Transcript below the fold.
July 14, 2011 archive
Jul 14 2011
Our regular featured content-
- On This Day In History July 14 by TheMomCat
- Punting the Pundits by TheMomCat
- Evening Edition by ek hornbeck
mishima‘s news digest 6 In The Morning will be on hiatus
These featured articles-
- Send In The Drones: Crisis In Somalia by TheMomCat
- I like irony. by ek hornbeck
- La Fête Nationale by TheMomCat
The continuing coverage of the world’s most watched and controversial cycling event, Le Tour de France.
- Le Tour- Stage 12 by ek hornbeck
Join us on Tuesday for Le Tour 2011- Stage 13 at 7:30 AM EDT.
This is an Open Thread
Jul 14 2011
Somalia is suffering the worst food shortage in 60 years.
The combination of severe drought and a conflict in Somalia is driving people across its borders as they seek food, water and safety. Almost half the children arriving in refugee camps in Ethiopia from southern Somalia are malnourished. This is a very visible tragedy of families who’ve walked for weeks, their children growing weak with hunger, in need of assistance.
Consecutive poor rainy seasons have resulted in communities struggling year after year, never fully recuperating from previous droughts. Few resources have been made available to ensure families recover and to mitigate future crises.
In some cases, a phenomenon called “green drought” has led to misunderstandings about what families are facing. “Green drought” gives the faulty appearance of a lush landscape when light rain causes greenery to spring up from the earth. Unfortunately, this vegetation is often inedible, leaving people without enough food to eat. To outsiders it seems unbelievable.
In other cases, families are facing a food shortage due to a lack of land on which to grow crops. Land is passed down to children and, over the years, the available plots to produce food have been growing smaller and smaller. With the added pressures of erosion, there is rarely enough land to grow the food needed, despite how much or how little it rains.
These challenges, combined with climate change, extreme and consistent poverty and conflict are just some of the causes of this grave situation.
UNICEF has resumed airlifts into parts of Somali controlled by militants with the blessings of said militants:
Last week, al-Shabab said it welcomed the return of humanitarian groups into the areas it controls.
Also Wednesday, the African Union said it is working with AU peacekeepers to increase security in Somalia to ensure that humanitarian assistance gets to Somalis who need it. An AU spokesman said the African Union is helping to secure both the seaport and the airport, making it possible to bring in the aid supplies.
He also said former Ghanaian president Jerry Rawlings will soon go to Somalia to assess the situation for the African Union.
Earlier Wednesday, the U.N. World Food Program said it may resume operations in southern Somalia if security conditions allow. The WFP halted its work in areas controlled by al-Shabab last year, citing threats and extortion demands.
While the United States response of $5 million to assist the relief effort is admirable, the US is more concerned about counter-terrorism. As reported by Jeremy Scahill in The Nation, our government in their wisdom has been running a fortified compound near the capital’s airport for training Somali intelligence agents in counterterrorism and a prison in the basement of Somalia’s National Security Agency headquarters for detaining suspected terrorists. Umm, so much for ending those secret prisons that Obama’s supporters will swear have been all closed.
The US has been ratcheting up operations in Somalia for months and has admitted to sending unmanned drones and then marines to collect the bodies of the miltants.. How many wars does this make now in the no longer existent Global War On Terror? 5? 6? I’m losing count.
The Americans blame the al-Shabab resistance for exacerbating the drought emergency, but for at least two years the Americans have used food as a weapon of war in Somalia, in an effort to starve out those who might be supporting the Shabab. The U.S. has armed an array of militias operating near the Ethiopian and Kenyan borders, making normal agricultural pursuits all but impossible, and the current world-class catastrophe, inevitable.
Whenever the U.S. ratchets up its armed interventions in Somalia, disaster follows. Four years ago, after the Americans instigated an Ethiopian invasion of Somalia to overthrow an Islamist government that had brought a semblance of peace to the region, it set off what the United Nations then called “the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa – worse than Darfur.” Today, many of those same refugees are confronted with the worst humanitarian crisis on the planet – once again, largely courtesy of the United States.
Maybe if the government defaults, they’ll have to end this madness.
Jul 14 2011
La Fête Nationale, le quatorze juillet, or to Americans Bastille Day is the French national holiday which marks the start of the French Revolution with the storming of the Bastille in 1789.
