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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Thought for the Day

China is now the top greenhouse gas emitter.

(I guess that's one upside of the US losing all its manufacturing.)

Bombing Yemen

The same story to two very different degrees. The NYTimes with the official "government officials say" version,
The United States provided firepower, intelligence and other support to the government of Yemen as it carried out raids this week to strike at suspected hide-outs of Al Qaeda within its borders, according to officials familiar with the operations....

The American contributions were intended to help Yemen to prevent Al Qaeda from mounting attacks against American and other foreign targets inside its borders.

Or ABC with the more sensational version,
On orders from President Barack Obama, the U.S. military launched cruise missiles early Thursday against two suspected al-Qaeda sites in Yemen, administration officials told ABC News in a report broadcast on ABC World News with Charles Gibson....

....and the second target was a location where officials said "an imminent attack against a U.S. asset was being planned."

Bottom line: We just bombed Yemen with their government's approval.

Pet peeve

Have you ever noticed that it never really snows in the news until it snows on the media figures houses in Washington and New York?

The midwest just got crushed by this same storm, but it doesn't really exist until it snows outside Letterman or Chris Matthews' houses. ....and then that's all we hear.

There's probably a lesson on healthcare coverage there.....

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday funny

Admittedly, it's advocational, but it still made me chuckle.

Slim Pickings

The WaPo is running some sort of bracket competition to determine "the most influential person of the decade." The finalists? George Bush v. Osama Bin Laden.

The fact that Bin Laden makes the final really says it all about the failures of the Bush presidency.

And if you want another sense of the decade, Marc Cooper of the Annenberg school lists his top ten political news stories.

You can't tell the climate players without a program!

The BBC has an extremely handy guide to the positions of all the major players at the Copenhagen climate summit.

And, A US-China showdown looms as Obama arrives.

Science moment: Dark matter

There's a fair chance that a team of US scientists have indirectly detected dark matter. (Take that Hadron collider!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Insurgents "hacking" predator drones

They're not able to take control of the drones, but it is notable that supposedly "insurgents" are tapping into the video feeds provided by US drones using relatively cheap software.

Knowing what the drones are watching or when they're there could be quite valuable.

Picture of the Day - 2

(Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi waves from a car as he leaves San Raffaele hospital in Milan four days after suffering a violent attack.(AFP/Giuseppe Cacace))

Wobbly Af-Pak

The NYTimes reports that UN officials claim that now fired US no. 2, Peter Galbraith, proposed a plan to "replace" Karzai. I wouldn't be surprised if replacing Karzai was discussed, but this really smells more like an overexaggerated "leak" for purpose.

So, why would the UN contingent be calling the NYTimes to say this now? To "explain" NATO problems in sending more troops as the Obama administration is seeking? An effort to get out in front and discredit Galbraith before he starts speaking?

Also, Pakistan's Supreme Court struck down Pakistani PM Zardari's claims of executive immunity from graft prosecutions for his government. This matters because the political situation for Zardari is wobbly right now, and his opponents are preparing to use prosecutions of graft to go after his supporters and further weaken Zardari's position.

Then there's this story, (NYTimes/BBC) "Parts of the Pakistani military and intelligence services are mounting what American officials here describe as a campaign to harass American diplomats, fraying relations at a critical moment when the Obama administration is demanding more help to fight the Taliban and Al Qaeda."

Picture of the Day

(Police used clubs and tear gas to stop some 2,500 activists marching on the Bella Centre at the Copenhagen summit. (AFP/Adrian Dennis))

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dear Politico

Yes. Houston elected the first major city openly gay mayor, but, no, it doesn't reflect some great symbol of change. Houston elected a candidate who was the significantly most qualified candidate who happened to be gay, not "the gay candidate."

It's articles like yours, written by two very insidery white dudes, that show just how far equality still has to go.

(And for those of you prone to similarly overbroad extrapolations, let's remember that this was an extremely low turnout runoff election. We're proud of the result, but let's keep it all in perspective.)


WaPo editorialist Richard Cohen uses Tiger Woods to explain that women don't want to achieve.
But it could be that the urge to get closer to cocktail waitresses and denizens of dimly lit hotel lounges is in some way linked to the drive to conquer, to prevail — to succeed. It could explain why all this time into the Age of Feminism, years after women were liberated, women make up less than 20 percent of Congress and only 3 percent of those top CEOs.

The reason the Glass Ceiling has not broken is that women have other priorities — maintaining relationships and being a mother....

Iran nuclear forgeries?

I had seen the article on the supposed "smoking gun" memo on the Iranian nuclear program (that claimed research on neutron initiators,) but I was skeptical of its veracity, so I didn't link it.

However, I never took the next step to note the possible link and similarities to the (still unsourced) Niger forgeries which were folded so neatly into the Iraq war justification.

Ironically, (because of their history with the Niger forgeries.) it's the NYTimes who is the first publicly ask about the neutron initiator memos.

However, I might argue that the different stance has more to do with the NYTimes "reporting" as fact what any White House says, rather than a renewed journalistic ethic. The Bush White House wanted the Niger forgeries to be true, so the NYTimes covered them as true. The Obama folks want this memo to be false, so the NYTimes writes their skepticism as "reporting."

(It should be noted that the memos first public appearance was in the Times of London, a paper which would be sympathetic to an anti-Iran bent. The "leaker" released to the right source.)

On the other hand, the test of Iran's top missile, which can still barely reach Eastern Europe, is very real and intended as a provocation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

New Poll: Crist and Rubio tied

It's just one poll and all, but if they manage to kill Charlie Crist......


It's such a shame that Christmas shopping makes me hate people so much.....


Have you noticed that there has been no media coverage of US troop deaths in Afghanistan since Obama announced the strategy?

According to the coverage, there were no deaths before or after his consideration.


...because George Bush didn't DOUBLE the national debt from $5 to $10 trillion during arguably good economic times.....

Monday, December 14, 2009

Quote - Ezra Klein

To put this in context, Lieberman was invited to participate in the process that led to the Medicare buy-in. His opposition would have killed it before liberals invested in the idea. Instead, he skipped the meetings and is forcing liberals to give up yet another compromise. Each time he does that, he increases the chances of the bill's failure that much more. And if there's a policy rationale here, it's not apparent to me, or to others who've interviewed him. At this point, Lieberman seems primarily motivated by torturing liberals. That is to say, he seems willing to cause the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people in order to settle an old electoral score.

Your 2 minutes of hate

Okay. It may finally be time to throw him out of the caucus. (although the press of willingly going to 59 would be harsh.)

John McCain is a superstar

The NYTimes writes one of those "John McCain has landed on his feet" articles that have been appearing across all the press (complete with the standard obsequious Lindsey Graham quote.)

No matter what John McCain does, the press just loves him.

The one interesting addition from the NYTimes,
Mr. McCain has cut back his dealings with many of the people who were at his side while he was running for president. Steve Schmidt, his campaign manager, has returned to California, while Mike Murphy, a longtime adviser, has not talked to him since last summer, according to associates of both men. Mark Salter, his closest aide, alter ego and book collaborator, has left Mr. McCain’s Senate staff and gone into private business, and now speaks to him about once a week.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Annise Parker makes history

Houston elects its first open Rice University graduate!!!

Go Owls!!!

Thoughts on Annise Parker's win for those outside Houston

1) First off, for those of you outside Houston, although Houston is probably the reddest major metropolitan area in the country, the city proper leans democratic and we also have a very large and semi public gay population (maybe the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th largest in the country) with long roots and deep public history. So, although we have tons of crazy christian right wingers, our mainline establishments are probably more tolerant than you might think. (We're not Dallas!)

2) Annise Parker won because she was an incredibly well qualified candidate who happened to be gay, not because she was a gay candidate.

3) She's going to have a tough start as mayor. She comes in without business backing, and most of White's staff following him into his campaign for governor. We'll have to wait and see if she can figure out ways to build a city hall and leverage the very established city council members. Plus, she's apparently planning to try and remake the police department which is going to hit a whole bunch of bureaucratic drag.

The Thais interdict a N. Korean arms shipment

At US suggestion, Thai officials seize a cargo plane carrying a N. Korean small arms shipment. Destination unknown.