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Friday Morning News


California Wildfires

Arson caused California blaze

A massive fire that has charred nearly 145,000 acres in Southern California and destroyed dozens of homes north of Los Angeles was caused by arson, a U.S. Forest Service spokeswoman said Thursday.

A homicide investigation has been initiated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department into the deaths of two firefighters as a result of the Station fire, said spokeswoman Rita Wears. The firefighters died Sunday in a vehicle crash while trying to escape fast-moving flames.

Arson fire is most unacceptable crime, Sheriff says

Massachusetts Senate Contest

Martha Coakley has officially thrown her hat into the ring

“We face a crisis of confidence. We have lost our distinguished and tenacious senator, Ted Kennedy,” Coakley said Thursday at an event surrounded by supporters. “We have depended upon him in the commonwealth and in Washington, and we will miss his strength, his leadership and his sense of humor. As some have noted, no one can fill his shoes, but we must strive to follow in his footsteps.”

Coakley is the first candidate on either side to officially enter the race for the seat that for more than four decades was held by Kennedy, who died last week.

On a more bizarre note, former Red Sox pitcher, and right wing nut Curt Schilling would not rule out running for the Massachusetts Senate seat.

“I do have some interest in the possibility,” Schilling wrote Wednesday on his blog, 38 Pitches (named after his uniform number with the Red Sox). “That being said, to get there from where I am today, many, many things would have to align themselves.”

A registered Independent, Schilling campaigned for George W. Bush in 2004 and for John McCain last year, and often vents, in populist voice, against Washington insiders who have lost touch with constituents.

Ted Kennedy’s Autobiography

Chappaquidick haunted me ‘every day of my life’

In a memoir titled “True Compass,” to be published Sept. 14, Kennedy called his actions in the 1969 car crash that led to the death of his passenger Mary Jo Kopechne “inexcusable.” When his car drove off the bridge, he wrote, he was afraid, overwhelmed and “made terrible decisions.” The senator was charged with leaving the scene of an accident and given a two-month suspended sentence.

Writing at the end of his life, as he struggled against brain cancer, Kennedy concluded: “That night on Chappaquiddick Island ended in a horrible tragedy that haunts me every day of my life.” Forced to live with the guilt over his failure to report the accident for hours, he acknowledged that Kopechne’s family suffered far worse. “Atonement is a process that never ends,” he wrote.

The Ongoing Health Care Nightmare

Health Care Idea Has Public Plan Only as Backup

As President Obama faces conflicting pressures from the left and the right over his proposal for a new public health insurance program, White House officials are investigating a possible compromise under which the government would offer its own health plan only if private insurers failed to provide affordable coverage.

No, Mr. O, that just isn’t going to be good enough. Think again.

Obama Will Lay Out Specifics in Health-Care Speech, Aides Say

Uh huh….I’ll believe that when I see it. Obama has never been specific about any policy yet.

Don’t be fooled by the public option

The fight over the public option has occupied much of the media coverage, but left unsaid is the fact that weeks of behind-the-scenes negotiations have weakened the public option proposal to the point that it is hardly an option at all.

Who’s Blocking Health Care Reform Now? Blue Dogs? Senate Dems? House Progressives? Or the White House Itself?

The only obstacle to passage of the president’s health care — or health insurance legislation is the White House itself. Barack Obama knows better than any of us the difference between what he promised and what is about to be delivered. The undeniable difference is dawning on much of the public too, and is reflected in sagging poll numbers for Democrats and the president. The dozens of Democrats who have declared they will vote against any health care — or health insurance — bill that does not contain what they call a “public option,” are only trying to insulate themselves and protect President Obama from the worst consequences of his own treachery in selling out the vision of universal health care to big pharma and the insurance companies. They aren’t blocking the president’s bill. They’re trying to ensure that there is something in the bill they can defend to the outraged public who elected them to pass health care reform.

Black Caucus warns Obama on speech

Man bites off another man’s finger at Obama health care rally in CA

Ventura County sheriff’s deputies were called to Lynn Road and Hillcrest Drive in Thousand Oaks near Los Angeles, according to TV station KTLA.

There, an estimated 100 supporters of healthcare reform affiliated with MoveOn.org had gathered as part of a nationwide array of pre-Labor Day rallies to attract attention in support of Obama’s reform plans currently before Congress.

Instead, the rally attracted the attention of a group of anti-healthcare-reform protesters across the street….

