Daily Archive: 03/08/2011

Mar 08 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 46 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Women march for better life on International Women’s Day

AFP

59 mins ago

PARIS (AFP) – Women worldwide took to the streets Tuesday to mark the 100th International Women’s Day, with protests against honour killings, the objectification of women in Italy and the shooting of seven women in Ivory Coast.

Drawing inspiration from the boardrooms of Finland and the toppling of autocratic regimes in Tunisia and Egypt, demonstrators staked their claim for equality, education and a better life.

A month before Silvio Berlusconi goes on trial over allegations he paid an underage prostitute for sex, hundreds of Italian women rallied in Rome.

Mar 08 2011

Mardi Gras

Fat Tuesday is what it means in English. It’s the last day for some Christians to eat all the food they like and party before the season of fasting before Easter, Lent. In many traditions it isn’t just one day. Mardi Gras, or Carnival season, starts in January after 12th Night or the Epiphany, culminating at midnight on the day before Ash Wednesday. English traditions call the day Shrove Tuesday and for many religious Christians a time for confession. Celebrations vary from city to city and by country but many of the traditions are the same masks, beads, parades and parties. In Mobile, Alabama,the former capital of New France, the Mardi Gras social events start in November with “mystic society” balls on Thanksgiving and New Year’s Eve with more parades and balls in January and February ending on the traditional Tuesday before Lent. And you thought New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro were the party cities, heh. Many if these balls raise large amounts of money for charity, justifying in a way the “decadence”. In other places with a French heritage, like Louisiana, where the revelry also starts weeks before with parades and parties celebrating the arrival of the “Krewes” or organizations that sponsor various parades, the day is an official holiday. Like anyone in New Orleans is going to the office that day. There’s many traditional foods, too, like pancakes, fruit laden sweet breads and sugary pastries. Any food with lots of fat and eggs. Look out arteries here it comes.

A Little History

Mardi Gras was introduced to America in colonial days as a sedate religious tradition by Pierre Le Moyne d’Iberville and Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville, in the late 17th century, when King Louis XIV sent the pair to defend France’s claim on the territory of Louisiane.

The expedition, led by Iberville, entered the mouth of the Mississippi River on the evening of March 2, 1699, Lundi Gras, not yet knowing it was the river explored and claimed for France by René-Robert Cavelier, Sieur de La Salle in 1683. The party proceeded upstream to a place on the west bank about 60 miles downriver from where New Orleans is today, where a small tributary emptied into the great river, and made camp. This was on March 3, 1699, Mardi Gras day, so in honor of this holiday, Iberville named the spot Point du Mardi Gras (French: “Mardi Gras Point”) and called the small tributary Bayou Mardi Gras. Bienville went on to found Mobile, Alabama in 1702 as the first capital of French Louisiana. In 1703 French settlers in that city began to celebrate the Mardi Gras tradition. By 1720, Biloxi was made capital of Louisiana. While it had French settlers, Mardi Gras and other customs were celebrated with more fanfare given its new status. In 1723, the capital of French Louisiana was moved to New Orleans, founded in 1718. With the growth of New Orleans as a city and the creolization of different cultures, the varied celebration of Mardi Gras became the event most strongly associated with the city. In more recent times, several U.S. cities without a French Catholic heritage have instituted the celebration of Mardi Gras, which sometimes emerged as grassroots movements.

I mentioned traditional food and no traditional Mardi Gras celebration would be without a King Cake. This cake is actually a sweetened yeast bread, usually baked in a ring shape. The cake is frosted with gold, green, and purple icing representing in order, power, faith, and justice. The traditional colors on the King Cake date back to 1872 and were taken from a prominent parade group, called a krewe. Although this cake is colorful and tasty, the real fun hides within the cake.

The maker of each King Cake hides a token in the cake. The tokens used are a dried red bean or a figurine of a baby, representing the Christ child. When the cake is cut and shared, the finder of the hidden treasure is said to enjoy good luck for the coming year. The lucky recipient may also be expected to bake the King Cake or throw the Mardi Gras party for the following year.

As they say in New Orleans, Laissez les bon temps rouler, or Let the good times roll!

