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The Nation

June 12, 2008
Christopher Hayes

Let's call it what it is:

Reprieve said their client, Binyam Mohamed, had his genitals slashed repeatedly with a doctor's scalpel while in custody in Morocco after he was flown there from Pakistan by American officials in 2002. It also said his U.S. captors later took pictures of the abuse to show authorities that his wounds were healing.

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June 12, 2008
Christopher Hayes

I've been tracing the internet-fueled smears and rumors about Barack Obama since I wrote about the phenomenon last year. Yesterday the campaign announced a new smear-debunking site, FightTheSmears.com . It's an unprecedented move, but also smart and necessary. Wired's Thomas Goetz emailed Ben Smith this very smart observation about the the publicity push the Obama campaign has put behind the site:

By putting their own website out there front-and-center, and then getting everybody to link to it (starting with all the media covering the launch of the site), the result will be to drive fightthesmears.com towards the top of a Google search on, say, "obama muslim" or "michelle obama whitey". Ideally, if enough of the pro-Obama network links to fightthesmears.com, it'll drive the sites that peddle in the rumor-mongering, which are now the first results on said searches, off the top of the results list. Ideal long term result: any curious low-information voter who eventually bothers to google these pesky rumors will immediately be led to the debunking rather than the rumor.

My take: Did the Obama campaign create fightthesmears.com to game Google? If so, they're even more net-savvy than folks give them credit for.

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June 12, 2008
Robert Dreyfuss
Bob Dreyfuss

The battle for Barack Obama's mind on the issue of getting out of Iraqunfolded in public yesterday, as two members of his Iraq advisory taskforce presented conflicting versions of what to do about the BushAdministration's nation-wrecking program in that country.

The scene was the second annual meeting of the Center for a New AmericanSecurity, a center-right Democratic think tank whose luminaries includeMadeleine Albright and William Perry, secretaries of state and defenseunder Bill Clinton, and a host of other foreign policy wonks.

The two speakers were Colin Kahl, who chairs the task force and whoworks at CNAS, and Brian Katulis, a member of Obama's task force and athinker-in-residence at the Center for American Progress. Neither Kahlnor Katulis was speaking for Obama, but the stark conflict in theirviews says something important about the differing opinions Obama may begetting from inside his team.

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Bob Dreyfuss
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June 12, 2008
Christopher Hayes

When I read John Dickerson's tedious, chin-stroking piece about Obama being insufficiently enthusiastic about tossing senior citizens into poverty, I thought, "Boy, I wish Dean Baker wasn't on vacation, cuz he'd tear this to pieces." Turns out, he's back from vacation already. And just in time.

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June 11, 2008
Peter Rothberg
Peter Rothberg

As the catastrophic consequences of inaction seep into the public consciousness people everywhere are starting to take steps to fight global warming. But it's not enough to change light-bulbs and dispense with plastic bags -- we need bold, fundamental, and rapid action on climate change -- action as outlined at 1sky.org, CoolCities.us and Greenpeace's Global Hotseat.

The increasingly radicalized Sierra Club is trying to galvanize its vast membership into providing the political force that can urgently focus the politicians' attention with its Lightbulbs to Leadership Campaign.

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June 11, 2008
Laura Flanders
Laura Flanders

The Windfall Profits Tax Monster Is Back," so headlined the Houston Chronicle. The GOP's defeat of a bill that would have put a 25% excess, or "windfall" profits tax on oil profits led some wags among the oiligopoly to crow that "even a broken clock is right twice a day" (meaning the Senate.)

For a different perspective, listen to Dan Stormer, a lawyer who's representing Nigerian plaintiffs in a case against Chevron. With the economy on the dive and many blaming high oil prices, Stormer, says that when you tally in the blood that's spilled in oil production, oil's price may be far too low. As for "windfall" profits-- that's blood-money.

Ten years ago last month, Nigerian security forces opened fire on peaceful demonstrators in the Niger Delta, killing two and injuring others. The people shot were protesting, says Stormer, for nothing more than what they'd been promised: jobs, schools, water they could drink, economic development. Now four Nigerian plaintiffs are suing Chevron in US federal court. Nigerian soldiers were paid by a subsidiary of Chevron, they say, and the company bears responsibility for the murders. Trial dates are set for September.

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The Notion
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June 11, 2008
Ari Berman
Ari Berman

John McCain has made it clear that his campaign intends to aggressively court supporters of Hillary Clinton, include her major base of women voters.

Now top women Clinton supporters have a message for McCain: not so fast.

"The McCain campaign has been talking about the mythology of trying to pick up HRC supporters," says Ellen Malcolm, president of EMILY'S List. "This is a pipe dream, because he's out of touch with their lives and the issues they care about."

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The Notion
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June 10, 2008
Ari Berman
Ari Berman

There's a few different ways to react to Fox News host E.D. Hill labeling Barack and Michelle Obama's fist bump in St. Paul last week as a possible "terrorist fist jab."

1. Hill should be reprimanded for her breathtaking ignorance and cultural myopia.

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The Notion
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June 10, 2008
John Nichols
John Nichols

Former Common Cause president Chellie Pingree, a passionate reformer who calls for a rapid end to the war in Iraq and supports the opening of impeachment hearings against President Bush, easily won Tuesday's Democratic primary in Maine's 1st congressional district.

The Democratic-leaning seat came open when incumbent Tom Allen decided to challenge Republican Senator Susan Collins this fall.

Pingree faced a free-spending challenge from a former Republican, Adam Cote, who switched parties to mount a campaign that was backed by business groups that were engaged in bluewashing -- the tactic of pouring money into a Democratic primary in a blue state or district with hopes of nominating the candidate most inclined to favor corporate interests.

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John Nichols
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