December 4, 2007 archive

Happy Chanukah, Docudharma!

The Jewish festival of Chanukah begins this evening at sundown and lasts for 8 days.  It is not a major religious holiday.  But because it falls near Christmas, it’s often looked at as the “Jewish Christmas”, which it isn’t.  In fact, gift giving, traditionally, was not a part of the holiday, though it is now.

Join me across the border for the historical basis of the holiday, a holiday recipe and the “rules” for playing dreidel.

The NIE is precisely why Iran must be bombed now

See, y’all got it all backwards.  None other than Norman Podhoretz just knows that this is a vast left wing and intelligence community conspiracy.  Mister Bush says that this is proof that we need to step up pressure on Iran – precisely because they stopped their weapons program.

And that goes exactly with the thinking of the chest thumping “send others off to kill and die” crowd.  Are you “formidable” and do you have nuclear weapons?  Then sorry, we don’t want to mess with you.  But if you appear to be formidable and “evil”, but aren’t really a dire (or even imagined) threat to the US, your neighbors or anyone else, then it is of utmost importance to make sure that the weapons that aren’t being developed, well, aren’t being developed.

Which makes the NIE confirm the reason why Iran must be bombed.  Just look at recent past history.

Four at Four

Some news and an afternoon open thread.

  1. The Chicago Tribune reports Blacks hit hard in drug sentencing, study finds. “African-Americans in Cook County were imprisoned for drug offenses at 58 times the rate of white people-the seventh-worst racial disparity among large counties nationwide, according to a new report. The Justice Policy Institute, a Washington-based think tank advocating alternatives to prison for social problems, was set to release a study Tuesday detailing the different treatment white and black drug offenders receive under the criminal justice system. The institute found that nationwide, African-Americans are imprisoned for drugs at 10 times the rate of white people.”

  2. According to McClatchy Newspapers, Iraqis in Syria face food shortages. “Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi refugees in Syria face a bleak winter, with rising fuel costs that could leave many without enough money for food, the director of the World Food Program said… About a third of Iraqi respondents in a recent United Nations study said they skipped one meal a day to feed their children. Nearly 60 percent said that they’re buying cheaper, less nutritious food to cope with a dramatic increase in prices. With the weather turning colder and heating prices rising, humanitarian workers predict more Iraqis will go hungry in order to keep up with rent and utilities.”

    Meanwhile, The New York Times reports Red Crescent says 25,000 Iraqi refugees have returned. “At least 25,000 Iraqi refugees have returned to their beleaguered homeland from Syria since mid-September, according to preliminary estimates released Monday by the Iraqi Red Crescent. The figure represents a fraction of the estimated 1.5 million Iraqis who fled to Syria in recent years to escape the sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing in Iraq… The refugees are finding an altered landscape, with neighborhoods largely ethnically homogenous, reshaped by sectarian strife. Unemployment also hovers at roughly 40 percent, and corruption is rampant, with many people paying bribes to obtain jobs.”

  3. The Sydney Morning Herald reports from the IPCC conference that the US still all talk at Bali, and no steps on climate. “The US has failed to offer any hope it will embrace binding targets to cut its greenhouse gas emissions, on the first day of the United Nations climate conference in Bali. But its negotiators are promising to be ‘very open and flexible’ in the talks aimed at a new global agreement to slow down dangerous climate change.” As Spiegel reported yesterday, the Bush administration is determined to obstruct any possible progress out of Bali.

  4. The Guardian reports Honey ‘beats cough medicine’. “A clinical trial has found that honey is more effective at soothing a sore throat than a common active ingredient in children’s cough medicines. Honey has been used for centuries to relieve a tickly throat and scientists now believe it may be effective because it has constituents that kill microbes and acts as an antioxidant. That means it might prevent damage inside cells from chemical byproducts of their activity. The study compared buckwheat honey with dextromethorphan, an ingredient in a range of branded medicines.”

Another Major Guantanamo Document Leaked

Also posted at Daily Kos, NION, and Invictus

First it was the leak of the 2003 Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) Manual for Guantanamo. The SOP included procedures for psychological torture and abusive conditions of detention, including long-term isolation to foster dependence upon interrogators and “enhance and exploit the disorientation and disorganization felt by a newly arrived detainee in the interrogation process”. Also, prisoners were hidden from the International Red Cross.

The military assured critics that “SOPs by definition, undergo periodic review and change as situations warrant. Detention operations at JTF-GTMO have evolved significantly since 2003…”

Now Wikileaks has released a copy of the 2004 SOP, and guess what? Nothing changed, unless (mostly) for the worse! As the Washington Post notes, since the Supreme Court “prepares to hear arguments this week on the rights of enemy combatants at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, the public is getting another peek at how detainees have been treated there.”

Fuck Oil…It’s Water Wars Next Pt. 1

Part One: A simple lesson in supply and demand.

We are in a water crisis.

Man has become so detached from his natural state of being, that water is not only taken for granted, it is damn well forgotten by most in the Industrialized Western World.

Some never have forgotten, and soon enough, we all will remember that precious fluid that serves both our bodies and our land, bringing nutrients and carrying away waste.

Here are some numbers from the BNET Research center that gives one pause:

Almost all the water on our planet–more than 97 percent–is undrinkably salty. Of the remainder, more than two-thirds is locked up in glaciers and ice caps. Only a minute share of Earth’s water, less than one-hundredth of 1 percent, is both fresh and renewed each year–a total of 110,300 cubic kilometers of freshwater that circulates annually among the sea, air, and land in an endless cycle, driven by the Sun. After it falls as rain or snow, much of this water returns to the atmosphere through evaporation, or by transpiration from plants. Only a bit more than a third of the total, about 40,700 cubic kilometers a year, runs back to the sea via rivers, streams, and underground aquifers.

Glenn Greenwald: Elbaradi and the NIE

Why haven’t I been reading more Glenn Greenwald?

He hits another one out of the park today with his blistering dissection of Fred Hiatt’s September 5th WaPo editorial, Rogue Regulator, and the other neocon chicken hawk cheerleaders and conspirators like John Bolten who have been smearing Elbaradi for years so they can get their war on.

Our serious foreign policy geniuses strike again

Glenn Greenwald,

Tuesday December 4, 2007 03:59 EST

How far does the rot go?  To very core of our policy and media establishment-

Somehow, it was decided in our political establishment that being completely wrong about the worst strategic disaster in our country’s history — the invasion of Iraq — is not a cause for any diminished credibility at all (and having been right is no cause for enhanced credibility). Even after the invasion of Iraq, our Hiatt-modeled political establishment even proceeded to smear and target those such as Mohamed ElBardei who were clearly proven right, as though being right was a crime.

The ‘Draft Gore’ Movement, Sidelined

Not really an essay.  (Not gonna rant again.)  Just a bloody shame!

From today’s New York Times Web site:

December 4, 2007,  9:53 am

The ‘Draft Gore’ Movement, Sidelined

By Corey Kilgannon

The effort to draft Al Gore for the New York Democratic primary has been put on hold, but signed petitions are stacked in an apartment on East 84th Street just in case. (Photo: Corey Kilgannon/The New York Times)Al Gore is not running for president – not yet, anyway, his most ardent supporters would say — but the campaign to draft him in New York lives, if only on life support, in an apartment on East 84th Street.

Yes, the local “Draft Gore” campaign rests in several neat stacks of nomination petitions, on a campaign table next to “Gore for President” buttons, stickers and fliers. The table is in the modest, rent-stabilized apartment of Robert Plautz, 60 a tax lawyer and longtime Democratic activist. Mr. Plautz helped organize a last-ditch effort to put Mr. Gore on the Democratic primary ballot in New York State with a signature-gathering mission to persuade the former vice president to run again.

The petitioners began on Oct. 30 and, since Mr. Gore did not publicly tell such “Draft Gore” groups across the country to stop, they continued to gather 2,352 signatures in New York State on dozens of petitions. Finally, on Nov. 13, a Gore representative sent an e-mail message urging them to desist.

Mr. Plautz’s group complied, but not without second thoughts.

“We were told, ‘Please don’t put Al Gore in an uncomfortable position,'” Mr. Plautz said. “Some of our supporters said, ‘How do we know it’s not a dirty trick by another candidate?’ and wanted to continue on. But in the end, we felt it came from a credible source.”

Mr. Plautz said that state election law permitted petitioning until the Dec. 6 ballot registration deadline, or Thursday, to get 7,000 signatures to place Mr. Gore on the ballot for the Feb. 6 primary. Mr. Plautz estimated that the group would have gotten more than 7,000 by the deadline, then Mr. Gore would have until Monday to decline by filing formal papers with the Board of Elections.

While he accepts that Mr. Gore is not running, Mr. Plautz said, there is no sense in destroying the petitions before the Thursday deadline, in the event of a miraculous change of heart.

The campaign had no advertising and no real budget, he said. It did (and still does) have a Web site,, and a column section called “Reading Al’s Mind” — “in which we will post your thoughts on why Al Gore is or is not running.” (One entry is titled, “Will We Soldier On?”)

On the table in the apartment, there were letters from some of the 63 volunteer petitioners. One petition bore a purple Post-It that read, “Since I never heard back from anyone, I assume this effort is dead.”

Mr. Plautz said that, in all, he collected 99 signatures in about five hours on city subway platforms. “I’d say, ‘Would you like to see Al Gore on the Feb. 5 ballot?’ and some people would say, ‘Is he running?'” Mr. Plautz said. “Some people would look at me strangely, either because they didn’t like him or didn’t believe he could get on the ballot.”

Here’s the linky, in case you want to read the comments and/or post one yourself:



Datamining 4.1: Education

Whew, that was one hell of a ride, but it seems to be over now.  Time for some Datamining.  This time Education.

There seem to be  several people who, like me, are self-educated.  I wanted to put in a category for that, but couldn’t figure out how to do it.  Even a PhD has some education derived from personal reading and analysis, so I’ll just go for Formal Education here.

People have also shown interest in the earning power of DDists.  This is harder because earning power can, and frequently does, change drastically.  I wanted to place two polls here, but don’t see a way to do it.  Next time.

Like a Ticking Time Bomb . . .

Good luck, Christmas shoppers!  Get out your VISA card one last time, purchase some mistletoe at The Dollar Store, bend over with it, and get ready to kiss your ass goodbye . . .

Like a ticking time bomb, the national debt is an explosion waiting to happen. It’s expanding by about $1.4 billion a day – or nearly $1 million a minute.  It means almost $30,000 in debt for each man, woman, child and infant in the United States. Even if you’ve escaped the recent housing and credit crunches and are coping with rising fuel prices, you may still be headed for economic misery, along with the rest of the country. That’s because the government is fast straining resources needed to meet interest payments on the national debt, which stands at a mind-numbing $9.13 trillion.

$9,130,000,000,000.78 in debt . . .

For concerned citizens keeping score at home, I admit in front of Santa and everybody that I still owe our fiscally responsible government 78 cents in back taxes.  I’ll send the IRS a check as soon as the criminal politicians responsible for this economic holocaust are prosecuted, convicted, and hauled off to prison cells.

Back in January, when our national debt was only $8,780,000,000,000.78, many Americans traveled to BushCo World Headquarters because wars of aggression and years of oppression hell bound on our way to the next Great Depression does not even remotely resemble compassionate conservatism.

They were not in a very forgiving mood . . .      

There’s no reason to be jolly; fa la la la la, la la la la

Congress Isn’t Stopping the War

(To the tune of “Santa Claus Is Coming to Town”)

You better shape up,

You better get tough.

Or this next election

Is gonna be rough

If Congress doesn’t stop the war

We’re watching your votes

We’re taking good notes

Gonna insist on more than good quotes  

Congress isn’t stopping the war

We see you when you’re voting

We know when you sell out

We know when you don’t have the guts

To get our troops right out

So you better shape up,

You better get tough

Or this next election

Is gonna be rough

If Congress doesn’t stop the war.

(VARIATION: Substitute Democrats for Congress, with a few word adjustments)

Think that’s bad?  You ain’t heard nothin’ yet.  Read on …

Dharmapedia – Temporary spot for graphics

This is not a diary, just a way to get graphics to Buhdy and OnTheBus.

Please click on the image to access copies (2 versions).

Buhdy needs a graphic for Dharmapedia. Your ideas, comments and suggestions are most welcome. These are “blue lotus” drafts. I could try something with Lennon and the reclining Buddha. In this sample, the eyes will need a lighter red in the lower lid.

Pony Party…..yep, monkeys again….

Here is my favorite Yahoo!News story du jour….titled ” Young chimp beats college students”

Short-term memory tests were conducted by showing sets of numbered (arabic numerals 1-9) ‘cards’ on a computer screen for seven tenths of a second.  After that short interval, the numerals disappeared, and participants were asked to touch the ‘cards’ in numerical order by remembering the arrangement.  Young chimps and college students were pretty equally matched in correctly reproducing the correct order.

However, as the test progressed, the amount of time for which the numbers were shown was progressively reduced, first to four tenths, and then to two tenths of a second. The chimp was still correct about 80% of the time (which is consistent with the longer version) while the college students proficiency dropped to about 40%.

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