Archive for October, 2008

Obama’s New Attack on Those Who Don’t Want Higher Taxes: ‘Selfishness’

October 31, 2008

On the stump this week, Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill., has pushed back against Sen. John McCain’s description of his tax policies.

“The reason that we want to do this, change our tax code, is not because I have anything against the rich,” Obama said in Sarasota, Fla., yesterday. “I love rich people! I want all of you to be rich. Go for it. That’s the American dream, that’s the American way, that’s terrific.”

By Jake Tapper
ABC News

“The point is, though, that — and it’s not just charity, it’s not just that I want to help the middle class and working people who are trying to get in the middle class — it’s that when we actually make sure that everybody’s got a shot – when young people can all go to college, when everybody’s got decent health care, when everybody’s got a little more money at the end of the month – then guess what? Everybody starts spending that money, they decide maybe I can afford a new car, maybe I can afford a computer for my child. They can buy the products and services that businesses are selling and everybody is better off. All boats rise. That’s what happened in the 1990s, that’s what we need to restore. And that’s what I’m gonna do as president of the United States of America.

“John McCain and Sarah Palin they call this socialistic,” Obama continued. “You know I don’t know when, when they decided they wanted to make a virtue out of selfishness.”

It’s unclear if this was a nod to the Ayn Rand book “The Virtue of Selfishness,” with all that the invocation of Rand implies

It would seem to be, given the themes of Rand’s work, what happens when independent achievers are demonized.

Which would fit with this description of those who want to keep their hard-earned tax dollars as “selfish.”

Atlas may not be shrugging, but Obama is.

— jpt

Fired: Air Force Chief Said Japan Was Not an Aggressor in WWII

October 31, 2008

The head of the Japanese air force is to be sacked after saying the country was not an aggressor in World War II, Japan’s defence minister said.

Yasukazu Hamada said Gen Toshio Tamogami’s views, written in an essay, ran counter to the government’s position on the war.

“Therefore it is inappropriate for him to remain in this position and I will swiftly dismiss him,” he said.

From the BBC

Gen Toshio Tamogami - Pic Australian Defence Department
Gen Toshio Tamogami’s essay was published on a website

The general’s views are likely to anger many of Japan’s neighbours.

China, North and South Korea and other Asian nations still have traumatic memories of Japan’s aggression and colonial rule.

Japan expressed remorse for its wartime actions in 1995, and then gave another apology 10 years later.

Acting swiftly

Mr Hamada said that by acting swiftly against the general, the Japanese government was making it clear that it did not share his views which, he said, could stir controversy in Asian nations.

Read the rest:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/7702374.stm
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From the New York Times
By Norimitsu Onishi  

A high-ranking Japanese military official was dismissed Friday for writing an essay stating that the United States had ensnared Japan into World War II, denying that Japan had waged wars of aggression in Asia and justifying Japanese colonialism.

The Defense Ministry fired Gen. Toshio Tamogami, chief of staff of Japan’s air force, late on Friday night, only hours after his essay was posted on a private company’s Web site. The quick dismissal seemed intended to head off criticism from China, South Korea and other Asian nations that have reacted angrily to previous Japanese denials of its militarist past.

The Defense Minister, Yasukazu Hamada, said the essay included an “inappropriate” assessment of the war, adding, “It was improper for a person in his capacity as air force chief of staff to publicly state a view clearly different from the government’s.”

In the essay, General Tamogami, 60, elaborated a rightist view of Japan’s wartime history shared by many nationalist politicians. But it was a rare formulation from inside Japan’s military, which, as Japan has been shedding its postwar pacifism in recent years, has gained a more prominent role.

Japan’s military — whose operations are restricted by the nation’s war-renouncing Constitution — should be allowed to possess “offensive weaponry” and widen its defense activities with allies, the general also wrote.

The article was posted on the Web site of a real estate developer called Apa Group after taking the $30,000 first prize in an essay-writing contest sponsored by the company.

General Tamogami wrote that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941 and thereby drew the United States into World War II after being caught in “a trap” set by President Roosevelt.

“Roosevelt had become president on his public pledge not to go to war, so in order to start a war between the United States and Japan, it had to appear that Japan took the first shot,” he wrote.

He denied that Japan had invaded China and the Korean Peninsula, arguing that Japanese forces became embroiled in domestic conflicts on the Asian continent.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/world/asia/01tokyo.html?em

Related:
China condemns sacked Japan general’s war comments

Late Friday: McCain claims he has momentum as Obama expands ads

October 31, 2008

Democrat Barack Obama confidently broadened his advertising Friday into two once reliably Republican states and rival John McCain‘s home state of Arizona even as he chastized the Republican candidate for what he called “say-anything, do-anything politics.” The GOP candidate, nevertheless, insisted to audiences in hotly contested Ohio that momentum has swung his way in the final days of the presidential campaign.

