07/06/2011 archive

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 British PM backs calls for phone hacking inquiry

By Alice Ritchie, AFP

Wed, Jul 6, 2011

British Prime Minister David Cameron backed calls for a public inquiry into phone hacking Wednesday after a tabloid targeted relatives of murdered children and possibly victims of the London bombings.

But he said police should first complete its probe of the “absolutely disgusting” allegations concerning the News of the World, the top-selling Sunday newspaper owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International.

In his first statement on the affair, Murdoch condemned the claims as “deplorable and unacceptable” and said his company would “fully and proactively co-operate with the police”.

It’s Not Torture

Republished from July 5, 2010

The Associated Press owes China an apology according to Glenn Greenwald this morning, that is if the press continues to follow the Bush regime’s definition of what constitutes “torture”.

China sentenced an American geologist, Xue Feng, to  eight years in prison for spying and collecting state secrets. During his detention, Feng was tortured as the article points out by

stubbing lit cigarettes into his arms in the early days of his detention.

But, but…according to John Yoo of torture memo fame:

Physical pain amounting to torture must be equivalent in intensity to the pain accompanying serious physical injury, such as organ failure, impairment of bodily function, or even death. For purely mental pain or suffering to amount to torture (under U.S. law), it must result in significant psychological harm of significant duration, e.g., lasting for months or even years.

(emphasis mine)

So why, as per Glen, does the AP owe China an apology? Heh. Hypocrisy, thy name is the “Press”.  

To the Person Sitting in Darkness

The Conscience of a Liberal

To those defending Obama on the grounds that he’s saying what he has to politically, I have two answers. First, words matter – as people who rallied around Obama in the first place because of his eloquence should know. Yes, he has to make compromises on policy grounds – but that doesn’t mean he has to adopt the right’s rhetoric and arguments. The effect of his intellectual capitulation is that we now have only one side in the national argument.

Second, since Obama keeps talking nonsense about economics, at what point do we stop giving him credit for actually knowing better? Maybe at some point we have to accept that he believes what he’s saying.

The question then is why. As I’ve tried to show many times, the facts overwhelmingly refute the anti-Keynes talking points. Neither the invisible bond vigilantes nor the confidence fairy have made an appearance. So why is Obama talking up those talking points?

OK, here’s an unprofessional speculation: maybe it’s personal. Maybe the president just doesn’t like the kind of people who tell him counterintuitive things, who say that the government is not like a family, that it’s not right for the government to tighten its belt when Americans are tightening theirs, that unemployment is not caused by lack of the right skills. Certainly just about all the people who might have tried to make that argument have left the administration or are leaving soon.

And what’s left, I’m afraid, are the Very Serious People. It looks as if those are the people the president feels comfortable with. And that, of course, is a tragedy.

Extending the Blessings of Civilization to our Brother who Sits in Darkness has been a good trade and has paid well, on the whole; and there is money in it yet, if carefully worked – but not enough, in my judgement, to make any considerable risk advisable. The People that Sit in Darkness are getting to be too scarce ­- too scarce and too shy. And such darkness as is now left is really of but an indifferent quality, and not dark enough for the game. The most of those People that Sit in Darkness have been furnished with more light than was good for them or profitable for us. We have been injudicious.

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”.

Wednesday is Ladies’ Day.

Taylor Marsh: Obama’s ‘Deal of the Century’ for Republicans

If you want one reason why Barack Obama doesn’t deserve reelection this is it.

  “If the Republican Party were a normal party, it would take advantage of this amazing moment. It is being offered the deal of the century: trillions of dollars in spending cuts in exchange for a few hundred million dollars of revenue increases.” – The Mother of All No-Brainers

The bookend to David Brooks is Frank Rich, who evidently has finally awakened to the actual Barack Obama, 3 years too late. This was after appalling political analysis that should not only have gotten him laughed out of the opinion racket, but rendered his views worthless. Rich preferred to play games in the primaries rather than learn, then help readers understand Barack Obama’s political philosophy:

   “But as long as the likely Democratic nominee keeps partying like it’s 2008 while everyone else refights the battles of yesteryear, he will continue to be underestimated every step of the way.”

One of the people who underestimated Barack Obama was Frank Rich, but not in the manner he originally meant. It’s because he was too besotted to identify candidate Obama’s squishy Republicanism.

