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alp227

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Gender: Male
Current location: San Jose, CA
Member since: Thu Sep 10, 2009, 11:28 PM
Number of posts: 27,830

Journal Archives

Barack Obama's presidency is spiraling downward (by a UChicago professor)

The Chicago Tribune published this op-ed on Tuesday. It's by Charles Lipson, a political science professor at the University of Chicago. Lipson has taught there since 1977, so he's been in the faculty at the same time Obama taught at the UChicago law school (1992-2004). But he's basically comparing Obama's controversies with GW Bush's controversies:

"Brownie, you're doing a heckuva job." That was George W. Bush's infamous compliment to Michael Brown, his then-director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. It came as New Orleans lay flooded after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, with thousands of homeless victims trapped in the Superdome. Brown was not doing "a heckuva job." He was failing badly, and the public knew it.

What made Bush's accolade clunk so loudly? Why do we remember it years later? Because that single, maladroit phrase captured so much that had gone wrong with Bush's presidency. He praised incompetent managers instead of firing them, and he seemed cheerfully clueless about what was happening on the ground.


The Obama administration, which had few serious setbacks during its first term, is now engulfed by them: the disastrous rollout of the Affordable Care Act, the unraveling story about Benghazi, Libya, the IRS targeting of conservative groups, the casual (and ignored) red line in Syria, Iraq's disintegration after America left abruptly, al-Qaida's resurgence, the secret waiting list and falsified data at the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the Taliban prisoners swap. The president's defenders have explanations for each of them, but the problems are cumulating.


One obvious theme is that Obama, like Bush, is a poor manager. He doesn't pay attention to crucial details, surrounds himself with sycophants and doesn't hold anyone accountable. The poster child for these deficiencies is Kathleen Sebelius, who ran Health and Human Services during the rollout of the Affordable Care Act. Sebelius failed to anticipate the HealthCare.gov disaster and the president never inquired. When the rollout failed disastrously, Obama calmly announced he was angry, but retained Sebelius. (He did the same with Gen. Eric Shinseki at Veterans Affairs.)


OK, there's a fallacy right there with "IRS targeting of conservative groups." According to Wikipedia: "The only tax-exempt status denial by the IRS involved the revocation of a previously granted tax-exempt status for a progressive group." With all these hearings by Congress, not one right wing group has successfully been able to demonstrate "I'VE BEEN PERSECUTED BY THE BIG BAD EVIL IRS!!!!!" Second, this whole "controversy" over the IRS misses the whole freaking point about a basic principle that groups applying for 501(c) charitable/"social welfare" status should not be electioneering!!!!!

And at the end crosses into a Glenn Beck style of argumentation:

The low point came when the president embraced Sgt. Bergdahl's parents in the Rose Garden. Thinking the public would cheer Bergdahl's release, Obama took a victory lap. Bad call. The administration has been showered with tough questions instead of confetti. Why did Obama release a murderers' row of Taliban generals? Why did he refuse to tell anyone in Congress beforehand, as he was legally required to do? Is the president floating a trial balloon to empty Guantanamo? Could the newly released Taliban plan deadly attacks? Will the swap encourage Islamic terrorists to kidnap other Americans? The White House is still fumbling for answers.


First, Congress has known as early as 2012 about the prisoner swap. Second, the release of the "Taliban Five" was going to happen anyway due to the US military leaving Afghanistan this year.

Yahoo chief executive Scott Thompson quits

Source: The Guardian

Yahoo's chief executive Scott Thompson quit on Sunday as the struggling web giant sought to defuse a row over an allegedly fake computer science degree on his CV.

After a board meeting on Sunday morning the company announced that Thompson, who has led the internet services firm for less than six months, would be replaced by Ross Levinsohn with immediate effect. Levinsohn is a former News Corp executive who presided over the Murdoch-controlled media firm's ultimately disastrous purchase of MySpace in 2005.

Yahoo said Roy Bostock, the Yahoo chairman, would also leave and be replaced by Fred Amoroso, a veteran technology executive.

