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Archive for October, 2009

Everyone, it seems, has a party line about who the good Muslims and bad Muslims are. Sadly, many of the dichotomies distort as much as they reveal, and use simple labels based on superficial preconceptions and over-simplifications, says Meena Sharify-Funk.

Middle East Online, Oct 30, 2009

Waterloo, Canada – Ever since the tragic events of 9/11, the diverse voices claiming to speak with authority about Islam have become increasingly cacophonous. Few contemporary topics are more controversial than that of how to interpret Islamic practices and beliefs.

In the West as well as in the Muslim world, interpreting Islam has become a virtual cottage industry. The ranks of interpreters are incredibly diverse, including counter-terrorism experts, policymakers and journalists, as well as religious studies academics, political scientists, Muslim ulama (Islamic legal scholars), Muslim feminists in the West, and people speaking on behalf of various religious groups. Interest in how Islam is understood and practiced has expanded dramatically in recent years, and it’s not always clear whom to listen to amongst the din.

Continues >>

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Bill O’Reilly is “fascinated” with Sarah Palin, and has been featuring segments on her a lot of late. He had Glenn Beck on The O’Reilly Factor on Thursday night to talk about her prospects.

They agreed that her upcoming book tour is a “make or break” situation regarding her political future — but that if she fares well with the media, she’ll be well positioned for 2012. They also agree that resigning as governor before had even completed her first term was a “smart move.”

Which gave Beck a launching pad for his prophesying mode:

Beck: Smart move. And I think she’s also positioning herself for a third party. By the time this election runs around for the president, I’m sorry, but unless the Republicans and the Democrats wake up, a third party will win.

Presumably, by “wake up” Beck means “embrace the tea party philosophy of small government and big wingnuttery”. The Democrats won’t, but most likely the Republicans will. But I don’t think it’s going to be the recipe for victory Glenn Beck thinks it will be.

VIDEO & MORE HERE

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Video compliments of The Onion

The Best Entourage $263.4 Million of Lobbying Money Can Buy

Change.org

by Tim Foley

Published August 14, 2009 @ 11:01PM PT

An optimist sees the glass as half-full. A pessimist sees the glass, sees the water, and begins to wonder how it got there, who paid for the service, and what favor they’re going to expect in return. According to Bloomberg, the amount of money and staff supplied by the health care industries over the past six months is an order of magnitude larger than either those industries’ campaign contributions to politicians or their advertising budgets. The most colorful statistic is that there are six industry lobbyists for every member of Congress. If you’re a legislator working on health care reform, your life might have begun to resemble a Washington DC version of Entourage.

President Obama rode into town declaring that the era of special interests and lobbyists standing in the way of progress is over. Apparently, Congress didn’t get the memo, and the health care industry flat-out ignored it. The numbers are gaudy. $263.4 million in lobbying alone in the past six months. $20.5 million in political contributions to, yes, both political parties, including over $382,000 for Majority Leader Harry Reid. $320,000 for a Ferrari for Turtle, and an extra $100,000 so Kanye West’s entourage could all be wearing designer outfits. OK, I made that last sentence up. But there’s no doubt that in a year of reform, the industry that makes money off the system is livin’ large down by the Potomac.

More of the same

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Joe Lieberman is afraid to debate Rachel Maddow on health reform.

Think Progress- By Faiz Shakir at 10:40 am

For the past couple of nights on her MSNBC show, Rachel Maddow has skewered Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) for his stated willingness to filibuster health reform. Decrying his “demonstrably and obviously untrue arguments” about the public option, Maddow told her audience last night that Lieberman could end up being “the reason we won’t get health reform if we don’t get health reform.” For his part, Lieberman appears afraid of defending his views to Maddow’s face. Last night, Maddow reported:

I also want to tell our viewers that we invited Senator Lieberman to come onto this show tonight. His office did not even bother to respond to our requests.

Senator Lieberman, you should know you have an open invitation — as you long have had — to come on this show. I promise you will get a fair shake. Actually, at this point, I promise to not only buy you a shake, I will buy you a cookie if you come on this show.

Watch it:

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Malou Innocent, cato-at-liberty.com, Oct 28, 2009

Hoh

Former Marine captain Matthew Hoh became the first U.S. official known to resign in protest over the Afghan war. His letter of resignation echoes some arguments I have made earlier this year, namely, that what we are witnessing is a local and regional ethnic Pashtun population fighting against what they perceive to be a foreign occupation of their region; that our current strategy does not answer why and to what end we are pursuing this war; and that Afghanistan holds little intrinsic strategic value to the security of the United States.

Continues >>

 

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If and when health care reform finally passes, we will have successfully ameliorated only half of the crisis. The treatment half. The next step has to be focused upon doing something about the poisoned filth we’ve collectively nicknamed “food.” Without any real changes in how our food is produced, the health care system will continue to bloat and fall apart. Not unlike the insides of an average American body.

Corporate agribusiness has invested nearly $1.2 billion (and growing) on lobbyists — more money than even the defense lobby. Naturally, much of this lobbying has been aimed at deregulating how food is processed and manufactured, as well as how corporate agribusinesses raise and process livestock. It’s an industry that’s entangled in everything from Big Tobacco to human trafficking and illegal immigration.

Most recently, and speaking of poisoned filth, you may have watched as Rick Berman was eviscerated by Rachel Maddow on MSNBC a few weeks ago. In case you missed it, Berman’s Center for Consumer Freedom is financed by corporate agribusiness, among others, and tasked with deceiving the public about everything from high fructose corn syrup to transfat, mercury levels in fish, obesity issues, food labels, and tobacco laws. CCF is all about confusing the public by muddying scientific fact and skewing the debate onto ridiculous tangents to the point where it’s difficult to tell the difference between what’s healthy and what’s crap. It’s Glenn Beck’s rodeo clown strategy applied to food.

The consequence for you and me, of course, is that the food is becoming increasingly toxic, both in terms of what goes into our bodies, and in terms of how deregulation and deception is hurting the economy. What good is health care reform if we’re still being fed poison? What good is an economic recovery if big business is still gaming the system?

Here’s a perfect example of what they’re getting away with. In Ohio next week, voters will be voting on a ballot measure known as Issue 2.

As I’m sure you’re aware — and I’ll spare you the gruesome videos — corporate farms maximize profit by packing as many animals into ridiculously tight spaces. Imagine being forced to live out your life in the equivalent of a high school gym locker. While confined and unable to move, the animals are injected with a variety of hormones, antibiotics and other medications. Medications designed for animals, not humans. They’re force-fed grains laced with pesticides and other chemicals. And when they’re not eating chemically-tainted grain, they’re often fed the remains of other animals — old or sick animals that aren’t shoved through the system and turned into food for humans (we often share food with, you know, our food). The list of atrocities is lengthy, but the end result is that a variety of unhealthy, possibly deadly toxins and diseases wind up, unannounced, on our mouths.

(more…)

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30 Reasons Fox News Is Not Legit

By Eric Boehlert, Media Matters for America. Posted October 28, 2009.

Fox News routinely, and blatantly, breaks the code to which ethical journalists are supposed to aspire.

Why the Beltway press has invested so much time and energy in recent weeks defending Fox News, with one scribe even claiming that the White House’s public critique of the network was “dangerous to press freedom,” and why the press refuses to acknowledge what’s so obvious about the cable channel’s political pursuits, remains baffling.

The facts regarding Fox News’ lack of professionalism seem rather obvious (as I detail below 30 different times). And that ought to be plain for Beltway journalists as well. But whether for reasons having to do with external professional, social, or political pressures, many journalists have opted to pretend that Fox News is a serious outlet, that it’s just like its cable and network TV news competitors.

They insist that any suggestion that Rupert Murdoch’s cable channel isn’t legitimate is completely off-base and that the White House is not even allowed to have an opinion on the issue. Indeed, ABC News’ Jake Tapper suggested it was not “appropriate” for the administration to tag the channel as illegitimate. (Tapper himself can’t tell the difference between the programming that Fox News and ABC News produce.)

The rush to defend Fox News is an odd one, because I don’t remember the same type of the circle-the-wagons defense when the previous Republican administration openly waged war on The New York Times and NBC, two news outlets whose standards far outshine the kind of pseudo-reporting Fox News produces on a daily basis. That Beltway media elites have decided to rally around Fox News of all entities remains as puzzling as it is short-sighted.

The truth is, journalism is not difficult to practice, nor is it tough to identify. Journalists aren’t licensed, and anyone can try their hand at it, as the Internet has made clear. So there is no higher authority declaring what is and isn’t journalism. But the craft, like obscenity, is instantly recognizable in its true form.

For generations in this country, there has been a sort of a gentleman’s agreement in terms of what constituted professional behavior among journalists. And there has been a sense of shame when members crossed those lines into unprofessional behavior. Bosses chastened those employees, people were fired, and ethics panels were summarily convened to make certain the transgressions didn’t happen again. Fox News, though, has walked away from all of that. And guess what? The rest of the press hasn’t said boo.

MORE HERE

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