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Friday, June 20, 2008



Been with family the last few days and fallen behind.  Mia culpa, of course.  

House and Senate leaders have reached an agreement on surveillance legislation. If approved, and everyone expects it will be, the New York Times says it "would be the most significant revision of surveillance law in 30 years." Annoyingly, the big winner is President Bush. After battling with Democrats on the issue for months, the president got pretty much everything he wanted. "The White House got a better deal than they even hoped to get," Republican Sen. Christopher Bond said. Democratic leaders insisted that the deal is a compromise but were criticized by some of their own. Sen. Russ Feingold said the deal "is a capitulation."

One of the biggest disagreements in the surveillance debate involved whether to grant immunity to telecommunications companies that are facing dozens of lawsuits. Under the new agreement, the companies could get the lawsuits dismissed if they show a judge written assurances from the government that their cooperation with the warrantless surveillance was legal. Everyone agrees this is much the same as simply granting immunity because, as an ACLU lobbyist said, the companies "have to produce a piece of paper we already know exists." The measure also effectively expands the government's power to monitor foreign communications by allowing broad warrants targeting large groups of people at once. The government would have to get individual warrants to eavesdrop on Americans but could carry out warrantless surveillance for a week in emergency circumstances.  

Democratic leaders said the most important part of the compromise agreement involves the "exclusivity" language that spells out the surveillance law, which is the only legal way for the government to carry out its eavesdropping operations. Democrats insist the language would prevent the White House from getting around the law.

The WSJ thinks the agreement "was driven largely by the realities of election-year politics" as Democrats facing re-election in more conservative parts of the country worried about appearing soft on national security. Obama is now in the unenviable position of having to decide whether to anger the Democratic base by supporting the measure or risk losing the support of independent voters if he speaks up against it. Ultimately, "the surveillance powers may end up being a rare survivor of the administration's post-9/11 redrawing of national-security law."



Barack Obama has gone back on his pledge and reject public financing for the general election campaign, which will allow him to raise and spend an unlimited amount of money in the battle for the White House. It is impressive though, as a show of confidence. By turning down $84.1 million in federal money, Obama became the first major party candidate to reject public funds since the system was instituted in 1976. This is of great interest among those who fear the naivite of his supporters, who actually believe he can be something so different and able to function.  Also, the silence speaks to great hypocrisy, but McCain is so aswamp in it you cannot expect this to be an attack route for him.

Obama's decision to opt out of the public financing system wasn't entirely unexpected, but it immediately brought criticism from Republicans who accused the presumptive Democratic nominee of going back on an earlier pledge to accept public money. "This is a big, big deal," Sen. John McCain said before confirming that he would accept public financing.

The strategic advantages to Obama are clear as he is now "positioned to mount a general-election campaign on a scale the nation has never seen," notes the LAT. Obama has already has already raised hundreds of millions of dollars and as if to underscore his financial advantage, the presumptive nominee launched his first television advertisement of the general election that will air in 18 states, including several that have consistently voted for the Republican candidate in the past. The LAT notes that while Obama has always emphasized he intends to redraw the electoral map, with so much money on hand he could also choose to plunge millions into states he doesn't even expect to win simply to distract McCain and force him "to defend that territory."

Earlier in the campaign, Obama had pledged to "pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve the publicly financed system." Obama's campaign said they tried to reach an agreement with the Republican campaign, but McCain's aides said there were never any serious discussions on the issue. Yesterday, Obama justified his decision by saying that Republicans would spend millions of dollars in "smears and attacks." But the NYT highlights that there is no evidence so far that "Republicans will have the advantage when it comes to support from independent groups." A Republican strategist said Obama is "looking for ghosts that don't exist."

Responding to an editorial criticizing his move, Obama writes a column in USAT saying that the decision "wasn't an easy one." The Democrat writes that while he agrees "that we need to limit the influence of big donors" and will work to fix the system when he's elected, "the system as it stands doesn't work as it should." USAT's editorial board says Obama's promise to reform the system when he's president "reminds us of St. Augustine's famous prayer: 'Lord, make me chaste—but not yet.'"

The NYT says that Obama's decision means that the already-troubled public financing system is now "facing the most critical threat to its survival." Presidential campaigns have always found a way to get around the limits imposed by the post-Watergate system, but Obama's decision "may do more to shatter the system than all of the loopholes it has spawned." McCain may go down in history as the last major presidential candidate to accept public money.

The NYT's David Brooks has things right. In a scathing column, Brooks criticizes Republicans for being "saps" and thinking that they're "running against some naïve university-town dreamer" when in reality Obama is "the most effectively political creature we've seen in decades." Obama is a "split-personality politician" who says one thing but then demonstrates that he'd do anything to get elected. "He's the only politician of our lifetime who is underestimated because he's too intelligent."



USA Today says at least 18 more levees on the Mississippi River "are at high risk of being overwhelmed this week," illustrating how outdated much of the flood protection is in the area. Many of the 31 levees that have already failed to provide adequate protection in the region were built at least 30 years ago.



The NYT fronts word that a large-scale Israeli military exercise that was carried out in early June appeared to be a dress rehearsal for an attack on Iran's nuclear installations. No one thinks the exercise means that an attack will actually take place in the near future, but the fact that it was so large seemed designed to get attention from intelligence agencies around the world. "They wanted us to know, they wanted the Europeans to know, and they wanted the Iranians to know" that Israel is prepared to act if Iran continues on the path to build a nuclear weapon, a Pentagon official said.



In history, this day in 451, Roman and barbarian warriors, mostly German, brought Attila's army to a halt at the Catalaunian Plains in eastern France. Not for long, be it said.

On this day in 1756, 150 British soldiers - ish - with some women and children were imprisoned in a cell that became known as the "Black Hole of Calcutta." This was at the command of the Bengali, Siraj-ud-daula, and they were held there until the following morning. Of those imprisoned, only 23 survive.

It was this day in 1782 that the U.S. Congress approved the Great Seal of the United States. Although several early American politicians were Masons, the Masonic institutions themselves deny that the Seal is Masonic; therefore, any resemblance is purely coincidental.

In 1791, Louis XVI of France was captured while attempting to flee the country in the so-called Flight to Varennes.

Queen Victoria ascended the British throne and Lord Melbourne came to power following the death of her uncle, King William IV.

My home town in 1893 found Lizzie Borden innocent of the ax murders of her father and stepmother. The trial was held in New Bedford though the crime was in Fall River.

