August 17, 2008 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Russia says Georgia pullout to begin Monday

By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA, Associated Press Writer

10 minutes ago

GORI, Georgia – Russia’s president said troops would begin pulling out of Georgia on Monday, but made no mention of leaving the separatist province at the heart of the conflict between the countries.

A defiant Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili said the former Soviet republic would not relinquish South Ossetia or Abkhazia – both now overrun with Russian troops and abandoned by Georgian soldiers – as Western leaders pushed for a swift Russian withdrawal from positions it has held for days of warfare.

“Georgia will never give up a square kilometer of its territory,” Saakashvili told a news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the latest Western leader to visit Tbilisi and offer support for a country that has become a proxy for conflict between an emboldened Russia and the West.

Café Discovery: predators and prey

I was busy cropping and resizing pictures for the next photo extravaganza.  I inserted a little levity into the piece by labeling a cheetah as “Predator” and some antelope-like creatures as “Assorted Food” (see inside).  In the way of these things that thinking started gnawing at me a bit at a time throughout the day.  Was this fair to the cheetah?  Was it fair to the various springbok and gerenuk, blackbuck and wildebeest, and their kin?

Maybe this was a time to learn something.  And maybe it was time to search for some sort of mythical center.

Needing something to talk about for this edition of Café Discovery, I turned to the Online Etymological Dictionary, from which I quote liberally, while adding my own comments.  The etymologies given are a mixture of that, so don’t hold them responsible for my thoughts. 🙂

What I discovered is that we had it backwards…

When is a withdrawal not a withdrawal?

When the Democratic Presidential candidate, Barack Obama, declares:

A Responsible, Phased Withdrawal

Barack Obama believes we must be as careful getting out of Iraq as we were careless getting in. Immediately upon taking office, Obama will give his Secretary of Defense and military commanders a new mission in Iraq: ending the war. The removal of our troops will be responsible and phased, directed by military commanders on the ground and done in consultation with the Iraqi government. Military experts believe we can safely redeploy combat brigades from Iraq at a pace of 1 to 2 brigades a month that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010, more than 7 years after the war began.

Oh, you don’t see a problem here?  

Well… onward, through the fog…


In these days when the news is filled with young athletes competing to be the best and fulfill their dreams, my mind is grappling with what feels like a paradox. You see, I was raised with the ultimate kind of commitment to what we often call the “protestant work ethic.” My grandfather, who was an inventor and entrepreneur, lived by the following motto:

If you take on the possible and accomplish it, no big deal.

But if you take on the impossible and accomplish it…then you’ve really done something.

So since birth, I was nurtured on this.

There IS something glorious about that kind of quest. And its probably why many of us blog and engage in political activism…we see a better world and no matter the challenge, we’re committed to doing whatever is necessary to reach for that impossible dream.

But there can be a problem with always living for impossible dreams.

I don’t know about you, but part of me sometimes feels like saying…enough. I think this is a concept that especially we here in the US find hard to grasp. What does it mean to…have enough…do enough…be enough?  

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Whale Sign

Yes:  Don’t Kill the Whales

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Whale Sign

Yes:  Don’t Kill the Whale

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Whale Sign

Yes:  Don’t Kill the Whales

Art For, By And About Veterans Begins Sunday

Ilona Meagher has just posted on her blog site, PTSD Combat: Winning the War Within, an outstanding collection of links and a few video’s on what the subject title describes “Art For, By And About Veterans Begins Sunday” and the link just above will take you to it.


Mijo.  Pronounced mee-hoe.

Mijo – Conjoined Spanish slang of affection.  Mi hijo, “my son.”

18 years ago today I was sitting in the Infant ICU at West Paces Ferry Hospital in Atlanta cradling a 7 pound, twelve and a half ounce bundle of pure wonder.  [Written Friday, 8/15/08.]


Docudharma Times Sunday August 17

John McCain Is President

Already In A Parallel Universe

Or His Own Diluted Universe

Neither Of Which Is The Real Universe  

Sunday’s Headlines:

Obama-themed merchandise sales strike it hot

More Chinese, beset by pollution woes, are going green

Pakistan looks to life without the general

How secret talks killed off apartheid

Mbeki gets tough with Mugabe over Zimbabwe talks

Tourists beware: if it’s fun, Italy has a law against it

Forlorn Ségolène sees dirty tricks everywhere

Middle East Sees Hypocrisy in U.S. Stance on Georgia

Hugo Chavez basks in Paraguay President Fernando Lugo’s glory

Phelps’s Epic Journey Ends in Perfection


Published: August 16, 2008

BEIJING – It was so surreal to be Michael Phelps here, to listen to people debate whether he is the greatest athlete in Olympic history after he passed a group that included the runners Carl Lewis and Paavo Nurmi to become the one with the most gold medals.

Phelps is a self-described klutz, a real fish out of water on land, and he has a surgical scar on his right wrist to prove it. In October he took a nasty stumble that imperiled his pursuit of Mark Spitz’s single Games record of seven gold medals. Phelps, 23, slipped on a patch of ice and fell while climbing into a friend’s car in Michigan and broke his right wrist.

Georgia, Russia took a path of belligerence and bluster

Russia supported separatists and distrusted Georgian leader Saakashvili, whose mocking attitude and head-long rush to embrace the U.S. made matters worse.

By Borzou Daragahi and Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

August 17, 2008  

TBILISI, GEORGIA — The Russian diplomat said he couldn’t make it. He had a flat tire. The Georgian official in charge of bringing breakaway regions back into the fold was incredulous.

Temur Iakobashvili had driven up to South Ossetia from the Georgian capital to begin Russian-mediated peace talks to end months of escalating fighting in the pro-Moscow republic. But his Russian counterpart hadn’t shown up.

“Can’t you change the tire?” Iakobashvili says he asked Yuri Popov. No, the Russian diplomat replied. The spare was flat, too.

Less than 12 hours later, war between Russia and Georgia began, a conflict that has roiled the volatile, oil-rich Caucasus, raised tensions between Moscow and the West and nearly crushed this small U.S. ally.

But long before that flat tire, both sides had set their course for conflict, analysts and officials in Washington, Tbilisi and Moscow say: A combination of Russia’s relentless drive toward confrontation and Georgian hubris made last week’s warfare inevitable


Justice Dept. Moves Toward Charges Against Contractors in Iraq Shooting

 By Del Quentin Wilber and Karen DeYoung

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, August 17, 2008; Page A01  

Federal prosecutors have sent target letters to six Blackwater Worldwide security guards involved in a September shooting that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead, indicating a high likelihood the Justice Department will seek to indict at least some of the men, according to three sources close to the case.

The guards, all former U.S. military personnel, were working as security contractors for the State Department, assigned to protect U.S. diplomats and other non-military officials in Iraq. The shooting occurred when their convoy arrived at a busy square in central Baghdad and guards tried to stop traffic.< /blockquote>

In Case You Missed The Latest Friday Night FDA News Dump…

It’s a long standing tradition for government agencies to publicly release findings, rulings and studies they’d rather just as soon not discuss any further on Friday nights.  Who follows news on the weekend?  And by Monday morning, the story is already 3 days old – or in other words, ancient history…

Of course, those of us who know these things know that Saturday morning’s news will always contain a few interesting items.

Here’s the latest, courtesy of the FDA

A controversial chemical commonly found in can linings, baby bottles and other household products does not pose a health hazard when used in food containers, according to a draft assessment released by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Friday.

FDA scientists said the trace amounts of bisphenol A (BPA) that leach out of food containers are not a threat to infants or adults. The agency acknowledged that more research is needed to fully understand the chemical’s effects on humans and noted “there are always uncertainties associated with safety decisions.”

The FDA previously declared the chemical safe but agreed to revisit that opinion after a report by the federal National Toxicology Program said there was “some concern” about its risks to infants.

There go our “watchdogs” in action again, watch them regulate!  Maybe they’re “saving their powder”.  Then again, this is the FDA we’re talking about here…the agency so clueless that they apparently just play “spin the bottle” whenever there’s an outbreak of food poisoning, or just place blame on the first thing that comes to mind.  I’m still waiting for them to blame the next salmonella outbreak on gerbils, because a top agency official may have a 3-year old daughter who fears small rodents.

Crossposted from La Vida Locavore, more below the fold…

Scotland: united public sector action against real wage cuts (There may be lessons to be learned!)

Original article, and editorial/news release, vial Socialist Appeal:

On Wednesday 20th August up to 150,000 public sector workers in Scotland will be taking unified action on pay. GMB, UNISON and Unite members will all be on strike because local government workers have been offered a measly 2.5% a year deal over three years. This after the Cost and Price Index published last week shows the cost of living going up by 4.4%. This sudden jump has called the government’s bluff. Everybody knows the CPI doesn’t reflect the real increase in prices we face.

Here in Indiana, our public sector workers aren’t officially able to collective bargain.  It’s up to the whim of the governor if they’re allowed to (I belive they were able to for a bit before Mitch became governor, but he took it away from them).  Indiana, home to Eugene Debbs, Mother Jones and other great labor leaders, is a right to work state.

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