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It’s Bilby Day!

Few things are more worth celebrating than bilbies, and the second Sunday in September is their day. It’s now nearly 7 AM on Sunday in Australia, so what are you waiting for?

The omniscient Wikipedia notes:

They are nocturnal omnivores that do not need to drink water, as they get all the moisture they need from their food, which includes [… let’s just say “everything”]. Most food is found by digging or scratching in the soil, and using their very long tongues.

Unlike bandicoots, they are excellent burrowers and build extensive tunnel systems with their strong forelimbs and well-developed claws. A bilby typically makes a number of burrows within its home range, up to about a dozen, and moves between them, using them for shelter both from predators and the heat of the day. The female bilby’s pouch faces backwards, which prevents her pouch from getting filled with dirt while she is digging.

What more could you want?


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Your Breakfast Read, Saturday Edition

Remembering 9-11

I have to give him all the due credit: Obama gave a great speech yesterday.
Obama calls for unity as America remembers the 9/11 dead

Americans marked the eighth anniversary of the September 11 atrocities yesterday with modest ceremonies and a call from their President to rediscover the “common purpose” they found after the attacks on the World Trade Centre and the Pentagon.

In New York, relatives of each of the hijackers’ victims read out their names at Ground Zero, in keeping with tradition. Some offered short remembrances of their loved ones.

World Trade Center’s steel beam to be part of 9/11 memorial

After terrorist attacks, the ‘last column’ became a place where emergency responders and family members taped notes and photos of lost loved ones.

What actually happened after that ominous day?
Eight Years after 9/11: The Bloody Legacy of Cheney’s Failures

After 9/11, Dick Cheney took the reins in America. The ‘war on terror’ was his idea, and it led to real wars in Afghanistan and Iraq — and to the torture he approved and defends. While Cheney is writing a memoir to influence how people see his role, the rest of the world would just prefer to get on with cleaning up his mess — with him out of the picture.

Health Care (Pseudo-)Reform

Obama takes the show on the road. I’m giving him credit to showing some willingness to fight for his policy, whatever it is at this point.
Obama to push health care plan at Minnesota rally

President Barack Obama, citing new government data showing that nearly half of all Americans live without health insurance in a 10-year period, says the situation will only worsen without the overhaul legislation he wants Congress to send him.


At least some see the value of Hillary Clinton idea of giving a lot of weight to women’s plight around the world.
The potential in Hillary Clinton’s global campaign for women

Women’s rights are becoming a signature issue for America’s top diplomat. In her official travels, Mrs. Clinton talks with women, meets with female activists, and presses the twin challenges of women’s rights and abuse with political leaders. She wants US development aid to focus more on women, and has appointed the first US ambassador for global women’s issues.

The Bush administration, too, championed women’s rights, especially in Muslim countries such as Afghanistan. But no secretary of State has sought to make women as high a priority as Clinton is attempting. It’s a potentially powerful shift. If she can pull it off.

The only thing you are not allowed to be in the vicinity of Obama and his administration is a Liberal. The only group not allowed to loudly express its wishes on policy matters is the progressive block ( such as “Progressives shouldn’t ruin health care reform by insisting on the public option”). As Glenn Ford from Black Agenda Report puts brilliantly it: “The president behaves as if progressives are his primary problem in forging a grand, ‘nonpartisan’ consensus.”
The Van Jones Affair: An “Unfriendly Environment” for Progressives at the White House

A shining progressive star of the Obama administration was unceremoniously dismissed to satisfy the McCarthyites of the GOP. But it must be noted that “Glenn Beck didn’t fire Van Jones, Obama did.” Jones’ “talents are best put to use outside of this ‘progressive-unfriendly’ administration.”

Sorry Dakinikat. It looks like the anti-Obama sentiment will save David Vitter.
Obama Factor Plays to Tarnished Senator’s Advantage

What came as a surprise to many here is how he became a strong early favorite going into his 2010 re-election race. That turnabout is largely due to one person. “Along comes Obama,” said Elliott Stonecipher, a political analyst and demographer based in Shreveport, “and it changed everything.”

It is difficult to overstate President Obama’s unpopularity in most of Louisiana. He lost handily to Senator John McCain here, picking up only 14 percent of the white vote (the state is roughly two-thirds white). His health care plan is unpopular. His cap-and-trade plan to reduce greenhouse gases, in a state so dependent on oil and gas, is anathema.

