August 30th, 2009


Only 4% Of Israelis Say Obama Is "Pro-Israel". 96% Misses George W. Bush.

Only 4% Of Israelis Say Obama Is "Pro-Israel"

Only 4 percent of Israelis believe President Barack Obama's Mideast policies are "pro-Israel," according to a Smith Research poll this week. The number was 6 percent two months ago.

Thirty-five percent believe Obama's policies are balanced, while 51 percent say they are more pro-Palestine
, according to the study.

The figures come in the midst of Obama's attempt to broker peace between Israel and Palestine as well as his efforts to repair the fissure between Islam and the West by reaching out to Arab and Middle Eastern countries.

Two months ago, 88 percent of Israelis said the policies of President George Bush, Obama's predecessor, were "pro-Israel."

While Obama has hardly altered US policies toward Israel, he has broken from tradition by taking a strong stance against Israel's building of permanent settlements in the West Bank, a region recognized globally as part of the Palestinian territories. Obama has said that the settlements "have to be stopped" in order to achieve peace in the region.

When the Israeli government refused to comply, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reaffirmed that the Obama administration is "very clear" that settlement growth needs to be halted, "intends to press that point."

Obama, who overwhelmingly won the votes of American Jews in 2008, has since come under criticism from Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and members of the Republican party, which are likely to have impacted Obama's popularity in Israel.

Earlier this month, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported that Netanyahu called senior White House officials Rahm Emanuel and David Axelrod "self-hating Jews," which Haaretz said was a sign of Netanyahu's "paranoia."

This summer, lone Jewish GOP Congressman Eric Cantor labeled Obama's Mid-East policy "dangerous" and "misguided," and later echoed this criticism during a trip to Israel.


Hey Guyz! Rich People Have Feelings Too! Stop The Haetz!

Tom Wolfe: The Rich Have Feelings Too - Vanity Fair

Do the rich have feelings too? In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, Tom Wolfe, who famously chronicled the buyout kings of the 1980s in The Bonfire Of The Vanities, seems to suggest the rich do, in fact feel emotions -- but only after they've been forced to fly coach.

Wolfe assumes the voice of a commodities trader who laments the loss of his company's prized private jets. Rhapsodizing about pre-Bailout era, the narrator salutes his CEO Robert J. McCorkle ("Corky"), who led offsites that were, well, memorable:
"One of the sweetest sounds in the world was Corky making the rounds up here on the executive floor, saying in his laid-back voice, "I feel like boffing some bimbos in the Caribbean. Anybody like to come along?"

In typical Wolfeian fashion, the narrator's prone to wide-ranging references. Nietzche's "tarantulas" make an appearance, as do the former CEOs of the Big Three automakers.
Here's more from Wolfe:
"At the risk of sounding condescending, we should point out that ordinary people haven't the faintest conception of the strain we had to endure daily. How many ordinary people have ever done anything remotely like betting $7.4 billion--bango!--just so!--that the price of energy will rise sharply 14 months from a certain date?"
It almost tugs on your heart strings. But not quite...Read the entire piece at Vanity Fair.

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I am Shocked! A Car Company Lied, Cheated, Conspired, and Promoted Perjury!

Toyota Accused of Hiding Evidence
Former Lawyer at Automaker Charges Evidence in Rollover Cases Was Concealed, Destroyed

A former attorney for Toyota has accused the automaker of illegally withholding evidence in hundreds of rollover death and injury cases, in a "ruthless conspiracy" to keep evidence "of its vehicles' structural shortcomings from becoming known."

The explosive allegations are contained in a federal racketeering suit filed in Los Angeles by Dimitrios P. Biller, former managing counsel for Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc., who claims his complaints about the company's legal misconduct cost him his job.

Toyota, which is second to General Motors in car and truck sales in the U.S., called Biller's charges "inaccurate and misleading," in a statement issued late Friday to CBS News. "Toyota takes its legal obligations seriously and works to uphold the highest professional and ethical standards," the company said.

Company lawyers have not filed an answer to Biller's lawsuit, but have brought a motion to seal the complaint, claiming it is "rife with privileged and confidential information" that Biller, as a former Toyota lawyer, has no right to divulge.

A hearing on the motion has been set for September 14.

