Thursday, July 31, 2008

You cannot use the military for political purposes.

The Republicans blame Obama for trying to use the troops for political purposes. Or not. Or that he tried to but the Pentagon said no. Or the Pentagon said no before he visited with the wrong staff. With or without cameras. Or something:
The Obama campaign [] announced that it had decided to cancel the visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, saying that it would be "inappropriate" to make such a visit as part of a campaign trip.

The McCain camp has nonetheless been using Obama's canceled trip to insinuate that he's anti-troops. "Barack Obama is wrong," McCain spokesperson Brian Rogers said in a statement yesterday. "It is never 'inappropriate' to visit our men and women in the military."

But it turns out that the Pentagon did in fact tell Obama that in this case, it was not only "inappropriate," but against DOD rules, for him to conduct the visit with campaign staff.

"We have longstanding Department of Defense policy in regards to political campaigns and elections," Pentagon spokesperson Elizabeth Hibner told me. "We informed the Obama staff that he was more than welcome to visit as Senator Obama, with Senate staff. However, he could not conduct the visit with campaign staff."

After being told this, the Obama campaign announced yesterday that it had decided it was "inappropriate" to make the visit as part of a campaign trip.
Mullen addressed the dangers of mixing the military and politics here earlier:
The highest-ranking U.S. military officer has written an unusual open letter to all those in uniform, warning them to stay out of politics as the United States approaches a presidential election in which the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan will be a central, and certainly divisive, issue.

“Keeping our politics private is a good first step,” he added. “The only things we should be wearing on our sleeves are our military insignia.”
I had misunderstood and Bryan of Why Now? put me straight with this explanation in comments:
This isn't a change; this is what should have been happening. When you are identifiable as a serving member of the US military, you are not allowed to engage in any political activity. The rule goes back to the Civil War.

The Hedgemony has been enforcing the rule selectively against anyone who disagrees with them, but it applies to partisans of either side.

No one who worked for me ever knew who I voted for in elections when I was serving. There are no campaign signs on military bases.

This shouldn't be happening, and Mullen knows it, and is concerned about it. Politics and religion have no place in the military. Do what you want off-base, off-duty, and out of uniform, but not when you are identified as a member of the military.
Even McCain agreed using Petraeus for political fundraising was wrong.

So when is using the military for political purposes a good thing? What do the politicians want when they pose with the military? To connote this?


Hoping some of that machismo will rub off?

Do they want to imply this?


Or to suggest that having served in the military suddenly makes you a leader and a supporter of the troops? Even if you're not:


Is this why politicians love parades?:


And love to talk about 'the romantic side' of war?


Even though they actually have little or no understanding what it is like to be in the military:


And have no concept of what their political actions result in:




And often do not listen to anybody except those who parrot back what they want to hear:


And mock those who earned their honor:



And think the military is there to fulfill their every wish?





Ignoring the inevitable results:


Because someone who has never been in combat thinks wearing the uniform will make him look manly, fearless and like a leader:


Oh, wait, that's not the one of Georgie taking charge, THIS is the one...

The Deciderer Commander Guy in costume?


And stopping a ship just before it arrives at port, turning it around and pretending to fly in on a jet? And then use the military as a backdrop for one of the lamest military speeches of all time?


And finally... aren't elected leaders asked to use the military ONLY for necessary actions, and always with a plan and an exit strategy?:



Which is why we have Congress be the ones to declare war:


We want thoughtful politicians who weigh all options, all possibilities, all outcomes:



Update: 8/4:

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Georgie at 3am: Dad? You know you lent me the car and told me to be careful? ... well, there's been an accident.

It's just a dent right by the front of the back of the engine by the wheel. It's not my fault! I was going slow! This tree just jumped out and hit me! The car is okay... it will just need to be repaired when we find all the parts....

And by the way... you know I told you I spent the country into a deficit to the tune of 490 mill... uh billion dollars? Make that 600 billion.

But I'm okay! The next president can fix it, easy!
Yesterday, the White House “increased its estimate for next year’s deficit to nearly $490 billion, a record figure that will saddle the next president with deepening budget problems in his first year in office.” But, on ABC News’s Good Morning America today, Claire Shipman reported that the deficit is actually much higher because “creative White House accounting” didn’t include the war, the unemployment costs, Medicare fees, or the housing bill in its calculations. If those numbers are included, it brings “the grand total to about $600 billion.”

This is quietly informing us?

Anti-terror officials in the U.S. cite this summer and fall's lineup of two major political parties' conventions, November's general election and months of transition into a new presidential administration as cause for heightened awareness and action.

