04/06/2011 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

Now with 57 Top Stories.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Berlusconi sex trial adjourned until May

by Mathieu Gorse, AFP

Wed Apr 6, 12:45 pm ET

MILAN (AFP) – Silvio Berlusconi’s trial on charges of sex with an underage prostitute and abuse of power opened Wednesday as the storm over the 74-year-old Italian premier’s private life finally landed in court.

Berlusconi himself did not attend the hearing and the judges immediately adjourned the trial until May 31. The woman at the centre of the case, Karima El Mahroug — nicknamed “Ruby the Heart Stealer” — was not present either.

The hearing at Milan’s main court building lasted just under 10 minutes and a handful of protesters rallied outside both for and against Berlusconi.

Under the Radar: Busy, Busy

With the imminent shut down of the Federal government looming and the past couple of week’s news dominated by Japan’s nuclear crisis and the Libyan revolt, here are a few of the background bits and pieces that make you go hmmmmmm

  • Some good news, I guess, about Glen Back from Raw Story:

    Glenn Beck’s Fox News show ending ‘later this year’

    By Stephen C. Webster

    Conservative conspiracy host Glenn Beck announced plans Wednesday to “transition off” his Fox News program in favor of a realigned agreement between Fox and his production company, Mercury Radio Arts.

    The deal will see Beck’s company designing unspecified new media for the Fox News Channel and other Fox online properties, a news release said.

    The release was not specific as to when he would be off the air, saying only that it would happen “later this year.”

    Moments after the announcement, Beck’s website The Blaze, which hosted the release, went offline.

    Too embarrassing even for Rupert and Roger?

  • From Think Progress in this morning’s Think Fast the Republicans are still worried about those brown people and their “anchor” babies. If first you don’t succeed:

    Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) and “three colleagues on Tuesday announced a bill that would restrict” birthright citizenship, a move that is likely unconstitutional. “It is astounding that the U.S. government allows individuals to exploit the loopholes of our immigration system in this manner,” said Vitter of his legislation.

    Damn that Constitution we swore to uphold.

  • Look this way, do not pay any attention to that man behind the curtain. Alternet‘s Don Monkerud enumerates the distractions ad infinitum:

    Republicans Have an Infinite Supply of Crazy Ideas to Distract the Public from Dealing with the Country’s Pressing Issues

    Guns in churches, schools and bars. Immigrants expelled to solve financial problems. When are we going to get wise to their tactics?

    Guns in churches, schools and bars. Immigrants expelled to solve financial problems. Morality praised as the key national issue.

    American politics are getting more bizarre and in some cases, border on the nutty. Current politics include Republican legislatures in Texas, Arizona, Georgia and Minnesota fighting for their “rights” to reject energy efficiency light bulbs, while South Carolina will manufacture their own state’s rights incandescent bulbs.

    Alaska wants to eliminate federal protection of salmon, polar bears, seals and wolves in favor of “state sovereignty.” Dozens of states pledge to roll back “Obamacare,” and protect their citizens’ right to high-priced monopoly healthcare.

    A GOP legislator in New Hampshire recommends sending the disabled and homeless to Siberia where it’s cheaper to live.

    Read on, there are two pages of brilliant ideas to take America back to the 18th century or better.

  • Kicked Once Too Often: I’m Out, Barack

    Not that I was ever in but I was willing to give Barack Obama the benefit of the doubt once he was elected but since kicking his base supporters off the bus in the middle of the desert, I can’t even hold my nose to vote for him. As was pointed out in a Raw Story article, these are just a few of the reasons:

    1. Health care for all

    If you’re an American making less than $30,000 a year, chances are you still have trouble seeing a doctor, despite the passage of President Obama’s health care reform plan. In 2007, then-Senator Obama said he wanted to make sure no American is without access to vital medical attention and proposed using revenues from the soon-to-expire Bush tax cuts to fund it. When the campaign laid out their specific plans in 2008, they included a “public option” that would be paid for by the public at large and made available to anyone who could not obtain coverage through their employer or other public program.

