Saturday, November 15, 2008



Politico -
Intense backlash from women's groups may have pushed former Clinton Treasury Secretary Larry Summers off the short-list to lead Treasury for President-elect Barack Obama, according to widespread reports circulating in Democratic circles. The women's opposition to a possible Summers' appointment was the explanation some Democratic sources are hearing for why the Obama transition team has crossed Summers off their list. The Obama team doesn't want to kick off its administration with a controversy nor go head-to-head with an important constituency when there are other qualified candidates, political operatives speculate. . . The Summers backlash rises out of a controversial 2005 comment he made as president of Harvard University that innate differences between men and women might be one reason fewer women succeed in science and math careers. Coming on top of other tensions with faculty, the incident led to his ouster as president.

Paul Street, Z Mag -
Ryan Lizza noted in The New Yorker last July, "Perhaps the greatest misconception about Barack Obama is that he is some sort of anti-establishment revolutionary. Rather, every stage of his political career has been marked by an eagerness to accommodate himself to existing institutions rather than tear them down or replace them" Obama's business-friendly centrism has helped him garner an astonishing, record-setting stash of corporate cash. He has received more than $33 million from the finance-real-estate and insurance sector. His winnings include $824,202 from the leading global investment firm Goldman Sachs. He has been consistently backed by the biggest and most powerful Wall Street firms. At the same time and by more than mere coincidence, Obama has enjoyed a remarkable windfall of favorable corporate media coverage. That media treatment is the key to Obama's success in winning support and donations from the middle-class and from non-affluent people . . .


Firedog Lake
- "There was a high percentage of minority vote," [Saxby] Chambliss told Alan Colmes, "but we weren't able to get enough of our folks out on election day.". . . During the fall Senate campaign, Chambliss cautioned his followers that "the other folks" are voting. The senator added that the "rush to the polls by African-Americans" has "got our side energized early, they see what is happening."

Ballot Access News From preliminary election returns, it appears that these are the best counties for five particular presidential candidates: Nader: Morgan County, Tennessee 5.2% Barr: Esmeralda County, Nevada, 2.7% Baldwin: Millard County, Utah, 5.6% McKinney: either St. Bernard or LaFourche Parish, both in Louisiana, each 1.1% Brian Moore: Essex County, Vermont, 2.1%. . . For the major parties, McCain's best county is King County, Texas, at 93.2%; Obama's best jurisdiction is Washington, D.C., which gave him a higher percentage than any county in any state, 92.9%. Aside from D.C., Obama's best county is Prince Georges County, Maryland, 89.1%.

A study finds
that if no one over 65 had voted, Prop 8 would have failed by a point or two.


Angus Crawford, Common Dreams
- On 3 December, more than 100 countries, including the UK, will sign a treaty banning cluster bombs. . . Cluster bombs have been used in countries including Cambodia, Kosovo, Afghanistan and Lebanon, and were used in the conflict in Lebanon in 2006. Those who ratify the convention in December will then have eight years to get rid of their stockpiles of the weapons. . . But the world's biggest users - Israel and the USA - will not sign this treaty. Nor, it's thought, will China, Russia, India and Pakistan.


Mark Schoofs, Wall Street Journal -
The startling case of an AIDS patient who underwent a bone marrow transplant to treat leukemia is stirring new hope that gene-therapy strategies on the far edges of AIDS research might someday cure the disease. The patient, a 42-year-old American living in Berlin, is still recovering from his leukemia therapy, but he appears to have won his battle with AIDS. Doctors have not been able to detect the virus in his blood for more than 600 days, despite his having ceased all conventional AIDS medication. Normally when a patient stops taking AIDS drugs, the virus stampedes through the body within weeks, or days. . . . The breakthrough appears to be that Dr. Hutter, a soft-spoken hematologist who isn't an AIDS specialist, deliberately replaced the patient's bone marrow cells with those from a donor who has a naturally occurring genetic mutation that renders his cells immune to almost all strains of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. . . . While cautioning that the Berlin case could be a fluke, David Baltimore, who won a Nobel prize for his research on tumor viruses, deemed it "a very good sign" and a virtual "proof of principle" for gene-therapy approaches.


Michael Grabell, Pro Publica -
Since 9/11, more than three dozen federal air marshals have been charged with crimes, and hundreds more have been accused of misconduct, an investigation by Pro Publica has found. Cases range from drunken driving and domestic violence to aiding a human-trafficking ring and trying to smuggle explosives from Afghanistan. . . . An examination of police reports, court records, government reports, memos and e-mails shows that 18 air marshals have been charged with felonies, including at least three who were hired despite prior criminal records or being fired from law enforcement jobs. A fourth air marshal was hired while under FBI investigation. Another stayed on the job despite alarming a flight attendant with his behavior. . . Before 9/11, the Air Marshal Service was a nearly forgotten force of 33 agents with a $4.4 million annual budget. Now housed in the Transportation Security Administration, the agency has a $786 million budget and an estimated 3,000 to 4,000 air marshals, although the official number is classified. Only a fraction of them have been charged with crimes, and some degree of misconduct occurs at all law enforcement agencies. But for air marshals, the stakes are uniquely high. Their beat is a confined cabin with hundreds of passengers in firing range. There are no calls for backup at 30,000 feet, putting a premium on sound judgment and swift action. Since 9/11, air marshals have taken bribes, committed bank fraud, hired an escort while on layover and doctored hotel receipts to pad expenses, records show



