07/23/2010 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Evacuation underway as storm heads to Gulf spill site

by Alex Ogle, AFP

52 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – A tropical storm barreling towards the Gulf of Mexico oil spill site Friday forced crews to suspend operations and halt work to permanently plug the gushing BP well.

Admiral Thad Allen, the US official overseeing the spill response, said that crews aboard two drilling rigs and a container ship were drawing up thousands of feet of pipes from beneath the sea, while non-essential personnel were being evacuated as Tropical Storm Bonnie took aim at the area.

Officials said a cap that has kept oil from escaping the well since last Thursday would stay in place, after a week of tests suggested pressure would not force oil out through new leaks.

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.

Eugene Robinson: Obama needs to stand up to ‘reverse racism’ ploy

After the Shirley Sherrod episode, there’s no longer any need to mince words: A cynical right-wing propaganda machine is peddling the poisonous fiction that when African Americans or other minorities reach positions of power, they seek some kind of revenge against whites.

A few of the purveyors of this bigoted nonsense might actually believe it. Most of them, however, are merely seeking political gain by inviting white voters to question the motives and good faith of the nation’s first African American president. This is really about tearing Barack Obama down.


The Sherrod case has fully exposed the right-wing campaign to use racial fear to destroy Obama’s presidency, and I hope the effect is to finally stiffen some spines in the administration. The way to deal with bullies is to confront them, not run away. Yet Sherrod was fired before even being allowed to tell her side of the story. She said the official who carried out the execution explained that she had to resign immediately because the story was going to be on Glenn Beck’s show that evening. Ironically, Beck was the only Fox host who, upon hearing the rest of Sherrod’s speech, promptly called for her to be reinstated. On Wednesday, Vilsack offered to rehire her.

Shirley Sherrod stuck to her principles and stood her ground. I hope the White House learns a lesson.

Le Tour: Stage 18

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

I hope you got a chance to see yesterday’s exciting finish.  Contador and Schleck dueling up Col du Tourmalet in the fog as if the other riders didn’t exist.

Because it’s over.

Today is a sprint which means no change.  Tomorrow is the time trial where Contador is expected to dominate.  Sunday is the final stage ending with the Champs Elysees sprint.

I wouldn’t say I’m disappointed because that would be ignoring some realities.  Lance is done, if he ever comes back it will be as a commentator (and frankly he’s been dead on in his predictive abilities) or as a Team Manager (Radio Shack is largely his creation anyway).  The problem is that Le Tour is designed to feature the riders and not the teams so it’s not like staying loyal to Ferrari when Schumacher retired.

Without Armstrong Le Tour is much more difficult to get emotionally involved in.  I’ve tried rooting for Schleck but he doesn’t seem to have a killer instinct.  His difficulties aren’t just bad luck and equipment failure, his team is incomplete and his coaches and managers were never able to muster a convincing attack.  The ‘there’s always tomorrow’ attitude of sunny optimism may be good sportsmanship, but it sure lacked winning urgency.

Perhaps Contador has a personality I’ve yet to discover that will excite me in the future, but this Tour struck me as mechanical and emotionless.  I have no problem with his standards of ‘sportsmanship’, they provided the few interesting moments in a ride that was mind numbingly predictable and entirely lacked panache.

But maybe you are a fan who thinks that one perfect moment on the Col with the two top competitors locked in a head to head contest of strength and will, a yellow haze isolating them and turning both their maillot jaune, is worth 21 days of devotion.

Well, they bike through some beautiful countryside too.

Schleck– I’m sure I’ll do a good time trial. I can see the yellow jersey in front of me, and I really want it, and I’m not going to give up until Paris.

Today’s stage is 123 miles from Salies-de-Béarn to Bordeaux (where they won’t produce plonk anymore).  Flat, 2 Sprints and the finish.

On This Day in History: July 23

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

THE GREAT COMET OF 1997. Above, the bright head of comet Hale-Bopp, called the coma, is pointed towards the Sun. The coma is composed of dust and gas, masking the solid nucleus of the comet made up of rock, dust and ice. Photo taken by Jim Young at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratories Table Mountain Observatory in March 1997.

The comet was discovered in 1995 by two independent observers, Alan Hale and Thomas Bopp, both in the United States. Hale had spent many hundreds of hours searching for comets without success, and was tracking known comets from his driveway in New Mexico when he chanced upon Hale-Bopp just after midnight. The comet had an apparent magnitude of 10.5 and lay near the globular cluster M70 in the constellation of Sagittarius. Hale first established that there was no other deep-sky object  near M70, and then consulted a directory of known comets, finding that none were known to be in this area of the sky. Once he had established that the object was moving relative to the background stars, he emailed the Central Bureau for Astronomical Telegrams, the clearing house for astronomical discoveries.

Bopp did not own a telescope. He was out with friends near Stanfield, Arizona observing star clusters and galaxies when he chanced across the comet while at the eyepiece of his friend’s telescope. He realized he might have spotted something new when, like Hale, he checked his star maps to determine if any other deep-sky objects were known to be near M70, and found that there were none. He alerted the Central Bureau of Astronomical Telegrams through a Western Union telegram. Brian Marsden, who has run the bureau since 1968, laughed, “Nobody sends telegrams anymore. I mean, by the time that telegram got here, Alan Hale had already e-mailed us three times with updated coordinates.”

The following morning, it was confirmed that this was a new comet, and it was named Comet Hale-Bopp, with the designation C/1995 O1. The discovery was announced in International Astronomical Union circular 6187.

Prime Time

No Keith.  No Jon.  No Stephen.

You can watch the end of Le Tour again OR you have these other choices some of which don’t suck so much-

But my pick is Comedy Central’s Futurama marathon that includes most of the new episodes and the Lethal Inspection premier.


Dave has Joan Rivers, Bill Burr, and Steve Winwood.

Alton does Scrap Iron Chef, Home Insecurity.

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Storm forces Gulf oil spill ships back to port

by Alex Ogle, AFP

1 hr 31 mins ago

NEW ORLEANS, Louisiana (AFP) – The US government ordered certain ships working on the Gulf of Mexico oil spill back to port Thursday, amid fears that a brewing storm could force a mass evacuation and derail efforts to plug BP’s runaway well.

A full-scale evacuation could delay by up to two weeks the final operation to plug BP’s runaway well, which has unleashed millions of barrels of crude on Gulf Coast shorelines in one of America’s worst ever environmental disasters.

“Activities that are under way for storm preparedness include evacuating specialized vessels from the path of any severe weather to prevent damage and ensure that oil recovery operations can resume as soon as possible after a storm,” a Coast Guard statement said.