May 4, 2011 archive

Today on The Stars Hollow Gazette

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Wednesday is mishima’s well deserved day of rest.

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The Stars Hollow Gazette

This is an Open Thread

Team Obama Admits Multiple Lies About Osama

Killing Osama bin Laden was a big victory for the U.S., but how exactly the raid went down is another story – and another, and another.

The contradictory statements seem certain to raise suspicions about the White House’s version of events, given that no independent account from another source is likely to emerge. The only non-U.S. witnesses to survive the raid are in Pakistani custody.

First we heard that Osama was shooting at US soldiers and using his wife for a shield!

At a Pentagon briefing earlier in the day, a senior defense official said bin Laden used a woman as a human shield so he could fire shots. “He was firing behind her,” the official said.


The Al Qaeda leader took his wife as a human shield during the firefight in Abbottabad, (Obama’s chief counter-terrorism adviser, John) Brennan told reporters at a White House briefing.

“Here is bin Laden, who has been calling for attacks, living in a million-dollar-plus compound, hiding behind women put in front of him for a shield,” Brennan said.


It wasn’t just Brennan saying it.

A senior defense official gave a similar description to reporters at a Pentagon background briefing, saying bin Laden and other male combatants at the compound “certainly did use women as shields.”

Osama had a gun! He was shooting at our soldiers! He used his wife for a shield!

But none of it was true.

Bin Laden was not armed and did not employ one of his wives as a human shield, the White House said Tuesday.

And so what if they got every detail wrong? It’s an honest mistake! “Fog of war, yada yada” said Jay Carney.

And now back to you, John Brennan, to wrap it up!

“Thinking about that from a visual perspective, here is Barack Obama*, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front…” Brennan said.

“I think it really just speaks to just how false his narrative has been over the years.”

*Or did he really say…

Here is George W. Bush*, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front…”

*Or did he really say…

Here is Hillary Clinton*, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front…”

*Or did he really say…

Here is Rush Limbaugh*, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front…”

*Or did he really say…

Here is Dick Cheney*, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front…”

*Or did he really say…

Here is John McCain*, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front…”

*Or did he really say…

Here is Tom Friedman*, who has been calling for these attacks, living in this million-dollar-plus compound, living in an area that is far removed from the front…”

*And he could have named any one of thousands of fat cats who live multi-million dollar compounds, far removed from the front, and call for more and more and more and more and more attacks, and the details don’t really matter.

Footballer asks: “What Kind Of Person Celebrates Death?”

And gets attacked for it of course.

Plenty of athletes tweeted their excitement at the news of Osama bin Laden’s death. Rashard Mendenhall, however, wasn’t convinced a celebration was in order.

“What kind of person celebrates death?” the Pittsburgh Steelers running back tweeted. “It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never even heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…”

He also expressed his opinions on whether the planes that hit the World Trade Center on September 11 caused them to collapse.

“We’ll never know what really happened. I just have a hard time believing a plane could take a skyscraper down demolition style,” Mendenhall said.

Steelers President Art Rooney II addressed Mendenhall’s comments in a statement posted on the team’s website.

“I have not spoken with Rashard so it is hard to explain or even comprehend what he meant with his recent Twitter comments,” Rooney said. “The entire Steelers’ organization is very proud of the job our military personnel have done and we can only hope this leads to our troops coming home soon.”

From America On Line (aka huffpo)…

Health and Fitness News

Welcome to the Health and Fitness weekly diary which is cross-posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette. It is open for discussion about health related issues including diet, exercise, health and health care issues, as well as, tips on what you can do when there is a medical emergency. Also an opportunity to share and exchange your favorite healthy recipes.

Questions are encouraged and I will answer to the best of my ability. If I can’t, I will try to steer you in the right direction. Naturally, I cannot give individual medical advice for personal health issues. I can give you information about medical conditions and the current treatments available.

You can now find past Health and Fitness News diaries here and on the right hand side of the Front Page.

Mango for Dinner and Dessert


If you are also a fan of mango, this is the best time of year to enjoy them, writes Martha Rose Shulman in this week’s Recipes for Health:

Often called the “king of fruits” elsewhere in the world, the mango is not high in calories, and it is an excellent source of beta carotene, vitamin A and potassium. Now is the time to get acquainted with them: although they’re in season from January to August, mangoes peak in May and June. A ripe mango gives a bit when pressed, and its fragrance should be heady and sweet, particularly at the stem end. But if you can find only hard, green mangoes, bring them home anyway – they will ripen at room temperature in a few days time. Put them in a paper bag with an apple to speed the process along.

To dice a mango, cut down the broad side of the fruit, slightly off center, from the stem end to the tip end. The knife should slide down against the flat side of the pit. Repeat on the other side, cutting as close to the pit as possible. Cut the flesh from the sides of the pit, following the curve of the pit.

