Tuesday, October 21, 2008

BREVITAS

MCCAINERY

Think Progress Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) attacked the patriotism of Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), based on his alleged relationship to former Weather Underground member William Ayers and the values of Obama's former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright. "I'm very concerned that he may have anti-American views," said Bachmann. "That's what the American people are concerned about." She then went further, suggesting that all liberal views - held by people such as Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, professors, and all Americans who identify themselves as "liberals" - are "anti-American." When host Chris Matthews, stunned by her remarks, asked Bachmann how many people in Congress hold anti-American views, she responded, "You'll have to ask them." Bachmann called on the media to conduct investigations into the anti-American activities of members of Congress, similar to Sen. Joseph McCarthy's discredited House Un-American Activities Committee hearings in the 1950s. "I think people would love to see an exposé like that," she claimed. . . Update: Bachman's Democratic opponent raised nearly three quarters of a million dollar for his campaign in the weekend following her appearance on Hardball.


OUTLYING PRECINCTS

Think Progress
- The League of Conservation Voters released its 2008 National Environmental Scorecard - giving McCain a 0 percent rating. The scorecard ranks members of Congress on 11 key votes based on "the consensus of experts from about 20 respected environmental and conservation organizations." McCain received a "0" because he missed every one of those votes. His lifetime LCV rating is 24 percent. McCain has voted against tax incentives for renewable energy, updating building code standards for energy efficiency, and modernization of the electricity grid. Furthermore, he does not support any increases in fuel efficiency above existing law. McCain curiously said in August, "I have not missed any crucial vote" on energy legislation.

THE MIX

WTOP, DC
- Although more than 20 percent of Washington-area law partners are female, only 2 percent of partners are black, Hispanic or Asian women, a new study of law firm hiring practices has found. Minority women continue to struggle to make it to the elite ranks of the legal profession not just in Washington, but nationwide, the National Association for Law Placement found in its annual survey. . . D.C.'s figure is better than the national average - slightly less than 2 percent of partners in the country are minority women - but it's still bleak. . . Part of the problem is that minority women either aren't accepting or aren't being offered jobs at law firms, the NALP study found. . . According to statistics kept by the American Bar Association, nearly one-quarter of all law school graduates in 2006-07 were minorities. Leipold said that minority female law graduates outnumber male minority grads nearly 2-to-1. So where have all the minority women gone? George Washington law professor Stephanie Ridder said mentors are essential to law firm life."There's nobody to take them along. They generally feel pretty excluded," Ridder said of young minority female lawyers.

ORWELLANDIA

Times, UK -
Everyone who buys a mobile telephone will be forced to register their identity on a national database under government plans to extend massively the powers of state surveillance. Phone buyers would have to present a passport or other official form of identification at the point of purchase. Privacy campaigners fear it marks the latest government move to create a surveillance society. . . The move is targeted at monitoring the owners of Britain's estimated 40m prepaid mobile phones. They can be purchased with cash by customers who do not wish to give their names, addresses or credit card details.

FREEDOM & JUSTICE

ACLU -
ABC News reported that NSA officials have intercepted, listened to and passed around the phone calls of hundreds of innocent U.S. citizens working overseas -- including soldiers, journalists and human rights workers from organizations like the International Red Cross and Doctors Without Borders -- even after it was clear that the calls were not in any way related to national security. NSA officials regularly passed around salacious calls such as the private "phone sex" calls of military officers calling home, according to the report. This week, the ACLU filed Freedom of Information Act requests demanding that the National Security Agency and the Justice Department disclose any policies and procedures pertaining to how the NSA protects Americans' privacy rights when it collects, stores and disseminates private U.S. communications. The NSA has not released a public version of its procedures for protecting the privacy of U.S. communications since 1993.

Washington Post - Several antiwar and anti-death penalty activists who were inappropriately listed as terrorists in a Maryland State Police database said yesterday that they will not review their files unless they can bring a lawyer and receive copies of the documents for their records. . . "I don't want to go unless I have representation, because there are important legal issues involved," said Ellen Barfield of Hamden, an active member of Veterans for Peace. . . Stephen H. Sachs, the former U.S. attorney and Maryland attorney general who headed the review, recommended as part of the review that citizens entered into the database without evidence of crimes have the chance to review their files. Sachs said he has "no continuing role" in the case. "But it seems appropriate, and I hope constructive, to say that my intent in making that recommendation was to urge the Maryland State Police to afford, in complete good faith and in compliance with Maryland law, all of those it wrongly accused of 'terrorism' a full and meaningful opportunity to review and comprehend the relevant data in the files," Sachs said. He declined to elaborate.

THE YOUNG

Ottawa Citizen -
Cutting the arts in schools is narrow-minded and counter-productive, says creativity guru Sir Ken Robinson. . . "Being creative is about having original ideas that have value. We tend to think arts and sciences work completely differently, but the process is the same," said Mr. Robinson, a former professor who was knighted by the Queen in 2003 for his contributions to education, including having overseen a national commission on creativity, education and the economy. There's nothing undisciplined about creativity, he said. Creativity fosters innovation, an economic necessity. It's not the flip side of science and business, but a part of it, he told the conference, organized by the Ottawa Centre for Research and Innovation. The system puts too much emphasis on standardized testing, numeracy and literacy, because that's where the money will be when students graduate, he said. But while standardized testing has a role, the culture it creates has narrowed the focus to those things that can be tested.

ARTS & CULTURE

Kerry Luerman, Salon
- On Sunday, Nov. 2, the comic "Opus" will end. Worse yet, creator Berkeley Breathed has made it clear that the strip's namesake will, in that final strip, find his "final paradise." Sure, it's been an unnaturally long run for a penguin. Opus, who started with a bit part in Breathed's Pulitzer-winning "Bloom County" (1980-89), starred in "Outland" (1989-95) and finally took center stage in "Opus" (2003-08). But for those of us accustomed to seeing our own thoughts -- and fears, hopes and simmering anger -- take flight in the broken-nosed face of a penguin every week, there's no preparation for his exit, only mourning. . . Breathed says it's the anger that led him to close the book on "Opus," that the increasingly nasty political climate has made it too difficult to keep his strip from drifting into darkness. Breathed has described his work as a hybrid of "Peanuts" creator Charles Schulz's gentle humor and Michael Moore's crusading social justice. Perhaps losing touch with his inner Charlie Brown, Breathed has said that "a mad penguin, like a mad cartoonist, isn't very lovable," and wants Opus to take his final bow before bitterness changes him forever.

FURTHERMORE. . . .

BBC - Police in Jamaica are investigating the suspected theft of hundreds of tons of sand from a beach on the island's north coast. It was discovered in July that 500 truck-loads had been removed outside a planned resort at Coral Spring beach. Detectives say people in the tourism sector could be suspects, because a good beach is seen as a valuable asset to hotels on the Caribbean island. But a lack of arrests made since July have led to criticism of the police. . . Illegal sand mining is a problem in Jamaica; the tradition of people building their own homes here means there is a huge demand for the construction material. However, the large volume and the type of sand taken made suspicion point towards the hotel industry. There is some suspicion that some police were in collusion with the movers of the sand Mark Shields Deputy Commissioner of Police. . . Police said they were carrying out forensic tests on beaches along the coast to see if any of it matches the stolen sand.

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