Amy Goodman: WikiLeaks, Wimbledon and War

Last Saturday was sunny in London, and the crowds were flocking to Wimbledon and to the annual Henley Regatta. Julian Assange, the founder of the whistle-blower website Wikileaks.org, was making his way by train from house arrest in Norfolk, three hours away, to join me and Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Zizek for a public conversation about WikiLeaks, the power of information and the importance of transparency in democracies. The event was hosted by the Frontline Club, an organization started by war correspondents in part to memorialize their many colleagues killed covering war. Frontline Club co-founder Vaughan Smith looked at the rare sunny sky fretfully, saying, “Londoners never come out to an indoor event on a day like this.” Despite years of accurate reporting from Afghanistan to Kosovo, Smith was, in this case, completely wrong.

Close to 1,800 people showed up, evidence of the profound impact WikiLeaks has had, from exposing torture and corruption to toppling governments.

Katrina vanden Heuvel: Invoke the 14th – and end the debt standoff

On its current course, the United States is four weeks away from defaulting on its debt for the first time in its history. If that happens, businesses will fail. Financial institutions will fail. Home values will decline. Mortgage rates will skyrocket. Spending and investment will all but disappear. Social Security checks will stop being mailed. Everything from military pay to food inspection will be compromised, if not fully cut off. The millions upon millions of Americans who are unemployed or underemployed will be joined by millions more.

Across the world, America’s second financial collapse in three years will drag down already fragile economies in Europe, Latin America and Asia, potentially creating a “worldwide depression,” as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid described it. In short, we would be thrown back deep into economic turmoil – only this time with even fewer tools to crawl our way out.

Joan Walsh: Standing up to hostage-takers

The president has already compromised too much over a debt ceiling that was raised seven times under President Bush

Over the weekend Massachussetts Gov. Deval Patrick had a fascinating op-ed in the Washington Post, describing a 2003 Harvard reunion with GOP anti-tax fanatic Grover Norquist (they were classmates). Norquist was bragging about creating a permanent Republican majority in America, and when some dreamer suggested there might be a Democrat in the White House again someday, Norquist made this promise: “We’ll make it impossible for him to govern like a Democrat.”

Norquist and his anti-tax jihadists made good on their word. President Obama is backing a debt ceiling “compromise” that is a fundamentally Republican, proposing $6 in spending cuts for every dollar in “revenue enhancement,” and even the little bit it does in the tax code only closes loopholes; it doesn’t touch tax rates, even on top earners. (But former Joe Biden economic advisor Jared Bernstein laid out a way to raise $1 trillion in revenue without even touching tax rates, and [it’s worth a look http://jaredbernsteinblog.com/… The GOP insists that closing tax loopholes must be paid for with a cut in tax rates, so the plan can stay “revenue neutral” – which is central to the “No Taxes Pledge” Norquist makes Republicans sign in blood. The wealthy in this country, along with corporations, now pay the lowest effective tax rates than they have for 50 years – and some still want more.

Amanda Marcotte: Because of The Implication

There’s no small amount of irony in the fact that I published this article about how the atheist movement dovetails with other social justice movements this particular week.  I was actually feeling pretty good about the whole thing, because I was writing it while traveling to CONvergence to speak at the invitation of Skepchick about the feminist depths of this issue, on a panel called “Women vs. God”, where we discussed fighting the religious right.  Talking about my commitment to feminism through an atheist angle always pleases me, since the two are firmly intertwined in my mind—religion and patriarchy are so intertwined as to be functionally the same thing in most ways, especially in the context of history.  Pulilng down one means pulling down the other, and I think it’s naive when anyone denies that and instead claims that there’s a way to preserve religion without patriarchy or vice versa.  I’m thinking long term here; obviously in the short term there are religious feminists and sexist atheists.

In fact, what makes all this ironic is I did get an eyeful this weekend of how serious the problem of sexism in the atheist/skeptical movement really is, and how much hard work needs to be done to get a male-dominated movement to take the problem of sexual harassment and female alienation seriously.

Theresa de Langis: Why Women Need to Be Part of the Peace Process

What is wrong with this picture?

After all, it looks like a typical photo of world leaders making decisions for their countries. That is precisely the problem. What’s wrong is the total absence of women-at the table, in the room, and, as a result, from the agenda at this meeting and too many meetings like it.

