October 6, 2009 archive

Four at Four

  1. McClatchy reports Gates to Army: We’ll follow Obama’s orders on Afghanistan. Defense War Secretary “Robert Gates told a gathering of Army officers Monday that the Pentagon would follow any strategy that Obama orders.”

    “Speaking for the Department of Defense, once the commander in chief makes his decisions, we will salute and execute those decisions faithfully and to the best of our ability,” Gates told the Association of the U.S. Army in Washington.

    Gates’ remarks may be a rebuke of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who last week publically said White House plans were “short-sighted” if they did not increase the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Gates said the Pentagon and military should offer “our best advice to the president candidly — but privately.”

    Meanwhile, the CS Monitor asks McChrystal’s Afghanistan comments: insightful or sedition?

Four at Four continues with Pakistan, Sonia Sotomayor, and big dinosaur footprints in France.

A Bridge to Somewhere-Supporting the Kerry-Boxer Bill and Reclaiming Our Democracy

Since I live in the DC metro area, I attended the rally last Wednesday at which the Clean Energy, Jobs and American Power Act (CEJAPA) was unveiled. Those of you who haven’t read summaries or analysis of this legislation yet should check out both RLMiller’s diary and Senator Kerry’s diary about CEJAPA.  I’ll say straight out that it’s not a perfect bill, but it’s a bill I’m happy to support. Its emissions reduction targets are better than those in the House bill, it includes more funding for clean transportation, and, very importantly, it states that the EPA has the authority to regulate carbon pollution. But analysis of the bill has already been diaried, and, to quote “Alice’s Restaurant,” it’s not what I’m here to tell you about.  I’m here to talk about the first indications of a political sea-change.

At the rally, I was struck by something remarkable.  Democratic senators were speaking to us, their progressive base, and asking us to help provide the grassroots pressure needed to get a climate bill through the rocky terrain of the Senate.  Now, politicians from the Democratic wing of the Democratic party have asked for our support before, but this was different.  It wasn’t just one or two left-wing senators addressing us, but a coalition which included some folks who usually don’t talk to us much-and they were asking us, essentially, to do the same thing we’ve done for the public option for this climate change legislation.  Imagine how different the debate on health care would have been over the past few months if Democratic politicians had come to us in April and asked us to mount a grassroots campaign in support of clear policy goals.  They didn’t, which is a shame.  But now, on the issue of climate change, they are.

Folks, we have finally gotten their attention.  The remarkable job that slinkerwink, Jane, nyceve, and others have done to keep the public option alive has finally made it occur to more than a few Dems that we’re good in a fight-and, perhaps, that we’re bad to ignore.  Rather than attempting to placate us by throwing us a few bones, then treating us like Typhoid Mary, which has been the MO of most elected Democrats since the late 80s, these Democrats are treating us as useful allies.  There is a door opening here between Washington and the grassroots, and we need to wedge it open with a brick and march right through.  

So, on behalf of The Carrots and Sticks Project, I am announcing the launch of our campaign to support the Kerry-Boxer bill.  We are calling it the Swing States to Green States Campaign, and we are beginning with a petition, which the members of Carrots and Sticks will hand-deliver to senators, calling on them to support CEJAPA.  Please click through and sign this petition, and spread the word to your friends to do the same.

Support CEJAPA!

We need to do this for the sake of CEJAPA’s goal:  to reduce carbon emissions and birth the new green economy.  But we also need to do this for the sake of another goal, one that brings to fruition the vision of our guiding light Howard Dean:  to take back our party and our country.

Our power is growing, the need is great, and we must act now.

Torture Tape To Be Released To al-Qahtani’s Lawyers

Simulposted at Daily Kos

From Truthout

A federal court judge on Monday revealed that the brutal interrogation of an alleged “war on terror” detainee imprisoned at Guantanamo for more than seven years was videotaped and she ordered the government to turn over the materials to the prisoner’s lawyers.

