01/13/2013 archive

Divisional Playoff Throwball: Texans @ Patsies

ek?  How can you possibly root for the Texans?

Well, on the merits they’re a pure expansion team that simply took the biggest market available after the Oilers bolted.  And of course I’ll never forget how the Patsies took Hartford for a ride so they could screw over Foxboro.

That said there’s no reason they shouldn’t crush the Texans like a bug, the Patsies are the surest things this weekend.

But I’ve been 100% wrong so far.

Rant of the Week: Rachel Maddow

Drone Strikes in the Dark

Maddow said she was troubled by the secrecy with which the strikes were carried out, since the Obama administration’s policy is to refuse to talk about them.

“The most amazing thing about this as a matter of policy is that it isn’t a matter of policy,” she said. “…The fact that we know that these things are happening and that our government considers these things deniable is frankly one of the more Orwellian things about being an American in the 21st century.” [..]

“We may or may not like what our military does in wartime, but the expectation … [is that] we get to know what they’re doing,” she said. “Our political leaders can be voted out of office if we do not like what they have the military do. We do not have that luxury, that accountability, when our government does not admit to what we do.” [..]

“Why are we now supposed to believe … that regardless of how things have gone under his leadership so far, it all might change and get a lot more accountable and a lot more transparent if he gets this big new job?” she asked. “It is kind of hard to believe that he’s going to go run an agency so he can go give some of that agency’s authorities away.”

Capitalism: Is It Fair and Just? by UnaSpenser

This diary is a part of a series examining the nature of capitalism. I have been itching to explore not just the economics of capitalism but whether capitalism can ever be fair or just or sustainable. As this group is an anti-capitalist group, I felt the need to get beyond discussions of who owns production and distribution systems. I want to examine why anybody would even see capitalism as righteous. In the mainstream political discourse, if one dares to say that she is not supportive of capitalism, one is a heretic. So, what is this thing that we worship? What are it’s values? What makes capitalism so worthy of it’s righteous status in our culture?

I didn’t really know how to dive into the topic from this perspective. I wasn’t interested in starting the examination through an academic lens. I was thinking in terms of having a conversation with one’s next door neighbor when you’re both out weeding in the garden: is capitalism fair?

Perhaps, the exploration will broaden and deepen from here. I’d love to see that. To get things started NY Brit Expat had the wonderful idea of delving into what was niggling at me by asking questions and generating a dialog.

We share that with you today and ask that you join the discussion that we have started:

Divisional Playoff Throwball: Seahawks @ Falcons

A battle of expansion teams the Seahawks extended a 5 game winning streak last week beating the noxious Native Americans and handing D.C. a well deserved defeat.

A word about that.  I hope and wish Robert Griffin has a swift, speedy, and complete recovery, but the likelihood is that it will be long and painful and as with Broadway Joe Namath his game will never be the same.  Why did Mike Shanahan and the rest of the organization including their preening team physician, trainers, and offensive coordinator so badly blow this call?

Stephen Strasburg.

You will recall that Davey Johnson took no end of heat over his decision to bench Strasburg in the playoffs rather than risk permanent injury to their star stopper in what would have been an ultimately futile pursuit of a pennant anyway.  Indeed I expect the Monday Morning Quarterbacking to resume the instant Pitchers and Catchers report and while I will call this masturbatory manifestation of instant gratification “D.C. Disease” most fans are not immune.

The Versailles Villagers, that passel of perpetually wrong pundits and politicians who suck up and kick down confident in their non-existent knowledge of subjects they know nothing about and have no interest in really except as psychic proof of their pompous predestined prepotency over us mere peons and an affirmation of their inherent superiority and hard work instead of inbreeding and nepotism, insist they are entitled and every last one of them is a rabid fan of that team with the racist name where they can get season tickets or a seat in the owners box or sideline and no one else can.

God ordained them in the womb and that divine silver spoon is a true refection of their merit and treasure in heaven and not a distorted fun house mirror.  If they were supposed to be sinners they’d have poor parents and according to His will their struggles would not be blessed with success.  But they are successful and thus His plan is made manifest in this world as well as the next, forget that eye of the needle stuff- if Jesus was so holy why wasn’t he rich?

Thus endeth today’s lesson on hubris and hypocrisy.