I worked with the United Nations in Afghanistan from 2008 to 2010 with women human rights defenders. Since coming back to the US, I am aware of the urgency in public calls to end our military involvement in Afghanistan, which means increasing pressure to negotiate with the Taliban for a political power sharing deal. Yet, I also hear in the back of my head the voices of Afghan women, who have warned all along, Don’t wager human rights, especially the fragile ones of women, for the sake of political expediency in striking a peace deal.

The photo portrays a three-way summit on June 24 hosted by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad with Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and his Afghan counterpart, President Hamid Karzai. The goal of the meeting was to discuss “concern over a rising lack of security, extremism and terrorism,” and the need for “cooperation to combat these phenomena.” The day following the photo, Presidents Zardari and Karzai attended an international anti-terrorism conference, again hosted by Ahmadinejad. Also present was Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir, wanted by the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide in Darfur, where rape was used rampantly as a weapon of war.

Linda McQuaig: Canada: Pomp, Pageantry and Unions

We surely seem to be living in conservative times – with the NDP trying to distance itself from all things socialist and the public apparently unable to sate its appetite for all things royal.

Certainly it’s easy to get the impression from the media that Canadians, content with their capitalist bounty, are primarily focused on the activities and outfits of the Royal Family.

So perhaps it’s out-of-sync with the times to suggest that we’re actually in the middle of a class war, and that it’s been heating up lately.

Of course, the genius of the architects of today’s conservative revolution has been to obscure the class war they’ve been quietly waging, keeping us distracted with foreign military ventures, royals and other celebrity sightings.

Behind all these diversions, the class war has been relentlessly proceeding. While incomes at the top have steadily climbed, incomes of ordinary Canadians have steadily eroded. The real median Canadian family income hasn’t risen since the late 1970s – even though today’s typical family now has two earners, compared to just one earner 30 years ago. In other words, Canadian families are working about twice as hard to keep up to where they were a generation ago.

Le Tour 2011- Stage 5

Carhaix to Cap Fréhel (102 miles)

Le.  Tour.  De.  France.

Getting some exciting now, you betcha.

As I’ve said right along, my understanding of professional cycle racing is based on watching Le Tour (albeit since Greg LeMond), which is kind of like basing your perceptions of Baseball on the World Series or Throwball on the Super Bowl.  I only know what I read in the funny papers.

During the off season it’s been all Lance, all the time, with the merest mention of Contador’s actual positive doping tests and the implicit assumption that he was going to win in a walk.  Since I deal strictly in schadenfreude it’s been an agreeable experience so far.

To the extent that rivals were mentioned before Passage du Gois La Barre-de-Monts it was about 90% Schleck (who only finished 39 Seconds behind) with Leipheimer and Horner thrown in not because they are good but because the sporting press is just as lazy and mendacious as their political counterparts and twice as jingoistic (U.S.A!  U.S.A.!).

In fact I’m pretty sure the only reason Hushovd shows up on the radar at all is that his namesake is a crossdressing wedding crasher (you could look it up).

Anyway this is all by way of explanation why I’ve taken Hushovd’s overall chances more seriously than some even though he is basically a sprinter.  I’m ignorant and easily influenced.

Yesterday actually was some exciting with many of the name contenders including Contador making a big push for position if not a Stage win at the end.  It was really the first chance for climbers to make their mark.

Also in the first group were Evans (the winner by half a wheel), Gilbert (whom I’ll have to take more seriously), and Hushovd (who gets to wear the maillot jaune again today).

They all got the same time.  Slightly behind were Horner and Leipheimer (who says we’re old?) and Andy Schleck who’s making his brother look good.  In terms of the overall General Classification standings nobody moved up except in rank because of Hushovd’s presence in the zero deficit group.  Contador remains 1:42 behind, Cadel Evans is the real deal and remains a slight Second out of first.

Today’s stage includes the category 4 climb at Cote Gurunhuel which will give us an early indicator of how the day will go.  After that it’s a descending series of bumps which does not make it easy by any means.  Three more race days until serious elevation changes and a week to the Pyrenees where Contador is expecting to put it away.

Coverage starts at 7:30 am on Vs.  

On This Day In History July 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.

Click on images to enlarge.