   Mohammed al-Qahtani was someone Bush administration officials had referred to as the “20th hijacker” of the 9/11 attacks. The government claimed the Saudi man intended to take part in 9/11, but he was denied entry into the United States by an immigration official a month before the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.


 The treatment of al-Qahtani was cataloged in an 84-page “torture log” that was leaked in 2006. The “torture log” shows that beginning in November 2002 and continuing well into January 2003, al-Qahtani was subjected to sleep deprivation, interrogated in 20-hour stretches, poked with IVs and left to urinate on himself.

how ’bout just a leeetle more…?



Max Cleland: Helping Soldiers Heal

Yesterday, the fifth of October, I posted up a Parade Magazine article I found on Max Cleland and his new book {on my site and a few open threads etc.}. This morning I heard a short, but real good, interview on NPR’s Morning Edition {below with links}, that should be added to the Parade article. This, while short, was a pretty good interview as Max hit’s on a number of issues but unable to delve deeper. Here’s hoping as he has started to promote the book that we get to hear and see longer more in depth interviews, I for one hope so, not only because of the brotherhood of us ‘Nam Vets and the whole Veterans community, but because Max doesn’t hold back, never did, and speaks with feeling and conviction.

Behind Enemy Lines

As I have been unemployed, or at least severely underemployed for the past several months, I decided yesterday to make another attempt at making some income.  A job poster advertised the need for rudimentary data entry, an activity that, with time, usually turns one’s brain to gelatin, but at least it pays.  After being ushered in to a well-furnished and crisply professional business waiting room, I was taken to a much less well-furnished interior comprised of the maze of the stereotypical generic office.  With a bland name like CMDI, I didn’t have the foggiest notion of what sort of work was needed or even what the nature of it would be.  The matter-of-fact, perfunctory demeanor and expensive clothes of the receptionist provide no indication of what one ought to expect when one’s name is called.

Ritter Debunks Propaganda for War with Iran

In the lead up to the 2003 Iraq invasion any good journalist on the day Powell told the world that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction would have been able to debunk Powell’s claims the same day.

Former chief United Nations weapons inspector in Iraq Scott Ritter spoke in Tokyo the same day Powell made his presentation at the UN and told the Foreign Press Association of Japan that everything Powell had said that day in the UN was a lie, and it later turned out that Ritter was right. Ritter’s speech that day was covered by Associated Press (AP) on video and wire services.

Every news organization in the world got Ritter’s speech via AP, and virtually none of them published it. Rather the world press simply let Powell get away with his lies that helped lead to an illegal invasion that by some counts resulted in over a million Iraqi deaths, along with the more than 4000 US Troop deaths and tens of thousands of US Troop maimings.

Ritter is now making similar warnings about the drumbeats for war with Iran and debunking the false claims that Iran is well on the way to producing a nuclear bomb, which by the way if Iran did produce and use against Israel would likely immediately result in Iran’s total destruction by Israel with their stockpile of by some counts 200 or more nuclear weapons.

We are being asked by a US Administration, Military Industrial Complex, and world press propaganda campaign, to believe that Iran is suicidal as a justification for attacking them.

Real News Network – October 6, 2009

Ritter on Iran

Scott Ritter challenges idea that Iran is close to producing a nuclear weapon

Docudharma Times Tuesday October 6

Tuesday’s Headlines:

Obama Team Says Zazi Case Illustrates Balanced Approach to Terror Threat

‘They are the unappreciated patriots’

Fatah-led security officers accused of torturing Hamas suspect to death

Palestinians outraged over Abbas bowing to Israel, US

Pakistan readies for new assault on Bin Laden lair

Indonesia calls off search for Padang earthquake survivors

President Tony: the ghost at the Tories’ feast

Berlusconi immunity case begins as leader faced with £690 million corruption payout

A model home to rebuild Rwanda

Lula, Brazil’s president, is focus of upcoming film

As Job Loss Rises, Obama Aides Act to Fix Safety Net


Published: October 5, 2009

WASHINGTON – With unemployment expected to rise well into next year even as the economy slowly recovers, the Obama administration and Democratic leaders in Congress are discussing extending several safety net programs as well as proposing new tax incentives for businesses to renew hiring.President Obama’s economic team discussed a wide range of ideas at a meeting on Monday, following his Saturday radio address in which he said it would “explore additional options to promote job creation.” But officials emphasized that a decision was still far off and that in any event the effort would not add up to a second economic stimulus package, only an extension of the first.

