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Undernews For August 13, 2008

Undernews For August 13, 2008

Washington's Most Unofficial Source
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Editor: Sam Smith

13 AUG 2008


Political history is far too criminal and pathological to be a fit subject of study for the young.
Children should acquire their heroes and villains from fiction. - W.H. Auden



Richard Simon, Los Angeles Times - Utility shut-offs for customers behind on their energy bills are increasing around the country. . . as the effects of rising prices and a sagging economy are beginning to drag down more vulnerable consumers. . .

Consumers are being hit by an economic double whammy of high gasoline prices and rising utility bills, which are up considerably in most places because of the much higher cost of fuel used to generate electricity or heat residences. . . .

In Michigan, which had the nation's highest unemployment rate in June -- 8.5% -- Detroit-based DTE Energy reported a 56% increase in utility shut-offs for nonpayment of bills for the first five months of this year compared with the same period a year ago. Southern California Edison Co. reported that service was shut off to about 165,000 of its 4.8 million customer accounts from January through May this year, a 14% increase from the same period in 2007. . .

In Illinois, Peoples Gas and North Shore Gas, which serve Chicago and its northern suburbs, reported a 33% increase in disconnections through July of this year, compared with the same period last year. Across the Mississippi River in Iowa, a record number of residential accounts were past due in June, said Jerry McKim, chief of the state's energy assistance program, and more would have been shut off if not for floods that prevented utility workers from reaching homes. "It's pretty pathetic when the only thing saving someone from disconnection is being flooded out," he said.


Globe & Mail, UK - In Britain, media have been reporting a strange mould affecting audiotape and videotape. Thousands of kilometers of magnetic tape have already been destroyed by the dust-like substance, and many museums and archives may not know it yet, as they have not opened their boxes of old cassettes for years. The mould is so hardy that it spreads easily, so if you touch one contaminated tape and then handle another, you are likely to infect it too.

One Scottish archival preservation company, quoted in the Telegraph, said it was implementing practices reminiscent of biology labs: Its employees open packages of tapes in one room, then wash their hands before moving to the room with the playback equipment, for fear of getting the fungus on the playing heads. If it gets into the machines, it could spread everywhere. Now, librarians and archivists are creating quarantine rooms for mouldy tapes.

No one is quite sure what is causing the white taint on the tapes, but it has been suggested that it is prevalent in Britain because of damp conditions. Internet skeptics are challenging the media reports, saying it's not yet clear that it is caused by a single fungus. . .

Think you're safe with all your movies on DVDs? Think again: "Laser rot" can affect old CDs and DVDs. They are coated with an aluminum surface to make them more reflective; the aluminum can oxidize and degrade. "CD bronzing" is a form of this: If your CD isn't playing well, and the playing surface is going brown, it has become irretrievably corroded. In fact, all digital media are prone to some kind of decay: Flash memory cards are also subject to a change in electrical charge that will cause bits to . . .

I recently threw away a stack of valuable 78 rpm records, containing rare performances by Enrico Caruso, among others, because I was unable to sell them on eBay. Who has the playback capacity? And now I read, in online discussions of the tape-mould problem, the joking suggestion that we start dumping all our sound recordings onto grooved vinyl discs. It's such a stable medium.


NY Times - Under the Section 8 federal housing voucher program, thousands of poor, urban and often African-American residents have left hardscrabble neighborhoods in the nation’s largest cities and resettled in the suburbs. Law enforcement experts and housing researchers argue that rising crime rates follow Section 8 recipients to their new homes, while other experts discount any direct link. But there is little doubt that cultural shock waves have followed the migration. Social and racial tensions between newcomers and their neighbors have increased, forcing suburban communities like Antioch [CA] to re-evaluate their civic identities along with their methods of dealing with the new residents.

The foreclosure crisis gnawing away at overbuilt suburbs has accelerated that migration, and the problems. Antioch is one of many suburbs in the midst of a full-blown mortgage meltdown that has seen property owners seeking out low-income renters to fill vacant homes. The most recent Contra Costa County records available show that from 2003 to 2005, the number of Section 8 households in Antioch grew by 50 percent, to about 1,500 from 1,000. Many new residents are African-American; Antioch’s black population has grown to about 20 percent, from 3 percent in 1990. .

The Section 8 program is designed to encourage low-income tenants to settle in middle-income areas by subsidizing 60 percent of their rent. The United States Department of Housing and Urban Development issued 50,000 more vouchers for suburban relocations in 2007 than in 2005, bringing the total number of renter families to 2.1 million.

Federal officials and housing experts say that the increase in vouchers was offset by people being forced out of federal housing projects that closed and by renters moving into foreclosed properties. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a nonprofit advocacy and research group, 30 percent to 40 percent of residents in foreclosed properties were renters, many of whom have since sought federal assistance.

Demand for subsidized suburban housing, meanwhile, is outstripping supply. In Salinas, Calif., applicants circled an entire block around a housing authority office earlier this month. Mobile, Ala., has 3,400 Section 8 families, and 2,000 more awaiting homes. . .


Paul Thomasch, Reuters - It may be about time to dig out that old library card. Hoping to draw back readers, libraries have vastly expanded their lists of digital books, music, and movies that can be downloaded by their patrons to a computer or MP3 player -- and it doesn't cost a cent, unlike, say, media from Apple Inc's iTunes or Inc.

In Phoenix, for instance, branches have banded together to create a digital library that currently has about 50,000 titles of e-books, audiobooks, music and videos that can be "checked out" from anywhere.

Once discovered, says Tom Gemberling, the electronic resources librarian for the Phoenix Public Library, the program often proves wildly popular. Not long ago, Gemberling visited a local trailer park to speak about the program to 100 or so seniors -- who regularly travel the roads touring in their recreational vehicles.

"They were cheering and screaming by the end," he said. "They were so excited. They're RVers, so they can go anywhere on the road, find a computer, go into the Phoenix Public Library catalogue, download a book and play it while they drive down the highway."

Available in thousands of libraries across the country, the programs work like this: First you need a library card, access to the web, and some easily downloadable software -- the Adobe Digital Editions, the Mobipocket Reader or the OverDrive Media Console.

At that point, just browse around the library's website, select some titles, add them to a digital book bag and click the download button. If the title isn't available, it can be placed on hold for downloading later.

Depending on the library and title, the item remains on your computer for one to three weeks before disappearing, meaning you don't have to bother with returning a book, CD or DVD to the actual library.


Tony Judt, Haaretz, Israel - By the age of 58 a country - like a man - should have achieved a certain maturity. After nearly six decades of existence we know, for good and for bad, who we are, what we have done and how we appear to others, warts and all. We acknowledge, however reluctantly and privately, our mistakes and our shortcomings. And though we still harbor the occasional illusion about ourselves and our prospects, we are wise enough to recognize that these are indeed for the most part just that: illusions. In short, we are adults.

