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Liberal Outrage

Don't Think of It As Aiding Repression

Think of it as a golden business opportunity!

An internal Cisco document (.pdf) leaked to reporters on the eve of a Senate human rights hearing reveals that Cisco engineers regarded the Chinese government's rigid internet censorship program as an opportunity to do more business with the repressive regime.

The 90-page document is an internal presentation that Cisco engineers and staffers in China mulled over in 2002 as the central government was upgrading its local, state and provincial public safety and security network infrastructure. Under the category "Cisco Opportunities," the document provides bullet point suggestions for how it might service China's censorship system called the "Golden Shield", and better known in the West as the Great Firewall of China.


"If you know ahead of time that a sale could lead to human rights violations, and there's no way of mitigating that, maybe you shouldn't offer it to that entity," says Arvind Ganesan, a director at the nonprofit Human Rights Watch, who called on Cisco to conduct a global audit for similar marketing behavior.

I suppose the usual response to this is that if Cisco didn't offer their services to China, someone else would step in to fill that void, so they might as well do it and reap the profits. And then they could go on to quote how much they donate to charities annually, thus once again balancing the scales of "good" actions versus "bad". Booyah.

By min | May 22, 2008, 1:52 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Things you shouldn't say until after you are president

Or, what we didn't learn from Howard Dean's campaign:

Democrat Barack Obama said on Sunday he would pursue a vigorous antitrust policy if he becomes U.S. president and singled out the media industry as one area where government regulators would need to be watchful as consolidation increases.

"I will assure that we will have an antitrust division that is serious about pursuing cases," the Illinois senator told an audience of mostly senior citizens in Oregon.

"There are going to be areas, in the media for example where we're seeing more and more consolidation, that I think (it) is legitimate to ask...is the consumer being served?"

By fnord12 | May 19, 2008, 7:13 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

What other explanation is there?

On the same general topic as the post below, i was outraged beyond my usual level of outrage upon reading this. The basic context is that Robert Gates, Bush's Secretary of Defense, has proposed having talks with Iran, the very thing that Bush compared to Nazi appeasement.

But the most striking disappearance of Gates' comments came on CNN. On yesterday's American Morning, host John Roberts interviewed Obama communications director Robert Gibbs. Gibbs twice brought up Gates' comments -- though when CNN aired clips of the interview later in the day, the cable network edited Gibbs' comments to include the sentence before he mentioned Gates, and the sentence after he mentioned Gates -- but to omit any reference to the defense secretary.

Between this and their silence on the Pentagon military analysts, which they were complicit in, it seems clear to me that the media can no longer simply claim incompetence. This is pure pro-government propaganda.

By fnord12 | May 19, 2008, 4:56 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Establishing my anti-Obama cred

I've favored Obama over Clinton this primary and for good reason, but that doesn't mean i think his presidency is going to be an establishment of liberal ideals. Min and i were both disappointed with the way he defended himself from Bush and McCain's attacks on Israel recently. As always, i'll let others say it better than i would:

But while Obama went on the offensive over the Bush foreign policy of empty posturing that has actually empowered the likes of Iran and Hamas, he may, in fact, have dug himself a hole on the substantive question of talking to Hamas. Obama insisted he had stated "over and over again that I will not negotiate with terrorists like Hamas."

That, of course, is the wrong answer, because as Joe Klein [fnord12: ugh, getting criticized from the left by Joe Klein is embarassing] made clear this week, talking to Hamas is nothing less than the duty of the U.S. government. Anyone with any serious grasp of events in the region knows that peace talks with Mahmoud Abbas are not peace talks at all, as Daniel Levy so eloquently explains, because Abbas and Israel are allies, not enemies.

Moreover, it's a little off the mark to blame Bush for Hamas's rise on the grounds that the Bush Administration insisted the Palestinians hold elections. Those elections were a good thing, they simply revealed the reality that the Palestinians had lost faith in Fatah - for good reason: Fatah's 15 years of negotiating with - and appeasing -- the Israelis and Americans had yielded nothing but more settlements for the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza. It's for failing to press the Israelis to abide by international law and end its occupation policies, not the demand for elections, for which the Bush Administration ought to be held accountable.

So, he may have come out swinging, but Obama picked the wrong punches. Instead of insisting he wouldn't talk to Hamas, he'd have been better off ridiculing the notion that Hamas or Iran are the equivalent of Nazi Germany, and pointing out that Bush - by substituting teenage testosterone for serious policy - is essentially teeing up another war that will not be good for Israel or for the United States.

