Thursday, July 3, 2008
Presses for bipartisan support before new president takes office
Senator Edward M. Kennedy's office has begun convening a series of meetings involving a wide array of healthcare specialists to begin laying the groundwork for a new attempt to provide universal healthcare, according to participants.
The discussions signal that Kennedy, who instructed aides to begin holding the meetings while he is in Massachusetts undergoing treatment for brain cancer, intends to work vigorously to build bipartisan support for a major healthcare initiative when he returns to Washington in the fall.
Those involved in the discussions said Kennedy believes it is extremely important to move as quickly as possible on overhauling the healthcare system after the next president takes office in January in order to capitalize on the momentum behind a new administration.
Kennedy was an early endorser of Senator Barack Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee who is also a member of the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, which Kennedy chairs.
Obama's Senate staff has attended the roundtable discussions. If Obama is elected, Kennedy's effort to identify points of agreement among senators could smooth the way for the new administration to press ahead on universal healthcare, which Obama has promised to implement within four years.
By Warren P. Strobel
UNITED NATIONS — Iran's senior diplomat said Tuesday that Tehran was seriously considering a new offer from six world powers to resolve the dispute over its nuclear program, and he praised the package as "constructive."
The unusually positive remarks by Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki to a small group of reporters raised hope that a negotiated solution can be found to defuse the crisis.
The U.N. Security Council has demanded that Iran suspend the enrichment of uranium that can be used for nuclear weapons, and the Bush administration has refused direct talks with Iran until it meets that condition.
During a 90-minute luncheon at Iran's United Nations mission, Mottaki dismissed the growing speculation that Israel or the United States will strike at Iran's nuclear facilities during President Bush's last six months in office.
He described news reports to that effect as part of a long-running campaign of "psychological warfare."
The chance that Israel will attack Iran "is almost nil," Mottaki said. As for a U.S. strike, he said there was little public support in this country for a new conflict. "The consequences of such an attack cannot be predicted," he said.
Yet there are signs of intensified debate within Iran's leadership about its nuclear program. Iran has long said that it has an inalienable right to enrich uranium for peaceful purposes. But Mottaki declined three opportunities to reiterate that position Tuesday, indicating that Iran is weighing its options.
"We are seriously and carefully examining" the proposal, Mottaki said.
By Christopher Hitchens
It's quite common to read, usually from liberal opponents of the engagement in Iraq, that George W. Bush's administration hasn't asked the American people to make any sacrifices. I must confess that I never quite understand this criticism. As a society, we collectively contribute a great deal from our common treasury to give Iraq a fighting chance to recover from three decades of war and fascism and to prevent it from falling into the hands of the enemies of civilization. And as fellow citizens, we experience the agony of loss when our soldiers, aid workers, civil servants, and others are murdered. (That each of these is a volunteer is a great cause for national pride.)
However, I do believe that many people wish they could do something positive and make a contribution, however small, to the effort to build democracy in Iraq. And I have a suggestion. In the northern Iraqi city of Sulaymaniya, the American University of Iraq has just opened its doors. And it is appealing for people to donate books.
Here is some background: In 2006, the McKinsey consulting group was hired by my friend Barham Salih, the deputy prime minister of Iraq, to produce a business plan for a university along the lines of the existing success stories of the American Universities in Cairo and Beirut. The board of trustees includes Ayad Allawi, Iraq's former prime minister, Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins, Kanan Makiya of Brandeis, and Iraqi President Jalal Talabani. The U.S. Congress has pledged more than $10 million to the project, as has the Kurdish Regional Government, the autonomous administration of the country's northeastern provinces. For reasons of security, the only campus open at present is in this area of Iraq, where Americans are not targeted and where al-Qaida dares not operate. But Salih, who is himself a Kurd and a native of Sulaymaniya, hopes that as the situation on the ground improves, there will also be campuses in Baghdad and Basra.http://www.slate.com/id/2194308/
The mighty US has held the best ever hand in global political history but played it spectacularly badly. Now its influence is waning on all fronts
When historians try to understand the world of the early 21st century, they should take note of the Parsley crisis. In 2002, the government of Morocco sent 12 soldiers to a tiny island called Leila in the Straits of Gibraltar and planted its flag there.
The island is uninhabited and all that thrives on it is wild parsley, hence its Spanish name, Perejil. But its sovereignty had long been contested and the Spanish government reacted forcefully: 75 Spanish soldiers were airlifted onto the island; they pulled down the Moroccan flag, hoisted two Spanish flags and sent the Moroccans home. The Moroccan government denounced the "act of war" and Spain put its warships off the coast of Morocco.
