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Friday Mid-Morning News and Views

Mid-Morning Under the Eucalyptus, by Scott Wynn

Good Morning Conflucians!!! TGIF!! Sorry to be so late with my morning post. I stayed up too late last night watching the Celtics go down to the Lakers late in game 7 of the NBA playoffs. Bummer. So what’s happening in the news this morning?

After Obama’s speech Tuesday, I saw Newsweek contributor Julia Reed on Anderson Cooper giving her reaction. Originally from Mississippi, Reed moved to New Orleans in 1991, and lived through Hurricane Katrina, and is now experiencing the BP oilspill as a local. She was pretty worked up and spoke in a rather colorful way about what the President had said and not said.

This morning, I found out that Reed is a racist. Ooops! She said that if President Obama thinks that the only people who will be affected by the 6-month moratorium on offshore drilling, he must be “out of his cotton-pickin’ mind.” To be honest, I was listening only to the substance of her remarks and completely missed the underlying racial meaning. In fact, I was impressed with her willingness to speak honestly. Even Newsbusters is chiding her for racism. What do you think? Sorry for the poor sound quality.

Here’s a sample of the reactions: Did she call Reed the “b” word? Did she say the “f” word and the “n” word too? Wow.

I don’t even know what to say about all this. Yes, Reed’s words were poorly chosen…so now that should become more important than what she was talking about–millions of people being hurt by BP and the President’s slow and half-assed reaction? Again, I just don’t know what to say. Is calling the President’s reaction “half-assed” racist too? I honestly don’t know.

In other news, Paul Krugman is in Berlin, and he’s having “that thirties feeling.” Uh oh…

Suddenly, creating jobs is out, inflicting pain is in. Condemning deficits and refusing to help a still-struggling economy has become the new fashion everywhere, including the United States, where 52 senators voted against extending aid to the unemployed despite the highest rate of long-term joblessness since the 1930s.

Many economists, myself included, regard this turn to austerity as a huge mistake. It raises memories of 1937, when F.D.R.’s premature attempt to balance the budget helped plunge a recovering economy back into severe recession. And here in Germany, a few scholars see parallels to the policies of Heinrich Brüning, the chancellor from 1930 to 1932, whose devotion to financial orthodoxy ended up sealing the doom of the Weimar Republic.

But despite these warnings, the deficit hawks are prevailing in most places — and nowhere more than here, where the government has pledged 80 billion euros, almost $100 billion, in tax increases and spending cuts even though the economy continues to operate far below capacity.

Our so-called “leaders” are taking us headlong into Great Depression 2.0. Can they be stopped?

Oil companies say that there is no need for changes in regulation of offshore drilling, according to the LA Times.

Oil and gas companies have told the Obama administration that environmental regulations for deep-water drilling rigs do not immediately need to be toughened because the Deepwater Horizon explosion was an unforeseeable event, not a failure of federal oversight, according to documents filed last week with the White House.

The industry’s chief lobbying arm, the American Petroleum Institute, submitted written comments to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The council is reviewing whether the federal Minerals Management Service — the now-splintered and much criticized agency charged with regulating oil drilling — has appropriately conducted reviews mandated by the National Environmental Policy Act, known as NEPA.

“One accident does not mean that the practice and procedures of MMS are inadequate to implement NEPA’s requirements, especially when the cause of the accident has yet to be determined,” wrote the lobbying group, which represents 400 oil and gas companies, including BP.

Okay then. I guess that settles it. Moving on…

CNN reports on the UK media reaction to the “savaging” of BP CEO Tony Hayward.

PR guru Mark Borkowski writing in The Daily Telegraph, said that Hayward “couldn’t, or wouldn’t, answer most of the questions. In fact, he looked like a tired undertaker who was rather bored with having to look mournful.”

Later Borkowski added: “The man has the communication skills of a tax inspector; dry and arrogant. Its incredible that one of the most important corporate jobs in the world has been entrusted to him.”

Hayward’s tone was likened to “that of a weary registrar in a South London crematorium” by The Times’ Giles Whittell, writing from Washington.

“As to the meager substance of his answers, he appeared to have drunk deeply of the wisdom of his lawyers. The committee members knew it, and it did not make them happy.”

“Whatever he was thinking, what he said made him look like an oil man on the skids. Americans say he looks like Mr Bean. Make that Mr Has-been.”

How come we don’t have commentators like that here?

In violence against women and girls news, here is a shocking story from Alternet: After Cutting Little Girls’ Clitorises, Ivy League Doctor Tests Handiwork With a Vibrator

Not only is FGM [Female Genital Mutilation] being practiced relatively widely in the United States, it’s happening in the most hallowed halls of American medical science. In fact, the head of the pediatric urology department at Cornell University’s New York Presbyterian Hospital — which is often ranked among the top 10 hospitals in the country — has been operating on young girls who suffer from what he (and likely the girls’ guardians) have decided is “clitorimegaly,” or oversized clitorises.

In order to relieve these girls from what seems like little more than a cosmestic issue, Dr. Dix P. Poppas cuts out parts of the clitoris’ shaft, saving the glans, or tip, for reattachment. Poppas triumphantly calls the procedure — rebranded a clitoroplasty — a “nerve sparing” one unlike the FGMs practiced in other countries.


How does the good doctor know that nerves have been spared? Well, Poppas and his nurse practitioner developed a series of sensory followup tests involving Q-tips, their fingernails and vibrators. But don’t worry, a family member was always present in the room. As the resulting journal article notes, management of such situations requires a “compassionate and multidisciplinary approach.”

Jesus H. Keeeerist! Is this still the 21st Century?

I think that’s about all the news I can handle for right now. What are you reading this morning? Please post your links freely in the comments. And have a fabulous Friday!!!!