What was the coolest thing about Greenpeace's banner drop this week in DC? That the new ED of Greenpeace USA, Phil Radford, was part of it. There he is, they say.
I think the whole thing doesn't matter that that much; it's not like cloture votes during this congress have come down exactly on party lines, and that Specter will now necessarily vote for cloture whereas previously he would have voted against. Hardly.
Ok, this is just getting weird: Glenn Thrush of Politico reports today that the DCCC is criticizing Eric Cantor for supporting rail improvements between DC and Richmond, when Cantor was one of the ones who was on the mythical "don't fund the maglev to Disneyland!" bandwagon (a conspiracy theory that Harry Reid had secretly inserted funding in the stimulus bill for a maglev train from Las Vegas to Disneyland. In reality, part of the $8 billion in stimulus funds for high speed rail could go toward a Vegas-LA line, though it's not that likely, since it's not one of the corridors the rail administration has designed as a priority).
Cantor spokesman Brad Dayspring said the key difference between the Vegas-LA line and the Richmond-DC plan is that the latter has long been included on the DOT's list of "planned corridor" projects and the Harry-Reid-backed Vegas project isn't.]]
Everyone is doing their 100-days stories! And it's not even 100 days yet. Politico even had theirs up back on Friday, but it's not worth a link!
An email, from an airline, telling me about how I can be green? Really?
No matter what your stance is on today's environmental issues, there's no question that a cleaner, greener planet is good for all of us. Just by making small changes in your daily habits, you can help make the world a greener place!
Start by pledging to do One Thing That's Green. It's our way of honoring Earth Day today, April 22, and taking steps together to make a difference. Our goal is to inspire 22,000 people to pledge—help us get there by making the promise and passing it on!
I will reduce my shower time.
I will combine trips to use less gas or use public transit.
I will replace standard light bulbs with energy efficient ones.
I will wash my clothes in cold water as much as possible.
I will adjust my thermostat by 2 degrees F cooler during the heating season, and 2 degrees F warmer during the cooling season.
Obama's comments on Tuesday (transcript) -- not ruling out the prosecution of the architects of torture policy -- were a huge shift from the past.
From "Pressure Grows to Investigate Interrogations" on Tuesday's front page:
Mr. Obama said it was time to admit “mistakes” and “move forward.” But there were signs that he might not be able to avoid a protracted inquiry into the use of interrogation techniques that the president’s top aides and many critics say crossed the line into torture.
Others pushing for more investigation included Philip D. Zelikow, the former State Department counselor in the Bush administration. On his blog for Foreign Policy magazine and in an interview, Mr. Zelikow said it was not up to a president to rule out an inquiry into possible criminal activity. “If a Republican president tried to do this, people would be apoplectic,” he said.
It's been a busy few days on the torture front (see Daphne Eviatar for some great coverage).
"But at a time of great challenges and disturbing disunity, nothing will be gained by spending our time and energy laying blame for the past. Our national greatness is embedded in America's ability to right its course in concert with our core values, and to move forward with confidence. That is why we must resist the forces that divide us, and instead come together on behalf of our common future."
At a press event in DC yesterday, President Obama touted the two thousandth transportation project to receive federal stimulus funds. I'm speculating a bit here, but the White House probably had some discretion when choosing which item to highlight for this milestone. So did they pick a refurbished transit station? A new bike route? Perhaps a bridge repair project to signal that we're not going to repeat the mistakes that led to the I-35 bridge collapse in Minneapolis?
None of the above. The same president who proclaimed the days of building sprawl to be over boasted about the widening of a highway interchange near Portage, Michigan from four lanes to six.
The lefty blogs have been making another push in recent days and weeks to nail the Obama Administration for being so Bush-like in many of their policies on executive branch authority, legal status of detainees and other issues. Josh Gerstein of Politico covers the story with "Legal left cools toward Obama." It's not perfect but I think he mostly does a decent job bringing up some of what the Obama team has been up to of late and why it's significant.
USAToday jumps ahead of the 10 year Columbine anniversary (that's next Monday) with a story on the myths of the killings:
They weren't goths or loners.
The two teenagers who killed 13 people and themselves at suburban Denver's Columbine High School 10 years ago next week weren't in the "Trenchcoat Mafia," disaffected videogamers who wore cowboy dusters. The killings ignited a national debate over bullying, but the record now shows Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold hadn't been bullied — in fact, they had bragged in diaries about picking on freshmen and "fags."
Chris Cillizza, a popular favorite on washingtonpost.com who also writes for the print edition, can be a fun read. You think you're getting the real deal of what's going on in electoral politics (he covers a lot of upcoming congressional election stuff). But sometimes he writes stuff that is rather ridiculous.
With so few issues differentiating the candidates, primaries are decided on style and strategy -- things The Fix loves about politics.
In Sunday's Outlook section, the Washington Post gave space to Jamie Kirchick, an up-and-coming pundit, to write about how gay rights groups should declare victory and close shop when gay marriage is implemented in their states.
All Things Considered indulged in running this on Friday during their letters section:
Kevin Bee from New Orleans was reading other's online post and he writes this, one listener claimed that you were being too sympathetic to the Israeli cause by not highlighting Israel's aggression that started the conflict. Another listener suggested that you were sympathetic to Palestine by ignoring the violence caused by suicide bombers. In my opinion, he writes, if both extremes accuse you of being biased, it proves you are doing a good job, keep up the good work.
Last week, 10 Democratic Senators joined the Republicans (roll call) in decreasing the estate tax. They upped the minimum to a $5 million estate for individuals and $10 million for couples, and lowered the rates.
Darfur has been, relatively speaking, stable for the past few years. Not stable in a good way; stable in a 150 people being killed each month way. More than 2 million Darfuris are displaced from home, mostly living in various camps, mostly in Sudan and some in Chad. The situation continues to be terrible, though nothing at all like the mass killing of 2003-2005. The Darfuris in these camps are being fed and given basic medical care by a vast aid network.
The front page of Wednesday's NYT has "Iraq’s Newly Open Gays Face Scorn and Murder" --
The relative freedom of a newly democratic Iraq and the recent improvement in security have allowed a gay subculture to flourish here. The response has been swift and deadly.
In the past two months, the bodies of as many as 25 boys and men suspected of being gay have turned up in the huge Shiite enclave of Sadr City, the police and friends of the dead say. Most have been shot, some multiple times. Several have been found with the word “pervert” in Arabic on notes attached to their bodies, the police said.
Gay men and lesbians in Iraq have long been among the targets of both Shiite and Sunni death squads, but their murders have been overshadowed by the hundreds of overall weekly casualties during the height of sectarian violence in 2006 and 2007.
For a brief, exhilarating time, from the mid-1980s until the early 1990s, they say, gay night life flourished in Iraq. Whereas neighboring Iran turned inward after its Islamic revolution in 1979, Baghdad allowed a measure of liberation after the end of the Iran-Iraq war.
Abu Nawas Boulevard, which hugs the Tigris River opposite what is now the Green Zone, became a promenade known for cruising. Discos opened in the city’s best hotels, the Ishtar Sheraton, the Palestine and Saddam Hussein’s prized Al-Rasheed Hotel, becoming magnets for gay men. Young men with rouged cheeks and glossed lips paraded the streets of Mansour, an affluent neighborhood in Baghdad.
“There were so many guys, from Kuwait, from Saudi Arabia, guys in the street with makeup,” said Mr. Hili, who left Iraq in 2000. “Up until 1991, there was sexual freedom. It was a revolutionary time.”
Then came the Persian Gulf war, and afterward Saddam Hussein put an end to nightclubs. Iraq staggered under the yoke of economic sanctions. While antigay laws were increasingly enforced, Mohammed and Mr. Hili said they still felt safe. Homosexuality seemed accepted, as long as it was practiced in private. And even when it was not tolerated, prison time could be evaded with a well-placed bribe.
The American invasion was expected to usher in better times.
“We thought that with the presence of Americans, life would become paradise, that Iraq would be Westernized,” Mohammed said. “But unfortunately the way things were before was so much better than where we are now.”
Monday's "The Profile Police" (sub-head: Campus Officers Cruise Facebook, MySpace for Clues To School-Related Crimes, to Some Students' Chagrin) is as much about MySpace as it is about Facebook, but I think there's enough Facebook in it that it counts: it's the 12th front page story in the Washington Post that significantly focuses on Facebook. The stories are:
Have people heard of this? I hadn't, until I saw the article in the WSJ the other week. Apparently the cool thing to do (at least in some middle school somewhere) is to take a wrapped roll of Smarties, to crush them a little bit, and then to breath in from the end of the tube and exhale it like smoke. There are a bunch of videos on YouTube, though not tons. This one is basically amazing. Seems the trend has been around since at least Dec 2007.
Guardian newspaper to switch to all-Twitter format after 188 years in print.
"[Celebrated Guardian editor] CP Scott would have warmly endorsed this - his well-known observation 'Comment is free but facts are sacred' is only 36 characters long," a spokesman said in a tweet that was itself only 135 characters long.
Chicago's bid for the 2016 summer Olympics is back in the news -- an IOC team will be visiting town starting Thursday.