11/16/2010 archive

Hello Cruel World or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Blogs

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Docudharma

How exhausting is blogging?  That’s the $64,000 question for some as following a discouraging election, they seek solace in drifting away or, even, posting a GBCW diary.  As a follow-up to this wonderful series — Welcome New Users — by LaughingPlanet and smileycreek, I add my voice addressing not just newbies on this (and other) blogs but, also, a bunch of oldies.

JekyllnHyde’s Tip #1: and take a look at your computer keyboard first!

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Britain compensates former Guantanamo detainees


1 hr 10 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – Britain said Tuesday it had agreed a settlement with 16 former Guantanamo Bay detainees who claim British agents colluded in their torture abroad, but insisted it was not an admission of guilt.

Justice Secretary Kenneth Clarke did not reveal the amount of compensation nor the identity of those involved, but media reports suggest it stretches to millions of pounds (dollars, euros) and recipients include former Guantanamo prisoner Binyam Mohamed.

“The government has now agreed a mediated settlement of the civil damages claims brought by detainees held at Guantanamo Bay,” Clarke told parliament.

Ireland turns down bailout

Not much detail yet, but breaking after the bell on CNBC, Ireland has said it will only accept a bank bailout and not a government bailout.

Meetings expected to continue tomorrow.


Irish rebuff bailout call in euro zone crisis

By Jan Strupczewski and Julien Toyer, Reuters

1 hr 1 min ago

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Ireland said it was discussing stabilization measures with its European partners on Tuesday and ways to cut its heavily indebted banks’ funding costs in what a top EU official called a “survival crisis” for the euro zone.

A euro zone source said finance ministers of the 16-nation currency area meeting in Brussels would declare support for Dublin’s austerity measures and express readiness to help financially, if it asks for aid, but would not announce any practical measures.

In Dublin, Prime Minister Brian Cowen rebuffed calls to request a bailout, saying the government was fully funded until mid-2011, and insisted that only the banks may need help.

In other news, kiss goodbye any Stock Market gains in November.  As Atrios says is seems that only when the Market goes down do our “leaders” in Washington pay attention, so, more days like this please.

Senate Banking Committee Hearings

In about half an hour (2:30 pm ET) the Senate Banking Committee will be holding hearings on Title Fraud.  You can watch it here @ senate.gov (h/t dday).  It’s not on C-Span unfortunately.

Among the scheduled witnesses are- Barbara Desoer, president of Bank of America Home Loans, and David Lowman, chief executive of Chase Home Lending.  Also Tom Miller, Attorney General of Iowa, Adam J. Levitin of Georgetown University Law, and Diane E. Thompson with the National Consumer Law Center.

There may be fireworks but attentive readers will remember I’ve been outlining many of the myriad problems for a long time and once again as recently as yesterday so I’m not really expecting any surprises.

The good news is that finally at least some of our brain dead political class seems to be waking up to the facts which have been apparent for months and years now.  emptywheel highlights a newly released study from the TARP Congressional Oversight Panel that’s worth taking a look at.

Supreme Court Justices’ Conflict of Interests

For a Judge’s Wife: Poor Judgement

Georgetown University Law professor, Jonathan Turley joined Rachel Maddow to discuss Supreme Court Jusice Clarence Thomas’ wife’s, Virginia Thomas, disassociate from the conservative activist group that she founded, Liberty Central and about the potential conflict of interest raised by her political advocacy work.

The question that was only hinted at, but that has been raised elsewhere, is, does this constitute a reason for impeachment? There is also the question of Justice Thomas, along with Justices Alito and Scalia, raising money for conservative political groups and a close association with the billionaire Koch brothers.  

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”.

Paul Krugman: The World as He Finds It

On Wednesday David Axelrod, President Obama’s top political adviser, appeared to signal that the White House was ready to cave on tax cuts – to give in to Republican demands that tax cuts be extended for the wealthy as well as the middle class. “We have to deal with the world as we find it,” he declared.  

The White House then tried to walk back what Mr. Axelrod had said. But it was a telling remark, in more ways than one.

The obvious point is the contrast between the administration’s current whipped-dog demeanor and Mr. Obama’s soaring rhetoric as a candidate. How did we get from “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for” to here?

But the bitter irony goes deeper than that: the main reason Mr. Obama finds himself in this situation is that two years ago he was not, in fact, prepared to deal with the world as he was going to find it. And it seems as if he still isn’t.

Bob Herbert: This Raging Fire

When I was a kid my Uncle Robert, for whom I was named, used to say that blacks needed to “fight on all fronts, at home and abroad.”

By that he meant that while it was critically important to fight against racial injustice and oppression, it was just as important to support, nurture and fight on behalf of one’s family and community.

Uncle Robert (my father always called him Jim – don’t ask) died many years ago, but he came to mind as I was going over the dismal information in a new report about the tragic conditions confronting a large portion of America’s black population, especially black males.

