Tag: Open Thread

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Well, what I really want to do is just promote Tia’s Essay- Chanukah: first memory, but unaccustomed as she is to fame and glory, I’m inclined to let someone else accept the responsibility.

Tonight at her other gig we chatted a bit about Mormonism which led me to look up some Twain (here too).

Now I have to laugh a little bit because I’m a very pink Buddhist and I think all of it is rather silly and the story of Christ in North America no wackier than what comes from the pen of L. Ron Hubbard.

Still, there is the question of should we let this moment pass without examining the faith at all, one about which most Americans know as much as they do about… well, Islam for instance?

It is very personal and right off the top of my head I can name about a dozen massacres and wars over the meaning of the Trinity (which was settled at the Council of Nicea) because it’s a fairly common heresy.  Having a separate line of prophecy post Jesus and the Apostles and entirely different scriptures that are ‘corrected’ versions of the old and new testaments puts you smack dab in Allah territory if you ask me, but I’m no expert.

There should be no religious test for office, that’s what the Constitution says, and I don’t hate and despise Romney for being anything but a racist Republican who doesn’t think Muslims are fit to serve in the highest offices of the land.

Four at Four

Some news and open thread.

  1. Welcome to America – Guilty until proven innocent. The Washington Post reports Evidence of innocence rejected at Guantanamo. “Just months after U.S. Army troops whisked a German man from Pakistan to the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in 2002, his American captors concluded that he was not a terrorist… But the 19-year-old student was not freed… His attorneys, who sued the Pentagon to gain access to the documents, say that they reflect policies that result in mistreatment of the hundreds of foreigners who have been locked up for years at the controversial prison. The Supreme Court intends to weigh the legitimacy of the military tribunals at a hearing this morning.”

  2. The Hill reports Career foreign service officer targeted by Jack Abramoff. “Jack Abramoff called her the Wicked Witch of the West… And he wanted to burn her. Joan Plaisted, a career foreign service officer, was ambassador to the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) in 1998, when the island nation hired Abramoff and his firm to battle the United States on a multibillion-dollar aid agreement.” Ambramoff ran a “lobbying campaign to persuade members of Congress to discredit a U.S. diplomat by way of speeches on the floor of the House of Representatives… The campaign was ultimately scuttled when the republic’s president, Imata Kabua, canceled a 1999 visit that was to coincide with the denunciations.” This is a long scummy tale of Abramoff and the Republicans.

  3. According to The New York Times, Nevada cashes in on sales of federal land. “Tens of thousands of acres of federal lands in the Las Vegas area have been sold under an unusual law pushed through Congress nearly a decade ago by the Nevada delegation. The sales have grossed nearly $3 billion and counting. Because of a stipulation created by the Nevada legislators, the money has not been deposited into the general federal Treasury, but rather put in a special Treasury account to be spent almost exclusively in Nevada on a something-for-everyone collection of projects… Critics see it as having created a limitless federal bank account that has encouraged and subsidized unbridled growth at the expense of taxpayers from the 49 other states, all while Nevada continues to draw new residents as a low-tax state disinclined to pay for such projects itself.”

  4. According to the Miami Herald, The governor of Florida’s intervention may help save the manatees. “State wildlife managers, once set to strip the manatee of its ‘endangered’ status, may be poised to order a surprising change of course that would leave the iconic seacows atop Florida’s imperiled species list where they’ve been for decades… But questions from Gov. Charlie Crist appear likely to extend, perhaps indefinitely, a three-month reprieve the commission granted in September when Crist first stepped into the issue… ‘We need to protect these gentle creatures, and I’ve consistently felt that way,’ said Crist, who as a state senator pushed a bill to mandate propeller guards for boats.”

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