Mar 08 2011

Punting the Pundits

“Punting the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Thanks to ek hornbeck, click on the link and you can access all the past “Punting the Pundits”

Lucinda Marshall: The Imperative Of Women’s Human Rights

Reflections On The 100th Anniversary Of International Women’s Day

This year marks the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day.  It is a time to celebrate the lives of women and to renew our commitment to women’s human rights throughout the world.

That it is even necessary to have such a day should give us pause.  There is not, after all, an International Men’s Day.  But the truth is that while women may be half of the world’s population, they most assuredly are not equal stakeholders when it comes to human rights and empowerment.

Here in the U.S., women’s reproductive health rights are under sustained siege as never before.  In the Democratic Republic of Congo and in Sudan women are raped with impunity.  In Mexico and Guatemala, thousands of women have gone missing and been brutally murdered and the perpetrators roam freely.  Honor killings continue to be a huge problem in the Middle East and female genital mutilation is still a common practice in many parts of Africa.  In southeast Asia and eastern Europe, women are trafficked into sexual slavery.  In India there are dowry murders.

Widney Brown: Sidelining Egyptian Women after the Uprising

All the members of the committee writing Egypt’s new constitution are men.

A century ago, more than a million people marched in streets across Europe on the first International Women’s Day. They called for an end to discrimination and for women to have the same rights as men to work, vote, and shape their countries’ futures.

A hundred years later, women across the globe are still much more likely than men to be poor and illiterate. We earn only one-tenth of the world’s income for doing two-thirds of the work. Women produce up to 80 percent of the food in developing countries, but own only 1 percent of the land in those nations.

In many countries, we’re still told what we can do and even what we can wear. Women in Saudi Arabia, Chechnya, and Iran face harassment if they don’t observe conservative religious dress codes. Muslim women in France and some parts of Spain now break the law there if they don traditional attire.

Women campaigning for their liberation are often met with derision, abuse, or worse. In Russia, the Philippines, the Ivory Coast, Mexico, and Nepal, leading activists have recently been murdered for speaking out. In China, Bangladesh, India, Zimbabwe, and many other countries, they are routinely detained and tortured.

Tragically, the international community largely ignores these facts. Women’s inequality is treated as a regrettable but inevitable reality.

Michelle Chen: The Republican Attack on Women’s Health Goes Global

What does a congressperson from Ohio have in common with a 16 year-old sex worker in Cambodia? They’re both symbols of the perverse political stalemate in Washington, D.C., that threatens to set back the struggle for women’s equality around the world.

The year that girl was born, a conference of world leaders vowed to eliminate many of the worst forms of gender oppression. Last week, officials and civil society groups convened again at the United Nations to take stock of all the ways the international community has fallen short of its promises on women’s health, education and political and economic empowerment. And on Capitol Hill, the GOP is pushing budget cuts that would make sure the promise remains broken.

It’s not a coincidence that conservatives in Congress are fighting a two front war on women: attacking women’s rights across the Global South and killing Roe v. Wade at home. Conservatives are exploiting the budget process to defund Title X, the primary federal funding vehicle for family planning reproductive health services for women. Cutting these funds would leave many poor women with no local clinic or social service agency to get the guidance they need to make informed choices about sex and pregnancy.

Mar 08 2011

On This Day in History March 8

This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future.

Find the past “On This Day in History” here.

March 8 is the 67th day of the year (68th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 298 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1911, International Women’s Day is launched in Copenhagen, Denmark, by Clara Zetkin, leader of the Women’s Office for the Social Democratic Party in Germany.

International Women’s Day (IWD), originally called International Working Women’s Day is marked on the 8th of March every year. It is a major day of global celebration of women. In different regions the focus of the celebrations ranges from general celebration of respect, appreciation and love towards women to a celebration for women’s economic, political and social achievements.

Started as a Socialist political event, the holiday blended in the culture of many countries, primarily Eastern Europe, Russia, and the former Soviet bloc. In many regions, the day lost its political flavour, and became simply an occasion for men to express their love for women in a way somewhat similar to a mixture of Mother’s Day and St Valentine’s Day. In other regions, however, the original political and human rights theme designated by the United Nations runs strong, and political and social awareness of the struggles of women worldwide are brought out and examined in a hopeful manner.

The first IWD was observed on 19 March 1911 in Germany following a declaration by the Socialist Party of America. The idea of having an international women’s day was first put forward at the turn of the 20th century amid rapid world industrialization and economic expansion that led to protests over working conditions.

