current affairs

Published on September 25 2007

The Webutante has come up with two new words we need to learn. They're great. [giggles]

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Published on September 23 2007

Mime legend Marcel Marceau dies at 84 - Yahoo! News
PARIS - Marcel Marceau, the master of mime who transformed silence into poetry with lithe gestures and pliant facial expressions that spoke to generations of young and old, has died. He was 84. Wearing white face paint, soft shoes and a battered hat topped with a red flower, Marceau breathed new life into an art that dates to ancient Greece. He played out the human comedy through his alter-ego Bip without ever uttering a word. Offstage, he was famously chatty. "Never get a mime talking. He won't stop," he once said.

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Published on September 23 2007

MANTECAL, Venezuela - Hugo Chavez is driving across the plains of Venezuela, raving about a Hollywood film in which the enslaved hero rises up to challenge the emperor of Rome. "'Gladiator' — What a movie! I saw it three times," the president tells an Associated Press reporter traveling with him in a Toyota 4Runner, along with his daughter and a state governor. "It's confronting the empire, and confronting evil. ... And you end up relating to that gladiator." The parallel is unstated but clear. To Chavez, the United States is the empire, and he is the protagonist waging an epic struggle to bring justice to the oppressed of Venezuela and the world.
Oh yeah. I can see the resemblance immediately.
chavezchomskybook.jpg
Need I say more? Nah, let's just gaze at Russell for awhile, shall we?
ruscroweglad.jpg

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Published on September 18 2007

Times to Stop Charging for Parts of Its Web Site - New York Times
The New York Times will stop charging for access to parts of its Web site, effective at midnight Tuesday night. The move comes two years to the day after The Times began the subscription program, TimesSelect, which has charged $49.95 a year, or $7.95 a month, for online access to the work of its columnists and to the newspaper’s archives. TimesSelect has been free to print subscribers to The Times and to some students and educators.
I was *not* one of those students. And it was one of the most irritating aspects of following links-- to click on a story and find that it was behind a subscription. I always thought that the Times could probably generate more revenue through advertising on free views than it did through the subscription service, and it looks like they have decided that's true. The Times used to be my first stop in the morning; looks like I'll be getting back into that habit! :-D

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Published on September 10 2007

