March 28, 2009 archive

Alaska’s Redoubt Volcano, Night Pictures:

New nighttime photos show Redoubt power

Dramatic new pictures taken overnight from across Cook Inlet show the explosive power of Redoubt volcano’s latest eruption. The volcano erupted four times in eight hours starting late Friday afternoon, with the most recent explosion at 1:20 a.m. today. Ash is moving north and west, and isn’t expected in Anchorage. Slide Show

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 European protesters march in G20 rallies

By DEAN CARSON, Associated Press Writer

20 mins ago

LONDON – Thousands of people marched through European cities Saturday to demand jobs, economic justice and environmental accountability, kicking off six days of protest and action planned in the run-up to the G20 summit next week in London.

In London, more than 150 groups threw their backing behind the “Put People First” march. Police said around 35,000 attended the demonstration, snaking their way across the city toward Speaker’s Corner in Hyde Park. Protest organizers said they wanted leaders from the world’s top 20 economies to adopt a more transparent and democratic economic recovery plan.

Brendan Barber, who heads an umbrella group for Britain’s unions, told assembled protesters in London’s Hyde Park that the G20 needed to “take actions to lay the foundation for a better world.”

A Trip Down the Memory Hole

I have started writing compulsively again. In the past, I have had periods of time when I was consumed by an idea, or more likely, by a whole set of ideas, and I would write obsessively, but it has been quite some time since the last episode.

Over the course of the past month or so, I have been living through extended periods of lucid thought, recalling past experiences in great detail, essentially reliving the times and moments and places and people from various periods of my life. Often, the memories cut across time, linked not by time or place, but by the flow of thematic connections and relations. Also, there is a strong kinship with the concept expressed in the title of (1) Borge’s short story “The Garden of Forking Paths,” if you can imagine.

This stream-of-consciousness can be triggered by almost anything: a picture, a word, a phrase, a bit of music. I have let these memories flow, twist, and turn and only when they have subsided did I sit down to write a few notes, with the notation “DKos” on the top, providing just enough information for me to re-trigger the flow at a later time. I have twenty or thirty of these short notes stacked on my desk, none of which have actually become diaries.

The following diary, a nearly verbatim transcription from last night (Friday), started out as one of those short notes subsequent to an overwhelming series of detailed memories. As usual, I got my 5×8 yellow legal notepad and was about to start writing a note when I realized I couldn’t remember the initiating thought which had launched the thread. Oh well. I restarted the DVD I had been watching before this event triggered…and immediately put it on pause. One flash view of the first image on the screen brought it all back in all its flooding glory.

The Absurd Possibilities of Post Bush America

The future lays before us. That has never been more true than now! (LOL)

We are balanced on the brink of two very distinct futures. A future determined by the Ruling Class, or a future determined by the other 7 billion of us.

War, Energy, Climate Crisis, the financial industry, redefining “the economy,” the broad spectrum of Human Rights issues vs the rights of corporations to exploit and oppress “workers” and/or “consumers.” The next four years are critical in determining which future we will have. Which future our children and grandchildren will have. People Power or the Corporate power of the Ruling Class. It is up to us to decide.

We are on the verge of breakthroughs in either technological or social change on every one of these issues. The majority of voters in America agree with most if not all of the Progressive Agenda on all of those issues.

So what is holding us back? What is stopping us from implementing all of these various breakthroughs?

Republicans, the Democrats who cater to and enable them and a broken Press Corpse. The Military industrial Complex, the Financial Overlords and the CEO’s and shareholders of the Oil and Insurance industries.

In other words, the Ruling Class. A tiny percentage of the planet’s population who hold the economic and political power of the world by, ultimately, the force of arms and bribery. (We like to call them Campaign Contributions here in the US of A.)

That’s right, they have the guns, but we have the numbers…but they have the will and we have the numbness, too. They are by nature, attracted to power. We are by nature, attracted to love, comfort and cable. And so, we leave them to run the world, while we just try to hang on, be left alone, and make it through another day.

All we want is to be left alone. But can we really afford that luxury with these two possible futures hanging in the balance?

We have the technology, the opportunity (after the Bush debacle) for massive change, and a President who is sympathetic and can, under the right circumstances, be worked with.

All we lack is the will to make a stand. We will never have a better chance.

A step forward!

