September 7, 2008 archive

Uh oh..Saakashvili-o’s!

Folks, it seems as if everyone’s favorite Georgian President is spoiling for a Round 2 with Moscow.

Despite the presence of Russian troops on Georgian soil, President Mikhail Saakashvili said the West would help his country regain control of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, the separatist regions of Georgia recognized as independent nations by Moscow last month.

“Our territorial integrity will be restored, I am more convinced of this than ever,” Saakashvili said in a televised appearance. “This will not be an easy process, but now this is a process between an irate Russia and the rest of the world.”

“Our goal is the return of our territory and the peaceful unification of Georgia,” he said.

– excerpt from “Georgian president vows to reclaim 2 provinces “, AP, 2008

You know, I felt bad about what happened in Georgia.  Tbilisi’s top man should have known better than to try and call Moscow’s bluff.  Washington should have also known better than to egg on Saakashvilli.  Nobody ended up a winner in this, well maybe Gazprom, but who knows I’ll defer to Jerome a Paris on that.  

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Government seizes control of GSEs

By Glenn Somerville, Reuters

1 hour, 13 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. government on Sunday seized control of mortgage finance companies Fannie Mae (FNM.N) and Freddie Mac (FRE.N), in what could be the biggest federal bailout in U.S. history in a bid to support the U.S. housing market and ward off more global financial market turbulence.

“Our economy and our markets will not recover until the bulk of this housing correction is behind us,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said at a news conference. “Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are critical to turning the corner on housing.”

The two companies, publicly traded but also serving a government mission to support housing, were put in a conservatorship that allows their stock to keep trading but puts common shareholders last in any claims.

Custer’s Pipeline & Genocide Denial (Edited)

A Canadian company has the legal right to condemn land for a crude-oil pipeline through the eastern part of the state (South Dakota in this case) –

Custer’s method of attack was a four front attack at dawn on sleeping villages. It seems an extreme comparison to make, even irresponsible. Is it however, since George W. Bush and the Neoconservative forces in the U.S. and in Canada who de-affirmed the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples are going to finish what Custer started in the sacred Black Hills? Custer discovered gold there and that brought the railroad along with cultural destruction in the very least. Today, uranium has been being drilled for, and more cultural destruction will probably tragically come about as the result of the TransCanada Keystone Project. But wait, that’s not the only problem.

St Paul, Repression, Solidarity and Diversity of Tactics

As a witness to some of the events this past week in St Paul, I wanted to write about it.  As well as having friends who were arrested, in jail and looking at prison sentences, I took it more personal.

I’ve thought about the fact of how many have brought up how they’ve been arrested and/or fellow comrades and how that may take away from the movement and any issues going on in the world.  However, I think that bringing that up is so important because of the police repression that happened in Minnesota this past week, simply for organizing, protesting with a WIDE variety of tactics (whether that is deemed legal or not) and other things that “apparently” people arrested did.

The Welcoming Committee brought up the diversity of tactics for other groups of all kinds on the left to sign on to, as a lesson to the WTO Protests in 1999 in Seattle. Of course, not everyone is going to agree on what Anarchists do and what Liberal kids do … I certainly don’t agree that voting is the change of everything or signing petitions in mass numbers will do much. However, I can agree it may work better at a local level.

An article from May of 2008 (about Diversity of Tactics):

Simply put, “diversity of tactics” means that activists will respect each others’ methods of protesting, allowing each other time and space in which to conduct their protests. Many cited the World Trade Organization demonstrations in Seattle as a successful protest from which lessons on mass mobilization should be drawn. Others spoke of their experience as anti-war activists during the Vietnam War.…

It’s About McCain!

With both thanks and apologies to Glen Greenwald and Brave New Films, a video mashup I hope you will enjoy.

And remember boys and girls, it’s not about Palin…


On Learning to Fly

This last Wednesday marked the one year anniversary since I signed up at Docudharma and next Tuesday it will be one year since I posted my first essay. So I think a little reflection is in order.

Its been a great year and I’ve learned alot! I appreciate everything…including the “aha” moments, struggles, laughter, music, and poetry; but most of all the conversation.

I thought I’d celebrate by taking another look at the very first essay I ever posted here. Not just out of nostalgia, but because it is perhaps the best job I ever did of capturing my goals for participating at Docudharma.

You see, I’m still working on learning how to fly.

Here’s an interesting take on the history of black/white relations in the US from Ampersand at Alas! A Blog.

Sunday music retrospective: Cold on the Shoulder

Gordon Lightfoot:  Cold on the Shoulder

This is one of my favorite albums from back in the day, but many of the songs have not been available through youtube until very recently.  There is apparently a group of Lightfoot enthusiasts trying to change that, though some of them are still embedding disabled.  I’ve included links to those though.

Bend in the Water

Rainy Day People

The Real McCain

If the CERN Large Hadron Collider doesn’t end the world as we know it, we still have John Sidney McCain as the backup plan.

There is a big difference though. The LHC, if it’s experiments successfully bear out hypotheses, may provide physicists with a new understanding of the workings of the universe so fundamental that they will be able to fit the final few pieces of data into the final touches of a coherent Theory of Everything so complete that the fantasy of an invisible man in the sky ruling the universe will at long last be laid to rest, for anyone capable of critical thinking and reason at least, and the irrational dream world that people like McCain, Dobson, Bush, Palin, Kristol, Lieberman, Scheunemann and others inhabit may be one step closer to coming to an end.

On the other hand, if we are still here on November 08 an electoral win by McCain may simply set in motion the final few mindless political and military moves that will ultimately destroy America, civilization as we know it, and the environmental capability of the earth to support life.

Matt Welch, Editor in Chief of Reason Magazine, talking with Paul Jay of The Real News explains and provides a history of McCain and his ties to militant neocons.

September 7, 2008 – 8 min 25 sec

No moderate, no realist, McCain the neocon

Matt Welch is a journalist, blogger, pundit and a libertarian. Since 2008, he has been the editor-in-chief at the monthly libertarian journal, Reason. Recently (from 2006 to 2007), he was an editorial page editor for the Los Angeles Times. He has written a portrayal of Republican presidential candidate John McCain, from a libertarian perspective. In McCain: The Myth of a Maverick, Welch argues that a McCain presidency would advance a statist agenda.

Docudharma Times Sunday September 7

Flag Pins And Paper Flags

The Real Important Issues

Unlike Say The Economy Or The War In Iraq

Sunday’s Headlines:

Vanishing Barns Signal a Changing Iowa

Zimbabwe: Mugabe aides hold secret talks to gain immunity

A Life in the Day: Peter Mbewe, Zambian ex-post-office worker

A very Gallic view of single motherhood

‘Wrestler’ knocks out competition to take Venice’s Golden Lion

Shimon Peres warns Israel’s hawks over Iran strike

Cairo rockslide search continues

India says nuclear deal will ensure economic future

New light on Korean spy mystery

In Mexico, a police victory against smuggling brings deadly revenge<

Treasury to Rescue Fannie and Freddie  

Regulators Seek to Keep Firms’ Troubles From Setting Off Wave of Bank Failures

By Zachary A. Goldfarb, David Cho and Binyamin Appelbaum

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, September 7, 2008; Page A01    

The Bush administration yesterday prepared to take over the troubled housing finance companies Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, after concluding the companies don’t have enough capital to continue to play their crucial role funding home mortgages.

Under the plan, engineered by Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., the government would place the two companies under “conservatorship,” a legal status akin to Chapter 11 bankruptcy. Their boards and chief executives would be fired and a government agency, the Federal Housing Finance Agency, would appoint new chief executives.

Pakistan: Bhutto’s shadow lingers as Zardari takes reins of power

Benazir’s husband is voted in amid muted rejoicing, but army hostility and militant violence could threaten hopes for stability, reports Jason Burke

Jason Burke

The Observer,

Sunday September 7 2008

Asif Ali Zardari, husband of the late Benazir Bhutto, will be sworn in today as President of Pakistan, arguably the most powerful civilian to take the office in the volatile, nuclear-armed state for more than 30 years.

Zardari takes power at a time of extreme instability, with the strategically crucial state struggling to contain a growing Islamic militant insurgency and deal with a crumbling economy. The challenges facing the new head of state, who controversially looks set to remain leader of the Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), were reinforced yesterday by a blast in the western city of Peshawar, which killed 17 and injured scores more. In a separate incident, Pakistan’s military said 24 people were killed after residents of a village in the unruly northwest foiled a militants’ kidnap attempt, then were attacked.


This story says a lot about, not only the state of American politics but the media as well

Flag flap sullies candidates’ vow to stand together at Ground Zero

By William Douglas and Margaret Talev | McClatchy Newspapers  

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – On the same day that John McCain and Barack Obama pledged to put political differences aside and appear together at Ground Zero for the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attack, the two campaigns were engaged Saturday in a flap over the American flag.

The spat began in this Republican stronghold at an airport rally for McCain and running mate Sarah Palin. Before the Republican presidential ticket took the stage, a radio personality emceeing the event announced that veterans were going to give the rally crowd thousands of small American flags that were discarded and rescued from Obama’s massive Democratic National Convention rally at Denver’s Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium.

HONORING THE FALLEN: US Military KIA, Iraq/Afganistan – August 2008


There have been 4,468 coalition deaths — 4,154 Americans, 2 Australians, 1 Azerbaijani, 176 Britons, 13 Bulgarians, 1 Czech, 7 Danes, 2 Dutch, 2 Estonians, 1 Fijian, 5 Georgians, 1 Hungarian, 33 Italians, 1 Kazakh, 1 Korean, 3 Latvian, 22 Poles, 3 Romanians, 5 Salvadoran, 4 Slovaks, 11 Spaniards, 2 Thai and 18 Ukrainians — in the war in Iraq as of September 5, 2008, according to a CNN count. { Graphical breakdown of casualties }. The list below is the names of the soldiers, Marines, airmen, sailors and Coast Guardsmen whose deaths have been reported by their country’s governments. The list also includes seven employees of the U.S. Defense Department. At least 30,568 U.S. troops have been wounded in action, according to the Pentagon. View casualties in the war in Afghanistan.

The World May End Before The November Election

Each presidential candidate may think that he is a bigger man than the other.

Well, it matters little what either of them may think, because there are powers greater than either of them and greater than any the President of the United States will ever command.

Unlimited powers that can vaporize whole planets, whole universes in fact, and the world just might end before either of them becomes president.

It turns out that there are much bigger and much smaller events taking place that affect us, all of us, no matter our gender, race, or political leanings, and make the presidential elections pale into insignificance.

When you look around you at all the objects, including yourself and other people, that make up the world, they appear to be of different sizes. What is it that determines what size an object is?

All objects you see are collections of molecules that are in turn collections of atoms that are in turn collections of hadrons; protons and neutrons, orbited by electrons. An atoms size is measured by the size of the orbits of the electrons.

If the mass of electrons were larger or smaller than is observed in nature, atoms would be larger or smaller, and consequently molecules and objects you see around you would be larger or smaller. So it is the mass of electrons that determines the size of everything you see, including the size of the man or woman that occupies the Oval Office.

John McCain may turn out to be a very small man after all. Possibly smaller a man than even George W. Bush.  

Are You Experienced?

I recently participated in the overly burdened multi-stage process that my place of employment uses for hiring. We were looking for a new manager for one of our Hem-Onc units, we have a relatively democratic atmosphere. Case in point, while doing rounds last night in the middle of total chaos the new fellow introduces himself to me and says so you’re my Leukemia expert and I said,” No that would be you.” He laughed and sad ,”Well X informs me you’re going to keep me from making mistakes while I am new.”  Because, well, he is right. I will. I supervise the RNs but I also have to shepherd the new docs who know far more than me. I have plenty of experience doing this: dealing with people far smarter than I. If somebody asked me to put a one liner on my resume that would be it: I can recognize when somebody is smarter than me and in my workplace I am surrounded by them. It happens in a research institution.

We had five candidates and the one I favored is very young, inexperienced and male, still a big minority in nursing. My belief was that if we did not hire him another institution was going to snap him up and apparently for once in my career I was on the same side as the big dogs who decided to he was the right choice.

His big negative was a lack of experience. And we are already talking about experience in this charmingly obtuse political season. Who has it. Who doesn’t. What kind of “experience” do we want?

Think about how many big steps in life we take with no experience. The first time you get married, have your first child, drive a car, go on a date. Think about all the incredibly bad advice you got from those so called “experienced” people. Sure I am guilty of playing the middled aged “experience” card myself when I doll out my advice and I am just as often wrong.

The only relevant experience for being president is being president. Of course it ends up that I am defending the choice of Palin by saying this and actually her lack of experience doesn’t bother me: it is the crazy packaged as middle America that irks me. That is the genius of American cultural hegemony. It is so broad and vague that almost anybody can be made to seem just like you and I when they aren’t.

We are taking a chance on a new manager at my workplace. I don’t know what change he is bringing but I just coherent enough to know change is coming and I can either rely on my old patterns of thinking and risk becoming professionally irrelevant or learn to surf in the new ocean. People often say that change for the sake of change isn’t necessarily better but nor is it necessarily worse.

What good is experience if it is just used to enforce an existing and decaying order? What good are leadership skills it they are merely a repetition of worn out tunes? Most leadership skills are acquired when one becomes one anyway. Of course I have had plenty of leadership training at my work place but it happened long after I took my position and after I basically asked for it.

Experience in politics, at work, and in life is only a useful tool if one actually decides to learn from it, to admit mistakes and formulate new approaches.

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