His new book takes on the crisis.
Krugman, Paul. The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008. W. W. Norton, 2008.
There's a review in Daily Kos here.
Krugman, Paul. The Return of Depression Economics and the Crisis of 2008. W. W. Norton, 2008.
There's a review in Daily Kos here.
Conclusion 1: On February 7, 2002, President George W. Bush made a written determination that Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions, which would have afforded minimum standards for humane treatment, did not apply to al Qaeda or Taliban detainees. Following the President’s determination, techniques such as waterboarding, nudity, and stress positions, used in SERE training to simulate tactics used by enemies that refuse to follow the Geneva Conventions, were authorized for use in interrogations of detainees in U.S. custody.
Conclusion 2: Members of the President’s Cabinet and other senior officials participated in meetings inside the White House in 2002 and 2003 where specific interrogation techniques were discussed. National Security Council Principals reviewed the CIA’s interrogation program during that period. . . .
Conclusion 19: The abuse of detainees at Abu Ghraib in late 2003 was not simply the result of a few soldiers acting on their own. Interrogation techniques such as stripping detainees of their clothes, placing them in stress positions, and using military working dogs to intimidate them appeared in Iraq only after they had been approved for use in Afghanistan and at GTMO. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld’s December 2, 2002 authorization of aggressive interrogation techniques and subsequent interrogation policies and plans approved by senior military and civilian officials conveyed the message that physical pressures and degradation were appropriate treatment for detainees in U.S. military custody. What followed was an erosion in standards dictating that detainees be treated humanely.
Lim pays some lip service to larger trends but focuses on a narrower analysis, carefully posing that the increasing anti-intellectualism in presidential rhetoric resulted from a “tyranny of small decisions” effected by speechwriters and presidents taking their cue from the linguistic tone of the administrations preceding them. This analysis, however, can explain only so much. Truman may well have despaired of equaling Franklin Roosevelt’s eloquence and instead emphasized his own flinty straight-talking persona, while Lyndon Johnson was linguistically insecure and simply did not seek eloquence at all. This kind of analysis, however, fails to explain why in the nineteenth century even a plain-spoken ex-general such as Ulysses S. Grant pitched his official statements at the grand level, while a plain-spoken ex-general such as Dwight Eisenhower did not—or why Richard Nixon’s oratory was even more conversational than Lyndon Johnson’s.
The overarching explanation is the cultural context of an American culture that embraced informality in the 1920s and kept at it ever since. Clinton, for example, was not simply possessed with an animus toward flowery speech, and he certainly did not consciously decide to sound less formal than his notoriously inarticulate predecessor, George H.W. Bush. He was, instead, someone who had smoked pot in dormitories while listening to the kind of music that the parents in Bye Bye Birdie reviled—and that was the source of his rhetoric.
The review: John McWhorter, "A Rhetorical Question," First Things (October 2008).
The book: Elvin T. Lim, The Anti-Intellectual Presidency: The Decline of Presidential Rhetoric from George Washington to George W. Bush, (Oxford University Press, 2008).
Deep-well natural gas drilling a concern for state's water qualityTuesday, August 12, 2008
University Park, Pa. — Reminiscent of Pennsylvania's halcyon days of oil production and coal mining early in the last century, the current boom in natural-gas well drilling is a concern for the state's streams and groundwater, according to an expert in Penn State's College of Agricultural Sciences.
"Decades ago, we weren't careful with coal mining. As a result, we are still paying huge sums to clean up acid mine drainage from that period, and we will be for a long time," said Bryan Swistock, water resources specialist with Penn State Cooperative Extension. "We need to be careful and vigilant or we could see lasting damage to our water resources from so many deep gas wells being drilled across Pennsylvania."
This latest wave of gas-well drilling is unlike other previous exploration because the wells are so deep, tapping the Marcellus shale formation, which is a mile or more below the surface of much of Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio and New York. Scientists have known for years the gas was there, but it wasn't until new drilling technology was developed that it could be extracted. This method uses hydraulic pressure to fracture the shale layer so trapped gas can escape.
"Fracking, as they call it, can require several million gallons of water for each gas well, and some wells may be fracked more than once during their active life, which might span more than a decade," Swistock explained. "Where that water comes from, and what the drillers do with it when it is recovered, is a big issue for our state. The fracking water can have various chemical additives along with natural contaminants from deep underground when it comes back to the surface, so it needs to be collected and treated or recycled properly."
In other states, fracking water has been found to contain numerous hazardous and toxic substances, including formaldehyde, benzene and chromates. Most municipal sewage-treatment plants can't or won't accept gas-well waste fluids. Another potential hazard from gas-well wastewater is the release of radon and other naturally occurring radioactive materials, noted Swistock.
''Radioactive substances are not uncommon in Pennsylvania groundwater to begin with,'' he said, adding that the waste fluids that come with gas production also may contain high levels of salt, various metals such as iron and manganese, and traces of barium, lead and arsenic. "Although highly diluted with water, the proper treatment of all gas-well waste fluids is a big issue that needs to be addressed."
People who live close to gas-drilling operations should have their water tested by a third-party, DEP-approved lab, advised Swistock. "Homeowners who have their own well or spring and are within 1,000 feet of a gas-well site are very likely to be visited by water-lab employees hired by the gas company," he said, adding that homeowners should take advantage of this free testing and make sure to get copies of the results, which they are entitled to by law.
"If homeowners decide to do their own water testing, it's important that they have an unbiased expert from a state-certified lab collect the samples in case the sample results are needed for legal action," he said.
The timing of sampling is also important, according to Swistock. Well owners should have their water tested within a few months before the start of the drilling. Once a company has started drilling, it's too late because there won't be a record of the well water's quality before drilling. If a resident decides to test for any impacts after the drilling has occurred, that needs to be done within six months because drillers are presumed responsible for any damage to water supplies within six months after drilling has begun.
"Although we have occasionally seen effects on water supplies beyond 1,000 feet, the regulation that is written into the gas and oil act states that any water supply within 1,000 feet of a gas well is the driller's responsibility for six months after drilling," he said. "If there is any complaint, the driller is guilty until he is proven innocent; outside the 1,000-feet distance and six-month time frame, the burden of proof shifts to the homeowner."
While contamination from waste fluids is one concern, another is where the companies will get all of the fresh water they need for drilling and fracking. Swistock warned that taking too much water from headwater streams may disrupt sensitive aquatic ecosystems.
"Our mountain streams, many of which harbor wild trout, are precious resources and we cannot allow them to be dewatered to dangerously low levels," he said. "Two drilling operations in Lycoming County recently were shut down by the state Department of Environmental Protection because they were drawing huge volumes of water from small streams in violation of the Clean Streams Law."
Complicating the water-usage issue is differing oversight across the state. Both the Delaware River and Susquehanna River Basin commissions require permits from well drillers who plan to withdraw large amounts of water. The Ohio River basin currently has less oversight.
Growing up in Indiana County, Swistock saw both the benefits and negative effects of gas-well drilling. "The economic impact can be tremendous, and the environmental effects can be minimized if we are careful," he said. "The newer, deeper drilling in the Marcellus shale is different than the gas-well drilling we are accustomed to, and it's happening very quickly.” We need to adapt our regulations and strengthen our regulatory agencies to make sure we are prepared to protect our water resources."
Thanks to Diane S. Hope, the William A. Kern Professor of Communications at Rochester Institute of Technology, for the link to this Penn State story, which I had missed.
The local papers have been full of stories about the Marcellus Shale, and lots of landowners are reportedly being approached to sell the drilling rights to their property. The process is developing so rapidly that there has not been time for a public debate to mature before some landowners have committed to allowing drilling on their land.
More at Wikipedia.
This looks like a pretty shrewd pick, and the fact that it is the first cabinet job to be sort-of-announced is an indication that Barack Obama is in deadly earnest about one of his main campaign promises: comprehensive health-care reform. . . .
By appointing a big cheese to the health job, Mr Obama seems to be defying the gloomy view that the state of the economy rules out such an expensive initiative. His proposed plan has been costed at anything from $50 billion to $100 billion a year, which many people argue can not be afforded in the current environment. He could, of course, make the opposite case. The deepening recession is likely to have dreadful consequences in health-care terms, as people lose their jobs and the health insurance that goes with them, and as companies scale back or even abandon the packages they offer their workers. So reform is more urgently needed than ever.
In addition, there is such widespread agreement on the need for fiscal stimulus at the levels of hundreds of billions that it might, paradoxically, become politically easier to slip another large programme into the mix, especially one that benefits ordinary people rather than bankers. Last, stressed American companies are actively backing radical reform, because the burden of health insurance costs is crippling their ability to compete abroad. In the early 1990s, they opposed it, and helped to kill it off.
This last observation is perhaps crucial -- American business is crippled by its health care obligations. A comprehensive and universal federal program could make American business more competitive and might even reduce the incentive to send jobs abroad. If businessmen pressure Congress for reform, that may at last make it happen. The time is right, and the rhetorical forces that have stalled reform may now be aligned to create change.
The photograph that accompanies the article in The Economist abstracts Tom Daschle in the act of speaking, with an operation apparently in progress behind him. The positioning places him in the apparent role of speaking for doctors, nurses, and patients--a switch on the traditional opposition of the American medical and insurance establishment to universal health insurance.
See "A Shrewd Choice: Can Tom Daschle and Barack Obama Fix American Health Care?" The Economist, 21 November 2008.
photo credit: AP, from The Economist
"The Camorra grows rich on silence," says Judge Franco Roberti.Saviano is under guard. The Camorra threatens that he will be dead before Christmas.
UNIVERSITY PARK — As spiraling trails of orange fire punctured Thursday night's sky, a frightened flock of southbound crows sparked quips about droppings from passers-by.
Obama campaign logos can be downloaded from the campaign web site. Sol Sender comments that one of the advantages of a good logo design is that it can be adapted to a variety of uses -- here are some examples from the Obama campaign site. I suppose seeing all these images together, and there are still others, gives some sense of the targeted campaigning, and the possibly fragmented result, of modern campaigning. On the other hand, there is a latent appeal here for convergence and perhaps unity, since these images are not solely appeals from the campaign to its audiences, but also images that can be downloaded or purchased, and then displayed on windows, car bumpers, tee shirts, and so on, so that the message seems to be going not simply CAMPAIGN--> VOTER but VOTER--> VOTER.
Q: What were you thinking when you conceived this idea?A: When we received the assignment, we immediately read both of Senator Obama’s books. We were struck by the ideas of hope, change and a new perspective on red and blue (not red and blue states, but one country). There was also a strong sense, from the start, that his campaign represented something entirely new in American politics — “a new day,” so to speak.
Robert K. Landers, "Learning for Everyone," Wall Street Journal, 10 November 2008.
Given what has happened to the study of the humanities in the past two decades -- with theory and politics playing a larger role and fewer people reading the traditional canon -- it is hard not to feel a bit nostalgic for Great Books earnestness. In academe, there is only what might be regarded as a saving remnant: "Among major universities, only Columbia, where the whole idea began" -- around the time of World War I, long before the mania erupted in Chicago -- "still force-feeds a much-abbreviated version of the Great Books curriculum to its undergraduates," Mr. Beam notes. "Tiny St. John's College, created by disciples of Hutchins and Adler, still devotes all four years to teaching the Great Books, as Hutchins vainly hoped the University of Chicago would do."
Molly Rothenberg, a student at St. John's in Annapolis, Md., told Mr. Beam of comparing notes when she was a sophomore with a fellow graduate of the public high school in Cambridge, Mass. St. John's sophomores study works by such authors as Aristotle, Tacitus and Shakespeare. Her friend was attending Bates College in Maine. "She told me they were studying Rhetoric," Ms. Rothenberg said, "and they would be watching episodes of 'Desperate Housewives' and listening to Eminem. They were going to analyze it. I just laughed. What could I say?"
Predictions that Russia will again become powerful, rich and influential ignore some simply devastating problems at home that block any march to power. Sure, Russia's army could take tiny Georgia. But Putin's military is still in tatters, armed with rusting weaponry and staffed with indifferent recruits. Meanwhile, a declining population is robbing the military of a new generation of soldiers. Russia's economy is almost totally dependent on the price of oil. And, worst of all, it's facing a public health crisis that verges on the catastrophic.Does it matter? It certainly matters to Russia, but our national leaders have perhaps not been clear about what it might mean to the United States and to other nations near and far. In the recent elections, John McCain made war-like and nationalistic hay out of the Russian invasion of Georgia, though he let the matter slide as it became clearer to those who took an interest that our client in Georgia had probably been tacitly encouraged to take stupid risks on the border regions with Russia. Russia behaved badly, but so did Georgia and the United States, though not in equal measure.
Gary Gumpert, firstname.lastname@example.org
I am sad to report the death of professor, singer, social activist Forbes I. Hill on November 5, 2008. Mercifully he was aware and gratified before leaving us that Barak Obama was elected the 44TH president of the United States.
I was a long-time colleague of Forbes Hill at Queens College of the City University of New York. We both arrived at this unique city university in the 1960s. I knew him as a scholar with degrees from San Diego State University, the University of Oregon, and Cornell University. We shared the "sturm and drang" of a changing discipline and a time of social upheaval. I came from the "media" silo and Forbes from the tradition of "rhetoric." It was an exciting time of academic change that would shape the communication discipline for the 21st century. We shared Aristotle, but argued about the importance of media upon the new rhetoric. We both taught in a large multi-media lecture room enjoying and being stimulated by the magic of the energized and socially conscious students of that time. I saw Forbes change and absorb and reflect the changing times and field.
While a long time colleague, I have become aware that I only knew a portion of the man. I knew he was a passionate singer, and political activist. He was one of the founding faces of the Professional Staff Congress, the professors' union of the City University of New York. He was chairman of the Queens College chapter. We shared the anti-war sentiments of the 70's but I was unaware of the extent and depth of his social and political conscience.
We found out about Forbes death when one of my colleagues noticed his obituary in the New York Times. We had been aware of Forbes' long and dignified battle with prostate cancer. That story was reported in the New York Times last November. "Mr. Hill seems ready for a time when treating his cancer is no longer the right approach, replaced instead by a focus on preparing for the end of his life." His courage and relationship to community emerged in the interfaith memorial tribute held at the Plymouth Church of the Pilgrims held in Brooklyn on November 9th. It was a moving testament to a long and meaningful life.
It was a time to remember a colleague and to learn more about what we did not know. The biographical information included in the memorial program told of Forbes growing up in California and his long college years during which he picked cherries, worked in the cannery and roamed around the country during which time he "met all kinds of people, from migrant laborers to fellow intellectuals. During this period he became active in progressive politics and causes." Forbes was born in 1928 and something that one of his three children or his wife Lynn mentioned in their eloquent comments caught my attention and upon returning home inspired me search the New York Times archives for mention of my former colleague.
A 1948 news item reported that "five campaign workers for Henry A. Wallace reported tonight that a band of men had dragged them from their headquarters here, and drove them ten miles out of town where they were released with a warning to 'stay out of Augusta'...Forbes Hill, 23 years old, had a black eye and a torn shirt and two of the women showed bruises when they reported the incident at Grovestown, GA., fifteen miles west of this city."
How much do we know about each other before it is too late?
November 11, 2008, Number 10645
Communication Research and Theory Network a service of the National Communication Association www.natcom.org/CRTNET
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Berlusconi, who has a history of controversial remarks, said the relative youth of Russian President , and Obama should make it easier for Moscow and Washington to work together.
Then, smiling, he said through an interpreter, "I told the president that he [Obama] has everything needed in order to reach deals with him: He's young, handsome and even tanned."
Medvedev did not visibly react.
Italy's only black lawmaker, Jean-Leonard Touadi, called the comment embarrassing.
I hope for a country at peace, with widely shared prosperity and a commitment to accessible health care for all, accessible higher education, and open, transparent government that leads with both action and clearly argued commitments.
I hope for a country where the fellow putting a new floor in our 35-year old house doesn't have to lose a tooth because he could not afford the $700 that a root canal, which would have saved the tooth, would cost him and his family.
I hope for a country that can provide support that honors the commitment of Nancy C., whom I drove to the polls on election day to vote for Barack Obama after she had spent six hours in chemotherapy and was exhausted and in pain.
I hope for a country where the college students in my classes at Penn State can graduate from college without massive debts that will hold them down for decades, shaping their career choices and limiting their lives when they could otherwise be doing more to serve the public good.
I have high hopes for relief, recovery, and real reform.
Congratulations on this magnificent campaign and this historic election; now let's roll up our sleeves and get to work.
Penn State University
But behind those episodes may be a greater subtext: anger within the McCain camp that Ms. Palin harbored political ambitions beyond 2008.
As late as Tuesday night, a McCain adviser said, Ms. Palin was pushing to deliver her own speech just before Mr. McCain’s concession speech, even though vice-presidential nominees do not traditionally speak on election night. But Ms. Palin met up with Mr. McCain with text in hand. She was told no by Mark Salter, one of Mr. McCain’s closest advisers, and Steve Schmidt, Mr. McCain’s top strategist.
I write to ask that you be understanding and flexible with students who may have been late for class or missed class due to issues surrounding their attempts to vote today. There were two issues: 1) long lines and several hour waiting periods at the polls, and 2) several students were denied provisional ballots because their permanent address is outside of our area.
Thankfully, the County Solicitor gave a ruling this afternoon that appropriately affirmed students' right to vote via provisional ballot. I have emailed all students suggesting that if they were denied the right to vote that they return to the polling precinct to request the right to vote via provisional ballot. Please see below the email message I sent to students.
I thank you for your understanding.
For those of you who attempted to vote today but were denied because of residency issues, the County Solicitor has ruled that you are entitled to vote.
Please return to the polling precinct and resubmit your request to vote. You should be issued a provisional ballot to allow you to vote in today's election.
If there is any further question or issue that you encounter, please ask the Judge of Elections at the polling precinct to call Ms. Ingrid Healy, the Director of Elections, at 693-3287 for clarification and approval.
You may need to be assertive in this request, but do not hesitate to do so, because as an American citizen it is your right to vote.
Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Ph.D.
Lori J. Bechtel-Wherry, Ph.D.
Penn State Altoona
3000 Ivyside Park
Altoona, PA 16601
Elezioni americane, -3. Il democratico si rivolge agli elettori. Ed è alle prese con la notizia di una zia clandestina che vive a Boston. Negli stati a rischio le ultime tappe della campagna elettorale. I sondaggi dicono che il senatore nero è sempre in vantaggio. Secondo Zogby, McCain si è avvicinatoExcelsior - Mexico City, Mexico --
Elections américaines : la fiabilité
des instituts de sondage en questionPeut-il perdre ? Les sondages peuvent-ils à ce point se tromper ? Ces interrogations peuvent paraître incongrues, tant tous pronostiquent une victoire du candidat démocrate Barack Obama à l'élection présidentielle du 4 novembre, même si la marge s'est un peu réduite en octobre.
The Guardian, United Kingdom --
McCain, Obama sweep battleground states in final push
Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama battled today in states that voted Republican in 2004 in the final, frenetic weekend of a long and grinding US presidential election campaign.Mr McCain was in Virginia looking to turn out the vote on Tuesday in a state that normally votes Republican but appears to be siding with Mr Obama.
Editorial: The US stands on the threshold of the new era it needs. Americans should elect Barack Obama
Why this man bites dog story? On Saturday night, after Penn State beat Ohio State in Ohio, there was a riot in State College.Friday, Oct. 31, 2008
By Sara Ganim