November 18, 2008 archive

These Are Nostalgic Days

Remember when you were little and your grandparents told you all those quaint stories about banks failing, crops failing, and governments failing?  That seemed like such a long time ago, until recently, when comparisons to the Great Depression suddenly seemed plausible.  My grandparents always thought we had it too easy since we never had to live through a Great Depression.  They sure would be proud of us now!  

This takes me back too:  a visitor to Yellowstone National Park was diagnosed with bubonic plague in August.  Wyoming doesn’t seem to be in any danger of losing one-third of its population the way Europe did in the 1300’s.  But this is thought to be the sixth case of bubonic plague in Wyoming since 1978.  A doctor with the Wyoming Department of Health suggests “avoiding areas where a large number of unexplained rodent deaths have been observed” to keep yourself healthy.  That’s probably good advice for lots of reasons.

But now, follow me back to those romantic days of yesteryear, when the gentle ocean waves were frolicked upon by . . . pirates.  Sometime last weekend pirates seized an oil tanker off the coast of Kenya, and it’s currently anchored off Somalia.  This wasn’t a few scurvy dogs trying to steal some rum either.  The ship, the Sirius Star, is a Saudi supertanker with $100 million of oil on board, and is the largest ship ever taken by pirates.  Even Blackbeard himself never took a ship that large.

Four at Four

  1. The Guardian reports Pirates anchor hijacked supertanker off Somalia coast. “The Sirius Star, which is fully loaded with crude oil, is understood to be at anchor close to a headland called Raas Cusbad, near Hobyo.” The ship’s crew of 25 is reported to be safe.

    “The size of the vessel and the distance from the coast where the hijackers struck is unprecedented,” said Commander Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the US fifth fleet, based in Bahrain. “It shows how quickly the pirates are adapting.”

    The supertanker is carrying 2 million barrels of oil worth about $100 million.

    The ship was on course to sail around the Cape of Good Hope to the US when it was seized. The oil on board represents more than a quarter of Saudi Arabia’s daily output. News of the hijacking caused the price of oil to jump by more than $1 a barrel.

    The LA Times adds America’s top military official is shocked by the pirates’ range.

    “I’m stunned by the range of it,” said Navy Adm. Michael G. Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, commenting at a Pentagon news conference Monday. “Four hundred fifty [nautical] miles away from the coast, that is the furthest, the longest distance I’ve seen for any of these incidents.”

    If this alarm bell doesn’t wake people up, then nothing will. Look part of the problem facing the United States is the failure to imagine and “think outside the box”. This is why events such as the September 11, 2001 terror attacks work so effectively. The American leadership is unimaginative and too conservative in their thinking.

Four at Four continues below the fold with Alberto Gonzales, trains in Baghdad, and boredom.


OMG! Barack Obama hasn’t jailed Cheney and Bush.

OMG! Barack Obama hasn’t closed Gitmo.

OMG! The Dow is at 8100 and Barack Obama hasn’t fixed it.

OMG! Unemployment is at a four year high, and Barack Obama hasn’t decreased it.

OMG! HRC is maybe gonna be Secretary of State, and Barack Obama is appointing her.

OMG! Barack Obama hasn’t invalidated the US policy of torture and illegal extraditions.

OMG! Barack Obama hasn’t gotten the US troops out of Iraq.

OMG! Barack Obama hasn’t stopped US eavesdropping and surveillance.



You know you want to talk about it.

Though the Heavens Fall…

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No justice for war criminals. No justice for Lieberman. No justice for corporate greed.

Are Obama’s critics right? Does he just talk a good game?

Action Alert update: Court dates and petition to support the Hempstead 15

The following just went out this morning via the Veterans for Peace list:

Open Thread


Every thread counts.

Docudharma Times Tuesday November 18

Someday The Bush

Nightmare Will End

Too Bad Only Fortune Tellers And The Physic Network

Know For Sure When  

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Malia and Sasha’s big move

Accused appear in Russian court as Politkovskaya trial begins

Georgia’s rearguard action in face of Amnesty report

Baghdad goes underground with $3bn metro plan

Pills blamed for Gulf War syndrome

In Beijing, author treads fine line as she tells Tibet’s story

Asia, once a piracy hotspot, sees calmer waters

Congo Violence Reaches Endangered Mountain Gorillas

Congo-Kinshasa: Nkunda Objects to Monuc Taking Part in DRC Talks

US case highlights Cuban ‘slaves’ in Curaçao

Administration Moves to Protect Key Appointees

Political Positions Shifted To Career Civil Service Jobs

By Juliet Eilperin and Carol D. Leonnig

Washington Post Staff Writers

Tuesday, November 18, 2008; Page A01

Just weeks before leaving office, the Interior Department’s top lawyer has shifted half a dozen key deputies — including two former political appointees who have been involved in controversial environmental decisions — into senior civil service posts.