Obama’s campaign, capitalizing on his vast financial resources and a favorable political climate, announced that it was going back up with advertising in Georgia and North Dakota, two GOP states that it had teased with ads earlier in the general election campaign but then abandoned.

By MIKE GLOVER and JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writers
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In Iowa, where his campaign took off with a caucus win Jan. 3, Obama told supporters to expect McCain’s campaign to end in a crescendo of attacks on him. “More of the slash and burn, say-anything, do-anything politics that’s calculated to divide and distract; to tear us apart instead of bringing us together,” Obama told 25,000 in Des Moines.

Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. ... 
Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. shakes hands with supporters at the end of a campaign stop in Steubenville, Ohio., Friday, Oct. 31, 2008.(AP Photo/Stephan Savoia)

The Illinois senator said he admired a presidential candidate who said in 2000, “I will not take the low road to the highest office in this land.”

“Those words were spoken eight years ago by my opponent, John McCain,” Obama said. “But the high road didn’t lead him to the White House then, so this time, he decided to take a different route.”

McCain was spending a second straight day touring economically ailing Ohio, a swing state with 20 electoral votes that McCain aides acknowledge is central to a victory on Tuesday. McCain was behind Obama in polls in the state.

In Ohio’s hard-pressed southeast, McCain whipped up a crowd of several thousand at the county courthouse in Steubenville, telling them, “You’re going to be the battleground state again. You’re going to be the one who decides. I need Ohio and I need you.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081031/ap_on_el_pr/campaign_r
dp;_ylt=Ap0o9x6XJQM2XVwmSDe2EA.s0NUE

China Widens Food Tests on Signs of New Contamination, Poison

October 31, 2008

Chinese regulators said Friday that they were widening their investigation into contaminated food amid growing signs that an industrial chemical called melamine had leached into the nation’s animal feed supplies, posing even deeper health risks to consumers after the recent tainted milk scandal.

By David Barboza
The New York Times
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The announcement came after food safety tests earlier this week found that eggs produced in three different provinces in China were contaminated with melamine, a chemical that is blamed for causing kidney stones and renal failure in infants. The tests have led to recalls of eggs and consumer warnings.

The reports are another serious blow to China’s agriculture industry, which is already struggling to cope with its worst food safety scandal in decades after melamine tainted milk supplies sickened over 50,000 children, caused at least four deaths and led to global recalls of goods produced with Chinese dairy products earlier this fall.

 
Above: A worker placed a notice that read “No melamine contained” on egg crates at a major eggs production factory in suburban Beijing on Friday. Photo by Andy Wong, Associated Press.

The cases are fueling global concerns about contaminated Chinese food. In Hong Kong, food safety officials announced this week that they would be testing a wider variety of foods for melamine, including vegetables, flour and meat products.

But food safety experts have also asked consumers to remain calm because while melamine-tainted milk has hospitalized thousands in China, there are no known cases thus far of consumers becoming seriously ill from eating melamine-tainted eggs.

Hong Kong officials said melamine was found in higher than permissible levels in eggs imported from China, but that a child would have to eat about two dozen eggs in a single day to become ill.

Still, if eggs, milk and animal feed supplies are tainted, there is the specter of an even wider array of foods that could come under scrutiny for contamination, everything from pork and chicken supplies to bread, biscuits, eggs, cakes and seafood.

While China is not a major exporter of dairy products, it has one of the world’s fastest-growing dairy industries and it is also one of the world’s largest exporters of food and food ingredients, including meats, seafood, beverages and vitamins.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/world/asia/
01china.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin

Canned BBC Star Loss is $2 Million Plus After Insulting Sex Talk On the Air

October 31, 2008

LONDON, England (CNN) — The BBC’s highest paid celebrity has lost more than $2 million after being suspended without pay for a series of abusive telephone calls made by himself and another of the broadcaster’s stars.

Jonathan Ross (left) was suspended for 12 weeks Thursday; Russell Brand (right) resigned Wednesday.

Above: Jonathan Ross (left) was suspended for 12 weeks Thursday; Russell Brand (right) resigned Wednesday.

Ross, who the UK’s Press Association reports has a £6 million ($9.7 million) contract with the broadcaster, was suspended from all broadcasting for 12 weeks Thursday after the BBC Trust, the sovereign body of the organization, met to discuss the calls.

“He (Ross) will not be paid by the BBC during this period. The fees that would have been paid will be deducted from his BBC contract,” Mark Thompson, director general of the BBC, said in a statement.

The suspension will cost Ross £1.5 million ($2.43 million). He is now believed to be in Wales with his brother Paul, a fellow broadcaster.