This is what the Department of Homeland Security is quietly declaring a Period of Heightened Alert, or POHA, a time frame when terrorists may have more incentive to attack.

Well... I guess it's better than running around screaming that the malls of America are under attack but would we please go shopping anyway, or sending Skeletor out to tell us his gut tells him we're all going to die but please go shopping anyway.

But talk about hinting to the terrorists that now would be a really good time to attack because then a Republican would win....



A 5.4. Enough to slosh the water in the fish tanks and send my hanging pots swinging. My daughter got under the kitchen table and I stood in the doorway. My husband didn't feel a thing driving on the freeway.

Just another normal day in Southern California.

Monday, July 28, 2008

All in a day's work for Blackwater

Four of the five government contractors in line for portions of a $15 billion Pentagon contract to counter "narco-terrorism" have operations in Arizona.

The Department of Defense program aims to develop new technologies and applications to combat international illegal drug trafficking and its ties to terrorism and anti-American groups

Lockheed Martin, ARINC Inc., Raytheon Co., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Blackwater USA are the private contractors lined up for the work, according to the Defense Department's contract announcement.

Blackwater USA is the only company of the five that does not have operations in Arizona.

ARINC is based in Annapolis, Md. and is part of the Carlyle Group private equity firm. ARINC has operations in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Tucson and the U.S. Army base at Fort Huachuca.

Los Angeles-based Northrop has various operations in Yuma, Tempe, Sierra Vista, Fort Huachuca and Phoenix.

Raytheon Co. has its missile division and 10,000 workers in Tucson. Lockheed Martin also has operations at Fort Huachuca as well as Prescott Valley.
But apparently the megamillion dollar companies that Prince runs are small businesses...
Think Progress:
An audit by the Inspector General of the Small Business Administration found that private security firm Blackwater “obtained dozens of small business contracts worth more than $110 million even though” the company “may have exceeded size limits for a small business”:

The Inspector General of the Small Business Administration said Blackwater, based in Moyock, N.C., obtained 39 contracts set aside for small businesses from 2005 through 2007. Of these, 32 contracts worth $2.1 million were set aside for companies with annual revenues of $6.5 million or less.

Blackwater’s revenues have exceeded $200 million each of those years, according to federal contracting data.

The report said that Blackwater “may have improperly classified Blackwater guards in Iraq and Afghanistan as independent contractors rather than employees.” It’s a tactic other private contractors have used to avoid paying taxes.

McBush on the loose!


The top ten for this week.

Debt. It's sikological! It's physol.. psycho...It's all in your mind!

Friday, July 25, 2008

A Dukakis moment....


Senator, I thought that you would know better. is running this new ad nationwide, making clear that Iraqi Freedom means listening to them when they ask for a timeline to leave. John McCain would have us occupy Iraq indefinitely, instead.

More here.

Friday Hope

You don't need to drink yourself into a stupor or pop pills for relief!


Read Phila of Bouphonia.

Careful! Fire scares him!

But he kinda likes to sing to the music....

Tengrain of Mock, Paper, Scissors captures the essence of John McCain with one pic.

Like the monster in the movie you just KNOW isn't dead...

Jeremy Scahill warns us to keep an eye on Blackwater:
Among the headlines of the past 24 hours: "Blackwater plans exit from guard work", "Blackwater getting out of security business", "Blackwater sounds retreat from private security business", and "Blackwater to leave security business". One blogger slapped this headline on his post: "Blackwater, worst organization since SS, to end mercenary work."

Frankly, this is a whole lot of hype.

Anyone who thinks Blackwater is in serious trouble is dead wrong. Even if -- and this is a big if -- the company pulled out of Iraq tomorrow, here is the cold, hard fact: business has never been better for Blackwater, and its future looks bright.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

If ever I would leave you....

How could it be in spring-time?
Knowing how in spring I'm bewitched by you so?
Oh, no! not in spring-time!
Summer, winter or fall!
No, never could I leave you at all!

crossposted at SteveAudio

Insurance company rules, changing the way you play

One staple gun at a time!

Bush on the economy

Wall Street got drunk. What is just as horrible as his cracking jokes about the collapse of the economy is the sycophantic laughter of the audience.

My question to Mr. Georgie Bush is,"Who gave it the booze?"


Oh my.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who needs to know the countries of the world?

McCain obviously is following Rumsfeld's lead and not giving a shit.