“We’re thinking through all additional potential strategies for accelerating job creation,” said Mr. Obama’s senior adviser, David Axelrod.

Kim Jong-il: nuclear talks depend on direct negotiations with US

North Korean leader quoted as saying he’s prepared to revive six-party talks if progress is made in dialogue with Washington

Jonathan Watts in Beijing and agencies

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 6 October 2009 07.37 BST

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-il, said his country is prepared to return to international nuclear disarmament talks if it can first make progress in bilateral negotiations with the US.

His comments to the Chinese prime minister, Wen Jiabao, lifted hopes for a revival of six-party talks, which Pyongyang declared “dead” earlier this year after being punished with UN sanctions for long-range rocket and nuclear tests.

The remarks were carried today by the North Korean and Chinese state news agencies during the second day of Wen’s visit to Pyongyang.

Muse in the Morning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket
Muse in the Morning

A Transition through Poetry XXX

Art Link

Up on the Roof

Rain on the Roof

The sound

of rain on the roof

reminded her

that she needed to hurry.

It wouldn’t do

to be stuck

out here alone

in the storm.

She remembered

the days of isolation…

of deprivation…

of loneliness…

those days

when the roof would leak

and the fire wouldn’t

put out enough heat

to warm

even her hands…

those days

when turning

to her neighbors

was not possible

because they universally

detested her difference.

Now they voiced

acceptance of her

and would let her visit

when the storms came.

But they still

didn’t understand

who she was

or what it meant

to be her.

They would open

their doors

during a storm,

but they still

wouldn’t help fix

the damn roof.

She was still different.

–Robyn Elaine Serven

–March, 1998.

Only seven figures

India floods leave 2.5 million homeless, 250 dead

HYDERABAD, India, Oct. 5, 2009 (Reuters) – Rescue workers used sandbags to stop a raging river from breaching its embankment near a southern Indian city on Monday as floods triggered by heavy rains over the last week left 2.5 million people homeless.

The flooding, described by officials as the worst in many decades in south India, has killed some 250 people, mostly in the states of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. At least five million people are crammed in temporary government shelters.

Late Night Karaoke

Open Thread

Tokyo Police Club

EcoJustice: Live for the Left Coast

(posted earlier this eve at The Orange)

Today  as World Habitat Day shines a light on the basic  human right to adequate shelter, Mark Horvarth, creator and producer of InvisiblePeople.TV, sits down with progressive talk show host Angie Coiro to discuss homelessness in America. Horvarth, who hails from Los Angeles, swung into San Francisco late last night, at the tail end of his  2 1/2 month roadtrip across America. He has some fine suggestions to share, like a Yelp for nonprofits and an iPhone app to direct volunteers to the nearest location in need of their help.

So tonight, in acknowledgement of WHD, EcoJustice joins Angie and Mark Live from the Left Coast.

(note liveblog will be archived at Green960.com

Let’s go LIVE from the streets of San Francisco!