A scuffle ensued. And the pro-protester had a finger bitten off. (Updated at 8:18 a.m.: Conflicting later reports indicate the biter was a healthcare proponent and the now nine-fingered man an opponent.)

Interview with man who had finger bitten off at town hall

State Department

U.S. Suspends $30M to Honduras

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton announced Thursday that the United States would formally suspend nearly $30 million in aid to the coup-installed government in Honduras. She also suggested for the first time that the United States might not recognize the country’s elections this fall if the ousted president was not returned to power by then.

How will Hillary Clinton, State Department respond to obscene behavior at U.S. embassy?

U.S. embassy in Kabul bans alcohol at guard camp


Report Suggests Physicians Experimented on Detainees in U.S. Custody

CIA doctors face human experimentation claims

The American Medical Association, the largest body of physicians in the US, said it was in open dialogue with the Obama administration and other government agencies over the role of doctors. “The participation of physicians in torture and interrogation is a violation of core ethical values,” it said.

The most incendiary accusation of PHR’s latest report, Aiding Torture, is that doctors actively monitored the CIA’s interrogation techniques with a view to determining their effectiveness, using detainees as human subjects without their consent. The report concludes that such data gathering was “a practice that approaches unlawful experimentation”.

Human experimentation without consent has been prohibited in any setting since 1947, when the Nuremberg Code, which resulted from the prosecution of Nazi doctors, set down 10 sacrosanct principles. The code states that voluntary consent of subjects is essential and that all unnecessary physical and mental suffering should be avoided.

Has everyone completely forgotten about MK-Ultra? More on MK-ULtra:

Project MK-ULTRA, or MKULTRA, was the code name for a covert CIA mind-control and chemical interrogation research program, run by the Office of Scientific Intelligence. The program began in the early 1950s, continuing at least through the late 1960s, and it used United States citizens as its test subjects.[1][2][3] The published evidence indicates that Project MK-ULTRA involved the surreptitious use of many types of drugs, as well as other methods, to manipulate individual mental states and to alter brain function.

Project MK-ULTRA was first brought to wide public attention in 1975 by the U.S. Congress, through investigations by the Church Committee, and by a presidential commission known as the Rockefeller Commission. Investigative efforts were hampered by the fact that CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MK-ULTRA files destroyed in 1973; the Church Committee and Rockefeller Commission investigations relied on the sworn testimony of direct participants and on the relatively small number of documents that survived Helms’ destruction order.[4]

Although the CIA insists that MK-ULTRA-type experiments have been abandoned, 14-year CIA veteran Victor Marchetti has stated in various interviews that the CIA routinely conducts disinformation campaigns and that CIA mind control research continued. In a 1977 interview, Marchetti specifically called the CIA claim that MK-ULTRA was abandoned a “cover story.”[5][6]

Doesn’t anyone remember the Church hearings? Come on people, the seventies weren’t *that* long ago.


Obama’s meaningless war

Gates open to sending more troops to Afghanistan

Afghanistan War is not slipping away

Famous last words before Gates goes the way of Rumsfeld?

Science and Nature

Are there specific genes that make us uniquely human?

New Antibodies to HIV found

Arctic warmest in 2,000 years

We’re all mutants, say scientists

Oddball News: Boston Gangsters

Famed Boston gangster Whitey Bulger turned 80 on Thursday.

Whitey Bulger needs his candles blown out

FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitive

Where the heck is he, anyway?

Former mob underboss laid to rest

The Two Dons are Dead

Have a Fabulous Friday!!

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63 Responses

  1. Every year one or more of the wildfires turns out to be arson – committed by a firefighter.

    One year it was a firefighter’s mother.

  2. Church Committee Report

    (Book II deals with Intelligence)

  3. It’s amazing. So many of my friends and family who were SOOOOO pro-Obama during the primaries and the general election are now pissed off about the lack of true health care option.

    I have to restrain myself from scolding them in public and saying, “I friggin TOLD YOU SO!”

    • News is reporting Pelosi is open to a “proposal” on health care reform…..i.e. NO Public Option.
      But hey – all is not lost. Most likely Dem reps raked in a lot of donations over the summer from constituents led to believe their reps would fight for the Public Option.

  4. Boyz will be boyz:

    After an emergency meeting called by Karl Eikenberry, the US ambassador in Kabul, an embassy statement said officials were interviewing guards employed by ArmorGroup and were considering firing staff if necessary.

    “We’ve already started to make changes to remedy some of the problems,” said Caitlin Hayden, a spokesman.