They're ALL ferriners! McCain flubs yet again as he refers to Czechoslovakia instead of to the Czech Republic and Slovakia. He's now mixed up Somalia and the Sudan; Sunni and Shiite; Iran and al-Qaeda, and thinks Pakistan and Iraq share a border.

I guess it doesn't matter whether or not you know these countries if you plan to deal with your 3am phone call by screaming,"Just bomb them all!"

Here's the top ten list for the week.

This plant can blind you and give you second degree burns


Chet Scoville of Vanity Press warns us after his wife's emergency room visit. Luckily she did not get its sap in her eyes.

Update 2/10: Giant Hogweed is very similar and as dangerous.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Speaking of snakes...


Via Arbroath of Nothing To Do With Arbroath, watch the ... surprise... ending:

Something like this happens:

We want their names.

Harper's magazine talks to Jane Mayer, author of The Dark Side. Read it if you want to see where the United States lost its soul: (my bold)
In a series of gripping articles, Jane Mayer has chronicled the Bush Administration’s grim and furtive dealings with torture and has exposed both the individuals within the administration who “made it happen” (a group that starts with Vice President Cheney and his chief of staff, David Addington), the team of psychologists who put together the palette of techniques, and the Fox television program “24,” which was developed to help sell it to the American public. In a new book, The Dark Side, Mayer puts together the major conclusions from her articles and fills in a number of important gaps. Most significantly, we learn the details on the torture techniques and the drama behind the fierce and lingering struggle within the administration over torture, and we learn that many within the administration recognized the potential criminal accountability they faced over these torture tactics and moved frantically to protect themselves from possible future prosecution.
About the doctors who helped the torturers:
A physician was called in for consultation—one of many instances in which health professionals have played truly disturbing roles in this program. (I personally feel that the medical and psychological professionals who have used their skills to further a program designed to cause pain and suffering should be a high priority in terms of accountability. It has long been a ghastly aspect of torture, worldwide, that doctors and other medical professionals often assist. The licensing boards and professional societies are worthless, in my view, if they don’t demand serious investigations of such unethical uses of science.)
We want names. We want the names of those in the medical profession who assisted in this horror. We want to know who they are and why they thought this was a patriotic thing to do. Or worse yet, why this would be an intriguing thing to do.
After interviewing hundreds of sources in and around the Bush White House, I think it is clear that many of the legal steps taken by the so-called “War Council” were less a “New Paradigm,” as Alberto Gonzales dubbed it, than an old political wish list, consisting of grievances that Cheney and his legal adviser, David Addington, had been compiling for decades. Cheney in particular had been chafing at the post-Watergate reforms, and had longed to restore the executive branch powers Nixon had assumed, constituting what historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr. called “the Imperial Presidency.”

Before September 11, 2001, these extreme political positions would not have stood a change of being instituted—they would never have survived democratic scrutiny. But by September 12, 2001, President Bush and Vice President Cheney were extraordinarily empowered. Political opposition evaporated as critics feared being labeled anti-patriotic or worse. It’s a familiar dynamic in American history—not unlike the shameful abridgement of civil liberties represented by FDR’s internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry. One of the strongest quotes in the book, I think, comes from Philip Zelikow, the former executive director of the 9/11 Commission, former counselor to Secretary of State Condi Rice, and a historian who teaches at the University of Virginia. He suggests in time that America’s descent into torture will be viewed like the internment of the Japanese, because they happened for similar reasons. As he puts it, “Fear and anxiety were exploited by zealots and fools.”
We want names. We want the names of those in the legal profession who assisted in this horror. We want to know who they are and why they thought this was a patriotic thing to do. Or worse yet, why this would be an intriguing thing to do.

We won't let them sink quietly back into American society, becoming the lawyers who do our trusts or the doctors who prescribe pills to our children. They have participated in the torture of prisoners and it has brought shame to our nation and fury and revulsion to its citizens.

We want to know who they are.

Why we should always keep an eye on our government

And those we hire to protect us. They think our own citizens are the terrorists:
Undercover Maryland State Police officers repeatedly spied on peace activists and anti-death penalty groups in recent years and entered the names of some in a law-enforcement database of people thought to be terrorists or drug traffickers, newly released documents show.

The files, made public Thursday by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, depict a pattern of infiltration of the activists' organizations in 2005 and 2006. The activists contend that the authorities were trying to determine whether they posed a security threat to the United States. But none of the 43 pages of summaries and computer logs - some with agents' names and whole paragraphs blacked out - mention criminal or even potentially criminal acts, the legal standard for initiating such surveillance.

