Daily Archive: 02/11/2011

Feb 11 2011

While you were sleeping

Troll_nicht_fuettern_urversionI know the Egyptian Revolution has been big news, but also over the last few days a story has been developing about how Bank of America and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce have been hiring law firms and private security companies to attack progressive institutions and individuals.

In summary the story goes like this-

Security Firms Pitching Bank of America on WikiLeaks Response Proposed Targeting Glenn Greenwald

By: emptywheel, Wednesday February 9, 2011 8:49 am

On Saturday, private security firm HBGary Federal bragged to the FT that it had discovered who key members of the hacking group Anonymous are. In response, Anonymous hacked HB Gary Federal and got 44,000 of their emails and made them publicly available.



As TechHerald reports, among those documents was a presentation, “The Wikileaks Threat,” put together by three data intelligence firms for Bank of America in December. As part of it, they put together what they claimed was a list of important contributors to WikiLeaks. They suggested that Glenn Greenwald’s support was key to WikiLeaks’ ongoing survival.

Now at the time the big joke was these security firms had the sadly mistaken impression that Glenn Greenwald is the kind of person who would respond to blackmail threats by putting “professional preservation” before “cause” and principle.  But the rabbit hole is deeper than that Alice.

Among the hacked documents was a Power Point presentation that laid out the plan of attack which included leaking false documents to destroy credibility and paying professional trolls $2000 a day to disrupt social media sites like Facebook and Twitter and political blogs like… well, this one.

HBGary Fees: "Dam It Feels Good to Be a Gangsta"

By: emptywheel, Friday February 11, 2011 8:05 am

This is a social media consultant, someone we know from the team’s plans they intended to deploy on Facebook and Twitter in false personas ultimately aiming to destroy the credibility of anti-Chamber activists.

These are just reasonably skilled trolls.

And for that, they wanted to charge $2,000 a day.

To put it in even more stark perspective, consider one ultimate target of the campaign: the men and women SEIU organizes pushing back against the anti-worker policies of the Chamber. Many of these workers-the kind of people who keep your building clean or care for you when you’re sick-make as little $12/hour or less (though the wages for nurses and other skilled medical care providers are higher).

These corporate spook assholes-in addition to targeting Americans for political activism-also think they’re worth 20 times as much as the people who care for the sick.

One the most interesing details is the identity of the firms proposing this scheme-

The Disinformation Campaign Bank of America Considered

By: emptywheel, Wednesday February 9, 2011 1:43 pm

Wikileaks has posted the presentation (.pdf) three security companies-Palantir, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies-made to Bank of America, proposing to help it respond to Wikileaks.

In addition to the degree to which the proposal emphasizes the national security ties and military background of the employees of the company (particularly Berico), the presentation fleshes out what the companies proposed.



(A)ccording to Tech Herald, the law firm pitching these firms, Hunton and Williams, was itself recommended to BoA by DOJ. As the presentation makes clear, these are significant government contractors. (Remember, we’re getting these documents because Anonymous hacked HBGary Federal, which was offering what it had collected to DOJ.) To what extent is what we’re seeing just an extension of what our own government is trying to combat Wikileaks?

Bank of America had not committed to the proposal.  Another group, The U.S. Chamber of Commerce was already actively using HBGary to inplement their plan.

Hacked Documents Show Chamber Engaged HBGary to Spy on Unions

By: emptywheel. Thursday February 10, 2011 1:37 pm

(I)t appears that back in November the same parties involved in the pitch to Bank of America-Palantir, HBGary Federal, and Berico Technologies working through Hunton and Williams-started preparing a pitch to the Chamber of Commerce. At that point, HBGary started researching anti-Chamber groups StoptheChamber.com and USChamberWatch. At one point, HBGary maps the connections between SEIU, Change to Win, and USChamberWatch as if he’s found gold.

By the end of November, Barr starts working on a presentation outlining the difference between StoptheChamber and USChamberWatch, as well as “a link chart of key people in the distribution of information, background information on each individual and ways to counteract their effect on group.”

On January 13, HBGary believed they had signed a contract.



On February 3, law firm H&W came back to the three security firms and told them they’d be doing their Phase I work on spec, until the Chamber had bought into the full project. At that point, the firms put together a plan including a proposed February 14 briefing.

