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Lazy Saturday News and Views

Good Morning Conflucians!! I don’t know what’s wrong with me this morning–I just can’t seem to get myself going. I don’t know if it’s all the bad news or just a hangover from my long trip home. Anyway, I’m going to throw out a grab bag of news stories and hope you can help me out with some more. Here are the stories that caught my eye so far this morning.

From the New Scientist: 24-week fetuses cannot feel pain

Fetuses aged 24 weeks or less do not have the brain connections to feel pain, according to a working party report published this week by the UK Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).

Its conclusion is the latest to challenge the rationale for a law introduced in the US state of Nebraska in April. This law, which bans almost all abortions beyond 20 weeks of pregnancy, was introduced primarily on the grounds that the fetus feels pain.

The report, which reviews recent scientific literature on the subject, also concludes that the fetus is sedated throughout pregnancy by chemicals such as adenosine contained in the amniotic fluid that surrounds it.

This probably won’t convince the anti-science crowd though.

The NYT on the endless BP gusher: How Much Has Spilled, and How Far? Seeking Answers as Questions Mount This piece is in question and answer format and provides basic info on the current state of the emergency.

The Seattle Times on Tropical Storm Alex: Storm could be latest problem in spill cleanup

Forecasters can’t say yet if Alex – which blew into a tropical storm early Saturday – will hit the northeastern part of the Gulf, where the spill has spread over the past 10 weeks.

Somewhere between 69 million and 132 million gallons of crude have spewed into the water since the Deepwater Horizon drilling rig exploded April 20, killing 11 workers.

Most storm prediction models show it traveling over the Yucatan Peninsula over the weekend and into the southern Gulf by Monday. Where it goes next is the question.

CNN: Tropical storm plus oil slick equals more fear and uncertainty

The disaster thousands of feet deep in the Gulf of Mexico may be exacerbated by a different type of calamity in the coming week — a tropical storm — that could push the oil farther along Florida’s pristine Panhandle beaches.

Tropical Storm Alex — the first named storm of the 2010 Atlantic hurricane season — formed in the Caribbean on Saturday. Alex had maximum sustained winds of 40 mph and was about 250 miles away from Chetumal, Mexico. It was moving toward Belize and over the Yucatan Peninsula.

“The greatest nightmare with this storm approaching is that it takes this oil on the surface of the Gulf and blows it over the barrier islands into the bays and the estuaries,” Sen. Bill Nelson, D-Florida, told CNN. “And that is where you really get the enormous destruction, because it’s just very difficult to clean up those pristine bays.”

Will that make it a National Emergency, President Obama? Will anything shake your inertia or will you continue to fight for your right to par-tay?

The Wall Street Journal: Judge In Moratorium Case Sold Exxon Stock This Week

The U.S. federal judge who struck down the Obama administration’s six-month moratorium on deepwater drilling sold stock in Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM) on the same day he issued his ruling, according to documents released Friday.

Exxon Mobil was among the companies affected by the administration’s moratorium. It used a rig whose operations were suspended under the ban, according to Exxon spokeswoman Cynthia Bergman White.

The judge in the moratorium case, U.S. District Court Judge Martin Feldman, says he only learned of his holdings in Exxon Mobil on Monday, the day before he issued his ruling.

Global Post: Troops wonder what McChrystal was thinking

Soldiers knew more than anyone else what damage had been done when news broke that their commander, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of the U.S.-led international force’s 140,000 troops in Afghanistan, had criticized his commander in chief in an inflammatory Rolling Stone article.

They knew because they abide by the same rules McChrystal has to: the military’s Uniform Code of Military Justice. The code subjects an officer to a court martial if he uses any “contemptuous words against the President, Vice President, Congress,” and other civilian leaders in the U.S. government. Any one of the soldiers in Afghanistan would be removed from their positions, if not face a court martial, for a similar offense.

At No Quarter, Larry Johnson opines on the McChrystal firing: McChrystal versus Obama

Consider this–Barack Obama has taken more vacation days in the last 18 months than Stan McChrystal has taken in the last seven years. Why? Stan put his mission above all else, including family. This stat alone tells you the difference between the General and the manchild who inhabits the White House.

