Cool Yule

For reasons of timing and geography, I’ll be celebrating the holidays this week. One of the things I’m repeating from last year is that several people will recieve cd’s of music I’ve put together for them as gifts. Today I’ve been finalizing all those and thought it might be fun to share some of the music with all of you here.

I’ve made a holiday playlist that I’m calling “Cool Yule” after miss Bette’s recent rendition:

How about a little coolness from the great Luther Vandross?

What’s on your Christmas list? I’m sure we’re all wishing with Natalie.

Stevie’s got some wishes for Christmas too.

But my favorite will always be the one that John left us.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS EVERYONE!

Only the guy who isn’t rowing has time to rock the boat.

Jean-Paul Sartre

what more is there to say?

Doing something beats doing nothing every time

(An op ed column from Sunday’s Wisconsin State Journal, in Madison.)

The fifth Christmas with U.S. troops in Iraq is upon us, with no end in sight.

It’s a time to remember those families who are missing a loved one this season, especially those who are facing the first holiday of the rest of their lives without their loved ones. It’s a time to remember and honor the troops who are away from home.

It ‘s also a time to ask: How can we stop the war? And it’s a time to do something — even if it ‘s something small — to say we want it to end.

President Bush will not be moved, despite the fact that every poll says a solid majority, perhaps two-thirds, of the American people want to end the war and bring our troops home.

The Democratic Congress, elected a year ago with a mandate to end the war, is too chicken-hearted to confront the bull-headed president. Next year’s presidential election offers precious little hope, as the leading candidates refuse to commit to having our troops out by 2013.

Opponents of the Iraq war have become the new Silent Majority. They tell the pollsters they ‘re against the war, but do nothing — perhaps because it seems fruitless.

It is understandable if they are disheartened. They spoke out in huge numbers before the war began, and were ignored. Four years of beating their heads against the wall may have worn them out.

But it’s not a time to give up. Doing nothing is not a viable option.

That’s why I have joined many who have signed on with the Iraq Moratorium, a decentralized but growing national grassroots effort that asks individuals to take personal responsibility to do something — anything — to show their opposition to the war.

The moratorium asks people to take some action, individually or collectively, on the third Friday of every month, from wearing a black armband or button to participating in a large-scale protest, or many things in between.

The group’s website, IraqMoratorium.org ,has ideas, information and reports on past and upcoming actions.

The fourth monthly Moratorium Day is Dec. 21, four days before Christmas. It is guaranteed to be ignored by the media, George Bush and the Congress.

The cynics say nothing we do matters, so why do anything?

The answer is obvious: Doing something is infinitely more likely to have an impact than doing nothing. That’s what the Iraq Moratorium is all about.

Buttons and armbands won’t stop the war by themselves. Neither will rallies and marches, or letters to the editor, or phone calls to Congress, or speeches or civil disobedience. There ‘s no single magic solution.

Those who want to end this war need to do everything to keep the flame alive until the silent majority catches fire and demands an end to this senseless war.

That’s why I will do something for Iraq Moratorium No. 4 on Dec. 21. And you?

The long road back to respectability

(6 pm – promoted by ek hornbeck)

This is something that has been on my mind for some time, yet I still haven’t quite figured out where I am going with it.  Over the past decade, this country has fallen from grace in a big way.  Granted, “grace” is overstated, since there were many stains on the integrity and hypocritical nature of what we say as opposed to what we do long before Mister Bush took office in 2001.

But even taking that all into consideration, the way that this country’s promise and opportunity was hijacked – not by “republicans” or “Democrats” or even “neoconservatives” per se – since 2001 makes one (or at least makes me) look at what has gone on and how much respectability has been lost and wasted by a combination of greed, money, arrogance and wanton disregard for the rule of law.    

In 2004, I thought that things would get better once Kerry was elected.  Or, at least, it wouldn’t continue to get worse.  Sadly, even if Kerry did win, much would still be the same – sure, there wouldn’t be such a mess of the Justice Department, and there would be two people other than John Roberts and Samuel Alito on the Supreme Court, and we wouldn’t be dumping hundreds of billions into Iraq and a good number of other horrific things that are a direct result of the abomination that is the current Executive Branch.

But most of the problems facing Americans would still be big, regardless of who is in the White House – just a degree of how big.

That being said, it isn’t really worth playing the “what might have been” game, because Bush is in office, not Kerry.  And with the way that Bush and many in Congress have been acting, the “just wait until Democrats are in the majority” line of thinking has been an even bigger disappointment when it comes to just how far we have to go in order to regain any respectability or advance any real progressive causes.  

There is no credible explanation other than “they don’t represent us” that would explain the capitulation on Iraq funding or on FISA and the failure to have any meaningful consequences from the investigations that have been launched, nor the interest in stopping torture (or at least bringing this to light when it was first learned), the selling out of the middle class for oil and gas companies on the energy bill, the reckless disregard for the budget deficit on the AMT legislation or the challenges by Democratic party “elite” to progressive candidates by the DLC.

It’s even worse on the “other side” as the number of republicans who aren’t absolutely repulsive has dwindled to, at best, a single digit number.  Stopping legislation that would help the middle class, that would be fair on wiretapping, would eliminate unnecessary and unaffordable tax cuts for special interests, stonewalling and lying and withholding documents and looking the other way about crime, corruption or the favored few are just a few of the many anti-American things that are done.

All just to show that they can obstruct everything because if they can’t get exactly what they want every time then nobody will get anything.

The same tools that wouldn’t be used by Democrats when they were in the minority (specifically by Reid and a few other Senators) are being used at every turn.  Even Presidential candidates who are standing up for the Constitution are being railroaded by their own party “leadership”, while a number of impeachable offenses have occurred and been uncovered since last November with no consequences.

The same special interests are being rewarded and sheltered from accountability while not being prosecuted or seriously investigated for their complicity in violating federal law or international treaty.  The election in November 2006 was supposed to take care of this.  The election of 2006 was supposed to change the status quo and bring us in a new direction.