The Chamber issued a non-denial denial-

From the ChamberPot: A Carefully Worded Nondenial Denial

By: emptywheel, Thursday February 10, 2011 5:29 pm

Note, first of all, that they’re not denying hiring Hunton & Williams, the law firm/lobbyist which they hired last year to sue the Yes Men. They’re not even denying that they retain Hunton & Williams right now.

What they’re denying is that they-or, implicitly, Hunton & Williams, on their behalf-hired HBGary.



In other words, no, the Chamber has not “hired” HBGary. They’ve gotten HBGary to do a month of work for free to decide whether they want to hire them.



Now, back in my consulting days, when working with a primary contractor there were always several iterations of work between when we pitched the primary and when we all, jointly, pitched the client itself.

So, sure, the Chamber didn’t see this document. They saw one that proposed the same or very similar plots against citizen activists, probably completed a week or more later, probably containing a different level of  detail (other emails discuss a November 23 meeting with a revised proposal).

They didn’t hire HBGary and they didn’t read the particular document TP linked to.

But that is far short of denying that they’ve been discussing such a plot with HBGary and/or Hunton & Williams.

Other firms involved in this plot are trying to back away from it too-

Palantir Tries to Preserve Their Government Contracts

By: emptywheel Thursday February 10, 2011 8:23 pm

As a reminder, Palantir Technologies is one of the two other security firms that HBGary partnered with to try to get spying business with Bank of America and the Chamber of Commerce.

But perhaps more relevant is Palantir’s primary focus: working with the national security apparatus. They’ve done at least $6,378,332 in business with entities like SOCOM and FBI in the last several years. And while they say they have no plans to adopt “offensive cyber capabilities,” that’s not to say they’re not helping the government analyze data on our presumed enemies.

I would imagine Palantir has pretty good reason to know that the government will not do business with a contractor using the same technologies to target Glenn Greenwald (and maybe Brad Friedman).

At least not publicly. Remember-DOJ recommended Hunton & Williams (which put Palantir and HBGary together for the bid) to Bank of America.

Glenn Greenwald (remember him?) sums it up in his post today-

The leaked campaign to attack WikiLeaks and its supporters

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon.com

Friday, Feb 11, 2011 05:12 ET

What is set forth in these proposals for Bank of America quite possibly constitutes serious crimes.  Manufacturing and submitting fake documents with the intent they be published likely constitutes forgery and fraud.  Threatening the careers of journalists and activists in order to force them to be silent is possibly extortion and, depending on the specific means to be used, constitutes other crimes as well.  Attacking WikiLeaks’ computer infrastructure in an attempt to compromise their sources undoubtedly violates numerous cyber laws.  

Yet these firms had no compunction about proposing such measures to Bank of America and Hunton & Williams, and even writing them down.   What accounts for that brazen disregard of risk?  In this world, law does not exist as a constraint.  It’s impossible to imagine the DOJ ever, ever prosecuting a huge entity like Bank of America for doing something like waging war against WikiLeaks and its supporters.  These massive corporations and the firms that serve them have no fear of law or government because they control each.  That’s why they so freely plot to target those who oppose them in any way.  They not only have massive resources to devote to such attacks, but the ability to act without limits.



There are supposed to be institutions which limit what can be done in pursuit of those private-sector goals.  They’re called “government” and “law.”  But those institutions are so annexed by the most powerful private-sector elites, and so corrupted by the public officials who run them, that nobody — least of all those elites — has any expectation that they will limit anything.  To the contrary, the full force of government and law will be unleashed against anyone who undermines Bank of America and Wall Street executives and telecoms and government and the like (such as WikiLeaks and supporters), and will be further exploited to advance the interests of those entities, but will never be used to constrain what they do.  These firms vying for Bank of America’s anti-WikiLeaks business know all of this full well, which is why they concluded that proposing such pernicious and possibly illegal attacks would be deemed not just acceptable but commendable.

Feb 11 2011

Wild Wild Left Radio #98 More CHAVEZ, Less Obama, Less Mubarak


Friday, February 11th at 6pm EST!

Listen live by clicking the link icon below:

Listen to The Wild Wild Left on internet talk radio

The call in number is 646-929-1264 to join the conversation!

The live chat link will go live around 5:45.. found at the bottom of the show page when you listen, or by clicking the link below. Chat will be monitored for comments and questions by the host.

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Miss the show? The podcasts are available at the link above, or at Wildwildleft.com.


More Chavez!

PhotobucketEgypt is FREE…of Mubarak anyway…but don’t forget, transition of power to the military comes while Mubarak, Suleiman and Prime Minister Ahmad Shafiq are all former military men.

I read an article this week by Mike Whitney, “World Focus: Can We Swap Obama for Chavez?” and it set me thinking deeply.

So, as I studied the no less than 14 different breaking headlines I wanted to cover tonight, I decided to spend a little time comparing what Hugo does for his country with what Obama has done for ours. Check out what we have gotten MORE of… more war, more fear, more cold, more neglect, more money to the top, more poisoning, more racism, more manipulation, more lies…. whew!

Its going to be scathing, and eye-opening in that tear your eyelids back and pour tabasco in them kind of way.

I know what I want. More Heroes & MORE LEFT!

No guesty goodness tonight, so I will be welcoming YOUR calls!

Remember to tune in next week for a return visit from Contributing Author on WWL, Professor John Kozy. HE GETS IT, and isn’t afraid to SPEAK OUT!

Join Wild Wild Left Radio every Friday at 6pm EST, via Blog Talk Radio, with Hostess and Producer Diane Gee to guide you through Current Events taken from a Wildly Left Prospective….  her Joplinesque voice speaking straight from the heart about the real-life implications of the Political and the Class War on everyday American Citizens like you.

Controversy? We face it. Cutting Edge? We step over it. Revolutions start with information, and The Wild Wild Left Radio brings you the best in information and op/eds from a position that others on the Left fear to tread…. all with a grain shaker of irreverent humor.

WWL Radio: Bringing you “out there where the buses don’t run” LEFT perspective with interviews, op/eds and straight talk since January of 2009!

Feb 11 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”

Mohamed ElBaradei: The Next Step for Egypt’s Opposition

WHEN I was a young man in Cairo, we voiced our political views in whispers, if at all, and only to friends we could trust. We lived in an atmosphere of fear and repression. As far back as I can remember, I felt outrage as I witnessed the misery of Egyptians struggling to put food on the table, keep a roof over their heads and get medical care. I saw firsthand how poverty and repression can destroy values and crush dignity, self-worth and hope.

Half a century later, the freedoms of the Egyptian people remain largely denied. Egypt, the land of the Library of Alexandria, of a culture that contributed groundbreaking advances in mathematics, medicine and science, has fallen far behind. More than 40 percent of our people live on less than $2 per day. Nearly 30 percent are illiterate, and Egypt is on the list of failed states.

Paul Krugman: Abraham Lincoln, Inflationist

There was a time when Republicans used to refer to themselves, proudly, as “the party of Lincoln.” But you don’t hear that line much these days. Why?

The main answer, presumably, lies in the G.O.P.’s decision, long ago, to seek votes from Southerners angered by the end of legal segregation. With the old Confederacy now the heart of the Republican base, boasting about the party’s Civil War-era legacy is no longer advisable.

But sooner or later, Republicans were bound to notice other reasons to disavow Lincoln. He was, after all, the first president to institute an income tax. And he was also the first president to issue a paper currency – the “greenback” – that wasn’t backed by gold or silver. “There is nothing more insidious that a country can do to its people than to debase its currency,” declared Representative Paul Ryan in one of two hearings Congress held on Wednesday on monetary policy. So much, then, for the Great Liberator.

Which brings me to the story of what went on in those monetary hearings.

Bernie Sanders: Organizing Help Wanted

We must defend America’s middle class before millionaires and billionaires own the entire country.

There is a war going on in this country and I am not referring to the wars in Iraq or Afghanistan. I am referring to the war waged by the wealthiest people in America on the disappearing and shrinking middle class of our country. The nation’s billionaires are on the warpath. They want more, more, more. Their greed has no end and they are apparently unconcerned for the future of this country if it gets in the way of their accumulation of power and wealth.

On the floor of the Senate, we discuss a lot of things. But one thing we fail to talk about is who is winning in this economy and who is losing, and what that means for parents struggling to survive while working longer hours with lower wages, and worrying about whether their children will have the same kind of standard of living they have.

Right now, the top 1 percent controls more than 23 percent of all income earned in America. The top 1 percent controls more than the bottom 50 percent. It’s not only that the rich are getting richer. The very, very rich are getting richer. In the last 25 years, we have seen 80 percent of all new income going to the top 1 percent.

Feb 11 2011

On This Day in History February 11

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 11 is the 42nd day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 323 days remaining until the end of the year (324 in leap years).

On this day in 1990, Nelson Mandela is released from prison

Nelson Mandela, leader of the movement to end South African apartheid, is released from prison after 27 years on February 11, 1990.

In 1944, Mandela, a lawyer, joined the African National Congress (ANC), the oldest black political organization in South Africa, where he became a leader of Johannesburg’s youth wing of the ANC. In 1952, he became deputy national president of the ANC, advocating nonviolent resistance to apartheid–South Africa’s institutionalized system of white supremacy and racial segregation. However, after the massacre of peaceful black demonstrators at Sharpeville in 1960, Nelson helped organize a paramilitary branch of the ANC to engage in guerrilla warfare against the white minority government.

In 1961, he was arrested for treason, and although acquitted he was arrested again in 1962 for illegally leaving the country. Convicted and sentenced to five years at Robben Island Prison, he was put on trial again in 1964 on charges of sabotage. In June 1964, he was convicted along with several other ANC leaders and sentenced to life in prison.

Imprisonment

Mandela was imprisoned on Robben Island where he remained for the next eighteen of his twenty-seven years in prison. While in jail, his reputation grew and he became widely known as the most significant black leader in South Africa. On the island, he and others performed hard labour in a lime quarry. Prison conditions were very basic. Prisoners were segregated by race, with black prisoners receiving the fewest rations. Political prisoners were kept separate from ordinary criminals and received fewer privileges. Mandela describes how, as a D-group prisoner (the lowest classification) he was allowed one visitor and one letter every six months. Letters, when they came, were often delayed for long periods and made unreadable by the prison censors.

Whilst in prison Mandela undertook study with the University of London by correspondence through its External Programme and received the degree of Bachelor of Laws. He was subsequently nominated for the position of Chancellor of the University of London in the 1981 election, but lost to Princess Anne.

In his 1981 memoir Inside BOSS secret agent Gordon Winter describes his involvement in a plot to rescue Mandela from prison in 1969: this plot was infiltrated by Winter on behalf of South African intelligence, who wanted Mandela to escape so they could shoot him during recapture. The plot was foiled by British Intelligence.

In March 1982 Mandela was transferred from Robben Island to Pollsmoor Prison, along with other senior ANC leaders Walter Sisulu, Andrew Mlangeni, Ahmed Kathrada and Raymond Mhlaba. It was speculated that this was to remove the influence of these senior leaders on the new generation of young black activists imprisoned on Robben Island, the so-called “Mandela University”. However, National Party minister Kobie Coetsee says that the move was to enable discreet contact between them and the South African government.

In February 1985 President P.W. Botha offered Mandela his freedom on condition that he ‘unconditionally rejected violence as a political weapon’. Coetsee and other ministers had advised Botha against this, saying that Mandela would never commit his organisation to giving up the armed struggle in exchange for personal freedom. Mandela indeed spurned the offer, releasing a statement via his daughter Zindzi saying “What freedom am I being offered while the organisation of the people remains banned? Only free men can negotiate. A prisoner cannot enter into contracts.”

The first meeting between Mandela and the National Party government came in November 1985 when Kobie Coetsee met Mandela in Volks Hospital in Cape Town where Mandela was recovering from prostate surgery. Over the next four years, a series of tentative meetings took place, laying the groundwork for further contact and future negotiations, but little real progress was made.

In 1988 Mandela was moved to Victor Verster Prison and would remain there until his release. Various restrictions were lifted and people such as Harry Schwarz were able to visit him. Schwarz, a friend of Mandela, had known him since university when they were in the same law class. He was also a defence barrister at the Rivonia Trial and would become Mandela’s ambassador to Washington during his presidency.

Throughout Mandela’s imprisonment, local and international pressure mounted on the South African government to release him, under the resounding slogan Free Nelson Mandela! In 1989, South Africa reached a crossroads when Botha suffered a stroke and was replaced as president by Frederik Willem de Klerk. De Klerk announced Mandela’s release in February 1990.

Mandela was visited several times by delegates of the International Committee of the Red Cross, while at Robben Island and later at Pollsmoor prison. Mandela had this to say about the visits: “to me personally, and those who shared the experience of being political prisoners, the Red Cross was a beacon of humanity within the dark inhumane world of political imprisonment.”

Feb 11 2011

Six In The Morning

Ego So Big Reality Doesn’t Count  

The fury of a people whose hopes were raised and then dashed

As Mubarak clings on… What now for Egypt?

To the horrorof Egyptians and the world, President Hosni Mubarak – haggard and apparently disoriented – appeared on state television last night to refuse every demand of his opponents by staying in power for at least another five months. The Egyptian army, which had already initiated a virtual coup d’état, was nonplussed by the President’s speech which had been widely advertised – by both his friends and his enemies – as a farewell address after 30 years of dictatorship. The vast crowds in Tahrir Square were almost insane with anger and resentment.

Feb 11 2011

Reporting the Revolution: Day 18

Update: Hosni Mubarak has resigned as announced on Egyptian State TV by Suleiman the torturer.  The Army has taken over the government.  Is this good news?  As Mao said about the invention of fire for China- too soon to tell. – ek

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 Al-Masry Al-Youm: English Edition

class=”BrightcoveExperience”>The Guardian has a Live Blog from their reporters in Egypt that refreshes automatically every minute.

Al Jazeera has a Live Blog for Feb 11

Also follow the Live blog at mishima’s Ignoring Asia.

As you can see we now have the live feed from Al Jazeera English.

Last night’s announcement by President Hosni Mubarak that he was not leaving office infuriated the Egyptian people who immediately marched from Tahrir Square through dark Cairo streets to the building of the state run television station for a loud but peaceful demonstration. Today portends to be another day of peaceful marches and protests with a planned march from Tahrir Square to the Presidential Palace. Protests are planned throughout the country but everyone is anxious with the rise in anger and Vice President Omar Suleiman’s speech that was taken as an offensive. Al Jazeera is reporting that “Egyptian military’s supreme council has held an ‘important’ meeting and will issue a statement soon”. So far the military has remained on the sidelines. They were, however, embarrassed by Mubarak’s continued refusal to leave office since they had made public announcement that indicated that the protesters demands were going to be met. Day eighteen promises to be large and loud and let us all hope peaceful and successful.

Here is some of the current news as the day has already begun in Egypt.

Mubarak’s defiance could spell disaster

The stubbornness of the beleaguered Egyptian president has embarrassed the army and endangered the people

Mubarak’s speech came at the end of an extraordinary day during which all the evidence seemed to indicate decisive intervention by the military, with officers telling protesters in Tahrir Square that their demands would be met.

Even more significantly, state TV broadcast pictures of the higher armed forces council meeting without Mubarak, the commander-in-chief, reinforcing the impression the generals and the defence minister, Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, were moving against him. Tantawi is said to be close to and in close contact with the US government.

The council’s statement – the title “communique number one” redolent of past military interventions in Egypt and across the Arab world – said it would “remain in continuous session to discuss what measures and arrangements could be taken to safeguard the homeland and its achievements, and the aspirations of the great Egyptian people”. Omar Ashour, an Egyptian academic at Exeter University, said: “We may be seeing factional fighting inside the regime and in the end the Mubarak faction won. Or maybe we see him attempting to cling to power regardless of the views of the military. This is certainly embarrassing for them.”

Mohamed ElBaradei, the nearest the fractured opposition has to a single well-known leader, said Egypt’s fate now lay in the hands of the military. “The army must save the country now,” he said.