The report, titled “A Call for Change,” begins by saying that “the nation’s young black males are in a state of crisis” and describes their condition as “a national catastrophe.” It tells us that black males remain far behind their schoolmates in academic achievement and that they drop out of school at nearly twice the rate of whites.

Black children – boys and girls – are three times more likely to live in single-parent households than white children and twice as likely to live in a home where no parent has full-time or year-round employment.

In 2008, black males were imprisoned at a rate six-and-a-half times higher than white males.

The terrible economic downturn has made it more difficult than ever to douse this raging fire that is consuming the life prospects of so many young blacks, and the growing sentiment in Washington is to do even less to help any Americans in need. It is inconceivable in this atmosphere that blacks themselves will not mobilize in a major way to save these young people. I see no other alternative.

Robert Reich: The Failure of the G-20 Summit

The president emerged Friday from a meeting with the heads of state and finance ministers of the 20 biggest economies, in Seoul, South Korea, saying they had agree to “get the global economy back on the path of recovery.”

But where are the specifics? The three-page communique that also emerged from the session brims with bromides about the importance of “rebalancing” the global economy, “coordinating” policies, and refraining from “competitive devaluations.”

All nice, but not a single word of agreement from China about revaluating the yuan, or from the United States about refraining from further moves by the Fed to flood the U.S. economy with money (thereby reducing interest rates, causing global investors to look elsewhere for higher returns, and lowering the value of the dollar).

Naomi Klein: G20 Trials and the War on Activism

So we are here to raise money.

But more fundamentally, we are here because we know what happened in this city during the G20 and the wrong people are on trial for it.

There are police officers that should be facing charges for assault and harassment — and so should any supervisors who enabled or covered over those abuses.

So far no one in authority has paid any price for what happened. . . . .

But this is not just about the cops. There are also high-level politicians who should be under investigation — for their role in ordering the militarization of our city, for subverting the legislative process to increase police powers, for grossly misappropriating public funds, using them to buy off constituents and grease donors. Tony Clement, we are talking about you.

Suprise! Forever War

Nothing new here, just more of the same, reinforced.

Coming Soon: Congress Revisits the Authorization to Use Military Force

By: Spencer Ackerman Monday November 15, 2010

As I tweeted and wrote for Danger Room today, the incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Buck McKeon, briefly argued in a speech today that Congress should “reaffirm – in statute – the Authorization to Use Military Force of 2011.” To expand on that: McKeon mentioned the AUMF in the context of detainee policy – that is, to keep terrorism detainees out of federal courts. But it clearly goes beyond that. Here’s what a McKeon aide told me:

The objective wouldn’t the “drop a new Authorization to Use Military Force, but to reaffirm and strengthen the existing one,” says an aide to McKeon who requested anonymity, “recognizing that the enemy has changed geographically and evolved since 2001.” Sounds like the shadow wars may get some sunshine.

For the Obama administration, AUMF has operated like an Emergency Law, providing blanket authorities for things like drone strikes beyond Afghanistan that are never mentioned in the brief 2001 language. A new AUMF would at least be more specific about what powers Congress actually intends the president to have to conduct a war against al-Qaeda – as well as, perhaps, what the boundaries of those authorities might be. It’s still not a declaration of war – my understanding is there’s not an appetite for that in Congress – but it also would represent the first congressional reconsideration of the scope of a war that, in practice, is endless. That could go in any number of directions, but at least it’ll be debated.

This is a means to justify the drone attacks in Pakistan and Yemen or any other country the US deems a threat, as well as, to “justify” the illegal, indefinite detention of persons that the US decides is too dangerous to release.

We Will Always Be at War against Everyone

By: emptywheel Tuesday November 16, 2010

But there are two other aspects to a “reaffirmed and strengthened” AUMF. As McKeon’s aide notes, the enemy has changed geographically, moving to Yemen and Somalia. A new AUMF will make it easier to build the new bases in Yemen they’re planning.

The U.S. is preparing for an expanded campaign against al Qaeda in Yemen, mobilizing military and intelligence resources to enable Yemeni and American strikes and drawing up a longer-term proposal to establish Yemeni bases in remote areas where militants operate.

And I would bet that the AUMF is drafted broadly enough to allow drone strikes anywhere the government decides it sees a terrorist.

Which brings us to the most insidious part of a call for a new AUMF: the “homeland.” The AUMF serves or has served as the basis for the government’s expanded powers in the US, to do things like wiretap Americans. Now that the Republicans know all the powers the government might want to use against US persons domestically, do you really think they will resist the opportunity to write those powers into an AUMF (whether through vagueness or specificity), so as to avoid the quadrennial review and debate over the PATRIOT Act (not to mention the oversight currently exercised by DOJ’s Inspector General)? The only matter of suspense, for me, is what role they specify for drones operating domestically…

On This Day in History: November 16

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

November 16 is the 320th day of the year (321st in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 45 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1959 , the musical, “The Sound of Music” opened on Broadway.

