Don Cazayoux wins in Louisiana, expanding the Democrats’ congressional majority, and showing that between the low approval ratings for congress and the low approval ratings for the GOP, the GOP is losing. Meanwhile, very narrow popular vote edge for Obama in Guam means the territory’s pledged delegates will be split 2-2.
Most NBA fans are sort of dimly aware of European professional basketball without really knowing much about it. But this year is the Euroleague’s 50th anniversary, and here’s an interesting rundown of their history from Ian Whittell. Here’s the top 50 Euroleague players of all time.
The New York Times reports today that the Pentagon is “considering sending as many as 7,000 more American troops to Afghanistan next year to make up for a shortfall in contributions from NATO allies.” One official referred to it as the “re-Americanization” of the war:
They said the step would push the number of American forces there to roughly 40,000, the highest level since the war began more than six years ago, and would require at least a modest reduction in troops from Iraq.
The planning began in recent weeks, reflecting a growing resignation to the fact that NATO is unable or unwilling to contribute more troops despite public pledges of an intensified effort in Afghanistan from the presidents and prime ministers who attended an alliance summit meeting in Bucharest, Romania, last month.
In February, when lobbying NATO countries to pledge more forces to Afghanistan, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates observed, “Many of them, I think, have a problem with our involvement in Iraq and project that to Afghanistan.”
Mary Gade, the Region 5 Administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency, abruptly resigned yesterday in the midst of a battle with Dow Chemical over its refusal to clean up decades-old dioxin pollution from its headquarters in Michigan. As Michael Hawthorne reported in the Chicago Tribune:
Gade told the Tribune she resigned after two aides to national EPA administrator Stephen Johnson took away her powers as regional administrator and told her to quit or be fired by June 1.
He further reported that one of those officials had recently assessed her performance as “outstanding“:
Five months ago, a top U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official gave Mary Gade a performance rating of “outstanding.” On Thursday, the same official told her to quit or be fired as the agency’s top regulator in the Midwest.
As the EPA organizational chart indicates, the regional administrators report directly to the office of EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson:
So who can the “two aides to national EPA administrator Stephen Johnson” who “took away her powers” be? The following are the most likely suspects. Read more
Having sung the praises of the vituperative British press it is worth pointing out that one downside of British media norms is that newspapers deem themselves to have much more leeway than ours do in terms of publishing stuff that’s totally made up. Here’s for instance, the Sun reports on a totally non-existent EU plot to dismember the UK:
According to the article, ““Secret plans reveal the South of England will be renamed TRANSMANCHE – and governed in part by bureaucrats in France.” Apparently the Daily Mail “reported” on a similar plot last summer.
One objection is that I think it’s false to say that launching and continuing ill-conceived wars actually helps us get oil. Note, e.g., the skyrocketing price of oil in the context of our current ill-conceived war. Second, it’s hard to see how a bunch of silly gas tax gimmicks are going to get us off our oil addiction. Gasoline taxes should be higher, not lower — 100% of the revenue could be spent on the American people, but 50% of the cost is paid by oil companies and oil producers.
New study “Human disruption of the climate is the greatest threat ever to our national parks.”
In March, House Oversight Committee chairman Henry Waxman (D-CA) announced that he was investigating the accidental electrocution of troops in Iraq and pressed Defense Secretary Robert Gates for uncensored details on at least a dozen deaths since 2003. Contractor KBR is at the center of the probe, with questions about whether it irresponsibly ignored wiring problems.
Today, The New York Times has more details on this malpractice, including the fact that senior KBR and Pentagon officials repeatedly ignored warnings by KBR electricians:
One electrician warned his KBR bosses in his 2005 letter of resignation that unsafe electrical work was “a disaster waiting to happen.” Another said he witnessed an American soldier in Afghanistan receiving a potentially lethal shock. A third provided e-mail messages and other documents showing that he had complained to KBR and the government that logs were created to make it appear that nonexistent electrical safety systems were properly functioning.
KBR itself told the Pentagon in early 2007 about unsafe electrical wiring at a base near the Baghdad airport, but no repairs were made. Less than a year later, a soldier was electrocuted in a shower there.
John McLain, the electrician who in 2007 told a visiting defense contracting agency official about his concerns over the logs, was fired shortly after the incident. Another employee “said his KBR bosses mocked him for raising safety issues.”
This sort of refusal to acknowledge and correct errors seems to be standard operating procedure within KBR, unfortunately. Former employee Jamie Leigh Jones revealed that after she was gang-raped by co-workers, not only did the company place her “under guard in a shipping container,” but warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she would lose her job. In an opposite situation, a KBR employee who was “busted by the military” for looting in Iraq was “given a promotion.”
Similarly, Bunnatine “Bunny” Greenhouse, who oversaw contracts for the Army Corps of Engineers, told the Senate in 2005, that KBR represented the “most blatant and improper contract abuse I have witnessed during the course of my professional career.” Reflecting the Pentagon’s efforts to protect KBR, Greenhouse was demoted almost two months to the day after voicing that critique.
Despite all these irresponsible, unethical actions (as well as providing contaminated water to troops and evading millions in taxes), KBR recently announced that it had tripled its first quarter net profits and received new contracts worth up to $150 million for 10 years to provide assistance to the U.S. military overseas.
Ed Kilgore describes the Labour Party’s drubbing in recent local elections, combined with terrible national poll numbers, as “Bad News From Across the Pond.” And certainly for anyone affiliated with the Labour Party the news is bad.
But then again, they’ve been in office for about eleven years now in a system with few checks and balances so on some level the fact that the Tories look positioned to win just seems like a two party system working the way it’s supposed to — having been beaten several times in a row, Labour repositioned itself, then won a bunch of elections in a row, and now the Tories have repositioned themselves and are poised for victory.
Yesterday, Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT) and 40 other lawmakers sent a letter to the Pentagon’s Inspector General demanding an investigation into the department’s propaganda program, which was first revealed by The New York Times on April 20. From their letter:
We write to express our deep concern over an extremely troubling report recently published in The New York Times detailing a high-level, well thought out and extensive program within the Department of Defense to use military analysts to generate positive news coverage of the war in Iraq, conditions at the Guantánamo Bay detention center and other activities associated with the Global War on Terror. We believe that this unethical, and potentially illegal, propaganda campaign aimed at deliberately misleading the American public should have been disclosed long ago by your office, and not by a newspaper that needed to resort to suing the DoD for the information.
Earlier this week, Sen. Russ Feingold (D-WI) sent a letter to the Government Accountability Office asking the agency to determine whether the Pentagon’s program broke the law, and in an interview with ThinkProgress, Rep. John Murtha (D-PA) said that the Bush administration had “dishonored” the military with all its “untruths.”
It seems that students at Bridgewater-Raritan High School high school in Jersey raised $2,000 to pay for a new bike rack at their school. Sounds like a pretty good idea. Biking isn’t for everyone, and it’s not for every trip, but it’s an appealing option for many trips and promoting biking reduces congestion and pollution while promoting public health and exercise. Indeed, the only problem with the “students raise $2,000 for a bike rack” story seems to me to be that this is the kind of thing a school district ought to be willing to shell out for (wouldn’t build a suburban school with no car parking, would you).
But the school said no! Katherine Dransfield, who was trying to start a school bike club, explained that “Essentially what they told us was that they didn’t want to promote biking as a way to get to school.”