Thursday, July 24, 2008

BREVITAS

IRAN

Press TV - British Foreign Secretary David Miliband says the EU will not support a military strike on Iran over the country's nuclear program. Miliband said the union supports dialogue to resolve the issue.

MEDIA

Think Progress - At the Netroots Nation conference, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman spoke on a panel about “How the media learned to bend over backwards to please the right.” Krugman discussed the right wing’s success at pressuring the media and how some of that filtered down to him: "I could see a little bit of the effects. I was never told to stop writing what I was writing. It was, however, made known to me that I was making management nervous. There were occasional, “Couldn’t you do more straight economics writing?” Pretty much the last time I heard that was in 2005, when I was sort of urged to lay off a bit. The words that stuck in my mind were, “The election settled some of these things."

ECO CLIPS

Daily Green - California has passed a law that explicitly allows cities and counties to make low-interest loans to homeowners and businesses to install solar panels, high-efficiency air conditioners and other energy-saving improvements. To make things easy, participants can pay back the loans over decades through property taxes, according to the Los Angeles Times. If a property is sold, the loan balance transfers to the next owner. Two towns leading the charge already in this area are Berkeley (big surprise, right?) and more conservative Palm Desert, where an aging population is said to be very interested in reducing hefty air-conditioning costs.

OUTLYING PRECINCTS

Huffington Post - The State Department has barred its employees from attending Sen. Barack Obama's speech in Berlin tonight. . . State Department Undersecretary for Management Patrick F. Kennedy has interpreted the Foreign Affairs Manual in the most restrictive way, claiming that he is ensuring that foreign service officials will remain untainted by a "partisan political act." (Spouse and family members, however, have generously been excluded from this ruling.) The U.S. embassy, which is headed by ambassador Robert Timken, a businessman and crony of George W. Bush's from Ohio, who is widely reviled in Germany for his ignorance of foreign affairs, has instructed officials not to attend the rally. The American Foreign Service Association has complained about the edict but there's not enough time to dispute it..

Reliable Sources, Washington Post - [The Obama children] Malia, 10, and Sasha, 7, get $1 per week allowance for chores -- and no birthday or Christmas gifts from their parents. Why? The Obamas say they spend "hundreds" on a day-long slumber party (movies, pizza and swimming) for each girl's birthday, where they get plenty of gifts from friends.

One of the things that has puzzled us about Obama is that if he is so eloquent why can't people find things he has said to quote? While waiting, we throw this in as a placeholder until something better comes along: "So the point that I was making at the time was that the political dynamic was the driving force between that sectarian violence. And we could try to keep a lid on it, but if these underlining dynamic continued to bubble up and explode the way they were, then we would be in a difficult situation. I am glad that in fact those political dynamic shifted at the same time that our troops did outstanding work."

WAR DEPARTMENT

Democracy Now - The secretary of the Army has ordered an internal review to examine the Army’s firing last month of the former public affairs director of Arlington National Cemetery. Gina Gray assumed the role of public affairs director of Arlington in April. She quickly discovered that cemetery officials were attempting to impose new limits on media coverage of funerals of the US soldiers killed in Iraq - even after the families of the dead soldiers had agreed to let the press attend. After she pushed for greater media access, she says she was fired in a retaliatory move.

Progress Report - In testimony before the first Guantanamo military tribunal, FBI Agent Ali Soufan said that interrogators at the Guantanamo Bay detention facility were instructed not to advise detainees of their rights against self-incrimination. Soufan said that "the Guantanamo Bay Navy base is the only place in the world where he has not informed suspects of a right against self-incrimination." "The way it was explained to us is Guantanamo Bay is an intelligence collection point," he said. Other FBI agents have also explained that "they were instructed not to advise Guantanamo detainees of rights," but Soufan is the first to provide a reason.

HOW THE WAR ON TERROR IS HURTING LOCAL POLICE DEPARTMENTS

HEALTHCARE

Governing Here's an exciting idea from the Commonwealth Fund: Add a long term care benefit to Medicare. It wouldn't be a freebie. It would be financed by a premium to pay for care. It might put the long-term-care insurance sector out of business but it would spell major relief for state Medicaid budgets. According to a recent Health Care Opinion Leaders survey four out of five respondents favor adding such a benefit to Medicare. More than two-thirds believe it's important that the health reform plans of the presidential candidates address the quality and financing of long-term care. The opinion leaders surveyed came from

INDICATORS

LA Times About 25% of people ages 18 to 30 have tattoos, and that number is expected to rise to about 40% in the next few years, according to the study, published today in the Archives of Dermatology. Previous studies have shown that about 20% of people end up dissatisfied with their tattoos, and about 6% seek tattoo removal using laser treatment. . . Women reported that they felt stigmatized by the tattoos. For example, 93% said having to hide the tattoos on occasion was a factor in the removal compared with 20% of men. About 40% of women endured negative comments at work, in public or in school compared with 5% of men.

FURTHERMORE. . . .

Fark news summary of the day - Barack Obama to Angela Merkel: "Send more German troops to Afghanistan." Angela Merkel to Barack Obama: "Nein." Barack Obama to Angela Merkel: "We're gonna need a few more than that"

Rules of Thumb - Cohen's Seventh Rule: Never work for a "start up" business unless you start it up. . .Cohen's First Rule of Painting: The drop goes where the drop cloth isn't.

A SHORT HISTORY OF TREE SITTING

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