From afar the whole affair looked like a comic opera. But someone was going to have to talk the two countries down. That role fell not to the United Nations, or to the European Union, or to France, which has good relations with both sides. It fell to the United States. "I kept thinking to myself, 'What do I have to do with any of this?' " recalled Colin Powell, who was secretary of state.
Once it became clear that nothing else was working, he began a hectic round of telephone diplomacy from home on a Friday night: "I decided that I had to push for a compromise fast because otherwise pride takes over, positions harden and people get stubborn. And my grandkids were going to come over soon for a swim."
By Saturday morning he had drafted an agreement on his home computer. He got both sides to accept it, signed for each side himself and faxed it to Spain and Morocco. They issued statements thanking the United States for helping to resolve the crisis. Powell got to go swimming with his grandkids.
It is a small example but a telling one. The United States has no interests in the Strait of Gibraltar. But it was the only country that could resolve the dispute for a simple fundamental reason. In the unipolar world we have lived in since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, it is the single superpower.
July 3rd, 2008
Although it was a short week, News Groper's A-list bloggers did not take an early vacation. Morgan Freeman laid out an itinerary for the day he becomes invisible, Dr. Phil decided defense mechanisms have their rightful place, and Bill O'Reilly drew attention to the number one danger facing America: freeloading penguins. Also we started a tumblr account. www.miquoter.com. Go there to get our funniest short quips throughout the day. Happy 4th!
I was wrong, denial can be a great thing by Dr. Phil
This recession, like my hair, just needs an elaborate combover by Donald Trump
I can see everything by Morgan Freeman
I can't survive on 6500 Starbucks by Christopher Walken
Thank God my mom made me take dancing lessons by Mario Lopez
No more handouts, penguins! by Bill O'Reilly
The News Groper Editors
News Groper is a network of fake parody blogs.
Address: News Groper LLC, 18 Bridge St., Suite 2E, Brooklyn, NY 11201, USA.
Copyright © 2008 News Groper LLC. All rights reserved.
Abdelaziz, who hails from Brittany in northwestern France, has been wandering around Europe for the past two months with his two donkeys, Nounou and Toutoune, according to the Göteborg-Posten (GP) newspaper.
And the journey had been going smoothly, if not slowly, until the pilgrims landed on Swedish shores, whereupon they were met by requests for permits and paperwork.
"I had thought about just going to Stockholm and then heading back but now I'm not sure what's going to happen. All they care about are documents," Abdelaziz said to GP as he nodded toward the customs checkpoint.
While customs officials weren't unsympathetic to the Frenchman's plight, they explained that he lacked important documents required by Sweden's Board of Agriculture, including a veterinary examination costing €250 ($395), a sum which Abdelaziz wasn't prepared to pay.
The whole incident left the animal's owner feeling frustrated, regretting his decision to come to Sweden.
Ever since Jerry Cortinas was seriously injured in the line of duty, his wife Celina has helped him slowly readjust to civilian life.
Gary Raymond and his wife, Amanda, prepare their family and their lives for Gary's upcoming tour in Iraq.
CONCORD, Calif. - More than 2,000 guitar-players performing "This Land is Your Land" in a Bay Area park appear to have strummed their way into the record books.
Led by 1960s folk singer acoustic guitar pickers played the Woody Guthrie classic at Todos Santos Park in Concord on Tuesday night., 2,052 electric and
McDonald kept the racket going for more than six minutes, as children and adults repeated the song's chorus.
Organizers believe the rendition was good enough to beat the Guinness World Record for guitar-ensemble playing. The previous mark was set in Germany in 2007, when 1,802 people played "Smoke on the Water."
In this photo released by the Chatelet theater on Tuesday, July 1, 2008, Canada's Daniel Okulitch performs in a scene of The Fly directed by David Cronenberg in Paris, France. Cronenberg's 1986 horror flick 'The Fly' has undergone a strange metamorphosis, and now it's an opera. The new incarnation of 'The Fly,' with tenor Placido Domingo conducting the orchestra and Academy Award-winning composer Howard Shore behind the score, isn't as gory as the original.
Photo by Marie Noelle Robert
Your Daily Dose Of Over The Top News
According to French researchers, low levels of good cholesterol have been linked directly to memory loss, or dementia.
The study was led by Archana Singh-Manoux of the French National Institute for Health and Medical Research in Paris.
At the University College London in England, over 3,500 people took place in the study, which began in 1985.
What they found was that those with low levels of high-density lipoproteins or HDL "good" cholesterol, were more likely to suffer from memory loss or dementia.
This was witnessed in all middle-aged people, men and women.
by Jon Faulkner
It's not difficult to make the case that conservative republicans suffer from a form of mental illness. Americans have watched them embrace family values and discover ethics, while stealing an election and contriving the circumstances for starting wars. They have worked tirelessly to undermine the American Constitution while frantically waving the flag. They firmly believe in the privatization of government and consistently ignore the inconvenient history of the American taxpayer bailout of one failed/scandalized corporation after the next. These things, by and of themselves, don't make republicans soft in their heads, but as Einstein said of insanity, it's "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."