In 1947, Benjamin "Bugsy" Siegel was murdered in Beverly Hills at the order of mob associates angered over the soaring costs of his project, the Flamingo resort in Las Vegas.



In 1967, Muhammad Ali was convicted in Houston of violating Selective Service laws by refusing to be drafted. The U.S. Supreme Court later overturned the conviction.

In 1977, this day, the Trans-Alaska Pipeline began operation.

This was the day in 1979 - so long ago, yet it seems yesterday- that ABC News correspondent Bill Stewart was shot to death in Managua, Nicaragua, by a member of President Anastasio Somoza's national guard. It was caught live on camera by his team.  Peter Jennings' cold anger was palpable, and you could literally hear the nation going lock'n'load. Somoza was dead from then on.

In 1997, the tobacco industry agreed to a massive settlement in exchange for major relief from mounting lawsuits and legal bills.

On June 20, 2001, Houston mother Andrea Yates drowned all of her five children, one after another, in the bathtub, then notified the authorities. Yates is later sentenced to life in prison which is overturned. She was on medication for post-partum depression and had recently attempted suicide. Her husband, who apparently wanted a large family divorced her, married again, has another family going.

Finally, in 2002, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the execution of mentally retarded murderers was unconstitutionally cruel. The vote was 6 in favor and 3 against.


Wednesday, June 18, 2008



Here in Boulder the Damned, the two guys who tasered each other some weeks back aren't going to trial, probably because everyone is so embarrassed. It does bring to mind the iffy status of security guards and what their actual role in the feeding trough of peace officers is.  I'm still not sure, but then I'm not convinced the walk lights have legal standing, either.



Vaguely good news out of Burma, where relief workers are coming back from some of the areas devastated by Cyclone Nargis with reports that survivors aren't doing as badly as initially feared. Of course, this doesn't mean survivors aren't struggling to stay alive, but there's little evidence that the delay in reaching the Irrawaddy Delta led to large numbers of deaths or disease outbreaks.

Relief workers say that the main reason why the predictions of massive amounts of deaths among survivors of Cyclone Nargis never materialized has to do with the nature of the disaster. Most who died in the cyclone drowned, and those who survived were unlikely to need urgent medical assistance. The Burmese are used to being ignored by their government, so villagers took matters into their own hands and managed to survive by relying on food that was immediately available. And while the international world was focused on the military junta's reluctance to allow foreign aid, Burmese citizens and monks were busy carrying out large relief efforts that many now credit with preventing mass starvation. Still, the good news is all relative, and relief workers emphasize that they continue to face obstacles from the government to carry out their work as thousands of survivors still don't have enough food or adequate shelter and remain vulnerable to disease.



A car bomb that exploded in a predominantly Shiite area of Baghdad and killed at least 51 people early today. It was the deadliest bombing in Iraq's capital in three months. Of course, angry Shiites called for revenge after the bomb ripped through a crowded marketplace in the Huriya district. Although residents were quick to blame Sunni extremists, the NYT, which is alone in fronting the news, talked to an American military spokesman who said "a special group extremist," meaning Shiite militants, claimed responsibility for the attack that was supposedly aimed at killing coalition forces. But the spokesman was careful to emphasize that since no coalition forces were injured, the U.S. military is questioning "the validity of the claim" of responsibility.

The rising Mississippi River threatens to break through levees in several towns that continue to rely on outdated flood protection. A review done by the paper found that at least 17 levees in the affected region "are too low to hold off a 100-year flood."

Barack Obama and John McCain are fighting, which yesterday focused on terrorism and who would do a better job at keeping Americans safe. It is nice to see Obama not only not backing down, but straining the leash. It all began when McCain's camp said Obama has an "extremely naive approach to terrorism" and accused the presumptive Democratic nominee of wanting to treat terrorists like ordinary criminals. Obama fought back and said those who are criticizing him are the same people who let Osama Bin Laden get away and "helped to engineer the distraction of the war in Iraq."

Yesterday's heated exchanges marked the first time that the two presumptive nominees have engaged on the issue of terrorism. The Post says the intensity of the back-and-forth "demonstrated that both sides are confident that they have a winning message on the issue." In 2004, many think President Bush managed to sway undecided voters by pushing the idea that Sen. John Kerry had a pre-Sept. 11 mindset when it came to dealing with terrorism. The way Obama quickly fought back against that assertion shows he's willing to engage in the debate and take it a step further by arguing that the way this administration has dealt with terrorism has been nothing short of a failure.

New documents released by congressional investigators yesterday  suggest the CIA played a larger role in advising Pentagon officials on tough interrogation techniques than was previously known. The top lawyer at the CIA's Counterterrorism Center defended the harsh techniques and explained that the definition of what constitutes torture "is basically subject to perception." He helpfully added: "If the detainee dies, you're doing it wrong." True, a clue, surely. The documents illustrate how military officials were confused about what was allowed and gathered opinions from other government agencies before implementing the techniques despite objections from lawyers and others in the military who said they were probably illegal.

In yet another damaging revelation that isn't getting coverage, the documents show that lawyers openly discussed cutting down on the harsher techniques when observers from the Red Cross were present. McClatchy - again, that chain does good work - does emphasize this bit of news and notes that a senior CIA lawyer said during a 2002 meeting that it was common practice to move detainees in order to avoid the prying eyes of Red Cross officials. But McClatchy also points out that the documents don't specify whether U.S. officials "moved the detainees from one place to another or merely told the ICRC they were no longer present at a facility."



Yesterday was the first full day of legalized same-sex marriages in California. Hundreds of couples, including Star Trek actor George Takei and his partner, Brad Altman, descended on courthouses and city halls across the state to get married. By the end of the day, more than 2,300 marriage licenses had been issued, and the ceremonies largely went off without a hitch as opponents of same-sex marriage remained mostly silent as they continued planning their campaign to overturn last month's state Supreme Court decision that allowed the unions. "We are silent today, but we're just biding our time," one activist said. Whatever.  But I remain awed at how FEW gay marriages there have been, which strikes me that the numbers of gay people have been exaggerated through the years.

Equally big news in California and Florida, Bush will call on Congress today to repeal the federal ban on offshore oil drilling. The announcement came hours after McCain said he wants the ban lifted so states can decide whether drilling should be allowed off their coastlines. Florida's Republican governor, Charlie Crist, followed McCain's lead and reversed his long-standing opposition to offshore drilling. Coincidently, Crist is widely considered to be on the shortlist of possible vice-presidential candidates. The NYT says Bush is currently considering whether to repeal an executive order signed by his father in 1990 that banned offshore drilling, but the White House emphasized the president wants Congress to act first. I'll bet.

