Thursday, July 3, 2008

BREVITAS

Think Progress ABC News' David Wright reports that when he asked John McCain to "explain how his Vietnam experience prepared him for the presidency," McCain "became visibly angry": "Please," he said, recoiling back in his seat in distaste at the very question. . . It's a legitimate question. In 2003, McCain said, "I absolutely don't believe that it's necessary" to have military service in order to be president. He also said military service alone is not a sufficient qualification to be president.

One of the questions that arose in our mind during the last weeks of the Clinton-Obama struggle was if the race was meant to be all over and Clinton meant to leave quietly, why do we need a convention at all? Haven't conventions become just another Las Vegas industry gathering to show the latest clothes or cars? Turns out we're apparently not alone in such musings. The Political Wire reports that "Sen. Barack Obama's campaign and the Democratic National Committee "are toying with a convention scheduling change that has been broached before in theory but never seriously considered: cutting the party's conclave in Denver short by one day to give Obama an extra day of post-nomination bounce in the crowded August calendar."

Junaid M. Afeef, Wall Street Journal Mr. Obama is another victim of Islamophobia. He is now facing what Muslims have been and still are struggling with: an irrational fear and hatred of Muslims. Polls show that as many as 25% of Americans admit to prejudicial feelings against Muslims. Mr. Obama knows that Islamophobia has taken root in the U.S. Islamophobia hits very close to home for him because his father, from whom he also derives his black heritage, was a Muslim. While his heritage may include Muslims, Mr. Obama is a Christian, and when his religion is incorrectly identified he rightly corrects the record. . . The problem, however, is the manner in which he corrects the record. He vociferously denies being a Muslim as if it were a slur. . . If Mr. Obama simply said, "Yes, there are Muslims in my family, and while I am and always have been a Christian, I embrace my family's religious diversity," then surely the vast majority of Americans would move on to the real issues in his campaign.

While the word apparently hasn't gotten to the Obama campaign, a new poll finds 64% of American wanting the president to remove most US troops in Iraq within a few months of taking office.

MS Magazine Walsh Construction Company in Portland OR dropped a project to build a Planned Parenthood [headquarters], citing pressure from anti-choice activists. Owner Bob Walsh left the project out of concern his family would be threatened, not based on moral judgment, reports The Oregonian. Others involved in the project have already been subjected to office protests from anti-choice protesters. Bill Diss, a protest organizer, referrers to Planned Parenthood as a "killing center" that teaches young girls about sex and masturbation, which he referred to as "the gateway drug to lust," according to The Register-Guard. Despite increasing pressure, Beech Street Partners, the original developer will act as its own contractor and hire builders to complete the project by July 2009. The space will be used for medical clinics and will host Planned Parenthood's regional headquarters. It will bring an estimated 140 jobs to the neighborhood.

MS Magazine Twenty-two states and the District of Columbia have refused millions of federal dollars allotted for abstinence-only education programs for the upcoming fiscal year. . . Until 2005, California was the only state to refuse funding. The nearly 40 percent drop in acceptance is attributed to rampant distrust of the program's effectiveness and constant uncertainty regarding the program's renewal.

Variety Album sales are down 11% from the midpoint of 2007, while digital sales continue to grow at a steady pace. Physical and digital album sales reached 204.6 million units in the 26 sales weeks between Dec. 31 and June 29, according to Nielsen SoundScan. CD sales have been a prime culprit in the sales dip, as they are off more than 16% from 2007 levels, which were significantly down from the year prior. Sales of CDs have been hit hard by the closure of music stores such as Virgin and the reduction of shelf space at big-box stores such as Best Buy and Target. Digital sales, however, continue to grow dramatically. Digital album sales are up 34% to 31.6 million units, which represent 15.5% of all album sales. Digital tracks spiked 30% as 524.7 million have been sold to date, a 125.4 million unit increase from 2007.

Slashdot - A Dutch doctor and a violin maker from Arkansas have compared five classical and eight modern violins in a CT scanner. Apparently the 300 year old violins are made of wood with a more consistent density than the modern violins. They aren't saying for sure that this is what gives the Stradivarius's their unique sound

BBC - Denmark is the happiest country in the world, according to the latest World Values Survey published by the United States National Science Foundation. The annual study surveyed people in 97 countries to discover who is happiest. The survey asked people two simple questions about their happiness and their level of satisfaction with life. Puerto Rico and Colombia completed the top three happiest nations [sic]. Zimbabwe was found to be the least happy, with Russia and Iraq also in the bottom ten. . . The world's wealthiest nation, the United States, was found to be the world's 16th happiest country, behind Switzerland, Canada and Sweden.

The percentage of single mothers neither working nor drawing cash assistance surged to more than 30 percent in 2005 from under 20 percent before the welfare overhaul in 1996. Womens E News

Wonkette Charles "Chip" Pickering is the only Mississippi Republican left in the House. He is the ultra-conservative son of famous racist/civil rights champion and retired federal judge Charles Pickering. Chip announced in August that he was quitting Congress so he could, of course, spend more time with his family, and get a lucrative lobbying job. The lobbying job will surely come, but on Friday it was announced that Chip is divorcing his wife so he can spend more time with all the various women he's been connected with over the years. What, a Republican in Congress who commits adultery with the opposite sex?

Yeas & Nays, DC Examiner Workers at the National Geographic building were left with smelly hands Wednesday, after they spent six hours tying shoes together to set the Guinness World Record for the longest chain of shoes. The 10,512-shoe chain obliterated the old record of a mere 840 shoes. The chain stretched 1.65 miles as it snaked around the courtyard of the National Geographic building several times.

Rules of Thumb If a rich person you want to impress is treating you to a fancy restaurant meal and you don't understand the fancy menu: order the second most expensive dish. It will be good and your host will be impressed with your decisiveness. - Dave Spathaky

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