August 4, 2008 archive

Short and IMPORTANT!

Now Cong. Wexler is a victim of the same type of Republican attempts to run him out of office, the same that Kucinich suffered.

Impeachment Support Makes Wexler a Target

Four at Four

  1. The Wall Street Journal reports that by exploiting a tax break meant for employees, Companies tap pension plans to fund executive benefits.

    At a time when scores of companies are freezing pensions for their workers, some are quietly converting their pension plans into resources to finance their executives’ retirement benefits and pay.

    In recent years, companies from Intel Corp. to CenturyTel Inc. collectively have moved hundreds of millions of dollars of obligations for executive benefits into rank-and-file pension plans. This lets companies capture tax breaks intended for pensions of regular workers and use them to pay for executives’ supplemental benefits and compensation.

    The practice has drawn scant notice. A close examination by The Wall Street Journal shows how it works and reveals that the maneuver, besides being a dubious use of tax law, risks harming regular workers. It can drain assets from pension plans and make them more likely to fail. Now, with the current bear market in stocks weakening many pension plans, this practice could put more in jeopardy. There is no easy way to determine which companies are taking advatage of this scheme.

    By deferring corporate executive salaries into the employee pension plan, corporations are allowing executives compensation to grow tax free. The company does not have to pay the executives and when they ‘retire’ the employee pension plan covers their deferred salary. This and other moves that allows these highly-compensated executives and corporations to skirt around paying their share of taxes.

    Generally, only the executives are aware this is being done. Benefits consultants have advised companies to keep quiet to avoid an employee backlash.

    Hat tip Paul Kiel at ProPublica.

  2. The New York Daily News reports FBI was told to blame Anthrax scare on Al Qaeda by White House officials. “In the immediate aftermath of the 2001 anthrax attacks, White House officials repeatedly pressed FBI Director Robert Mueller to prove it was a second-wave assault by Al Qaeda, but investigators ruled that out”.

    Mueller was “beaten up” during President Bush’s morning intelligence briefings for not producing proof the killer spores were the handiwork of terrorist mastermind Osama Bin Laden, according to a former aide.

    “They really wanted to blame somebody in the Middle East” …

    Both Bush and Cheney were applying pressure to Mueller. Hat tip TPM Muckraker.

Four at Four continues with harnessing the wind and the first new steam locomotive in Britain in nearly 50 years.

Meta…One piece of the puzzle.

I’m heading off for new pastures tomorrow and might be offline for a day or so after that til I get all the kinks ironed out, so  I thought I would leave you with this, lol.

Perhaps the biggest problem with interaction on blogs is the elusive in definition, yet ever present, “personal attack” or perception of personal attack. Though this video is specifically about race, the method/meta described applies to almost all personal attack situations. It centers on the difference between, the “what they did” conversation as opposed to the “what they are” conversation. And why using personal attack….”what you are”….ends up in flames.

The problem is only exacerbated on smaller blogs where we all get to know…..and form opinions about….and judgments on…another persons character.

When really all we are seeing is PARTS of that other persons character. And then we, in a moment of weakness or to just try to “win, “attack those parts…attack who we THINK they are. It is all too easy to fall into judgment, and then to pigeon hole the ‘opposing’  poster into the very narrow parameters of that judgment. Then the ‘opposition’ is forced to react to our judgment and perception….usually with their own judgment and perception about us.

Voila….flame war.

However, it has been my experience that humans are VERY bad at not judging each other no matter how small the evidence is. I know I do! Even though I try not to. And then I end up not talking to another person….but to the judgments I have formed about that person in the ‘heat of battle.’ It is tough not to do, but if it was easy, ANYONE could do it! This approach is not a cure all, but If we can absorb this and try to put it into practice it will help.

We’re Protesting at the Democratic Convention

Original article by Christian Wright via counterpunch.com.

Subheaded: And You Should Come Join Us!

Pony Party

~♥~ the Pony is an Open Thread. Don’t rec the pony. ~♥~

Get Your War On: The Watch List

Quite a ‘fun’ view!

Real News: Obama sells Europeans on Afghan war



August 4, 2008 – 6 min 27 sec – Obama sells Europeans on Afghan war

European public hails Obama as the anti-Bush, but politicians cool to idea of more troops in Afghanistan

The Guardian headline said “Obama gets rock star welcome” One Berliner called it “an Anti-Bush rally”, and the Financial Times Deutshland called it an “ad for the war on terror “. In a speech laden with cold war rhetoric, Democratic Presidential hopeful Barack Obama stood before more than 200,000 people in Berlin on thursday and summoned Europeans and Americans to work together on many issues, from Iraq and Afghanistan to the “War on Terror” and climate change. Andreas Zumach of Die Tageszietung: European politicians are somewhat glad about the general statements Obama made on the need for improving the Euro-Atlantic alliance again. They have read about what he said on more cooperation on global issues like climate change, on the US in the future more obeying international law. They are very wary, especially the ones in Germany, France, and the other big European countries, about the clear message he sent on Afghanistan, where he very clearly and undiplomatically said, “We need more of your troops in Afghanistan,” which means more war fighting done by the Europeans in a war that’s bound to be lost.

Obama, Rice Team Up on Foreign Policy?


Hat tip to Jeralyn Merritt at Talkleft for this:

If you had to guess which presidential candidate was consulting Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice on foreign affairs would you pick the one from her party — a party which has frequently suggested she be added to the ticket as the VP candidate — or the candidate from the other party? The Aspen Daily News, citing a new Time Magazine article, says it’s Obama who has been consulting Condi Rice on foreign affairs.

From the Time article:

A few days before he left on his eight-country world tour, Barack Obama wanted to discuss the trip with an old contact in Washington: Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Obama’s phone call was in part a courtesy, but over three years of occasional phone conversations, the two have quietly discussed everything from foreign aid to the Middle East and nuclear proliferation. Obama and Rice have come to have a certain respect for each other, says an Obama aide familiar with their conversations, because both take an intellectual, sober view of foreign affairs. “They’ve had good exchanges,” the aide says. “Does he treat her as someone whom he has respect for? Absolutely. Does he listen to her on occasion? Absolutely.”

The little-known Rice-Obama link is just the latest surprise in a summer of unexpected shifts in American foreign policy.



It may prove bittersweet to watch as a new President gets credit for policies she and Bush have promoted, but that is the price of embracing diplomacy so late in the game. At least, says the Obama aide, she can expect the phone calls to continue.

Pony Party

~♥~ the Pony is an Open Thread. Don’t rec the pony. ~♥~

Pony Party

~♥~ the Pony is an Open Thread. Don’t rec the pony. ~♥~

Docudharma Times Monday August 4

Katy Hilton



I’ve been asked again and again for my response to the now infamous McCain celebrity ad. I actually have three responses. It is a complete waste of the money John McCain’s contributors have donated to his campaign. It is a complete waste of the country’s time and attention at the very moment when millions of people are losing their homes and their jobs. And it is a completely frivolous way to choose the next President of the United States.

The Huffington Post




Monday’s Headlines:

McCain opts out of hard truths

Israel’s secret police pressuring sick Gazans to spy for them, says report

Robert Fisk: Syrian leader gets top billing in Middle East by doing nothing?

Children trampled as 145 die in Hindu temple stampede

K2 avalanche death toll climbs to 11

Last struggle is over for Nobel laureate Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

For the good of Europe give Serbia a chance

Supporters rally for ANC leader

Sudan Runners Focus on Games, Not Darfur

In Colombia, a painstaking effort at closure

Grenade attack kills 16 policemen on Chinese border



Tania Branigan in Beijing

guardian.co.uk,

Monday August 4 2008


Attackers have killed 16 policemen and injured 16 more in a suspected terrorist raid in north-west China’s restive region of Xinjiang this morning, the state media have reported.

Two assailants used a dump truck to target a paramilitary police border post near Kashgar, running down and then knifing a team of policemen on their morning drills before exploding grenades, the state news agency Xinhua said.

The area is already under tight security in the run-up to the Olympics, which begin in just four days. The authorities have repeatedly accused Uighur Muslim separatists seeking an independent “East Turkestan” of plotting violent attacks and recently claimed to have arrested 82 people in Xinjiang this year in connection with terrorism.

Iraqis no longer ask, ‘Are you Sunni or Shiite?’



By Nancy A. Youssef | McClatchy Newspapers

BAGHDAD – For years, when she approached Iraqi Army checkpoints and produced an identification card for soldiers to study for clues about her sect, Nadia Hashim used a simple formula to signal the mostly Shiite Muslim force that she, too, is a Shiite.

“I am one of you,” she’d say.

The soldiers would harass Sunnis, but they’d simply wave Hashim through.

Now her pat line gets her an official reproach.

USA

Housing Lenders Fear Bigger Wave of Loan Defaults  



By VIKAS BAJAJ

Published: August 4, 2008


The first wave of Americans to default on their home mortgages appears to be cresting, but a second, far larger one is quickly building.Homeowners with good credit are falling behind on their payments in growing numbers, even as the problems with mortgages made to people with weak, or subprime, credit are showing their first, tentative signs of leveling off after two years of spiraling defaults.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

Interlude

[Phenomena will continue tomorrow.]

Below is the first graphic that I created that I called an egg.  Before that my graphics were in what I call my sandpainting style.

Little did I know it would eventually intersect with an actual panda…and a poem.  I posted them together on Su Lin‘s naming day (pandas born in captivity aren’t named until they are 100 days old, because of the likelihood that they will die.

The poem is a change of pace from my usual fare.  And today is the day we are going to see Su Lin and her mom in our respective flesh.  🙂

Art Link

Red Panda

Su Lin

Su Lin, so they have now named you

A small bit very cute

I tried to keep from loving you

But was not resolute

If in those first one hundred days

News came that you had died

My heart surely would have broken

I would have mourned and cried

Why is it that I love you so?

A black and white furred pig

I hope I never forget you

When you get old and big

Your mother has been so gentle

She loves you as I do

I hope I soon can see you both

At the San Diego Zoo

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–November 10, 2005

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