Sunday Night TV and Open Thread

You need multiple DVR's to catch all the TV on tonight. There's new episodes of Showtime's Homeland, HBO's Boardwalk Empire, The Good Wife, Pan Am and the Next Iron Chef. And Desperate Housewives and the World Series.

Here's an open thread, all topics welcome.

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    Army Ranger killed in Kandahar (5.00 / 4) (#2)
    by oculus on Sun Oct 23, 2011 at 07:46:23 PM EST
    after 14 deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan: LAT

    I find this quite sad.  

    Two others (5.00 / 2) (#22)
    by Zorba on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 09:39:47 AM EST
    were killed, as well.  I know someone who is related to 1st Lt. Ashley White by marriage.  Ashley was deployed there with her National Guard unit.  Very sad for all the families.

    Ah, but Obama is finally going to withdraw (none / 0) (#17)
    by NY Progressive on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:03:14 AM EST
    from Iraq. Cue the music:  It's the end of the war (as we know it...).

    Three week review of life in Astana. (5.00 / 4) (#4)
    by observed on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 12:02:12 AM EST
    Here are a few random observations.
    1. The new city really is fantastic. The scale of the architectural planning is stupendous, and nearly everywhere you go, the view is fantastic.

    2. Generally, the new city is EXTREMELY expensive. Eating out here costs more than in Tokyo or London, I'm told by people who have lived in those cities.
    At the lovely cafe in my apartment complex, a Stella goes for $8. A Napoleon (quite good) is $14. One positive, healthy thing about food here is that restaurants do not salt to American standards.

    1. My social life here is great. I meet new, intersting people all the time, and have had several opportunities to go out for evening affairs.

    2. The worst thing about Astana is the air. It is just awful. I pray for wind, now, to clear out the smog.

    Interesting update. (none / 0) (#5)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 12:16:04 AM EST
    I forgot to mention clothes (none / 0) (#8)
    by observed on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 12:42:01 AM EST
    My god, for these prices, I should be a woman.
    I went into a designer men's store in a posh mall and saw sweaters starting at $400 and going up to at least $800.
    Parkas which cost $200 in the US may go for $600 in Astana.
    You can get cheap food, by the way: in fast food joints, and in less posh restaurants; the problem with the latter option is that your intestinal flora may not like the new company.
    Fast food seems ok in that respect.

    How is the exchange rate? (none / 0) (#9)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 01:19:48 AM EST
    I don't have a point of comparison. (5.00 / 3) (#11)
    by observed on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 01:31:28 AM EST
    One dollar can buy a lot of taxi ride, but not much food or clothing.
    I do not think gas can be so cheap here, because there is no Kazakh refinery. Hence, I conclude the exchange rate is somewhat favorable.

    Working a lot on my Russian. I'm told my pronunciation is quite good; this can cause a problem when locals assume more actual fluency than exists.


    Curious about the take-home pay (none / 0) (#26)
    by christinep on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 11:27:38 AM EST
    of one who lives in Astana (Astanan?) How does the John Q or Ivan Q public live, and what interests dominate the conversation?

    Have you tried the local brew? (none / 0) (#15)
    by Rojas on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 06:45:26 AM EST
    I have a fondness for Stella myself, although I readily admit, I have a fondness for beer in general. I always try the local brew. I have not found one yet that I could not make peace with.

    Ballet review. (5.00 / 1) (#7)
    by observed on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 12:17:37 AM EST
    I went to a ballet production of the Kazakh national ballet on Saturday.

    The Fountain of Bakhchisarai (Russian: Бахчисарайский фонтан) is a Russian
    ballet inspired by the 1823 poem by Alexander Pushkin of the same title.
    With music by Boris Asafiev and choreography by Rostislav Zakharov, the
    ballet premiered in Saint Petersburg, (then Leningrad) in 1934 at the
    Kirov Academic Theatre of Opera and Ballet (now the Mariinsky Theatre).