Around The Nation

Looks like Annie Leibowitz can breathe a sigh of relief.
Annie Leibovitz avoids bankruptcy

The celebrity photographer Annie Leibovitz has avoided bankruptcy after she bought back control of her photographs and homes following a renegotiation of a $24 million loan from a finance company that was threatening to take them from her.

Is this senseless violence ever going to stop? I’m afraid I know the answer but I hope I’m wrong.
Antiabortion Activist Shot to Death

A 33-year-old man fatally shot an antiabortion activist Friday outside a high school as horrified parents and students watched, authorities said. When police arrested him, the gunman said he was involved in the killing of a gravel pit owner earlier that day.

The law is the law, even if it’s a silly one.
Dismissed marijuana charge raises judge’s ire

A federal judge says Andrew M. Sullivan, the British author, editor, and political commentator, did not deserve preferential treatment from prosecutors who dropped a marijuana possession charge after the journalist was recently caught smoking a joint on a federally owned beach on Cape Cod.

Economy Watch

Out of the woods
(Shamelessly stolen from Barry Ritholtz)

No kidding, Larry.
Summers: Unemployment Will Remain ‘Unacceptably High’ for Years

Summers said that while there has been substantial normalization in the economy, financial conditions in commercial real estate continue to struggle, and “the availability of capital to small businesses remain very tight and credit is in short supply.”

In news that the financial markets will no doubt find interesting, Summers said that the Obama administration officials have no interest in “prematurely withdrawing public support for credit flow” — tax dollars to encourage financial institution loans to citizens and businesses. The former Treasury Secretary for President Bill Clinton argued withdrawing support too quickly would repeat mistakes made by Japan during its fabled “Lost Decade” and the U.S. in 1937 and 1938.

Oh noes! If this goes the way “health-care reform”, I can already see the result: The financial industry would love the proposal, the consumers would be crying their eyeballs out, Right-wing freaks will be screaming about “government takeover of finance, socialism, death panels”.
Obama launches push for financial regulatory reform

The Obama administration is launching a broad push for action on financial regulatory reform, returning to a key legislative priority even as the debate over healthcare consumes the U.S. Congress.

President Barack Obama’s speech in New York on Monday, a year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers led to a worldwide financial crisis, will push for further measures to safeguard the financial system, officials said.

Wall Streets is already shaking in its boots, in anticipation of the (cough cough) “reform”.
A Year After a Cataclysm, Little Change on Wall St.

One year after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, the surprise is not how much has changed in the financial industry, but how little.

Backstopped by huge federal guarantees, the biggest banks have restructured only around the edges. Employment in the industry has fallen just 8 percent since last September. Only a handful of big hedge funds have closed. Pay is already returning to precrash levels, topped by the 30,000 employees of Goldman Sachs, who are on track to earn an average of $700,000 this year. Nor are major pay cuts likely, according to a report last week from J.P. Morgan Securities. Executives at most big banks have kept their jobs. Financial stocks have soared since their winter lows.

A really nice analysis.
Doubt, Worry and Fear: New York Faces Dramatic Consequences of Crisis

The global financial crisis began in Manhattan, and its effects are being felt far more strongly there than elsewhere. Mayor Michael Bloomberg says the situation is critical. Millions are fighting to keep their jobs. Is what is happening in New York today a harbinger of the fate of the rest of the world?

A billion here, a billion there. Who cares. Just watch Paulson and his Treasury Department, along with Congress play with Monopoly money. This can’t be real.
Good Billions After Bad

As the Bush administration waned, the Treasury shoveled more than a quarter of a trillion dollars in tarp funds into the financial system—without restrictions, accountability, or even common sense. The authors reveal how much of it ended up in the wrong hands, doing the opposite of what was needed.


[O]nce the money left the building, the government lost all track of it. The Treasury Department knew where it had sent the money, but nothing about what was done with it. Did the money aid the recovery? Was it spent for the purposes Congress intended? Did it save banks from collapse? Paulson’s Treasury Department had no idea, and didn’t seem to care. It never required the banks to explain what they did with this unprecedented infusion of capital.

Op-ed Columns

It’s Peggy Noonan, but “Even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while”.
The Children of 9/11 Grow Up

College students talk about how the attack shaped their lives.

Michael Pollan, author of the superb bestsellers “The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals” and “In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto” suggest we make the quality of our food ought part of any heath care reform. Process food is not very helpful
Big Food vs. Big Insurance

No one disputes that the $2.3 trillion we devote to the health care industry is often spent unwisely, but the fact that the United States spends twice as much per person as most European countries on health care can be substantially explained, as a study released last month says, by our being fatter. Even the most efficient health care system that the administration could hope to devise would still confront a rising tide of chronic disease linked to diet.

