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If you're reading this blog, you're almost certainly well versed on the basics. You're well aware of the fact, for example, that Republicans have opposed health care reform en masse and that overcoming constant filibusters poses an almost insurmountable challenge.
But you're far more informed than the typical person. And there are consequences associated with an uninformed electorate.
The public has consistently expressed strong interest in the health care debate, but relatively few Americans can correctly answer two key questions related to the Senate's consideration of health care legislation.
In the latest installment of the Pew Research Center's News IQ Quiz, just 32% know that the Senate passed its version of the legislation without a single Republican vote. And, in what proved to be the most difficult question on the quiz, only about a quarter (26%) knows that it takes 60 votes to break a filibuster in the Senate and force a vote on a bill.
This obviously poses a serious political problem. Americans don't really know what's in the Democratic health care reform proposal, but just as important, the vast majority of Americans don't know what it takes to overcome a filibuster.
It creates a situation in which the public sees a Democratic president and a Democratic Congress, and doesn't understand why more isn't getting done.
Democratic strategists and officials occasionally think Republicans will be punished for their unprecedented, reflexive obstructionism. But it's worth remembering that most of the public doesn't really follow this stuff. They don't know about the constant filibusters -- they may not know what a filibuster even is -- and generally don't care about procedural matters.
In other words, Republicans have embraced one simple tactic -- the single most important weapon in the GOP arsenal -- and used it to prevent the governing party from functioning. And Americans aren't really aware of that.MORE

Obvs the media ain't doing the job of informing Americans. But what I want to know is, are we taught in school how congress works? Are kids taught why this is important? And this is creating serious black humor for me as well...

Why FL just got High Speed Rail

The American public unfortunately lacks patience for and understanding of civil works projects. Frustration with perceived high costs and delays dovetail into conservative anti-government and anti-labor memes.

The Florida high speed rail project is expected to take a mere 4 1/2 years. Even accounting for construction delays, should President Obama be reelected, he can indeed fulfill his promise and ride the first train while in office. We are looking at a project that can be completed possibly before the 2014 midterm elections, and hopefully with certainty before the 2016 general election.

Allowing for the low cost of the 84mi rail line is Florida's uniformly low grade and plentiful right of way, with an elevation change of less than 150ft along the route. Interstate 4, known for its traffic and congestion, currently permits about 90min of travel time between Tampa and Orlando. At 160mpg, the Florida High Speed rail link could make the trip in a mere 44min.

3. The Domino Effect:

By starting with the easiest effort first, that is most likely to succeed and produce a tangible (and hopefully attractive) result quickly, other regions of the community will hopefully demand equal federal investment in high speed rail travel for completion long after President Obama has left office. It's no longer a matter of pointing to Europe or Japan, but come 2014, pointing to Central Florida. If they can build a high speed rail line there, quickly and inexpensively, why can't they build one everywhere?

As progressives, it is so tempting to be impatient.

Why only $8.5 billion for high speed rail? Why not $85 billion in high speed rail, especially when compared to the Pentagon's budget or what Nations like China are investing?

But we must never forget that something so appealing to the sane is still a hard sell in a country populated by so much insanity. A case in point would be the "We Don't Need No Stinkin' Bullet Train" bumper stickers, combined with successful lobbying from Southwest Airlines, that doomed the Texas high speed rail plan.MORE

In the good news dept:In the meantime, Pres. Obama apparently beat the living HELL (rhetorically) out of the Republicans this morning at their GOP conference in Maryland. And FOX news decided to cut off the questions in the middle of the question time:

Obama: Let me say this about health care and the health care debate, because I think it also bears on a whole lot of other issues. If you look at the health care package that we've presented ... But at its core, if you look at the basic proposal that we put forward, that has an exchange so that businesses and the self-employed can buy into a pool, and can get bargaining power the same way that big companies do, the insurance reforms that I've already discussed, making sure that there's choice in competition for those that don't have health insurance -- the component parts of this thing are pretty similar to what Howard Baker, Bob Dole, and Tom Daschle proposed at the beginning of this debate last year. Now, you may not agree with Bob Dole and Howard Baker, and certainly you don't agree with Tom Daschle on much, but that's not a radical bunch.
But if you were to listen to the debate -- and frankly, how some of you went after this bill, you'd think that this thing was some Bolshevik plot! No, I mean, that's how you guys, that's how you guys presented it. And so I'm thinking to myself, 'Well, how is it that a plan that is pretty centrist' -- no, look, I'm just sayin', I know you guys disagree, but if you look at the facts of this bill, most independent observers would say this is actually what many Republicans -- it's similar to what many Republicans proposed to Bill Clinton when he was doing his debate on health care.
So all I'm saying is, we've got to close the gap between the rhetoric and the reality. I'm not suggesting that we're going to agree on everything, whether it's on health care or energy or what have you. But if the way these issues are being presented by the Republicans is that this is some wild-eyed plot to impose huge government in every aspect of our lives, what happens is you guys then don't have a lot of room to negotiate with me.
I mean, the fact of the matter is that many of you, if you voted with the administration on something, are politically vulnerable in your home base, in your own party. You've given yourselves very little room to work in a bipartisan fashion, because what you've been telling your constituents is. 'This guy's doin' all kinds of crazy stuff that's going to destroy America!' MORE

And the Repubs themselves are regretting that they allowed him in with TV cameras.
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Apparently Ben "Let me get all up in your uterus!!!" Nelson and Joe "Let's fuck up Healthcare!!! Lieberman were sitting together at the SOTU. Josh Marshall was not impressed and pronounced them the axis of weasels.

So. Look at ontd_politicals Viking Celebration Post. Then consider the Viking Kittens. The contrast will make you cry with laughter.


Jan. 26th, 2010 03:33 pm
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Melissa Harris-Lacewell: Citizenship is a Long-Term Game

In the wake of what some called the worst week for democracy since Bush v. Gore, with the Democrats seeming to give up after losing one Senate seat and the Supreme Court allowing unlimited corporate influence on elections, we turn to Melissa Harris-Lacewell, Princeton professor, Nation contributor, and author of Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought for some clarification–and consolation.
Harris-Lacewell offers some thoughts on why it’s lazy and dangerous to refer to political opponents as crazy, on the way the health care reform process has provided a valuable civics lesson, and how political campaigns are beholden to money.

Though as I listen I think it may be problematic in its use of the terms "crazy" and "mad". Am I right?

Raj Patel has spent a lot of time studying the way resources are distributed among people, and he’s watched spiraling inequality leave many people with nothing while concentrating wealth in the hands of the few. From the food system, which he studied in Stuffed and Starved, to the bank bonuses still being handed out, he argues that something has to change.
In his new book, The Value of Nothing: How to Reshape Market Society and Redefine Democracy, Patel lays out some solutions. He joins Laura in studio to talk about consumerism, labor, violence against women, and the way we need to think about happiness.

ETA: Raj Patel's voice is hitting my British accent kink. And my intelligence kink. AHEM. Back to the point.
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What to watch for in 2010:An American world of war

We, of course, think of ourselves as something like the peaceable kingdom. After all, the shock of September 11, 2001 was that "war" came to "the homeland," a mighty blow delivered against the very symbols of our economic, military, and—had Flight 93 not gone down in a field in Pennsylvania—political power.

Since that day, however, war has been a stranger in our land. ...

Although our country delivers war regularly to distant lands in the name of our "safety," we don't really consider ourselves at war(despite the endless talk of "supporting our troops"), and the money that has simply poured into Pentagon coffers, and then into weaponry and conflicts is, with rare exceptions, never linked to economic distress in this country. And yet, if we are no nation of warriors, from the point of view of the rest of the world we are certainly the planet's foremost war-makers. If money talks, then war may be what we care most about as a society and fund above all else, with the least possible discussion or debate.

