Monday, January 24, 2011

Last Call

Doug J wraps up the winger position on global climate change:

You know the drill: global warming isn’t happening, if it is happening then it’s not caused by human behavior, if it is caused by human behavior then we can’t do anything about it, if it is caused by human behavior and we can do something about it, then that something is too expensive, if it is caused by human behavior and we can do something about it that is not too expensive, then that something is not what Democrats are proposing. And Al Gore is fat, he flies too much, look at his electricity bill, and sometimes when he goes somewhere it snows there, which is very ironic.

Meanwhile 2010 was a record high temp year tied with 2005 and we need to take another century to study it because the science isn't settled.

To Russia, With Hate

At least 35 are dead and 130 injured following a suicide bombing at Moscow's Domodedovo International Airport in Russia.

President Dmitry Medvedev vowed to track down and punish those behind the bombing, which also injured about 130 people, including foreigners, during the busy late afternoon at Moscow's Domodedovo airport. Dense smoke filled the hall and a fire burned along one wall.

"The explosion was right near me, I was not hit but I felt the shock wave -- people were falling," said Yekaterina Alexandrova, a translator who was waiting in the crowded arrivals area to meet a client flying in from abroad.

Thick drops of blood were scattered across the snow-covered tarmac outside the arrivals hall, where traces of shrapnel were found.

"I heard a loud boom... we thought someone had just dropped something. But then I saw casualties being carried away," a check-in attendant who gave her name as Elena told Reuters at Domodedovo, which is some 22 km (14 miles) southeast of Moscow.

The Kremlin said Medvedev, who has called the insurgency in the north Caucasus the biggest threat to Russia's security, delayed his departure for the Davos international business forum in Switzerland.

The rebels have vowed to take their bombing campaign from the violence-wracked north Caucasus to the Russian heartland, hitting transport and economic targets. They have also leveled threats at the 2014 Winter Olympics, scheduled for Sochi, a region they claim as part of their "emirate."

"Security will be strengthened at large transport hubs," Medvedev wrote on Twitter. "We mourn the victims of the terrorist attack at Domodedovo airport. The organizers will be tracked down and punished."

Sometimes we forget Russia has had its own terrorism problems for a very long time now, from Chechnya to former Soviet republic border disputes to the deaths of 166 in a Moscow theater in 2002 and the frightfully botched Beslan school siege in 2004 which cost 350 lives, there's been a long string of terrorist violence in Russia over the last dozen years or so.

It's a long and sad history, too.

And For My Next Trick, Presto!

Been watching NBC's The Cape (Mondays, 9-10 PM) and if you like your superheroes without the "save the world" baggage and all the mucking about with the timestream, Vince Faraday is the hero for you.

David Lyons plays Faraday, a ex-soldier, cop, and family man. One of the few honest cops left in fictional Palm City (which bears an interesting resemblance to L.A.) Faraday's life is destroyed when he's framed for the car bombing of the city's new police chief by a masked psychopath called Chess. Chess, it turns out, is billionaire businessman Martin Fleming, who is using his Chess persona to terrorize the city to have his Ark Corporation take control as the cash-strapped city's privatized police force. Fleming pins Chess on Faraday, and Faraday barely escapes Ark's SWAT goons with his life.

Thought to be dead by both Chess and his family, Faraday finds himself in Palm City's criminal underworld, falling in with a circus carnival that robs banks on the side, led by Max Malini (Keith David). Max takes Vince under his wing and teaches him a thing or sixteen about illusions and escape artist tricks, and just happens to have the greatest trick cape in the world. Vince then emerges from training as The Cape, based on his son Tripp's favorite comic book hero.

Things get pretty complicated for our bargain basement Batman here. Martin Fleming literally has his own private police army and controls the most of the city's crime as Chess as well, and Vince...well, Vince has a cape. Vince has an ally in Orwell (Summer Glau), a beautiful and intelligent hacker who has her own mysterious score to settle with Fleming, and they soon team up in a race to expose Fleming as Chess and to clear Vince's name before Fleming discovers Vince is alive and is really The Cape.

Through all this Vince keeps watch on his wife Dana and son Tripp, Dana, now a city public defender, often finds herself in possession of mysterious tips related to her cases, and Tripp gets to meet The Cape in person as Vince can only be Tripp's surrogate father through superhero advice dispensed on the rooftop of an apartment building.

If you enjoy good old fashioned pulp hero action, where the good guys have only their wits and their skill to take on an army of crime, then The Cape is your man. The series is pretty decent so far, The Cape's villains are far closer to Dick Tracy bad guys than anything on the level of Legion of Doom, but the series has a lot of heart and it's worth checking out on Hulu to catch up.

