May 2, 2009 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Mexico sees flu stabilizing but world on guard

By Catherine Bremer, Reuters

40 mins ago

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Mexico’s flu outbreak appeared to be stabilizing on Saturday but officials warned it was too early to ease vigilance against an unpredictable virus which still threatens a global pandemic.

“It would still be imprudent to say that we’re past the worst of it but I do think…we are in a stage of stabilization,” Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova told reporters.

In Geneva, a World Health Organization official said the virus had not spread in a sustained way outside North America, as would be required before the global pandemic alert level is raised to its highest level — but he added he still expected this to happen.

Black & White Blues


Human history has been a long bloody march to get to precisely this moment. This moment where we not so much choose the future, but reject that past.

Life, on every level is about one thing, choice. The choices we make as individuals, the choice we make as societies and the choice we make as a human race.

We are at a moment of choice right now. And we are, by and large, making the right ones. Or I should say, they are making the right ones. They being the young people of today. They are choosing tolerance, peace and what amounts to love, on the societal level. They are choosing to leave the bloody history of the past behind and are embracing the paradigms set forth by Christ and the hippies and rejecting the paradigm of hate and fear.

They are not doing this, which is a good thing, out of the spiiritual information of Christ or the starry eyed idealism of the hippies but for a much more solid and lasting reason.

It works.

It is the most practical approach. Peace and love are pragmatic. They are cheaper than fear and hate. They are less complicated. They are easier. And they work.

As we watch the republicans wallow around in their mud trying to find a way to get people to join them in the fifth of hate, they are getting no takers. Not because people have stopped having the capacity for hate or that they are not affected by fear, but because the young people of today are coming to realize that other than emotional satisfaction, it has nothing to offer.

Hate doesn’t put food on the table or clothe your children. Taking something away from another doesn’t make you significantly better off, because it just forces them to try to take it back from you, and who needs the headache.

It is better to try to make sure that we share our resources. It is better to have a little less, if that means you don’t have to fear and defend against someone trying to take it from you.

The bankers tried to take wealth from the homeowners, and now they have to fear them. You get more and better information from being “kind” and reasonable towards your captured enemies than by torturing them. “Letting” gay people marry is much less trouble than repressing them. Talking to your enemies is cheaper than trying to destroy them. You don’t want anyone to mess with your choices, so why the hell should you mess with theirs, just because you don’t agree with them.

Living in fear is not as much fun as living in ‘love.’ Or at least tolerance.

It is quicker, easier, and cheaper to shrug your shoulders and tolerate our human differences than to spend the time and effort to control others. Or kill them.

We are at the dawn of the Progressive Era not because the ideology of it is somehow philosophically superior to Conservative ideology. We are at the dawn of the Progressive Era because it works better and is easier.

Guantanamo cases may go to military courts?(more)

For all the reading Ive done in recent months, I have not quite gotten to this whole issue of military versus criminal court systems for trying the Gitmo prisoners, so Im pretty clueless here. I can gather a few things from this article but I just don’t have the whole picture at all. The article has an awful lot of “could be’s” and “mights”.

New York Times has U.S. May Revive Guantánamo Military Courts today.

Anyone care to fill me in or comment further?

NOTE: This story was diaried last night at the orange, by marketgeek,  but went without much comment. It was late I guess.

Walter Reed at 100

Walter Reed celebrates 100 years at forefront of medical research.

The Right Goes Insane

Once in a blue moon I stumble across  an essay by Mark Morford and, as always, I am automatically compelled to share it with other Progressives. For better or worse, Morford has a style you don’t easily forget. He can make you laugh and cry all in the same sentence.  

Evil overlords to flaccid clowns in the blink of Jesus’ eye. Adorable!

Mark Morford:

This much we know: Hand evil a big, sticky gob of power, and it quickly becomes a feral monster, dangerous and cruel and willing to sell its own shriveled heart and the heart of its very remorseful mother for a shot at everlasting infamy, even more power and maybe some fresh, raw kitten blood, intravenously, just for the hell of it.

Oh, but take that same vile leviathan and suddenly strip away all its power and influence and capacity for wickedness, and watch it deflate like a wheezing circus tent, quickly turning into a trembling caricature of its former self, a tiny, elfin thing small enough to fit into a shoebox of panic and pathos and residual Godspit.