The NYT's David Leonhardt points out that "there are some big unanswered questions about Mr. McCain's economic plans. And we in the media have largely overlooked those questions so far." Simply put, what McCain says on the campaign trail simply doesn't match what he tells "budget wonks" who look at the details of each candidate's proposals to see what effect they'd have on the deficit. Although neither Obama nor McCain seems terribly serious about getting rid of the budget deficit, "the unknowns about the McCain agenda are simply on a different scale."

The LAT interviews the infamous Iraqi informant known as Curveball, who gave Western intelligence officials information about supposed weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and finds that he still insists he was telling the truth. Rafid Ahmed Alwan wasn't eager to speak to reporters, but "in a series of sometimes reluctant interviews," he said he's being blamed for the mistakes of others. Germany's intelligence agency believed much of what he told them soon after he began seeking political asylum, but if government officials had bothered to do a little digging, they would have found that Alwan was famous for being a dishonest man. He constantly lied and "was not embarrassed when caught in a lie," a former supervisor said. The trend seems to continue. "Everything I said was true," Alwan said. "For what I've done, I should be treated like a king." Yes. Charles I, for example.



In history, this day, the War of 1812 began with our declaration of war against Great Britain. The conflict began over trade restrictions.

Three years to the day later, Napoleon was defeated in the Battle of Waterloo, partly because of an inability to properly survey the battlefield (possibly due to a case of inflamed hemorrhoids). He faced an an international army under the Duke of Wellington, and abdicated on June 22.

Twelve years after, London's Waterloo Bridge opened over the River Thames and designed by John Rennie.

On this day in 1900, the Empress Dowager of China ordered all foreigners killed. Among those meeting this fate are the foreign diplomats, their families, as well as hundreds of Christian missionaries and their Chinese converts.

In 1918, the German offensive, and Army, having collapsed,  Allied forces on the Western Front began their counter-attack which won the war.

It was in 1936 that Charles ‘Lucky’ Luciano was found guilty on 62 counts of compulsory prostitution, a charge we might see again applied to others.

In 1959, a Federal Court annulled the Arkansas law allowing school closings to prevent integration.

In 1967, John Phillips helped organize the Monterey Pop Festival, and this day famed guitarist Jimi Hendrix burned his guitar on stage and changed a few heads.

In 1983, Dr. Sally Ride became the first American woman in space aboard the space shuttle Challenger.

Here in Colorado, this day in 1984, the Jewish talk show host Alan Berg was murdered in the driveway of his Denver home by members of The Order, a neo-Nazi group partially inspired by the novel The Turner Diaries. Two white supremacists were convicted of civil rights violations in the murder.


Tuesday, June 17, 2008



Barack Obama and John McCain are running even among political independents. McCain has a clear lead among this crucial group of voters on dealing with terrorism while Obama is seen as better equipped to handle a variety of domestic issues. The two presumptive nominees are pretty much evenly split on who would be better on Iraq. Overall, Obama leads McCain 48 percent to 42 percent among all adults and 49 percent to 45 percent among registered voters. I suspect a blowout for Obama, especially after the debates.

A majority believes McCain would run the country much like President Bush, which is a bad sign for the Republican nominee when unhappiness with the direction of the country continues to increase. In total, 84 percent say that the country is on the wrong track. Read that again.

McCain also faces a clear "enthusiasm gap" as many more said they're "very enthusiastic" about Obama, a trend that carries over even to the supporters of the presumptive nominees. But enthusiastic or not, McCain has the support of almost nine in 10 Republicans, while Obama still has clear scars from the long primary fight as "not quite eight in 10 Democrats" said they support him, while "nearly a quarter" of Clinton supporters said they'd rather see McCain win in November. I do not believe that.  No Democrat would vote for McCain over Obama, that's GOP misinformation.

In order to increase economic growth, the WSJ says Obama would "rely on a heavy dose of government spending," including a plan to spend $15 billion a year for 10 years on energy technology. Obama also emphasized that the government must use its power to redistribute income. The presumptive Democratic nominee noted he might back a decrease in corporate tax rates as part of a package that would simplify the system by reducing existing loopholes.

In a NYT op-ed piece, Tony Horwitz has a bad idea that could help Obama gain the support of blue-collar voters: "Lose the Nicorette. Light up instead." Statistics show lower-income Americans with a high-school education are more likely to smoke and some key swing states have a large number of smokers. "Bottom line: small-towners in the Rust Belt and Appalachia don't cling to guns and religion so much as they do cigarettes."



The New York Times leads with an interesting look at how the tables have turned in relations between China and the United States. It wasn't so long ago that U.S. officials were busy criticizing China for its economic policies, but now Chinese officials are doling out the criticism and saying that American officials should spend more time fixing problems in their own back yard before trying to implement changes in an economy that has continued to grow at a strong pace. The new criticism reflects a "new sense of self-confidence" that is "bolstered by the lame-duck status of the Bush administration." This combination means that American officials are unlikely to get any significant concessions from the Chinese in the latest round of economic talks this week. No kidding. True around the world.  Heard anything about Condi of late?

USA Today says companies from Europe and Asia are starting to invest more heavily in Iraq than those from the United States now that the security situation has improved. Some say U.S. companies could lose out on early opportunities if they don't step up efforts to do business with the war-ravaged country. Given the resentment we've generated, go figure. The Pentagon official who is in charge of efforts to rebuild the Iraqi economy says "it's ironic" that "the people who are getting in on the ground floor are not American." No, it isn't.  It was predictable and was in fact predicted.

The senior civilian official who was in charge of overseeing the military's largest contract in Iraq during the first two years of the war tells the NYT he was pushed out of his job after refusing to approve more than $1 billion in payments to KBR. The official, Charles Smith, told KBR that it would have to provide clear spending records before the Pentagon would approve payment. After he was "suddenly replaced," most of the payments were approved (until last year, KBR was a subsidiary of Halliburton, the company where Vice President Dick Cheney served as chief executive). Army officials insist Smith, who worked for the Army for 31 years before retiring in February, wasn't removed from his position because of the dispute with KBR. But Smith tells a different story and says he was constantly pressured to look the other way and ignore KBR's accounting irregularities. There had better be criminal proceedings against these contractors.