Did the young Austrian nun named Maria really take to the hills surrounding Salzburg to sing spontaneously of her love of music? Did she comfort herself with thoughts of copper kettles, and did she swoon to her future husband’s song about an alpine flower while the creeping menace of Nazism spread across central Europe? No, the real-life Maria von Trapp did none of those things. She was indeed a former nun, and she did indeed marry Count Georg von Trapp and become stepmother to his large brood of children, but nearly all of the particulars she related in her 1949 book, The Story of the Trapp Family Singers, were ignored by the creators of the Broadway musical her memoir inspired. And while the liberties taken by the show’s writers, Howard Lindsay and Russel Crouse, and by its composer and lyricist, Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein II, caused some consternation to the real Maria von Trapp and to her stepchildren, according to many later reports, those liberties made The Sound of Music a smash success from the very night of its Broadway opening on this day in 1959.

The Sound of Music opened on Broadway at the Lunt-Fontanne Theatre on November 16, 1959, moved to the Mark Hellinger Theatre on November 6, 1962 and closed on June 15, 1963 after 1,443 performances. The director was Vincent J. Donehue, and the choreographer was Joe Layton. The original cast included Mary Martin (at age 46) as Maria, Theodore Bikel as Captain Georg von Trapp, Patricia Neway as Mother Abbess, Kurt Kasznar as Max Detweiler, Marion Marlowe as Elsa Schraeder, Brian Davies as Rolf and Lauri Peters as Liesl. Soprano June Card was one of the ensemble members in the original production. The show tied for the Tony Award for Best Musical with Fiorello!. Other awards included Martin for Best Actress in a Musical, Neway for Best Featured Actress, Best Scenic Design (Oliver Smith) and Best Musical Direction (Frederick Dvonch). Bikel and Kaznar were nominated for acting awards, and Donehue was nominated for his direction. The entire children’s cast was nominated for Best Featured Actress category as a single nominee, even though two children were boys.

The Sound of Music was the final musical written by Rodgers and Hammerstein; Hammerstein died of cancer nine months after the Broadway premiere.

Rebecca Luker leads the 1998 Broadway revival cast in a performance of ‘Climb Every Mountain,’ ‘Do Re Mi’ and ‘The Sound of Music’ at the Tony Awards.

Morning Shinbun Tuesday November 16

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Edward Wedbush’s roof leaks, but his wallet doesn’t


Access to General Motors stock offering won’t include many of its rescuers

Erin Brockovich prepares for a real-life sequel


Nato eyes ‘fresh start’ with Russia

Battling Merkel calls for stability to end euro zone crisis

Middle East

Woman sentenced to death by stoning confesses ‘sin of adultery’ to Iran TV

Israel blames Egypt for Hamas rearm


Family leads outcry at blasphemy death penalty

Delhi building collapse: 51 dead


Senegal to open inquiry into deadly 2002 ferry sinking

Southern Sudan begins registration for independence vote

Latin America

Protestors in Haiti attack UN peacekeepers in cholera backlash

Europe Fears That Debt Crisis Is Ready to Spread  



Published: November 15, 2010

LONDON – European officials, increasingly concerned that the Continent’s debt crisis will spread, are warning that any new rescue plans may need to cover Portugal as well as Ireland to contain the problem they tried to resolve six months ago.

Any such plan would have to be preceded by a formal request for assistance from each country before it would be put in place. And for months now, Ireland has insisted that it has enough funds to keep it going until spring. Portugal says it, too, needs no help and emphasizes that it is in a stronger position than Ireland.

The Wall: 30 Years +

The Wall is the eleventh studio album by English progressive rock group Pink Floyd, released as a double album on 30 November 1979. It was subsequently performed live with elaborate theatrical effects, and adapted into a film, Pink Floyd The Wall.

As with their previous three studio albums The Wall is a concept album, and deals largely with themes of personal isolation. It was first conceived during the band’s 1977 In the Flesh Tour, where bassist and lyricist Roger Waters’ frustration with the spectators’ perceived boorishness became so acute that he began to imagine building a wall between the performers and audience. The album is a rock opera that centres on the character Pink, who is largely based on Waters. Pink’s life experiences, which begin with the loss of his father during the Second World War, and continue with abuse from his schoolteachers, an overprotective mother and the breakdown of his marriage, factor into his self-imposed isolation from society, represented by the metaphorical “Wall” of the album title.

The Wall features a notably harsher and more theatrical style than Pink Floyd’s previous releases. Keyboardist Richard Wright left the band during the album’s production but returned as a salaried musician, performing during later concerts. Hugely successful upon its release, in the United States (US) the album was one of the best selling of 1980. It is one of the best-selling double albums of all time, and is in the top five best-selling albums of all time in the US.

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