October 14, 2009 archive

Frontline: Obama’s War

PBS Frontline:

In Obama’s War, veteran correspondent Martin Smith travels across Afghanistan and Pakistan to see first-hand how the president’s new strategy is taking shape, delivering vivid, on-the-ground reporting from this eight-year-old war’s many fronts. Through interviews with top generals, diplomats and government officials, Smith also reports the internal debates over President Obama’s grand attempt to combat terrorism at its roots.

“What we found on the ground was a huge exercise in nation building,” says Smith. “The concept’s become a bit of a dirty word, but that’s what this is. We started with the goal of eliminating Al Qaeda, and now we’ve wound up with the immense task of re-engineering two nations.”

In Obama’s War, veteran correspondent Martin Smith travels across Afghanistan and Pakistan to see first-hand how the president’s new strategy is taking shape, delivering vivid, on-the-ground reporting from this eight-year-old war’s many fronts. Through interviews with top generals, diplomats and government officials, Smith also reports the internal debates over President Obama’s grand attempt to combat terrorism at its roots.

This is a 25 minute preview of the full program that was apparently scheduled to air October 13, and was scheduled to be available for online viewing here, but perhaps there has been a delay in that, as I do not see any video online there. CORRECTION: It is there but may only be viewable with IE, as I cannot see it there using FireFox 3.

Honduras: Is There A Deal To End The Coup?

Maybe.  Today the BBC is reporting there’s a deal of sorts but it’s not giving any details:

 The political crisis in Honduras appears to be closer to a resolution after negotiators reached a deal.

However few details are known of the deal which has yet to be approved by ousted President Manuel Zelaya and interim President Roberto Micheletti….snip

Mr Zelaya’s lead negotiator Victor Meza said the two sides had “agreed on one unified text that will be discussed and analysed by President Zelaya and Mr Micheletti.”

“I wouldn’t talk of an end to the political crisis, but an exit, yes,” he was quoted by Reuters news agency as saying.

Mr Zelaya has set a deadline of Thursday for agreement to be reached.

Reuters has the same story with some additional comments but no additional details:

The central issue being discussed was the return of Zelaya to power, but neither side was prepared to give details of the agreement and Micheletti’s negotiators did not immediately comment.

Still, army chief Romeo Vasquez, a key figure in the coup, also said a deal appeared close. “I know that we have advanced significantly, we are almost at the end of this crisis,” he told local radio HRN.

So maybe after all of this time there is an end to the golpe de estado in sight.  If the deadline is tomorrow, we should know tomorrow what, if anything, has been agreed to.


simul-posted at The Dream Antilles

“Earth’s Life Support Systems Failing”

I was so happy Weds. morning. Going about my life. See, I’ve been on a big “clean out the house” binge — boy does that feel good! A “get organized” binge — trust me it was needed after years of not, and BOY does that feel GOOD. A “get rid of it if you don’t need it, watch out I’m dropping bags of stuff I think you need off on your front porch under cover of darkness” binge. OK, I”m actually calling people or emailing them to see if they really want the stuff.

Taken stuff to the Kid’s Consignment Shop. Goodwill. I mean, the computer monitor that was stuffed in the corner 5 YEARS ago to take… somewhere… Well, WA State changed laws, and now you can drop them off at any Goodwill, and there’s one about 12 blocks from my house! That happened 2 years ago, I’m all set, eh? Well the monitor is now in trunk of car, and all I have to do is remember it when I’m near the Goodwill!

OK OK, I got out the right tool and made a note to myself to remember. (Speedy forgetful, or “Quick Smart” people take note: that tool is a business card as small enuf to fit in pocket, make notes on the back throughout the day as to where you need to go, keep in pocket when you go out, consult and follow the directions. No charge.)

I mean, you know? I’m on a fantastic roll here. But from zipping around the house got a bit tired, so sat down, opened computer, to learn and rest at same time. “Hmmmmm, I’ll try CommonDreams, see what they have for news today.”

(Headline below the fold.)

Afternoon Edition

Afternoon Edition is an Open Thread

Now with World and U.S. News.  42 Story Final.

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Britain to send 500 extra troops to Afghanistan

by Katherine Haddon, AFP

2 hrs 13 mins ago

LONDON (AFP) – Britain announced an extra 500 soldiers for Afghanistan Wednesday, as US President Barack Obama huddled with his war cabinet to decide whether to commit thousands more troops to the conflict.

But while pledging more forces, Prime Minister Gordon Brown urged NATO allies to do their “fair share” in the increasingly deadly and unpopular war and pressed Kabul to provide more troops and get tough on corruption.

“We have agreed in principle a new British troop level of 9,500,” Brown said in a statement to the House of Commons. The Ministry of Defence confirmed this represented an increase of 500.

Health Care is ONE Reason

Why is Sen. Olympia Snowe pushing for a trigger option?  Because the Democratic Party has 60 votes now, whereas years down the line, when a trigger could prompt the government to act, they won’t.  That means no real reform.  But, does Sen. Snowe really have any power at all?  Not if Sen. Harry Reid puts the public option into the Senate bill.

This is why health care reform is but one reason the Democratic Party is bleeding support…

(crossposted at Daily Kos)

Third Ways

So, this is likely to be a little bit “stream of consciousness” in delivery, sorry, welcome to my brain. heh.

Yesterday was interesting day, and yes, I am referring to some diaries and commentary over at l’orange. In particular, of course, was buhdydharma’s clarion call (now up to 764 comments) and later in the evening, y’got a good dose of teh funny but true from Shizzle (only 478 comments in that one), addressing the recent ramped up flame wars between “Pragmatics” and “Idealists”.

I happen to think that whole Pragmatist v. Idealist frame-up is a crock of shit. Myself, I am clearly in the Idealist camp, but I’m enough of a Pragmatist to know that I don’t even bother trying to persuade or convince or rally the… pragmatists to our side. Can’t explain that very well. It has very little to do with me being pragmatic and everything to do with me being very thin-skinned chickenshit. lol.

So… what about us subversives, huh?

The Parable of Speaking Truth to Power

The Parables of Jesus were spoken in symbolic language which lends them to a variety of different, though often interrelated interpretations.  Indeed, the very structure of the words which form them make any one sole meaning impossible.  It is this fact in particular that has made me skeptical of any church or any faith which stakes a claim to the “real” way.  Biblical scholarship has revealed nuance and even irony in the original text itself, both of which must be taken into account before forming any one-sided reading.  Jesus often spoke indirectly to avoid persecution by both Roman and Jewish authorities, but beyond the obvious, I have always seen the Parables much as I would an excellent work of poetry, one which provides a new, helpful, before unseen resonance with every subsequent reading.  The intrinsic thread remains constant, but new permutations arise as I age and depending on what frame of mind I am in at that particular juncture in my life, I always glean something brand new.

When we talk about our own complicity in a system where those at the top dictate the course of action for those subservient to them, I return to the Parable of the Talents.  In this day and age where we often believe that our own power, income, and sphere of influence owes its existence to making compromises with unethical major players, this Parable address our messy moral dilemmas.  Here, the version in the Gospel of Matthew, which is cited most frequently.    

Sen. Graham vs Screaming Beckerheads! RINO hunt in a shrinking party = EPIC DISASTER for GOP

Crossposted at Daily Kos

A few months ago our fellow blogger at DKos KingOneEye (or NewsCorpse as he is known at Docudharma) wrote a diary titled FOX NEWS is Killing the Republican Party which posited that the far right media and their meat puppets like Beck, O’Reilly and Hannity, along with Rush and other assorted assknuckles, were pushing a shrinking party into a purity purge that they can not win elections with.

    Well, now we need wait no longer. That massive implosion of knuckle dragging wingnut vs Republican moderate wingnut enabler has gone critical mass. Grab some popcorn and enjoy.

Transcript and more below the fold

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Unblack Hole:

(Click on image for larger view)

The muses are ancient.  The inspirations for our stories were said to be born from them.  Muses of song and dance, or poetry and prose, of comedy and tragedy, of the inward and the outward.  In one version they are Calliope, Euterpe and Terpsichore, Erato and Clio, Thalia and Melpomene, Polyhymnia and Urania.

It has also been traditional to name a tenth muse.  Plato declared Sappho to be the tenth muse, the muse of women poets.  Others have been suggested throughout the centuries.  I don’t have a name for one, but I do think there should be a muse for the graphical arts.  And maybe there should be many more.

I know you have talent.  What sometimes is forgotten is that being practical is a talent.  I have a paucity for that sort of talent in many situations, though it turns out that I’m a pretty darn good cook.  🙂  

Let your talent bloom.  You can share it here.  Encourage others to let it bloom inside them as well.

Won’t you share your words or art, your sounds or visions, your thoughts scientific or philosophic, the comedy or tragedy of your days, the stories of doing and making?  And be excellent to one another!

On Same-Sex Inheritance, Or, “‘Til Death Do We Part” Comes To Boyzone

There was a time, in the 1990s, when “boy bands” walked tall in the musical world. New stars with names like “BoyzIIMen” and “Backstreet Boys” and “*NSYNC” were everywhere to be seen, and positioned prominently within this firmament of stars was an Irish band, “Boyzone”.

One of the five members of Boyzone’s most famous lineup, Stephen Gately, died over the weekend in Mallorca, aged 33, much to the dismay of the group’s fans and friends.

Because Gately came out at the height of his career, and at considerable risk to his (and the group’s) “brand” prospects, the LBGT community is experiencing considerable dismay over the loss as well.

Today’s story, however, isn’t about any of that.

Instead, we’ll consider what’s likely to happen to Gately’s estate.

The point of the exercise? With this being one of the most prominent deaths of a gay celebrity to occur since civil commitment came to pass, and with Mr. Gately being legally committed to husband Andrew Cowles at the time of his death, it seems like a good time to examine how the law responds to these situations in the UK-and how it could work in the United States.

Bleak U.S. job market boosts military recruitment

There are many people benefitting from the current economic collapse.   Some of them are well known, such as Goldman Sachs, who is preparing to dole out 23 billion dollars in embezzlement “bonuses” to its co-conspirators in the high-tech looting it’s managed to pull off …. then of course there are the other “too big to fail” banks which are simply gobbling up the “too small to be saved” banks, and therefore growing even bigger.    Then of course there is the military industrial complex which I like to call “Corporate Welfare” because, well, that’s really all it is ….

But guess what the Military Industrial Complex needs?    Cannon fodder, that’s what it needs.  Gullible young men who are seduced into believing that joining the military is just like playing that ubercool video game.   But this got a little tricky when in spite of the massive censorship imposed on our so-called “media” about how dangerous it actually was to join the military while we were raping invading two different countries that didn’t really want to be invaded, so recruitment sorta dropped off, to the point where recruiters were taking damn near anybody who could fog a mirror, including the mentally deficient, the morally deficient, the drugged, the mentally ill, you can pretty much name it.

Well all that has changed!   And this is GREAT NEWS for the military, because now the economy has tanked to the point where nobody can get a job.    And people need jobs.   So what are the poor slobs doing who can’t even get a job at the local diary queen or Wal Mart these days?    Why, they’re signing up with the Military!    

And the military couldn’t be happier.

Bleak U.S. job market boosts military recruitment

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Aided by a bleak job market, the U.S. military met all of its recruitment goals in the past year for the first time since it became an all-volunteer force in 1973, the Pentagon said on Tuesday.

Military services have been stretched thin by conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, giving added weight to recruitment efforts as President Barack Obama considers sending another 40,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan next year.

The United States already has 67,000 troops in Afghanistan and about 119,000 in Iraq.

Pentagon officials said recruitment gains were fueled by the deepest U.S. recession since the Great Depression and an unemployment rate nearing 10 percent.

“For the first time since the advent of the all-volunteer force, all of the military components, active and reserve, met their number as well as their quality goals,” said Bill Carr, deputy undersecretary of defense for military personnel policy.

Wow!  Let’s Par-TEE!   Woo hooo!   I mean, this is great news, because Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama sneaked 13,000 more troops into Afghanistan without telling anybody and where were those supposed to come from?

WASHINGTON (AFP) – In an unannounced move, President Barack Obama is dispatching an additional 13,000 US troops to Afghanistan beyond the 21,000 he announced publicly in March, The Washington Post reported Monday.

The additional forces are primarily support forces — such as engineers, medical personnel, intelligence experts and military police — the Post said, bringing the total buildup Obama has approved for the war-torn nation to 34,000.

“Obama authorized the whole thing. The only thing you saw announced in a press release was the 21,000,” a defense official familiar with the troop-approval process told the daily.

It is a DAMN GOOD THING that these men and women couldn’t get jobs anywhere else otherwise where would Obama have gotten these personnel?    

It almost makes you wonder if the people who really run things think that this “downturn” business is actually good for business.   I mean, the people in charge are doing just fine, and when else would you have a “buying opportunity” but during a downturn?    


Wednesday Morning Science Supplement

Wednesday Morning Science Supplement is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Science

1 Fight over future of Kashmir’s iconic Dal Lake

by Izhar Wani, AFP

36 mins ago

SRINAGAR (AFP) – “I live here and I will die here,” insists Safder Hussain, one of thousands of farmers defying relocation from Kashmir’s famed Dal Lake which is slowly choking to death on sewage, silt and weeds.

The iconic mountain-ringed oasis that has seduced generations of visitors has shrunk to half its original size in the past two decades — and the government has pointed a finger of blame at Hussain and 90,000 other lake dwellers.

For years they have eked out a tough but decent living, growing vegetables and fruit on floating “fields” made of reeds and composted weeds.

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