Biller, who did not return phone calls, worked for Toyota Motor Sales, based in Torrance, Calif., from 2003 to 2007. He was involved in defending rollover lawsuits that blamed injuries and deaths on instability and weak roofs of the company's SUVs and pickups. Along with Toyota Motor Sales and Japanese parent Toyota Motor Corp., his suit names five senior executives and lawyers of Motor Sales. The case was filed July 24 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, but has not been publicized until now.

Biller's 75-page complaint says that when he came to Toyota after nearly 15 years in private practice, he was "surprised and alarmed" to discover that the company was not producing e-mails and other electronically stored information to plaintiffs as he said was required. According to the lawsuit, Biller repeatedly complained to supervisors that the company was illegally withholding evidence.

The lawsuit further states that the resulting conflicts ultimately caused Biller to suffer a mental breakdown and led to his forced resignation in September 2007. He left with a $3.7 million severance agreement, court records show.

Read the lawsuit Biller v. Toyota (pdf)

The complaint charges that in a pair of lawsuits in Colorado and Texas, Toyota failed to fully disclose electronic data (such as e-mails) in defiance of court orders to do so. It states that when Biller learned of the company's failure to produce design and test data from an engineering subsidiary, he attempted to collect and preserve the information.

Despite these efforts, the engineering unit "was allowed to destroy relevant information and documents that should have been produced in, approximately, over 300 rollover accidents involving roof crush issues," the lawsuit claims.

It further charges that Toyota regularly, and improperly, withheld records on design and testing of vehicle roofs. For example, it says that Toyota never produced a document showing that the company's internal standard for roof strength was tougher than the federal requirement. Toyota engineers and witnesses repeatedly testified that the internal standard did not exist, the lawsuit says, adding that there are vehicles on the road today that do not meet the standard.

Word of the case has electrified the plaintiffs' bar, where some lawyers involved in vehicle cases have long voiced suspicions about foreign automakers withholding evidence.

Stuart Ollanik of the Denver firm of Gilbert, Ollanik and Komyatte, which has settled dozens of Toyota rollover cases, said he was "blown away" by the allegations, and wondered aloud if his cases "were resolved based on honest information or not." Ollanik said he had no "independent information about whether the things alleged in Mr. Biller's lawsuit are true, but if they are they're extremely serious."

With grim memories of Toyota's May 2004 courtroom victory over his quadriplegic client in a Toyota 4Runner rollover case, San Jose lawyer James McManis said he, too, was riveted by the charges. In the 4Runner case, everything with Toyota "was a big fight - and I mean everything - but I never suspected they were behaving dishonestly or concealing or withholding evidence," McManis said. "So I'm very interested in knowing whether we got all the discovery we should have got."

Biller is no stranger to litigation, and even before the lawsuit his battles with Toyota were exceedingly bitter. After leaving Toyota in 2007, he set up a consulting firm to provide attorneys with continuing education on such subjects as trial preparation and discovery of electronic records. But Toyota claimed that information provided on the firm's Web site and in class sessions violated the confidentiality clause of his severance agreement. Toyota obtained a restraining order against Biller, court records show.

Biller's lawsuit also notes that he has a separate wrongful termination claim against the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office, where he briefly worked from May to August 2008, as an assistant district attorney. Biller said he was fired over what he described as a dispute over sheriff's deputies failing to show up for hearings or failing to bring evidence.

In its statement Friday, Toyota said it was "disappointed" that Biller has attempted "to avoid what we believe are his obligations as an attorney formerly employed by Toyota. In our view, Mr. Biller has repeatedly breached his ethical and professional obligations, both as an attorney and in his commitments to us, by violating attorney-client privilege."

In the lawsuit, however, lawyers for Biller described Toyota's effort to silence him as "illegal and against public policy in that it is intended to conceal information from plaintiffs and obstruct justice."

Akuma River

Change has come to Japan

Leading polls suggest that Japan has kicked out it's own version of the GOP (a self-hemorraging party that has lost favor with the public and is deeply mired in problems).

'Major win' for Japan opposition (August 30, 2009 - BBC)

The opposition Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) is set for a massive election victory, exit polls suggest.

The DPJ has won 300 seats in the 480-seat lower house, ending 50 years of almost unbroken rule by the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), NHK TV says.

The DPJ says it will shift the focus of government from supporting corporations to helping consumers and workers.

Prime Minister Taro Aso has said he will resign as head of the LDP, taking responsibility for the defeat.

Japan is suffering record unemployment and its economy is struggling to emerge from a bruising recession.

