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California fire
AP photo / Phil Klein

Weather Aids S. Calif. Firefighters

Lower temperatures and higher humidity helped crews battling wildfires in Southern California early Monday morning. Fires in the state have laid waste to more than 800 square miles in recent weeks. Many thousands of acres remain ablaze. [Update]

Posted on Jul 7, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Kevin Sanders, file

Surviving the Fourth of July

I survive the degradation that has become America—a land that exalts itself as a bastion of freedom and liberty while it tortures human beings, stripped of their rights, in offshore penal colonies, a land that wages wars defined under international law as criminal wars of aggression, a land that turns its back on its poor, its weak, its mentally ill, in a relentless drive to embrace totalitarian capitalism—because I read books.

Posted on Jul 7, 2008 READ MORE


Wee the People

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Posted on Jul 6, 2008 READ MORE    


Free SUV

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Posted on Jul 6, 2008 READ MORE


A Loss of Transatlantic Harmony

The relationship among the three principal centers of world power of the past half-century is now at the edge of fundamental change.

Posted on Jul 6, 2008 READ MORE


Obama the Shape-Shifter? Not Quite

He has been crafty in the way he has sought the political middle ground. He has emphasized his “values” and touted his patriotism, his call to service and his faith. That is quite different from backing off from his core promises.

Posted on Jul 6, 2008 READ MORE


Cold-Filtered Economics

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain unveiled details of his economic policy today, telling an audience in Ohio that if elected he would support a real-estate tax holiday for beer heiresses.

Posted on Jul 6, 2008 READ MORE


July 4 protesters

Protesters Razz Bush at July 4 Event

When President Bush took to the podium on July 4 to speak at a naturalization ceremony at Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello home, there were some in the crowd besides those gathered to be sworn in as American citizens.

Posted on Jul 5, 2008 READ MORE


Pin the Flag on Liberty

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Posted on Jul 5, 2008 READ MORE


Helms, Jesse
cbsnews.com

Jesse Helms Dead at 86

White separatist, U.S. senator, GOP darling and otherwise racist stalwart Jesse Helms died Friday after a bout with both metaphorical and actual heart problems. For his supporters and detractors, Helms’ persona as a race-baiting Southern politician defined many debates around civil rights in the 1960s.

Posted on Jul 4, 2008 READ MORE


Mexico Food Protest
treehugger.com

Biofuels Blamed in Global Food Crisis

While environmentalists and opponents of foreign oil may have found common cause in the use of biofuels, a new, confidential World Bank report estimates that the recent increase in plant-based fuel production has actually contributed to a 75 percent rise in global food prices, sparking riots across the world and pushing millions beneath the poverty line.

Posted on Jul 4, 2008 READ MORE


Uncle Sam’s Piñata

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Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE    


Pull and Pray

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Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE    


600 Down ...

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Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

Ruth Rosen on ‘The Populist Vision’

Do the socially progressive ideals that jump-started 20th-century reform movements have lessons relevant to the concerns of 21st-century America? A new book makes a strong case that they do.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Rush Limbaugh
politicsandfunk.com

Eight More Years of Rush

According to his Web site, he’s “America’s Truth Detector; the Doctor of Democracy; the Most Dangerous Man in America; the All-Knowing, All-Sensing, All-Everything Maha Rushie; defender of motherhood, protector of fatherhood and an all-around good guy.” Whatever he may be, Rush Limbaugh is also going to be even richer than ever with his new contract to keep talking for the next eight years.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


On Black Patriotism

The fact that African-American patriotism is never simple doesn’t mean it’s in any way halfhearted; to the contrary, complicated relationships tend to be the deepest and strongest.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Obama’s Leap of Faith

Barack Obama keeps trying to end the wars over culture and religion, and good for him. The 1960s are so 40 years ago. But Obama’s opponents, as well as some of his friends, won’t let him do it.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Strike.tv
strike.tv

Writers’ Strike Bears Online Fruit

During the protracted writers’ strike that gobbled up a good part of fall and winter material for small and big screens alike, some entertainment scribes didn’t let their time in limbo go to waste, such as the group behind Strike.tv, an online network coming soon to a laptop near you.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Obama
Flickr / Jurvetson

Obama Hedges on Withdrawal

Capping off a week of disappointments for his progressive supporters, Barack Obama backed away from the idea of a timely withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq, a signature plank in his campaign. “And when I go to Iraq and have a chance to talk to some of the commanders on the ground,” explained Obama, “I’m sure I’ll have more information and will continue to refine my policies.” Update: Obama clarifies.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


News for Dummies

This election cycle has seen no shortage of inane non-scandals and mock outrage, but the dimwitted fracas over Gen. Wesley Clark’s comments is a particularly grievous example. With Fox News leading the way, the cable channels have been competing to see who can get it wrong the loudest.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Baghdad calling
independent.co.uk

