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  • Today in Questionable Sourcing: New York Times Misfires on Oil-Spill Assessment

    The Gulf of Mexico oil spill is bad, but hey, relax, people, it’s not that bad. That’s according to a story in The New York Times this morning trying to assess the damage. The piece quotes a fellow named Quenton R. Dokken, identified as a “marine biologist” and head of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, described as a conservation group. Except that describing the Gulf of Mexico Foundation as a conservation group would be like describing Focus on the Family as a pro-choice organization.Dokken may be a marine biologist, but the foundation he leads is clearly and directly an arm of the oil industry. Its Web site lists 10 oil companies—including Shell, ConocoPhillips, and, yep, BP—as its funders. In fact, the site notes that in 2005, BP donated $30,000 to fund the foundation's efforts. And a year later the company chipped in $25,000 more.But it gets even murkier. On the foundation’s board of directors is a man named Ian Hudson, who happens to be the head of corporate responsibility...
  • How Will Gulf Spill Affect Energy Debate? A Chat With Colorado Gov. Bill Ritter

    Politics is nothing but the art of timing and opportunity. Opponents of drilling are hoping that now, in the wake of a worsening environmental catastrophe, might be their best opening to make a credible and convincing case that the time to shift to renewable energy is now, and there are 200,000 barrels' worth of reasons currently spewing in the Gulf of Mexico. The White House said late last week that it would be reevaluating its drilling policy articulated last month with a potential pivot to be announced by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. In the meantime, the Blue Green Alliance, a top Washington environmental advocacy group, hopes to make the case at a conference on green energy (coincidentally timed) that the spill underscores the imperative of moving quickly.Kicking off the conference was Bill Ritter, Colorado's cowboy-boot-clad governor, who says his state's recent investments in clean natural gas and renewables could be—and should be—the model for the country. And that while...
  • Why the U.N. Nukes Conference Is Already Bad for Iran

    After a week of oil spillage and Times Square terrorism, Barack Obama could probably use a breakthrough. He might have gotten a glimpse of one yesterday at the United Nations.More than 180 countries are convening this month for the eighth review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Cold War agreement that determines the world's nuclear haves and have-nots. Predictably enough, such gatherings are usually rife with friction. Nonnuclear states argue that major powers have used the treaty to develop a "nuclear caste system," as Colum Lynch has dubbed it; they see it maintaining the nuclear prowess of existing powers and their allies (India, Israel, and Pakistan), while leaving vulnerable the overwhelming majority of NPT signatories. On the other side, nuclear states have shown little eagerness to voluntarily curtail their own power. At the last NPT review conference in 2005, the Bush team, lead by John ...
  • Sestak Torpedo Aimed at Specter: The Word on Grant Street

    Grant Street is where politics is practiced in my hometown of Pittsburgh, so when I need to get my bearings on Pennsylvania politics—or politics in general—I call the people I know who work (or used to work) in the City-County Building or the Allegheny County Courthouse. With the Democratic primary fast approaching on May 18, the buzz is rising on Grant Street, a thoroughfare ruled by Democrats since the days of Franklin D. Roosevelt.County Executive Dan Onorato is miles ahead of his competitors for the gubernatorial nomination, so the focus is shifting to the increasingly vicious U.S. Senate primary. It's between two Philly-area Democrats: Sen. Arlen Specter (until last year a Republican) and Rep. Joe Sestak, who, before he won a House seat four years ago, was a Navy admiral.The consensus: Sestak seems to be gaining ground, both in the polls and in the for-background-only opinion along Grant Street. No one seems to much like Sestak—they don't know him—but even though the...
  • Dick Cheney's Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

    Poor Dick Cheney. Ever since George W. Bush's presidential term ended, all the former veep has wanted to do is spend some time at home, kick back with his grandchildren, and publicly criticize and undermine the authority of our current commander in chief as often as possible. And yet, it seems that no matter what he does, he can't stay out of the headlines. Specifically, the terrifying and tragic headlines dominating today's news. First, Alex Pareene at Salon's War Room notes that the giant, toxic, seemingly unstoppable oil spill headed toward the fragile and vulnerable Gulf Coast could be construed as kind of Cheney's fault. The Wall Street Journal reports...
  • Quote of the Day: Joe Arpaio

    "I don't want to be egotistical, but I could be the governor if I ran. My polls are very high. I got the money. I got the polls. I got the support." —Joe Arpaio, the controversial sheriff of Maricopa Country, Ariz., during his announcement today that he will not run for the Republican nomiation for governor
  • The Meaning of This Weekend's Immigration Marches