And why the hell do pundits and the media continue with the absurd meme trying to compare General McChrystal to General Douglas MacArthur. Mac actually challenged the authority of Harry Truman. McChrystal never did. Although he is reported commenting to his staff that Obama appeared intimidated by the roomful of Generals (and the boy from Hawaii was) at no time and in no way did McChrystal ever suggest or state that Obama was not legally entitled to be President. Never did he refuse to obey an order. And never did he suggest the policy he was implementing in Afghanistan was any other than that ordered by Obama.

McChrystal also is getting blamed for the Rules of Engagement, which have imposed strict conditions for shooting suspected insurgents in Afghanistan. Those rules did not originate with Stan McChrystal. Nope.

They were the result of demands from the Afghan leader, Karzai and Ambassador (retired General) Eikenberry. But it is McChrystal, charged with implementing the guidelines, who gets the blame.

Found at Truthdig:

Is the BP gusher really the worst ecological disaster in American history? Well, we really don’t know yet, but here are a couple of articles that debate the issue: From Reuters and The Seattle Times.

I have to say, I think this disaster could end up being on the scale of the 1930s Dust Bowl, forcing people to set out in search of jobs in other parts of the country. Since there are no jobs most places, lots of people could be in for really tough times. Grapes of Wrath, anyone?

So what are you reading this morning? If you can snap me out of my daze, I’ll be very grateful! Have a great weekend everyone!

78 Responses

  1. Morning! It’s that long drive most likely! You’re jet lagged!

    • I guess so. Today, my primary goal is to get to the store and buy milk, eggs, and bread.

      • I just hope it cools off enough tonight I can run the dryer without wanting to dive into a bath tub filled with ice. It’s amazingly hot here right now.

  2. BB, you mentioned the other day that you didn’t have a job right now. Are you going back to teaching in the fall?

    • Hi grayslady,

      I don’t know what I’m going to do. For now, I’m going to try to survive on my savings and my social security checks. I’m going to start looking for jobs, but I’m not sure I want to start teaching in the fall. That would mean moving by the end of August, which I don’t think I can do. I have to start sorting through things and getting rid of what I don’t need, etc. I’ve accumulated a lot of stuff–especially books.

  3. Definitely trip related…a month is a long time. After a month one comes back, looks around and says” Whose shit is this? ” Takes awhile

    Funny cartoon, but the artist had to label the general since he made him look just like a cartoon Bush II….big ears and everything. Thanks for the round up!

    • Yes, can you believe I had memorized TV channels at my mom’s and could remember the ones here at first? I’m getting old!

  4. And why the hell do pundits and the media continue with the absurd meme trying to compare General McChrystal to General Douglas MacArthur.

    same reason they told us Bush2 was Churchill over and over …our media is entertainment and it only knows repeats and regurgitation…This fall look for
    my mother the car : the musical. ( joke) but perhaps not

  5. I found Marc Rubin’s take from “Tom in Paine” on the Gen. McChrystal case interesting. http://tominpaine.blogspot.com/2010/06/not-exactly-mcchrystal-clear.html
    I don’t know exactly what I think of it all except it got the focus off the gulf for awhile. That helps Obama and it also gave Obama an opportunity to appear “macho and manly” in his delivery about why McChrystal has to go. I also wonder about the article as I read a piece that said much of what they were talking about was said when they were boozing it up with the writer and it was supposed to be off the record. People say a lot of shit when they have been drinking and the Rolling Stone has always loved covering Obama’s ass. It also appears to have given Obama more time for the two wars which just makes me angry. We have a new president that has been in there long enough to get us out of these wars. Instead we are stuck with a loss of revenue in all of our states while these stupid wars go on. Every state that I can think of has been cutting like crazy. I joined other teachers in my state and marched on our capital with a rally because of the cuts we are facing in education. You know Roosevelt said, ” We had nothing to fear but fear itself.” I think we have everything to fear with incompetent people running our government!

    • President Obama’s TWO WARS are different, because he has a Noble Peace Prize and he got it for just thinking of PEACE…

      Notice that no one will even protest the wars, MOVE ON has become a proWAR org and others are on a holding pattern. If anyone says anything have their motives questioned. SO, mum is the PEACE CHANT now.