Thompson added: “Jonathan Ross’s contribution to this edition of the Russell Brand show was utterly unacceptable and cannot be allowed to go uncensored or without sanction.”

Earlier Thursday, Lesley Douglas, Controller of BBC Radio 2, 6 Music and Popular Music, stood down from her role and offered a “personal apology to Sachs and his family and to the audience for what has happened,” the BBC said.

The prank calls row has also claimed the scalp of Brand, who resigned Wednesday.

Ross and Brand rang Sachs — who played a Spanish waiter in John Cleese’s 1970s TV comedy “Fawlty Towers” — but when it dawned on them that he was not around, they left a series of messages on the veteran actor’s phone, joking about Brand’s sexual relationship with Sachs’ granddaughter Georgina Baillie, 23.

Read the rest:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/SHOWBIZ/TV/10/31/bbc.stars.
row.radio/index.html?iref=topnews

Celebrities and Drugs: Brit Couple Sold to Winehouse “Guilty”

October 31, 2008

A British couple who sold video footage of singer Amy Winehouse apparently smoking crack to a newspaper have pleaded guilty to drug charges.

Johnny Blagrove and Cara Burton admitted in court Friday they offered to supply drugs, including cocaine and ecstasy, to Winehouse.

In this June 27, 2008 file photo, British singer Amy Winehouse ... 
In this June 27, 2008 file photo, British singer Amy Winehouse performs at the 46664 charity concert in honour of Nelson Mandela’s 90th birthday in London.(AP Photo/Lefteris Pitarakis, file)

Prosecutors say the pair covertly filmed Winehouse and sold the footage to The Sun newspaper. In January the paper published the images, which appeared to show the singer smoking crack cocaine.

Detectives decided there was not enough evidence to charge Winehouse but they charged the couple.

Prosecutor Sean Larkin says police who raided the couple’s home found a list of celebrities they supplied with drugs, including Winehouse.

A judge ordered the couple to return Nov. 28 for sentencing.

–Associated Press

China’s Worst Nightmare: Unemployment

October 31, 2008

The global economic meltdown has dealt and enexpected blow to China: high unemployment amidst this population of 1.3 billion people.

By Simon Elegant
Time Magazine

When China’s President Hu Jintao made his first official visit to Washington in April of 2006, he encountered a string of diplomatic snafus that culminated in enduring several minutes of screaming from a protester admitted into the media stand. Still, U.S. officials say he and President George W. Bush developed a genuine personal rapport. At one point, Bush asked his counterpart which of the numerous challenges China faced was the most serious — which one kept Hu awake at night worrying.
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“Unemployment,” Hu reportedly answered without hesitating.
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These days, Hu must be suffering from serious insomnia. When that meeting in Washington took place, China’s economy was still expanding at a double-digit rate, creating enough jobs every year that many of the 20 million new job seekers who entered the market found some sort of gainful employment. Now GDP growth has dipped to around 9% and is expected to decline further as the worldwide financial crisis transmogrifies into a global recession. Already, scores of Chinese factories producing consumer goods like toys and plastics goods have shuttered in the southern industrial powerhouse of Guangdong, and thousands of unemployed workers have made their displeasure known with rowdy demonstrations last month.

It’s a situation that is only going to get much worse in the next few months, as the number of unemployed balloons. According to estimates by the Dongguan City Association of Enterprises with Foreign Investment, 9,000 of the 45,000 factories in the cities of Guangzhou, Dongguan, and Shenzhen — the heart of China’s industrial south — are expected to close before the Chinese New Year in late January. That could mean up to 2.7 million workers facing unemployment, the association said. And they called that number “conservative.”

Finding jobs for millions of unemployed is “the biggest challenge [China’s] leadership faces” says David Dollar, head of the World Bank’s China office in Beijing. The current crisis has greatly accelerated a process that was already underway as China’s economy has been shedding low-level factory jobs to transition to manufacturing higher value-added products and jobs in the service industry. “In a way, the crisis could work out well for China. It has the potential to help in rebalancing the economy away from production” to the creation of more jobs in the service sector, says Dollar. If GDP growth slows further to 8%, the government still can hit its job creation targets, but the speed with which the adjustment happens will be critical, he says. “We’re going to learn just how well the capital and labor markets work in China. The concern is if the adjustment is very quick, it could be difficult.”

Read the rest:
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/
0,8599,1855400,00.html?xid=rss-world

U.S. Unrelenting in Drone Attacks on Pakistan’s Terrorists

October 31, 2008

Despite repeated protests from the government of Pakistan, the United States continues to wage an unrelenting remote control effort to hunt down and kill Arab terrorists, Taliban and al-Qaeda in Pakistan’s tribal areas near Afghanistan….