Back on the field if the Seahawks were not on a roll you might be tempted to believe that the Falcons had a shot what with home field advantage and all, but their defense is very ordinary especially against the run and they have no ground game of their own to speak of.  Additionally Matt Ryan has never ever won a single playoff game (0 – 3).

But if you insist on another reason to hate the Falcons they are the team that drafted Michael Vick, noted Dog Murderer.

On This Day In History January 13

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.

January 13 is the 13th day of the year in the Gregorian calendar. There are 352 days remaining until the end of the year (353 in leap years).

It is still celebrated as New Year’s Eve (at least in the 20th & 21st centuries) by countries still using the thirteen day slower Julian calendar (Old New Year).

On this day in 1898, French writer Emile Zola’s inflammatory newspaper editorial, entitled “J’accuse,” is printed. The letter exposed a military cover-up regarding Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus, a French army captain, had been accused of espionage in 1894 and sentenced in a secret military court-martial to imprisonment in a South American penal colony. Two years later, evidence of Dreyfus’ innocence surfaced, but the army suppressed the information. Zola’s letter excoriated the military for concealing its mistaken conviction.

Dreyfus Affair

Captain Alfred Dreyfus was a Jewish artillery officer in the French army. When the French intelligence found information about someone giving the German embassy military secrets, anti-semitism seems to have caused senior officers to suspect Dreyfus, though there was no direct evidence of any wrongdoing. Dreyfus was court-martialled, convicted of treason and sent to Devil’s Island in French Guiana.

LL Col. Georges Picquart, though, came across evidence that implicated another officer, Ferdinand Walsin Esterhazy, and informed his superiors. Rather than move to clear Dreyfus, the decision was made to protect Esterhazy and ensure the original verdict was not overturned. Major Hubert-Joseph Henry forged documents that made it seem that Dreyfus was guilty and then had Picquart assigned duty in Africa. Before leaving, Picquart told some of Dreyfus’s supporters what he knew. Soon Senator August Scheurer-Kestner took up the case and announced in the Senate that Dreyfus was innocent and accused Esterhazy. The right-wing government refused new evidence to be allowed and Esterhazy was tried and acquitted. Picquart was then sentenced to 60 days in prison.

Émile Zola risked his career and even his life on 13 January 1898, when his “J’accuse“, was published on the front page of the Paris daily, L’Aurore. The newspaper was run by Ernest Vaughan and Georges Clemenceau, who decided that the controversial story would be in the form of an open letter to the President, Felix Faure. Émile Zola’s “J’Accuse” accused the highest levels of the French Army of obstruction of justice and antisemitism by having wrongfully convicted Alfred Dreyfus to life imprisonment on Devil’s Island. Zola declared that Dreyfus’ conviction came after a false accusation of espionage and was a miscarriage of justice. The case, known as the Dreyfus affair, divided France deeply between the reactionary army and church, and the more liberal commercial society. The ramifications continued for many years; on the 100th anniversary of Zola’s article, France’s Roman Catholic daily paper, La Croix, apologized for its antisemitic editorials during the Dreyfus Affair. As Zola was a leading French thinker, his letter formed a major turning-point in the affair.

Zola was brought to trial for criminal libel on 7 February 1898, and was convicted on 23 February, sentenced, and removed from the Legion of Honor. Rather than go to jail, Zola fled to England. Without even having had the time to pack a few clothes, he arrived at Victoria Station on 19 July. After his brief and unhappy residence in London, from October 1898 to June 1899, he was allowed to return in time to see the government fall.

The government offered Dreyfus a pardon (rather than exoneration), which he could accept and go free and so effectively admit that he was guilty, or face a re-trial in which he was sure to be convicted again. Although he was clearly not guilty, he chose to accept the pardon. Émile Zola said, “The truth is on the march, and nothing shall stop it.” In 1906, Dreyfus was completely exonerated by the Supreme Court.

The 1898 article by Émile Zola is widely marked in France as the most prominent manifestation of the new power of the intellectuals (writers, artists, academicians) in shaping public opinion, the media and the state.

Punting the Pundits: Sunday Preview Edition

Punting the Punditsis 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”.