    She said the embassy would “continue to take every possible step to ensure the safety and security of American embassy personnel, while respecting the values of all Afghans, Americans and contract employees and visitors from other countries”.

    Hillary Clinton, the Secretary of State, ordered an investigation into the allegations about the behaviour of guards working for the security contractor, which has headquarters in Virginia and London and has contracts all over the world.

    A report by a US watchdog group said that a “Lord of the Flies” atmosphere prevailed among 450 guards stationed at the Camp Sullivan compound in the Afghan capital.

    Photographs showed nearly nude guards and supervisors at parties flowing with alcohol, dancing round and urinating on a fire.

    Initiation rites and “hazing” practices included pouring beer down naked backs and forcing new recruits to eat crisps from clenched buttocks.

    Sounds like good, clean fun to me.

    • I wish Hillary would make a statement. Maybe she’s waiting for the report from State people investigating the matter?

    • Were the Senate and Axlerod’s firm on a consciousness raising retreat? Where’s Robert Bly?

  5. Here’s a quote from Facebook:

    “I’m really, really pissed that the Dems are being such pussies. It’s unbelievable. I worked my ass off on Obama’s campaign, my insurance company is slowly killing me, he needs to reassemble his spine and pull this off.”

    See what I mean?

    • What spine?

    • A major problem I see for Obama is that all the newly minted young Dem voters don’t have any loyalty to the Dem Party. They’re infuriated with The Messiah for betraying them after they’ve worked 24/7 to get him elected – and are just as likely to vote for a Repub in 2010 (out of spite) as not vote at all.

      • Indeed…he sure didn’t want them loyal to anything BUT him. It was all about him, not the Dem party, yet the Dem party opened its jugular to get him into 1600.

        Another thing about obots is they can watch someone’s else concern, ( the war, women’s and gay rights) be put under the bus and it’s fine. But if THEIR issues gets the same treatment ( and way wouldn’t it? ) and it’s stop the presses! What happened! Where’s my Barack??

        They can see nothing, no pattern , no history , until like a puppy, their nose is pressed into it.

        • There are the Obots, and then there are the rest of the people who voted for Obama. I think for some who drank the Obama koolaid, what you describe is the case, they are only in it for Obama, but for others who just got carried away and got caught up in the “Obama swoon,” I think this public option fight may possibly be somewhat of a straw that’s starting to break the camel’s back….they tried to smile through their disappointment at the reversal on FISA, Rick Warren, AfPak war, gay rights, etc., but now this wishywashyness on the public option is the first time that some of them are starting to realize if Obama can’t fight for a public option, seems like some are starting to wonder what exactly did they help elect Obama for. It is nice to see people like Joan Walsh getting snarky with Organizing for America asking for money. Money for what? People don’t even know what they are fighting for since Obama has spent the first 8 innings defining nothing.

    • They missed the 130 present votes, and the “I pulled the wrong lever (at least 4 times)”?

      A paragon of political courage.

    • Well maybe he sohuld have voted for the REAL pussy instead of the fake one, then.

      NO PITY.

  6. Yep:

    The nation’s two largest health insurers have been pressuring employees to lobby against healthcare reform in Congress in violation of a California law against coerced political activity, a consumer group alleged Wednesday.

    Consumer Watchdog in Santa Monica has asked California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown to investigate its claim that UnitedHealth Group and WellPoint Inc. pushed workers to write their elected officials, attend town hall meetings and enlist family and friends to ensure an overhaul that matches their interests.

    Brown for Governor in 2010

    Brown for President in 2012

    • I wouldn’t mind Jerry Brown for prez, but the press would treat him like they did Kucinich. “President Moonbeam”

      • It actually is funny because my fairly conservative husband LIKED Kuchinich. He really seemed to respect that the guy knew where he stood and could articulate why he did so based on his own value system.

        • A lot of conservatives who have a strong libertarian streak (and many do) have respect for both Kucinich and Bernie Sanders. They may disagree with them on some stuff, but admire their conviction and willingless to “speak truth to power”.

          I think a lot of people, both liberal and conservative, are reaching the point where they long for politicians who are not OWNED by any special interest, and who will honestly put out there what they want to do – where at least one can debate it in an open fashion. They are SICK of all the back door subversive shit, and insider wheeling and dealing. I think that candidates who can tap into that, and be viewed as ethical and straightforward, could pull a LOT of votes, even from those who are not in the same place ideologically.

      • I like Brown but I don’t know how you get around the “Moonbeam” problem. That’s all most of the country remembers about him.

        • Mike Royko who gave him that name later said he was wrong:

          As Governor, Brown proposed the establishment of a state space academy and the purchasing of a satellite that would be launched into orbit to provide emergency communications for the state—a proposal similar to one that would indeed eventually be adopted by the state. In 1978, Mike Royko, at the time a Chicago Sun-Times columnist, nicknamed Brown “Governor Moonbeam” because of the latter idea. The nickname quickly became associated with his quirky politics, which were considered eccentric by some in California and the rest of the nation. In 1992, almost 15 years later, Royko would disavow the nickname, proclaiming Brown to be “just as serious” as any other politician.

          They said Hillary’s negatives were too high too.

    • I would vote for Brown for Governor. It is going to be a crowded field.

      • I’m a San Francisco resident who plans to vote for Brown in the primary. I voted for Newsom twice for mayor but wouldn’t do it again.

    • I didn’t mind the lesson plans and ideas for class discussion, since many teachers can’t teach without them.
      But the “how can I help Obama” one was absurd — and obviously Repubs jumped quickly on THAT one! although later the WH explained it was how students can help Obama meet education goals for the nation.

      • the “how can I help Obama?” surely shows how O calculates using his power of personality schtick…

        that power is waning severely.

        • imo – it also shows the cracks in his administration. Don’t they read press releases before releasing them?

          • I think it shows lack of experience with the federal government. They are looking very incompetent.

          • They have no common sense. I’m sure they meant something like “how can you help America” or whatever, but having only overprivileged idiots who can’t comprehend what an issue they’re handing the opp even on the rare occasion they’re not trying to do something shady is a problem for sure. It’s like hint, if Bush used this wording the reaction would be what? Correct.

    • My kid’s school must be getting heat from parents about the speech. They informed the parents that the admin & teachers will record & pre-screen the speech before deciding which parts to show to kids based on grade level.

  7. Here’s a Washing Post article The Unwitting Birthplace of the ‘Death Panel’ Myth.

    My in-laws lived in LaCrosse; and my mother-in-law died in this hospital. Her kidney had failed (when told of it, she said, “Oh, sh*t”), and she refused dialysis. My husband, his sister and I took part in a meeting with, maybe 8 doctors sitting around the table. His father was too ill to attend.

    The doctors went over the situation, and what our options were vis a vis dialysis and nursing home care. We knew she wanted no more treatment, and directed them to talk to my father-in-law for the final say on letting her die peacefully. And that’s what she did.

    I have admired and defended Sarah Palin, but she went way over the line for me in her characterization of end-of-life counseling as death panels.

    Of course, Obama’s dancing around the issues and flip-flopping has contributed immensely to the clusterf*ck, which, as many have said, may be intentional.

    • She got the nation’s attention. That is a good thing. End-of-life counseling (death panels) should be left to doctors, their patients and their families.Another layer of governmental interference is unnecessary. Doctors should not be paid to counsel patients.

      • I don’t know what interference by the government is involved; the counseling is voluntary, as I understand it.

        I expect to be paid when I work; and I expect a doctor to be paid when he/she works.

        • The counseling was going to be “pushed” by offering incentives as I understand it.

          It also doesn’t help when you have them saying that they should ask questions like “do you feel you are a burden on your family or like life is no longer worth living.” (from what I understand they did this type of crap in a VA manual too). When you are sick, you are vulnerable. Playing on those vulnerabilities is wrong. It’s up to a doctor to lay out options, not exploit the natural feeling of helplessness when you get a diagnosis.

        • when you pay a doctor for something he/she has been doing as part of their regular care, you can bet EVERYONE is going to get end of life counseling whether they like it or not. People will be quilt tripped in to not wanting expensive end of life care.
          The system has worked fine without government sticking their nose in….your family got counseled, correct? …So why the need for a nanny state to direct doctors how to relate to their patients?
          It has NO place in that legislation at all unless it is one of the ways they expect to save money on medicare and medicaid. You bet your last dollar on that. Palin is not so far off the mark.

  8. Super OT. But if anyone is into reading big giant fantasy epic books, I super duper recommend Kate Elliot’s Crossroads trilogy (Spirit Gate, Shadow Gate, Traitors Gate).
    I just finished Traitors gate & I’m blown away. It’s about power & corruption (had me thinking of B0 a bunch of times).
    The setting is very multicultural (think Pacific Islander & Asian). Just an amazing set of books.
    Ok, just had to gush.

