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The Life Of Doc Pomus, Songwriter To The Stars

** A great story, listen in at the link; Save the Last Dance for Me has a meaning I was never
aware of among other songs composed by Doc.

by NPR Staff
October 24, 2013 5:09 PM

Doc Pomus, pictured here in the 1980s, was an obscure, yet prolific songwriter who died in 1991. A.K.A. Doc Pomus is a documentary about his life.

His name would spin around and around on the vinyl, the writer of a thousand songs: Doc Pomus. As the man behind smash records including 's "Viva Las Vegas," ' "Lonely Avenue" and The Drifters' "This Magic Moment," he shaped the early sound of rock 'n' roll.

Pomus died in 1991. His story — one of intriguing reinvention and determination — is told in the new documentary A.K.A. Doc Pomus, which was co-directed by Peter Miller.

Born Jerome Felder, Pomus was a Brooklyn native. At the age of 6, he was diagnosed with polio and lost the use of his legs. Facing a difficult life of disability, Pomus was inspired to lead a life of music.

"When he heard 's song on the radio, called 'Piney Brown Blues,' it just absolutely transformed him," Miller says in an interview with NPR's . "He realized that the blues is what had the greatest meaning for him, and he turned himself into a blues singer. This handicapped, white Jewish kid found himself singing in African-American blues clubs."

Felder became Doc Pomus in part to keep his new escapades a secret from his mother. In a vintage clip featured in the film, he explains that "Doc" was a nod to blues singer Doctor Clayton, while "Pomus" simply seemed to roll nicely off the tongue.


Saudi Arabia to hit back at US in Syria

Tensions between the two countries have grown sharply in recent months

By Ellen Knickmeyer Zawya Dow Jones
Published: 12:26 October 22, 2013

Riyadh: Saudi Arabia’s intelligence chief told European diplomats this weekend that he plans to scale back cooperating with the US to arm and train Syrian rebels in protest against Washington’s policy in the region, participants in the meeting said.

Prince Bandar Bin Sultan Al Saud’s move increases tensions in a growing dispute between the US and one of its closest Arab allies over Syria, Iran and Egypt policies. It follows Saudi Arabia’s surprise decision on Friday to renounce a seat on the United Nations Security Council.

The Saudi government, after preparing and campaigning for the seat for a year, cited what it said was the council’s ineffectiveness in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian and Syrian conflicts.

Diplomats here said Prince Bandar, who is leading the kingdom’s efforts to fund, train and arm rebels fighting Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, invited a Western diplomat to the Saudi Red Sea city of Jeddah over the weekend to voice Riyadh’s frustration with the Obama administration and its regional policies, including the decision not to bomb Syria in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons in August.

in full: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/saudi-arabia/saudi-arabia-to-hit-back-at-us-in-syria-1.1245704

El-Sisi and Egypt's bankrupt civil elite

In their support for military rule, Egypt's opportunistic civil political elite betray the very values they claim to defend

Khalil Al-Anani , Saturday 19 Oct 2013

The actions of the civil political elite in Egypt have not ceased to amaze since the 3 July coup. Events over the past months have proven that their actions are not based on any moral or value-based system but more an expression of political opportunism and a desire to get rid of Islamists, even if the price is to create a military dictatorship.

This is obviously apparent in the exclusionary rhetoric of many key figures of this elite, that primarily focuses on excluding Islamists and isolating them from society and politics. They also eagerly support and promote Minister of Defence Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi as a presidential candidate — a paradox that history will ponder at length.

There are many flaws and ironies in the political rhetoric and actions of what is described as the liberal and secular elite, which contradicts the fundamentals of the civil state they claim to represent and defend. Their positions and statements prove they are moving Egypt towards a military, not civil, state. What is most disconcerting is the amount of one-upmanship and pressure they exert to justify their support and promotion of El-Sisi as a presidential candidate.

That they insist on El-Sisi’s nomination for president reflects their dismal failure in creating a political alternative that could fill the vacuum left behind after the exit of Islamists from power. Instead of diligently working to find such an alternative, especially after the political arena has been cleansed of any political opponent, they are behaving like a lazy student who did not do his homework and decided to rely on others to succeed.

in full: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentP/4/84231/Opinion/ElSisi-and-Egypts-bankrupt-civil-elite.aspx

Racism Revisited in the New York City Mayoral Race

Why are opponents of Bill de Blasio invoking the David Dinkins era?

By John R. MacArthur ( October 17, 2013 )

Over dinner this summer in a very Waspy, very white country club in Southampton, Long Island, far from the meanest streets of New York and its contentious mayoral election, I heard one of the guests say: “If Bill de Blasio wins we’ll be back to the Dinkins era.”

I knew that this interlocutor was a criminal lawyer with cop clients who was already upset about a federal judge’s ruling against the New York Police Department’s warrantless stop-and-frisk policy. But what did he mean by invoking the Dinkins era?

