Archive for October 6th, 2007
ScribeFire is a Firefox add-on for bloggers: you can compose and post directly from Firefox instead of opening the blog’s editor. One nice thing is that you can open it while looking at a Web page. Just getting started, but looks as though it might work out.
WHAT’S the difference between a low-tech lynching and a high-tech lynching? A high-tech lynching brings a tenured job on the Supreme Court and a $1.5 million book deal. A low-tech lynching, not so much.
Pity Clarence Thomas. Done in by what he calls “left-wing zealots draped in flowing sanctimony” — as he describes anyone who challenged his elevation to the court — he still claims to have suffered as much as African-Americans once victimized by “bigots in white robes.” Since kicking off his book tour on “60 Minutes” last Sunday, he has been whining all the way to the bank, often abetted by a press claque as fawning as his No. 1 fan, Rush Limbaugh.
We are always at a crossroads with race in America, and so here we are again. The rollout of Justice Thomas’s memoir, “My Grandfather’s Son,” is not happening in a vacuum. It follows a Supreme Court decision (which he abetted) outlawing voluntary school desegregation plans in two American cities. It follows yet another vote by the Senate to deny true Congressional representation to the majority black District of Columbia. It follows the decision by the leading Republican presidential candidates to snub a debate at a historically black college as well as the re-emergence of a low-tech lynching noose in Jena, La.
Perhaps most significant of all, Mr. Thomas’s woe-is-me tour unfolds against the backdrop of the presidential campaign of an African-American whose political lexicon does not include martyrdom or rage. “My Grandfather’s Son” may consciously or not echo the title of Barack Obama’s memoir of genealogy and race, “Dreams From My Father,” but it might as well be written in another tongue.
It’s useful to watch Mr. Thomas at this moment, 16 years after his riveting confirmation circus. He is a barometer of what has and has not changed since then because he hasn’t changed at all. He still preaches against black self-pity even as he hyperbolically tries to cast his Senate cross-examination by Joe Biden as tantamount to the Ku Klux Klan assassination of Medgar Evers. He still denies that he is the beneficiary of the very race-based preferences he deplores. He still has a dubious relationship with the whole truth and nothing but, and not merely in the matter of Anita Hill.
More at the link.
Overrun by fraud, illegal activity, violation of rights, and the like. Let’s get a government plan going:
Tens of thousands of Medicare recipients have been victims of deceptive sales tactics and had claims improperly denied by private insurers that run the system’s huge new drug benefit program and offer other private insurance options encouraged by the Bush administration, a review of scores of federal audits has found.
The problems, described in 91 audit reports reviewed by The New York Times, include the improper termination of coverage for people with H.I.V. and AIDS, huge backlogs of claims and complaints, and a failure to answer telephone calls from consumers, doctors and drugstores.
Medicare officials have required insurance companies of all sizes to fix the violations by adopting “corrective action plans.” Since March, Medicare has imposed fines of more than $770,000 on 11 companies for marketing violations and failure to provide timely notice to beneficiaries about changes in costs and benefits.
The companies include three of the largest participants in the Medicare market, UnitedHealth, Humana and WellPoint.
The audits document widespread violations of patients’ rights and consumer protection standards. Some violations could directly affect the health of patients — for example, by delaying access to urgently needed medications.
In July, Medicare terminated its contract with a private plan in Florida after finding that it posed an “imminent and serious threat” to its 11,000 members.
In other cases, where auditors criticized a company’s “policies and procedures,” the effects on patients were not clear.
That attack has been a bête noire of mine for some time. And now more info on it:
Bryce Lockwood, Marine staff sergeant, Russian-language expert, recipient of the Silver Star for heroism, ordained Baptist minister, is shouting into the phone.
“I’m angry! I’m seething with anger! Forty years, and I’m seething with anger!”
Lockwood was aboard the USS Liberty, a super-secret spy ship on station in the eastern Mediterranean, when four Israeli fighter jets flew out of the afternoon sun to strafe and bomb the virtually defenseless vessel on June 8, 1967, the fourth day of what would become known as the Six-Day War.
For Lockwood and many other survivors, the anger is mixed with incredulity: that Israel would attack an important ally, then attribute the attack to a case of mistaken identity by Israeli pilots who had confused the U.S. Navy’s most distinctive ship with an Egyptian horse-cavalry transport that was half its size and had a dissimilar profile. And they’re also incredulous that, for years, their own government would reject their calls for a thorough investigation.
“They tried to lie their way out of it!” Lockwood shouts. “I don’t believe that for a minute! You just don’t shoot at a ship at sea without identifying it, making sure of your target!”
Four decades later, many of the more than two dozen Liberty survivors located and interviewed by the Tribune cannot talk about the attack without shouting or weeping.
Their anger has been stoked by the declassification of government documents and the recollections of former military personnel, including some quoted in this article for the first time, which strengthen doubts about the U.S. National Security Agency’s position that it never intercepted the communications of the attacking Israeli pilots — communications, according to those who remember seeing them, that showed the Israelis knew they were attacking an American naval vessel.
The Environmental Protection Agency gave the go-ahead for one-year use of a new agricultural pesticide Friday, saying its own scientific review overrides health concerns expressed by more than 50 chemists and other scientists.
Methyl iodide, also known as iodomethane, will be allowed to control soil pests “under highly restrictive provisions governing its use,” the EPA said in a statement.
“When used according to EPA’s strict procedures, iodomethane is not only an effective pesticide, but also meets the health and safety standards for registering pesticides,” the agency said.
Methyl iodide was developed by Tokyo-based Arysta LifeScience Corp. as an alternative to the widely used fumigant methyl bromide, which has been banned under an international treaty because it depletes the ozone layer. Like methyl bromide, the new product, to be sold under the name MIDAS, kills off weeds and soil pests before planting a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.
The EPA said its decision was based on four years of risk assessment studies, constituting “one of the most thorough analyses ever completed by the agency for a pesticide registration action.”
“The agency concluded that there are adequate safety margins and the registration of iodomethane does not pose unreasonable risks,” the agency said. Last week, however, a group of 54 scientists, including six Nobel Prize winners, sent a letter to EPA urging that the pesticide not be registered for use because of the potential danger to pregnant women and children, the elderly and farmworkers.
California’s Department of Pesticide Regulation lists the chemical as a carcinogen and also had expressed objections. Officials have said that whatever EPA’s action, use of the new product in California would not be possible before the state concludes its own review in a year or so.
For six decades, they held their silence.
The group of World War II veterans kept a military code and the decorum of their generation, telling virtually no one of their top-secret work interrogating Nazi prisoners of war at Fort Hunt.
When about two dozen veterans got together yesterday for the first time since the 1940s, many of the proud men lamented the chasm between the way they conducted interrogations during the war and the harsh measures used today in questioning terrorism suspects.
Back then, they and their commanders wrestled with the morality of bugging prisoners’ cells with listening devices. They felt bad about censoring letters. They took prisoners out for steak dinners to soften them up. They played games with them.
“We got more information out of a German general with a game of chess or Ping-Pong than they do today, with their torture,” said Henry Kolm, 90, an MIT physicist who had been assigned to play chess in Germany with Hitler’s deputy, Rudolf Hess.
Blunt criticism of modern enemy interrogations was a common refrain at the ceremonies held beside the Potomac River near Alexandria. Across the river, President Bush defended his administration’s methods of detaining and questioning terrorism suspects during an Oval Office appearance.
Several of the veterans, all men in their 80s and 90s, denounced the controversial techniques. And when the time came for them to accept honors from the Army’s Freedom Team Salute, one veteran refused, citing his opposition to the war in Iraq and procedures that have been used at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba.
“I feel like the military is using us to say, ‘We did spooky stuff then, so it’s okay to do it now,’ ” said Arno Mayer, 81, a professor of European history at Princeton University.
When Peter Weiss, 82, went up to receive his award, he commandeered the microphone and gave his piece.
“I am deeply honored to be here, but I want to make it clear that my presence here is not in support of the current war,” said Weiss, chairman of the Lawyers’ Committee on Nuclear Policy and a human rights and trademark lawyer in New York City.