Analysts say voters blame the conservative LDP for the current economic malaise - and are angry enough to opt for change. Collapse )

So fellow ontd_p, who live in Japan, what do you guys think of this? *trying to get views from people who live there...not that I live there.*

Mod's can we add back the Japan tag?

Oh, Daily Mail... <3

The Daily Mail likes to invent news, especially if it’s about the ills of society and video games. They fabricate the facts and will force a story out at all costs. Either that or they simply do little research or fact checking, or are pushing an agenda and don’t really care about being fair. When they’re not complaining that Scrabble contains rude words, or using Fallout 3 concept art and claiming it to have been created by terrorists, they’re dangerously waving around statements about violent games and murder.

This time they’re up in arms because Cherie Blair (Tony’s wife) and her son are apparently now on the board of directors for an eSports group called “Magnitude Gaming” (with them included has three board members). One of the games they play is Counter Strike which, according to the Daily Mail, contains “highly realistic, graphic battles.” Helpfully, the Daily Mail follow this statement by telling us all that there “have been claims that perpetrators of massacres in the US and Germany have been fans of the game.”

That’s right, somebody said there might be a connection, so in the name of fair journalism the authors (that’s two of them) told us about it. The terrible article then goes on to spin the facts about as far out as to make you think Jacky T talked to them. They quote a few juicy parts from a previous study on knife crime in the UK and then imply dodgy dealing are going on because the third board member lives with Cherie’s son (who’s 23).

So, just from reading between the lines, a 23 year old guy and his friend want to set up an eSports group to play competitive games, and the one asked his mum for help. Score one for investigative journalism! I dread to think what could have happened had the Daily Mail not brought this sordid deal to our attention. Chances are Tony would come home one day, see some Counter Strike being played and proceed to storm into the Houses of Parliament and kill everybody. Probably.

Incidentally, sometimes as a hobby I go through the gaming articles on the Daily Mail and leave comments pointing out their factual inaccuracies. Sadly, as this would ruin their fun, they never react to them. I wonder if the writers ever feel guilty about the false implications they’re spouting out?

Negative Gamer
Akuma River

McCain stands firm against Cheney, torture didn't work

Another rare showing of McCain's maverick and reasonable side shows forth.

McCain Whacks Cheney: Torture Violated Law And Helped The Terrorists (VIDEO) (August 30, 2009 - Huffington Post - Sam Stein)

In a strong pushback against claims made by former Vice President Dick Cheney, Sen. John McCain insisted on Sunday that the use of torture on terrorism suspects violated international law, didn't work, and actually helped al Qaeda recruit additional members.

"I think the interrogations were in violation of the Geneva Conventions and the convention against torture that we ratified under President Reagan," said the Arizona Republican. "I think these interrogations, once publicized, helped al Qaeda recruit. I got that from an al Qaeda operative in a prison camp in Iraq... I think that the ability of us to work with our allies was harmed. And I believe that information, according go the FBI and others, could have been gained through other members."

The senator, appearing on CBS' Face the Nation, offered his assessment just hours after Cheney defended the use of torture during an interview with Fox News Sunday. Host Bob Schieffer pushed McCain to explain how it was that an al Qaeda member had told him that the use of torture helped them recruit.

Relaying a conversation that he and Sen. Lindsey Graham, (R-S.C.) had with a jailed "high-ranking member of al Qaeda," McCain replied that pictures of detainee abuse at Abu Ghraib had allowed the terrorist organization "to recruit thousands of young men."

And yet, despite acknowledging that the use of torture was counter-productive and in violation of international law -- laws that have been ratified by the United States -- </b>McCain still insisted that the Obama Justice Department was wrong to launch an investigation into the matter</b>.

"I believe the president was right when he said we ought to go forward and not back," he said. "I worry about the morale and effectiveness of the CIA. I worry about this thing getting out of control and us harming our ability to carry out the struggle we are in with radical Islamic extremism."

"For us now to go back," McCain added. "I think would be a serious mistake."

cookie monster
  • capthek

(no subject)

Top 10 Signs You Might Not Be A Libertarian

by DarkSyde

Sun Aug 30, 2009 at 06:00:45 AM PDT

Notice a propensity of newly minted Libertarians showing up lately? Perhaps it's just coincidence their ranks swelled in inverse proportion to George Bush's approval rating, ditto that so many are mouthing traditional conservative talking points. But what about the everyday gun toting townhall screamers and taxcutters and deficit hawks we see on cable news: are they really libertarian as so many claim, or just conservatives in glibertarian clothes? Here's a few warning signs.