State police officials said they did not curtail the protesters' freedoms.

The spying, detailed in logs of at least 288 hours of surveillance over a 14-month period, recalls similar infiltration by FBI agents of civil rights and anti-war groups decades ago, particularly under the administration of President Richard M. Nixon.
In February 2006, the national ACLU and its affiliates filed multiple federal Freedom of Information requests seeking records of Pentagon surveillance of anti-war groups around the country. Using information from a secret Pentagon database, NBC News reported that a unit of the Department of Defense had been accumulating intelligence about domestic organizations and their protest activities as part of a mission to track "potential terrorist threats."

"It serves no security purpose to infiltrate peaceful groups," said Michael German, a former FBI agent who specialized in counter-terrorism and who joined the ACLU two years ago as policy counsel in its Washington legislative office. "It completely misuses law enforcement resources."

Since the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, German said, the government has "actively encouraged" local police agencies to become intelligence gatherers and to compile information that does not necessarily have a connection to criminal activity.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

The Wrecking Crew

The Wrecking Crew: How Conservatives Rule by Thomas Frank, the author of the bestselling and must-read book, What's the Matter with Kansas?
From Taegan Goddard's Political Wire:
"Casting back to the early days of the conservative revolution, Frank describes the rise of a ruling coalition dedicated to dismantling government. But rather than cutting down the big government they claim to hate, conservatives have simply sold it off, deregulating some industries, defunding others, but always turning public policy into a private-sector bidding war. Washington itself has been remade into a golden landscape of super-wealthy suburbs and gleaming lobbyist headquarters--the wages of government-by-entrepreneurship practiced so outrageously by figures such as Jack Abramoff."

The bottom line: "It is no coincidence that the same politicians who guffaw at the idea of effective government have installed a regime in which incompetence is the rule."

Reasons 1 through 4 on why we need to leave Iraq

And it isn't so we can attack Iran.

Lawrence J. Korb of the Boston Globe:
First, Maliki knows that if the United States does not set a withdrawal date, the status of forces agreement, or even a memorandum of understanding, will not be approved by the Iraqi Parliament. A majority of the Iraqi Parliament has signed a letter to that effect. Iraq's elected legislators know that the overwhelming majority of the Iraqi people want the American forces out and believe that these foreign forces are actually causing much of the violence. The American people agree that the United States should have never invaded and want US forces to leave as quickly as possible. But, since Bush will not submit the agreement to Congress, he can ignore the wishes of the American people.

Second, there were not that many foreign terrorists to begin with. Despite the administration's claim that we are fighting them (Al Qaeda) over there (in Iraq) so we do not have to fight them over here (the United States), the number of Al Qaeda loyalists who came into the country after the US invasion never numbered more than 2,000. Moreover, Al Qaeda in Iraq is an overwhelmingly Iraqi organization with domestic aims. When members began killing Iraqis and tried to force a rigid version of Islam on their Iraqi collaborators, the Iraqis turned on them.

Once the United States sets a date for a complete withdrawal, Al Qaeda in Iraq will lose what little support it has from the Iraqi people.

Third, with the rising price of oil, Iraq is awash in money and no longer needs US assistance to rebuild its war-torn infrastructure. When the United States invaded, oil was $25 a barrel. Now it is about $130. The Iraqi government now produces 2.5 million barrels a day, and with the contracts it has recently signed with Western companies, it soon will begin producing even more. This means that the Iraqis will be bringing in $100 billion to $200 billion a year.

Fourth, the Shi'ite dominated Iraqi government is not as concerned about the threat from Iran as the Bush administration. Many of Iraq's Shi'ite leaders lived in Iran during the regime of Saddam Hussein and see the Iranians as Shi'ite allies with whom they can and should have a close relationship - unlike Bush who sees the Iranians as the second coming of Nazi Germany or Stalinist Russia.

Time to leave. Even al-Maliki agrees (and Der Speigel stands by its quote):
In the interview, Maliki expressed support of Obama's plan to withdraw US troops from Iraq within 16 months. "That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of changes."

Maliki was quick to back away from an outright endorsement of Obama, saying "who they choose as their president is the Americans' business." But he then went on to say: "But it's the business of Iraqis to say what they want. And that's where the people and the government are in general agreement: The tenure of the coalition troops in Iraq should be limited."

A Baghdad government spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said in a statement that SPIEGEL had "misunderstood and mistranslated" the Iraqi prime minister, but didn't point to where the misunderstanding or mistranslation might have occurred. Al-Dabbagh said Maliki's comments "should not be understood as support to any US presidential candidates." The statement was sent out by the press desk of the US-led Multinational Force in Iraq.