In an effort to derive some direction and a way forward to accountability, on March 20, 2009, Colleen Costello of the World Organization for Human Rights USA, Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights, and Jamil Dakwar of the American Civil Liberties Union, spoke before the Inter-American Commission Human Rights, in  Washington D.C.  The issue:  “Accountability for Violations of Human Rights in the United States.”

Colleen Costello laid forth the details of our torture, including the waterboarding of Sheik Khalid Mohamed, our detention systems, renditions, and secret prisons.

Michael Ratner spoke with passion concerning the many obstacles confronting our efforts to achieve accountability, including some of the “legal” ones put in place by the Bush Administration, such as the Military Commissions Act, a lack of habeas corpus and how all efforts, thus far, have been thwarted by the Obama administration.  That Sen. Leahy has called for a “truth commission” with immunity provisions, but would not lead necessarily to criminal prosecutions.  He spoke with a sense of urgency and there truly is one, in terms of the U.S. statute of limitations on torture, we have a window of one and half years to prosecute.  Moreover, Ratner pointed out that an Executive Order banning torture can easily be reversed by the next President and thus, accountability is the only conceivable way to assure that the U.S. is no longer a party to torture.  One of the panel members of the IACHR reminded Ratner that there was no statute of limitations on the torture in international terms.

Jamil Dakwar spoke concerning the difficulty in obtaining documents because of the “state secrecy” stance, and that they (the UCLA) were able to obtain some documentation through the Freedom of Information Act.

Also speaking was Lewis Amselem, Deputy Permanent Representative of the United States to the Organization of American States (OAS).  He spoke about the immediate steps of President Obama to end torture, close down Guantanamo, close CIA prisons by his Executive Orders.  He went on and on about these accomplishments without really confronting the issue of accountability.  

A Sarah Paoletti, Division of the Legal Clinic, University of Pennsylvania, also spoke briefly.

In the proceedings, and at the conclusion various members of the IACHR, i.e., Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, Commissioner of the CIDH, asked what the Commission could do.  Santiago A. Canton, Executive Secretary of the CIDH, spoke and asked that documents be produced to the Commission, as well as any cases that have been brought for trial on torture.

The entire video may be seen here.  It is about an hour long and very worth while seeing.  (Home)

Also, written complaints filed with the IACHR will be posted here.

fuel-efficient 40-foot hybrid mass-transit bus

Fisher Body Bus

Fisher Body to build the Fisher GTB-40 bus, a 40-foot ultralightweight hybrid that boasts twice the fuel efficiency of current hybrid buses.  It uses a lightweight, nitrogen-strengthened stainless steel unibody; has no traditional engine for propulsion; and relies on Swiss-made batteries to drive motors for each wheel. The buses are half the weight of other hybrid and diesel models.

A small diesel engine powers a generator that keeps the batteries charged longer. Energy from the brakes is captured for reuse. Automotive News

also posted

Obama Overdrawn And Sinking Over Economy?

Crossposted from AntemediusReal News – March 28, 2009

Obama held hostage by PPPIP

Pepe Escobar: If Geithner’s plan does not work, the President sinks

President Obama’s destiny – more than his foreign policy decisions – will be sealed by how he deals with the US financial crisis, argues Pepe Escobar.

The verdict of top economists on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s new PPPIP (Public Private Partnership Investment Program) has not been auspicious.

Some speak of taxpayer rip-off while Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman foresees a “lost decade of zombie banks”.

The President has been trying to appease Wall Street while at the same time appeasing America’s anger directed at anything bank bailout-related.

On a global level the Chinese have made it known their patience with America’s addiction to debt has limits.

The upcoming G-20 meeting in London is bound to discuss more radical steps, while back in the US some already dream of a new saviour, post-Geithner.

Geithner’s Treasury $500 Billion to $1 Trillion Plan to Purchase Legacy Assets PPPIP Whitepaper is here (.PDF)

Obama Overdrawn And Sinking Over Economy?

Real News – March 28, 2009

Obama held hostage by PPPIP

Pepe Escobar: If Geithner’s plan does not work, the President sinks

President Obama’s destiny – more than his foreign policy decisions – will be sealed by how he deals with the US financial crisis, argues Pepe Escobar.

The verdict of top economists on Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s new PPPIP (Public Private Partnership Investment Program) has not been auspicious.

Some speak of taxpayer rip-off while Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman foresees a “lost decade of zombie banks”.

