Von Brunn: More Warning Signs

Easton, Maryland is a summer spa for yuppies from Washington and a popular retirement destination for former law enforcement officials. It is just down the road from St. Michaels, site of Dick Cheney’s country estate and a spread purchased not long ago by Donald Rumsfeld. For some years Easton was also home to James von Brunn, who has now been formally charged with the murder of a security guard at the Holocaust Memorial Museum on Wednesday. A look at his history in Easton makes it clear that von Brunn's racist outbursts had taken on violent overtones before, although locals tended to look the other way.

Bermuda Now Showing More Moral Courage Than America

Ben Smith relays that Bermuda, which is taking four Uighurs off our hands, is getting nothing in return:

A spokesman for Bermuda Premier Dr. Ewart Brown, Glenn Jones, emails that Bermuda got "nothing" from the negotiations with the United States, which he said began last month.

The country "believes this was the right thing to do from a humanitarian perspective," he said.

The Bush administration eventually determined the 17 Uighurs it held in Guantanamo Bay for nearly a decade were innocent (i.e., not terrorists). But it couldn't release them because they would face arrest and possible execution if returned to China. America often offers asylum to people who face persecution in their own countries. It would be nice if we could let the Uighur detainees live in the US, near the pre-existing Uighur community near Washington, DC. Unfortunately, our politics are too screwed up to allow us to try to even begin to make up for the years that the Uighurs have spent wrongfully imprisoned.

No one in government—including President Obama—has the political and moral courage to do right by these people. So we're relying on Bermuda and Palau to clean up our mess—and leaving the Uighurs to start new lives on remote islands where they will have very little, if any, contact with their culture and traditions.

Update: Oh, how I overestimated politics. Bermuda Premier Ewart Brown didn't consult the British or other Bermudan politicians before deciding to accept the Uighurs. They're all throwing a fit. Well, at least Brown has some moral courage on this issue, even if some other Bermudans don't. He's way ahead of Obama on that front.

China's Economy

The United States needs to reduce its trade deficit, but arithmetic being what it is, that can happen only if other countries reduce their trades surpluses.  That means Germany and Japan, but most of all it means China — and as the chart on the right shows, China's exports are indeed down.  Good news?  Not really: as Brad Setser has pointed out in the past, this only produces a declining trade surplus if imports also go up — or at least decline at a slower rate than exports.  Ed Hugh delivers the bad news:

The decline [in exports] was the biggest since Bloomberg data began in 1995. And more to the point as far as Brad is concerned China’s imports dropped 25.2 percent last month, compared with a 23 percent fall in April. Hence China just one more time ran an increased trade surplus (up to $13.4bn in May from $13.1bn in April), and it is no clearer to me than it is to Brad how a country running a trade surplus can be leading a surge in global demand. Indeed this months data, far from prodiving evidence of an accelerating “recovery” continues to point towards ongoing weakness in global demand, just like the evidence we are receiving from Germany and Japan.

Ed has more at the link, including some detail about China's imports that provides even more cause for gloom, but the bottom line is that there's not much hope in the short term that China will be leading a global recovery.  Their economy isn't rebalancing, it's just falling.  No green shoots here.

Letterman Owes Palin a Thank-You

Whether David Letterman owes an apology to Sarah Palin for joking about her daughter or not, he sure should send her and her conservative comrades one big thank-you.

The Letterman-Palin tussle has been under way since the late-night comic cracked that Palin's daughter got "knocked up" by A-Rod on a recent trip to New York City. He also said that Palin had to keep her daughter away from Elliot Spitzer. Since then, conservatives have been demanding Letterman's head. Todd Palin accused him of joking about rape. Michelle Malkin has branded Letterman a misogynist and called for CBS to get him a therapist. Team Sarah, a conservative outfit that fancies Palin, has pushed for boycotting Letterman's advertisers. ("The continual presence of personal attacks on both Governor Sarah Palin and her family indicates that she remains a threat to the liberal political establishment," huffed Team Sarah cofounder Jane Abraham.) And on Friday morning's Today Show, Sarah Palin said Letterman ought to apologize to young women across the country. (Letterman offered a jokey explanation, not an apology, after the Palins first complained.)