By fnord12 | May 19, 2008, 4:50 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

I thought this guy was supposed to be smart

PZ Meyers on Ben Stein:

I can't believe what an idiot this man is; it's not just that he's ignorant, but that he has these bizarrely inappropriate notions about biology. He complains about "Darwinism" because it doesn't explain why are there laws of gravity and thermodynamics, or where physics and gravity come from.

By fnord12 | May 17, 2008, 12:59 PM | Liberal Outrage & Science | Comments (4)| Link

Silver lining


"Initial claims will not reach the levels seen in previous recessions, as payrolls are much leaner than is typical when the economy begins to weaken,'' Ryan Sweet, an economist at Moody's Economy.com.

There won't be as many layoffs in this recession (at least, initially) because we never actually recovered from the previous recession. Good news!

By fnord12 | May 15, 2008, 10:10 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Well, you'd be insane to sneak into this country


The U.S. government has injected hundreds of foreigners it has deported with dangerous psychotropic drugs against their will to keep them sedated during the trip back to their home country, according to medical records, internal documents and interviews with people who have been drugged.
Such episodes are among more than 250 cases The Washington Post has identified in which the government has, without medical reason, given drugs meant to treat serious psychiatric disorders to people it has shipped out of the United States since 2003 -- the year the Bush administration handed the job of deportation to the Department of Homeland Security's new Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, known as ICE.

Involuntary chemical restraint of detainees, unless there is a medical justification, is a violation of some international human rights codes. The practice is banned by several countries where, confidential documents make clear, U.S. escorts have been unable to inject deportees with extra doses of drugs during layovers en route to faraway places.

By fnord12 | May 14, 2008, 10:03 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

If Laura Bush Wants to Lecture Someone About Poor Disaster Management

She should start at home.

Lingering fears about formaldehyde fumes inside federally issued trailers and the impending hurricane season have Mayor Ray Nagin pushing to empty thousands of the structures, intended as temporary housing after Katrina.

So, first our government fails to properly prepare for the hurricane in a way that would have limited the amount of destruction it caused. Then they fumbled repeatedly as they failed to aid the victims of the hurricane and continue to drag their feet in rebuilding the area. Now it turns out the housing they eventually did provide is emitting deadly fumes.

This is like when the Europeans gave the Native Americans plague-ridden blankets. I wait in anticipation of the government's next effort to grind the hope out of these people's souls.

By min | May 8, 2008, 11:37 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

Our electricity grid

Quite a few people believe that if there is a decline in oil production, we can make up much of the difference by increasing our use of electricity--more nuclear, wind, solar voltaic, geothermal or even coal. The problem with this model is that it assumes that our electric grid will be working well enough for this to happen. It seems to me that there is substantial doubt that this will be the case.
The primary reason for the likely problems is the fact that in the last few decades, the electric power industry has moved from being a regulated monopoly to an industry following more of a free market, competitive model.
When a utility's primary role is taking care of its own customers, there is a strong incentive to carefully maintain its transmission and distribution system. Once the system is divided into many competing entities, many of whom do not have financial ownership of the transmission system, the situation changes significantly. Some of the impacts include:

1. Declining investment. There is less incentive to maintain transmission lines, since under a fractured system, no one has real responsibility for the lines. Also, profits are higher if equipment is allowed to run until it fails, rather than replacing parts as they approach the ends of their useful lives.

2. Overuse of lines between systems. Prior to deregulation, transmission lines between utilities were designed for use primarily in emergencies. Once widespread trading of electricity began, lines between utilities are put into much heavier use than they had been designed to handle.

3. More rapid deterioration. After deregulation, there is much more cycling on and off of power plants and the structures involved in transmission, to maximize profits by selling electrical power from the plant that can produce it most cheaply. This results in metal parts being heated and cooled repeatedly, causing the metal parts to deteriorate more quickly than they normally would.

4. Unplanned additions to grid. Wind and solar are added to the grid, with the expectation that the grid will accommodate them. "Merchant" (investor owned) natural gas power plants are also added to the grid, sometimes without adequate consideration as to whether sufficient grid capacity exists to accommodate the additional production.

5. Difficulty in assigning costs back. Since the industry is more fragmented, if any transmission lines are added, the cost must somehow be allocated back to the many participants who will benefit. Ultimately, the cost must be paid by a consumer. These consumer rates may in fact be regulated, so it may be difficult to recover the additional cost.

6. Increased line congestion. There is a need for more long distance transmission lines, because of all of the energy trading. There is a great deal of NIMBYism, so approval for placement of new lines is very difficult to obtain. The result is fewer transmission lines than would be preferred, resulting in more and more line congestion.

7. No overall plan. There is a need for an overall plan for an improved system, but with so many players, and so much difficulty in assigning costs to players, very little happens.