From the Associated Press

Suspected U.S. missiles slammed into two villages Friday, killing 27 people including foreign fighters in the latest strikes inside Pakistan, intelligence officials said.

One of the raids targeted an Arab militant identified as Abu Kasha Iraqi, but it was unclear if he was killed, the officials said on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance ...
Department of Defense (DOD) image of a Predator surveillance drone. A suspected US missile strike in a Pakistani tribal area on Friday killed at least 16 mainly Arab militants, possibly including a mid-level Al-Qaeda commander, security officials said.(AFP/DoD/File/Jeffrey S. Viano)

Suspected U.S. unmanned planes have fired at alleged militant targets in Pakistan at least 17 times since mid-August, putting pressure on extremists accused of planning attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan — and perhaps terror strikes in the West.

But the marked uptick in their frequency is straining America’s seven-year alliance with Pakistan, where rising violence is exacerbating economic problems gnawing at the nuclear-armed country’s stability.

Scores of foreign al-Qaida members are believed to be hiding out in the lawless border area, which is considered a likely hiding place for Osama bin Laden.

The United States rarely confirms or denies firing the missiles and the identities of those killed are also rarely made public. Locals frequently say civilians, sometimes women and children, are among the dead.

The first attack place in Mir Ali village in North Waziristan after drones had been flying overhead for several hours, the intelligence officials said.

The drones fired twice, hitting the house frequented by the Arab fighter and a nearby car, killing 20 people, the officials said, citing reports from agents and informers in the field.

Around two hour later, a second set of missiles hit a village in South Waziristan, killing seven people, including an unspecified number of foreign fighters, the officials said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081031/ap_on_re_
as/as_pakistan;_ylt=AjlvROFR17m9X2ON62tUPROs0NUE

Obama ads in GOP turf; McCain says he’s leftist

October 31, 2008

In a bold move brimming with confidence, Democrat Barack Obama broadened his advertising campaign on Friday into two once reliably Republican states and further bedeviled rival John McCain by placing a commercial in the Republican presidential nominee‘s home state of Arizona.

By MIKE GLOVER and JIM KUHNHENN, Associated Press Writers

Obama’s campaign, capitalizing on his vast financial resources and a favorable political climate, announced that it was going back up with advertising in Georgia and North Dakota, two GOP states that it had teased with ads earlier in the general election campaign but then abandoned.

In what could be a final ignominy for McCain, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said the campaign would also begin airing ads in Arizona, a state McCain has represented in Congress for 26 years. Plouffe said the race has tightened in Arizona, Georgia and North Dakota. A recent poll from McCain’s home state showed the two candidates in a statistical dead heat.

In a slew of states, “the die is being cast as we speak,” he said. “Sen. McCain on Election Day is not just going to have to carry the day, but carry it convincingly.”

McCain campaign manager Rick Davis derided Obama’s moves: “We encourage them to pick other states that we intend to win” to spend their money.

McCain was spending a second straight day touring economically ailing Ohio, a swing state with 20 electoral votes that McCain aides acknowledge is central to a victory on Tuesday. McCain was behind Obama in polls in the state.

While the Obama campaign continued to tie McCain to the unpopular President Bush, McCain assailed Obama’s economic policies as recipes from the far left of American politics.

McCain told a rally in Hanoverton, Ohio, that Obama “began his campaign in the liberal left lane of politics and has never left it. He’s more liberal than a senator who calls himself a socialist,” a reference to Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont.

Campaigning with McCain was former GOP rival and one-time New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, who told the crowd, “John McCain was right about the single most important decision that had to be made in the last four years and that was to stick it out in Iraq.”

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081031/ap_on_el_pr/campaign_
rdp;_ylt=ArOr6vlVlyuOtTuDDkRtP3Ws0NUE

Friday News Before Elections Has Often Influenced Vote

October 31, 2008

Four years ago, Osama bin Laden released a tape the Friday before Election Day.
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Sen. John Kerry is convinced it stalled his last-minute surge.

Four years before that, the big story on the Friday before the election was that George. W. Bush had been arrested for DUI in Maine as a young man. His supporters are convinced that cost him the popular vote.

Back in 1992, special prosecutor Lawrence Walsh indicted Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger for his involvement in Iran-contra the Friday before the election.
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President George H.W. Bush and his team thought it cost them the election.

In each of these cases, the impact of the these last-minute surprises was more debatable than that.
But there’s no question they made some difference.

Can it happen again?

Unlikely, because of early voting. What we’re learning this week is that more than 10 percent of voters have already voted. A third will probably have voted by Election Day.

That, combined with the small number of voters who still appear undecided, and the saturation of the airwaves with campaign messages in the final weekend, mean that even a freakier Friday this time around probably won’t matter much.

–George Stephanopoulos