    We all know how well that turned out, a massive sell out to the health insurance  and pharmaceutical industry and a cave ro extending the Bush (er, Obama) tax cuts. Yes, the consumer is forced to buy an inadequate insurance policy and still not have access to a doctor but hey, they’re insured. Now the Republicans are attacking Medicare and Medicaid so the government can fund more imperial wars and buy bigger and better weapons while giving the wealthy even more tax cuts.

    2. Close Guantanamo

    As a symbol of everything that liberals thought to be wrong with the Bush-era, closing the Guantanamo Bay military prison in Cuba should have been an easy target for the new and popular president and his Democratic super-majority in Congress — and, in fact, then-candidate Obama promised to do just that. But as he soon found out, strategic and political calculations have made it almost impossible to shuck.

    Now we have even bigger and better military tribunals, no trials in civilian courts for those scary men in Guantanamo and for 47 of them, the possibility no trial ever and the rest of their lives in detention all in the name of the never ending War on Terror (On wait, we don’t call it that any more).

    3. Defend labor rights

    “Understand this,” Obama said during a campaign rally in 2007. “If American workers are being denied their right to organize and collectively bargain when I’m in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself, I’ll will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States of America.” (Watch.)

    He can’t find his comfy shoes? Michelle must have tossed them when they moved into the executive mansion. Truthfully, at this  point, it’s is best he stay away and silent.

    4. Reform the Patriot Act

    Contrary to popular belief, Obama has never actually argued for a repeal of the Bush administration’s sweeping, post-9/11 security initiatives, which were passed with a mandatory “sunset” clause to overrule the concerns of civil libertarians at the time. Instead, Obama has consistently said he favors enhanced judicial oversight and a pullback from some warrantless searches — like the provisions that allow the FBI to access library records without a warrant.

    Obama “reformed” it all right. Besides defending it in court, he got it extended even for even longer than the Republicans wanted without any changes. This extends the governments ability to spy on every private citizen until 2013, a non-election year, when it comes up for renewal again.

    5. End the wars

    Even as a candidate, Obama maintained that Afghanistan should be “the focus” of Bush’s terror war, and he pledged to make it so. But the president was also swept into power on a wave of anti-war fervor behind his calls to end the occupation of Iraq. Iraq has calmed down quite a bit as U.S. troops steadily stream out of the country, but Afghanistan is more violent than ever amid Obama’s own “surge.”

    The US will have troops in Iraq and Afghanistan for years. But, but, his loyalist supporters say, they aren’t “combat troops”. I hate to tell them but ALL troops are “combat troops”. Not only this, now there is the bombardment of Pakistan, Yemen and Libya.

    One day after announcing his bid for reelection, Obama’s poll numbers show less than half the country believes President Obama deserves reelection, with disaffected liberals now a fast growing demographic and independents split. Would the country have been better off with McCain or Hillary as President is useless speculation. All that is important now is Dick Cheney is pleased.

    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”

    Dana Milbank: Paul Ryan’s dogmatic budget

    “This is not a budget,” Paul Ryan said as he introduced the Republicans’ 10-year budget plan. “This is a cause.”

    Truer words have never been spoken.

    The document released by the chairman of the House Budget Committee isn’t a serious budget proposal because it fails at the central mission of ending the deficit and taming the debt.

    Without question, Ryan makes some severe cuts: Taking hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid, ending the Medicare entitlement, and slashing planned spending on transportation, energy, education, veterans benefits, agriculture payments, counterterrorism and more.

    Robert Reich: Paul Ryan’s Plan, the Coming Shutdown, and What’s Really at Stake

    I was in Washington in 1995 when the government closed because of a budget stalemate. I had to tell most of the Labor Department’s 15,600 employees to go home and not return the next day. I also had to tell them I didn’t know when they’d next get a paycheck.

    There were two shutdowns, actually, rolling across the government in close succession, like thunder storms.

    It’s not the way to do the public’s business.