Well, David Dinkins, New York’s mayor from 1989 to 1993, is black — the only African-American ever to hold the position of mayor of America’s most cosmopolitan city. And, despite their relative worldliness, New York’s politicians still play the race card when it suits them. It helped Edward Koch win re-election twice to City Hall, but, more to the point, it greatly aided Republican Rudolph Giuliani’s narrow defeat of Dinkins in 1993.

Partly in response, Dinkins has recently published a memoir, A Mayor’s Life, which is a must-read for understanding the racial overtones of the contest to succeed Mayor Michael Bloomberg. With the Democrat de Blasio holding a 44 point lead over his Republican opponent, Joe Lhota, in a recent poll, and with Lhota sponsor Giuliani openly stoking white fears of black criminals on behalf of his former deputy mayor, I thought it would be a good time to interview Dinkins, now 86 and a professor at Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs.

in full: http://harpers.org/blog/2013/10/racism-revisited-in-the-new-york-city-mayoral-race/

The Most Cajun Place on Earth ( Louisiana's oil-pollution lawsuits )

by Ken Silverstein ( October 16, 2013 )

Since oil was struck near the town of Jennings in 1901, the energy industry has transformed and defined Louisiana environmentally, geographically, and politically. It has drilled some 220,000 wells, built 600 producing oil fields, and constructed 8,000 miles of access canals and pipelines, most of which run through wetlands.

Hundreds of Louisiana landowners have sued oil companies they leased their land to for vast damages, alleging that their properties were badly polluted. As I write in this month’s issue of Harper’s Magazine, these “legacy lawsuits” are a hot political issue, and in recent years the energy industry has been furiously lobbying the state legislature — with a good deal of success — to pass legislation restricting the ability of landowners to go to court.

One of the biggest and bitterest cases involved the Broussard family, which in the late 1990s filed lawsuits against Chevron and other energy-industry defendants. The Broussards’ experts estimated that the cost of fully cleaning up an eighty-acre property the family owned would be $300 million.

To learn more about the case I traveled one morning last March to Abbeville — eighty miles from Baton Rouge and THE MOST CAJUN PLACE ON EARTH, according to a billboard I saw en route. At 11:15 A.M., I found myself waiting impatiently beneath a live oak in front of the white brick courthouse to meet a man named Ron Miguez.

in full: http://harpers.org/blog/2013/10/the-most-cajun-place-on-earth/

REFILE - SPECIAL REPORT-The real force behind Egypt's 'revolution of the state'


6:47 a.m. CDT, October 10, 2013

(Clarifies in paragraph 7 that GIS is not part of Interior

By Asma Alsharif and Yasmine Saleh

CAIRO, Oct 10 (Reuters) - In Hosni Mubarak's final days in
office in 2011, the world's gaze focused on Cairo, where
hundreds of thousands of protesters demanded the resignation of
one of the Arab world's longest serving autocrats.

Little attention was paid when a group of Muslim Brotherhood
leaders broke free from their cells in a prison in the far off
Wadi el-Natroun desert. But the incident, which triggered a
series of prison breaks by members of the Islamist group around
the country, caused panic among police officers fast losing
their grip on Egypt.

One officer pleaded with his comrades for help as his police
station was torched. "I am faced with more than 2,000 people and
I am dealing with them alone in Dar al Salam, please hurry," the
policeman radioed to colleagues as trouble spread. "Now they
have machine guns, the youth are firing machine guns at me, send
me reinforcements."

In all, 200 policemen and security officers were killed that
day, Jan 28, called the Friday of Rage by anti-Mubarak
demonstrators. Some had their throats slit. One of the Muslim
Brotherhood leaders to escape was Mohamed Mursi, who would
become president the following year.

in full: http://www.chicagotribune.com/sns-rt-egypt-interior-special-report-pix-graphiccorr-20131010,0,5142771,full.story

Fear and loathing in House of Saud

By Pepe Escobar ( October 11, 2013 )

Every sentient being with a functional brain perceives the possibility of ending the 34-year Wall of Mistrust between Washington and Tehran as a win-win situation.

Here are some of the benefits:

The price of oil and gas from the Persian Gulf would go down; Washington and Tehran could enter a partnership to fight Salafi-jihadis (they already did, by the way, immediately after 9/11) as well as coordinate their policies in Afghanistan to keep the Taliban in check post-2014; Iran and the US share the same interests in Syria; both want no anarchy and no prospect of Islamic radicals having a shot at power. An ideal outcome would balance Iranian influence with a power-sharing agreement between the Bashar al-Assad establishment and the sensible non-weaponized opposition (it does exist, but is at present marginalized); With no more regime change rhetoric and no more sanctions, the sky is the limit for more trade, investment and energy options for the West, especially Europe (Iran is the best possible way for Europeans to soften their dependence on Russia's Gazprom);

remainder: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-02-111013.html

Secret Oil Company Memos on Pollution in Louisiana

“All of these practices are flagrant violations of the law.”