Follow us on Twitter @StarsHollowGzt

The Sunday Talking Heads:

Up with Chris Hayes: Joining Chris will be:

Joy Reid, MSNBC Contributor and managing editor of TheGrio.com; John McWhorter, professor of Linguistics and American Studies at Columbia University, contributing editor at the New Republic and New York Daily News columnist; Eli Lake, senior national security reporter for Newsweek and The Daily Beast; Amy Goodman, host and executive producer of “Democracy Now!” and co-author of “The Silenced Majority: Stories of Uprisings, Occupations, Resistance & Hope;” Dave Zirin, columnist for The Nation and author of “The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment That Changed the World;” Tara McGuinness, executive director, Center for America Progress Action Fund; and Chris Anders, senior legislative counsel at the American Civil Liberties Union.

This Week with George Stephanopolis: Guests on “This Week” are  Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI); Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN);  Council on Foreign Relations President Richard Haass and ABC News Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz discuss the nominations, plus the debate over Afghanistan and the latest threats from Iran.

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman, honorary chairs of No Labels, tackle whether both parties can ever come together in Washington.

The roundtable breaks down the domestic battles ahead, from the looming budget cliffs to the gun control debate to the fight over President Obama’s Cabinet picks, with Nobel Prize-winning economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman; Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan; Bloomberg News executive editor Al Hunt; “PBS NewsHour” co-anchor and senior correspondent Judy Woodruff; and David Walker, former U.S. comptroller general and founder and CEO of the Comeback America Initiative.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are Gen. (ret) Stanley McCystal; Se. John McCain (R-AZ);  Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV); Democratic Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.

A panel of reporters with The Washington Post‘s Rajiv Chandrasekaran, The Cook Political Report‘s Amy Walter and CBS News Political Director John Dickerson.

The Chris Matthews Show: Information about this week’s guests was unavailable.

Meet the Press with David Gregory: On this Sunday’s MTP anexclusive interview with General Colin Powell (Ret.).

The roundtable weighs in: Newark’s Democratic Mayor Cory Booker; Fmr. Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS); GOP strategist Mike Murphy; and NBC’s Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley: Ms. Crowley’s guests this Sunday are NRA President David Keene; Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT); Former Utah Governor and Republican Presidential Candidate Jon Huntsman and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV).

Joining her for a panel discussion are  Congressman Elijah Cummings, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, Jeff Zeleny from the New York Times, and Michael Scherer of Time magazine.

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

Family of Aaron Swartz: Government officials partly to blame for his death

 By Isolde Raftery, Staff Writer, NBC News

In the 24 hours since Aaron Swartz, a prodigy programmer turned Internet folk hero, hanged himself in his New York apartment, his family and a close friend and mentor have not only expressed devastation – they have been angry.

“Aaron’s death is not simply a personal tragedy,” his family wrote in a statement. “It is the product of a criminal justice system rife with intimidation and prosecutorial overreach.”

Swartz, who helped to create RSS at age 14, was indicted in 2011 on charges alleging he improperly downloaded more than four million articles from JSTOR, an online system for archiving academic journals. Swartz argued for transparency — JSTOR costs more than $50,000 for an annual university subscription — but court records show that the federal government believed he had, among other felonies, committed wire fraud and computer fraud and unlawfully obtained information from a protected computer.

Sunday’s Headlines:

Israel evicts tent protesters at West Bank E1 settlement

Athens tax scandal becomes political thriller

Toxic air blocks out the sun in Beijing

Somalia: A failed state is back from the dead

Bowie’s Berlin: ‘A time of Sturm und Drang in the shadow of the Wall’

What We Now Know

Up host Chris Hayes discusses what we now know since last week began, including how NFL linebacker Junior Seau committed suicide by shooting himself in the chest preserving his brain for scientific study. His panel guests are George Saunders, author of “Tenth of December;” Michael Chabon, author of “Telegraph Avenue” and Pulitzer Prize-winner; Victor LaValle, author of “The Devil in Silver” and Assistant Professor and Acting Fiction Director at Columbia University School of the Arts; and Ayana Mathis, author of “The Twelve Tribes of Hattie.”

Seau Suffered From Brain Disease

by Mary Pilon, New York Times

The former N.F.L. linebacker Junior Seau had a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head trauma when he committed suicide in the spring, the National Institutes of Health said Thursday.

The findings were consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a degenerative brain disease widely connected to athletes who have absorbed frequent blows to the head, the N.I.H. said in a statement. Seau is the latest and most prominent player to be associated with the disease, which has bedeviled football in recent years as a proliferation of studies has exposed the possible long-term cognitive impact of head injuries sustained on the field. [..]

Since C.T.E. was diagnosed in the brain of the former Eagles defensive back Andre Waters after his suicide in 2006, the disease has been found in nearly every former player whose brain was examined posthumously. (C.T.E. can be diagnosed only posthumously.)

NFL concussions lawsuit: 2,000 former players to file class action suit

PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A concussion-related lawsuit bringing together scores of cases has been filed in federal court, accusing the NFL of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries.

Lawyers for former players say more than 80 pending lawsuits are consolidated in the “master complaint” filed Thursday in Philadelphia.

Plaintiffs hope to hold the NFL responsible for the care of players suffering from dementia, Alzheimer’s disease and other neurological conditions. Other former players remain asymptomatic, but worry about the future and want medical monitoring.

Australia Adds New Weather Map Colors for Extreme Heat

by Brooke Jarvis, Rolling Stone

Climate change is causing ‘catastrophic’ danger in much of the country

Australia is facing record-breaking temperatures in next week’s forecast – a heat wave so intense that the Australian Bureau of Meteorology has been forced to make new charts.

For the first time, the century-old agency’s forecast map now includes a gauge for temperatures up to 54° Celsius (129.2° Fahrenheit), complete with new colors – deep purple and hot pink – to indicate areas experiencing heat above 50°C (122°F).

Though Australia’s existing heat record, set in 1960, still stands for the moment, officials believe it may soon be surpassed. The nation’s Bureau of Meteorology has been open about the impact that rising greenhouse gases are already having there: The agency’s website declares that Australia is “experiencing rapid climate change,” including more frequent heat waves and changing rainfall patterns.

The current heat wave has produced above-average temperatures for 80 percent of the country – the nationwide average on Monday was 104 degrees Fahrenheit – and scores of wildfires. The state of New South Wales, home to Australia’s most populous city, Sydney, is facing its greatest fire danger ever, officials say. In some areas of the state, the official fire danger rating is “catastrophic.”

2012 Hottest Year On Record For Lower 48 States, NOAA Confirms

It’s official: 2012 was the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states, as the country experienced blistering spring and summer heat, tinderbox fire weather conditions amid a widespread drought, and one of the worst storms to ever strike the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), 2012 had an average temperature of 55.3°F, which eclipsed 1998, the previous record holder, by 1°F. That was just off Climate Central’s calculation in mid-December, which projected an expected value of 55.34°F, based on historical data.

The 1°F difference from 1998 is an unusually large margin, considering that annual temperature records are typically broken by just tenths of a degree Fahrenheit. In fact, the entire range between the coldest year on record, which occurred in 1917, and the previous record warm year of 1998 was just 4.2°F.

Divisional Playoff Throwball: Packers @ ‘9ers

91 – 21.

No, that’s not the score of last week’s Packers/Vikings game, it’s the number of fans ejected and arrested, far ahead of their average performance of 18.4 and 5.5 a game.

The Packers looked better than average on the field also, dominating most of the game except for a late 4th Quarter score in a 24 – 10 victory.

Aaron Rogers is not the only Packer getting healthier just in time for the post season so their contest against the ‘9ers could be more interesting than people expect, though in fairness the ‘9ers are a mere 2.5 point favorite and that because of home field advantage.

As opposed to the AFC, the NFC is a tough pick, almost any team could win.

The ‘9ers can’t count on a 30 – 22 romp like they got in Week 1 and their defense is playing injured.  Justin Smith’s triceps is definitely questionable and they are much less effective without him.  Quarterback Colin Kaepernick is a mid-season replacement so who knows, though his scrambling style is something the Packers have had trouble dealing with in other teams.  Both kickers have the potential to suck but the ‘9ers signed Billy Cundiff during their bye week so they have a replacement even though the still slumping Akers will start.

The ‘9ers are not a bad team, there’s nothing much to hate about them and I’m going to be disappointed to miss this game.

But I hope the Packers win.  What about

The Packers are the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team in the United States.

are we not understanding?