January 11, 2009 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Obama: How bailout money is spent should be clear

By PHILIP ELLIOTT, Associated Press Writer

28 mins ago

WASHINGTON – Barack Obama wants to make it easier to monitor how the second $350 billion installment of the financial bailout is spent and says homeowners and small businesses should get some help.

“We can regain the confidence of both Congress and the American people in that this is not just money that is being given to banks without any strings attached and nobody knows what happens, but rather that it is targeted very specifically at getting credit flowing again to businesses and families,” the president-elect said in an interview aired Sunday.

Obama’s economic team has been talking with the Bush administration about having Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson ask Congress as early as this week for access to the rest of the bailout fund. If Congress rejected such a request, a presidential veto could still free up the money, unless Congress overrode the veto.

Do You Feel Good?

Watch this, it will cure that happy feeling.

Café Discovery: Haupt Conservatory

Debbie and I took a field trip on Thursday to the New York Botanical Garden to see the Holiday Train Show.  Photos of that show will come later.

Our first order of business after arrival at the Haupt Conservatory which housed the show was to locate the restroom.  While ding so we had the opportunity to tour several of the other exhibits.  In today’s edition are photos from the desert plants exhibit, with a few from the tropical rain forest and aquatic plants exhibits.

Most of the photos are thumbnails.  Clicking on them will reveal larger versions.

Hangin’ with Hobbs

I’ll always be grateful to DailyKos for providing the avenue through which I have met some of the coolest people on the planet.  Way up at the top of that considerable list is a guy named John Hobbs.


I Disagree

If you wish to repost this essay you can download a .txt file of the html here (right click and save). Permission granted.

Docudharma Tag: , for petition backround.

I read Answering the Past by mcjoan today, where she quotes Digby on the possibilities of holding those in power accountable for their crimes.

The crux of Digby’s view:

Sadly, if history is any indication, that is highly unlikely to happen.

mcjoan makes the point that some things are just too big and ugly to sweep under the carpet.  She also reports on what Obama said to George Stephanopoulos on This Week about Bob Fertik’s question on whether or not there will be a special prosecutor.  I found this part of Obama’s response particularly interesting:

And part of my job is to make sure that for example at the CIA, you’ve got extraordinarily talented people who are working very hard to keep Americans safe. I don’t want them to suddenly feel like they’ve got to spend all their time looking over their shoulders and lawyering.

Now that’s a surprise.  I wonder if perchance anyone from the CIA has been yelling at Obama that if he tries to really investigate their goings on there will be a price to pay.

Could it be something along the lines of what Mark Lowenthal is warning?

“If Panetta starts trying to feed people to that commission (ed. a congressional commission), his tenure at C.I.A. will be over,” said Mark M. Lowenthal, a former senior C.I.A. official and an adjunct professor at Columbia University.

“If it happens, C.I.A. people are not going to start plotting against the president, but they are going to withdraw from taking risks, and then the C.I.A. becomes useless to the president,” Mr. Lowenthal said.

Holding those in power accountable for their crimes is an uphill battle, no one would argue that.

Finding wisdom and inspiration

Some days, you just don’t have much to share. This is one of those days for me. I’ve been facing some challenges in the “meat world” as they say, that are related to this awful mess that’s known as our economy. So rather than have anything useful to say myself, I’ve been reading and watching around the tubes.

I know alot of what we read is hard and sometimes negative. But what has struck me in my recent wanderings is the depth of wisdom that’s also out there. So I thought I’d share a little of that with you today. It comes from an interesting mix of sources.

First of all, here’s some truth and perspective from one of our elders. Friday night, Bill Moyers commented on the situation in the Middle East. But its mostly a reminder of who it is that pays the price when “life and death become abstractions of policy.”

If you can’t watch the video, here is a partial transcript (scroll down to the last few paragraphs from Moyers), but it will be hard to get the impact without the visuals.

Sunday music retrospective: Freewheelin’

Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan, 1963

Blowin’ in the Wind

Masters of War

Docudharma Times Sunday January 11

Commission To Investigate Torture?

Which Means That The Investigation Will Go No Where  

Sunday’s Headlines:

States ponder early release for some prisoners

Israel to step up assault on Hamas

Who killed Mr Lebanon?: The hunt for Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri’s assassins

Deal to resume Russian gas eludes EU as 11 people die in big freeze-up

Merkel makes £44bn U-turn to try to save sinking German economy

Zimbabwe’s sick forced to pay with US dollars

Governing Party, Facing Challenge, Moves Left in South Africa

Kim Jong-il’s stand-in outdoes master

Key election test for new Thai PM

Colombia Indians face down violence

U.S. Rejected Aid for Israeli Raid on Iranian Nuclear Site


Published: January 10, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Bush deflected a secret request by Israel last year for specialized bunker-busting bombs it wanted for an attack on Iran’s main nuclear complex and told the Israelis that he had authorized new covert action intended to sabotage Iran’s suspected effort to develop nuclear weapons, according to senior American and foreign officials.White House officials never conclusively determined whether Israel had decided to go ahead with the strike before the United States protested, or whether Prime Minister Ehud Olmert of Israel was trying to goad the White House into more decisive action before Mr. Bush left office. But the Bush administration was particularly alarmed by an Israeli request to fly over Iraq to reach Iran’s major nuclear complex at Natanz, where the country’s only known uranium enrichment plant is located.

