Many industry watchers assume that Twitter's move to take over the URL shortening business on Twitter signals the end for Bitly and other similar services. But CEO Peter Stern says, au contraire. Read our interview. [...]
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Dominique Strauss-Kahn is free, his accuser facing an uncertain future. What started out looking like a turning point– a poor working woman seeking justice for a crime committed by one of the world’s privileged, quickly degenerated into a media circus that left no one looking good.
I care very much about the presumption of innocence. Too many people have been wrongly convicted, from the Salem hysteria, to the Scottsboro Boys, to the many prisoners exonerated after years by DNA evidence. The press can’t be expected to ignore a story that is so intensely interesting on so many levels, but the trial by media harmed both parties. Dominique Strauss-Kahn has wealth and social protection on a level that Naffisitou Diallo can never aspire to. He will never know what it’s like to face poverty or to labor in a foreign country. Ms. Diallo, even if she wins a civil suit, has suffered the greater loss. She had a hard job, but a secure one, with decent wages and benefits. She had privacy. She might have fallen prey to bad judgment and bad companions, but just as likely would have stayed under the radar. Any money left from a settlement after lawyers take their cut is unlikely to set her up in a life that is financially and socially safe. Her reputation as a quiet, hard-working woman has been destroyed. Her life, no less than Strauss-Kahn’s, has value. If her testimony is true, her attacker vandalized a woman’s life just on impulse.
I believe she was telling the truth about what happened in that hotel suite. I think that Strauss-Kahn is not a ‘womanizer’ who uses charm, but a man who won’t take ‘no’ for an answer and has become a man who has a compulsion to hurt women. But that is trial by media– not something that serves justice or the rights of the accused or the rights of victims.
William Saletan at Slate has a post called ‘Frame the Victim’ that brings up some of the troubling aspects of the DA’s office handling of the case. I think they did a lot right, took a lot of heat for it, and then caved too soon. I’m flat out and not able to take it point by point, but will post especially relevant posts like Saletan’s.
Members of the Ugandan Parliament are responding angrily to reports that the country’s cabinet — bowing to international pressure — has thrown out the controversial “Kill Gays” legislation and is now vowing to push it through through the legislature. “Members of Parliament yesterday accused Cabinet of bowing to pressure and described the Executive?s decision to block the gays Bill as ‘moral corruption’. Ndorwa West MP David Bahati, the architect of the Bill, says Cabinet cannot throw out his Bill because it is now property of Parliament and insists that he is going to push for it.”
Speaking on Keith Olbermann’s Countdown, environmental writer and activist McKibben called the Keystone XL Pipeline protests “the largest civil disobedience action in the environmental movement in decades.”
Indeed, since the protests against the Keystone XL Pipeline in front of the White House began last week, 220 people have been arrested. And as the action continues this week, major news outlets are picking up on the story: CBS, The New Yorker, Reuters, The Guardian, The Huffington Post, Politico and numerous others have all run stories on the civil disobedience against the tar sands pipeline.
And as McKibben and others sat in jail, The New York Times also published an op-ed on Sunday against the proposed 1,700 mile Keystone XL pipeline that would bring carbon-intensive, environmentally-disastrous tar sands crude from Canada to the Gulf Coast:
It projects that Canada will double its current tar sands production over the next decade to more than 1.8 million barrels a day. That rate will mean cutting down some 740,000 acres of boreal forest ? a natural carbon reservoir. Extracting oil from tar sands is also much more complicated than pumping conventional crude oil out of the ground. It requires steam-heating the sands to produce a petroleum slurry, then further dilution.
One result of this process, the ministry says, is that greenhouse gas emissions from the oil and gas sector as a whole will rise by nearly one-third from 2005 to 2020 ? even as other sectors are reducing emissions. Canada still hopes to meet the overall target it agreed to at Copenhagen in 2009 ? a 17 percent reduction from 2005 levels by 2020. If it falls short, as seems likely, tar sands extraction will bear much of the blame.
The protests continue today, with many more expected to be arrested.
Here’s the story of another concerned citizen ? Tyson from the University of Nebraska, who came to DC to “stand with Randy,” a mid-western farmer who raised concerns about the environmental impact of the Keystone pipeline from the beginning:
You can find more stories about the protesters here.
In an interview with conservative CNSNews, Rep. Steve King (R-IA) made a revealing claim. He opposes a balanced budget amendment that doesn’t also include draconian spending caps and a provision making it nearly impossible to raise taxes:
One of the reasons I voted ?no? on the debt ceiling deal is because it was supposed to be an important lever for us to get a vote on a balanced budget amendment, but they did not have first a definition for a balanced budget amendment…[that] has a supermajority [to raise taxes] and an 18 percent GDP cap in it. [...] If we pass something out of the House that?s meant as a constitutional amendment that has no heat then we have no results then it will look like we are just posturing ourselves rather than actually fixing the problem.
It’s hard to read King’s statement as anything less than an admission that he doesn’t really care whether the budget is balanced. In 1995, the House passed a true balanced budget amendment, which would have made it very difficult to enact an unbalanced budget. Had this actual balanced budget amendment been in effect in 2001, for example, the single largest driver of our present deficits — the Bush tax cuts — would have been unconstitutional. Likewise, the House GOP’s Medicare-killing budget that passed the House earlier this year also would fail under a clean balanced budget amendment because it fails to raise enough taxes to cover its costs.
Needless to say, congressional Republicans don’t like this outcome, which is why they are currently dressing up a Tea Party fantasy amendment in balanced budget amendment clothing. The so-called “balanced budget amendment” that King supports does far more than simply requiring federal spending to equal federal revenues. It makes it functionally impossible to raise taxes by imposing a two-thirds supermajority requirement — a provision closely modeled after the California anti-tax amendment that blew up that state’s finances. It would also require spending cuts so steep that it would have made Ronald Reagan?s fiscal policy unconstitutional.
Last month, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell explained that he supports this Tea Party amendment because it eliminates the ability of something as silly as the American people voting for candidates who don’t want Tea Party fiscal policy from actually having an impact on national policy. Rep. King’s opposition to a clean balanced budget amendment is just one more admission that Congressional Republicans don’t actually care a bit about balancing the budget — they just want to use the American people’s legitimate anxiety over our long term deficits to permanently enshrine a comprehensive Tea Party agenda in the Constitution.
When you write about the global trend toward democracy it’s natural to bring up China as a counterexample. Maybe yes, maybe no, but I was very interested to read Christina Larson’s interview about environmentally inspired protests in Dalian, China:
Dalian was one of the places they took me when I was on a tour of China, and they took me there because it’s a very nice place. Much more prosperous than Yiwu, and much more pleasant than Beijing or Shanghai. It’s more “livable” (as a new urbanist would say) with cleaner air, a more services-oriented economy, and less insane traffic. Not a stupendously large city by Asian standards, it’s still big with something like two million people in the city proper (Chinese administrative divisions are hard to compare to ours) and maybe three million more in the surrounding area. China contains multitudes and many inequities and the point seemed to be something like “this is an optimistic look at the future of China?in another decade or two more and more cities will be like this.” And probably so! And in Dalian people seem to get pissed off when they feel the municipal authorities aren’t responsive to what they want.
ECB hard money mania has been exacerbating Southern European debt woes:
But it’s not just thrifty Germans looking out for themselves. Instead, “German business confidence tumbled this month at the fastest rate since the aftermath of the Lehman Brothers collapse.” FAZ has the chart:
The saving grace of the Eurozone is that having embarked on this misguided initiative it now really is in the interests of the “stronger” countries as well as the “weaker” ones to find a way to make it work.
The Jerusalem Post notes that right-wing media personality Glenn Beck is moving up the start time of his rally in Jerusalem to accomodate Ramadan. The ” rally was scheduled for 5 p.m. and will have to end shortly after 6:30 p.m. before thousands of Muslims make their way to the Temple Mount for the 7:16 p.m. Maghrib prayer.” “We have been asked to move our event to not night, because it?s Ramadan,” Beck said Monday. ThinkProgress reporter Ben Armbruster is on the ground in Jerusalem and snapped this picture of Beck’s rally as it is about to begin. As you can see, there are plenty of empty seats:
It’s ironic that Beck is now accomodating Muslims given his long history of spouting fiery Islamophobic rhetoric. Previously, Beck even has suggested that Obama may be Muslim because he hosted Iftar dinners or spoke kind words about Muslim Americans.
Hold a vial of pumped and processed oil to the light here, just before it enters the pipeline that one executive jokingly calls “the cash register,” and you can see a layer of watery sediment settled at the bottom.
The vial contains diluted bitumen. What happens to it inside pipelines, 0.5 percent sediment content and all, is powering a controversy that spans the continent.
Environmental and safety groups warn that diluted bitumen poses a greater risk of pipeline corrosion and spills than conventional fuel or the synthetic crude also produced from the Canadian oil sands. The oil and gas industry, bolstered by Canadian regulators and policymakers, blasts this claim as hyperbolic fearmongering.
“The challenge we have is combating emotion with facts,” Alberta Energy Minister Ron Liepert said during an interview this month when asked about the safety charges leveled by critics of oil sands development, particularly the $7 billion Keystone XL pipeline.
Liepert readily acknowledged, however, that few if any targeted studies of diluted bitumen’s corrosion risks are available to help him make the case for more oil sands development.
Boston is getting a nice large EV charging network via Coulomb Technologies’ ChargePoint stations. The more than 150 chargers will mainly be located within the Route 495 Beltway.
The news was part of a joint statement released by Coulomb and BMW, whose Active E all-electric vehicle, i3 and i8 are all on the way in the next couple years. The automaker was assuring Boston drivers that they’d have plenty of places to recharge by the time the plug-in vehicles launch.
