Thanksgiving Week from the Archive- 2007: Rantings and Reflections from an Expatriate


This year I’ll be celebrating my first ever Thanksgiving outside the US. I think I’ve been outside the US on this date at least 6 or 7 times.

Many students and faculty will be meeting on campus Thursday for our 1st (hopefully annual) Thanksgiving potluck dinner. On Sunday, my wife and I, with another Danish/American mixed (or mixed up) family will have a Turkey dinner here in Nyborg.
Continue reading Thanksgiving Week from the Archive- 2007: Rantings and Reflections from an Expatriate

Unorthodox police procedures emerge in grand jury documents

Washington Post – When Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson left the scene of the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown, the officer returned to the police station unescorted, washed blood off his hands and placed his recently fired pistol into an evidence bag himself.

Such seemingly un­or­tho­dox forensic practices emerged from the voluminous testimony released in the aftermath of a grand jury decision Monday night not to indict Wilson. more at the link

Ruminations On The Right

   I spent 50 years in bleeding-edge IT work. I was very good at what I did, probably in the top 10-20 people in the world at one time. I credit that not particularly to brilliance or training but to the fact that I am basically a creative person who happened to hit the computer world at a time when it was in flux. It needed creative thinking because a new world was being made possible by computers and we were creating new ways of doing many things, from business to science.

   I spent 25 years of those 50 years at SIAC, the IT subsidiary of NYSE and was lucky to work there with some exceptional people. SIAC was widely recognized as not only a leader in the use of technology, but also a great place to work. It was a well-deserved reputation, chiefly because during its ‘golden years’, it was run by an execptional individual, Charles McQuade. Any corporation takes it cue from the top, and Charlie was first and foremost a decent, honorable and caring human being – and he ran the company accordingly. We busted out butts for SIAC because SIAC treated us well. When my wife was hit by a car and spent weeks in ICU and months in hospitals for multiple surgeries, I took off whatever time I needed and SIAC was completely supportive. So when SIAC needed a piece of code working by next Monday, I worked non-stop from 6am Thursday to 4pm Sunday to make it happen. We both did the Right Thing and nobody kept score or nitpicked.
Continue reading Ruminations On The Right

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Has Stent Placed in Her Heart

NBC News, By Pete Williams, November 26

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent heart surgery Wednesday morning after experiencing discomfort during exercise, the court said.

Ginsburg, 81, had a stent placed in her right coronary artery at MedStar Washington Hospital Center. She was resting comfortably and was expected to be discharged within 48 hours, the court said.

Supreme Court Press Release

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg underwent a coronary catheterization procedure this morning at MedStar Heart & Vascular Institute at MedStar Washington Hospital Center to place a stent in her right coronary artery. The coronary blockage was discovered after Justice Ginsburg experienced discomfort during routine exercise last night and was taken to the hospital. She is resting comfortably and is expected to be discharged in the next 48 hours.

Hagel Stepping Down as Defense Chief Under Pressure

New York Times, By Helene Cooper, November 24

Washington – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is stepping down under pressure, the first cabinet-level casualty of the collapse of President Obama’s Democratic majority in the Senate and a beleaguered national security team that has struggled to stay ahead of an onslaught of global crises…

The officials described Mr. Obama’s decision to remove Mr. Hagel, 68, as a recognition that the threat from the Islamic State would require a different kind of skills than those that Mr. Hagel was brought on to employ. A Republican with military experience who was skeptical about the Iraq war, Mr. Hagel came in to manage the Afghanistan combat withdrawal and the shrinking Pentagon budget in the era of budget sequestration.

Related, Andrew Bacevich on the Middle East: Five Bedrock Washington Assumptions That Perpetuate Our Middle East Policy Train Wreck.

The Downside of the Boom

North Dakota took on the oversight of a multibillion-dollar oil industry with a regulatory system built on trust, warnings and second chances. The cooperative approach doesn’t seem to generate results.


NYT -In early August 2013, Arlene Skurupey of Blacksburg, Va., got an animated call from the normally taciturn farmer who rents her family land in Billings County, N.D. There had been an accident at the Skurupey 1-9H oil well. “Oh, my gosh, the gold is blowing,” she said he told her. “Bakken gold.”

It was the 11th blowout since 2006 at a North Dakota well operated by Continental Resources, the most prolific producer in the booming Bakken oil patch. Spewing some 173,250 gallons of potential pollutants, the eruption, undisclosed at the time, was serious enough to bring the Oklahoma-based company’s chairman and chief executive, Harold G. Hamm, to the remote scene.

More of this lengthy, detailed article at the link.   (image: Brent McDonald/NYT)

New Benghazi report says security flaws were known, but not why Stevens was there

McClatchy, By Nancy A. Youssef, November 21

Washington — A House Intelligence Committee investigation of the Sept. 11, 2012, attacks on U.S. outposts in Benghazi concludes that while the Central intelligence Agency had properly secured its compound in the Libyan city, the State Department knew its security precautions were inadequate at the U.S. Special Mission where U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens died.

But the report, while offering rich and previously unknown details about the hours-long attack on the two facilities, still leaves unanswered a key question: If, as the report states, the CIA station chief in Tripoli, State Department diplomatic security agents and CIA contractors in Benghazi knew the mission wasn’t properly secured, why was Stevens allowed to stay there for what was supposed to be a four-day visit?

Indeed, security appeared lax even after 80 attackers had stormed the sprawling four-building complex when CIA contractors arrived to offer assistance, the report said. “The CIA security team observed that some, perhaps all, of the [diplomatic security] agents were unarmed and one of them was not wearing shoes,” the report said.
Continue reading New Benghazi report says security flaws were known, but not why Stevens was there

Why Sherman was right to burn Atlanta

The New York Time’s Phil Leigh really deserves this smack-down, the kind only the war nerd Gary Brecher can provide:

There are times when the sheer ignorance and ingratitude of the American public makes you sick.

This week marks the 150th anniversary of Sherman’s March from Atlanta to the Sea, which set off on November 16, 1864—the most remarkable military campaign on the 19th century, the campaign which got Lincoln reelected, broke the back of the Confederacy, and slapped most of Dixie’s insane diehards into the realization they were defeated.

You’d think our newspaper of record, the New York Times, would find an appropriate way to mark the occasion, but the best the old Confederate-gray lady could come up with was a churlish, venomous little screed by an obscure neo-Confederate diehard named Phil Leigh. Leigh poses a stupid question: “Who Burned Atlanta?” and comes up with a stupider answer: “Sherman, that bad, bad man!”

More at the link.

How Public Power Can Defeat Plutocrats

Bill Moyers with Larry Lessig and Zephyr Teachout

Bill had the same two guests on last week…, I didn’t get around to posting about it…, but should have. I have said more than once here…, that we can’t solve many of our problems without campaign finance reform. Here’s a snip from Bill’s opening commentary:

Today, gifts to politicians that were once called graft or bribes are called contributions. And the Supreme Court has ruled that powerful corporations and rich individuals can give just about anything they want to politicians who do their bidding, and it’s not considered corruption.

The watchdog Sunlight Foundation reports that from 2007 to 2012, two hundred corporations spent almost $6 billion for lobbying and campaign contributions, and received more than $4 trillion — that’s $4 trillion — in government contracts and other forms of assistance.

And if you ask the question…, “What can I do about it?” Here is a link to more than one answer, 8 Things You Can Do to Help Get Money Out of Politics

Weekend Jukebox: What becomes of… ? and other questions

Not sure what the theme is? Make one up…

RIP Jimmy Ruffin: What Becomes of the Broken Hearted?

plus:

Nina Simone: “Someone To Watch Over Me”

Everly Bros, Mark Knopfler, Chet Atkins: “Why Worry?”

Court rules Michigan has no responsibility to provide quality public education

The Michigan Citizen, November 13

Detroit, MI — In a blow to schoolchildren statewide, the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled on Nov. 7 the State of Michigan has no legal obligation to provide a quality public education to students in the struggling Highland Park School District.

A 2-1 decision reversed an earlier circuit court ruling that there is a “broad compelling state interest in the provision of an education to all children.” The appellate court said the state has no constitutional requirement to ensure schoolchildren actually learn fundamental skills such as reading — but rather is obligated only to establish and finance a public education system, regardless of quality. Waving off decades of historic judicial impact on educational reform, the majority opinion also contends that “judges are not equipped to decide educational policy.”

“This ruling should outrage anyone who cares about our public education system,” said Kary L. Moss, executive director of the American Civil Liberties of Michigan. “The court washes its hands and absolves the state of any responsibility in a district that has failed and continues to fail its children.”

The decision dismisses an unprecedented “right-to-read” lawsuit filed by the ACLU of Michigan in July 2012 on behalf of eight students of nearly 1,000 children attending K-12 public schools in Highland Park, Mich. The suit, which named as defendants the State of Michigan, its agencies charged with overseeing public education and the Highland Park School District, maintained that the state failed to take effective steps to ensure that students are reading at grade level.

Friday Catblogging from the archive: Dec. 18 ,2009

Originally posted as a diary by SPK in 2009

Quote for the day

“How can I prepare kids for the world if I’m not preparing the world for the kids?”

-Tory Russell, youth worker and co-founder of resistance group Hands Up United, Ferguson, MO, from his interview today on NPR’s Here and Now.

Should Syria be Partitioned?

~ from a newsletter by Chuck Spinney

Attached is a short Syrian sitrep and summary of the central points of a plan being advocated by Joshua Landis, a professor at the Univ. of Oklahoma, and one of our nation’s leading experts on Syria.  Landis runs an informative blog, known as Syria Comment and his plan is discussed at this link in a video interview with Fareek Zakaria of CNN.  My guess is that Landis is well aware of the limitations and uncertainties of his proposal to solve what has become a gordian knot of contradictions.  Zakaria’s gushing enthusiasm for the Landis plan may not reflect Landis’s confidence in whether or not this plan will work.

For example, a subsequent blog entry on Landis’s site, The Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra: A Looming Grand Jihadi Alliance?, Posted by Aymenn Al-Tamimi on Friday, November 14th, 2014, lays out a very interesting argument outlining reasons why al Nusra and ISIS are unlikely to form a lasting alliance.  If Al-Tamimi is correct, this may well render impossible any efforts to stabilize a moderate Sunni state.  The bullets below summarize Landis’s points as I understand them; my comments are in red.

In no way implying criticism, the Landis plan may be unworkable. But pressure to partition Syria is going to grow, so it is worth thinking about its implications.

Continue reading Should Syria be Partitioned?

Thomas Frank : How ’70s and ’80s cynicism poisoned Democrats and America

Nixon’s lies and Reagan’s charms created the space for Clinton, Carter and Obama to redefine (and gut) liberalism

Salon, By Thomas Frank, November 16

“The Invisible Bridge” is the third installment in Rick Perlstein’s grand history of conservatism, and like its predecessors, the book is filled with startling insights. It is the story of a time much like our own—the 1970s, which took America from the faith-crushing experience of Watergate to economic hard times and, eventually, to a desperate enthusiasm for two related figures: the nostalgic presidential aspirant Ronald Reagan, and the “anti-politician” Jimmy Carter. (I discussed Perlstein’s views on Carter in this space a few weeks ago.)

In blending cultural with political history, “The Invisible Bridge” strikes me as an obvious addition to any list of nonfiction masterpieces. But I also confess to being biased: Not only do I feel nostalgia for many of the events the book describes—Hank Aaron’s pursuit of the home run record, for example—but I have been friends with Rick since long ago, when he was in college and The Baffler was publishing his essays. I interviewed Rick on an Amtrak train traveling from Seattle to Portland, Oregon, a few weeks ago (we were there to do readings from a new anthology of essays); here is an edited transcript of our conversation.

Interview at the link.

Making Fools of the Fed

Just about everything the Federal Reserve Bank does speaks of dignity.  Dignified premises, dignified public relations, dignified people running and staffing the institution.  The same applies to all the other major central banks, like the Bank of England, the Banque de France, the Deutsche Bundesbank, the European Central Bank, and the Bank of Japan.  You would think such dignified institutions with such distinguished people running them would not easily be fooled, or be easily made to look foolish, but fools they have been, and fools they continue to be, judging how once again the giant international commercial banks have been found to be perpetrators of large-scale, deliberate, and criminal fraud. Continue reading Making Fools of the Fed

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