Try The Cape on for size.

Rahm Boned III: The Chicago Way

An appellate court in Chicago has just kicked Rahm Emmanuel off the ballot for next month's Chicago Mayoral election in a 2-1 decision.

The ruling, which was announced on Monday, comes as a significant and unexpected setback for Mr. Emanuel, who has been a front-runner both in polls and in fundraising in the race to replace Richard M. Daley, the city’s longest serving mayor who will retire this spring.

The question of Mr. Emanuel’s residency -– and whether he had lived in Chicago long enough to appear on the city’s ballot -– had been a matter of debate since Mr. Emanuel departed the White House last fall to run for mayor.

Mr. Emanuel contended that he had always maintained a home in Chicago, the city where he was born, and that his time at the White House was a matter of national service. But Mr. Emanuel’s opponents said that Mr. Emanuel did not meet the state’s legal requirements for running for a mayor’s job, one of which included living in the city for a year before Election Day. His return to Chicago in the fall, they argued, did not come soon enough to run on a Feb. 22 ballot.

An elections board had concurred with Mr. Emanuel, as had a Cook County judge. But the Illinois Appellate Court -– in a 2 to 1 ruling -– found the opposite. With time running short and ballot arrangements already being finalized for election day, the issues seemed certain to go to the state Supreme Court. 

That's putting it mildly.   The decision would invalidate a number of candidates based on national service, so yeah, this one's going to the Illinois Supreme Court with shocking alacrity, especially with just 29 days to the election.

We'll see.

Oprah Gets A Surprise

Much to her surprise, Oprah was contacted by a woman who believed they were half-sisters.  It didn't take long to verify that was correct.  Oprah's mother had put her children up for adoption. Ironically, two of them grew up to be called Patricia.  One was a tabloid mess because of her drug problems, but this Patricia is on a better road.  Oprah says she is what Patricia would have been free of the drug problems, a nod to a sister she supported and loved.

Oprah choked up a little bit because this sister didn't go to the press, or try to sell the story.  She was loyal and considerate to Oprah's needs, and that is something that is rare to find.  Oprah's generosity has backfired frequently, with people going to tabloids or selling insider information about the daytime talk show hostess.

It's a good story, and as always, Oprah handled it with class.

StupidiNews! Potpourri Edition

In Texas, a teacher is being investigated for putting clear tape over a little girl's mouth.  The student was too afraid to tell her father what happened, but fellow students reported it to their parents.

CNN Money has an article discussing the likelihood that our cell phones will replace credit cards as method of payment.  This has been a while coming, but with specific deals being struck, the time has arrived.

The Razzies have published their list of nominations.  I had a busy year and didn't get to see nearly as many movies as I wanted, but the public seems to be fickle.  Some of the worst movies were the biggest blockbusters.

A man walked into a Detroit police station and began firing.  He was killed by return fire (duh) and no officers were killed, though a few were wounded.  In Florida, two officers and a deputy U.S. marshal were shot and wounded while serving an arrest warrant.  At the time the article went to CNN, the shooter was still in the home.

And just for giggles, here is an article saying Genghis Kahn did the world a huge favor by killing so many people that entire regions were reforested.  

Scapegoating For Fun And Profit

Kentucky's Latino community is not too happy with state Senate Bill 6, an anti-immigration bill that would go further than Arizona's, would cost the state tens of millions a year, have much of the bill's enforcement procedures stripped due to Constitutional reasons, and be yet another embarrassment to the state.  Needless to say, Kentucky Latinos are not taking the legislation lightly.

"There is a sense of fear, a sense of rejection in the Latino community about this bill," said Andrés Cruz, editor and publisher of La Voz, an English/Spanish newspaper with a circulation of 10,000 that reports on Central Kentucky's Latin American community. "To me, the bill is simply political pandering."

Cruz and Marilyn Daniel, a volunteer attorney for Maxwell Street Legal Clinic, held a two-hour informational meeting about the controversial bill at the Lexington Public Library.

During the meeting, the group also learned about a rally at 11:30 a.m. Feb. 8 at the Capitol in Frankfort to oppose the legislation.

The Republican-controlled Senate approved the bill earlier this month; the Democratic-controlled House is to consider it when the legislative session resumes next week.

House leaders have said the House is unlikely to approve the bill. They compare it to Arizona's tough immigration law, which is being challenged in court.

The sponsor of Senate Bill 6, Senate President David Williams, R-Burkesville, said Kentucky should approve the bill before neighboring states pass strict immigration laws and the Bluegrass State becomes a haven for illegal immigrants.

Williams is running for governor this year.

Gotta love the logic.  "If we don't get rid of them first, other states will make them our problem."

