it has a pdf of the print edition that was handed out. It was a lot of work and coordination to get the million copies printed and distributed.

Makes you wonder about what the creators were doing when they came up with this idea. What made them decide that it was doable and worth the effort and money to do it?

Helen's back

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Helen Thomas is back in the White House press room after being out for awhile for health reasons and she's all ready with some tough questions for the Obama administration. [via]



One of the things that struck me about this clip is the depth of her memory. She casually brings up Bobby Kennedy's prediction during a VOA interview in the 60s that there would be a black president within 30 years. There's something to be said for the perspective of age and the immediacy of history that it brings.

More Nods for Nate Silver

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In addition to the NYT article on Nate Silver, his fivethirtyeight.com site has now been named a Nieman Notable by the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University and he's featured in a Q&A session on the Columbia Journalism Review Campaign Desk blog. That's in addition to the Facebook group entitled "There's a 97.3 Percent Chance That Nate Silver Is Totally My Boyfriend".

There's more interesting details in the CJR Q&A plus Nate's thoughts on what happens next for the fivethirtyeight.com site now that the election is over.

The NY Times' financial woes

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Scholars & Rogues blog has a well-documented and informative write-up on the precariousness of the New York Times financial situation.

Obviously they've not taken my advice concerning David Brooks and Bill Kristol, ie., quit paying them good money, though I'm not sure that would be quite enough to make up the difference this situation. Couldn't hurt though.

Photographs by Obama's Digital Journalist, Callie Shell

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From her website:

Travels With Barack

Four years ago Time photographer Callie Shell met Barack Obama backstage when she was covering presidential candidate John Kerry. She sent her editor more photographs of Obama than Kerry. When asked why, she said, "I do not know. I just have a feeling about him. I think he will be important down the road." Her first photo essay on Obama was two and half years ago. She has stuck with him ever since.

The photographs are amazing. Keep clicking on See More Photographs at the bottom of each series and more will appear. You will need javascript active.

The right place at the right time

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Talk about being in the right place at the right time. "Leola Brock-Reese learned who won the presidential race from the best source in America: President-elect Barack Obama himself."

It's quite the story.

Veterans Day

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vetsday08-lo-1.jpg


There are many powerful stories about our veterans today including this one about Anthony Acevedo. They all deserve to be honored.

Daily Kos: To our Republican friends ... where do you go now?

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Lawyer NCrissieB started an interesting discussion on dailykos by writing a diary addressed to Republicans who likely voted for Obama yet have made the decision to remain within the Republican party or who have not decided what is next. The original post is good but the comments are equally interesting.

Documents linking Iran to nuclear weapons push may have been fabricated

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Gareth Porter, an investigative journalist, reports that the "International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has obtained evidence suggesting that documents which have been described as technical studies for a secret Iranian nuclear weapons-related research program may have been fabricated."

The documents in question were acquired by U.S. intelligence in 2004 from a still unknown source -- most of them in the form of electronic files allegedly stolen from a laptop computer belonging to an Iranian researcher. The US has based much of its push for sanctions against Iran on these documents.

The new evidence of possible fraud has increased pressure within the IAEA secretariat to distance the agency from the laptop documents, according to a Vienna-based diplomatic source close to the IAEA, who spoke to RAW STORY on condition of anonymity.

Remind anyone of Ahmed Chalabi? Or yellow-cake uranium?

How many times is the Bush/Cheney administration going to repeat this mistake?

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