In 1910, Second International held the first international women’s conference in Copenhagen (in the labour-movement building located at Jagtvej 69, which until recently housed Ungdomshuset). An ‘International Women’s Day’ was established. It was suggested by the important German Socialist Clara Zetkin, although no date was specified. The following year, 1911, IWD was marked by over a million people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland, on March 19. In the West, International Women’s Day was first observed as a popular event after 1977 when the united Nations General Assembly invited member states to proclaim March 8 as the UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

Demonstrations marking International Women’s Day in Russia proved to be the first stage of the Russian Revolution of 1917.

Following the October Revolution, the Bolshevik Alexandra Kollontai persuaded Lenin to make it an official holiday in the Soviet Union, and it was established, but was a working day until 1965. On May 8, 1965 by the decree of the USSR Presidium of the Supreme Soviet International Women’s Day was declared a non working day in the USSR “in commemoration of the outstanding merits of Soviet women in communistic construction, in the defense of their Fatherland during the Great Patriotic War, in their heroism and selflessness at the front and in the rear, and also marking the great contribution of women to strengthening friendship between peoples, and the struggle for peace. But still, women’s day must be celebrated as are other holidays.”

2011 International Women’s Day

Events are scheduled to take place in more than 100 countries around the world on March 8, 2011, to commemorate the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day. In the United States, President Barack Obama proclaimed March 2011 to be “Women’s History Month”, calling Americans to mark IWD by reflecting on “the extraordinary accomplishments of women” in shaping the country’s history. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton launched the “100 Women Initiative: Empowering Women and Girls through International Exchanges”, on the eve of IWD.

Mar 08 2011

Six In The Morning

Discord Fills Washington on Possible Libya Intervention



By DAVID E. SANGER and THOM SHANKER Published: March 7, 2011

WASHINGTON – Nearly three weeks after Libya erupted in what may now turn into a protracted civil war, the politics of military intervention to speed the ouster of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi grow more complicated by the day – for both the White House and Republicans.

President Obama, appearing Monday morning with Australia’s prime minister, tried to raise the pressure on Colonel Qaddafi further by talking about “a range of potential options, including potential military options” against the embattled Libyan leader.

Despite Mr. Obama’s statement, interviews with military officials and other administration officials describe a number of risks, some tactical and others political, to American intervention in Libya.

Mar 08 2011

The Law of War Criminals, Up Date

Two years and two months ago the American people hailed a new President and an end to our national nightmare of the Bush reign of eight years of trampling the Constitution, the laws that govern  and the economy. Since then the reality that nothing has changed comes down with crashing reality. This President, Barack Hussein Obama, is as complicit as the last President in the war on the US Constitution, International laws and treaties and human rights. Today it became evidently clear that Obama is not Bush, he’s Cheney.

Today Obama issued an Executive Order (pdf) that not only will restart the Military Commissions at Guantanamo but also orders indefinite detention for forty seven detainees without any of them ever being charged with a crime. Why? Because Obama is covering up the war crimes of the previous administration which, according to the Nuremberg Principles, is a war crime. Claims that the evidence against these men would harm national security just rings hollow.

Marcy Wheeler at FDL explains that “the new and improved Military Detention Regime has two parts”. The first part relates to the indefinite detention polices without anything other than a claim of “because I say it’s justified”:

“Continued law of war detention is warranted for a detainee subject to the periodic review in section 3 of this order if it is necessary to protect against a significant threat to the security of the United States.

. . . .this doesn’t appear to tie to any wrong-doing on the detainee’s part. “It” here appears to refer to “continued law of war detention,” suggesting that “it” may be necessary regardless of any threat posed by the detainee himself.

Also note that the standard “significant threat to the security of the United States” doesn’t invoke the war (ostensibly, the war against Afghanistan) itself. This seems very very wrong. It also seems designed to authorized the continued detention of the Yemeni detainees who we admit aren’t themselves a threat, but must be detained, our government says, because they come from a dangerous country.

(all emphasis mine)

The EO also restarts the Military Commissions where evidence that has been attained through torture is admissible.

