May 12, 2008 archive

Behind Enemy Lines

A few days ago I accepted the mission to go undercover behind enemy lines in order to report back on the activities of the opposition. I have now safely returned and am ready to brief you all as thoroughly as possible. The specific activities that were undertaken included a trip to the heart of the Bible Belt, holding conversations with members of the 26% crowd and attendance at a “mega church” to scope out the organizational activities.

What all this really means is that I paid a visit to my family in Dallas, Texas this weekend. As most of you know by now, they are fundamentalist, right-wing, kool-aid drinking christians; the group that STILL says they view GW favorably.  

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports Microloans guard America’s middle class.

    The world thinks of microfinance as a tool to lift its poorest from grinding poverty. But in an age of pricey fuel and shrinking credit, the entrepreneurial movement that began in Bangladesh is taking off in the richest country of all.

    Nobel prize winner Muhammad Yunus opened 11 branches of his Grameen Bank in New York City this spring, more than 30 years after he revolutionised foreign aid by delivering the first microloan to a group of rural Asian villagers.

    If Yunus is the father of microfinance, his US offspring already are maturing quite nicely. The spectre of recession, combined with a diverse array of lending models, is sparking a new demand in America for small loans and business counselling…

    Almost anyone can send a few dollars to Asia that can feed a family for weeks, thanks to Kiva and other groups that turn ordinary Americans into microlenders. But sending a few thousand dollars to a rural Pennsylvania craftsman is more difficult.

    Micro Business Development Corporation, led by Denver lender Kersten Hostetter, has created thousands of jobs and boosted the local economy by more than $15m. Still, Hostetter is so keen for more investment that she has written a unique job ad seeking a celebrity spokesman for US microfinance.

    We’re the bridge between poverty alleviation and economic development, the guardians of the middle class,” Hostetter said. “We didn’t brand ourselves initially because there wasn’t a need for it.”

    This will probably sound elitist. I think microloans are great, but using them to protect the American middle class, I think, is alarming. Just how far has the U.S. fallen? Micro-finance is about ending poverty. This is more evidence there are “two Americas” and parts of the U.S. are becoming more like some of the world’s poorest countries.

Four at Four continues with the spread of nuclear power, mixed environmental news, and locust swarms.

We Are Not Stupid: Day One

The Media and Punditocracy,in charge of the conversation. What will be talked about and how it will be talked about. Entrenchment, status quoism, inertia, business as usual.

We are in power and thus we know what we are doing, because those in power are there because they know what they are doing, and that’s us…even though those in power obviously don’t know what they are doing because things are so fucked up….but those in power can’t even think that…because then they might have to examine the fact that things are fucked up because THEY are the ones in power.

In fact those in power cannot even admit that things are fucked up…. because then they might have to ask why things are fucked up, and deep down inside them is that nagging voice that if listened to would tell them that it could just be that they are the ones fucking things up. And hey, it’s a dog eat dog world out there and self-doubt or examination might lead to some form of weakness, like the self-esteem lowering questioning of your own infallibility ….like admitting that it is you who are fucking things up …and need to change. Or get gone.

That is not an iceberg, ok it is an iceberg, but we won’t hit it, ok we have hit it, but the ship is unsinkable, ok that was a iceberg and we did hit, but we won’t sink, ok that was an iceberg and we did hit it and the ship is sinking. Damn. We were sure we were infallible…until the ship sank, until we failed and killed a bunch of people. Too bad we didn’t listen to all those doubts and doubters, instead of steaming on, but it is too late now.

This Titanically bad metaphor comes to a crashing end though, when the Captain and crew muscle the civilians off of the lifeboats and start piloting a new ship the next day, shrugging off their mistakes in the name and service of the self confidence needed for their critical task….piloting ships around icebergs. The critical question of whether they are qualified never even arises, they have ships to steer, dammit! Now all you stupid people get off the bridge so we can do our job!


The Titanic Adventure Slide!

Oh well, now that the ship has sunk the important thing is… to find someone else to blame so we don’t have to admit fault or failure. If worst comes to worst we will blame “the media,” (as Tweety recently did) and hope the stupid people out there don’t make the connection in their minds that we are admitting responsibility

But: We Are Not Stupid

M 7.9 Quake Devastates Eastern Sichuan, China, Updated

At 2:28 pm local time a major M 7.9 earthquake struck China near the city of Chengdu in Sichuan province.   9000 people are feared dead according to Chinese news reports , but USGS  analysis shows that 200,000 people were exposed to violent to extreme shaking that could cause heavy damage in well built structures and very heavy damage in vulnerable structures.

Rescuers are searching  for victims.

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By FishOutofWater

Moreover, close to a million people lived where strong shaking could cause heavy damage in vulnerable structures. This USGS analysis suggests that early news reports many be underestimating the extent of this disaster.

The city of Chengdu, in the Sichuan basin with about 5 million inhabitants, 55 miles east of the rupture, was spared from heavy damage because the earthquake rupture propagated from the southeast to the northwest sparing the cities in the basin. However, towns near the fault rupture well to the northeast of the epicenter were hit hard even though they were as far from the epicenter as Chengdu. In an earthquake like this the distance from the epicenter may be a misleading indicator of potential damage.

NPR reporters were visiting Chengdu when the quake hit

A Horrific Scene at a Middle School in Dujiangyan

We are just leaving the horrific scene at the Juyuan Middle School outside the city of Dujiangyan. Hundreds of parents are still standing in the rain as the army works to find children trapped in the rubble. One parent told us she could hear her son calling. A scene of utter desperation. Back a couple hundred feet was an area where rescuers — peoples armed police — were bringing bodies that had been retrieved. Families were rushing over to see whether the child was theirs. Under tents are families burning incense and candles and paper money next to the shrouded bodies of their loved ones. A terrible, terrible scene.

— Andrea Hsu

For those that may have family or friends in or near Chengdu, from a comment on an NPR blog:


Please check with Consulate General of American in Chengdu.

Phone: (28) 8558-3992

Fax: (28) 8554-6229

Emergency: 1370-800-1422

Email: [email protected]


The ACS Unit provides emergency assistance to American citizens in distress: when an American is destitute, arrested, separated from minor children, or sick. In an emergency, the Consulate Duty Officer can be reached at any time by calling 1370-800-1422.

Dial 01186 before you dial those numbers if you dial from USA.

‘What about our own culpability’ for the Iraq war?

Kathy Kelly has more than paid her dues in the movement for peace through non-violence, putting herself in harm’s way and risking her freedom.

She is the latest endorser of the Iraq Moratorium, a growing grassroots initiative which will be observed on Friday, May 16, as it is on the third Friday of each month.  (She explains her endorsement below.)

The co-coordinator of Chicago-based Voices for Creative Nonviolence, Kelly helped initiate Voices in the Wilderness, a campaign to end UN/US sanctions against Iraq in 1996. For bringing “medicine and toys” to Iraq in open violation of the UN/US sanctions, she and other campaign members were fined $20,000, which they’ve refused to pay.

Voices in the Wilderness organized 70 delegations to visit Iraq in the period between 1996 and the beginning of the “Operation Shock and Awe” warfare (March 2003). Kelly has been to Iraq 24 times since January 1996. In October 2002, she joined Iraq Peace Team members in Baghdad where she and the team maintained a presence throughout the bombardment and invasion. Kelly left Iraq on April 19, 2003 and has returned three times, most recently in May of 2006 when she traveled to northern Iraq.

Along with three other Voices activists, Kathy was in Beirut, Lebanon during the final days of the Israel-Hezbollah war in the summer of 2006. (Photo at right.) They subsequently reported from southern Lebanon following a ceasefire.

In the spring of 2004, she served three months at Pekin federal prison for crossing the line as part of an ongoing effort to close an army military combat training school at Fort Benning, GA. In 1988 she was sentenced to one year in prison for planting corn on nuclear missile silo sites. Kelly served nine months of the sentence in Lexington KY maximum security prison.

She is currently organizing Witness Against War 2008,a nonviolent walk for peace from Chicago to the site of the Republican National Convention in St. Paul.

Kathy Kelly: Why I endorse the Iraq Moratorium

Die Dolchstosslegende

The stab-in-the-back legend (German: Dolchstosslegende (helpĀ·info), literally “Dagger stab legend”) refers to a social myth and persecution-propaganda theory popular in Germany in the period after World War I through World War II. It attributed Germany’s defeat to a number of domestic factors instead of failed militarist geostrategy. Most notably, the theory proclaimed that the public had failed to respond to its “patriotic calling” at the most crucial of times and some had even intentionally “sabotaged the war effort.”

The legend echoed the epic poem Nibelungenlied in which the dragon-slaying hero Siegfried is stabbed in the back by Hagen von Tronje. Der Dolchstoss is cited as an important factor in Adolf Hitler’s later rise to power, as the Nazi Party grew its original political base largely from embittered World War I veterans, and those who were sympathetic to the Dolchstosslegende interpretation of Germany’s then-recent history. – Wikipedia

For those of you unfamiliar with this blood libel the melody goes kinda like this-

We were winning our war of aggression until those Jews dirty fucking hippies meddling kids stabbed us in the back.

What makes it blood libel is the implication that people who were against the war and saw the utimate futility of it “sacrificed” the blood of our brave soldiers for nothing as if to have “sacrificed” it to a real God like Mars or Mammon were any better.

Once you put your money in the pot boys, it’s gone.  I could so kick your ass at poker.

It’s hardly surprising that the American Theo-Corporatist Party is resurrecting this meme and their Presidential nominee is endorsing it-

(Glenn Greenwald below)

More than 200 fallen US Soldiers cremated at Friends Forever Pet Cremation Service

So this off topic from my Pentagon dump, but is a pretty wild story in of itself. It seems in a cost cutting measure, US soldiers are being cremated at a facility meant for pets.

As the Friends Forever Pet Cremation Service says at their website:


As pet owners ourselves, we understand the need for a more dignified alternative when a beloved pet passes away.

If this wasn’t screwed up enough, Bush and the Pentagon viewing our soldiers as pets, they also sent friends and families to the pet crematorium for services!

Pony Party, Anyone seen this?

I’m including a movie trailer in this pony….but not to tell you about a movie, but to ask about one.

Below is the trailer for the movie ‘Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans’, also mentioned on the San Francisco IFF website.  Apparently it is, as the title would suggest, a discussion of the history of the Faubourg Treme section of New Orleans, called simply ‘Treme’ by its residents, and otherwise known as the 6th ward.

Updated (3x) Over 200,000 Dead In Burma: Vloggers Respond

First, breaking news this morning. There has been a 7.8 earthquake in China that has left four schoolchildren and one adult dead:

Chinese President Hu Jintao has called for “all-out” efforts to rescue victims of an earthquake measuring 7.8 that has hit south-western China.

The quake struck 92km (57 miles) north-west of Sichuan’s provincial capital, Chengdu, at 1428 (0628 GMT).

The children were killed, and more than 100 others injured, when primary school buildings collapsed in the Chongqing area, a large municipality near Sichuan province, Xinhua added.

Another person is reported to have died when a water tower collapsed in the city of Mianyang, in Santai County.


The Bangkok Post gives further details of the magnitude of the quake:

Government and local officials said the quake struck at 2:28pm local time (1:28pm in Thailand) in Wenchuan county, Sichuan province. It was felt in cities hundreds of kilometres away, including Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong, in addition to Bangkok.

“Major tremors” were felt by residents of cities closer to the epicentre, including Sichuan’s capital, Chengdu, and nearby Chongqing, the official news agency Xinhua said.


(Meanwhile in Myanmar below.- ek)

Docudharma Times Monday May 12

No News Merry-Go-Round Here

Monday’s Headlines: Voter ID Battle Shifts to Proof of Citizenship: Pollution levels have dropped in U.S. coastal waters: First US aid flight reaches Burma: Earthquake strikes Western China: ‘Ghost city’ Mosul braces for assault on last bastion of al-Qa’ida in Iraq: Lebanese Army caught in crossfire between Druze and Hezbollah gunmen: Beatings and torture intensify as Zimbabwe prepares to vote again: Tadic claims victory for pro-Europeans in Serbian elections: Polish Holocaust hero dies at 98: Venezuelan president criticizes German chancellor  

News Organizations Are Reporting Between 3,000 and 5,000 Dead in One County

‘Hundreds buried’ by China quake

Almost 900 students are buried after an earthquake measuring 7.8 caused a building to collapse in south-western China, state media reports.

President Hu Jintao urged “all-out” efforts to rescue victims of the quake, which hit 92km (57 miles) from Chengdu, Sichuan’s provincial capital.

Premier Wen Jiabao is travelling to the area and troops are being sent to help with disaster relief efforts.

Officials have confirmed 107 deaths in the area but the figure could rise.

Cries for help

There are harrowing reports from the scene of the collapse in Dujiangyan city – about 100km (60 miles) from the epicentre in Wenchuan county.

U.S. spying is up, but not prosecutions

As more Americans are watched, fewer cases are made. The trend concerns civil liberties groups as well as some lawmakers and legal experts.

WASHINGTON — The number of Americans being secretly wiretapped or having their financial and other records reviewed by the government has continued to increase as officials aggressively use powers approved after the Sept. 11 attacks. But the number of terrorism prosecutions ending up in court — one measure of the effectiveness of such sleuthing — has continued to decline, in some cases precipitously.

The trends, visible in new government data and a private analysis of Justice Department records, are worrisome to civil liberties groups and some legal scholars. They say it is further evidence that the government has compromised the privacy rights of ordinary citizens without much to show for it.

The emphasis on spy programs also is starting to give pause to some members of Congress who fear the government is investing too much in anti-terrorism programs at the expense of traditional crime-fighting. Other lawmakers are raising questions about how well the FBI is performing its counter-terrorism mission.

Support disaster relief in Myanmar (Burma) Through the UN

Muse in the Morning


Life Stories

What would

you tell

the protagonist

of your story

to do

if you could?

Why aren’t you

living your life

so that

those events

could happen?

The deeper question:

Am I?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March 7, 2008

Please join us inside to celebrate our various muses…

Late Night ‘Tooning

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By zwoof at 2008-05-11

A cartoon is worth a thousand pictures

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