Lay each half on your cutting surface and score with the tip of your knife in a crosshatch pattern, down to — but not through — the skin. Lift the mango half, and press on the skin with your thumbs to turn it inside out. Little cubes of mango will pop out on the other side, and you can easily cut them away from the skin.

If you want to peel the mango before cutting, slice off a small piece of the end, stand the mango upright and peel down the sides using a paring knife, between the skin and the flesh, as you would a pineapple.

Strawberries in a Mango Sea

A simple mango puree paired with strawberries makes a refreshing and healthful treat.

Pigeon Peas With Mango

Garam masala adds spiciness to this curry dish.

Shrimp and Mango Tacos

A sweet and pungent combination of mango, shrimp, chilies and cumin.

Mango, Orange and Ginger Smoothie

Ginger combines well with mango in this dish.

Red Coconut Rice Pudding With Mango

This dish is inspired by a classic Thai sweet made with sticky rice.


Book Revue

What Debate?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Budget debate’s center tilts to left

Robert Reich, San Francisco Chronicle

Sunday, May 1, 2011

In my view, even the president doesn’t go nearly far enough in the direction most Americans would approve. His plan doesn’t really increase taxes on the rich. It merely ends the Bush tax windfalls for the wealthy – which were originally designed to be ended in 2010 in any event – and closes a few loopholes.

But if we’re in a budget crisis, why shouldn’t we go back to the tax rates we had 30 years ago, which required the rich to pay much higher shares of their incomes? One of the great scandals of our age is how concentrated income and wealth have become. The top 1 percent now gets twice the share of national income it took home 30 years ago.

If the super-rich paid taxes at the same rates they did three decades ago, they’d contribute $350 billion more per year than they do now – amounting to trillions more over the next decade. That’s enough to ensure that every young American is healthy and well educated and that the nation’s infrastructure is up to world-class standards.

If Americans understood how much they’re paying for defense and how little they’re getting, they’d demand a defense budget at least 25 percent smaller than it is today.

I’d wager that if Americans also knew that the Ryan plan would channel hundreds of billions of their Medicare dollars into the pockets of private for-profit heath insurers, more would be against it.

If people knew that two-thirds of Ryan’s budget cuts would come from programs serving lower- and moderate-income Americans while more than 70 percent of the savings would fund tax cuts for the rich, even more would oppose it.

And if they knew that combining the tax cuts for the rich with the budget-cuts plan would produce almost no deficit reduction at all, just about everyone would be against it. The plan is little more than a giant transfer from the less advantaged to the super advantaged.

Finally, the president’s proposed budget – which, again, is considered the extreme liberal end of the field – doesn’t begin to remedy the scandal of the nation’s schools in poor and middle-class communities. Most teachers in these schools are paid less than $50,000 a year, and classrooms are crammed.

According to the most recent Washington Post-ABC News poll, 78 percent of Americans oppose cutting spending on Medicare as a way to reduce the budget deficit. Meanwhile, raising taxes on the wealthy is supported by 72 percent. That includes 68 percent of independents. Even a majority of registered Republicans – 54 percent – say taxes should be raised on the rich. A majority of Republicans!

The Ryan Republican plan shouldn’t be considered one side of a great debate. It shouldn’t be considered at all. Americans of all political persuasions – including a large percentage of registered Republicans – don’t want it.

Are we through yet?

Crossposted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Costly Afghanistan Road Project Is Marred by Unsavory Alliances

By ALISSA J. RUBIN and JAMES RISEN, The New York Times

Published: May 1, 2011

The money paid to Mr. Arafat bought neither security nor the highway that American officials have long envisioned as a vital route to tie remote border areas to the Afghan government. Instead, it added to the staggering cost of the road, known as the Gardez-Khost Highway, one of the most expensive and troubled transportation projects in Afghanistan. The 64-mile highway, which has yet to be completed, has cost about $121 million so far, with the final price tag expected to reach $176 million – or about $2.8 million a mile – according to American officials. Security alone has cost $43.5 million so far, U.S.A.I.D. officials said.

Despite the expense, a stretch of the highway completed just six months ago is already falling apart and remains treacherous. The unfinished portion runs through Taliban territory, raising questions about how it can be completed. Cost overruns are already more than 100 percent, all for a road where it was never certain that local Afghans wanted it as badly as the American officials who planned it.

Within weeks of starting work, a construction camp was hit with rocket-propelled grenades, said Steve Yahn, the former chief engineer for the Gardez-Khost Highway project. Afterward, the provincial governor and the police chief told the Americans that if they had hired the right people for security, the attack would never have happened. “We got the message,” Mr. Yahn said.

That is when Mr. Arafat and 200 of his men were brought in to protect work crews. He was recommended by tribal elders from the Zadran tribe, said Paktia’s governor, Juma Khan Hamdard.

“On paper, the G.K. road was paying an enormous security detail of local-hire Afghans,” said one United States official. The highway contractors “would make a big deal out of their camps’ getting hit from time to time, and some of their guys would get shot in night attacks, but every instance I ever heard about coincided with payment negotiations with the Afghan security detail, of whom Arafat was the chief point of contact,” the official said.

It is impossible to determine how many of the attacks on the highway may have been staged by Mr. Arafat or his men. Despite all the money spent on security, however, there have been 364 attacks on the Gardez-Khost Highway, including 108 roadside bombs, resulting in the deaths of 19 people, almost all of them local Afghan workers.

“Since I have left the security of the road, it’s chaos there,” Mr. Arafat said. In fact, security officials have not seen any significant incidents since Mr. Arafat’s departure, they said.

A military officer who asked not to be identified said that contractors working in remote stretches of Afghanistan constantly faced such dilemmas. Do you keep paying off insurgents, or others, to keep the peace, even though they could use the money to buy weapons and sustain the insurgency?

“It’s a tradeoff,” said the officer. “It’s Afghanistan; there is never a good answer.”

Muse in the Morning

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Muse in the Morning

Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.

Be what you are. This is the first step toward becoming better than you are.

–Julius Charles Hare

Connecting the Dots 5

Late Night Karaoke

Happy Birthday, Pete Seeger

Today in 1919, Pete Seeger, folk singer, activist, environmentalist was born in NYC.

Open Thread

A Message for the US Democratic Party

Cross posted from The Stars Hollow Gazette

Voters in Canada went to the polls Monday and returned Conservative Stephen Harper government to power with a 10 seat majority in the Parliament. While the most successful party since Canada became a country, the Liberal Party, was relegated to third place, making way for the new left, the New Democrats, taking position as the opposition party.

Separatist Bloc Quebecois was decimated, holding onto only two of its 47 seats and the defeat of its leader, Gilles Duceppe.

Michael Ignatieff, a former Harvard professor and one of Canada’s leading public intellectuals, says he is stepping down as leader of the Liberal Party after a crushing defeat. The Liberals dropped to 34 seats from 77. Ignatieff even lost his own seat in a Toronto suburb.

The New Democratic Party won 105 seats, well above its previous record of 45.

So, just WTF happened? How did the unpopular Conservatives not only retain power but increased it? How did the Liberal Party fall so far? Simple answer, the Liberals failed because they threw their base under the bus. This article from Jeremy Bloom at the blog, Red, Green & Blue gives this clear, simple explanation:

Canadian Election: WTF happened? “You have to outrun the bear” and other iron laws of politics

You know the classic story: “I don’t have to outrun the bear, I just have to outrun you”?

When you have a shotgun, you turn the shotgun on the bear. You do NOT turn your shotgun on your buddy.

Iggy (Liberal Leader Ignatieff) had a choice in the final week as his party faded. He could have said “Let us show a united front and block the Tories by any means possible.”

Instead, he went the route of “OMG! Scary socialists! Be afraid! Be VERY VERY AFRAID!”

Needless to say, this did not slow down the bear. The bear just kept on coming.

Nor did it stop the Liberal bleeding. The last days of the campaign are the time for you to be solidifying your support with the positive message of why your supporters are voting for you (and no, this is not a winning message either:”Vote for us because we used to be awesome, and we might be again some day! Uh…. Vote for us because your dad did!”)


. . . .when the faltering Liberal support broke in the final days, it didn’t go to their natural ally, Jack Layton (NDP leader). Instead, it went to pad the Tories (Conservatives).

Mistakes were made

And Iggy made them:

   Letting the Tories define him and the issues (Why on earth was he still talking about coalitions last week? That was Harper’s dream issue)

   Forcing an election with lousy numbers and no theme or message

   Banking right (EG Afghanistan, the oil sands) when the right was a monolithic, efficient fortress he was never ever going to break and the flank he needed to shore up was his left

   When the collapse came, lashing out against his ally instead of unifying

Now, Iggy says he’s sticking around. Which just further proves the man has absolutely no political sense whatsoever.

One bright spot: The fact that the Tories have an outright majority saves us from the ultimate indignity: Iggy pandering to Harper, propping up a Conservative minority in the name of “Giving the party time to rebuild” that would actually merely cement their irrelevance.

This is a cautionary warning for the Democratic Party and President Obama who keep pandering to the Tea Party Republicans and throwing the Liberal base under the bus. They are going to make themselves irrelevant in 2012 which might not be a bad thing in the longer run and the election in 2014 and 2016.

Perspective and a New Face

Cross posted from The Stars hollow Gazette

The new face of the Arab World is now the young people in Egypt and Tunisia and all the Middle Eastern countries where freedom rises up. Now, let’s bring our troops home.

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