    Dean Baker: The Real Story Behind Job Creation

    When the labour department announced that the US economy had created 216,000 jobs in March, it set off a round of celebrations throughout Washington policy circles. The word in the New York Times, the Washington Post and other major news outlets was that the economy was back on course; we were on the right path.

    Those who know arithmetic were a bit more sceptical. If the economy sustained March’s rate of job growth, it will be more than seven years before we get back to normal rates of unemployment. Furthermore, some of this growth likely reflected a bounceback from weaker growth the prior two months. The average rate of job growth over the last three months has been just 160,000. At that pace, we won’t get back to normal rates of unemployment until after 2022.

    Sand Trap

    As I’ve explained before I am not now nor have I ever been a member of any military service, my closest encounters being an notably unsuccessful stint in the Boy Scouts and a hazy night with two Navy recruiters.  But I am an avid war gamer (or as the more pacifistic among us prefer to be called- ‘gamer’) and am a particular fan of Larry Bond’s Harpoon.

    Now in the game it’s easy to load up your nuclear powered supercarrier task force with all the planes it will carry (more than most country’s entire airforce) and with your Alderan slagging Deathstar power roll over your opposition as if they hardly even exist, but in fact that’s not how they’re deployed.  Most real life groups only have a fraction of their nominal order of battle on station and are ramped up in response to perceived threats and changes in mission.  Not only that, but combat and training stress the equipment and produce maintenance failures which is probably the reason we lost that F-15E over Benghazi.

    Gamers and Washington Warmongers have a tendency to ignore these inconvenient truths which is why it’s interesting and instructive to read articles like this-

    Nato lacking strike aircraft for Libya campaign

    US withdrawal of attack planes puts pressure on European countries, especially France, to offer more strike capability

    Ian Traynor in Brussels and Richard Norton-Taylor, guardian.co.uk

    Tuesday 5 April 2011 16.49 BST

    Nato is running short of attack aircraft for its bombing campaign against Muammar Gaddafi only days after taking command of the Libyan mission from a coalition led by the US, France and Britain.

    Nato officials insisted the pace of the air operations was being maintained. But it has emerged that the US and the French, who have been the two biggest military players until now, are retaining national control over substantial military forces in the Mediterranean and refusing to submit them to Nato authority.

    The French have the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, two escorting frigates and 16 fighter aircraft, none of which are under the Nato command and control which was announced last Thursday.

    Until last week, President Nicolas Sarkozy was the loudest opponent of handing over the operations to Nato control. Nonetheless, the French are not only taking part in the Nato campaign, but are the biggest non-US contributors, with 33 aircraft, double Britain’s 17. Not all of these are strike aircraft.

    Until Monday, the Americans had performed most of the attacks on ground targets, with the French executing around a quarter and the British around a 10th. Given the US retreat, Nato is seeking to fill the gap, but only the British have pledged more.

    (h/t Chris in Paris @ Americablog)

    And this-

    Libyan Rebels Demanding More NATO, US Support

    By: David Dayen Wednesday April 6, 2011 6:25 am

    The Libyan opposition, feeling entitled to direct military operations despite assurances that the mission would not be used in that fashion, is angrily demanding more and better airstrikes on Gadhafi’s troops.

    This is the danger of this kind of intervention. The opposition side of the civil war now relies on outside help and is demanding more and more of it. NATO actually did undertake airstrikes in the area of Brega yesterday, but the rebels still retreated under rocket fire. It won’t be too long before they say that NATO and the US must give them weapons, or provide trainers. Or maybe they’ll just want the West to enforce a partition for a binational state. Or maybe they will want special forces, and then, just ground troops. And blood will be on the hands of the international community if they hesitate.

    “So what should I think about [the war in Libya]? If it had been my call, I wouldn’t have gone into Libya. But the reason I voted for Obama in 2008 is because I trust his judgment. And not in any merely abstract way, either: I mean that if he and I were in a room and disagreed about some issue on which I had any doubt at all, I’d literally trust his judgment over my own. I think he’s smarter than me, better informed, better able to understand the consequences of his actions, and more farsighted.”

    Kevin Drum, Friday, in Mother Jones

    On This Day In History April 6

    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.