    Bakhchisarai is in the Crimea, near Yalta. Bakhchisarai Palace was
    originally built in the sixteenth century and has been repeatedly
    destroyed and rebuilt since. The fountain, which actually exists, is
    called the Fountain of Tears.

    The synopsis is too long to quote. The ballet begins in the house of a Polish nobleman. His daughter Maria is about to be married to Vaclav, a young nobleman. In this part of the ballet there are several elegant ensemble dances, soli, and of course a pas de deux. Vaclav was played by a handsome young Kazakh who I'm told is much improved from last year. His grand jete's were high and enegetic. He did some fast footwork as well. He managed, by only just, to hold up Maria when necessary. Maria was played by a pretty young thing. I thought her dancing was very graceful and expressive, but not at the same level as Vaclav (to my untrained eyes).

    The wedding plans are broken up by the arrivel of Tatars, who kill all the men and take Maria captive. Maria becomes part of the harem, and vies for the Khan's affections with Zarema, who is kind of a Carmen/Joleen figure, who is hot and passionate.  Zarema kills Maria. The Khan is about to kill Zarema, but cannot. Instead, she is thrown of the walls of the palace.
    The Khan is devastated. In a final scene, he dances with Maria in Zarema in the afterlife.

    The Khan was a strong, masculine dancer. I found his arms very expressive. Zarema stole the show for most of the audience. Her seductive dance for the Khan was quite impressive.

    A Tosca-esque demise for poor Maria. (none / 0) (#10)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 01:21:47 AM EST
    Where did the dancers train?

    So, how come we need private (5.00 / 3) (#23)
    by Anne on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 10:13:48 AM EST
    contractor-provided security in Iraq, when we've spent years and eye-popping amounts of money to train the Iraqis?

    Jim White has a post up at Marcy's place, on a Washington Post article about the report released today (pdf)from the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

    The report details that the training of police forces in Iraq has been a failure:

    From the WaPo:

    Over the course of the eight-year-old war and military occupation, thousands of U.S. troops have spent considerable time and effort wooing and training police recruits, but Iraqi officials have often accused the United States of not providing much more than basic training.

    In an August interview, Akeel Saeed, inspector general of the Iraqi Interior Ministry, said that in the past, the U.S. military was too often "implementing what they wanted, without acknowledging what the Iraqis wanted."

    So, while we're going to treat the Iraqis as equals, what we aren't going to do is rely on their police - US-trained police - for security for the thousands of people who will staff the embassies and consulates.

    From the SIGIR report:

    In October 2010, SIGIR raised concerns that DoS would be assuming responsibility for a program to advise and assist Iraqi police forces when the capabilities of those forces had not been assessed in any comprehensive way. We reported that neither DoD nor DoS has fully assessed the capabilities of the Iraqi police. DoD carried out some assessments, but they have limited usefulness in evaluating the current capabilities of the Iraqi police services. SIGIR recommended that the Commanding General, U.S. Forces-Iraq, in consultation with the Assistant Secretary, INL, work with the MOI to help assess the capabilities of the Iraqi police and provide that assessment to INL. Although U.S. Forces-Iraq agreed with the report recommendation, the assessment was not completed.

    Jim goes on:

    The simplest explanation for why so many groups refuse to complete the task of assessing the capabilities of Iraq's police forces is that the result is not one they wish to publish. The refusal to publish an assessment of Iraqi police capabilities, coupled with the DoS plan to rely on mercenaries rather than on the "trained" forces, can only lead to the conclusion that Iraq's police forces cannot be counted on to function at a level that would protect DoS activities in Iraq after withdrawal of US troops.

    What's missing, Jim asks?

    The name of the person responsible for Iraqi police and security training: David Petraeus.

    Sea changes? (none / 0) (#1)
    by Edger on Sun Oct 23, 2011 at 07:37:17 PM EST
    BRUSSELS -- Eurozone leaders are toying with the idea of asking China and other emerging powers to help them out of the debt crisis by taking part in a bailout fund, but some are reluctant to call in Beijing.

    The possibility of asking for China, Brazil and others to come to their rescue emerged at a summit on Sunday as European leaders scrambled to find ways to boost their defences against the crisis.
    The so-called BRICS group - Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa - has voiced willingness to help Europe overcome its debt crisis amid concerns it could spark a new global recession.

    The emerging powers, Europeans, and the United States, will hold a key G20 summit on November 3-4 [to] discuss whether to increase the IMF's resources to combat the eurozone crisis, which emerging nations support but the United States opposes.

    And to think that debt is only a concept :) (none / 0) (#19)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:45:46 AM EST
    Take a look at (none / 0) (#21)
    by Edger on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 09:08:37 AM EST
    the concept image at the top of this article. ;-)

    Hope and change (none / 0) (#3)
    by Rojas on Sun Oct 23, 2011 at 11:14:35 PM EST
    Sometimes it's the little things.

    Arrest threatened

    In a sworn affidavit, John Barnhill, general counsel for the DA's office, said the grand jury instructed a bailiff to arrest them if they re-entered the jury room.

    The three prosecutors went to the 18th floor where they asked state District Judge Susan Brown, who empaneled the grand jury, to order the foreman to allow them back in. Brown refused to force the foreman to do anything.

    Prosecutors threatened with arrest (5.00 / 1) (#14)
    by Rojas on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 06:35:29 AM EST
    and removal from Grand Jury proceedings after failure to leave when ordered to do so.

    Prosecutors asked the judge who empaneled the grand jury and an appellate court order the foreman to allow them back in. They were told to go pound sand.

    Crime lab whistleblower and others are allowed to testify without manipulation from DA's office.  

    DA's office accused of retaliation after contract is pulled from college who hired the former Houston crime lab supervisor/whistleblower.

    By the way Oc, while I'll admit I write poorly, I'd wager a months wages I could have fixed the electrical problems with those BAT vans in short order.


    Very poorly written. (none / 0) (#6)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 12:16:25 AM EST
    Incoherent, in fact. (none / 0) (#12)
    by cymro on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 02:22:28 AM EST
    I read this post twice and it still makes no sense.

    Follow the link. Then (none / 0) (#13)
    by caseyOR on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 02:33:17 AM EST
    it will make sense.

    Actually, I was critiquing the linked article. (none / 0) (#25)
    by oculus on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 11:03:15 AM EST
    If someone wants me to read ... (none / 0) (#27)
    by cymro on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 07:51:54 PM EST
    ... a linked article, they need to explain why. Posting an incoherent summary is not going to do it. I am naturally curious, but that does not extend to taking the time to try to figure out what someone is trying to say when they didn't take the time to communicate clearly in the first place.

    SITE VIOLATOR!!! (none / 0) (#16)
    by caseyOR on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 06:53:31 AM EST
    A spammer called Polish Concrete has hit many old posts. What is the deal with these spammers and their prolific posts?

    No doubt they're coming from some sort of (none / 0) (#28)
    by DFLer on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:23:42 PM EST
    auto program.

    Time for CAPTCHA technology here?


    And Dexter (none / 0) (#18)
    by Lil on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:38:56 AM EST

    Speaking of TV shows and (none / 0) (#20)
    by NY Progressive on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 08:57:40 AM EST
    Stockholm Syndrome seductive ballet dances by women forced into rape harems, here's a review of a new feminist film called Miss Representation that might bring hope and relief to those suffering from the horrendous dysmorphia our popular media causes.

    The Legacy of The One (none / 0) (#24)
    by Edger on Mon Oct 24, 2011 at 10:25:04 AM EST
    With a hopeful message of "Changing Hope," Barack Obama details his new gift to the nation and the world.

       A change from due process to decree...

        Americans everywhere have a chance. A chance to be killed if the president decides they should be killed.

        It is this chance I leave to you and to presidents Perry, Palin or any other presidents our nation may know.

    Obama: Changing Hope, 1min 44sec video by Mark Fiore