On 17 May 1789, Louis XVI convened the Estates-General to hear their grievances. The deputies of the Third Estate representing the common people (the two others were the Catholic Church and nobility) decided to break away and form a National Assembly. On 20 June the deputies of the Third Estate took the Tennis Court Oath, swearing not to separate until a constitution had been established. They were gradually joined by delegates of the other estates; Louis XVI started to recognize their validity on 27 June. The assembly re-named itself the National Constituent Assembly on 9 July, and began to function as a legislature and to draft a constitution.
In the wake of the 11 July dismissal of Jacques Necker, the people of Paris, fearful that they and their representatives would be attacked by the royal military, and seeking to gain ammunition and gunpowder for the general populace, stormed the Bastille, a fortress-prison in Paris which had often held people jailed on the basis of lettres de cachet, arbitrary royal indictments that could not be appealed. Besides holding a large cache of ammunition and gunpowder, the Bastille had been known for holding political prisoners whose writings had displeased the royal government, and was thus a symbol of the absolutism of the monarchy. As it happened, at the time of the siege in July 1789 there were only seven inmates, none of great political significance.
When the crowd-eventually reinforced by mutinous gardes françaises-proved a fair match for the fort’s defenders, Governor de Launay, the commander of the Bastille, capitulated and opened the gates to avoid a mutual massacre. However, possibly because of a misunderstanding, fighting resumed. Ninety-eight attackers and just one defender died in the actual fighting, but in the aftermath, de Launay and seven other defenders were killed, as was the ‘prévôt des marchands’ (roughly, mayor) Jacques de Flesselles.
The storming of the Bastille was more important as a rallying point and symbolic act of rebellion than a practical act of defiance.
Shortly after the storming of the Bastille, on 4 August feudalism was abolished and on 26 August, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen proclaimed.
This time of the year it stay light in Paris until very late so the fireworks will start at 11 PM local time, 5 PM EDT.
You can view the festivities live from this French website. A digital clock on the homepage is counting down the minutes until the big event.
Pop some champagne and celebrate. Vive La France!
Jul 14 2011
While mishima is on hiatus, I will be cross posting some of our daily and weekly features from The Stars Hollow Gazette
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
Click on images to enlarge
July 14 is the 195th day of the year (196th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 170 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1790, the citizens of Paris celebrate the constitutional monarchy and national reconciliation in the Fête de la Fédération.
The Fête de la Fédération of the 14 July 1790 was a huge feast and official event to celebrate the establishment of the short-lived constitutional monarchy in France and what people of the time considered to be the happy conclusion of the French Revolution, the outcome hoped for by the monarchiens.
The Fête de la Fédération in Paris was the most prominent event of a series of spontaneous celebrations all over France: from August 1789, Fédérations appeared in towns and countryside; on 5 June 1790, with lots of individual feasts to celebrate the new state of France, a constitutional monarchy. The National Assembly approved the suggestion by the Commune de Paris to organise a “general Federation”. Organised late, it was largely an improvisation. The idea was not to contest the legitimacy of the king Louis XVI, but to show the general will for stable institutions and a national reconciliation and unity. In the words of Jean Sylvain Bailly, astronomer and mayor of Paris: “We suggest that this meeting (…) be sworn on the next 14 July, which we shall all see as the time of liberty: this day shall be spent swearing to uphold and defend it”. Charon, President of the Commune of Paris, stated: “French, we are free! French, we are brothers!”.
The event took place on the Champ de Mars, which was at the time far outside Paris. The place had been transformed on a voluntary basis by the population of Paris itself, in what was recalled as the Journée des brouettes (“Wheelbarrow Day”).
The feast began as early as four in the morning, under a strong rain which would last the whole day (the Journal de Paris had predicted “frequent downpours”).
14 000 Federated (Fédérés) came from the province, every single National Guard unit having sent two men out of every hundred. They were ranged according to their département under 83 banners. They were brought to the place were the Bastille once stood, and went through Saint-Antoine, Saint-Denis and Saint-Honoré streets before crossing the temporary bridge and arriving at the Champ de Mars. Deputies from other nations, “Swedes, Spaniards, Polacks, Turks, Chaldeans, Greeks, and dwellers in Mesopotamia,” representatives of the human race, “with three hundred drummers, twelve hundred wind-musicians, and artillery planted on height after height to boom the tidings all over France, the highest recorded triumph of the Thespian art.”
A mass was celebrated by Charles Maurice de Talleyrand, bishop of Autun under the Ancien Régime. The very popular General marquis de La Fayette, as both captain of the National Guard of Paris and confident of the king, took his oath to the Constitution:
” We swear forever to be faithful to the Nation, to the Law and to the King, to uphold with all our might the Constitution as decided by the National Assembly and accepted by the King, and to protect according to the laws the safety of people and properties, transit of grains and food within the kingdom, the public contributions under whatever forms they might exist, and to stay united with all the French with the indestructible bounds of brotherhood[ ”
It is noticeable that at this time, the French Constitution of 1791 was not yet written; it would only take effect in September 1791. La Fayette was followed by the President of the National Assembly. Eventually, Louis XVI took his oath
” I, King of the French, I swear to use the power given to me by the constitutional law of the State, to maintain the Constitution as decided by the National Assembly and accepted by myself, and to enforce the laws. ”
The style “King of the French”, used for the first time instead of “King of France (and Navarre)”, was an innovation intended to inaugurate a “popular monarchy” which linked the monarch’s title to the people, not to the territory of France.
The Queen rose and showed the Dauphin, future Louis XVII, saying :
” This is my son, who, like me, joins in the same sentiments. ”
With the permission of the National Assembly, a delegation of the United States of America, led by John Paul Jones, founder of the US Navy, joined the feast. It also included Thomas Paine, James Swan, Georges Howell, Benjamin Jarvis, Samuel Blackden, Joel Barlow and William Henry Vernon. The delegation arrived at the Champ de Mars with its flag, the first instance ever of a US flag flown outside of the USA, and was cheered by the people.
Jul 14 2011
Muse in the Morning
Time for a break from poetry…in order to create some art.
|“Giving style” to one’s character – a great and rare art! It is exercised by those who see all the strengths and weaknesses of their own natures and then comprehend them in an artistic plan until everything appears as art and reason and even weakness delights the eye.
Art Glass 1
Jul 14 2011
It was a beautiful day in Seattle last Saturday, and at the unholy hour of 7:30 AM I was steering my car into the parking lot of Qwest Field, preparing to take advantage of the spectacular weather by descending into the showroom of The Comedy Underground – in order to spend the day surrounded by politics and politicians.
The only thing that could have made the irony more prefect…is if all the espresso shops had been closed.
Thank your favorite deity (or, perhaps, the power of serendipity) that they weren’t, or we might not been able to cover the events at NWroots 2011 at all.
We’ll have a lot to talk about over the next few days, and to lead things off I’ll tell you about the series of events that might – or might not – have to do with why I happened to bump into Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich as he came down from the sunlight into the same dark room as the rest of us.
Jul 14 2011
In the first exciting installment of this series, I complimented PCCC on showing some real boldness. Their pledge, at near 200,000 signers, has signers such that many if not most were former volunteers or contributors for the Obama 2008 campaign.* Real boldness, worthy of the name, has to have the potential to threaten power. (Dennis Rancourt, an activist who has thought and written what constitutes effective activism, is worth reading, e.g., here, where he says, “Truth will not set us free.”.)
Unfortunately, many of PCCC’s actions could not have been effective, and not only did not threaten power, but probably caused snickering by Obama and/or Congress. These are the “Tell X to do Y” petitions, where X is either Obama or Congress.
Jul 14 2011
Michael Hiltzik, of the LA Times, , offers a clear understanding of what actually is being offered by President Obama by putting Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid — OUR Trust Funds — “on the table.”
This is a most important article, in terms of your own complete comprehension about what is at stake in this “offer” by President Obama. Please be sure to read it entirely.
Basing Social Security cost-of-living increases on the chained consumer price index, which presumes people will trade down to cheaper goods as costs rise, would force elderly people on fixed incomes to forgo essentials.
A man waits for free care at the Remote Area Medical clinic at the Los Angeles Memorial
Sports Arena last year. A proposal to change the formula that determines annual cost-of-
living increases for people on Social Security could leave fixed-income seniors having to
choose between medical care and food. (Luis Sinco, Los Angeles Times / July 13, 2011)
Of all the ways policymakers in Washington show they have absolutely no conception of how their tinkerings with the federal budget affect average Americans, one stands alone. That’s the proposal to change the formula that determines annual cost-of-living increases for people on Social Security . . . . (emphasis mine)
Of course, this particular type of “indexing” is a preserved offering strictly for the elderly, children and disabled. And ideas to suggest that it be across the board were quickly “nayed.” Hummmmm! Wonder why!
“Shared sacrifices?” You’ve got to be kidding! When and where were sacrifices ever shared in these past eleven plus years? Except between the so-called “middle-class” and the so-called “middle-class?” Now, the decimated “middle-class.”