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Archive for January 13th, 2010

For much of the last decade, the Republican line about liberals has been that whenever we downplayed the urgency of the so-called terrorist threat (or dared to criticize then-President Bush for that matter) we were somehow emboldening the terrorists.

For example, during the 2004 campaign, John Kerry was annihilated by the Dick Cheney wingnut right when he said, “We have to get back to the place we were, where terrorists are not the focus of our lives, but they’re a nuisance.”

Oh holy hell! Kerry said what?!

He was exactly right, of course, both strategically and rhetorically. The senator was outlining how we ought to be simultaneously destroying al-Qaeda and, in the “home of the brave,” we ought to be acting like grown-ups rather than a nation of scared little pee-pants infants frightened of unseen toe monsters lurking under the bed.

Cheney and others, in response to Kerry, were very clearly implying that terrorism was always going to be a serious and existential threat to America — that we have every right to be both terrified and terrorized — therefore we absolutely have to torture people, undermine the rule of law, preemptively invade sovereign nations and, naturally, elect Republicans in order to be safe.

What the far-right has never grasped, however, is that the whole point of a terrorist attack isn’t necessarily to kill people. The point is to terrorize. Scott Shanes in the New York Times quoted a former Homeland Security and CIA official:

“We give comfort to our enemies,” said Charles E. Allen, a 40-year C.I.A. veteran who served as the top intelligence official at the Department of Homeland Security from 2007 to early last year. Exaggerated news coverage and commentary, he said, “creates an atmosphere of tension and fear, and to me that’s exactly the wrong way to go.”

Fareed Zakaria spelled it out even further this week:

The purpose of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction. Its real aim is not to kill the hundreds of people directly targeted but to sow fear in the rest of the population. Terrorism is an unusual military tactic in that it depends on the response of the onlookers. If we are not terrorized, then the attack didn’t work. Alas, this one worked very well.

In the case of the Underpants Bomber, by collectively losing our shit and inflating a minor fracas out of proportion — by acting as though this was a major bloody attack and subsequently acquiescing to full body scans and further violations of our civil liberties, we’re handing al-Qaeda an easy victory. The attempt was a failure, but the overreaction in its aftermath turned it into an easy win for al-Qaeda.

Good job, Republicans. Good job, Fox News.

(more…)

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Haiti Earthquake: Breaking News, Updates (VIDEO)

Huffington Post |  Nicholas Sabloff   First Posted: 01-13-10 10:24 AM   |   Updated: 01-13-10 04:59 PM

Updates from Haiti below — Follow the latest breaking news via our Haiti Twitter list — See the latest images here — Read the latest from the AP here — Find out how you can help here.

Email tips here.

* * * * * 4:45 PM ET: Haiti’s coming public health challenges — A grim look at the obstacles ahead from UN Dispatch:

Once you’ve survived the earthquake, what happens? Haitians now face a daunting set of health challenges, including typhoid, dengue fever, malaria, and getting treatment for serious injuries.
While health information coming out of Haiti is still very sparse, data from previous earthquakes gives us a clear impression of what to expect in terms of health. The initial impact of an earthquake is catastrophic injuries – broken bones, crush injuries, dust inhalation, and burns predominate. You can see this in the heartbreaking videos coming out of Port au Prince.

Injuries are made worse by the obstacles to getting treatment – hospitals are just as likely as other buildings to be destroyed in a quake and roads will be impassable. At least one hospital in Haiti has collapsed, and the Times of Zambia is reporting only one functional hospital in the country, a field hospital donated by Argentina. Emergency care is going to be almost impossible to access, and the greatest demand for medical care is in the first 24 hours after an earthquake.

4:25 PM ET: US temporarily halts deportations — The Miami Herald reports:

The Obama administration is temporarily suspending deportations of undocumented Haitian nationals who are in the United States, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist said Wednesday at a news conference in Miami.
But there are no immediate indications from the Obama administration that it would grant Haitian nationals Temporary Protected Status in the aftermath of Tuesday’s earthquake.

4:20 PM ET: Update on relief efforts — Details on what’s taking place, from the AP:

Sniffer dogs, high-energy biscuits and tons of emergency medical aid were heading to Haiti on Wednesday as governments and aid groups launched a massive relief effort for the estimated 3 million people reeling from a devastating earthquake.

UPDATES, VIDEOS & MORE HERE

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Bill Maher Explains Why You Should Move Your Money (VIDEO)

Huffington Post– First Posted: 01-12-10 10:06 PM   |   Updated: 01-12-10 10:16 PM

On the eve of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s first day of hearings, where the CEOs of four of America’s largest banks are scheduled to testify about the banks’ roles in the financial meltdown, Bill Maher explains why you should move your money out of a “too big to fail” bank and put it into a local community bank or credit union.

According to Maher: “This is not a conservative idea or a liberal idea. It’s not left or right. It’s populism at its best.”

WATCH:

Visit MoveYourMoney.info to find a community bank near you. Click here for answers to frequently asked questions about how to move your money.

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Dire Straits – Money For Nothing

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Tea Party Protester

Key Sponsor Pulls Out Of Tea Party Convention

TPM Muckraker

Zachary Roth | January 13, 2010, 10:01AM

One of the key co-sponsors of the National Tea Party Convention has pulled out of the event, citing concerns over the financial arrangements of Tea Party Nation, the group organizing the confab.

Eric Odom of American Liberty Alliance is seen by many as one of the founders of the Tea Party movement. His group had been listed as a “gold” co-sponsor of the convention, and in an interview Friday with TPMmuckraker, Odom sounded bullish about it. But today he writes that his group “will sit out” the event:

[T]he controversy surrounding the event involves conversations about the infrastructure of the Tea Party Nation and the way its finances are channeled through private bank accounts and paypal accounts.To be clear, the for-profit model has its place in the movement. Many, MANY groups in the movement operate this way. But these groups should always have boards and oversight, and should never, ever process donations through personal paypal accounts.

In this particular case, it’s entirely possible that those involved are operating in a fair way. But when we look at the $500 price tag for the event and the fact that many of the original leaders in the group left over similar issues, it’s hard for us not to assume the worst.

As we’ve reported, some activists have raised concerns over the $549 price tag for the event, and have suggested that the prime organizer, Nashville attorney Judson Phillips, is seeking to profit financially from it. And RedState founder Erick Erickson has written that the convention “smells scammy.”

Odom’s decision may have been prompted in part by a lengthy and detailed blog post, which appeared yesterday, from a Nashville activist, who had worked with Phillips on Tea Party events last year. Among numerous allegations leveled by Kevin Smith against Phillips is the claim that Phillips said he had to set up Tea Party Nation as a for-profit corporation because Barack Obama planned to ban non-profits. Smith also described Phillips as “the kind of attorney who would regularly use his status as a legal professional to threaten and intimidate people into giving him what he wanted.”

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Haiti Earthquake: Capital Shattered By 7.0 Trembler

JONATHAN M. KATZ | 01/13/10 11:24 AM | AP

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Haitians piled bodies along the devastated streets of their capital Wednesday after a powerful earthquake crushed thousands of structures, from schools and shacks to the National Palace and the U.N. peacekeeping headquarters. Untold numbers were still trapped.

President Rene Preval said he believes thousands of people were dead from Tuesday afternoon’s magnitude-7.0 quake.

“Parliament has collapsed. The tax office has collapsed. Schools have collapsed. Hospitals have collapsed,” Preval told the Miami Herald. “There are a lot of schools that have a lot of dead people in them.”

The Roman Catholic archbishop of Port-au-Prince was among the dead, and the head of the U.N. peacekeeping mission was missing.

The international Red Cross said a third of Haiti’s 9 million people may need emergency aid and that it would take a day or two for a clear picture of the damage to emerge.

President Barack Obama promised an all-out rescue and humanitarian effort, adding that the U.S. commitment to its hemispheric neighbor will be unwavering.

“We have to be there for them in their hour of need,” Obama said.

Other nations – from Iceland to Venezuela – said they would start sending in aid workers and rescue teams. Cuba said its existing field hospitals in Haiti had already treated hundreds of victims. The United Nations said Port-au-Prince’s main airport was “fully operational” and open to relief flights.

MORE HERE

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