A number of media outlets likewise professed to being confused by the statement from Maliki's office. The New York Times pointed out that al-Dabbagh's statement "did not address a specific error." CBS likewise expressed disbelief pointing out that Maliki mentions a timeframe for withdrawal three times in the interview and then asks, "how likely is it that SPIEGEL mistranslated three separate comments? Matthew Yglesias, a blogger for the Atlantic Monthly, was astonished by "how little effort was made" to make the Baghdad denial convincing. And the influential blog IraqSlogger also pointed out the lack of specifics in the government statement.

SPIEGEL sticks to its version of the conversation.


Obama's ferrin friends

Blackwater seeks a softer gentler image


Fun for the whole family! Bring the kids!

(found via this article.)

Saturday, July 19, 2008

We owe these people much

Government whistleblowers, those who were brave enough to speak up and were instantly shunned and retaliated against. Eli of Multi Medium has the list.

Why does the religious right want to take away a woman's right to control her own body?

They've apparently decided that the birth control pill causes abortions (which it most clearly does not). (Hat tip to SteveAudio).

Christina Page at RH Reality Check: (my bold)
In a spectacular act of complicity with the religious right, the Department of Health and Human Services Monday released a proposal that allows any federal grant recipient to obstruct a woman's access to contraception. In order to do this, the Department is attempting to redefine many forms of contraception, the birth control 40% of Americans use, as abortion. Doing so protects extremists under the Weldon and Church amendments. Those laws prohibit federal grant recipients from requiring employees to help provide or refer for abortion services.
[snip] The definitions are explained. Page goes on:
Up until now, the federal government followed the definition of pregnancy accepted by the American Medical Association and our nation's pregnancy experts, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, which is: pregnancy begins at implantation. With this proposal, however, HHS is dismissing medical experts and opting instead to accept a definition of pregnancy based on polling data. It now claims that pregnancy begins at some biologically unknowable moment (there's no test to determine if a woman's egg has been fertilized). Under these new standards there would be no way for a woman to prove she's not pregnant. Thus, any woman could be denied contraception under HHS' new science.

The other rarely discussed issue here is whether hormonal contraception even does what the religious right claims. There is no scientific evidence that hormonal methods of birth control can prevent a fertilized egg from implanting in the womb. This argument is the basis upon which the religious right hopes to include the 40% of the birth control methods Americans use, such as the pill, the patch, the shot, the ring, the IUD, and emergency contraception, under the classification "abortion." Even the "pro-life" movement's most respected physicians cautioned the movement about making these claims. In 1999, the physicians--who, like the movement at large, define pregnancy as beginning at fertilization-- released an open letter to community stating: "Recently, some special interest groups have claimed, without providing any scientific rationale, that some methods of contraception may have an abortifacient effect...The 'hormonal contraception is abortifacient' theory is not established fact. It is speculation, and the discussion presented here suggests it is error...if a family, weighing all the factors affecting their own circumstances, decides to use this modality, we are confident that they are not using an abortifacient."
So... in the end it comes down to someone else deciding whether or not I or any other woman can use a particular kind of birth control because they find it offensive to their religion? What does their religion have to do with me?

Because they have decided to use fuzzy logic and inaccurate 'science', does that exclude me using clear logic and real science to make my decisions? Even their own 'doctors' have told them birth control pills don't cause abortions. Why are they ignoring this? Why is the anti-abortion movement trying to stop the prevention of pregnancies... which PREVENTS abortions?

So... what is it exactly that they want to accomplish by taking away the woman's right to control her own body? Could it possibly be more about the sex and less about the fetus?

They want to take away sex education and offer idiotic abstinence programs which offers no way to .. grapple with the onslaught of normal human biology. They want to take away birth control pills, condoms, anything that prevents pregnancy. They also want to take away the woman's right to choose whether or not to carry the pregnancy to term. It's almost as if they want to bring back the scarlet letter and use the baby as punishment.

They are disturbed that somewhere someone is having fun while having sex. They obsess about sex, premarital sex, gay sex, pleasurable wanton lustful hedonistic sweaty... *ahem*... yet proclaim that sex is only for married people. They are horrified at gay marriage, but have yet to explain exactly how it would threaten or harm anyone. (And the elected officials who yell the loudest about legislating sexual morality are so often the ones caught in bathroom stalls, with a boy page or a prostitute, wearing diapers or offering blow jobs.) They frown on childless couples, calling them selfish and negligent in their duty. They offer no help to the single mother (the slut!) nor the impoverished family that can afford neither birth control nor another child. No free childcare. No welfare. No education. No sex education....

All because their religion said so? That's one weird loving God if I may say so. Not the God I know.

So, in this happy future world, would they want to dictate what sexual positions were sinful, too? Maybe only the missionary position is the 'correct' one? Maybe the woman would need to cover herself modestly, to show how obedient and submissive she was? Maybe she should not show too much skin or laugh too loud because it would be indecent? She should defer to men at all times with all important decisions? Is this where they want to go?

Because this religious society has existed in the past (like the Puritans who burned uppity women) and exists now (the Wahabists in Saudi Arabia, the weird Mormon sect out in Texas) and has been suggested for the future (A Handmaid's Tale).

If this is the kind of society they want to have, let them have at it, if they can find a country to do it in. Just don't force anyone who doesn't want to, to participate.

I sure won't and I don't know anyone anywhere who would.

Update 7/20: Slightly to the subject, John McCain:

Update 7/21: I asked the question here about whether or not GOP women use any kind of birth control.

If you're happy and you know it...

Don't read this post.


We haven't found out what's killing our honey bees yet:
WASHINGTON - Food prices could rise even more unless the mysterious decline in honey bees is solved, farmers and businessmen told lawmakers Thursday.


About three-quarters of flowering plants rely on birds, bees and other pollinators to help them reproduce. Bee pollination is responsible for $15 billion annually in crop value.

In 2006, beekeepers began reporting losing 30 percent to 90 percent of their hives. This phenomenon has become known as Colony Collapse Disorder. Scientists do not know how many bees have died; beekeepers have lost 36 percent of their managed colonies this year. It was 31 percent for 2007, said Edward B. Knipling, administrator of the Agriculture Department's Agricultural Research Service.

"If there are no bees, there is no way for our nation's farmers to continue to grow the high quality, nutritious foods our country relies on," said Democratic Rep. Dennis Cardoza of California, chairman of the horticulture and organic agriculture panel. "This is a crisis we cannot afford to ignore."

Food prices have gone up 83 percent in three years, according to the World Bank.
We're turning our oceans into an acid bath:

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida (Reuters) - Like a tooth dipped in a glass of Coca-Cola, coral reefs, lobsters and other marine creatures that build calcified shells around themselves could soon dissolve as climate change turns the oceans increasingly acidic.

The carbon dioxide spewed into the atmosphere by factories, cars and power plants is not just raising temperatures. It is also causing what scientists call "ocean acidification" as around 25 percent of the excess CO2 is absorbed by the seas.

The threat to hard-bodied marine organisms, such as coral reefs already struggling with warming waters, is alarming, and possibly quite imminent, marine scientists gathered this week for a coral reef conference in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, said.
We are running out of rain forests, wood, and land to grow crops:
Demand for land to grow food, fuel crops and wood is set to outstrip supply, leading to the probable destruction of forests, a report warns.

The Rights and Resources Initiative (RRI) says only half of the extra land needed by 2030 is available without eating into tropical forested areas.
We're losing the penquins:
RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil - Hundreds of baby penguins swept from the icy shores of Antarctica and Patagonia are washing up dead on Rio de Janeiro's tropical beaches, rescuers and penguin experts said Friday.

And what we're not losing is being made toxic:
The Maine Center for Disease Control said Friday that lobster meat is perfectly safe but that people should not eat the tomalley — a soft green substance found in the body of the lobster.

High levels of toxic algae known as red tide have been recorded along Maine's coast this summer, forcing the state to close many areas to clam and mussel harvesting. Tomalley functions as the lobster's liver by serving as a natural filter for contaminants that are in the water.
WASHINGTON - The tomato scare may be over, but it has taken a toll — it's cost the industry an estimated $100 million and left millions of people with a new wariness about the safety of everyday foods.
I'm reading Jared Diamond's Collapse which talks about societies which become unsustainable yet the people continue to misuse and use up their resources. Overpopulation is one factor. Inability to anticipate and plan for future disasters is another. What is happening now has been repeated several times before.

I just never expected to actually be here when everything broke all at once.

crossposted at SteveAudio

Friday, July 18, 2008

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Nazi appeasers!

The US plans to establish a diplomatic presence in Tehran for the first time in 30 years as part of a remarkable turnaround in policy by President George Bush.

The Guardian has learned that an announcement will be made in the next month to establish a US interests section - a halfway house to setting up a full embassy. The move will see US diplomats stationed in the country.

The news of the shift by Bush who has pursued a hawkish approach to Iran throughout his tenure comes at a critical time in US-Iranian relations. After weeks that have seen tensions rise with Israel conducting war games and Tehran carrying out long-range missile tests, a thaw appears to be under way.

The White House announced yesterday that William Burns, a senior state department official, is to be sent to Switzerland on Saturday to hear Tehran's response to a European offer aimed at resolving the nuclear standoff.
Ohhhh Nooooo! What would Grandpoppy Prescott think? What will Americans think? What will other nations think?

Excellent FISA flowcharts

Explaining just how much we've lost.

Brave Sir Karl ran away

To avoid this?:
This morning, Karl Rove refused to appear before the House Judiciary Committee to testify about the politicization of the Justice Department, despite a subpoena. During the hearing, Rep. Chris Cannon (R-UT) revealed that Rove had not only skipped out of the hearing, but had skipped out of the entire country.
Actually he's back again. But I think we need to encourage him to visit France: (Under international law, authorities in France are obliged to open an investigation when a complaint is made while the alleged torturer is on French soil.)


Send Karl Rove to jail! Even if it's just for the smug look on his face at the end of this interview.

How about putting one at the Golden Gate Bridge?

An underwater turbine that generates electricity from tidal streams was plugged into the UK's national grid today. It marks the first time a commercial-scale underwater turbine has fed power into the network and the start of a new source of renewable energy for the UK.

Tidal streams are seen by many as a plentiful and predictable supply of clean energy. The most conservative estimates suggest there is at least five gigawatts of power in tidal flows around the country, but there could be as much as 15GW.

The trial at Strangford Lough, in Northern Ireland, uses a device called SeaGen and generates power at 150kW. However, engineers have plans to increase power to 300kW by the end of the summer. When it is eventually running at full power SeaGen will have an output of 1,200 kW, enough for about 1,000 homes.
Actually... the most efficient thing would to be to build a wind turbine on the Capitol Hill...

Bush's legacy

Heckovajob, Georgie!
Development: US fails to measure up on 'human index': Nation slumps from 2nd to 12th in global table: Richest fifth take home $168,000, poorest $11,000

Video entertainment

Jib Jab

As well as a blast from the past on the British take on our elections and Bush:

(Two and Three)

Monday, July 14, 2008

Guns, God, and Gobsmacked

OKLAHOMA CITY -- An Oklahoma church canceled a controversial gun giveaway for teenagers at a weekend youth conference.

Windsor Hills Baptist had planned to give away a semiautomatic assault rifle until one of the event's organizers was unable to attend.

The church’s youth pastor, Bob Ross, said it’s a way of trying to encourage young people to attend the event. The church expected hundreds of teenagers from as far away as Canada.
Maybe they think guns bring you to Jesus even faster? But wouldn't that be from the other end of the semiautomatic assault rifle?

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Karl Rove to the nation:

I'm better, more important than all of you and completely above the law!


Rove skips congressional inquiry. Steve Bates of Yellow Doggerel Something has the facts.


Hipparchia of Over The Cliff, Onto The Rocks has a message from Rep. Wexler about Rove, Cheney and Bush and discussing inherent contempt and impeachment.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

In which I respond to yet another Blackwater apologist

Jessica in London wrote a comment to this post. As with Doug, I'm going to respond in a post.
Blogger Jessica said...

Why does everyone insist on concentrating on Blackwater in this discussion?

It's one company. ONE company.

The industry, and all that's good and noble about it - and it IS worthwhile, despite hysteria over a one or two unfortunate incidents the leftist media like to whip up into a frenzy - is so much more than ONE commercial company who, whilst admittedly powerful at the moment, can be brought to heel by the power of economics.

Get over this ridiculous preoccupation - look beyond it and understand that having companies that stop rebel factions cutting open pregnant women is much more desirable than inaction and the status quo... one example obviously, but these companies operate in areas the perennial arm chair critical is clearly too spinelss to go, and yet they feel compelled to preach to the world like they are some sort of authority.

The positive effects of these companies have so much more benefit than the negatives ones - which are arguably inevitable due to the unfortunate nature of the environment they operate in. But if they actually meant to cause international outrage, you'd be reading about their anitics every day. But you dont, you only see the the dirge of the ill-informed, gutless critic. Wake up, and understand the world around you is not wrapped in cotton wool.
7/11/08 12:43 PM
As I said in the comments section, Jessica, thanks for the comment. I'm going to respond, your comments are indented and in bold.
Why does everyone insist on concentrating on Blackwater in this discussion?