By Ken Silverstein ( October 11, 2013 )

In March, I traveled to Louisiana to report on the “legacy lawsuits” being launched by landowners against the state’s energy corporations, which have been drilling there since 1901. For decades, companies like BP, ExxonMobil, and Shell leased sites from the landowners for extraction and processing. This went on until the 1980s, when the companies began selling off their interests to independent producers and moved their operations largely offshore. They left behind land contaminated with oil, petrochemicals, and other toxic substances.

One of the most frequently cited environmental hazards in the suits is a byproduct of the drilling process that the oil companies benevolently label “brine” (or “produced water”). This waste fluid is highly saturated with salt, and where it is improperly stored, it endangers groundwater and vegetation. Brine has been found to contain traces of benzene, chromium, lead, and other potential carcinogens, as well as radioactive materials. American oil companies once stored brine in unsealed open pits, despite their awareness that the practice was unsafe. In 1932, V. L. Martin of the American Petroleum Institute told his colleagues that brine would undoubtedly seep from the pits and cause significant environmental damage. It was, Martin said, “only a question of time until the opposition to the escape of our waste will become strong enough to force us, as an economical measure, to dispose of them in such a manner as will not be objectionable.”

Around that time, industry developed a method of injecting waste in saltwater disposal wells, a safer practice than pit disposal, and one that soon became the primary method. Some states banned unlined pits, but in Louisiana companies continued to store brine in them until the 1980s (and even then, state regulators, who were often oilmen themselves, allowed a three-year grace period for shutting down the pits).

Louisiana landowners began winning big payouts from oil corporations in 2003, when the state Supreme Court upheld a $33 million jury judgment against Shell in a case brought by a man named William Corbello. Hundreds of others have filed suit since then, prompting energy companies to launch a massive and generally successful lobbying campaign aimed at getting Louisiana’s perennially pro-oil legislature to restrict the suits. The plaintiffs’ trial lawyers have won access through the discovery process to a historic trove of internal oil-company memos, which, as I detail in “Dirty South,” (Harper’s, November), show that the companies long understood the environmental dangers of unlined pits but continued to use them — sometimes in defiance of state and federal regulations — because doing so was more profitable than phasing out the pits.

in full: http://harpers.org/blog/2013/10/secret-oil-company-memos-on-pollution-in-louisiana/

Diary ( London Review of Books )

Patrick Cockburn

The four wars fought in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria over the past 12 years have all involved overt or covert foreign intervention in deeply divided countries. In each case the involvement of the West exacerbated existing differences and pushed hostile parties towards civil war. In each country, all or part of the opposition have been hard-core jihadi fighters. Whatever the real issues at stake, the interventions have been presented as primarily humanitarian, in support of popular forces against dictators and police states. Despite apparent military successes, in none of these cases have the local opposition and their backers succeeded in consolidating power and establishing stable states.

More than most armed struggles, the conflicts have been propaganda wars in which newspaper, television and radio journalists played a central role. In all wars there is a difference between reported news and what really happened, but during these four campaigns the outside world has been left with misconceptions even about the identity of the victors and the defeated. In 2001 reports of the Afghan war gave the impression that the Taliban had been beaten decisively even though there had been very little fighting. In 2003 there was a belief in the West that Saddam Hussein’s forces had been crushed when in fact the Iraqi army, including the units of the elite Special Republican Guard, had simply disbanded and gone home. In Libya in 2011 the rebel militiamen, so often shown on television firing truck-mounted heavy machine-guns in the general direction of the enemy, had only a limited role in the overthrow of Muammar Gaddafi, which was mostly brought about by Nato air strikes. In Syria in 2011 and 2012 foreign leaders and journalists repeatedly and vainly predicted the imminent defeat of Bashar al-Assad.

These misperceptions explain why there have been so many surprises and unexpected reversals of fortune. The Taliban rose again in 2006 because it hadn’t been beaten as comprehensively as the rest of the world imagined. At the end of 2001 I was able to drive – nervously but safely – from Kabul to Kandahar, but when I tried to make the same journey in 2011 I could go no further south on the main road than the last police station on the outskirts of Kabul. In Tripoli two years ago hotels were filled to capacity with journalists covering Gaddafi’s fall and the triumph of the rebel militias. But state authority still hasn’t been restored. This summer Libya almost stopped exporting oil because the main ports on the Mediterranean had been seized by mutinying militiamen, and the prime minister, Ali Zeidan, threatened to bomb ‘from the air and the sea’ the oil tankers the militiamen were using to sell oil on the black market.

remainder: http://www.lrb.co.uk/v35/n19/patrick-cockburn/diary
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