This is how to take on the GOP – Mr Weiner, you’re doing it right!

HT: Crooksandliars

Crooksandliars has the following exchange between Anthony Weiner (D-NY) and Peter King (R-NY) as a followup to Weiner’s rant on the GOP blocking the 9/11 responders bill.

Listen to some more of Representative Weiner’s rants: Continue reading

President Obama’s Weekly Address: Good news in the auto industry and more Republican obstructionism

This week, President Obama speaks to us from the GM auto plant in Detroit, Michigan.  Many jobs have been saved in auto companies that might have otherwise liquidated — despite the efforts and dire warnings of the “Just Say No crowd.”

He goes on to talk about the Small Business Jobs Act, a bill that would provide tax breaks and lending assistance for small businesses, so that they are able to build their business and hire more employees.  Naturally, Republicans in the Senate faux-filibustered the bill.  The President once again called on Republicans to “stop holding America’s small businesses hostage to politics” and allow an up or down vote on the matter.  Remember when the Republicans were in front of the microphones just about everyday whining and demanding an up or down vote?

Finally, the President reminds us that Americans are tough, we work hard, and we don’t give up.  We will push this country forward inch by inch — in spite of those working so hard to hold us back.

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UN recognizes human right to safe drinking water and sanitation

Photo by Zach Meier

Green Cross

The 3rd Commission of the 64th General Assembly of the United Nations made history today by overwhelmingly adopting the draft resolution proclaiming the Human Right to Safe drinking Water and Sanitation.

I’m such a spoiled American.  Everyday, I turn on the tap and am rewarded with fresh clean water for my drinking, bathing, washing, and sanitation needs.  I have two bathrooms available to me in my home, and anywhere I may venture throughout my day, I can count on finding a restroom.  I don’t even have to think about it!

The resolution that was adopted [July 28] “declares the Right to Safe and clean drinking water and sanitation as a human right that is essential for the full enjoyment of life and all human rights.”

It also “calls upon States and international organisations to provide Financial resources, capacity building and technology transfer, through international assistance and co-operation, in particular to developing countries, in order to scale up efforts to provide safe, clean, accessible and affordable drinking water and sanitation for all.”  (Emphasis mine)

122 states voted in favor of the resolution, with 41 states abstaining — including the United States, Canada, Israel, Japan, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.  None voted against the resolution (wouldn’t that raise some interesting red flags?).

Why did the U.S. abstain from voting for or against the resolution? Continue reading

The Watering Hole: July 31 — As the wheat turns…

Photo by Zooey

After a wonderfully mild winter, extended spring, and cooler than usual summer, the wheat is browning up quite nicely.  Unfortunately, harvest usually starts the first part of August, and that certainly isn’t going to happen.  The farmers now have to hope for an extended dry summer so they can get the harvest in before the fall rains.  I don’t envy them that particular balancing act.

This is our daily open thread — What’s on your mind?

Music night. Happy Birthday, Rat

You think I would possibly miss a chance to celebrate the birthday of Rat Scabies? Seriously? It would be unlikely, but not impossible, for someone to say “Oh, The Damned were my favorite punk band of all time!” They were, however, among the founders of punk and influential in the US. Weirdly enough, they’re still around. In spite of my worship of the original, I include a fairly cool version of White Rabbit.

Feel free, as you certainly will, to post your own musical faves.

Continue reading

The Watering Hole, July 29

Why is this man gesturing rudely? Perhaps it was his dentures at fault.

Some people with a natural speech impediment make efforts to overcome it or cover it up.

But Winston Churchill came to value his as a vital weapon in the war effort.

In his wartime radio broadcasts, Churchill’s distinctive voice was instantly recognisable. He wanted it to stay that way, so he had his dentures designed specifically to preserve his lisp.

They were made by a young dental technician called Derek Cudlipp, and a set of the dentures has been in his family since Churchill’s death – but have been sold at auction for £15,200.

This is our Open Thread. Feel free not to talk about teeth.

If my client’s a twit; you must acquit*

Blago’s attorney knows things are so bad for his client, that calling him “silly” and “broke” seems like an excellent idea.

Finally, a little reality in this saga…

I can’t wait for Blago’s news conference after the verdict.  **popping popcorn**

*Chris Hayes

The Watering Hole: July 27 – A Short Course in HTML

In order to enter certain functions in your comments on TheZoo, you must use HTML functions. These are not particularly difficult. The basic format of HTML codes is:

<code> where the code is of the form:

action – Start action or

/action – Stop action.

The most common actions are

  • b or strong = bold
  • em = italic
  • u = underline
  • strike = strike through
  • blockquote = blockquote
  • sub = subscript
  • sup = superscript

Thus “<b>bold</b>” would yield “bold“.

