01/10/2011 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Huge turnout again on 2nd day of south Sudan vote

by Steve Kirby, AFP

1 hr 48 mins ago

JUBA, Sudan (AFP) – Thousands of south Sudanese poured out to vote for a second straight day in a landmark independence referendum on Monday, bringing the region a step closer to becoming the world’s newest state.

Repeating the jubilant scenes witnessed on Sunday, huge queues formed outside polling stations in the regional capital Juba from long before dawn as voters seized the chance to have their say on whether to split Africa’s largest nation and put the seal on five decades of north-south conflict.

The scale of the turnout on the first of the seven days of polling has already put the south well on the way to reaching the 60-percent threshold set by a 2005 peace deal between north and south for the referendum to be valid.

Birth of a Country: South Sudan

South Sudan is probably not very high on your news radar but the voting that started there on Sunday that would split the Republic of Sudan into two countries is momentous, not just because of the democratic process but also the shedding of the vestiges of colonialism that created the largest country in Africa and the Arab world. Voting on the referendum started Sunday and is being conducted around the world including the United States and will continue until January 15. The referendum is part of an agreement worked out in 2005 with the central government in Khartoum. The agreement, The Nairobi Comprehensive Peace Agreement, granted Southern Sudan autonomy for six years, is now being followed by the referendum about independence. It created a co-vice president position and allowed the north and south to split oil deposits equally, but also left both the north’s and south’s armies in place.

There are great concerns that the split will cause even more war in a country torn by the violence of militant groups and factions, much of it fueled by religious and tribal differences and, of course, oil. US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton  and actor/human rights activist, George Clooney have expressed those concerns amidst the hope of a peaceful process. Mr. Clooney has been at the forefront of keeping Sudan in the news. He along with activist John Prendergast have created a novel solution to monitor the situation using Google satellites, Satellite Sentinel, the “anti-genocide paparazzi”.

A Message From George Clooney and John Prendergast

A new state is being born in Southern Sudan against a backdrop of decades of war between the South and North of Sudan. A peace deal in 2005 ended the latest round of open conflict, but the possibility of a return to war remains high as Southern Sudan prepares for independence.

One of the biggest risks in this dangerous moment is that an incident on the highly armed border could lead to wider conflict. The government in Khartoum has armed militias in contested bordering regions, the government air force has bombed border areas, and both sides have massed military units and equipment along the hottest border spots.

These areas have witnessed some of the most deadly conflict in the world since World War II. The former director of national intelligence says that Southern Sudan is the place in the world most likely to experience genocide.  

We can’t allow another deadly war, and we surely cannot stand by in the face of a genocide threat.

We were late to Rwanda. We were late to the Congo. We were late to Darfur. There is no time to wait. With your support, we will swiftly call the world to witness and respond. We aim to provide an ever more effective early-warning system: better, faster visual evidence and on-the-ground reporting of human rights concerns to facilitate better, faster responses.

This is why we have launched the Satellite Sentinel Project. There has never been a sustained effort to systematically monitor potential hot spots and threats to human security, in near real-time, with the aim of heading off humanitarian disaster and war crimes before they occur.

Previously, when mass atrocities occurred in Darfur, the Government of Sudan denied its involvement. Since photographers could not get access, it took years to amass evidence of genocide. But now we can witness in near real-time and put all parties on notice that if they commit war crimes, we will all be watching, and pressuring policymakers to take action.

We want to cast a spotlight – literally – on the hot spots along the border to record any actions that might escalate the chances of conflict. We hope that if many eyes are on the potential spoilers, we can all help detect, deter and interdict actions that could lead to a return to deadly violence. At the very least, if war crimes do occur, we’ll have plenty of evidence of the actions of the perpetrators to share with the International Criminal Court and the UN Security Council.

The world is watching because you are watching. This is our opportunity to prevent a war, to deter genocide. Make your voice heard. Click here to take action in support of peace in Sudan.

Permanent Bases U.S. Objective in Afghanistan?

Rahimullah Yusufzai is a Senior Analyst with the Pakistani TV channel Geo TV, and the Resident Editor of The News International in Peshawar, an English newspaper from Pakistan. He’s worked as a correspondent for Time Magazine, BBC World Service, BBC Pashto, BBC Urdu, Geo TV, and ABC News. Mr. Yusufzai has interviewed Osama bin Laden, Mullah Omar, and a range of other militants across the tribal areas of the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

Here Yusufzai talks from Peshawar, Pakistan with Real News Network’s Paul Jay about the real U.S. objectives in Afghanistan, and notes that the U.S. now has more than 100,000 troops in AfPak fighting at the most a couple of hundred Al Qaeda members, with only 50 of them in Afghanistan.

Real News Network – January 10, 2011

Permanent Bases Objective in Afghan War?

Sen. Lindsay Graham may have revealed the real objective

with an open call for permanent bases in Afghanistan

…transcript follows…

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”.

New York Times Editorial: Can You Trust the Market?

