Friday, July 24, 2009

White Justice

David Gregory Sinks to New Low in Sanford Affair and Finally Wins BuzzFlash's Media Putz Award




David Gregory

For reporting that is an embarrassment to the profession of journalism, and for being beholden to corporate paymasters rather than the citizens of America.

The aftermath of journalists -- and Stephen Colbert -- sucking up to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford showed us that we have come a long way since the now-famous Dan Rather-Richard Nixon confrontation of March 19, 1974.

Q. Thank you, Mr. President. Dan Rather, with CBS News. [Sustained audience reaction] Mr. President -- Mr. President

THE PRESIDENT. Are you running for something? [Laughter]

Q. No, sir, Mr. President; are you? [Laughter]

Somehow, even in the sea of faux journalism in the Sanford affair, one popped up as the lead swimmer -- David Gregory, host of NBC's "Meet the Press."

The people who were probably the happiest that Gregory got the job (besides the Republican Party and its most prominent members) were Roger Mudd, Marvin Kalb, Chris Wallace, and Garrick Utley -- pre-Russert hosts of the show -- guaranteeing them that they would never again be called the worst host in the history of the show.

Let's get to the juicy stuff. Here is the e-mail quote from Gregory that shows his "concern" for journalistic integrity.

Look, you guys have a lot of pitches .. I get it and I know this is a tough situation ... Let me just say this is the place to have a wider conversation with some context about not just the personal but also the future for him and the party ... This situation only exacerbates the issue of how the GOP recovers when another national leader suffers a setback like this. So coming on Meet The Press allows you to frame the conversation how you really want to...and then move on. You can see (sic) you have done your interview and then move on. Consider it.

This is modern-day TV journalism in action: Treating the hypocritical governor of South Carolina, and a reported serious presidential contender in 2012, in the same manner as trying to get an interview with Michael Jackson's doctor. The excuse is that "they're all celebrities, and we have to defer to them to get them on our show."

Uh, no. You don't get a legitimate interview if you don't treat your subject on equal footing.

Ministry halts controversial electrotherapy program for Internet addicts

The Ministry of Health has ordered a halt to a controversial electroshock treatment intended to help treat Internet addiction in teenagers, the Beijing News reported on Tuesday.

The Ministry said the therapy, which was administered by a clinic in Linyi, Shandong province, has not been proven to be safe.

Kong Lingzhong, editor of a domestic Internet addiction-themed portal told the Beijing News that there was still fierce debate over whether electroshock therapy was appropriate for young internet addicts.

"We have no clue whether this freaky treatment has side-effects," Kong said.

Yang Shuyun from the clinic in Shandong told the media yesterday afternoon that they stopped giving the treatment as soon as they received the Health Ministry's notification.

Bowing to the pressure though, she also emphasized that the program led by Dr. Yang Yongxin was not exclusively about electrotherapy, and said it had important medical and psychological elements too.

The China Daily reported last month that more than 3,000 young people were tricked or forced into in to the four-month long course. To enroll their children, parents or guardians had to sign a contract acknowledging that they would be given electric shocks of up to 200 milliamperes. The treatment cost 6,000 yuan ($878) per month. Patients were considered "cured" or "reborn" once they admitted to their addiction.

According to the Guangdong-based Information Times, shocks were given if patients broke any of the center's 86 rules, which included prohibitions on eating chocolate, locking the bathroom door, taking pills before a meal, and sitting in Dr. Yang's chair without permission.

Announcement: Obama's drug czar declares marijuana has no medical value

Sara Cannon posted an announcement to the cause End Marijuana Prohibition.

"Marijuana is dangerous and has no medicinal benefit."
— White House drug czar Gil Kerlikowske, at a Fresno, Calif., press conference yesterday

Not again.

In fact — and it's getting a little tiresome to keep repeating it — the esteemed Institute of Medicine, American Nurses Association, American Public Health Association, American Academy of HIV Medicine, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Lymphoma Foundation of America, American Academy of HIV Medicine, and dozens of other medical organizations recognize marijuana's medical value.

What's more, President Obama's own statements on the campaign trail about marijuana's medical efficacy run counter to his new drug czar's statements yesterday.

We need to stop this in its tracks. Would you please speak out against this ridiculous, outdated argument:

1. Please use MPP's online action center to e-mail the president about the drug czar's statement. Here is the URL:

2. Please call the drug czar's office at (202) 395-6700 to politely complain that we're still hearing this sort of nonsense.

We need to make sure the drug czar receives the message loud and clear that the anti-science Bush era is over.

Thank you,

Rob Kampia
Executive Director
Marijuana Policy Project
Washington, D.C.

View Announcement 

Reverse Tongass Clearcut Decision!

Care2 Action Alert

In a stunning blow to the environment, the Obama Administration just approved a clearcut of 382 acres of timber in a roadless area of Alaska's Tongass National Forest.

Stop the clearcut! >>

The clearcut in the Tongass will involve building 6.9 miles of roads and rebuilding another 1.9 miles of old roads. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack put a temporary halt to timber sales in roadless areas of national forests -- but he approved this timber sale despite the concerns of people who care about this important temperate rainforest, home to numerous endangered species.

Vilack argues it'll provide much-needed jobs for the region -- but even in troubled economic times, we cannot sacrifice the future of our planet!

Urge President Obama to reverse this decision and ensure no more clearcutting and roadbuilding occurs in the Tongass >>

From Care2 Thank you,
Care2 and ThePetitionSite Team

Take action link:

Connect with Care2!
Become a fan of Care2 on Facebook Be our friend on MySpace
And follow us on twitter:

This Is Where Each of Your 1.421 Trillion Dollars Is Going In 2010

This Is Where Each of Your 1.421 Trillion Dollars Is Going In 2010 504x us budgetThis Is Where Each of Your 1.421 Trillion Dollars Is Going In 2010 504x howmuch

The Death and Taxes poster shows every single expense according to the president's 2010 budget request. The circles you see here are proportional in size to their actual weight in the total budget. Each of the figures include the percentage change compared to 2009.

Political Pranksters Say Latest Climate Venture Is Not Hot Air

By Joshua Rhett Miller

But can the Yes Men -- a group that has previously lampooned former President George W. Bush and impersonated officials from Dow Chemical and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development -- be taken seriously?

Igor Vamos, one of the Yes Men's founders, claims the Yes Men's latest venture,, is completely authentic. The group is seeking "like-minded people" to participate in non-violent acts of civil disobedience to coincide with the U.N.-hosted Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in December.

"It's a real site," Vamos told during a phone interview from Scotland. "But right now, it's still in the planning stages."

Vamos, who uses the alias Mike Bonanno, said the site was created about three weeks ago, but it hasn't been officially launched yet. He says several environmental groups and climate action organizations will join the effort and participate in "very wacky protests" as the climate conference approaches. But Vamos declined to identify those groups.

"Not every act of civil disobedience has to be somber," Vamos said. "We're looking for ways to build up a massive coalition to put pressure on governments [regarding climate change]."

The Yes Men say they are seeking 10,000 participants to participate in the yet-to-be determined acts of civil disobedience, and they are billing it as potentially the largest act of collective protest in the demand for aggressive action against climate change. As of midday Wednesday, 2,340 people had signed up, according to the Web site.,2933,533363,00.html

US car manufacturers plough a lonely furrow on biofuels

The US Environmental Protection Agency wants to boost the ethanol blend in fuels in a misguided bid to cut emissions

Corn for biofuel

When the motor manufacturers are in dispute with the US Environmental Protection Agency, you wouldn't win much for guessing which side I'm likely to be on. But this time you'd be wrong.

The EPA has to decide whether or not to allow more ethanol to be blended with gasoline. At the moment the limit for ordinary motor gas (petrol) is 10%. The agency is inclined to raise this to 15%. The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers is trying to prevent or postpone it. I'm with the car makers, though not for the reasons they cite; ethanol's effect on a vehicle's performance is not what keeps me awake at night. Since 2004 I've been banging on about the impact of biofuels on the environment and global food supplies, and I've been horribly vindicated. In 2008 the expansion of biofuel production was directly responsible for the decline in global food stocks, which caused grain prices to rise, catalysing famines in many parts of the world. Cereal stockpiles declined by 53m tonnes; the production of biofuels, mostly by the US, consumed almost 100m tonnes, according to a piece in the Economist on 6th December 2007. As the UN's special rapporteur, Jean Ziegler says, turning food for people into food for cars is, "a crime against humanity".

It's also a crime against the environment. In almost all cases, biofuels made from grain or oil crops create more greenhouse emissions than petroleum. This is partly because they lead to an expansion in total crop production, which means that forests must be cut down, unploughed pastures must be tilled and wetlands must be drained to accommodate it. The carbon stored in both the vegetation and the soil is released and oxidised. Two papers in Science (here and here) show that when land clearance is taken into account, biofuels made from grain or oil crops cause a big increase in emissions.

Dennis Kucinich Confronts MD Who Claimed Canadian Health Care Was Worse That The US's

From Skins of Onions, Farmers Develop Promising Biogas

A large onion processor in California is taking 300,000 pounds of onion waste a day — skins, tails, and tops — and converting much of it into a biogas that he uses to power his operation. Steven Gill, a partner in Gills Onions — which dices, slices, and purees onion for wholesale and retail customers — has worked with Southern California Gas Company to create an energy recovery system that produces 600 kilowatts per day, which meets up to 40 percent of the electricity needs of his processing plant. The onion waste is shredded and pressed to squeeze out the juice, which is then diverted to an anaerobic digester. Workers add microbes that convert the juice into methane gas, which helps power Gill's facility. Gill used to spread the onion waste on fields but soon ran out of room. Southern California Gas provided $2.7 million in incentives for the $9.5 million energy recovery system. Gill estimates that converting the onion waste to biogas will save him $700,000 a year in electricity costs and $400,000 in waste disposal costs, meaning the plant will pay for itself in about six years. Nearby carrot and wine producers are interested in installing similar systems.

Should Hot Dogs Have Warning Labels?

Should Hot Dogs Have Warning Labels?

On Wednesday, July 22, the Cancer Project, an affiliate of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM), a nonprofit organization that advocates vegetarianism and alternatives to animal research, filed a class-action consumer fraud lawsuit to require hot dog manufacturers to place warning labels on hot dog packages sold in New Jersey. The labels would read, "Warning: Consuming hot dogs and other processed meats increases the risk of cancer."

According to PCRM's press release, the lawsuit was filed on behalf of three New Jersey residents who purchased hot dogs without knowing that processed meats contribute to colorectal cancer.

Studies show that there is conclusive link between meat consumption and colorectal cancer. The American Cancer Society even warns, "A diet that is high in red meats (beef, lamb, or liver) and processed meats such as hot dogs, bologna, and lunch meat can increase your colorectal cancer risk."

Does this mean the hot dog companies should be required to inform potential customers about the risks involved? Well, why not? Some people will say that an occassional hot dog won't hurt anyone, and that most people already know that hot dogs aren't a healthy food.  But, for the many people who struggle to eat "in moderation," or don't even attempt too, warning labels might make it harder for them to remain willfully ignorant, eating meats every day of every week and contributing to America's skyrocketing health care costs.      

Cigarettes carry warnings stating that smoking causes cancer; why not meat? While we can't entirely avoid every unhealthy food, compound, or toxin there is, we can identify the major disease culprits. Warning labels may not prevent people from eating hot dogs altogether--they can still choose to eat as many as the wish--but perhaps labels will make them more mindful of their eating habits.

Personally, I'd rather see labels reminding hot dog consumers that "this package contains the flesh of a smart, social pig who was slaughtered in a bloody, violent way." That way, even consumers who claim that just a few hot dogs won't hurt them, will still have to acknowledge that the same sentiment doesn't apply to pigs.

Conservative Activist Forwards Racist Pic Showing Obama As Witch Doctor

The election of our first black president has brought with it a strange proliferation of online racism among conservatives.

And we've got the latest example.

On Sunday night, Dr. David McKalip forwarded to fellow members of a Google listserv affiliated with the Tea Party movement the image below. Above it, he wrote: "Funny stuff."

Now, Tea Party activists trafficking in racist imagery are pretty much dog bites man. But McKalip isn't just some random winger. He's a Florida neurosurgeon, who serves as a member of the American Medical Association's House of Delegates.

He's also an energetic conservative opponent of health-care reform. McKalip founded the anti-reform group Doctors For Patient Freedom, as well as what seems to be a now defunct group called Cut Taxes Now. Last month he joined GOP congressmen Tom Price and Phil Gingrey, among others, for a virtual town hall to warn about the coming "government takeover of medicine." And in a recent anti-reform op-ed published in the St. Petersburg Times, McKalip wrote that "Congress wants to create larger, government-funded programs for health care and more bureaucracy that ration care and impose cookbook medicine."

Asked about the email in a brief phone interview with TPMmuckraker, McKalip said he believes that by depicting the president as an African witch doctor, the "artist" who created the image "was expressing concerns that the health-care proposals [made by President Obama] would make the quality of medical care worse in our country." McKalip said he didn't know who created it.

But pressed on what was funny about an image that plays on racist stereotypes about Africans, McKalip declined to say, instead offering to talk about why he opposes Obama's health-care proposals.

"I have a busy day," he said eventually, before ending the call.

American health care: the view from expatriate who came home

Oregon opinion articles, political commentary, cartoons and more

by Roger J. Newell

As the health care reform debate revs up, the vested interests in the status quo warn against any alterations that might damage "the world's best health care system." In the 1980s I was a temporary resident in Great Britain, first as a graduate student, later as a pastor.

I'll never forget feeling anxious about how I would survive the "socialized" medicine against which I had been repeatedly warned. What I discovered instead was an absence of the anxieties that American families continue to endure 20 years later: worries over losing coverage or being able to afford quality care when it's urgent.

These nagging dreads were simply nonexistent among the people with whom I was now living and serving. Of course they had concerns about health, but they were of an entirely different order.

What helps me explain the difference to Americans who have not lived in Europe is an analogy with the public school system. Setting aside for the moment the important debates about funding and the possibilities of private options, the fact remains that Americans simply assume their kids will attend school through high school as a universal entitlement of democracy. We can't imagine any child being denied an education because of a parent's misfortune in losing his or her job for whatever reason. The British (along with the rest of Europe) regard health care the way we regard education.

Gradually, however, I saw something deeper at work in a society where everyone had a right to health care. I witnessed how the privilege of universal health care had awakened a common sense of duty toward my neighbor and mutual respect for one another, causing a tangible awareness that everyone was treated with a fundamental equality, not as an abstract motto repeated on patriotic occasions but as practical as walking into the local doctor's office or hospital when you or a family member were ill. In other words, my personal self-worth was bound together with a respect for my neighbor's worth (and health) as well.

Alaska Fund Trust - Who Knew?

Tiptoeing Through the Muck of Alaskan Politics

Well, the dust-storm kicked up yesterday by the leaking of the investigator's findings regarding the Alaska Fund Trust is still raging.  Presumably taken off-guard, the Palin administration and the Alaska Fund Trust have been scrambling.

A three-page, single-spaced, 10 pt. type press release just came from Kristan Cole, the Trustee of the Alaska Fund Trust.  This is serious stuff.

The usual Palin melodrama is present in the first sentence of the release, citing "the unusual letter that was leaked yesterday, the contents of which are unprecedented in the history of our country."   This unusual letter is an investigator's report regarding an ethics complaint filed by Alaska resident Kim Chatman.  In the complaint, Chatman asks whether the Alaska Fund Trust is, in itself, legal.

Now, here's where it gets interesting.  Did the governor's supporters create the fund independent of any actions on the part of the governor?  Was she involved in this, or was it simply a bunch of friends getting together and creating it as a surprise.  Was it sanctioned or not?  That's actually a pretty important piece to this complicated puzzle.  In the report from investigating attorney Tom Daniel, he stated:

If third parties created the legal defense fund completely on their own, free from any direction, influence, or guidance from the governor, it would not seem that the governor "used her position" in violation of the statute.

In Cole's press release today she states quite clearly:

I want to be clear on a point that has been misrepresented:  The Governor is not and was not involved with the Trust.  The Governor has never worked on or with the Trust.  The Governor has not even accepted or requested one penny from the Trust or quite frankly anything of me.  And I have never expected anything from her.  Really, it's quite  the contrary; as I, and many other caring folks across the country have only sought to help with this legal burden.

The first and only time I have spoken with the Governor about the Trust was yesterday to alert her that I was responding to this violation of the law and leak of preliminary and confidential materials from the complaint.

So, according to Kristan Cole, the Governor's long-time friend, she has never spoken to the Governor about the Alaska Fund Trust until yesterday. It was thought up, researched, created, launched, and was actively soliciting donations for Sarah Palin and she had never discussed it with her.  And since the governor knew nothing about it, nobody can say that she "used her position" in violation of the statute.  Remember that for later.

It becomes necessary here to take a little trip in the Mudflats time machine.  Climb aboard and let's set the dial back to March of this year.  At that time, there was much talk and speculation about Sarah Palin's then up-and-coming legal defense fund.  It was quite a story for a few days, with some interesting twists and turns.  The governor had been complaining profusely about the legal bills that were piling up from her personal attorney.  Here's what she had to say then:

"Obviously we cannot afford to personally pay these bills — and really no future governor should feel the sense of financial vulnerability at the hands of those with a political vendetta bent on personal destruction," Palin wrote. "Some have suggested a legal fund to pay these bills. We'll have to pursue that."

We. We will have to pursue a legal fund.  Hm.

The Party of No