Monthly Archive: January 2011

Jan 31 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 54 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Egypt army backs people’s demands, holds fire

by Charles Onians, AFP

1 hr 1 min ago

CAIRO (AFP) – The all-powerful army came out in support of Egypt’s people on Monday and vowed not to fire on protesters, who are demanding President Hosni Mubarak’s ouster and have called a general strike.

In a political appeal, Egypt’s new Vice President Omar Suleiman went on television to offer an “immediate” dialogue with the opposition.

“President Hosni Mubarak has tasked me with opening immediate talks with the political forces to begin a dialogue around all the issues concerning constitutional and legislative reforms,” he said on state television.

So for Mubarak- Game over dude, game over.

Jan 31 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”.

Mark Levine: President Obama, say the ‘D-Word’

US appears to shy away from talk about democracy in Middle East, despite historic anti-government rallies in ally Egypt.

It’s incredible, really. The president of the United States can’t bring himself to talk about democracy in the Middle East. He can dance around it, use euphemisms, throw out words like “freedom” and “tolerance” and “non-violent” and especially “reform,” but he can’t say the one word that really matters: democracy.

How did this happen? After all, in his famous 2009 Cairo speech to the Muslim world, Obama spoke the word loudly and clearly – at least once.

“The fourth issue that I will address is democracy,” he declared, before explaining that while the United States won’t impose its own system, it was committed to governments that “reflect the will of the people… I do have an unyielding belief that all people yearn for certain things: the ability to speak your mind and have a say in how you are governed; confidence in the rule of law and the equal administration of justice; government that is transparent and doesn’t steal from the people; the freedom to live as you choose. Those are not just American ideas, they are human rights, and that is why we will support them everywhere.”

“No matter where it takes hold,” the president concluded, “government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power.”

Simply rhetoric?

Of course, this was just rhetoric, however lofty, reflecting a moment when no one was rebelling against the undemocratic governments of our allies – at least not openly and in a manner that demanded international media coverage.

Now it’s for real.

And “democracy” is scarcely to be heard on the lips of the president or his most senior officials.

E. J. Dionne, Jr: Can Obama Make Sense of Government?

A cynic might be justified in seeing a call for a sweeping reorganization of the federal government as the last refuge of a politician who doesn’t want to ruffle any ideological feathers.

For example, President Barack Obama could have used last week’s State of the Union address to propose a ban on those high-capacity gun magazines that made the recent Tucson tragedy so lethal. But doing this would have brought down the wrath of the National Rifle Association. So, sadly, he took a pass.

The president’s aides were quick to say he would address the gun issue soon, explaining that Obama didn’t want a hot-button issue to divert attention from his theme of “winning the future.”

So giving Obama the benefit of the doubt for now on guns, what is one to make of his pledge to build a “21st-century government that’s open and competent” and “driven by new skills and new ideas”?

Jan 31 2011

Monday Business Edition

Just News so far.

From Yahoo News Business

1 Chinese property ‘bubble’ fuels hard landing fears

by Hui Min Neo, AFP

Sun Jan 30, 6:49 pm ET

DAVOS, Switzerland (AFP) – The world business elite raised concerns over China’s property prices at its annual get-together in Davos, with some worrying that if the bubble bursts it could hurt growth.

“Can China deflate its real estate bubble without generating a hard landing in its economy? It’s a serious problem. The Chinese themselves are quite worried about it,” said Nariman Behravesh, an analyst at IHS Global Insight.

“If you look at the ratio of home values relative to GDP, China is about the same level as Japan’s before Japan’s bubble burst,” he warned.

Jan 31 2011

On This Day in History January 31

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.

January 31 is the 31st day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 334 days remaining until the end of the year (335 in leap years).

On this day in 1865, The United States Congress passes the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, abolishing slavery, submitting it to the states for ratification.

The Thirteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution officially abolished and continues to prohibit slavery and involuntary servitude, except as punishment for a crime. It was passed by the Senate on April 8, 1864, passed by the House on January 31, 1865, and adopted on December 6, 1865. On December 18, Secretary of State William H. Seward, in a proclamation, declared it to have been adopted. It was the first of the Reconstruction Amendments.

