Daily Archive: 08/24/2014

Aug 24 2014

Rant of the Week: John Oliver – Fireworks

As summer is coming to a close and we are coming to the last holiday weekend of “official” summer, in a web exclusive from the 4th of July, here is John Oliver’s take on the American fixation with fireworks.

Aug 24 2014

On This Day In History August 24

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.

August 24 is the 236th day of the year (237th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 129 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 79 A.D., Mount Vesuvius erupted burying the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum in nearly thirty feet of ash and pumice. The toxic gases killed at least 2200 people who remained in Pompeii after the evacuation.

After centuries of dormancy, Mount Vesuvius erupts in southern Italy, devastating the prosperous Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum and killing thousands. The cities, buried under a thick layer of volcanic material and mud, were never rebuilt and largely forgotten in the course of history. In the 18th century, Pompeii and Herculaneum were rediscovered and excavated, providing an unprecedented archaeological record of the everyday life of an ancient civilization, startlingly preserved in sudden death.

At noon on August 24, 79 A.D., this pleasure and prosperity came to an end when the peak of Mount Vesuvius exploded, propelling a 10-mile mushroom cloud of ash and pumice into the stratosphere. For the next 12 hours, volcanic ash and a hail of pumice stones up to 3 inches in diameter showered Pompeii, forcing the city’s occupants to flee in terror. Some 2,000 people stayed in Pompeii, holed up in cellars or stone structures, hoping to wait out the eruption.

A westerly wind protected Herculaneum from the initial stage of the eruption, but then a giant cloud of hot ash and gas surged down the western flank of Vesuvius, engulfing the city and burning or asphyxiating all who remained. This lethal cloud was followed by a flood of volcanic mud and rock, burying the city.

The people who remained in Pompeii were killed on the morning of August 25 when a cloud of toxic gas poured into the city, suffocating all that remained. A flow of rock and ash followed, collapsing roofs and walls and burying the dead.

Plaster Citizens of Pompeii

Those that did not flee the city of Pompeii in August of 79 AD were doomed. Buried for 1700 years under 30 feet of mud and ash and reduced by the centuries to skeletons, they remained entombed until excavations in the early 1800s.

As excavators continued to uncovered human remains, they noticed that the skeletons were surrounded by voids in the compacted ash. By carefully pouring plaster of Paris into the spaces, the final poses, clothing, and faces of the last residents of Pompeii came to life.

n the only known eye witness account to the eruption, Pliny the Younger reported on his uncle’s ill-fated foray into the thick of the ash from Misenum, on the north end of the bay:

“. . .the buildings were now shaking with violent shocks, and seemed to be swaying to and fro as if they were torn from their foundations. Outside, on the other hand, there was the danger of failing pumice stones, even though these were light and porous; however, after comparing the risks they chose the latter. In my uncle’s case one reason outweighed the other, but for the others it was a choice of fears. As a protection against falling objects they put pillows on their heads tied down with cloths. ”

And then:

“You could hear the shrieks of women, the wailing of infants, and the shouting of men; some were calling their parents, others their children or their wives, trying to recognize them by their voices. People bewailed their own fate or that of their relatives, and there were some who prayed for death in their terror of dying. Many besought the aid of the gods, but still more imagined there were no gods left, and that the universe was plunged into eternal darkness for evermore.”

 

Aug 24 2014

The Breakfast Club (The Summer Wind)

Welcome to The Breakfast Club! We’re a disorganized group of rebel lefties who hang out and chat if and when we’re not too hungover  we’ve been bailed out we’re not too exhausted from last night’s (CENSORED) the caffeine kicks in. Join us every weekday morning at 9am (ET) and weekend morning at 10:30am (ET) to talk about current news and our boring lives and to make fun of LaEscapee! If we are ever running late, it’s PhilJD’s fault.

The Breakfast Club Logo photo BeerBreakfast_web_zps5485351c.png

This Day in History

Mount Vesuvius erupts, burying two Ancient Roman cities; Hurricane Andrew hits Florida; British troops burn Washington in War of 1812; Pluto demoted as a planet; Pete Rose banned from baseball for life

Breakfast Tunes

Aug 24 2014

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:

This Week with George Stephanopolis: The guests on Sunday’s “This Week” are: House Homeland Security Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX); and  Rep. William Lacy Clay (D-MO).