But the State of Israel remains curiously (and among Western-style democracies, uniquely) immature. The social transformations of the country - and its many economic achievements - have not brought the political wisdom that usually accompanies age. Seen from the outside, Israel still comports itself like an adolescent: consumed by a brittle confidence in its own uniqueness; certain that no one "understands" it and everyone is "against" it; full of wounded self-esteem, quick to take offense and quick to give it. Like many adolescents Israel is convinced - and makes a point of aggressively and repeatedly asserting - that it can do as it wishes, that its actions carry no consequences and that it is immortal. Appropriately enough, this country that has somehow failed to grow up was until very recently still in the hands of a generation of men who were prominent in its public affairs 40 years ago: an Israeli Rip Van Winkle who fell asleep in, say, 1967 would be surprised indeed to awake in 2006 and find Shimon Peres and General Ariel Sharon still hovering over the affairs of the country - the latter albeit only in spirit. . .

Before 1967 the State of Israel may have been tiny and embattled, but it was not typically hated: certainly not in the West. Official Soviet-bloc communism was anti-Zionist of course, but for just that reason Israel was rather well regarded by everyone else, including the non-communist left. The romantic image of the kibbutz and the kibbutznik had a broad foreign appeal in the first two decades of Israel's existence. . .

I remember well, in the spring of 1967, how the balance of student opinion at Cambridge University was overwhelmingly pro-Israel in the weeks leading up to the Six-Day War - and how little attention anyone paid either to the condition of the Palestinians or to Israel's earlier collusion with France and Britain in the disastrous Suez adventure of 1956. In politics and in policy-making circles only old-fashioned conservative Arabists expressed any criticism of the Jewish state; even neo-Fascists rather favored Zionism, on traditional anti-Semitic grounds. .

But today everything is different. We can see, in retrospect, that the victory of Israel in June 1967 and its continuing occupation of the territories it conquered then have been the Jewish state's very own nakba: a moral and political catastrophe. Israel's actions in the West Bank and Gaza have magnified and publicized the country's shortcomings and displayed them to a watching world. Curfews, checkpoints, bulldozers, public humiliations, home destructions, land seizures, shootings, "targeted assassinations," the separation fence: All of these routines of occupation and repression were once familiar only to an informed minority of specialists and activists. Today they can be watched, in real time, by anyone with a computer or a satellite dish - which means that Israel's behavior is under daily scrutiny by hundreds of millions of people worldwide. The result has been a complete transformation in the international view of Israel. . .

Today only a tiny minority of outsiders see Israelis as victims. The true victims, it is now widely accepted, are the Palestinians. Indeed, Palestinians have now displaced Jews as the emblematic persecuted minority: vulnerable, humiliated and stateless. This unsought distinction does little to advance the Palestinian case any more than it ever helped Jews, but it has redefined Israel . . .

Israel has stayed the same, but the world . . . has changed. Whatever purchase Israel's self-description still has upon the imagination of Israelis themselves, it no longer operates beyond the country's frontiers. Even the Holocaust can no longer be instrumentalized to excuse Israel's behavior. Thanks to the passage of time, most Western European states have now come to terms with their part in the Holocaust, something that was not true a quarter century ago. . .

In short: Israel, in the world's eyes, is a normal state, but one behaving in abnormal ways. It is in control of its fate, but the victims are someone else. It is strong, very strong, but its behavior is making everyone else vulnerable. . .

As a teacher I have also been struck in recent years by a sea-change in the attitude of students. One example among many: Here at New York University I was teaching this past month a class on post-war Europe. I was trying to explain to young Americans the importance of the Spanish Civil War in the political memory of Europeans and why Franco's Spain has such a special place in our moral imagination: as a reminder of lost struggles, a symbol of oppression in an age of liberalism and freedom, and a land of shame that people boycotted for its crimes and repression. I cannot think, I told the students, of any country that occupies such a pejorative space in democratic public consciousness today. You are wrong, one young woman replied: What about Israel? To my great surprise most of the class - including many of the sizable Jewish contingent - nodded approval. The times they are indeed a-changing.


Amnesty International - The blockade imposed by Israel on the Gaza Strip over a year ago has left the entire population of 1.5 million Palestinians trapped with dwindling resources and an economy in ruins. Some 80 per cent of the population now depend on the trickle of international aid that the Israeli army allows in. This humanitarian crisis is man-made and entirely avoidable.

Even patients in dire need of medical treatment not available in Gaza are often prevented from leaving and scores of them have died. Students who have scholarships in universities abroad are likewise trapped in Gaza, denied the opportunity to build a future.

The Israeli authorities argue that the blockade on Gaza is in response to Palestinian attacks, especially the indiscriminate rockets fired from Gaza at the nearby Israeli town of Sderot. These and other Palestinian attacks killed 25 Israelis in the first half of this year; in the same period Israeli forces killed 400 Palestinians.

However, the Israeli blockade does not target the Palestinian armed groups responsible for attacks – it collectively punishes the entire population of Gaza. . .

Some 80 per cent of the population now depends on international aid, compared to 10 per cent a decade ago. . . Gaza’s fragile economy, already battered by years of restrictions and destruction, has collapsed. Unable to import raw materials and to export produce and without fuel to operate machinery and electricity generators, some 90 per cent of industry has shut down.

The fuel shortage has affected every aspect of life in Gaza. Patients’ hospital attendance has dropped because of lack of transport and universities were forced to shut down before the end of the school year as students and teachers could not continue to travel to them. Fuel-powered pumps for wells and water distribution networks are often not working.

Medical facilities in Gaza lack the specialized staff and equipment to treat a range of conditions, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease. In addition, hospitals are now under ever greater pressure, as they face shortages of equipment, spare parts and other necessary supplies as a result of the blockade.

With the ceasefire holding, the suffering in Gaza has fallen off the international news agenda. However, Amnesty International members continue to campaign, calling:


Bloomberg - Almost one-third of U.S. homeowners who bought in the last five years now owe more on their mortgages than their properties are worth, according to Zillow, an Internet provider of home valuations. Second-quarter home prices fell 9.9 percent from a year earlier, giving 29 percent of owners negative equity, said Zillow. . . For those who bought at the 2006 peak of the housing market, 45 percent are now underwater, Zillow said. . . Almost one-quarter of U.S. homes sold in the past year were for a loss, Zillow said. That contributes to the foreclosure rate because some homeowners can't absorb the loss and end up surrendering their homes to the bank that holds the mortgage, said Stan Humphries, Zillow's vice president of data and analytics.