Of course, Coulomb’s ChargePoints can charge any EV, so this is also great news for all non-BMW EV drivers who find themselves on the 495 Beltway.
A new University of Michigan project will help city leaders in the Great Lakes region plan for dealing with climate change.
The Kresge Foundation is helping fund the $1.2 million project, which will last three years.
Organizers say much climate change research has been done on global and national scales, but little is known about its potential effects on the local level.
University of Michigan professor Arun Agrawal says the project will give local officials information they need to make better policy decisions and upgrade infrastructure.
Scientists will work with urban leaders to develop a network of city administrators, land-use planners, mayors and others interested in developing sustainable cities as climate change affects the Great Lakes region in ever-greater ways.
Over the past few days, fact-checkers have been kept busy debunking this statement from Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R), on why he doesn?t believe that humans are heating the planet: ?I think we?re seeing it almost weekly or even daily, scientists who are coming forward and questioning the original idea that man-made global warming is what is causing the climate to change.?
It?s not a tricky argument to dismiss. In 2010, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences published a survey of 1,372 climate researchers, finding that 97 to 98 percent of those publishing in the field said they believe humans are causing global warming. That?s the same majority that existed in a similar 2009 survey. Dissenters do exist, thePNAS study found, but ?the relative climate expertise and scientific prominence of the researchers unconvinced ? are substantially below that of the convinced researchers.? Either way, the ranks of dissenters don?t appear to be swelling. (When contacted by the Washington Post, the Perry campaign responded with links to news stories that, reporter Glenn Kessler concluded, were ?anecdotal in nature.?)
Still, it?s worth adding one overlooked point to all this fact-checking. It?s not just that Perry?s wrong. In many ways, the field of climate science is moving in precisely the opposite direction that he?s suggesting. Recall that back in 2007, the Intergovernmental Panel of Climate Change put out a report synthesizing the scientific work on global warming. While the report sounded quite certain on a number of topics?noting, for one, that it was ?very likely? that most of the observed temperature increases since mid-century were due to man-made greenhouse gases?there were still plenty of vague spots in the report, especially with regards to sea-level rise.
Yet rather than poke further holes, much of the climate science that?s been published since 2007 appears to have strengthened the consensus, not weakened it. Another synthesis eport published last May by Britain?s Met Office, looking at more than 100 peer-reviewed post-IPCC studies, found that the case for human influence has been bolstered: ?We can say with a very high significance level that the effects we see in the climate cannot be attributed to any other forcings.?
Tourists on a small North Carolina island have begun evacuating as Hurricane Irene heads for the East Coast after leaving more than 11,000 displaced in Dominican Republic.
It won’t be an easy task to get thousands of people off Ocracoke Island, which is accessible only by boat. Ocracoke is home to about 800 year-round residents and thousands of vacationers each summer. Tourists started evacuating Wednesday at 5 a.m. The island’s residents have been told to evacuate Thursday.
The first ferry to leave the island early Wednesday had around a dozen cars on it.
Officials from the Environmental Protection Agency will be in the Vermont town of Vershire for a public hearing on a cleanup plan for a hazardous waste site.
The agency is looking to collect public comments on Thursday on a cleanup plan for the former Ely Cooper Mine site. A 30-day comment period for its plan ends on Saturday.
The proposed $18 million cleanup plan includes excavation of waste rock, soil and sediment, as well as installation of a cap for the site.
As federal, state, and local governments scramble to prepare for the imminent arrival of the hurricane, it is important to look at how budget cuts at all levels of government have imperiled the ability to detect and respond to Hurricane Irene and other similar extreme weather events in the future.
Last week, Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), warned that federal budget cuts will force the agency to go without building a satellite that helps detect extreme weather events five years from now:
Without money to build a new satellite, the federal government will no longer be able to forecast severe weather events far enough in advance for communities to take life-saving action five years from now. That was the message that Jane Lubchenco, the administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, delivered on Wednesday at a town-hall-style meeting in Denver. [...] ?Whether the gap is longer than that depends on whether we get the money?? $1 billion ? ?in the next budget,? warned Dr. Lubchenco, an environmental scientist. ?I would argue that these satellites are critically important to saving lives and property and to enabling homeland security.?
Unfortunately, some of the nation’s budget cuts are already hurting the ability of local communities to respond to the incoming Irene. In Palm Beach County, Florida, budget cuts have forced a cutback in the emergency management budget by 16 percent. In South Carolina, another state likely to be battered by Irene, budget cuts have led to a third of the emergency management divisions’ staff being lost. “We’re going to do what we can with less and we think we can be effective in that regard,” said Joe Farmer of the division.
As the far-right continues to demonize government and demand even more austerity, it is important to remember that government spending on things like disaster preparedness not only keeps important employees working but is crucial to saving lives.