Above the seething streets of this ancient city, Angeliki Papathanasopoulou—four months pregnant and at work in a downtown bank—tried to soothe her fearful mother on the other end of the phone.
It was noontime on May 5, and the tension was palpable as angry crowds gathered in Athens's main squares, readying to protest deep spending cuts needed to earn an international bailout.
"Don't worry," Ms. Papathanasopoulou told her mother on that May day. "I'm on an upper floor." Besides, the 32-year-old was leaving work early at 3 p.m., for a doctor's appointment to learn whether the child she carried was a girl or a boy.
She never found out. Shortly after 2 o'clock, as the throngs marched past her building on Stadiou Street, hooded men shattered the window, poured gasoline on the floor and hurled in a Molotov cocktail. Toxic smoke filled the three-story bank, sending 24 people who worked there climbing out of windows or clambering onto roofs of adjacent buildings.
Ms. Papathanasopoulou and two colleagues, people who had watched her marry her husband nine months before, succumbed to the thick black fumes before they could make it out.
Hundreds of thousands of State Department documents leaked Sunday revealed a hidden world of backstage international diplomacy, divulging candid comments from world leaders and detailing occasional U.S. pressure tactics aimed at hot spots in Afghanistan, Iran and North Korea.
The classified diplomatic cables released by online whistle-blower WikiLeaks and reported on by news organizations in the United States and Europe provided often unflattering assessments of foreign leaders, ranging from U.S. allies such as Germany and Italy to other nations like Libya, Iran and Afghanistan.
The cables also contained new revelations about long-simmering nuclear trouble spots, detailing U.S., Israeli and Arab world fears of Iran's growing nuclear program, American concerns about Pakistan's atomic arsenal and U.S. discussions about a united Korean peninsula as a long-term solution to North Korean aggression.
There are also American memos encouraging U.S. diplomats at the United Nations to collect detailed data about the U.N. secretary general, his team and foreign diplomats — going beyond what is considered the normal run of information-gathering expected in diplomatic circles.
None of the revelations is particularly explosive, but their publication could prove problematic for the officials concerned. And the massive release of material intended for diplomatic eyes only is sure to ruffle feathers in foreign capitals, a certainty that prompted U.S. diplomats to scramble in recent days to shore up relations with key allies in advance of the disclosures
Once again, Der Spiegel, The Guardian, and The NY Times have the "scoop" in that they were able to coordinate with Wiki-leaks on the release of the material, and were able to view it all ahead of time. Is this even journalism? If it is, it's the sort of journalism practiced by the people who re-type press releases from non-profits about how pizza causes cancer.
The worst part of this isn't the revelation of even more "secrets," since none of the headline revelations are shockingly unexpected. Oh, they might be surprising to anyone who relies on the US mainstream media for all of their news, but if you are outside of that bubble, then you already knew or suspected that China was spying on Google, that North Korea has been helping Iran to arm itself with nukes, and that the Sunni Arab nations have been screaming for the US to attack Iran. Oh, and Libya's Col. Kaddafy is a loon. Say it ain't so.
No, the worst is knowing that some time in the next few days we will be treated to another smug, humorless press conference from "brave" "whistleblower" Julian Assange, the combination journalist/activist/conscience of the world who seems to be able to practice his peculiar craft with impunity. Spare me. The heroic whistleblower's press conference has become as much a part of the media environment as Amber Alerts and Gloria Allred mistresses. Asssssange is just another anti-American leftist with a media bullhorn from his fellow travelers in the international media. That he can apparently travel the world dispensing classified military and diplomatic files with impunity just underscores how impotent the American government and its intelligence community have become. We're going to be waiting a long time for the equivalent release of docs from China, Russia, Cuba, Venezuela, etc.
