March 7, 2009 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 When economy bottoms out, how will we know?


46 mins ago

When will this wretched economy bottom out? The recession is already in its 15th month, making it longer than all but two downturns since World War II. For now, everything seems to be getting worse: The Dow is in free fall, jobs are vanishing every day, and one in eight American homeowners is in foreclosure or behind on payments.

But the economy always recovers. It runs in cycles, and economists are watching an array of statistics, some of them buried deep beneath the headlines, to spot the turning point. The Associated Press examined three markets – housing, jobs and stocks – and asked experts where things stand and how to know when they’ve hit bottom.

None of them expects it to come anytime soon.

Now with World News.

“I Got Hit by a Swinging Pendulum” (Updated)

(crossposted at orange)

I’ve been reading some of the arguments over whether or not we should, as citizens, pressure the Obama Administration and, specifically, Attorney General Eric Holder, to appoint a Special Prosecutor over torture, with the aim of holding the most powerful accountable for their actions.

I have been dissapointed in reading comments suggesting that applying this pressure, as is our right as citizens, would somehow be insulting, disrespectful, or destructive to the Obama Administration.

What the naysayers seem to ignore is that the Obama Administration is already being pressured — and heavily — by the powers that be.

One example.  First we hear Mark Lowenthal saying:

“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.

Then shortly thereafter Obama responds to George Stephanopoulos on This Week about Bob Fertik’s question on whether or not there will be a special prosecutor:

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.

I am not trying to read Obama’s mind here.  I have no idea what decisions he will make when it comes to our intelligence agencies and how we investigate them.  But it shows he is listening to what the CIA says, their objections.

Who is going to counter that?  Who, if not us, We the People?

Mo Meta ……….W/Etta!

Transition, change, movement…hurtling forward into the future.

A New Republican Depression, while the oligarchs still feast. Still in two wars as Climate Change barrels down upon us.

The excitement and emotion of the election long gone now and change is coming :slowly: even as time seems to accelerate, and a sense of urgency starts to build.

Personal transformations and some real fears thrown into the mix.

No certainty. How do you plan, what do you do, what is the best use of our energies? What do we address first, and if we address THAT, what happens to everything else? So much is wrong, so much to do. Top down, bottom up….sideways. I don’t even know who i am, so who the heck are you anyway?

Cool, good to meet ya! Yah, I’m confused and a little scared myself. Hey can I share some of your purple berries? Yas I have been eating them…for six or seven weeks now.

No answers and the questions keep changing! Damn. Waves of exhaustion, joy and fear….and the ocean never quits.

Well whatever. I’m all in in, cause if you don’t play you can’t win. But don’t ask me where I’m going, I barely know where I just bin. Set your compasses to ‘stun.’ But I do know how to get there.

And I intend to have some fun. But then, it has been observed, Lawrence, that you have a strange sense of …fun.

How bout you? Let it out.

Barbara Ehrenreich: If We Are In The Death Spiral Of Capitalism…

This brief diary is meant to summarize and to call attention to Barbara Ehrenreich’s piece of yesterday in Alternet (well OK with Bill Fletcher Jr.): “If We Are in the Death Spiral of Capitalism, Can We Start Using the “S” Word?”.  And, yeah, there’s going to be some analysis here too.  As Han Solo said in Episode VI: “Hey… it’s me!”

(crossposted at Big Orange)

Docudharma Times Saturday March 7

Honey Pot For Spending, Pet Projects and Slamming  Podiums Republican Anger Over The

Stimulus Bill

So The Top Republican

Whinier John Cornyn Is

The “Ear Mark King” In The

Current Spending Bill  

Saturday’s Headlines:

Planet-hunting spacecraft launches

6 Years In, Troops Glimpse Real Path Out of Iraq

Perplexing case of detained U.S. reporter in Iran

As human victims of terror attack are buried, nation mourns the other casualty – cricket

Japan’s ‘Destroyer’ torpedoed by scandal

French radicals trample out the grapes of wrath

How the recession closed the door on a Spanish boom

Gunned down: Two human rights leaders murdered after Kenya accuses them over protests

Wife of Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is killed in car crash

Colombia releases ex-Farc rebels

Job Losses Could Drown Stimulus

Unemployment Soars to 1983 Level, Testing U.S. Response

By Neil Irwin and Annys Shin

Washington Post Staff Writers

Saturday, March 7, 2009; Page A01

The nation is losing jobs so quickly that the government, racing to deal with the crisis, is having trouble keeping up.

The U.S. unemployment rate last month leapt half a percentage point, to 8.1 percent, the highest level since 1983, according to data released yesterday. The stunning pace of job losses raises the possibility that, perhaps as early as this summer, one in 10 Americans will be out of a job even though they are actively looking for work. It also means that the government faces even more pressure to take further action to stabilize the economy and the financial system.

The lost world beneath the Antarctic ice

British scientists search for life forms hidden more than 400,000 years ago beneath Antarctic ice

By Steve Connor, Science editor

Saturday, 7 March 2009

British scientists are about to mount one of the boldest-ever missions, to search for life forms that have survived for possibly millions of years in a frozen “lost world” beneath an ancient ice sheet.

This week, a team of Antarctic scientists has been given the go-ahead to drill through a two-mile-thick sheet of ice that has sealed a sub-glacial lake from the rest of the biosphere for at least as long as Homo sapiens has walked the Earth.

They hope to find species that have survived below the ice sheet since it formed between 400,000 and two million years ago. Finding life in such an extreme environment would be one of the most important discoveries of the century, raising the prospect of searching for extra-terrestrial life on Europa, a moon of Jupiter where life is thought to exist beneath a frozen ocean. The scientists plan to use sophisticated ice-drilling technology developed in the UK to penetrate the ice cap and enter the liquid-water world of Lake Ellsworth in West Antarctica, one of about 150 sub-glacial lakes scientists have recently mapped with ice-penetrating radar.