NASA - In late June, after months of below-average rainfall, high temperatures, and desiccating winds, the Oklahoma Panhandle and parts of neighboring states, a region of the United States called the High Plains, slid into “exceptional” drought. The category is the most severe in the ranking scheme of the U.S. Drought Mitigation Center.

According to Oklahoma Climatological Survey statistics, the 365-day period ending August 10, was the driest in the Panhandle since records began in 1921. Despite rainfall from Hurricane Dolly in late July, central and southern Texas were also suffering extreme to exceptional drought, conditions which had been building since last November.


And, in all likelihood, the seat in the House. Jared Polis would be the Congress' third gay, the second youngest member and the second wealthiest

Rocky Mountain News - Internet businessman Jared Polis beat two opponents in the 2nd Congressional District Democratic primary after pouring a record amount of his own money into a bitter and hard fought race. . . Polis threw more than $5 million of his own money into the campaign - the most expensive congressional primary in state history [to beat] a rival with a high-profile political history and the backing of unions and many Democratic party loyalists. . .

In winning, Polis breaks a pattern in Colorado that has seen other candidates who put large sums of their own money into a race repeatedly falter. Major examples include Pete Coors ($1.3 million) running for Senate in 2004 and Bruce Benson ($3.8 million) running for governor in 1994.

The only person to break the jinx previously: Polis, who spent $1 million in his election to win a seat on the state Board of Education in 2000. .

Polis ran an aggressive campaign, tapping a personal fortune tied to developing online greeting cards, floral orders and other Internet ventures, to buy TV ads in May. . . Polis also inundated voters with four-page color mailers promoting his plan to get the U.S. out of Iraq or to help Americans with the rising cost of health care. One showed a pair of hands and instructed recipients to sit on them if they wanted to "see what George Bush is doing to fix our economy."


Don Rose, Chicago Daily Observer - Obama was elected to the Illinois Senate as an independent Democrat - as one must in Hyde Park - by winning the primary with no help from the regular organization. But, like all but a tiny handful of earlier independents, he never ran an "anti-machine" or "anti-Daley" campaign.

He was welcomed into the Dem caucus, which needed his vote, and in return got help for his own progressive legislation. There's a long tradition of this trade- off, going back to Abner Mikva and Dick Newhouse, his progressive predecessors. . .

Obama also was mentored by one of the hackiest hacks, Senate Majority leader Emil Jones, in a relationship that eventually helped him win the U.S. Senate primary.

That race, too, was independent of the Machine . . .

Minimally, Obama had to reach detente with the regulars to win the general election - as Carol Moseley Braun and Paul Simon did before him. (Later Daley leaped at the chance to endorse Obama for president, just to keep him out of Chicago and any thoughts of the 5th Floor.)

Virtually all the independent progressives elected to Springfield or Washington paid little attention to corruption in Chicago. . .

Only Congressman Jesse Jackson Jr. keeps at it - and that's because he still has his eye on the 5th Floor.

When he endorsed a couple of the worst Machine hacks, including Cook County Board President Todd Stroger, it was less an act of obeisance to Daley than to the African American political base. But many read it as homage to the Machine.

Once again, though he has a cooperative relationship with the Machine, he keeps another foot planted with independents and reformers such as Mikva, Leon Despres and former Washington Corporation Counsel Judd Miner. . .


Telegraph, UK - In his most outspoken intervention on the issue of GM food, the Prince said that multi-national companies were conducting an experiment with nature which had gone "seriously wrong". The Prince, in an exclusive interview with the Daily Telegraph, also expressed the fear that food would run out because of the damage being wreaked on the earth's soil by scientists' research. He accused firms of conducting a "gigantic experiment I think with nature and the whole of humanity which has gone seriously wrong". . . . Relying on "gigantic corporations" for food, he said, would result in "absolute disaster".

"That would be the absolute destruction of everything... and the classic way of ensuring there is no food in the future," he said. Advertisement. What we should be talking about is food security not food production - that is what matters and that is what people will not understand.

"And if they think its somehow going to work because they are going to have one form of clever genetic engineering after another then again count me out, because that will be guaranteed to cause the biggest disaster environmentally of all time.". . .

"If they think this is the way to go....we [will] end up with millions of small farmers all over the world being driven off their land into unsustainable, unmanageable, degraded and dysfunctional conurbations of unmentionable awfulness."


Political Wire - A new Barna Group poll finds Sen. Barack Obama maintains a nine point lead over Sen. John McCain among Christians, 43% to 34%. Key finding: "Of the 18 faith groups identified in the polls, McCain is only leading among evangelicals and it's a narrow lead. Obama leads among the other 17 faith groups identified including the born again vote. Barna notes that would mark the first time in more than two decades that the born again vote has swung toward the Democratic candidate."


Cleveland Metro - A woman's home is her castle, even when teens are drinking in the basement. An appeals court ruled that Bainbridge Township police should not have entered Phyllis Andrews' home without a warrant, even though they saw underage drinking, because no emergency existed.

The 11th Ohio Court of Appeals sent the case back to Geauga County Juvenile Court, which had denied Andrews' request to suppress evidence because the search was invalid. She was found guilty after pleading no contest to contributing to the delinquency of a minor but her seven-day jail sentence was put on hold pending her appeal.

"The underlying premise is that before you go into someone's home you need a warrant," said David Maistros, Andrews' attorney. "There are exceptions, such as chasing someone or if some harm is coming to someone in the house. But in this situation there was no emergency. Clearly they would have been granted a warrant, but they did not feel like taking the time to do it."


Julian Sanchez, Arstechinica - The name may have changed, but the artist formerly known as Diebold-now Premier Election Solutions-is still catching heat over problems with its electronic voting machines. Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brenner is suing the firm, seeking unspecified damages for breach of contract and fraud. The suit blames faulty software for losing votes in 11 of the 44 counties that use Premier machines.

The company was already embroiled in a legal battle with Ohio's Cuyahoga county, one it filed preemptively in May after election officials there decided to mothball $22 million worth of Premier touch-screen machines. Premier had hoped to forestall any claims against it by seeking a declaratory judgment that it had met its obligations.

Premier's own analysis, taking a page from HAL-9000, points the finger at "human error," although it also blames a conflict with antivirus software for a glitch that caused several hundred votes to be dropped when they were first uploaded from memory cards to the county's servers. But the state says the company had certified the servers after the antivirus program was installed. . .

Brunner has advocated reverting to a system of optically-scanned paper ballots, the solution endorsed in the 2006 study, though it would not be feasible to make the switch before November's elections at this point. Still, she says, Ohioans "should not be alarmed" as they head to the polls in the fall, pledging that officials will work to catch and correct any problems that arise. Forgive us if we remain skeptical.


