Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Record of the Year - 2008

The Grammy nominations are for

Record Of The Year (Award to the Artist and to the Producer(s), Recording Engineer(s) and/or Mixer(s), if other than the artist.)

Chasing Pavements Adele Eg White, producer; Tom Elmhirst & Steve Price, engineers/mixersTrack from: 19[XL Recordings/Columbia]

Viva La Vida ColdplayMarkus Dravs, Brian Eno & Rik Simpson, producers; Michael Brauer & Rik Simpson, engineers/mixersTrack from: Viva La Vida Or Death And All His Friends[Capitol Records]

Bleeding Love Leona Lewis Simon Cowell, Clive Davis & Ryan "Alias" Tedder, producers; Craig Durrance, Phil Tan & Ryan "Alias" Tedder, engineers/mixers[J Records/SYCO Music]

Paper Planes M.I.A Diplo, producer; Switch, engineer/mixerTrack from: Kala[Interscope]

Please Read The Letter Robert Plant & Alison KraussT Bone Burnett, producer; Mike Piersante, engineer/mixerTrack from: Raising Sand [Rounder]

My favorites are down to two: Viva La Vida and Please Read the Letter

Here's Coldplay - if you dont love it - you're nuts.

I have seen Robert Plant and Alison Krauss in concert - therefore - they are my personal favorites. Both are incredibly talented. Good album and phenomenal song.
And yes they performed Stairway to Heaven live at that concert. Unreal.

Here are the lyrics...

Caught out running
With just a little too much to hide
Maybe baby
Everything's gonna turn out fine
Please read the letter
I mailed it to your door
It's crazy how it all turned out
We needed so much more

Too late, too late
A fool could read the signs
Maybe baby
You'd better check between the lines
Please read the letter, I
Wrote it in my sleep
With help and consultation from
The angels of the deep

Ahhhhhhh.... Ahhhhh... Ahhhhhhaaa....

Please read the letter that I wrote
Please read the letter that I wrote

Once I stood beside a well of many words
My house was full of rings and
Charms and pretty birds
Please understand me, my
Walls come falling down
There's nothing here that's left for you
So check with lost and found

Ahhhhhhh.... Ahhhhh... Ahhhhhhaaa....

Please read the letter that I wrote
Please read the letter that I wrote

One more song just before we go
Remember baby
You got to reap just what you sow
Please read my letter
And promise me you'll keep
The secrets and the memories we
Cherish in the deep
Please read the letter
I mailed it to your door
Its crazy how it all turned out
We needed so much more....

Please read the letter that I wrote
Please read the letter that I wrote
Please read the letter that I wrote

Please read the letter that I wrote
Please read the letter that I wrote
Please read the letter that I wrote

Obama's America 2009

from www.nytimes.com

January 6, 2009
Obama’s Media Availability

The following is a rush transcript of President-Elect Barack Obama’s media availability as provided by the Obama team.

Obama: When the American people spoke last November, they were demanding change, change in policies that helped deliver the worst economic crisis that we've seen since the Great Depression, but they're also looking for a change in the way that Washington does business. They were demanding that we restore a sense of responsibility and prudence to how we'd run our government.

One of the measures of irresponsibility that we've seen is the enormous federal debt that has accumulated, a number that has doubled in recent years. As we just discussed, my budget team filled me in on - Peter Orszag now forecasts that, at the current course and speed, a trillion-dollar deficit will be here before we even start the next budget, that we've already looked - we're already looking at a trillion-dollar budget deficit or close to a trillion-dollar budget deficit, and that potentially we've got trillion-dollar deficits for years to come, even with the economic recovery that we are working on at this point.

So the reason I raise this is that we're going to have to stop talking about budget reform. We're going to have to totally embrace it. It's an absolute necessity.

And it has to begin with the economic recovery and reinvestment plan that Congress will soon be considering, that we're going to be investing an extraordinary amount of money to jump-start our economy, save or create 3 million new jobs, mostly in the private sector, and lay a solid foundation for future growth.

But we're not going to be able to expect the American people to support this critical effort unless we take extraordinary steps to ensure that the investments are made wisely and managed well. And that's why my recovery and reinvestment plan will have - will set a new higher standard of accountability, transparency, and oversight.

We are going to ban all earmarks, the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. We will create an economic recovery oversight board made up of key administration officials and independent advisers to identify problems early and make sure we're doing all that we can to solve it. We will put information about where money is being spent online so that the American people know exactly where their precious tax dollars are going and whether we are hitting our marks.

