Mercury Rising 鳯女

Politics, life, and other things that matter

Archive for May 14th, 2009

Heroes walk among us

Posted by Charles II on May 14, 2009

Despite the existence of large numbers of noxious people with no obvious reason for existing, such as one Jules Crittendon, there are a remarkable number of genuinely brave people in this world who deserve to be celebrated.

Amy Kazmin, BBC:

Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning democracy advocate, is to be tried in Rangoon’s notorious Insein Prison for violating conditions of her house arrest after an incident in which an American allegedly swam across a lake to her compound then spent two nights inside.

Ms Suu Kyi, who has been confined to her dilapidated colonial-era bungalow since May 2003, was taken to Insein on Thursday and formally charged. The 63-year-old, who has suffered from low blood pressure and dehydration over the past week, is being held in a house on the prison compound until the trial, which is due to start on Monday.

The charges against Ms Suu Kyi, which carry a potential sentence of five years in prison and relate to the bar on her receiving visitors without government authorisation, have dismayed her supporters…

Sari Gelzer, Truthout:

In a victory for Lt. Ehren Watada, the Justice Department decided last week that it would drop attempts to retry the officer for his refusal to deploy to Iraq.

Watada faces two remaining charges stemming from his public statements on the illegal and immoral nature of the Iraq war. The fate of Watada’s continued legal limbo is currently in the hands of Fort Lewis officials who will decide how to proceed with the charges of conduct unbecoming an officer.

It has been almost three years since Watada became the first commissioned officer to publicly refuse to go to Iraq. His decision was not that of a conscientious objector opposed to war in general, but of an officer who felt that participating in the Iraq war was akin to committing a crime.

Posted in heroes, heroines | Comments Off on Heroes walk among us

Another reason to stop burning coal

Posted by Charles II on May 14, 2009

Emily Sohn, Discovery Channel posted on MSNBC, via t/o:

Ocean fish can contain high levels of mercury, even though mercury levels in the seawater around them are extraordinarily low. Now, scientists have an explanation for what’s going on.

A new study in the Pacific Ocean suggests that algae at the water’s surface absorb mercury from the atmosphere and then sink to mid-depths, where they decompose and release methylmercury, a highly toxic form of the metal that poisons both fish and the people who eat them.

Posted in environment | 3 Comments »

The high cost of tax cheats

Posted by Charles II on May 14, 2009

Howard Gleckman, Tax Vox at Brookings Tax Policy Center:

For years, lawmakers have been looking longingly at “the tax gap” as a way to help close the budget deficit. Each year Americans owe as much as $350 billion more in federal taxes than they pay. So, goes the argument, if we can only find ways to collect those dollars, we’d be a long way towards getting the fiscal house back in order.

Sadly, the more covetously the pols eye that $350 billion, the tougher it is for them to get at any of the money. Case in point: President Obama’s 2010 revenue proposals, released yesterday by the Treasury Dept. If ever there was a time to go after this pot of cash, you’d think it would be now considering that Obama is facing an eye-popping 2010 deficit of $1.8 trillion.

Yet, after scrubbing the Revenue Code, the Administration came up with 16 proposals to improve tax reporting and increase penalties for non-compliance. For all of that, Treasury estimates the IRS would collect an extra $10 billion over 10 years. Separately, the president is also proposing to hire another 800 revenue agents to take a harder look at sheltering of income overseas. That would generate another $17 billion over the next decade. It is a perfectly good idea to improve enforcement and otherwise crack down on tax cheats. But it isn’t going to do much to close a $350 billion annual gap.

…Obama’s effort to close the tax gap is yet more evidence that if Congress and the White House want to increase revenues to balance the budget, they are going to have to raise taxes. Tax cheats will not line up to do their civic duty. Free money is not going to fall from the sky.

The tax gap is real, and it is further evidence that the Revenue Code we have today is stressed to its limits. Congress and the president can only fix it by fixing it, not by tinkering around the edges

Posted in taxes | Comments Off on The high cost of tax cheats

“Don’t buy any food you’ve ever seen advertised.”

Posted by Charles II on May 14, 2009

Michael Pollan did an interesting segment on food on DemocracyNow. It dispensed some excellent advice, and I even found something very interesting on the way to trying to (and failing to) debunk one of his claims.

It was a wide-ranging discussion covering Chinese purchases of land in Africa (and their domestic agricultural problems) to the role of food in illness. He related how the pesticide industry was wroth over Michelle Obama’s announcement that she was planting an organic garden, treating it as disparagement and encouraging her to use their “crop protective products.”

Pollan said that he had discovered that the food industry had taken to running their marketing campaigns based on the health warnings he issued. So, for example, his admonition to avoid high-fructose corn syrup because it’s a marker of highly processed foods was twisted into health claims for soft drinks using sugar! I admit to admiring any marketing person audacious enough to develop verbal jujitsu that subtle, but what is brilliant can also be against our national interest.

Pollan’s simple advice was to avoid processed foods, don’t eat too much, and eat mostly plants, which is probably as close to ideal dietary advice as one can achieve in 25 words or less. He also made an interesting claim linking sugar with type II diabetes. While that’s an old hypothesis, in the course of trying to show that this is more of a correlation-causation thing, I discovered fascinating evidence that it’s not, sugar itself is a real, primary risk factor:

Novel findings suggest that “what makes a beta-cell a beta-cell”, i.e., its enormous capacity to synthesize and secrete insulin, is also its Achilles heel, rendering it vulnerable to chronic high glucose and fatty acid exposure, agents that contribute to beta-cell failure in type 2 diabetes.

Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in health issues, sustainability | 4 Comments »

The Pelosi-Graham Twofer

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 14, 2009

As Marcy “Emptywheel” Wheeler mentions this morning, former Senator Bob Graham was on WNYC’s “In The Know” show to state, among other things, that the CIA made up two “briefing sessions” that never happened.

And now Nancy Pelosi is also pushing back against CIA attempts to poison-pill and investigations into their roles as torturers by claiming that she was in on it:

In a just-completed Capitol Hill press conference, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said without equivocation that the CIA is lying when it implies that she was briefed in on the waterboarding of Abu Zubaydah. Pelosi stated that the CIA told her, in September 2002, that waterboarding was not among the “enhanced interrogation techniques” used on high value detainees. Reporting by Marcy—among others—now shows that the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah started at least a month earlier.

“They misled us every step of the way,” she said.

More to come on this. It’s already been demonstrated by Wheeler and TPM’s Greg Sargent that the CIA timelines are worthless. Maybe this might get the Traditional Media to stop uncritically accepting whatever comes out of the bowels of Bushie dead-enders at Langley?

Posted in 111th Congress, anti-truth, CIA, Pelosi, torture | Comments Off on The Pelosi-Graham Twofer

Cue The Psycho Right-Wing Screamers

Posted by Phoenix Woman on May 14, 2009

As Pareene of the now-essential Gawker (words I’d never thought I’d type) says, in reaction to the news that serious journalists read liberal blogs more than conservative ones:

For example, more journalists know about Michelle Malkin than Talking Points. Yet twice as many journalists actually read Talking Points than read Michelle Malkin.

Talking Points Memo features original reporting and analysis from a liberal perspective. is the crazed rantings of a racist psychopath. This is like saying “twice as many journalists read The Weekly Standard as pay attention to the Black Hebrew Israelites who hang out in midtown.”

Res ipsa loquitor.

Posted in blogs and blogging, media, working the refs | 1 Comment »

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