Thompson has been under pressure since activist shareholder Daniel Loeb of the hedge fund Third Point claimed that Thompson had misrepresented his degree.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2012/may/13/yahoo-chief-scott-thompson-quits

US ahead of Europe on energy policy

Source: Financial Times

Europe’s manufacturers are rapidly losing ground to US rivals because of soaring energy costs and the failure of the continent’s governments to be “rational” about nuclear power and shale gas, the head of one of the world’s biggest chemicals groups has warned.

In an interview with the Financial Times, Jean-Pierre Clamadieu, the new chief executive of Franco-Belgian Solvay, accused Germany, France and Belgium of acting in isolation on nuclear and gas policy and failing to come up with a coherent strategy to keep Europe’s companies competitive.

“There is very little European co-ordination,” he said, warning that energy costs should be ranked alongside the eurozone crisis as the most urgent problem confronting industry.

Natural gas in the US is three times cheaper than in Europe because of its decision to exploit shale gas through the environmentally-controversial process of “fracking” – the high-pressure injection of water and chemicals to free up trapped gas.

Read more: http://liveweb.archive.org/http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/45afd57a-9abf-11e1-9c98-00144feabdc0.html

Oil prices could double by 2022, IMF warned

Source: The Guardian

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has been warned by its internal research team that there could be a permanent doubling of oil prices in the coming decade with profound implications for global trade.

"This is uncharted territory for the world economy, which has never experienced such prices for more than a few months," the report warns.

The new IMF "working paper" come as the value of crude on world markets remains at the historically high level of $113 a barrel and just after the International Energy Agency reported that consumption would accelerate for the rest of this year in line with a wider economic recovery.

Undertaken amid mounting concerns about "peak oil", the IMF study does not presume that there is a constraint on how much oil can be taken out of the ground. It prefers to believe that extraction rates will depend on the price that will be able to be charged for the final product.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2012/may/13/oil-price-doubling-decade-imf

Yemen says US drone strikes have killed 11 al-Qaida militants in two days

Source: The Guardian

Suspected US drones have killed 11 alleged al-Qaida militants in a strike in southern Yemen, local military authorities have said.

The first of the two attacks took place on Saturday near the border of Marib and Shabwa provinces southeast of the capital, Sana'a, killing six militants, including one Egyptian national, the Yemeni officials said. A second strike hit two cars in Marib, killing a further five al-Qaida-linked fighters.

The air strikes come a week after the US took out a top al-Qaida operative wanted over the 2000 bombing of USS Cole in a similar missile attack from an unmanned aircraft.

It also follows a warning just a few days ago from the former head of the CIA's counter-terrorism unit, Robert Grenier, over the excessive use of drones. He said the policy risks turning Yemen into the "Arabian equivalent of Waziristan" – a reference to the strife-torn Pakistani region.

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/13/yemen-drone-strikes-al-qaida

Science journal could give recipe for deadly avian flu virus

Source: CNN

A science journal is poised to publish a study that some experts believe could give a recipe to bioterrorists.

The study is from an experiment by a Dutch scientist who engineered the avian flu virus to make it more deadly to mammals by making it spread through the air.

That experiment was funded by the U.S. government, and it has sparked a passionate debate among scientists. Part of that debate is over where this research could lead, and whether it is worth it.

The National Institutes of Health and some scientists say it is worth it. They say it could ultimately protect mankind by trying to anticipate how the virus could mutate to one that causes a pandemic -- like the one in the film "Contagion."

Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2012/05/12/us/journal-avian-flu/index.html

Afghan peace negotiator shot dead

Source: AP

A gunman has shot dead a top member of the Afghan peace council in Kabul, striking another blow to efforts to negotiate a political resolution to the decade-long war.

Arsala Rahmani, a former Taliban official turned Afghan peace negotiator, was in his vehicle when he was killed by an unknown attacker at an intersection in the west part of the city, according to Mohammad Zahir, head of the Kabul police department's criminal investigation division.

Rahmani, a former member of parliament, was one of about 70 influential Afghans and former Taliban appointed by President Hamid Karzai to try to reconcile with the insurgents.

On Twitter, the US Embassy in Kabul called the assassination of another peace council member "a tragedy."

Read more: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/may/13/afghan-peace-negotiator-shot-dead
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