August 16, 2008 archive

The High Desert

We spent the first four nights and the last two in Hesperia, in what’s called the High Desert (the Cajon Pass is at 4190 feet and the southern part of Hesperia where we were at nearly 4000).  Jim’s lawyering meant that he would only be available the second weekend of our time in southern California.

There were five of us humans:  me, Debbie, her cousins Laurie and Mike, and Aunt Lee. And there was an assortment of animals:  three dogs, a cat, 5 adult turtles and three clutches of 5 turtle eggs each, buried in the hard-packed sandy soil of the desert.  And I should mention the assortment of avian life as well:  some ravens who would love nothing less than to feed on baby tortoises, a family or two of quail that I could never get a shot of, various smaller birds, no shortage of neighborhood dogs who barked endlessly, a noisy neighborhood rooster, and the usual assortment of desert invertebrates.

[Note:  17 photos inside.  I did try to minimize file size.]

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Bombers strike Iraq pilgrims for 3rd straight day

By SAMEER N. YACOUB, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 17 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – Bombers struck Shiite pilgrims Saturday for a third consecutive day, killing six people in the latest in a series of attacks apparently aimed at stoking sectarian tension.

The attacks have targeted pilgrims headed for the Shiite city of Karbala, where hundreds of thousands of people have gathered for festivities that culminate Sunday morning.

No group has claimed responsibility, but assaults on Shiite civilians have been carried out for years by Sunni extremists such as al-Qaida in Iraq.

Real News: No ‘good guys’ In Georgia Conflict

With the rhetoric from both Washington and Moscow heating up as the provocation of Russia continues, the US media continues to cloud the truth and slant the issues and the stories as much as possible in favor of “acting President” McCain, to whom Bush seems to defer to and to have turned over control of US Foreign Policy to the past few days.

Yesterday in Moscow, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev assured South Ossetia and Abkhazia of Russia’s support in their bid for independence as ceasefire held in Georgia and the focus shifted to a post-war settlement…

“Russia’s position is unchanged. We will support any decisions taken by the peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” said Mr. Medvedev at a Kremlin meeting with the leaders of the two self-proclaimed republics. “We will not only support but will guarantee [your decisions] both in the Caucasus and throughout the world.”

Mr. Medvedev in fact declared Moscow’s readiness to brush aside the West’s objections to the two regions’ split from Georgia in much the same way as the West ignored Russian protests against Kosovo’s independence.

Mr. Medvedev’s statement signals a major shift in Moscow’s stand.

Meanwhile, today, with Russia, Georgia and the US engaging in a war of words, Matthew Rothschild, Editor of the Progressive, believes all three are behaving hypocritically.

August 16, 2008 – 2 min 53 sec

Matthew Rothschild: US and Russia hypocrisy cubed

Matthew Rothschild is the editor of The Progressive magazine. Rothschild has appeared on Nightline, C-SPAN, The O’Reilly Factor, and NPR, and his newspaper commentaries have run in the Chicago Tribune, the L.A. Times, the Miami Herald, and a host of other newspapers. Rothschild is also the author of a book entitled You Have No Rights: Stories of America in Our Repressive Age (New Press, 2007). Rothschild is also the co-founder and director of The Progressive Media Project, which since 1993 has been distributing opinion pieces to newspapers around the country in an effort to diversify and democratize the national debate.

The War Party

The Republicans have backed themselves into a corner, ideologically. So far no one in the Merde Stream Media seems to have noticed.

They are reduced to two themes, which are blatantly paradoxical, in the world of logic. Too bad that that world has so few inhabitants these days. And yet they cannot back away from either of them without losing their base(s) and without repudiating their own ideological philosophy. Which as any thinking person can see after 8 years of unopposed (unless you count Congress, hahaha) rule by the War party, is a complete and utter failure on all levels.