Senior Pentagon officials began compiling lists of harsh interrogation techniques that could be used on detainees at Guantanamo months before commanders at the camp requested guidance on how to deal with uncooperative prisoners. A Pentagon official previously suggested that the tougher interrogation techniques came out of a request from Guantanamo commanders. The investigation also found that Pentagon lawyers had raised concerns about the legality of the techniques a month before they were approved, which - yawn - contradicts previous statements by top Bush officials.

In Afghanistan, hundreds of Taliban invaded and took control of seven villages outside Kandahar, the country's second-largest city. The development came three days after hundreds of Taliban members escaped a Kandahar prison in an attack that appeared to be well planned, not that it needed to be. The NYT covers a Taliban commander who is working out of Pakistan to coordinate attacks inside Afghanistan.  He does this with the help of al-Qaida and other terrorist groups. These "combined terrorist-insurgent networks" have not only provided plenty of recruits but have also allowed insurgents to increase the sophistication of their attacks, which was evident in last week's prison break.



The Los Angeles Times has new data suggesting rising gas prices might affect the housing market. Home prices in Southern California dropped 27 percent in May from a year ago, and the plunge was even greater in far-out suburbs. Analysts say the housing market in the so-called exurbs might never fully recover, as people are increasingly reluctant to move far away from their jobs because of increasing commuting costs

What nobody points out is how few there are, how few gays want to get married, how few gays there are, all told. The LAT covered the first legal same-sex marriage in Los Angeles County. A few other localities in California did also after they officially became legal at 5:01 p.m. and many more gay and lesbian couples are expected at clerks' offices today when counties across the state will be issuing marriage licenses. The LAT notes that the couples who were first to marry "could have been selected by central casting to appear both nonthreatening and mainstream." It's all part of an effort by proponents of same-sex marriage to control what kind of images are released of the ceremonies so as not to scare voters who will go to the polls in November to decide whether the state Constitution should be amended to forbid the unions. "One of the things about the gay and lesbian community is we're known for our outrageousness, our flamboyance," a West Hollywood lawmaker said. "But we're under this incredible political pressure not to have those portrayals."



In history this day in 362, the Apostate Emperor Julian issued an edict banning Christians from teaching in Syria.

This dayin 1579, Sir Francis Drake claimed San Francisco Bay for England.

In 1856, the Republican Party opened its first national convention in Philadelphia.

It was this day in 1876 that General George Crook’s command was attacked and bested on the Rosebud River by 1,500 Sioux and Cheyenne under the leadership of Crazy Horse.

In 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City aboard the French ship Isere.

This day in 1924, the Fascist militia marched into Rome.

In 1928, the dubious aviatrix Amelia Earhart began the flight that made her the first woman to successfully fly across the Atlantic Ocean.

It was this day in 1950 that Dr. Richard H. Lawler performed the first kidney transplant in a 45-minute operation in Chicago, IL.

In 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court banned the required reading of the Lord's prayer and Bible in public schools.

For those given to rosy eared recollections of the Watershed year of 1968, on this day that year the Ohio Express' "Yummy Yummy Yummy (I've got love in my tummy)" went gold.  Let me repeat....In 1972, this day, the "plumbers" broke into Democratic National Committee Headquarters in the Watergate complex, in the course of what President Nixon would later describe as a "third rate burglary." In actuality, it is an attempt by the Republican Party to illegally wiretap the opposition. Five men were eventually arrested, all of whom worked for the reelection of President Nixon. Thus began Watergate.

Two years to the day later, the IRA exploded a bomb in London's Houses of Parliament. An hour before, the IRA called to warn of the threat,  but officers fail to clear the building in time and 11 are killed.

In 1991, the Parliament of South Africa repealed the Population Registration Act. The act had required that all South Africans for classified by race at birth.

This day in 1994, O.J. Simpson failed to turn himself in to the LAPD at a prearranged time. He is later spotted in a white Ford Bronco on a Los Angeles expressway. After a low-speed pursuit through the freeways and streets of Brentwood, O.J. was finally arrested live on television in the driveway of his mansion. According to one of the defense attorneys who served on O.J.'s "Dream Team," Simpson tried to kill himself in the car, but the gun misfired. The Juice allegedly told him: "I pulled the trigger and it didn't go off." Afterwards, Simpson was arrested and charged with the murders of Nicole Simpson and Ronald Goldman.


Monday, June 16, 2008

"Your Eminence, you're looking good." Our President to Pope Benedict XVI, who apparently took it in stride. I'd thought a Pope was above a mere Eminence, but I don't really care.



Flood-devastated Iowa, which Boulder would do well to study (although our's will be far more swift and shorter lasting) allows the media to segue into the disaster's impact on crops. As flood waters rolled, they are taking a major toll on the area's farms just weeks after the seeds have gone into the ground. With food prices at record highs, it's the last time a farmer would want to lose a crop. More than 1 million acres have been washed out. "In the lean years, we had beautiful crops but they weren't worth much," one farmer says. "Now, with commodity prices sky high, mother nature is throwing us all these curve balls."  

Water runs downhill, and as it does, it will find the Mississippi River, which is expected to crest in the middle of next week. The calamity sent food commodity prices even higher.

The WP looks at an effort in Congress to preserve 2 million acres of wilderness, an amount equal to what it has saved over the last five years. A confluence of factors—Democratic control of Congress, communities' increasing recognition that they actually need environments in which to live, and environmentalists' recognition that they must offer concessions to move forward—mean that 2 million acres could be protected under federal control.

"It may not seem like it on most issues, but in this one arena Congress is getting things across the goal line," Mike Matz, executive director of the advocacy group Campaign for America's Wilderness, tells the Post. "Nobody gets everything they want, but by coming together, talking with age-old adversaries and seeking common ground, wilderness protection is finding Main Street support and becoming motherhood-and-apple-pie." Good.  Now, population control.

Lawmakers and environmentalists are also raising President Bush's record of opening wilderness to extraction

In USAT, coverage of nationwide increases in electric bills, the result of climbing coal and natural gas prices. Why coal prices? The paper says coal has doubled in the last year largely due to surging demand in India and China, but those two countries certainly haven't doubled their energy usage in a year, and China is crawling in coal. Either way, bills are expected to rise by as much as 29 percent. Price gouging.

The Los Angeles Times has a feature on the opportunities presented to state Republicans by California's disastrous financial situation. In reality, a profile in bipartisan cowardice. Lawmakers have missed the constitutionally mandated June 1 deadline to enact a budget. Democrats are offering a range of new taxes but not specifying what they want to tax, and Republicans are offering a bunch of spending cuts but not specifying what they want to cut. The state GOP is instead using the opportunity to press its legislative agenda: In order to pass the budget, Democrats may need to repeal environmental and labor laws normally addressed outside the spending bill.

