November 19, 2008 archive

Four at Four

  1. McClatchy Newspapers report Under Iraq troop pact, the U.S. can’t leave any forces behind. If the “withdrawal agreement,” as it is now being called, is endorsed by Iraq’s parliament, then “in six weeks American forces would have to change the way they operate in Iraq, and all U.S. combat troops, police trainers and military advisers would have to leave the country by Dec. 31, 2011. President-elect Barack Obama’s campaign plan to leave a residual force of some 30,000 American troops in Iraq would be impossible under the pact.”

    Of course, the agreement could be amended with written agreement from both Iraq and the U.S. However, “if Iraq wants American forces to leave earlier, it could terminate the agreement with one year’s notice. The United States has the option to do the same.”

    Among other point, the pact states the U.S. may not use Iraq as a base for attacks on another country.

    According to the LA Times, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki is defending the security pact despite it giving the U.S. three more years in Iraq. “lawmakers loyal to Shiite Muslim cleric Muqtada Sadr, who wants the 146,000 U.S. troops in Iraq to leave immediately, vowed to fight passage of the accord.”

  2. The LA Times reports an Indian warship destroyed a suspected pirate ship off Somalia. For the second time in a week, an “Indian warship patrolling the treacherous waters off the Horn of Africa destroyed a suspected pirate ship… The Tabar opened fire on a pirate ship after it came under attack Tuesday evening, leaving the burning vessel to sink.” As the ship sank, some pirates escaped on high-speed rafts.

    Also “on Tuesday, pirates off Somalia’s coast seized an Iranian-owned and Hong Kong-flagged freighter carrying 35 metric tons of wheat and a crew of 25, a Greek freight ship with a crew of 23 and a Thai fishing boat and its crew of 16.”

    Meanwhile pirates have demanded a $120 million ransom delivered in cash for the captured Saudi-suptertanker, Sirius Star, carrying at least $100 million worth of crude oil.

Four at Four continues with deflationary pressures on the economy and CO2 threatening oceanic life.

Reaching Across the Aisle

There has been a lot of talk about bipartisanship.  I’m sure the notion has appeal to those tired of the bickering and lack of accomplishment that has characterized our government for lo these many years.  Since republicans exist and are going nowhere, they deserve a seat at the table goes one popular argument.  Some go so far as to suggest that both parties are equally deserving of the opportunity to govern.  Aside from the fact that our party just trounced their party at the polls, there are many reasons to question what might be the just deserts of the Republican Party.  It certainly, in my view, does not encompass any right whatsoever to govern.  Hell, they don’t even believe in governance.  That fact alone should forever disqualify them from any such opportunity.

Holder pushed 5 year sentences for marijuana possession (1996)

As US Attorney for DC in 1996, Reported Attorney General nominee Eric Holder responded to a battle for control of street dealing in weed by pushing the DC City Council to escalate penalties for possession, and for the DC Police to step up enforcement, endorsing New York Mayor Rudolf Giuliani’s arrest ’em all “quality of life” clampdown.

X-post at kos’ place

Exclusive First Listen: Youth and Paul McCartney

NPR brings another musical treat Exclusive to it’s audience, this one about the group known as The Fireman., November 18, 2008 –  When The Fireman released its debut album in 1993 – the instrumental dance and electronica mix Strawberries Oceans Ships Forest – the band’s identity was a mystery. U.K. music magazine Melody Maker eventually exposed The Fireman as a duo featuring the bassist and producer known as Youth and, to everyone’s surprise, Paul McCartney. Reviewers praised the collaboration as “staggeringly brilliant,” but it was a strange and entirely unexpected direction for the former Beatle.

The Science Is Beyond Dispute

Tuesday in Beverly Hills, California, hundreds of attendees gathered from more than 50 states, provinces and countries at a “Governors’ Global Climate Summit” hosted by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. The summit continues through today.

According to Environmental News Service:

The summit has already led to a signed agreement between U.S. governors and governors from Brazil and Indonesia to reduce forestry-related greenhouse gas emissions. It is the first state-to-state, sub-national agreement focused on reducing emissions from deforestation and land degradation.

“Tropical deforestation accounts for 20 percent of all human-caused carbon emissions in the world, and the governors signing these MOUs with us manage more than 60 percent of the world’s tropical forest lands,” Governor Schwarzenegger said.

“With this agreement, we are focusing our collective efforts on the problem and requiring our states to jointly develop rules, incentives and tools to ensure reduced emissions from deforestation and land degradation,” Schwarzenegger said. “We are also sending a strong message that this issue should be front and center during negotiations for the next global agreement on climate change.”

The agreement commits the U.S. States of California, Illinois and Wisconsin to work with the governors of six states and provinces within Indonesia and Brazil to help slow and stop tropical deforestation, the cutting and burning of trees to convert land to grow crops and raise livestock, and land degradation through joint projects and incentive programs.

It was signed by Governor Antônio Waldez Góes da Silva, Amapa, Brazil; Governor Eduardo Braga, Amazonas, Brazil; Governor Blario Maggi, Mato Grosso, Brazil; Governor Ana Júla de Vasconcelos Carepa, Para, Brazil; Governor Yusof Irwandi, Aceh, Indonesia; and Governor Barnamas Suebu, Papua, Indonesia.

The summit is intended to create opportunities for consensus on climate issues ahead of next month’s UN climate change conference in Poland where governments will work towards a climate accord to take effect after the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.

