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      Prime Minister Harper pretty much confirmed it: ‘Our laws and police powers need to be strengthened’ Yup.  Never let a crisis go to waste. I’m very sad that MPs and their staff were scared, and I’m sadder that a soldier lost his life.  But one attack does not justify increasing the police state.  However, if [...]
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No, Mr. President, the majority of your campaign donations did NOT come from small donors.

Via Ani at No Quarter, President Obama gave an interview to John Harwood at CNBC this week. Harwood began the interview by asking the following question:

In the 2008 campaign, you got a lot of money, about a million dollars from employees of Goldman Sachs. Your former White House Counsel, Greg Craig (PH) is apparently going to represent Goldman Sachs. In light of this case, do either of those things embarrass you?

Harwood may not be aware that people with Narcissistic Personality Disorder don’t experience secondary emotions like embarrassment. But I digress. Here is the President’s response:

No. First of all, I got a lot of money from a lot of people. And the vast majority of the money I got was from small donors all across the country.

Excuse me? Ani directs us to Politifact, where President Obama’s statement is summarily debunked.

In the general election, Obama got about 34 percent of his individual donations from small donors, people who gave $200 or less, according to a report from the Campaign Finance Institute. Another 23 percent of donations came from people who gave between $201 and $999, and another 42 percent from people who gave $1,000 or more.

His numbers for the primary were similar. He got about 30 percent of his money from donors who gave $200 or less. Another 28 percent of donations came from people who gave between $201 and $999, and 43 percent from people who gave $1,000 or more.

Even if you raise the bar for “small donors” to $1,000, which is ridiculous, they still don’t add up to a majority of those who gave to Obama’s campaign.

Obama supporters like to counter that Obama raised more money from small donors than any previous candidate for president, which is true. But Obama still needed large donors to fund his campaign. Obama implies that he won the presidency without much money from large donors, and the evidence does not support that. In fact, even if we set the bar for small donors higher — if we stipulated that everyone who gave less than $1,000 was a small donor — that still means 43 percent gave more.

Here is the Center for Responsive Politics list of Obama’s top donors in the 2008 election cycle. Goldman Sachs donated $994,795 to candidate Obama. Here is a list of Goldman Sachs employees and the amounts they gave to the Obama campaign. The list goes on for multiple pages.

And, get this, Goldman Sachs comes in 6th on the Open Secrets “heavy hitters” list–“the 100 biggest givers in federal-level politics since 1989.” No wonder Goldman Sachs has such a powerful influence on our federal government.

Furthermore, the financial, insurance, and real estate industries overall donated $39,663,073 to Barack Obama’s campaign. Obama also had hundreds of bundlers who collected between $50,000 and $200,000 each for his campaign. A number of those bundlers were lobbyists, despite Obama’s claims to the contrary. The bundlers list also goes on for multiple pages.

This two-year-old article from the Washington Post analyzes Obama’s “grass roots” campaign support during the primaries. The article is dated April 11, 2008.

Sen. Barack Obama credits his presidential campaign with creating a “parallel public financing system” built on a wave of modest donations from homemakers and high school teachers. Small givers, he said at a fundraiser this week, “will have as much access and influence over the course and direction of our campaign that has traditionally been reserved for the wealthy and the powerful.”

But those with wealth and power also have played a critical role in creating Obama’s record-breaking fundraising machine, and their generosity has earned them a prominent voice in shaping his campaign. Seventy-nine “bundlers,” five of them billionaires, have tapped their personal networks to raise at least $200,000 each. They have helped the campaign recruit more than 27,000 donors to write checks for $2,300, the maximum allowed. Donors who have given more than $200 account for about half of Obama’s total haul, which stands at nearly $240 million.

Hmmm… I notice Obama didn’t promise his small donors access and influence over the policies of his administration, if elected.

Let’s look at Obama statement to John Harwood again:

the vast majority of the money I got was from small donors all across the country.

No, no the majority of your donations came from the rich and powerful, Mr. President. And it shows in your policies. And I’m getting sick and tired of you lying about it. Just sayin’….

Lazy Saturday News and Views

Out of Town News, Harvard Sq., Cambridge, MA

Good Morning, Conflucians!!!!

