02/03/2011 archive

from firefly-dreaming 3.2.11

Regular Daily Features:

Essays Featured Thursday, February 3rd:

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for February 3, 2011-


The Week in the Wild

Headlines from The Wild Wild Left…the last Island on the “LEFT” in a Sea of Wildly Wrong Rightness…a Harbour of Sanity for Liberals, Progressives and Radical Leftists – Get Wild, Get Left – JOIN IN!

~Fake consultant asks Social Security: Where’s Our Tahrir Square?

~Rusty1776 adds his poetic voice to honor the spirit of the Egyptian People in We Gave Each Other Courage

Edger frames a warning, full of linky goodness to WikileaksA Warning To The US Government

~Cassidorus continues his series on THE question of our times, how to envision post-capitalism Envisioning postcapitalism: Joel Kovel, The Enemy of Nature

~Diane Gee weighs the likelihood of Egyptian autonomy and democracy with Imperialist Forces (the US) stacked against them in I Know Where This is Going…

~New member Al Osorio grieves for the children of war in If Tamerlane’s mother cried for him, would Persia have mourned her tears?

~You can also join in on Wild Wild Left Radio every (or nearly every) Friday Night at 6pm Eastern Time. You can catch podcasts there or on our homepage, for interviews with some fairly prestigious guests: Noam Chomsky, Frances Fox Piven, and others….

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”

Richard (RJ) Eskow: Afghanistan’s “Too Big to Fail” Bank Is Failing — Guess Our System Doesn’t Work There, Either

The collapse of Afghanistan’s largest bank will seem familiar to Americans, and so will the upcoming reports of its bailout. We’ve heard the story before: Unheeded warnings. Lax (or nonexistent) law enforcement. An American auditor who said nothing as the books imploded. Sloppy, reckless, and greedy lending. Politicians in bed with banks. And a corporate crime wave led by bankers who can break the law with impunity, knowing they won’t be punished even if they’re caught.

The Kabul Bank story is a sad inversion of nation-building. It might have provided some moments of black humor for the recession-ravaged middle class, if only Americans and Afghans weren’t paying for it with their lives. We promised to teach the Afghans everything we know about running a modern economy.

Apparently we did.

David Sirota: How Money Has Framed the Egypt Debate

The question of why the American government has been so hesitant to push dictator Hosni Mubarak from power is typically answered in our media through the construct of “pragmatism.” If Mubarak leaves, the talking point goes, there could be a new government in Egypt that could threaten “regional stability” with an Iranian-style revolution. This talking point is both bigoted and imperial: It assumes that all Muslims and revolutions are monolithically the same (despite Egypt being Sunni and Arab and Iran being Shiite and Persian), and it assumes that “regional stability” is automatically threatened if a nation exists in the Mideast that isn’t under our thumb.

Nonetheless, the “pragmatism” talking point persists, and thus our government continues to deal with the dictator with kid gloves. But here’s the thing: We’re playing footsie with Mubarak not just because of the self-serving neoconservative construct of “pragmatism” — but also because of cold, hard cash.

Bill McKibben: A Revolution in Our Atmosphere, From Burning Too Many Fossil Fuels

If you were in the space shuttle looking down yesterday, you would have seen a pair of truly awesome, even fearful, sights.

Much of North America was obscured by a 2,000-mile storm dumping vast quantities of snow from Texas to Maine — between the wind and snow, forecasters described it as “probably the worst snowstorm ever to affect” Chicago, and said waves as high as 25 feet were rocking buoys on Lake Michigan.

Meanwhile, along the shore of Queensland in Australia, the vast cyclone Yasi was sweeping ashore; though the storm hit at low tide, the country’s weather service warned that “the impact is likely to be more life threatening than any experienced during recent generations,” especially since its torrential rains are now falling on ground already flooded from earlier storms.

Kristen Breitweiser: Egypt: Skin in the Gam

How absolutely exhilarating to watch the events unfold in Egypt. As I sit with my daughter who has been studying Ancient Egypt and Mesopotamia telling her to watch closely since history is unfolding right before our eyes, I can’t help to worry and wonder what impact this will have on our troops that are still fighting in Iraq. Will this affect the complete U.S. troop withdrawal date of December 31, 2011?

Of course the irony is not lost on me.

Nearly 8 long years ago, the Iraq War was wrongfully started under the guise of spreading democracy in the Middle East. And now, I sit and watch real democracy take to the streets of Cairo and Alexandria brought on by — not armies, intelligence officers, and private contractors from misguided nations — but regular, average Egyptian citizens who are simply fed up.