President Lincoln was concerned that the Emancipation Proclamation, which outlawed slavery in the ten Confederate states still in rebellion in 1863, would be seen as a temporary war measure, since it was based on his war powers and did not abolish slavery in the border states.

Text

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation

History

The first twelve amendments were adopted within fifteen years of the Constitution’s adoption. The first ten (the Bill of Rights) were adopted in 1791, the Eleventh Amendment in 1795 and the Twelfth Amendment in 1804. When the Thirteenth Amendment was proposed there had been no new amendments adopted in more than sixty years.

During the secession crisis, but prior to the outbreak of the Civil War, the majority of slavery-related bills had protected slavery. The United States had ceased slave importation and intervened militarily against the Atlantic slave trade, but had made few proposals to abolish domestic slavery, and only a small number to abolish the domestic slave trade. Representative John Quincy Adams had made a proposal in 1839, but there were no new proposals until December 14, 1863, when a bill to support an amendment to abolish slavery throughout the entire United States was introduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio). This was soon followed by a similar proposal made by Representative James F. Wilson(Republican, Iowa).

Eventually the Congress and the public began to take notice and a number of additional legislative proposals were brought forward. On January 11, 1864, Senator John B. Henderson of Missouri submitted a joint resolution for a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery. The abolition of slavery had historically been associated with Republicans, but Henderson was one of the War Democrats. The Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Lyman Trumbull (Republican, Illinois), became involved in merging different proposals for an amendment. On February 8 of that year, another Republican, Senator Charles Sumner (Radical Republican, Massachusetts), submitted a constitutional amendment to abolish slavery as well as guarantee equality. As the number of proposals and the extent of their scope began to grow, the Senate Judiciary Committee presented the Senate with an amendment proposal combining the drafts of Ashley, Wilson and Henderson.

Originally the amendment was co-authored and sponsored by Representatives James Mitchell Ashley (Republican, Ohio) and James F. Wilson (Republican, Iowa) and Senator John B. Henderson (Democrat, Missouri).

While the Senate did pass the amendment on April 8, 1864, by a vote of 38 to 6, the House declined to do so. After it was reintroduced by Representative James Mitchell Ashley, President Lincoln took an active role in working for its passage through the House by ensuring the amendment was added to the Republican Party platform for the upcoming Presidential elections. His efforts came to fruition when the House passed the bill on January 31, 1865, by a vote of 119 to 56. The Thirteenth Amendment’s archival copy bears an apparent Presidential signature, under the usual ones of the Speaker of the House and the President of the Senate, after the words “Approved February 1, 1865”.

The Thirteenth Amendment completed the abolition of slavery, which had begun with the Emancipation Proclamation issued by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863.

Shortly after the amendment’s adoption, selective enforcement of certain laws, such as laws against vagrancy, allowed blacks to continue to be subjected to involuntary servitude in some cases. See also Black Codes.

The Thirteenth Amendment was followed by the Fourteenth Amendment (civil rights in the states), in 1868, and the Fifteenth Amendment (which bans racial voting restrictions), in 1870.

Jan 31 2011

Six In The Morning

Dictators Only Leave Through Force They Don’t Understand Peaceful Transition    



Opposition Rallies to ElBaradei as Military Reinforces in Cairo

Egypt’s powerful Muslim Brotherhood and the secular opposition banded together Sunday around a prominent government critic to negotiate for forces seeking the fall of President Hosni Mubarak, as the army struggled to hold a capital seized by fears of chaos and buoyed by euphoria that three decades of Mr. Mubarak’s rule may be coming to an end.

The announcement that the critic, Mohamed ElBaradei, would represent a loosely unified opposition reconfigured the struggle between Mr. Mubarak’s government and a six-day-old uprising bent on driving him and his party from power.

Jan 31 2011

Imbolc: First Light in the Dark of Winter

Although you’d never know it if you looked out your window here in the Northeast and throughout a good part of the northern hemisphere, we are nearing the midpoint between winter solstice and the vernal equinox. The Sun is noticeably rising earlier and setting later. It is a pleasure to take my early morning shower in daylight and start dinner preparation with daylight still illuminating the kitchen. There are seed catalogs arriving in the mail which has me contemplating the flower beds, the herb garden and maybe this year some vegetables.

In the traditions of Pagan and Wiccan religions, we celebrate this changing season as Imbolc, or Candlemas, which begins on January 31st, February Eve, and ends on February 2nd, a time of rebirth and healing. Imbolc is one of the eight Wiccan Sabbats of the Wheel of the Year, one of the four cross-quarter fire festivals. Brighid, the patroness of poetry and healing, is the Pagan Goddess associated with Imbolc.

Some of the traditions are the lighting of fires, decorating with red and white symbolizing the snow and the rising sun and green for new growth. Candles are lit in all the rooms of the house. Fires places and hearths are cleaned out of ashes and fires are lit. Since there is still snow drifts in my backyard, the fireplace will be just fine.

The symbols are ewes and lambs since Imbolc is derived from a Celtic word, “oimelc”, meaning ewe’s milk. Many of the foods that are serves are lamb, cheese, poppyseed muffins, cakes and breads. Dishes are seasoned with bay leaves and dried basil.

In rural places where farming is still a way of life, ploughs are decorated with flowers and then doused with whiskey. I know most of us have better things to do with whiskey. Sometimes the plough is dragged from door to door by costumed children asking for food and money, a kind of wintry “trick or treat”. Some traditional gifts, if your going to a friends house to celebrate, are garden tools, seeds and bulbs.

The Maiden is also honored as the “Bride” on this Sabbat. Straw corn dollies are created from oat or wheat straw and placed in baskets with white flower bedding. The older women make special acorn wands for the dollies to hold. The wands are sometimes burned in the fireplace and in the morning, the ashes in the hearth are examined to see if the magic wands left marks as a good omen. A new corn broom is place by the front door to symbolize sweeping out the old and welcoming the new.

Non-Pagans celebrate February 2nd as Ground Hog’s Day, a day to predict the coming weather, telling us that if the Groundhog sees his shadow, there will be ‘six more weeks’ of bad weather. It actually has ancient roots, weather divination was common to Imbolc, and the weather of early February was long held to be a harbinger of spring. On Imbolc, the crone Cailleach‘s grip of winter begins to loosen. She goes forth in search of kindling so that she may keep her fires burning and extend the winter a little longer. If Imbolc is rainy and cloudy, she will find nothing but twigs unsuitable for burning and will be unable to prolong the winter. If the day is dry and kindling is abundant, she will have plenty of fuel to feed her fire and prolong the cold of winter. Spring will be very far away. As an old British rhyme tells us that, “If Candlemas Day be bright and clear, there’ll be two winters in the year.”

Whatever you celebrate or believe, let us all hope that that the local groundhog doesn’t see his shadow and there is only one winter this year. I have nowhere else to pile the snow.

Blessed Be.

Jan 31 2011

Pique the Geek 20110130. The Things that we Eat. Oysters

Oysters are an interesting part of the Mollusc tribe.  They are bivalves, meaning that they have two half shells, which are jointed together on one edge and can open and close as the animal desires, or more properly, is instinctively demanded to do.

Unlike their cousins, clams, oysters are from infancy pretty much fastened onto some sort of support, so they do not move.  Clams are sort of solitary, and like to dig into sandy beaches.  Another relative, the scallop, is so free to move that jet propulsion is the norm for them!

Let us examine some of the natural history of these interesting (and often delicious) animals.  We will point out that edible oysters are quite different from the pearl oysters.

Jan 31 2011

Reporting the Revolution: An Interview with Mohamed ElBaradei with Up Dates: 1500 hrs EST

This is a Live Blog and will be updated as the news is available. You can follow the latest reports from AL Jazeera English and though Mishima’s live blog, our news editor.

The Guardian has a Live Blog that refreshes automatically every minute.

FireDogLake now has a direct link to all their coverage

This is the seventh day of protests in Egypt against the repressive Mubarak government. The police have returned to the streets after having been absent for three days leaving only a military presence that did little to stop the protesters.