It’s a gorgeous Saturday morning here in the Boston ‘burbs. I just love Spring!

Personally, I’m still mainly interested in the Blago-Rezko-Obama story, but there is some other news today.


ECONOMIC MELTDOWN

The New York Times informs us that Rating Agency Data Aided Wall Street in Mortgage Deals Yes, as you probably already guessed, the fix was in on those “complex investments” from the very beginning. The ratings agencies were collaborating with the investment banks to make sure all those “high risk” bets came out the way the banks wanted them to.

The rating agencies made public computer models that were used to devise ratings to make the process less secretive. That way, banks and others issuing bonds — companies and states, for instance — wouldn’t be surprised by a weak rating that could make it harder to sell the bonds or that would require them to offer a higher interest rate.

But by routinely sharing their models, the agencies in effect gave bankers the tools to tinker with their complicated mortgage deals until the models produced the desired ratings. [....]

But for Goldman and other banks, a road map to the right ratings wasn’t enough. Analysts from the agencies were hired to help construct the deals.

In 2005, for instance, Goldman hired Shin Yukawa, a ratings expert at Fitch, who later worked with the bank’s mortgage unit to devise the Abacus investments.

It really is time to break up these greedy “too big to fail” (TBTF) banks, but the Obama administration still defends their right to exist. Scarecrow at FDL has a great post on Larry Summers’ latest excuse for TBTF: Why Is Larry Summers Afraid of Having Many Small Banks? Summers says we can’t do that because that’s what was tried before the Great Depression, and it failed.

…if we broke up the megabanks and instead had many smaller regulated banks, it would be the end of America and the financial industry as we know it.

And that would be bad why? Scarecrow:

Funny, I always thought the smaller bank system, if that’s what it was, failed because Wall Street wasn’t sufficiently regulated, and the local bank runs happened because we didn’t have the FDIC at the time. So is Larry now saying that having the FDIC to take over smaller bank failures has been a failure?

And what’s he saying about needing diversified megabanks that lose money on risky stuff but loot, uh, borrow money from better managed activities? Surely he doesn’t mean to argue for letting the investment casino borrow from the government-guaranteed deposit-based divisions?

Reuters: Goldman emails: firm lauds profits from shorts

Goldman Sachs Group Inc officials discussed making “serious money” in 2007 off the subprime crisis as mortgages were starting to falter in rapid numbers, according to a collection of e-mails released by a Senate panel on Saturday.

“Of course we didn’t dodge the mortgage mess. We lost money, then made more than we lost because of shorts,” Goldman Sachs Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein said in an e-mail from November 2007.

“Sounds like we will make some serious money,” said Goldman Sachs executive Donald Mullen in a separate series of e-mails from October 2007 about the performance of deteriorating second-lien positions in a collateralized debt obligation, or CDO.

Continue reading

Krugman says, “We’re doomed”

Behind the Goldrush Sacks building facade

H/T  to Dhyana on the Beautiful Theories thread for this reference to a post from Krugman’s Conscience of a Liberal blog.  Here’s what Obama said recently (yesterday?) during an interview to be published Friday:

President Barack Obama said he doesn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay.

The president, speaking in an interview, said in response to a question that while $17 million is “an extraordinary amount of money” for Main Street, “there are some baseball players who are making more than that and don’t get to the World Series either, so I’m shocked by that as well.”

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.”

Obama sought to combat perceptions that his administration is anti-business and trumpeted the influence corporate leaders have had on his economic policies. He plans to reiterate that message when he speaks to the Business Roundtable, which represents the heads of many of the biggest U.S. companies, on Feb. 24 in Washington.

Ya know, I’m a liberal and I don’t begrudge people making money either, as long as they don’t do it by electing politicians that will get rid of the rules for them so they can speculate recklessly with other peoples’ money, get in over their heads, ruin innocent citizens’ retirement plans, jobs and livelihoods and then give some of the “bonus” money they made with taxpayer bailout funds to the “Mashie Niblick Widows and Orphans Fund” of their choice so they can look like they’re being good guys while they’re applying for a tax deduction for charitable contributions.  Now, *that’s* chutzpah!  How is it that Barack Obama admires these “savvy businessmen”?  Obama is one of them.