Barack Obama will not be attending the conference in Poland next month since he will not take office as President until January, “but he has asked members of Congress who are attending the conference as observers to report back to him on what they learn there”, the ENS report says, and Obama did record a message to the summit attendees, which was posted on yesterday.

UPDATE: A Siegel has posted the video of Obama’s message to the conference, with a great point by point analysis of what Obama had to say, here this morning in his essay Obama speaks out against Global Warming. Be sure to check it out.

Open Thread


Thread & Games.

The Skinny on Big Food & Big Pharma

A couple of days ago I wrote this diary and copped quite a few unkind comments, mostly from misinformed posters and a handful of hardcore denialists. Yet the problems persist, and shooting the messenger rarely helps. But I’m a tough cookie, comfortable in the knowledge of what I know and write about and in this diary I’m basically tackling the same issues albeit from a different angle: “Big Pharma” and the multinational junk & processed foods companies (“Big Food”) which, worldwide, make gigantic profits on the back of unsuspecting consumers, specifically marketing non-nutritious food appealing to children and adults alike via disingenuous advertising.

Obesity, though some would prefer to call it eating disorders, is a big growth area, not just for the unwitting sufferers, but also for some food companies which contributes so greatly to the problem. “Big Pharma” which works in tandem with “Big Food” would love to “terminate” its main source of competition: the natural products industry and the organic movement.

Connecting through struggle

I often quote Nezua from The Unapologetic Mexican here. But if you’ve ever read his writing, you know that the man knows how to sit down at a keyboard and bang out some amazing thoughts. One of his latest, A New Breed of Colorblindness, was particularly powerful to me.

The post is a reaction to one by Nina at “Kimchi Mamas” titled Mutt Like Me. As we probably all know, at Obama’s first press conference after the election, he spoke about about the family getting a dog and stated his preference for adopting a “mutt like me.” Here’s what Nina had to say about that.

I’ve heard mixed-race people use that term to describe themselves before, usually in the same ha-ha way Obama did. I’ve also heard it thrown around as an insult, a pejorative, a slur. I’ve felt the slap of that word across my face and it is not a word I can “reclaim.” My fear, however, is that Obama, as the first mixed-race president, will shape the way most Americans view people of mixed race for at least a generation. And will Obama calling himself a “mutt” – with humor, as if the word is nothing, nothing at all – make it socially acceptable for people to start calling me a mutt? My kids?

Because not only does the word have a history as a slur, but there are reasons that that word makes such an easy slur. It allows people to rhetorically reduce us to animals – people “bred” like dogs are bred. For all our “mutts are better!” talk (it is, as Obama knows, better to adopt a dog from a shelter, right? Rejected, but nonetheless in need of love), it still comes from a place where “purebreds” are better. It stinks of eugenics and generally just makes me queezy.

Obama speaks out against Global Warming

In his second substantive, issue-focused discussion since the election, President-elect Barack Obama spoke to the bipartisan governors’ meeting on climate change, with an extensive international audience. I recommend reading the speech (after the fold) and watching the video, but there are some key points worth calling out and perhaps just one important issue to raise.

This is a clear statement that Barack Obama’s discussion of energy and global warming issues during the campaign will translate directly into the White House and is core to the Administration.

I promise you this: When I am President, any governor who’s willing to promote clean energy will have a partner in the White House. Any company that’s willing to invest in clean energy will have an ally in Washington.

Obama makes a strong point about science and the view of it from the Oval Office come January 20th: “The science is beyond dispute and the facts are clear.”   In the new ‘bipartisan’ era, can we hope that denialists need not apply?

More on Obama and clean energy below…

Give it up for the Gulf Coast, take 5

The gross incompetents and criminally negligent may be leaving DC soon, but there are still tens of thousands of people on the gulf coast who haven’t been able to rebuild… so we’re going back over Christmas, some for the fifth time since the storm.

What started as a group of 7 is now over 70 strong.

Show us some love… and if you’re near Westchester County, NY… come listen to some music:


The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Big 3 carmakers beg for  5B, warn of catastrophe

By JULIE HIRSCHFELD DAVIS, Associated Press Writer

11 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Detroit’s Big Three automakers pleaded with a reluctant Congress Tuesday for a $25 billion lifeline to save the once-proud titans of U.S. industry, pointedly warning of a national economic catastrophe should they collapse. Millions of layoffs would follow their demise, they said, as damaging effects rippled across an already-faltering economy.

But the new rescue plan appeared stalled on Capitol Hill, opposed by the Bush administration and Republicans in Congress who don’t want to dip into the Treasury Department’s $700 billion financial bailout program to come up with the $25 billion in loans.

“Our industry … needs a bridge to span the financial chasm that has opened up before us,” General Motors Corp. CEO Rick Wagoner told the Senate Banking Committee. He blamed the industry’s predicament not on management failures but on the deepening global financial crisis.

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

State of the Onion X

Art Link

Red Neon

On Gender

extraordinary – weird

unconventional – odd

exceptional – queer

peculiar – strange

gifted – outlandish

outstanding – bizarre

special – eccentric

curious – atypical

unusual – abnormal

Why is “normal”

the objective?

There is

a broad horizon

of possibility

for the human


Rather than circling

our wagons

to protect and defend

only one or two

or even just a few

acceptable ways

of living,

shouldn’t we

begin the exploration

of those other


Why isn’t it possible

to expand  the definition

of woman

and expand the definition

of man,

while simultaneously allowing

people to claim neither

or both or even

to develop

whole new categories

of gender?

What does

society have

to lose?

What does

society have

to fear?

Once again, I  ask:

Why is normality

the objective?

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–November 9, 2005

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