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What if Doomday Clock is slow?

Harvard psychologist Steven Pinker thinks the world is becoming less violent, but scientists believe we’ve taken a step back in our efforts to avert nuclear catastrophe:

It is five minutes to midnight. Two years ago, it appeared that world leaders might address the truly global threats that we face. In many cases, that trend has not continued or been reversed. For that reason, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists is moving the clock hand one minute closer to midnight, back to its time in 2007.

More here.

A perfectly serious question

The NY Times asked if they should point out when the people they interview are lying. You know, as if it’s controversial.

Obama tax Wall St.? Fahgetaboutit!

Can you imagine Barack Obama cracking down on financial speculators rather than giving them White House jobs? Jeff Cohen can’t:

With U.S. media obsessing on the fight here at home among conservatives vying to become president, most of them missed some big news about France, which already has a conservative president. This week, French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced that he would take the lead — even go it alone within Europe, if need be — in introducing and pushing a Financial Transaction Tax in his country.

That’s right — the conservative president of France wants to tax the financial traders and speculators.

Referring to the tax as a “moral issue” and blaming deregulation and speculation for the global economic meltdown, Sarkozy has said that traders must “repay for the damage they have caused.”

What does it tell us about U.S. politics that the conservative president of France – on this issue and others — is way to the left of President Obama? The U.S. president has not publicly promoted a Wall Street transaction tax (even though U.S. financial institutions, not the French, were largely responsible for the global crisis).

Santorum vs. ‘blah’ people

Time marches on, but some things don’t change — the fondness of bigots for Confederate flags, the GOP’s reliance on a “Southern strategy” for winning presidential elections, and the fact that Rick Santorum on the campaign trail is a bad liar and a jackass. From Robert Parry:

…Sometimes the implicit becomes explicit, as occurred when former Sen. Rick Santorum blurted out, “I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”

This comment was directed to white Republicans in Iowa, some of whom nodded knowingly, receiving the message that President Barack Obama wanted to take their hard-earned money and give it to shiftless blacks. It’s a message as old as time in America and it apparently helped boost Santorum into a virtual tie with GOP front-runner Mitt Romney.

However, Santorum quickly came to regret his caught-on-video frankness, realizing that many Americans find such blatant appeals to racial prejudice offensive. So, he proceeded to lie about what he actually said, claiming absurdly that he never said “black people” – that he “started to say a word” and then “sort of mumbled it and changed my thought.”

The word, in Santorum’s revisionist tale, had come out something like “blah,” not “black.” Yet why the government would be so determined to give “other people’s money” to “blah people” was not explained. Perhaps so the “blah people” could buy snazzier wardrobes or snappier cars to make them less “blah.”

Thus, Santorum hoped he could have it both ways. The white racist voters in Iowa and in other states could hear that the ex-Pennsylvania senator wasn’t going to use government programs “to make black people’s lives better,” while non-racists were supposed to believe that he simply stammered out a word that sounded like “black,” but was really “blah…”

Don’t believe Hillary’s Iran hype

Don’t believe Hillary Clinton or the New York Times, not when it comes to nuclear threats in the Middle East. Even Hillary doesn’t believe Hillary’s hype about Iran, as Juan Cole points out:

The announcement of the Iranian government that it will activate its Fordow nuclear enrichment site has predictably drawn forth a new round of war propaganda from the Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. In contrast, the Chinese media accurately report Iran’s affirmation that the new site will be subject to UN inspections and so is perfectly legal.

Ironically, what Clinton says is diametrically opposite from the repeated assurances given by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, that Iran is not trying to construct a nuclear warhead. True, he put it in a misleading way, saying that Iran “is not yet building a bomb,” as though it is only a matter of time. But in order to build a bomb, Iran would have to deny access to UN inspectors and, well, initiate a program to build a bomb. That it has not done so is covered up in mainstream US political and journalistic discourse, to the point where the NYT had to apologize for stating (contrary to Panetta) that Iran has a nuclear weapons program (it does not, as far as anyone can tell).

And now, it turns out, the Obama administration is even willing to admit the truth. The sanctions regime on Iran is not even primarily about the civilian nuclear enrichment program (to which Iran has a right under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty), but about causing the regime to collapse. (Apparently the appearance in print with its admission of illegal motives provoked a sharp set of phone calls and a revision of the statement to merely a collapse of the nuclear program. I believe WaPo got it right the first time.)

I think blockading a civilian population for the purpose of instituting regime change in a state toward which no authorization of force has been issued by the UN Security Council may well be a war crime. Even advocating a war crime can under some circumstances be punishable, as happened at the Nuremberg trials.



Very happy song

Brian Ray:

I have not forgotten you

One of my friends is in the process of an extended breakup. “When does it stop hurting so bad?” she asked. I told her the truth: “It hurts until the day you can remember him without cringing.” Kelly Willis:



Joni Mitchell live:

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