Some of us are seeing our industries decimated and our  friends’ careers irretrievably gone to Asia, our lives ruined by these insensitive, “What’s mine is mine; what’s yours is mine” bizspeaking, short sighted, greedy, testosterone poisoned adolescents posing as men (and it’s almost exclusively men) and Obama wants us to “cut’em a break”? Compare them to a talented ballplayer who sells his body parts to wealthy men for sport?  At least major league ballplayers are ENTERTAINING!

By the way, tea partiers, this should prove to you once and for all that Obama is NOT a socialist.

As Krugman says, “Oh. My. God.”

(Didja finally wake up and smell the sulfur, Paul?)

Another take on Obama’s Gigantic Faux Pas:

The aliens are setting the terms:

“Don’t you want to elevate your career?”

Lazy Saturday News and Views: Snowpocalypse!

A Washington DC neighborhood yesterday


Good morning Conflucians!!!!

It’s a repeat of last weekend–only worse–for those in the Mid-Atlantic states and stretching west all the way to Ohio and Indiana. Coastal areas are experiencing blizzard conditions and record snowfalls in Washington, DC, Maryland, and Virginia and all the way up to New Jersey and New York. Let us know how things are going where you are. I hope everyone is safe and warm and doesn’t lose power. Stay inside until this think winds down. I speak from experience. There’s no use fighting it, just surrender and enjoy being snowbound for a little while.

From Weather.com:

A punishing winter storm will continue to blast an area from the eastern Ohio Valley to the Mid-Atlantic coast today.

The focus for the heaviest snow today will continue to be near and along the Mid-Atlantic coast. Heavy snow will stretch from eastern Pennsylvania to southern New Jersey through the Delmarva Peninsula into the early afternoon hours.

An additional six to as much as twelve inches of snow will fall today bringing snow totals in this region up to the eighteen to twenty-four inch range with locally higher amounts possible.

Washington Post: Snowstorm’s intensity has D.C. region hunkering down

The full weight of winter brought life in much of the Washington region to a standstill Saturday as a storm predicted to be one of the most powerful on record dumped 12 to 21 inches of snow overnight.

New York Times: East Coast Is Hit by ‘Potentially Epic Snowstorm’

WASHINGTON — One of the largest winter storms the Mid-Atlantic region has seen in decades swept into Washington and Baltimore on Friday, grounding flights, closing schools and government offices, and sending residents racing to stock up on groceries and rock salt before the snow accumulated to what are expected to be record-setting depths….

Jane Lubchenco, administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, parent agency of the weather service, called the blizzard “a potentially epic snowstorm” that could rival the 28 inches of snow that a January 1922 storm dropped on the capital.

“The National Weather Service has been very clear that this is a storm to take very seriously,” she said. The halls of the Capitol building were quiet, and the federal government sent many workers home four hours early on Friday. Dr. Lubchenco said she was making contingency plans for all government offices in and near the capital to be closed through Tuesday.

“If it is as much and as heavy as they are forecasting, it may be a number of days before people are actually moving around again,” she said. “This is a serious storm.”

Here are some gorgeous snowstorm pics donated by our own Indigogrrl:

A Mama Cardinal

Two Downey Woodpeckers

Just breathtaking! And here is a picture contributed by Riverdaughter:

RD's neighborhood in anticipation of blizzard conditions

We’d love to hear more reports from Conflucians in the hard-hit areas. I’ll be glad to post more photos too. Be careful out there!


THE ECONOMY

Nobel Prize economist Joseph Stiglitz has an article in the Guardian this morning: Obama’s muddled solutions. Stiglitz argues that the message of Scott Brown’s victory in Massachusetts is not for Democrats to move even further right. Instead he says that voters are sending the same message they sent to Bill Clinton and that he was smart enough to act on: “It’s the economy, stupid!” and “Jobs, jobs, jobs”

The US economy is in a mess, even if growth has resumed, and bankers are once again receiving huge bonuses. More than one out of six Americans who would like a full-time job cannot get one; and 40% of the unemployed have been out of a job for more than six months.