Behind the lines with the Taliban

A Times writer joins Taliban fighters in an especially dangerous part of Afghanistan. The men appear to have no fear of troops, and prove to be gracious hosts.

By Paul Watson

January 11, 2009

Reporting from Ghazni, Afghanistan — The main highway is “enemy territory” for the Taliban, a busy two-lane road where U.S. troops race down the middle, trying to steer clear of suicide bombers. The guerrillas drive it like they own it.

Grinning with contempt at a convoy of Polish troops trying to plow its way through traffic the other day, three Taliban fighters with guns and long knives concealed under their heavy woolen cloaks calmly eased into the other lane and beat the jam.



Obama Stresses Plan’s Job Potential

Advisers See Nearly 4 Million Positions Saved or Created

By Perry Bacon Jr.

Washington Post Staff Writer

Sunday, January 11, 2009; Page A01

Facing increased skepticism from both parties about the details of his economic stimulus proposal, President-elect Barack Obama and his team yesterday laid out new claims regarding the $775 billion package, saying that 90 percent of the jobs produced would be in the private sector, including hundreds of thousands in construction and manufacturing.Obama used his weekly radio address to continue his pre-inaugural campaign to build momentum for passage of the stimulus package, saying: “The jobs we create will be in businesses large and small across a wide range of industries.

vicar removes “horrifying” crucifix

Apparently the fairly graphic representation of the agonies of The Cross

were “upsetting the children” and was,  in theirwords, a “put-off.” Now, I’ll admit I’ve been away from Mother Church for awhile, but as a good Irish Catholic  boy,

I seem  to recall being told over and over again that the unimaginable agonies of  Jesus on The Cross were the point of Christianity; his agonies and suffering were what redeemed humanity. Silly little  bake-sale Christians; when they say things like “we need a more uplifting and inspiring symbol than execution on a cross,” we realize that they’ve lost any reverence for — hell, any understanding of — the broken,  tortured body that for 2000 years was the central truth of their faith.


A statue of the crucifixion has been taken down from its perch on a church in Sussex because it was scaring local children and deterring worshippers, a vicar admitted today.


Souter, formerly a cell biologist, said: “The crucifix expressed  suffering, torment, pain and anguish. It was a scary image, particularly for children. Parents didn’t want to walk past it with their kids, because they found it so horrifying.

“It wasn’t a suitable image for the outside of a church wanting to welcome worshippers. In fact, it was a real put-off.

“We’re all about hope, encouragement and the joy of the Christian faith. We want to communicate good news, not bad news, so we need a more uplifting and inspiring symbol than execution on a cross.”

Irish “pattern days”

Apropos of nothing in particular, but it’s the kind of thing I’ve been working on since the election (a period of intellectual recreation before the hard work ahead), so I figured I’d share. Hope it amuses …

Everybody thinks that my ancestors the Irish are, along with the Italians and the Spanish,  the most Catholic people in Europe. I’m starting to wonder. I’ve been researching a lot lately (the whole “getting in touch with one’s ancient roots” thing), and last night I had a moment of Zen reading this article about the oddly-named “pattern days.” First time I heard of them, I thought “oh you whacky, Jesus-smitten Micks, any excuse to worship some 3rd-rate Saint.” Then I read this article and discovered that “pattern” was a slur of “patrun,” which was a slur of “patron,” as in patron “saint” of a particular place. Those places turned out to be the same wells, lakes, and high places (especially giant burial mounds, the “hollow hills” of folklore) that the people visited and celebrated in the pre-Christian days. And it hit me like a revelation: oh, you clever Irish bastards! You subverted Mother Church and held onto your old traditions, while simultaneously avoiding nasty things like The Inquisition! A wink and a nod to the local cleric (who probably joined in the celebrations, since he was usually a local boy) and the archbishop back in Dublin is none the wiser.  Brilliant!

The description of a “pattern day” festival from the early 1800s really brings home the joyous, community feel, and gives some vague sense of what wonderful things the original festivals must have been back in the day. I wonder if we didn’t lose something important when we lost these kinds of happy, communitarian celebrations.


cf also the intriguing and suspicious “Order of Bridget” in Kildaire who kept “Saint” Brigit’s  sacred fire burning for centuries. What kind of freaking Christian Saint has sacred fires in her honor?

Late Night Karaoke

Some Not Meant For Sunday Music

Warren Zevon – Werewolves of London

Saturday Night Humor.

My son called me into his room to ask me what “Douche” meant.

I immediately had feelings of guilt, thinking he may of heard it from me.

Not so much.

Apparently Friday he got called into the Principal’s office for having had said it on the playground.

4th grader, 9 yrs. He had no idea why the Principal pulled him aside to :talk” after recess.

“Where did you learn this word, DOUCHE?”

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