      • war has become our most robust industry ….which is based on our endless borrowing…. help

  6. Thanks for clarifying about the ROE’s and why they weren’t just McC’s fault. I’m reading that Petraeus might alter them once he has done a “sweeping review” (not my words).

    Didn’t we already do a sweeping review?

    Have a great weekend!

  7. I am still amazed that the ‘Jones Act’ hasn’t been suspended…they are essentially biting off their nose to spite their face type of policy making.

    I do think the economical impact will be enormous and the WARS escalating costs will only make things worse.


    Has any economist down a cost analysis on the continuation of the WARS’ impact on our economy and also on our allies (I think there are three left…?).

    • not sure, nothing in the journals that I’ve read to date

      • Oops! I had my reply at the wrong spot.

        The only thing I can come with on top my was head is

        The Iraq War Will Cost Us $3 Trillion, and Much More
        by Linda Bilmes and Joe. Stiglitz

      • I need coffee badly, just read my question…wow…don’t type without coffee for me. That was ‘done’… 😆

        Busy, night and morning. Just waved off our guests who are going to their first Gay Pride Festivities. Lovely guys, from in-land who are all excited about going to the Big City for the time of their lives. I am going later with a friend to see the evening events. They stayed over because they couldn’t get a hotel for Friday night and granny is always willing to help out.

    • Has any economist down a cost analysis on the continuation of the WARS’ impact on our economy …

      They will never connect those dots. They will also never connect the war dot to current the butchery of social services budgets either…which we are told constantly are ” out of control.! ”

      But a billion a week for two wars , already twice as long as WW II and which no one can even say why we are still in , besides we are in….all I hear about those costs, both $$$$$ and human are


      In DC you are considered a peacenik if you want to limit us to just the two current wars

      • All I can say is at this rate Osama Bin Laden has won. We have become nothing more than a third world country. We have many homeless people and more to come. If part of what he hates about our country is our love of the “Almighty Dollar” I’m sure he is toasting his victory over us!

  8. Biden opened his mouth again:

    Vice President Joe Biden gave a stark assessment of the economy today, telling an audience of supporters, “there’s no possibility to restore 8 million jobs lost in the Great Recession.”

  9. In Ohio, FEMA has turned down Dem. Gov. Strickland’s request for disaster relief to three northwest Ohio counties.

    The storms on June 5 and 6 killed six people, and the state has estimated that 45 structures, including Lake High School and the Lake Township administration building, were destroyed and 119 others were damaged.

    Strickland’s up for reelection (his opponent is John Kasich-remember him from the Congress during the Clinton Admin.).

    I bet Strickland’s ready to throttle Obama. Here’s what the republicans had to say:

    “The Ohio Republican Party took note of the White House’s rejection of Mr. Strickland’s request, particularly after the Democratic governor had personally spoken with President Obama on the subject in Columbus last week.

    “Either this is a terrible mistake by President Obama or Governor Strickland has absolutely no influence with his so-called partner in the White House,” party Chairman Kevin DeWine said. “I’m not sure why, but every time Ted Strickland makes a personal appeal to the President, he gets denied.”


  10. Fun musings over at CNBC how Obama will be a one termer:

    With the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll showing Obama’s approval ratings at a new low of 45 percent, Ruff told CNBC that he thinks the president may not even run for re-election in 2012.

    “There’s a very good chance he won’t even be running the next time around. This is only a four-year president,” he said.

    “There’s an old saying, ‘Never try to catch a falling safe,’ and opinions about him are falling and eventually he’s being abandoned by the American public, which rushed to his support,” Ruff added. “Even the media’s starting to say bad things about him.”

    As a result, Republicans could regain control of both houses of Congress, or at least put a major dent in Democrat control, he said. That would further weaken Obama’s position.

    “He achieved highs no president has ever achieved before and he’s plummeting at probably the worst rate of any president I’ve ever seen in my lifetime, and I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff said. “My personal opinion is he will be a one-term president.”

    • One term or two, does it really matter? Do you see any measurable difference between the Repubs and Dems? I think we need a revolution to throw them all out. I just don’t know how to make it happen in a two party system.