The transfer of political appointees into permanent federal positions, called “burrowing” by career officials, creates security for those employees, and at least initially will deprive the incoming Obama administration of the chance to install its preferred appointees in some key jobs.

Similar efforts are taking place at other agencies. Two political hires at the Labor Department have already secured career posts there, and one at the Department of Housing and Urban Development is trying to make the switch.

Top judge: US and UK acted as ‘vigilantes’ in Iraq invasion

Former senior law lord condemns ‘serious violation of international law’

Richard Norton-Taylor, Tuesday November 18 2008 00.01 GMT

One of Britain’s most authoritative judicial figures last night delivered a blistering attack on the invasion of Iraq, describing it as a serious violation of international law, and accusing Britain and the US of acting like a “world vigilante”.

Lord Bingham, in his first major speech since retiring as the senior law lord, rejected the then attorney general’s defence of the 2003 invasion as fundamentally flawed.

Contradicting head-on Lord Goldsmith’s advice that the invasion was lawful, Bingham stated: “It was not plain that Iraq had failed to comply in a manner justifying resort to force and there were no strong factual grounds or hard evidence to show that it had.” Adding his weight to the body of international legal opinion opposed to the invasion, Bingham said that to argue, as the British government had done, that Britain and the US could unilaterally decide that Iraq had broken UN resolutions “passes belief”



Clout Has Plunged for Automakers and Union, Too


Published: November 17, 2008

DETROIT – When the leaders of the three Detroit auto companies and the United Automobile Workers union travel to Washington to make their case for a federal bailout, they will be flying into stiff headwinds of public opinion.

Thus far, much of the commentary in Washington, in the pages of major newspapers and on the Web, has been against providing financial support for the companies, which they will say they desperately need in hearings beginning on Tuesday.

The waves of criticism have been so strong that Susan Tompor, a columnist for The Detroit Free Press, was moved to write on Sunday’s front page: “I never knew Detroit was a dirty word.”

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

State of the Onion IX

Art Link



I don’t know

exactly when

I became one of us

if I first decided

I was

or maybe it was when

someone called me

one of “those people”

but I can’t deny

I have a people

I belong to

We all do

whether we deny it

or not

As one of my people

I can not sit idly by

while my people

are disparaged




We are not jokes

Our lives are not jokes

What we have

to put up with

from other people

vicious other people

is no joke

My people

are teachers

are artists

are thinkers

are lesbians

are writers

are gender-variant

and so much

ever so much

so god damned much


my people

all my people

I cannot

be divided

against myself

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–February 15, 2006

The Best Democracy Bullshit Can Buy

The apparently dire straits that the big three automakers are facing is a loss of revenue due to dropping sales greatly exacerbated by less availability of credit due to banking mismanagement encouraged by deregulation over the past couple of decades.

The problem is a symptom of a larger “disease”, and not the cause of the disease.

Throwing billions of dollars of taxpayer money at the automakers while their customers remain in large part unable to buy the cars they produce will not increase their sales and thus not solve any problem other than keeping the management from going bust.

Treating the symptoms of any life threatening systemic disease without addressing the causes will result in temporary comfort but the patient will die.

A simple answer just will not do.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

File under things I just don’t get and yet can’t let go of.

So Atrios has this item tonight.


That’s Luke Smith, and he’s played by an actor named Tommy Knight.  Chris Hayes is the Washington Editor of The Nation.  Outside of a superficial facial resemblance there is no connection at all.

Now I’d sure like to tell Duncan that The Sarah Jane Adventures is “a big, full-blooded drama; that nobody should ever think of it as ‘just’ a children’s programme.” but I’m not quite sure how to do it.

259 Comments and counting and they’re not nested and you can’t even search the Haloscan window.

How do these people communicate?

The Forgotten Men: New UC Report on “Guantanamo and its Aftermath”

Consider this a companion piece to Compound F’s excellent essay, Justice After Bush: Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration.

Last summer, Physicians for Human Rights and Human Rights First released Broken Laws, Broken Lives: Medical Evidence of Torture by the U.S.. The study looked at medical and psychological evidence of the costs of  torture by eleven men who endured such abuse by US personnel in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantánamo Bay.

Now, University of California, Berkeley’s Human Rights Center, in conjunction with the International Human Rights Law Clinic and Center for Constitutional Rights, has released a report on the medical and psychological condition of 62 detainees released over the years from Guantanamo. According to a press release by the university:

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