The first theme is of course,  War. The second hearkens back to Bush Sr’s “read my lying lips” moment that cost him a second term….thank the Goddess. McCain cannot in any way shape or form even suggest increases. Even as the national debt soars towards ten trillion dollars

and the budget deficit FOR JULY tops $100 billion as the administration bails out failed (due to Republican policies) banks and mortgage lenders, which have caused an international credit crisis that is devaluing the dollar and making it much, much harder to pay off the money that we are borrowing from China, the Arab states, and Russia …..the current target of McCain’s macho posturing. The Pentagon is requesting a record budget of over $600 billion, in addition to the supplementals for Iraq….which are now up to what the entire Vietnam War cost. But we cannot raise taxes to actually PAY for the Republican policy of endless war…so we just print more money, which devalues the dollar, making it harder and harder to pay off the money ….that we are borrowing hand over fist from our ostensible global enemies, so we can wage war against them! What a scam!


More Gun Nuttery

The state of Texas, ever the testing ground for horrendously bad policy, has in one of its school districts decided to allow teachers to carry guns in the classroom.

Texas school district to let teachers carry guns

Fri Aug 15, 3:32 PM ET

HOUSTON (Reuters) – A Texas school district will let teachers bring guns to class this fall, the district’s superintendent said on Friday, in what experts said appeared to be a first in the United States.

The board of the small rural Harrold Independent School District unanimously approved the plan and parents have not objected, said the district’s superintendent, David Thweatt.

School experts backed Thweatt’s claim that Harrold, a system of about 110 students 150 miles northwest of Fort Worth, may be the first to let teachers bring guns to the classroom.

Thweatt said it is a matter of safety.

“We have a lock-down situation, we have cameras, but the question we had to answer is, ‘What if somebody gets in? What are we going to do?” he said. “It’s just common sense.”

Teachers who wish to bring guns will have to be certified to carry a concealed handgun in Texas and get crisis training and permission from school officials, he said.

Recent school shootings in the United States have prompted some calls for school officials to allow students and teachers to carry legally concealed weapons into classrooms.

The U.S. Congress once barred guns at schools nationwide, but the U.S. Supreme Court struck the law down, although state and local communities could adopt their own laws. Texas bars guns at schools without the school’s permission.

(Reporting by Jim Forsyth in San Antonio; writing by Bruce Nichols in Houston, editing by Vicki Allen)

Here’s an accompanying link courtesy of

Nearly any time we put on any kind of public event, the NRA would send its hired-gun “PR firm,” the Mercury Group, to stake out our press conferences, report releases, or fundraisers with their camerapeople. And just like Bill O’Reilly’s ambush producers, they would try and disrupt the event by shouting leading questions based on studies from their favorite researchers. Quite often they would yell things like, “Considering John Lott’s study that the availability of guns in the hands of law-abiding citizens reduces crime, why do you . . . ?” And then the president of our organization, at the time a savvy guy named Bob Walker, would have to sidetrack the issue at hand in order to point out how Lott’s studies had been discredited by legitimate academic researchers, and that, as Matt Bai of Newsweek once wrote, Lott had “been shown the door at some of the nation’s finest schools.”

After a TV appearance, Lott once chased my immediate boss down a hallway, shouting at her that she’d have “blood on her hands.” He has been famously exposed as his own sock-puppet. He logged onto under a pseudonym, “Mary Rosh,” and gave his own books five-star ratings, claiming that Lott was “the best professor I ever had.” But what do you expect from a guy who has published articles that claim that crime goes up when there are more black officers on a city police force, and that allowing teachers to carry concealed handguns in schools will deter school shootings?

How much do you want to bet that the Harrold Independent School District based its decision in large part on the basis of Lott’s deceptive and unsubstantiated claims?  Here’s another bit from the Smirking Chimp column:

You see, no matter how much the NRA spends each election season to tilt the scales, or how many politicians whose offices it can “work right out of” (as it said about Bush in 2000), all it takes is one loon with a lot of firepower, and the NRA retreats back inside its bunker and offers “no comment.”