The Video That Sparked Egypt’s Revolution

“People here are not afraid anymore – and it just may be that a woman helped break that barrier of fear”, writes Mona El-Naggar in her February 01 NYT article Equal Rights Takes to the Barricades: “Asmaa Mahfouz was celebrating her 26th birthday on Tuesday among tens of thousands of Egyptians as they took to the streets, parting with old fears in a bid to end President Hosni Mubarak’s three decades of authoritarian, single-party rule.”

“As long as you say there is no hope, then there will be no hope, but if you go down and take a stance, then there will be hope”, Ms. Mahfouz said bluntly in an impassioned video posted on YouTube January 18. She spoke straight to the camera and held a sign saying she would go out and protest to try to bring down Mr. Mubarak’s regime, noted El-Naggar.

Asmaa “is a member of the April 6 Youth Movement, which has been using the Internet to organize protests against Egypt’s authoritarian government since 2008. As protests against President Mubarak continued to grow, the group called Monday for a ‘march of millions’ and an indefinite general strike. The next day, Mubarak announced he would not seek reelection at the end of his term in September.”, writes Eric Dolan at RawStory Feb 02, who also notes that “Mahfouz made the video after four Egyptian men set themselves on fire. The men were apparently inspired by the example of Tunisia, where a self-immolation triggered protests that eventually led to the ouster of the nation’s president.”

Although Asmaa spoke in her native Egyptian language in her video, an English subtitled version was later posted to YouTube Feb. 02, 2011 by Iyad El-Baghdadi, subbed by Ammara Alavi:

On This Day in History February 3

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.

February 3 is the 34th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 331 days remaining until the end of the year (332 in leap years).

On this day in 1959, “the music died” when rising American rock stars Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J.P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson are killed when their chartered Beechcraft Bonanza plane crashes in Iowa a few minutes after takeoff from Mason City on a flight headed for Moorehead, Minnesota. Investigators blamed the crash on bad weather and pilot error. Holly and his band, the Crickets, had just scored a No. 1 hit with “That’ll Be the Day.”

After mechanical difficulties with the tour bus, Holly had chartered a plane for his band to fly between stops on the Winter Dance Party Tour. However, Richardson, who had the flu, convinced Holly’s band member Waylon Jennings to give up his seat, and Ritchie Valens won a coin toss for another seat on the plane.


The plane took off at around 12:55 AM Central Time. Just after 1:00 AM Central Time, Mr. Hubert Dwyer, a commercial pilot and owner of the plane, observing from a platform outside the tower, “saw the tail light of the aircraft gradually descend until out of sight.”

Peterson had told Dwyer he would file a flight plan with Air Traffic Control by radio after departure. When he did not call the Air Traffic Control communicator with his flight plan, Dwyer requested that Air Traffic Control continue to attempt to establish radio contact, but all attempts were unsuccessful.

By 3:30 AM, when Hector Airport in Fargo, North Dakota, had not heard from Peterson, Dwyer contacted authorities and reported the aircraft missing.

Around 9:15 AM, Dwyer took off in another small plane to fly Peterson’s intended route. A short time later, he spotted the wreckage in a cornfield belonging to Albert Juhl, about five miles (8 km) northwest of the airport.

The Bonanza was at a slight downward angle and banked to the right when it struck the ground at around 170 miles per hour (270 km/h). The plane tumbled and skidded another 570 feet (170 m) across the frozen landscape before the crumpled ball of wreckage piled against a wire fence at the edge of Juhl’s property. The bodies of Holly and Valens lay near the plane, Richardson was thrown over the fence and into the cornfield of Juhl’s neighbor Oscar Moffett, and the body of Peterson remained entangled inside the plane’s wreckage. Surf Ballroom manager Carroll Anderson, who drove the musicians to the airport and witnessed the plane’s takeoff, made positive identifications of the musicians.

All four had died instantly from “gross trauma” to the brain, the county coroner Ralph Smiley declared. Holly’s death certificate detailed the multiple injuries which show that he surely died on impact:

The body of Charles H. Holley was clothed in an outer jacket of yellow leather-like material in which four seams in the back were split almost full length. The skull was split medially in the forehead and this extended into the vertex region. Approximately half the brain tissue was absent. There was bleeding from both ears, and the face showed multiple lacerations. The consistency of the chest was soft due to extensive crushing injury to the bony structure.[…] Both thighs and legs showed multiple fractures.