These tags came be combined so “<strong><em>bold italic</strong> italic</em>” would yield “bold italic italic“. Notice the “b” and “strong” are interchangeable HTML tags and that tags can be turned on or off in a stream of tags. You must note that “b” and “strong” are not interchangeable within a single command string. Thus “/b” cannot be used to turn off “strong” and “/strong” will not turn off  “b”. This particular stream turns on bold, turns on  italic, turns off bold and finally turns off italic within a stream of three words.

Some basics in formating HTML text are available here. We at the Zoo are sorry that we do not provide tools to make formating comments easy, but we operate on a limited budget. You can explore the document in the link and actually learn HTML 4.

This is our open thread. Please feel free to offer your own comments on this or any other topic. I also set up a post where you can practice formating your comments in order to hone your skills in HTML. It will be hidden after tomorrow in the evening.

Afghanistan is Lost!

source:www.defense.gov

This is one major scoop of investigative journalism, just right next to The Pentagon Papers.

Wikileaks has produced over 90’000 partly classified documents covering a six year stretch of the Afghan mission. The Guardian in the UK, Der Spiegel in Germany and The New York Times have each received the documents a while ago for review and released their findings today. As I am writing this I cannot reach the wikileaks webpage, which must be overwhelmed with traffic, I suspect, so I give you a gist of what the three news outlets are making of the documents.

Der Spiegel:

The documents offer a window into the war in the Hindu Kush — one which promises to change the way we think about the ongoing violence in Afghanistan. They will also be indispensible for anyone seeking to inform themselves about the war in the future. (read article)

The newspaper then highlights five issues, one of them the situation in the North where German forces are stationed:

The Germans thought that the northern provinces where their soldiers are stationed would be more peaceful compared to other provinces and that the situation would remain that way.

They were wrong. (read more)

In an interview with the weekly Julian Assange, founder of Wikipedia, says:

Assange: These files are the most comprehensive description of a war to be published during the course of a war — in other words, at a time when they still have a chance of doing some good. They cover more than 90,000 different incidents, together with precise geographical locations. They cover the small and the large. A single body of information, they eclipse all that has been previously said about Afghanistan. They will change our perspective on not only the war in Afghanistan, but on all modern wars. (read full interview)

The Guardian obviously eyes the British side of the conflict:

Questionable shootings of civilians by UK troops also figure. The US compilers detail an unusual cluster of four British shootings in Kabul in the space of barely a month, in October/November 2007, culminating in the death of the son of an Afghan general. Of one shooting, they wrote: “Investigation controlled by the British. We are not able to get [sic] complete story.” (read all)

and more here

The US army’s archives contain descriptions of at least 21 separate occasions in which British troops are said to have shot or bombed Afghan civilians, including women and children.

The logs identify at least 26 people killed and another 20 wounded as a result. Some casualties were accidentally caused by air strikes, but many also are said to involve British troops firing on unarmed drivers or motorcyclists who come “too close” to convoys or patrols. Their injuries result from what are described as “warning shots” or “disabling shots” fired into the engine block, as required by the military’s “escalation of force” regulations.

They explain how they came by the data:

The Afghanistan war logs series of reports on the war in Afghanistan published by the Guardian is based on the US military’s internal logs of the conflict between January 2004 and December 2009. The material, largely classified by the US as secret, was obtained by the whistleblower website Wikileaks, which has published the full archive. The Guardian, along with the New York Times and the German weekly Der Spiegel, was given access to the logs before publication to verify their authenticity and assess their significance. (read all and watch video)

The New York Times explains to its readers:

Deciding whether to publish secret information is always difficult, and after weighing the risks and public interest, we sometimes chose not to publish. But there are times when the information is of significant public interest, and this is one of those times. The documents illuminate the extraordinary difficulty of what the United States and its allies have undertaken in a way that other accounts have not. (read more)

The role of Pakistan in the Afghan war is of special interest to the NYT:

Some of the reports describe Pakistani intelligence working alongside Al Qaeda to plan attacks. Experts cautioned that although Pakistan’s militant groups and Al Qaeda work together, directly linking the Pakistani spy agency, the Directorate for Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, with Al Qaeda is difficult.

[...]

Such accusations are usually met with angry denials, particularly by the Pakistani military, which insists that the ISI severed its remaining ties to the groups years ago. An ISI spokesman in Islamabad said Sunday that the agency would have no comment until it saw the documents. Pakistan’s ambassador to the United States, Husain Haqqani, said, “The documents circulated by WikiLeaks do not reflect the current on-ground realities.”

[...]

On June 19, 2006, ISI operatives allegedly met with the Taliban leaders in Quetta, the city in southern Pakistan where American and other Western officials have long believed top Taliban leaders have been given refuge by the Pakistani authorities. At the meeting, according to the report, they pressed the Taliban to mount attacks on Maruf, a district of Kandahar that lies along the Pakistani border. (read more)

There is heaps more in all three newspapers and this story is going to be hot for weeks to come, due to the vast expanse of the information made available. This may well be the final nail into the coffin of the Afghanistan war. There already is growing opposition against the mission and seeing the stark truth will further convince people, that the fight is not worth it. The documents cover the time from January 2004 to December 2009 after Iraq has been attacked on March 20th 2003 and the focus shifted away from the Afghan mission. The leaked documents don’t say anything about the time between October 2001 and 2004. I do hold on to the belief, however, that the Afghanistan mission wasn’t doomed from the beginning. But absolutely after the decision was made to attack Iraq. And again, as it is with most conflicts, the people of Afghanistan have suffered before the war, during the war and will continue to suffer after the international troops have long left.

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Watering Hole – July 26, 2010 – Animal Totems

Did you ever wonder why you are fascinated by or drawn to certain animals?  The answer may be that these animals are your Animal Totem.  Shamanic traditions, particularly Native American and Celtic, teach that we are guided by animal essence throughout our lives.   Here is information for the Zebra totem.  It certainly does sound like one of the guiding principles of The Zoo.  There is more information about Zebra and other Animal Totems here and here.

You can believe this or not.  Now it is your turn to Speak Up!

Across the Pond – What we are up to over here.

This post is far too late for morning coffee, but a nice afternoon tea maybe?

What is going on over here in Europe? Not really much, politically, most parliaments are in recess and backbenchers crowd to the microphones to get their 15 minutes until business as usual in politics resumes again. So both major news are not from politics, but from the Love Parade in Germany and, what else, BP.

Germans are looking in horror at reports of the stampede that happened during yesterday’s Love Parade in Essen.

Der Spiegel: (for those who rather not torment themselves with details, I copied only the mere facts below, so please read on at your own discretion)

By early afternoon, the techno party was already “desperately overcrowded,” Tim says. “The only entrance was through the tunnel, there was no other way to get to the site.” At the beginning, he said, the shoving “was almost fun.” Everyone was singing and chanting together, it was a friendly and relaxed atmosphere,” he reports. “That’s the point of the Love Parade, isn’t it?”

But then, things began to get more aggressive. “It was tight, hot, unbearable. Everyone wanted to get to the party, or just out of the crowd.” Some tried to find their own way out, slithering up poles or climbing a narrow staircase out of the crowd. Dehydrated, exhausted partiers where handed out over the heads of the masses. Some of those trying to climb out fell back into the crowd. When that happened, say police, mass panic broke out. (read more)

The Love Parade is the biggest techno party worldwide, the Zurich Street Parade, scheduled for August 14th, is competing for the title of the biggest techno event. There are concerns about the safety of the partygoers here, too. Increased of course by yesterday’s events. The Love Parade has been cancelled for good after the tragedy. It makes me unspeakably sad to think about all those young people who were setting out for a night of fun and had to witness or even get hurt or died in that horror.

Other headlines include the F1 Grand Prix in Hockenheim and Ferrari (spoiler alert), Franck Ribéry’s return to Munich after the dismal French World Cup adventure and the hooker scandal and Bayreuth greets the Rich, the Powerful and the Ugly for their annual Wagner opera festival. I would love to have tickets for Jonas Kaufmann‘s debut in Bayreuth, but the great unwashed must stand in line, or better not show their faces in any case.

The BBC has today’s story for the UK:

BP’s chief executive Tony Hayward has been negotiating the terms of his exit, with a formal announcement likely within 24 hours, the BBC has learned.

Mr Hayward has been widely criticised over the Gulf of Mexico oil spill.

BBC business editor Robert Peston said it was likely he would be replaced by his US colleague Bob Dudley, now in charge of the clean-up operation. (read more)

Now, what does “negotiate” mean? Huh? We’re not talking golden parachutes, are we? What? A measly £ 10 millions ($ 15 million) package? Poor sod.

Hayward, 52, is today locked in meetings with the rest of the BP board about the final details of his financial leaving package, but he is expected to go under basic contractual terms. That means a one year’s £1m pay package but a giant pension pot of over £10m, capable of paying out more than half a million pounds a year from the formal retirement age of 60. (read more)

And, while we are talking about BP, the environment comes to mind. The Independent reports on the British water industry and what privatization means really:

Ofwat, the water industry watchdog, faces calls for it to be overhauled amid accusations that it is not doing enough to remedy leaking drinking water while privatised water companies enjoy soaring profits and consumers face high bills (read more)

So, enjoy your reading and have a nice Sunday all of you!