The stock market was up in the first week of 2011 – following rallies in 2009 and 2010 – but many investors are still wary. According to the Investment Company Institute, a mutual funds trade group, 2010 was the fourth year in a row that individual investors withdrew more money than they added to funds that invest in American stocks. Some $80 billion was withdrawn in 2010, on top of nearly $240 billion in the three years before that.

Why the retreat? One explanation is reasonable doubt about the economy. Of late, profits, and related stock-market gains, have been fueled not by increased revenues but by layoffs and other cuts – an unsustainable pattern. Another explanation is a loss of faith in financial markets. The Dodd-Frank reform law could help restore that faith, but the new Republican majority in the House has vowed to try to block the law’s implementation, including regulations to make deal-making by banks more transparent. Some Democrats may join in.

Paul Krugman: Climate of Hate

When you heard the terrible news from Arizona, were you completely surprised? Or were you, at some level, expecting something like this atrocity to happen?  

Put me in the latter category. I’ve had a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach ever since the final stages of the 2008campaign. I remembered the upsurge in political hatred after Bill Clinton’s election in 1992 – an upsurge that culminated in the Oklahoma City bombing. And you could see, just by watching the crowds at McCain-Palin rallies, that it was ready to happen again. The Department of Homeland Security reached the same conclusion: in April 2009 an internal report (pdf file) warned that right-wing extremism was on the rise, with a growing potential for violence.

Conservatives denounced that report. But there has, in fact, been a rising tide of threats and vandalism aimed at elected officials, including both Judge John Roll, who was killed Saturday, and Representative Gabrielle Giffords. One of these days, someone was bound to take it to the next level. And now someone has.

E.J. Dionne, Jr.: Turning the Tables on Health Care

Rule One of politics: When you have the advantage, don’t allow your opponents to turn the tables.

House Republicans violated this rule when they decided to make repeal of the health care law their first major act in the 112th Congress. The mistake will haunt them for years.

It was a surprising error from a leadership that showed shrewd judgment and exceptional discipline during President Barack Obama’s first two years. John Boehner is now speaker of the House because he and his party focused on demonizing everything Obama did and winning the public argument over both the health care plan and the stimulus. . . .

Already, that impending vote had forced the GOP to fudge its pledge to respect the minority’s rights, since the leadership ruled out any amendments to its bill. The inconsistency led Boehner to produce one of the lamest sound bites of his career. “Well, listen, I promised a more open process,” he said. “I didn’t promise that every single bill was going to be an open bill.”

In other words, he was for an open process before he was against it, and it depends on what the meaning of the word open is. Not a good start.


Monday Business Edition

One of the things we know about Loughner is that he’s a Gold Bug.  This is the derisive term given to people who think that ‘money’ has some unique and special snowflake identification with a particular commodity.

Money is a medium of exchange and a store of value.

Let’s examine that ‘store of value’ part.  What Gold Bugs are arguing for is an arbitrary limit on the supply of the primary medium of exchange.

Leverage says that financial institutions can create unlimited amounts of fictional exchanges of perceived value.

So that horse hasn’t only left the barn, but the barn has burned down so there isn’t even a door to close.

Any commodity’s price is fundamentally related to it’s economic utility unless speculation, sentiment, and marketing distort the market.  Diamonds should be dirt cheap because they’re actually a very common gem stone.

On the other hand you have pork bellies, cotton, and oil,

William Jennings Bryan had at least to his credit that he didn’t want to crucify the economy on a cross of gold.  Limiting your medium of exchange wastes resources that could otherwise be put to productive use.

‘Money’ is electrons in a database and photons on a screen.  It’s worth what you can get for it.

Sad to say Gold Bugginess is not limited to fringe lunatic assassins.  Perfectly respectable Republican lawmakers in Georgia and Virginia think this is a good idea too.

Business News below.

On This Day in History January 10

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 10 is the 10th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 355 days remaining until the end of the year (356 in leap years).

On this day in 1901, a gusher signals start of U.S. oil industry

A drilling derrick at Spindletop Hill near Beaumont, Texas, produces an enormous gusher of crude oil, coating the landscape for hundreds of feet and signaling the advent of the American oil industry. The geyser was discovered at a depth of over 1,000 feet, flowed at an initial rate of approximately 100,000 barrels a day and took nine days to cap. Following the discovery, petroleum, which until that time had been used in the U.S. primarily as a lubricant and in kerosene for lamps, would become the main fuel source for new inventions such as cars and airplanes; coal-powered forms of transportation including ships and trains would also convert to the liquid fuel.

Crude oil, which became the world’s first trillion-dollar industry, is a natural mix of hundreds of different hydrocarbon compounds trapped in underground rock. The hydrocarbons were formed millions of years ago when tiny aquatic plants and animals died and settled on the bottoms of ancient waterways, creating a thick layer of organic material. Sediment later covered this material, putting heat and pressure on it and transforming it into the petroleum that comes out of the ground today.

(emphasis mine)

There had long been suspicions that oil might be under [“Spindletop Hill.” The area was known for its sulfur springs and bubbling gas seepages that would ignite if lit. In August 1892, George W. O’Brien, George W. Carroll, Pattillo Higgins and others formed the Gladys City Oil, Gas, and Manufacturing Company to do exploratory drilling on Spindletop Hill. The company drilled many dry holes and ran into trouble, as investors began to balk at pouring more money into drilling with no oil to show for it.

