Tag: Open Thread

Dec 10

Four at Four

Afternoon news and open thread.

  1. Al Gore and Rajendra Pachauri of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change were in Oslo today to accept the Nobel Peace Prize. Here are excerpts from Gore’s Nobel Lecture.

    Seven years ago tomorrow, I read my own political obituary in a judgment that seemed to me harsh and mistaken – if not premature. But that unwelcome verdict also brought a precious if painful gift: an opportunity to search for fresh new ways to serve my purpose…

    We, the human species, are confronting a planetary emergency – a threat to the survival of our civilization that is gathering ominous and destructive potential even as we gather here. But there is hopeful news as well: we have the ability to solve this crisis and avoid the worst – though not all – of its consequences, if we act boldly, decisively and quickly.

    However, despite a growing number of honorable exceptions, too many of the world’s leaders are still best described in the words Winston Churchill applied to those who ignored Adolf Hitler’s threat: “They go on in strange paradox, decided only to be undecided, resolved to be irresolute, adamant for drift, solid for fluidity, all powerful to be impotent.” …

    Now comes the threat of climate crisis – a threat that is real, rising, imminent, and universal. Once again, it is the 11th hour. The penalties for ignoring this challenge are immense and growing, and at some near point would be unsustainable and unrecoverable. For now we still have the power to choose our fate, and the remaining question is only this: Have we the will to act vigorously and in time, or will we remain imprisoned by a dangerous illusion? …

    The world needs an alliance – especially of those nations that weigh heaviest in the scales where Earth is in the balance… But the outcome will be decisively influenced by two nations that are now failing to do enough: the United States and China…

    Both countries should stop using the other’s behavior as an excuse for stalemate and instead develop an agenda for mutual survival in a shared global environment.

  2. The Telegraph reports the US refuses to set Bali target for emissions. “The United States warned it was unwilling to accept numeric targets in the plan which will be at the centre of debate among negotiators attempting to hammer out a final document by Friday. Harlan Watson, the United States’s chief negotiator, said the US was in Bali to work in a ‘constructive manner’ to get a roadmap for negotiations to be completed by 2009… Dr Watson also said the figures, which were derived from… IPCC most recent assessment report this year, are surrounded by ‘many uncertainties’… Mr Watson also told a press conference in Bali he does not think the EU target of limiting global warming to 2ºC above pre-industrial levels was a ‘helpful’starting point.”

  3. In an interview with the AP, John Kerry indicated the US Senate wouldn’t ratify climate deal without developing countries. “If China and other emerging economies don’t contribute to reining in greenhouse gases, ‘it would be very difficult’ to get a new global climate deal through the U.S. Senate, even under a Democratic president, Sen. John Kerry said Monday. ‘At some point in time, they will have to take on those reductions, for several reasons, most importantly the developed countries are not going to be able to do this on their own,’ Kerry said… Kerry noted that one reason Kyoto found no support in the late 1990s in the Senate, which must ratify such international accords, was that it didn’t demand emissions cuts by developing nations.”

  4. The AP reports Huckabee Pardons Under Scrutiny. “As governor of Arkansas, Mike Huckabee had a hand in twice as many pardons and commutations as his three predecessors combined. The case he’s asked about most concerns the parole of a castrated rapist who later killed a woman… The [other] acts of clemency benefited the stepson of a staff member, murderers who worked at the governor’s mansion, a rock star and inmates who received good words from their pastors.”

Dec 10

Docudharma Times Monday Dec.10

This is an Open Thread: Please join us.

Headline For Monday December 10: Hoyer Is Proof of Earmarks’ Endurance: Republicans sing new tune on Iraq for Spanish station : U.S. Is No Haven, Canadian Judge Finds: Mortar shells hit Iraq prison, killing 7: Iraq calmer, but more divided: PM: Quick conclusion needed on Kosovo: CIA photos ‘show UK Guantanamo detainee was tortured’: Merkel’s comment on Zimbabwe fascist: official: Archbishop discards dog collar ‘until tyrant goes’: New York Philharmonic to play in N.Korea: paper: US balks at Bali carbon targets


Hoyer Is Proof of Earmarks’ Endurance

Md. Democrat’s Campaign Donors Among Grantees

By Mary Beth Sheridan

Washington Post Staff Writer

Monday, December 10, 2007; Page A01

Even as House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer has joined in steps to clean up pork-barrel spending, the Maryland congressman has tucked $96 million worth of pet projects into next year’s federal budget, including $450,000 for a campaign donor’s foundation.

Hoyer (D) is one of the top 10 earmarkers in the House for 2008, based on budget requests in bills so far, according to Taxpayers for Common Sense, an independent watchdog group.

Earmarks are spending items inserted into bills to benefit designated companies or projects, often in the sponsoring lawmaker’s district. They make up a small percentage of the federal budget.

Republicans sing new tune on Iraq for Spanish station

The GOP hopefuls speak out for the ‘surge’ and minimize illegal immigration concerns at the Univision debate.

By Peter Wallsten, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

December 10, 2007

CORAL GABLES, FLA. — Citing a recent decline in violence in Iraq, top Republican presidential candidates on Sunday offered gushing assessments of the U.S. war effort there — an unusual moment in a GOP primary campaign that for months usually has stepped gingerly around the Bush administration’s unpopular policies in that country.

The candidates’ comments, coming in a debate on the Spanish-language television network Univision, went further than even the White House and top military leaders have gone as they have watched civilian and military deaths ebb since President Bush launched a controversial U.S. troop “surge” strategy.

Dec 10

The Stars Hollow Gazette

I must admit I’m pretty tense and nervous this time of year.  There are incredible numbers of deadlines, much more than usual and an impossible amount of work to be done.

The fact that there is so little daylight to go buzzing around in contributes to the sense of urgency as do the cars and crowds everywhere at every time of day.  I find it almost claustrophobic.

I have a whole crowd of places to be and people to see too.  Folks want me to hang out with them for some reason, so the mail is full of invitations most of which I have politely declined.  I’ve done the 4 parties in 3 days Thanksgiving to New Years about as much as I really need to satisfy myself.

Family is of course not easily put off and this year as usual the Gilmores will visit my sister and her kids for a few days right on the 25th.  It may not be so easy for me to get internet access right from the 23rd to the  26th.  After that I’m hoping I’ll get a chance to spend some time with my Aunty Mame (who really likes this blog much better than the orange one, says it’s more relaxing) in the frozen north.

She has good ‘net, I’ve used it before, the problem is that the TV is across the hall in the other room and if I turn it up too loud it disturbs everyone else.

And of course I watch TV all.  the.  time.

That’s why it grieves me so much to bring you the following discouraging news from Reuters on the Writer’s strike-

Prolonged writers strike a nightmare for TV biz

By Paul J. Gough, Reuters

1 hour, 12 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Hollywood Reporter) – Television executives’ nightmare scenarios for 2008 are coming closer to reality as the Hollywood writers strike enters its sixth week Monday.

Renewed contract talks between the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers (AMPTP) broke off abruptly Friday, and industry executives see no end in sight to the worst Hollywood labor dispute in almost two decades.

If the strike lasts another four to six weeks, it could spell the end for 2008 pilot production. The most-circulated scenario in that case involves the networks renewing all their existing series for next fall, producing their pilots in the summer and launching their new crop of shows in midseason 2009.

Dec 09

Weekend News Digest

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Biden wants special counsel in tape case

By CALVIN WOODWARD, Associated Press Writer

1 minute ago

WASHINGTON – A Senate Democratic leader said Sunday the attorney general should appoint a special counsel to investigate the CIA’s destruction of videotaped interrogations of two suspected terrorists.

Sen. Joe Biden, a Democratic presidential candidate and chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, cited Michael Mukasey’s refusal during confirmation hearings in October to describe waterboarding as torture.

Mukasey’s Justice Department and the CIA’s internal watchdog announced Saturday they would conduct a joint inquiry into the matter. That review will determine whether a full investigation is warranted. “He’s the same guy who couldn’t decide whether or not waterboarding was torture and he’s going to be doing this investigation,” said Biden, who noted that he voted against making Mukasey the country’s top law enforcer.

Dec 09

Docudharma Times Sunday Dec.9

This is an Open Thread: Come in: Look around.

Headlines For Sunday December 9: As Iraqis Vie for Kirkuk’s Oil, Kurds Become Pawns: Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002 :Parole Case and ’90s AIDS View Trail Huckabee: Runaway trailers leave random victims: Bosnian Serbs vote in presidential election

As Iraqis Vie for Kirkuk’s Oil, Kurds Become Pawns

KIRKUK, Iraq – Even by the skewed standards of a country where millions are homeless or in exile, the squalor of the Kirkuk soccer stadium is a startling sight.

On the outskirts of a city adjoining some of Iraq’s most lucrative oil reserves, a rivulet of urine flows past the entrance to the barren playing field.

There are no spectators, only 2,200 Kurdish squatters who have converted the dugouts, stands and parking lot into a refugee city of cinder-block hovels covered in Kurdish political graffiti, some for President Jalal Talabani’s Patriotic Union of Kurdistan.


Hill Briefed on Waterboarding in 2002

In Meetings, Spy Panels’ Chiefs Did Not Protest, Officials Say

By Joby Warrick and Dan Eggen

Washington Post Staff Writers

Sunday, December 9, 2007; Page A01

In September 2002, four members of Congress met in secret for a first look at a unique CIA program designed to wring vital information from reticent terrorism suspects in U.S. custody. For more than an hour, the bipartisan group, which included current House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.), was given a virtual tour of the CIA’s overseas detention sites and the harsh techniques interrogators had devised to try to make their prisoners talk.

Among the techniques described, said two officials present, was waterboarding, a practice that years later would be condemned as torture by Democrats and some Republicans on Capitol Hill. But on that day, no objections were raised. Instead, at least two lawmakers in the room asked the CIA to push harder, two U.S. officials said.

Dec 08

Weekend News Digest: 43 Stories

Weekend News Digest is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 World climate change protests kick off

By RAPHAEL G. SATTER, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 33 minutes ago

LONDON – Skiers, fire-eaters and an ice sculptor joined in worldwide demonstrations Saturday to draw attention to climate change and push their governments to take stronger action to fight global warming.

From costume parades in the Philippines to a cyclist’s protest in London, marches were held in more than 50 cities around the world to coincide with the two-week U.N. Climate Change Conference, which runs through Friday in Bali, Indonesia.

Hundreds of people rallied in the Philippine capital, Manila, wearing miniature windmills atop hats, or framing their faces in cardboard cutouts of the sun.

Dec 08

Docudharma Times Saturday Dec. 8

This is an Open Thread: Please Come In and Join Us

Headlines for Saturday December 8: C.I.A. Was Urged to Keep Interrogation Videotapes: List of ‘Willing’ U.S. Allies Shrinks Steadily in Iraq: Parole officials: Huckabee pushed rapist’s release: 3 British residents leaving Guantanamo


C.I.A. Was Urged to Keep Interrogation Videotapes

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 – White House and Justice Department officials, along with senior members of Congress, advised the Central Intelligence Agency in 2003 against a plan to destroy hundreds of hours of videotapes showing the interrogations of two operatives of Al Qaeda, government officials said Friday.

The chief of the agency’s clandestine service nevertheless ordered their destruction in November 2005, taking the step without notifying even the C.I.A.’s own top lawyer, John A. Rizzo, who was angry at the decision, the officials said.

List of ‘Willing’ U.S. Allies Shrinks Steadily in Iraq

Nations Still There Toil in Relative Obscurity

By Joshua Partlow

Washington Post Foreign Service

Saturday, December 8, 2007; Page A01

KUT, Iraq — The commander of the Kazakh soldiers in Iraq, all 29 of them, keeps a stack of English-language instruction books on his desk inside Forward Operating Base Delta. He already speaks Russian, Turkish and Kazakh, and after English, he plans to learn Chinese. He has the time.

Kazakhstan has two main missions here on the geographic and strategic periphery of the war, and both of them could be going better. The Kazakh troops are sappers, trained to dispose of explosives. They were ordered by their government not to leave the base after one of those bombs, nearly three years ago, killed the first and only Kazakh soldier to die in Iraq. The soldiers also run a water purification system but find less use for that these days, too. “It’s not necessary,” said Capt. Samat Mukhanov. “There is bottled water here.”

Dec 07

Four at Four

Some news and afternoon open thread.

  1. Get ready for more sternly worded letters! The New York Times reports Angry Democrats call for inquiry in destruction of harsh interrogation tapes by the CIA CYA. “Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts accused the C.I.A. of ‘a cover-up,’ while Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois said it was possible that people at the agency had engaged in obstruction of justice. Both called on Attorney General Michael Mukasey to investigate. ‘We haven’t seen anything like this since the 18½ -minute gap on the tapes of Richard Nixon,’ Mr. Kennedy said in a speech on the Senate floor”. Good ol’ Rep. Jane Harman (D-CA) knew of the tapes back in 2003, but to her knowledge, “the Intelligence Committee was never informed that any videotapes had been destroyed”. My prediction? This will all get swept under the rug to ‘heal’ the nation in January 2009.

  2. The AP reports Senate Republicans filibuster energy bill. “Senators by a 53-42 vote fell short of moving ahead with the legislation passed by the House on Thursday… Senate Republicans have made clear they are strongly opposed to a $21 billion tax package in the House-passed bill, including $13.5 billion in oil industry taxes, as well as a requirement for electric utilities to generate 15 percent of their power by renewable energy such as wind and solar.” Idiots. Of course, the Republicans protect the oil industry! Why won’t Reid actually make these dead-enders actually filibuster around the clock?

  3. The United States has aligned with “developing” nations to thwart any progress in the Bali climate talks. According to the AFP, the US won’t pledge to binding cuts. “A UN conference trying to lay the groundwork for a new climate change pact is unlikely to win any binding pledge by the United States to cut greenhouse gas emissions, its head said Friday. Developing nations are also likely to refuse to commit to mandatory targets on cutting emissions blamed for global warming, said Yvo de Boer, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Climate Change.” I hope America’s idiotic stance changes when Bush leaves.

  4. The Guardian reports Greenpeace calls BP’s oil sands plan an environmental crime. “The Greenpeace warning followed BP’s announcement on Wednesday that it was buying into the tar sands schemes through a deal with Husky Oil, reversing a decision by former chief executive John Browne to stay away from an expensive and environmentally dirty business.”

    “In the tar sands you are looking at the greatest climate crime because not only will these developments produce 100m tonnes of greenhouse gases annually by 2012 but also kill off 147,000 sq km [56,000 sq miles] of forest that is the greatest carbon sink in the world,” said Mike Hudema, a climate campaigner with Greenpeace in Edmonton.

    This truly is eco-terrorism and we’re all too willing to fund it.

One more story below the fold remembering Pearl Harbor.

Dec 07

Docudharma Times Friday Dec. 7

This an Open Thread: Please Come In

Headlines for Friday December 7: US says the flow of jihadists into Iraq has been staunched: The Army’s $200 Billion Makeover: C.I.A. Destroyed 2 Tapes Showing Interrogations:Smugglers Build an Underground World: Three prisoners executed in Japan

US says the flow of jihadists into Iraq has been staunched

· Country’s neighbours have taken action, Petraeus says

· Insurgent attacks at 2005 levels since October

Michael Howard in Baghdad

Friday December 7, 2007

The Guardian

The number of foreign jihadists entering Iraq has fallen by nearly half in recent months as a result of tougher action by the country’s neighbours and the rejection of the “al-Qaida brand” by ordinary Iraqis, the commander of US forces in Iraq said yesterday.

General David Petraeus told the Guardian in an interview that attacks in Iraq had fallen to levels not seen since early 2005, and that “ethno-sectarian violence” which had “surged off the charts” following the bombing of the Samara mosque in February 2006 had now “fallen dramatically”.


The Army’s $200 Billion Makeover

March to Modernize Proves Ambitious and Controversial

By Alec Klein

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, December 7, 2007; Page A01

EL PASO — A $200 billion plan to remake the largest war machine in history unfolds in one small way on a quiet country road in the Chihuahuan Desert.

Jack Hensley, one of a legion of contractors on the project, is hunkered in a slowly moving SUV, serving as target practice for a baby-faced soldier in a Humvee aiming a laser about 700 yards away. A moment later, another soldier in the Humvee punches commands into a computer transmitting data across an expanse of sand and mesquite to a site 2 1/2 miles away. On an actual battlefield, this is when a precision attack missile would be launched, killing Hensley almost instantly.

C.I.A. Destroyed 2 Tapes Showing Interrogations

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6 – The Central Intelligence Agency in 2005 destroyed at least two videotapes documenting the interrogation of two Qaeda operatives in the agency’s custody, a step it took in the midst of Congressional and legal scrutiny about its secret detention program, according to current and former government officials.

The videotapes showed agency operatives in 2002 subjecting terrorism suspects – including Abu Zubaydah, the first detainee in C.I.A. custody – to severe interrogation techniques. The tapes were destroyed in part because officers were concerned that video showing harsh interrogation methods could expose agency officials to legal risks, several officials said.

Dec 07

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Interestingly enough (to me) this will be my 155th essay on DocuDharma.

It’s kind of a little unfair to pfiore to really talk about baseball (which she had suggested as a topic when she asked me to do witr), but that sent me digging and really wishing for a good index search.  Maybe next revision which may come sooner or later depending on how pacified’s open source project is going.

Anyway pfiore remembered an essay where I talked about baseball and the one I think she is after is the one I wrote just before one of our Openings (there were about 6 or 7, as budhy got settled in his new digs).

So Today’s The Big Day!

When I think about blogging as art I see it as halfway between a Magazine and a TV Channel.  You have an audience for the Gilmore Girls and when they tune in they expect to see it.

But also a Community blog is a team effort, the kind of artistry you see on a Baseball Diamond between 9 people who love the game they play.  Sort of a dance, but competitive.

First day of the season.  Home opener.  Score is nothing nothing and anything can happen.

That said I expect we’ll get our asses kicked and be cleaning up the mess for weeks, but I love this game.

It’s a long season, 162 games at least.  I’m not disappointed in the talent, but we’ve never played together before and you can only expect miscommunication and errors.

It’s all good.

As we learn together we will get stronger as a team.  Pretty soon we’ll be turning those double plays and figure out where the bumps in the field are.  We have the pitching to succeed and the bullpen to close.

Now we just have to start scratching out the runs.

Dec 06

Four at Four

Some news and open thread.

  1. The New York Times reports Senate Panel Passes Bill to Limit Greenhouse Gases. “The Environment and Public Works Committee split largely along party lines on the bill, which calls for a roughly 70 percent cut from 2005 levels by 2050 in the production of carbon dioxide and other climate-altering pollutants. The legislation would limit emissions for virtually all sectors of the economy, but would allow swapping of pollution permits among carbon emitters.”

  2. In another potentially positive sign, the NY Times adds the EPA is prodded to require cuts in airliner emissions. After the Supreme Court told the Environmental Protection Agency they “had the authority under the Clean Air Act to regulate emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from automobiles”, the attorneys general of California, Connecticut, New Jersey, and New Mexico, the city of New York, and “several environmental groups filed petitions with the EPA Wednesday in an effort to force cuts in emissions of heat-trapping gases from airliners, a rapidly growing source.”

  3. According to The Hill, Sen. Leahy postpones contempt vote. “Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) on Thursday postponed a vote on contempt resolutions against former White House adviser Karl Rove and Chief of Staff Josh Bolten after Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.) objected to language in the measures. Committee rules allow for a one-week delay, so the vote will likely take place next Thursday. Committee approval of the resolution would trigger a full Senate vote on the resolutions early next year.”

  4. The haters win. The Hill reports Hate-crimes provision stripped from defense bill. “House and Senate votes on the 2008 defense authorization bill could be held as early as next week after conferees agreed Thursday to strip from the bill a controversial provision extending hate-crimes protections to gays… President Bush had threatened to veto the bill if it included the hate-crimes language, and conferees from both sides of the aisle and both chambers had warned that the Senate provision would jeopardize the passage of the entire defense authorization bill, which includes policies designed to help wounded soldiers and increase military pay.”

Dec 06

Docudharma Times Thursday Dec. 6

This is an Open Thread: Please Come Inside

Headlines for Thursday December 7:As N.H. Primary Nears, Clinton Clings to Narrow : Details in Military Notes Led to Shift on Iran, U.S. Says: U.S. military brass in Iraq resist quick drawdown : Japan’s Bloggers: Humble Giants of the Web


Top U.S. military brass in Iraq resist quick drawdown

Commanders fear recent gains would be lost. The Pentagon, meanwhile, turns up pressure to bring more troops home.

By Peter Spiegel and Julian E. Barnes, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers

December 6, 2007

BAGHDAD — The U.S. military’s internal debate over how fast to reduce its force in Iraq has intensified in recent weeks as commanders in Baghdad resist suggestions from Pentagon officials for a quicker drawdown.

Army Lt. Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the day-to-day military commander in Iraq, said he was worried that significant improvements in security conditions would sway policymakers to move too quickly to pull out troops next year.

“The most important thing to me is we cannot lose what we have gained,” Odierno said in an interview last week with The Times after he toured Nahrawan, a predominantly Shiite city of about 100,000 northeast of Baghdad with a market that is now showing signs of life. “We won’t do that.”

Details in Military Notes Led to Shift on Iran, U.S. Says

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5 – American intelligence agencies reversed their view about the status of Iran’s nuclear weapons program after they obtained notes last summer from the deliberations of Iranian military officials involved in the weapons development program, senior intelligence and government officials said on Wednesday.

The notes included conversations and deliberations in which some of the military officials complained bitterly about what they termed a decision by their superiors in late 2003 to shut down a complex engineering effort to design nuclear weapons, including a warhead that could fit atop Iranian missiles.

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