In fact, according to military expert William Hartung, the Pentagon budget has risen in every year of the new century, an unprecedented run in our history. We dominate the global arms trade, monopolizing almost 70% of the arms business in 2008, with Italy coming in a vanishingly distant second. We put more money into the funding of war, our armed forces, and the weaponry of war than the next 25 countries combined (and that's without even including Iraq and Afghan war costs). We garrison the planet in a way no empire or nation in history has ever done. And we plan for the future, for "the next war"—on the ground, on the seas, and in space—in a way that is surely unique. If our two major wars of the twenty-first century in Iraq and Afghanistan are any measure, we also get less bang for our buck than any nation in recent history.

So, let's pause a moment as the New Year begins and take stock of ourselves as what we truly are: the preeminent war-making machine on planet Earth. Let's peer into the future, and consider just what the American way of war might have in store for us in 2010. Here are 10 questions, the answers to which might offer reasonable hints as to just how much U.S. war efforts are likely to intensify in the Greater Middle East, as well as Central and South Asia, in the year to come.

1. How busted will the largest defense budget in history be in 2010?

Strange, isn't it, that the debate about hundreds of billions of dollars in health-care costs in Congress can last almost a year, filled with turmoil and daily headlines, while a $636 billion defense budget can pass in a few days, as it did in late December, essentially without discussion and with nary a headline in sight? And in case you think that $636 billion is an honest figure, think again—and not just because funding for the U.S. nuclear arsenal and actual "homeland defense," among other things most countries would chalk up as military costs, wasn't included.

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Progressives (and Obama) are Doing Better Than We Think -- and We Won't Know What We've Got 'Til It's Gone

Quick Summary of 2009 Progressive Victories (more explanation below)

  • Three major health bills (SCHIP, tobacco regulation, and stimulus funds for Medicaid, COBRA subsidies, health information technology and the National Institutes of Health) enacted even before comprehensive reform
  • Stimulus contained myriad other individual policy victories, not only preventing a far worse depression but also:
    • Delivered key new funds for education
    • Expanded state energy conservation programs and new transit programs
    • Added new smart grid investments
    • Funded high-speed Internet broadband programs
    • Extended unemployment insurance for up to 99 weeks for the unemployed and  modernizing state UI programs to cover more of the unemployed
    • Made large new investments in the safety net, from food stamps (SNAP) to affordable housing to child care
  • Clean cars victory to take gas mileage requirements to 35mpg
  • Protection of 2 million acres of land against oil and gas drilling and other development 
  • Executive orders protecting labor rights, from project labor agreements to protecting rights of contractor employees on federal jobs
  • Stopping pay discrimination through Lilly Ledbetter and Equal Pay laws
  • Making it easier for airline and railway workers to unionize, while appointing NLRB and other labor officials who will strengthen freedom to form unions
  • Reversing Bush ban on funding overseas family planning clinics
  • Passing hate crimes protections for gays and lesbians
  • Protecting stem cell research research
  • Strengthening state authority and restricting federal preemption to protect state consumer, environmental and labor laws
  • Financial reforms to protect homeowners and credit card holders
  • Bailing out the auto industry and protecting unionized retirees and workers

This actually makes me feel tins better. The thing is that the stuff that are my priorities are teh very things he's fucking up on, healthcare, torture and other war crimes, internet regulation, climate fucking change OMG GRRRRRRRRRRR. Its good to know that he is getting some shit right.
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From Daily Kos No one is going to save you fools
The first thing you need to understand about healthcare reform is what Jane Hamsher identified long ago: nothing--absolutely nothing--is going to trump the White House's deal with PhRMA and the insurance industry.  The question you need to ask yourselves is: why?  If you're intellectually mature enough to get past "personal betrayal" as your best answer, you'll be on the right track.

