Nuclear Standoff
March 12, 2010

As is often the case with tales of great discovery, the details of how buried treasure came to be found beneath the rolling countryside of Pittsylvania County, Virginia, have grown a little gauzy over the last 30 years. But here is the story as the prospectors tell it. One day, in March 1979, a man named Byrd Berman, a geologist by training, was driving down a road through cattle pastures when the scintillometer sitting on the dashboard of his Hertz rental car began to beep. The device, similar to a Geiger counter, was designed to detect the gamma radiation naturally emitted by uranium.

February 17, 2010

The New Orleans Saints’ strategy in last month’s NFC championship game was primitive and perfectly suited: Take advantage of quarterback Brett Favre’s 40-year-old body by inflicting a caveman’s clubbing. Hundreds of pounds of muscle and anger and adrenaline hit him at high speed a total of 17 times, and Favre, perhaps playing the last game of his career, managed to withstand the punishment until the third quarter, when he severely hurt his ankle. He limped on the sidelines and was basically immobile and should have taken himself out of the game then, regardless of the stakes.

The Black Caucus And Corporate Money
February 15, 2010

Sunday's New York Times had a terrific investigative story about the Congressional Black Caucus's use of creative fundraising tactics to soak up corporate cash: From 2004 to 2008, the Congressional Black Caucus’s political and charitable wings took in at least $55 million in corporate and union contributions, according to an analysis by The New York Times, an impressive amount even by the standards of a Washington awash in cash. Only $1 million of that went to the caucus’s political action committee; the rest poured into the largely unregulated nonprofit network.

You Know The Jewish Lobby. Now Take A Look At The Black Lobby.
February 14, 2010

They are different, very different. AIPAC and others like it have concerns about American foreign policy and they try to persuade the Congress of the justice of their views. These organizations are not tax-exempt. But the Congressional Black Caucus Foundation is. The tale of its sleazy operations is told in a dazzling story by Eric Lipton and Erich Lichtblau in yesterday's New York Times. Votes of members of the Black Caucus are basically up for grabs--or, to be frank, up for sale to corporations that contribute huge sums to the foundation, which serves the pecuniary interests of the caucus.

Asian Carp Finally Spook The Feds
February 11, 2010

It's a modern-day eco-horror story: Asian carp are slowly creeping up the Mississippi, en route to Lake Michigan, slipping through various barriers that humans have put in place. Once they reach the Great Lakes, the effects could be horrendous—the carp have a tendency to gobble up everything in sight and could overrun the place, crowding out trout and other native species. Oh, and plus the massive carp have a nasty habit of leaping eight feet up in the air when startled, smashing their 100-pound bodies into the unsuspecting faces of fisherman and water-skiers.

Changes to EITC in Proposed Budget
February 05, 2010

The president’s proposed budget for FY2011 contains a few key provisions that will mean good news for low-income working families at tax time, even after the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA/stimulus bill) runs its course. It also proposes to terminate an ineffective program for these families, but stops short of advancing a much-needed replacement. Top 10 States and Metro Areas for Increases in EITC Dollars due to ARRA Changes in Eligibility First, ARRA temporarily expanded two important tax credits for working families that the Administration now proposes to make permanent.

Boehner--Always Looking Out for Democrats' Interests
January 22, 2010

Does this look like a guy you'd trust?  Then why on earth are Democrats heeding his advice?  Here's Boehner in today's New York Times piece about the legislative fate of health care reform: “They are still scheming and scrambling to find a way to pass their government takeover of health care,” Mr. Boehner said. And he warned, “If they jam it through, I think they are going to face a firestorm from the American public.” Amazingly, if you read the rest of the piece, along with pieces like this one in Politico, you find that a lot of Democrats are accepting his analysis at face value.

No Organized Political Party
January 20, 2010

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee emails this: From: Ryan RudominerSent: Wednesday, January 20, 2010 1:17 PMSubject: Winners and Losers from the Mass. Senate special - Washington Post's Chris Cillizza  From: Chris Cillizza To: Chris Cillizza Sent: Wed Jan 20 13:08:51 2010 Subject: Winners and Losers from the Mass. Senate special Winner. Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee: In light of the Massachusetts loss, the DCCC's record of five straight special election wins -- including one last fall in a difficult environment in Upstate New York -- looks a lot more impressive.

Reform a "Raw Deal" for Massachusetts?
January 19, 2010

Scott Brown's campaign has been arguing, directly and indirectly, that national health care reform would be bad for Massachusetts, since the state enacted its own, very similar version of reform three years ago. As Brown adviser Eric Fehrnstrom told Politico's Ben Smith In Massachusetts, 98% of residents are covered by insurance through our own state reforms. The plan is not perfect, and we need to get costs down, but we have already achieved near-universal coverage.

Are We Ready For The Rising Seas?
January 14, 2010

One aspect of climate change that's already affecting people in various parts of the world is the slow but steady rise in sea level (via YaleE360): Pacific and Indian Ocean atoll nations are already being abandoned because of the direct and indirect effects of sea level rise, such as saltwater intrusion into groundwater. In the Marshall Islands, some crops are being grown in abandoned 55-gallon oil drums because the ground is now too salty for planting. New Zealand is accepting, on a gradual basis, all of the inhabitants of the Tuvalu atolls.