    On Saturday, tens of thousands of demonstrators took to the streets in more than 70 cities across the country to call on Congress to overhaul the nation's immigration laws. But let's be clear on what triggered these marches. They weren't as much a call for immigration reform as they were an angry cry against Arizona's new immigration law. The distinction is important. In the absence of the controversial new measure, the rallies—which had been planned long before the Arizona bill became law—would have drawn far fewer participants. Why? Because what really galvanizes Hispanics in big numbers (and it's mostly Hispanics we're talking about) isn't a desire to legalize the undocumented, but a feeling that the undocumented are being demonized....
  • Arizona’s Immigration Law May Become Model for Other States

    By McKay Coppins Critics throughout the country are decrying Arizona’s tough new immigration law as “misguided,” “racist” and just plain “stupid”—but not everyone hates it. A voter poll in Utah published Thursday shows that a whopping 65 percent of Utahans would support their state modeling its immigration laws after Arizona’s. With such strong support, it’s not surprising that a local politician has already pledged to craft a bill and bring it to Utah’s 2011 legislative session.The Beehive State isn't alone: activists in California are calling on lawmakers to adopt an Arizona-inspired immigration policy, and a state representative in Texas said she will introduce a similar measure to the legislature come January. Utah is unique, however, in that it’s not a border state, and substantial immigration reform was just implemented there less than a year ago. So why so much support for the law?For one thing, Utah is about as red a state as they come, and the national immigration...
  • Gulf Oil Spill: Prognosis Looks Grim; Obama Speaks in Louisiana

    An already bad situation seems to be turning worse in the Gulf of Mexico. News over the weekend suggested the effects of the growing oil spill will be worse than expected, and the leak may not be stopped any time soon. BP officials said Monday they were preparing to install a shutoff valve on one of three leaks, while work to stop the others continues. ...
  • Video: Surveillance Shows Suspect; Taliban Vid Shows Mehsud Alive

    A potential suspect in the May 1 attempted Times Square car bombing is tall, thin, white, and in his 40s, police say, after analyzing tape captured from NYPD surveillance cameras. The man removes a dark shirt about half a block from the Nissan, which was left running, and stuffs the shirt into his bag while glancing over his shoulder multiple times. In response, two videos from the Taliban's sect in Pakistan were posted online: the first claimed responsibility for the attempted attack, and the second featured the country's Taliban leader, long thought to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike.  Pakistani Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud appears healthy in the video footage, which looks to have been filmed in early April. Per The Washington Post's Foreign Service, "That development was hailed as a huge blow to a militant organization that has carried out a steady campaign of attacks inside Pakistan over two years, and whose previous leader was killed by a U.S. drone last summe...
  • Quote of the Day: Rush Limbaugh

    "What better way to head off more oil drilling, nuclear plants, than by blowing up a rig? I'm just noting the timing here." —Radio host Rush Limbaugh, subtly implying that the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico just might be a liberal conspiracy. (h/t Kevin Drum)
  • Will Baseball Teams Boycott Arizona?

    Opposition to Arizona's controversial new immigration law continues to spread. First, it was the civil-rights and immigrant-advocacy groups that howled. Then elected officials around the country chimed in. Now the celebs, including Shakira and Linda Ronstadt, are piping up. But one voice of protest could be more resonant than all of these. Pressure is now building on Major League Baseball to boycott the state....
  • Lady Gaga's 'Telephone' Has Company: Some of the Best Military Music Videos

    If you've been anywhere near a computer for over the past week, you've probably caught a glimpse of the "Telephone" video created by military members stationed in Afghanistan. What first looks like goofing off by two bored soldiers is later revealed to be a big production, complete with costumes, elaborate choreography, and not-bad editing....
  • Will Oil Spill Give Momentum to Energy Reform?

    The news media and public can only see current events through the prism of the past. So we're all looking for a Katrina replay in the oil-spill story. David Axelrod was on Good Morning America tamping down any suggestion that the White House had been tardy in reacting. But history doesn't repeat itself exactly, so some new political storyline is sure to come out of this disaster (quite possibly the biggest non-Washington story of the year once the oil hits land and we see Exxon Valdez–style pictures of oil-soaked ducks). What will that angle be? "Drill, baby, drill!"—the battle cry of the 2008 GOP convention—is already sounding lame, as is President Obama's statement earlier this year that today's oil rigs don't cause spills. Is making politicians look like fools the only medium-term political outcome? Only if we lack any ability to turn crisis into opportunity. After the immediate crisis passes and the cleanup is well underway, we should look to...