ABC - Edwards' betrayal of his wife at her most vulnerable moment -- as a cancer patient -- is more common than conventional wisdom suggests, according to infidelity experts. . . "It's not that uncommon for the spouse of a seriously ill person to commit adultery," said Anthony DeLorenzo, who, with his wife, founded "The healthy spouse often feels guilty, lonely and helpless about the illness, and that combination can make a spouse more vulnerable to having an affair."

Sickness frequently interferes with or eliminates sex from a relationship, making a healthy spouse more vulnerable to advances or situations that lead to sex outside of marriage, the New Jersey private detective told . .

Relationship experts like DeLorenzo, who counsels wronged spouses on his Web site, say about 60 percent of men and 40 percent of women stray during the course of a marriage.

"I know Edwards spoke of his narcissism as a factor, but far more than that had to be going on," said DeLorenzo, who has handled many cases of cheating.

And it's not just the men who are going astray. One middle-aged man who was confined to a hospice-like setting suspected his wife was having an affair when he got no answer to his telephone calls to her on Friday and Saturday nights, DeLorenzo said. "His wife took care of him three or four times a week, but she was in her 50s and was still a young person," DeLorenzo said. After receiving the report confirming the affair, the man eventually accepted his wife's dalliances. . .

Michigan therapist Bob Huizenga anonymously coaches clients on his Web site and in his book of the same name, "Break Free From the Affair." He said women who have been wronged have a wide-range of responses. "Some cave in and feel victimized and others say, 'Screw it,' and fight and win," he told "It's utterly devastating."

One woman sought help from Huizenga when her husband turned to a girlfriend after her breast cancer metastasized. "Not only are you losing your body parts and vitality, but also losing what you perceive to be your dreams, your family and your social status," he said. "It's worse than someone dying."

Many couples don't survive the betrayal, but power couples like the Edwardses often save their public face and work things out. . .

"It's very difficult for someone like [Elizabeth Edwards] to leave in this situation," he said. "She has a high investment in maintaining that relationship. She may submerge a great deal. Political wives do. They have an investment in the political arena as well." But, he said, in all cases it's hard to take the high road in infidelity cases. "I am not sure what the word forgiveness means, but they never forget," he said. "It's always there."

ABC - Feeling invincible and having no regard for the consequences your actions may have, is not uncommon for men who fill powerful posts, several psychologists told, and are common attributes of narcissists.

"There is something about a lot of the people in power that they think the rules no longer apply to them or they're above the rules," said Wendy Behary, an expert specializing in narcissism and the author of "Disarming the Narcissist."

"They have a sense of entitlement that comes with their prestige or place in the political sphere," Behary said.

Mark Held, a clinical psychologist in suburban Denver who specializes in treating overachievers, told that the Edwards story line is nothing new -- many politicians who have come before him have suffered from similar downfalls due to their self-absorption. . .

"When you're powerful, you get away with a lot of things," he said. "And when you're attractive, you're given a lot of slack -- that's just how the world works. . .

Miami-based psychotherapist Samuel Lopez De Victoria describes narcissists as people who get a high from getting attention and who often are unaware of the chance that they might get caught misbehaving.

"There is a euphoria attached to the relentless feeding of the ego," he said. "The grandiosity in their own mind tends to make them so vain that an illusion of invincibility is created." In turn, De Victoria said, not only does a narcissist become unable to consider the effect his actions could have on his own career or personal life, but it also inhibits him from considering the feelings of those around him. .

And while Edwards may have finally been brought back to earth after his recent admission of adultery, psychologists aren't so sure that his days of narcissism are behind him.

Founder and director of the Cognitive Therapy Center of New Jersey, Behary said that the degree of the long-term effects of Edwards' adultery will determine whether the former presidential hopeful will change his ways. "His recovery depends on the consequences," Behary said. "If there is no meaningful consequence of what he's done, typically change will not happen." But, she added, "If he loses power or a job or there is legal intervention, then he might."

While some may see Edwards' interview as an acknowledgement of guilt and a genuine apology, others still might be wary, remaining sure that the admission is yet another calculated move of a professional narcissist.

"Going on television says two things: one, that he can't hide anymore because he was up against the wall, and two, that narcissists are always thinking about themselves and their appearance to the audience," Behary said. "Edwards may just be thinking that the best way to preserve his ego is to take some ownership and [give his behavior a title] by saying he's narcissistic," she said. .

"By putting a diagnostic label on it might be another way of not taking responsibility."

Michael Bader, AlterNet - When behavior hurts others, it should be condemned. Such is the case with John Edwards whose behavior no doubt hurt his wife and family, whose cover-up hurt his staff and followers, and whose pursuit of the presidency could potentially have hurt his party and the nation. But let's stop thinking that we know what motivated him, or that even he knows. Every day in my clinical practice, the men I see act out of deep conflicts about which they, their friends, and their victims are unaware. The guilt, moral outrage, and pain of everyone involved makes real understanding unfortunately impossible. . .

If we want to understand this type of behavior, then we have to go deeper than moral platitudes and we have to stop projecting our own feelings of guilt, outrage, and victimization onto the Edwards drama. The men I see who might share psychological similarities with John Edwards are often men who care deeply for their wives and children. They begin an affair because aspects of it promise to counteract private but burdensome feelings of obligation or disconnectedness toward those closest to them, feelings that may be consciously denied and invisible to the public eye. They sometimes seek a relationship where they're accepted unconditionally, a feeling that they often don't feel in their marriages and certainly not in their public lives. Many powerful men who are public figures feel obliged to constantly project and maintain an idealized image of themselves. The arms of an admiring new woman offer a fantasy of effortless pleasure, of being given to without expectation of performance of any kind. In other cases, men may experience their wives (rightly or wrongly) as brittle, unhappy, or troubled and their new paramour as happy, upbeat, admiring and energetic. The list of possible ulterior motivations and meanings could go on.

The point of offering these types of explanations is not to suggest that any one of them applies to Edwards. The point is that they're steps toward understanding behavior from the point of view of the one doing the behaving, not from the victim or an outside judge. This is what we mean by empathy, an attitude sorely lacking in discussions of men who cheat and then cover it up. When the conversation involves an effort at real understanding, then it becomes clear that we are all more alike than different, that while most of us perhaps wouldn't do what Edwards did, we're certainly familiar with many of his motivations and feelings. Consider, for example, the cover-up. Many pundits, wanting to appear tolerant and fair, suggest that the shocking revelation in this case isn't the original crime but Edwards' attempt to conceal it from the public and, more important, that he thought he could get away with it. But I ask you: Is this really so difficult to understand? Imagine a man whose entire identity is politics, whose basic conscious sense of meaning and purpose derives from being a public figure pursuing highly important goals. Imagine that man also loves his wife and children. He then acts out, driven by psychological pressures, longings and conflicts about which he is unaware. Is it really so incomprehensible or dastardly that, given the catastrophic losses that would ensue if he revealed his secret, that he would let himself be guided by the wishful fantasy that he could keep this under wraps?