As Europe learned long ago, hardship increases with the length of unemployment, as job skills and prospects deteriorate and savings gets wiped out. The 2.5-3.5m foreclosures expected this year will exceed those of 2009, and the year began with what is expected to be the first of many large commercial real-estate bankruptcies. Even the Congressional budget office is predicting that it will be the middle of the decade before unemployment returns to more normal levels, as America experiences its own version of “Japanese malaise”.

Just as Dakinikat predicted way back at the beginning of the financial crisis.

Stiglitz also has a new book outFreefall: America, Free Markets, and the Sinking of the World Economy. More from the Guardian piece:

Continue reading

Monday Morning News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!!!!!

The big story in the mainstream media is President Obama’s $3.8 trillion budget. From the LA Times:

President Obama today will propose a $3.8-trillion federal budget that includes a $100-billion jobs package, more education spending and higher taxes on families earning more than $250,000 a year.

The budgetary blueprint for fiscal 2011, which starts Oct. 1, is 3% more than the government is spending this year, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

The White House envisions a $1.267-trillion deficit in fiscal year 2011, smaller than this year’s projected $1.56 trillion. That would be 8.3% of the gross domestic product, down from 10.6% this year. The White House Budget Office forecasts that it could be trimmed to less than 4% of the GDP by 2015.

The “jobs package” consists of:

$100 billion for investments in small-business tax cuts, infrastructure and clean energy, all designed to create jobs. This includes a new Small Business Jobs and Wages Tax Cut to spur small-business hiring and wage increases, at a cost of $33 billion.

I’ll defer to Dakinikat on this, but it doesn’t sound that dramatic to me. And how do we know those jobs that are created will go to Americans anyway? Isn’t it about time for something a little more FDR-like?

The budget also include $270 million to buy and renovate Thompson Prison in Illinois:

The administration hopes to house detainees from Guantanamo there, as part of its effort to close the controversial camp in Cuba. But the purchase of Thomson “would be warranted in any case to house maximum security prisoners,” according to Orszag. The federal Bureau of Prisons will require additional space, he said.

That’s a lot of money just to move the prisoners from Cuba to Illinois. I suppose there will be jobs involved in renovating the prison, and of course jobs for prison guards. Will those jobs go to Americans? And will anything be done about the fact that many of those prisoners may not be guilty of anything? They have already been held for years without being charged.

Meanwhile, President Obama’s good buddy Lloyd Blankfein of Goldman Sachs, who helped crash our economy and put millions of Americans out of their jobs and homes is “expecting a $100 million bonus” this year.

Goldman Sachs, the world’s richest investment bank, could be about to pay its chief executive a bumper bonus of up to $100 million in defiance of moves by President Obama to take action against such payouts.

Bankers in Davos for the World Economic Forum (WEF) told The Times yesterday they understood that Lloyd Blankfein and other top Goldman bankers outside Britain were set to receive some of the bank’s biggest-ever payouts. “This is Lloyd thumbing his nose at Obama,” said a banker at one of Goldman’s rivals.

Thumbing his nose? {wink, wink, nudge, nudge} I’m not sure. Goldman Sachs was Obama number one donor in 2008 and former Goldman executives are pretty much running our government. And Blankfein wouldn’t be getting that bonus without the money they raked in from the bailout and AIG.

The Illinois primary is tomorrow, and President Obama’s basketball buddy and campaign donor and bundler Alexi Giannoulias is still leading in the Democratic race for the Senate seat briefly held by Obama.

One of Giannoulias’ rivals for the Senate nomination, Jacob Meister, has dropped out and endorsed Giannoulias. Giannoulias’ main rival, David Hoffman, claims that Meister was only in the race in the first place to help Giannoulias and that this was all planned ahead of time. Hoffman has been attacking Giannoulias for his role in running the Broadway Bank, owned by the Giannoulias family.

“This is something we knew all along, that he was in the race to help the treasurer. That being said, he was only pulling 1 percent at best. So I think it was inconsequential.”

Meister dismissed as “preposterous” any suggestion that he was a Giannoulias plant.

