Tag: Open Thread

Docudharma Times Saturday Nov.24

This is an Open Thread: All thoughts are welcome

Headlines For Saturday: New York loses mean streets image as murder rate plunges: In Bush’s Last Year, Modest Domestic Aims: Wal-Mart Extends Its Influence to Washington: Bombers kill up to 35 in Pakistan

PM Howard concedes Australia poll

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has admitted defeat in the country’s general election, and looks set to lose his parliamentary seat.

Mr Howard said he had telephoned Labor leader Kevin Rudd “to congratulate him on an emphatic victory”.


New York loses mean streets image as murder rate plunges

The city of New York, once widely feared for its mean streets scarred by random violence, is on course for its lowest murder rate in four decades with this year’s total expected to be below 500.

Aided by burgeoning affluence and a decade of “zero-tolerance” policing, a steady decline in the Big Apple’s violent crime rate has left the city basking in a new-found glow of safety. Criminologists suggest that killings by strangers have become so rare that the police cannot reasonably be expected to stamp out the problem any further.

Four at Four

Some afternoon news and open thread.

  1. The Los Angeles Times reports on Justice Stevens and the tipping point. “Justice John Paul Stevens, 87, last week became the second-oldest justice in the Supreme Court’s history… Although Stevens has given no hint of retiring and shows no sign of slowing down — in the courtroom, he looks and sounds much as he did 20 years ago — the question of his tenure looms over the court and the 2008 presidential campaign. If there is a tipping point in the Supreme Court’s future, it is likely to come with his departure. What kind of justice would replace him — and how strong the court’s slim conservative majority would be — may well depend on who is elected president.”

  2. The Guardian reports another person has been killed by police in Canada by Taser. So, Inquiries launched after Canadian stun gun deaths. “Canadian authorities have launched urgent reviews into the safety of Taser stun guns following two recent deaths. Yesterday, a 45-year-old man died while in police custody after being shocked by the 5,000-volt weapon… Canada’s provincial Nova Scotia government today began an inquiry into Thursday’s death. Police said the victim had been taken into custody on assault charges just after midnight on Wednesday, when he became violent. The man then tried to escape from the police station, but one officer used a stun gun to shoot him in the thigh. Emergency services took the victim to hospital where he was assessed, deemed to be healthy, and released back into police custody. The man, whose identity has not yet been released, died 30 hours after being shocked.”

  3. The Denver Post reports Polis blogging from Baghdad about the war. “Congressional candidate Jared Polis, in a late-night blogging session from his Baghdad hotel, said Wednesday that all U.S. senators and representatives should see the war firsthand. The Boulder Democrat.. was hit with few confrontational questions during his hour-long blog chat on the political website coloradoconfidential.com. Polis, a multimillionaire Internet entrepreneur, acknowledged he is covering his trip expenses as well as those of the Mile High United Way representative traveling with him.” Polis has also been posting on Daily Kos.

  4. According to The Christian Science Monitor, On election eve, Australia’s opposition leader says climate change is his no. 1 priority. “Kevin Rudd, a bookish former diplomat who heads the opposition Labor Party, has pledged to sign the Kyoto Protocol on global warming, a move which would leave the US as the only developed nation not to have ratified the treaty. Mr. Rudd, a fluent Chinese speaker, has also promised to withdraw Australia’s small but politically significant contingent of 550 combat troops from Iraq… [Rudd] said he would personally represent Australia at a UN climate change meeting of environment ministers next month in Bali to discuss the next stage of the Kyoto Protocol, which expires in 2012. Ratifying the Kyoto treaty would be a radical departure from Prime Minister John Howard, a climate change skeptic and close friend of US President Bush. ‘Australia needs new leadership on climate change. Mr. Howard remains in a state of denial,’ Rudd said.”

