May 9, 2009 archive

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Gunships and planes strike Pakistan Taliban in Swat

By Junaid Khan, Reuters

32 mins ago

MINGORA, Pakistan (Reuters) – Pakistani helicopter gunships and warplanes hit Taliban positions in the militants’ Swat Valley stronghold Saturday, while a curfew prevented civilians from fleeing the fighting.

The struggle in the northwestern valley 130 km (80 miles) from Islamabad has become a test of Pakistan’s resolve to fight a growing insurgency that has alarmed the West.

The military said up to 55 militants were killed in the day’s clashes in Swat and four soldiers wounded, and that several militants had died in separate clashes close to the Afghan border. The figures could not be independently confirmed.

Considered Forthwith: The Appropriations Committees

This essay will turn Orange Sunday around 8 p.m. Eastern. It is also posted on my own blog.

Welcome to the seventh installment of “Considered Forthwith.”

This weekly series looks at the various committees in the House and the Senate. Committees are the workshops of our democracy. This is where bills are considered, revised, and occasionally advance for consideration by the House and Senate. Most committees also have the authority to exercise oversight of related executive branch agencies. If you want to read previous dairies in the series, search using the “forthwith” tag. I welcome criticisms and corrections in the comments.

This week I will look at the House and Senate committees on Appropriations. With the passage of the budget resolution by the House and Senate (PDF), the Appropriations committees are starting their work. I have heard from Hill staffers that many people worked late last week to review the appropriations for fiscal year 2010.

Son of Stand the Fuck Up

As nearly always happens, people brought their own perspective to the late night rant I recently wrote. I had no idea it would strike such a chord, lol. It was something that needed to come out of me, it took about ten minutes to write… (and add CAPS and bolds and emphasis!!!)

…and as sometimes happens when the muse strikes like that, it seemed to either inspire or provoke people right when they needed it.

Enthusiasm, guilt, (leading to condemning it, haha) inspiration, and approbation….condemnation and appreciation appeared in roughly equal measure as each person read it through their own Lens of Perception and responded as their view of it required.

Sure it was light on substance. After all the whole thing is summed up in the two words in my sig line.

Yell Louder.

Simulposted at Daily Kos

Robotic Drone Aircrafts

The use of unmanned aerial vehicles, or UAV’s, is becoming increasingly controversial. U.S. military leaders say the robotic drone aircraft have been effective in killing Al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan without putting U.S. troops in danger. But what happens when civilians die too? Our guest is Peter Singer, senior fellow and director of the 21st Century Defense Initiative at the Brookings Institution; he’s also author “Wired for War: The Robotics Revolution and Conflict in the 21st Century”

AfPak Airstrikes And Selling A Rebranded War On Terror

Still another US air strike killing dozens of civilians in Afghanistan, still another promise by the Pentagon to “investigate”, while in Washington President Obama hosts the AfPak summit with “Af” Hamid Karzai” and “Pak” Ali Zardari.

Obama’s surge in Afghanistan will ensure a steady supply of “collateral damage”, even though sane military voices condemn “democracy at gunpoint” and Taliban “tacticians” mock Gen. David Petraeus’ counterinsurgency tactics.

The Bush “war on terror” has been rebranded as “overseas contingency operations” (OCO) by the Obama administration.

Pepe Escobar argues everything remains the same, but with a new twist: Washington selling OCO in AfPak to US public opinion not as an American war – but as a Pakistani war.

Real News Network – May 08, 2009

Killing them softly with air strikes

Pepe Escobar on how the rebranded “war on terror” is being sold as a PAKISTANI war

Late Night Karaoke

Playing The Remix

Random Japan

The Golden Years

It was reported that automaker Nissan has introduced new features to appeal to Japan’s aging consumers, including door handles that open no matter which way they are grabbed and “extra knobs” to hold on to for support.

The car company’s engineers have also taken to donning an “aging suit” to experience what it’s like for a 70-year-old to get around.

A 91-year-old Kagoshima woman is gaining notoriety as the proprietor of Grandma’s English Salon. Hatsune Honda charges just ¥500 for lessons that last one or two hours.