The President has been trying to appease Wall Street while at the same time appeasing America’s anger directed at anything bank bailout-related.

On a global level the Chinese have made it known their patience with America’s addiction to debt has limits.

The upcoming G-20 meeting in London is bound to discuss more radical steps, while back in the US some already dream of a new saviour, post-Geithner.

Geithner’s Treasury $500 Billion to $1 Trillion Plan to Purchase Legacy Assets PPPIP Whitepaper is here (.PDF)

One small step

Sure there are lots of big issues we can and need to talk about and debate when it comes to the economic crisis facing both this country and the rest of the globe. And it can feel like we’re pretty powerless to get our voices heard. But there’s one relatively small thing that’s happening where perhaps we can have some influence – especially when it comes to the thousands of people who are facing bankruptcy and the potential loss of their homes.

Recently the House passed a Banking Bill that contains a “cram-down provision” (where do they come up with these names?) In case you hadn’t heard, it would allow judges in bankruptcy court to force lenders to refinance mortgages so that people can lower their monthly payments and perhaps keep their homes. With all the crazy deals that were sold (oftentimes to uninformed borrowers) during the housing boom, this seems like a common-sense thing to do, wouldn’t you say?

Well, not to Sen. Evan Bayh and perhaps a few of his gang of 15 who seem determined to stop the Obama administration from passing any legislation that would ease the burden on people who are struggling.  

Who are the cancer men?

Everyone who ever watched the X-Files is familiar with the sinister figure of the “cancer man,” the chain-smoking head of the conspiracy to manipulate humanity for its own good (and that of its secret government).

The image of the cancer man is much in my mind these days as I ponder the question of how Geithner and Summers were appointed to determine Obama’s economic policies. After doing a bit of fruitless Google searching to answer this question, I realized that I already knew the answer. These men were put in place by people who wish to remain unknown, because their actions as the true controllers of the Executive Branch of the government of the United States are contrary to the beliefs of the American people and the founding principles of our nation.

When the cancer men selected Geithner and Summers they guaranteed that the interests of wealthy individuals and powerful financial corporations would be placed above the interests of ordinary taxpayers. Since the arithmetic of Democracy opposes such an outcome, they must operate in secret, and that is why there is no available anwer to the question of who proposed Geithner and Summers. What is even more interesting is that this question is not even raised in the press.

How do the cancer men conceal their role? They use the age-old devices of indirect action and influence that have corrupted politics for millenia. A key corruption mechanism is the “marker” system of exchanging favors. Ambitious and well-connected people keep a mental ledger book of favors done and received for and from powerful acquaintances. Dealing reliably with markers qualifies a player in this system for advancement to a powerful position. Geithner and Summers were appointed in exchange for loyal past service in protecting the interests of very wealthy and powerful people. They understand that people who accumulate these markers will be able to cash them in at the end of their public service for very comfortable living arrangements.

Similarly, the people who put Geithner and Summers on the (very) short list for Obama cabinet appointments were accumulating markers for future redemption. The beauty of the marker system is that there is no immediate quid-pro-quo to compromise the players. Temporal separation of corrupt action and subsequent reward sterilizes the transaction and frustrates investigation. Even if we could find every last phone log, email, and meeting transcript pertinent to the Geithner and Summers nominations, we would never find a direct inducement of bribery. All we would see is powerful people “suggesting,” through intermediaries, that these men would be “good choices” for Obama.

So I ask you all to ponder why nobody in the press knows who recommended Geithner and Summers for their jobs, and, more importantly, why nobody even cares about this question: Who are the people who control the Obama administration?

Who are the cancer men?

Gen. David Petraeus and envoy Richard Holbrooke

Last night the News Hour carried a report and the discussion with Petraeus and Holbrooke.

This is the site page link where you’ll find the transcript as well as the links for audio and video.

This link will give you their Video Player to watch from here.

There is No win in this now debacle. One thing about warfare these last couple of decades, outside of the bloviated power hawks talking tough to each other as others are sent to do the actual fighting, is every invasion turns to Guerilla Insurgency. It’s lost as soon as the Bombs start dropping, the Missiles Destroy, the Military Invades, ‘Hearts and Minds’ turn to Hate as their countries are destroyed but more important as their Loved Ones and Friends and Fellow Citizens are Blown To Bits or Cut Down by the Bullets Sprayed, than add in the arrests of Innocents, the Blackhole Worldwide Prisons and most of all Torture, Innocents become Enemies Real Fast, Real Fast! They either fight back or support those who do! It becomes an extreme uphill battle to win back a majority of those ‘Hearts and Minds’!!

