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    • And They Made A Desert: 80 to 90% Drop In Nutrients In Food
      Stumbled across this lovely chart the other day. The core fact most people, including the folks in the “best every world” Panglossian movement (like Pinker) don’t seem to understand, is that even if they were right (questionable), the prosperity we have is based on burning down our house. “Sure is hot! Hottest it’s every been!” […]
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Friday Mid-Morning News and Views

For me the biggest news of the day comes from Jeremy Scahill’s revelations about the relationship between Blackwater (aka Xe) head Eric Prince and the CIA. According to Scahill Prince has been working as a CIA asset for years, and that Blackwater contractors with U.S. backing are effectively engaging in a covert war in Pakistan.

In addition, Scahill revealed that there are more than 100,000 contractors in Afghanistan now in addition to the 100,000 U.S. military troops who will be there after Obama’s latest troop “surge.” Scahill wrote the cover story for this week’s The Nation. Unfortunately the story is not yet available on-line to non-subscribers. However Scahill did appear on Rachel Maddow’s MSNBC program last night. Here is the video.

A few days ago, Scahill also talked about his latest Blackwater research in an interview with Laura Flanders:

There is also a major story on Eric Prince in the January issue of Vanity Fair.

I put myself and my company at the C.I.A.’s disposal for some very risky missions,” says Erik Prince as he surveys his heavily fortified, 7,000-acre compound in rural Moyock, North Carolina. “But when it became politically expedient to do so, someone threw me under the bus.” Prince—the founder of Blackwater, the world’s most notorious private military contractor—is royally steamed. He wants to vent. And he wants you to hear him vent.

I haven’t had time to read the full interview yet. I hope to get to it over the weekend.


In other news….

Top Congressional Researcher on Afghanistan Fired

The top congressional official who oversees research on foreign policy and defense issues, including the war in Afghanistan, has been fired from his job after publishing a newspaper op-ed criticizing the Obama administration’s recent decision about bringing Guantánamo detainees to trial.

Morris Davis, the assistant director of the Congressional Research Service’s foreign policy and defense division and the former chief prosecutor of the U.S. military commissions, says that the American Civil Liberties Union plans to challenge his dismissal in a letter to CRS’s longtime director, Daniel Mulhollan, on Friday. The letter will contend that Mulhollan violated Davis’s First Amendment rights to free speech by firing him and will threaten the service with a lawsuit if he is not reinstated, says an ACLU spokeswoman.

Politico thinks the Massachusetts Senate Race is boring Could that be because a woman–Mass. Attorney General Martha Coakley–is leading the race by double digits? Politico seems disappointed that there are no Kennedys in the race. Massachusetts citizens are more interested in electing a Senator who will be responsive to their needs than having a celebrity studded primary.

Get this–according to Politico, Michael Capuano, Coakley’s nearest rival, is terrified of a “Rick Lazio moment.”

“We all learned from his mistake,” Capuano said in an interview of the former New York congressman’s debate badgering of Hillary Clinton, which has become political shorthand for what male candidates ought not to do against female opponents. “There are certain rules of engagement.”

It’s not just debates where the gender issue has surfaced — it hangs over the campaign because of the otherwise liberal state’s not-so-progressive history when it comes to women candidates….

…in last year’s historic Democratic presidential primary, much of the state’s political establishment — including the governor and both senators — rallied behind the man over the woman.

“That left a bad taste in women’s mouths,” said Marsh, adding that it seems to be playing out again this year, with nearly all of the men in the House delegation backing their colleague.

Oh really? Izzat so. Poor Mikey C., getting beat up by woman because of the “rules of engagement.”

Also from Politico, a number of opinion leaders weigh in on whether Ben Bernacke should get four more years as head of the Fed.

President Obama is running some PR operation and calling it a “jobs summit,” but The New York Times reports that there won’t be any money to speak of to back up any job creation effort by the administration. That’s as to be expected–unlimited funds for bankers and war, while middle-class, working-class, and poor Americans can go f**k themselves.

Mr. Obama said he would entertain “every demonstrably good idea” for creating jobs, but he cautioned that “our resources are limited.”

The president said he would announce some new ideas of his own next week. One of those, he indicated when he participated in a discussion group on clean energy, would be a program of weatherization incentives for homeowners and small businesses modeled on the popular “cash for clunkers” program.

What about the people who have lost their houses Mr. President–and the people who were already homeless? What kind of weatherization program will you recommend for them. I can’t wait for the big speech!

The Wall Street Journal reports that Allentown, PA workers and business people may not welcome President Obama’s “Main Street tour” with open arms.


Main Street Tour Faces Frosty Greeting

When President Barack Obama launches a multicity tour Friday to take Main Street’s temperature, he will likely get a cool reception from business leaders and workers here who say he hasn’t delivered.

Swing voters in Pennsylvania’s Lehigh Valley helped Mr. Obama win this pivotal, populous state. But the region’s jobless rate inched up another half percentage point in October to 9.8%. About 41,000 people are out of work, the highest number since 1984.

Finally, here’s a “just for fun” story:


Cat Cams: What DO Cats Do Home Alone?

Fifty house cats were given collar cameras that took a photo every 15 minutes. The results put a digital dent in some human theories about catnapping.

Based on the photos, about 22 percent of the cats’ time was spent looking out of windows, 12 percent was used to interact with other family pets and 8 percent was spent climbing on chairs or kitty condos. Just 6 percent of their hours were spent sleeping.

What are you reading this morning? Please post links in the comments.


HAVE A FABULOUS FRIDAY!!!!

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Allentown is so 25 years ago

Allentown

Obama is convening a jobs summit and then heading to Allentown, PA for the start of his Main Street Tour.

Jeez, didn’t Obama get the memo?  Allentown’s been in a state of Depression for decades.  It started back in the late 70’s when the Japanese started dumping cheap steel on the market and the US steel bossies used it as an excuse to gut their unions.  And lest someone start quoting Niemoller on me, let me just tell you that I lived in Pittsburgh at the time the US steel industry went south.  I have uncles who lost their jobs permanently.  The mills that banged and clanged all night and lit up a sandblasted sky suddenly went silent.  My grandmother’s house, perched on the heights above McKeesport’s mill, became part of a neighborhood in decline.  The stores shuttered up and the town center became desolate.  The water system became compromised with giardia and the tax base disappeared so it couldn’t be fixed.  It was a hard, hard time.

Oh, sure, industry has occasionally sputtered back to life but usually at vastly reduced salaries.  Employees have attempted to buy back the factories, not always with the best results.  The steel mills in Pittshurgh were torn down leaving a riverside view of amazing beauty.  The city has attracted a more technological workforce but went bankrupt not too long ago.  The city coffers were empty.

We younguns saw what happened to our uncles in the steel mills and decided that that wasn’t going to happen to us.  So, we went to school for biochemistry and genomics and cheminformatics and physical chemistry.  People always need medicine, right?  And the science was and is developing so rapidly that we wouldn’t ever become obsolete.  We’d just exercise our flexible minds and read and do and read some more and, gosh darnit!, isn’t this the best country in the world for scientific discovery??

Mebbe.  But we ain’t cheap enough.

The REAL “Main Street”, Mr. Obama, is in Princeton, NJ and Nyack, NY and Groton, Connecticut and Bridgewater, NJ where pharmaceutical companies are shedding tens of thousands of jobs because the CEO’s have decided to abandon the discovery of ‘traditional medicines’ for the trendiness and newly acquired patent extensions on biologicals.  Now, they can get rid of the chemists and biologists that are weighing down their bottom lines for the cheap labor in Hyderabad.  Forget discovering any new reactions in the lab.  The US won’t have any need for that kind of knowledge.

What are you going to do about the loss of intellectual infrastructure, Mr. Obama?  There are no startup companies for us in our future because that would require capital and we haven’t got it.  The bankers do, F^&* you very much.  Why don’t you come to New Jersey and talk to my former colleagues who have their jobs until January 31, 2010?  If you go to Allentown, the newly laid off scientists are going to think you are avoiding them.  They’re going to think you don’t want to draw attention to the people who got educations and are now more or less permanently underemployed.  Why don’t you tell them how they are going to support their families now?

Yeah, right.  When it comes to the bean counting, golf playing, arrogant, thoughtless, short sited corporate CEOs that are throwing us out of work, it’s easy to see that you are one of them.

Take your act to Allentown.

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