Wow, what a news day today…with the earth shattering earthquake that hit Virginia, to the earth shattering news that Libyan Rebels have invaded the Mad Dog’s compound…there is just so much to report on.
First, I know I am sounding like a broken record, but this Hurricane Irene is something people in the possible track should pay attention to:
Coastal Watches/Warnings and 5-Day Forecast Cone for Storm Center
Hey, being born and raised in Florida…you get used to paying attention to Hurricane Warnings when they are issued. So keep an eye on Irene.
Alright, now here is what is going on in Libya:
Libyan rebels declared the Gaddafi era over after storming Tripoli [Photo: AFP]
Libyans poured into streets surrounding Moammar Gadhafi’s fortress-like compound in Tripoli on Tuesday, after rebels captured it following fierce street battles against forces loyal to the longtime ruler.
Streets around the Bab al-Aziziya compound rang with mortars, heavy machine-guns and antiaircraft guns throughout much of the day as rebels took up positions around the symbolic heart of Col. Gadhafi’s regime.
Rebels are looting Gaddafi’s stuff, and walking out of the compound with clothing and other Gaddafi items, the look of joy on their faces is really something to see…But of course, Gaddafi is nowhere to be found…
I am going to move on to the US political front.
Obama is getting it from both sides today, first I will point out what the GOP Post that has this offering today: Obama’s claim that GOP is holding up trade deals – The Fact Checker – The Washington Post
“Let’s pass trade deals to level the playing field for our businesses. . . ..These are common-sense ideas – ideas that have been supported by both Democrats and Republicans. The only thing holding them back is politics. The only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party. That’s the problem right now. That’s what’s holding this country back. That’s what we have to change.”
— President Obama, weekly address, Aug. 20, 2011
Those were pretty tough words by the president over the weekend — “the only thing preventing us from passing these bills is the refusal by some in Congress to put country ahead of party,” referring to bills he suggests are bottled up in Congress, including free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
Not so fast, cry the Republicans: The White House has never submitted the trade bills to Congress for approval. The issue is so confusing — and Obama has been demanding immediate action for so long — that one White House spokesman actually expressed surprise this month when reporters noted the trade bills have not been submitted.
“Have we not sent them over?” asked Josh Earnest, drawing laughter from the press corps. “I mean, look, clearly the legislative mechanics are something that I’m not intimately steeped in.”
And now for Maxine Waters latest smack down, what a woman!
Rep. Maxine Waters and other black leaders lobbed heated questions at one of President Barack Obama’s top jobs advisers Monday, pressing him to confirm the White House is focusing on creating jobs in struggling African-American communities — and to say the word “black.”
Don Graves, the executive director of the President’s Council on Jobs and Competitiveness, said at a nighttime forum at a black church in Miami that the president is “focused on every community across the country,” The Miami Herald reported.
And here is the best part…Gotta love Maxine!
But when he added that “certain communities have been hit harder than other communities,” Waters pushed him. “Let me hear you say ‘black,’” the California Democrat said.
As the crowd cheered, The Washington Post said in its report on the Congressional Black Caucus-sponsored event, Graves quietly said: “black, African-American, Latino — we’re going to focus on getting people back to work.”
Graves replied “quietly,” oh I bet…sounds more like he responded “sheepishly” to me!
Waters is one of the only politicians making connections with the people lately…Invisible Town Hall Revolution Gets Bigger and Bigger | FDL News Desk
Chris Bowers notes a couple of my posts about the invisible town hall revolution, supplementing it with other examples of protests and progressive questioners at GOP town hall meetings from around the country. He writes:
These actions are truly widespread. As such, it’s worth wondering why the media coverage has primarily been restricted to local news and not become a significant national narrative. A rationale sympathetic to the national political media would argue that these town halls lack the threat of imminent violence that was simmering in 2009, thus rendering the 2011 iteration both tame and repetitive as a story. A less sympathetic rationale would be that the national political media is simply differential to the angry conservatives, who are believed to have dominated electoral politics for decades and are thus allocated disproportionate attention.
First of all, the actions are more widespread than even Bowers catalogs. Here’s a protest at Dave Reichert’s office. And here’s a town hall with Rep. Jim Renacci. And one with Rep. Mike Kelly. And one with Bill Huizenga. And Bill Shuster. And Elton Gallegly. And Brian Bilbray. And Nan Hayworth. And Jeff Denham. And Andy Harris. And Marsha Blackburn. And John Culberson. And Bill Johnson. And Mario Diaz-Balart. And Joe Wilson. I could go on. The numbers of actions are in the dozens, and may reach three digits.
