Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why Did North Korea Do It? cont'd

By Kevin Drum

Fred Kaplan, after noting that North Korea has engaged in a number of naval skirmishes with South Korea over the past decade, takes a crack at explaining why they upped the ante and torpedoed a South Korean vessel two months ago:

Some speculate that Kim Jong-il may have planned the March 2010 attack as a show of strength, both to the Seoul government and to his own military commanders. South Korean president Lee Myung-bak had already — for good reasons — abandoned his predecessors' "sunshine policy" of outreach toward the North. Kim is also believed to be caught up in succession concerns — he is thought to be ailing and wants his youngest son, Jong Un, to be installed as his successor (just as he succeeded his own father, Kim Il-Sung) — and he may have felt a need to toughen up his image after the humiliation of last November.

....Who knows how this latest gamble will play out. Some speculate that Kim made the move, hoping that it would frighten the South Korean people into voting out Seoul's current anti-d├ętente government in next month's elections. However, some observers think that Kim has been spoiled by the excess indulgence of the previous two administrations — not realizing that the last few years of northern belligerence have strained the patience of many southerners.

Maybe. As Kaplan says, though, "You may notice the phrases believed to be, thought to be, and may have in the previous sentence." Nobody really has anything more than a guess at this point.

China May Shield North Korea as Lee, U.S. Seek Action

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is likely to resist pressure to acknowledge that North Korea torpedoed a South Korean warship when he flies to Seoul tomorrow to meet President Lee Myung Bak and Japan’s Yukio Hatoyama.

China hasn’t followed South Korea, Japan and the U.S. in blaming North Korea for the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan, which killed 46 sailors. Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Zhijun yesterday repeated a call for “restraint” by both sides and said China had no “firsthand information” on the sinking.

China wants to avoid a conflict on the Korean peninsula, and is concerned that taking South Korea’s side may provoke North Korea into further escalations and even lead to war, said Shen Dingli, vice dean of the Institute of International Affairs at Shanghai’s Fudan University.

“North Korea is dying, and we can make things worse,” Shen said. “We have assumed North Korea is not a rational actor.”

Full article here

Posted by harbinger

Joint Chiefs Chair Mike Mullen: DADT Deal Lets Us Say IF The Repeal Will Happen

Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Admiral Mike Mullen says that the proposed DADT compromise deal allows the military to decide whether the repeal will take place at all, regardless of how Congress votes.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said yesterday that he’s comfortable with proposed legislation that seeks to repeal the law that bans gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military because it includes “very clear language” that gives senior leaders the final say in whether it’s implemented. The proposed amendment, which Congress could put to a vote as soon as this week, wouldn’t immediately go into effect if passed, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told about 500 servicemembers at a town hall session here. Implementation wouldn’t take place until after a Defense Department study assessing its impact is completed, the chairman explained, and military and defense leaders get to weigh in on the findings. The review, expected to be completed by December, is progressing well, the chairman said, “but by no means is it over.” Mullen said he’s particularly interested in determining how the law’s repeal would affect “readiness, unit cohesion and our ability to do our mission.” That, he said, requires input from the people directly affected.

Yesterday Sen. Robert Byrd (D-WV) threw his support behind the compromise deal, but only after he secured an agreement that would delay the repeal for 60 days after a Congressional vote, during which time the president and the Pentagon will review the plan.

Posted by Joe
It's looking less and less like this will happen at all this year.

It's not just that right-wing fake-moralists lie, but that they don't give a damn about the "outrages" they rail against

The seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee? Remember, we're talking about the likes of Orrin Hatch and the utterly unspeakable Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. (Makes you wonder what the first two were like.) I feel soiled just writing a photo caption about them.

by Ken

Stop the presses. Apparently this is now a story:

The seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee today called on Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Joe Sestak's suggestion that he was offered a White House job in exchange for dropping his (ultimately successful) challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter in the Pennsylvania Democratic Senate primary.

The seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee?

These are people who probably can't get through their first bathroom trip in the morning without committing actual abuse-of-power crimes, and spend every waking second when they're not actually breaking laws committing ethical outrages. In this session of Congress, truly, the performance of the seven Republicans on the Senate Judiciary Committee has been mostly directed toward the destruction of the United States government.

These are seven people pickled in unapologetic corruption and the transformation of our government into a kleptocratic bigotocracy. These are seven people who, if there were a grain of justice in the universe, would be vaporized in a microsecond. When you look up "worthless lying sack of thieving doody" in the dictionary, you find these seven thugs' pictures.

It's hardly worth even noting the spectacular hypocrisy of their make-believe dudgeon over the possible administration buy-off of Joe Sestak. Forget that, even assuming it happened, while it would undoubtedly have been scummy and ethically challenged, isn't by even the most spectacularly deluded imaginings of a bunch of legal ignoramuses like The Seven in any way, shape, or form illegal. Forget that toxic life forms like The Seven spend every second of their poltiical lives aspiring to do deals -- ideally being the beneficiaries of such deals -- far more sordid than anything alleged here. It's what they are and what they do.

I say forget all of that because the simple, inescapable truth is that The Seven don't give a frigging damn about what did or did happen between the adminstration and Congressman Sestak. All that matters to them is its potential value as a political wedge, or at least attention-getter.

Which is a point I've been meaning to make about virtually all of the Republican posturing since the 2008 election. All that moral outrage they manage to summon for the cameras is 100 percent doody. When gargoyles like Miss Mitch McConnell and John Cornyn and John Boehner and Eric Cantor open their mouths to vomit forth their latest lies, not only do they not believe a word of their rants, by and large they don't give a damn about whatever horsedoody they've manufactured.

And they're hardly ever called to account. They did it all through the debate on health care reform, and they did it again during the debate on financial regulation reform. All the time they were spreading lies about health care proposals, it goes beyond knowing that they were lying; they didn't give a damn about the crap they had dredged up out of pure cynical cynicism.

Of course they knew nobody was going to pull the plug on Grandma, and in fact they didn't give a flying fig if anyone did. These are people who would run the old bat over just for the fun of it. And the horsedoody stories they spread about invented consequences of financial reforms? Since they know nothing about economics except the bribe-taking part, they would have no basis for opposing any reform on a policy basis, but only on the basis that the gentry who dish out those bribes don't like them.

And you can tell that people like The Seven, for all that they hide behind sanctimonious religious bilge, don't believe in God either. Because if they did, they would live in terror of finding themselves at the business end of a divine thunderbolt. Goodness knows they've earned it.

50 Cent turns into 20 Cent

Holy rice cracker diet, Batman! 50 Cent has turned himself into 20 Cent. The notoriously buff rapper has shed his tattoos and a shizz load a weight. Like, a SHIZZ load!

50 Cent dropped from his usual 214 lb weight to 160 lbs by embracing a liquid diet and walking 3 hours per day on a treadmill for nine weeks. 50 lost the weight to play a football player who has been diagnosed with cancer in the upcoming film Things Fall Apart.

No one can say that the rapper/actor isn’t taking his acting work seriously. Get your acceptance speech ready, 50. Extreme weight loss = Oscar gold.

Check out the astonishing pics of 50 Cent by clicking here. We barely recognized him!

James Carville and Obama: Oil Spill

James Carville was on Good Morning America today. He's not happy about the way Obama is handling the oil spill in the Gulf, not at all.

The White House is seemingly making an increased show of pressuring BP, but President Obama is facing political heat from within his own party for what some say has been a lackluster response to the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

The "political stupidity is unbelievable," Democratic strategist James Carville said on "Good Morning America" today. "The president doesn't get down here in the middle of this. ... I have no idea of why they didn't seize this thing. I have no idea of why their attitude was so hands off here."

Acer CEO teases 7-inch Android tablet, promises it for Q4 2010

Acer's been busy doing a presentation over in Beijing today, and the highlight of the show was the first sighting of the company's 7-inch Android tablet. It's described by Shufflegazine as "pretty fast with sensitive touch," though CEO Gianfranco Lanci was apparently reluctant to disclose any of the specs. He told the gathered press to expect it in the fourth quarter of this year, which sounds all kinds of 2000-and-late, but we have to consider the fact that only a couple of months ago Acer was telling us it wasn't going to enter the tablet realm at all. What's interesting is that Lanci described network operators as an "obvious" sales channel, suggesting the slate has an integrated 3G module, while it also looks like the silvery bottom of the device is occupied by a QWERTY keyboard not unlike that found on Amazon's Kindle. Interesting times lie ahead, that's for sure.

World Economic Outlook (Appears to Be) Improving

By Darragh Worland

We're not in the clear yet, but with the right monitoring and policies, we can all keep up the good work.

The global economic outlook — at least among industrialized countries — is brightening, but it still has a few dark spots, according to Paris-based organization Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

According to the organization, whose members include the world’s 30 richest nations, gross domestic product in those countries will grow by as much as 2.7 percent this year and 2.8 percent in 2011, reports That’s a nice improvement over earlier estimates in November of closer to 1.9 and 2.5 percent growth, respectively.

The OECD also boosted its outlook for US economic growth in 2010, forecasting that GDP will grow at a 3.2 percent pace and not the 2.5 percent pace predicted earlier. The OECD expects growth of 3.2 percent in 2011 as well. It had some advice for the US to help keep up the good work, advising that the Federal Reserve and the Obama administration "should gradually withdraw policy stimulus as economic growth becomes self sustaining [ ... ] Gauging the appropriate timing will not be a simple task, but keeping the stimulus in place risks recreating some of the imbalances in the housing and financial markets that led to the financial crisis."

Still, analysts warn that we’re not out of the recessionary woods just yet, as there are some signs of trouble, including rising credit rates and the debt crisis in Greece.

"The sovereign debt crisis has highlighted the need for the euro area to strengthen significantly its institutional and operational architecture to dissipate doubts about the long-term viability of the monetary union," said OECD chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan. "At a minimum, surveillance of domestic policies needs to be strengthened, taking on board broader competitiveness considerations."

