The Critical Metals Report: On Aug. 2, Molycorp Inc. (MCP:NYSE) posted a loss of $0.03/share. Given that Molycorp is the rare earth element (REE) flagship story, what impact will this have on the broader . . . → Read More: Will Your REEs Suffer Molycorp Contagion? Chris Berry Advises Patience
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Via Wonkette, the news that one Mississippi county is incarcerating high school students for disciplinary infractions. You will probably not be surprised to learn that black students seem to be disciplined disproportionately for major crimes like flatulence, dress code violations and disrespect.
But really, I kinda think it's their own fault for not planning ahead and picking white parents:
Turns out we were so fascinated with Louisiana that we forgot about Mississippi, which is really doubling down on the fight against education these days, what with their ?school-to-prison? pipeline that incarcerates students for minor infractions at school. You will be shocked, SHOCKED, to learn that African American students are over-represented in this disciplinary strategy. (The disciplinary strategy of sending children to jail when they get suspended from school!)
Officials in Lauderdale County, Mississippi, have operated ?a school-to-prison pipeline? that violates the constitutional rights of juveniles by incarcerating them for alleged school disciplinary infractions, some as minor as defiance, the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday.
?Students most affected by this system are African-American children and children with disabilities,? the Justice Department said.
[?]In 2009, the Lauderdale County Juvenile Detention Facility in Meridian was the target of a federal class-action lawsuit by the Southern Poverty Law Center that alleged children and teens were ? ?crammed into small, filthy cells and tormented with the arbitrary use of Mace as a punishment for even the most minor infractions ? such as ?talking too much? or failing to sit in the ?back of their cells,?? the center said in a statement.
First of all, we don?t know why everyone is getting so upset. Mace is like pepper spray, which is a food product, essentially. And really, all they were doing was trying to keep children SAFE, don?t you want them to be safe? In jail?
Must go pound head on desk now.
The Romney campaign's attempt to zoom past the fact that Paul Ryan called for the same $700 billion worth of Medicare cuts that President Obama made a part of the Affordable Care Act is clearly a work in progress. Witness John Sununu this morning. [...]
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SEN. JOHN McCAIN won’t be satisfied, though he rarely is unless there are boots on the ground, but it’s a signal sent by Pres. Obama through Secy. Clinton, nonetheless.
Brian Katulis does the analysis:
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton?s visit to Turkey this weekend publicly signaled that the United States has entered a new phase of its policy on Syria?one in which the United States is working more actively to accelerate the downfall of the Assad regime in Syria while dealing with the risks resulting from the continued conflict.
In announcing a formal U.S.-Turkish bilateral team consisting of military, intelligence, and political leaders to conduct ?very intensive operational planning? for policy options on Syria, Secretary Clinton sent the message that the United States is stepping up its cooperation with regional partners and will remain deeply engaged in responding to the continued violence in Syria.
These intensified planning measures are not likely to satisfy administration critics who have argued for more direct U.S. military involvement in Syria. But these steps demonstrate that the Obama administration remains pragmatic in its approach, assessing the likely implications and possible risks of all actions it might take.
The news in Syria goes from bad to worse on the humanitarian front, which has left Pres. Bashar al-Assad vulnerable to war crimes charges when he finally is ousted from power.
“As I write explicitly [in the book], this is not an academic work where everything has to be acknowledged and footnoted,” his said. The book contains “hundreds” of comments and quotes that aren’t attributed because doing so, in context, would “interrupt the flow for the reader,” he said. He compared his technique to other popular non-fiction authors. “Please look at other books in this genre and you will notice that I’m following standard practice,” he said. – More questions raised about Fareed Zakaria?s work
ANY AUTHOR OF a non-fiction book, which I am, especially one that’s political, can relate to what Fareed Zakaria is saying, as he begins a defense of his work that began with an apology last week over admitting plagiarism in a Time magazine article.
If you’ve read my book you will no doubt be forced to confront the challenge Zakaria addresses. My book, The Hillary Effect, is jammed with quotes and sources notated in the text, without footnotes, because it is a work of history, fact and biography, not opinion, that was a huge job for my editor. To balance it all so as not to “interrupt the flow for the reader” was more difficult than you can imagine.