While you ponder that one, you might want to also consider why nothing has been done--nor will anything serious actually be done--about financial industry reform.  Standing up to the financial industry in the current political environment should be a no-brainer.  So what in the heck is going on here?  If you can think past shadowy conspiracy theories and possible personal enrichment for the Obama family, you'll be doing the kind of thinking that will help actually solve the problem.

The problem is people like me, and the people I work for.  I'm what they call a Qualitative Research Consultant, or QRC for short.  Here's my website.  There's even a whole association of us who meet regularly to discuss ideas and tactics.  Together with the AAPC, the MRA, the AMA, ESOMAR, and a whole host of other organizations you've never heard of, we have more power and control than you know.  We're extremely good at what we do, and we do it all behind the scenes, appealing to and manipulating your subconscious brain in ways that your conscious brain has little to no control over.

Give us a little money to test some things out, and we can work magic.  Our business is persuasion, and we're very good at it.  Just watch PBS Frontline's series, The Persuaders to get just a small inkling of what you're up against.  We can make a company that earns a 38% gross profit margin manufacturing purely propriety products seem hip, cool and progressive.  We can take sugar water and sell it back to you as a health drink, and even Whole Foods shoppers will believe it.  We can take 30 different brands of vodka with almost exactly the same ingredients, and make you understand instantly just what kind of person drinks which brand, and how much you should expect to pay for each, without a moment's thought.  

For any given category of products, I can show you a bunch of different brands, and you'll be able to tell me a wealth of information about each one, despite the near absolute similarity of their actual products to one another.  One exercise we QRC's like to conduct involves actually turning a brand into a person in a group discussion; it's called personification.  And you wouldn't believe how effectively and universally we can tailor a brand's image, right down to what kind of car that "person" would drive, and what music he/she would listen to.  

So much attention has been paid to Naomi Klein's outstanding
Shock Doctrine, that few pay much attention anymore to her far more provocative and important work No Logo.  If all Americans truly internalized the message of No Logo, people like me would be out of work, and we could really reform this country. ...

If you want to win, you will ORGANIZE. You will organize in the same way the Right has done for the last 40 years, and you will spend money on persuasion, where it really matters.  You will, in short, make the politicians as afraid of you as they are of them.  The Right has built vast networks of think tanks, newspapers, periodicals, cable news channels, and political advocacy organizations to spread their finely tuned, well-honed messages.  Their politicians may fail them, and their actual policies may be deeply unpopular, but their message machine nearly always works its magic to get them what they want, even when Democrats are in power.

That's partly because the American political Right never quits and never gives up.  They know that organization is the key to their success, and they don't trust politicians to do their work for them.  Democrats, on the other hand, get disappointed and quit when our politicians don't pan out the way we wanted.  That's why we lose.MORE
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The problem with financial crisis is that when it happens, EVERYONE needs help. Noone can pick up the slack.

Supporting the ACLU

As The New York Times reported yesterday, the ACLU this year, largely without warning, lost its single largest source of funding as a result of the financial crisis. The loss of that individual donor, who had been contributing $20 million per year, was a major blow to the organization, "punching a 25 percent hole in its annual operating budget and forcing cutbacks in operations." That loss came on top of substantial fundraising losses last year from the financial crisis and the Madoff fraud, which had already forced the group to lay-off numerous employees and cut back substantially on its activities. The lost donor made clear yesterday that he continues to support the ACLU's work emphatically but is simply now financially unable to continue his support.

It is not hyperbole to say that, over the past decade, there has been no organization more important to the United States, the Constitution, and basic political liberties than the ACLU. From the start of the Bush/Cheney assault on core civil liberties -- when most organizations and individuals were petrified of opposing any efforts justified by "terrorism" -- the ACLU was one of a small handful of groups which defied that climate of fear by vigorously and fearlessly opposing those erosions. Along with that same small handful of civil liberties and human rights groups, the ACLU since then has been at the center of virtually every fight against government incursions into basic rights. They defend core Constitutional principles regardless of party or ideology, and they continue to lead this fight even now that Bush is gone from office. As I detailed here, their crucial efforts extend far beyond litigating and lobbying, as they have often been forced to fulfill the investigative and oversight role intended for -- but abdicated by -- our national media and Congress. Indeed, most of what we know about the Bush torture regime and other lawbreaking schemes is the result not of newspapers or Congressional investigations but the ACLU.And with the Obama administration hellbent on narrowing the definition of war crimes, we need them now
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I've gotten so sickened about this that I have been actively avoiding news on torture because Obama becomes so freaking disgusting as the days pass. But I thought you might wanna know...

On eve of receiving Nobel, Obama's DOJ files amicus brief upending Nuremberg Protocols.

"John Yoo is being defended in court this month by the Administration. Not the Bush Administration. The Obama Administration. As with the lawsuits over electronic surveillance and torture, the Obama administration wants the lawsuit against Yoo dismissed and is defending the right of Justice Department officials to help establish a torture program — an established war crime. I will be discussing this issue tonight on MSNBC Countdown.

The Obama Administration has filed a brief that brushes over the war crimes aspects of Yoo’s work at the Justice Department. Instead, it insists that attorneys must be free to give advice — even if it is to establish a torture program.
In its filing before the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Justice Department insists that there is "the risk of deterring full and frank advice regarding the military’s detention and treatment of those determined to be enemies during an armed conflict." Instead it argues that the Justice Department has other means to punish lawyers like the Office of Professional Responsibility. Of course, the Bush Administration effectively blocked such investigations and Yoo is no longer with the Justice Department. The OPR has been dismissed as ineffectual, including in an ABA Journal, as the Justice Department’s "roach motel"—"the cases go in, but nothing ever comes out."

The Justice Department first defended Yoo as counsel and then paid for private counsel to represent him (here). His public-funded private counsel is Miguel Estrada, who was forced to withdraw his nomination by George Bush for the Court of Appeals after strong opposition from the Democrats.

Yoo is being sued by Jose Padilla, who was effectively blocked in contesting his abusive confinement and mistreatment as part of this criminal case and in a habeas action. The Bush Administration brought new charges to moot a case before the Supreme Court could rule. The Court previously sent his case back on a technicality.
It is important to note that the Administration did not have to file this brief since it had withdrawn as counsel and paid for Yoo’s private counsel. It has decided that it wants to establish the law claimed by the Bush Administration protecting Justice officials who support alleged war crimes. They are effectively doubling down by withdrawing as counsel and then reappearing as a non-party amicus.

The Obama Administration has gutted the hard-fought victories in Nuremberg where lawyers and judges were often guilty of war crimes in their legal advice and opinions. The third of the twelve trials for war crimes involved 16 German jurists and lawyers. Nine had been officials of the Reich Ministry of Justice, the others were prosecutors and judges of the Special Courts and People’s Courts of Nazi Germany. It would have been a larger group but two lawyers committed suicide before trial: Adolf Georg Thierack, former minister of justice, and Carl Westphal, a ministerial counsellor.

Now. Where is our media? Still chasing Tiger's girlfriends? What the fuck is the point of a free press if it muzzles itself and effectively colludes with a corrupt administration? What check are they serving as?


Dec. 5th, 2009 12:16 am
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Political Hilarity

On the new conservative Bible.Blessed are the Pure in Interpretation

Limbaugh on healthcare:health care reform is just like owning a home. If you're rich, you live in a mansion on a beach and if you're poor, you live in a bungalow.

via [livejournal.com profile] fengi Irish Catholic Church claims that they can tell lies without breaking that pesky commandment