Just ask yourself “What would you do if you were them?”!

Just think how many here felt after 9/11 and how that was used to kill and destroy many times over since!

Afghanistan stopped being about 9/11, in their eyes and the worlds eyes and minds as soon as the drums started beating towards Iraq. Security and money Stopped coming in to Stabilizes after the Taliban were removed and al Qaeda were forced to run, It Became The Quagmire That Exists Today and has expanded into Pakistan thus Inflaming the whole region even more!

Can stability be brought back, it’s possible, but the Hate will be Deeply Embedded, especially in the children growing up in the destruction and death, the ones that survive, and will linger for their decades of life!!

The only way a Guerilla Insurgency ends is on their time Not The Occupiers, but it than can be inflamed when policy is perceived  to be against those common folks, and they’ve got the fighting experience!!!!!!!

Just an added note, the Escalation, not ‘surge’, did not bring down the death and destruction in Iraq, the Iraqi people, sects, did. And that situation is a match just waiting to relight at anytime, the world can only dampen that match so it doesn’t until the Iraqi’s decide. We destroyed that Pandora’s Box, it’s up to us to try and help rebuild a new one but only if they want the help, and ours is shit in that country, others will fill the void!!  

Docudharma Times Saturday March 28

  Michelle “We Need A Revolution” Bachmann(M)Mars

Your Foreign Corespondent Behind

Enemy Lines


Saturday’s Headlines:

Doctor acquitted by Kansas jury in late-term abortion trial

Silvio Berlusconi realises dream with new rightwing party

The forgotten people: Plight of the asylum-seekers marooned in France

The new front: Britain’s fight for hearts and minds

New holiday celebrates freedom for serfs and lets China show itself in a good light

Israeli officers defend troops against abuse charges in Gaza

Iraq serves Turkey a rare treat

Southern Africa hit by worst floods in years

Dispatch from Columbia’s newest village

White House Debate Led to Plan to Widen Afghan Effort


Published: March 27, 2009

WASHINGTON – President Obama’s plan to widen United States involvement in Afghanistan came after an internal debate in which Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. warned against getting into a political and military quagmire, while military advisers argued that the Afghanistan war effort could be imperiled without even more troops.

All of the president’s advisers agreed that the primary goal in the region should be narrow – taking aim at Al Qaeda, as opposed to the vast attempt at nation-building the Bush administration had sought in Iraq. The question was how to get there.

The commanders in the field wanted a firmer and long-term commitment of more combat troops beyond the 17,000 that Mr. Obama had already promised to send, and a pledge that billions of dollars would be found to significantly expand the number of Afghan security forces.

Grieving Parents Gain Clout In China

 Party Steps Lightly In Wake of Disasters

?By Ariana Eunjung Cha

Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, March 28, 2009; Page A01

BEIJING — When Zhao Lianhai created a Web site for parents of children hurt or killed by contaminated milk, he did not set out to challenge the Communist Party. He did it because his son was sick. The 3-year-old had been diagnosed with kidney stones and Zhao was scared. He needed advice.

Within days, more than 4,000 families signed up, and soon the discussion evolved from technical questions and answers about medical care to demands for punishment and compensation. It wasn’t long before the 37-year-old former advertising salesman became the de facto spokesman, organizer and lobbyist for thousands of parents across the country whose children had suffered after drinking infant formula or milk that had been illegally doctored with the industrial chemical melamine.


Thousands flee Fargo as floodwaters threaten

Says one resident: ‘The only thing now is divine intervention’

NBC News and news services

FARGO, N.D. – Thousands of shivering, tired residents got out while they could and others prayed that miles of sandbagged levees would hold Friday as the surging Red River threatened to unleash the biggest flood North Dakota’s largest city has ever seen.

The agonizing decision to stay or go came as the final hours ticked down before an expected crest Sunday, when the ice-laden river could climb as high as 43 feet, nearly 3 feet higher than the record set 112 years ago.

The city got a one-day reprieve Friday night when the National Weather Service pushed its crest projection back from Saturday to Sunday afternoon, saying frigid temperatures had slowed the river’s rise.

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