Monday, November 29, 2010

Headlines - Monday November 29

The Guardian: US embassy cables: The job of the media is not to protect the powerful from embarrassment

It is for governments – not journalists – to guard public secrets, and there is no national jeopardy in WikiLeaks' revelations

Anything said or done in the name of a democracy is, prima facie, of public interest. When that democracy purports to be "world policeman" – an assumption that runs ghostlike through these cables – that interest is global. Nonetheless, the Guardian had to consider two things in abetting disclosure, irrespective of what is anyway published by WikiLeaks. It could not be party to putting the lives of individuals or sources at risk, nor reveal material that might compromise ongoing military operations or the location of special forces.

Keep reading:

Meanwhile, the NYT received its dump of diplomatic documents from the Guardian, not Wikileaks. This isn't surprising given that the Times' editor went out of his way to call Wikileaks irresponsible, ran an unflattering profile of Julian Assange alongside the last Wikileaks story, and wouldn't even link from their Iraq Wikileaks story to the Wikileaks site.

I can't think of another instance of a newspaper bashing a source while at the same time publishing a major story based on that source's revelations. The opposite is usually true, since most media outlets grant anonymity to sources in return for even the most trivial revelations, so it's impossible for their readers to even begin to judge the source's motives.

I'm sure the Times will chalk this one up to Julian Assange's eccentricity, but I have to believe that they've damaged themselves in the eyes of other potential sources. Having to rely on the charity of a British newspaper to get one of the most important stories of the year is a pretty low place for a paper that fancies itself the leading American newspaper.


Greenwald: The FBI Successfully Thwarts Its Own Terrorist Plot


The Rich Get Rich and the Poor Get Poorer - Hunger and Homelessness in America



GOP Senate leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has stated that his principal goal is to cause Obama to lose in 2012. Tangible improvements in the economy are key to Obama's reelection. If, as the GOP claims, Obama's policies are bad for the economy, then the GOP should give him everything he proposes and reap the political benefits in the 2012 election. If, on the other hand, the GOP fears that Obama's policies will revitalize the economy, then those policies must be obstructed in any way possible.

The April raising of the debt ceiling will show if the GOP priority is the economy or their own political ambitions. Continue reading 'SABOTAGE!'


New Jersey: Atheism Billboard Goes Up At Lincoln Tunnel

The American Atheists have erected the above billboard at the New Jersey entrance to the Lincoln Tunnel as part of a campaign to encourage people to "come out of the closet" about their atheism and "stop going through the motions" of taking part in Christmas shopping and celebrations. Some Christians are upset.

"I don't think it's any good for the kids. I've got a 7-year-old daughter — she believes in Christmas," one woman told 1010 WINS' Terry Sheridan. "I don't think that's right. We don't go around telling them what we think about [atheists], so why should they put up something like that," another man said. The billboard went up the Tuesday before Thanksgiving and is expected to be up through Christmas Day. [American Atheists president David] Silverman said atheists were unfairly targeted in the "war on Christmas," a phrase often related to the public display of Christmas imagery on government funded property. "We get blamed for a war on Christmas every year. This time we're actually going to pay attention to that. We're actually going to earn a little bit of that," Silverman said. "We have been blamed repeatedly for being unpatriotic, we have been told that there are not atheists in fox holes, we have been told that we are immoral. Nobody has ever cared if we would be offended." While acknowledging "everybody has the right to believe as they see fit," Silverman said his group believed there were "a lot more people" who were atheists, but feared publicly admitting it. "A lot of people in church, a lot of people in the mosque, a lot of people in the synagogue know they're praying to air," Silverman said.
Playing games with foreign policy

The Republicans just can't stop themselves from playing political games over this nation's standing in the world. Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona is attempting to deflect blame away from himself and onto Harry Reid for his own gross obstructionism.

Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona denied there was any partisanship behind his calls for a delay. He said the Senate has more urgent business to attend to in the weeks before it breaks for Christmas, including dealing with potential tax increases and funding the government through the rest of the budget year.