  1. If you think Ron Paul isn't conservative enough and Fox News is fair and balanced, you might not be a Libertarian.
  1. If you believe you have an inalienable right to attend Presidential townhalls brandishing a loaded assault rifle, but that arresting participants inside for wearing a pink shirt is an important public safety precaution, there's a chance you're dangerously unbalanced, but no chance you're a Libertarian.
  1. If you think the government should stay the hell out of Medicare, well, you have way, way bigger problems than figuring out if you're really a Libertarian.
  1. If you rank Anthonin Scalia and Roy Moore among the greatest Justices of all time, you may be bug fuck crazy, but you're probably not a Libertarian.
  1. You might not be a Libertarian if you think recreational drug use, prostitution, and gambling should be illegal because that's what Jesus wants.
  1. If you think the separation between church and state applies equally to all faiths except socially conservative Christian fundamentalism, you're probably not a Libertarian.
  1. You're probably not a Libertarian if you believe the federal government should remove safety standards and clinical barriers for prescription and OTC medications while banning all embryonic stem cell research, somatic nuclear transfer, RU 486, HPV and cervical cancer vaccination, work on human/non human DNA combos, or Plan B emergency contraception.  
  1. If you think state execution of mentally retarded convicts is good policy but prosecuting Scott Roeder or disconnecting Terri Schiavo was an unforgivable sin, odds are you're not really a Libertarian.
  1. If you argue that cash for clunkers or any form of government healthcare is unconstitutional, but forced prayer or teaching old testament creationism in public schools is fine, you're not even consistent, much less a Libertarian, and you may be Michele Bachmann.

And the number one sign: if you think government should stay the hell out of people's private business -- except when kidnapping citizens and rendering them to secret overseas torture prisons, snooping around the bedrooms of consenting adults, policing a woman's uterus, or conducting warrantless wire taps, you are no Libertarian.

Farscape Aeryn

Senator Kennedy's letter to the Pope

Excerpts from Kennedy's letter to Pope Benedict XVI

Shortly before he died from brain cancer, Sen. Ted Kennedy wrote a letter to Pope Benedict XVI. President Obama delivered the letter to the pontiff during his visit to the Vatican in July.

The following are excerpts from the letter as read by Cardinal Theodore McCarrick at Kennedy's private burial service Saturday in Arlington National Cemetery:

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I'm not sure how appropriate it is that CNN posted this private communication, but now that it is out there, I do know that it emphasizes the need for us to get health care passed and that it made me cry.

ETA: As this letter was read at the funeral, I take back my 'appropriateness' comment. It's just a very touching and heartfelt communication that really helps show us what sort of man Ted Kennedy was.

Fortune helped fuel Kennedy family legacy, agenda

BOSTON – Sen. Edward Kennedy's family fortune not only fueled his brothers' presidential campaigns and his eight terms in the U.S. Senate, it also helped drive the family's liberal legacy and forge Kennedy's lifelong crusade for universal health care.

Just how wealthy was Kennedy when he died Tuesday at the age of 77 after a yearlong battle with brain cancer?

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Nice try, guys...

The Conservatives will promote a gay-friendly logo at their annual conference this autumn in a bid to attract new voters.

The rainbow symbol – widely used to signify pride in the gay community – has been co-opted by the Tories in a makeover of the party's green and blue tree emblem.

The multicoloured version will be used to signify the party as a "broad church" when it hosts its first gay pride event at the annual Tory conference, taking place in Manchester in October.

Ben Summerskill, the chief executive of the gay rights lobby group Stonewall, has been invited to give an address as David Cameron seeks to shed the party's old image and present it as more tolerant and inclusive.

The Tory leader used an interview in the gay press in the run-up to last month's London gay pride event to apologise for section 28, the notorious legislation, brought in by the Thatcher government, which banned the "promotion" of homosexuality in schools.

Cameron voted against the repeal of section 28 as recently as 2003, when it was taken off the statute books.

Three years later, in his first speech as party leader, he sought to adopt a new stance when he hailed the introduction of civil partnerships.

In October, the Conservatives will invite conference delegates to celebrate gay pride.

More than 700 are expected to attend a £15-a-head event at the Spirit Bar in Canal Street – the centre of Manchester's gay scene – which will have "surprise special guests" and a speech from an as yet unidentified senior shadow cabinet member.

Source: The Guardian