Details in Fox News report go down the memory hole, mysteriously return amid denials

I’ve not enough time to try and explain this weirdness here, but last night I got a scoop and it’s been developing all morning. Check it out, below.

Fox News altered Obama ‘praise’ story to exclude ‘death threats’

Also, hat tip to Eric Boehlert over at Media Matters, who sent some traffic my way with a complementary post on my latest exclusive.

Back to work.

Update: Also, big shoutout to Matt Corley at ThinkProgress, who blogged my piece there. Thanks, Matt. :)

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Fear and loathing of the FDA’s new tobacco regulations

 So, yesterday the U.S. Food and Drug Administration ushered in sweeping, new regulations on tobacco: no more “light” or “low-tar” smokes, no more clove cigarettes or other flavored tobacco and no more marketing around kids. The FDA will also be able to lower the nicotine levels of tobacco products and cigarette manufacturers will be forced to list each and every chemical compound in their product, on the package. The FDA also gets a line-item veto of sorts for any ingredient that it deems harmful.

I personally quit smoking cigarettes after a hospital stay due to a burst appendix (one of the worst pains ever, if you’ve not experienced it). During my six, long, uninsured days bedridden and being doted on by the nurses — with nothing but wall-to-wall Michael Jackson death coverage on television — I found that coughing up black gunk with a severely inflamed abdomen is Really Fucking Painful.

Painful enough that I carried a sense of anger out of that hospital and applied it to my five-year addiction.

My urge to smoke cigarettes dissolved like so much rust in vinegar and I haven’t touched one ever since. It will be four months as of Sept. 30.

However, one tobacco product that has stuck with me is shisha, which I understand is no safer than cigarettes. But, I do not smoke the hookah terribly often, and even then it does not contain all the awful additives that are found in the cigs. The hookah is more of a social instrument than an addiction; friends come over, a coal is sparked, I load up some lemon-mint and the tube is passed — smiles all around. (The stuff is delicious.)

But is shisha now illegal to sell or purchase? I have not been able to answer that question for myself just yet, though I suspect it is. Later today I will call around to the local smoke shops and get their takes on the new rules … And see if anyone has a stock of shisha that I can snap up, just in case.

While I’m all for banning advertising near kids, and those “light” and allegedly “low-tar” cigarettes (which is just bullshit marketing, there’s no real difference other than the amount of oxygen that gets mixed into the smoke), axing cloves, fruity blunt wraps and shisha is simply going too far.

Granted, America does spend over $100 billion each year on tobacco-related illnesses. But, in my mind, what the FDA just did would be akin to banning pinot gregio because it tastes better than merlot … Or refusing to allow sales of caffeine-infused beers because energy drinks are popular with minors.

While there is a strain of logic present in such actions, none make sense to me when stacked next to an argument in favor of personal liberty.

Then again, this does only apply to tobacco products. There’s plenty of herbal smoking blends, even herbal shisha, that will keep my hankering for warm, flavored vapors at bay. But that does not assuage my visions of angry, wheezing smokers, drawing up picket signs as I write.

Will the U.S. of A. ever see a ‘million smokers march’?

Mark my words: If the FDA makes further encroachments on nicotine addicts, a gaggle of puffing, pontificating protesters will be the least of D.C.’s worries

This September the 11, Something Else to remember

We of course all remember the terror, tragedy and pain inflicted by the awful attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

What was wrought, will not be forgot.

Oft’ neglected but inextricably wrapped in the awful events we mark today is the exploitation thereof by our political class, namely those on the right.

So, from now on, when you remember 9/11/2001, remember the 2004 Republican National Convention as well. Remember it for the hallmarks of U.S. politics under the Bush regime. Remember it, for the highlight reel.

I remember it, like this:

Army orders ‘weed free’ seeds, which instead grow ‘free weed’

Whoops. CBS 4 in Denver reports:

The Army has made an unusual and unwanted discovery at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal northeast of Commerce City.

They are in charge of cleaning up the arsenal, a job that includes reseeding some areas. When their seed started to grow, they realized it was marijuana.

It isn’t commercial grade, but it’s still an illegal drug. It’s called ditch weed or feral hemp, the kind that grows in the wild in some places.

Now Army staff at the arsenal are weighing whether to destroy the roughly 100 plants they’ve pulled so far, or just let the nearby herds of bison devour them.

The report noted that the Fish and Wildlife Service was not concerned about having bison roam near what’s known to our brave men and women of the D.E.A. as the deadly, mind-altering, bum-making, non-medicinal, totally uncool mahairywanna scourge.

Oh the irony — the seeds, purchased from an independent vendor, were for an environmentally-contaminated patch of land that just needed some “vegetation” on top of it so as not to look like a toxic dump. Army personnel quoted by CBS say they only wanted seed that was “weed free.”

Not so sure they considered the implications of that otherwise innocuous request.

Looks more or less like they got exactly the opposite of what they wanted. (‘Weed free’ does not equal ‘free weed,’ sadly.)

Mission accomplished, in the Bush sense.

KY school district official ok with baptizing footballers, but students forced to ‘opt-in’ for Obama speech

I had a hunch.

As I was writing up a little story this morning about a Kentucky high school football coach who took his players to a Baptist revival where several were baptized — at least one without parental consent — I said to myself, I bet they didn’t play Obama’s speech today.

A quick phone call to the high school got me transferred to the school district’s main offices, where a friendly woman answered but did not want to give her name when I identified myself as a reporter.

“Mam’,” I began, “I just have one question that’s not even related to the baptism thing and the coach. I just want to know if the district’s schools played President Obama’s speech on education today.”

She responded by putting me on hold. Upon returning, she claimed to have no first-hand knowledge but had been told by someone else in the office that …

“The students who watched the president’s speech today had to get a note signed by their parents that said they could watch it.”

In other words, students at the school district where a top official — the superintendent — does not see anything wrong with taking football players to be baptized at a Christian revival, were forced to get a parent’s signature to “opt-in” (instead of out) for the president’s speech.

As Johnny Carson used to say, “Weird, wild, wacky stuff.”

You heard it here first.

Bad Day U-S-A

While most Americans were relaxing on their day off, enjoying a cookout or some sports on television, the world changed.

Here’s my financial reporting from today, all of which carries news that bodes quite poorly for the U.S. dollar.

Last night:
Central bankers empower ‘global supervision,’ up liquidity requirements

This afternoon:
Top Chinese official signals move away from dollar; Gold spikes over $1,000 an ounce

Tonight:
United Nations conference calls for new global currency to replace US dollar

Of course, news like this always seems to drop on a holiday.

Happy Labor Day. Or is it?