THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Obama’s Afghanistan Speech: One From Column A, One From Column B: President Barack Hussein Obama’s 2011 timetable for the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan has “rattled nerves in that country and in Pakistan … as American diplomats worked to convince the two countries at the center of the president’s war strategy that the United States would not cut and run,” reports The New York Times:
“The most serious issue, as far as we see it, is the exit date,” said a senior Pakistani security official who spoke anonymously because he was not allowed to speak publicly. “It will have serious implications.”
For his part, Defense Secretary Robert Gates insists that even though the troop withdrawal will begin in July 2011, the troops could actually be removed from the country v-e-r-y s-l-o-w-l-y. One “senior Pentagon official” tells The Washington Post that the pace of troop reduction “could be steep if everything is hunky-dory” but “it could be much more elongated.” With the surge, there will be 100,000 soldiers in country. If just 10 soldiers are sent home each day, we could actually keep fighting al-Qaeda and the Taliban for another 29 years!
During arguments in United Student Aid Funds v. Espinosa, a case involving the discharge of student loans during bankruptcy, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg asked Michael J. Meehan, counsel for the respondent in the case, about the petitioner's interpretation of a provision of the Bankruptcy Code at issue.
Meehan began his response to Ginsburg, and Sotomayor - who has already established herself as an active and assertive questioner during her short time on the Supreme Court bench - jumped in during the middle of Meehan's second sentence to engage him on a different topic.
"Counsel, may I interrupt for just one moment, because I - there is something needling at me that I do need an answer to ..." Sotomayor said. …
"And I'd like him to answer the question that I asked him first," Ginsburg said.
"I'm sorry," Sotomayor said, looking slightly chagrined.
† Now Is Not The Time To Talk About Race: Disney’s new animated flick, "The Princess and the Frog," has broken the color barrier for princesses. Princess Tiana is black, and parents of little black girls “have been buzzing,” reports The Associated Press. But their daughters – who see President Barack Hussein Obama’s daughters Sasha and Malia living a fairy tale as real-life princesses in the White House - are color-blind as only innocent children can be, and don’t really understand what all the fuss is about:
Girls of all races have already caught princess fever, and young Black girls embrace the White stars of "Hannah Montana," the Jonas Brothers and "High School Musical" without worrying about race.
But some of their moms are making sure their daughters understand the significance of the princess with her brown doe eyes, fuller lips and elegant tiara.
Erica Branch-Ridley of
"She sees Obama, the first girls, she's like, 'That's nice,' " said Branch-Ridley, broadband supervising producer for the TV program "The Electric Company." …
"I want them to understand how important it is, not only from the perspective of a new Disney movie and a new princess, but how historical it is that we have this," she said. …
Little girls don't see color distinctions as much as older girls, said Charlotte Reznick, a child-educational psychologist and author of "The Power of Your Child's Imagination."
But she said Tiana will register on some level with little Black girls and boost their sense of self even if it's subtle.
So, basically, children who are “post-racial” by nature are being forced to become race-conscious by their “progressive parents.” There’s also a brouhaha brewing over how “Afro-centric” dolls meant to appeal to black girls should be, reports The Wall Street Journal:
With so few black dolls on toy-store shelves, many black parents had high hopes when toy powerhouse Mattel Inc. released So in Style, its first line of black dolls with wider noses, fuller lips, sharper cheekbones and a variety of skin shades.
Now, despite the company's efforts to solicit input from a group of high-profile black women, including Cookie Johnson, wife of former basketball star Magic Johnson, some parents are saying the dolls aren't black enough. They complain that five of the six dolls feature fine-textured, waist-length hair; half of them have blue or green eyes.
Moreover, all have the freakishly skinny body of a Barbie (something that irks some white parents as well). …
The criticism over Mattel's new black fashion dolls underscores how difficult it is for large commercial companies to please a widely diverse black community with a single image or two depicting young African-Americans.
"If they had given the dolls short, kinky hair or an Afro, people might have complained that it was too Afro-centric," says Nicole Coles, a 40-year-old mother from
The Stiletto agrees with Coles that no matter how well-meaning people and corporations may be, there is a segment of the black community with a chip on its shoulder, itching to find something to be offended about. We will never get to that post-racial nirvana that Barack Hussein Obama’s election failed to usher in if every effort at racial reconciliation is met with suspicion, anger and rejection.
Editorial Note: The Stiletto played with blue-eyed dolls with long, blonde tresses as a little girl because there were no "ethnic" dolls available. With their darker skin tones, brown doe-shaped eyes and kinky hair the dolls that black girls can play with today look more like The Stiletto - who, BTW, is not black - than the dolls she had and playing with such dolls may have made her feel better about her thick, tightly curled Roseanne Roseannadanna hair (which requires a small fortune to blow dry and flat iron at the salon). "Bad hair" is not just a black thing.
† U.S. Businesses Gouge Americans, But Give Foreign Nationals A Better Deal (third item): In an interview with The American Lawyer, Jawad Ali, a Dubai-based partner at King & Spalding and an expert on Sharia-compliant financial products, explains how the Dubai World debt restructuring affects investors and creditors:
Under Islamic law, the concept of bankruptcy is recognized. It's all based on risk-taking and profit-sharing, it's just that the instruments behind that cannot be traditional bonds. Under Shariah, noteholders cannot simply make money off of money. Investors have to park their money in a real asset. But still, the more risk you take, the more profit you are entitled to. The word "risk" is always there under Shariah, and there is always the risk that the business venture you are investing in may not succeed and you will not be able to recoup your initial investment. …
The fact that these are Islamic bonds does not really make any difference. A default is a default. The issue is that the
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item,Global Warming Won’t Harm Great Tits): The Stiletto took issue with the Audubon Society attributing its observation that bird species have been migrating northward over the past 40 years to global warming, as the distance traveled and temperature differential involved was trivial. HealthDay News reports on a new study that offers another explanation of how bird migratory patterns could be altered by human activity:
[A] single population of blackcap birds has split into two distinct groups in fewer than 30 generations. The population of birds did this despite breeding next to each other in the same forests; now the birds are as different from each other in some ways as those separated by hundreds of miles.
The difference between the groups can be found in their migration patterns, which changed after humans began feeding some of the birds during winter. "The new northwest migratory route is shorter, and those birds feed on food provided by humans instead of fruits as the birds that migrate southwest do," study author H. Martin Schaefer, of the University of Freiburg in Germany, said in a news release from the journal's publisher.
"As a consequence, birds migrating northwest have rounder wings, which provide better maneuverability but make them less suited for long-distance migration," he explained.
Note that the birds that were fed migrated north – because the living was easy, not because of climate change.
† Updates To Previous Posts (second item, Obama Administration’s Tactless Diplomatic Debut): Testifying before the House Homeland Security Committee, Secret Service chief Mark Sullivan said three uniformed officers on administrative have been put on leave in the wake of last week’s White House state dinner having been allegedly crashed by relentless social climbers Tareq and Michaele Salahi. Meanwhile, White House Social Secretary Desirée Rogers has declined to be interviewed by the House committee, reports The Associated Press:
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs cited the separation of powers and a history of White House staff not testifying before Congress in explaining why Rogers, herself a guest at the dinner, wouldn't be coming.
A senior White House aide, Valerie Jarrett, defended
While past presidents claimed executive privilege to protect confidential communications regarding West Wing the operations amongst the president and his advisors, the Obama administration is invoking it to protect his party planner. Better to throw a few Secret Service agents under the bus - you know, the ones who are supposed to take a bullet for Obama - than
Meanwhile, committee chair Rep. Bennie Thompson (D-MS) is facing his own probe, stemming from hearings in March about protecting credit card users from identity theft, reports The Washington Post:
The committee had never before dealt with credit card issues, but Thompson warned Visa, MasterCard and others that Congress might need to impose tighter security standards costing millions of dollars to protect customers from identity theft.
Behind the scenes, some of Thompson's staffers sensed a different motive - an attempt to pressure the companies into making political donations to the chairman, according to several former committee staffers.
Now the House ethics committee is investigating the propriety of the committee's operations, and whether its members' interactions with companies compromised its work. Within a few weeks of the hearing, Thompson collected $15,000 in donations from the credit card industry and its Washington-based lobbyists, a Washington Post analysis shows. No legislation on card security has been introduced.
† Updates To Previous Posts (When Healthcare Is Rationed, Some Animals Are More Equal Than Others): Writing on the U.S. News & World Report blog, “On Parenting,” Nancy Shute notes that with signs that the swine flu pandemic has peaked in the U.S., it “increases the odds that people who really need H1N1 vaccine - pregnant women and kids with asthma and other chronic health problems - can get it. That's still important, because children are still getting sick and dying, and there may well be a new spike of H1N1 cases in the new year.”
† Updates To Previous Posts (fifth item, Nationalized Healthcare Always LeadsTo Rationing): When it comes to preventive medicine, Repubs are a woman’s breast friend. Dems on the health subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee support limiting screening mammograms as per the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force guidelines, while Repubs were concerned that the task force put cost saving over life-saving, reports The Wall Street Journal:
Rep. Frank Pallone (D., N.J.), the chairman of said he doesn't want insurers using the guidelines as an excuse to deny coverage. But he said there is much disagreement in the medical community on the usefulness of early mammograms and added that he didn't question the task force's motives. …
"While that judgment may be contentious, I have no doubt it was driven by science," said Rep. Henry Waxman, a California Democrat who is Energy and Commerce chairman. Mr. Waxman said the "task force did what it set out to do" in reviewing longstanding guidelines and information.
Republicans on the committee castigated the task force. Rep. Roy Blunt (R., Mo.) said the guidelines sent the "wrong message," and he demanded to know how they were formalized and communicated.
Rep. John Shadegg (R., Ariz.) called the task force "the canary in the coal mine" for what he suggested were possible efforts by the government to dictate and ration health care. …
Some House members wanted to know why the task force, didn't include cancer specialists. Dr. Calonge said the task force excluded people with "financial, intellectual and other conflicts" of interest.
Um, if the task force wanted to avoid conflicts of interest, women would have been excluded on the grounds that they have breasts, and men would have been excluded because the mothers, wives and daughters they love have breasts.
Meanwhile, by a vote of 61 to 39 the Senate approved an amendment to its health care legislation requiring insurance companies to offer free mammograms and other preventive services to women, reports The New York Times. Three Republicans and both independents voted with 56 Democrats for the amendment introduced by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-MD).
† Updates To Previous Posts (third item, Madoff’s Victims: Gullible Or Greedy?): Madoff trustee Irving Picard is accusing Boston philanthropist Carl Shapiro and his family foundation of raking in $1 billion in phony profits from Madoff’s Ponzi scheme.over a 40-year period, reports The Boston Globe:
In a letter filed with Judge Burton R. Lifland in US Bankruptcy Court in New York, Picard’s office said Shapiro, during his long relationship with Madoff, enjoyed “unrealistically and consistently purported high rates of return and remarkable purported trading success.’’ …
Shapiro was one of Madoff’s first investors, and the two families were close. Shapiro’s son-in-law Robert Jaffe worked for Madoff to bring new investors into the business.
Picard and the Securities and Exchange Commission have sued Jaffe, alleging fraud, and are seeking to recoup $100 million in commissions Madoff paid to the firm Jaffe worked at, Cohmad Securities.
Jaffe has denied the charges. …
The Shapiros have acknowledged losing at least $545 million to Madoff. About $145 million of that came from the family foundation, and another $250 million was money Carl Shapiro had invested at Madoff’s request, just weeks before the scandal was exposed in December 2008.
Picard alleges that rather than being a victim, Shapiro is one of the largest beneficiaries of Madoff’s fraud.
† Updates To Previous Posts (seventh item, Extradite Polanski To Poland): Roman Polanski has been transferred from custody and is now under house arrest at his chalet in Gstaad pending an extradition hearing.
† Updates To Previous Posts (last item, 10 Reasons Michelle Obama Should Be Proud – Really Proud – Of America): A recent installment in The Stiletto Blog’s ongoing series meant to help instill the necessary pride of country in Michelle Obama’s consciousness to enable her to serve as an serve as an unofficial ambassador focused on Long Island convenience store owner Mohammad Sohail, a Pakistani immigrant, who showed mercy to a bat-wielding thief and gave him $40 and bread in exchange for a promise never to rob again. This update is about the thief, who sent Sohail $50 tucked into a letter of apology that explains he now has a new job, a new child and has kept his promise. Sohail plans to donate the money to charity.