Dayen reports that 60% of Congress is not holding town hall meetings, which is why I found this link from CounterPunch interesting: David Martinez: Why, That Must be Nancy Pelosi!
If any one ever needed a better reason to throw the Democratic Party into the garbage can of history, last Tuesday night’s “Town Hall Meeting” in Oakland, California, was a perfect example of the party’s pathos, duplicity and outright arrogance.
The night had been billed as a chance for people to “tell their stories” directly to House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi of San Francisco and Congresswoman Barbara Lee of Oakland.
Here is where it gets good…
Then the event began, and the politicians filed onto the stage and were introduced. But first came stern warnings against anyone taking issue with Nancy Pelosi: Green For All’s Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins condescendingly explained to the assembled audience that this event was about “unity”, and that if we were “divided” our enemies would be made stronger. What she was really saying was that no one was going to be allowed to criticize the politicians on the stage. So she was basically calling for the antithesis of politics, which is at the very least about criticism. She then demanded that the night’s story “will not be about the two people in the back who are angry at Leader Pelosi; tonight the story will only be about jobs!”
However, much to the event organizers’ chagrin, there were more than only two angry people in the room. As Pelosi took the stage, someone yelled “Sellout!” When Pelosi brought up the recent debt-ceiling agreement, several more people yelled at her “Well why did you vote for it then?” and the Congresswoman was forced to explain why she had sold out, saying that she had signed the budget deal to avoid the U.S. defaulting, and claimed that at least Medicare and Social Security had been saved. She neglected to mention that those programs can, and will, be put on the block by the “Super Congress” that is going to decide where the actual cuts will come from.
After a couple of more hecklers had been hustled out of the room by security, it was time for the “speakout” part of the event to start, and one by one, different people told their stories and made comments to the politicians on the stage. Everyone spoke of being out of work or too broke to make ends meet, and it was heartbreaking to hear from so many folks who were having such a rough time. One old man told the Congresspeople, “As far as I’m concerned, the Democratic Party no longer speaks for us, as they haven’t been standing up for workers or creating jobs.”
Pelosi said that the Democratic Party was going to work on “job creation” by rebuilding the US manufacturing sector. Martinez writes that he almost burst out laughing at that remark.
…after perhaps 45 minutes of people’s commentary, Pelosi announced that she would shortly be leaving to attend another event, but assured us that she would watch the rest of the people’s stories on videotape at a later date.
Then, to add insult to injury, instead of letting the remaining people have their chance to talk to the most powerful Democratic politician in the country, besides the president, the organizers announced that we would now watch a video about what other people were saying at events just like this around the country. The large video screens on the walls came to life and we began to watch a film about people doing exactly what we had been doing just five minutes prior. It was beyond ridiculous. It was kind of surreal.
So the people were then treated to a commercial…and sent home. Take a look at the entire article, you won’t be disappointed.
Moving on to Texas…Even Teen Birth Rates Are Bigger in Texas | Mother Jones
Via Feministing, here’s a priceless video of Texas Gov. Rick Perry trying to explain that you should ignore his state’s high rates of teen pregnancy and just trust him that his abstinence-only sex education policy works. The clip is from a sit-down that Perry did with Evan Smith of the Texas Tribune in October 2010, before he threw his hat in the ring for the 2012 GOP presidential primary.
Smith asks why the governor continues to promote policies that simply tell kids not to have sex when the state has the third-highest teen pregnancy rate in the US. The state actually appears to rank fourth in teen pregnancies, but third in teen birth rates. It’s pretty bad either way.
Perry says that “Abstinence works,” and this is from “his own personal experience…” Oh, what could Jon Stewart or Colbert do with this tidbit of a quote?
Video is there at the link…
By now you have heard about Dominique Strauss-Kahn, this is a link to a Spiegel article: A Future for DSK? French Socialists Wary of Strauss-Kahn’s Return – SPIEGEL ONLINE – News – International
While Socialists in France are pleased that charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn have been dropped, they are wary of the role he might play in next year’s French presidential elections. Party leaders appear to be keeping a cautious distance.
The news that charges against Dominique Strauss-Kahn were dropped in New York on Tuesday has been greeted by France’s Socialist Party in Paris’ Rue Solferino with a sigh of relief. Only three days before the summer meeting of Socialists in La Rochelle, the rumors, suspicions and accusations against Strauss-Kahn and his alleged rape of Nafissatou Diallo, a housekeeper at New York’s Sofitel, will come to an end for the time being. Just two months before the Socialists will hold their primary election ahead of French presidential elections in 2012, they can finally put an end to the endless American drama surrounding their fellow party member.
For the time being is right…End of Rape Case Brings the French Relief, and Political Questions – NYTimes.com
Many also noted that a civil case against him is still pending in New York, and the complaint filed by a French, Tristane Banon, who said he tried to rape her in 2003. French prosecutors are investigating. Her lawyer, David Koubbi, said that Ms. Banon’s case and credibility were not damaged by the events in New York and that Ms. Banon “is combative” and “saddened” by what happened to the accuser in New York, Nafissatou Diallo, “because she believes her.”
In London, the toxicology reports are back from Amy Winehouse’s autopsy: Amy Winehouse toxicology reports showed ‘no illegal substances’ | Music | The Guardian
The family of Amy Winehouse has revealed toxicology reports showed there were “no illegal substances” in her body at the time of her death.
The 27-year-old singer was found dead at her north London home last month. Her family said the reports showed alcohol was present in her body, but it is not yet known if it contributed to her death.
Well, that is quite a bit of news for you to digest, will see you later in the comments!
Here is a run down of some items making news today…
Hurray, it seems we dodged an “Eddie Munster” bullet with the news that Paul Ryan rules out 2012 presidential run.
Ryan, R-Wis., said in a statement he appreciated the support from “those eager to chart a brighter future for the next generation” but would not run for president.
“While humbled by the encouragement, I have not changed my mind, and therefore I am not seeking our party’s nomination for President,” he said. “I remain hopeful that our party will nominate a candidate committed to a pro-growth agenda of reform that restores the promise and prosperity of our exceptional nation.”
Obama looks like he his going to take the kudos on Gaddafi’s ouster. Clinton was the force behind getting involved in Libya…and of course, the negative response in the media when the Libyan revolt started was mostly aimed at her. Now that it seems Gaddafi is out…Obama is getting the media praise.
When President Obama announced military intervention in Libya in March, he was criticized by liberals for injecting the United States into a third war, and by conservatives for doing it too slowly.
As the mission dragged on, from “days and weeks” to months, the bipartisan criticism only grew, with charges that Obama was “leading from behind” and violating the War Powers Act in the process.
Now, the impending downfall of Moammar Gadhafi brings one of Obama’s key foreign policy objectives closer to fulfillment, and signals that the president’s strategy was at least partly a success.
“As of today, I think it is a partial vindication of the so-called Obama Doctrine, at least for certain kinds of cases,” said Michael O’Hanlon, a military and foreign policy analyst at the Brookings Institution.
Obama had justified limited, pre-emptive U.S. military action in Libya as part a broad “international mandate for action” and compelling humanitarian interest to prevent “violence on a horrific scale,” all while not requiring formal congressional approval. He charted a course for greater U.S. support for multinational action instead of isolationism or unilateral force.“The robust leadership of the president is pretty clear here,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said, “and had a tangible impact on the outcome in Libya.”
ABC does make a slight mention about the small bounce Obama got after Osama’s was killed, and wonders if the same bounce will happen with Gaddafi. They also touch on the fact that Gaddafi is missing…I wonder if he is hiding out in a dug out hole somewhere in the desert.
These next three links are all questions of the day…
Over at CNN, the question is: Libya: Is Gadhafi’s loss Obama’s gain? – CNN Political Ticker – CNN.com Blogs
You can click on that link to see what CNN views think…
Then there is this question of the day over at WSJ: Will President Barack Obama win re-election?
If anyone wants to see what readers of the Wall Street Journal about that question, go ahead and click the link.
Personally I like this question being offered over at Guardian: Would we have been better off with President Hillary Clinton than President Barack Obama? | Poll | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk
Given the travails of Barack Obama’s presidency, some say we would have been better off if Hillary Clinton had won the 2008 presidential nomination. Would the world be a better place today if the US had got a Hillary Clinton administration?
Would we have been better off with President Hillary Clinton than President Barack Obama? 50% Yes 50% No
Poll closes in 2 days (Votes are counted every 60 seconds)
Take a look at what the Guardian readers think about this.
It may be an interesting comparison.
Just a couple more links for you today, Irene is getting stronger…Dangerous Hurricane Irene forms | Earth | EarthSky
Irene, the ninth named storm and first hurricane of the 2011 Atlantic hurricane season, immediately formed on August 20, 2011 after hurricane hunters investigated a strong tropical wave (ex-97L) in the eastern Caribbean.
The last time we had nine named storms in the Atlantic Basin prior to August 20, was set back in the years of 1936 and 2005. In other words, 2011 is the 3rd most active Atlantic hurricane season up to now since record keeping began. Irene is going to impact the Southeast United States later this week, and now is the time to be prepared.
Irene is a storm that should be taken seriously. If you live along the southeast coast, please have a plan ready. The intensity forecast for Irene is dependent on the track the storm takes. Irene is now forecasted to move north of Hispaniola, which is great news for them. However, that’s horrible news for the United States. If Irene moves north of Hispaniola, then the storm will remain over warm waters and the mountainous terrain will not disrupt the organization of the cyclone as much. The water temperatures over the Bahamas are extremely warm, and conditions should remain favorable for Irene to steadily strengthen into a major hurricane.
For the latest updates, here is the link to NOAA Hurricane Center: National Hurricane Center
If you haven’t heard, Geological Team Lays Claim to Oldest Known Fossils – NYTimes.com
A team of Australian and British geologists have discovered fossilized, single-cell organisms that are 3.4 billion years old and that the scientists say are the oldest known fossils on earth.
Their assertion, if sustained, confirms the view that life evolved on earth surprisingly soon after the Late Heavy Bombardment, a reign of destruction in which waves of asteroids slammed into the primitive planet, heating the surface to molten rock and boiling the oceans into an incandescent mist. The bombardment, which ended around 3.85 billion years ago, would have sterilized the earth’s surface of any incipient life.
What? 3.4 billion year old fossils? How can that be when the world is only 6 thousand years old? I would like to hear Perry and Bachmann’s explanations for that.
Well, be sure to post any updates or links to things you are reading this afternoon. See y’all in the comments!
Well, we dodged a bullet yesterday when Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour announced that he won’t be running for president in 2012. Whew! I really didn’t want a president who would decorate the Oval Office with Confederate Civil War memorabilia, did you? Newsweek, January 2010:
The Republican governor of Mississippi keeps a large portrait of the University Greys, the Confederate rifle company that suffered 100 percent casualties at Gettysburg, on a wall not far from a Stars and Bars Confederate flag signed by Jefferson Davis.
Not to mention a guy who praised the segregationist Southern “citizens councils” in an interview with the Weekly Standard. And the fact that Barbour talks like he has a mouthful of marbles doesn’t help either.
Politico has an analysis of why Barbour “pulled the plug,” which basically boils down to he really didn’t want to go through the aggravation. The story ends this way:
There were also nagging concerns among GOP insiders about the prospect of nominating a deep-South governor with an accent matching his Delta roots to take on the country’s first black president.
Barry Wynn, a former South Carolina Republican chairman, put it politely after hearing Barbour speak in the state earlier this month: “There’s a perception that he might be more of a regional candidate.”
Gee, no kidding. Like I said, we dodged a bullet. But there are plenty of other creepy Republicans out there to take his place. In fact Ron Paul is getting ready to announce another campaign for president.
Speaking of creepy Republicans, Donald Trump claimed today that President Obama’s birth certificate is “missing.”
When asked from whom he received the information, Trump said he didn’t want to say and that he feels bad about the situation.
“I’d love for him to produce his birth certificate so that you can fight one-on-one,” Trump said in an interview set to air Monday. “If you look at what he’s doing to fuel prices, you can do a great fight one-on-one, you don’t need this issue.”
CNN’s Gary Tuchman also interviewed the former director of the Hawaii Department of Health, who said she has seen the original birth certificate in the vault at the Department of Health.
Trump supporter Franklin Graham, son of Billy, is also on the birther bandwagon.
Meanwhile, multiple media outlets are talking about Trump’s generous campaign contributions–to Democrats. In fact, Trump recently donated $50,000 to Rahm Emanuel’s campaign for Chicago Mayor. From CNN:
Shortly before announcing interest in pursuing the GOP presidential bid, Republican Donald Trump gave $50,000, his largest campaign contribution in Illinois, to Democrat Rahm Emanuel, who was running for mayor, in December 2010….
Rahm’s brother Ari, who is co-CEO of William Morris Endeavor Entertainment, represents a majority of Hollywood’s celebrity elite, including Trump….
Records from the Illinois State Board of Elections show that Trump has made various sizable donations to Democratic causes in Illinois.
When [Ed] Rendell entered Pennsylvania’s 2002 gubernatorial race, Trump committed himself to the former Democratic National Committee chairman’s cause. Between December 2001 and Election Day ’02, Trump personally gave $27,000 to Ed Rendell’s gubernatorial campaign. He also chipped in $5,000 more at the end of 2003, when Rendell was finishing up his first year in office.
Mind you, Rendell’s victory in 2002 was by no means a foregone conclusion. He faced a serious threat in the May Democratic primary from Robert Casey, then the state’s treasurer and the son of a former governor. The sharpest ideological difference between the two men may have been on abortion: Rendell was pro-choice, while Casey was pro-life (like his father, who was denied a speaking slot at the 1992 Democratic convention in part because of it). During the primary campaign, Trump provided Rendell with $6,000. Rendell ended up beating Casey by 13 points.
Trump is supposedly the one of the biggest contributors to Charlie Rangel ever, yet he is supposedly running as a Republican.
And then we have our current president, who is a Republican who ran as a Democrat in 2008. I posted this in comments on the morning thread yesterday, but I can resist doing it again. It’s so funny to see former Obama supporter (why?) Eric Alterman comparing Obama to Jimmy Carter.
Stylistically speaking, Barack Obama could hardly be further from Jimmy Carter if he really had been born in Kenya. Carter was a born-again Baptist who was raised on his father’s peanut plantation and supported George Wallace on the road to the Georgia state house. Barack Obama—well, you know the story. But the two men have a great deal in common in their approach to the presidency, and not one of these similarities is good news for the Democrats or even for America. Both men rule without regard to the concerns of the base of their party. Both held themselves to be above politics when it came to making tough decisions. Both were possessed with superhuman self-confidence when it came to their own political judgment mixed with contempt for what they understood to be the petty concerns of pundits and party leaders. And worst of all, one fears, neither one appeared willing to change course no matter how many storm clouds loomed on the horizon.
Ask yourself if the following story does not sound like another president we could name The gregarious Massachusetts pol, House Speaker Tip O’Neill, could hardly have been more eager to work with a Democratic president after eight years of Nixon and Ford. But when they first met, and O’Neill attempted to advise Carter about which members of Congress might need some special pleading, or even the assorted political favor or two with regard to certain issues, to O’Neill’s open-jawed amazement, Carter replied, “No, I’ll describe the problem in a rational way to the American people. I’m sure they’ll realize I’m right.” The red-nosed Irishman later said he “could have slugged” Carter over this lethal combination of arrogance and naivety, but it would soon become Carter’s calling card.
In some bad news for the radical right, the Supreme Court has refused to hear a challenge to Obamacare before it wends its way through the federal courts.
And in some good news for football fans, a district court has decided that
The NFL’s lockout is harming players and fans and is not in the public interest, District Judge Susan Nelson said in a ruling on Monday that granted the players’ request for an injunction to halt the work stoppage.
Nelson’s order to end the six-week lockout, imposed last month after a breakdown in talks over a new collective deal, is to be appealed by the NFL.
In an 89-page statement, the judge also accepted that the players dissolution of their union was valid and allowed them to act as individuals rather than be constricted by labor bargaining rules.
The Minnesota judge said in the absence of a collective bargaining process, which ended on March 11, antitrust policies come to the fore.
The plaintiffs in the case, led quarterback Tom Brady of the New England Patriots, argued they were suffering harm as a result of a lockout that stops them from reporting to work.
Here’s some more analysis of the decision at USA Today. I realize that I’m one of the few sports fans here at Sky Dancing, so I won’t burden you unduly. But I just want to say that the Red Sox have won five games in a row and are now only one game under .500–after starting the season with a string of pathetic losses. I know at least Pat Johnson will join me in cheering that news.
Daknikat wrote yesterday about the terrible flooding that was expected in Missouri. Well, it’s happening.
Gov. Jay Nixon activated the Missouri National Guard on Monday in response to the flooding of the Black River near Poplar Bluff, Mo. The executive order came just three days after the governor declared a state of emergency from the tornado that tore through St. Louis last Friday.
“Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner has mobilized 200 citizen soldiers and airmen to report initially to the Poplar Bluff area to assist with flood relief there,” said Maj. Tammy Spicer, public affairs officer for the Missouri National Guard.
More from the Houston Chronicle: Residents flee as river overflows Missouri levee.
Thunder roared and tornado warning sirens blared, and all emergency workers in the southeast Missouri town of Poplar Bluff could do Monday was hope the saturated levee holding back the Black River would survive yet another downpour.
Murky water flowed over the levee at more than three dozen spots and crept toward homes in the flood plain. Some had already flooded. If the levee broke — and forecasters said it was in imminent danger of doing so — some 7,000 residents in and around Poplar Bluff would be displaced.
One thousand homes were evacuated earlier in the day. Sandbagging wasn’t an option, Police Chief Danny Whitely said. There were too many trouble spots, and it was too dangerous to put people on the levee. Police went door-to-door encouraging people to get out. Some scurried to collect belongings, others chose to stay. Two men had to be rescued by boat.
“Basically all we can do now is wait, just wait,” Whitely said.
A Roosevelt would probably have created jobs by having people repair the nation’s rotting infrastructure. But, instead we got Barack “Hoover” Obama and the levees keep on failing.
Things are getting worse and worse in Syria, where there has been a brutal crackdown on protesters over the past several days. From CNN: Deadly attack on protesters raises questions about Syria’s stability
With reports emerging Monday that at least one high-ranking Syrian military commander refused to participate in a bloody, predawn raid that left dozens dead in the southern border city of Daraa — the heart of Syria’s weekslong civil unrest, questions are being raised about possible cracks in President Bashar al-Assad’s hold over the military.
The crackdown on anti-government protesters by Syrian forces escalated in recent days as demonstrators, emboldened by weeks of protests, called for the ouster of al-Assad. The crackdown culminated with the raid in Daraa where thousands of troops reportedly stormed the city and opened fire on demonstrators. It was an attack reminiscent of the brutal rule of al-Assad’s father, who once ordered the military to crush a revolt that resulted in the deaths of thousands.
“I think he’s clearly going toward the security solution, which is where he could be following in the steps of his father,” said Andrew Tabler of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.
I’ve been hearing all day that Yemen’s president Saleh was renigging on his promise to step down soon, but Al Jazeera reports that there is an agreement between the government and opposition forces.
Yemen’s opposition has agreed to take part in a transitional government under a Gulf-negotiated peace plan for embattled leader Ali Abdullah Saleh to step aside in a month in exchange for immunity for him and his family.
A spokesman for an opposition coalition said on Monday that his group had received assurances in order to accept the deal.
“We have given our final accord to the [Gulf] initiative after having received assurances from our brothers and American and European friends on our objections to certain clauses in the plan,” Mohammed Qahtan said.
But not all protesters are going along.
many pro-democracy protesters, who are not members of the coalition that agreed to the peace talks, appear to be unconvinced by the Gulf-proposed deal and have called for fresh demonstrations, as security forces continued their crackdown.
In Libya, the fighting continues to be centered in the city of Misurata.
The battle for Misurata, which has claimed hundreds of lives in the past two months, has become the focal point of the armed rebellion against Gaddafi since fighting elsewhere is deadlocked.
Images of civilians being killed and wounded by Gaddafi’s heavy weapons, have spurred calls for more forceful international intervention to stop the bloodshed.
NATO’s mandate from the UN is to try to protect civilians in Libya, split into a rebel-run east and a western area that remains largely under Gaddafi’s control.
While the international coalition’s air attacks have delivered heavy blows to his army, they have not halted attacks on Misurata, Libya’s third largest city, with a population of 300,000.
When I was a kid, I was fascinated by insects. I loved to read books about ants, spiders, and other such creepy-crawly critters. Truthfully, I still find them interesting. Here’s a story about fire ants and how they cooperate to protect the group in an emergency.
When flood waters threaten their underground nests, fire ants order an immediate evacuation. They make their way to the surface and grab hold of one another, making a living raft that can sail for months.
The extraordinary survival tactic, which can involve entire colonies of more than a hundred thousand ants, has been captured on film by US engineers who used the footage to help unravel how the insects co-operate to overcome nature’s dangers.
Time-lapse film of the ants in action reveals that pockets of air get trapped between them and around their bodies, helping them breathe if the raft is pushed under the water.
In normal circumstances the ants lock legs, and sometimes mandibles, to form a floating mat that sits on top of the water through a combination of surface tension and buoyancy.
“Even the ones at the bottom remain dry and able to breath because they are not actually under the water,” said Nathan Mlot, a PhD student at Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta.
If only we humans would get together and cooperate like that!
That’s all I’ve got for today. What are you reading and blogging about?
British journalist Tim Hetherington, who co-directed and photographed the award-winning documentary Restrepo died today in Misrata, Libya. While making the film, Hetherington and his co-director Sebastian Junger worked closely with U.S. troops in an isolated and dangerous outpost in Afghanistan over an extended period of time. Restrepo won the Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival and was nominated for an Oscar. Hetherington was 41.
Tim Hetherington, best known for co-directing the Oscar-nominated documentary on the Afghanistan war “Restrepo,” was killed in Libya on Wednesday while covering the conflict as a photojournalist for Panos Pictures, according to one of his other employers, Vanity Fair magazine.
Along with Hetherington, the New York Times reports three other journalists were wounded in the same incident: Chris Hondros, working for Getty photo agency; Guy Martin, working for Panos also; and Michael Christopher Brown, who has worked as a freelancer for several large publications.
Hondros and Martin were said to have grave wounds, and may not survive, the Times reports.
The day before he died, Hetherington tweeted: “In besieged Libyan city of Misrata. Indiscriminate shelling by Qaddafi forces. No sign of NATO.”
Hetherington, one of the best known photojournalists and winner of the prestigious Dupont Award, produced powerful pieces for ABC News’ “Nightline” from the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan, and directed the documentary “Restrepo,” which was nominated for an Academy Award.
“Tim was one of the bravest photographers and filmmakers I have ever met,” said ABC News’ James Goldston, who worked closely with Hetherington as executive producer of “Nightline.”
“During his shooting for the Nightline specials he very seriously broke his leg on a night march out of a very isolated forward operating base that was under attack. He had the strength and character to walk for four hours through the night on his shattered ankle without complaint and under fire, enabling that whole team to reach safety.”
Hetherington was embedded with the Army unit in Afghanistan when Army Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta put his life on the line to save his comrades. Giunta later became the first living recipient of the Medal of Honor since Vietnam.
RESTREPO is a feature-length documentary that chronicles the deployment of a platoon of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan’s Korengal Valley. The movie focuses on a remote 15-man outpost, “Restrepo,” named after a platoon medic who was killed in action. It was considered one of the most dangerous postings in the U.S. military.
And from the “directors’ statement”:
Our intention was to capture the experience of combat, boredom and fear through the eyes of the soldiers themselves. Their lives were our lives: we did not sit down with their families, we did not interview Afghans, we did not explore geopolitical debates. Soldiers are living and fighting and dying at remote outposts in Afghanistan in conditions that few Americans back home can imagine. Their experiences are important to understand, regardless of one’s political beliefs.
UPDATE: American photojournalist Chris Hondros has died of wounds from the same attack in which Tim Hetherington died.
The Washington Post has put up a gallery of Hondros’ work.
Paints an interesting picture doesn’t it? I thought with so much going on we should touch base and get some updates to y’all.
First things first…Judith Apter Klinghoffer on History News Network has this to say about Mad Dogs and Chihuahuas:
“REAGAN” ZIG ZAGS LIKE OBAMA’S FOREIGN POLICY
March 15, 2011 Aircraft carrier moves closer despite radiation
No one understand this better than US rivals and enemies.
Obama: Qaddafi has to go.
Clapper: Qaddafi is going to win.
Obama: I am the president and he “it is in the interests of the United States, and more importantly in the interests of the Libyan people, that Mr. Gaddafi leave…”
What does he do to achieve it?
No, he does not fiddle like Nero. He plays golf!
What does Qaddafi do?
Ha, just a bit of laughter before we get the real problems going on today.
So, let’s get to the Mad Dog shall we? I think we all know where this is heading.
Libyan rebels are retreating from the strategic town of Ajdabiya under heavy bombardment by Muammar Gaddafi’s forces, according to reports, as the international community continues to debate a possible no-fly zone to protect an anti-government uprising.
The town on Libya’s east coast is all that stands between the advance of Libyan government troops and the rebel stronghold of Benghazi and lies on a road junction from where Gaddafi’s forces could attempt to encircle the city.
Libyan state television claimed on Tuesday pro-Gaddafi forces were now “in total control” of the town. Rebel fighters told Al Jazeera that they were pulling out.
On Monday, Libyan jets flew behind rebel lines to bomb Ajdabiyah, the only sizeable town before Benghazi.
Rebels said there had been no casualties.
Colonel Milad Hussein, Libyan army spokesman, said that government forces were “marching to cleanse the country” of insurgents, whom he called “rats and terrorists” and vowed to take on Benghazi.
The lightly armed rebels have been pushed back some 200 kilometres by Gaddafi’s better equipped and better trained forces in the past week.
“In Brega it is still advance and retreat, we are not in control and they are not either,” rebel fighter Hussein al-Wami told the Reuters news agency.
As the world watches Japan, transfixed by the aftermath of a massive tsunami that has probably killed over 10,000 and left half a million homeless, attended by a crisis in a series of nuclear reactors, on the other side of the world the forces of Muammar Qaddafi are advancing on rebel cities, reducing them one after the other with unrestrained aerial bombardment and artillery barrages, as Qaddafi himself threatens to ally with Usama Bin Laden if he is thwarted in his reconquista.
Qaddafi, defiant, told the Milan-based Il Giornale, that he would crush the rebels. “Their cause is lost. They only have two possibilities: to surrender or to flee,” he said. He expressed extreme disappointment in Western European leaders who had come out against his rule. France has recognized the provisional government in Benghazi, David Cameron of Britain has argued for a European-imposed no-fly zone, and even Qaddafi’s old crony Silvio Berlusconi of Italy has turned on him. Qaddafi lamented the banquet of friendship he had thrown for Berlusconi.
Asked if he doesn’t fear Saddam Hussein’s fate, Qaddafi said that if NATO tried to invade Libya and overthrow him, he would leave the international alliance against terrorism and join al-Qaeda in a holy war against the West.
I don’t know what is going to come of Hillary Clinton’s meeting, guess we will find out more later today?
From the Mideast to the Midwest…
For some context regarding the outcome of Wisconsin’s lost fight for collective bargaining:
In Wisconsin, despite the biggest protests Madison has seen since the Vietnam War, there is no way getting around the basic fact: The public sector unions lost their toughest fight yet. They may have resisted mightily and sparked a national movement in opposition to Gov. Scott Walker’s budget repair bill, which stripped them of most collective bargaining rights, but he was able to sign it into law Friday afternoon, nonetheless. The damage is done. All that remains now is the fallout.
Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus, the former leader of the Wisconsin GOP, proclaimed Walker’s victory a win for the party as a whole. But happened in Wisconsin wasn’t that simple — for Walker, the GOP or the unions.
Read the entire link, it gives a good summary of what consequences everyone must face because of Walker and his GOP minion’s actions against labor.
This next link is just priceless…I would probably chalk this one up as a “horndog.”
Protesters who marched at the home of Wisconsin state senator Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) were met with something of a surprise on Saturday. Mrs. Hopper appeared at the door and informed them that Sen. Hopper was no longer in residence at this address, but now lives in Madison, WI with his 25-year-old mistress.
Blogging Blue reports that the conservative Republican’s much-younger new flame is currently employed as a lobbyist for right-wing advocacy group Persuasion Partners, Inc., but was previously a state senate staffer who worked on the Senate Economic Development Committee alongside Mr. Hopper. Her bio has been scrubbed from the Persuasion Partners’ website, but a screen-grab is available here.
Blogging Blue also reports that Mrs. Hopper intends to sign the recall petition against her husband. The petition has already been signed by the family’s maid.
And lastly…chihuahuas…(Yes I know this next link goes to National Review…so you stand warned.)
Dangerous levels of radiation leaking from a crippled nuclear plant forced Japan to order 140,000 people to seal themselves indoors Tuesday after an explosion and a fire dramatically escalated the crisis spawned by a deadly tsunami.
In a nationally televised statement, Prime Minister Naoto Kan said radiation had spread from the four stricken reactors of the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant along Japan’s northeastern coast. The region was shattered by Friday’s 9.0-magnitude earthquake and the ensuing tsunami that is believed to have killed more than 10,000 people, plunged millions into misery and pummeled the world’s third-largest economy.
Via Mike Allen’s newsletter, we see in the first line how the leader of the free world will spend his day during this awful crisis:
President Obama is taping his NCAA picks today, and they’ll be revealed tomorrow on ESPN.
Okay, that’s not all he’s doing. “Obama will tape interviews from the Map Room with KOAT Albuquerque, KDKA Pittsburgh and WVEC Hampton Roads on education reform and the need to fix No Child Left Behind.”
Japan faces an almost unparalleled crisis, Libya is in civil war, and we’re having another budget showdown after running up a $222.5 billion deficit in the 28 days of February. And after last week’s bullying summit, Obama is spending this week talking education reform.
UPDATE: I spoke too soon. Of course he’s taking an easy schedule today; he was working hard last night:
Expecting some sort of action, response or decision from our President?
Apparently Obama is too busy playing golf, working on his March Madness picks and getting his Re-Election campaign together for 2012….so many parties so little time!
What a strange world we live in…
Think of this as an open thread. I will see if I can find some new information on the Japan Nuclear Crisis. Geez…with so many ongoing issues of concern, look for updates below.
The explosion Tuesday at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant has elevated the situation there to a “serious accident” on a level just below Chernobyl, a French nuclear official said, referring to an international scale that rates the severity of such incidents.
The International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale — or INES — goes from Level 1, which indicates very little danger to the general population; to Level 7, a “major accident” in which there’s been a large release of radioactive material and there will be widespread health and environmental effects.
“It’s clear we are at Level 6, that’s to say we’re at a level in between what happened at Three Mile Island and Chernobyl,” Andre-Claude Lacoste, president of France’s nuclear safety authority, told reporters Tuesday.
This link published 17 minutes ago: Chernobyl clean-up expert slams Japan, IAEA | Reuters
Greed in the nuclear industry and corporate influence over the U.N. watchdog for atomic energy may doom Japan to a spreading nuclear disaster, one of the men brought in to clean up Chernobyl said on Tuesday.
Slamming the Japanese response at Fukushima, Russian nuclear accident specialist Iouli Andreev accused corporations and the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) of wilfully ignoring lessons from the world’s worst nuclear accident 25 years ago to protect the industry’s expansion.
More Updates on Fukushima: