Daily Archive: 02/17/2011

Feb 17 2011

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 55 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Earth dodges geomagnetic storm: scientist

by Jim Mannion, AFP

1 hr 39 mins ago

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A wave of charged plasma particles from a huge solar eruption has glanced off the Earth’s northern pole, lighting up auroras and disrupting some radio communications, a NASA scientist said.

But the Earth appears to have escaped a widespread geomagnetic storm, with the effects confined to the northern latitudes, possibly reaching down into Norway and Canada.

“There can be sporadic outages based on particular small-scale events,” said Dean Persnell, project scientist at NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory at Goddard Space Flight Center.

Feb 17 2011

from firefly-dreaming 17.2.11

Regular Daily Features:

Essays Featured Thursday, February 17th:

  • Thursday Open Thoughts from mplo are centered on Why is America producing such crap in music and in movies?
  • Cornucopia Thursday is Ed Tracey‘s weekly foray into news items outside the headlines, in the arts and sciences; foreign news that generates little notice in the US media and ….well, just plain whimsy…..  
  • Firefly Memories 1.0 is where (normally)Alma takes a look back at some of the Brilliant essays of our first years posts, highlighting those which exemplify our firefly-dreaming spirit and mission. Alma has an eye problem so Dreamer is filling until she’s better.

    Today:Yes You Can take on City Hall by…… Alma!!!  

come firefly-dreaming with me….

Feb 17 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”

Nicholas D Kristof: Tunisia. Egypt. Bahrain?

Manama, Bahrain Tunisia The gleaming banking center of Bahrain, one of those family-run autocratic Arab states that count as American allies, has become the latest reminder that authoritarian regimes are slow learners.

Bahrain is another Middle East domino wobbled by an angry youth – and it has struck back with volleys of tear gas, rubber bullets and even buckshot at completely peaceful protesters. In the early-morning hours on Thursday here in the Bahrain capital, it used deadly force to clear the throngs of pro-democracy protesters who had turned Pearl Square in the center of the city into a local version of Tahrir Square in Cairo. This was the last spasm of brutality from a regime that has handled protests with an exceptionally heavy hand – and like the previous crackdowns, this will further undermine the legitimacy of the government.

Robert Reich; Budget Baloney: Why Social Security Isn’t a Problem for 26 Years, and the Best Way to Fix It Permanently

In a former life I was a trustee of the Social Security trust fund. So let me set the record straight.

Social Security isn’t responsible for the federal deficit. Just the opposite. Until last year Social Security took in more payroll taxes than it paid out in benefits. It lent the surpluses to the rest of the government.

Now that Social Security has started to pay out more than it takes in, Social Security can simply collect what the rest of the government owes it. This will keep it fully solvent for the next 26 years. . . . . . .

Today, though, the Social Security payroll tax hits only about 84 percent of total income.

It went from 90 percent to 84 percent because a larger and larger portion of total income has gone to the top. In 1983, the richest 1 percent of Americans got 11.6 percent of total income. Today the top 1 percent takes in more than 20 percent.

If we want to go back to 90 percent, the ceiling on income subject to the Social Security tax would need to be raised to $180,000.

Presto. Social Security’s long-term (beyond 26 years from now) problem would be solved.

Yes, it is that simple

Robert Sheer: Home Sweet Wall Street

A most dastardly deed occurred last Friday when the Obama administration issued a 29-page policy statement totally abandoning the federal government’s time-honored role in helping Americans achieve the goal of homeownership. Instead of punishing the banks that sabotaged the American ideal of a nation of stakeholders by “securitizing” our homesteads into poker chips to be gambled away in the Wall Street casino, Barack Obama now proposes to turn over the entire mortgage industry to those same banks.

The proposal, originated by Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, involves nothing less than a total “winding down” of the 80-year-old federal housing program, setting instead a new goal of a two-tiered America in which the masses are content to be mere renters of the American Dream. Such a deal for a country where, as the report concedes, “Half of all renters spend more than a third of their income on housing, and a quarter spend more than half.”

Feb 17 2011

A Policy of Evasion and Deception

(h/t emptywheel)

Defector admits to WMD lies that triggered Iraq war

  • Man codenamed Curveball ‘invented’ tales of bioweapons
  • Iraqi told lies to try to bring down Saddam Hussein regime
  • Fabrications used by US as justification for invasion

Martin Chulov and Helen Pidd in Karlsruhe, The Guardian

Tuesday 15 February 2011 12.58 GMT

The defector who convinced the White House that Iraq had a secret biological weapons programme has admitted for the first time that he lied about his story, then watched in shock as it was used to justify the war.

The admission comes just after the eighth anniversary of Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations in which the then-US secretary of state relied heavily on lies that Janabi had told the German secret service, the BND. It also follows the release of former defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s memoirs, in which he admitted Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction programme.

Janabi claimed he was first exposed as a liar as early as mid-2000, when the BND travelled to a Gulf city, believed to be Dubai, to speak with his former boss at the Military Industries Commission in Iraq, Dr Bassil Latif.

The Guardian has learned separately that British intelligence officials were at that meeting, investigating a claim made by Janabi that Latif’s son, who was studying in Britain, was procuring weapons for Saddam.

That claim was proven false, and Latif strongly denied Janabi’s claim of mobile bioweapons trucks and another allegation that 12 people had died during an accident at a secret bioweapons facility in south-east Baghdad.

The German officials returned to confront him with Latif’s version. “He says, ‘There are no trucks,’ and I say, ‘OK, when [Latif says] there no trucks then [there are none],'” Janabi recalled.

February 5, 2003-

Part 1

Parts 2 through 5 and transcript below.

Feb 17 2011

On This Day in History February 17

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 17 is the 48th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 317 days remaining until the end of the year (318 in leap years).

On this day in 1904,  Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madame Butterfly premieres at the La Scala theatre in Milan, Italy.

The young Puccini decided to dedicate his life to opera after seeing a performance of Giuseppe Verdi’s Aida in 1876. In his later life, he would write some of the best-loved operas of all time: La Boheme (1896), Tosca (1900), Madame Butterfly (1904) and Turandot (left unfinished when he died in 1906). Not one of these, however, was an immediate success when it opened. La Boheme, the now-classic story of a group of poor artists living in a Paris garret, earned mixed reviews, while Tosca was downright panned by critics.

Madama Butterfly (Madame Butterfly) is an opera in three acts (originally two acts) by Giacomo Puccini, with an Italian libretto by Luigi Illica and Giuseppe Giacosa. Puccini based his opera in part on the short story “Madame Butterfly” (1898) by John Luther Long, which was dramatized by David Belasco. Puccini also based it on the novel Madame Chrysantheme (1887) by Pierre Loti. According to one scholar, the opera was based on events that actually occurred in Nagasaki in the early 1890s.

The original version of the opera, in two acts, had its premiere on February 17, 1904, at La Scala in Milan. It was very poorly received despite the presence of such notable singers as soprano Rosina Storchio, tenor Giovanni Zenatello and baritone Giuseppe De Luca in the lead roles. This was due in large part to the late completion and inadequate time for rehearsals. Puccini revised the opera, splitting the second act into two acts and making other changes. On May 28, 1904, this version was performed in Brescia and was a huge success.

The opera is set in the city of Nagasaki. Japan’s best-known opera singer Tamaki Miura won international fame for her performances as Cio-Cio San; her statue, along with that of Puccini, can be found in Nagasaki’s Glover Garden.

Butterfly is a staple of the standard operatic repertoire for companies around the world and it is the most-performed opera in the United States, where it ranks as Number 1 in Opera America’s list of the 20 most-performed operas in North America.

Feb 17 2011

Six In The Morning

We Accept Peaceful Demonstrations  

At least 2 dead as authorities regain control of main square; nation on lockdown


Bahrain military moves in after police storm protest camp

MANAMA, Bahrain – More than 50 armored vehicles were seen heading toward central Manama on Thursday shortly after police firing tear gas and wielding clubs cleared anti-government protesters from a landmark square.

Police destroyed a makeshift encampment at Pearl Square, which had become the hub for demands to bring sweeping political changes to the kingdom,

The main opposition group Al Wefaq said at least two people were killed in the pre-dawn assault, which was littered with flattened tents, trampled banners and broken glass.

Feb 17 2011

Wisconsin: They are Egyptians Now: Up Dated

Up Date: The Democratic lawmakers in Wisconsin left the state ending, at lest temporarily, shutting down  the debate in the State Senate on the controversial bill that would strip state workers of their bargaining rights.  According to the rules that govern the body, at least one Democrat must be present for a vote to take place. Governor Scott Walker has insisted that in the face of a large budget deficit this is an austerity measure. In reality. this is union busting, denying union workers their rights at the collective bargaining table.

According to Channel 3000 in Madison the DEmocratic lawmakers have been located in a Rockford, IL hotel

Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin has proposed a bill that would kill state employees rights to collectively bargain for anything except wages. Seen as not only an assault on public employees, it is also being seen an attempt to end union representation. With threats of protests from Wisconsin state workers, Gov. Walker threatened to call out the National Guard.

Tuesday, nearly 30,000 state workers showed up in Madison, the state capitol, to protest. Schools were closed and students marched in solidarity with their teachers. Some of the signs reflected the current revolts in the Middle East with slogans like “If Egypt Can Have Democracy, Why Can’t Wisconsin?,” “We Want Governors Not Dictators,” and “Hosni Walker.” Ouch.

Even though though the Wisconsin Senate President has said there are enough votes to pass the governor’s bill, there are indications that there is some wavering:

State Sen. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he didn’t know where Republicans stood on the proposal that drew more than 13,000 protesters to the state Capitol on Tuesday.

When asked about the position of Republicans, Kapanke said he didn’t know the answer.

The bill was voted out of committee early this morning on a strictly partisan vote and school districts will be closed on Thursday in anticipation of protests.

Russ Feingold, former Wisconsin Senator and founder of Progressives United, talks with Rachel Maddow about the rallies against the bill and how to politically empower the American working class against corporate greed.

Even the NFL Champion Green Bay Packers came out in support of state workers with current players Brady Poppinga and Jason Spitz and former Packers Curtis Fuller, Chris Jacke, Charles Jordan, Bob Long and Steve Okoniewski [who issued this statement]:

We know that it is teamwork on and off the field that makes the Packers and Wisconsin great. As a publicly owned team we wouldn’t have been able to win the Super Bowl without the support of our fans. It is the same dedication of our public workers every day that makes Wisconsin run. They are the teachers, nurses and child care workers who take care of us and our families. But now in an unprecedented political attack Governor Walker is trying to take away their right to have a voice and bargain at work. The right to negotiate wages and benefits is a fundamental underpinning of our middle class. When workers join together it serves as a check on corporate power and helps ALL workers by raising community standards. Wisconsin’s long standing tradition of allowing public sector workers to have a voice on the job has worked for the state since the 1930s. It has created greater consistency in the relationship between labor and management and a shared approach to public work. These public workers are Wisconsin’s champions every single day and we urge the Governor and the State Legislature to not take away their rights.”

More protests are scheduled for today.

Remind me again, what country do I  live in?

Feb 17 2011

Reportng the Revolution: February 17 Up Date 1930 hrs EST

class=”BrightcoveExperience”> The protests are spreading across the Middle East. What started in Tunisia and spread to Egypt, Iran, Yemen, Libya and Bahrain. Two protesters were killed in Manama, Bahrain as heavily armed police made an early morning raid on sleeping unarmed protesters in Pearl Square. Using tear gas and percussion grenades, many men, women and children were overcome and trampled in the chaos. Two people were reported killed and hundreds are in hospitals. In Libya protesters are preparing for a “day of rage” against the 40 year old repressive regime of Muammar Gaddafi. Two protesters were reported killed there yesterday

The best English reporting is coming from Al Jazeera with a Live Blog from Bahrain

The Guardian also continues with live updates from the region.

Up Date: 1930 hrs EST Latest News Reports:

Bahrain’s quiet anger turns to rage

Demonstrators vow to avenge three men killed by police during a pre-dawn raid on their base camp in the centre of the capital

The demonstrators have vowed to avenge three men killed by riot police during a pre-dawn raid on their base camp in the centre of the capital. The raid left their tent city in ruins and temporarily destroyed hopes of a peaceful change. They had spent the day regrouping inside the grounds of the hospital after being evicted from the Pearl Roundabout by up to 500 officers who attacked them shortly after 3.15am on Thursday.

Their numbers had grown to around 4,000 by late afternoon, rallied by calls through social media and by a restless middle class, which until now had not been prominent in protests.

Violent response to Bahrain protest

Troops and tanks lock down capital of Manama after police smash into demonstrators in pre-dawn assault, killing four.

Troops and tanks have locked down the Bahraini capital of Manama on Thursday after riot police swinging clubs and firing tear gas smashed into demonstrators in a pre-dawn assault, killing at least four people.

Hours after the attack on Manama’s main Pearl Roundabout, the military announced a ban on gatherings, saying on state TV that it had “key parts” of the capital under its control.

Khalid Al Khalifa, Bahrain’s foreign minister, justified the crackdown as necessary because the demonstrators were “polarising the country” and pushing it to the “brink of the sectarian abyss”.

Speaking to reporters after meeting with his Gulf counterparts, he also said the violence was “regrettable”. Two people had died in police firing on the protesters prior to Thursday’s deadly police raid.

Bahrain uses UK-supplied weapons in protest crackdown

MoD to review arms export licences after Bahrain clears protesters with UK-made crowd-controls weapons such as teargas and stun grenades

The British government has launched a review of arms exports to Bahrain after it emerged that the country’s security forces were supplied with weapons by the United Kingdom.

After a bloody crackdown in the capital, Manama, left up to five people dead and more than 100 injured, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt said the government will “urgently revoke licences if we judge that they are no longer in line with the [UK and European Union] criteria”.