There’s a bonus story below the fold…

Docudharma Times Friday Nov.23

This is an Open Thread: Hey don’t pull the string

Friday’s Headlines:Cellphone Tracking Powers on Request: Abortion foes’ strategy advances : D.B. Cooper, where are you?: Returnees Find a Capital Transformed


Cellphone Tracking Powers on Request

Secret Warrants Granted Without Probable Cause:

By Ellen Nakashima

Washington Post Staff Writer

Friday, November 23, 2007; Page A01

Federal officials are routinely asking courts to order cellphone companies to furnish real-time tracking data so they can pinpoint the whereabouts of drug traffickers, fugitives and other criminal suspects, according to judges and industry lawyers.

In some cases, judges have granted the requests without requiring the government to demonstrate that there is probable cause to believe that a crime is taking place or that the inquiry will yield evidence of a crime. Privacy advocates fear such a practice may expose average Americans to a new level of government scrutiny of their daily lives.

The Stars Hollow Gazette- Updated!

You know, people who work on holidays are really performing a public service.

I like Thanksgiving because it’s time and a half and dead slow.  You’re sold out of milk anyway so you can basically just zone.

Black Friday is busy for the cashiers and more so for the floor sales people who have to answer all the questions.  Not so much in Stock where you were much more likely to get a call for boxes that were in short supply (and invariably stored in the big uncataloged pile behind the facade mirror with the unsorted hangers).

Your basic job is to deliver carts of merchandise between the loading dock and the sales floor storerooms.  You need to be able to read a routing card and sign off that the seal is unbroken and matches before the Department head accepts inventory control.  Someone has to do it.

The first place I worked, by the end of the season we were storing things on the roof and in two semi-trailers in the loading dock.  The second place the loading dock was in the basement of a ‘historic’ store.

The store was so historic in fact that I was practically the last one standing when they closed it, frantically doing inventory of some hideous green abstract floral sheets 100 years out of season we were looking to dump on a liquidator.

It all falls in the rounds.

Four at Four

Some news and Turkey Day open thread.

  1. The New York Time reports on Thoughts of family and football amid the Turkey in Afghanistan.

    The soldiers filed into the dining tent in the soft light before evening, carrying heaps of food for a Thanksgiving gathering as polyglot as anywhere.

    At one plywood table there was a Special Forces staff sergeant who was born in Turkey. “No names, please,” he said, as he stepped inside.

    At another there was Capt. Walter P. De La Vega of the Army, who trains and supervises the Afghan security forces in Wardak Province. He was born in Peru and reared in New Jersey. The acoustic guitar player in camouflage, Sgt. Kevin J. Quinones, was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico. When he strummed and sang “America the Beautiful” the soldiers set aside their food and stood.

    A cook who prepared the turkey, Specialist Yevgeny Goussev, was born in Moscow and received a work visa to the United States in 2002. He was a reserve artillery lieutenant in the Russian Army, although he said his commission was probably voided when he enlisted in the United States Army last year.

    Specialist Goussev became an American citizen this month. He says he understands what this American holiday means. “Thanksgiving is to share with other people, and not expecting anything in return,” he said.

  2. In another episode of the world is mad, the Los Angeles Times reports A green idea for saving lives in Iraq. “When a little-known agency of the U.S. Army asked Joe Amadee III to come up with an idea for saving lives in Iraq, it was probing for some kind of a contraption… he and a crew led by an Oklahoma roofing contractor were at this desert base east of Baghdad spraying foam onto tents. Their plan is to turn all of the Army’s hulking, heat-absorbing tent barracks into rigid shells of 2-inch insulation. The way that would improve soldiers’ lives may be self-evident. What is less obvious is how it also could save their lives. The key is fuel: The more of it a base uses, the more soldiers are exposed to deadly roadside bombs on fuel convoys.” We’d save a lot more energy if we just redeployed and invested our Iraq occupation money on renewable and alternative energy research too.

  3. The Guardian reports Howard election campaign hit by dirty tricks scandal. “The election strategy of the Australian prime minister, John Howard, was in turmoil today after members of his Liberal party were caught red-handed in an inept dirty tricks campaign. Bogus flyers from a fake organisation called the Islamic Australia Federation were distributed through the letterboxes of voters in a marginal seat, claiming the Labor opposition sympathised with Islamic terrorists. The leaflets referred to the men imprisoned for the 2002 nightclub bomb attacks in Bali, which left more than 200 people dead. The flyers also claimed Labor support for the building of new mosques in the area.” Hopefully, Bush’s ally John Howard will be voted out by the Australians. You should see the picture on the website of the Australian Liberal MP Jackie Kelly’s husband being caught red-handed distributing the fliers.

  4. The AP reports Parade rolls in NYC under balmy skies. “nseasonably balmy weather greeted cheering crowds as the giant balloons in the traditional Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade floated through the streets of Manhattan… The parade, held on a sunny morning with a temperature nearing 60 degrees, offered a mix of new attractions and longtime favorites, solemn tributes and lighthearted spectacle.” Unseasonably warm or the new norm?

So, what else is happening?

The Stars Hollow Gazette

I have odd hobbies and want to work out a few issues.

The Stars Hollow Gazette is always an Open Thread.  Nothing too much off topic.  I’ll be around most of the weekend should you need my assistance.  Who knows, might post me some content.  As far as reliable publication of crap, 11 pm there and Midnightish here.

If I don’t publish on time terrible things will happen.  The Earth will stop in it’s orbit and plunge, flaming, into the Sun.  The Devil will eat our souls.

Something like that.

Anyway I’m going to work out some inspirational words in HTML below so expect lots of hideous results and deletion interspersed with the occasional curse.

Drat. Foiled again.

Four at Four

Some news and your Wednesday afternoon open thread.

  1. The Burlington Hawk Eye reports a Collapsed corn bin spills bushels on Hillsboro, Iowa house. A family was “rescued after a grain bin full of corn collapsed near their home in Hillsboro in Henry County. Rescue workers labored into the night Tuesday to free a father and son from the rubble of their home after the corn bin collapsed, spilling corn over a wide area.” Today, the Family sifts through remains of their home. “Wading through corn and scrambling over the crushed remains of a one-story house Tuesday, friends and relatives helped a Hillsboro family salvage small pieces of their lives. A full 519,000 bushel grain bin owned by Chem Gro of Houghton — only 20 feet from the house at 205 E. Main St. — burst Monday shortly after 8 p.m., according to neighbors. Jennifer and Jesse Kellett and their two children Jordan Walter, 11, and Sheyanne Walter, 9, were at home when the bin collapsed. Corn swept the house 30 feet off its foundation, trapping the family under rubble and grain.”

  2. The Washington Post reports Huckabee gaining ground in Iowa. “Former Arkansas governor Mike Huckabee, buoyed by strong support from Christian conservatives, has surged past three of his better-known presidential rivals and is now challenging former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney for the lead in the Iowa Republican caucuses, according to a new Washington Post-ABC News Poll. Huckabee has tripled his support in Iowa since late July… His support in Iowa appears stronger and more enthusiastic than that of his rivals… Romney outperforms Huckabee and other Republicans on key attributes, with two notable exceptions — perceptions of which candidate best understands people’s problems and which candidate is the most honest and trustworthy. On both, Romney and Huckabee are tied.” 1960 campaign was the last time a senator went on to win presidential election. The Democrats did it then with John F. Kennedy. Huckabee may have enough faux-populist hogwash to convince America.

  3. The New York Times has a piece about the Kerry-Edwards campaign of 2004 called For Edwards, a relationship that never quite fit. “To the end of their disappointing run, the two men were unable to agree on the script, whether for slogans or more substantive matters. And like so many political marriages, the one between Mr. Kerry and Mr. Edwards – Senate colleagues who became rivals then running mates but never really friends – ended in recrimination and regrets…. Kerry supporters say Mr. Edwards refused to play the traditional vice-presidential role of attack dog even going up against a purebred, Dick Cheney… To Mr. Edwards, Mr. Kerry seemed unable to get out of his own way. He ignored Mr. Edwards’s warning not to go windsurfing, one aide recalled, which led to the infamous ‘whichever way the wind blows’ advertisement mocking Mr. Kerry’s statements on the war. And in the end, Mr. Edwards concluded that Mr. Kerry lacked fight for not filing a legal challenge to the election results… Once the sunny centrist who did not want to criticize his rivals by name, Mr. Edwards has become the most confrontational candidate in the race. And he has courted his party’s left wing by renouncing his vote on the war, something he counseled Mr. Kerry not to do… On Election Day, the running mates spent much of the day believing exit polls that showed them winning. The next morning, with Ohio still up in the air, Mr. Edwards pressed to send lawyers to Columbus to challenge the way the state counted provisional ballots. But Mr. Kerry finally concluded that even winning all those ballots would not make him president.”

  4. The Los Angeles Times reports Early caucuses put student pro-Obama vote in play. “The Iowa caucuses are being held Jan. 3, the middle of winter break. With college students home for the holidays, campuses across the state will be empty. But the early caucus date could shift voter dynamics, adding young voices at their hometown caucuses across the state while diminishing the turnout at college precincts. Or, it could mean even fewer college students will take part in the electoral process. Either outcome will affect the tally for Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois… The Obama campaign is banking on young voters, and the timing of this year’s caucuses could work to his advantage… Although students tend to register as voters on campus in Iowa, it’s easy to switch their registration on caucus night and vote at precincts in their hometowns… Of the Democratic candidates, the Illinois senator has the greatest support among young people and the least among senior citizens… If fewer college students vote, that would hamper Obama’s efforts and help former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina, who has weaker support among young people and higher support among baby boomers, [according to Iowa State University political science professor Dianne Bystrom]. Clinton’s candidacy is unlikely to be affected because she has broad support across age groups.”

There’s a bonus story about an enormous, new national park in Canada below the fold.

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 Former aide blames Bush for leak deceit

By MATT APUZZO, Associated Press Writer

19 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – Former White House press secretary Scott McClellan blames President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney for efforts to mislead the public about the role of White House aides in leaking the identity of a CIA operative.

In an excerpt from his forthcoming book, McClellan recounts the 2003 news conference in which he told reporters that aides Karl Rove and I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby were “not involved” in the leak involving operative Valerie Plame.

“There was one problem. It was not true,” McClellan writes, according to a brief excerpt released Tuesday. “I had unknowingly passed along false information. And five of the highest-ranking officials in the administration were involved in my doing so: Rove, Libby, the vice president, the president’s chief of staff and the president himself.”

Four at Four

Some news and the afternoon open thread.

  1. The Los Angeles Times reports U.N. steeply lowers its AIDS estimates. “The United Nations on Monday radically lowered years of estimates of the number of people worldwide infected by the AIDS virus, revealing that the growth of the AIDS pandemic is waning for the first time since HIV was discovered 26 years ago. The revised figures, which were the result of much more sophisticated sampling techniques, indicate that the number of new infections peaked in 1998 and the number of deaths peaked in 2005. The new analysis shows that the total number of people living with HIV has been gradually increasing, but at a slower rate than in the past.”

  2. According to the The New York Times, scientists Through genetics are tapping a tree’s potential as a source of energy. “Aiming to turn trees into new energy sources, scientists are using a controversial genetic engineering process to change the composition of the wood. A major goal is to reduce the amount of lignin, a chemical compound that interferes with efforts to turn the tree’s cellulose into biofuels like ethanol… Environmentalists say such work can be risky, because lignin provides trees with structural stiffness and resistance to pests. Even some scientists working on altering wood composition acknowledge that reducing lignin too much could lead to wobbly, vulnerable trees.”

  3. The Guardian reports Hispanic names make top 10 list in America. “Forget about keeping up with the Joneses. It’s the Garcia, Rodriguez and Martinez families that are the ones to watch. Data from the US census bureau suggests that some surnames of Hispanic origin have supplanted Anglo ones – such as Wilson – traditionally thought of as quintessential American names. In the 2000 census, Garcia was the eighth most common surname in the US, and Rodriguez came in at number nine, both ahead of Wilson, which at 10th was only just ahead of Martinez. It was probably the first time in US history that a non-Anglo name ranked among the top 10 most common surnames.”

Four at Four continues below the fold with a look at how dangerous America in the world and a bonus story about the founding of Rome.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

Oh great.

I get to be the one to push Pretty Bird Woman House down.  Well I don’t care what you think.

I’m actually kind of happy with where we are as a blog.

I’m incredibly impressed with the quality of our original content.  Our comments are overwhelmingly witty and thoughtful and frankly- there are a fair amount of them.

As a group we’re working to make this a place that people feel comfortable expressing themselves.  There are no bad ideas, only bad actors.  Wrong! is just a rating and has virtually no effect on your standing here.  Hide is for content that is offensive.  There is no Auto Ban, your fate is decided in the committee of 30+ Contributing Editors and Admins.

This particular mini rant is inspired by the remarks of my activist brother (who also has an account on dK I gave him as a gift).  When I talked with him today he was all excited and worried about a comment he had made here!

Well Michael, you’re part of the family and I feel naturally protective, but this is a pillow fight.  Your disapproval of each other can NOT be used to harm you here.

For the most part that’s true wherever you are and yet people are so defensive.

Four at Four

  1. The Independent reports Here it is: the future of the world, in 23 pages.

    This is the key document on climate change, and from now on you can forget any others you may have read or seen or heard about. This is the one that matters. It is the tightly distilled, peer-reviewed research of several thousand scientists, fully endorsed, without qualification, by all the world’s major governments. Its official name is a mouthful: the Policymakers’ Summary of the Synthesis Report of the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Fourth Assessment. So let’s just call it The Synthesis.

    It is so important because it provides one concise, easily-readable but comprehensive text of facts, figures and diagrams – in short all the information you need to understand and act on the threat of global warming, be you a politician, a businessman, an activist or a citizen (or for that matter, a doubter)…

    For all but the most perverse of sceptics, it ends the basic argument. And it also urgently warns that the risks are greater, and possibly closer in time, than was appreciated even six years ago, when the third assessment was published.

    Because all governments adopted The Synthesis by consensus (after a week’s negotiations in Valencia), it means they cannot disavow the underlying science and its conclusions (although it does not commit them to specific courses of action).

  2. One such impact of our changing climate, reports the Washington Post is the Threat to farming and food supply. Higher temperatures from climate change ” — along with salt seepage into groundwater as sea levels rise and anticipated increases in flooding and droughts — will disproportionately affect agriculture in the planet’s lower latitudes, where most of the world’s poor live.” India with a possible 40 percent decline, Africa with a possible 30 to 50 percent decline, and even Latin America is likely to suffer a 20 percent decline in agricultural production. “The United States will experience significant regional shifts in growing seasons, forcing new and sometimes disruptive changes in crop choices… A recent study… concluded that wheat growers in North America will have to give up some of their southernmost fields in the next few decades… That means amber waves of grain will be growing less than 2 degrees south of the Arctic Circle, and Siberia will become a major notch in the wheat belt.”

  3. Trying to reduce the source of climate change is causing dilemmas for many communities. For example, The Oregonian reports in Oregon and Washington state Emissions goals set; now comes hard part. The states “set aggressive goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions, but actually meeting those goals could prove much tougher — and more costly — than leaders expect.” The area is booming and coal-fired power plants provide 20 percent of the Pacific Northwest’s electrical supply. “The challenge will be even greater if salmon protections further limit operations of hydroelectric dams… That sets up a troubling Catch-22, in which salmon suffer as global warming raises river temperatures, forcing extra protections that reduce the amount of electricity from dams. If the lost power is made up by coal- or natural gas-fired power plants, they’d release more greenhouse gases that add to global warming.”

    Another pair of tough choices is confronting Fort Collins, Colorado. The New York Times reports that A deeply green city confronts its energy needs and nuclear worries. Two proposed energy projects could help the city meets its goal “to produce zero-carbon energy… one involves crowd-pleasing, feel-good solar power, and the other is a uranium mine… Environmentalism and local politics have collided with a broader ethical and moral debate about the good of the planet, and whether some places could or should be called upon to sacrifice for their high-minded goals.” But, “the solar project… plans to use a new manufacturing process [that] will use cadmium – a hazardous metal linked to cancer – as part of the industrial process.” and the uranium mine would “drill down through part of an aquifer”.

    While The New York Times reports that Chinese dam projects are criticized for their human costs. “Chinese officials have admitted that the dam was spawning environmental problems like water pollution and landslides that could become severe… The rising controversy makes it easy to overlook [that] the Three Gorges Dam is the world’s biggest man-made producer of electricity from renewable energy… The Three Gorges Dam, then, lies at the uncomfortable center of China’s energy conundrum: The nation’s roaring economy is addicted to dirty, coal-fired power plants that pollute the air and belch greenhouse gas emissions that contribute to global warming. Dams are much cleaner producers of electricity, but they have displaced millions of people in China and carved a stark environmental legacy on the landscape.”

  4. Lastly, despite the realty of our changing climate, don’t expect corporations to willingly change their polluting ways. The Guardian reports We’ll fight you all the way, airlines warn EU over carbon-trading plans. “British and other European governments face a long diplomatic battle if they push ahead with plans to include airlines in a European emissions trading scheme, the global aviation body has warned. The International Air Transport Association (Iata) said 170 countries opposed a proposal… to make all airlines flying in and out of the European Union subscribe to the EU emissions trading scheme. Non-EU airlines are lobbying their governments to reject the move, arguing that it will impose billions in extra costs on an industry that makes a global profit of just $5.6bn (£2.7bn)… Carriers have until 2011 to join power stations, refineries and heavy industry in the trading scheme, an integral part of the EU’s plan to cut carbon dioxide emissions from its 27 nations by 20% by 2020.”

This is the afternoon’s open thread.

The Stars Hollow Gazette

As some of you may know I’m still an active member of RedState.  The subject comes to mind because in addition to all the Candidate Crap I spent a little time in a diary about RedState that I found uncomfortable.

The diarist was amazed that they could be ‘wasting’ their time talking about anything but politics.

I pointed out that the blurb is “Conservative News and Community.”

Now the reason I still survive is I don’t go there much and never if I disagree about politics.  I talk about sports mostly, I grieved with Streiff about the passing of the F-14 because in Harpoon Phoenix missiles kick ass and you can never have enough.  Leon thinks I’m unserious because I supported Online Integrity, but then again Booman thinks I’m an ass clown so there you go.

You can’t get hung up on civility.

Now by community what I mean is what I was seeking when I joined dK, a place where I could express myself without worrying about pissing everyone off if I happened to let slip that I thought W was an asshole (I have since amended my judgment to war criminal).  I never intended that every waking minute be devoted to that opinion, just that it shouldn’t disqualify me from being an ok person to have it.

At the same time I have the experience to understand that communities are complex structures, and ambition and jealousy and struggles for power are just the way monkeys interact in groups.  Smart monkeys learn to pursue their own banana.

My guiding principle is this- there are no bad opinions, but there are bad actors.

“It is the madness of folly to expect mercy from those who have refused to do justice.  Even mercy, where conquest is the object, is only a trick of war.”- Tom Paine

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