I'm posting tonight, since I'll be working long hours overnight and won't be near a computer for most of tomorrow. This post is as important to me today as it was last year, and I wanted to make sure it was "right". One year ago, just prior to the fifth anniversary of the loss of nearly three thousand souls to a senseless terrorist act, a private citizen started the 2996 project. This project was slightly different than the usual memorials of 9/11. Different from the recollections we all saw on the news. Different in one small way. Instead of remembering the horror of that day, the project coordinator asked us all to change focus from the enormity of the events of that day to concentrate on a smaller, but far more important, facet. He asked us to remember the individuals lost that day by writing about one single victim. I am reposting my assignment for that day here. Thanks again to old high school friend Pinch for checking the unfamiliar Naval references for me. The original post, with comments, may be found here.
We will never forget.
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[UPDATE 9/15/2006: I purchased the Sept. 11th edition of US News and World Report today. Inside, I found an article concerning Cmdr. Shanower's family and the man who recovered him. Read the article here. It's worth it.] Every one of us remembers where we were that day.In the East, our busy days screeched to a halt at the news. In the West, we awoke to a nightmare with our morning coffee. Here in the Midwest, I was finishing a night shift and trying to get a nap after work when my husband shook me awake to tell me I had to come quick, something had happened. Every one of us spent that day watching or listening to the awful news from the East. I spent much of it sobbing for the enormous loss of life and knowing that I was watching my generation's Pearl Harbor....live.When I was given my assignment for the 2996 project, I immediately felt a link to my subject. We both happened to be the same age with a love of travel, are both Midwestern natives--in fact, my subject went to college not far from where I live. The similarities ended there, but as I read more about him, Respect replaced that imagined kinship. It's been five years since that day. Five years since the day Americans learned of the war that had been declared against us, a war heralded in opening salvos against our military and diplomats numerous times since the late 70's in places like Beirut, Tehran, Kenya, and Yemen. This was a war most of us were only dimly aware of until the day it came home to American soil on the bright morning of September 11, 2001 in New York, Pennsylvania, and Washington, DC. Dan Shanower.jpg Cmdr. Dan Frederic Shanower, 40 years old that year, was aware of this war long before we civilians were. A career Naval Intelligence Officer based at the Pentagon, he spent his days studying, analyzing, and reporting on intelligence data. Shanower had spent his adult working life in Intelligence and Foreign Affairs, from early in his career debriefing pilots on the USS Midway and Assistant Intelligence Officer aboard USS Coronado; to a stint with the US State Department working for the ambassador to the Phillipines; to the Office of Naval Intelligence; to his last post at the Pentagon. As Officer-in-Charge of the Chief of Naval Operations Intelligence Plot, he was responsible for providing current intelligence support to the Navy Secretariat, Chief of Naval Operations staff, and the Director of Naval Intelligence. His job was to assemble daily intelligence data, analyses of geopolitical data and troop movements into the series of morning briefings for these senior Pentagon officials. At the time of his death, he was finishing his final course for a Master's degree in National Security and Strategic Studies from the Naval War College. At the moment that American Airlines Flight 77 hit the Pentagon's west side, Cmdr. Shanower was in his newly renovated office with a team of analysts, collecting data on the World Trade Center attacks. We may not have immediately realized the source or understood the reasons for the attacks, but it's probably safe to say that Shanower knew. Much of the following information is taken from here, the Arlington Cemetary website for Cmdr. Shanower. Dan Shanower was raised in Naperville, Illinois; the fourth of five children born to a schoolteacher and a college professor. By all accounts, he was a smart, inquisitive and somewhat mischievous boy.
Dan played in Little League, but his career highlight was the game during which he lay down in the outfield. "He did it for fun, which every kid should do," said Eugene Drendel, who had a son in Little League at the same time. "But he wasn't into who won or who lost, to put it gently. He did, on occasion, just take a rest." Dan's high school exploits have become favorite anecdotes for those who shared his teenage years. There was the time Dan buried an unwanted car engine in his parents' yard. The time he installed living-room furniture in the Naperville Central High School courtyard. The time he named his soon-to-be-dissected fetal pig after WGN farm reporter Orion Samuelson. The time Mayor George Pradel, then a police officer, pulled Dan over after curfew only to find he had replaced his car seats with lawn chairs.
After graduating from Central High in 1979, the free-spirited young man headed north to Wisconsin to Carroll College. During his college years he also spent time as an intern in the US Senate, and took a trip to the Soviet Union, finally graduating in 1983. In 1985, he joined the Navy.
He spent the first decade of that career overseas, first in Japan and later in the Phillipines. He made the most of his life abroad; he climbed Mount Fuji and tried to learn Japanese. At gatherings, he could captivate a crowd with his sea stories. He also built a reputation as a smart, confident officer who loved his profession. "He once told me it was almost a religion with him," Cmdr. Stewart Holbrook said. "He took his job very seriously, protecting his country and just having pride in the Navy." His parents received photos of Dan in foreign ports wearing a kimono, peeking through bamboo stalks, hoisting his ceremonial sword. His nieces and nephews received stuffed iguanas and machetes for birthdays.
In 1999, Shanower moved to Washington, DC and began working at the Pentagon in 2000.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
In October of 2005, I had the privilege of touring the Pentagon with friends. The building seems unscarred now, but there is a new room adjacent to the Pentagon Chapel deep within the huge building. This is the 9/11 memorial, and seeing that dimly lit room is deeply affecting. Black marble tablets are etched with the names of the 184 victims of American Airlines' Flight 77's plunge into the building. Although I of course was unable to take away a photograph of this room, it's possible to tour the Pentagon Memorial here. Take the tour; it's worth the visit. ACF43.jpg boot2.jpg Next to the DuPage River in Shanower's hometown of Naperville, Illinois is another memorial to the victims of 9/11. Cut into the sculpture is an outline of Commander Shanower's boot print. He is also memorialized at the Naval War College in Newport, R.I..memorial.jpg Memorials are beautiful, a way to honor the memory of the departed, a way to show our respect and our grief, our resolve to never forget, and a means of passing those lessons on to those who will come after us. I think the greatest memorial to this man, and the lesson which should be passed to the future, are to be found in his own words. In an essay published in the May 1997 issue of Proceedings magazine, Shanower wrote these words about four shipmates who had been lost in an accident ten years before:
"I miss their friendship, but I believe that because they died in the prime of their lives in the service of our country their sacrifices take on a special meaning..... I think, however, that to a man, what really would have impressed them was to know that to their shipmates they had come to personify the virtues that we salute on this national holiday. The military loses scores of personnel every year in training or operational accidents. Each one risked and lost his or her life for something they believed in, leaving behind friends, family, and shipmates to bear the burden and celebrate their devotion to our country...... They knew the risks they were taking and gave their lives for something bigger than themselves. I'll never forget them, and I'll never forget the day I learned that freedom isn't free."
Hopefully, the rest of us won't forget the day we learned the same lesson.
freedom.jpg

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Published on August 8 2007

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Published on August 3 2007

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Published on July 29 2007

Daily Kos: Mainstream
by kos Fri Jul 20, 2007 at 11:46:56 AM PDT YearlyKos will be addressed this year by just about the entire Democratic Party leadership -- Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Chuck Schumer, and Dick Durbin. It will feature a candidate forum of all the top Democratic candidates -- Hillary Clinton, John Edwards, Barack Obama, Chris Dodd, and Bill Richardson.
A long listing of other notable elected Dems who will attend the convention follows.
And that's the key -- anyone who claims this event is anything but a celebration of the best the Democratic Party has to offer is simply, to put it mildly, blinded by partisan rage and completely out-of-touch with reality.
Folks, I have come to a decision, and it's not one I've made lightly. Over the past several years, I've thought a lot about it, done as much reading as I could, and learned as much as I could from both sides of the political fence. I'm not any sort of political whiz by any means, but I try to pay attention to the things I see. This week, I've come to a sad but probably inevitable conclusion. I've always basically considered myself a Democrat, although I have crossed party lines several times during my voting career, especially during Wisconsin's (closed) primary season. Anybody remember John Anderson and the Unity Party? :-D Okay, it was my very first election. Cut me some slack. Still, even though I know I've gotten more conservative in my advancing age, I *still* was a Democrat. Hey, Russ Feingold is my Senator. Dave Obey is my congressman. I was a member of the party of FDR. Of JFK. A Party that had room for everyone from the hawkish Scoop Jackson to the naked bike riders (Trust me, that link isn't safe for *any* time of day), no matter how distasteful or idiotic I might have personally thought them. There was room for entire spectrum, from those who believe that the Iraq War is an illegal regime change and occupation of a foreign State under international law to those who see it as an inevitable neccessity, better done now than later. There was room for all of us, and more than likely a 2008 Presidential candidate for all of us. There is no longer room for me in this Party, because today I am "completely out-of-touch with reality". ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ In April 2004 a popular liberal blogger named Markos Koulitsas wrote about an incident in Fallujah, Iraq in which four contractors working for Blackwater USA were attacked by grenade and small arms fire while conducting a food delivery convoy. They were killed, their bodies burned and dragged through the streets of the town before being hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River. Photos of this incident were published on the internet and in newspapers, showing the unrecognizable charred remains of Scott Helvenston, Jerko Zovko, Wesley Batalona and Michael Teague dangling over a grinning gun-waving, cheering mob. Koulitsas-- better known as "Kos"-- wrote of this on his blog the Daily A$$hole Kos:
"Let the people see what war is like. This isn't an Xbox game. There are real repercussions to Bush's folly. That said, I feel nothing over the death of merceneries. [sic] They aren't in Iraq because of orders, or because they are there trying to help the people make Iraq a better place. They are there to wage war for profit. Screw them."
Yes, I saw the post before it mysteriously disappeared from the internet with its tail tucked between its legs. The next day Kos posted an "apology", which was basically a diatribe against evil minions who would take a paycheck to work for the government in a war zone. Since I am the child of a former government contractor, I wasn't overly impressed with his mea culpa. The trouble was that there were some out there who agreed whole-heartedly with Kos' assessment of the situation, and the readership/ membership of the Daily Kos exploded, making this new Left darling a powerful celebrity within the Democratic Party. This rambling all goes somewhere, I promise. This next week marks the 2nd "Yearly Kos" convention, to be held in Chicago. Every major candidate from the Democratic Party will attend this convention. Every. Single. One. Of. Them. All of them will pander to this demigod who said of the burned mutilated bodies of this fellow countrymen: screw 'em, they deserved it. I understand that appealing to special interest groups is part of the definition of the word "politician", but I felt physically ill reading the list of attendees to this gathering. Must have been the "partisan rage" Kos was referring to above, ya think? In light of the dollar signs and campaign publicity opportunities, none of them had the cojones to say that what this man wrote in April 2004 was unforgivable, as is any association with a convention bearing his name. But dear Readers, small and unimportant as mine might be, I *do* have a set. It may seem like a small thing to get worked up about, but it's the straw that broke my camel's back. It's symbolized the Dem's leftward drift into the area of Bush Derangement Syndrome, where the only unity in the Party seems to be in its opposition to anything Bush-like. All ideas, discussion, and policy seems only to be valued in where it stands in relation to White House policy. There's a difference in my mind between favoring an idea after careful thought, and opposing that same idea due to blind hatred. The Dems seem to me to have lost that distinction and I'm beginning to wonder if other voters have noticed. Maybe opposition is not enough. I wonder how many of these candidates are going to show up at the Democratic Leadership Council's conference being held as I write? Oh yeah, *that* DLC--you know them, they're a "moderate" group; heck, they're almost REPUBLICANS! Well, looks like they got at least one speaker. With four days' advance notice, was the DLC scrambling a bit, maybe? So, that's it. I'm out. I will not vote for any candidate who attends the Kos' Kids Konvention. I will not register as, or call myself a Democrat any longer. However, I'll probably follow my ingrained Good Democratic Practices by actively campaigning *against* the policy I dislike, rather than *for* the policy I favor. Whether or not Ronald Reagan actually said "I didn't leave my party, my Party left me" when he became a Republican, I find myself nodding in agreement. The Republicans ain't quite got me yet, but with this public fellating of the Kos nation the Democrats have lost me for good.

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Published on July 26 2007

Looks like the terrorists in the plaid flannel shirts and Carhart jackets are on the move again.... Nation & World | TSA warns of possible dry runs for terror attacks
WASHINGTON — Airport security officers around the nation have been alerted by federal officials to look out for terrorists practicing to carry explosive components onto aircraft, based on four curious seizures at airports since last September. The seizures at airports in San Diego, Milwaukee, Houston and Baltimore included "wires, switches, pipes or tubes, cellphone components and dense claylike substances," including block cheese, the bulletin said. "The unusual nature and increase in number of these improvised items raise concern."
Exploding cheese curds? Usually, too much cheese has....ummm....the opposite effect, let's say. Seriously now, I'm beginning to think it won't be long before airline passengers are prohibited from any carryons, and cargo is shipped completely separately from passengers. Should make for interesting times at baggage claim.

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Published on July 21 2007

Cheney assumes power as Bush undergoes colonoscopy - Yahoo News
WASHINGTON AFP - US Vice President Richard Cheney has taken over the reins of power as President George W. Bush undergoes a "routine colonoscopy" at the Camp David retreat, the White House confirmed Saturday. Cheney assumed the role as acting president at 7:16 am 1116 GMT, when letters from Bush were faxed to Speaker of the House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi, just behind Cheney in the line of succession to the presidency, and top-ranking senator Robert Byrd, informing them of the handover under the US Constitutions 25th amendment.

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