When 58-year-old Jim Adkisson got tired of all the liberals he felt were taking away jobs and wrecking society, he allegedly loaded up with 76 shells and a shotgun he bought at a pawnshop and headed for a liberal Unitarian church in Knoxville, Tenn., to shoot it up. It’s the sort of crime the NRA, months from now, will argue that could be prevented “if you let law-abiding citizens carry guns to church.” I’m sure even Mary Rosh would agree.

Anyone care to disagree?

“Pravda” is Russian for “Truth.”

(h/t: xxdr zombiexx)

(crossposted from Cobalt6)

I wonder what Russian for “b-slap” is?

Man oh man oh man oh man!  

So you have the colossal audacity, Mr. Bush, to “warn” Russia to pull back? As the wanton, perverse war criminal under whose watch the world saw the crime known as “shock and awe” committed, I’d say you were well out of your mind to suggest that Russia should pull back….And you expect your words to be heeded or even listened to? You are joking! It is said when Caligula went mad he heard laughing.

Do you hear people laughing at you Mr. Bush?

YEAH! That’s what I’M talking about!

I think I need a cold shower.

McKKKain/Metzger ’08?

(crossposted from….from…what’s a nice k357r3l like me doing in a place like that?)

Jump over.

UPDATED with Part 2: Real News: US Missile Deal Enrages Russia

On Saturday we saw Journalist Eric Margolis talk with Real News CEO Paul Jay about the question has the dangerous situation in the Caucasus fomented by the neocons now taken on a possibly unstoppable momentum of its own towards war between the US and Russia?

Today the interview with Margolis continues as a Russian general threatens Poland over the US/Poland missile deal. Russian rhetoric includes threat of a nuclear attack on Poland should the US provocations continue and build to a crisis point.

August 17, 2008 – 6 min 24 sec

Russian General threatens Poland over missile deal

US missile deal enrages Russia (Part 2)

Russian President Dimitri Medvedev stated on Friday that Poland’s agreement to accept a US missile defense system target his country. Washington claims the defense shield is aimed at blocking attacks by rogue nations. These developments follow the recent conflict between Russia, and Georgia.

Pony Party: Your Morning Art

The singer in this piece, Irma Thomas is one of those great NOLA singers who never exactly hit the big time but has a following. She also has a new CD out if you like her pipes….

Any way hope y’all are having a great day. Don’t rec pony party. Hang out chit chat and then go read some of the excellent offerings on our recent and rec’d list…

The Extremely Important Presidential Candidate Forum That Wasn’t

We have two theaters of occupations of others in destroyed countries, destroyed by us, one in continuing destruction from others before to us now and our broken promises of helping to rebuild as that theater grows more dangerous, the other totally destroyed on the trumped up lies of a twisted ideology of a few, tens of thousands dead and maimed, millions living as refugee’s, billions of dollars wasted, stolen, lost in the machine of war profitteering, soldiers serving mutiple tours in both, families of same scraficing as a nation that is not moves along, most not caring what is happening In Their Names.

We call this “The War On Terror” and in the seven years these conflict theaters have been raging all we’ve created are the hatreds that will feed the ranks of the criminal terrorists leading to damaged National Securities around the globe and more theaters of death, destruction and occupations.

The sub title of this ‘War On Terrorism’ has been sold to all as a clash of twisted religious ideologies, a ‘Religious War’, on all sides. Those war hawks supporting and pushing these ideologies, few of them fighting, define everything about these clashes with political and religious labels, those opposed are left to define in same manner.

Docudharma Times Saturday August 16

Building A Better Police State

Through More Domestic Spying

Welcome To Bush’s America

Saturday’s Headlines:

Did Washington waste millions on faulty voting machines?

