Blogs

Scooter Libby, Ordered to Jail by a Republican System

| Fri Jul. 6, 2007 9:02 AM PDT

Over at TPM, Josh Marshall has an excellent rebuttal to the people who say Scooter Libby's trial, conviction, and sentencing were all politically motivated. He goes down the list of the major players in this sordid drama and identifies them all as conservatives or leaners in that direction.

1. Attorney General John Ashcroft. Decided a special prosecutor was needed and then recused himself from the decision because of his proximity to the probable targets of the investigation.
2. James Comey. Yes, he's the darling of the Dems now because he spilled the beans about the hospital stand-off. But Comey is, dare we say it, a REPUBLICAN. And not just any Republican but a pretty tough law-and-order type who only months earlier had been appointed Deputy Attorney General by President Bush. He had it in for Scooter? He let his partisanship get in the way?
3. Patrick Fitzgerald. Again, a darling of the Dems now for obvious reasons. But anyone who knows the guy's history knows that while this registered independent may not lean ideologically right (in the way movement whacks might recognize) he certainly doesn't lean to the left. It's no accident that his appointments have come under Republicans.
4. Judge Reggie Walton. Let's start with this: He was appointed by George W. Bush. And if that doesn't do it for you, he was appointed to previous judicial appointments by Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

There's bonus material in there as well: some bashing of Marty Peretz and Josh's take on why a pardon might have been acceptable but a commutation is just ridiculous. Check it out.

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Organic Tomatoes Richer In Antioxidants

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 4:38 PM PDT

Levels of two kinds of flavonoids were found to be 79 to 97 per cent higher in organic tomatoes. These flavonoids (quercetin and kaempferol) are known antioxidants and have been linked to reduced rates of cardiovascular disease, some forms of cancer, and dementia, reports New Scientist. The 10-year study from the University of California, Davis, suggests chemical fertilizers diminish flavonoid production because flavonoids are triggered as a defense against nutrient deficiency. . . Next question: do flavonoids make tomatoes juicier, tastier, and more flavorful, too? Because organics win out on that score as well. JULIA WHITTY

Neato Viddys on the Intertubes: The "Walk It Out" Game

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 4:20 PM PDT

Just ran across this, a hilarious combo of Unk's ubiquitous "Walk It Out" with video footage of dancer Gwen Verdon and crew doing some sassy Bob Fosse-style moves; while the pink bell bottoms are wildly incongruous, the hip-shaking is oddly fitting, and there are multiple points where their moves shift right on cue with the song, in what I guess is a hip-hop equivalent of playing "Dark Side of the Moon" with "The Wizard of Oz."

And lo and behold, it turns out there's a bunch of these! Witness the head-slapping ridiculousness of "Teletubbies Walk It Out:"

Or, while we're at it, "Barney's Walk It Out:"

"Happy Feet Walk It Out:"

It goes on and on. There's Napoleon Dynamite, Naruto, even a computer-animation mega-mashup. Do your own YouTube search for "Walk It Out" and you'll see. Except for Naruto, I guess the theme is "white people (or the cartoon equivalent) look silly dancing to hip-hop," but boy, some of this stuff is laugh-out-loud funny. I just hope nobody has any video of me shimmying around at some point...

The Real Scooter Libby-Marc Rich Connection

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 4:18 PM PDT

This is, um, rich: Guess who pardoned financier Marc Rich's lawyer was, circa 1985-2000. Scooter Libby.

Endangered Species List Endangered

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 4:14 PM PDT

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is neglecting its mission as keeper of the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Los Angeles Times reports. While the Bald Eagle soars back from near-extinction, hundreds of other dwindling species are foundering under the legal, bureaucratic and political turmoil facing the agency. The Bush administration has added fewer species to the ESA list than any other since the law was enacted in 1973, resulting in a waiting list of 279 candidates creeping closer to extinction each day nothing is done on their behalf. Another bottleneck weakens efforts to save those already listed. Two hundred of 1,326 of these are now closer to disappearing forever, in part because funds have been cut for their recovery. The agency acknowledges a 30% vacancy rate in ESA staff. Plus the top position has been left vacant for more than a year. . . More evidence that the casualties of war, stupidity, and this administration will never be healed. JULIA WHITTY

First Listen: Editors' An End Has a Start

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 3:55 PM PDT

mojo-cover-editorslarge.JPG Who's afraid of Coldplay? Well, Jon Pareles, most famously, rightly calling their third album, 2005's X&Y, "self-pitying" and "hokum." In a post-"Fix You" world, it's easy to forget that Coldplay used to be alright: A Rush of Blood to the Head is introspective and creative where X&Y is maudlin and overwrought, and a quick listen to the former is a reminder that sensitive-guy music with dramatic, overarching melodies isn't always annoying.