Of course not. The human mind is quite used to keeping incompatible realities separate from each other. We split our public and private personas all the time. We all have private sexual fantasies and peccadilloes that are at odds with what others think of us, or even of what he usually think of ourselves. We have compulsions and addictions in which we enter states of mind that we know are self-destructive but which we keep divorced from our "normal" lives. We say things we don't mean and ask for things we don't need. We know our idols are not perfect and yet we act shocked (and fascinated, of course) when their private pathology leaks into public view. Ultimately, these contradictions result from the fact that we all have unconscious minds, play multiple roles, and have multiple identities that don't always fit into a coherent whole. And yet, we continue to be shocked when a John Edwards turns out to be capable of deceiving himself, and of having multiple and contradictory motivations.

In the end, we have to give up on this false notion that such things as changing your mind, having mixed feelings, conducting an affair, the state of your marriage, or whether you've ever seen a prostitute or picked up a man in a bathroom has anything to do with defining your character as a political leader. It does an injustice to the complexity of the mind, rendering it shocking and shameful rather than a fact of human life that we might attempt to compassionately understand.

Michael Bader is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in San Francisco.


KTHV, AR - Authorities say in an attempt to stop the violence, a neighborhood on the Westside of Helena-West Helena is under a 24-hour, non-stop curfew that could be extended for days. . . . Mayor James Valley says the impacted area is violence-prone. So from South Sebastian to Fourth Street and Anderson to Garland Street, no one is allowed out. He says it's, "to curtail some of the general mayhem we've been experiencing, particularly the gun shots," says Valley.

ARKANSAS ACLU - This order is blatantly unconstitutional on numerous grounds. First, such curfews have never been allowed under the laws of the United States, barring riot, insurrection, or natural disaster. Not one case has ever allowed for the imposition of searches, seizures, and house arrest against innocent citizens because of the high crime rate in a particular city. . .

Second, requiring adult residents of the city to be on house arrest violates these individuals' rights to travel and association, as guaranteed by the United States Constitution.

Third, the very language of the Order violates the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, in that, in effect, it proclaims that the Fourth Amendment is waived for all persons, including those suspected of no criminal activity. The warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment is in place specifically to prohibit these kinds of sweeping searches. Law enforcement, even in areas where there are higher crime rates, is not a sufficient basis upon which to place people on house arrest, or set aside the Fourth Amendment.
Fourth, the Order likely violates Helena-West Helena residents' rights to equal protection under the laws. . . .

The residents of Helena-West Helena have the right to sit under shade trees in their front yard, to ride their bicycles along the streets, protest this policy, and drive around the city with the full protections of the First, Fourth, and Fourteenth Amendments. Citizens, including those expressing opposition to the curfew order, should be subject to no special scrutiny by law enforcement unless they are suspected of some criminal activity.


MSNBC - The Bush administration said it plans to let federal agencies decide for themselves whether highways, dams, mines and other construction projects might harm endangered animals and plants. The proposal, which does not require the approval of Congress, would reduce the mandatory, independent reviews that government scientists have been performing for 35 years. Developers welcomed the plan, while environmentalists derided it.

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne said late Monday the changes were needed to ensure that the Endangered Species Act would not be used as a “back door” to regulate the gases blamed for global warming. In May, the polar bear became the first species declared as threatened because of climate change. Warming temperatures are expected to melt the sea ice the bear depends on for survival. . .

The proposal would bar federal agencies from assessing the emissions from projects that contribute to global warming and its effect on species and habitats.

The changes represent the biggest overhaul of the Endangered Species Act since 1988. They would accomplish through regulations what conservative Republicans have been unable to achieve in Congress: ending some environmental reviews that developers and other federal agencies blame for delays and cost increases on many projects.

"If adopted, these changes would seriously weaken the safety net of habitat protections that we have relied upon to protect and recover endangered fish, wildlife and plants for the past 35 years," said John Kostyack, executive director of the National Wildlife Federation's Wildlife Conservation and Global Warming initiative.

"The new rules take decision-making on endangered species listings out of the hands of scientists and wildlife professionals at agencies such as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services, and instead put those decisions in the hands of agencies working on projects that may be adversely affected by a listing," added Sierra Club director Carl Pope.


A U.S. District Court judge ruled last week in Denver that, even though protesters' free speech rights will be damaged, "national security" justifies the government's plan to restrict parade permits to end 3 hours before the Democratic Party convention begins. Further, protesters will be kept away from the convention center, allowed only into chain link fenced cages 700 feet from the center's door. Reportedly, the cages won't be wrapped over the top with barbed wire, as they were at the last DNC in Boston. The "freedom cages" will be ringed by police and concrete barriers, and, as of today, huge media tents are being erected between the cages and the convention.


Joe Atkins, Clarion Ledger, MS - Toyota, the company that Mississippi taxpayers paid $324 million-plus to build a plant near Tupelo, is battling allegations that its subcontractors in Japan force employees to work 16-hour days, seven days a week, at wages less than 50 percent of the legal minimum to build the same Prius automobile scheduled for production in Tupelo.

A 65-page report recently released by the New York-based National Labor Committee claims Toyota utilizes migrant workers from Vietnam and China who face a constant threat of deportation if they complain about sweatshop-like conditions. In separate cases in 2002 and 2006, Toyota workers died from what was determined to be overwork. . .

Toyota, through its subsidiaries and subcontractors, contributes to "widespread exploitation of cheap temporary workers in their plants, along with a parts supply chain that is riddled with sweatshop abuses, including human trafficking," writes NLC executive director Charles Kernaghan in the preface to the report.

"Right now, Toyota and the U.S. auto companies are locked in a race to the bottom, which will inevitably lead them to adopt each other's worst practices.". . .

Toyota has issued a statement saying company officials "are taking the allegations seriously" and investigating the NLC's claims. . .

Welcomed by a gushing media as well as a long line of self-congratulating politicians more than willing to offer taypayer subsidies, Toyota has received little hard-edged scrutiny regarding its workplace practices.

Yet Toyota workers at the company's Georgetown, Ky., plant have complained about the widespread use of temporary workers, unjustified firings, and company refusal to take responsibility for on-the-job injuries.

A leaked internal Toyota report in 2007 exposed company intentions to cut labor costs in its North American operations by $300 million by 2011. Plans include instituting new company-cost-saving health care options that inevitably put more burden on employees.

Toyota's use of temporary workers - a major concern of the NLC committee - fits well with the "lean production" philosophy praised by Liker and other Toyota enthusiasts. Temporary workers typically get no pensions and few, if any, other benefits, and they're more docile because they face the constant threat of unemployment.


Robin McKie, Guardian, UK - Ice at the North Pole melted at an unprecedented rate last week, with leading scientists warning that the Arctic could be ice-free in summer by 2013. Satellite images show that ice caps started to disintegrate dramatically several days ago as storms over Alaska’s Beaufort Sea began sucking streams of warm air into the Arctic.

As a result, scientists say that the disappearance of sea ice at the North Pole could exceed last year’s record loss. More than a million square kilometers melted over the summer of 2007 as global warming tightened its grip on the Arctic. But such destruction could now be matched, or even topped, this year. . .

This startling loss of Arctic sea ice has major meteorological, environmental and ecological implications. The region acts like a giant refrigerator that has a strong effect on the northern hemisphere’s meteorology. Without its cooling influence, weather patterns will be badly disrupted, including storms set to sweep over Britain.

At the same time, creatures such as polar bears and seals - which use sea ice for hunting and resting - face major threats. Similarly, coastlines will no longer be insulated by ice from wave damage and will suffer erosion, as is already happening in Alaska.

Other environmental changes are likely to follow. Without sea ice to bolster them, land ice - including glaciers - could topple into the ocean and raise global sea levels, threatening many low-lying areas, including Bangladesh and scores of Pacific islands. In addition, the disappearance of reflective ice over the Arctic means that solar radiation would no longer be bounced back into space, thus heating the planet even further.

On top of these issues, there are fears that water released by the melting caps will disrupt the Gulf Stream, while an ice-free Arctic in summer offers new opportunities for oil and gas drilling there - and for political disputes over territorial rights.


CNN - A congresswoman said that her "jaw dropped" when military doctors told her that four in 10 women at a veterans hospital reported being sexually assaulted while in the military. A government report indicates that the numbers could be even higher.

Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, spoke before a House panel investigating the way the military handles reports of sexual assault.

She said she recently visited a Veterans Affairs hospital in the Los Angeles area, where women told her horror stories of being raped in the military.

"My jaw dropped when the doctors told me that 41 percent of the female veterans seen there say they were victims of sexual assault while serving in the military," said Harman, who has long sought better protection of women in the military. "Twenty-nine percent say they were raped during their military service. They spoke of their continued terror, feelings of helplessness and downward spirals many of their lives have taken since.

"We have an epidemic here," she said. "Women serving in the U.S. military today are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq.". . .

In 2007, Harman said, only 181 out of 2,212 reports of military sexual assaults, or 8 percent, were referred to courts martial. By comparison, she said, 40 percent of those arrested in the civilian world on such charges are prosecuted.

The Government Accountability Office released preliminary results from an investigation into sexual assaults in the military and the Coast Guard. The GAO found that the "occurrences of sexual assault may be exceeding the rates being reported."

"At the 14 installations where GAO administered its survey, 103 service members indicated that they had been sexually assaulted within the preceding 12 months. Of these, 52 service members indicated that they did not report the sexual assault," the GAO said.


The winner of 2007 Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest is Garrison Spik , a 41-year-old communications director and writer from Washington, D.C. Hailing from Moon Township, Pennsylvania, he has worked in Tokyo, Bucharest, and Nitro, West Virginia, and cites DEVO, Nathaniel Hawthorne, B horror films, and historiography as major life influences. Garrison Spik is the 26th grand prize winner of the contest that began at San Jose State University in 1982.

An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873). The goal of the contest is childishly simple: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

Spik's entry: "Theirs was a New York love, a checkered taxi ride burning rubber, and like the city their passion was open 24/7, steam rising from their bodies like slick streets exhaling warm, moist, white breath through manhole covers stamped 'Forged by DeLaney Bros., Piscataway, N.J.'"

Runner-Up: "Hmm . . ." thought Abigail as she gazed languidly from the veranda past the bright white patio to the cerulean sea beyond, where dolphins played and seagulls sang, where splashing surf sounded like the tintinnabulation of a thousand tiny bells, where great gray whales bellowed and the sunlight sparkled off the myriad of sequins on the flyfish's bow ties, "time to get my meds checked." - Andrew Bowers

Grand Panjandrum's Special Award: Upon discovering that Miles Black, the famous phrenologist from Yorkshire was going to take up yodeling to lonely goats in Bali, James White decided to balance four planks of wood on a beer keg and call it an abstract work of art in the style of a famous fourteenth-century architect, just going to prove that people will read any old garbage if they think there will be a good pun at the end of it.

Winner: Adventure: Leopold looked up at the arrow piercing the skin of the dirigible with a sort of wondrous dismay -- the wheezy shriek was just the sort of sound he always imagined a baby moose being beaten with a pair of accordions might make. - Shannon Wedge

Runner-Up: "Die, commie pigs!" grunted Sergeant "Rocky" Steele through his cigar stub as he machine-gunned the North Korean farm animals. - Dave Ranson

Winner: Children's Literature: Joanne watched her fellow passengers - a wizened man reading about alchemy; an oversized bearded man-child; a haunted, bespectacled young man with a scar; and a gaggle of private school children who chatted ceaselessly about Latin and flying around the hockey pitch and the two-faced teacher who they thought was a witch - there was a story here, she decided. - Tim Ellis

Runner-Up: Dorothy had reasons to be nervous: a young girl alone in a strange land, traveling with three weird, insecure males badly in need of psychiatric help; she tucked her feet under her skirt to keep the night's chill (and lewd stares) away and made sure one more time that the gun was secured in her yet-to-develop bosom. - Domingo Pestano Alto Prado,



Reuters - A U.S. scientist has developed a new way of powering fuel cells that could make it practical for home owners to store solar energy and produce electricity to run lights and appliances at night. A new catalyst produces the oxygen and hydrogen that fuel cells use to generate electricity, while using far less energy than current methods.

With this catalyst, users could rely on electricity produced by photovoltaic solar cells to power the process that produces the fuel, said the Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who developed the new material.

"If you can only have energy when the sun is shining, you're in deep trouble. And that's why, in my opinion, photovoltaics haven't penetrated the market," Daniel Nocera, an MIT professor of energy, said in an interview at his Cambridge, Massachusetts, office. .

Nocera said his development would allow homeowners to bank solar energy as hydrogen and oxygen, which a fuel cell could use to produce electricity when the sun was not shining. "I can turn sunlight into a chemical fuel, now I can use photovoltaics at night," said Nocera, who explained the discovery in a paper written with Matthew Kanan published in the journal Science. . .

Nocera has not tried to construct a full-sized version of the system, but suggested that the technologies to bring this into a typical home could be ready in less than a decade. The idea, which he has been working on for 25 years, came from reflecting on the way plants store the sun's energy. "For the last six months, driving home, I've been looking at leaves, and saying, 'I own you guys now,'" Nocera said.

Sean Michaels, Guardian, UK - Music companies need to stop resisting and accept that illegal downloading is a fact of 21st-century life, according to a new study by music rights holders. Researchers analyzed the downloading of Radiohead's In Rainbows - which was made freely available through an official website - and found that a majority of fans still pirated the music.

"These non-traditional venues are stubbornly entrenched, incredibly popular and will never go away," said Eric Garland, co-author of the study by the MCPS-PRS Alliance and Big Champagne, an online media measurement company. Speaking to the Financial Times, he explained, "It's time to stop swimming against the tide of what people want".

Not only did many more fans illegally download the album than those who bought it in shops, they downloaded it from illegal P2P and torrent sites like Pirate Bay than from the official Radiohead site.

"Even when the price approaches zero," reads the report, "people are more likely to act habitually (say, using Pirate Bay) than to break their habit (say, visiting" . .

Researchers pointed out that despite the illegal downloads, In Rainbows was a success - CD versions were bestsellers and Radiohead tours continue to sell out. Garland described the In Rainbows release as "stunt marketing at its best".


A small but hardy band of readers are under the impression that the Review censors their comments. Since the Review generally finishes its workday after midnight and hardly has time to read all our comments, let alone remove them, the assertion is, to put it most kindly, flawed.

What is actually happening is that we cross-post quite a few items on Blogger. For example we might post a Swampoodle Report on our Undernews page, but also on our Just Politics and Flotsam & Jetsam pages. The comments, however, will only show up on one of these pages.

We sometimes fool Blogger by posting these items under different headlines but most of the time we are too busy, distracted or amnesiatic to do so and hence further feed the dark suspicions of a small but hardy band of readers.

So if you do not find your comment, we recommend you try one of the other related pages. Since most of these complaints deal with the editor's grievous errors on matters political the links above should take care of the matter.

Meanwhile, be advised that editors have a secret masochistic streak and actually get a high from the unbridled outrage of readers. We are here to be hated, doubted and contested. Thus, our favorite reader comment of all time was: "For a bed-wetting Commie, you're not bad."



Although it is not generally recognized, Washington DC's legal status is that of a colony of the United States, a status your editor has been unsuccessfully trying to change much of his life.

WASHINGTON CITY PAPER, 1994: To most spectators of the Lillehammer Olympic opening ceremony, the things that stood out were the skiing fiddlers, unruly reindeer, and kings swathed in GoreTex. But as the parade of nations passed the reviewing stand, Sam Smith, die-hard statehood advocate, full-time rabble rouser, and sometime editor of the Progressive Review, noted that something was amiss. Athletes from American Samoa, the US Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico strode proudly behind their territorial flags. While these semi-independent US colonies have their own Olympic teams, Washington does not. Once again, Smith realized, the nonvoting citizens of DC had been denied adequate representation.

"Not only are we not part of the Union, we're not even allowed to play with the colonies. We're even discriminated among the non-self-governing territories of the US," Smith growls. "It's all part of the colonial mentality, of accepting things the way they are." . . . The oversight so enraged Smith that, by Monday morning, he had already founded and designed letterhead for the Committee for a DC Team in the Olympics and appointed himself the "very interim chair." Armed with the slogan "Give Us Liberty or Give Us the Gold," Smith warmed up his fax and fired off a manifesto to local pols and industry bigwigs.

Smith hopes parochial power brokers like [hardware magnate] John Hechinger, Jesse Jackson, and perhaps even [Redskins owner] Jack Kent Cooke will petition the International Olympic Committee to permit DC to compete in the next games. "Tonya Harding's lawyers got the Olympic Committee to roll over -- can you imagine Jesse Jackson and Jack Kent Cooke working in concert? You talk about the morality of Tonya Harding being allowed to compete in the Olympics, how about the immorality of DC not being allowed to compete?" he asks.

Sam Smith: Jack Kent Cooke never came aboard, but Jesse Jackson did -- long enough to write a supporting letter to Dr. Leroy Walker, President of the US Olympic Committee, right in the middle of the games. Dave Clarke, chair of the DC city council, also endorsed the idea. Unfortunately, Jackson's attention deficit disorder soon took over and nothing more was heard from him. Even more distressing was the failure of DC activists who, rather than rushing to the cause, bombarded your editor with requests to be on the team -- based on unsubstantiated and archaic claims of athletic prowess. Activist Keith Rutter even assured me that he had friends in Atlanta and so wouldn't burden the team with room and board: "I started working out the minute I heard you on 'Morning Edition.'"



Jason Kosena, Huffington Post - Organizers for the Democratic National Convention and party leaders have touted the official greenness of the upcoming convention in Denver, including everything from bio-diesel buses and recyclable materials to a hybrid-auto fleet and carbon counting. But in the rush to secure things green -- even setting up a "hybrid-only parking lot" at the Pepsi Center -- it seems one simple and fairly obvious LEED-certified step was overlooked: Installing bike racks. Indeed, there will be no bikes allowed within the DNC perimeter of the Pepsi Center, nor at Invesco Field, where Barack Obama will deliver his acceptance speech, DNCC organizers confirmed this week. Repeatedly citing the Secret Service and the Denver Police Department as making all security-related mandates, including not allowing delegates, volunteers and gathered media to park a bike within the convention perimeter, organizers said not accommodating leg-powered transportation is the exception to the rule when talking about the true greenness of the event

Political Wire -
A new study by economists at the University of Maryland finds that Oprah Winfrey's endorsement of Sen. Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries dramatically increased the overall voter participation rate and and increased the number of contributions received by Obama. The very interesting 59-page analysis details how geographic differences in subscriptions to Oprah's magazine and book sales related to her popular book club affected the primary outcome. Ultimately, the authors estimate that Winfrey's endorsement was responsible for approximately 1,000,000 additional votes for Obama.

Daily Kos - McCain's top foreign policy adviser, Randy Scheunemann, was until March a registered lobbyist for the Republic of Georgia. His firm continues to work on behalf of Georgia and other countries in the region. In 2006, lobbyist Scheunemann accompanied McCain on a trip to Georgia. And since Friday, McCain and Scheunemann have been issuing bellicose pronouncements on behalf of Georgia in its conflict with Russia over the breakaway enclave of South Ossetia. However neither of them mentioned that Scheunemann was a Georgian lobbyist

While Obama was right
about the gas saved by fully inflated tires, it is curious that he should make that argument rather than one for driving less. Cutting about a mile a day in driving would save an equal amount of fuel. Better yet would be if he came out for a major railroad building program, something that, incidentally, would be appreciated in the red states which tend to have the worst rail service in the country.