That’s why our success in bringing health care costs under control ultimately depends on whether Washington can summon the political will to take on and reform a second, even more powerful industry: the food industry.

George McGovern has a simple solution, but I’m afraid it’s one of those crazy Liberal ideas.
It’s Simple: Medicare for All

Around The World

Shorter Berlusconi: “So what if I like pretty young babes? Even if I’m 150 years old.”
Berlusconi Rejects Swipes at His Lifestyle

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi on Thursday rejected criticism that his government had been weakened by months of scrutiny over his personal life, and defended his penchant for “beautiful women.”

I remember that some doofus “looked into [Putin’s] soul” and presumably saw great things. So rejoice: He’s here to stay.
Vladimir Putin hints that he could return to lead Russia until 2024

Vladimir Putin has given his strongest hint yet that he is considering a return to the Kremlin, a move that could allow the combative Russian leader to stay in power until 2024.

Speaking at the Novo-Ogaryovo official residence outside Moscow, Mr Putin insisted that swapping places with Dimitri Medvedev, the President, was no more sinister than the Labour leadership agreement in which Gordon Brown took Tony Blair’s job.

Did Netanyahu go hiking the Appalachian trail?
Netanyahu mystery trip sets off flap in Israel

Benjamin Netanyahu dropped out of sight for most of a day this week, a mysterious absence that has set off feverish speculation about what the Israeli leader was up to—and accusations he lied to cover up a clandestine trip to Moscow.

After initially issuing a vague statement about visiting a top-secret Mossad installation inside Israel, Netanyahu kept silent Thursday as reports emerged that he flew to Moscow aboard a private jet for urgent talks on Iran.

what a sad ending!
Ex–Taiwan President Chen Sentenced to Life

It was a dramatic fall from grace for the man once called the “Son of Taiwan.” Former President Chen Shui-bian and First Lady Wu Shu-chen were sentenced to life in prison by the Taipei District Court on Friday, nine years after Chen became the first politician from Taiwan’s long-time opposition Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) to take the island’s top post.

From The World of Science

It’s a tough tough world out there if you don’t fit the “norm” as the rest of us know it
‘I was treated like a circus sideshow’

Janet (who wishes to remain anonymous) knows how Caster Semenya feels. She describes the trauma of growing up in the medical hinterland between the sexes


A diagnosis of intersex is made when a person is genetically, biologically or physically different from the accepted norms. True hermaphrodites, with both sets of genitals, exist only in mythology, and the term is loathed by sufferers, who consider it medically inaccurate and demeaning.

However, some babies are born with ambiguous genitals which leave their sex unclear. They may resemble those of a female with a large clitoris and the labia fused together, or they may look like those of a male with a small penis and an empty scrotum. Surgery may be carried out so the baby can be assigned as either male or female.

Others are born with genetic abnormalities. The sex of a baby is established in the womb according to whether they have an XX chromosome pair (female) or XY (male). The commonest gender disorders are chromosomal abnormalities such as Turner’s syndrome (X0, where the second X chromosome is missing), which affects one in 10,000 girls, and Klinefelter’s syndrome (XXY or XXXY) affecting one in 1,000 boys.

Odds & Ends

At least it has to be worth it.
Man steals beer, demands to finish it before going to jail

A man arrested for stealing a beer became argumentative when the deputy wouldn’t let him finish the beer before he went to jail.

Never get a woman mad. Imagine what can happen if you get 3 against you.
Women face trial for staged motel tryst ending with glued penis

A Wisconsin judge ruled there is enough evidence for four women to stand trial for their roles in a staged motel tryst that ended with a man tied to a bed, his penis super-glued to his stomach, a lawyer for one of the women said Wednesday.
The 37-year-old man, who is in custody on charges in an unrelated case, delivered his testimony wearing an orange jailhouse jumpsuit.

“I was telling them they couldn’t do this, that it’s assault. Hello, let me leave,” the alleged victim said

When is Riverdaughter moving in? Didn’t Mark Penn show how much money bloggers with a certain number of hits were making? We’ve passed 7 million hits.
Hip-hop stars make Alpine, New Jersey, the richest place you’ve never heard of

Forget about West Palm Beach or Beverly Hills. The super-rich have a new favourite playground. A little-known cliff-top community in New Jersey has become the most expensive place to live in the US with lavish mansions on tree-lined boulevards commanding an average sale price of $4.14m


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