The OECD also advised the Bank of Japan to keep interest rates at their "very low current level," and advised the British government to normalize interest rates in the face of a likely gradual increase in inflation.

Second Jonah Hex trailer

Warner Bros. has released a second trailer for Jonah Hex via IGN. The first trailer was only released a few weeks ago, but the studio need to make up for all the time they haven’t been marketing it due to re-shoots.

I prefer this trailer to the previous one. It contains some cool shots and goes for the ‘badass’ angle, however i’m still not sure if I want to see it. All the re-shoot talk has caused the film to be tainted in my mind and these average-to-good trailers aren’t getting me excited.

Jonah Hex, which stars Josh Brolin, Megan Fox, John Malkovich and Michael Fassbender, is a Western featuring a scarred-faced bounty hunter. The movie centers on the gunslinger enlisted to track down a former Confederate general who is raising an army of the undead and bent on liberating the South.

The film will be released on June 18th. What do you think of Jonah Hex from the trailers? Will you be seeing it?

Beloved TV Host Art Linkletter Dead At 97 (Video)

Art Linkletter, the legendary host of several television shows in the 1950’s and ’60’s, has died at age 97. Read more on Art Linkletter and see his videos with children below.

Art Linkletter reportedly died at his home in Los Angeles on Wednesday at the age of 97.

Linkletter was the host of “House Party”, one of the longest-running variety shows on television. It started on the radio in 1944 and was then on television from 1952 to 1969.

In one of his segments Linkletter would interview children, often called “Kids Say the Darndest Things”.

Art’s other popular show, “People Are funny”, also began on radio in 1942 and then ran on television from 1954 to 1961. This game show had people competing by performing stunts for cash prizes.

“Over the years I have tried to create an image of a happy man dedicated to fun and laughter,” Linkletter said in 1960. “I have been willing to joke about my own faults and foibles and to talk about the troublesome things in my life, and I have kidded people about theirs. The world needs laughter more than ever, and I intend to spread it around.”

Art Linkletter was born Arthur Gordon Kelly on July 17, 1912, to an unwed mother. He was put up for adoption and when he was seven his adoptive parents moved to the United States and settled in San Diego.

Linkletter’s married wife Lois in 1935 and they had five children. In 1969, his daughter Diane committed suicide and in 1980 his son Robert died in a car accident. Then in 2007, his other son, Jack, died from lymphoma.

“Life is not fair,” Linkletter once said in an Associated Press interview in 1990. “But I’m an optimist. Even though I’ve had tragedies in my life, and I’ve seen a lot of difficult things, I still am an optimist.”

U.S. sets 23-man roster

AP Sports Writer

By Ronald Blum

BRISTOL, Conn. — United States coach Bob Bradley named his 23-man squad for the World Cup on Wednesday, bringing together the likes of Landon Donovan and DaMarcus Beasley with relatively unknown players Edson Buddle and Herculez Gomez.

Bradley cut seven players from his preliminary squad — defenders Chad Marshall and Heath Pearce; midfielders Alejandro Bedoya, Sacha Kljestan and Robbie Rogers; and forwards Brian Ching and Eddie Johnson.

Midfielders Donovan and Beasley, and defender Steve Cherundolo earned their third World Cup trips. Beasley's selection capped a comeback from nine months of national team exile that ended in March.

Seventeen of the 23 players are based in Europe, with just four from Major League Soccer and two from Mexican clubs. Of the European group, eight play in England, three in Germany, two in Scotland, and one each in Denmark, France, Italy and Norway.

Buddle and Gomez are forwards and Bradley said they "both have been in great form, scored a lot of goals this year."

Buddle didn't play for the U.S. during World Cup qualifying. But he's scored nine times this season for the Los Angeles Galaxy to lead the MLS, and he made his first start for the national team in Tuesday night's 4-2 loss to the Czech Republic.

The 29-year-old Buddle didn't quite believe it when Bradley congratulated him at 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.

"I thought he was messing around. I didn't know. It was too late," he said.
Gomez might have faced even longer odds to make the squad after his contract was not renewed last year by Kansas City in MLS. But he went to Puebla in Mexico and became the league's joint top scorer with 10 goals in 14 appearances.
"I wasn't good enough for the Wizards last year, so to be where I am today is amazing," Gomez said.
Bradley praised Buddle, Gomez and Beasley for taking advantage of their opportunities.

"One player that I felt fits into that category is Herculez Gomez," Bradley said. "He's worked hard to get to this point.

"DaMarcus obviously had fallen out of it a bit and he needed to make a renewed commitment to the team and doing things as a player that makes his team better. And we've seen that.

"When you make tough decision you try to factor in everything," Bradley added. "You take into account where they are in their season and certainly to this point Edson is one of the best players in MLS. That type of form needed to really count."

Gulf awaits word on latest bid to plug oil leak

How DeWyze won 'American Idol'

Simon Cowell was granted his final wish on "American Idol." Lee DeWyze, the bashful paint sales clerk championed early by the biting British judge on the Fox singing contest, was crowned "Idol" on Wednesday over single mother Crystal Bowersox.