September 17, 2007 archive

Four at Four

This is an OPEN THREAD. Here are four stories in the news at 4 o’clock to get you started. Every vibration awakens all others of a particular pitch.

  1. The Washington Post reports on a shootout in Baghdad. “A U.S. State Department motorcade came under attack in Baghdad on Sunday, prompting security contractors guarding the convoy to open fire in the streets. At least nine civilians were killed, according to Iraqi officials. ¶ The shootout occurred in the downtown neighborhood of Mansour at midday after an explosion detonated near the convoy, police said. In response, the security contractors ‘escalated the force to defend themselves,’ a U.S. Embassy official in Baghdad said. ¶ Iraqi officials alleged that the response by the security company, which was not named, involved excessive force and killed innocent civilians. The Iraqi government will investigate the incident and ‘probably will withdraw the authority for this security company in Baghdad,’ said Brig. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf, an Interior Ministry spokesman.”

    “The security company contractors opened fire randomly on the civilians,” he said. “We consider this act a crime.”

    BBC News puts a name on the private security company: Blackwater USA. “Iraq has cancelled the licence of the private security firm, Blackwater USA, after it was involved in a gunfight in which at least eight civilians died.

    The Iraqi interior ministry said the contractor, based in North Carolina, was now banned from operating in Iraq. ¶ The Blackwater workers, who were contracted by the US state department, apparently opened fire after coming under attack in Baghdad on Sunday… ¶ The interior ministry’s director of operations, Maj Gen Abdul Karim Khalaf, said authorities would prosecute any foreign contractors found to have used excessive force. TPM Muckracker speculates if Blackwater USA will actually leave Iraq? “However, it’s unclear how the Interior Ministry would expel Blackwater. Unlike other private U.S. security firms in Iraq, as of May, Blackwater hadn’t registered with the Iraqi government to operate in Iraq. The Coalition Provisional Authority — the now-defunct occupational government — issued a decree in 2004 (pdf) immunizing security contractors from Iraqi prosecution and placing their operations under the jurisdiction of U.S. authorities.”

  2. The New York Times reports on George W. Bush’s nomination of Michael Mukasey to be the next Attorney General. “‘Judge Mukasey is clear-eyed about the threat our nation faces,’ Mr. Bush said in the Rose Garden of the White House, with Mr. Mukasey by his side. He called the retired judge ‘a sound manager and a strong leader.'” Hopefully Mukasey recognizes both foreign and domestic threats to the United States, but I doubt it.

    Guiliani and MukaseyFrom January 2, 1998 — “The Mayor, who is constitutionally barred from seeking a third term, took a 59-word oath administered by his longtime friend U.S. District Judge Michael Mukasey, who presided over the bomb conspiracy trial of Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman and nine others convicted in the case. Giuliani’s wife, Donna Hanover, and their two children, Andrew and Carolyn, stood at his side.” — BBC News.

    Earlier the Washington Posts noted that Mukasey is conncted to Giuliani’s presidential campaign. “Both Mukasey and his son, Marc, are connected with Rudolph W. Giuliani’s presidential campaign, as members of the Republican candidate’s justice advisory committee”, but the paper expunged reference of it in this morning’s rewrite. However, ABC News confirms this and adds “The two are longtime friends and Mukasey’s son Marc works at Bracewell & Giuliani.” Why any Democrat would let anyone connected to a Republican’s presidential campaign anywhere near to the Justice “Election Fraud” Department is beyond me? But, according to the NY Times, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said “Judge Mukasey seems to be the kind of nominee who would put rule of law first and show independence from the White House, our most important criteria… He’s a lot better than some of the other names mentioned and he has the potential to become a consensus nominee.” The White House strategy has always been to offer horrible candidates first, so the second choice always seems better. After six plus years of this game, you’d think the Democrats would have finally gotten a clue by now. The day Mukasey gets confirmed, I’m thinking about calling the 2008 presidential election for Giuliani.

  3. The Star Tribune reports the mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota is ’embarrassed’ by bridge impasse. “Headed to a U.S. Conference of Mayors meeting this weekend to talk about the collapse of the Interstate 35W bridge, Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak said he found himself filled with dread and embarrassment. ¶ ‘I’m going to have to walk in there and tell them that our state is doing nothing’ on bridge repair, he said. ‘Other states are taking this seriously, but our state, where people died, is doing nothing.'” “So why couldn’t Pawlenty and DFL leaders make it happen? Taxes, as has so often been the case, proved a major stumbling block. Even though [Republican Governor Tim] Pawlenty said he would consider a nickel-a-gallon increase, he wanted an offsetting cut in income taxes. That would have provided money for roads and bridges, but would have reduced funds for health care and schools — unacceptable to DFLers.” Oh, Grover “drown it in the bathtub” Norquist is involved too. † DFL or Democratic-Farmer-Labor is the name of Minnesota’s Democratic Party. (Hat tip to count.)

  4. Lastly, The Guardian reports that the British government has been told that investment in cycling could save Britain more than £520 million. “Encouraging more cyclists on to Britain’s roads could save the taxpayer more than £520m and fight climate change, according to a government-backed cycling group. ¶ Cycling England says a 20% increase in bicycle journeys would lower healthcare costs and reduce congestion. It adds that by making a £70m annual investment in cycling initiatives the government could cut up to 54m car journeys a year by 2012 and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 35,000 tonnes. ¶ The report says that an adult who swaps a car for a bicycle on a return journey of 2.5 miles – the average cycle trip – will generate annual savings of £137.28 through reduced congestion. A regular cyclist saves the NHS £28.30 a year.”

So, what else is happening?

How voters decide: A book review with lessons for campaigns

cross posted from Daily Kos

This diary is based on my reading of the book How Voters Decide:Information Processing during Election Campaigns by Richard R. Lau and David P. Redlawsk.  But it’s not a traditional review: I will get that part out of the way quickly.  Nor is it a summary: My skills are not up to summarizing 250 pages of fairly dense text into a diary that anyone would want to read.

Rather, I attempt to take the lessons they teach about how voters decide and how they process information and translate them from scholarly political science into practical tools. 

In an attempt to keep the diary to a reasonable length, I have not tried to make it too organized, but kept it almost as a list of what might be extra-long bullet points.  I hope it is, nonetheless, comprehensible.

It’s below the fold

The fascist tendencies of DHS

I saw a diary over at Dkos that highlights the ordeals of Nalini Ghuman, a Welsh musician and musicologist whose nigthmare experience with the Department of Homeland Security has been detailed in the New York Times this morning in this article

Ms. Ghuman, a Welsh citizen, had done her PhD studies at UC Berkely and was working at Mills College in the Bay on a visa, but was detained last August at the airport in San Francisco upon returning from a brief visit from Britain. I’ll provide some snips below.

This story reeks of fascism and we cannot allow this shit to stand. We must fight the government and the DHS for this behavior.

European Union Court rules against Microsoft

According to Reuters today, as reported on France 24, The European Commission ruling that Microsoft used its market power to crush competitors was upheld.

The EU’s second highest court dismissed all the substantive issues of MS’s appeal of the 2004 ruling that went against Microsoft.  Procedurally, at this point Microsoft may only further appeal on points of law rather than of fact according to the story provided.  Microsoft was ruled to have harmed consumers rights to choice by unjustifiably tying new applications to its software.

The ruling was the first ever broadcast live by the 13 Judge, Grand Chamber of the Court of First Instance, located in Luxembourg.

Microsoft has not demonstrated the existence of objective
justification for the bundling, and … the remedy imposed by
the Commission is proportionate,” the court statement said.

More Below


So I came back to see him a few weeks later, and by that time we were bombing in Afghanistan. I said, “Are we still going to war with Iraq?” And he said, “Oh, it’s worse than that.” He reached over on his desk. He picked up a piece of paper. And he said, “I just got this down from upstairs” — meaning the Secretary of Defense’s office — “today.” And he said, “This is a memo that describes how we’re going to take out seven countries in five years, starting with Iraq, and then Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Somalia, Sudan and, finishing off, Iran.” I said, “Is it classified?” He said, “Yes, sir.” I said, “Well, don’t show it to me.” And I saw him a year or so ago, and I said, “You remember that?” He said, “Sir, I didn’t show you that memo! I didn’t show it to you!”

Wesley Clark in an interview with Amy Goodman

From before the stolen election of 2000 and the preposterous judicial fiat that made the crime of the new century legal, peace was always the enemy and war the motive force.

Then, after 911, although more elections were stolen, it wasn’t really necessary as bribe-addicted, power-hungry, beady-eyed politicians of the “two-party system” made Stalin proud and morphed the illusion of choice into the reality of one-party rule – the War Party.

Free Advice! Come Get Your Free Blogging Advice!

Yes, more meta. I love hate meta too, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

You folks (the head honchos hereabouts) have done a good job so far in setting the stage at this blog. I have a good feeling about this place. I note with amusement that old arguments appear to have been hyper-accelerated and in relatively no time and you are facing many of the same issues that have plagued dKos, Booman, MLW and others over the years. All in the first month. Must be some kinda record.

As someone who has observed the irony of average Joe bloggers complaining about how things are handled and then making the EXACT SAME decisions themselves when they become blog proprietors, I would like to offer three pieces of advice to the powers that be and one piece of advice for the rest of us.

So, Sir, Have You Had Anything To Drink Tonight?

I’ve been contemplating writing an essay about our drinking culture in the United States for some time now, just not knowing what specifically I wanted to address.  What is most important to me?  What would other members deem worth debate?  What about our drinking culture, history, laws and flaws do we   need to address?

As a substance abuse counselor working mostly with DUI offenders, a subject has come up on many occasion in group and in my individuals appointments with clients: Police Check Points.

Still there?  Follow me to the juicey parts…..

Autumn Equinox ~ A Time to Remember

In the interest of time to prepare, I thought I’d post this early. Mabon, to those that follow the old ways, or more traditionally the Autumn Equinox, will be Sunday September 23. So without further ado, here are some general thoughts on traditions, and the source of those beliefs.
The Autumn Equinox or Harvest Home is also called Mabon, pronounced ‘MAY-bon’, after the Welsh god Mabon ap Modron, which means literally ‘son of mother’. The Druids call this celebration, Mea’n Fo’mhair, and honour The Green Man, the God of the Forest, by offering libations to the trees. The Welsh know this time as ‘Alban Elfed’, meaning ‘light of autumn’.

Blackwater: Throwing Out the Mercs

Appearing at The Jaundiced Eye, the Independent Bloggers’ Alliance, and My Left Wing.

Aerial View of Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

The Iraqi government wants Blackwater out of Iraq, following an incident that has left at least 8 Iraqi civilians dead.

“We have revoked Blackwater’s license to operate in Iraq. As of now they are not allowed to operate anywhere in the Republic of Iraq,” Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Gen. Abdul Kareem Khalaf said Monday. “The investigation is ongoing, and all those responsible for Sunday’s killing will be referred to Iraqi justice.”

Pony Party: Pickle’s first dharma diary

Hi folks! This is Light Emitting Pickle. I’ll be posting the Pony Party on Mondays at 9 am and 3 pm PDT.

I wasn’t really sure what to post to inspire dialogue, so I’ll leave you with the Party Pickle!

Please do not recommend a Pony Party when you see one.  There will be another along in a few hours.

So, Sir, Have You Had Anything To Drink Tonight?

I’ve been contemplating writing an essay about our drinking culture in the United States for some time now, just not knowing what specifically I wanted to address.  What is most important to me?  What would other members deem worth debate?  What about our drinking culture, history, laws and flaws do we   need to address?

As a substance abuse counselor working mostly with DUI offenders, a subject has come up on many occasion in group and in my individuals appointments with clients: Police Check Points.

Still there?  Follow me to the juicey parts…..

Upon Waking: My Thoughts on Meta

Human Beings are fucking INSANE.


I am going to make some coffee and then deal with all the latest shit.

But, jeez people, IT’S ONLY A BLOG!

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