The number of low-income families in the US that lack safe and affordable housing is related to the number of children that suffer from asthma, viral infections, anemia, stunted growth and other health problems. About 21,000 children have stunted growth attributable to the lack of stable housing; 10,000 children between the ages of 4 and 9 are hospitalized for asthma attacks each year because of cockroach infestation at home; and more than 180 children die each year in house fires attributable to faulty electrical heating and electrical equipment. World Habitat News Facts

Women from Afghanistan, Bolivia, Cameroon, Mail, Sierra Leone, and The Gambia are training to become barefoot solar engineers in Tilonia, home of the Barefoot College in India. After 6 months training in India, they will return to their home countries and solar-electrify their own communities.Link

For a full third of our nation, home is a noteworthy topic.  For these 95 million people home isn’t a given.  It is a search, a hope, a goal.  Whether they have housing problems because of poverty, mental illness, or loss of family, they have them.  Many of these people are chronically homeless, and some are working 3 jobs and still unable to afford decent housing for their families.Thoughts on World Habitat Day; Mobile Loaves & Fishes.

What if we could find ways to engage the nation’s homeless in projects which could lead them out of poverty?   What if, instead of turning our homeless out onto the streets early each morning, we converted shelters in 21st century workshops… what if we took the ‘bottom up’ localized principles of social entrepreneurship and sustainable development that are most effective in international projects — I’m thinking here of Seva Foundation and India’s Barefoot College, and the phenomenal work of  …. hmmm … what was that guy’s name anyway? You know, the one who was hired by the Obama administration to take on molding a community based approach to greening the economy? …. ohhhhhh

…. What if we hired Van Jones to tackle this problem????

(wherein i assemble a mini VJ swag bag)Van Jones Green for All

“Is there anyone here who ever swallowed hard and took a stand for something that you knew was unpopular? Has anybody in this room ever really, really screwed something up, and then tried again? Well, I would say if you answered yes to any of those questions, you are a social entrepreneur.”  Van Jones

“Adopt a policy or implement a program that creates environmentally beneficial jobs in slums and/or low-income neighborhoods.”

The adoption of these accords marked the beginning of the global movement for “green jobs.”

… Princeton University professor and political commentator Melissa Harris-Lacewell frames Jones’s resignation as a “kick in the gut” to the environmental justice movement, whose initiatives include creating green jobs and advocating against improper land uses and health problems in poor and minority neighborhoods … Green The Block  launches last week in DC and  from the Ella Baker Blog “Center for Human Rights where Jones was a co-founder and worked for ten years: “While most Americans would now agree that climate change is real, a new report by the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity and UC Berkeley’s College of Natural Resources uncovers what researchers call a “climate gap” or hidden pattern revealing that poor people and people of color in the United States suffer more from environmental changes than other whiter and wealthier Americans.

One more call lauding the extraordinary work of another social entrepreneur,  MacArthur Fellowship recipient David Green. Green’s lifework is about providing affordable, accessible and financially self-sustaining health care and medical technology throughout the developing world. Through the Seva Foundation, he partnered with India’s Aurolab to develop an affordable intraocular lens for cataract patients. Aurolab provides intraocular lenses to poor cataract patients at a cost of $4 – $6. (In contract, US manufactures lenses at a cost of $100-$150.) His most recent project, Conversion Sound,is based upon three concepts:  wealthy clients pay higer prices to subsidize the lower price of hearing aids to poorer clients; battery prices are lowered through use of a solar or crank-powered battery charger; and non-medical personnel are trained to fit hearing aids in a little over an hour. Additionally, custom molds are manufactured on site utlizing an instant mold making process.

Green says what motivates him is analogous to Chinese acupunture: the redirection of energy from where it is most focused to where it is most needed. He says he doesn’t work with companies;rather, he works with individuals who possess technical competence and deep rooted integrity. Green is currently addressing applicatin of his well-tested concepts of social capitalism in the design of a “Bottom of the pyramid approach to healthcare delivery to develop financially self sustaining paradigms for health services. He recently spoke at a forum in San Francisco discussing this extraordinary paradigm.

Sugggestion: What if we hired Van Jones to handle this problem? And he talked to David Green and they both talked to David Horvarth and then they all get together for a roundtable special on Angie Coiro’s Live From The Left Coast? Maybe we could get something done! (In my attempt to get things started, I’ve got the Ella Baker Center following my tweets and am following the tweets of a wide array of social entrepreneur networks in the hopes I can generate some cross-tweeting.)