Worse, the Wall Street Journal gleefully announces Big Oil plans to ask Congress to allow more drilling in the United States. Democrats may have struck on an ingenious way to deflect it: Drill what you have. WSJ reports that the amount of available and leased land in production has declined in the last few years and is down to 27 percent. Big Oil says that Congress doesn't understand how the industry works and that it takes time to get land under production.

The Journal notes, however, that Wall Street tends to value oil companies based on reserves, rather than production, providing an incentive for a company to drag its corporate feet. Meanwhile, portraying Big Oil as a collection of greedy scoundrels may not prove politically difficult. The industry is still sending three-quarters of its campaign contributions in the 2008 election cycle to the GOP. In Congress, you often get what you pay for, public calls for more drilling notwithstanding.

Two Bear Stearns managers may be facing indictments, says the WSJ. THAT could provide good testimony.

The euphemistic-phrase-of-the-year award has a strong candidate in a New York Times Page One piece on Obama's executive management skills. It's important to gauge how he runs a large operation, notes the Times, "as the country absorbs the lessons of President Bush's tenure in the Oval Office." ("Absorbs the lessons" is certainly one way of putting it. Struggle to understand, won't you?) Obama, say Zeleny and Rutenberg, "is personally even-keeled, but can be prickly when small things go wrong." No kidding. They call him "a concerned but not obsessive manager" who routinely communicates by BlackBerry—what happens if the president loses his?—and delegates many decisions and most tasks to a core group of staffers. Unlike the current White House tenant, Obama is a night owl, sending messages into the morning hours.

Obama also allows himself to be overruled on issues he doesn't find to be crucial. He apparently disliked the slogan "Change We Can Believe In" and thought his blue and white logo was too corporate and polished-looking.

The LAT addresses the human cost of sugar ethanol and finds it quite steep. Low pay, long hours, and exposure to toxic chemicals make for the foundations of a rotten workday. In much of Brazil, sugarcane is still harvested manually, much as it was by slave labor more than a century ago.

The piece includes the requisite protest-too-much quote from an industry hack. "If there is an industry that has bettered the situation of the worker, it is the sugar cane industry," said Rodolfo Tavares of Brazil's National Confederation of Agriculture, a trade group. "It's an example for the world." No doubt it is.



In history, on June 16, 1750 BC, lawgiver King Hammurabi died in Babylon, now Iraq, and was succeeded by his son Samsu-iluna.

In 455 CE, Rome was sacked by the Vandal army.

Finally, in 1487, the War of the Roses ended with the Battle of Stoke.

It was on this day in 1858, in a speech in Springfield, Illinois, U.S. Senate candidate Abraham Lincoln said the slavery issue had to be resolved. He declared, "A house divided against itself cannot stand."

In 1952, "Anne Frank: Diary of a Young Girl" was published in the United States.

This day in 1958, Hungarian prime minister Imre Nagy was hanged for treason. He had been the prime minister during the 1956 uprising that was crushed by Soviet tanks. In 1989, Nagy was reburied. The funeral brought at least a quarter of a million people to the streets of Budapest.

On June 16, 1959, while entertaining friends at his home, George Reeves - in the original Superman TV series he played the hero - committed suicide with a 9mm German Luger.

A year to the day later, Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho opened in New York. And scared the bejesus out of people, without a doubt.In 1961, the remarkable Rudolf Nureyev defected from the Soviet Union while in Paris, traveling with the Leningrad Kirov Ballet.

In 1976, this day, thousands of school children revolted against the South African government's plan to enforce Afrikaans as the language for instruction in black schools. Later, they fought for it.

In 1978, U.S. President Carter and Panamanian leader Omar Torrijos ratified the Panama Canal treaties. And we were out of there.

In 1987, a jury in New York acquitted Bernhard Goetz of attempted murder in the subway shooting of four young blacks he said were going to rob him. He was convicted of illegal possession of a weapon. In 1996 a civil jury ordered Goetz to pay $43 million to one of the people he shot.

In 1996, Russian voters had their first independent presidential election. Boris Yeltsin was the winner after a run-off.

In 2000, U.S. Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson reported that an employee at the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico had discovered that two computer hard drives were missing.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

"There is not a liberal in this country worthy of kissing Bush's rear end, but the weakest members of the herd run from Bush. Compared to the lickspittles denying and attacking him, Bush is a moral giant." So says Ann Coulter, the wet dream of the repressed few heterosexual Republicans left, and who isn't worthy of anything.
A U.N. arms inspector's report that an international ring of smugglers obtained blueprints for an advanced nuclear weapon and may have shared them with a number of rogue states, is terrifying the planet today. Of course, the problem is the industrial might to manufacture it. Also?  It sounds like a Bush plant, although they're incompetent enough to make it true.

The plans could significantly aid nations like Iran and North Korea in adding nuclear elements to their ballistic weaponry. If true.  

The nuclear blueprints were discovered on a computer belonging to rogue Pakistani scientist Abdul Qadeer Khan but that investigators "have not been able to determine whether they were sold to Iran or the smuggling ring's other customers." The Times also curiously reports that some of the blueprint's details appear in the Sunday Washington Post, but the WP's "details" are few and far between. The WP divulges only that the plans included both instructions for building a "compact nuclear device" that could be fitted to the sort of ballistic missile used by Iran and for a second, more complex nuclear weapon.

The New York Times has a 1974 foreign policy essay written for the National War College by Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. The essay, which discusses the reasons some American prisoners succumbed to enemy pressure during the Vietnam War, including himself, reveals a long-standing irritation with the American government for failing to educate the public about crucial aspects of foreign policy.

McCain wrote, as summarized by the paper, that "Americans captured after 1968 had proven to be more susceptible to North Vietnamese pressure, because they had been exposed to the divisive forces which had come into focus as a result of the antiwar movement in the United States." McCain recommended more education to ensure that soldiers thoroughly understood and supported U.S. policy—an approach that, while certain to draw criticism, might solidify a soldier's resolve in crucial encounters with enemy forces. The essay also sheds light on other aspects of McCain's political psyche, including his habit of averting conflict by making peace with former enemies. Reporter David D. Kirkpatrick backs up his lengthy piece with gripping details from McCain's war history, interspersed with commentary from the senator himself.