Bahrain security forces accused of deliberately recruiting foreign nationals

Al Khalifa regime hires non-native Sunni Muslims in concerted effort to swing balance in Shia-majority Bahrain, say analysts

Bahrain’s security forces are the backbone of the Al Khalifa regime, now facing unprecedented unrest after overnight shootings. But large numbers of their personnel are recruited from other countries, including Jordan, Pakistan and Yemen.

Tanks and troops from Saudi Arabia were also reported to have been deployed in support of Bahraini forces.

Precise numbers are a closely guarded secret, but in recent years the Manama government has made a concerted effort to recruit non-native Sunni Muslims as part of an attempt to swing the demographic balance against the Shia majority – who make up around 65% of the population of 1 million.

Libya’s day of rage met by bullets and loyalists

Gaddafi supporters clash with protesters in al-Bayda and Benghazi on the second day of unrest in the country

Libya’s government has brought out its supporters to express their loyalty to try to stifle a planned “day of rage”, but sporadic violence has continued in the east of the country, far from Tripoli.

Unconfirmed reports said up to 15 people have now died in the unrest.

Clashes were reported for a second day between supporters of Muammar Gaddafi and the relatives of two men killed during a protest in al-Bayda on Wednesday, when unrest also erupted in Benghazi, Libya’s second city and opposition stronghold.

Snipers were said to have killed four more protesters in Ajdabiya, south of Benghazi, where six more dead were reported by the Libya al-Yawm news website. “There are thousands of people in the centre of town, and it is spreading, and they are being repressed,” said Ramadan Jarbou, a leading local journalist.

Egypt detains ex-ministers

Three former ministers close to Mubarak held on suspicion of wasting public funds in an attempt to calm public outrage.

An Egyptian prosecutor on Thursday ordered the detention of three ex-ministers and a prominent businessman pending

trial on suspicion of wasting public funds.

The prosecutor dealing with financial crimes said former Interior Minister Habib el-Adli, former Tourism Minister Zuhair Garana, former Housing Minister Ahmed el-Maghrabi and steel magnate Ahmed Ezz must be held for 15 days.

All four have denied any wrongdoing.

ElBaradei criticizes Egypt’s military rulers

Egypt’s new military rulers came under criticism Thursday from a leading democracy advocate as well as from youth and women’s groups for what they say is a failure to make decisions openly and include a larger segment of society.

Five days after ousting Hosni Mubarak in a popular uprising, Egyptians continued protests and strikes over a host of grievances from paltry wages to toxic-waste dumping. They defied the second warning in three days from the ruling Armed Forces Supreme Council to halt all labor unrest at a time when the economy is staggering.

The caretaker government also gave its first estimate of the death toll in the 18-day uprising. Health Minister Ahmed Sameh Farid said at least 365 civilians died according to a preliminary count that does not include police or prisoners

Yemen clerics urge unity government

Influential group of clerics demand transitional unity government, as two demonstrators are shot in continuing violence.

A group of senior clerics in Yemen has called for the formation of a national unity government in order to save the country from chaos.

The influential figures are demanding a transitional unity government that would see the opposition represented in key ministries, followed by elections in six months.

They say the move would place Yemen in the same situation as Egypt and Tunisia, without suffering bloodshed.

Their comments on Thursday came amid fresh clashes between thousands of pro- and anti-government protesters in Sanaa, the capital.

Feb 17 2011

DocuDharma Digest

Regular Features-

Featured Essays for February 16, 2011-


Feb 17 2011

Prime Time

Almost solid premiers.  PBS has a Nova marathon including two of them.

Those are movies, damn you! Look at me! I’m flesh and blood, life-size, no larger! I’m not that silly God-damned hero! I never was!

Alfredo, you needn’t wait. We shan’t need the car any more. We’re going to throw up in the park and then walk home.


Alfredo, telephone the Stork Club, we’ll be two for dinner.

You sure you want the Stork Club, Mr. Swann?

It’s been a year and a half. Surely they’ve repaired the wall of the bandstand by now.

Dave hosts Bill Hader, Krystal Smith, and Amos Lee.  Jon has Brian Williams (ugh), Stephen Kurt Andersen.  Conan hosts Martin Lawrence, Fred Armisen, and Reggie Watts.

Women love to be intrigued. They enjoy unraveling the mystery that is man, but you must allow them the freedom to discover you.

Is that what you do?

No. I don’t have that luxury. The women who are interested in me know exactly who I am and what they want, and nine times out of ten, they get it.

That’s some curse.

You’d be surprised. You see, no matter what I do, I can never fulfill their expectations.

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