The roundtable guests are: Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD); Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol; Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan; and former Obama White House senior adviser David Plouffe.

Face the Nation with Bob Schieffer: Mr. Schieffer’s guests are: Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH); Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI); Rep. William Lacy Clay Jr. (D-MO); and actor and disabled veterans activist Gary Sinise.

His panel guests are: Nia-Malika Henderson, the Washington Post; David Rohde, Reuters; Susan Page, USA Today; CBS News State Department correspondent Margaret Brennan; and CBS News Homeland Security Correspondent Bob Orr.

Meet the Press with Chuck Todd: Chuck “I don’t fact check” Todd takes over mike from David “the dance master” Gregory who is off writing a book.

State of the Union with Candy Crowley:Ms. Crowley’s guests are: Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC); Sen. Jack Reed (D-RI); Great Britain’s ambassador to the United States, Peter Westmacott; and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon (D).

Her panel guest are: Thomas Manger, Chief of Police in Montgomery County Maryland and Vice President of the Police Executive Research Forum; Malik Aziz, Deputy Chief of Police in Dallas and Chair of the National Black Police Association; and James Craig, Chief of Police in Detroit.

Aug 24 2014

Formula One 2014: Circuit de Spa-Francorchamps

Ah Formula One, the dismal sport.

How dismal is it Johnny?

Dismal enough that it signals the end of summer and a return to the dreary grind.

Dismal enough that still nobody has solved the problem of Mercedes dominance and we are reduced to talking about stupid things like the rivalry for first place in the Driver’s Championship (Rosberg leads by 11) and the fight for third place in the Constructor’s Championship between Ferrari and Williams.

Dismal enough that we are once again reminded that you have to bribe your way into a seat in an F1 cockpit but provided you have the nepotistic credentials and the money anyone at all can get a ride even if you’re too young to drink or have a driver’s license for a regular road.

It’s remarkably egalitarian that way.

As dismal as the weather at Spa where they say if it’s not raining it’s getting ready to rain.  At 4.35 miles per lap it’s the longest and one of the fastest tracks of the season.  On offer will be Mediums and Softs.  Because of the speed there will be added wear on the brakes where Hamilton has already had some problems.

Aug 24 2014

Six In The Morning

On Sunday

The teenage girl whose baseball success provides a flimsy bridge across America’s great racial divide

 Out of America: Mo’ne is a black 13-year-old bringing a small ray of light against the dark backdrop of Missouri

 RUPERT CORNWELL Sunday 24 August 2014

At last there’s a good news story from America. Put aside the chaos abroad and the beheadings in Iraq, the sense of a president adrift and aloof, and the violence in Ferguson, Missouri, ripping open racial wounds that seemed to be healing. Instead, consider the feats of Mo’ne Davis.

Mo’ne is a black girl, aged 13, who hails from inner-city Philadelphia – and right now she’s probably the most famous baseball player on the planet. She’s on the cover of the latest Sports Illustrated; Michelle Obama has tweeted about her and every talk show in the land has tried to land her.

Baseball is a game for males, right? Not in the case of the Taney Dragons little leaguers, for whom Mo’ne is star pitcher and hitter. Little League has its own version of the World Series, for children between 11 and 13. Girls have featured in it before, but none with the impact of Mo’ne.




Sunday’s Headlines:

China executes eight for terrorist activities including Tiananmen attack

Militias turn Libya’s capital Tripoli into no-go zone for govt, travellers

Israeli airstrikes level Gaza buildings

Separatists plan victory parade on Ukraine’s Independence Day

Pentagon struggles to defend ‘militarization’ of police forces

Aug 24 2014

There’s a new “worse than Hitler” bogeyman, prepare to bomb some more brown people!

'Destroy_this_mad_brute'_WWI_propaganda_poster_(US_version)There’s a new bogeyman in the middle east. It is a terrible monster of great proportions, a barbaric, sectarian, unrepentant butchery machine. Its name is ISIS and like the previous bogeymen (Saddam, Ahmadinejad, Gaddaffi, Osama bin Laden, Assad and Putin) it is like (or worse than) Hitler. You would think by now government propagandists would get worried that trotting out the Hitler meme so frequently would cause “Hitler fatigue.” Nonetheless, now that the terrible threat has been identified by a news media eager for action and ratings, there is a growing push for America to jump in and start killing brown people again.