    • Cool, I’ll have to find out if my brother has read this set of books. He tends to read that genre of books.

  9. Chris Brown is angry with Oprah for defending Rihanna with her show last spring for “all the Rihannas” who’ve been violently beaten.
    Brown has entertained kids at Oprah’s school in Africa and “she should have reached out to HIM as well” after he beat the crap out of Rihanna.
    This jerk is a piece of work!!


  10. Unemployment report says we hit 9.7%.

  11. Great links bb, thanks.

    I know it’s Krauthammer, but this is a very well written piece, and nails Obama’s hubris.

    Obama, The Mortal
    By Charles Krauthammer


  12. Ugh. I clicked on it thinking, could it be? could Krauthammer have spewed something more than angry, incoherent gibberish for the first time in his revolting, petty, nasty little life???

    Sadly, no.

    I’m as fed up and disgusted with Obama as much as anyone, but Krauthammer is a completely useless pile of dung, as usual, and as usual gets everything wrong:

    “this friend of Chavista ex-terrorist William Ayers, of PLO apologist Rashid Khalidi, of racialist inciter Jeremiah Wright?”

    There we go with the usual rightwing OBAMA IS A SOCIALIST crap, and the usual Krauthammerian combination of bottomless ignorance, rampant racism, and jaw-dropping stupidity.

    Ugh, I need a shower now.

    • If only……then we’d have a shot at a national health care plan that was better for someone other than insurance companies.

    • And most likely – Krauthammer has affordable heatlh care.
      iow – character assassination and mischaracterization are used to generalize opposition to ALL Obama’s proposals.

  13. from your link
    “In less than a year, the Democrats have gone from the party of Change to the party of Excuses”


  14. Sen. Barbara Mikulski is on C-Span putting Sen. Coburn in his place. I like her. He’s a dog.

  15. Babs has always been one of the good ones.

    votermom, didn’t they make a movie out of “Traitor’s Gate”? Just that the title sounds very familiar to me. Anyway, thanks for the recs, I am always on the lookout for good new books.

    “I wish Hillary would make a statement. Maybe she’s waiting for the report from State people investigating the matter?”

    Jeremy Scahill is waiting too–he notes that Hillary campaigned on a promise to shut Blackwater and other corrupt contractors out of the government’s business, and wonders why she hasn’t yet:


    To be fair, defense contractors are a HUUUUUGE constituency and probably the only places where actual employment is occurring, so I am guessing this isn’t as easy a call as it might look. Not excusing her or the State Department, just noting that there is probably prodigious arm-twisting going on to keep defense firms afloat.

    • Hillary campaigned on that as President. She only has limited authority. I only blame Powell for things he did to support Bush, not for not doing things Bush would have put a stop to anyway.

    • I think Scahill’s question would more properly be addressed to Obama. He may remember that they both campaigned, but only Obama won. We don’t really know who wants them and who doesn’t or if that even matters. Even assuming they agree on the need to end the use of contractors, though that doesn’t seem to be the case because Blackwater’s contract was renewed, there’s the question of who to replace them with or how to proceed going forward. I think it is a massively complicated undertaking and I certainly agree that the contractors are doing everything they can to maintain the status quo.

      • I think Scahill’s question would more properly be addressed to Obama.

        Thank you . Besides writing books, Scahill worked on the TV program, “Democracy Now.” He may still do so. ” Democracy Now” is a major Barry love machine in the Code Pink circle… There fore everything bad is Bad Mother Hillary’s fault and responsibility ….not Good Baby Barry’s

    • votermom, didn’t they make a movie out of “Traitor’s Gate”?

      Must be a different story with the same title. TG just got published this month.

  16. Hillary does not have the power to shut down Blackwater — she campaigned on this issue while Obama wanted to keep them going. Nobody cared. Maybe they care now. Certainly if the President doesn’t want to shut them down — and he doesn’t — it does not matter what she wants.

  17. Understood.

  18. re kennedy and his non illuminating book…he was scared and in shock. she was dying.

    i will vote for brown. he did some pretty impressive things re revitalization of oakland and education. oakland under dellums has returned to a poverty stricken, crime ridden ghetto of people under seige. brown has become far more realistic, but was responsible for the dismantling of our great road and freeway funding and system. he is the best in the field. however, if campbell is his opponent, i’ll need to rethink my choice.

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