February 1, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. The Washington Post reports Dozens killed in suicide bomb attacks in Baghdad. “Within the span of 10 minutes, two female suicide bombers blew themselves up in crowded Baghdad markets on Friday, killing dozens of people in the deadliest day in the Iraqi capital in months, according to U.S. and Iraqi officials… There were conflicting reports about the scale of the carnage. Iraqi police said 58 people were killed and 172 others were wounded, while the U.S. military reported 27 killed and more than 50 injured. The bombings took place in predominantly Shiite neighborhoods.”

    “There were pieces of people everywhere. One was without a head, others were without arms. Some were dead and not moving, some were crawling,” said Jawad Kadim, 21, who sells birds in the market. “I closed my shop and I ran away. It’s getting worse and worse here. This is the fourth explosion.”

  2. Meanwhile in northern Iraq, The New York Times reports Kurds’ power wanes as Arab anger rises.

    The Kurds’ efforts to seize control of the oil-rich city of Kirkuk and to gain a more advantageous division of national revenues are uniting most Sunnis and many Shiites with Mr. Maliki’s government in opposition to the Kurdish demands.

    For the United States, the diminution in Kurdish power is part of a larger problem of political divisiveness that has plagued its efforts to build a functioning government in Iraq. While several political parties can come together to address a particular issue, none can seem to form the lasting allegiances needed for actual governance.

    The Kurds, with their pro-American outlook, were a natural ally. But now the Americans are increasingly placed in the uncomfortable position of choosing between the Kurds, whom they have long supported and protected, and the Iraqi Arabs, whose government the Americans helped create.

    “‘In times of trouble, you get to know your enemies and your friends,’ counsels one Kurdish proverb. ‘The Kurds have no friends,’ answers another. Many Kurds fear the United States will betray them, as, they say, Washington and other foreign powers have in the past.” — Houston Chronicle, March 21 2003.

  3. The Guardian reports China arrests leading rights activist. “Chinese state security forces have arrested one of the country’s most prominent civil rights activists in an apparent crackdown on dissent ahead of the Olympics. Hu Jia – who used blogs, webcasts and video to expose human rights abuses – is expected to face charges of inciting subversion of state power, his lawyers said today. His formal arrest comes after he was seized by police from an apartment in east Beijing on December 27. In the month since, his wife, Zeng Jinyan, and their two-month-old daughter have been prevented from leaving their home or contacting outsiders.”

  4. Bats with White Nose SyndromeBloomberg News reports Bats Die by the Thousands From Mystery Malady in Northeast U.S. “Thousands of bats are dying from an unknown illness in the northeastern U.S. at a rate that could cause extinction… At eight caves in New York and one in Vermont, scientists have seen bat populations plummet over two years. Most bats hibernate in the same cave every winter, keeping annual counts consistent. A cave that had 1,300 bats in January 2006 had 470 bats last year. It recently sheltered just 38. At another cave, more than 90 percent of about 15,500 bats have died since 2005, and two-thirds that remain now sleep near the cave’s entrance, where conditions are less hospitable. Scientists don’t know what’s causing the deaths”. The AP notes “The white fungus ring around bats’ noses is a symptom, but not necessarily the cause. For some unknown reason, the bats deplete their fat reserves and die months before they would normally emerge from hibernation.”

Remember tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day. The day where John McCain pops out of his dark hole, sees his shadow, and tells the nation there will be 100 more years of “surge”.

Mexican Farmers Protest NAFTA


The Megamarch Yesterday In Mexico City

Chanting “Sin maiz, No hay pais” (Without Corn, the country doesn’t exist), Mexican farmers by the tens of thousands demonstrated in Mexico City against NAFTA.

Join me across the Rio Grande.

Seduced By Hope

I have seriously tried to deny it, even to defeat it. I have hidden it from myself, and thought perhaps, that it was just a phase. But, I finally have to admit it. I have been seduced. Not necessarily by Barack hope or Hillary hope, but by hope in general. It’s pathetic, really.


Don’t worry, I’ll get over it soon.


After seven longlonglong years of anger and frustration and despair and darkness, it is pathetic how much the tiniest hint of some kind light has affected me. The mere THOUGHT of not having George “the Torturer” Bush and Dick “Plame treason” Cheney in office, representing us to the world, hatching their Dr. Evil madness and polluting the planet with their hate is so thrilling as to have become a serious distraction. Even though there is still a year of The Republican Reign of Terror left, some part of me has relaxed and taken a deep breath. I don’t feel the same burning despair and anguish that spurred me to start yelling. And I am ashamed!

Planet of Women

The Birth of Venus (detail)Yesterday The Telegraph broke news that researchers in Britain have have created sperm cells from a female embryo for the first time.

Led by Karim Nayernia, Professor of Stem Cell Biology, the scientists at the University of Newcastle have “coaxed” female embryonic stem cells into primitive sperm cells. If the team receives permission, they plan next to develop the method to use female bone marrow cells (which probably will be called getting “a boner”).

As Emily Singer of the MIT Technology Review blogs, “Use that sperm to fertilize an egg, and voila: children with two female biological parents.”

If this method of reproduction ever became widely used, there would be fewer and fewer men. The absence of a Y-chromosome in the female sperm makes it impossible to create males. With each successive generation, there would be fewer men in the reproduction pool.

Now this research is likely years away from being finished, but could this be the beginning of the end of males? What would the world be like without the human male?  

Can You Help? NOLA’s 9th Ward Needs Us!

Cross Posted from DailyKos

hat-tip to kj & NightProwlKitty!!!

A group of bloggers over (here) at Docudharma have been actively writing about NOLA after Hurricane Katrina and we have decided to do a week-end marathon fund-raiser for the 9th Wards’ N.E.N.A. (Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association)

Kossacks/Dharmaniacs came to the rescue when Pretty Bird Woman House needed help.  

And for that you are all superstars in my book-no matter who you’re voting for!!!

Now, New Orleans Ninth Ward needs our help, and this is more of a reminder than anything else, since the needs are ongoing.  Who is NENA, you ask?

The Lower Ninth Ward Neighborhood Empowerment Network Association (NENA) was established in the aftermath of Katrina to play a lead role in rebuilding New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward.

Organized and controlled by residents of the Lower Ninth Ward, NENA addresses not only the immediate recovery needs created by the storm’s destruction, but also the institutional neglect and disinvestment that plagued the neighborhood long before Katrina. NENA works with current Lower Ninth Ward residents, displaced residents living in other parts of New Orleans, and the broader diaspora who want to return to the neighborhood.

This Historic Winter

The Democratic Party won, last night. The Republican race is growing increasingly acrimonious, with Mitt Romney yesterday accusing John McCain of using “Nixonian tactics,” while, by contrast, debate host CNN and others headlined the comity displayed by Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. This is great for the Democratic party, and helpful to both candidates.

As Senator Clinton said, in the debate itself:

So we have differences both at home and around the world, but, again, I would emphasize that what really is important here, because the Republicans were in California debating yesterday, they are more of the same.

Neither of us, just by looking at us, you can tell, we are not more of the same. We will change our country.

Big Tent Democrat concurs:

From the moment they walked out on the stage, an African American and a woman, the Democrats won. Whomever wins the nomination, whomever wins the election, Democrats won. And America won.

He referred to Eugene Robinson’s comment, during the post-debate analysis, that the most electrifying moment came when the two candidates simply walked out on the stage. This is a new America and a better America. I remember the electricity in 1984, when Walter Mondale chose Geraldine Ferraro as his running-mate; those at the San Francisco convention said it was palpable. Everyone knew the ticket was doomed to lose to media darling Ronald Reagan, but having a woman on a major party’s ticket was an achingly long-overdue revolution. That same year, Jesse Jackson won five primaries or caucuses. He won 13 in 1988. Even with the nation regressing, under the Reagan Administration, the Democratic Party was courageously moving forward.

This year makes the advances of 1984 seem trivial. Big Tent also referenced the withdrawal statement of John Edwards, when he announced he was getting out of the way of history. For all the subtle and not-so-subtle strains of racism and misogyny that have bubbled up, this past month, this nation will never look back. The next time there is a serious candidate who is African American and/or a woman, it won’t even be an issue. That will be the greatest legacy of this historic winter.

17 Veterans committed suicide A DAY in 2005

cross posted from sanchopress.com


CBS News’ investigative unit wanted the numbers, so it submitted a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Defense asking for the numbers of suicides among all service members for the past 12 years.

Four months later, they sent CBS News a document, showing that between 1995 and 2007, there were almost 2,200 suicides. That’s 188 last year alone. But these numbers included only “active duty” soldiers.

CBS News went to the Department of Veterans Affairs, where Dr. Ira Katz is head of mental health.

“There is no epidemic in suicide in the VA, but suicide is a major problem,” he said.

Why hasn’t the VA done a national study seeking national data on how many veterans have committed suicide in this country?

“That research is ongoing,” he said.

So CBS News did an investigation – asking all 50 states for their suicide data, based on death records, for veterans and non-veterans, dating back to 1995. Forty-five states sent what turned out to be a mountain of information.

And what it revealed was stunning.

In 2005, for example, in just those 45 states, there were at least 6,256 suicides among those who served in the armed forces. That’s 120 each and every week, in just one year.


My Big Fat Candidate Lobotomy

Something is wrong with me. I am not feeling the whispering winds of engulfing unity.

The rhetoric of change has not hit me yet. Perhaps I doubt it is really coming. See it is nothing personal against the two Dem candidates, they might be fine people. Right now they are in the courting phase and whichever of them wins will continue the courting right up until they win, if they win. But whoever does win won’t be calling you in the morning to reminisce about what a good time they had last night. The have advisers and experts, and the advisers and experts like the system. They think it works great primarily because they don’t actually know anybody who might possibly be considered an average American or even an American who isn’t average, just in the process of getting royally fucked.

Pony Party, Phone-it-in-Friday

We’re all about thinking outside the box today…

Hillary’s most important endorsement yet!

In the past weeks, Hillary Clinton has gained many important endorsements. While her backers have bemoaned the fact that endorsments they – and she – feel that she is owed, endorsements such as those of Ted Kennedy and John Kerry, have gone to Barack Obama, my own Congressman, the indefatigable Barney Frank, has endorsed her candidacy, we would do well to remember that she also has the endorsement and unqualified support of the last decent President this country had, in those halcyon days before the Chimp d’ Etat.

But this latest endorsement makes the most compelling statement yet.

On the jump……….

Docudharma Times Friday February 1

This is an Open Thread: Can you feel it coming in the air tonight

Friday’s Headlines: NFL Pulls Plug On Big-Screen Church Parties For Super Bowl: Clinton seeks to upstage Obama in Hollywood debate: Three Japanese prisoners executed:  Oscar boost for Kazakh filmmakers: Comics to teach Germans about Nazis: Iraq’s revival boosted as oil production rises to 2.4m barrels a day: Ex-SAS in ‘coup plot’ vanishes from prison : Talk of Independence in a Place Claimed by 2 Nations

Kurds’ Power Wanes as Arab Anger Rises

BAGHDAD – As a minority group in Iraq, the Kurds have enjoyed disproportionate influence in the country’s politics since the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003. But now their leverage appears to be declining as tensions rise with Iraqi Arabs, raising the specter of another fissure alongside the sectarian divide between Sunnis and Shiites.

The Kurds, who are mostly Sunni but not Arab, have steadfastly backed the government, most recently helping to keep it afloat when Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki lacked support from much of Parliament.

With their political acumen, close ties to the Americans and technical competence at running government agencies, the Kurds cemented a position of enormous strength. This allowed them to all but dictate terms in Iraq’s Constitution that gave them considerable regional autonomy and some significant rights in oil development.

A Question Of Care: Military Malpractice?

Marine’s Cancer Misdiagnosed?

The family of Marine Sgt. Carmelo Rodriguez says military doctors misdiagnosed his skin cancer. Now, as Byron Pitts reports, they wants the U.S. government held accountable for his untimely death.

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