July 6 is the 187th day of the year (188th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 178 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1917, Arabian troops led by T. E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) and Auda ibu Tayi capture Aqaba from the Ottoman Empire during the Arab Revolt.


Lawrence, sent by General Archibald Murray, commander of the Egyptian Expeditionary Force, to act as a military advisor to Emir Faisal I, convinced the latter to attack Aqaba. Aqaba was a Turkish-garrisoned port in Jordan, which would threaten British forces operating in Palestine; the Turks had also used it as a base during their 1915 attack on the Suez Canal. It was also suggested by Faisal that the port be taken as a means for the British to supply his Arab forces as they moved further north. Though he did not take part in the attack itself (his cousin Sherif Nasir rode along as the leader of his forces), Faisal lent forty of his men to Lawrence. Lawrence also met with Auda ibu Tayi, leader of the northern Howeitat tribe of Bedouin, who agreed to lend himself and a large number of his men to the expedition. Lawrence informed his British colleagues of the planned expedition, but they apparently did not take him seriously, expecting it to fail.

Aqaba was not in and of itself a major military obstacle; a small village at the time, it was not actually garrisoned by the Turks, though the Turks did keep a small, 400-man garrison at the mouth of the Wadi Itm to protect from landward attack via the Sinai Peninsula. The British Royal Navy occasionally shelled Aqaba, and in late 1916 had briefly landed a party of Marines ashore there, though a lack of harbor or landing beaches made an amphibious assault impractical. The main obstacle to a successful landward attack on the town was the large Nefud Desert, believed by many to be impassable.


The expedition started moving towards Aqaba in May. Despite the heat of the desert, the seasoned Bedouins encountered few obstacles aside from occasional harassment from small bands of Arabs paid off by the Turks; they lost more men to attacks by snakes and scorpions than to enemy action. During the expedition, Auda and Lawrence’s forces also did severe damage to the Hejaz Railway.

Auda and his men reached the Wadi Sirhan region, occupied by the Rualla tribe. Auda paid 6,000 pounds in gold to their leader to allow his men to use Wadi Sirhan as a base.

Abu el Lissal and Aqaba

The actual battle for Aqaba occurred for the most part at a Turkish blockhouse at Abu el Lissal, about halfway between Aqaba and the town of Ma’an. A group of separate Arab rebels, acting in conjunction with the expedition, had seized the blockhouse a few days before, but a Turkish infantry battalion arrived on the scene and recaptured it. The Turks then attacked a small, nearby encampment of Arabs and killed several of them.

After hearing of this, Auda personally led an attack on the Turkish troops there, attacking at mid-day on July 6. The charge was a wild success. Turkish resistance was slight; the Arabs brutally massacred hundreds of Turks as revenge before their leaders could restrain them. In all, three hundred Turks were killed and another 150 taken prisoner, in exchange for the loss of two Arabs killed and a handful of wounded. Lawrence was nearly killed in the action; he accidentally shot the camel he was riding in the head with his pistol, but was fortunately thrown out of harm’s way when he fell. Auda was grazed numerous times, with his favorite pair of field glasses being destroyed, but was otherwise unharmed.

Meanwhile, a small group of British naval vessels appeared offshore of Aqaba itself and began shelling it. At this point, Lawrence, Auda, and Nasir had rallied their troops; their total force had been quadrupled to 2,000 men by a local Bedouin who, with the defeat of the Turks at Lissal, now openly joined Lawrence’s expedition. This force maneuvered themselves past the outer works of Aqaba’s defensive lines, approached the gates of Aqaba, and its garrison surrendered without further struggle.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann

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Watch live video from CURRENT TV LIVE Countdown Olbermann on www.justin.tv

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 ‘News’ vows action over Dowler phone hack claims

By Alice Ritchie, AFP

1 hr 29 mins ago

Britain’s top-selling Sunday tabloid vowed on Tuesday to take the “strongest possible action” if it is proven that its journalists hacked the phone of a missing teenager who was later found murdered.

Prime Minister David Cameron earlier said police should pursue their investigation into the claims about the News of the World, owned by Rupert Murdoch’s News International, in “the most vigorous way”.

News International chief Rebekah Brooks, who was editor of the paper at the time of schoolgirl Milly Dowler’s disappearance in 2002, told staff that the allegations were “sickening” and “almost too horrific to believe”.