November 7, 2007 archive

Four at Four

Some news and the afternoon open thread.

  1. The New York Times reports High-priced oil adds volatility to power scramble. Eight years ago, oil was trading at $16 a barrel. Yesterday, oil hit $96.70 a barrel.

    The prospect of triple-digit oil prices has redrawn the economic and political map of the world, challenging some old notions of power. Oil-rich nations are enjoying historic gains and opportunities, while major importers — including China and India, home to a third of the world’s population — confront rising economic and social costs.

    Managing this new order is fast becoming a central problem of global politics. Countries that need oil are clawing at each other to lock up scarce supplies, and are willing to deal with any government, no matter how unsavory, to do it.

    In many poor nations with oil, the proceeds are being lost to corruption, depriving these countries of their best hope for development. And oil is fueling gargantuan investment funds run by foreign governments, which some in the West see as a new threat.

  2. The Houston Chronicle reports Floods spare Mexico’s oil fields, not oil workers. “Although onshore oil fields in and around flood-ravaged Tabasco state escaped major damage, some of the people working at those wells have been left in the lurch. Many oil workers are based in the flooded state capital of Villahermosa and have lost their homes. Meanwhile, flooded streets and washed-out roads make getting to and from the oil fields a logistical nightmare… Onshore production in Tabasco and neighboring Veracruz and Chiapas states amounts to about 471,000 barrels per day, or 16 percent of the country’s daily output.” One Halliburton engineer who was forced from his home has spent the last few days bringing food to other Halliburton employees. As long as the oil starts flowing soon… that’s all most of the U.S. really seems to cares about.

    The Washington Post reports Rains bring Mexico’s poverty to surface. “When the Grijalva River turned vicious over the weekend, when it slipped over its banks and ran wild across the state of Tabasco, its brown waters exposed a socioeconomic divide far deeper than its channel.”

    The rich and middle class of this city live north of the river… By early Friday, the Grijalva, which runs fast and deep through downtown Villahermosa, and other rivers were cascading over their banks and hitting hardest in poor, low-lying areas such as Gaviotas Sur…

    Even as downtown Villahermosa was drying out Tuesday, fast currents of water — pushed by the strength of the nearby river — were sloshing carcasses of chickens and cows through the squalid neighborhoods still drowning in 10 feet of water in Gaviotas Sur. It may be weeks before all the water is gone, local officials say, and years before the region recovers economically.

    And the floods may get worse. Earthtimes reports that today, the Rain returns to flooded Tabasco, Chiapas in Mexico.

  3. McClatchy Newspapers report that the U.S. is to release 9 Iranians it seized in Iraq. “The U.S. military soon will release nine Iranians it’s holding in Iraq, including two held since January on suspicion that they’d funneled weapons and financial support to Iraqi Shiite Muslim militias. A military spokesman described the decision to release the nine as routine and cautioned against reading greater meaning into it. He didn’t explain why it took 10 months to decide that the two weren’t terrorists.”

  4. The Washington Post reports a new study has found Being overweight isn’t all bad. “Being overweight boosts the risk of dying from diabetes and kidney disease but not cancer or heart disease, and carrying some extra pounds actually appears to protect against a host of other causes of death, federal researchers reported yesterday. The counterintuitive findings, based on a detailed analysis of decades of government data about more than 39,000 Americans, supports the conclusions of a study the same group did two years ago that suggested the dangers of being overweight may be less dire than experts thought.”

So, what else is happening?

in Other news…

Welcome to a weekly roundup of news related to the gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, and otherwise ‘Other’ community.

  • In yesterday’s elections across the country, over 30 openly gay candidates won seats ranging from board of education and city council to mayor and state legislator.  A number of candidates are also tied in elections whose margin is still too close to call.
  • Gay-baiting during elections isn’t just about scaring people with the specter of marriage: as dogemperor reported (first on dailykos, then updated at Pam’s), the American Family Association of Kentucky was behind robocalls that ranged from viciously anti-gay to subtly anti-gay.  You almost have to admire the backhanded sneakiness of this kind of message:

    For the first time in 20 years the homosexual lobby proudly endorses a Kentucky candidate for governor, Steve Beshear. Beshear is receiving major support from out-of-state gay activists and has publicly committed to same-gender relationships, employment of more homosexuals in state government including teachers, and support for homosexual adoption of children.

    If you believe these rights are fair please vote for Steve Beshear for governor.  Visit

    Sadly for the AFA-KY, they were pathetically unsuccessful.  Democratic gubernatorial candidate Steve Beshear defeated the Republican incumbent by almost 20 percentage points.

The Xenophobic Democratic Party?

The rationale for the doubletalk from John Edwards on drivers licenses for undocumented aliens becomes clearer. Rassmussen Reports says:

Just 19% of Democratic Primary Voters in New Hampshire believe that drivers licenses should be made available to undocumented workers. Sixty-six percent (66%) disagree. A separate survey released yesterday found that Democrats nationwide hold similar views with 68% opposing the policy.

Edwards apparent (his answer is hard to decipher and rather nonsensical) change of heart (he favored drivers licenses for undocumented aliens in 2004) is clearly a result of political expediency.

The one candidate who spoke clearly and correctly on this issue was Barack Obama. He explained very well why offering dirvers licenses to undocumented aliens is good policy. He refused to pander to the xenophobia still present in the Democratic Party. Good for Obama. I hope he sticks to it in the face of this ugly side of the Democratic Party:

Fifty-one percent (51%) of Democratic Primary voters believe that when police pull someone over for a traffic violation, they should automatically check to see if the driver is in the country illegally. Thirty-eight percent (38%) believe that illegal immigrants discovered in this manner should be deported while 31% disagree. Half (51%) believe that such a policy invites discrimination.

It is interestng that Senator Clinton took heat on this as her initial answer was rather vacillating. She later clarified her support for the policy. My candidate, Chris Dodd, gave a clear, and atrocious, answer.

For me personally, the clear winner on this issue is Barack Obama. The clear losers are my candidate Chris Dodd and especially the doubletalking John Edwards.

Pony Party, an icon

Broadcast Music Inc is giving Willie Nelson an Icon Award. 

‘Nelson certainly fits the bill. Before he became a star in the ’70s, his songs were hits for Ray Price (“Night Life”), Patsy Cline (“Crazy”), Faron Young (“Hello Walls”), and Billy Walker (“Funny How Time Slips Away”)’….according to Yahoo!News

At age 74, Willie is still kickin’ it, having released an album this year, and 2 in 2006.  All I can say is ‘wow’. 

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Deadliest year for US troops in Iraq
By STEVEN R. HURST, Associated Press Writer
1 hour, 6 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – The U.S. military announced six new deaths Tuesday, making 2007 the bloodiest year for American troops in Iraq despite a recent decline in casualties and a sharp drop in roadside bombings that Washington links to Iran.

With nearly two months left in the year, the annual toll is now 853 – three more than the previous worst of 850 in 2004.

But the grim milestone comes as the Pentagon points toward other encouraging signs as well – growing security in Baghdad and other former militant strongholds that could help consolidate the gains against extremists.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

VA Victory: Anti-immigrant stance is a loser!

The Washington Post reports that the Virginia Democrats’ ability to take back the State Senate came down to one key race in Fairfax County: Democrat George Barker beat anti-immigrant Jay O’ Brien in the 39th District.

The key to Democratic hopes was secured by Fairfax voters, who reversed control of the Senate by ousting Republican incumbent J.K. “Jay” O’Brien Jr. from his seat in the western part of the county.


Jay O’Brien overplayed the anti-immigrant (anti-Hispanic, “illegal” immigrant) hand and was shown the door.

Below is an e-mail I sent to George Barker last Thursday morning, before the candidates’ debate that evening.

I’m no rocket scientist, but this was a no-brainer, if ever there was one.

Jesus of Mesopotamia

There are two major classes of falsehoods the U.S. government uses to justify its incursions into the Middle East and occupation of Iraq.

The first is a contrived threat to the U.S., like Saddams’s cache of WMD’s or links to Al-Qaeda, desgined to invoke fear and patriotism in mainstream Americans. Though much discussed and long ago debunked in the liberal blogosphere, it’s being dusted off and reused for Iran.

The second class of lies is aimed at a different group – the Christian right-wing of America. This catergory of lie says that the U.S. must invade and occupy the Middle East because America’s Christian way of life is threatened by “Islamo-Fascists.” (Any liberal who objects is fascist too.)

The standard m.o. for this class of lie is to denigrate Islam by equating it with terrorism and to paint a picture that shows Muslims hate America for its Christian beliefs. This 2nd class of lies is designed to rally the Christian right to support war and the Republican party – and is the focus of this diary.

Like the first, it allows them to kill with impunity.

Photo Collage © 2007 BentLiberal

Admit One Novel Excerpt Part III

I pulled the draft and saved your comments due to the inability to protect publishing rights here. Thanks for your comments and critiques.

2007 Now the Deadliest Year Ever for U.S. Troops in Iraq

The toll for American troops is now at 854 dead with a little less than two months to go in the year.

The Guardian reports 2007 is the deadliest year for U.S. troops in Iraq . The prior worst year in Iraq for troops was 2004 when 849 soldiers were killed in the battles for Fallujah. Thank you Blackwater.

I do not expect this grave record to get significant attention in America’s media because of how the deaths are being spun and ignored.

Profiles in Literature: Zadie Smith

Greetings, literature-loving dharmaniacs!  I apologize for my two-week hiatus from the series, but the demands of real life took me away from the computer longer than I expected.  And what better way to celebrate a re-start than by picking up with a writer whose work is so recent, the ink is practically still drying on the page…

How do we form our identities?  Do we rely on our parents, our neighborhoods, or our religion?  What happens when those sources are compounded by immigration, or by mixed families, or by social circumstances that don’t align in ways that suggest convenient ways of defining ourselves? 

At least one author is diving headlong into this mess… And she’s doing it with style.  Join me below for a conversation with one of England’s most talked-about young authors.

Kucinich Today: What Did You Expect? (!) w/poll

In a party desprately in need of a hero, we now know who that hero is.  Of course, some of us knew who that hero was all along.  Some of us have paid attention to what the man has been saying, what he has stood for and what he means to do in the future.

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