There are no practical reasons that Americans, unless they are independently wealthy, or industrial capitalists, should belong to the republican party. In a healthy, freedom loving democracy, republicanism would not be tolerated, and its inherents would be shunned like the plague. One has only to ask, "Just what is it that conservative republicans have ever done for the collective good of the nation?" If a rejoinder is slow in coming it's understandable, because the answer is, not much, if anything. Republican mental illness manifests itself in the duality that conservatives want to turn the clock back to mom, apple pie, and that good, ol' time religion, while unmercifully exploiting every natural resource until the ravaged earth will no longer support life. Turning yet another profit takes precedence over their own survival. This is not a healthy, mental state.To attain public office, conservative republicans must lie. The truth must be disguised because their motives for leadership rest solely on their ambition to material gain. Sharing the nation's vast wealth among its people is anathema to republicans.
It looks like Google has officially joined the Barack Obama campaign and decided that its contribution would be to shut down any blog on the Google owned Blogspot.com blogging system that has an anti-Obama message. Yes, it sure seems that Google has begun to go through its many thousands of blogs to lock out the owners of anti-Obama blogs so that the noObama message is effectively squelched. Thus far, Google has terminated the access by blog owners to 7 such sites and the list may be growing. Boy, it must be nice for Barack Obama to have an ally powerful enough to silence his opponents like that!
It isn't just conservative sites that Google's Blogger platform is eliminating. For instance, www.comealongway.blogspot.com has been frozen and this one is a Hillary supporting site. The operator of Come a Long Way has a mirror site off the Blogspot platform and has today posted this notice:
I used to have a happy internet home on Blogger: www.comealongway.blogspot.com. Then on Wednesday night, June 25, I received the following e-mail:
Dear Blogger user,
This is a message from the Blogger team.
Your blog, at http://comealongway.blogspot.com/, has been identified as a potential spam blog. You will not be able to publish posts to your blog until we review your site and confirm that it is not a spam blog.
The Blogger Team
It turns out that there is an interesting pattern where it concerns the blogs that Google's Blogspot team have summarily locked down on their service. They all belong to the Just Say No Deal coalition, a group of blogs that are standing against the Obama campaign. It seems the largest portion of these blogs are Hillary supporting blogs, too.
All I can say is, WOW! If Google is willing to abuse its power like this even against fellow leftists, what does it plan against conservatives, the folks Google hates even more!?
Here is a list of the Blogspot blogs that have been frozen by Google thus far:
- Blue Lyon @ http://bluelyon.blogspot.com
- Come A Long Way @ http://comealongway.blogspot.com
- Hillary or Bust @ http://hillaryorbust.blogspot.com
- McCain Democrats @ http://mccaindemocrats.blogspot.com
- NObama Blog @ http://nobamablog.blogspot.com
- politicallizard.blogspot.com @ http://thelizardannex.blogspot.com
- Reflections in Tyme @ http://reflections-in-tyme.blogspot.com
You thought you took home a haul at the farmers' market last week, but you've got nothin' on Wal-Mart. The big-box retailer has become the nation's largest buyer of local produce, planning to purchase and sell $400 million worth of locally grown fruits and veggies this year. Wal-Mart says it works with "hundreds" of individual farmers, and has 50 percent more partnerships with local growers than it did in 2006. During the summer months, says the company, one-fifth of available produce in Wal-Mart stores is sourced locally. An emphasis on local produce -- which Wal-Mart defines as grown and sold in the same state -- keeps the company's delivery trucks from burning about 100,000 gallons of diesel, slices its customers' farm-to-plate distance by 672,000 miles, and saves it $1.4 million each year.
A ruling by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that details both the threat of global warming and our ability to address the problem has been suppressed by the White House since December. This document, produced in response to a "monumental" Supreme Court mandate, includes a "multimillion-dollar study conducted over two years" that finds "the net benefit to society could be in excess of $2 trillion" if strong carbon dioxide emissions standards for the automotive industry are issued. The proposal to increase today's fuel economy standards by 50 percent from 25 miles per gallon to 38.3 mpg by 2020 is stronger than those included in the 2007 Energy Independence and Security Act, which called for a 40 percent increase. EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson used the signing of the act as the public excuse to reject the findings of his staff and block California's proposal to regulate greenhouse tailpipe emissions. In fact, congressional investigations have revealed that officials in the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) refused to open the email containing the EPA plan and that Johnson has been stonewalling to prevent disclosure of President Bush's role.