But we're not going to be able to stop there. We're going to have to bring significant reform not just to our recovery and reinvestment plan, but to the overall budget process, to address both the deficit of dollars and the deficit of trust. We'll have to make tough choices, and we're going to have to break old habits. We're going to have to eliminate outmoded programs and make the ones that we do need work better.

That's the challenge that I've handed to Peter, and Rob Nabors, and the rest of my budget team. That's the challenge that the American people have handed me. They know that we're at a perilous crossroad and that tinkering in the margins will not do.

I'm going to have more to say about this subject tomorrow, but today I wanted to lay out an early marker with those that I've entrusted to help bring the changes that the American people voted for. We are going to bring a long-overdue sense of responsibility and accountability to Washington. We are going to stop talking about government reform, and we're actually going to start executing.

That's the charge that I've given the members of the administration. That's the charge that was given to me by the American people. And we are ready for the challenge.
So with that, I'm going to take some questions. And let's start with you.

Question: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. Do you think that you'll be submitting a budget larger than the $3.1 trillion that President Bush submitted for fiscal '09? And, also, what are you doing to address concerns from other Democrats about deficit spending and increasing the deficit with the stimulus package?

Obama: Well, you know, I don't want to get into particular budget numbers, because we're obviously still in the process of reviewing what the existing budget looks like, where we can obtain some savings, what programs we can potentially eliminate. We will be submitting that budget later, after we've submitted the recovery and reinvestment plan.

I can give you a set of general principles, though. We know that we're going to have to spend money to jump-start the economy. I spoke about that yesterday.

We know that even if we did nothing that we have close to a trillion-dollar deficit, even if we were on the current path that we're on. And we know that we have to then implement a set of fiscal measures that deal with the medium and long term so that we have a sustainable path of economic growth.

So what I've assigned Peter to do is - and Rob and others - is to work with my economic team. They are part of the team that is putting together the accountability and oversight measures into the recovery act, but they also have this broader charge, which is, how do we get a fix on this budget so that, as the economy recovers, we start stabilizing the economy and - and getting our budget under control?

It's not just Democrat or Republican colleagues on the Hill that are concerned about this. I'm concerned about this. And so what I've said is, I'm going to be willing to make some very difficult choices in how we get a handle on this deficit. That's what the American people are looking for.
And, you know, what we intend to do this year, next year, and all the years that I'm in office is to demonstrate our seriousness, not by gimmicks, not by punting to future administrations the tough choices, but by making some of those tough choices while I'm in office.

Question: ... Earmarks, you said there will be none that get in there without review. Some people would argue even the so-called bridge to nowhere got review, some level of review ...
Obama: No, no, no. What I'm saying is - let me repeat what I said about that ... We will ban all earmarks in the recovery package. And I describe earmarks as the process by which individual members insert pet projects without review. So what I'm saying is, we're not having earmarks in the recovery package, period. I was describing what earmarks are.

Question: So there's - you're not suggesting there's some level of review that might ...
Obama: I'm saying there are no earmarks in the recovery package. That, that is the position that I'm taking.

Question: Well, if I may, I was just wondering if $200,000 sounds like about the right level at which the tax credits would be phased out. I know that's been thrown out there ...

Obama: You know, look, I think you can get some guidance from what I said during the campaign, but I don't want to be locked in to a particular number, Chuck, just because we're still formulating the details of the plan. OK ...

Question: Some are - some are questioning Leon Panetta's lack of intelligence - lack of experience on intelligence matters. Sorry about that. I know this is tricky for you since you haven't announced it yet, but what does he bring to the table for you?

Obama: Well, as you noted, I haven't made - haven't made a formal announcement about my intelligence team.
(cell phone rings)
Obama: That may be him calling now... finding out where it's at.
Obama: I have the utmost respect for Leon Panetta. I think that he is one of the finest public servants that we have. He brings extraordinary management skills, great political savvy, an impeccable record of integrity.

As chief of staff, he is somebody who - to the president - he's somebody who obviously was fully versed in international affairs, crisis management, and had to evaluate intelligence consistently on a day-to-day basis.

Having said all that, I have not made an announcement. When we make the announcement, I think what people will see is, is that we are putting together a top-notch intelligence team that is not only going to assure that I get the best possible intelligence unvarnished, that the intelligence community is no longer geared towards telling the president what they think the president wants to hear, but instead are going to be delivering the information that the president needs to make critical decisions to keep the American people safe.

I think what you're also going to see is a team that is committed to breaking with some of the past practices and concerns that have, I think, tarnished the image of the agencies, the intelligence agencies, as well as U.S. foreign policy.