Today's photo is from Iraq.Stephen Colbert takes a photo op with servicemembers at Camp Victory's Al Faw Palace in Baghdad, Iraq on June 5. (Photo courtesy army.mil)

Haiku Review: The Inheritance, by David Sanger

David Sanger, a 26-year veteran of the New York Times, and the paper's chief Washington correspondent, has shared in two Pulitzer Prizes. His eye-opening book on the state of the world that Obama inherits was published in January by Random House. It retails for $26.95 ($32 in Canada). Book length: 464 pages. Review length: 74 words.

Part I
Bush was distracted
Iran took full advantage
Got all they needed

Part II
A false Marshall Plan
Jihadists without borders
Pray for the Afghans

 

 

Part III
Prez backed the wrong horse
Are their nukes under control?
Musharraf played us

Part IV
Kim won't use his bombs
He sells to the Syrians
"Let's Eat Two Meals!"

Part V
Partner or rival?
Chinese talk green, export smog
We're reasonably screwed

Part VI
Three scenarios
Loose nukes, germs, cyber attacks
Defenses feeble

Takeaway Message
These are scary times
Can Obama save us all?
Shit or get off pot

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This Week In Frog: Name Results/Our Foreclosed Palace

In case you missed it, last week we interns started a Frog Blog to compete with Kevin Drum's catblogging. This week, we decided to overhaul our little fellow's tank. One side effect of the Great Recession is that people are realizing how expensive it is to be pet owners. Thus, we were able to find a ten gallon tank complete with filter, a castle, artificial plants, eight pounds of gravel, a piece of driftwood, large rocks, a net, cleaning solution, food, and six fish that needed adopting—all for $30 on Craigslist. 

frog-1.jpg (JPEG Image, 300x200 pixels)

Yesterday, we added six snails to the mix to keep the tank squeaky clean. Only after introducing the snails to their new frog neighbor did we realize that we'd accidentally acquired a stowaway fish as well in the water-filled pet store bag, bringing our grand tank total to seven.

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As for the long-awaited naming results...After much consideration, we decided to stick with the traditional "Smart, Fearless Journalism" theme...With that, we introduce MUDRAKER.

It's not every day you get a chance to go on television and call Rush Limbaugh a fool. But on Thursday night, I was asked on Hardball to comment on the big-mouth's claim that James von Brunn is a "leftist." So what choice did I have?

Caribou Numbers Decline Steeply Worldwide

The first ever worldwide census analysis of caribou/reindeer numbers reveals a nearly 60 percent decline worldwide in the last three decades.

This dramatic decline across the circumpolar world is a result of a bad intersection between global warming and industrial development, according to the data published in Global Change Biology.

Global warming is affecting the herds in three of four season. The spring green-up in the Arctic now arrives earlier—before the migrating herds arrive, depriving mothers and calves of quality feeding. Warmer summers cause more intense insect blooms that harass the herds and affect their ability to feed. Winters produce more freezing rains that ice over and make inaccessible the lichens the animals feed on during the dark months. I wrote about a particularly bad freezing rain event a year ago.

Meanwhile industrial development in the boreal forest has driven the decline of many herds.

The analysis raises serious concerns not only for the animals but also for people in northern latitudes who depend on caribou/reindeer for their livelihood.

For all of us, really.

Digital Transition Eco-Challenge: Repurpose Your Rabbit Ears

We're just hours away from saying goodbye to rabbit ears for good. Are you one of the nearly 3 million that isn't ready? Will tomorrow begin a new era in hi-tech government surveillance? Could you care less? Well, however you feel about the boob tube, the consequences of such a massive switchover are significant, particularly for all the parts we'll no longer use.

Hopefully all those government-subsidized converter boxes will keep millions of old-fashioned sets out of electronic wasteland, but what of the beloved antennae? Ever thought of designing a use out of the elegant, retractable numbers? Maybe we could all donate them to music schools to be repurposed as batons. Would they work on drums? As pointers for teachers? Tomato cages?

Toss me your bright ideas in the comments.