Spain accused of exporting binge drinkers to Portugal

Russia in nuclear threat to Poland

New fakery scandal, as China’s ‘ethnic’ children actually come from Han majority

Taliban wages war on aid groups

Shiite Iraqi cleric asks his followers to sign a blood pledge of loyalty

Egypt: Iran should reassure West on nuclear issue

Summit begins with Zimbabwe rivals in attendance

Six days that broke one country – and reshaped the world order

Ian Traynor

The Guardian,

Saturday August 16 2008

Pity Georgia’s bedraggled first infantry brigade. And its second. And its hapless navy.

For the past few evenings in the foothills of the Southern Caucasus on the outskirts of Joseph Stalin’s hometown of Gori, reconnaissance units of Russia’s 58th army have been raking through the spoils of war at what was the Georgian army’s pride and joy, a shiny new military base inaugurated only last January for the first infantry, the army engineers, and an artillery brigade.

A couple of hours to the west, in the town of Senaki, it’s the same picture. A flagship military base, home to the second infantry brigade, is in Russian hands. And down on the Black Sea coast, the radars and installations for Georgia’s sole naval base at Poti have been scrupulously pinpointed by the Russians and destroyed.

No Cold War, but Big Chill Over Georgia


Published: August 15, 2008  

CRAWFORD, Tex. – “The cold war is over,” President Bush declared Friday, but a new era of enmity between the United States and Russia has emerged nevertheless. It may not be as tense as the nuclear standoff with the Soviet Union, for now, but it could become as strained.

Russia’s military offensive into Georgia has shattered, perhaps irrevocably, the strategy of three successive presidential administrations to coax Russia into alliance with the West and integration into its institutions.

From Russia’s point of view, those efforts were never truly sincere or respectful of its own legitimate political and security interests. Those interests, it is now clear, are at odds with those of Europe and the United States.


U.S. May Ease Police Spy Rules

More Federal Intelligence Changes Planned

By Spencer S. Hsu and Carrie Johnson

Washington Post Staff Writers

Saturday, August 16, 2008; Page A01  

The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.

The proposed changes would revise the federal government’s rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation’s 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.

Gitmo On The Platte: The Police State Lives In Denver

cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Just in case you thought that exercising your Constitutional Right to assemble in Denver,  engage in non-violent protest and perhaps participate in civil disobedience at the Democratic National Convention was going to be easy and humane, the NY Times informs in an article entitled, “Grim Warehouse Set To Process Convention Arrests,” that is not to be the case.  The Government has set up a mini-Gitmo to handle pesky protesters who get arrested in Denver.  And they’re telling you about it now, so you’ll reconsider your plans.  And maybe stay home.

Individuals arrested at the Democratic National Convention will be processed at an industrial warehouse with chain-link cells topped by razor wire, a facility some have compared to the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay. /snip

The Denver sheriff’s office, which operates city and county jails, insists anyone taken to the center will be there only a few hours while they’re fingerprinted, issued a court date and released after posting bail. Others will be transferred to facilities designed for longer detentions.

Of course if the numbers are overwhelming, that’s all going to be out the door,” said Capt. Frank Gale, a sheriff’s spokesman. ”If we’re inundated with a bunch of civil unrest, it doesn’t matter how well we prepare. If we get severe numbers it’s going to take us forever” to process those in custody. /snip  A sign [at the facility] read: ”Electric stun devices used here.”

Gale said each cell will be about 20-by-20 feet. He refused to say how many people could be processed there.  /snip

ACLU-Colorado legal director Mark Silverstein said city officials told him detained protesters will be taken by bus to the facility, about 2 miles northeast of downtown. Those who are unable or refuse to post bail will be taken to a downtown city jail to await a court date.

Silverstein said warehouse cells won’t have running water, bathrooms or telephones. Gale said deputies will escort anyone needing those services.

Great.  A mini-Gitmo on the Platte.  20 x 20 cells with an unknown number of people in them, for an unknown period of time, without food, water or toilets.  And the idea that if there are too many people, whatever planning there was would be overwhelmed.  And then those incarcerated would be stuck.

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