NY Times -
The city may never sleep, but some of its buildings do. . . Motion sensors ensure that unoccupied offices, storerooms and canteens go dark after workers and cleaning crews leave at night. Dimmers soften overhead lights that once could burn only bright or not at all. Timers guarantee that buildings fade to black while the city sleeps. Gone are the days when cheap electricity, primitive lighting technology and landlords' desire to showcase their skyscrapers kept floor after floor of the city's highest towers glowing into the night. Now, rising energy costs, conservationism, stricter building codes and sophisticated lighting systems have conspired to slowly, often imperceptibly, transform Manhattan's venerable nightscape into one with a gentler glow. Instead of tower after tower shining at all hours - the World Trade Center stayed aglow long after its occupants went home - the skyline is becoming a patchwork of sparsely sparkling buildings decorated with ornamentally lighted tops.

Tree Hugger -
For a year and a half, HP and UPS have been working together to develop a scanner/printer that prints sorting labels directly on packages. . . According to UPS's estimates, it will save about 92,456 hours year through increased productivity, save about 1,338 tons of paper, and reduce carbon emissions by 3,807 tons each year. The HP Handheld sp400 All-in-One was tested in Orlando Florida, where it was used on 40,000 packages per day with zero errors. The device scans the label, and prints sorting information directly on the package with fast-drying ink designed by HP. It replaces the previous system that included a large thermal printer, PC, monitor and scanner, which hopefully means a lot less electricity and e-waste in addition to all the other savings.

Tree Hugger - Don't adjust your monitors: Natural light has become 10 to 25 percent dimmer in cities such as Beijing, Karachi, Shanghai and New Delhi as 3-km thick "brown clouds" of pollution spread across Asia and elsewhere, according to a new UN report. The smog cloud stretches from the Arabian Peninsula to the Yellow Sea. During the spring, it sweeps across Asia past North and South Korea and Japan, and sometimes drifts as far east as California and Oregon. According to the report, India as a whole had become darker by about two percent per decade between 1960 and 2000, while China had lost its natural light by about three percent to four percent per decade from the 1950s to the 1990s.


Food and Water Watch
- American consumers drink more bottled water every year, in part because they think it is somehow safer or better than tap water. Rather than buying into this myth of purity in a bottle, consumers should drink from the tap. Bottled water generally is no cleaner, or safer, or healthier than tap water. In fact, the federal government requires far more rigorous and frequent safety testing and monitoring of municipal drinking water. In some cases, beverage companies use misleading labels, including marketing bottled tap water as spring water. In fact, as much as 40 percent of bottled water is bottled tap water. Furthermore, the production of bottled water causes many equity, public health, and environmental problems. The big beverage companies often take water from municipal or underground sources that local people depend on for drinking water. Producing the plastic bottles uses energy and emits toxic chemicals. Transporting the bottled water across hundreds or thousands of miles spews carbon dioxide into the air, complicating our efforts to combat global climate change. And in the end, empty bottles are piling up in landfills.

Tree Hugger - Earth Friendly Product's 'New Wave High-Performance Auto Dishwasher Gel' held its own against Cascade in an independent study showing that these phosphate-free cleaners can perform just as well as conventional cleaners. . . Both solutions performed equally well when it came to removing dirt and grime from dishes. Then dishes were inspected for spotting and filming and both received high scores.


Osama bin Laden is alive and "putting a lot of energy into his own security," the director of the CIA, General Michael Hayden, said today. laden hayden Osama bin Laden is alive and hiding in Pakistan, said CIA chief Michael Hayden today, though the terrorism leader has little oversight of the al Qaeda daily operations.
He also claimed, without providing details, that the US intelligence community had disrupted an attack "that would have rivaled the destruction of 9/11." A senior intelligence official said Hayden was referring to the 2006 liquid bomb on airliners plot that was foiled in London.


The other day we cited a number of cases of top officials talking about the likelihood of another major guerilla attack, perhaps along the line of 9/11. Jeff Stein has a counter-story

Jeff Stein, CQ -
Considerable anxiety has been expressed about the possibility of al Qaeda taking advantage of the handoff of security agencies from the Bush administration to the incoming Obama team. But according to CIA Director Michael V. Hayden, all's very quiet on the Western front. For the moment.

Hayden, who headed the eavesdropping National Security Agency before taking the CIA job, said Thursday there had been "no increased chatter" about plots picked up by U.S. intelligence, according to my CQ colleague Tim Starks, who covered Hayden's appearance at The Atlantic Council of the United States, a nonpartisan think tank in Washington. "We do not see any real or artificial spike" in that chatter as a result of the election, Hayden said in answer to a question after his speech. On the other hand, Hayden said, "We don't know what we don't know."


Overheard in DC -
Saturday by the Reflecting Pool: Six-year-old boy: "Daddy, I want to run in the water and catch a goose!" Dad: "You do that and you'll never get security clearance." The little boy's face falls and he turns away from the pool.- DCist


At November 27, 2008 1:51 AM, Blogger kesha said...

This Thanksgiving it is more important than ever to pay attention to what we have to be thankful for. For me, it's health, family, friends the ability to pay bills and gratitude that I have the discipline to continue to exercise and eat well and think clearly.


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