LESS PRESSURE ON CHINA
White House momentum to finally begin dealing with Chinese cyber-espionage aimed at US corporations has largely dissipated since the document leaks, analysts say.
One key casualty: less enthusiasm among US allies to cooperate with America, especially now that it's known that the NSA monitored the phone communications of top political leaders in Germany, France, Spain, and Brazil.
"I don't really think we're going to make a lot of progress for a while," James Mulvenon, vice president of Defense Group Inc.'s intelligence division, said at a government roundtable in July on US-China cybersecurity issues. "I would say it [the flap over NSA activity] is probably going to delay progress six to 12 months."
The most important current policy development in America is the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, a k a Obamacare. Most Republican-controlled states are, however, refusing to implement a key part of the act, the expansion of Medicaid, thereby denying health coverage to almost five million low-income Americans. And the amazing thing is that they're going to great lengths to block aid to the poor even though letting the aid through would cost almost nothing; nearly all the costs of Medicaid expansion would be paid by Washington.
Meanwhile, those Republican-controlled states are slashing unemployment benefits, education financing and more. As I said, it's not much of an exaggeration to say that the G.O.P. is hurting the poor as much as it can.
"The fact is, all constitutional rights are regulated, always have been, and need to be." -- Dick Metcalf, in an article titled "Let's Talk Limits," published last October by Guns and Ammo magazine, leading to his firing as a columnist for that publication, as recounted in a story January 5 in the New York Times. "We are locked in a struggle with powerful forces in this country who will do anything to destroy the Second Amendment. The time for ceding some rational points is gone." -- Richard Venola, a former editor of Guns and Ammo, in a comment quoted by the Times in that same story. read more
New York Times: When President Obama took office in 2009, he promised an "unprecedented level of openness in government." In a memo issued the day after his inauguration, he wrote, "The government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears." In the latest reminder that the Obama administration has failed to live up to that promise, the Justice Department last week won its fight to keep secret a memo that outlines the supposed legal authority for the Federal Bureau of Investigation to collect Americans' telephone and financial records without a subpoena or court order. The memo, issued in 2010 by the department's Office of Legal Counsel, approved of the bureau's use of what are known as exigent letters to obtain phone records without any legal process, and in the absence of any emergency. read more
Joe Nocera: [E]arly Christian texts can seem quite astonishing. Several of them are told from the point of view of a woman, something that is not true of any of the New Testament. The Gospel of Mary, for instance, tells the story of Mary Magdalene, "who is portrayed as one of Jesus's closest associates," as [pastor Hal] Taussig writes in an introduction to that gospel, and has been given teachings from Jesus that she passes on to his male disciples. A second book that is written mostly in the female voice is The Thunder: Perfect Mind. A poetic work, what is particularly amazing about it is that the female voice is that of the deity Herself.