It’s also true that not every slip deserves to be charged as plagiarism. This is particularly true in new media, where speed makes for more mistakes, which all national new media writers have to work harder to change. And it’s not too much to ask that when one is made, an apology is expected. In this latest case for Zakaria, Clyde V. Prestowitz has asked for an apology on the Andy Grove quote used by Zakaria, and I don’t see why one cannot be given.
Where credit and attribution is earned it should be required of any author and rightly given.
Today Paul Ryan is kissing the ring of Organized Crime figure Sheldon Adelson at his casino in Las Vegas, the Venetian. Although no one expects Adelson to lure Ryan into the same kind of honey trap he caught House Armed Services chairman Buck McKeon in, Ryan should be steering clear of this kind of character. Adelson makes most of his billions not from his Las Vegas gambling empire, but from his shady dealings in Red China. Ryan has enough ethical problems of his own without being seen with a pimp and whore-monger like Adelson. But, at this point Republicans must figure it's just not avoidable. Adelson is the Daddy Warbucks of the GOP. He's doled out more dark, dirty cash to Mitt Romney and to the Republican Party-- not to mention an unprecedented $5 million each to Boehner and Cantor-- than anyone else... in history. He owns them-- with his pro-outsourcing/anti-labor/pro-wars-in-the-Middle East policy agenda.
Because the slobbish avatar of greed and divisiveness is also very litigious, media outlets are extremely careful of writing about his career as a criminal chieftain. Yesterday's NY Times, however, ran a tip-toe-around his pimp business in a new report by Michael Luo and Edward Wong. It starts with an explanation of one of Adelson's many "fixers" in Beijing. (Keep in mind, Adelson owns hundreds of thousands of dollars in gambling debts at his casino from Buck McKeon, the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, who gets top security briefings the Chinese government and the People?s Liberation Army are very interested in.)
When Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate, needed something done in China, he often turned to his company?s ?chief Beijing representative,? a mysterious businessman named Yang Saixin.
Mr. Yang arranged meetings for Mr. Adelson with senior Chinese officials, acted as a frontman on several ambitious projects for Mr. Adelson?s company, the Las Vegas Sands Corporation, and intervened on the Sands?s behalf with Chinese regulators. Mr. Yang even had his daughter take Mr. Adelson?s wife, Miriam, shopping when she was in Beijing.
?Adelson and I had a good relationship,? Mr. Yang said in a recent interview in Hong Kong. ?He should thank me.?
Mr. Yang joined the Sands in 2007 as the company worked to protect its interests in Macau, where its gambling revenues were mushrooming, and pressed ahead with plans for a resort in mainland China. Boasting of ties to the People?s Liberation Army and China?s state security apparatus, Mr. Yang was hired for his guanxi, that mixture of relationships and favors that is critical to opening doors in China, according to former executives.
But today, Mr. Yang, along with tens of millions of dollars in payments the Sands made through him in China, is a focus of a wide-ranging federal investigation into potential bribery of foreign officials and other matters in China and Macau, according to people with knowledge of the inquiries.
The investigations are unfolding as Mr. Adelson has become an increasing presence in this year?s presidential election, contributing at least $35 million to Republican groups. On Tuesday, Mitt Romney?s running mate, Representative Paul D. Ryan, is to appear at a fund-raiser at the Sands?s Venetian casino in Las Vegas; Mr. Adelson is likely to attend, according to a person close to him.
In the political arena, Mr. Adelson is perhaps best known as a hawkish defender of Israel. But whatever the outcome of the inquiries involving his businesses in China, an examination of those activities suggests a keen interest in Washington?s China policy and highlights the degree to which politics and profits are often intertwined for Mr. Adelson.
The Sands has faced a conundrum in China as a casino company whose fortunes are heavily dependent on its operations in a country where gambling is illegal, except in Macau. The company relies on the good will of Chinese officials, who mete out approvals and have the power to curtail the flow of mainland visitors. As a result, Mr. Adelson has sought to use financial clout and connections to exert political influence at the highest levels of government.
On the front lines of those efforts was Mr. Yang, who was paid a $30,000-a-month retainer by the company before he was fired in 2009, he said. At times, he acted as Mr. Adelson?s personal guide to the Chinese establishment. Among the dignitaries he took Mr. Adelson to see was Wan Jifei, a leading international trade official whose father had been vice premier. That led to a lunch with other trade officials at the Great Hall of the People on Tiananmen Square.
The Sands later hired Mr. Wan?s daughter, Bao Bao, a socialite and jewelry designer, to do public relations. And the trade agency Mr. Wan ran became a partner in the Sands?s biggest venture, the Adelson Center for U.S.-China Enterprise.
Chinese leaders at the time were worried about a pending House resolution condemning the country?s bid for the 2008 Olympic Games because of its human rights record. According to Mr. Weidner?s deposition in the Suen case, Mr. Adelson promised Beijing?s mayor he would do what he could. Mr. Adelson called his friend Tom DeLay, then the House majority whip, catching him at a Fourth of July barbecue. Mr. DeLay said he would check on the resolution?s status.
Several hours later, Mr. DeLay called and told Mr. Adelson he was in luck. The resolution was stuck behind a series of other bills.
?So you tell your mayor, it can be assured that this bill will never see the light of day,? Mr. DeLay said, according to Mr. Weidner.
The next morning, the Sands executives met with Qian Qichen, a Chinese vice premier, at the Purple Light Pavilion, where the government?s leaders greet foreign dignitaries. Mr. Qian suggested he would ensure a limitless supply of gamblers to Macau.
In May 2004, the Sands Macau became the first foreign-owned casino in the enclave. On opening day, a mob estimated at 20,000 pushed over crowd-control barriers, ripping doors off their hinges. In its first year, the casino?s profits exceeded its entire $265 million cost. ... The Sands pursued a strategy of engaging with Beijing. It stepped up participation in China-related programs with the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, and hired Myron Brilliant, its senior vice president for international affairs, as a consultant. He suggested establishing a trade center, to help American businesses pursue opportunities in China. Not only could the center funnel convention traffic to Macau, it could foster better relations with Chinese officials.
NBC’s Stars Earn Stripes, a reality competition show in which “stars” ranging from Todd Palin to Nick Lachey complete challenges theoretically drawn from military missions and raise money for military charities when they win, was always going to attract some raised eyebrows. Whether it was the show’s contribution to the growing Palin family reality empire, the involvement of an apparently severely underly-employed Gen. Wesley Clark, or the late-summer cheesiness of the concept, Stars Earn Stripes is perfectly engineered to win news cycles if not fans. But I don’t think NBC anticipated this latest twist: Archbishop Desmond Tutu and a number of other Nobel Laureates have published an open letter to NBC president Bob Greenblatt (who in between this and Sharon Osbourn’s accusations of discrimination is not having a great start to this season) and other executives involved with the show, calling Stars Earn Stripes an ugly glorification of war.
I don’t entirely agree with Tutu and his esteemed company: Stars Earn Stripes doesn’t make it look exciting or fun to fire on live targets, or to expose yourself to real risk. The show is marked by a patent phoniness, whether it’s the cheerful blue and red plastic targets and paint used to mark competitors’ courses, the hay bales that simulate houses, the command center General Clark hosts from that looks like it was sold off the lot of a canceled science fiction show, and the corny, B-movie explosions. This is a rich man’s paintball course, not an effective tool for convincing people to kill in their country’s service. The signatories are right when they say that “Real war is down in the dirt deadly. People?military and civilians?die in ways that are anything but entertaining.” And the show doesn’t actually make entertainment out of those deaths.
But Stars Earn Stripes is a perfect illustration of a deeply pernicious problem: it severs the concept of supporting the troops from any other meaning than praising their competence. “This is a show to say thank you to the people who are in uniform now, who have been in uniform, and the people who protect us 24/7, 365 and do things that you can?t pay people to do,” Dick Wolf, who is executive producing the show, said at the Television Critics Association Press Tour And what I hope, if there was one sentence that comes out of the show at the end of it, it?s going up to people in the military and just simply saying thank you for your service, because they don?t mind hearing it.” Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with the idea that we should thank members of the military for their service. But reducing support for the troops to the sum of thank-yous and viewing them like action movie stars is the equivalent of President Bush suggesting that American families hit up Disney World as a way of affirming the goodness of life in the wake of the September 11 attacks.
Saying thank you, or appreciating military service as a particularized skill set that not all of us have the physical or mental fortitude to perform, is the easy part of the equation, in part because those are sentiments that are broadly applicable, and don’t require an acknowledgement that sometimes, the best thing we could do to support the troops is to call for internal reform of the armed forces. The “troops” are not a monolith with undifferentiated needs. Gay service members can’t access all of the family support programs the military provides for their straight counterparts. If married gay couples have children from previous marriages, those children can’t be covered under military benefits programs, and married gay couples don’t have the same housing and movie benefits, nor the legal protections available to heterosexual married couples. Similarly, supporting female service members means a serious examination of the factors that have made sexual assault so widely prevalent in the military. And supporting troops wounded in overseas action means a commitment to get them excellent treatment all the way through their recovery. American service members have material needs, not simply emotional ones, and there’s something glib and facile about suggesting that the priority in supporting them is simply affirming the coolness of the deeds they perform.
Part of the reason this bifurcation is troubling is that Stars Earn Stripes is helping raise money for some organizations that provide those kinds of material support, including the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska, a state that is home to a disproportionate number of military families, the Wounded Warrior Project, the USO, and the Pat Tillman Foundation, which provides educational scholarships to service members and their families. But in its first episode, at least, the emphasis is more squarely on the competition aspect of the program, the sight of Terry Crews talking about how awesome it is to have figured out a sniper challenge, seeing Picabo Street kick in a door, than on the charities their efforts benefit, and the reason those charities need public support so badly.
Awesome and staged explosions are easier for a reality show to pull off than building long-term support for efforts to fill in the holes in our official support systems for service members and military families. But it would be nice if Stars Earn Stripes embraced a deeper and more nuanced sense of what it means to support the troops. The stories behind the charities the show supports are a lot richer than the sight of celebrities running around an obstacle course playing with military hardware.
In a long piece on Parks and Recreation as part of Deadline’s look at Emmy-contending shows, I was struck by this section on what made the show successful, and how it’s influenced the television landscape:
Producer Daniel Goor says that finetuning Poehler?s character was essential to assure viewers that she was not just a female version of Steve Carell?s self-absorbed Michael Scott of The Office.
?Once we clarified that the other characters in the ensemble liked her, it made it easier for people who liked her, too?, Goor says.
Goor also believes that Poehler?s strong female presence is helping the show surf this season?s new wave of comedies created or cocreated by women, about women, including HBO?s nominated Girls, New Girl, Suburgatory, and Up All Night.
?I think in way we lucked out, and we?ve kind of inadvertently surfed this trend, because our show is very much about a girl, a girl with a job?, Goor says. ?Amy Poehler is very much the lead of this show, we?ve tried all along to make it her perspective, and the perspective of a woman working in a man?s world?.
(Goor notes as an aside that Up All Night creator Emily Spivey and Suburgatory creator Emily Kapnek both served on the staff of Parks.)
Parks and Recreation is one of a few shows, along with Community, which has already spun of showrunners of its own in the form of Anthony and Joe Russo, who created Animal Practice, and New Girl, which spawned its first showrunner in Dana Fox, who created Ben and Kate, which premieres on Fox on September 25, that may never achieve astronomical ratings but that seem likely to be labs that produce a lot of influential writers in years to come. I can’t wait to see what, for example, Community‘s Megan Ganz, or Parks‘ Aisha Muharrar (who wrote the upcoming season that takes Leslie Knope to Washington) do when they get their own shows someday.
But Goor’s remarks also strike me as an illustration of how hard it can be to replicate the best parts of a show like Parks and Recreation. I think it’s absolutely true that the show didn’t make it clear whether Leslie was admirable or a joke in its first season, and the entire show clarified and clicked into place when it became clear that she was extremely competent and committed, and the people around her admired her for it. But Leslie isn’t just likable?she stands for ideas more specific than the archetypes represented by Regan’s working mother, Whitney’s committmentphobe, or Jess’s lovable kook. That may be a limitation on the show’s ultimate audience, though I do wonder if a less surreal take on small-town public service could capture a wider viewership. But the point remains that Leslie has some problems that are inflected by gender, but the bigger idea she represents isn’t solely bounded by her sex. More lady shows could stand to have big ideas where the program’s perspective on it is tied to a main character’s gender, but not solely defined by the fact that she’s a woman. I’m all for explorations of femininity and what it means to be a woman, and I wish more male audiences were interested in those kinds of shows, or that the entertainment industry trusted them to be. But not everything every woman does is about gender and gender roles.
And it’s important that the default for telling those kinds of stories about public and national service, or saving the world, or surviving the workday not always be male. As long as male characters are coded as an acceptable representative for all of humanity but female characters can only represent the experiences of women, and in some cases, a very narrow slice of womanhood, we’re unlikely to get to a place where the depictions of men and women are roughly equal in terms of both number and characterization.
by Rep. Ed Markey, via HuffPost
In the war of words, it’s the words that win the war. And Joe Romm likes his words short, rhetorical, repeated and repeated again (and again).
Joe’s new book, Language Intelligence, is GPS for modern day communicators.
Two decades in development, mining 25 centuries of rhetorical work, Language Intelligence will help readers simplify and sharpen their skills of persuasion. Whether to sway a room the size of the Coliseum, or a boardroom filled with executive gladiators.
Joe masterfully takes us through the main pillars of effective rhetoric. He scripts ways to master the metaphor, and incorporate irony. Solutions the reader can use for speeches, social media, or just winning the debate around the kitchen table.
In fact, Language Intelligence could not come at a better time. Chances are you may come face-to-face with a Romney supporter at the water cooler today, eager to discuss vice presidential selection Paul Ryan and his infamous budget. Joe wants you armed with short, simple words that pack a punch. For example, The Ryan Plan: It robs Grandma’s Medicare to pay for millionaires’ tax breaks. It cuts 90 percent from clean energy while allowing big oil companies to keep $40 billion in tax breaks.
Joe’s language is language for the average Joe. Not typically what one would expect from a writer with a Ph. D in physics from MIT. Joe also happens to be one of the world’s foremost experts in climate change, and those who devour his groundbreaking blog Climate Progress have spent years marveling at his ability to give complex science the Don Draper treatment.
While Language Intelligence is not specifically a book about climate change, Joe’s frustration with the current debate is clear. The planet is experiencing record heat, droughts, wildfires and floods. Yet an army of the world’s top scientist find themselves simply overmatched by partisan PR firms and the climate denier industry schooled and committed to the art of language.
To help fight back, Joe enlists some of the world’s most gifted rhetoricians: Clinton, Bush, Shakespeare, Churchill, Bob Dylan and Lady Gaga. They make up an ensemble cast that electrifies the stage in Language Intelligence.
But the true hero in the book may indeed be Joe himself. Crusading to rescue rhetoric from the flogging it has taken in modern times. As he points out: “Many law schools don’t even offer electives in rhetoric. It’s as if MIT trained its physics students without calculus.”
Centuries ago, Saint Jerome translated the Bible from the ancient Hebrew into the modern language of the day, bringing scripture from the source to the society. With Language Intelligence, our modern-day Saint Joe Romm crafts smart language solutions for those long on facts and longer on syllables. Because when it comes to winning the debate, short is sweet, short is tweet, and short is a lesson we should all repeat.
Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA) is the Ranking Member of the House Natural Resources Committee. This is reprinted from HuffPost with permission.
Despite changes in prosecutors, a Polish investigation of activities at C.I.A. “black sites” — secret U.S. denention facilities in third countries — continues to advance. One Polish official has already been charged and two inmates at the U.S.’s Guantanamo Bay prison, where the detainees went after the Polish facility was closed down, were given “victim status.” The investigation could reveal U.S. involvement both in illegal detentions and, according to accusations, torture.