Of course the bill is pandering.  Latinos make up some one percent of the state's population.  Kentucky's a "haven for illegals" the way Antarctica is a "haven for swimwear".  It's a solution, and one that would cost tens of millions of dollars mind you, to a problem that just doesn't exist.

Never mind the bill would not only include the provisions of Arizona's bill that were removed due to Constitutional concerns, but exceeds them in scope of illegality, allowing cops to slap charges of felony smuggling with anyone traveling with an undocumented worker.

For a group of people who say they want smaller, less intrusive government, they want to turn Kentucky into a police state costing tens of millions per year.

Negotiating In Bad Faith

Looks like the hammer is dropping on leaked documents again, this time involving Bush-era negotiation between Israel and the Palestinians.  WikiLeaks isn't being mentioned, but Al-Jazeera suddenly has a whole raft of documents showing the Palestinian Authority was willing to give up nearly all of Jerusalem, and that Israel wouldn't even discuss the plan.

"These documents could discredit among Palestinians the very notion of negotiation with Israel and the two-state solution that underpins it," Jonathan Freedland wrote in a comment piece at the Guardian.
What's more, the documents blow apart what has been a staple of Israeli public diplomacy: the claim that there is no Palestinian partner. That theme, a refrain of Israeli spokesmen on and off for years, is undone by transcripts which show that there is not only a Palestinian partner but one more accommodating than will surely ever appear again....
Freedland and others suggested that the revelations could undermine Fatah, the ruling Palestinian faction, to the benefit of Hamas and other more radical groups, particularly if Fatah is seen to be acting in Israel's interests rather than Palestinians'. The Guardian's Seumas Milne reports that Palestinian negotiators come off as "weak and increasingly desperate" in the leaked documents.

And there is plenty in what al-Jazeera and the Guardian are calling "The Palestine Papers" to suggest this could easily become a widely-held perception among Palestinians. At a meeting shortly before the Jerusalem offer, Qureia told Livni, "I would vote for you."

"Many on the Palestinian streets will recoil to read not just the concessions offered by their representatives – starting with the yielding of those parts of East Jerusalem settled by Israeli Jews – but the language in which those concessions were made," Freedland wrote. "To hear their chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat, tell the Israelis that the Palestinians are ready to concede 'the biggest Yerushalayim in Jewish history' – even using the Hebrew word for the city – will strike many as an act of humiliation."

Indeed, if there was any hope left for negotiations to restart now, they have been all but destroyed by this leak.  The Palestinian Authority is furious.

A senior Palestinian Authority official in Ramallah on Sunday strongly condemned the Al-Jazeera TV network for publishing hundreds of documents concerning the peace talks between Palestinians and Israelis.

"Al-Jazeera has declared war on the Palestinians," the official told The Jerusalem Post. "This station serves the interests of the enemies of the Palestinians."

Asked if the PA was now considering measures against Al-Jazeera, the official said he did not see how a TV station that "incites" against the Palestinians would be able to continue operating in the West Bank. However, he said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently in Cairo, would decided on the PA's response to the exposure of the documents in the coming hours.

And Israel's stone cold rejection of the Palestinian offer shows just how little regard they ever had for anything but the end of the notion of the Palestinian state.  One side is weak, the other will except nothing less than total victory.  Neither side is negotiating in good faith.  Whether you agree with the leak or not, any chance at peace right now is certainly gone for the foreseeable future.

Why I Have No Idea What You Are Talking About, Mr. Gregory

Even a stopped grandfather clock is right twice a day, and Sunday must have been Meet The Press host David Gregory's turn to commit acts of actual journalism as he cornered GOP House majority leader Eric Cantor on the issue of birthers.

"I think the President is a citizen of the United States," Cantor said.

"Period?" Gregory asked.

"Yes," Cantor replied. "Why is it that you want me to go and engage in name calling [against birthers]?"

"Because I think a lot of people would say that a leader's job is to shut some of this down," Gregory replied. "You know as well as I do that there are elements on the right who believe two things about the president: he is actively trying to undermine the American way and wants to deny individuals their freedom. Do you reject those beliefs as a leader of our Congress?"

"I believe the president wants what's best in this country," Cantor said.

Damning with faint praise.  Of course Cantor isn't going to call out the birthers.  He needs them and so does the GOP.  He calls them out, they call for his head in turn and demand he be stripped of his leadership position.  He knows it, the birthers know it, David Gregory knows it.  That's a fight Cantor doesn't want to Republican wants to have it, nor do they possess the fortitude to do the right thing and put this idiocy to rest.

Gregory is right:  a leader would have tamped this down two years ago.  Sadly, it'll never happen, not with some 41 percent of Republicans doubting the President is an American citizen.


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