Sunday, May 25, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Burmese Villagers line roadsides, waiting for aid to arrive The scene is the same in village after village - people crowd the roadsides, and they wait. They wait in the sweltering morning sun, and in the afternoon monsoon rains and under threatening evening skies, punctuated by streaks of lightening and the roll of thunder. Driven by necessity and hunger and self-preservation from their once-fertile, but now ruined rice paddies, peasants migrate toward the nearest roads; and they wait. Children swarm approaching vehicles, and the adults look on with vacant stares, lost and humiliated, too embarrassed to ask for help. "On the roads going through the storm-hit area, the ruling military junta, which has driven Myanmar's people into squalor but keeps them docile with terror, has put up this sign: "Don't throw food on the roads. It ruins the people's good habits."

Mars lander appears to be OK: A NASA spacecraft plunged into the atmosphere of Mars and successfully landed in the Red Planet's northern polar region on Sunday, where it will begin 90 days of digging in the permafrost to look for evidence of the building blocks of life. Cheers swept through mission control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory when the touchdown signal from the Phoenix Mars Lander was detected after a nailbiting descent. Engineers and scientists hugged and high-fived one another. "In my dreams it couldn't have gone as perfectly as it went," project manager Barry Goldstein said. "It went right down the middle." The first images transmitted from the lander about two hours after landing showed one of its feet sitting on Martian soil amid tiny rocks and a view of the horizon of the arctic plain. Another image showed that the lander's solar panels had deployed.

Ben Stein "explains" things to America again: Nothing - and I mean nothing - the U.S. government does can stop the rise in the price of oil in the short run. Stopping buys for the emergency stockpile will have no effect at all. These purchases are less than one-tenth of one percent of daily worldwide demand. Taxing the oil companies is the worst possible idea. We should be giving them tax incentives to pump more oil, not punishing them for pumping oil … and their profits have absolutely zero to do with setting the price of gasoline at the pump. Actually, the inability of the Bush administration to understand that coddling the Saudis, intriguing against the Venezuelans, enabling the Mexicans, ignoring the Nigerians, killing the Iraqis, and threatening the Iranians while owing vast sums to the Chinese while the Russians get stronger is what the deal "really" is all about, but don't let the facts get in the way of fighting against a badly needed tax on the outrageous profits of oil companies--which have set records this year.

Caste riots in rural India kill dozens By Sunday the death toll had risen to 37 after three days of violent rioting by members of the Gujjar caste, considered part of the second-lowest caste group, who are demanding to be reclassified as occupying the lowest rung of society in order to receive set-asides and preferences in government jobs and university entrance. The Hindu caste system was outlawed shortly after India gained independence from Britain in 1947, but its influence remains powerful, and the government awards aid packages based on the classifications.

A dear friend of ours presents us with a conundrum
...So what do you do when you're a part time employee who makes about $10/hour and it takes you a gallon or so of gas to get to work and another gallon or so to get home and they ask you to come in on Saturday morning for a couple of hours and the gas price is up to $4.15 for regular at the cheap gas station?

Finally Oliver Willis gets some long-overdue recognition!
From columnist Ed Cone in the North Carolina News & Record:In 2004, blogger Oliver Willis launched a viral marketing campaign called “Brand Democrat.” The idea was to frame the values of the Democratic Party with a series of online banners — simple messages in black text on a white background above a red, white and blue silhouette of a donkey. One ad contained a list of accomplishments, including Social Security and Medicare, and closed with the line, “We’re just getting warmed up.” Others were devoted to single issues: “Call us crazy, but we think sick kids should have health care.” “What happens in your bedroom, stays in your bedroom. It’s just none of our business.” “Torture? We’ve always been against it. We still are."...It turns out that Willis was ahead of the game. Flash forward to 2008, and the brand value of political parties is a hot topic. What’s more, Brand Democrat is looking pretty strong. It has a dynamic new spokesman in Barack Obama, and for the first time in a generation the Democratic Party can claim to be the party of ideas. (We have said for years that Oliver Willis is one of the best things about the Democratic Party. Now you know why we say that! And read the entire Cone column - it's just the pep talk some of us need right now.)

Libertarians nominate former republican congressman Bob Barr to be the partis nominee for president this year. And that scurrying sound you hear is the McCain campaign trying to come up with a strategy to stanch the flow of real conservatives from his base of support. The Ron Paul contingent is big enough to do to him what the Nader-ites did to Gore in 2000. Karmas a bitch, innit?

After six leaderless months, the Lebanese parliament has elected a president General Michel Suleiman, Commander of the Lebanese Army was elected to the presidency today, ending six months of deadlock that had left the post vacant since November. The selection of Suleiman was a compromise selection and part of a bargain struck between the western-backed government and the Hezbollah-led opposition. He immediately called for "the beginning of a nation that is starting to wake up from self-destruction," but in the face of Hezbollah gains in the political realm, his power is likely to be quite limited.

Hamas reaches out to neighboring Arab states, looking for a mediator to help them come to some sort of reconciliation with rival faction Fatah. Arab League chief Amr Moussa said that Hamas leader Khaled Mesha'al had expressed the group's view during a telephone conversation, it was reported in the Asharq Al Awsat. "Khaled Mesha'al spoke with me...expressing willingness for a process of the same nature to end the dispute between Fatah and Hamas," Moussa said. He also said that the Arab League wants to continue "to solve a number of problems, primarily...achieving a unified Palestinian political stance."

As Zimbabwe's run-off campaign gets underway, President Robert Mugabe accused the United States of political interference on Sunday, He harangued the top State Department diplomat in Africa, Assistant Secretary of State Jendayi Frazer, saying "You saw this little American girl trotting around like a prostitute celebrating that the MDC had won. A disgraceful act," for her suggestingon that the opposition candidate, Morgan Tsvangirai, had actually won the March 29 election outright. He also attacked Ambassador James McGee, and threatened to expell him from the country. "He (McGee) says he fought in Vietnam, but fighting in Vietnam does not give him the right to interfere in our domestic affairs. I am just waiting to see if he makes one more step wrong. He will get out," Mugabe said at a campaign rally. He routinely accuses the United States and Britain of backing the MDC to punish him for seizing thousands of white-owned farms since 2000.

Maybe Senator Obama doesn't feel compelled to fly off to a war zone to get a little shopping done. Appearing on "Face the Nation" this morning, bargain-hunter extraordinaire Lindsey "I bought five rugs for five dollars!" Graham floated the notion that Obama and McSame ought to schlepp off to Iraq together so the naive, dewey eyed Illinois Senator and presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama might change his opinion on this clusterfuck of an unjust war if he just made a trip with the man around whose scrawny old wattle the whole fiasco hangs. Please. Spare us. We all know that potentates in the warzone rarely, if ever, get anything approximating a real picture of conditions on the ground when they show up for those damned dog and pony shows. A stake should have been driven through the heart of these bullshit trips to see the war when Lindsey Graham got five rugs for five bucks, and six American soldiers a mile away – that didn’t have those Apache gunships and Blackhawk helicopters and an entire company of soldiers fortifying their position – got dead.

They aren't even hiding their violent, fascist bent any longer It is time to be very vigilant about keeping an eye on some of these republican mother fuckers. They are dangerous and growing more so every day as they feel their grip on the last threads of power slipping away. It has gotten to the point where they make jokes about killing the presumptive Democratic nominee. Brace yourselves for a long hot summer and desperate autumn as this sort of shit becomes the norm:

Can we finally admit that Fox is nothing more than an American version of Isvestia? What they are peddling is certainly not news.


It will be catch-as-catch-can for the remainder of Monday, and regular blogging will resume Tuesday.

Have a good Memorial Day, everyone.

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