Dana Milbank, in his Op-Ed, remarked that the conference call with reporters and “some top-notch lawyers from across the executive branch” with “ground rules required that the officials not be identified”, sounded very much like what the Bush lawyers used to say:

It was another important moment in the education of Barack Obama.

He began his presidency with a pledge to close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay within a year. Within months, he realized that was impossible. And now he has essentially formalized George W. Bush’s detention policy.

Even the Tea Baggers, like newly minted Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee(R-UT), are saying indefinite detention is wrong and calling for trials in civilian courts:

Fox News contributor Andrew Napolitano, subbing for Glenn Beck on his television show, hosted Sens. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee (R-UT) to talk about a variety of issues. At one point, Napolitano mentioned Obama’s announcement and queried the two senators about their positions on indefinite detention. Lee and Paul both broke with the standard positions of their party, slamming the policy and endorsing trials for terrorism suspects instead. Paul said that he had met with a mother of a 9/11 victim who said that what she really wanted to see was justice, and that the best way to do that was to “have trials.” Lee said that detaining someone who “has been tried and found not guilty” is “particularly problematic”

Human Rights Watch points out that 47 of these men will never be tried. Those detainees will be able to “submit documentary evidence every six months, but will only go before the full panel once every three years”. However, as the press release states, “the use by the US of indefinite detention without trial still fails to meet the most basic elements of due process under international law”.

While Obama’s EO confirms the administration’s commitment to prosecuting  some cases in civilian courts

“Is added review an improvement? Yes. Does it make US detention policies lawful? No,”

said Andrea Prasow, senior counterterrorism counsel at Human Rights Watch. “Signing an executive order does not suddenly make it legal to lock people up and hold them forever without proving they have committed a crime.”

HRW further notes:

. . .compared to federal courts, military commissions have moved very slowly. During the nine years since the military commissions were first announced, military prosecutors have brought only six cases to completion, four of them by plea bargain. Federal courts, in contrast, have prosecuted hundreds of terrorism-related offenses during the same period, convicting, among others, 9/11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and “shoe bomber” Richard Reid.

“Any trial in the military commission system carries the stigma of Guantanamo and will be tainted by a lack of due process,” Prasow said. “A verdict in the federal court system, in contrast, would be recognized internationally as legitimate.”

As I read through the executive order and news articles, all that I could think of was that surely, Dick Cheney will approve.

Up Date: As expected, Glenn Greenwald weighed in:

None of this is the slightest bit unexpected. The new Executive Order has been previewed for months and merely codifies what has long been Obama’s policy: “long” in the sense of “since he’s inaugurated”  — not, of course, “when he was a Senator and presidential candidate.” I’m writing about this merely to address the excuse from the White House and its loyalists that the fault for this policy, this inability to “close Guantanamo,” lies with Congress, which forced the President to abandon his oft-stated campaign pledge. That excuse is pure fiction.

It is true that Congress — with the overwhelming support of both parties — has enacted several measures making it much more difficult, indeed impossible, to transfer Guantanamo detainees into the U.S. But long before that ever happened, Obama made clear that he wanted to continue the twin defining pillars of the Bush detention regime: namely, (1) indefinite, charge-free detention and (2) military commissions (for those lucky enough to be charged with something). Obama never had a plan for “closing Guantanamo” in any meaningful sense; the most he sought to do was to move it a few thousand miles north to Illinois, where its defining injustices would endure.

(emphasis mine)

He also sited an article by Daphne Linzer at ProPublica:

While the order is new, most of the ideas it contains are not. This is the third time such a board has been created for nearly the same purpose. Two similar processes to review detainee cases were in place during the Bush administration. Like its predecessors, the Obama administration’s review process will operate outside the courts and will be subject to no independent review.

While the idea is recycled, Obama now owns it.

Mar 08 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for March 7, 2011-

DocuDharma

Mar 08 2011

Prime Time

Some premiers.  PBS has an interesting documentary on Islamic Spain.  I understand Stargate Universe is starting it’s final 10 episodes.  This season is ok, but if it’s ever (as it appears to be) I’m extremely disappointed because it’s way better than Caprica.

Quotes are not essential.  I dare you to find them.

Later-

Dave in repeats from 1/18.  Jon has Rand Paul (ugh), Stephen Joshua Foer.  Alton does Garbanzos and Eggs Benedict.  Conan hosts Seth Green and Travis Barker.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings