August 2008 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 McCain orders convention changes because of storm

By TOM RAUM, Associated Press Writer

6 minutes ago

ST. PAUL, Minn. – John McCain ordered changes in the Republican National Convention that was to be a four-day celebration of his presidential nomination Sunday, to “redirect our efforts” to reflect the seriousness of Hurricane Gustav as it churned toward the Gulf Coast. President Bush, Vice President Cheney and prominent GOP governors decided to skip the gathering altogether.

“I pledge that tomorrow night, and if necessary throughout our convention, we will act as Americans and not as Republicans because America needs us now,” McCain said.

McCain, his wife Cindy, and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, toured the emergency management center in Mississippi, a state that could be hit hard by the approaching hurricane.

Cowards!  They can’t put on as good a show so they’re going to excuse it with the misery of others.

What a pathetic bunch of losers.

More outrage below.

Café Discovery: storm riding

Random thoughts coagulate around a not-so-random natural event named Gustav.

Jim Morrison’s last song:

For some reason it popped into my head this morning.  Let’s hope the next few days are not also New Orleans’ last song…or swan song.

We delve into the Online Etymology dictionary:


An Old English word from the proto-Germanic *swanaz (cf. Old Saxon swan, Old Norse svanr, Middle Dutch swane, which became the Dutch zwaan; Old High German swan became the German Schwan), probably literally “the singing bird,” from the proto-Indo-European base *swon-/*swen- “to sing, make sound” (see sound (n.1)); thus related to the Old English geswin “melody, song” and swinsian “to make melody.”

Intermission:  Geswin…Gershwin…melody song.  Louis and Ella…on the inside.

Editor of Russian Web Site Mysteriously Killed

Ruslan Khautiyev, the deputy editor of the web site announced on Sunday that the site’s editor, Magomed Yevloyev, had been killed by Russian police.  Khautiyev said that police arrested Yevloyev after arriving on a flight to the Ingushetiya province in Russia, took him away, and later dumped him on a road with a gunshot wound to the head.  He died later in a hospital.  However, an article from the BBC says that “local police said Yevloyev tried to seize a policeman’s gun when he was being led to a vehicle. A shot was fired and Yevloyev was injured in the head.”


497-mile walk for peace ends in St. Paul; to greet GOP

Witness Against War, a seven-week, 497-mile walk to promote peace and nonviolence, crossed its finish line Saturday in St. Paul, in time to greet delegates to the Republican national convention.

A delegation from the national Veterans for Peace convention, taking place in nearby Bloomington, joined the core group of walkers for the last 2.7-mile segment of the trek, which began in Chicago in mid-July.

Members of Code Pink and the Sisters of St. Joseph greeted the walkers and hosted a celebration at St. Joseph Church to mark the end of the journey.

The Obama-Biden Worldview (Pt. 2)

The other day in The Obama-Biden Worldview, Phyllis Bennis, Eric Margolis and Paul Heinbecker talking with Paul Jay of The Real News began a discussion and dissection of the foreign policy mindset and worldview we can expect from an Obama-Biden Administration.

Today in Part 2 of the series they go on to take a shot at the question of whether we will see some fundamental foreign policy movement away from the neocon goals of unipolar total US world military dominance and towards a more realistic and less dangerous “multipolar world” scenario, or whether an Obama-Biden administration will be a continuation of the past 60 odd years of creating the kind of resentment and blowback that causes things like 9/11.

August 31, 2008 – 11 min 43 sec

Will Obama-Biden question military dominance?

Phyllis Bennis is a Senior Analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC. She is the author of Before and After: US Foreign Policy and the September 11 Crisis and Challenging Empire: How People, Governments, and the UN Defy US Power.  Her newest book Understanding the US-Iran Crisis: A Primer  will be available in September 2008.

Eric Margolis is a journalist born in New York City and holding degrees from Georgetown the University of Geneva, and New York University. During the Vietnam War he served as a US Army infantryman. Margolis is the author of War at the Top of the World — The Struggle for Afghanistan and Asia is a syndicated columnist and broadcaster whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The International Herald Tribune, Mainichi Shimbun and US Naval Institute Proceedings.

Paul Heinbecker joined the Department of External Affairs (Canada) immediately after graduation, and received postings abroad in Ankara, Stockholm, and Paris. From 1989 to 1992, Heinbecker served as Chief Foreign Policy Advisor and speechwriter for Prime Minister of Canada Brian Mulroney, and as Assistant Secretary to the Cabinet for Foreign and Defence Policy. In 1992, he was appointed ambassador to Germany. In the late 1990s, he organized the task force on the Kosovo conflict, and served as head of the Canadian delegation to the Climate Change Convention in Kyoto. In 2000, Heinbecker was appointed as Ambassador to the United Nations. There he was a strong proponent of the International Criminal Court and argued for compromise in the lead-in to the 2003 Invasion of Iraq.

The Taliban in Pakistan, from the wasteland to the cities now

The situation in Pakistan is getting worse, there is no other way in saying it.  While the politicians squabble (both in Islamabad and here), the former warlords that ruled neighboring Afghanistan are now assuming more influence.  Slowly, but surely, the Taliban will gain a foothold and then their own fiefdom once more if nothing is done. While we are “winning” in Iraq, we are losing in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

Floodwalls stuffed with…newspapers?

Please take a break from the psychosis-induced Palin Fever sweeping the blogosphere and take a peek at something that should worry and infuriate you.

St. Bernard Parish (an administrative division involving several counties) lies southeast of New Orleans, a troubling location as far as hurricanes are concerned.

Apparently, a couple of years ago, a St. Bernard Parish resident witnessed a contractor (hired by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers) stuffing a floodwall with newspapers.

Yes, newspapers.

Bush and McCain’s Greatest New Orleans Hits

cross posted from The Dream Antilles

Hurricanes aren’t the only things that spiral out of control.  Rethuglican politics spiral too.  They go round and round and round, reprising their greatest hits, trying to revise and rewrite and edit out their greatest failures.  Trying to help you forget.

Who doesn’t remember this as Katrina was destroying New Orleans:


Sunday morning poetry and music

As I sit to try and write something for this morning, I realize that rather than having anything meaningful to share, I’m needing some nourishment myself. I’ve spent alot of time this week watching the convention and thinking about electoral politics. And as Nightprowlkitty and Jay Elias so beautifully captured – some of us have experienced a journey between head and heart…and it has been draining for me.

In addition to that, we know that Gustav is bearing down on the Gulf Coast. That not only brings concerns about the welfare of people who are most vulnerable in that region, it rekindles memories of all the horrors of Katrina.

Finally, I am deeply disappointed already in the gestapo-like tactics my city seems to be employing to deal with potential protesters at the RNC. Due to the nature of my work over the last 20 years, many of the people involved in the city, law enforcement, and courts are friends of mine. I had hoped that they and my home town would rise above what we have seen from other cities in the past. It looks like that will not be the case. I know its happened before, but this time its personal for me.

All these things combine to leave me feeling a bit empty this morning. So I thought that perhaps the best thing I could do is to try to fill myself up with music and poetry. While I’m at it – I’ll share it with you.

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

The Byrds

Turn, Turn, Turn

What do the VP picks add to their tickets?

What exactly was the point of last week’s announcements for vice presidential picks?  On one hand we have a shell of a candidate promoting “change” but doing everything in his power to establish himself as an establishment candidate, picking a Washington, D.C. insider with a record of corporate whoring and unquestioning support for U.S. imperial policy.  Small wonder Barack Obama is either neck-and-neck with or trailing John McCain in the polls; he insists on turning off the very people he needs to put him over the top, including the Clinton supporters.  On the other hand we have the Republican candidate picking a “hockey mom,” with even less political experience than his Democratic counterpart (the very thing he chides his rival for), just so he can pander to the bloc of Clinton supporters inclined to vote for McCain out of spite.

In all the hype and bluster, though, one important question remains: what does either VP pick actually add to the ticket?  Joe Biden, a typical DLC insider with a hawkish foreign policy record and a habit of voting for bills that hurt working Americans, is just the sort of candidate likely to further alienate progressives – the very people Obama needs to put him over the top against McCain.  Assuming progressives will get behind the Democratic nominee simply because he and his followers choose to deny any other alternative exists has always been a recipe for disaster.  Just ask Al Gore and John Kerry.  Obama has done everything he can to blow this election by turning off all those who put their faith and hopes in him thinking he represented a departure from the DLC.  Picking Biden, though it allows for a tough yet compliant attack dog in the general election who makes up for a perceived lack of experience, really does nothing for the Democratic nominee’s chances.

Then there’s Sarah Palin.  I get that she was tapped to be McCain’s veep because of her youth and sex, but those are really the only two things she has going for her as a candidate.  As Michael Moore explained to Keith Olbermann the other night, McCain’s cynical pander is based on the assumption that American women are stupid – that they’ll vote for a woman because of her gender and not her politics.  Her record and positions are typically extreme right-wing: opposed to abortion rights, opposed to gay marriage, supports tax cuts for the wealthy and police state thuggery, among other horrendous policies.  None of those qualities, however, have won a presidential election – not for the past sixteen years, anyway (the last two were rigged, so they cannot be counted on as legitimate examples of right-wing extremism winning anything).  Women who actually care about their reproductive rights and are offended by Stepford wife-type politicians may be galvanized to vote against McCain and his so-called “hockey mom.”  There’s also her firing of Alaska’s public safety director, Walter Monegan, for refusing to fire her former brother-in-law.  This scandal is so outrageous there that the Alaskan legislature is investigating what the Washington Post is dubbing Palin’s own “trooper-gate.”

This may be the first time since George H.W. Bush lost to Bill Clinton that a Republican candidate blew an election by dubious virtue of being dumber than his Democratic counterpart, but don’t count McCain out yet; there are plenty of caging lists, hackable electronic voting machines, and bought state secretaries with which to steal this election, along with a Democratic rival who insists on replaying the Kerry campaign.

Veterans Administration Dedication Rarely Mentioned

Many of us, especially Veterans who are Advocates for our brothers and sisters and those Civilians who join that advocacy, have been writing about the Veterans Administration and especially Veterans Care, which in these times of conflicts also encompass the Military Care system as well. With this technology we can push our advocacy untill it’s paid the attention it should already have by those who do the job of reporting as a profession. And because of the extreme lack of oversight and concern by the representatives we hire, as the drums of war were first pounding and the years following, we find breaking stories far to often in these last months. Months that have brought out the problems with the care, the overwelming numbers needing care and being denied for months or just denied, the living conditions of those receiving the care and even serving, and so much more.

When we write about the needs or the lack oversight and funds we far to often, myself included though I try and remember in my rage, leave out the facts of the true dedication of the workers in the VA System. The workers, who like most of us working stiffs, give their all to the jobs and professions they perform and have to deal with what’s lacking from the administrations, top on down, of these agencies. In the government that administration starts with the Executive Branch, the Congress, the Political Appointee’s to head and the Political Appointee’s they bring in, and Especially to the Governed, Us, who fight the costs needed or follow political ideology leadership if not wanted.

Every once in awhile a report will surface of that dedication within:

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