January 4, 2009 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Female bomber at Shiite shrine in Baghdad kills 38

By PATRICK QUINN, Associated Press Writer

2 hrs 34 mins ago

BAGHDAD – A woman hiding among Iranian pilgrims with a bomb strapped under her black robe killed more than three dozen people on Sunday outside a Baghdad mosque during ceremonies commemorating the death of one of Shiite Islam’s most revered saints.

The suicide attack, the most recent in a series that has killed more than 60 people in less that a week, was the latest to mar the transfer of many security responsibilities from the U.S. military to Iraqi forces.

Iraqi security forces have deployed thousands of troops in Baghdad and in the Shiite holy city of Karbala, just south of the capital, to safeguard against attacks during the ceremonies. Attacks by al-Qaida in Iraq, Sunni insurgents and even a Shiite cult have killed hundreds of people in recent years.

Israeli Blitzkrieg in Gaza: Background to the Conflict

Today, the news reports that Israel has moved beyond its land/air/sea bombardment of Gaza, which has killed hundreds, including many civilian men, women and children. Tanks, motorized forces and troops have virtually cut the territory in half. While four Israelis have died from Hamas rocket attacks since the invasion began, BBC reports:

According to Hamas officials and witnesses, the main fighting is now centred on four areas: east of the Jabaliya refugee camp; in the Zeitoun neighbourhood to the east of Gaza City; on the coastal road close to the site of the former Jewish settlement of Netzarim, south of Gaza City; and in an uninhabited area in the centre of Gaza.

Hamas said its fighters were in some cases engaged in “face-to-face battles” with Israeli soldiers.

Earlier, the Israeli military said the militants were not engaging its troops in close combat but using mortars and improvised bombs.

The Palestinian health ministry says more than 500 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have now been killed since the Israelis began their assault on Gaza eight days ago. A further 2,500 have been wounded.

REVISED Youtube Promo: Petition For Special Prosecutor

Cleaned it up, slowed down the scrolling, rearranged some images, and generally upped the quality some.

The soundtrack is a copyright free instrumental called “Transformation”.

I think it looks not too bad, for what we need it for. Let me know how you like it, or don’t like it. Either way  this is what we have!

The embed code is at Youtube, or on the flip below…

Café Discovery: writing workshop

Once upon a time, in a land far away, I participated in a writer’s workshop at a Women’s Project Retreat.  A large part of my reason for being there was the attempt to become an accepted member of the Arkansas women’s community.  Many of the attendees wished I were not there.

We were given the first phrase of the beginning of a story and asked to finish that beginning.  You are invited to do the same.

The first story:  

We called you in here because…

The second story:  

The sound of rain of the roof…

The following are my efforts, the first one in prose, while the second one became a poem.

And there is a story that goes with them, a story which has never actually appeared in anything but a comment before.  I’m appending it to the end to make it easier to find in the future.


The term blowback was initially brought into political discussions by the CIA in predicting the results of US involvement in the 1953 coup in Iran that deposed Prime Minister Mohammed Mosaddeq and his cabinet. Although the neo-cons are loath to admit it, US involvement with the coup and our subsequent support of the Shah, led to the blowback of the Iranian (or Islamic) Revolution in 1978.

But blowback isn’t just about Iran. The more we use force (either overt or covert) in the world to gain access to the resources we want, the more blowback we’ll see in the future. In his book Blowback: The Costs and Consequences of American Empire, Chalmers Johnson discusses the ways in which our country’s misguided policies are planting the seeds of future disaster.

Blowback is obviously something Bush and the neocons didn’t take seriously when they invaded 2 countries and utilized things like torture and rendition in their war of terror. But my guess is that the blowback from these crimes will be in evidence for decades if not centuries to come. That’s one of the reasons the petition for a Special Prosecutor is so important…holding them accountable might help limit the blowback.

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Sunday music retrospective: Spanky and Our Gang

Spanky and Our Gang

Sunday Morning

Sweating Our Way to a Genuine Economic Recovery

Burning the Midnight Oil to Drag Economics into the Real World

As Jerome a Paris has noted, among others, Paulson and others of his ilk have started blaming the Chinese and Germans for our economic woes:

The US Treasury Secretary said that in the years leading up to the crisis, super-abundant savings from fast-growing emerging nations such as China and oil exporters – at a time of low inflation and booming trade and capital flows – put downward pressure on yields and risk spreads everywhere.

This, he said, laid the seeds of a global credit bubble that extended far beyond the US sub-prime mortgage market and has now burst with devastating consequences worldwide.

What a sorry load of … well, let me go for a better analogy than that … and then dig more deeply into the whys and wherefores of its load of …

… uh, after the fold.

Veterans of george’s War Want a Bailout

The following is a Twofur of Information:

392,000 Pending Appeals to VA for Help

It’s not easy to get the runaround when you have a traumatic brain injury from george’s war.

Did You Know 200,000 Vets Are Sleeping on the Streets?

America’s promise to “Support the Troops” ends the moment they take off the uniform and try to make the transition to civilian life.

Demand O’Reilly apologize to the “non-existent” homeless vets he attacked ?

Docudharma Times Sunday January 4

George Bush Thinks

U.S. National Forests Are Best Used

For Housing Sub-Divisions  

Sunday’s Headlines:

Portrait Emerges of Anthrax Suspect’s Troubled Life

Sri Lankan forces pound Tigers in battle for control

Pakistan arrests former Taliban spokesman

Gas war prompts crisis talks in Brussels

Dozens vanish as South Ossetia and Georgia wage war by kidnap

Lead for car batteries poisons an African town

Mugabe tightens grip as cholera epidemic grows

Israeli Arabs on Gaza firing line lack shelter

Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki visits Iran

Israel launches assault across Gaza’s borders

Chris McGreal in Jerusalem

guardian.co.uk, Sunday 4 January 2009 01.03 GMT

Israel last night dramatically escalated its war with Hamas, sending troops and tanks pouring over Gaza’s borders in a move designed to reoccupy parts of the northern Gaza Strip. Amid reports of fierce clashes inside Gaza, columns of military vehicles and what the army said was “a sizeable number of troops” moved across the border at several points, backed by an intense air and artillery bombardment.

The move followed the failure of a week-long air force offensive, which has claimed more than 460 Palestinian lives, to halt the Hamas rockets. More than 30 hit Israel yesterday, wounding three people. Israel’s defence minister, Ehud Barak, said his country was a peace-loving nation but Hamas had given it no choice and brought the assault on the Palestinian people. “Now is the time to do what needs to be done,” he said. “It won’t be easy. It won’t be short. I don’t want to delude anyone.” The government in Jerusalem ordered the call-up of tens of thousands of reservists, suggesting the operation will be expanded further. The army said it expected to be in Gaza “for many long days”.

Beijing strikes at dissidents

Clampdown on Charter 08’s call for democracy also aims to gag parents of tainted milk children and Sichuan quake victims

David Stanway in Shanghai

The Observer, Sunday 4 January 2009

China has launched a tough countrywide crackdown on a new network of political activists, writers and lawyers who have supported a bold new manifesto that presses for the end of one-party rule.

The group of 300 or so people had all signed Charter 08, which called for democracy and the rule of law in China and was named after the famous Charter 77 dissident group formed in cold war Czechoslovakia.

Charter 08 has been hailed as the most significant act of public dissent against China’s Communist party since the Tiananmen Square pro-democracy protests were brutally crushed in 1989. It was posted online on 10 December, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It condemned recent economic modernisation efforts as having “stripped people of their rights”, and called for political reform and a new liberal, democratic constitution.



Security Agencies Alter Strategies, Add Backup for Inauguration Week

By Mary Beth Sheridan

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, January 4, 2009; Page A01

Authorities are organizing what appears to be the largest security operation ever for an inauguration, bringing in thousands of extra police, agents and troops to handle crowds as President-elect Barack Obama is sworn in.

Security officials are bracing not just for the ceremony and parade Jan. 20 but also for at least 70 concerts, balls and other events surrounding the inauguration. Those include the welcome celebration featuring Obama on Jan. 18 at the Lincoln Memorial, which could draw 500,000 people, according to the D.C. mayor’s office.

Late Night Karaoke

Speech Makers May Enter

Robert Plant Big Log

Three Women

Three transwomen whose tragedies may or may not have been related to their lives as sex workers were shot on the mean streets of Memphis in the past six months.  

Duanna Johnson was well known by Memphians from local and national coverage of her arrest for prostitution and the beating she received from police in February 2008.  http://www.nowpublic.com/world…

In Feburary of this year police offers at the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center in Memphis,TN were caught on camera beating a transgender woman by the name of Duanna Johnson. Johnson was hancuffed at the time and was severely beaten and called names while being detained by police. Duanna Johnson spoke to news stations in Memphis several times stating that the beating was a hate crime and that she had plans to sue the Memphis Police Department. It has been reported that just recently Ms. Johnson had gone forth with her plans to sue the city, but before her case could be heard she met her fate.

Duanna Johnson was found dead November 9, 2008 a few blocks from her home. She was shot in the head execution style.

Rumors of police affiliation with Ms. Johnson’s murder are ripping through Memphis. Some believe that Ms. Johnson was sought out and killed due to her reporting of the beating and the fact that those reports cost two Memphis police officers their jobs. Ms. Johnson’s lawyer, Murray Wells says that those accusations are just heresay, but the federal lawsuit against the Memphis Police Department will move forward.

There are more details about Duanna, her beating, and her death at http://www.lgbthatecrimes.org/…  Good-bye, Duanna.