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Feb 07

Weekend News Digest

Welcome to Sunday Weekend Edition and Open Thread. Ek hornbeck is busy with Super Bowl and America’s Cup essays, so today the news is hosted by me, TMC.

Blizzard paralyzes mid-Atlantic; two killed

Feb Blizzard, DC

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A blizzard dumped two feet of snow across much of the U.S. mid-Atlantic on Saturday, paralyzing travel, leaving tens of thousands without power and creating a winter wonderland in a region not used to big snows.

Snowfall totals of 20 to 38 inches blanketed a crescent from West Virginia to southern New Jersey by early evening when the flakes stopped falling after more than 24 hours.

More than 230,000 homes lost power in the Washington area, according to The Washington Post, after the snow felled trees, brought down power lines and damaged utility poles. Pepco electric company said its workers were scrambling to restore power, but said it could be a few days before everyone was back up.

Traffic was at a virtual standstill in the nation’s capital and surrounding areas as the sun set on many deserted, unplowed streets. Up to 32 inches of snow had fallen in suburban Washington in the biggest snowfall to hit the city in decades.

Feb 07

For Your Consideration

Gen. McChrystal says conditions in Afghanistan war are no longer deteriorating

ISTANBUL — The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, whose gloomy assessment of the war last summer prompted the White House to boost troop levels, said Thursday that conditions are no longer deteriorating and predicted further improvements this year.

“I am not prepared to say that we have turned the corner,” Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal told a group of U.S. reporters during a NATO conference here. “I’m not prepared to say we are winning. I am prepared to say we are very much engaged, and I’m confident we’re going to see serious progress this year.”

snip

Asked why he thought the situation had improved, McChrystal said he could not point to specific measurements, but rather a general sense that security was better in some areas and that the mood among Afghan leaders was more optimistic.

My favorite quote from the comments

erwinroots wrote:

Isn’t “no longer deteriorating” the same as “can’t get any worse”?

Feb 06

This Week In Health and Fitness

Welcome to this week’s Health and Fitness.

I’m still here in Haiti winding up my stay and turning over my responsibilities to my replacement who will be here for 3 months. I still have lots to do. There are still the patients and the never ending reports that need to be done to keep the flow of supplies coming. I’m leaving Feb 13 with mixed feelings becasue there is still so much to be done.

Feb 06

Super Bowl Food Fest

What are you fixing for the big game? My daughter e-mailed me to let me know I was going to miss her seafood gumbo, buffalo wings, onion/vegetable dip and brownies. I’ll be eating MRE’s or rather the French version RCIR, Ration de Combat Individuelle Rechauffable.

RCIR

Each RCIR contains

Each box includes: Main meals x2, Hors d’oeuvre, Soup, Cheese or a Crème dessert, Salted and Sweet crackers x16, Chocolate bar, Package of caramels, Gum, “Breakfast package” (Tea, Coffee, Cocoa, Milk powder, Sugar, etc), Nougat bar, Fruit gelee, Sugar cubes, Paper towels x10, Heating kit with fuel, disposable stove, waste bag and water purification tablets x6, etc.

There are pork and no pork versions and they come with cute little stove but, alas, no wine. We have managed to find a source for wine, beer and other alcohol. The RCIR’s are quite “valuable” in the world of barter when living in less than civilized conditions like war zones and disaster areas.

Anyway, I digress. I offer up my famously HOT, in more ways than one, recipe for Buffalo Wings and Blue Cheese Dip.

What are you cooking? Feel free to share recipes, ideas for solo viewing or for a crowd.

Feb 05

Givin’ It All Away

Lazard bonuses so big, they turned 4Q into a loss

Lazard Ltd, formerly known as Lazard Frères, gave away the “store” in bonuses to its employees to the tune of $565,000 per person. Lazard, unlike Goldman “Sacks” and other Wall St. investment agencies, did not receive any bail out money.

The firm doled out $616 million in compensation and benefits to about 2,300 employees last quarter, or more than triple the amount handed out in the same period in 2008. It was a consequence, Lazard said, of a decision to pay more bonuses in cash and accelerate some deferred cash awards from a prior year. But so great was the firm’s generosity that compensation costs overwhelmed quarterly revenues and resulted in a net loss of about $55 million for the fourth quarter. The charges also almost wiped out full-year profits.

(emphasis mine)

Feb 05

For Your Consideration: Up Date x 2

Holding Government Hostage

Report: Shelby Blocks All Obama Nominations In The Senate Over AL Earmarks

Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL) has put an extraordinary “blanket hold” on at least 70 nominations President Obama has sent to the Senate, CongressDaily (sub. req.) reports. The hold means no nominations can move forward unless Senate Democrats can secure a 60-member cloture vote to break it, or until Shelby lifts the hold.

“While holds are frequent,” CongressDaily reports, “Senate aides said a blanket hold represents a far more aggressive use of the power than is normal.”

Shelby has been tight-lipped about the holds, offering only an unnamed spokesperson to reporters today to explain them. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid broke the news of the blanket hold this afternoon after Shelby announced it to him in a letter sent today. Reid aides told CongressDaily the hold extends to “all executive nominations on the Senate calendar.”

According to the report, Shelby is holding Obama’s nominees hostage until a pair of lucrative programs that would send billions in taxpayer dollars to his home state get back on track. CongressDaily laid out the programs Shelby wants to move forward or else:

h/t Evan McMorris-Santoro  @ TPMDC

Feb 01

Haiti: Ripples

Conditions are improving, slowly, steadily, 3 weeks after the earthquake but we have a really long way to go. The rainy season is coming in a other month and there is a need to provide shelter and sanitation needs that must be addressed quickly.

After enduring delays in receiving urgent medical supplies and equipment, as well as continuous aftershocks that threatened already-damaged facilities, MSF staff are now treating patients inside an inflatable hospital.

Originally the plan was to keep the Inflatable Hospital open for 3 months. It was then extended to 6 months, now, the plan is to keep it open indefinitely and expand it from 100 beds to 200 beds by adding 4 more sections to the already existing 9.

Now cross posted at The Wild Wild Left

Jan 31

Krugman vs Ailes

The Main Event Smack Down from Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman.

Krugman 1/Ailes 0

Why is BarbWa Wawa moderating “This Week”? ABC has no other credible moderators? WOA! Is Ailes the new Guinness Book record holder for double chins? I mean they must go to his knee caps..OK I won’t go any further with that thought, too gross. EWWW.

h/t Blue Texan @ FDL

Jan 30

First Full Moon of 2010

Photobucket

Tonight is the first Full Moon of 2010. It is a warm clear night here in Haiti. Moon rise was impressive.

Jan 28

Afternoon Edition

Our senior news editor is experiencing technical difficulties. So, here LIVE from warm, sunny Port au Prince, Haiti is your afternoon news

This is also an Open Thread

Aid missing many in a city of want

MSF Haiti 28/01/10

PORT-AU-PRINCE – When aid groups and soldiers venture out of the heavily secured refugee camps to deliver food to the starving at hundreds of smaller sites scattered everywhere throughout this capital city, they question whether they will be providing succour to the most needy, or exactly the opposite.

“When we deliver to women and children, we have to know whether they will get it or will they get killed for it,” said Adam Klyczek, a medic with the 82nd U.S. Airborne squadron of 400 soldiers based at the Pétionville Golf and Country Club, now home to about 40,000 refugees. “Is it a violent area, will we create a riot, will we start looting?”

Jan 28

J. D. Salinger R.I.P.

J. D. Salinger, author of “Catcher in the Rye” has passed away of natural causes according to his son. Now I will have to read the book. Blessed Be

J.D. Salinger, the legendary author, youth hero and fugitive from fame whose “The Catcher in the Rye” shocked and inspired a world he increasingly shunned, has died. He was 91.

Salinger died of natural causes at his home on Wednesday, the author’s son said in a statement from Salinger’s literary representative. He had lived for decades in self-imposed isolation in the small, remote house in Cornish, N.H.

“The Catcher in the Rye,” with its immortal teenage protagonist, the twisted, rebellious Holden Caulfield, came out in 1951, a time of anxious, Cold War conformity and the dawn of modern adolescence. The Book-of-the-Month Club, which made “Catcher” a featured selection, advised that for “anyone who has ever brought up a son” the novel will be “a source of wonder and delight – and concern.”

h/t TPM

Jan 27

Presidential “Hit List”

Is President Obama sanctioning the assassinations of American citizens without due process just as George W, Bush did? It would appear that is exactly what he is doing.

President Obama has now extended Bush’s “War on Terror” to Yemen. In today’s Washington Post there is an article by Dana Priest where she writes:

U.S. military teams and intelligence agencies are deeply involved in secret joint operations with Yemeni troops who in the past six weeks have killed scores of people, among them six of 15 top leaders of a regional al-Qaeda affiliate, according to senior administration officials.

snip

As part of the operations, Obama approved a Dec. 24 strike against a compound where a U.S. citizen, Anwar al-Aulaqi, was thought to be meeting with other regional al-Qaeda leaders. Although he was not the focus of the strike and was not killed, he has since been added to a shortlist of U.S. citizens specifically targeted for killing or capture by the JSOC, military officials said. The officials, like others interviewed for this article, spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the operations.

(emphasis mine)

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