You can pretty much draw a straight line from Daniel Ellsberg to Philip Agee to the serial leakers of the Bush years all the way to Asssssange. All of these people committed crimes. So did the media organizations who enabled them. But since they cloaked themselves in a calculated nobility, and acted in a way approved by the Left, they were largely left alone. Of course, now that we have a leftist American government, we have reached the logical end: nothings gonna happen because people like Obama secretly approve of what Asssssange is doing, even as they "denounce" it for the benefit of all us bubbas who still care about national security. (as The Other McCain notes, we didn't have this sort of mass release of classified information until Obama took office).
And, it's remarkable how - with all of the blaring media headlines - there has been very little said about Bradley Manning, the source of at least some of these documents. Manning is presently sitting in solitary confinement. He is also known to have been motivated to betray the US because he was upset over the end of a gay relationship. Oh, and he was Welsh. So, yes, let's make sure we give him a security clearance! And, let's make sure that we not have too many MSM revelations of that information - some things really should stay secret, don't you know. Not only that, there seems to be very little curiosity about who might also be leaking this stuff (I doubt Manning had access to State Dept. material). While CIA and FBI moles are hunted and prosecuted, State Dept. vipers - whether Alger Hiss or Joe Wilson or that Cuban spy from last year - are often celebrated. Maybe the Times doesn't want to know, but does the Times/Wiki promise of confidentiality extend to all media outlets everywhere?
Pres. Obama and Sec. Clinton can bemoan this all they want. The fact is that they, their party, and their ideological allies have profited more from the work of the Asssssanges of the world than they have lost. The US simply has no secrets so long as these people are in office.
The buildings lining the lone block of Sumner Street in San Francisco's South of Market district will never be mistaken for the Painted Ladies of Alamo Square.
The entrance off Howard Street is flanked by two-story warehouses from the 1920s, one concrete and one brick. The alley itself displays small buildings of various styles, including a one-story wooden home from 1906 with columns framing the door and a huge bay window.
Yet 11 buildings on the block, and 467 more on the blocks around it, are deemed "contributors" to what could become the city's largest historic district - a collection with few obvious landmarks that instead offers clues to the blue-collar city of the past.
This and similar landscapes deserve such attention; for too long they were taken for granted. The double-edged sword is that new layers of protections could undermine the varied architectural character that makes such areas distinct.
In the case of the proposed Western SoMa Light Industrial and Residential Historic District, that character is easy to miss.
With Browns rookie quarterbackColt McCoy in a walking boot and nursing a high ankle sprain, Jake Delhomme will start against his former Panthers team Sunday. What makes this even more intriguing is that Cleveland is paying Delhomme $7 million this season while Carolina is paying him $12.75 million. So the Panthers will be paying Delhomme more than the team he is trying to help lead to a victory. But Delhomme could help Carolina in a roundabout way; he could do even more to help the Panthers lock up the draft's No. 1 overall pick.
The solid left majority on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors has an opportunity to do what city voters haven't done for more than two decades: put a progressive in the mayor's office.
Not since the election of Art Agnos in 1987 has a progressive served as mayor, and his tenure ended four years later when he lost his re-election bid to Frank Jordan, the more conservative former police chief. The only progressive mayor before Agnos, George Moscone, was assassinated in 1978, three years into his first term.
Now, with Mayor Gavin Newsom, a San Francisco-style moderate, set to leave office in early January to become lieutenant governor, the Board of Supervisors can appoint his replacement to finish his last year.
"This is a golden opportunity for the progressives," said David Lee, a political science lecturer at San Francisco State University who heads the Chinese American Voters Education Committee. "Mayor is the holy grail of city politics. ... This is their moment."
At the same time, he said, the progressives must make sure the appointment isn't perceived as a raw power grab and end up alienating voters heading into next November's mayor's race.
In early September, Diaz turned to a friend who knew a member of the powerful, Oakland-based California Nurses Association, The Chronicle has learned.
The union called in two lawyers for Diaz: Marc Van Der Hout, a longtime immigration attorney in San Francisco, and celebrity feminist attorney Gloria Allred, a fierce workplace rights litigator who arranged for Diaz to tell her story in a live-webcast news conference.
Asked to confirm her organization's role in Diaz's case, Rose Ann DeMoro, the nurses union executive director, said Monday, "I won't deny it, but I prefer not to comment directly on the case."
Whitman, a former eBay CEO, has alleged that Diaz was used by unions backing her Democratic opponent, Jerry Brown, and engaged in "the politics of personal destruction." Her campaign said the California Nurses Association's role was suspected after its spokesman, Chuck Idelson, turned up at a widely watched Diaz news conference - and refused comment on the matter.
But several sources close to the matter, speaking on condition that they not be named, have now confirmed the union's role in Diaz's emergence, a moment labor leaders hailed as a watershed in the immigrant-rights movement - and political opponents have called a classic campaign dirty trick.
The Nurses Union was also one of the forces behind the defeat of The Governator's 2005 reform propositions. Something to keep in mind next time you hear about how Big Business is trying to buy democracy. It's obvious they've already been outbid.
And here he is in a bizarrely animated performance of Boys Keep Singing
Towering 10 stories above the banks of San Francisquito Creek, the El Palo Alto redwood predates the U.S. Constitution by more than 800 years. It is widely believed to have been a campsite for explorer Gaspar de Portola when he discovered San Francisco Bay in 1769.
It has endured everything from ecological changes to economic shifts, all of which left marks on the ecology of this venerable tree. Now it’s entangled in the debate over high-speed rail.
The tree stands within 10 feet of existing Caltrain tracks between the Menlo Park and Palo Alto stations, with commuter trains passing by 90 times every weekday. Initial plans by the California High-Speed Rail Authority called for widening the tracks to accommodate the new rail line, which would put the tree in jeopardy. Proposed alternatives included a trench or raised track.
To be sure, critics cite many reasons for their opposition, including the costs. But in Palo Alto and neighboring communities, the tree has become a budding symbol for why high-speed rail — approved by a majority of the state’s voters in 2008 — needs to be evaluated carefully. Dave Dockter, Palo Alto city arborist and current steward of the tree, said, “I think all of the alternatives have a potentially significant and catastrophic potential to impact the El Palo Alto redwood.”
This Professor Bainbridge post is a little old but still timely. It's an "apology" to Bruce Bartlett who was one of the most vehement Bush 43 critics on the Right. Such was Bartlett's disgust with Bush that he ended up voting for Obama and supporting a Keyensian economic model to pull the country out of its fiscal and economic mess. He was also an early proponent of the current "GOP/conservatism is filled with morons and I just can't stand it" school of thought. Bainbridge, a law professor who has written in the past about the need for a right-wing "academic elite," and how it's getting embarrassing to be a conservative declares that Bartlett was on to something:
Back when Bush 43 was President, I was a huge fan of Bruce Bartlett. I especially loved his book Impostor. But when Bartlett broke with the Republicans back in 2008, it seemed to me that he had gone "from being inside the tent pissing out to being outside the tent pissing in." It seemed like apostasy.
I still don't agree with some of Bartlett's current view on economics, which still strike me as "the sort of Keynesian economics he one would have found anathema." Likewise, I still don't agree with his decision to vote for Obama.
But he is clearly right that there has been "a closing of the conservative mind. Rigid conformity is being enforced, no dissent is allowed, and the conservative brain will slowly shrivel into dementia if it hasn't already."
On Bartlett: OK, I get that he is a Reaganite, and a leading conservative light for longer than I've been alive. But, if you are out there voting for Obama and supporting Obamanomics (or what you say is the right wing version), I think your conservative credentials going forward are highly suspect. Not trying to run a purge here, or anything, but supporting Democrats is anathema to conservatism. If you really can't stand the GOP, vote Libertarian.
As for Bainbridge's frankly snobby call for a conservative GOP elite (read his posts if you are into Palin insults, or think it's fair to link birthers to mainstream conservatism) ... does Bainbridge believe that politics is an intellectual pursuit? It certainly is not. That doesn't mean there's no place for intellect and policy knowledge, but there is certainly no need for a PhD or JD level of knowledge to be successful in politics.
Just look at who is put forward by the other side. Paul Krugman with Nobel Prize for Bush bashing? Jesse Jackson with his "creeping genocide?" Al Gore with his pompous lectures about destroying the planet (and his faux-professorial Assault on Reason)? Al Sharpton with his bullhorn? Sonia Sotomayor's "empathy" justice? Bill Clinton and his Oval Office blowjobs? What about Katrina vanden Heuvel? Ariana Huffington? Nancy Pelosi? Carol Browner? Jan Schakowsky? Harry Reid? And, what about the undeniably smart Chuck Schumer, who has to play second banana to the aforementioned Reid? Or, how about our "constitutional law professor" president who doesn't seem too concerned about whether the bills he signs into law are actually constitutional?
Next to all that, I think Sarah Palin's not having a "favorite" Supreme Court case stacks up nicely.
First, let’s start with the serious stuff first. Earlier this month, Army Sgt. Jason James McCluskey died for his country in Afghanistan. Freedom Remembered tells us that “[h]e died at age 26 at Zarghun Shahr, Mohammed Agha district, Afghanistan, of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with small arms fire. He was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal.” May God bless and keep you, Sgt. McCluskey.
So his funeral was apparently last Saturyday, and the Westboro Baptist @$$holes went to protest this soldier’s funeral. They apparently think that if you serve with a gay person you get their gay cooties and therefore go to hell. But when they went back to their minivan, they discovered that someone had slashed two of their tires
This morning in La Plata, Md., the hate group's parade of absurdity received quite a response: More than a thousand counter-demonstrators showed up early, established themselves on the rights-of-way around the church, and prevented the "God Hates Fags" crowd from getting anywhere near the funeral of Marine Lance Cpl. Terry Honeycutt.
A few minutes ago, I called Holly Smith, one of the organizers of the counter-demonstration. I was surprised to hear no shouting or noise in the background. "American flags as far as the eye can see," she told me. And the Westboro crowd? "They are up at a gas station probably a mile up the road, because they couldn't get any closer," she said. "We're in the shoulder for probably ten deep for at least 300 yards."
I think there is a bigger problem with whole body scans: they are completely degrading. Call me old fashioned, but the idea of some TSA time-puncher watching hundreds of Americans pass by everyday in a state of x-rayed undress is not something that society should consider acceptable. Is TSA going to be looking at naked images of nuns? Little kids? My wife?Security experts swear that "if only we had been able to full body scan the Pants Bomber," he would have never gotten on that flight to Detroit. Oh, bulls***. Airport security is the second to last line of defense (passengers are the last line). Our expensive security services are supposed to be doing everything they can to make sure bombers can't get on the plane in the first place. How's that working out? Not well, as it seems a half-dozen security services knew about this guy, and yet he could still get a visa to enter the US carrying no luggage. Before subjecting civilians to full body scans, could we at least subject our intelligence community to brain scans to see if there's any activity upstairs?We've spent the last eight years standing in long chaotic lines at the airport. We no longer can indulge in the old ritual of greeting our loved ones at the gate. We've been taking off our shoes. We've been taking off our belts. We've been emptying our pockets, and then elbowed by jerk screeners retrieving their gray plastic bins. And, of course, we've been pulled aside for extra screening, regardless of race, age, nationality, or travel history. Why? All so certain people, say, young Nigerian Muslims who travel to Yemen, won't be subject to "profiling." And, so no TSA employee ever has to use their brain.If it really is our fate to have full body scans, can we at least subject only the 500,000-odd people who are on the government's various watch lists - which no one seems to consult, anyway - to that sort of screening? That would be a lot more rational than making all 300 million Americans go through an increasingly degrading process to no good effect.