Investigators concluded that the crash was due to a combination of poor weather conditions and pilot error. Peterson, working on his Instrument Rating, was still taking flight instrumentation tests and was not yet rated for flight into weather that would have required operation of the aircraft solely by reference to his instruments rather than by means of his own vision. The final Civil Aeronautics Board report noted that Peterson had taken his instrument training on airplanes equipped with an artificial horizon attitude indicator and not the far-less-common Sperry Attitude Gyro on the Bonanza. Critically, the two instruments display the aircraft pitch attitude in the exact opposite manner; therefore, the board thought that this could have caused Peterson to think he was ascending when he was in fact descending. They also found that Peterson was not given adequate warnings about the weather conditions of his route, which, given his known limitations, might have caused him to postpone the flight.

Prime Time

Almost solid premiers, though the only notable one is NBC’s Community (yes, I DM, thank you for asking).

And as if to prove all I have said, here is one of the first to go! A lad who sat before me on these very benches, who gave up all to serve in the first year of the war. One of the iron youth who have made Germany invincible in the field! Look at him. Sturdy and bronze and clear-eyed! The kind of soldier every one of you should envy! Paul, lad, you must speak to them. You must tell them what it means to serve your fatherland.

We used to think you knew. The first bombardment taught us better. It’s dirty and painful to die for your country. When it comes to dying for your country it’s better not to die at all! There are millions out there dying for their countries, and what good is it?


We’ve no use talking like this. You won’t know what I mean. Only, it’s been a long while since we enlisted out of this classroom. So long, I thought maybe the whole world had learned by this time. Only now they’re sending babies, and they won’t last a week! I shouldn’t have come on leave. Up at the front you’re alive or you’re dead and that’s all. You can’t fool anybody about that very long. And up there we know we’re lost and done for whether we’re dead or alive. Three years we’ve had of it, four years! And every day a year, and every night a century! And our bodies are earth, and our thoughts are clay, and we sleep and eat with death! And we’re done for because you *can’t* live that way and keep anything inside you! I shouldn’t have come on leave. I’ll go back tomorrow. I’ve got four days more, but I can’t stand it here! I’ll go back tomorrow! I’m sorry.

Dave hosts Howard Stern and Naughty by Nature.  Jon has Michael Mullen (more Michaels), Stephen Jane McGonigal.  Conan hosts Lisa Kudrow, Mike O’Malley, and Interpol.

I’ll tell you how it should all be done. Whenever there’s a big war comin’ on, you should rope off a big field and on the big day, you should take all the kings and their cabinets and their generals, put ’em in the center dressed in their underpants, and let ’em fight it out with clubs. The best country wins.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Six In The Morning

Send In The Thugs Bring In The Thugs, Wait They’re Already Here  

The sky was filled with rocks. The fighting around me was so terrible we could smell the blood

Robert Fisk: Blood and fear in Cairo’s streets as Mubarak’s men crack down on protests

“President” Hosni Mubarak’scounter-revolution smashed into his opponents yesterday in a barrage of stones, cudgels, iron bars and clubs, an all-day battle in the very centre of the capital he claims to rule between tens of thousands of young men, both – and here lies the most dangerous of all weapons – brandishing in each other’s faces the banner of Egypt. It was vicious and ruthless and bloody and well planned, a final vindication of all Mubarak’s critics and a shameful indictment of the Obamas and Clintons who failed to denounce this faithful ally of America and Israel.

Reportng the Revolution: Day 7 with Up Date 1800 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.

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>The Guardian has a Live Blog that refreshes automatically every minute.

Al Jazeera has a Live Blog for Feb 3

As you can see we now have the live feed from Al Jazeera English and I am posting this at early so everyone can watch the events in Egypt as they happen.

Violence erupted yesterday in Cairo and continued through the night on the ninth day of anti-government protests. There are reports of five deaths and countless injuries, some burned by thrown molotov cocktails. The Egyptian army has mostly stood by watching doing little to stop the violence that was begun by the pro-Mubarak supporters. The anti-government protesters stood strong against the “thugs” as they were labeled by most of the news media. They formed a line of protection around the Egyptian Antiquities Museum using sheet metal shields to push back the mob that was intent on getting inside to do more damage.

Sharif Kouddous: Live From Egypt: The True Face of the Mubarak Regime

February 2, Cairo, Egypt-The Mubarak regime launched a brutal and coordinated campaign of violence today to take back the streets of Cairo from Egypt’s mass pro-democracy movement.

Pro-Mubarak mobs began gathering near Tahrir Square shortly after Mubarak’s speech on Tuesday night and held a rally in front of the state TV building on Corniche El Nile Street. In the morning, they began marching around the downtown area in packs of fifty to 100.