The Los Angeles Times fronts, at least online, some gay couples' doubts about rushing to the courthouse for a marriage license when they become available in California this week. The NYT focuses on the four years since Massachusetts legalized homosexual marriage in 2004, noting that the number of marriages has dropped every year, which in aggregate sort of shoots down the gay fronts claims of mass numbers of gays. Some have ended in divorce, while others, facing the new world of dilemmas that legal marriage presents, are hesitant to take vows in the first place. The LAT notices similar cold feet in California, except this time it's before the ruling even takes effect (marriage licenses for same-sex couples are officially available in the Golden State on Tuesday).

A front-page WP story charts the rapid rise of single-gender public-school classrooms, an experiment that many believe will help eliminate some of the chronic problems facing public education. "The approach is based on the much-debated yet increasingly popular notion that girls and boys are hard-wired to learn differently and that they will be more successful if classes are designed for their particular needs," the story explains. Since most public schools trying gender segregation are still in experimental phase, there is little hard evidence to suggest that the approach will be as revolutionary as some educators hope; parents, however, seem to be overwhelmingly receptive to the idea.

More on the credit crisis, using the stories of multiple players in the subprime mortgage saga to chronicle its rise and fall. Part 1 in the WP (the others will follow Monday and Tuesday) deals in timelines and back story, delivering more narrative than analysis. The nutshell: The housing bubble that began in the mid-'90s was "a way to harness the inventiveness of the capitalist system to give low-income families, minorities and immigrants a chance to own their homes. But it also is a classic story of boom, excess and bust, of homeowners, speculators and Wall Street dealmakers happy to ride the wave of easy money even though many knew a crash was inevitable."

An op-ed by former Clinton speechwriter Ted Widmer in the LAT insists that "America isn't over," responding to announcements that we live in a "post-American world." Widmer notes the array of popular books trumpeting the rise of Brazil, Russia, India, and China and argues that "to just throw in the towel, as so many of these new books seem to do, seems a little un-American. It also ignores a mother lode of history that points to the opposite conclusion."

In history, this day in 1215, King John of England put his seal on the Magna Carta and his doom.  In 1381, the English peasant revolt was crushed in London as the peasants tried to unite crown and people against the nobility.

It was this day in 1389 that the Ottoman Turks crushed Serbia in the Battle of Kosovo, for which blood is still shed.

On June 15, 1405, Petros Philargos was elected Pope Alexander V by the Council of Pisa. There already was a Pope in Rome, Gregory XII, and another in Avignon, Benedict XII. Ultimately, none of the three was willing to step down, leading the Chuch into a double schism. Fun.

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin experimented by flying a kite during a thunderstorm. The result was a little spark that showed the relationship between lightning and electricity.

It was this day in 1904 that the steamboat General Slocum erupted in fire killing more than 1,000 in New York City's East River.

In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court reinforced its position on abortion by striking down state and local restriction on abortions.

In 1992, U.S. Vice President Dan Quayle instructed a student to spell "potato" with an "e" on the end during a spelling bee. He had relied on a faulty flash card that had been written by the student's teacher. Um.  So?

On June 15, 1993, the Washington Times reported that at least 1,416 Boy Scout leaders had been expelled for molestation since 1973. Of course, those were only the ones who actually got caught.The true incompetence of the Simpson prosecution, which should have been a slam dunk, came this day in 1995.  O.J. was asked to put on a pair of gloves. The gloves were said to have been worn by the killer on the night of the murders of Nicole Brown and Ronald Goldman. The gloves appeared not to fit. Because, predictably, they shrunk.  D'oh!
Saturday, June 14, 2008



With the rather embarrassing and over the top eulogies for Tim Russert on NBC yesterday, I'd like to mention that Harry Smith on CBS did the most moving and effective sendoff: respectful, personal, true, and heartfelt. Further, at the end of the show, CBS had no hesitation of showing a photo of Russert with the NBC logo behind it.  "He was in that chair for us.  And we were damned glad he was," said Smith. Take a minute and a half for "Tim Russert's Legacy." Worth it.  How it's done right.

Smith is a long under-appreciated gem, and CBS made a bad error going with Couric as opposed to him. I'd also like to say it's time to put Tom Brocaw out to pasture.  He isn't Walter Cronkite, and his increasingly unseemly smirk was remarkably out of place in his sendoff. It's undoubted he and Russert were close, and his thoughts at such times may lead to smiles, but Brocaw never was 'all that' and NBC looks foolish pretending he was.

The WP's Howard Kurtz credits Tim Russert with revolutionizing Sunday morning television, which is way over the top.  "Meet the Press" actually owes everything to Lawrence Spivak, it's first host who thought of it in the 1940's.  Spivak was well thought of by H. L. Mencken, despite the fact he was Jewish, a supposed Mencken no-no.  Back then, it was a really boring show absent real interest, but a break: it was the 1950's, and nobody knew what the medium would be like, or what its audience would stand. In any case, Spivak deserves the credit, here.

Still, Kurtz reports that news of Russert's death swept the capital like a shock wave and that cable news treated the event like the death of a head of state. The LAT print-edition headline calls Russert the "Everyman of TV politics." The NYT says he played an "increasingly outsize role in the news media's coverage of politics."

Russert died while recording an introduction for Meet the Press in an NBC sound booth.

Saudi Arabia is planning to increase its oil production by a half-million barrels a day. And? That they want to do so is a sign that the world's largest oil exporter is nervous about the worldwide political and economic consequences of high oil prices, says the NYT. Not fear of Bush. The high prices could eventually lead to reduced demand as alternative fuels threaten the oil-based economy. The Times obtained this information with anonymous analysts who asked not to be identified. The White House welcomed the news, but some of the secret analysts are skeptical that Saudi Arabia even has the capacity to increase production.

The Washington Post leads locally with a three-clicker on a power failure that severely disrupted downtown D.C. yesterday morning, exposing the vulnerability of the city's infrastructure.

The WP's top national spot goes to key Iraqi leaders' delivering setbacks to the United States, with the prime minister rejecting long-term plans for a U.S. troop presence and an opposition leader calling for renewed resistance. Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, during a trip to Jordan, said that negotiations had reached a "dead end" between U.S. and Iraqi politicians for a continued U.S. presence in the country. And Moqtada al-Sadr, the anti-American Shiite cleric, beckoned his followers to begin a new offensive against U.S. troops. A Sadr spokesman says the plan is to reorganize Sadr's Mahdi Army from a militia into a peaceful organization with a single secretive wing devoted to attacking American forces. Both developments represent major setbacks to the Bush administration, says the WP.

