Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Political Digest for January 25, 2011

I post articles because I think they are of interest. Doing so doesn’t mean that I necessarily agree (or disagree) with every—or any—opinion in the posted article. Help your friends and relatives stay informed by passing the digest on.

He raised $11M, much of it before the new law limiting contributions, and leading Braun 2-1, now this. Sure to go to the Illinois Supreme Court. ~Bob. Excerpt: An appeals court in Chicago ruled Monday that Rahm Emanuel doesn't meet the residency requirements to run for mayor of Chicago and ordered his name be pulled off the ballot. The three judge panel voted 2-1 against Emanuel. In a major blow to Emanuel's campaign, Monday's ruling overturned a Cook County Circuit Court ruling that upheld a Chicago Board of Elections decision to let Emanuel run in the February 22nd election. The court agreed with Emanuel's contention that he met Chicago's voter residency standard but added that wasn't enough to allow his run for mayor. "...a candidate must meet not only the Election Code's voter residency standard, but also must have actually resided within the municipality for one year prior to the election, a qualification that the candidate unquestionably does not satisfy," the ruling stated.

Bomb kills passengers at Moscow airport
Hard to know who might be to blame. Enraged Presbyterians? Crazed Buddhists? No one who believes in a Religion of Peace, certainly. ~Bob. Excerpt: An explosion at Domodedovo Airport, on the southeast outskirts of Moscow, killed up to 31 people Monday afternoon in what appears to be a terror attack. At least several dozen were injured, according to reports, and probably far more. The Interfax agency cited the health ministry as saying that 130 were hurt. Twenty were reported to be in critical condition. Officials have called a "high terror alert" at Moscow's two other major airports and the metro system, and there is heightened security throughout the city. The explosion apparently took place near a cafe outside the international arrivals area of Russia's biggest and busiest airport. Domodedovo is used by United, Lufthansa, Austrian Air, British Airways and the Russian airline Transaero, among others. It is also a hub for domestic travel.

Afghanistan Strategy Change Needed; Making the Case
Guest post on the blog—worth reading. ~Bob. Excerpt: Much of the discussion about war strategies, ROE, nation building and the like has been steeped in one side or the other denouncing existing strategies or defending them. All of it is based on intelligence reports and analyses by third parties trying to untangle the seeming conflicting daily stories and events coming from both Afghanistan and Iraq.

The Coming Doctor Shortage
See, the way ObamaCare saves money is that everyone is covered, but many can’t get a doctor, so no costs. Enjoy. ~Bob. Excerpt: As they celebrate their 65th birthdays at the rate of 10,000 a day, Baby Boomers are now approaching the stage of their lives when they will need more medical care. But they—along with everyone else—are going to have a hard time getting appointments. The doctor shortage was fostered in 1996 when Congress capped the number of new doctors Medicare would pay to train, a practice that continues to this day. Teaching hospitals, which now make up about 10% of hospitals nationwide, depend on those Medicare funds to pay about two-thirds of the cost of doctor-training. (Training costs include residents' salaries, malpractice insurance, equipment, the extra time that teaching procedures add to patient care, as well as the added costs associated with caring for the sickest patients.) Recently, the President's National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform proposed cutting Medicare funding to train doctors even further, by $60 billion through 2020. If this cut is enacted, the doctor shortage would get far worse.

Excerpt: Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) wants the Obama administration to provide Congress with data on the federal government’s offshore drilling revenue — information that would show just how much President Obama’s anti-drilling policies are impacting the budget. Based on recent projections from the U.S. Energy Information Administration, production in the Gulf of Mexico is expected to drop this year by 220,000 barrels per day. With oil currently at $90 a barrel and the government’s royalty rate at 18.75 percent, that equals $3.7 million in lost federal revenue each day.