8. Little incentive to add generating capacity. As long as there is a possibility of purchasing power elsewhere, there is little incentive to add productive capacity. Profits will be maximized by keeping the system running at as close to capacity as possible, whether or not this causes occasional blackouts.


By fnord12 | May 7, 2008, 4:09 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Somehow, More Offensive Than Skywriting

A special-effects entrepreneur from Alabama has come up with a way to fill the sky with foamy clouds as big as 4 feet across and shaped like corporate logos -- Flogos, as he calls them.

Francisco Guerra, who's also a former magician, developed a machine that produces tiny bubbles filled with air and a little helium, forms the foam into shapes and pumps them into the sky.

The Walt Disney Co. will use one of the machines next month to send clouds shaped like Mickey Mouse heads into the air at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla., Guerra said.

I don't know why i feel that way. It's essentially the same thing as skywriting or planes that pull banners or blimps. *shrug*

At least moonvertising isn't real.

By min | May 7, 2008, 1:22 PM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (2)| Link


Yes, it was that bad.

By fnord12 | May 7, 2008, 11:22 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Bunch of paranoids

Sheesh, let's get these conspiracy theorists some tinfoil hats. I mean, our government would never do that. Right???!??

By fnord12 | May 7, 2008, 9:13 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Not About To Pass Up a Golden Opportunity

Upwards of 22,500 people dead and 41,000 more missing due to a cyclone and the resulting tidal wave in Myanmar this weekend. And what do we do? We make our aid conditional on demands, and we're being uppity about it.

The United States, which has led a drive for economic sanctions against Myanmar's repressive regime, said it would also provide aid, but only if an American disaster team was invited into the country.

The policy was presented by Laura Bush, along with a lecture to the junta about human rights and disaster relief.

I think the government who didn't manage to protect its own city from a hurricane that everyone knew was coming should STFU.

Who turned the Stepford wife on and let her out of her box to speak, anyway? Or mebbe it's Omac's fault for doing such a shoddy job at destroying the Build-a-Friend operation

By min | May 6, 2008, 12:38 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link

Georgia says "very close" to war with Russia

Holy crap.

A war instigated based on us offering a NATO membership to Georgia could very well draw in the EU and the US. Not good.

By fnord12 | May 6, 2008, 9:52 AM | Liberal Outrage | Comments (1)| Link

More on earmarks

From dday at Digby's site:

On top of that, McCain has gone from a position against spending to a position against the technical process by which spending is achieved. That's going to really bowl them over on the stump. McCain wants to make himself the grand poohbah deciding what spending is OK and what spending isn't. The problem is that when he is put to the wall, he can't come up with more than a scattered few projects that are verboten. And he doesn't dare touch that sacred cow, the military budget, which is responsible for about 100 times the wasteful spending as earmarks.

McCain has put himself in a terrible position. Plenty of earmarks provide tangible benefits for people. Every campaign stop, he's going to be confronted by someone. And he'll have to say "Well, when I say cut spending, I don't mean THAT," and this is why his trillions and trillions of dollars in tax cuts for the wealthy and new spending will never be brought into balance. He is dangerous and fiscally irresponsible.


And also on his healthcare plan:

Between out-of-pocket expenses, deductibles, cost-sharing, and treatment not covered by high risk pool plans, someone like Elizabeth Edwards, with her breast cancer, would probably have to pay around $100,000 under McCain's plan. She has it; most cancer patients don't.

Someone's going to ask him about that on the trail, too. And it'll be another embarrassment. In fact, the only way McCain's bankrupt domestic policies will not cause one misstep after another is if he confines himself to whistle-stop tours of gated communities and medieval castles.

I don't agree. They're only "missteps" if they are covered in the press, something that isn't very likely as long as Reverend Wright is around.

By fnord12 | May 1, 2008, 12:27 PM | Liberal Outrage | Link



Republican John McCain said Wednesday that the bridge collapse in Minnesota that killed 13 people last year would not have happened if Congress had not wasted so much money on pork-barrel spending.

Actually, a portion the money to repair bridges and roads comes from the tax on gasoline that he wants to abolish, on top of the general Federal funds for infrastructure that Republicans have already gutted. The rest comes from state governments that are underfunded due to a lingering revenue crisis that has been in effect since Bush's first recession in 2001. Federal investment stimulates the economy and could have increased state governments' revenues. Obviously, McCain is against that too.

By fnord12 | May 1, 2008, 10:04 AM | Liberal Outrage | Link

When worlds collide

Reading Daily Kos and seeing a post about Dungeons and Dragons? Weird. The theme is that the swiftboaters and religious right activists got their start attacking D&D. Not sure if i agree, but hey, it's D&D on Kos.

By fnord12 | May 1, 2008, 9:59 AM | D&D & Liberal Outrage | Link

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