Last point I will make, though, on this is that there are outstanding intelligence professionals in the CIA, in DNI, and others, and I have the utmost regard for the work that they've done, and we are committed to making sure that this is a team effort that's not looking backwards, but is looking forward to figure out how we're going to serve the American people best, OK?
Question: Thank you, Mr. President-elect. You're being put under a lot of pressure internationally to get more involved in the situation in Gaza. I understand you think there should only be one president at a time, but what do you have to say to the Israelis and the Palestinians who are fighting and dying in Gaza?

Obama: As I've said before, when it comes to foreign policy, I think the need to adhere to one president at a time is particularly important. In domestic policy, Democrats, Republicans, we can have arguments back and forth about what tax policies are going to be. When it comes to international affairs, other countries are looking to see who speaks for America. Right now, President George Bush, as president of the United States, speaks on behalf of the U.S. government and the American people when it comes to international affairs.
Obviously, I am deeply concerned about the conflict that's taking place there. I'm being fully briefed and monitored - monitoring the situation on a day-to-day basis. The loss of civilian life in Gaza and in Israel is a source of deep concern for me.

And after January 20th, I am going to have plenty to say about the issue. And I am not backing away at all from what I said during the campaign, that I - starting at the beginning of our administration, we are going to engage effectively and consistently in trying to resolve the conflicts that exist in the Middle East.

That's something that I'm committed to. I think it's not only right for the people in that region; most importantly, it's right for the national security of the American people and the stability that is so important to this country. So on January 20th, you will be hearing directly from me and my opinions on this issue. Until then, my job is to monitor the situation and put together the best possible national security team so that we hit the ground running once we are responsible for national security issues.

Indian Dossier on the Mumbai Attacks

January 7, 2009
Dossier From India Gives New Details of Mumbai Attacks
From www.nytimes.com

NEW DELHI — In the beginning, they were 32. A squad of suicide bombers raised in Pakistan, they were taught how to make bombs, withstand interrogation, and fight to their death.

They were whittled down to 10, and on a Saturday morning in November, they set sail from Karachi with coordinates plotted on a global positioning set. Once in Mumbai, they went on a killing spree, leaving 163 dead, all the while receiving detailed instructions and pep talks from their handlers across the border. Details of their gory mission have been compiled by Indian authorities and officially shared Monday with the Pakistani government. The New York Times has seen a copy of the dossier.

The information seems designed to achieve at least two Indian objectives. First, it seeks to demonstrate that the attackers were sent from Pakistan. It contains photographs of materials found on the fishing trawler, from a bottle of Mountain Dew soda packaged in Karachi to pistols that bore the markings of a gun manufacturer in Peshawar to a Pakistani-made matchbox, detergent powder, and shaving cream, called “Touchme.”

Second, it seeks to rally international support for the Indian effort to squeeze Pakistan. It contains a list of 26 foreigners killed in the attacks, chronicles India’s efforts in recent years to persuade Pakistan to investigate suspects involved in terror attacks inside India and shut down terror training camps inside Pakistani territory. In its final pages, it demands that Pakistan hand over “conspirators” to face trial in India and comply with its promise to stop terrorist groups from functioning inside its territory. It was shared this week with diplomats from friendly nations; one described it as “comprehensive,” another as “convincing.”

Although the dossier takes pains not to blame serving or former officials in Pakistan’s army or spy agency, Indian officials have consistently hinted at their complicity, at least in training the commando-style fighters who carried it out. On Tuesday, the Indian Prime Minister, Manmohan Singh, upped the ante but stopped short of making a direct accusation. “There is enough evidence to show that, given the sophistication and military precision of the attack, it must have had the support of some official agencies in Pakistan,” he said.

Pakistan on Tuesday rejected the Indian allegation. “Scoring points like this will only move us further away from focusing on the very real and present danger of regional and global terrorism,” Sherry Rehman, Pakistan’s Information Minister, said in a statement, according to the Associated Press. “It is our fond resolve to insure that non-state actors to do not use Pakistan’s soil to launch terrorist attack any where in the world.”

Pakistan has said it is examining the information dispatched by India.

The dossier, along with a power-point presentation made to diplomats here, narrates a journey of zeal, foibles and careful planning, one whose blow-by-blow media coverage was followed by handlers, believed to be in Pakistan, and used in turn to caution the gunmen on the ground about the movement of Indian security forces and motivate them to keep fighting.