As soon as the downpour started the children were out on the streets in the slums of Dhaka, celebrating the rain

One out of every three city dwellers n the world – nearly a billion people – lives in a slum. (Slum indicators include: lack of water, lack of sanitation, overcrowding, non-durable structures and insecure tenure.)

Dharavi – Asia’s largest slum, is located in the centre of Mumbai. Studies show that more than 60 percent of population of Mumbai (formerly known as Bombay) lives in the slums. These slums lack basic infrastructure and is very low in hygenic and health care.

LOS ANGELES – The city attorney stood on the roof of a homeless shelter high above the human misery of Skid Row in April and announced a $1.6 million settlement from a hospital accused of dumping about 150 mentally ill patients on the streets.

Rocky Delgadillo trumpeted the penalty, castigated those who took advantage of society’s most vulnerable and praised the Union Rescue Mission’s chief executive as an inspiration for the investigation that led to the settlement.

What seemed like a big payday for the shelter and other nonprofits that have fought homelessness, mental illness and drug abuse on Skid Row for years, however, turned out to be no such bonanza. Instead, the lion’s share went to an organization in Pasadena – a suburb a dozen miles away – to provide grief counseling to school children. Link

Compare this

A member of the Tulag Tribe in Africa comments on the magical moment, as the sun sets, the world settles, the tribespeople get into their tents, boil tea …

VMA: Tell me about a moment of deep happiness for you in the desert.

MAA: It happens every day, two hours before sunset. The heat decreases, there is still no cold air, and men and animals slowly return to the compound, and their profiles are painted against a sky that is pink, blue, red, yellow, green.

VMA: That sounds fascinating.

MAA: It’s a magical moment. We all get into the tents and we boil tea. Sitting in silence we listen to the sound of the boiling water. We are immersed in calmness, with our the heart beating to the rhythm of the boiling water, potta potta potta……

VMA: How peaceful.

MAA: Yes…here you have watches; there, we have time.

from LIM News Interview with by Victor-M. Amela with Moussa Ag Assarid, a journalist and member of the Touareg tribe in Africa.

with this …

an American photographer rushes back for his camera to capture a picture of a Hobo’s tent …

i was driving past, the sun was setting, the smoke was brewing, they were still sleeping. i parked and ran back, adjusting the setting to my camera, ready set go. and then the hobos came out of their cardboard house, they didnt realise that the fire was going, they had been saving it. so this one guy stomped it out, while the other guy just sat on the curb and watched the cars go by. (i’ll put that photo up soon).

the guy who was sitting on the curb has claimed this yard for years. i used to buy him coffee every morning when i worked around the corner. he used to smile and talk some banter to me. sadly, as the years have passed he has become even more estranged with this world, he no longer talks, he can barely look me in the eyes. he rarely smiles. his smile was once so sweet, the cheekiness of a child.

recently his friend, the guy putting out the fire, set up camp next to him. they watch the people go by, the day go by, silent, but together. Cybele

Photo credits:

World Habitat Day Mosaic

Barefoot Photographers of Tilonia

Please Color My Eyes by Bu Saif

Masai Mara, by Lyndon Firman

Hobo Home by Cybele

The start of the monsoon, 2009-05-17, by Martien Van Asseldonk.

Dharavi, Mumbai by Soumak Kar

Urban Camping by James Hermann

EcoJustice series discuss environmental justice, or the disproportionate impacts on human health and environmental effects on minority communities in the U.S. and around the world. All people have a human right to clean, healthy and sustainable communities.

Almost 4 decades ago, the EPA was created partially in response to the public health problems caused in our country by environmental conditions, which included unhealthy air, polluted rivers, unsafe drinking water and waste disposal.  Oftentimes, the answer has been to locate factories and other pollution-emitting facilities in poor, culturally diverse, or minority communities.

Please join EcoJustice hosts on Monday evenings at 7PM PDT. Please email us if you are interested in hosting.

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