But weep not for Miss California, who’s happy as a Prozac clam to take on the title as the new face of Republican hetero marriage. Isn’t she lovely? A skinny, fake-breasted blonde mouthful of air who does exactly as she’s told and never questions her scary Bible and doesn’t really like sex and you want to stick that thing where? Ewww! She’s perfect.


Why 137?

I’ve decided that I want to write about physics for a while…

I’ll get started by explaining my username. Well, the r and the b aren’t very exciting (they’re my initials), but the 137 represents a story about one of the fundamental constants in the universe: the Fine Structure Constant. The story, though, has to do with the way people tend to think about science.

Docudharma Times Saturday May 2

With No Nominee’s

Name Forwarded

The Republicans Are

Already Complaining    

Saturday’s Headlines:

On This Chrysler, Tenacity Comes Standard

Hunger strike goes on, says journalist’s father

Robert Fisk’s World: Right to the very end in Iraq, our masters denied us the truth

Burmese junta still shuns survivors of the cyclone

Chinese billions in Sri Lanka fund battle against Tamil Tigers

Robert Capa photographs from Spanish Civil War found in ‘Mexican Suitcase’

Estonians brainstorm their way out of the economic crisis

Out of Africa: Massive Study of African Genetics Reveals Migration and Ancestry

Brazil clears Indian reservation

In Pakistan, U.S. Courts Leader of Opposition


Published: May 1, 2009

WASHINGTON – As American confidence in the Pakistani government wanes, the Obama administration is reaching out more directly than before to Nawaz Sharif, the chief rival of Asif Ali Zardari, the Pakistani president, administration officials said Friday.

American officials have long held Mr. Sharif at arm’s length because of his close ties to Islamists in Pakistan, but some Obama administration officials now say those ties could be useful in helping Mr. Zardari’s government to confront the stiffening challenge by Taliban insurgents.

The move reflects the heightened concern in the Obama administration about the survivability of the Zardari government.

‘Abu Ghraib US prison guards were scapegoats for Bush’ lawyers claim

From The Times

May 2, 2009

Tim Reid in Washington

Prison guards jailed for abusing inmates at the Abu Ghraib jail in Iraq are planning to appeal against their convictions on the ground that recently released CIA torture memos prove that they were scapegoats for the Bush Administration.

The photographs of prisoner abuse at the Baghdad jail in 2004 sparked worldwide outrage but the previous administration, from President Bush down, blamed the incident on a few low-ranking “bad apples” who were acting on their own.

The decision by President Obama to release the memos showed that the harsh interrogation tactics were approved and authorised at the highest levels of the White House.


Obama calls ’empathy’ key to Supreme Court pick

Interest groups are already lobbying for a woman, minority or solid liberal to succeed Justice David Souter. Obama says he puts empathy, intelligence and independence before ideology.

By Janet Hook and Christi Parsons

May 2, 2009

Reporting from Washington — A debate among Democrats over who should replace Justice David H. Souter on the Supreme Court began emerging Friday between those eager to return the court to its liberal era of 40 years ago and those who are wary of tacking too far to the left.

But President Obama, who will choose the nominee, focused not on volatile ideological questions but on personal character, saying he wanted someone with “empathy” for “people’s hopes and struggles.”

Making a surprise appearance in the White House press briefing room, Obama told reporters that he had just talked with Souter by phone about his retirement, which is to take effect at the end of this court term, probably in June. It was the first official confirmation of the justice’s departure.

Obama said that in considering a successor for Souter, he was looking for a “sharp and independent mind” and a sense of compassion.

Late Night Karaoke


May One – Rerun/Recycled/New President/FooledAgain

Reminder more or less that May 1 is the International Worker’s Day and early American labor rights protesters initiated it. It’s an American tradition – not a Communist tradition. And it’s a pagan tradition from the dawn of time.

I hope you all had a great May Day. As I post this it’s still May 1 from the CDT zone westward. For those who saw the original post, you can just skip it or get refreshed. For those who haven’t seen it, it has some interesting background on the history of the day.

Herewith, a recycled essay:

May 1.

A lot of Americans have apparently been brainwashed during their formative years. Especially the crowd over at the site that shall not be named. The vast majority associate the first day of the month of May as a Soviet Communist celebration day. Then again a sizable number of Uhmericans think Saddam Hussein was complicit in the 9/11 atrocities. Oh, and the wiretapping started after 9/11 and not like late February or early March of 2001.