Hoffman, a former federal prosecutor and city of Chicago inspector general, started the day with a news conference challenging Giannoulias to answer more questions about his four years as vice president and chief loan officer at Broadway [Bank].

Citing a New York Times column, Hoffman said that under Giannoulias, the bank saw a six-fold increase in the granting of risky loans and a 400 percent increase in brokered deposits, during a time in which the average community bank would have seen an increase of about 36 percent.

“Mr. Giannoulias is still refusing to answer questions about the extent of his role in the decisions that look like they will lead to the bank’s collapse.

If Giannoulias does get the nomination, as appears likely, will Illinois see a repeat of what happened in Massachusetts?

Public opinion polls ahead of Tuesday’s party primaries in Illinois show five-term U.S. Representative Mark Kirk likely to win the Republican nomination easily.

Favored to win the Democratic primary and face off Kirk for the vacant seat is Alexi Giannoulias, Illinois treasurer and Obama’s basketball-playing buddy.

“The Democratic candidates are second-tier. They’re not particularly exciting, not particularly experienced,” DePaul University political analyst Michael Mezey said.

Kirk has lent his own twist to Brown’s best-known line in the campaign, saying: “This is not Obama’s seat, it’s the people’s seat.”

One poll showed Kirk trailing Giannoulias if the two face off — but only narrowly. That’s a far cry from the 62 percent of Illinois voters who cast ballots for Obama against 37 percent for the Republican John McCain in November 2008.

I want to call attention to a couple of stories the the mainstream media is soft-pedaling.

Jeremy Scahill interviewed the father of “Blackwater’s Youngest Victim,” 9-year-old Ali Kinani who was shot in the head in Bagdad’s Nisour Square on September 16, 2007, by Blackwater thugs who had left the Green Zone against orders and for no reason whatsoever murdered 16 and wounded 20 innocent Iraqis that day. I broke down sobbing while reading this story yesterday, and had to take a break before finishing it. All I can says is that Ali’s father, Mohammed Kitani is a true hero. He may yet succeed in holding the murders and their employer Eric Prince accountable for their disgusting actions.

Mohammed’s American lawyers contend, as did federal prosecutors, that the Blackwater men disobeyed orders from superiors not to leave the Green Zone, which ultimately led to the shooting at Nisour Square, and that they did not follow proper State Department guidelines for the use of force, instead shooting unprovoked at Mohammed’s car and the other civilians in the square. They also allege that Blackwater was not guarding any US official at the time of the shooting and that the Nisour Square killings amounted to an offensive operation against unarmed civilians. “Blackwater was where it shouldn’t have been, doing something it was not supposed to do,” says Mohammed’s lawyer Gary Mauney. They “weren’t even supposed to be in Nisour Square, and if they hadn’t have been, no shootings would have occurred.”

Unlike the other civil suits against Blackwater, which were settled in federal court in January, Mohammed’s case was filed in state court in North Carolina. It is also different because Mohammed is directly suing the six Blackwater men he believes were responsible for the shooting that day. The suit also argues that Prince and his network of Blackwater companies and affiliates are ultimately responsible for the conduct of the men at Nisour Square. The Blackwater shooters “weren’t doing anything related to their work for the government,” Mauney says. “After the events happened, Blackwater came out and said, ‘We support what they did. We think it was justified.’ They ratified the conduct of their employees.”

Moreover, Mohammed’s lawyers contend that the evidence that was ruled inadmissible in the criminal Nisour Square case because it was obtained in exchange for a promise of immunity and reportedly under threat of termination is valid evidence in their civil case. Several statements by Blackwater guards who were at the square that day directly bolster Mohammed and other Iraqis’ claim that it was an unprovoked shooting.

Remember that “break-in” in Senator Mary Landrieu’s offices in Louisiana last week? Much of the focus in the media has been on James O’Keefe, a young conservative “activist” and independent filmmaker who was involved in a sting on Acorn awhile back. But Raw Story learned that the two other men arrested with O’Keefe “have links to” the CIA.

Two of the three men arrested on Monday along with “ACORN pimp” James O’Keefe for “maliciously tampering” with Sen. Mary Landrieu’s (D-LA) phones in her New Orleans office have ties to the United States intelligence community.