Over a year later, things have most certainly not changed – in fact, you can say that they have gotten worse.  We have learned that many more of those Democrats that would make it all better were either liars or inept.  We saw a party that turned its back on the winner of the Connecticut Democratic Primary for Senate for one of “its own” – a man who has only proven to be a power hungry egomaniacal liar and is now supporting a republican (McCain) in the New Hampshire primary as opposed to a Democrat.  This is not nearly the first time that Lieberman has done this, yet he is welcomed with open arms by Senate Democrats over a progressive candidate that their own party’s voters wanted to represent their state.

We will be told that 2008 is the year that will change everything.  Yet, the two leading contenders for President won’t even honor their word and promise they made to support Chris Dodd’s filibuster on retroactive immunity for telecom companies.  How does that demonstrate leadership, and what message does that send to the American people?

The amount of “House” cleaning that needs to be done is massive.  The balance of whose interests are being served is highly skewed.  The current two parties have their differences but on the big picture and issues that are vital to the American people, there is more common ground with each other than with We the People.  Not wanting to make moderate changes to the status quo or not wanting to tackle the big issues isn’t much different from willfully obstructing the passage of legislation that would make moderate changes to the status quo.  Both result in nothing.

How different will 2008 be?  Or 2010 and 2012, for that matter.  Will there be enough progress on global warming or healthcare or our education system or energy independence or our deteriorating infrastructure?  Will we be any closer to withdrawing from Iraq?  Will we be bogged down elsewhere, or still debating which Middle Eastern country we need to attack rightfuckingnow?  Will the US dollar continue to be as weak, will the job market be any better and will the economy be any better?  Will the US Justice Department be cleansed of its partisan ideology?  Will our election system still be the laughingstock of the civilized world?

So much has happened that has done so much damage in so many ways.  And it will take more than elections or incremental change to bring back any semblance of respectability for this country.  

I shouldn’t say “this country”, as it isn’t the country itself – there is still opportunity and a lot that is right and good about it.  I should say our “system” and our leadership with respect to their priorities and reputation.  But we have seen very little change of direction as compared to what was promised in 2006.  And our reputation is damaged beyond levels that would never even be considered a few years ago.  

I do have faith that things can change – that things can get better again and at least there will be some accountability or change of direction.  More and more however, I am realizing just how far we have to go to get there.

Edwards Mops The Floor With Republicans

like no other Democrat, feigned or real.

http://www.alternet.org/story/…

Edwards makes no attempt to be more Republican than the Republicans like Clinton.  He doesn’t seek to get along like Obama.  

Edwards is not appealing to the mythical middle class of the DLC.  He is talking to the people.  People don’t count for much these days.

Edwards is not the plutocratic candidate with money to burn.  He doesn’t have the glamor and the backing of the two that occupy the front of the stage.  Most polls don’t even bother to record the horrendous drubbing Edwards would deal the Republicans.

Thought someone here might like to know before Edwards is banished forever from the scene.

Best,  Terry  

Weekend News Digest

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Turkish planes bomb PKK targets in Iraq

By SUZAN FRASER, Associated Press Writer

1 hour, 11 minutes ago

ANKARA, Turkey – Turkey said dozens of its warplanes bombed Kurdish rebel targets as deep as 60 miles inside northern Iraq for three hours Sunday in the largest aerial attack in years against the outlawed separatist group. An Iraqi official said the planes attacked several villages, killing one woman.

In the nighttime offensive, the fighter jets hit rebel positions close to the border with Turkey and in the Qandil mountains, which straddle the Iraq-Iran border, the Turkish military said in a statement posted on its Web site. It said the operation was directed against the rebels and not against the local population.

As many as 50 fighter jets were involved in the airstrikes, private NTV television and other media reported. Turkey has recently attacked the area with ground-based artillery and helicopters and there have been some unconfirmed reports of airstrikes by warplanes.

2 British hand over Basra to Iraqi control

By LORI HINNANT, Associated Press Writer

22 minutes ago

BAGHDAD – British forces formally handed over responsibility Sunday for the last region in Iraq under their control, marking the start of what Britain hopes will be a transition to a mission aimed at aiding the economy and providing jobs in an oil-rich region beset by militia infighting.

With the handover of Basra, an overwhelmingly Shiite region home to most of Iraq’s oil reserves, nine of the country’s 18 provinces have reverted to Iraqi government control.

“I came to rid Basra of its enemies and I now formally hand Basra back to its friends,” the commander of British forces in Basra, Maj. Gen. Graham Binns, said shortly before he added his signature to papers relinquishing responsibility for the region in Iraq’s far south. “We will continue to help train Basra security forces. But we are guests in your country, and we will act accordingly.”

3 Lawmakers say not deterred on CIA probe

By Randall Mikkelsen

1 hour, 50 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Congress members vowed on Sunday to investigate the CIA’s destruction of videotapes depicting harsh interrogation of terrorism suspects, despite Justice Department advice that the agency not cooperate.

The top Republican member of the House of Representatives Intelligence Committee and a leading Democratic voice on security joined in a blistering attack on the CIA and on the complex network of U.S. intelligence agencies in general.

“We want to hold the (intelligence) community accountable for what’s happened to these tapes,” Republican U.S. Rep. Pete Hoekstra of Michigan said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We will issue subpoenas … Our investigation should move forward.

4 Bali climate deal paves way for hotter U.S. debate

By Deborah Zabarenko, Environment Correspondent, Reuters

2 hours, 40 minutes ago

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A breakthrough deal forged by delegates from 190 countries has revived world efforts to fight global warming and may help push the debate to the front and center of the U.S. political debate.

The United States joined the deal reached on the Indonesian island of Bali in a dramatic U-turn. But significantly, the accord sets late 2009 as the target for a climate treaty, months after U.S. President George W. Bush leaves office.

Sen. Barbara Boxer, a California Democrat who heads the Senate’s environment committee, noted the Bush administration’s lonely position after the Bali deal was reached on Saturday.

“In Bali, the president tried to treat the world the way he treats Congress — ‘my way or the highway,”‘ Boxer said in a statement. “The difference is that in Congress he has supporters but in Bali he had no supporters.”

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Recommended

5 Bird flu kills first human in Pakistan, child first case in Myanmar

AFP

Sat Dec 15, 2:33 PM ET

ISLAMABAD (AFP) – Bird flu hit two countries Saturday as it was confirmed that a man who died culling infected birds in Pakistan became the country’s first human fatality, while a seven-year-old girl became Myanmar’s first human case.

Pakistan’s health ministry on Saturday also confirmed that one of the dead man’s brothers who took part in the cull also died, but he was not tested for the virus, a ministry spokesman told AFP. It was not immediately known why the second man was not tested.

But the spokesman ruled out any case of human-to-human transmission — a development that could have signalled a mutation of the virus with the possibility to kill millions around the world.

From Yahoo News Most Popular, Most Viewed

6 Democrats assess Hill damage, leadership

By CHARLES BABINGTON, Associated Press Writer

2 hours, 18 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Congressional Democrats will have plenty to ponder during the Christmas-New Year recess. For instance, why did things go so badly this fall, and how well did their leaders serve them?

Partisan players will quarrel for months, but objective analysts say the debate must start here: An embattled president made extraordinary use of his veto power and he was backed by GOP lawmakers who may have put their political fortunes at risk.

Also, a new Democratic leadership team overestimated the impact of the Iraq war and the 2006 elections, learning too late they had no tools to force Bush and his allies to compromise on bitterly contested issues.

From Yahoo News World

7 Musharraf foes vow to undo his changes

By PAUL ALEXANDER, Associated Press Writer

Sun Dec 16, 7:12 AM ET

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – A key opposition group vowed Sunday to try to undo amendments President Pervez Musharraf made to the constitution before lifting emergency rule, changes critics say will keep a tight lid on dissent.

President Pervez Musharraf lifted a six-week-old state of emergency Saturday, telling a skeptical nation the crackdown was to save Pakistan from a conspiracy rather than ensure his own political survival.

But Musharraf entrenched limits he imposed under the emergency, including strict curbs on press freedom and the replacement of independent-minded judges with jurists friendlier to the U.S.-backed leader. Opponents have said the changes set the stage for parliamentary elections next month to be rigged, and have threatened to hold mass demonstrations.

8 Exit poll suggests landslide win for Kyrgyz ruling party

by Antoine Lambroschini, AFP

55 minutes ago

BISHKEK (AFP) – An exit poll from Sunday’s legislative election suggested that the party of President Kurmanbek Bakiyev’s newly-created Ak-Zhol party might be the only one in the new parliament.

Figures from the Binom Institute, suggested that none of the 11 other parties had crossed the five percent threshold needed to win seats in parliament, and gave Ak-Zhol 63 percent of the vote.

Opposition figures and election observers have described the institute as being close to the ruling party. In the run-up to the election and throughout the day’s voting, opposition politicians have complained of widespread fraud.

From Yahoo News Politics

9 GOP pushes Iowans to focus on caucus

By LIBBY QUAID, Associated Press Writer

Sat Dec 15, 7:28 PM ET

DAVENPORT, Iowa – In a state where presidential hopefuls are supposed to personally ask for your vote, Iowans have heard far more by mail, phone and TV from the Republicans this year.

The deluge has not helped Liz Schofield, a homemaker and anti-abortion activist, make up her mind.

“I get a lot of mail,” Schofield said. “You know what, it is so difficult to decide with the Republicans. We have such good candidates. They all love the Lord.”

10 U.S. confident troop cuts won’t hurt Iraq security

By Dean Yates, Reuters

Sun Dec 16, 11:00 AM ET

BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Cuts in U.S. troop levels in Iraq will not derail recent security gains, but the Iraqi government must move quicker to take advantage of the falls in violence, a senior U.S. general said on Sunday.

Lieutenant-General Raymond Odierno, the number two commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, urged the government to move faster on national reconciliation and improving basic services.

Underscoring the improved security in Iraq, Odierno said attacks last week in Anbar province, once the heart of the Sunni Arab insurgency, were the lowest ever recorded by the U.S. military. Overall violence in Iraq was at a level not seen since the spring of 2005, he told a briefing for foreign reporters.

From Yahoo News Business

11 Investors await earnings, housing data

By MADLEN READ, AP Business Writer

2 hours, 8 minutes ago

NEW YORK – This week’s data on investment bank earnings, the housing downturn and inflation will help investors decide how the economy and corporate America are faring as they head into the new year.

Wall Street hit a few snags last week: the tools in the Federal Reserve’s arsenal look as if they may not be sufficient to battle the credit crisis, and inflation appears to be accelerating, which could prevent further rate cuts.

Last week, the Dow ended 2.10 percent lower, the Standard & Poor’s 500 index finished down 2.44 percent, and the Nasdaq composite index ended down 2.60 percent.

12 Fed taking on abusive lending practices

By JEANNINE AVERSA, AP Economics Writer

Sun Dec 16, 9:52 AM ET

WASHINGTON – People taking out home mortgages may gain new protections soon against shady lending practices as the Federal Reserve seeks to back even the riskiest borrowers, already hit hardest by the housing and credit crunches.

Rules expected to be proposed Tuesday would apply to loans made by all types of lenders, including banks and brokers. The plan from the Fed, which has regulatory powers over the nation’s financial system, could be finalized next year. The effective date would be know then.

13 Writers propose independent negotiations  Writers propose independent negotiations

By JOHN ROGERS, Associated Press Writer

Sun Dec 16, 4:12 AM ET

LOS ANGELES – Faced with the indefinite suspension of negotiations, the union representing striking Hollywood writers told its members Saturday it would try to deal directly with Hollywood studios and production companies, bypassing the umbrella organization that has been representing them.

The news was welcomed by the company that produces David Letterman’s “Late Show,” which said it hoped to broker a deal that would put the talk show host and his writers back to work.

Talks broke off Dec. 7 after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers, which represents the studios, insisted it would not bargain further unless the Writers Guild of America dropped proposals that included the authority to unionize writers on reality shows and animation projects.

14 Retailers see slower holiday growth: reports

By Martinne Geller, Reuters

20 minutes ago

NEW YORK (Reuters) – U.S. consumers, who flocked to malls at the start of the holiday shopping season, have since backed off, kept out of stores by a Midwest ice storm and the ease of shopping online, data released on Sunday by SpendingPulse showed.

The retail data service of MasterCard Advisors said that after a strong discount-driven start to retail’s most important season, sales have slowed steadily, returning to the modest growth expected this year as consumers face a housing slump, a credit crunch, and higher costs for food and fuel.

SpendingPulse said that over the first 20 days of the holiday shopping season, from November 23 to December 12, sales at U.S. specialty apparel chains, which include Gap Inc (GPS.N), Aeropostale Inc (ARO.N) and Urban Outfitters Inc (URBN.O), rose 0.5 percent this year, down from a 5.1 percent gain last year.

15 Greenspan sees early signs of U.S. stagflation

Reuters

Sun Dec 16, 12:02 PM ET

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The U.S. economy is showing early signs of stagflation as growth threatens to stall while food and energy prices soar, former U.S. Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said on Sunday.

In an interview on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopoulos,” Greenspan said low inflation was a major contributor to economic growth and prices must be held in check.

“We are beginning to get not stagflation, but the early symptoms of it,” Greenspan said.

16 German labour minister says minimum wage for all: report

AFP

Sun Dec 16, 8:02 AM ET

BERLIN (AFP) – German Labour Minister Olaf Scholz has pledged that the country will implement a minimum wage in all sectors, an issue that has been dividing the ruling coalition, a newspaper reported on Sunday.

“The minimum wage is on its way, for everybody. I am sure of this,” Scholz, a Social Democrat, told the Welt am Sonntag newspaper.

“We will extend the law to sectors in which there is no minimum wage and where workers have no security …to fight conditions which we believe are not acceptable.”

From Yahoo News Science

17 India installs antennas for planned moon mission: official

AFP

55 minutes ago

BANGALORE, India (AFP) – India has installed a pair of giant antennas to monitor a planned robotic mission to the moon next year, making it one of a few nations with deep space tracking ability, officials said.

The deep space network at Byalalu, 45 kilometres (30 miles) from Bangalore, will keep track of the Chandrayaan-1 lunar mission and provide command support during its two-year orbit around the moon, India’s space agency said.

The facility, which reporters visited Saturday, consists of two powerful dish antennas 32 metres (105 feet) and 18 metres in diameter.

18 Small group of US experts insist global warming not man-made

by Jean-Louis Santini, AFP

Sat Dec 15, 9:21 PM ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A small group of US experts stubbornly insist that, contrary to what the vast majority of their colleagues believe, humans may not be responsible for the warming of the planet Earth.

These experts believe that global warming is a natural phenomenon, and they point to reams of data they say supports their assertions.

These conclusions are in sharp contradiction to those of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which reached its conclusions using largely similar data.

19 Nuclear Fallout Layer Missing in Himalayan Glacier

LiveScience Staff, LiveScience.com

Sat Dec 15, 9:55 AM ET

Nuclear tests in the 1950s and ’60s spewed fallout all around the globe. Scientists find it when the drill into ice, extracting cores that reveal the layers of history that settle out of the sky.

But a new study of ice cores from a big Himalayan glacier lack the distinctive radioactive signals that mark virtually every other ice core retrieved worldwide.

The mysteriously missing fallout traces suggest the Himalayan ice field has been shrinking at least since the A-bomb tests more than half a century ago. If true, the melting could foreshadow a future when the stockpiles of freshwater will dwindle and vanish, seriously affecting the lives of more than 500 million people on the Indian subcontinent, researchers said in a statement today.

20 Ancient Egyptian Industrial Complex Revealed

LiveScience Staff, LiveScience.com

Fri Dec 14, 1:20 PM ET

Ancient Egyptians were even more inventive and productive than scholars have thought, according to new findings that depict surprisingly advanced glass-making abilities alongside an industrial complex.

The site, at Amarna, is on the banks of the Nile and dates back to the reign of Akhenaten (1352-1336 B.C.), just a few years before the rule of Tutankhamun.

Historians have said Egyptians of that time imported their glass. But a team led by archeologist Paul Nicholson of Cardiff University in Wales has reconstructed a 3,000-year-old glass furnace, showing that ancient Egyptian glassmaking methods were much more advanced than thought.

From Yahoo News Entertainment

21 Awards shows threatened by Hollywood writers strike

by Rob Woollard, AFP

Sun Dec 16, 1:00 AM ET

LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Hollywood’s writers strike is threatening to take the shine off the movie industry’s awards season, with stars wary at the prospect of having to cross picket lines before walking up the red carpet.

The prospect of a resolution to the six-week-old strike drifted further away this week, with the Writers Guild of America (WGA) on Thursday accusing studio negotiators of acting unlawfully by severing negotiations.

The latest breakdown between the two warring factions has left organisers of the movie industry’s biggest awards shows — the Golden Globes and the Oscars — nervously considering how the strike may affect their events.

It’s awfully short today and so I went looking for some more-

From Google News U.S.

22 The crux of U.S. budget battle: How to pay?

The federal budget is on an unsustainable path, according to a new report by the Congressional Budget Office.

By Gail Russell Chaddock, Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor

from the December 17, 2007 edition

Washington –  As Congress moves toward a massive end-of-year spending bill this week, both parties claim to be fighting on the side of fiscal responsibility.

Republicans are lining up with the White House in enforcing spending caps – a battle they are poised to win. Despite low public approval ratings, President Bush has enough votes in the Senate to block bills that he opposes, as long as most Republicans stand with him.

Meanwhile, Democrats are losing ground in their year-long bid to require that Congress pay for new tax cuts. A key test comes this week as the House and Senate work out their differences on a $50 billion “fix” to the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT), which is now set to hit 22 million new taxpayers in the 2007 tax year. The House is requiring offsets; the Senate is not.

From Google News World

23 EU summit gambles on huge Kosovo mission

1,800 expected to be sent in nation-building exercise

Move a response to ‘strong pressure’ from Washington

Ian Traynor in Brussels, The Guardian

Saturday December 15, 2007

European leaders yesterday agreed to send up to 1,800 police, judges, and administrators to Kosovo in its biggest foreign policy gamble, aimed at nurturing the breakaway Balkan province towards full statehood.

Despite persistent divisions within the EU over how to react to Kosovo’s secession from Serbia, now expected in February, a summit of EU presidents and prime ministers decided to launch Europe’s biggest nation-building operation, telling union foreign ministers to work out the details after the new year.

Gordon Brown, making his first visit to Brussels as prime minister, indicated the mission would be deployed – probably in February.

24 Serbia sees Russia, China backing more Kosovo talks

Sun Dec 16, 2007 12:26pm EST

BELGRADE, Dec 16 (Reuters) – Serbia’s President expects Russia, China and some other U.N. Security Council members to back further talks on the status of Kosovo, though the West says all avenues of possible compromise have been exhausted.

“I expect several initiatives, and one of them is the resumption of talks … I expect other countries to support that initiative, especially Russia and China,” Boris Tadic told a conference of senior Serbian diplomats on Sunday.

The United Nations and NATO took over Serbia’s Kosovo province in 1999 after 3 months of Western bombing to prevent ethnic cleansing by Serb forces fighting a guerrilla insurgency. With no compromise in sight after months of talks, the West says independence for the 90 percent Albanian majority is the only viable solution. Serbia refuses to cede one inch of its sovereign territory but offers full autonomy for Kosovo.

This just in- Joltin’ Joe LIEberman is endorsing John McCain per Bill Kristol as reported by phone on Faux Noise!

Pony Party: Sunday music retrospective

Nina Simone



Mississippi Goddamn



Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood



I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free



Here Comes the Sun

Please do not recommend a Pony Party when you see one.  There will be another along in a few hours.

Towards a Definitive Bushco Scandal List: Help!

It is the heart of any call for investigations or impeachment. It is intended to bring the ire of every person reading to the forefront and spur them to action. It is intended to refresh the memory and to sharpen the focus. It is intended to never let the crimes die…or the criminals rest…

It is The List.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Impeachment/Investigation essays are emotional to some people, they react to the meme or the ‘current political reality’ and not to the larger reality of what has occurred over the last seven years. The List is a reminder to FUCK the current political reality and push for justice and principle.  

Many people have made many lists, as I say it is at the heart of advocating for justice for Bushco. So instead of using time to come up with a new list for every essay, I would like to see us compile a nifty Cut N’ Paste Bushco Scandal List. The top ten(?) scandals should do it, perhaps with a short blurb…and definitely with a link to a story from a major news outlet about that scandal. And of course we want the most devastating link possible and the most damaging blurb possible.

At what amounts to the eleventh hour politically, it seems that impeachment is gaining some traction. Certainly the recent torture revelations are a pretty darn clear path to impeachment, but there are so many others! So if you are into it, pitch in!

Here is a good reminder and primer for your thoughts…Scandalistâ„¢ by rickpickett

Take your time, dig in, and let’s see what we can come up with! We can post it on the Dharmapedia for easy access and whenever you go to write about demanding FULL INVESTIGATIONS NOW!!! or IMPEACH!!! You can just C&P in to your essay with no muss and no fuss!

Bonus Fun!!! Post all your best impeach graphics and links! Let’s make this thread an Impeach resource center. I will tag it Impeach List, so we can all access it that way in the future as well as through the Dharmapedia

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket by angryird

Got Kids, Meet Their Future

(this is what “consequence” looks like… – promoted by pfiore8)

Thanks to us Responsible Adults!



An Iraqi boy reacts after seeing his sister and both of his parents killed in the car, in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad, Wednesday, Jan. 5, 2005

As we bring Freedom and Democray at the point of a gun!

Thousands of Homeless Children in Iraq Survive by Begging, Stealing or Scavenging Garbage for Food.

IRAQ: Child beggars proliferate in Baghdad



Child beggars are a common sight in the streets of Baghdad

Ahmed said he would rather beg than steal and that he had started begging before his parents died because they were a poor family. He said his mother died in Fallujah in August 2004. She was visiting her parents when their house was bombed by US-led coalition forces.

His father fell ill and could not work so he sent his children out to beg. If they did not come home with enough money, he would beat them, Ahmed said. His father died of kidney failure in April 2005

Only four years ago, the vast majority of these children were living at home with their families.

Many of those we are have been fighting, since we invaded, are the children who have grown since the first Gulf War and through the years of Sanctions, the ones who survived!

Illiteracy increasing among Iraq’s refugee children



Azhar al Haidari, 47, center, is an Iraqi refugee in Damascus, Syria. While her two daughters, Inam, left, and Mary, are excelling in school, their older brothers are illiterate because they’ve been out of class for so long

Illiteracy is spreading rapidly among refugee children from Iraq, with at least 300,000 young Iraqis not attending school in the countries where their families have sought safety.

“The last time my kids were in school was 2003, right before the American invasion,” said Hanaa Majeed, 32, an Iraqi refugee in Damascus who can’t afford to send her two sons to school. “They can barely read. I buy books and try to teach them at home, but it’s not the same. My boys see other kids with backpacks on, going off to school, and they ask why they can’t go, too.”

Education is a point of pride for Iraqis, the descendants of civilizations that invented cuneiform, one of the world’s first writing systems.

Iraq: Children with serious illnesses abandoned

Over 1.6 million children under the age of 12 have become homeless in Iraq, according to the country’s Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs. That’s almost 70 percent of the estimated 2.5 million Iraqis who are homeless inside the country.

“There are no reliable estimates of how many orphans and abandoned children are in Iraq today but we believe, according to some data collected by local NGOs, that over 8,000 children are in the same or a similar situation to that of Faleh,” Mayada said.

Few Iraqis returning home from Jordan

Since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, more than two million Iraqis have fled to neighbouring countries, with Jordan (500,000-750,000) and Syria (1.2-1.4 million) hosting the greatest numbers.

The plight of Iraqi refugees

Demanding of our attention and action today is the terrible plight of Iraqi refugees, both those outside the country and internally displaced persons (IDPs). They number to date a fifth of the Iraqi population.

This tragic human dislocation has been created by the active violation of the UN Charter and other aspects of international law. This violation was demonstrated during the American terrorism of “Shock and Awe”, and the invasion of sovereignty, disruption of culture, destruction of civilian infrastructure that it entailed and epitomised. Irreparable damage to society and fundamental human rights has ensued. This outrageous unprovoked act of aggression brought to Iraq yet again the horrors of war. Bush and Blair’s pre-emptive strike has led to the deaths of many hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. Current credible estimations put the figure at over one million since 2003.

Over and above massive loss of civilian life, is the tragic consequence of refugees. It is estimated some 4.7 million children, women and men have been forced from their homes and have fled — some displaced within and some outside Iraq. More that 20 per cent of the entire population have been brutally uprooted by the violence of this war of aggression — a war crime for which the US-UK, along with others, must be held responsible.

Of these refugees, and those who haven’t fled, many are the children, the children who we have stripped of their childhood! Those that are still in the War Ravaged Country of Iraq will try and maintain some semblance of chilhood activities, but their games of pretend are carried out amoung the devestation and destruction around them. And much of their pretend activities are the acting out of the forces of destruction they have witnessed, the only thing they know.

Money, Time Runs Out for Iraqi Refugees

The Iraqi government, eager to claim credit for the decline in violence, offers returnees free transportation to Iraq, provides protection to the bus convoys and gives families $800 each to help with resettling.

But American and U.N. officials warn that a big return of refugees could rekindle sectarian violence between Sunnis and Shiites and that some returnees have found their homes occupied by members of the other Muslim sect. Even the Iraqi government acknowledges it cannot handle a huge influx.

Harsh refugee life rather than improved security spurs return of Iraqi refugees

Most returnees did so because they were running out of money or because their visas had expired, states the report, with less than 15 per cent found to be returning because they believed the security situation had improved.

Recent visa restrictions in both Syria and Jordan have made it virtually impossible for new refugees to gain access to either country, and in Syria in particular, Iraqi refugees now find it hard to remain. By being denied work permits, Iraqis across the region are rapidly depleting their savings and are facing ever-worsening economic conditions.

Iraqi International Initiative on Refugee’s

More than 4.5 million Iraqis – a fifth of the population – have been displaced inside and outside their country due to the sectarian policies of the occupation and the governments it has installed since the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003

The international community, the occupation powers, and the government in Iraq are legally required to support and protect Iraqi refugees

Iraqi refugees are Iraqi citizens who have a full right to live in dignity, a right to benefit equally from national resources, and a right to return to their homes

The UN Security Council, as the highest body of the UN, has the power and legal duty to ensure that the needs of Iraqi refugees are met by passing a resolution to require that the Iraqi state allocate proportionate revenue to responsible agencies and hosting countries

Visit above site and sign their Petition: Humanity is in distress in Iraq. Our moral responsibility is to save it. Join us.

And follow the many links given!

The Children Of Iraq – Photo’s

Most of those who led the charge to War, and their supporters, try and lay the blame for what some of these children will, or already have, do on others who they say entice these children into violence and violent acts. These children don’t need to be pushed nor taught, their anger and the life forced on them shapes what many will become, and it only takes a few, but there will be more than just a few. Those who lay the blame on others fear their own guilt that eventually will catch up to them!

And this is only about the Children of Iraq. How about the Children of Afganistan, or Darfur, or Palestine, or the many many other troubled spots on this planet! The disenfranchised have been  rising up from the failed policies practiced by the powerful, leaving legacies of destruction to come!

Tues 10:56a edt 90,160 & Wexler’s Office Explains Issues with Petition Count

(@11 – promoted by buhdydharma )

I just heard from a colleague who spoke with a senior staffer at Wexler’s office.  In her words here is the explanation:

Okay, just got a call from a senior staffer at Congressman Wexler’s office. They, indeed, were aware of the problems with the counter yesterday. I am pretty much a moron when it comes to website technical issues, so the best way I can explain it is that they were having a huge spike in traffic and having issues with the server. They actually had to switch servers as a result – twice –  and in the process had to reset the counter which caused the error in the numbers. They way he described it and the timing and the actual numbers he provided matched exactly what we were witnessing – the sudden jump to over 100,000 and then the drop to 83,000. Later, there was another jump and subsequent drop when they had to repeat the process.

But, he is confident that it is all accurate now and running smoothly again. I know everyone is excited (and concerned) and while I think it’s good to keep an eye on things, the constant refreshing and checking most likely is putting strain on the system. They are using a reliable professional database and have multiple backups for the data. He explained as well that he personally scanned the list of names/email addresses and didn’t note any glaring discrepancies or duplicates and, again, is confident that the number currently displayed is accurate.

Bottom line, Congressman Wexler is committed to this and no there is no conspiracy or sabotage.

We spoke as well regarding Rep. Wexler’s interest in impeachment and he will be addressing the issue and providing more information on his plans this Thursday so stay tuned. They understand the challenge we are facing with the “media” and urged us to keep doing what we’re doing. He assured me that as far as the congressman is concerned, this is not going to fade away next week. So, keep putting it out there, encourage others to sign up.

Last count of the “night.” Something strange is going on with the site because the count was higher at 7:27p – 90,235 – than it is now.  Not sure if the site is under attack.  Be curious to see what Wexler’s office has to say in the morning.

At 5:27p the count was 88,953.  Two hours later it was 90,325.  That’s 11.43 signers per minute.  

I don’t have time to calculate, but it looks like the votes are increasing by over 20 a minute.  The site is also loading faster again.  I called Wexler’s office and they said they had done server upgrades over the weekend.  Maybe they did more today.  At this rate it will be 100,000 easily by morning, maybe sooner.

Wow!  I told somone last night around 1:30a that I expected it to hit 70,000 by mid-day today.  This happened overnight!!  Wexler must be overjoyed.  I heard last night that the response to him personally for doing this has been overwhelming.  He is being treated like a rockstar!

Update:  I saw Dave Lindorff and John Nichols on a panel this afternoon in NYC at a presentation of The Culture Project’s “The Question of Impeachment.”  Dave was awesome, but Nichols stole the show when he said that there will soon be 6 Dems calling for impeachment hearings! So all of the forwarding and cajoling we are all doing with this petition will have an impact.  Our goal is to convince the entire Judiciary Committee this is imperative.  Liz Holtzman emphasized that for impeachment to work it must be bipartisan so please do not hold back from contacting your Rep even if s/he is Republican.  

The message that I got today was that IMPEACHMENT CAN HAPPEN, but it will take a lot of work and it doesn’t happen overnight.  Holtzman who has been through it before remembered that things really started to happen February – July.  So let’s gear up and get ready to make it happen in February!

They will have a podcast of this afternoon’s performance up sometime tomorrow.  I strongly recommend it – this panel was amazing – Dave Lindorff, Liz Holtzman, Scott Horton, Marjorie Cohn, and John Nichols.

********

They will have a podcast of this afternoon’s performance up sometime tomorrow.  I strongly recommend it – this panel was amazing – Dave Lindorff, Liz Holtzman, Scott Horton, Marjorie Cohn, and John Nichols.This is a drive by diary, but I hope I will be forgiven because I am busy organizing an impeachment event in NYC for Wednesday (more on that later).  I am hoping everyone here has signed Rep. Wexler’s petition and if you haven’t please go to Wexler’s Web Page and read his powerful oped and watch his video and SIGN.  We hit 50,000 just before midnight last night – Wexler’s goal was 50,000 – let’s multiply that tenfold and show his colleagues what the American people want.  Wexler needs our help to help us.  I have seen skepticism and cynicism that he is doing this as a campaign ploy.  I can’t tell you how I know, but I can verify that he is 100% committed to this and has been working on it since November 7th, the day after Dennis Kucinich introduced his motion of privilege.  Please do whatever you can do to gather signatures on this significant petition.  This is what will get us impeachment hearings.  

Also, if you can please go orange for a moment and recommend Dave Lindorff’s new diary, we should be able to build this further if it remains on the recommended list for the afternoon.  Dave is participating in a performance of “A Question of Impeachment” at The Culture Project today and I doubt he will be able to babysit the diary.   The Culture Project is an amazing series that has been happening in SoHo.  Check out the podcasts of the panel discussions – some really great stuff by incredibly knowledgable people.

Simon: On the End of the American Empire

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I am wholly pessimistic about American society. I believe The Wire is a show about the end of the American Empire. We are going to live that event. How we end up and survive, and on what terms, is going to be the open question.

David Simon, creator of “The Wire”

This week I spent every evening watching the dvd’s of the fourth season of HBO’s “The Wire.” I know that Armando plans to write about the fifth season that starts January 6th, so I thought I’d give some background about how the creator has envisioned the show and its purpose since it seems to echo so many of the themes that we talk about here.

The quote above is from a speech David Simon made over a year ago at Loyola University. If you’ve got half an hour, I’d highly recommend watching the three segments of this on youtube here, here, and here. I’ll summarize some of his main points. But of course, I can’t do the whole thing justice in a few words.

Simon explains the reasons for the end of the American Empire this way:

We are in the postindustrial age. We do not need as many of us as we once did. We don’t need us to generate capital, to secure wealth. We are in a transitive period where human beings have lost some of their value. Now, whether or not we can figure out a way to validate the humanity of the individual, I have great doubts…

As for the characters on the program, their lives are less and less necessary. They are more and more expendable. The institutions that serve them and in which they serve are indifferent to their existence.

I don’t know about you, but I can relate to this statement. Other than mirroring the reality I see in this urban area on a daily basis, it also captures the way I feel about affecting our current political situation. As I watch Bush/Cheney or Congress respond to us about issues like the war, it seems clear that we are expendable and they are totally indifferent to our existence.

Here are Simon’s thoughts about a political solution:

And, it is even out of our control in a democratic sense. If you are going to go out and vote at the next election, your vote doesn’t matter. If you thought you were living in a democracy, if you bought into that, you gotta go to the dictionary and look up the word oligarchy, and you have to really think about what it means.

Simon goes on to say…

I didn’t start out as a cynic, but at every given moment where this country has had a choice – its governments, institutions, corporations, its social framework – to exalt the value of individuals over the value of the shared price, we have chosen raw unencumbered capitalism. Capitalism has become our god. You are not looking at a marxist up here, but you are looking at somebody who doesn’t believe that capitalism can work absent a social framework that accepts that it is relatively easy to marginalize more and more people in this economy. Capitalism has to be attended to. And that has to be a conscious calculation on the part of society, if that is going to succeed. Everywhere we have created an alternate america of haves and have-nots. At some point, either more of us are going to find our conscience or we’re not.

Simon ends his speech with this:

The Wire is certainly an angry show. It’s about the idea that we are worth less. And that is an unreasonable thing to contemplate for all of us. It is unacceptable. And none of us wants to be part of a world that is going to do that to human beings. If we don’t exert on behalf of human dignity at the expense of profit and capitalism and greed, which are inevitabilities, and if we can’t modulate them in some way that is a framework for an intelligent society, we are doomed. It is going to happen sooner than we think. I don’t know what form it will take. But I know that every year America is going to be a more brutish and cynical and divided place.

emphasis mine

I think Simon is both prescient and prophetic in his analysis of our situation. He leaves us with a dilema that is at least as much personal, social and even spiritual as it is political. He does not claim to have the answers to this dilema, nor do I. But, as “The Wire” demonstrates, we are creating a jungle mentality in service of this god of capitalism. There is certainly impending doom if we can’t find a way to begin to place human dignity FOR ALL above profit, capital, and greed.

One of the things that season four of “The Wire” dealt with in several situations was the way this dilema manifested personally for various people in law enforcement and politics. Moments came when people had choices to make about whether to maintain their integrity or “go along to get along” so as not to ruin their careers. They could always rationalize playing the game as a way to maintain their position – and therefore their power to have some positive influence. But ultimately, it was their capitulation that allowed the corrupt systems to be maintained. This gave me a sense of what I need to think about and where courage may actually comes into play. Am I willing to risk my ego, my career, my security in order to challenge a corrupt system? Perhaps, when that choice presents itself, I’ll be more prepared to take a risk and make my statement on behalf of human dignity. I hope so.

(ps, I’ll get back to Blog Voices This Week sometime. I just didn’t have much time this week for surfing.)

A Moral Condemnation to Support Wexler’s Impeachment Call

I am not reposting this now because I think it is great. I’m reposting this now, because I wrote it when we still had habeas corpus and to support Wexler’s Call for Cheney’s Impeachment.

(Condemn- to state that something or somebody is in some way wrong or unacceptable)

What would our forefathers say about the state of the nation today?

I imagine if they were alive now, they would say something similar to what I have written after they read this, at least.


ASSOCIATED PRESS:

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/14656812/

“In the eight months ending last May, Justice attorneys declined to prosecute more than nine out of every 10 terrorism cases sent to them by the FBI, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and other federal agencies. Nearly 4 in 10 of the rejected cases were scrapped because prosecutors found weak or insufficient evidence, no evidence of criminal intent or no evident federal crime.”

Whereas… The GOP WANTS WAR

AND

LIES FOR WAR

Whereas…


Anne Coulter said:

“We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity. We weren’t punctilious about locating and punishing only Hitler and his top officers. We carpet-bombed German cities; we killed civilians. That’s war. And this is war.” think our motto should be, post-9-11, ‘raghead talks tough, raghead faces consequences.’

And was/is a “leading voice” for the Republican Party,in addition to having been/being a bridge between the GOP and evangelicals, who want their false prophecies to materialize, so they may have “Dominion.”


Dominionism and Dominion Theology

“And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.” (King James Version).

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth and over all the creatures that move along the ground.'” (New International Version).

The vast majority of Christians read this text and conclude that God has appointed them stewards and caretakers of Earth. As Sara Diamond explains, however, some Christian read the text and believe, “that Christians alone are Biblically mandated to occupy all secular institutions until Christ returns–and there is no consensus on when that might be.”
That, in a nutshell, is the idea of “dominionism.”

Whereas… a Secretary of Defense has used the wicked word “fascism” for political ends,

Nazi war criminals were hired into the CIA in 1947 because “If we don’t get them, somebody else will,” and we got them and their evil ideology.

Whereas… Nazis and Gangs of similar philosophies exist and have existed in American society (skinheads, Arian gangs, White Supremist groups, and the K.K.K.) before and since the end of WWII, and The President of the United States is part of a “Supremist” group himself.

And the President of the United States banged his fist on the podium exclaiming, “As long as I am President of the United States, we’re not leaving the war in Iraq”
in the spirit of Andrew Jackson, General Custer, and Richard Nixon; when the majority of Americans disagree, the Supreme Court and a Federal Judge both declared he overreached his Constitutional authority, and military generals have resigned their posts.

Whereas this violent and racist rhetoric lives in the hearts of the previously mentioned …


Excerpt from “Puritans, Indians & Manifest Destiny” (Charles M. Segal and David C. Stineback. pp. 155-157):

In 1647, one year after Massachusetts launched its missionary effort, John Eliot recorded

“It is therefore ordered and decreed, by this Court, for the honor of the eternal God, whom only we worship and serve, that no person within the jurisdiction, whether Christian or pagan, either by willful or obstinate denying the true God, or his creation or government of the world,
or shall curse God, or reproach the holy religion of God, as if it were but a politic device to keep ignorant men in awe, nor shall utter any other eminent kind of blasphemy, of the like nature  degree; if any person or persons whatsoever, within our jurisdiction, shall break this law they shall be put to death.”

And those responsible for turning a blind eye to that great human suffering and crimes against humanity before and after Katrina are the same as previously mentioned.

Whereas Martin Luther King, Jr. said:

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“History will have to record that the greatest tragedy of this period of social transition was not the strident clamor of the bad people, but the appalling silence of the good people.”

“Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will.”

“We who in engage in nonviolent direct action are not the creators of tension. We merely bring to the surface the hidden tension that is already alive.”

And, a Legion of Evangelicals has declared “Spiritual Warfare” on the Bill of Rights of the United States of America as a shadow cover for justifying the previously mentioned;who covertly elected the President by illegal and undemocratic means.

Whereas…The Legion of Evangelicals has kidnapped and distorted Christianity, and has tried to silence its true followers for the sole purpose of acquiring political power in secular institutions.

TRUE FOLLOWERS

MORE TRUE FOLLOWERS

TRUE FOLLOWERS

And…… the executive director, Anthony D. Romero of the ACLU called for moral leadership  after the tragedies of Katrina.

Executive Director Anthony D. Romero of the ACLU said in a speech shortly after the hurricanes hit, a solution to Katrina requires moral leadership to begin an earnest conversation about why some were left behind in the storm, while others were able to “board the ark.”

MORAL LEADERSHIP REQUEST

I think our forefathers might have said:

Where was the “moral leadership” that had the power requested?

Why was habeas corpus allowed to be done away with?

How could they let that happen?

WE CONDEMN THESE CRIMINALS, CROOKS, AND LIARS IN THE WHITEHOUSE AS WELL AS THEIR “PAWNS” AS UNAMERICAN, AS UNPARTIOTIC, AND AS UNCONSTITUTIONAL… LET THEM KEEP THEIR “MORALS.”

Please sign the petition if you haven’t yet, I just did.


Wexler’s Call for Cheney’s Impeachment

The charges are too serious to ignore. There is credible evidence that the Vice President abused the power of his office, and not only brought us into an unneccesary war but violated the civil liberties and privacy of American citizens. It is the constitutional duty of Congress to hold impeachment hearings.

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