Environment

Before Sunrise
November 12, 2009

When President Obama arrives in Tokyo on Friday, he will confront a country that seeks to be an ally of the United States. For Japan has never been an American ally. It was first a rival, then an enemy, and finally, after it lost the war it foolishly started with the U.S., it became a protectorate, not an ally.   The distinction matters. An alliance is an institution negotiated between two sovereign governments in which each agrees to a series of reciprocal obligations that have the force of law.

New Evidence of Pharma's Sweetheart Deal
November 10, 2009

Critics have complained that a drug industry got a sweetheart deal when it struck a bargain with the White House and Senate Finance Committee over health care reform. There’s new reason to think those critics were right. It comes from an October forecast by IMS Health, a respected global research and consulting firm. The report, which IMS distributed to clients and which a source provided, projects that the drug industry will see average annual growth of 3.5 percent between 2008 and 2013. Back in March, IMS had projected no growth at all during that same five-year stretch.

Board to Death
November 10, 2009

To the frustration of many a cabinet secretary, the Obama administration is a little behind on its appointments. At this point—with only five weeks to go before the Senate breaks for recess—a little over half of the 514 positions that need filling have been filled. Some jobs are really important: The nominee for the Office of Legal Counsel has been held up for months. Obama’s choice for a USAID director came down just today. U.S. attorney nominations have slowed to a crawl. Other jobs?

Moments of Truth for Obama
November 09, 2009

I agree with Jason, it simply looks as though we're not getting anywhere with Tehran. This means Obama will have to make two momentous choices in the coming weeks. First, how many troops will he send to Afghanistan? Second, how long will he indulge Iranian stalling tactics before moving to a push for strict sanctions. On the Afghanistan decision, it appear that Obama is headed towards something on the order of 30,000+ troops. On Saturday the New York Times called this a "middle option." That's based on reports that Stanley McChrystal's request included an option for 80,000 more troops.

The Abortion Amendment: Could Obama Have Done More?
November 09, 2009

At the American Prospect and Feministing, Ann Friedman reminds us that the significance of the Stupak amendment goes way beyond the funding of abortion services for people who happen to buy coverage through the new insurance exchanges: On some level, I don't care about the nitty-gritty details of this amendment. This isn't just about how the money is allocated or what workarounds exist. This has me so incredibly infuriated because it further segregates abortion as something different, off the menu of regular health care.

TNR Q&A: Dr. Stephen Schneider
November 09, 2009

Not many Ph.D. students expect their research to generate outrage among Washington pundits decades later, but, as it turns out, that's exactly what happened to Stephen Schneider. Back in 1971, Schneider was studying plasma physics at Columbia and moonlighting as a research assistant at NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

A Lesson From Fort Hood: Great Moments in "Psychologically Disturbed" Gunmen Committing Mass Murder
November 08, 2009

Barry Rubin is director of the Global Research in International Affairs (GLORIA) Center and editor of the Middle East Review of International Affairs (MERIA) Journal. His latest books are The Israel-Arab Reader (seventh edition), The Long War for Freedom: The Arab Struggle for Democracy in the Middle East (Wiley), and The Truth About Syria (Palgrave-Macmillan). To read and subscribe to MERIA, GLORIA articles, or to order books.To see or subscribe to his blog, Rubin Reports. When John Wilkes Booth opened fire on President Abraham Lincoln in Ford’s Theatre in April 1865, the media was puzzled.

Abortion Rights Opponents Get Their Day--and Maybe Their Way
November 07, 2009

Opponents of abortion rights won a significant political victory last night, making it more likely that millions of American women will no longer be able to purchase insurance that covers abortion services. At issue is what happens inside the new insurance exchanges, through which small businesses and people purchasing coverage on their own would shop for insurance. People purchasing coverage through the exchanges would be eligible for subsidies if their household incomes were below four times the poverty level.

Cap-And-Trade Politics: Carbon (Like Place) Matters!
November 06, 2009

Yesterday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted to report out climate legislation, with ten Democrats voting yes, one Democrat (Montana’s Sen. Baucus) voting no, and all of the Republicans boycotting. If you look at the vote tally (using Project Vulcan data), you find that the states of senators voting "no" emitted 29.4 tonnes of carbon per capita, and the states of "yes" voters emitted 13.3 tonnes per capita, compared with a national average of 20.9 tonnes per capita. What do you think?

Obama's Anzio, Or Ben Nelson's?
November 06, 2009

Paul Krugman's column today is about how the stimulus was too small. I agree entirely. What I find puzzling is his apparent belief that the Obama administration is the primary culprit for this shortcoming. Here's Krugman: But while health care won’t be Mr. Obama’s Waterloo, economic policy is starting to look like his Anzio. ... President Obama came into office with a strong mandate and proclaimed the need to take bold action on the economy. His actual actions, however, were cautious rather than bold.

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