Excellent interview from Fareed Zakaria GPS. Fareed’s entire program on CNN was devoted to the situation in Egypt.

(I will post the transcript as soon as it is available)

Up Date #1: It’s now early morning in Egypt. Al Jazeera’s live blog reports that many protesters slept in the streets and in Tahrir Square, some shared their food with the soldiers.

This first hand account by Sharif Kouddous, a journalist and senior producer with Democracy Now! who lives in Egypt, was posted at The Nation and Democracy Now!:

Live From Egypt: The Rebellion Grows Stronger

January 30, Cairo, Egypt-In the second day of defiance of a military curfew, more than 150,000 protesters packed into Tahrir Square Sunday to call on President Hosni Mubarak to step down. The mood was celebratory and victorious. For most, it was not a question of if, but when, Mubarak would leave.

Military tanks have been stationed at entrance points around the square with soldiers forming barricades across streets and alleyways. In another departure from ordinary Cairo life, people quickly formed orderly queues to get through the army checkpoints. Soldiers frisked people and checked their identification cards. One soldier said they were making sure no one with police or state security credentials could enter.

Reports are widespread that many of the looters in Cairo are, in fact, remnants of the police and state security forces that were forced into a full retreat during Friday’s mass street revolt. In addition, hundreds, perhaps thousands, of prisoners were released from prisons in Fayyoum and Tora. Many believe it’s all part of an organized campaign by the regime to create lawlessness in the city in a last gasp attempt to maintain its grip on power. The headline of Al-Masry Al-Youm today blared: “Conspiracy by Interior Ministry to Foment Chaos.”

Just when you need a laugh category: Somebody at Fox News failed Geography.

Photobucket

Jan 31 2011

Prime Time

The reason I don’t generally live blog All-Star games (the NHL had theirs today, did you notice?  I thought as much) is that I’m not so into most sports that I pay attention to the individual players.

The closest would be Baseball and even there, if you don’t play for the Mets who are you and why should I care?

The Pro Bowl Throwball show on Faux @ 7 is a prime example (they don’t even make much pretense about playing for anything except to avoid injury) and while I’m pushing my publication deadline up so those who do can use this as an Open Thread (and when isn’t it?) to discuss developments I’ll probably be watching something else, or better yet using the time to prepare next week’s Puppy Bowl VII (3 pm ET) post as well as a special Prime Time for people who can’t stand the hype and hate puppies (and kitties too).

Or I might just nap.

ABC is contesting the NFL Juggernaut with “reality” TV and if you’re a fan of PBS’s Downton Abbey I know what you’ll be watching.  CBS has a World Premier, The Lost Valentine which features Betty White and NBC recycles National Treasure: Book of Secrets.

There is also the Screen Actors Guild Awards on TBS and TNT for you Red Carpet freaks.

Later-

Well, he sure as hell wasn’t one to complain. Woke with a smile, seemed like he could keep it there all day. Kind of a man that’d say ‘good morning’ and mean it, whether it was or not. Tell you the truth, Lord, if there was two gentler souls in this world, I never seen ’em. Seems like old Tig wouldn’t even kill birds in the end. Well, you got yourself a good man and a good dog, and I’m inclined to agree with Boss here about holding a grudge against you for it. I guess that means Amen.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Jan 30 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 40 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Saving whales a cold comfort job

by Madeleine Coorey, AFP

Sun Jan 30, 7:25 am ET

SYDNEY (AFP) – The job description is forbidding: “No pay, Long hours, Hard work, Dangerous conditions, Extreme weather.” So intense is the work environment, officials fear that someone may one day die on duty.

But if Georgie Dicks hadn’t been prepared to brave towering waves, howling winds and Japanese harpoon ships to save whales from slaughter in Antarctic waters, she would never have volunteered to be an activist.

“We’ve always got our lives on the line and if we can’t accept that, we really shouldn’t be here,” the 23-year-old told AFP from onboard the Steve Irwin, a vessel owned by the militant Sea Shepherd Conservation Society.

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