Birmingham, England's Editors released The Back Room in '05, displaying a sound reminiscent of Joy Division; they were subsequently lumped in with the myriad other combos exploring that post-punk style, so it's not surprising they would now redirect themselves a little. This new direction is definitely sensitive-guy-land: lead single "Smokers Outside the Hospital Doors" laments that sight as "the saddest thing I've ever seen" over the insistent beat from Coldplay's "Clocks." But lead singer Tom Smith's straightforward baritone has none of the whimpering quality of Chris Martin, and combined with the soaring guitar work, the track achieves grandeur without trickery.

Elsewhere, on tracks like "Bones," the band returns to the propulsive uptempo of The Back Room, an "I Will Follow"-reminiscent style the band nearly owns at this point. It's all nicely done, if not earth-shattering, and despite the favorable comparisons to Coldplay, Start sometimes slips dangerously towards cliché: "Put Your Head Towards the Air" starts off sounding uncomfortably similar to Billy Joel's "She's Always a Woman," asking, "have we learned what we set out to learn?" But the track quickly redeems itself with a gigantic drum beat, and when Smith sings the strange line "there's people climbing out of their cars," it's hard not to get a little shiver. Fans of U2 and Coldplay looking for a similar band that hasn't lost the plot will find An End Has a Start a enjoyable, and at times awe-inspiring, listen.

An End Has a Start is out Tuesday, July 17th, on Fader Label. Three tracks are currently available on iTunes here.

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AIDS Takes A Toll On The Environment

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 3:44 PM PDT

AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa is taking its toll on the natural world. Nature reports from South Africa, and the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology, that the disease is acting on communities in a multitude of ways. Game wardens and other conservation workers have died, while others miss work to care for ill loved ones. Families that have lost their primary breadwinners turn to the land for food and fuel. In some places, timber harvesting for coffins is causing deforestation. Researchers from the University of Witwatersrand surveyed several hundred families in the rural northeast of South Africa, where about one in four people are HIV positive. JULIA WHITTY

Spike Lee To Make WWII Film

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 2:16 PM PDT

Controversial film director and actor Spike Lee announced that he plans to make a World War II film that will focus on the contribution of black American soldiers who fought and died to liberate Europe during WWII.

"If you think Hollywood and World War II, you think John Wayne—the great white male that saved the world. It's a myth," he told Reuters.

Shooting for the film, based on James McBride's novel Miracle at St. Anna, is expected to start by the beginning of 2008 and to cost $45 million. It will be shot in Tuscany, where American soldiers were trapped in the mountains behind enemy lines and were living with local villagers who had never laid eyes on a black person before.

Much of Lee's film career has focused on skewering controversial political and social issues, particularly those affecting the African American community. He was recently given the annual George Polk Award for his work on When the Levees Broke: A Requiem in Four Acts, a documentary about life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

Lee also announced in 2006 his plans to direct a James Brown biopic, which would tell the story of the "Godfather of Soul," who died of congestive heart failure on Christmas morning last year in Atlanta at age 73.

Punk Planet Magazine Dead in the Water

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 2:12 PM PDT

The gutting of independent publishing and news media doesn't show signs of letting up.

Punk Planet in June announced that after 13 years and 80 issues, its final magazine issue was being sent out.

Staff blamed the internet, consumerism, bad distribution deals, and a stagnating independent music business for the demise of their publication.

The Chicago-based Punk Planet magazine and its online component punkplanet.com covers punk music, punk subculture, visual arts, and progressive issues such as media criticism, feminism, and labor issues through interviews, essays and album reviews.

Independents' Day Media, a small community-supported journalism project, has been publishing Punk Planet, as well as their own line of books and a skateboarding magazine called Bail.

The group will continue to publish fiction and nonfiction books on poster art, punk "rabble-rousers," inner-city organizing, and personal tragedy online and its website will continue to function as a social networking location for "independently minded folks."

Over here at Mother Jones, we're paying close attention to the struggles facing news media and indie publishing. For more info, see here, here, here, and here.

Netroots Sends ActBlue Love to John Edwards

| Thu Jul. 5, 2007 11:36 AM PDT

Our package on Politics 2.0 is all about how the internet will decentralize politics and make it more accessible to the common man. That includes fundraising, mostly in the form of the website ActBlue.

To learn more about the site, check out the link. But suffice it to say, the netroots and online activists use ActBlue to funnel money to favorite candidates, and have sent almost $25 million over ActBlue's wires (average donation: $60). So who are the candidates receiving the lion's share of that cash?

Turns out, it's John Edwards. Just John Edwards. And it's not even close.

For number of lifetime donations through ActBlue, Edwards leads with 41,236. The next highest are James Webb with 16,363 and Ned Lamont with 12,420. Edwards also leads in terms of lifetime money raised, with $3,437,887. Webb is again second with just $894,042.

Obama and Clinton aren't in the top ten in either category. Hmmm... a strong clue on who the internet supports for president.