Military Caught Between Mubarak and Protesters

WASHINGTON – Even as pro-democracy demonstrations in Cairo have riveted the world’s attention for 17 days, the Egyptian military has managed the crisis with seeming finesse, winning over street protesters, quietly consolidating its domination of top government posts and sidelining potential rivals for leadership, notably President Hosni Mubarak’s son Gamal.

Then came Thursday, a roller coaster of a day on which the military at first appeared to be moving to usher Mr. Mubarak from the scene – and then watched with the world as Mr. Mubarak clung to his title, delegating some powers to Omar Suleiman, the vice president and former longtime intelligence chief.

The standoff between the protest leaders and Mr. Mubarak, hours before major demonstrations set for Friday, could pose a new dilemma for military commanders. Mr. Suleiman called for an end to demonstrations, and Human Rights Watch said this week that some military units had been involved in detaining and abusing protesters. But by most accounts, army units deployed in Cairo and other cities have shown little appetite for using force to clear the streets.

Barack Obama impatient for credible transition in Egypt

US president says Egyptian government has yet to put forward a ‘credible, concrete and unequivocal path to democracy’ after Mubarak refuses to step down

Barack Obama expressed dismay at the failure of Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak to stand down and said the Egyptian government has yet to put forward a “credible, concrete and unequivocal path to democracy”, as Egypt braced itself for what demonstrators predicted would be the biggest protests yet.

The US president’s patience appeared to be nearing its end after being wrong-footed and embarrassed earlier in the day by an expectation that Mubarak was planning to stand down.

American unhappiness with Mubarak was echoed by European leaders.

The White House, the state department and the Pentagon will be seeking explanations from their counterparts in Egypt as to what went wrong. Obama’s critics claimed he had been set up and the incident reflected his naivety.

The Obama administration had hinted early on Thursday that Mubarak was on the eve of departure. The CIA director, Leon Panetta, giving evidence before the House intelligence committee, predicted there was a “a strong likelihood that Mubarak may step down” by the end of the day.

U.S. Intelligence Chief Defends Reports on Egypt

WASHINGTON – The U.S. director of national intelligence sought Thursday to defend the intelligence community against criticism that it had failed to more clearly warn of the recent crisis in Egypt, saying that the buildup of potentially explosive pressures had been amply reported but that the specific triggers to action were far harder to predict.

“We are not clairvoyant,” said the director, James R. Clapper Jr., at a hearing of the House intelligence committee.

The intelligence community has faced criticism for failing to provide a clearer warning, or more timely descriptions, of the fast-moving developments in Egypt. President Barack Obama and other top administration officials have repeatedly seemed to be scrambling to catch up with events.

But Mr. Clapper, and also Leon E. Panetta, the director of central intelligence, suggested that it would always be difficult to know precisely when a potentially critical situation would turn explosive – to know, for example, when a frustrated merchant in Tunisia would set himself afire, an event that indirectly fed into the Egyptian crisis.

Europe’s Foreign Policy Chief, Struggling for Mandate, Faces Criticism on Uprisings

PARIS – After President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt refused to step down on Thursday night, infuriating demonstrators in his country, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, Catherine Ashton, issued a sharp statement saying that “the time for change is now” and that Mr. Mubarak “has not yet opened the way to faster and deeper reforms.”

Her rapid response was a marked change from the past few weeks, when she has been increasingly criticized as being painfully slow to respond to the crisis in Egypt and elsewhere, and as simply following an American script that has shifted several times with the flow of events.

It has been very difficult for Ms. Ashton, whose job was created in December 2009 by the Lisbon Treaty, to get ahead of the curve.

She must maneuver among the 27 member states – all with their own foreign ministers – as well as the European Union bureaucracy and the European Commission, run by José Manuel Barroso, who has foreign policy aspirations of his own. She is still struggling to build a staff and a new European diplomatic corps, and she must cobble together money and agreed positions from all the members.

Iran Presses Opposition to Refrain From Rally

TEHRAN – Iran’s authorities have increased pressure on the country’s political opposition days before a rally proposed by opposition leaders in support of the popular uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt.

Security forces stationed outside the home of the reformist cleric Mehdi Karroubi, one of the country’s most prominent opposition leaders, prevented Mr. Karroubi’s son from seeing his father on Thursday, according to the son, Hossein.