The three accused by the FBI of “aiding and abetting” O’Keefe are Stan Dai, Robert Flanagan and Joseph Basel. O’Keefe is 25, and the other three are 24.

Dai’s links to the intelligence community appear to be particularly strong. He was a speaker at Georgetown University’s Central Intelligence Agency summer school program in June 2009, and is also listed as an Assistant Director at the Intelligence Community Center of Academic Excellence at Trinity in D.C.

The university’s president Patricia McGuire told The Associated Press that it promoted careers in intelligence but denied that it trains students to be spies.

The Trinity program received a “$250,000 renewable grant from the U.S. Intelligence Community” upon launching in 2004, according to its Web site.

The article goes on to detail Dai’s intelligence connections at length.

The CIA and Office of Director of National Intelligence have both told Politico that despite Dai’s evident connections to the intelligence community, he never officially worked for them. Then it discusses the intelligence connections of Dai’s “co-conspirator,” Robert Flanagan.

Dai’s co-conspirator Robert Flanagan is currently seeking a Master of Science degree from the Missouri State University’s (Fairfax, Virginia) Defense and Strategic Studies program, according to his LinkedIn profile (which was captured by Beyerstein before it was taken down Tuesday.)

The DSS Web site description affirms its connections to “the intelligence community”

Curiouser and curiouser.

So what are you all reading this morning? As always, please post your own links in the comments.

HAVE A MARVELOUS MONDAY!!!!!!!!!!!

High Noon for Goldman Sachs

A couple of days ago, Alice Schroeder wrote a piece at Bloomberg about a friend of a friend who works at Goldman Sachs. Apparently the bankers are getting a little nervous about blowback from the working class.

“I just wrote my first reference for a gun permit,” said a friend, who told me of swearing to the good character of a Goldman Sachs Group Inc. banker who applied to the local police for a permit to buy a pistol. The banker had told this friend of mine that senior Goldman people have loaded up on firearms and are now equipped to defend themselves if there is a populist uprising against the bank.

Schroeder was also able to get confirmation from the NYPD that a number of bankers have been getting gun permits. Wow, I’m glad to know the Goldman Sachs guys are running scared. Schroeder notes that Goldman’s CEO, Lloyd Blankenfein (whom she nicknames “Cool Hand Lloyd”), has been nervous for quite a long time. Get this–he installed a security gate at his house a couple of months before Bear Stearns went down. How very prescient of him. Schroeder writes:

…talk of Goldman and guns plays right into the way Wall-Streeters like to think of themselves. Even those who were bailed out believe they are tough, macho Clint Eastwoods of the financial frontier, protecting the fistful of dollars in one hand with the Glock in the other. The last thing they want is to be so reasonably paid that the peasants have no interest in lynching them.

Hmm…I like the movie references. So the bankers are resorting to guns so they can make A Few Dollars More before the proles can Hang ‘em High?

According to Peter Cohan of Daily Finance, what is making the bankers so anxious is that they will soon be getting their outlandish end-of-the-year bonuses, while the rest of us struggle to make ends meet and have no idea how we’re going to buy any Christmas gifts. Cohan writes:

Once news of the final tally on Goldman’s bonuses breaks, the bank is going to face an even tougher public relations campaign. Goldman’s partners are expected to receive record bonuses this year. Some bankers fear a repeat of what happened in March to the AIG Financial Products employees who received $165 million in bonuses. Once word got out about the bonuses, demonstrators went to the employees’ homes and protested on their front yards.

What Goldman execs need to remember is that the firm wouldn’t be doing so well if it weren’t for the public’s munificence. After all, $12.9 billion of the AIG bailout money went to Goldman. And it is still enjoying $52 billion in low-interest loans from the U.S. government to finance its trading profits.

Cohan even argues that Goldman should be offering reparations to people who have lost their homes and jobs. Somehow I don’t think that is going to happen, but I’m glad to learn that these thugs in three-piece suits are feeling a little bit edgy.