Pattillo Higgins left the company and teamed with Captain Anthony F. Lucas, the leading expert in the U.S. on salt dome formations. Lucas made a lease agreement in 1899 with the Gladys City Company and a later agreement with Higgins. Lucas drilled to 575 feet (180 m) before running out of money. He secured additional funding from John H. Galey and James M. Guffey of Pittsburgh, but the deal left Lucas with only a small share of the lease and Higgins with nothing.

Lucas continued drilling and on January 10, 1901, at a depth of 1,139 ft (347 m), what is known as the Lucas Gusher or the Lucas Geyser blew oil over 150 feet (50 m) in the air at a rate of 100,000 barrels per day (16,000 m3/d)(4,200,000 gallons). It took nine days before the well was brought under control. Spindletop was the largest gusher the world had seen and catapulted Beaumont into an oil-fueled boomtown. Beaumont’s population of 10,000 tripled in three months and eventually rose to 50,000. Speculation led land prices to increase rapidly. By the end of 1902, over 500 companies were formed and 285 active wells were in operation.

Production began to decline rapidly after 1902, and the wells produced only 10,000 barrels per day (1,600 m3/d) by 1904. On November 14, 1925, the Yount-Lee Oil Company brought in its McFaddin No. 2 at a depth of about 2,500 feet (800 m), sparking a second boom, which culminated in the field’s peak production year of 1927, during which 21,000,000 barrels (3.3 GL) were produced. Over the ten years following the McFaddin discovery, over 72,000,000 barrels (11.4 GL) of oil were produced, mostly from the newer areas of the field. Spindletop continued as a productive source of oil until about 1936. It was then mined for sulfur from the 1950s to about 1975.

America’s first documented oil spill

Six In The Morning

Perhaps There Should Be A Look At Firearms Laws  

Gun control activists cite the shooting rampage as a reason to impose stricter background checks and reinstate an assault-weapons ban. Others say citizens should be armed for self-protection.

Focus turns to Arizona’s gun laws

Reporting from Tucson – It was a busy day at the Tucson Mountain Park shooting range Sunday, where the aroma of gunpowder filled the air one day after 20 people were shot, six fatally, at a shopping center.

Alex Anderson, 24, was armed with a 9-millimeter Taurus, the same caliber as the gun that authorities say Jared Lee Loughner used in the shootings. Anderson, who works at the Home Depot next to the Sportsman’s Warehouse where the gunman’s weapon was purchased, has a permit to carry his gun concealed but no longer needs that, thanks to a state law passed last year.

Pique the Geek 20110109: Bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey?

This topic was suggested by our good friend and regular supporter of this series from The Big Orange, Ottery Scribe.  It is really a fascinating subject, and rich with lore and tradition from the old countries.  As a disclaimer, I must say that I do not really enjoy either of them except for an occasional 12 year old Old Charter, diluted with some cold water.

I actually used half a pint of bourbon just before Christmas, to plump the raisins that I use for my trademark Lizzies fruit cookie.  Look back to just before Christmas for links to the recipe for them.

Prime Time

Some premiers.  New Simpsons, Cleveland, Family Guy, Bob’s Burgers Series Premier.  Nature has a Born Free follow up, Masterpiece Theater an Edwardian costume piece.

Duty. A starship captain’s life is filled with solemn duty. I have commanded men in battle. I have negotiated peace treaties between implacable enemies. I have represented the Federation in first contact with twenty-seven alien species. But none of this compares with my solemn duty today… as best man. Now, I know, on an occasion such as this, it is expected that I be gracious and fulsome in my praise on the wonders of this blessed union, but have the two of you considered what you were doing to me? Of course you’re happy, but what about *my* needs? This is all a damned inconvenience. While you’re happily settling in on the Titan, I will be training my new first officer. You all know him. He’s a tyrannical martinet who will never, *ever*, allow me to go on away missions.

The Venture BrothersHome Insecurity, The Incredible Mr. Brisby


I take it the odds are against us in a situation this grim.

You could say that.

You know, if Spock were here, he’d say that I was an irrational, illogical human being by taking on a mission like that. Sounds like fun!

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Sunday Funnies: No Job, Broke, Worn Out, Sick, Tired, Fed Up, Hungry?

Economy looking dismal? You’re running low on hope? Motivation next to non-existent? Job market worse? Bills piling up on you? Collection agents hounding you? They repo’d your car and wall street took your house? You’ve had it with sleeping on the sidewalk? Your dealer won’t front you anymore?

You know in your heart that your impoverishment is all your own fault for being too lazy and shiftless to even pick up the phone, don’t you? Ask any television anchor or politician or any other self help guru and they’ll all tell you that.

But there is one solution left you haven’t tried yet, or you wouldn’t be wallowing in that pit of self pity.

Before you jump, try out your last resort, the one option that has been time and time again historically proven to always work, every time! Without fail!

Bend over, pull up your socks, grab your bootstraps, and get yourself some…

It’s the American Dream!

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