Snapshots of Life and Death in Baghdad

Three bodies lie beside a Baghdad street on a blindingly hot day. The one on the right is dressed in a white shirt and bright green trousers, his hands tied behind his back. Two others on the left lie shoeless, both dressed in check shirts, dumped—how easily we use that word of Baghdad’s corpses—on a yard of dirt and bags of garbage. They, too, of course, are now garbage.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


FBI Considers Racial Profiling

If new rule changes go through, the FBI will be allowed to open national security investigations without evidence of wrongdoing. Instead, the agency could pursue cases based on profiles of Americans it deems likelier to commit crimes such as terrorism. The policy would be in keeping with the Bush administration’s dragnet, fact-phobic approach to terrorism; the president himself has been critical of profiling.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


hoisted watermelon
flickr.com/frascelly

Watermelon: It’s Not Just for Picnics Anymore

If Bob Dole’s dance card isn’t full these days, he might consider being a pitch man for watermelon as a follow-up to his stint as the, er, face of Viagra. According to a group of scientists from Texas (perhaps unsurprisingly one of the country’s top watermelon-producing states) has discovered that the picnic-friendly fruit contains a substance called citrulline that’s similar to the active ingredient found in the famous little blue pill.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


youtube logo
stan.uio.no

Google Loses YouTube Privacy Battle

A court has ordered Google to hand over the viewing log of every user and every video ever on YouTube. Media giant Viacom is suing Google over copyright violations, and won access to the 12 terabytes of data, but not YouTube’s source code, which it also demanded. Google has asked to anonymize the data.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE



U.S. Navy / Petty Officer 1st Class Shane T. McCoy

U.S. Borrowed Interrogation Methods From an Old Enemy

One man’s torture, it seems, is another’s “coercive management technique.” For decades the United States has maintained that American prisoners were tortured by the Chinese during the Korean War. Now it turns out that at least some of the interrogation methods used at Guantanamo Bay were lifted directly from an American study of China’s Korean War era practices.

Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Pepsi Promise

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Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE    


Prisoner of War

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Posted on Jul 3, 2008 READ MORE


Fake Outrage Over Clark Comments

Despite all the feigned outrage fanned by the mainstream media and the right-wing noisemakers, Wesley Clark—retired four-star general, former supreme commander of NATO, wounded and highly decorated veteran of ground combat in Vietnam and a military man to his core—assuredly did not denigrate the war record of John McCain when he talked about the Republican candidate on television last Sunday.

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


Home-Grown Politics

The appeal of kitchen gardens—food you grow for the table—has been increasing pretty steadily. But this year, a harmonic or maybe disharmonic convergence of factors led to a giant leap in the number of grow-it-yourselfers.

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


Iraq’s Signature Wound

George Ball remembers last July 4 all too well. “I spent it in my room with the windows drawn and the covers over my head,” the 32-year-old Iraq war veteran says. The bottle rockets, with their shrieking whistles followed by the pop of explosions, affected him most.

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


Hitchens gets waterboarded

Waterboarding Christopher Hitchens

When Christopher Hitchens agreed to be waterboarded, he might have thought he’d last longer than 17 seconds, but, as the columnist put it, “everything completely goes on you when you’re breathing water.”

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


In Their Boots

American Vets’ Stories in Their Own Words

The Brave New Foundation is launching an important new project, “In Their Boots,” which gives veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan a platform to tell their own stories about serving and sacrifice. Check out American soldiers’ compelling stories in this week’s installment.

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE



mediamatters.org

Fox Sinks to New Lows

Fox News apparently doesn’t handle bad publicity very well. In response to a New York Times story that suggested the network’s ratings might be slipping, the co-hosts of “Fox & Friends” cried foul, broadcasting photos of Times reporter Jacques Steinberg and editor Steven Reddicliffe. The problem? The “news” channel had doctored the pictures to make the journos appear less attractive.

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


How to Steal an Election With the Help of FISA

There’s a lot more to object to in the new FISA bill than just retroactive immunity for the telecoms. It seems that the regulation of surveillance is still hopelessly out of date. How is a court supposed to handle complex algorithms and countless terabytes of data? Truthdig contributor Elliot Cohen warns that the new law could conceivably allow the theft of the 2008 presidential election.

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


It’s Not the Man, It’s the Movement

I was on a panel at the Aspen Ideas Festival in Colorado this week when Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter asked me, “Is Obama a sellout?”

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


Blackwater guard
Salon.com

Private Contractors in Iraq to Lose Immunity

The folks at Blackwater and other private security outfits in Iraq encountered a dramatic setback Wednesday after an Iraqi minister announced that private guards will no longer be given immunity from U.S military and Iraqi law, ending more than five years of unregulated mercenary violence in the country.

