May 17, 2008 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

41 Stories.  Science Update to come.  51 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Iraq detains 1,000 in anti-al-Qaida crackdown

By LEE KEATH, Associated Press Writer

9 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – Nearly 1,000 people have been detained in a sweep to break al-Qaida in Iraq’s sway in Iraq’s third largest city, Mosul, but many of the fighters have fled to nearby areas, where troops are hunting for them, Iraqi officials said Saturday.

Iraq’s leaders presented the crackdown as a success so far in depriving the terror network of what has been its most prominent urban stronghold since it lost hold of cities in Iraq’s western Anbar province.

But the flight of al-Qaida fighters raises the concern they can regroup elsewhere, as has often happened in the past.

Through the Darkest of Nights: Testament XV

Every few days over the next several months I will be posting installments of a novel about life, death, war and politics in America since 9/11.  Through the Darkest of Nights is a story of hope, reflection, determination, and redemption.  It is a testament to the progressive values we all believe in, have always defended, and always will defend no matter how long this darkness lasts.  But most of all, it is a search for identity and meaning in an empty world.

Naked and alone we came into exile.  In her dark womb, we did not know our mother’s face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth.  Which of us has known his brother?  Which of us has looked into his father’s heart?  Which of us has not remained prison-pent?  Which of us is not forever a stranger and alone?      ~Thomas Wolfe

All installments are available for reading here on Docudharma’s Series page, and also here on Docudharma’s Fiction Page, where refuge from politicians, blogging overload, and one BushCo outrage after another can always be found.

Will Obama “Toughen Up” for the General Election? Can He?

One of the most profound questions regarding Obama is his approach and tenor towards those most of us around here consider the scum of the earth, the war criminals and torturers at the top of the Republican Party. John McCain is not much more than a replacement part for their Reign of Terror to continue unabated. And of course he is as full of shit as a row of portapotty’s after a three day rock concert and has held more positions than the KamaSutra.

An aggressive, attacking campaign posture will destroy his credibility, despite his protectors in the Merde Stream Media. The question is….will Obama attack? Or play the post-partisan, “reasonable” (in the face of Repub madess) nice guy?


We got a clue last night. These lovely words did NOT come out of Obama’s mouth, but from Obama spokesman Bill Burton.

h/t Scout Finch

“What’s reckless is continuing the Bush-McCain foreign policy that has cost us thousands of lives and a trillion dollars in Iraq, strengthened Iran, enabled Hamas to take Gaza, took our eye off al Qaeda, failed to capture Osama bin Laden, failed to finish the job in Afghanistan, and left us less safe and less respected in the world. No amount of utterly predictable fear-mongering and tough talk can change the fact that John McCain is running to continue the most disastrous foreign policy in recent American history,” said Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton.

Pony Party: Your Morning Art

Pablo Neruda was a Chilean born poet, who had a diplomatic career, and was politically actively. A life long leftist, he was a communist who at one time extolled the virtues of Stalin and like many came to regret that. Neruda had to go into hiding at one point in his life.

He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

Read about Neruda here, here, and here.

So what are y’all doing this weekend? I have to balance fun with duty somehow. The house looks like a colony of giant rats has taken over.

Please don’t rec pony party, hang out, chit chat, and then go read the excellent offerings on our recent and rec’d list.

Docudharma Times Saturday May 17

Unlike A Flopping Fish Politician The News Here Is As It Should Be

Straight Forward

Saturday’s Headlines:  Obama Strikes Back at Bush On Diplomacy    Razor-sharp concertina wire installed at U.S.-Mexico border     Burma ‘guilty of inhuman action’   Beijing open to foreign aid and scrutiny in wake of tragedy    68% of Italians want Roma expelled – poll   EU may force car makers to reveal emissions in adverts    How picture phones have fuelled frenzy of honour killing in Iraq    Lebanese leaders gather in Qatar    Displaced Kenyans balk at government push to go home   Famine Looms as Wars Rend Horn of Africa    Shakira, other Latin American stars sing for their cause — ALAS

U.S. Planning Big New Prison in Afghanistan

WASHINGTON – The Pentagon is moving forward with plans to build a new, 40-acre detention complex on the main American military base in Afghanistan, officials said, in a stark acknowledgment that the United States is likely to continue to hold prisoners overseas for years to come.

The proposed detention center would replace the cavernous, makeshift American prison on the Bagram military base north of Kabul, which is now typically packed with about 630 prisoners, compared with the 270 held at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

Until now, the Bush administration had signaled that it intended to scale back American involvement in detention operations in Afghanistan. It had planned to transfer a large majority of the prisoners to Afghan custody, in an American-financed, high-security prison outside Kabul to be guarded by Afghan soldiers.

Same Genitals Marriage?

On May 15th, the Supreme Court of California struck down all of the laws preventing same-sex marriage. Here’s my thoughts on the creatures attempting to overturn that decision

Cross-posted from GentillyGirl…

Quote for Discussion: Posnanski and Springsteen

This quote is just beautiful writing, and a fascinating question I cannot answer about greatness.

I watched Springsteen very closely when he performed “Born to Run” toward the end of the show. I watched the close-ups of his face on the video screen, and I watched the way he moved around the stage, and I listened carefully to the pitch of his voice. My God, how many times has Bruce Springsteen performed this song by now? The album “Born to Run” came out in 1975, almost 33 years ago, and he performed the song even before the album came out. So has he performed it live 5,000 times? I’ll bet it’s been more. Maybe 7,500 times? Maybe 10,000 times?

There are certain professional things we have all done thousands of times. I know truck drivers who have driven more than three million miles. We all do. We know doctors who have delivered thousands of babies, and mechanics who have fixed thousands of cars, and chefs who have grilled thousands of steaks and all that. But Springsteen’s repetitions is a little different, and not just because Springsteen gets paid a lot more money to sing “Born to Run”, and not just because he gets many more perks and shrieking women and whatever. It’s because every single time Bruce Springsteen performs that song, there are thousands and thousands of people in the crowd that want a transcendent moment. That’s his song, but it’s also our song, it has meant something important to countless people. We will know if he means it.

Random Japan

I told you not to do that

A man in Gifu who was arrested for theft and traffic violations got himself into deeper trouble after setting fire to a futon at the police station where he was being held.

A 41-year-old Tochigi man was arrested for making some 8,000 “silent phone calls” to his 30-year-old ex-girlfriend after she broke up with him last July.

What’s the kanji for “Wear goggles, you idiot!”?

Ikea Japan has agreed to modify its instruction manuals after a Chiba man suffered a serious eye injury from a cracked screw while assembling a chest of drawers.

It was revealed that the Japan Swimming Federation is in a “crisis” over a new brand of Speedo that it says gives foreign competitors an unfair advantage.

Funkalicious Friday: Bottom

Primero…go read smackdown goodness!

Proximo: Random tube seventies centric surfology loosely to do with bass lines and blamelessly inspired by Robyn’s mention of Nilsson. Could these be the absolute best bass lines evaahhh???


Surely not.

Not even close, AAMOF, as you are about to prove in the comments! Show me up and dress me down….just don’t call me Shirley! But this first vid is surely the best bass song evah!

Friday Night at 8: Heritage

Obligatory YouTube — The Harptones “OOH Wee Baby”:

I was reading NLinStPaul’s essay, Full-Blooded Americans and I read the linked article as well as the comments in the article, most of which agreed that heritage and culture and background were very important.

Reminded me of an old Jewish story from A Treasury of Jewish Folklore edited by Nathan Ausubel:

Usually the orthodox rabbis of Europe boasted distinguished rabbinical geneaologies, but Rabbi Yechiel of Ostrowce was an exception.  He was the son of a simple baker and he inherited some of the forthright qualities of a man of the people.

Once, when a number of rabbis had gathered at some festivity, each began to boast of his eminent rabbinical ancestors.  When Rabbi Yechiel’s turn came, he replied gravely, “In my family, I’m the first eminent ancestor.”

His colleagues were shocked by this piece of impudence, but said nothing.  Immediately after, the rabbis began to expound Torah.  Each one was asked to hold forth on a text culled from the sayings of one of his distinguished rabbinical ancestors.

One after another the rabbis delivered their learned dissertations.  At last it came time for Rabbi Yechiel to say something.  He arose and said, “My masters, my father was a baker.  He taught me that only fresh bread was appetizing and that I must avoid the stale.  This can also apply to learning.”

And with that Rabbi Yechiel sat down.

Last week I wrote about smashing idols.

Full-blooded Americans.  Aristocrats.  The Rich.  The Famous.  I guess here I would add “The Familiar.”

LOVE and War

Daniel Zwerdling, of NPR, continues his reporting on the Treatment of our returning Military Troops, you know who they are, maybe, those who those ‘Support The Troops’ magnetic ribbons, now rarely seen, are meant for. Or the significance of those ‘Lapel Flag Pins’ the politicians and some others harp about, the politicians who Praised a Coming Invasion of anothers little Country but didn’t have the the time, nor will, to do their jobs in Oversite, Funding, and simple Investigation!

There’s a formidable group of warriors out there – and they’re fighting America’s military. Spouses of troops who have come back from the war with serious mental health problems have made it their mission to force the military to give the troops the help they need.

In the process, they’ve transformed themselves from “the silent ranks,” as the military traditionally calls wives, into vocal and effective activists.

Friday Philosophy: Addressing the Future

It always takes a few days to turn the switch.

There are still teaching things to attend to over the summer, some of which will be fairly onerous, like building an evaluation instrument for one of our computer literacy classes, a mechanism by which students can test out of the course.  Our students do not come from the burbs, for the most part.  They are what is euphemistically now called “urban.”  Inner-city New Jersey.  They do not generally come complete with computer skills beyond texting and MySpace/Facebook.  Email is a foreign substance, except that you have to have an email address to sign up for things.  I just got half of the gig to build a fair assessment instrument for $1000.

And I maybe need to design a Special Topics class for fall (unless it gets canceled for lack of enrollment) .  The topic is Internet Support Tools.  I may be bugging the shit out of some of you because the topic is blogs, wikis, widgets, RSS feeds, etc.  I suppose I’ll need to learn some stuff myself so I can teach it.  Maybe we can figure out a way for my students to wander around behind the scenes of Docudharma for a bit. 🙂

But that’s the me who is a teacher.  Summer is the time for working on grand ideas…my life’s work, so to speak…for weaving the next layer on the tapestry.  

And for that I have to go…