“Everything is being recorded by the media. Inflict the maximum damage. Keep fighting. Don’t be taken alive,” says a caller to a gunman inside the Oberoi Hotel close to 4 a.m. on the first day of the three-day siege.

“Throw one of two grenades at the Navy and police teams, which are outside,” came one instruction to the gunmen inside the Taj Mahal hotel.

“Keep two magazines and three grenades aside and expend the rest of your ammunition,” went another set of instructions to the attackers inside Nariman House, which housed an Orthodox Jewish center, on the second evening, with a directive to “conclude” the operation the next morning.

The telephone conversations, selected transcripts of which have been compiled in the dossier, chronicle a steady exchange between the attackers in Mumbai and their counselors.

At the Taj, they are asked whether they have set the hotel on fire; one of the attackers says he is preparing a mattress for that purpose. At the Oberoi, one of them asks whether to spare women (“kill them,” comes the terse reply) and Muslims (he is told to release them and kill the rest, all the while keeping the phone line open so their interlocutors can hear the gunfire). At Nariman House, a residential building which housed a Jewish community center, they are told how to damage India’s standing with a key ally, Israel.

“Keep in mind that the hostages are of use only as long as you do not come under fire because of their safety,” a handler, identified only as Wassi, exhorts. “If you are still threatened, then don’t saddle yourself with the burden of the hostages. Immediately kill them.”

“Yes, we shall do accordingly,” the gunman inside Nariman House replies. “God willing.”

“If the hostages are killed, it will spoil relations between India and Israel,” Wassi continues.

According to the investigation, the 10 men boarded a small boat in Karachi at 8 a.m. on Nov. 22, sailed a short distance before boarding a bigger carrier called the Al-Husseini, believed to be owned by Zaki-ur-Rehman Lakhvi, a key operative of a banned Pakistan-based terrorist group called Lashkar-e-Taiba. The following day, the 10 men took over an Indian fishing trawler, called the MV Kuber, killed four of its crew members, spared its captain, Amar Singh Solanki, and sailed 550 nautical miles across the Arabian Sea.

Each man had two-hour watch duties on board. Each carried individual weapon packs: a Kalashnikov, a 9-millimeter pistol, ammunition, hand grenades and a bomb, weighing 8 kilograms and containing a military-grade explosive called RDX, steel ball bearings and a timer with instructions inscribed in Urdu.

By 4 p.m. on Nov. 26, the trawler approached the shores of Mumbai. The leader of the crew, identified by Indian investigators as Ismail Khan, 25, from a town called Dera Ismail Khan in the Northwest Frontier Province, contacted their handlers and received instructions. When darkness set in, they killed the captain of the trawler, Mr. Solanki. Then they boarded a motorized dinghy, the engine of which, Indian investigators say, bore marks from a Lahore-based importing company. They reached Mumbai at about 8:30 p.m., and in five teams of two, set upon their targets: the city’s busiest railway station known as Victoria Terminus, a tourist haunt called CafĂ© Leopold, the Jewish center in Nariman House, and two luxury hotels, the Taj and Oberoi.

They made one mistake. As they were leaving the fishing trawler, they told their handlers later on the phone, the waves were high and another boat was approaching, which they feared was an Indian Navy ship. They left behind Ismail Khan’s satellite phone; it was recovered by Indian investigators and its photograph included in the dossier. A GPS, also recovered from the trawler suggests they kept a safe distance of at least 60 kilometers from Indian shore until they got closer to Mumbai.

The gunmen seemed to use Indian mobile phones during the course of the attacks. Their counselors, 6 in all, used Voice-Over-Internet-Protocol numbers, including one from an American company called “Callphonex.”

The telephone calls stop, inexplicably, about 24 hours into the attacks.

The last call transcript in the dossier is at 10:26 p.m. on Nov. 27, between a gunman inside Nariman House and his interlocutor. “Brother you have to fight,” says the caller. “This is a matter of the prestige of Islam.”

By the morning of Nov. 29, Indian forces had killed 9 of the fighters.

And then, there was one: the sole survivor, Mohammed Ajmal Kasab, is in the custody of the Mumbai police. His interrogation turned up the most frightening detail. He was part of a cadre of 32 would-be suicide bombers, that was later joined by an additional three men. A team of six went to Indian-administered Kashmir, Mr. Kasab told his interrogators.

Ten were kept in isolation for more than three months, in a house near Karachi, until they were instructed to go to Mumbai.

The dossier says nothing about what happened to the remaining trainees. Whether or where they will strike next remains a mystery.

Richard A. Oppel Jr. contributed reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan.