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Daily Threat Assessment: August 8-12, 2011

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AGAINST US

Allen West compares homosexuality to choosing ice cream flavors


In an interview with the Sun-Sentinel, congressman Allen West (R-FL) defended his belief that sexual orientation is a choice, and an easy one at that. "I like chocolate chip ice cream, and I will continue to like chocolate chip ice cream," he said. "So there’s no worry about me changing to vanilla." [ThinkProgress]

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Environmentally-friendly 1987 showtune still hits all the right notes


"The Great American Consumer," a song from the 1978 musical Seein' The Light, is just as relevant as it was 30-plus years ago. The creepy intensity of the lead singer – who croons about his energy and fuel addictions – is reminiscent of a younger Stephen Colbert. Slightly cheesy? Definitely. Still accurate for many close-minded Americans? Absolutely. [Grist]

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WITH US

Christine O'Donnell's Amazon problem


Hackers have been having some fun with the Amazon page for a new book by failed GOP Senate candidate Christine O'Donnell of Delaware. Displayed alongside details about Troublemaker: Let's Do What It Takes To Make America Great Again are sex toys and witch costumes, nods to her anti-masturbation, pro-abstinence crusades and allegations that she used to practice witchcraft. [The Daily Beast]

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Jim DeMint takes on "anti-American" Obama administration


Republican Senator Jim DeMint appeared on a right-wing radio show on Aug. 10, and attacked Obama for doings "things that are just so anathema to the principles of freedom." He went on to say that Obama's tenure has been "the most anti-American administration in my lifetime." "Everything he has come up with," DeMint added, "centralizes more power in Washington, creates more socialist-style, collectivist policies." [Right Wing Watch]

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Spermless mosquitoes could stop spread of malaria


Scientists have discovered a possible way to stop the spread of malaria at its source: by breeding genetically engineered, spermless mosquitoes. A female mosquitoe mates only once, and can't tell whether or not a male is fertile, so if she mates with a spermless partner, she's taken out of the reproductive game. [TIME]

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AGAINST US

Despite cutting doctors' hours, hospital errors continue


In 2003, medical authorities, concerned long shifts of up to 30 hours were at the root of medical errors made by overtired junior doctors, cracked down on residents' hours. However, a recent study shows that paring back hours had little or no effect on the error rates. About a fifth of all hospitalized patients have been affected by medical errors, and mistakes cause roughly 98,000 people to die each year. [New York Times]

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Great White shark leaps aboard researcher's boat


South African shark researcher Dorien Schröder was recently on a "chum trip" – where researchers attract sharks to their boat to estimate the size of an area's population – when a nearly 10-foot-long shark jumped on board. Schröder's staff poured buckets of water over the shark's gills until port authorities arrived to lift her back into the water, giving the researchers ample time to study the creature up close. Said Schroder, "She was lucky to land in a boat full of people who love sharks." [New Scientist]

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AGAINST US

Japan quake cracked massive ice shelf


The earthquake and tsunami that ravaged Japan in March had effects reaching far beyond Japan itself; aerial photographs show that the tsunami caused massive, twice-Manhattan-sized chunks of Antarctica's Sulzberger ice shelf to shear off and float away. [New Scientist]

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U.S. gov creates fuel efficiency program


In what environmentalists are hailing as a "historic" shift, the Obama administration announced the first ever fuel efficiency rules for large trucks and buses. It's estimated the new standards will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by almost 250 million metric tons and save 500 million barrels of oil over the life of vehicles built for the 2014 to 2018 model years. [Docuticker]

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Plane circles NYC with message for Wall Street


A broker from St. Louis took out her anger over the U.S. credit downgrade in a very public space: the New York City skyline. She hired a plane to circle lower Manhattan with a banner, aimed at Wall Street, that read, "Thanks for the downgrade. You should all be fired." [Huffington Post]

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AGAINST US

SHARK WEEK GOES RURAL


The rotting carcase of a six-to-eight-foot blue shark was found this week – shark week! – in the woods outside the small New Hampshire town of Milton, fifty miles from the nearest body of salt water. No one knows how it got there. [Washington Post]

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New e-paper can be reused over 250 times


Researchers in Taiwan have created a unique type of electronic paper that can be printed, erased and re-printed up to 260 times. A sheet of the paper will cost about $2, and may be available within two years. The paper's developers, at the Industrial Technology Research Institute, hope that businesses will utilize the eco-friendly technology for storefront signs and posters. [TreeHugger]

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Al Gore goes rips climate-change deniers a new one


Normally reserved former Vice President Al Gore, in a speech in Aspen, Colorado last Thursday, blasted climate-change deniers as a group that "[pays] pseudo-scientists… to put out the message, 'This climate thing, it's nonsense.'" He went on to say, "It's no longer acceptable in mixed company – meaning bipartisan company – to use the goddamn word 'climate.'" Simply put, says Gore, it's "bullshit!" [Huffington Post]

Related: Climate of Denial: Can Science and the Truth Withstand the Merchants of Poison? By Al Gore

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MICHELE BACHMANN SWINGS BY HOMOPHOBIC CHURCH SERVICE


Michele and Marcus Bachmann attended the Point of Grace Church in Waukee, Iowa over the weekend of Aug. 6-7, and were treated to a sermon denouncing homosexuality as "immoral" and "unnatural." The speech and Bible reading drew cheers from the crowd, as did a video featuring a man named Adam Hood, who claims to have had a conversation with God that turned him away from homosexuality. [MSNBC]

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AGAINST US

AMERICANS THINK THEY'RE GOOD DRIVERS, BUT THEY AREN'T


Most Americans think they're good drivers, according to a recent Allstate survey. But that same survey reveals that most Americans are not good drivers; 89 percent of those surveyed have driven over the speed limit, one-third have texted while driving, and almost half have driven while excessively tired. Unsurprisingly, American drivers' positive self-rating is almost twice as high as the rating they give to family, friends and other drivers their age. [Grist]

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Scientists create device to detect date-rape drug


Scientists in Israel have invented a device that can detect the presence of a date-rape drug when placed in a drink. The sensor, expected to look like a straw when it's released for sale, will light up or turn a different color (and possibly send a text message to a cell phone) in the presence of an offending substance. [The Week]

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AGAINST US

AN UNEXPECTED CAUSE OF GLOBAL WARMING: CHEESE


The nonprofit Environmental Working group has ranked different protein sources by volume of greenhouse gas emitted in their production. Lamb is the worst offender, just ahead of beef. But the No. 3 culprit, perhaps surprisingly, is cheese. How come? Because it takes a lot of milk to produce a pound of cheese – 10 pounds for a pound of hard cheese – and milk comes from cows, who fart up a storm of methane (a heat-trapping gas) and eat a lot of grains (the production of which is itself pretty gassy). [EWG via Grist]

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Torture case against Rumsfeld allowed to proceed


A federal appeals court ruled that two Americans suing Donald Rumsfeld for violating their constitutional rights by "developing, authorizing and using harsh interrogation techniques in Iraq against them" will be allowed to proceed with a lawsuit against former defense secretary. The Bush and Obama administrations have opposed the case, but the court held that the "plaintiffs have alleged sufficient facts to show that Secretary Rumsfeld personally established the relevant policies." [Think Progress]

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AGAINST US

JON HUNTSMAN & FRIENDS BUTCHER RAY CHARLES CLASSIC


GOP presidential hopeful Jon Huntsman showed off his piano skills in South Carolina on Sunday, dedicating a performance of Ray Charles' "Hit the Road, Jack" to his former boss, President Obama. Huntsman was joined by congressman Tim Scott and former Attorney General Henry McMaster, who apparently are the worst singers in the entire country. [New York]

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AGAINST US

IT'S HARD OUT THERE FOR A DAD


Most American fathers – 63 percent – say dads have it harder today than in past generations, according to a new Pew survey. Another sad takeaway: even though more than two-thirds of fathers say having a dad in the home is important for a child's happiness, the number of kids living apart from their fathers has soared, from 11 percent in 1960 to 27 percent today. [Pew Research Center]

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AGAINST US

Perry prays for results


In recent weeks, the Texas governor and GOP presidential hopeful has staged  big prayer rally; prayed for Obama – "that God will open his eyes"; prayed for the repeal of healthcare reform and EPA regulations; and prayed for rain in Texas, after calling for three days of prayer in April to end the state's drought. Despite his prayers, Texas is still experiencing what is shaping up to be its worst drought on record. [Grist]

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