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Friday Morning News and Views

morning_paper

Good Morning, Conflucians. The big story of the day is the massacre at Fort Hood in Texas. Last night it was reported that the shooter, Major Malik Nadal Hasan, was dead. But he is still alive and in stable condition even though he was shot several times. It still isn’t clear what motivated Hasan, who was a both a devout Muslim and a psychiatrist and was going to be deployed to Iraq at the end of November. A short time ago, the 13th shooting victim died. Reports say that 31 victims were injured.

From The New York Times: Suspect Was ‘Mortified’ About Deployment to War

Born and reared in Virginia, the son of immigrant parents from a small Palestinian town near Jerusalem, he joined the Army right out of high school, against his parents’ wishes. The Army, in turn, put him through college and then medical school, where he trained to be a psychiatrist.

But Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan, the 39-year-old man accused of Thursday’s mass shooting at Fort Hood, Tex., began having second thoughts about a military career a few years ago after other soldiers harassed him for being a Muslim, he told relatives in Virginia.

He had also more recently expressed deep concerns about being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan. Having counseled scores of returning soldiers with post-traumatic stress disorder, first at Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington and more recently at Fort Hood, he knew all too well the terrifying Da

Hasan may have posted sympathetic writings about suicide bombers on the internet. Someone with the same name did so, according to this and other stories. Hasan had not told his family he was scheduled to be deployed to Iraq.

More Stories on the Shooting and Aftermath:

Army post shooting rampage leaves 13 dead, 30 hurt

NYT:
Army Doctor Held in Fort Hood Rampage

NYT: Shooting Victims Flood Local Hospitals

Raw Story: Muslims fear backlash in wake of Fort Hood massacre

Other stories on Hasan:

SF Examiner: Troubling portrait emerges of Army psychiatrist suspected in rampage at Fort Hood, Texas

Roanoke Times: Suspected Fort Hood shooter Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan: Social awkwardness kept with him into adulthood

Analysis of the Fort Hood Story

There is an excellent discussion of the significance of the story by Dahr Jamail at Truthout: Mass Shooting Indicates Breakdown of Military

Jamail interviewed a soldier at Fort Hood who spoke on condition of anonymity.

The soldier says that the mood on the base is “very grim,” and that even before this incident, troop morale has been very low.

“I’d say it’s at an all-time low – mostly because of Afghanistan now,” he explained. “Nobody knows why we are at either place, and I believe the troops need to know why they are there, or we should pull out, and this is a unanimous feeling, even for folks who are pro-war.”

After a similar incident in May, in which

a US soldier gunned down five fellow soldiers at a stress-counseling center at a US base in Baghdad. Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a news conference at the Pentagon that the shootings occurred in a place where “individuals were seeking help.”

“It does speak to me, though, about the need for us to redouble our efforts, the concern in terms of dealing with the stress,” Admiral Mullen said. “It also speaks to the issue of multiple deployments.”

Commenting on the incident in nearly parallel terms, US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said that the Pentagon needs to redouble its efforts to relieve stress caused by repeated deployments in war zones; stress that is further exacerbated by limited time at home in between deployments.

The condition described by Mullen and Gates is what veteran health experts often refer to as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

How much longer will our government continue sending people back to Iraq and Afghanistan even though they are suffering from serious psychological disorders?

We need to end both of these wars, but will President Obama have the courage to do it when it might mean he’ll be a one-term President? That is what Gary Wills claims in a recent blog post at The New York Review of Books blog. Wills foolishly believes that Obama has the will and the guts to do what Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon didn’t do when we were in Vietnam. Poor Gary. He’ll wake up to reality eventually, no doubt.


OTHER NEWS


Wall Street Firms getting H1N1 Vaccine ‘ahead of hospitals’

Pelosi scrambles for health care votes

Details on Health Care Bills in House, Senate

Pentagon pursuing new investigation into Bush propaganda program

Deal Over Honduran Crisis ‘Dead’

Families in Cleveland Wait for ID’s of Victims

Texas polygamist sect member found guilty of sexual assault


After all that horrible news, here’s an interesting story from developmental psychology and specifically my own field–language development.


Babies ‘cry in mother’s tongue’

Babies Cry With an Accent, Study Finds
Newborns Cry With the Melody of Their Parent’s Language

I hope today will be a better day than yesterday.


THANK GOODNESS IT’S FRIDAY

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