These were not the same kinds of protesters that have occupied Tahrir for the last few days. These crowds were made up mostly of men, in between 20 and 45 years old. Many wore thick leather jackets with sweaters underneath. They chanted angrily in support of Mubarak and against the pro-democracy movement. They were hostile and intimidating.

Up Date 1800 hrs EST: Christiane Amanpour had a 30 minute face to face interview with Hosni Mubarak. Here is a short video from ABC News:

Gangs Hunt Journalists and Rights Workers

CAIRO – The Egyptian government broadened its crackdown of a 10-day uprising that has shaken its rule Thursday, arresting journalists and human rights activists, while offering more concessions in a bid to win support from a population growing frustrated with a reeling economy and scenes of chaos in the streets.

With fighting between pro- and antigovernment forces escalating throughout the day, supporters of President Hosni Mubarak attacked foreign journalists, punching them and smashing their equipment, and shut down news media outlets that had operated in buildings overlooking Tahrir Square, which has become the epicenter of the uprising.

In interviews and statements, the government increasingly spread an image that foreigners were inciting the uprising that has prompted tens of thousands to take to the streets to demand the end of Mr. Mubarak’s three decades in power. The suggestions are part of a days-long Egyptian news media campaign that has portrayed the protesters as troublemakers and ignored the scope of an uprising that has captivated the Arab world.

From The Guardian:

10:41 pm GMT: More on the protests spreading to Yemen, where tens of thousands of protesters staged unprecedented demonstrations, with chants of “Down, down, down with the regime” and signs calling on President Ali Abdullah Saleh to resign.

10:03 pm GMT: NBC’s Richard Engel reports that many journalists have been forced to remain undercover today, making it more difficult for cable news channels to cover the protests in Egypt without cameras and reporters out on the street.

Engel says there are more protesters in Tahrir Square tonight, barricading themselves in to offer protection after last night’s attacks by “goon squads”. Metal shields have been put up around the square, now “turned into a military camp,” according to Engel.

The protesters on Tahrir Square have also set up an “interrogation centre” in the subway under the square, Engel reports.

9:54 pm GMT: More on the raid on the Hisham Mubarak law centre in Cairo, mentioned below. Among those taken away by members of the police and army is Human Rights Watch researcher Daniel Williams.

“Human Rights Watch is currently unaware of the whereabouts of those who were detained,” the organisation said in a statement, adding:

   Williams’s detention is part of a clear campaign against independent eyewitnesses of the violence in Egypt, including journalists and civil society activists. Human Rights Watch condemned the crackdown and called on the Egyptian government to release those detained immediately.

9:41 pm GMT: Egyptian state television, in between showing footage of trees and flowers, has a brief report of the country’s prime minister Ahmed Shafiq, telling the interior ministry “not to obstruct peaceful marches on Friday”.

9:30 pm GMT: White House spokesman Robert Gibbs has called the treatment of journalists “completely and totally unacceptable” during a briefing onboard Air Force One, which is flying President Obama back from Pennsylvania:

   I want to say a word for a second on the systematic targeting of journalists in Egypt. This also is completely and totally unacceptable. Any journalist that has been detained should be released immediately.

   I think we need to be clear that the world is watching the actions that are taking place right now in Egypt. And I’ll reiterate again that the actions of targeting journalists, that is unacceptable, and that those journalists should be, if they are detained, released immediately. I know the President has been briefed on this as part of the daily briefing this morning.

9:11 pm GMT: The US military is starting to get more involved, with the Pentagon announcing that officials are gathering details on the attacks on journalists in Egypt. It held back from censuring the hands-off stance of the Egyptian armed forces.

“To date, we have seen them act professionally and with restraint. Again, it’s a very fluid situation so we are watching every single day,” said Pentagon spokesman Colonel Dave Lapan.

Tonight We are ALL Egyptians 20110202 (Ich bin ein Berliner)

I know that many, many featured writers and other contributors have written about this subject, but I think that I have a bit of a different take on this subject than most have.  I know that there are real, difficult, important, and political implications in this entire affair.  I know that the ravers on the right (interesting, Glenn Beck was not on air tonight) and on the left have their version of things.

My outlook on the entire subject is from the perspective of the people who are either participating or affected by what looks like to be the beginning of a revolution proper in Egypt.  A revolution that is fueled by many factors, including generations of oppression, a lousy economy (the wealth difference betwixt the top and everyone else is much worse there than in the United States), suppression of opinion, and the dreaded “knock at the door in the wee hours” are but a few.  Please bear with me for a few moments.

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