So where did this new “worse than Hitler” bogeyman come from? Well, sorry to say it appears that some of our policy geniuses in the US government created it:

The reality of US policy is to support the government of Iraq, but not Syria, against ISIS. But one reason that group has been able to grow so strong in Iraq is that it can draw on its resources and fighters in Syria. Not everything that went wrong in Iraq was the fault of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, as has now become the political and media consensus in the West. Iraqi politicians have been telling me for the last two years that foreign backing for the Sunni revolt in Syria would inevitably destabilize their country as well. This has now happened.

By continuing these contradictory policies in two countries, the US has ensured that ISIS can reinforce its fighters in Iraq from Syria and vice versa. So far, Washington has been successful in escaping blame for the rise of ISIS by putting all the blame on the Iraqi government. In fact, it has created a situation in which ISIS can survive and may well flourish.

… with a good bit of help from some of our frenemies allies:

[I]n the years they were getting started, a key component of ISIS’s support came from wealthy individuals in the Arab Gulf States of Kuwait, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Sometimes the support came with the tacit nod of approval from those regimes; often, it took advantage of poor money laundering protections in those states, according to officials, experts, and leaders of the Syrian opposition, which is fighting ISIS as well as the regime. …

Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been publicly accusing Saudi Arabia and Qatar of funding ISIS for months. Several reports have detailed how private Gulf funding to various Syrian rebel groups has splintered the Syrian opposition and paved the way for the rise of groups like ISIS and others. …

“The U.S. Treasury is aware of this activity and has expressed concern about this flow of private financing. But Western diplomats’ and officials’ general response has been a collective shrug,” [a Brookings] report states.

… But in fact, these policy geniuses have been running the asylum installed in government for years and have been allowed to create havoc unsupervised. For these geniuses, the creation of a vacuum of power in the oil-rich middle-east is an accomplishment not a failure:

The simple fact is that the Iraq War was a smashing success – at least for the neocons – because it smashed the keystone in the arch of the region’s stability. By removing Saddam Hussein, his government and the Republican Guard, neocons removed a bulwark against the very jihadism that has policymakers and pundits forever wringing their hands raw, military contractors ringing their cash registers, and the denizens of the national security state resting assured under a blanket of secrecy. …

The Iraq War made it functionally impossible for the United States to ever fully walk away from Iraq, the Persian Gulf or anywhere Muslims and oil mix. And for Wolfowitz, Don Rumsfeld, Dick Cheney and William Kristol, it’s a dream come true. Regime change in Iraq created a power vacuum that was and is too strong to resist.

In fact, that vacuum allowed a wandering Jordanian jihadist named Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and his group of international also-rans to run amok in the chaos of post-Saddam Iraq. After a series of suicide attacks and a pledge to al-Qaeda, the anti-Shi’ite, anti-American, anti-almost-everything group became “al-Qaeda in Iraq,” and, as Bobby Ghosh explains, eventually metastasized into ISIS.

I don’t know about you, but I am sick of being lied to by the US government about the true nature of our wars and policies while being expected to support them based on their lies and deceptions. Their actions of bombing liberally (for “humanitarian” reasons) are clearly not fixing the problems. US covert actions and wars of choice against other nations and peoples only seem to be exacerbating the problems (often long running sectarian and ethnic strife) by larding up the local adversaries with weaponry, which grows the numbers of people who wish America harm exponentially.

Can we (the people), in good conscience support any military action by the US until the government comes clean about the history and chronology of events and fully explains our goals in the process?  If the US is bombing to protect “American interests,” which are virtually synonymous with the interests of large corporations which have no loyalty to anything but profit, then military intervention is morally insupportable.

Years of dubious decisions and foolish policy based upon destroying a series of bogeymen (all of whom are “worse than Hitler”) and their armies for “humanitarian” reasons or to “spread democracy” (which presumably propagates in a wide range of calibers) have left the US government fighting against its own expensive weapons surrendered in haste by armies that the US has hastily stood up without adequate political and social support. In short, our ill-advised policies continue to come back and bite us in the posterior.

It is time for an accounting, not another bombing campaign.