Worst recession since World War II? Shaping up that way

By Kevin G. Hall | McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON – The government’s report Friday of an 8.1 percent unemployment rate equals the jobless number that the Obama administration has projected for the entire year. Few economists think that optimistic projection will hold, and many think that more big job losses are likely, with grim implications for the housing and banking crises.

Employers shed another 651,000 jobs in February, the Labor Department said Friday, pushing the nation’s unemployment rate up from 7.6 percent to 8.1 percent. That’s the highest jobless rate in a quarter-century and a clear sign that the deep U.S. economic recession isn’t abating.

The monthly Employment Situation Summary also revised the jobs numbers for December and January downward, for a combined 161,000 more lost jobs than had been reported earlier. This pointed to a steeper economic contraction early this year than all but the gloomiest forecasters had projected.

It’s always just a few bad apples…


“It’s such a disservice to everyone else, that a few bad apples can create some large problems for everybody.” – Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz, May 4, 2004.

The war in Iraq has brought much shame and dishonor to the United States. The Bush administration, for example, blamed the prisoner abuse and torture at Abu Ghraib on a “few bad apples”. While the evidence shows that senior officials in the Bush White House planned and authorized the use of torture, only those “few bad apples” have been held accountable.

Another such alleged “bad apple” is now on trial in Portland, Oregon. This time the trial is for theft.

The Oregonian reports U.S. Army Capt. Michael Dung Nguyen is accused of stealing more than $690,000 in cash from the Commander’s Emergency Response Program while stationed in Iraq between April 2007 and June 2008. Nguyen is 28 years old and a 2004 graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

How is it that our government is able to hold men and women lower down on the chain of command responsible for their actions, but not hold accountable the men and women who are responsible for sending more than $690,000 in cash to Iraq in the first place?

Late Night Karaoke


Torturing and The Rambo Myth. A case against waterboarding.

My goal in writing this essay is to convince you that using torture — techniques that use hypoxia particularly — cannot be tolerated as a method to gain intelligence. You are already convinced? Good. Let me suggest that you are probably convinced for the wrong reasons. But I want your ear, even if you’re convinced for the right reasons — because, to my way of thinking, many of the people who advise our lawmakers about torture policy in the United States overlook critical information about the effects of waterboarding. Even many of the well-meaning ones suffer from a critical lack of understanding when they make their policy decisions.

My problem is with what I’ll call The Rambo Myth: Subjects of torture will grant a true confession in order to avoid the pain of more torture, and The Rambo Corollary: Any method that is not painful enough to make Rambo crack will not extract a true confession.  

Distracting book titles

I`ve been away taking care of someone else`s personal affairs.

I hope I don`t make too big a splash, jumping back in so suddenly.

These images will hopefully distract you a little , allowing you to regroup, & to jump back into the fray.



Random Japan

Getting plastered  

Bad news for criminals in resort areas everywhere: an Aomori police officer has come up with a spray that lets crime scene investigators make better plaster casts of footprints left in snow or sand.

The consumer point-card craze in Japan-and the complaints that have come with it-prompted the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry to develop guidelines concerning their use.

Expect to see carbon-emissions labels attached to products as diverse as stationery, beer, rice and batteries this summer, so consumers can tell just how much CO2 is released during the production, distribution and disposal of the items.

TV viewer ratings just became more accurate thanks to Tokyo-based Video Research, which developed technologies that will also monitor folks who watch broadcasts on personal computers or recordings of TV shows.

Priest Hirotsugu Inoue, 74, was arrested for sexually harassing a female congregant at the Ibaraki Catholic Church. It gets worse: Inoue admitted that he kissed the woman “about 70 times.”

Scientists say baby coral transplanted in Okinawa’s Sekisei Lagoon as part of a reef regeneration program are continuing their robust growth.

Internment Camps: Is It All Too Much For Us?

While the footage below may or may not be of the internment camps in question (and I think it probably isn’t), I applaud its producer’s efforts in the face of the main media’s failure to inform the public.

That day has come with the Military Commissions Act of 2006. It provides the basis for the President to round-up both aliens and U.S. citizens he determines have given material support to terrorists. Kellogg Brown & Root, a subsidiary of Cheney’s Halliburton, is constructing a huge facility at an undisclosed location to hold tens of thousands of undesirables.

Friday Night at Eight: Fill In

NPK is out prowling tonight and asked me to fill in. To me Friday Night at Eight is NPK giving a sort of beat poet take on the events of the week. It is impressionism, so to speak, of life on teh blogs and the Big Apple. Holding my nose and crossing my legs, I jump in the deep end. Since that is how I role. I also add my proleptic apologies to Robyn, for reasons that shall become clear. I am a thief and a liar, though that too is a lie. Hold on to your hats if you choose to jump in too!

Conservatives, who once stood athwart the stream of history yelling stop, now swim against the tide. The tide of the self-flushed bowl swirling them down into that same history as the world and the Weavemothers shuttle the loom forward always forward at the dawn of a new happentrack. The train no longer running on ‘time,’ but now on change, is a small price to pay. Where were you going in such a hurry anyway, as we already plunge through space on a little blue ball?

You can’t be late until you show up. But showing up is ninety percent of the battle.

As the fear of both being late and showing up fades and new realer fears are appear in the weft we must both sober up and become drunk on joy. Fear never saved anyone, but joy can save the world….or at least our Friday night.

Turtle Creek Chorale, a men’s chorus.

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