    April 6 is the 96th day of the year (97th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 269 days remaining until the end of the year.

    On this day in 1896, the Olympic Games, a long-lost tradition of ancient Greece, are reborn in Athens 1,500 years after being banned by Roman Emperor Theodosius I. At the opening of the Athens Games, King Georgios I of Greece and a crowd of 60,000 spectators welcomed athletes from 13 nations to the international competition.

    The 1896 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the I Olympiad, was a multi-sport event celebrated in Athens, Greece, from April 6 to April 15, 1896. It was the first international Olympic Games held in the Modern era. Because Ancient Greece was the birthplace of the Olympic Games, Athens was perceived to be an appropriate choice to stage the inaugural modern Games. It was unanimously chosen as the host city during a congress organized by Pierre de Coubertin, a French pedagogue and historian, in Paris, on June 23, 1894. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) was also established during this congress.

    Despite many obstacles and setbacks, the 1896 Olympics were regarded as a great success. The Games had the largest international participation of any sporting event to that date. The Panathinaiko Stadium, the only Olympic stadium used in the 19th Century, overflowed with the largest crowd ever to watch a sporting event. The highlight for the Greeks was the marathon victory by their compatriot Spiridon Louis. The most successful competitor was German wrestler and gymnast Carl Schuhmann, who won four events.

    After the Games, Coubertin and the IOC were petitioned by several prominent figures including Greece’s King George and some of the American competitors in Athens, to hold all the following Games in Athens. However, the 1900 Summer Olympics were already planned for Paris and, except for the Intercalated Games of 1906, the Olympics did not return to Greece until the 2004 Summer Olympics, some 108 years later.

    Reviving the Games

    During the 18th century, several small-scale sports festivals across Europe were named after the Ancient Olympic Games. The 1870 Olympics at the Panathenaic stadium, which had been refurbished for the occasion, had an audience of 30,000 people. Coubertin adopted Dr William Penny Brooke‘s idea to establish a multi-national and multi-sport event-the ancient games were in a sense international, because various Greek city-states and colonies were represented, but only free male athletes of Greek origin were allowed to participate. In 1890, Coubertin wrote an article in La Revue Athletique, which espoused the importance of Much Wenlock, a rural market town in the English county of Shropshire. It was here that, in October 1850, the local physician William Penny Brookes had founded the Wenlock Olympian Games, a festival of sports and recreations that included athletics and team sports, such as cricket, football and quoits. Coubertin also took inspiration from the earlier Greek games organized under the name of Olympics by businessman and philanthropist Evangelis Zappas in 1859, 1870 and 1875. The 1896 Athens Games was funded by the legacies of Evangelis Zappas and his cousin Konstantinos Zappas and by George Averoff who had been specifically requested by the Greek government, through crown prince Constantine, to sponsor the second refurbishment of the Panathinaiko Stadium. This the Greek government did despite the fact that the cost of refurbishing the stadium in marble had already been funded in full by Evangelis Zappas forty years earlier.

    On June 18, 1894, Coubertin organized a congress at the Sorbonne, in Paris, to present his plans to representatives of sports societies from 11 countries. Following his proposal’s acceptance by the congress, a date for the first modern Olympic Games needed to be chosen. Coubertin suggested that the Games be held concurrently with the 1900 Universal Exposition of Paris. Concerned that a six-year waiting period might lessen public interest, congress members opted instead to hold the inaugural Games in 1896. With a date established, members of the congress turned their attention to the selection of a host city. It remains a mystery how Athens was finally chosen to host the inaugural Games. In the following years both Coubertin and Demetrius Vikelas would offer recollections of the selection process that contradicted the official minutes of the congress. Most accounts hold that several congressmen first proposed London as the location, but Coubertin dissented. After a brief discussion with Vikelas, who represented Greece, Coubertin suggested Athens. Vikelas made the Athens proposal official on June 23, and since Greece had been the original home of the Olympics, the congress unanimously approved the decision. Vikelas was then elected the first president of the newly established International Olympic Committee (IOC).

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