There you have it, prolonging tax-cuts for the rich and possibly de-funding the government are more "urgent" matters than potentially damaging our relationship with Russia and handing Iran or even North Korea a propaganda talking-point. Do we really want to do that given recent events?

So what does Senator Kyl want? More pork spending of course!

Weeks prior to his appearance on "Meet the Press," he demanded that the administration include additional funds for nuclear weapons modernization as part of the overall package.

Amidst the crescendo of deficit fearmongering, and while saying the budget is more "urgent" than ratifying START, Kyl is calling for more funding of new nuclear weapons. Who wants to bet some of those funds would find their way into the hands of defense contractors in the Arizona desert?


Fox News pundits such as Sean Hannity, Bill Kristol and Michael Scheuer have been salivating for the U.S. to attack North Korea but behind the scenes the parent company of News Corp is not only doing business with the regime but the kind of business that could bolster North Korea's cyberwarfare capabilities.


The bible is not a medical text

Although citing the Bible seems to be a way to fast-track bad science papers to publication. In yet another example of a journal letting bad Bible interpretations pass for science, a paper titled "Newer insights to the neurological diseases among biblical characters of old testament has been published in the Annals of the Indian Academy of Neurology. It isn't new or newer, it doesn't offer any insights, and the title isn't even grammatical. Among its inventions is the idea that Sampson was autistic because he was violent and had odd dietary habits, that Isaac was diabetic, and that Ezekiel had a stroke.

Could someone explain to me how dubious diagnoses based on vague descriptions of serially translated myths can actually advance our understanding of disease, other than by promoting the publication careers of scientists happy to pander to superstition? I suppose one use for these things is enhancing the jocularity of interactions between neuroscientists at the lab bench, since laughing at religious idiots could be a productive bonding experience between the grad students and post-docs.

(via Neuroskeptic and Autism Blog)


Vow of poverty  ur doin it wrong


Skippy's environmental news stories Sunday


Great place to start cutting ....

WASHINGTON — Job-based health care benefits could wind up on the chopping block if President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans get serious about cutting the deficit.


Copenhagen plans super highways ... for bikes.


John Cole's thoughts on the Wikileaks dump summarized as:

1.) We really are doing everything they accuse us of doing. For me, the biggest surprise is they would openly ask diplomats to spy.

2.) Apparently, near everyone in he world wants the United States to attack Iran. They also want to make sure that it is the United States who is blamed for attacking Iran, and want no credit/blame/perception of involvement.

3.) Iraq is still an absolute mess.

I generally sense that people, overall, will be more hostile towards wikileaks after this dump. The previous dumps seemed to corroborate competing stories. This dump will just be viewed by many as an attempt to hurt the United States. I have a hard time getting worked up about it- a government that views none of my personal correspondence as confidential really can't bitch when this sort of thing happens.

*** Update ***

One final irony. All this data was available because we changed policies in response to 9/11.


"If my presidency doesn't work out, Hillary, we could always do a remake of 'I Spy'."


"Surely you can't be serious!"

"I am serious, and don't call me 'Shirley.'

Least surprising news of the day
Barbarians in the halls of power
Here in the U.S. we're about to find out what happens when violent nihilists bent on destroying the government are given seats in Congress.

At the United Nations, they've already turned the place over to the murderers.

PZ Myers:

So, various factions at the United Nations have been pushing for anti-blasphemy motions - after all, we can't go around picking on weak ideas. But do you know who the UN thinks are fair game? Non-heterosexual people.

Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people were once again subject to the whims of homophobia and religious and cultural extremism this week, thanks to a United Nations vote that removed "sexual orientation" from a resolution that protects people from arbitrary executions. In other words, the UN General Assembly this week voted to allow LGBT people to be executed without cause.

Jesus and Mohammed get a little cranky at the idea of someone being rude to their books of magic spells, but setting a gay man on fire? That's just an excuse to party.

The United Nations is a wonderful idea in principle, except for the little problem of giving barbarians a vote.

Yes: anyone who insists that a ridiculous myth deserves protection from insult but fellow human beings don't deserve protection from murder is a barbarian.


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