May first was a holiday before there was a May. It’s a cross-quarter day. That means it falls about halfway between a solstice and an equinox. Back before keyboards, laser mice and high-speed internet connections people used to notice these things. The only thing that emitted light, besides fire, was in the sky. You can check out the sky anytime. Just click here. Cool, huh? And you didn’t have to let go of your mouse to do it.

So back in the days of stone knives and bearskins, and I’m not talking about the Star Trek episode where Spock and McCoy have to build a time-machine thingie with 1930s tech, or even the dark ages of eight bit processors, RAM limits of 65536 bytes and machine code, I’m talking real stone and real bear. Hell, sabre-tooth tiger and wooly mammoth times. Back when chipped flint was high-tech. In the time of neo-pagans (not to be confused with the neopaganists of today).

Together with the solstices and equinoxes (Yule, Ostara, Midsummer, and Mabon), these form the eight solar holidays in the neopagan wheel of the year. They are often celebrated on the evening before the listed date, since traditionally the new day was considered to begin at sunset rather than at midnight.

Festival name Date Sun’s Position

Samhain 1 Nov (alt. 5-10 Nov) ? 15° ?

Imbolc 2 Feb (alt. 2-7 Feb) ? 15° ?

Beltane 1 May (alt. 4-10 May) ? 15° ?

Lughnasadh 1 Aug (alt. 3-10 Aug) ? 15° ?

There are Christian and secular holidays that correspond roughly with each of these four, and some argue that historically they originated as adaptations of the pagan holidays, although the matter is not agreed upon. The corresponding holidays are:

   * St.Brigids Day (1 Feb), Groundhog Day (2 Feb), and Candlemas (2 or 15 Feb)

   * Walpurgis Night (30 Apr) and May Day (1 May)

   * Lammas (1 Aug)

   * Halloween (31 Oct), All Saints (1 Nov), and All Souls’ Day (2 Nov)

Groundhog Day is celebrated in North America. It is said that if a groundhog comes out of his hole on 2 February and sees his shadow (that is, if the weather is good), there will be six more weeks of winter. February 2nd marks the end of the short days of winter. Because average temperatures lag behind day length by several weeks, it is (hopefully) the beginning of the end of winter cold.

It’s been Groundhog Day in Iraq for five seven years now. But who’s counting?

UPDATE: we’ve been lobbing explosives into Afghanistan since Clinton’s time. The definition of insanity is repeating the same act and expecting a different result. Our MIC PWOT is insane – but it keeps their funding flowing while we lose our jobs and homes.

It’s 2010 now and nothing has really changed that much, has it? I hope you enjoyed this May Day. It’s a day for Working Class Heroes.

There’s more:

Random Japan


Forty-year-old Orix Buffaloes slugger Tuffy Rhodes hit his 444th home run in Japanese baseball, tying him for 12th place on the NPB career list with former Yomiuri Giants star Shigeo Nagashima.

Excommunicated Japanese sumo wrestler Wakakirin admitted during his drug trial that he was a regular pot smoker, even lighting up at his stable at times. “Yo dude, pass the chanko nabe!”

A junior high soccer coach in Niigata was given a year-long suspension by the Japan Football Association for ordering his team to throw a futsal match. His boys scored six own-goals in a 7-0 loss At a time when many Japanese are decrying the lack of solid local sumo wrestlers, Mongolian yokozuna Hakuho told reporters that he’d like to see even more foreign wrestlers in the raised ring.

Six people were hurt when a 27-meter-tall crane collapsed at a Tokyo worksite, cutting off traffic on a busy road in Kojimachi.

A survey taken during WWII to determine whether Korean students were “ideologically sound” was discovered by a teacher at an Osaka high school.

A junior high social studies textbook was deemed to have 516 “flaws” in it, the education ministry reported.



Impressions of feelings evolved from visual stimuli

& what stimulates my impressions of what I feel, & why.

This is my usual distraction post.

I do have to try much harder, it seems, to distract myself from the very important issues of the day.

My issues may not be as pressing as yours, whatever they are, but posting distractions, works for me.

I hope to be held responsible, for alleviating your pressing worries, or ameliorating your happiness.

No matter how hard it seems to struggle against the travails of your situation, a hand of compassion is reaching out.

Grab that hand or reach yours out to someone less fortunate. Please.



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