Dispatches from Boulder the Damned
Tuesday, June 03, 2008
"I have a very strong sense of self-preservation. I have never been a brave man and I'm only really concerned about myself." So said Chinese teacher Fan Meizhong, blogging about running out of the classroom and abandoning his students during the recent earthquake. Fan's attitude ain't far removed from some here in Colorado, who are facing a summer of rough weather. Yesterday, I took the cover of today's Lout when I saw a huge thunderhead at some distance changing color and shape quite fast, enough that to this aged observer, it was worth running back into the house for a camera. A bad camera, but we do what we can. This storm, I read later, spawned baseball hail and a tornado later. More of the same for today, and throughout the week.
Boulder gets it easy, flush against the Rockies and unlikely to get a tornado, given the weather 99% of the time comes from the west and cyclonic funnels cannot form over such ground. So far. But just a few miles east, things change, and change in a hurry.
The generals Clinton left Bush were just about totally right in their estimations and fears about an Iraq War. One was Ricardo Sanchez, who has a new book. Soldiers cannot, while in service, drop kick their idiot superiors, but Sanchez retired and has written a book. In which he says: "In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, I watched helplessly as the Bush administration led America into a strategic blunder of historic proportions. It became painfully obvious that the executive branch of our government did not trust its military. It relied instead on a neoconservative ideology developed by men and women with little, if any, military experience. Some senior military leaders did not challenge civilian decision makers at the appropriate times, and the courageous few who did take a stand were subsequently forced out of the service."
Worse, Bush comes across as a child, overstimulated and clueless.
Obama is working toward being able to claim victory after the last two primaries today, while Sen. Hillary Clinton is deciding what to do next. Newest report is that she won't concede today, although her campaign says she will when Obama gets the 'magic number.' Obama's campaign is trying to get undecided superdelegates to his side as soon as the polls close, but it's unclear whether he'll officially be able to claim the nomination tonight. Obama aides have begun the "awkward" process of wooing several of Clinton's most important donors and advisers.
Meanwhile though, Clinton backers are urging uncommitted superdelegates to wait until Wednesday before endorsing Obama. Regardless of what happens tonight after the polls close in South Dakota and Montana, Democratic leaders seem to agree Obama will get enough superdelegates on his side to claim the nomination by the end of the week. And Obama's victory rally, which will take place at the site of the Republican convention in August, will leave no doubt that he is making the switch from being a primary candidate to his party's nominee for president.
Nobody knows what Clinton will do, and the WP points out that she "sent mixed signals about her plans throughout the day." Clinton has invited top fundraisers and supporters to a rally in New York for what the NYT bills as a "farewell speech," but everyone hears from campaign aides that the move shouldn't be seen as a sign that the former first lady will withdraw from the contest immediately. Many are pointing to the possibility that Clinton will pursue what aides are calling the "middle option," which involves suspending the campaign while not withdrawing entirely. Reasonably, the LAT notes that it'd be stupid for Clinton to withdraw from the contest before Texas Democrats meet on Friday and Saturday to apportion the state's delegates.
But even as she vowed to take her case to the party's superdelegates, former President Clinton suggested this is all but over. "This may be the last day I'm ever involved in a campaign of this kind," he said.
The effort to get Clinton's big supporters to begin backing Obama is not an official part of his campaign strategy, "but the result of numerous informal conversations among people who have known each other for years." Still, the Obama campaign knows it will have to approach many of these people directly and is currently working on a list of people who the senator will call personally. Of course, the process is hardly one-sided, as many Clinton aides are trying to position themselves for a spot in Obama's team. Although some moves seem almost inevitable, bringing in such a large number of people from a former opponent is likely to raise tensions. Even leaving aside the issue of lingering animosity between the two camps, Obama's advisers could feel offended if they suddenly find themselves "playing second fiddle to better-known figures," as the WSJ puts it and dearly hopes, being a GOP rag. Still true, though.
Edward Kennedy is recovering from what his surgeon called a successful operation to remove a malignant brain tumor. The 76-year-old senator now faces an even tougher challenge as he prepares to undergo follow-up radiation and chemotherapy that could prolong survival. Although Kennedy's prognosis remains grim, experts say he will likely benefit from groundbreaking research that is finding new ways to increase the survival of patients with brain cancer. He has courage aplenty, though. A tough decision.
President Hugo Chávez's moves to overhaul the country's intelligence agencies have annoyed human rights groups and legal scholars, who say Chávez is trying to create a Cuba-style nation of informers because people, including judges and prosecutors, are now required to cooperate with Venezuela's two new intelligence agencies. Somewhat less than shocking, and this predictable result should have occurred to those who've praised him in the past. Bush isn't always wrong, coincident or not.
Chávez has been quick to label anyone who criticizes the new intelligence law as a supporter of the "empire," meaning the United States, as well as of the Bush administration and the Patriot Act. Again, shocking. The NYT points out that while the new intelligence law "has similar flourishes" to the Patriot Act, it also seems to have been inspired in part by Cuban policies. Most significantly, Venezuela's use of community groups to help intelligence agencies is similar to the way Cuba uses neighborhood groups to report on activities that are seen as subversive. Legal experts are exploring ways to appeal its implementation, but it's unclear whether such a challenge would even be possible for a law that was written and passed behind closed doors.
We need to admit that Mexico is fucked. The LAT announces the "war" currently being fought in Mexico between government forces and drug gangs. Since the crackdown against drug traffickers was launched a year and a half ago, approximately 4,100 people have been killed, including gang members, civilians, and members of the country's security forces. While officials insist the increased violence is a sign that the drug gangs have been hurt by the crackdown, a majority of Mexicans don't think the government is winning, and political analysts say the crackdown merely moves violence into different areas of the country while doing little to disband the gangs.
John McCain yesterday called for a worldwide divestment campaign against Iran that would be modeled on the strategy that pushed South Africa to abandon apartheid, but Obama's campaign quickly fired back by saying the presumptive Republican nominee had voted against a divestment bill that was sponsored by the senator from Illinois. Meanwhile, USAT notes that the family investments of both senators include mutual funds that have shares in companies doing business in Iran. After the paper raised questions, Obama said he would get rid of his investment. McCain's campaign said the senator's wife once had three of these mutual funds but has sold two of them and is looking into what to do about the third.
Censorship continues around the world as the NYT fronts a dispatch from Moscow that takes a look at how there's a Kremlin-created "stop list" that includes the names of government critics who are not allowed to appear on television. If a critic somehow makes it into the taping of a show, as happened once last fall, he or she could be digitally erased before it airs. Government officials deny such a list exists, but it's clear that network executives know who they can and can't invite into their shows. The result is that now it's pretty much impossible to find anyone speaking critically, or even satirically, of the government on Russian television. Again, shocking, although the enabler was Bush, seeing into Putin's soul.
In history, the First Crusade got its first victory when in 1098 it seized Antioch, Turkey.
This day in 1539, Hernando De Soto claimed Florida for Spain. He then started a land march to Texas, bad idea, that killed nearly everyone in his troop and unleashed a pandemic that cleaned the land of Indians for a century.
On this day in 1784, the United States Congress created the United States Army.
This day in 1805, a peace treaty between the U.S. and Tripoli was completed in the captain's cabin on board the USS Constitution.
In 1923, before many other nations, Italy under Benito Mussolini granted women the right to vote.
Here in Colorado in 1959, the first class graduated from the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.
In 1965, Edward White became the first American astronaut to do a "space walk" when he left the Gemini 4 capsule. White died in an Apollo fire that killed Gus Grissom and Roger Chafee a few years later.
In 1989, the feudal aspects of Shi'ism and Islam came alive as Iran's Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini became dead. After 11 days in a hospital, recovering from surgery to stop internal hemorrhaging, the old man passed on, and his funeral disgraced everything when people trying to touch - or possibly desecrate - his body collapsed the coffin. That same day, Chinese army troops positioned themselves to began a sweep of Beijing to crush student-led pro-democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. Good day for the networks.
Monday, June 02, 2008
Bo Diddly has died. He was one of the last acts I had as a promoter, and he was a cool old man. He remained charmingly bitter about how much he'd been ripped off, and that was correct. A lot of people would be doing something different tonight as for the last half century without Bo's inspiration. A good guy, to be long missed, if there is justice in this world. Or guilt, anyway.
Bush continues the nauseating pander to the military and Brokaw's Generation by announcing his consideration of making WWII battle sites national monuments. What additional protections or point these might have for the sites, which are on military bases, is of interest, but it gives Bush a chance to stroke McCain's electorate and present himself as concerned, etc. A truly vile man, George W. Bush.
A heavy snow melt has got Colorado's attention, and not just because of the rapid white waters that have attracted and killed not a few so far. The potential is for wide area flooding which in itself is preferable to the flash floods of narrow canyons. Like, you know, Boulder's. A heavy runoff combined with a stagnant thunderstorm could spell the end of central Boulder as we know it, and this according to the nation's flood experts who have warned us of our danger for years.
As we speak, Senator Kennedy of my former state of Massachusetts is having his brain tumor set upon. At age 76, it's a crap shoot at best, and there is more than a passing chance that we've heard his voice for the last time, given the tumor's location. Whatever one thinks of him - and there's a lot that elbows its way to the front of my mind - he was a great Senator for his state and people, without any question. He kept the best staff by paying out of his own pocket. He worked hard.
He was a liberal in the ways his brothers were not, and he learned and changed. Unlike many of his detractors, Kennedy served two years active duty and was, like brother Joe absent the death part, in a plane crash that so screwed up his back and gave him perpetual pain that alcoholism might be seen as self medication. Unlike brother John, he could drink. He has earned the respect and the gratitude of Conservative GOP members, many of whom are his friends. That's what the Senate was supposed to be, and it is possible we have seen the last of this guy, at least able to speak and to write. The operation is a huge risk, but as has been typical there seems to have been few moments of doubt as to what should be done. Good on ya, Senator Kennedy.
His father was one of the past century's great SOB's, a Mafia associate who made his money and a lot of money in running drugs, then merely booze, during the Depression. Lot of folks did. He betrayed his wife and got his daughter a lobotomy because she was becoming an issue more than for her health. He pushed his sons and competed with them for women, which meets the ick factor in just about everyone. He was a terrible ambassador to Great Britain, because he sought compromise if not capitulation to the Nazis, whom he might have thought were no worse than his business partners. A shit of the first water.
But his surviving sons, the favorite being killed during the war, became Senators, one them later a President, and the greatest of them all turned out to be the one nobody thought much of. Clearly, he thought much of them, and clearly he learned his lessons well.
Good luck to Senator Kennedy today. And should the cosmos decree we not hear you again, hear us: Thank you, Eward.
Clinton's resounding victory in Puerto Rico's Democratic presidential primary doesn't seem to mean much, overall, despite taking 68 percent of the vote. She vowed that she would not exit the race before tomorrow's final primaries in Montana and South Dakota. In all likelihood, the victory will be remembered as little more than a souvenir of what was apparently a lovely vacation. Disinclined to challenge the DNC's decision to award Sen. Barack Obama a portion of the vote from the disputed Michigan primary, her best shot at the nomination now seems to involve winning the popular vote and using that to lure superdelegates. Obama, approximately 47 delegates away from clinching the nomination, certainly doesn't sound concerned: He congratulated Clinton on her victory and said that she would be a "great asset" during the general election.
Obama is such an unknown, and the Obamaboys seem so half baked, I hope to hell we know what we're doing. I know Clinton can beat McCain.
Although some hardcore supporters appear ready to battle until the convention, many Clinton loyalists seem finally to be admitting that their days are numbered. (The key number is 2,118.) "It would be most beneficial if we resolved this nomination sooner rather than later," said one Clinton superdelegate, and the sentiment resounds throughout all of today's campaign coverage.
Operational improvements in U.S.-operated prisons in Iraq may soon be neutralized if the U.S. agrees to remand thousands of prisoners to the custody of the Iraqi government. The NYT has an extensive article, filled with praise for a remade detention system that offers prisoners fair administrative hearings and educational programs, and is suspiciously encouraging, reading something like a press release.
Pakistan's inability or reluctance to capture Baitallah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban and the alleged brains behind the assassination of Benazir Bhutto is in the crosshairs. Mehsud, who regularly appears in public, openly operates terror training camps near the Afghan border. "If the army took firm action they could crush him in two months," said one frustrated tribal leader. Pakistan seems to have thought that Mehsud's border presence could be useful in a theoretical war with India.
USAT covers Baghdad's Sadr City neighborhood, an insurgent haven recently partitioned by a long wall intended to, as one merchant puts it, "separate the bad Sadr City and the good Sadr City." Although the three-week-old wall has been a security boon, the difficulties involved in passing through it have crippled many retailers stuck on the American side. "If the market is going to die, then maybe the Mahdi Army would be better," said one retailer.
By the by? The 19 American military deaths in Iraq in May were the fewest since the 2003 invasion.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates has blasted the government of Burma, accusing the ruling junta of "criminal neglect" for its refusal to allow international foreign aid into its cyclone-damaged country, the NYT reports. Four American aid ships, treading water near Burma's borders for the past few days, will probably be recalled soon.
A highly suspicious fire in strike primed LA at the Universal Studios Hollywood back lot and theme park. The fire was the second there in as many decades, which doesn't seem excessive, though. Attractions like the King Kong tour and the town square from the movie Back to the Future were badly damaged (save the clock tower, anyone?) as "the towering cloud of black smoke made it look as if Hollywood was producing a film about its own doomsday." Efforts to extinguish the unexplained blaze were hampered by low water pressure and a malfunctioning sprinkler system. Good signs come the big quake and the big burn to follow.
USA Today leads with news that national public transit usage reached record numbers in the first quarter of 2008. The ridership spike is straining the capacity of many cities' underfunded transit agencies. Ironic, what?
A record number of immigrants caught crossing the border between the United States and Mexico are being prosecuted on criminal charges. In February alone, 7,250 criminal immigration cases were brought in federal court. Officials claim that Operation Streamline has helped deter potential illegal aliens from crossing the border; critics claim that the program "makes for good election-year politics but poor policy."
The NYT reports that the nation's credit crisis has induced many student lenders to stop loaning money to students attending some less-than-prestigious colleges and universities. The banks—including PNC, SunTrust, and Citibank—cite higher default rates as one reason why they have dropped certain schools from their loan programs. "I find it totally and completely unethical," said the financial aid director at William Jessup University. I don't. Why susbsidize a pointless degree?
In history, this day in 1537, Pope Paul III banned the enslavement of Indians. Partially due to good intentions, it led to the slave trade with Africa and followed the results of the first pandemics which decimated the Americas.
A straw, a camel, and hushed breath. In 1774, the Quartering Act, which required American colonists to allow British soldiers into their houses, was reenacted.
In 1793, Maximillian Robespierre initiated the "Reign of Terror". It was an effort to purge those suspected of treason against the French Republic. By which was meant himself. It got him in the end.
It was this day in 1897 that Mark Twain, at age 61, was quoted by the New York Journal as saying "the report of my death was an exaggeration." He was responding to the rumors that he had died.
The liquor talking. In 1924, it was, that all American Indians were granted U.S. citizenship by the U.S. Congress. Big of us, eh? Eh?
This day in 1941, Lou Gehrig died in New York of the degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
In 1953, Elizabeth was crowned queen of England at Westminster Abbey.
A year to the day later, Senator Joseph McCarthy charged that there were communists working in the CIA and atomic weapons plants. Probably. So what?
In 1966, Surveyor 1, the U.S. space probe, landed on the moon and started sending photographs back to Earth of the Moon's surface. It was the first soft landing on the Moon. Three years later, the handheld Instamatics took over.
In 1997, Timothy McVeigh was found guilty of the bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in which 168 people were killed.
In 1999 in South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC) won a major victory. ANC leader Thabo Mbeki was to succeed Nelson Mandela as the nation's president. Not a great follow up to Mandela.
A stupid, stupid move. In 2003, federal regulators voted to allow companies to buy more television stations and newspaper-broadcasting combinations in the same city. The previous ownership restrictions had not been altered since 1975. In the hands of fewer and fewer.
This day in 2003, in Seville, Spain, a chest containing the supposed remains of Christopher Columbus were exhumed for DNA tests to determine whether the bones were really those of the explorer. The tests were aimed at determining if Colombus was currently buried in Spain's Seville Cathedral or in Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic. Uncertain results.
Pending decisions involving the Internet look to the 2003 Supreme Court ruling this day that companies could not be sued under a trademark law for using information in the public domain without giving credit to the originator. The case had originated with 20th Century Fox against suing Dastar Corp. over their use of World War II footage.
Sunday, June 01, 2008
My station of 27 years, KGNU, is celebrating its 30th birthday this year, and the Daily Camera has a front page piece on it. The first station manager, Glen Gerber, passed away quite recently, and Mouse Bradshaw, who was the face and soul of the station for decades, left us all last October. It's very different than when I started there in 1981 with Fergus as the station manager and John Lauer holding the finances together, and they deserve a great deal of thanks from those who get to listen today. I used to live there, living only two blocks away, and there was always a ton of people who were waiting around to help and do things.
Today, that light seems to flicker, the station is much older and the politics and the office staff are much older. It's a truism that movements and social phenomena are denoted by the presence of the young and the attractive. It's not politically correct, but it is a fact. Community radio is preaching to the converted and hasn't yet found a role for itself, if there is one, in the new technology. KGNU, reflective of Boulder, has thrived on a population that was educated and wealthy that is edging daily closer to the ditch. I'm not seeing the influx of the young that we used to have to use cattle prods to keep organized. We'll see.
Meanwhile? Hale KGNU!
The Democratic Party has decided it will seat all Florida and Michigan delegates at the party's convention this August, but it will grant those delegates only half a vote each. The decision nets Clinton 24 total votes at the convention and increases the number of votes needed to win the nomination to 2,118. To varying degrees, all the papers say the compromise is too little, too late to be of much help to the Clinton campaign. Although, of course, it isn't. She could win.
The Los Angeles Times describes the deal as a compromise between Obama supporters' plan to split the two states' delegates equally and the Clinton camp's desire to see all the delegates seated with full voting rights, apportioned strictly by ballot results. While Florida was split along ballot lines, Michigan proved trickier. The Washington Post reports that the committee decided to rely on exit polling as well as ballot totals while working out the Michigan delegate allotments. In the end, they awarded all uncommitted Michigan delegates to Obama, along with four delegates that would have gone to Clinton under a ballot-only deal. While the Obama campaign expressed satisfaction with the decision, at least one Clinton spokesman has said Clinton may appeal the decision later this summer. The New York Times says the new count leaves Obama 176 delegates ahead of Clinton.
The party's Rules and Bylaws Committee voted on the decision at a public meeting, following five hours of testimony and three hours of backroom negotiations. Votes were greeted with cheering, booing, and hisses, with Hillary supporters reacting especially strongly. The WP catalogs the displays of outrage at the meeting, while the LAT focuses on Clinton supporters' feelings of betrayal at the hands of the party and the media. Clinton should have complained earlier.
In its analysis of the decision, the NYT concludes that while the party's ruling won't force Clinton out of the race, it may help her come to terms with her increasingly long shot at the nomination. The paper cites "associates" of Clinton's in claiming that she's slowly becoming resigned to the idea that she will not be the nominee. The paper also says the decision may help undeclared superdelegates come off the fence. The paper claims aides in both camps expect that within 48 hours of the final two primaries on Tuesday, Obama will have enough superdelegate support to clinch the nomination.
The WP runs a preview of today's Puerto Rico primary, which is expected to be Clinton's last win.
Obama's decision to sever ties with Trinity United Church of Christ gets, of course, coverage. Obama's affiliation with the church had been a source of controversy for months, most recently because of a white guest preacher's sermon that accused Clinton of weeping over "a black man stealing my show." Obama stopped short of denouncing the church, according to the NYT. The WP reports that Obama will most likely not pick a new church until January.
China's quest to lead the Olympic gold medal count this summer, forces her into sports not among her favorites, like rowing, among other events. China is focusing resources on training for the sports that offer the most chances for medals, even if Chinese athletes have historically performed poorly in those categories.
The WP vectors in on stabilizing conditions in Basra, saying that a military operation spearheaded by the Maliki government has scattered the city's many militias and brought at least a measure of temporary calm. It's notable that it's the Iraqi military, not U.S. forces, bringing stability to the city, and yet there are still questions about what will happen to Basra when the current offensive is over. Hands? Hell, yes.
The NYT says fewer than 10 Jews are left in Baghdad, a city that was home to more than 130,000 Jews a little more than 50 years ago.
The NYT has data that shows most people plan to use the rebate check money to pay bills, buy gas, or save it for future expenses. The paper does concede that paying off bills now could allow some consumers to splurge later on, since it could improve their sense of financial security. But even then, the paper's sources say, the benefit would be all but gone by the end of the year, since rebate checks don't fix the underlying problems with the economy.
Women buying individual health insurance may pay a higher premium if they've had a cesarean section, reports the NYT. Women who've had one c-section are more likely to need another.
Inside, the LAT covers the closing of one of the last FEMA trailer parks in Louisiana, with some residents still struggling to find permanent housing three years after Hurricane Katrina.
The NYT covers a continuing shift in political attitudes among younger evangelical Christians. The paper argues that some evangelical groups' growing focus on fighting poverty and injustice has diminished their ties to the GOP. The paper finds that younger fundamentalists are more interested in evangelism than political activism.
The WP has a review of Scott McClellan's "somewhat limp" book.
The LAT says the Supreme Court may take up a case over whether or not fantasy baseball leagues (and their use of players' names and states) are protected as free speech.
In history, this day in 1533, Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s new queen, was crowned.
Meanwhile, in the colonies of 1660, having received a last-minute reprieve seven months earlier, that bitch'n'witch Mary Dyer was hanged for heresy after returning to Boston. Dyer was a member of the horrific Quakers, a subversive religious sect which had been banned by the Puritan colony under "pain of death."
This day in 1861, the first skirmish of the U.S. Civil War took place at the Fairfax Court House, Virginia.
In 1869, Thomas Edison received a patent for his electric voting machine.
On this day in 1916, the National Defense Act increased the strength of the U.S. National Guard by 450,000 men. Meanwhile........................
..............the wounds of the Battle of Jutland, which finished earlier this day, became apparent. Here below is the wreck of the battlecruiser Invincible, which was not and blew up after its inferior armor plating did her in. The huge smoke in the image below is from another one of the three battlecruisers the Brits lost that day under David Beatty, the Queen Mary. Less than ten survivors from each. The battle is very important and therefore not studied or even known about by most Americans. It forced Germany to rely upon submarine warfare, of interest till 1945, and it made her pursue Mexico in an attempt to provide the United States in a two front war. This all but guaranteed our participation and, as one of her few smart diplomats noted, 'finis Germanae.' Took one more war and nearly 100 millian dead from 1914 to 1945, but Imperial Germany was dead as a doornail.
The Battle of Jutland was fought in the long North Sea light and provided some beautiful and horrifying photos, easily found by Google. It was a massive loss of men - about 8000 all told - and ships, and if not for Beatty could have been far less. A god awful time, glad it's over. A moment to their memory.
On this day in 1926, Gladys Baker gives birth to Norma Jeane Mortenson in Los Angeles. Gladys must have been a looker, because Marilyn Monroe sure was.In 1938, Superman, the world's first super hero, appeared in the first issue of Action Comics.
"Wound my heart with....." something. Forget. But it was part of the code by which, in 1944, the French resistance was notified from the British that the D-Day invasion was imminent.
This day in 1954, in the Peanuts comic strip, Linus' security blanket made its debut.
In 1961, radio listeners in New York, California, and Illinois were introduced to FM multiplex stereo broadcasting. A year later the FCC made this a standard.
Two years later, with a yawning schoolhouse door ahead, Governor George Wallace vowed to defy an injunction that ordered the integration of the University of Alabama.
On this day in 1968, Helen Keller, a deaf, dumb, and blind woman, died in Westport, Connecticut at the age of 87. Keller had become a vibrant and dedicated socialist, a best selling author, and - well, a rather remarkable creature. Deaf and blind since the age of 18 months, during her life she learned to speak, ride horses, and do the waltz. She also graduated from Radcliffe cum laude. Much due Anne Sullivan, an early teacher.
In 1980, the Cable News Network (CNN) made its debut as the first all-news station.
All for naught. On June 1, 2001, in a mere two minute period, Nepal's royal family was nearly exterminated by one of its own. With a selection of machine guns, Crown Prince Dipendra massacred eight relatives, including King Birendra and Queen Aishwarya. He then turned the gun on himself. Even though Dipendra wound up comatose in a hospital bed, a government council crowns him king anyway. The new monarch dies three days later. This year, the monarchy was voted out. Not a moment too soon.
On this day in 2006, our vaunted Department of Homeland Security decided New York had "no national monuments or icons" and anti-terrorism funding was reduced by $83 million. Instead, the money is distributed to fly-over states like Nebraska and Kentucky which had, unsurprisingly, powerful GOP legislators.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
Today, indicated by the cover, marks the 92nd anniversary of the greatest naval battle in history, at least between gunned warships, not airpower. The Battle of Jutland was a horror, but it essentially cost Germany the war, emphasized in both fact and metaphor. Massie's Castles of Steel, which followed his Dreadnought, explains in clear and irrefutable terms how the Brits and Germans fought and, despite losing more ships (their terribly built and handled battlecruisers) the British definitely clobbered the Germans. Of course, history got it wrong at first and due to the media's insistence on clever phrase and photo, it's taken a while to get things right.
As with so much concerned with WWI, knowledge of which is necessary to understand the 20th century, America is totally ignorant, but the implications about war, industrialization, technology worship, and testing in the real world are all exhibited by this battle. God awful. Those two books by Massie are really invaluable.
The NYT is all over the collapse of a construction crane yesterday that killed two workers and has worried a city where this kind of thing has happened before. The crane incident, in which an arm snapped off and crashed into an Upper East Side building across the street, probably had more to do with a bad weld than human error, says Slate, which makes no sense given a bad weld IS a human error. But it comes on the heels of another accident in March that killed seven people, prompting the city to tighten regulations on tower cranes, and the WSJ adds that the latest incident has led builders to call for a "comprehensive review" of construction regulations in the city. Also? Mafia influence.
Friday's Shiite protests in Iraq indicate rising dissatisfaction with the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, which has had to counter rumors that the Americans are pushing to establish permanent bases in the country. The NYT's bigger picture piece notes that some Maliki allies hope to put off substantive negotiations until a new U.S. president takes office. Much of the resistance has been led by supporters of Shiite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr, who will be contesting October's elections and wants the plan to be put to a referendum of the people. Maliki's government is getting some credit for having stanched the violence in once-bleeding Basra, the LAT reports, although complex and overlapping political forces continue to operate under the surface.
The WSJ has news that Floridians may have U.S. taxpayers to thank for lower premiums if backers of an initiative that would have the federal government supplement disaster insurance get their way. The Democratic disaster "reinsurance" plan would cover all 50 states, but coastal states would benefit most as hurricane season gets under way—which environmentalists and some private insurers warn could prompt more building in high-risk coastal zones. The measure passed the House last year, and although a Senate vote is unlikely this session, backers—including Allstate and State Farm—are trying to make it an issue in the presidential race. Also in disaster news, the NYT finds that Buddhist monks are filling in where the Burmese junta falls short in providing aid to victims of Hurricane Nargis (raising the question of how those who renounce worldly treasure have anything), and the WP reports that local Chinese bureaucrats are getting a run for their money dealing with quake victims.
The NYT says that on May 9, the Bush administration set a deadline of June 1 for all new regulations and Nov. 1 for final regulations in an effort to prevent a last-minute rush of new rules, which could be frozen by a new president if enacted less than two months before the old one leaves office (as Bush did when he came into office and Clinton did before him). The June 1 deadline is expected to impact "scores" of new pending regulations in areas including the environment and workplace health.
Today is the day that Hillary Clinton will make her last stand for Michigan and Florida, as the party's Rules and Bylaws Committee meets to determine how to deal with their delegates. A major Democratic fubar, and those states should pay. Many expect a compromise in which half of the delegates from each state will be seated, but the Journal reports that some—including Michigan Sen. Carl Levin—promise to appeal any decision that doesn't result in a state's full delegation having spots in Denver.
The bizarre polygamous Mormon sect in Texas may now get its children back after the state supreme court ruled that child welfare officials had overstepped their bounds in seizing more than 460 kids from the 10,000-member fundamentalist group's compound in April. May not. Talks between parents and the state broke down yesterday, and courts may have to move through each case one by one as DNA testing determines whether abuse occurred, which is right.
Danville, Va., landed furniture giant Ikea's first factory in the United States after almost dying when the tobacco industry moved out. The NYT says that jobs are also in the offing in Iowa, where growth in service sector and green-collar positions, baby boomer retirements, and an exodus of college graduates has created a burgeoning job surplus (if only people wanted to live there).
Detroit is, stupidly and again, trying to have it both ways, putting out big-as-ever SUVs with hybrid technology that add about $4,000 to the asking price and 6 miles to the gallon (they're not having many takers). Smarter automakers are putting smaller engines in regular-sized cars, as consumers opt for pocket change over horsepower.
Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf says that he is not leaving anytime soon, despite rumors of a rift between him and a top general; and the Vatican says that women can still not become priests, despite a spate of "so-called ordinations" by renegade dioceses in recent years. They can be criminal pedophiles, though.
In the day's reversals (and potential reversals): nuclear scientist A.Q. Khan claims that he never actually sold nuclear secrets to Iran, North Korea, and Libya, and only admitted as such in 2004 under duress from the Pakistani government.
And attorneys general from 10 states have asked California to stay its decision legalizing gay marriage until after a statewide referendum on the question in November, saying that it could result in legal challenges in their states that would be unnecessary if voters disagree with the court.
This day in 1854, another attempt to stave off Civil War was passed with the Kansas-Nebraska Act passed by the U.S. Congress.
In 1884, Dr. John Harvey Kellogg patented "flaked cereal."
On this day in 1889, relentless rain and inadequate maintenance - despite being privately owned by the very rich - caused the South Fork Dam to fail, unleashing a 35-foot-high wall of water on Johnstown, Pennsylvania. At least 2,209 people were killed beneath a pile of debris half a mile wide. From this horror came City Managers, pros hired outside of elections and political influence. The Johnstown Council and been the lap dog of the wealthy summer folk and never cared much about dam safety.
In 1900, U.S. troops arrived in Peking to help put down the Boxer Rebellion.
In 1902, the Boer War ended between the Boers of South Africa and Great Britain with the Treaty of Vereeniging.
In 1907, the first taxis arrived in New York City. They were the first in the United States.
In wasn't until this day in 1913 that the 17th Amendment went into effect. It provided for popular election of U.S. senators, previously appointed by the state governments.
In 1915, a German zeppelin made an air raid on London.
In 1916, the German fleet blundered into the Grand Fleet of Britain and got walloped. The Battle of Jutland looks like a German victory, given the Brits lost three big new battlecruisers, but these defective ships badly used didn't erase the fact that most of the German ships were so badly damaged they couldn't take to the sea again for months, absorbing material and money Germany did not have. Admiral Jellicoe had his fleet ready again within a day or so upon their return to base.
On May 31, 1921, after a white woman claimed a black man had grabbed her arm in an elevator, the largest race riot in U.S. history breaks out in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Marauding whites set fire to the exclusively negro Greenwood district, leveling its 35 city blocks of black-owned businesses. The official death toll is reported as 36, but later historians estimate it was more like 300.In 1955, the U.S. Supreme Court ordered that all states must end racial segregation "with all deliberate speed."
In 1962, for crimes against humanity, the nation of Israel hung Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Ramleh prison. He was cremated and the ashes scattered in the Mediterranean, outside the territorial waters of the Jewish state. Eichmann was a Gestapo official and was damned for his actions in the Nazi Holocaust.
It was this day in 1977 that the trans-Alaska oil pipeline was finished after 3 years of construction.
In 2003, in North Carolina, Eric Robert Rudolph was captured. He had been on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted list for five years for several bombings including the 1996 Olympic bombing, for which the heroic and utterly innocent Richard Jewell paid the price.
Friday, May 30, 2008
Here in Boulder the Damned, and by extension the rest of Colorado, a bunch of big stories. In Boulder, the Colorado Education Association gave, or is about to give, Rollie Heath its endorsement over Cindy Carlisle. This isn't all that big a deal, despite the media's attempt to flog a race out of it, except that it emphasizes the animosity the elder wing of the Boulder Democratic establishment feels towards Carlisle, who seems almost immune. The rictus of the aged old liberals wants to reward member Josie Heath's dotty husband, short story, but he doesn't deserve it and is not a good candidate. He's mentally old, a dim candle of a public speaker, cannot connect with the young, and is a loser in mindset. He's never won an election. Carlisle never lost.
His platform has the feel of Yesterday's Programs Tomorrow, and should include mandatory Esperanto and model UN participation for that staid, 1950's flavor he seems to prefer.
Carlisle seems to have laid and now stepped on yet another third rail: education for illegal immigrants and their children.
The other big story is the collapse of Bob Schaffer's potential to be a Senator and the collapse of Dick Waddam's sanity. Waddams is our local Karl Rove, so called, and his monumental incompetence with, and apparent ignorance of, his new candidate is quite breathtaking. Schaffer is involved in two huge scandals, the Mariannas/Abramoff horror plus the new one involving the bilking of the federal government in a fuel research scam. Bad enough, but the clueless advertising to smooth them over and the - well - clear indications of guilt aren't even being mentioned by rival Mark Udall. Because he doesn't have to.
The third big story is there may be a break in the Darrent Williams case. I'm not one who thinks football players' lives are more valuable, but this was a punk, meaningless action that deserves attention.
The New York Times says one of the most important projects that was supposed to help in the fight against global warming faces an uncertain future. The dubious promise of "clean coal," which involves burying carbon dioxide emitted from coal-burning power plants, has excited many politicians and environmentalists but developing the technology to turn the dream into a reality has turned out to be more complicated than initially imagined. Shocker. Like another GOP/business fav: hydrogen cells.
No one thinks coal is going away anytime soon, because it's "abundant and cheap," so there were once high hopes that burying the emissions from coal-burning power plants would provide an effective way to control global warming. But recently, many projects that were supposed to be the jumping-off point to create "clean coal" have been canceled because of high costs and regulatory problems. There was a huge setback when increased costs led the government to pull out of subsidizing one of the most promising projects to build a plant in Illinois that could have been a test-study on how to build a new type of power plant. Now the fear is that companies are so frustrated with the slow pace of development that the next generation of power plants will be built using existing technology.
The WP corners CIA Director Michael Hayden, who provided a "strikingly upbeat assessment" on the fight against al-Qaida. Even though the CIA had previously warned that the Iraq war had provided an opportunity for al-Qaida to grow, Hayden now says great progress has been made, and al-Qaida is struggling to survive in Iraq and Saudi Arabia.
In his interview, Hayden emphasized al-Qaida is still a threat that must be taken seriously but that "on balance, we are doing pretty well." Not only has the United States been successful in its attacks against some of al-Qaida's core leadership, the "Islamic world" has also been increasingly rejecting "their form of Islam," Hayden said. Many terrorism experts agree that there have been recent gains, but they also caution that it's too early to know whether they will last. Al-Qaida's "obituary has been written far too often in the past few years for anyone to declare victory," one analyst said. And while experts are sure to credit the intelligence community for some of the gains, they also point out that al-Qaida may ultimately be responsible for its own downfall. "One of the lessons we can draw from the past two years is that al-Qaida is its own worst enemy," a former CIA counterterrorism official said. Now Hayden says one of his biggest concerns is that recent gains will turn into complacency among government officials and the general population.
WTF? The UCLA Medical Center performed a liver transplant on the leader of one of Japan's most violent gangs. The surgery was performed by UCLA's "most accomplished liver surgeon," who has also performed transplants on three other men who are now forbidden from entering the country because of their ties to criminal activities. More than 100 people died in the Los Angeles area waiting for a transplant.
The FBI helped the Japanese gang leader get a visa to enter the United States in exchange for information. But officials say he left after the transplant without providing any useful information. He was then forbidden from entering the United States again, so the UCLA surgeon traveled to Japan to examine the gang leader. Although the surgeon insists it's not his job to pass out judgment on those who need his help, some bioethicists and transplant experts said the news is "troubling", particularly because there are so few livers to go around. "If you want to destroy public support for organ donation on the part of Americans, you'd be hard pressed to think of a practice that would be better suited," one bioethicist said. No shit, Tojo.
The Texas Supreme Court agreed that state officials acted illegally when they seized hundreds of children from the compound of a polygamist sect. Still, if you think kids are being raped, good move till settled.
USA Today leads with an analysis that shows there are fewer people living in hurricane high-risk areas, which had experienced huge growth in previous years. Experts say this trend has more to do with the decline of the housing market rather than a growing trepidation of settling down in disaster-prone areas. "Memories are short, and when the economy does recover, you'll see people snap up those properties in coastal areas again," the president of the Insurance Information Institute said. Great. Just prevent housing insurance for second homes, which would do a world of good.
The two top Democrats in Congress publicly predict the primary race will come to an end soon after the last two contests on Tuesday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi both emphasized in separate public appearances that they're determined not to allow the race to continue until the convention. To that end, the two leaders have been contacting uncommitted superdelegates to push them to make up their minds after voters in South Dakota and Montana go to the polls on Tuesday. "By this time next week, it'll be all over, give or take a day," Reid said.
Dough boy Scott McClellan started a media tour yesterday to push back against criticism from former colleagues for his memoir that takes a critical look at the Bush administration. "The White House clearly did not want me out talking candidly about these events," the former White House spokesman told USAT. The WP has an interview with McClellan, who says he didn't set out to write such a critical book, but his feelings hardened after he started to seriously look back on his years in Washington. "Over time, as you leave the White House and leave the bubble, you're able to take off your partisan hat and take a clear-eyed look at things," he said. Indeed, a "publishing industry insider" said that McClellan's initial idea for a memoir made it seem like he would write "a not-very-interesting, typical press secretary book." In his interviews, McClellan said there were "two defining moments" that really led to his disillusionment with the Bush administration. One had to do with how he was "deceived into unknowingly passing along a falsehood" relating to the outing of Valerie Plame, and the other was when the president admitted he had authorized the leak of classified information. Which used to be against the law.
The NYT reveals the State Department has canceled all Fulbright grants awarded to Palestinian students in Gaza because Israel hasn't given them permission to leave the coastal strip. Many Israeli officials say the policy of isolating Gaza is having the desired effect, since Palestinians are losing faith in the Hamas government. But some say the policy has gone too far if it doesn't allow students to leave and pursue educational opportunities around the world. "This policy is not in keeping with international standards or with the moral standards of Jews," said the leader of the Israeli Parliament's education committee.
At least part of the mystery surrounding Stonehenge appears to have been solved. Researchers used radiocarbon dating to determine that the site was used as a burial ground for what archaeologists think may have been a single family that ruled the area for a long time. "Stonehenge was a place of burial from its beginning to its zenith in the mid-third millennium B.C," the archeologist who led the project said. Very powerful family indeed, if those stones were carried all that distance.
In history, this day in 1431, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake in Rouen, France, at the age of 19, and this for relapsing into heresy. After having signed a confession a week earlier, Joan had appeared in court wearing difformitate habitus -- degenerate apparel -- or more precisely, men's clothing. Yup. Theocrats to hell.
In 1539, Hernando de Soto, the Spanish explorer, landed in Florida with 600 soldiers to search for gold. His trip spread a huge pandemic, mostly through his herd of pigs, and depopulated the lower Mississippi valley of Indians.
On May 30, 1593, after a night of drinking, Elizabethan playwright Christopher Marlowe was killed in the boarding house of Eleanor Bull. The official determination is that Ingram Frizer stabbed Marlowe in the head while they were fighting over the bill.
In 1814, the First Treaty of Paris was declared, which returned France to its 1792 borders. France resented it, and laid the ground for two world wars.
In 1868, Memorial Day was observed for the first time in the U.S.
A moment please. In 1889, the brassiere was invented.
In 1911, Ray Harroun won the first Indianapolis Sweepstakes. The 500-mile auto race later became known as the Indianapolis 500. Harroun's average speed was 74.59 miles per hour. Loooooooooooong race back then.
In 1922, the remarkable and moving Lincoln Memorial was dedicated in Washington, DC.
If true, good tale. On May 30, 1942, after returning home from a night of drinking and reminiscing about the recent death of John Barrymore, movie star Errol Flynn flipped on the lights and discovered Barrymore's corpse propped up in a living room chair. Some of Flynn's friends had given a funeral director $200 to borrow the body for a couple of hours. Cute.
This day in 1967, the state of Biafra seceded from Nigeria and civil war erupted.
As we celebrate the remarkable Phoenix, on this day in 1971 Mariner 9, the American deep space probe, blasted off on a journey to Mars.
This day in 1989, the "Goddess of Democracy" statue (33 feet height) was erected in Tiananmen Square by student demonstrators. Did not go well.
Thursday, May 29, 2008
The hypocrisy of the right and left is shared when it comes to Scott McClellan's new book, out next week. He claims that he believed the President when it was offered as fact that Saddam had WMD's and we had to act to prevent their use. So did I. So did Hillary Clinton and a lot of others. I sort of feel it was our obligation to believe that, and to act upon it responsibly unless and until proven false. Bush knowingly lied to us, severed the social contract between elected executive and the electorate and their representatives and should rot in hell if not prison for it. Which is to say, I believe Scott McClellan today. That was a basic tenet of Democracy in any form, and Bush violated it for no good reason except his own vanity.
The left, as soon as it realized, claimed that the Main Stream Media coulda, shoulda been atop that. In a declared emergency, they should have have briefly suspended their role, as they did, and retained any contrary knowledge. That they continued to keep this knowledge was their disgrace, but when the President says this is the biggest danger since the Second World War, Saddam is Hitler, and you have to trust me for the moment, we did the right thing. Those who voted support did the right thing. He did not.
New York will begin to recognize same-sex marriages legally performed in another state or country. Gov. David Paterson directed state agencies earlier this month to begin revising policies and regulations so the change can take effect. Gay married couples "should be afforded the same recognition as any other legally performed union," the governor's legal counsel wrote in a memo sent to state agencies. Paterson's initiative would make New York the first state to forbid weddings for gay men and lesbians while also recognizing those that are legally performed elsewhere. The NYT says the move is the "strongest signal yet" that Paterson intends to "push aggressively to legalize same-sex unions as governor." Recognizing these unions is as far as the state can go without the state Legislature, which holds the power to allow same-sex marriages in New York. The directive sent to state agencies cited a New York appeals court ruling that said the state must recognize all legal marriages from other jurisdictions unless the Legislature specifically decides to prohibit their recognition.
USA Today leads with Dow Chemical's announcement that it will increase prices by as much as 20 percent. This marked the latest in a series of price boosts by big companies and is leading to concern that higher energy and food prices will spark "a full-blown episode of inflation."
The Los Angeles Times leads with a look at the Democratic Party's Rules and Bylaws Committee meeting that will take place on Saturday to try to determine whether the delegates from Michigan and Florida will be seated at the convention in August. Many have been lobbying the "obscure panel of 30 party insiders" who are used to working behind the scenes but lately have been receiving hundreds of e-mails from supporters of both Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama.
Clinton's hopes to get the delegates from Michigan and Florida seated at the convention were dealt a clear setback yesterday. Democratic National Committee lawyers wrote a memo saying that both states must lose at least half of their total delegate votes as a punishment for violating party rules and holding their primaries earlier than Feb. 5. That means the state delegations could be cut in half or each delegate would get only half a vote. It seems that Obama's campaign would be willing to accept this outcome, but Clinton and her supporters could decide to take the argument to the convention. As the LAT makes clear, "Clinton would not close the gap" even if she got everything she wanted from the meeting "and went on to perform spectacularly in the final primaries." At least some Clinton supporters in the rules committee seem to accept that this is the case. "At the end of the day, what we do on Saturday is not going to change the fact that Obama is going to win the nomination," said one. Given that she beats McCain, currently, by more than Obama in the polls, this is an issue. For me, anyway.
Now that Obama has almost clinched the Democratic nomination, his policy proposals are getting closer scrutiny, and the WP fronts a look at how there simply isn't much there. In his few years in the Senate, Obama hasn't picked up a "signature domestic issue" or given any hints that he intends to take the Democratic Party in a new direction on policy issues. During the primaries it became clear that, unlike Republicans, Democrats pretty much agree on the big issues, a strategy that seems to be working since independents are also more likely to agree with their views. But Obama is sure to come under fire from McCain, who can appeal to independents by highlighting how he has disagreed with his own party in the past. Of course, Obama supporters say their candidate offers more than policy proposals and is advocating for a change in tone and leadership style. His campaign also says that after the primary contest is over, more staff will be dedicated to policy issues so that Obama can go into greater detail about where he wants to take the country.
The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with the Chinese government declaring that its response to the earthquake has been a success and saying that the country would be ready to carry out its duties as host of the Olympics. Almost 20,000 people are still officially missing from the earthquake that killed 68,000. The Washington Post leads with a look at how grass-roots organizations, as well as groups of private citizens, have been providing much-needed aid and relief work to help the survivors of the earthquake. The Communist government, which normally keeps close track of nongovernmental organizations and requires them to register, is standing aside and letting these private citizens help.
Dow Chemicals said it is being forced to carry out an across-the-board price hike due to increasing energy costs. The move is particularly significant because Dow Chemicals is one of the world's largest chemical manufacturers, and its products are used to make a wide variety of consumer goods. Dow's CEO issued a statement where he squarely put the blame on Washington for failing to deal with "rising energy costs and, as a result, the country now faces a true energy crisis, one that is causing serious harm."
More than 100 countries reached an agreement to create a new international convention banning the use of cluster bombs. The United States, along with Russia, China, Israel, India, and Pakistan, refused to support the international ban on the weapons that consists of many "bomblets" designed to explode on impact. In reality, many fail to explode and cause a lasting hazard for civilians. The most important turnaround came when British Prime Minister Gordon Brown ignored pressure from the United States, as well as members of his own military, and decided to back the ban. U.S. officials say cluster bombs are an important part of the country's arsenal and insist that technological advances will mean that future cluster bombs won't suffer from the same deficiencies.
The NYT's Jacques Steinberg writes about how the WP's Howard Kurtz interviewed Kimberly Dozier, a CBS journalist, on his weekend CNN show even though his wife, Sheri Annis, was a paid publicist for Dozier's memoir. Kurtz mentioned the connection at the end of the interview, but some say he shouldn't have even invited Dozier on his show. At first it seems like another story about what Steinberg calls the "complicated tangle in the complex world of Mr. Kurtz," which has been written about plenty. But readers that stay until the end of the story get a little rewarding nugget. As part of her media calls to drum up interest in the memoir, Annis contacted Steinberg "and identified herself, in part, as 'Howard Kurtz's wife.' "
The LAT reports that a small brewery in Weed, Calif., has come under the sights of the federal government because it decided to print the words Try Legal Weed on the bottle caps of Weed Ales. The U.S. Treasury Department says the marketing ploy can't be used because it alludes to using marijuana, and it's "false and misleading" because a buyer could be confused about what's inside the bottle. "They sell Bud. We sell Weed," the brewery's owner said. "What's the difference?"
In history, on this day in 526, a major earthquake, accompanied by the predictable fire, destroyed what is now Antioch, killing perhaps a quarter of a million people. The rebuilding efforts are wiped away two years later by another major quake.
In 1453, same day, Constantinople was taken by the Ottoman Turks after a fifty day siege led by Sultan Mehmet II. The city defense of 10,000 men was no match for a force of 100,000 armed with heavy artillery. It is the final gasp of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.
This day in 1660, the dubious Charles II and the Stuarts were restored to the English throne after the Puritan Commonwealth.
In 1765, Patrick Henry denounced the Stamp Act before Virginia's House of Burgesses.
On May 29, 1806, in a duel over a horse racing wager, future President Andrew Jackson took a bullet in the chest from fellow lawyer Charles Dickinson. The slug shatters two ribs and buried itself near his heart. Then it is Jackson's turn to fire, which manages to sever an artery and kill his opponent.Love this. In 1827, the first nautical school anywhere opened in Nantucket under the name Admiral Sir Isaac Coffin’s Lancasterian School.
Well, duh. In 1910, an airplane raced a train from Albany to New York City. The airplane pilot Glenn Curtiss won the $10,000 prize. A year to the day later, the first running of the Indianapolis 500 took place.
A line in the sand. In 1912, fifteen women were dismissed from their jobs at the Curtis Publishing Company in Philadelphia for dancing the Turkey Trot while on the job.
Mistake. In 1922, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that organized baseball was a sport, not subject to antitrust laws.
It was this day in 1932 that World War I veterans began arriving in Washington, DC. to demand cash bonuses they were not scheduled to receive for another 13 years.
Victory. In 1953, Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay became first men to reach the top of Mount Everest on this day.
In 1974, this day, Nixon agreed to turn over 1,200 pages of edited Watergate transcripts.
In 1985, two hours before kickoff of the European Cup Final, a riot in the stadium began between supporters of Liverpool and Juventus in Brussels, Belgium. A total of 39 soccer fans were killed and more than 350 injured on live television.
Still rough country out there. On May 29, 1999, hikers discovered the skeletal remains of Philip Taylor in his Ford Aerostar at the bottom of a 200-foot ravine in Malibu, California. The onetime bassist for the band Iron Butterfly had disappeared four years prior. That same day, the shuttle Discovery completed the first docking with the International Space Station.
In 2000, Fiji's military took control of the nation and declared martial law following a coup attempt by indigenous Fijians in mid-May.
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
KGNU founder - well, one of them - Glen Gerberg died Monday night from cancer. I only met him once, after he'd left the station and moved on, but he was a genial sort and a good guy.
It's nice to see the generally genial David Brooks lose it. "You go to the Capitol Hill -- Republican senators know they're fucked. They have that sense. But they don't know what to do." Still, no inclination to look within for the problems, and hence the answers. The great conservative revolution was a con game by former segregationists and upper class protectionists.
This, from Josh Marshall at TPM, always a mandatory daily read. It's about McCain and Phil Graham, one of his advisors, and how Graham represents one of the big loser banks in the subprime crisis.
Many of the lobbying connections the press has dug up on McCain have been embarassing. But I'm not sure any have really had teeth until this one. After all, how much does the average voter care that Charlie Black represented a lot of foreign dictators? A stench, yes? But finding out that McCain had a major subprime lender bank lobbyist whispering in his ear when McCain told the public that it was basically tough luck if they lost their houses?
With that in mind, the WP has an early look at former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's new memoir that is surprisingly critical of the Bush administration. The title alone. What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception will be released next week, but the WP, NYT, and WSJ were able to buy a copy yesterday. The NYT points out that the book is particularly notable because it "is the first negative account by a member of the tight circle of Texans" who followed Bush to Washington. McClellan writes that the administration carried out a "political propaganda campaign" to convince the public about the need to invade Iraq. From Politico.
McClellan also says he was deceived about the role that Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby played in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. In a potentially explosive bit, McClellan suggests that Rove and Libby may have coordinated their stories about the Plame leak during a secret meeting. Overall, Bush is portrayed as a president obsessed with winning a second term, which "meant operating continually in campaign mode: never explaining, never apologizing, never retreating." He also has harsh words about the way the administration handled Hurricane Katrina, and is critical of the press ("complicit enablers") as well as several members of the administration, including Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney. Beach book.
Locally Father of the Year. This guy reminds me of a few of the people I was in jail with. Obese, got the tattoos down to imply great virility, unemployable, too fucking lazy (hey, David Brooks gets to say it....) to get up off the couch, uses his child to deliver dope for his own safety, really, can there be another contestant?
The Supreme Court ruling that federal civil rights laws that protect workers against discrimination must also cover those who faced retaliation for complaining about bias in the workplace. There were twin decisions saying workers, including federal employees, are protected from retaliation, even if the federal laws don't explicitly say so. The majority in the 7-2 and 6-3 decisions emphasized that the justices relied on Supreme Court precedent that had previously found an implied right to sue for retaliation. The decisions don't really change the broad outlines of employment law, but they were somewhat surprising coming from a Supreme Court that had been keeping itself busy by issuing a series of pro-business rulings and limiting the rights of workers. Well, not really. What's surprising is the way the media hasn't noticed the court is as flimsy in the wind as Congress, and currently fears backlash with new, more liberal, appointments. It's coming.
The Court found itself in an unusual position where it was praised by civil rights advocates and criticized by business groups. The WP mentions that some are wondering whether the court was reacting to the condemnation it received after last year's decision that prevented a worker from suing her employer for pay discrimination. The NYT says it was "especially significant" that Chief Justice John Roberts joined a decision that mentioned the importance of adhering to precedent when he has previously spoken about his "distaste for precedents in which the court has gone beyond a statute's text to infer a basis for a lawsuit." USAT says the rulings are an "intriguing development" for a group of justices who chose to go against precedent in several rulings last year that dealt with a variety of issues, including abortion and campaign finance.
John McCain is announcing, decades after the fact, that he would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the United States if he's elected president. In a speech that aides said marked a break with President Bush, McCain vowed to work more closely with Russia on nuclear disarmament. Although McCain said nuclear weapons are "still important to deter an attack" he emphasized that "we must seek to do all we can to ensure that nuclear weapons will never again be used."
The LAT is alone in noting up high that experts say McCain's nuclear policy speech "marked a less dramatic break from the current administration than his campaign suggested." The one thing everyone can agree on though is that yesterday provided a revealing glimpse at how McCain is playing a delicate balancing act as he tries to win over big Republican donors while also highlighting his independence from the unpopular president. After the speech that McCain's aides were eagerly touting as a break with the president, the presumptive nominee went to Phoenix and joined Bush at a fundraiser. The event was held behind closed doors, and the two only made time for a brief photo op at the airport that lasted less than a minute. But even though they kept their joint public appearance to a minimum, the day's events provided plenty of material for Sen. Barack Obama to point out that McCain is trying to hide his connections with Bush because he "doesn't want to be seen, hat in hand, with the president whose failed policies he promises to continue for another four years."
USA Today leads with economists warning that housing prices are likely to continue declining, even as a new survey detailed that they've already experienced their sharpest drop in at least 20 years. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which was created in 1988, home prices dropped a record 14.1 percent in the first three months of the year compared with the first quarter of last year. "We forecast another 10 percent drop from current levels and bottoming out in 2009," one economic analyst said.
The WP fronts a look at how more Americans are filing for bankruptcy even though a 2005 law made the whole process more difficult and expensive. The total number of bankruptcy filings increased 38 percent last year compared with 2006, in an ominous sign of how many people are struggling to get by in the United States. Although filing for bankruptcy was once more common among those who had abrupt life changes, such as a divorce or illness, experts say all types of people who simply have too much debt are choosing to pursue such a drastic measure. "It is pretty widespread because there are widespread problems in the economy," one economist said.
Hooray. The NYT points out that many angry parents of the estimated 10,000 children who died in China's earthquake are abandoning their usual apprehension about confronting the Communist government. Parents are getting together at informal gatherings to angrily demand that the government investigate why so many schools collapsed and punish those responsible for what appears to have been shoddy construction work. Even more out of the ordinary is the fact that protesters are angrily confronting government officials in the streets, and there have been clashes with the police that left several people injured. Officials are insisting that they will investigate but say they must first deal with the needs of survivors.
In history, this day in 1774, the First Continental Congress convened in Virginia.
James Bond is 100 years old. In 1908, Ian Fleming, who created the character, was born. In World War Two, Fleming did some good work.
This day in 1934, the last non-artificial mass birth. The Dionne quintuplets were born near Callender, Ontario, to Olivia and Elzire Dionne. The babies were the first quintuplets to survive infancy.
In 1937, U.S. President Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, DC, signaling that vehicular traffic could cross the newly opened Golden Gate Bridge in California.
This day in 1961, Amnesty International, a human rights organization, was founded.
On this day in 1987, the Soviet Union was defeated. German teenager Matthias Rust landed his Cessna in Moscow's Red Square, buzzing the Kremlin on the way in. He served 18 months in prison for this prank, which also costs the commander of the Soviet Air Command his job. He totally evaded the vaunted air defenses, and the Soviets couldn't pretend to military supremacy. The veil was lifted. He was released August 3, 1988.
Hello. Ten years ago this day, Dr. Susan Terebey discovered a planet outside of our solar system with the use of photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The news was overshadowed by the death of talented comedian Phil Hartman at the hand of his crazy wife Brynne, who then committed suicide after the police arrived. Hartman's corpse is found in bed with multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
A year later, in Milan, Italy, Leonardo de Vinci's "The Last Supper" was put back on display after 22 years of restoration work.
All material on this site copyright Richard L. MacLeod (Dark Cloud) 1968-2014 unless otherwise stated.