The Nader campaign has called for the release of non-violent drug offenders. Said Nader, "If incarceration rates remain unchanged an estimated one of every 20 Americans and greater than one in four African Americans can be expected to serve time in prison during their lifetime." Nader also calls for an immediate end to to the criminal prosecution of patients for medical marijuana.

Clinton aide Howard Wolfson says that his candidate "would be the Democratic presidential nominee if John Edwards had been caught in his lie about an extramarital affair and forced out of the race last year." Of course, he doesn't speculate on what might have happened if Hillary Clinton had been caught in all her lies over the years.

Ken Silverstein, Harpers - About a week before Edwards acknowledged having an affair with Rielle Hunter, Edwards quietly shut down a "scholarship program he started at an Eastern North Carolina high school-a program he once promised would be a model for the nation under an Edwards presidency," reports the Raleigh News & Observer: "Edwards’ presidential hopes have evaporated. And he recently informed Greene County officials that he would end the pilot program at Greene Central High School. . . Edwards started the "College for Everyone" pilot program at Greene Central High in 2005, shortly after he was the Democratic vice presidential nominee. It was a privately funded effort designed to increase the number of students at a rural high school who attend college. The program provided the cost of tuition, fees and books at a public college for one year. In exchange, students had to work at least 10 hours a week while in college, take college preparatory courses in high school and stay out of trouble. But now Edwards is no longer a presidential candidate, and with revelation of his affair, his political career is probably over as well. And no more College for Everyone.

Drudge Report - The most powerful woman in the history of American politics is suffering a humiliating defeat at the nation's bookstores, sales figures show. In her first week at market, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi sold just 2,737 copies of her book Know Your Power, according to Nielsen Bookscan

Glenn Ford, Black Agenda Report - In Washington, DC, the Statehood Green Party, through labor-intensive, grassroots work, has managed to garner more votes in the last several elections than the local Republican Party. That's an amazing accomplishment, given that the Statehood Greens get virtually no coverage from the Washington Post newspaper - which means little or no exposure in the corporate television media, either, since all the stations follow the Post's lead. . . The paper's congressional reporter, Paul Kane, recently slipped up and told the "brutally honest" truth about the Post's methodical manipulation of the "news." Kane claimed the Greens and Ralph Nader "got plenty of coverage" in the 2000 election, when, in his words, Nader "had a chance to play a decisive role in some states." According to Kane, "there is little indication that the Greens will have any major impact on the '08 election." Then Kane declared, "Until you [Greens] demonstrate that there is some level of support for your party, our paper isn't going to spend precious resources reporting on whatever it is you're doing." . . . The Washington Post won't even cover the Greens in DC, where they are second to the Democrats in voter appeal.

Lee, Stranahan - About a week ago, I posted a piece on the Huffington Post called Say It Ain't So, John. . . . To my surprise, it became the most read blog the Huffington Post for a few days. I cross posted on Daily Kos, which is probably the best known and biggest progressive blog. I've been posting at Kos for a long time. As more news about Edwards has come out, I followed up with more posts which were also the subject of a large number of comments. All of them looked at the Edwards situation from my point of view; that is, a liberal who is concerned about the implications this story may have in November. Now I'm banned. I can't write about anything at Kos. Can't comment, can't post a non-Edwards piece. Nothing.


Over the past decade, the average waiting time in an emergency room has increased from 38 minutes to almost an hour according the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


Wayne Barrett, Village Voice - There are as many starting points for the mortgage meltdown as there are fears about how far it has yet to go, but one decisive point of departure is the final years of the Clinton administration, when a kid from Queens without any real banking or real-estate experience was the only man in Washington with the power to regulate the giants of home finance, the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation, better known as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Andrew Cuomo, the youngest Housing and Urban Development secretary in history, made a series of decisions between 1997 and 2001 that gave birth to the country's current crisis. He took actions that - in combination with many other factors helped plunge Fannie and Freddie into the subprime markets without putting in place the means to monitor their increasingly risky investments. He turned the Federal Housing Administration mortgage program into a sweetheart lender with sky-high loan ceilings and no money down, and he legalized what a federal judge has branded "kickbacks" to brokers that have fueled the sale of overpriced and unsupportable loans. Three to four million families are now facing foreclosure, and Cuomo is one of the reasons why.


The town of Bartlesville, OK has banned TV coverage not of its meetings, but only the part where the public gets to talk. Tulsa has the same sort of ban.


Tree Hugger - Research from the Swedish Defense Research Agency confirms that Swedish single men (with no children) consume about 20 percent more overall energy than Swedish single women, mostly because of their vehicle driving habits. For men surveyed in the study, 40 percent of their overall energy use was for transport, while for women the figure was about 25 percent. Women on the other hand, tended to be involved in more "energy intensive" activities while at home (read: washing more dishes, washing more clothes, and washing themselves more and longer). Women buy more stuff, men more energy-intensive stuff The survey found that women really do consume more - more clothes, more pharmaceuticals, more health care, more beauty supplies and services - but the stuff men spent their money on - more eating and drinking out, more tobacco, more transport - were more energy intensive. Of course, some of those cars and meals are probably benefiting some of those single women.

Greenwire - Skyrocketing prices for coal and natural gas are threatening to spur record increases in electricity bills in the Southeast, the Tennessee Valley Authority's president and chief executive warned today. . . TVA is not alone. South Carolina Electric & Gas Co., a subsidiary of SCANA Corp., asked state regulators for a midterm adjustment in power prices to offset similar cost increases for coal, which accounts for 65 percent of the utility's generation mix. The phased-in cost increase would range from 12 percent for residential customers to 23 percent for industrial customers. In Mississippi, the Public Service Commission is reviewing a recent fuel cost adjustment imposed by Entergy Corp. that increased the average customer's bill by 28 percent. Entergy officials said the rate increase was necessary to offset rising costs for natural gas, but that has not muted criticism from advocacy groups, which say the utility is hurting customers in one of the nation's poorest states.

Metaefficient - A company called Green Core Air has released an air conditioner than can be powered by a single 170 watt solar panel. The Green Core air conditioning unit can heat and cool a 600 square foot room. When the sun is not out the unit runs on the battery bank which is integrated within the unit. GreenCore units are being tested by a McDonald’s restaurant and the U.S. Navy.


Christian Science Monitor - Within weeks, Spain is likely to go beyond laws that protect animals and be the first country to give rights to nonhumans, specifically great apes - gorillas, chimps, bonobos, and orangutans. . .They would have standing in court, much as children or unconscious patients do. They could be given a guardian or lawyer. The law would grant apes a right to life. No human could kill them except in self-defense. They would have a right to be free of abuse. They couldn't be used in medical experiments, circuses, movies, and TV commercials. And so forth.


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