    • I don’t see how a Republican takeover of both houses would “weaken” Obama’s position. It’s what he wants – then he can say in 2012 – “Look. I’ve tried to work with these people because you, the voter, said you’re sick of politics as usual and want us to work together to find solutions to help the American people. They didn’t want to do that, and so nothing has gotten done. You should re-elect me and throw the Republican bums out so we can get things accomplished.”

      Which would be a good message because nowadays, voters have the attention spans of gnats.

  11. This is just unbelievable. Peter Daou just tweeted it:


    An 86-year-old El Reno woman is suing the city’s police department over a December incident in which officers shot her with a Taser while she was in bed, according to a lawsuit filed in federal court.

    Lona M. Varner, 86, and her grandson, Lonnie D. Tinsley, filed the suit on Monday. It alleges that the El Reno Police Department “cruelly injured (her) with a Taser and imprisoned (her) for several days without probable cause in a hospital.”

    However, police told the El Reno Tribune in January that the woman had threatened to kill herself and threatened officers with a knife.

    … At that point, the officer instructed another policeman to “Taser her!” according to the court brief. Police contended in their official report that Varner had taken a “more aggressive posture in her bed.”

    • …more aggressive posture in her bed
      Maybe she clenched her jaw in anger like Obama does. That can be scary.

    • That’s completely fucking outrageous!

    • Dude, Nurses don’t get tasers, they just have to DEAL with cranky patients. These cops are PATHETIC, and I shudder think what they’d do to Me when I’m sick. I’d probably end up getting shot.

  12. Interesting article on the financial reforms:

    If you want to know who got the upper hand when it comes to the financial reform bill, follow the money. Bank stocks are currently trading higher and financials are outperforming all other sectors. As Dick Bove, a high-profile analyst that covers Wall Street, put it, “I think I would be buying bank stocks this morning.”

    That’s because the financial reform bill Washington is touting didn’t protect investors in any substantive way. Congress failed to address the Supreme Court’s “Stoneridge” decision, which would have afforded investors protection against Ponzi schemes and other large scale frauds commonly aided and abetted by large financial institutions. And don’t let the headlines fool you, Congress totally punted on the requirement that brokers put their clients’ interests ahead of their own, the so-called fiduciary standard. Failing to address these two issues is a one-two punch in the gut for investors.

    As I previously predicted, Wall Street was able to stonewall the Stoneridge provision. A few members of Congress initially used the issue to garner some good press, but in the end they caved to Wall Street’s pressure. Had they stood up to the industry’s powerful interests, a provision to combat the Stoneridge decision at a minimum would have forced investment banks, accounting firms and other gate-keepers to perform a reasonable amount of due diligence on those they choose to do business with.

  13. Hello – does this get headlines in the US? It was breaking news at the FT:

    Barack Obama’s decision to sack General Stanley McChrystal this week drowned out news of the resignation of Peter Orszag, his star budget director, and the first of his cabinet members to step down.

    But the departure of Mr Orszag, who decided to resign partly in frustration over the absence of a tough plan to address America’s mounting national debt, may well come to be seen in retrospect as equally significant.

    • I covered it in the news on Tuesday … a few people have talked about it but not many. I read that two years is about normal for a budget director and Orzag is getting married in Sept. He may want to make more money and stay home more often with the new wife.

    • Interesting, thanks for spotting that.

    • The Brits think our POTUS is weak? They must all be r2cists!

      And the manner of President Obama’s reaction to a few remarks quoted in Rolling Stone magazine is already being interpreted as showing the president’s weakness, rather than his strength.

      Of course, it was unwise of him (McChrystal)and his press advisers, who were experienced and able, to forget over a period of a fortnight that they had a journalist in their midst.

      But the general’s transgressions were pretty mild. Only a government as nervous as President Obama’s about seeming weak and indecisive would have reacted so fiercely.


      • I personally think it will grow resentment amongst the rank and file of the military and the administration didn’t explore why the military is feeling this way. Then there was the story in the UK, about the British government acknowledging that there wouldn’t be a pull out until 2015.

  14. Here’s an article about more women not having children:

    Nearly one in five American women in her early 40s is childless, according to a report that shows a striking increase in women who don’t have biological children.

    The trend was much less common in the 1970s, when one in 10 women did not have children by 40 to 44, the age bracket researchers use to designate the end of childbearing years.

    Overall, the report found that white women are more likely to be childless, as are women with more education. The analysis, based largely on census data, comes amid changing attitudes about women who do not have children.

    In 1988, 39 percent of those interviewed as part of the General Social Survey said they didn’t think people without children “lead empty lives.” By 2002, that figure was 59 percent.

    The number of women without biological children is much larger than it once was, with 1.9 million childless women in 2008, compared with 580,000 in 1976.

    The Pew study explored biological childbearing and did not touch on whether women had adopted children or stepchildren.

    Childless women are as happy as women who had children at typical ages, said Amy Pienta, a researcher at the University of Michigan who coauthored a study on the subject. “They are not any more depressed; their psychological well-being is just as high,” she said.

    • I guess we’ll join the EU in playing demographic roulette with 5 bullets in the 6 chambers.

    • Cue the right-wing trying to shoo the women back into domestic slavery for the sake of the economy and boo-hooing about negative population growth.

    • I would not have been surprised if they had found women without children to have higher levels of happiness than do mothers (assuming there could be some way to control for women who do not have children due to fertility problems/inability to adopt), given the huge financial/career sacrifices (and other stressors) that motherhood in this country entails.

      Of course, I have been up *all night* for 3 nights straight, so this might not make any sense. : ) She’s asleep right now (but making snorfling noises) and I am trying to write an overdue brief without the assistance of a functioning brain.

      • Ahhh, bet those are really cute snorfling noises. Mothering is such hard work, and then being sleep-deprived on top of it!

    • Hey, that is “child-free,” not “child-less!”

  15. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dk-matai/gulf-of-mexico-danger-of_b_619095.html

    well, I got my answer about a Gulf tsunami (via Lambert) not only a tsunami but a methane tsunami…

  16. I’m not going out my way to set DK’s hair on (more) fire but yikes! This is infuriating:

    Was disregard for industry standards on BP rig worse than we thought?

    Until now, public investigations into the April 20 spill have asked what went wrong. But what one gleans from this report — and in particular this diagram — is that that may be the wrong question. Instead we should be asking, how did everything that had to go wrong do so, and at the same time? For the well operators, the implications are not good: Unless one violated standard industry practice every step along the way, such a blowout may have been all but impossible.

    How can anybody in his right mind still defend these assholes?

  17. See you later guys.

    I’m off to go watch our boys with some ex-pats. This is going to be some party.

  18. What a cartoon.

    This was a nice little article I read yesterday… out here the Times has run a bunch of articles on the “tiny house” movement — and I thought you might like to read this. For a break from all the rest.

    BB — that cartoon said it all.


    then, this is front page LAT Home Sec, today. I wish you could see the graphic! It’s a charmer, but here is the story — on how your house can make gas from solar and water…


    Just read a WashPo article that said Petraeus was going to run for Prez in 2012? Hmmm…..


    How handy.

    Only? What a nightmare it all seems — I feel sorry for both of those generals right now, myself. I really do.

    Dak, I didn’t want to say too much, but if the Chron reported what it did several weeks ago? Good article from counterpunch is here:


    Dak please be careful. I spent a few hours this morning wandering about in this place on Detroit. Very poignant, and ironic.


    Hugs Conf & Co.

    • Well betrayus isn’t going to run now. Not after what Obama just did. See the rude pundit about that.

      I know an Iraqi woman in KC MO. Her son was a translator for betrayus. Stupid betrayus got in front of TV cameras with his translator for all to see. Guess what happened to her son?

      So according to Muslim law the children go to his parents so the widow can be free of encumbrances and remarry (crucial to survive). The children are in Iraq and the US govt won’t let them out. This way the widow and the children go hungry and are helpless.

      Meanwhile my acquaintance has a retarded brother in a wheelchair that she has to feed and bathe etc. She is worn out and doesn’t know how she and her husband can handle raising two grandchildren. Very sad. NIce woman.

      And all this because betrayus is such a smart general.