In 1966, Honda also served as Sean Connery’s interpreter when the actor was in Japan filming the James Bond film You Only Live Twice.

A government survey revealed that nearly 40 percent of condominium owners in Tokyo are 60 or older, the highest such figure ever.

The Scream Of The Butterfly Blues

The Guess Who

Share The Land

After the breaking point

As the economic collapse of the United States continues, we are getting very close to the point at which no amount of propaganda will conceal the magnitude of the problem. Rational observers are now experiencing a peak of cognitive dissonance as every corrupt “news” organization bleats out upbeat evaluations of truly dreadful economic statistics. After the breaking point is reached, the general public will share the stunned, disillusioned, and alienated outlook of the well-informed.

What happens to society in a state run by discredited propagandists? If the history of the Eastern Bloc totalitarian regimes is any guide, we can expect serious societal decay: alcoholism, drug abuse, family disintegration, and rising crime. When people no longer believe in the soundness of their government, they regress to more primitive (criminal) security arrangements, and often withdraw to the minimalist state of society, the Hobbesian war of all against all.

I fear that America will endure a dark era in which it slowly purges itself of the endemic dishonesty and corruption that destroyed its prosperity. People who have always taken the easy way out are about to learn that there is no easy way out. Still, we live, and so we must prepare for what is coming. Try to do the following.

1. Turn off your TV and never turn it on again.

2. Make backup arrangements for Internet connectivity in case your ISP fails.

3. Keep a spare computer and parts available.

4. Download and install a Linux operating system and Mozilla browser on your spare computer.

5. Buy tools and learn how to use them to perform useful services and maintain your environment (e.g., table saw, sewing machine, socket wrenches, multimeter, garden tools).

6. Invest in improving your relationships with family, friends, and neighbors. You will need their good will.

7. Practice honesty and reliability in all of your dealings with others.

8. Participate in the Internet community by sharing all useful information you have.

9. Avoid contact with and reliance on anyone who knowingly makes false statements.

10. Minimize your dependence on cash transactions.

The money culture is slowly collapsing. It will eventually be replaced by a culture based on esteem. Cultivate esteem and disengage from money to help rebuild our society.

Friday Night at 8: Words and Meaning

Do you know what it means?  Old Buddhist question, do you understand the words and do you understand the meaning?


The great Indian prince Naropa was tops in his field, of high renown, and everybody granted him great respect and obedience, no one wanted to tangle with him because he was the greatest of the scholars at Nalanda University and he would decimate their puny arguments, yeah, he had proven himself a great scholar and great teacher, all that.

One day he was sitting in his room and a really ugly woman appeared before him.  He was revolted by her, she was that ugly!

She asked him, “Do you understand the words and the meaning of what you are reading?”

He answered, “I understand the words,” and stopped there.

An amazing thing happened!  The woman began to laugh and suddenly she transformed in Naropa’s eyes to not being ugly at all, yeah, she looked rather beautiful all of a sudden.

Naropa thought to himself, “This is amazing!  If she’s this happy with my answer then I should make her even more happy!”

And he said to the woman, “AND, I understand the meaning!”

Now another change occurred.  The woman stopped laughing, the corners of her mouth turned down, and she began to weep, and she became even more ugly than before.

Naropa was perplexed!  And even more perplexed when the woman accused him of lying, the reason for her sadness.

Long story short, Naropa realized the woman was right.  He left Nalanda University, left his high seat of prestige and sought a teacher who could help him understand the meaning.  Well that’s a whole other story, Naropa’s meeting with the crazy Tilopa.

Friday Philosophy: testimony

As some of you have probably heard, I’ve been fairly ill for the past week.  I’ll include an update about that at the end of this piece.

But being ill…and it being the end of finals week, I had a difficult time generating a brand new topic.  Where are Bob and Doug when you need them?

So…like Felix…I reached into my bag of tricks and searched around for something to put together for tonight, even if it had to be somewhat hastily.

I remembered that I took some photographs at the end of the April, of the Bloomfield College 2009 observation of the Clothesline Project.