Obama's War on Coal
If we don’t produce coal, we don’t produce electricity. Then how will we run Obama’s “green” coal-powered car, the Chevy electric Volt? ~Bob. Excerpt: The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has revoked the coal mining permit for Arch Coal's Spruce Mine -- No. 1 in West Virginia's Logan County. The EPA said it was acting under the authority of the Clean Water Act, saying the mine employed "destructive and unsustainable mining practices that jeopardize the health of Appalachian communities and clean water on which they depend." But the EPA did not think so four years ago, when a Section 404 permit was issued, suggesting the extent to which this administration has politicized science, says Investor's Business Daily (IBD). West Virginia is the second-largest coal producer in the United States. The maligned fossil fuel provides $26 billion for the West Virginia economy annually, supports 60,000 jobs and pays $1.2 billion in wages for West Virginia families. All this and much more nationally, is in jeopardy since coal provides half of America's electricity.

Obama could survive some bumps on road to 2012 reelection
Excerpt: Two years later, though, many analysts and observers have forgotten the breadth of Obama's victory in the wake of the devastating and across-the-board (not to mention down-the-ballot) losses the Democratic Party suffered in the 2010 midterms. And yet, a detailed examination of the national map heading into 2012 suggests that the president still sits in a strong position for reelection - able to lose half a dozen (or more) swing states he carried in 2008 and still win the 270 electoral votes he needs for a second term. To understand the relative strength of Obama's upper hand, let's compare his electoral performance in 2008 with that of his two most recent Democratic predecessors.

Seven reasons why the GOP faces an uphill battle to defeat Obama
Excerpt: Obama’s poll numbers have been on the rise since Republicans won 63 seats in the House and six in the Senate last November. Perhaps more importantly, Obama’s moves to distance himself from the liberal wing of his party come as 2012 Republican presidential hopefuls are moving to the right in what is sure to be a bruising primary. Intrade.com, a prediction/betting market, puts the chances of the Democrats retaining the White House at 62 percent. Republicans in the nation’s capital are confident they can retain the House next year, and believe they have a better than 50-50 shot of capturing control of the Senate – especially in the wake of the retirement announcements of Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Kent Conrad (D-N.D.). But optimism about defeating Obama is not nearly as high. The conservative-leaning National Review magazine this month ran an article titled, “Obama – Evicting the president in 2012 will not be easy.”

Excerpt: Who will be hurt the most by the health reform legislation Congress passed last year? Answer: The most vulnerable segments of society: the poor, the elderly and the disabled. That’s right. Virtually everyone in Congress who is left-of-center voted for a law that will significantly decrease access to care for the people they claim to care most about. Why isn’t anyone writing about this? Answer: Because almost all the people who write about health care know almost nothing about economics. Basically, there are two ways to reform health care. One way is top down. The other is bottom up. The latter is based on the economic way of thinking. The former rejects that way of thinking. The latter gets the economic incentives right for all the individual actors, leaving the social result largely unpredictable. The former starts with a social goal and tries to impose it from above, leaving individuals with perverse incentives to undermine it. The latter depends for its success on people acting in their self-interest. The former depends for its success on preventing people from acting in their self-interest. I think I can probably count on the fingers of two hands the number of people in health policy who accept the economic way of thinking. All the rest — 99.9% of the total, including a lot of people with “Ph.D., economist” after their names — reject it in spades. Almost everybody in health policy thinks you can have a plan designed by people at the top that will work, even though every doctor, every nurse, every hospital administrator and 310 million patients all have an economic self-interest in defeating the plan.

We Are All Noor Almaleki
Excerpt: The honor killing trial begins in Phoenix today (Monday, Jan.24) of Faleh Hassan Almaleki, an Iraqi Muslim immigrant who killed his 20-year-old daughter, Noor Almaleki, on October 20, 2009, because she had become too Westernized. Almaleki had crashed his jeep into Noor and her boyfriend’s mother in a parking lot of a state Department of Economic Security office in Peoria, a Phoenix suburb. The mother survived, but Noor went into a coma for two weeks and then died from her injuries. After killing his daughter, Almaleki himself boasted that he had to take Noor’s life because she had dishonored his family by her “Western” behavior. Evidence reveals that Almaleki had tried to impose strict Islamic codes on Noor and that he had attempted to force her into an arranged marriage when she was 17. These efforts at enslavement failed, as Noor fought to be a free human being and to establish her own personal sovereignty; she ended up moving into her own apartment, finding a boyfriend and working in a fast-food restaurant. Almaleki was trained from birth to see the world through the lens of Islamic misogyny, where women are the property of men. Under the vicious and sadistic system of Islamic gender apartheid, women’s autonomy must be suffocated on all levels. With this pathological mindset, Almaleki became enraged seeing his daughter practice her own individual agency and he concluded that he must take her life. After Almaleki hit his daughter and her boyfriend’s mother with his jeep, he fled the country, but was caught in London and returned to Phoenix.

Mortgage Giants Leave Legal Bills to the Taxpayers
Excerpt: Since the government took over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, taxpayers have spent more than $160 million defending the mortgage finance companies and their former top executives in civil lawsuits accusing them of fraud. The cost was a closely guarded secret until last week, when the companies and their regulator produced an accounting at the request of Congress. The bulk of those expenditures — $132 million — went to defend Fannie Mae and its officials in various securities suits and government investigations into accounting irregularities that occurred years before the subprime lending crisis erupted. The legal payments show no sign of abating. Documents reviewed by The New York Times indicate that taxpayers have paid $24.2 million to law firms defending three of Fannie’s former top executives: Franklin D. Raines, its former chief executive; Timothy Howard, its former chief financial officer; and Leanne Spencer, the former controller. (…) Well before the credit crisis compelled the government to rescue Fannie and Freddie, accounting irregularities had engulfed both companies. Shareholders of Fannie and Freddie sued to recover stock losses incurred after the improprieties came to light. (Perhaps it’s just my warped sense of humor, but I found this hilarious as the 3rd leading story at left-leaning Daily Beast, immediately below the #2 story, GOP Preps a New Stimulus Battle, clearly unhappy with Republicans for “opposing massive new stimulus spending” that may be proposed. Ron P.)

America the Broke
Excerpt: But the situation is even more alarming still: for the first time, our national debt has surpassed $14 trillion — a dubious and shameful record. Even more astonishing, the past two presidents, one from each major political party, are responsible for half of that monstrous sum. As an Associated Press story noted, about half of today’s national debt was run up in the past six years. It soared from $7.6 trillion in January 2005 as President George W. Bush began his second term to $10.6 trillion the day President Obama was inaugurated and to $14.02 trillion now…..So deduct another $45,300 from your salary. That is what the national debt amounts to for every man, woman, and child in America. For a family of four with two small children and both parents working, that’s an additional $181,200 in family debt…. But ours is an inexcusable ignorance. For decades, the government has been spending our wealth — first everything we made, then everything we ever going to make, and now everything our children and their children will ever make. How future generations will judge us for the theft of their prosperity is not hard to guess. America is not alone in this fiscally debased condition, of course. The rot is deep and widespread; it is civilizational. The entitlement promises made by national and local governments of the West are so vast that they can never be kept. When people finally and fully realize this, the capitals of the world will shake with the rage of masses which have come to expect everything, and will accept nothing less.

The Blinders of Hubris
Excerpt: James Q. Wilson, America's pre-eminent social scientist, has noted that until relatively recently, "politics was about only a few things; today, it is about nearly everything." Until the 1930s, or perhaps the 1960s, there was a "legitimacy barrier" to federal government activism: When new policies were proposed, the first debate was about whether the federal government could properly act at all on the subject. Today, there is no barrier to the promiscuous multiplication of programs, because no program is really new. Rather, it is an extension, modification or enlargement of something government is already doing. The vicious cycle that should worry Summers is the reverse of the one he imagines. It is not government being "cut back" because of disappointments that reinforce themselves. Rather, it is government squandering its limited resources, including the resource of competence, in reckless expansions of its scope.

A brave new world of fossil fuels on demand
Excerpt: In September, a privately held and highly secretive U.S. biotech company named Joule Unlimited received a patent for “a proprietary organism” – a genetically engineered cyanobacterium that produces liquid hydrocarbons: diesel fuel, jet fuel and gasoline. This breakthrough technology, the company says, will deliver renewable supplies of liquid fossil fuel almost anywhere on Earth, in essentially unlimited quantity and at an energy-cost equivalent of $30 (U.S.) a barrel of crude oil. It will deliver, the company says, “fossil fuels on demand.” (Although I can find no previous mention of this company in TOJ, since last May this is the fourth article, story, or announcement about engineered bio-organisms to create hydrocarbons from waste CO2. I think this is the first one to mention a patent, which raises it to a new level. Possibly something to take seriously this time instead of pie-in-the-sky. Ron P.)

Unionized N.Y. Garbage Men Haul in $144K a Year
Excerpt: Taxpayers in the Big Apple are forced to pay $144,000 a year for salary, health and pension benefits for garbage workers, who are unskilled but unionized laborers.

The Fight to Give Educational Choices to Poor DC Children
As long as the Obama kids go to private school, who gives a damn about other black kids in DC. Unions count, kids don’t. If a Republican killed the DC program for poor black kids, the media would scream “racism.” ~Bob. Excerpt: Virginia Walden Ford’s modest two-story home in northeast Washington, DC seems nondescript from the curb. Step through her front door, however, and you’ve entered the nerve center of DC Parents for School Choice, a grassroots organization whose current mission is to restore full federal funding to a popular and successful school vouchers program terminated by Democrats in 2009. “This is my passion, and I want it to be my legacy. We’ve fought really hard for the parents of DC,” Ford said, speaking of her deeply personal battle over education that has spanned three presidential administrations. Although school choice advocates are sometimes cast as enemies of public education by opponents, the label does not apply to Ford. The daughter of two Arkansas public school teachers, Ford attended Little Rock Central High School in the years immediately following integration. “I am not an anti-public school crusader. I’m a quality education supporter,” she explained. “Right now, the way things are in many public schools, we’re not providing a good option for kids. We have a responsibility to provide options for parents if their kids aren’t getting what they need in public schools.”

Left wing climate of hate and assassination
Excerpt: In September 2010 Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon was scheduled to speak at Penn Valley Community College in Kansas City. At some point, wearing black clothes and a bullet-proof vest, 22 year-old Casey Brezik bolted out of a classroom, knife in hand, and slashed the throat of a dean. As he would later admit, he confused the dean with Nixon. The story never left Kansas City. It is not hard to understand why. Knives lack the political sex appeal of guns, and even Keith Olbermann would have had a hard time turning Brezik into a Tea Partier. Indeed, Brezik seems to have inhaled just about every noxious vapor in the left-wing miasma: environmental extremism, radical Islam, anti-capitalism, anti-Zionism and Christophobia, among others. In his "About Me" box on Facebook, Brezik listed as his favorite quotation one from progressive poster boy, Che Guevara. The quote begins "Our every action is a battle cry against imperialism" and gets more belligerent from there.

Important: Digging Graves for the Next World War
Excerpt: A running theme in my recent commentaries has been the need to secure the safety of Western countries by limiting who enters them. I think most Jihadwatch readers are already convinced that the admission of millions of Muslims into Europe was a catastrophe on the order of... well, what historical incident equals it? The final outcome remains to be seen, so let me lay out a range of possibilities. If the influx is stopped in the next few years, and Western societies overcome the self-gelding political correctness and hysterical scrupulosity that drives them to hold their own societies to an inhuman standard of Kantian selflessness--while endlessly indulging the sins of newcomers--it's possible that we will keep our freedoms intact without a major violent confrontation. For that to happen, we'd need to slam shut our borders, cut welfare programs that allow recent immigrants to breed irresponsibly on the taxpayers' dime, rigorously enforce laws suppressing sedition, infiltrate and expose terror networks already in our midst, and push back hard against attempts to force an alien religion into our cultural mainstream. If all that were to happen, there would be significant unrest among Muslim communities lasting several decades, but in general the level of violence would be low. We'd essentially have to reduce Islamic enclaves to the condition of the Basques--midsized, deeply disgruntled minorities treasuring claims against our territory, without the power to do much more than disrupt the peace, and occasionally murder some policemen… A less hopeful, but much more likely scenario is that the "awakening" of Westerners will happen only fitfully, and the forces opposing jihad will arrive on the scene piecemeal, so that each nation, as it rallies itself, can be isolated and defeated by the others still sunk in denial. In other words, as countries reach the critical level of Muslim population, sharia activism, and jihad violence (these three, I maintain, are inherently inseparable) each at different times, and their native populations respond with varying degrees of firmness, the oligarchies that currently favor Islamic colonization will be able to crush each one in turn.

Honor Vietnam Vets With Jane Fonda and Anti-War Protestors?!
Excerpt: But Fayetteville Mayor Tony Chavonne decided to “honor” the Vets by reaching out to Quaker House, an anti-Vietnam war protesting outfit. And Quaker House said they are glad to participate and intend to show two anti-war films that include Jane Fonda. As in “Hanoi Jane.” This is how they plan to “honor Vietnam vets.” The Mayor said he reached out to the anti-war protestors so the “full story” of the war could be told. Excuse me, but this is not a history lesson. It’s a celebration designated to honor vets for their service. (Any time you think you've seem the depths of stupidity in regard to treatment of veterans, along will come some professor, media figure, or politician to get down deeper still. The mayor of Fayetteville apparently has a cranial cavity filled with ****, since he thinks it's a good idea to "honor" Vietnam Vets by including a well known antiwar group that will show antiwar films as part of the "celebration", including one that has our favorite Hollywood traitor in it. How did this clown ever get elected? Must be one smooth talker! Time to drop an e-mail or call or letter to Mr. Mayor with any thoughts you might have about this idea of his. (And please spread this message around.) –Del)

It almost seems that nobody can hate America as much as native Americans. America needs new immigrants to love and cherish it. Eric Hoffer. Provided, of course, they come to cherish it and not replace it with the disaster culture they come from. ~Bob.

Let 1,000 flowers bloom -- and a dozen presidential contenders
Excerpt: Bill Kristol writes in opposition to the herd mentality that demands that the 2012 presidential favorite be determined now: What we need in 2011 is what Lincoln called, in a different context, "an open field and a fair chance" for all plausible contestants to demonstrate their "industry, enterprise, and intelligence." We need many candidates -- experienced and not so experienced, old and young, congressmen and governors, formers and futures -- all making their case, in debates and on the stump, in forums big and small, addressing issues of all sorts and reacting in real time to developments of all kinds. We should keep that in mind as pundits, starving for scraps of news, wax on and on about early polls. The temptation to dub someone a "darling" of this or that group, based on the comments of a few pundits and columnists should be resisted. From the daily chatter among activists and operatives, I can unequivocally state that no one has yet captured the imagination, let alone the hearts, of the Republican base. One or more of the current crop might -- or it might take a new face in the field to galvanize conservative voters.

2012: "An Open Field and a Fair Chance"
 Excerpt: "We need a candidate!” You can’t have a conversation with a Republican here in Washington without hearing that plaintive wail. Indeed, as President Obama stages a bit of a comeback, and it seems that 2012 won’t be a cakewalk, the plaintive wail has become an imploring request—even a pathetic and desperate cry: “WE NEED A CANDIDATE! NOW!” No we don’t. Or rather: Of course we do—by the summer of 2012. But not now. In fact, to get a strong candidate next year, what we need this year is lots of candidates competing. What we need in 2011 is what Lincoln called, in a different context, “an open field and a fair chance” for all plausible contestants to demonstrate their “industry, enterprise, and intelligence.” We need many candidates—experienced and not so experienced, old and young, congressmen and governors, formers and futures—all making their case, in debates and on the stump, in forums big and small, addressing issues of all sorts and reacting in real time to developments of all kinds.
This vision should be easy for conservatives to embrace. Believers in the free market understand the virtues of competition, of low barriers to entry, and of lots of opportunities for (so to speak) price discovery. We know the superiority of spontaneous order to central planning. But too many GOP bigwigs in Washington who claim to have read Hayek have succumbed to the fatal conceit. They’re meeting nonstop trying to determine for us all now, a year before the first primary—with limited information as to relevant candidate skills and almost no knowledge of next year’s political environment—who the best presidential candidate would be. 

Our Superficial Scholars
Excerpt: I detect no lack of seriousness or ambition in these students. They believe they are exceptionally well-educated. They have jumped expertly through every hoop put in front of them to be the top of their classes in our country's best universities, and they have been lavishly praised for doing so. They seem so surprised when asked simple direct questions that they have never considered. We are blessed to live in a country that values education. Many of our young people spend four years getting very expensive college degrees. But our universities fail them and the nation if they continue to graduate students with expertise in biochemistry, mathematics or history without teaching them to think about what problems are important and why.
Thomas Sowell Speaks to the Daily Caller about the Financial Crisis, Healthcare, and his Ideological Transformation from Marxism to Conservatism
Excerpt: TheDC: In your book you write, “Profits may be the most misconceived subject in economics.” What are the primary misconceptions about profits and why are profits important? Why are they so demonized in our current culture? TS: Wow. Gee. Do you have a couple of hours? It is true, and I think part of it is sheer repetition and I think sheer repetition carries a big weight, as Joseph Goebbels understood back in the Nazi era. Over and beyond that, there are certain misconceptions. One misconception is that profits are fundamentally different from other kinds of income. I’m always fascinated by people who say, you know, “this came from a non-profit organization,” as if it is an organization that is unbiased. No, just because one person’s income is called profits and other’s is called something else does not change anything fundamental. The amount of profits that a business makes, that is the percent return on investment, is — when people are asked what they think it is they almost always grossly overestimate — usually it fluctuates around 10 percent, usually much lower than that. The profit that really affects the price is the profit on sales and that is really small — just pennies on the dollar. A supermarket for example can prosper by making one penny profit on each dollar sale because they have those cash registers going all the time. It adds up to a nice return on investments…. TheDC: Who do you think should be blamed for the financial meltdown? Fat-cat bankers, irresponsible borrowers, government? TS: I would say all of the above. The question is, how much? If you are asking what drove it, it originated in the idea that the government could make housing “more affordable” by intervening in the market. All the evidence….shows that housing has been far more affordable where there has been the least government intervention. It has been most unaffordable in places where the government comes in very heavily, as in coastal California and preeminently San Francisco. In the process of trying to make housing more affordable, they lean on lenders to lower the standards for lending to people and that really is the crucial factor. Without that, the rest of the crisis wouldn’t have happened. Other people made their mistakes that added to it, but the crucial mistake was the government forcing the lending institutions to lower their lending standards. And of course when you lower the lending standards people default. (When I was a state senator, about ’73 or 74’, two very sincere women came in to see me, with an idea to solve the economic problems of the time. They wanted me to file a bill states that no company could earn more than 100% profit in any year. I asked them to show me one so I could scrap up some cash and invest in it. ~Bob.)

Palestinian Negotiators Offered Israel Sovereignty Over Almost All Of Jerusalem
 Excerpt: The proposal, which amounts to the biggest Palestinian concession ever made over the future of Jerusalem, was floated but rejected by Israel during peace talks in 2008. Kept secret until now because of its sensitivity, details of the offer were disclosed in a trove of nearly 1,700 secret Palestinian documents that were leaked to al-Jazeera, the Qatar-based satellite television channel. The papers, which include diplomatic communiques and transcripts of private high-level meetings, provide a rare glimpse of the Palestinian approach to peace talks from the failed Camp David summit of 1999 until last year.

The West Wing, Season II
Excerpt: Since the midterm elections, Obama and his lieutenants have been grappling with the implications of the self-described “shellacking” inflicted by Republicans on the president and his party, and laboring to devise a recovery strategy for the next two years. One of their chief conclusions is that Obama must occupy a higher plane than he did in the last two, elevating himself above the posturing, petulance, and incessant bile-spewing that have come to bedevil Washington in this age of incessant acrimony and polarization. The lame-duck session in December—with the tax-cut compromise with Republicans as its centerpiece—presented Obama with his first opportunity to gain some altitude. The Tucson shootings offered another. And Tuesday night’s State of the Union address will extend him yet another. But positioning and rhetoric are only part of the broader project under way inside the White House, which amounts to a full-scale reboot of the Obama presidency. The most visible manifestations of this involve personnel: the installation of William Daley as chief of staff, the departures of Axelrod and Robert Gibbs, the return to the fold of Obama’s 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe. Beneath the surface, however, substantial changes are afoot in every realm, from management structure and political strategy to communications, policy, and even the president’s conception of his own role—as he and his people try to navigate the newly Republicanized legislative landscape and gear up for what they now fretfully assume (after months of airily believing otherwise) will be a difficult reelection campaign.

Trial lawyers kill jobs by suing new companies
Democrats in Congress are led by lawyers several layers deep. No chance for reform. We just have to suffer to make the John Edwards type rich. ~Bob. Excerpt: For new ideas on job creation, Obama should take a look at a just-released study from the Securities Class Action Clearinghouse, which is a joint effort by Cornerstone Research and the Stanford University Law School. The clearinghouse does objective research concerning securities litigation filed by class-action trial lawyers in the plaintiffs bar. Such research is vital because, for decades, the plaintiffs bar has cost the American economy billions of dollars by filing thousands of class-action lawsuits against everything from Fortune 500 corporations to neighborhood dry cleaners. Often the purpose of these suits is to reap out-of-court settlements that generate lavish legal fees on the basis of tenuous allegations of wrongdoing. Thousands of good jobs have been destroyed and legions of productive businesses closed by such litigation. The latest clearinghouse study shows a slight increase in the number of securities class-action suits filed in 2010 compared to 2009, rising from 168 to 176. Those numbers may seem small, but any one of the suits can lead to settlements that cost defendant firms hundreds of millions of dollars just to make the trial lawyers go away. Another piece of data buried in the study points to a new way Obama can encourage job creation: "Firms with recent initial public offerings are most at risk to be targeted by securities class actions," according to an article about the study in the National Law Journal. "In fact, companies are most likely to be sued in their second year of public trading. ... Exposure to litigation typically decreases over time, though a newly public company has a nearly 34 percent chance of being sued in its first 11 years." In other words, the plaintiffs bar is most likely to sue the very corporations most likely to be the source of significant new job creation just when they are seeking expansion capital through public offerings.

Excerpt: Information Warfare Monitor investigators found the Dalai Lama's network (and, ultimately, those of more than 100 countries) had been infected with malware -- malicious software that covertly infiltrates a computer system. This malware program had been shopping for sensitive files, embedding them in innocuous-looking messages and shipping them out through e-mail. The investigators called their discovery "GhostNet." Was Beijing behind GhostNet? We know that Chinese officials detained a young student at the Nepalese-Tibetan border on charges of "political activity" and confronted her with a complete transcript of all her Internet chats over the previous two years. Where did they get all that information? One suspects it came from GhostNet. Odds are GhostNet never came up in discussions during Chinese President Hu Jintao's state visit to Washington last week. Between the grip-and-grins and the public palaver, how much time was there to bring up the numerous reports of Chinese cybersnooping into U.S. government computers and those of other Western powers? Surely President Obama didn't dwell on the Red Hacker Alliance, a Beijing-sanctioned "network security" organization. (The RHA reportedly has over 300,000 members and paid staff that includes university-trained computer science experts. It undertakes "patriotic" cyberhacking as well as various "government-sponsored" projects.) Though Beijing is keenly interested in cybercommunications, it's not at all into online freedom. Both the Ministry of Public Safety and the State Secrecy Bureau have cybersecurity units at all levels of government.

When Looks Can Kill
 Excerpt: New research shows that behind the ‘easy glamour’ of nip’n’tuck lies a silent epidemic of ­disappointment, leading to a wave of suicides. Women who undergo plastic ­surgery have a much higher risk of killing ­themselves, say experts in the journal, Current Psychiatry Reports. Their conclusions were based on five large-scale, independent ­studies, which found that the suicide rate is up to three times higher in women who have had breast implants. The toll is not only restricted to ­suicides — cosmetic surgery patients had a three-times higher rate of death due to self-destructive acts, such as binge-drinking, drug ­overdoses and reckless driving. Psychological damage related to plastic surgery is ‘a critically neglected area’, said ­researchers from the International ­Epidemiology Institute in the U.S. 9i’d guess women who have such surgery have issues before hand. Like McNamara ordering the military to draft 100k category four intelligences—the lowest level—then wondering why the came home from Vietnam screwed up. They went screwed up. But I have to admit that seeing photos of women with breast implants, ugly tattoos and multiple piercings makes me depressed. ~Bob.)

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