The Los Angeles Times leads with the weakening political clout of the National Rifle Association, which may have become a victim of its own success because Democratic politicians are weary of and voters are bored with gun issues.

The Wall Street Journal and NYT say that voters in Ireland rejected a plan to strengthen the European Union. Therefore, they continue dubiously, Europe is in turmoil.  Ireland squashed a treaty that would have given the European Union its first president, created an EU diplomatic service, and made it easier for the bloc to make decisions. All 26 member nations need to ratify the treaty for it to pass. Irish folks rejected the plan for a number of reasons, including fears that it might force the country to raise its low corporate taxes or bring cheap imports that would hurt local agriculture.

Sightings of unidentified flying objects above a town in Texas have utterly taken it over. The wife of a trucking company owner begged her husband not to tell anybody that he thought he'd seen strange lights one night, but the man immediately called newspapers the next morning and discovered he was not alone. During the ensuing media frenzy, a Japanese film crew promulgated the theory that aliens were buzzing the town because they love milk and the town has lots of cows. Soon, there were T-shirts. But nobody claims to have seen little green men.

Record flooding in Iowa has forced massive evacuations and destroyed crops. The Times emphasizes that the entire Midwest region is suffering from extreme weather, while the Post focuses more closely on Iowa. Both papers compare the current situation to the massive flooding that occurred in 1993.

I love this. The NYT fronts a piece on information overload—too much e-mail, in other words—at tech firms, "the very companies that helped create the flood."



It was this day in history, the year being 1381, that the Peasant’s Revolt, led by Wat Tyler, climaxed when rebels marched on London. They plundered, burned and captured the Tower of London and killed the Archbishop of Canterbury. The revolt was in response to a statute intended to hold down wages during a labor shortage. The ancestors the great Lord Salisbury killed Tyler and put it all to bed.  Eventually.

On June 14, 1648, midwife Margaret Jones was hanged in Boston for witchcraft. It is the first such execution for the Massachusetts colony, but not the first in the colonies. Hardly the first.

In 1775, the Continental Army was founded by the Continental Congress for purposes of common defense. This event is considered to be the birth of the United States Army. The next day, George Washington was appointed commander-in-chief.

In 1789, the remarkably competent Captain William Bligh of the HMS Bounty arrived in Timor in a small boat, having sailed a huge distance.

The year 1846 saw a group of U.S. settlers in Sonoma proclaim the Republic of California.

In 1864, Alois Alzheimer was born. He was a psychiatrist/pathologist, and in 1907 he wrote an article describing the disease that is named for him.

In 1944, sixty U.S. B-29s attacked an iron and steel works factory on Honshu Island. It was the first U.S. raid against mainland Japan. A year to the day later, Burma was liberated by Britain.

This day in 1951, "Univac I" was unveiled. It was a computer designed for the U.S. Census Bureau and billed as the world's first commercial computer.

A year after that, the Nautilus was dedicated. It was the first nuclear powered submarine.

It was in 1954 that Eisenhower signed an order adding the words "under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance.

On June 14, 1966, the Vatican announced the abolition of its Index librorum prohibitum (Index of Prohibited Books), originally instituted in 1557 by Pope Paul IV.  Cutting edge, the Vatican.In 1982, Argentine forces surrendered to British troops on the Falkland Islands, ending that fiasco.

This was the day in 1995 that Chechen rebels took 2,000 people hostage in a hospital in Russia.


Friday, June 13, 2008



It's Friday the 13th, and nobody even notices anymore. That's good. Well, maybe in Iowa, where the floods are godawful, and exactly what Boulder is looking at someday.  Someday soon.

On the door of my apartment building is a note saying there was a mountain lion seen 'in this area', by which they mean the parking lot yesterday morning.  That gets and holds my attention.  Along with the fact they misspelled sighting as siting.

But, here in Boulder the Damned, the wind is gone, which is a break.  It's been strong and annoying for a couple of days, and these are strong winds up to 60 knots or so.  In Kansas, my wind beef is pfft.  Testimonies from some of the 93 Boy Scouts who had gathered in western Iowa for a week of leadership training when a tornado struck their camp on Wednesday are pretty scary, as a tornado at night would be. Four Scouts died, and dozens of people were badly injured by the tornado that seemed to come from nowhere. After the tornado passed, the scouts rushed to assist the injured before help arrived. "There were some real heroes at this Scout camp," Iowa Gov. Chet Culver said.

Still, our weather for the last few days in Boulder has been both annoying and somewhat eerie, given that we have no normal summer days with strong, hot winds.  The Chinooks in the spring, yeah, but this was quite odd.  It's usually always a nice day, afternoon thunderstorms, clear evening, repeat ad infinatum till Labor Day when the thunderstorms leave and life is heaven: kids in school, the weather great.  Spring is second best, normally.  

This was odd, though. I am, of course, global warming sensitive.  Paranoid, even.  But this was odd.



Speaking of which, the Supreme Court ruling that prisoners being held at Guantanamo Bay have a constitutional right to challenge their detentions before a civilian judge apparently came as a shock to anyone not familiar with the spirit of the Constitution and, really, America itself. Bushies and neo-cons and fascists and monarchists.  Those types.  

The 5-4 decision marked the third time that the Supreme Court has rejected the Bush administration's handling of foreign prisoners at the base in Cuba. Writing for the majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that "few exercises of judicial power are as legitimate or as necessary" as the basic constitutional right to appear before a judge, and the majority rejected the view that American courts have no jurisdiction over Guantanamo. The WP notes that the majority of justices are "clearly impatient that some prisoners have been held for six years without a hearing." Dear Christ, one would sure hope.

The ruling was an important victory for detainees, but still leaves several important questions unanswered, "making it likely that the controversy will continue into the next presidential administration," says the LAT. Notably, the justices didn't say how much evidence the government has to present in order to justify a continued detention in Guantanamo, how classified evidence should be handled, or even whether enemy combatants can be held for as long as the government thinks is necessary. Ultimately though, the ruling will allow detainees "to challenge their detentions before civilian judges, potentially forcing the government to present evidence against them and giving them the chance to call their own witnesses," says the WP.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote his predictable melodramatic and inaccurate dissent that the decision will bring about "disastrous consequences" and "will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed." Horseshit. He went on to write that "the nation will live to regret what the court has done today." Chief Justice John Roberts accused the majority of "overreaching" in a decision that left the high court vulnerable to "charges of judicial activism." Bogus. For his part, President Bush made it clear he's not happy with the ruling. "We'll abide by the court's decision," he said. "That doesn't mean I have to agree with it."

The best observations again are from Slate and Dahlia Lithwick. "Six years of no trials, in the eyes of the dissenters, is more than justifiable in the hopes of dozens more years of no trials.  And it's precisely that sense of time passing without consequence that so infuriates the majority."

Others note the decision undercut the main rationale behind holding detainees at Guantanamo Bay, where the Bush administration was once convinced American courts couldn't reach. There now "appears to be little legal reason to keep it open," says the LAT. But the NYT notes that the decision didn't "change some realities that have long made it easier to say that the Guantánamo detention center should be closed than to figure out how." Attorneys for most of the 270 detainees in Guantanamo are likely to inundate the courts with petitions that will force the government to present evidence justifying their detention. The difficulty of defending so many cases at once is likely to step up efforts to return many of the detainees who are considered less dangerous back to their home countries.

The WP says even some Republicans agree the White House has only itself to blame for its current predicament after failing to come up with a detention policy that dealt with the concerns of those who have expressed interest in the legal rights of detainees. Its job, after all.  A little competence, Dubya.

Obama and McCain have both called for closing the detention center in Guantamo, but disagreed on yesterday's Supreme Court ruling. Obama praised the decision, calling it an "important step toward reestablishing our credibility as a nation committed to the rule of law." McCain said he's concerned about granting too many rights to the detainees, saying that "these are unlawful combatants, they are not American citizens," but he also emphasized that the Supreme Court has spoken and "we need to move forward." Also, we used to hold certain rights self evident and universal.

Most editorial boards praise the ruling. The one predictable exception is the WSJ, always pandering to fear and bigotry, which takes up Scalia's message: "We can say with confident horror that more Americans are likely to die as a result" of the decision. USAT recognizes that Americans may immediately think "the prisoners are getting better treatment than they deserve" and "perhaps they are. But the ruling also sends a powerful message about U.S. justice." Would have been powerful if done earlier.  Now it looks merely expedient. The LAT stupidly says it's time for the Bush administration to "enlist Congress' cooperation in improving the flawed Military Commissions Act and cooperate in expedited judicial hearings for inmates." That cannot happen, and would be worthless with less than a year to go. The WP agrees that "sooner or later, lawmakers must fix this mess" and emphasizes that it's "time that Congress absorb the lesson that the Supreme Court has repeatedly imparted: The war on terrorism cannot invalidate the rule of law." The NYT points out that the divided decision is "a reminder that the composition of the court could depend on the outcome of this year's presidential election." We know, thanks.



Earmarks appear to be making a comeback on Capitol Hill. Shocking. Of course, earmarks never really went away, but lawmakers did vow to cut down on their use after the funding of pet projects came under fire from critics who see it as another way that members of Congress use their influence to raise campaign contributions. The number of earmarks quickly dropped last year, but now lawmakers are packing the Pentagon authorization budget with a variety of earmarks. In the House's bill, earmarks soared 29 percent to $9.9 billion, and the Senate has also seen an increase. "Both parties talk a good game on cutting earmarks, but at first opportunity, the House larded up," said the vice president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, "This is just another broken promise."




Authorities in Zimbabwe cesspit detained the opposition presidential candidate Morgan Tsvangirai twice yesterday, disrupting a day that was supposed to be filled with campaign events two weeks before the presidential runoff election. In addition, the opposition party's No. 2 official was arrested and will be charged with treason, which could carry the death penalty.

The LAT has an unnamed reporter in Burma, who describes how he had to rely on the help of boatmen who risked arrest in order to get a fuller picture of the aftermath of Cyclone Nargis. The reporter had to hide in the "cramped space beneath the top deck" of the boats in order to avoid detection. In the remote villages hardest hit by the cyclone, government authorities were usually nowhere in sight, but the reporter describes several close calls. "Over the last 16 years, I have reported on famine, massive earthquakes and a tsunami," writes the reporter. "Cyclone Nargis is the first natural disaster that required working undercover to write about the hungry, sick and homeless."



In history, this day in 1415, the enlightened Henry the Navigator, the prince of Portugal, embarked on an expedition to Africa.

In 1777, the young Marquis de Lafayette arrived in the American colonies to help with their rebellion against the British. Two years later, ice cream was served to General George Washington by Mrs. Alexander Hamilton.

This day in 1866, the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was passed by the U.S. Congress. It was ratified on July 9, 1868. The amendment was designed to grant citizenship to and protect the civil liberties of recently freed slaves. It did this by prohibiting states from denying or abridging the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States, depriving any person of his life, liberty, or property without due process of law, or denying to any person within their jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.

Twenty years to the day later, King Ludwig II of Bavaria drowned in Lake Starnberg. Unimportant except for the debt he left and another example provided of the decline of the House of Hapsburg. The bodies of Bavaria's mad King, along with that of his physician, Dr. Gudden, were discovered floating face-down. The recently-deposed monarch had been under house arrest ever since his uncle, Prince Luitpold von Bayern, staged a coup a few days earlier.

It wasn't until 1920 that the U.S. Post Office Department ruled that children may not be sent by parcel post.

Not since the incompetent translators in our own Indian Wars led to much horror has something this silly occured.  In 1934, this day and two months before becoming Fuhrer, Hitler met Mussolini in Venice. Unfortunately, Mussolini refuses to have an interpreter and his German is not good, so neither man can understand the other well. Unimpressed, Mussolini gathers a general impression of the German as "a silly little monkey."

In 1943, this day, German spies landed on Long Island, New York. They were soon captured because their leader was an anti-fascist.  When the FBI noted that his true story conflicted with the image of their false one, he alone was sentenced to death.

A year later, Germany launched 10 of its new V1 rockets against Britain from a position near the Channel coast. Of the 10 rockets only 5 landed in Britain and only one managed to kill (6 people in London). Still, quite terrifying, and 9000 more arrived.

It was this day in 1966 that the landmark "Miranda vs. Arizona" decision was issued by the U.S. Supreme Court. The decision ruled that criminal suspects had to be informed of their constitutional rights before being questioned by police.

The Pentagon Papers began running this day in 1971 in the New York Times. The articles were a secret study of America's involvement in Vietnam.

In 1983, the unmanned U.S. space probe Pioneer 10 became the first spacecraft to leave the solar system. It was launched in March 1972. The first up-close images of the planet Jupiter were provided by Pioneer 10.

 
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