  19. I am not sure I buy into the 24 week old fetus not feeling any pain. I have cared for a few 24 week old preemies and they definitely had a response when I started an IV. (yes they do make IV’s needles that small)

    Obama not supporting the damage in NW Ohio. The area has been devastated.. I suppose Obama isn’t really considering re-election. He will need Ohio.

    • A distinction needs to be drawn between the sensation of pain (which is processed in the brain) and reflexive motor actions, which do not always require brain involvement. That’s why the Glasgow Coma Scale involves several different levels of response to pain. There are, after all, plants that respond to touch. It doesn’t indicate brain function or the sensation of pain.

  20. How Belinda Carlisle Beat a 30-Year Drug Habit

    I will believe it after at least her fifteenth year anniversary of being drug free…but I am sending her good thoughts.

  21. Well, if there’s any good news out there, it appears [right now at least] that Tropical Storm Alex is likely to veer west. Guess we should all give offerings to whatever gods we choose. The Gulf is crying for at least one small break.

    The McChrystal fiasco is still a puzzle. Cannot figure out the how and whys of this affair, but certainly the General and his men showed little prudence in speaking so freely in front of a reporter. And particularly a young turk from the Rolling Stone. What were they thinking??? Obama’s decision? Political as always, not that I think any weak POTUS would have had much choice. And God knows, Obama is as weak as they come.

    The article from the New Scientist? I can already hear the howl from the Religious Right. Nothing that science says has any bearing on the RR’s and to be honest, I’m not sure how this declaration of “feel no pain” advances the argument. It just makes pro-choice adherents look as if they’re straining for points and making monstrous excuses.

    In my mind, the emphasis should always be on the woman’s “choice” regardless of what that is, the earlier the better. There are few women getting abortions at 24 weeks, except when their own lives are at risk. And then? That choice should be theirs to make and to live with.

    But the way things are turning? I’m afraid that a new generation of women will have to refight the old battles if they want to protect their right to choose in any context. Freedoms are like that, of course, requiring constant arm-to-arm combat.

  22. NASA timelapse of the oil kill:

  23. >>This probably won’t convince the anti-science crowd though.

    Science has a well known liberal bias.

    Carolyn Kay

  24. Way off topic request, but:

    I’ve spent the last week up to my elbows in paperwork, getting ready for my next round with my mortgage servicer to try to work out a modification…..

    I’ve started a private blog that tells the story of what it’s been like; how the bank has stymied the process and told me blatant lies, how they padded my numbers and then told me I’d have to sue them and subpoena the docs to see them (property of the bank) how the administration’s rules and jargon don’t matter a hoot….the whole nightmare.

    I’d really appreciate feedback from any TC frontpagers and/or regular commenters. I’m both excited and scared to post the info and would be curious on your take. (anonymity, potential slander, would it help people etc.) I’m not exactly sure what I expect from doing this beyond the relief of getting my story out, offering help/support to others, and possibly publicly shaming them. I need to think on that a bit more. But in the meantime….

    If you’re willing to be a reviewer, I’ll register your your email address (that’s how you keep it private, correct? I’m such a novice at this.)

    mine is courielle_moi@hotmail.com (or feel free to use the one I sign in with if you have access to it. again, have no clue what you can see or not.)

    sigh. back to it.
    Thanks if you can help!

    • My friends and I studied with Gene Zimmermann in legal seminars before he died. He was out to use the legal system to fug with its injustice.

      The bank has violated Federal Lending Laws and is very very liable. It would take about $5000 (and time) but you can walk away with your house free and clear or with a clean cerdit rating, whichever you prefer. Just walk in or call them and tell them you have been researching and now know they have violated Federal Lending Laws.

      You can go over to dkos (for which I was gestopoed off that site for legal diaries) as I wrote a lot about this when I was taking the course. Some of it is very rough but check it out and respond to me here.

      I am abbeysbooks( or was) at dkos. I will never go back without a front page apology and I am not going to get that from them.

      If your mortgage is a derivative then no one owns your mortgage as it has been chopped up in teeny tiny pieces. This also causes a problem for them. Plus they have inflated the appraisal so as to lend more on your house.

  25. Always reading Foucault and Deleuze. Just finished Millenium Trilogy. Book is OK like Le Carre but the movie is awesome Girl With the Dragon Tatoo. A work of art.

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