When it comes to metaphors for the Obama administration, it is hard to top the rise and fall of Susan Rice. Her ascension to the inner circle was born of her loyalty to candidate Obama, and she failed to become secretary of state because she was loyal to President Obama instead of the truth. Her demise offers a clinic about the dangers of ambitious amateurs playing politics, but that amounts to a hill of beans to the White House. The sacrifice of Rice is just another bump in the road to shielding Obama from accountability for the Benghazi debacle.
Reality television personality David Hester has sued Storage Wars for wrongful termination alleging that the A&E program rigs auctions and plants curios in lockers. Will they next tell us that Santa Claus isn’t real? It’s a sign of the times that a genre so obviously staged, coached, and scripted calls itself “reality” television. Think “Orange Drink.” In the words of that great green-toothed philosopher Johnny Rotten, “Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated?” Reality television producers eventually discovered what their colleagues behind primetime dramas already knew: most everyday strangers aren’t so terribly interesting as to merit their own shows.
WASHINGTON — After the shooting of Representative Gabrielle Giffords of Arizona and others at a supermarket in Tucson in early 2011, the Justice Department drew up a detailed list of steps the government could take to expand the background-check system in order to reduce the risk of guns falling into the hands of mentally ill people and criminals. Most of the proposals, though, were shelved at the department a year ago as the election campaign heated up and as Congress conducted a politically charged investigation into the Operation Fast and Furious
A seriously ill baby was forced to wait in an Accident and Emergency ward for more than 12 hours because there were no suitable beds available anywhere in the UK. The shocking case emerged as specialists yesterday warned the Department of Health about a national shortage of intensive care beds for children this winter. The Paediatric Intensive Care Society (PICS) says all 29 units in Britain have been running close to capacity in recent weeks because of a surge in cases of a nasty respiratory virus and that there are several examples of children having to wait for appropriate care.
As I do every Friday, I sort through my week´s clipping files in preparation for this column. I was going to write about energy. The optimistic assessments of natural resources and the fracking technique to extract them has every potential of changing our economic future for the better and the repressive regimes of the Middle East for the worse. This despite the uninformed blather about its dangers and constraints to its use, and the ridiculous wasted billions on government subsidies and grants funneled into a make-believe solar energy future.
Since hideous, unspeakable gun massacres are such a regular occurrence in this country, I’ve had the several opportunities to live the cycle of horror, outrage, argument, recrimination, and inaction that engulfs the Internet each time. It usually goes something like this: I share a couple of links in the heat of the moment, and dissenters—many of them Southern friends and relatives—come out of the woodwork to debate. The responses are as predictable as my anti-gun links: “guns don’t kill, people do”; “if someone had had a gun, maybe they could have stopped this”; “more guns make people safer”;
Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is set to be nominated as the next secretary of State, according to news reports Saturday evening. It became clear in the wake of Susan Rice’s withdrawal from consideration on Thursday that Kerry was the leading contender for the position, touching off a theoretical chess game of speculation about who will fill his Senate seat. If Kerry resigns to move to the State Department, Gov. Deval Patrick (D) will appoint a short-term successor to serve until a special election can take place. More on the politics of that
Seven Secretaries of State have released a statement criticizing First Lady Michelle Obama for her false claim that Republicans engaged in voter suppression in the November election: “Unfortunately the First Lady’s comments continue the baseless attacks that have been made upon those leaders who are simply taking reasonable steps to protect the security and integrity of elections. This past election speaks for itself. In Arizona, a state that has a photo ID requirement, Hispanic voter turnout was the highest in the state’s history. In Georgia, African American turnout has remained high in each election after
The wind lobby is working like their livelihoods depend on it — which is mainly because, they do — to convince Congress to extend the production tax credit, set to expire at the start of the new year, that has diverted taxpayer money their way for decades now. Without the guarantee of continued federal assistance, the wind industry is already starting to bleed jobs, and in their desperation to convince their detractors to continue the credit in at least some capacity, they’re proposing a compromise of sorts in the form of an eventual six-year phaseout.
As we go to press on Friday, December 14, former Republican senator Chuck Hagel appears to be the leading candidate to become the next secretary of defense. Anti-Israel propagandists are thrilled. Stephen Walt, junior partner of the better-known Israel-hater John Mearsheimer, writes that if President Obama nominates Hagel, it will be “a smart move.” Why? Because, “unlike almost all of his former colleagues on Capitol Hill, he hasn’t been a complete doormat for the Israel lobby.” Indeed, a Hagel pick would “pay back Benjamin Netanyahu for all the ‘cooperation’ Obama received from him during the first term.”
The piano used in an iconic scene in the classic film Casablanca has been sold at auction for more than £370,000 – half the sum experts expected it to fetch. The small green instrument, used for the song As Time Goes By in the Oscar-winning 1942 movie, went to an unidentified telephone caller after bidding at Sotheby’s in New York began at £215,000. It featured in a Paris flashback scene in which Rick, played by Humphrey Bogart, toasts Ilsa, played by Ingrid Bergman, with champagne and says: “Here’s looking at you, kid,” while Dooley Wilson as Sam sings
A coded Second World War message strapped to the leg of a dead carrier pigeon has finally been deciphered. It was from a British soldier who had been parachuted into occupied Normandy to tip off RAF Bomber Command about the locations of German forces prior to the D-Day landings. The pigeon made it back to Britain but got stuck in the chimney of a Surrey house. The bird was not discovered until 1982 when a fireplace was ripped out and the message was found in a red capsule strapped to its leg. The words “Pigeon Service” at the top of
They were two young women teachers who had devoted their lives to the children whose laughter rang out in their classrooms.[Snip] Vicki Soto, 27, threw herself in front of gunman Adam Lanza’s blazing Glock pistol, taking the hail of bullets that would have killed so many of the five-year-olds who called her “Miss” and laughed at the way she chewed gum in class. In a school toilet yards away, her colleague Kaitlin Roig, 29, was hiding with her 15 pupils. She knew their only chance of surviving was to keep silent as the killer stalked the corridors of Sandy Hook
WHEN did it first start, the moment when the holiday sweater morphed from seasonal horror to cultural touchstone, an article of outrageously bad knitwear as popular among Williamsburg beard farmers as the Metamucil set? Was it when the Mistletoe Conspiracy caroled about the ugly Christmas sweater in a YouTube video? (“It’s ugly and it’s itchy, it’s frightening to children, Andy Williams wouldn’t touch it with a 10 foot pole.”) Was it when Ugly Sweater 5K runs became regular events, like those this fall in cities like Memphis, Chicago and Denver?
Palestinians in the West Bank city of Hebron have distributed a video declaring the establishment of the "National Union Battalions," which according to them will be jointly headed by members of Hamas, Fatah, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front or the Liberation of Palestine as a means of consolidating the struggle against Israel. In its announcement, the group stressed that while it supports the UN´s recognition of Palestine as a non-member observer state, it will fight to recover "all of Palestine – from the sea to the river." The video message, which the Palestinians claim was taped on
Beirut - Iran´s army chief of staff warned NATO on Saturday that stationing Patriot anti-missile batteries on Turkey´s border with Syria was setting the stage for world war. General Hassan Firouzabadi, whose country has been a staunch supporter of President Bashar al-Assad throughout the 21-month uprising against his rule, called on the Western military alliance to reverse its decision to deploy the defense system. (Snip) Despite the warning, Firouzabadi did not threaten any action against Turkey in his speech to senior commanders at the National Defence University in Tehran. "We are Turkey´s friend
The massacre in Newtown, Connecticut is too awful for anyone to fully comprehend, especially from a distance. You watch the coverage of people you don’t know and will never meet, and yet you still find yourself nearly overwhelmed as the stories of terror, of immense sorrow and loss, and of heroism are told. Particularly as a parent, you cannot help but wonder: What if it had been my child gunned down in elementary school? And then you begin to realize there’s a reason the death of a child is said to be the hardest thing for a human being to endure, the “grief surpassing all.”
President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner are continuing their talks, but key officials in both parties now believe that Washington will be unable to avoid some mix of the tax increases and automatic spending cuts mandated next month by the austerity measures known as the “fiscal cliff.” Senior Democratic and Republican officials say the best-case scenario will be for a less ambitious deal to extend middle-class tax cuts and forestall tax hikes on most Americans. But such a deal would still set in motion a series of steep spending cuts at some federal agencies
Former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak suffered a head injury and some bruises on his chest when he slipped while inside a prison hospital bathroom, Egypt´s state news agency reported MENA Saturday. Mubarak, 84, is serving a life sentence in Cairo´s Tora prison for his role in the killing of pro-reform demonstrators during Egypt´s recent revolution. Mubarak has been suffering health problem and attended court on a gurney. He was reported to be in a coma last June in the weeks after he was convicted. That health crisis began after a prison bathroom fall, his lawyer said at the time.
In 2012, Democrats are indisputably the party of tech-savvy, of cutting edge web integration, of what one Mitt Romney adviser described as “whiz-bang turnout technologies.” Now they have to face the possibility that chastened Republicans will start to learn their secrets. Some companies with progressive ties are playing with both sides, sparking tension over whether the left should care about making innovation democratic — or just keeping it Democratic. Change.org used to be explicitly progressive; it no longer is. Salsa Labs remains progressive but some users fear a change in leadership will change that.
NEWTOWN, Conn. — One day after the second-worst school shooting in U.S. history, a stunned nation on Saturday began a grim, all-too-familiar process: Mourning the loss of innocents, learning more about a killer and looking for answers in the wake of madness. The White House announced Saturday that the president would travel to Newtown, Conn., on Sunday to join grieving families at a vigil for the victims killed Friday in the shooting spree that claimed the lives of 28, including 20 children. Through the day Saturday, more details trickled out on the tragedy – from revelations
WASHINGTON — Signaling new movement in “fiscal cliff” talks, House Speaker John Boehner has proposed raising the top rate for earners making more than $1 million, a person familiar with the negotiations said. President Barack Obama, who wants higher top rates for households earning more than $250,000, has not accepted the offer, this person said. The proposal, however, indicated progress in talks that had appeared stalled. The person would only discuss the plan on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the negotiations. As part of a broader budget deal
A 1987 study ordered by the CIA found that Jonathan Pollard, convicted in the U.S. of spying for Israel, never sought to obtain information about U.S. activities. Rather, he was instructed by his Israeli handlers to obtain information about Israel´s enemies. The 1987 study by the Foreign Denial and Deception Analysis Committee was ordered by the CIA. It is now being made public, 25 years later, with heavy CIA redaction. (Snip) Pollard recalled that his first and possibly largest delivery occurred on 23 January and consisted of five suitcases full of classified material,” the document said.
Glenn Reynolds points us to this thoughtful post by The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg that takes up the sensitive issue of the mentally ill and their access to guns: We must find a way to make it more difficult for the non-adjudicated mentally ill to come into possession of weapons. This is crucially important, but very difficult, because it would require the cooperation of the medical community — of psychiatrists, therapists, school counselors and the like — and the privacy issues (among other issues) are enormous. But: It has to be made more difficult
Sources tell ABC News that President Obama has decided that he will nominate Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., to be secretary of state. For a variety of reasons including the finalization of the process, other pending Cabinet decisions, and — more immediately — the national reaction to the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School, the news will not be announced in the next few days. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is recovering from an illness and a concussion she suffered upon fainting because of that illness, is set to retire in the next few weeks.