In an interview with an Arabic-language news Web site, Al Arabiya, Hossein Karroubi, who is politically active, said that the security forces told him that other family members, except his mother, were also barred from seeing his father.

The elder Mr. Karroubi and another government critic, Mir Hussein Moussavi, had submitted a formal request to the government to hold the rally on Feb. 14. Opposition Web sites have also reported the arrest of a number of people associated with the two opposition leaders. On Wednesday night, Taghi Rahmani, an activist close to Mr. Karroubi, and Mohammad-Hossein Sharifzadegan, a former welfare minister and an adviser to Mr. Moussavi, were arrested at their homes by Iran’s security forces. The Web sites also reported Thursday that two reformist journalists had been arrested.

Feb 11 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for February 9, 2011-

DocuDharma

Feb 11 2011

Prime Time

I should mention tonight’s episode of The Ace of Cakes is the last ever.  It never quite grabbed me though I liked some of the characters (especially the wacky secretary who reminds me of Janine Melnitz) because I’m just not that into cakes.  Probably explains why I’m not a big fan of Food Network Challenge.

Pretty much all premiers.  I didn’t realize there was a new version of La Femme Nikita.

You have this belief that you are better than us. You have this belief that this country is so very good, and we are so very bad.

I am Lrrr! Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8! May I crash on your couch?

Later-

(E)nough about me leg. Let me tell you about the rest of me. “Up North in the Never-Never, where the land is harsh and bare, lives a mighty hunter named Mick Dundee who can dance like Fred Astaire.”

Dave hosts Bryan Ferry.  Jon and Stephen in repeats from 2/1. Conan hosts Seth MacFarlane, Brooklyn Decker, and Dana Gould.

Well, you see, Aborigines don’t own the land.They belong to it. It’s like their mother. See those rocks? Been standing there for 600 million years. Still be there when you and I are gone. So arguing over who owns them is like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog they live on.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Feb 11 2011

Prime Time

I should mention tonight’s episode of The Ace of Cakes is the last ever.  It never quite grabbed me though I liked some of the characters (especially the wacky secretary who reminds me of Janine Melnitz) because I’m just not that into cakes.  Probably explains why I’m not a big fan of Food Network Challenge.

Pretty much all premiers.  I didn’t realize there was a new version of La Femme Nikita.

You have this belief that you are better than us. You have this belief that this country is so very good, and we are so very bad.

I am Lrrr! Ruler of the planet Omicron Persei 8! May I crash on your couch?

Later-

(E)nough about me leg. Let me tell you about the rest of me. “Up North in the Never-Never, where the land is harsh and bare, lives a mighty hunter named Mick Dundee who can dance like Fred Astaire.”

Dave hosts Bryan Ferry.  Jon and Stephen in repeats from 2/1. Conan hosts Seth MacFarlane, Brooklyn Decker, and Dana Gould.

Well, you see, Aborigines don’t own the land.They belong to it. It’s like their mother. See those rocks? Been standing there for 600 million years. Still be there when you and I are gone. So arguing over who owns them is like two fleas arguing over who owns the dog they live on.

Zap2it TV Listings, Yahoo TV Listings

Feb 11 2011

Changing Times: History and Botanical Science in America

You don’t need a Hubble telescope to explore frontiers. Of the roughly 400,000 species of plants on this planet about 70,000 are still a complete mystery to science. Unlike the space frontier, since it is estimated that about twenty-five percent of the plant species on this planet will be wiped out in the very near future, there is a sense of urgency to systematic botany.

Recently I attended a New York Botanical Garden lecture “Briefings From the Field: The Frontiers of Plant Discovery and Conservation.” Field studies are more exciting than you would expect. The first time I was invited to hear these Indiana Jones type stories that range from Ewok lifestyles in the treetops of Costa Rica to high-water adventures on the “Amazon Queen” was back in 1987.  

In those few years there have been big changes in both science and the interactions with governments and industry to report. From 1987 when tropical rain forest covered only six percent of the earth’s land surface to now with only five percent left, the stories were less about adventure and more about political advances scientist are making in the conservation mission.  

Below the fold are some of the facts I learned at this year’s lecture, either advances in an improving landscape or a last ditch effort to save biodiversity, you decide.