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


Wal-Mart
cnbc.com

Wal-Mart Employees Are Restless

Wal-Mart may be fined by a Minnesota judge for violating the state’s employment laws. The fines are for ‘‘contractual violations,” a fancy way of saying that Wal-Mart denied rest breaks to workers at least 1.5 million times.

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


Googlehand
businessweek.com

Inquiry on Search Partnership

A recent advertising partnership between search giant Google and competitor Yahoo has antitrust authorities worried. Not only does a Google-Yahoo deal look ridiculous in name, but critics (such as Microsoft) say the partnership would consolidate Google’s control of Internet search ad revenue to a whopping 90 percent of U.S. market share.

Posted on Jul 2, 2008 READ MORE


Olbermann to Obama: ‘Give Them Something to Cry About’

The “Countdown” host is as frustrated as can be with Barack Obama’s newfound enthusiasm for the dreaded FISA bill, but luck has provided the senator with a second chance to walk the “tight rope,” and Keith Olbermann hopes he takes it.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


S.F. Mayor Proud of His City’s Values

Politicians usually try to explain away their records once they bid for higher office. Take the case of just about any big-time Democrat and the issue of gay marriage. But San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who formally launched an exploratory bid Tuesday for the California governorship, says he’s not worried about his gay rights legacy: “We’re about civil rights and equal rights, you better believe it. ... I’m proud of that, I’m not going to hide from that.”

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


Schumer on oil
AP photo / Charles Dharapak

Happy Oil Dependence Day

As we head into the Fourth of July weekend of patriotic bluster and beer swilling—but before we are too besotted with ourselves—might we also for once consider our imperfections? Why not take a moment to heed the cautions of our founding father, George Washington, whose true legacy will most likely be ignored during the flag-waving weekend?

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


marijuana
commons.wikimedia.org

So Much for the War on Drugs

Despite spending countless billions and passing draconian laws, the United States is anything but a drug-free zone. The percentages of those in the U.S. who have tried marijuana or cocaine are greater than the percentages of any other country surveyed, according to a new study. The Netherlands, which has notoriously lax drug policies, had less than half the percentage of marijuana users and an even lower level of cocaine dabblers relative to the U.S.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


nuclear fireball
U.S. Department of Energy

Nuclear Treaty Turns 40

Four decades ago, officials from countries around the world signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), pledging to bring the spread of those weapons to a halt. The treaty also pledged the signatories that possessed said weapons at the time—such as the United States—to get rid of their nuclear arms.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


John Yoo

Way Beyond Waterboarding

Last week Rep. John Conyers tried to get a straight answer out of John Yoo, the former Bush administration lawyer who argued that the president had a legal right to order torture. The spectacle of Yoo equivocating over whether the president could have someone buried alive is something to behold.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


Starbucks cups
chasingthecool.wordpress.com

Starbucks Going From Venti to Grande

Fine, so the headline was a bit much, but this was one time we didn’t mind saying venti instead of large: Turns out that even the top bananas at Starbucks finally realized that they’ve overextended themselves, and due to the sagging economy, they’re closing 600 U.S. retail locations. Great—so that means there’ll be only eight Starbucks stores on every block instead of nine.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


Terror Goes a Lot Further With Good Advertising

A basic argument in Washington’s war on terror, an argument that one might think settled by now, concerns whether al-Qaida is the powerful global organization the Bush administration says it is or whether it has been, since its retreat into the Pakistan tribal areas, mostly an Internet phenomenon.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


Obama
Flickr / BohPhoto

Obama Heads to the Right

Barack Obama says he was erroneously “tagged as being on the left,” a reputation that served him well during the primaries. Now that he has the nomination secured, the candidate is trying to reinvent himself as a centrist. Take his endorsement Tuesday of one of George W. Bush’s signature policies, the “faith-based initiative.”

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


Springsteen
timeout.com

The Gospel According to ... the Boss?

Unitarian Universalist minister Jeffrey Symynkywicz is quite the Bruce Springsteen enthusiast, apparently. The Boston fan has studied Bruce Springsteen’s lyrics as though they were Scripture, and the end result is Symynkywicz’s new book—wait for it—“The Gospel According to Bruce Springsteen.”

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


Election Day
Arts Engine Inc.

Portrait of an American Election

“Election Day” isn’t a film that highlights the horse-race aspect of American politics, nor is it about red or blue states. Instead, director Katy Chevigny and her colleagues from Arts Engine Inc. aimed to capture a much more complex story—or rather, a multilayered and interconnecting set of stories—about an array of Americans from different states, backgrounds and political positions, all taking part in some way in the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

Posted on Jul 1, 2008 READ MORE


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