One of the most fascinating discoveries in the Dublin Archdiocese report was that of the concept of “mental reservation” which allows clerics mislead people without believing they are lying.
According to the Commission of Investigation report, “mental reservation is a concept developed and much discussed over the centuries, which permits a church man knowingly to convey a misleading impression to another person without being guilty of lying”.
It gives an example. “John calls to the parish priest to make a complaint about the behaviour of one of his curates. The parish priest sees him coming but does not want to see him because he considers John to be a troublemaker. He sends another of his curates to answer the door. John asks the curate if the parish priest is in. The curate replies that he is not.”
The commission added: “This is clearly untrue but in the Church’s view it is not a lie because, when the curate told John that the parish priest was not in, he mentally reserved the words '…to you’.MORE on the lies and the lying liars who told them
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Going Dutch: How I learned to love the European Welfare State

I wonder if the Dutch would be so well knit as a country if they had a higher immigrant population?
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Grayson v. Broun on the Constitution

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) humbles Hudson Institute dilettante over health care bankruptcies

Sen. Al Franken (D-MN) humbles Hudson Institute dilettante over health care bankruptcies
This during a senate Judiciary sub-committee hearing on bankruptcies driven by catastrophic medical expenses
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Iran and Israel hold first talks since 1979

The Israeli press is reporting that around a fortnight ago Iran and Israel held direct talks in Cairo. They discussed the idea of a nuclear free Middle East.
Israel indicated that in principle, once comprehensive peace is established, it would be ready to discuss proposals for a nuclear free Middle East. Iran assured Israel that it does not seek to endanger Israel.

This seems to be the first time that the State of Israel and the Islamic Republic of Iran have held direct talks. The reports come hot on the heel of other reports regarding Iran's willingness to sign a draft agreement proposed by the IAEA, which affords international recognition of Iran's rights to enrich uranium under the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, and at the same time eases concerns about Iran's potential ability to produce a nuclear bomb.
This is a short diary covering this breaking story.MORE
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That people were living there before the good Lord told Israel to kill em all and take the land for a inheritance. It says so right there in the Bible. Now, they sure as hell weren't the only ones pulling those shenanigans. That whole "my god says your shit is mine!" attitude was pretty common back in the day. But it does render the whole "but tradition and religion!" argument...invalid.
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And when I heard it I laughed for about 5 mins. at the thought of the Republican Freakout. And then I laughed for another 20 minutes at the transparency of the European message. This is a fuck you to Bush, plain and simple. Barack has not done a DAMN thing to deserve this award. At all. He's been in power for about 8 months. All he's been able to do, is START the process. I mean jeez! You know, I was going to start writing an essay about it, but others have taken it apart better than me.

Deepad :Ei Monihar Amai Nahi Saaje

I should not, perhaps, be as aghast as I am. Previous choices of the five white Norwegians comprising the prize committee include an array of undeserving and mediocre candidates. The slant towards the Western, the White, and the political is obvious. It is not, in fact, an award that should carry much merit, and I try to not think of it as such. (I do grudge the already well-off prize winners their 10 million Swedish crowns, when I think of how much that money might mean to peace activists in poorer places, countries or cultures.)

But giving a peace prize to the president leading a country that is at overt, declared war with two other nations is a slap in the face to the thousands of Iraqi and Afghanistani people killed by American troops, American weapons, and American politics.

Glen Greenwald Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

But far more important than the lack of actual accomplishments are some of the policies over which Obama has presided that are the very opposite of peace.
graphic pics on the cut )
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Going after ACORN may be like shooting fish in a barrel lately -- but jumpy lawmakers used a bazooka to do it last week and may have blown up some of their longtime allies in the process.

The congressional legislation intended to defund ACORN, passed with broad bipartisan support, is written so broadly that it applies to "any organization" that has been charged with breaking federal or state election laws, lobbying disclosure laws, campaign finance laws or filing fraudulent paperwork with any federal or state agency. It also applies to any of the employees, contractors or other folks affiliated with a group charged with any of those things.

In other words, the bill could plausibly defund the entire military-industrial complex. Whoops.

Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) picked up on the legislative overreach and asked the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to sift through its database to find which contractors might be caught in the ACORN net.
Lockheed Martin and Northrop Gumman both popped up quickly, with 20 fraud cases between them, and the longer list is a Who's Who of weapons manufacturers and defense contractors.

The language was written by the GOP and filed as a "motion to recommit" in the House, where it passed 345-75.
POGO is reaching out to its members to identify other companies who have engaged in the type of misconduct that would make them ineligible for federal funds.
Grayson then intends to file that list in the legislative history that goes along with the bill so that judges can reference it when determining whether a company should be denied federal funds.

Political Animal underlines the obvious:

The next question, of course, is why ACORN's problems with voter-registration materials are extremely important, while Lockheed Martin's and Northrop Gumman's bad habits are not only considered uninteresting -- to conservatives, to lawmakers, to news outlets -- but largely verboten as a topic of conversation.

*in the meantime, goes to bed howling with laughter*
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A Stormy Time for Indigenous Wisdom

The World Intellectual Property Organization is making an effort to protect indigenous knowledge, but its criteria put it on a collision course with the indigenous concept of knowledge itself.

VIENNA, Jul 6 (Tierramérica).- Indigenous peoples risk losing control over their traditional knowledge if the World Intellectual Property Organization insists on strict standards for managing access to information.

Patents and other forms of restricting access to knowledge are very worrisome in a time of climate change, says a new report by the London-based International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED).

The study was presented at meetings of the WIPO - a United Nations agency - held Jun. 23-Jul. 3 in Geneva.

"Intellectual property standards restrict use of genetic resources when we need flexibility and adaptability to cope with climate change," said Michel Pimbert, director of IIED's Sustainable Agriculture, Biodiversity and Livelihoods Program.

WIPO aims to develop rules for protecting rights over traditional knowledge, such as indigenous knowledge about medicinal plants, which conventional intellectual property laws do not cover.

However, according to IIED's Krystyna Swiderska, who coordinated the research in Africa, Asia and Latin America, "WIPO’s call for consistency with existing intellectual property standards is a flawed approach as these have been created on Western commercial lines to limit access to inventions such as drugs developed by private companies."

Intellectual property is about restricting access, creating monopolies and eliminating competition and it is being pushed by transnational pharmaceutical and seed companies, said Pimbert.

Biotechnology companies are using climate change and promises to develop drought- resistant and heat-tolerant crop varieties, but only if they get tough intellectual property protections, he added.

"Intellectual property standards are in conflict with flexibility and adaptability" necessary for the world to confront climate change, said Pimbert.

IIED report co-author Alejandro Argumedo, a plant scientist for the Quechua-Aymara Association for Nature and Sustainable Development (ANDES) in Peru, believes that traditional communities protect knowledge and resources in precisely the opposite way.

Ideas, seeds and life forms cannot be privatized and access to them must remain non-exclusive and benefits widely shared, he said. MORE
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College president honors "diversity" by naming center for Dick Cheney

One of the biggest pet peeves on the right is the way that America's universities worship such "socialist" principles as "diversity" and "tolerance" -- so I wonder how they feel when a university president is citing "diversity and tolerance" as a good reason to accept millions of dollars in blood money from Dick Cheney for a new campus center.
It's hard to even know where to begin with the irony here: The man who sent more than 4,000 Americans abroad to die in his unjustified crusade, responsble for the Kafka-esque detainment and torture of prisoners, some of whom were innocent, at Guantanamo and secret sites around the globe, and who did more than anyone in U.S. history to create an international climate of distrust, is being honored with a center at the University of Wyoming to foster world understanding...to send Americans overseas and support foreigners studying in the United States.

Dick Cheney said his time as a student at the University of Wyoming laid the foundation for an "extraordinary career.""We hope that this center will provide the kind of support for Wyoming students to travel overseas, to travel internationally, to learn a lot of the lessons that we've learned over the years," he said.



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