It's one company. ONE company.

The industry, and all that's good and noble about it - and it IS worthwhile, despite hysteria over a one or two unfortunate incidents the leftist media like to whip up into a frenzy - is so much more than ONE commercial company who, whilst admittedly powerful at the moment, can be brought to heel by the power of economics.
Yes, Blackwater is one company. One company which, as of this moment, has made about one billion ... BILLION taxpayer dollars with its no-bid contracts with the government. No oversight, no accountability. No person would hand over his hard earned money to a stranger and not check up on what was being done with it, right? Why on earth should we not have oversight with this company? Being brought to heel by cutting off funds won't make any difference at this point. Blackwater is richer than some countries.

There are many more defense contractor companies than just Blackwater in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is known. But not all of them are run by a fundamentalist Christian during a time of a great religious power struggle within the US; not all of them are attempting to set up many bases in many different states; spread out into intelligence work and spying, border patrol, citizen control. Erik Prince has his sights on things we cannot even guess and he has the money now to achieve them. Check out his connections to the government, politicians, local police, and religious groups.

Blackwater is truly the tip of the enormous defense contractor iceberg, but it's what we can see. We know there's a lot we will never know about.

And 'one or two unfortunate incidents'? You say 'unfortunate' when innocent bystanders die? There are many more incidences, just not reported in the media. How about we go ask Iraqis what they have experienced when interacting with Blackwater? Our own military? We will definitely be hearing more and more of these stories soon.
Get over this ridiculous preoccupation - look beyond it and understand that having companies that stop rebel factions cutting open pregnant women is much more desirable than inaction and the status quo... one example obviously, but these companies operate in areas the perennial arm chair critical is clearly too spinelss to go, and yet they feel compelled to preach to the world like they are some sort of authority.
It's not a ridiculous preoccupation when Iraqis and millions of angry Muslims believe that Blackwater and the US military are one and the same. Yet one is run by the Geneva Conventions (or was) and rules of war and one is answerable and accountable to no one. Blackwater is presumed to act in our name yet will not answer to us. The company is even hiring Chileans and South Africans who have worked in the most oppressive of governments. This clearly qualifies them as mercenaries. Mercenaries who owe their allegiance to Erik Prince and to Blackwater, not to the US people.

As to your bizarre reference to sliced up pregnant women? Besides being the overused canard dragged out in every conflict since the world began to incite hatred of the enemy, our 'good and noble' side has tortured, bombed, killed innocents. You want to start listing atrocities? Abu Ghraib? Bagram? Gitmo? How about starting with the murder of the 17 innocents in the Mansour district in Baghdad? Pointing fingers is almost useless because no one involved is clean of such horrors, the tangle of militias, tribes, Shiite and Sunni, neighborhoods against neighborhoods is almost impossible to track.

What we've activated in Iraq by removing a feared strongman as Saddam is to fling off the lid on Pandora's box. Those who know the area have said there are about 20 different civil wars going on. You want to reference which 'rebel factions' are slicing up which 'pregnant women'? It depends on where you are, what time of day it is, and which militia has gotten their hands on more ammo. Rape and murder of women, pregnant or not, is a tool of terror and of war, one of the first things that happens when society collapses.

By the way, how is Blackwater 'stopping rebel factions'? They aren't combatants, right? Are they diplomats? How exactly are they stopping rebel factions?
The positive effects of these companies have so much more benefit than the negatives ones - which are arguably inevitable due to the unfortunate nature of the environment they operate in. But if they actually meant to cause international outrage, you'd be reading about their anitics every day. But you dont, you only see the the dirge of the ill-informed, gutless critic. Wake up, and understand the world around you is not wrapped in cotton wool.
Please tell me of the positive effects when the insignia you wear and the behavior you do inspires fear and hatred in the population. And how would you know about these effects, 'Jessica'? Do you know someone who is working for Blackwater? Are you yourself working for Blackwater? How would you know at all about what is going on in Iraq? Are you being an armchair 'supporter' or have you been there? Or are you reading on the net as I am doing?

Journalists have been targeted in Iraq and the news is hard to get and hard to get out and Blackwater is not telling us what they are doing, are they? One politician, Marshall Adame was protected by Blackwater on a visit and was so horrified by their behavior that he complained. Blackwater went after him in his election.

'The dirge of the ill-informed, gutless critic'? Really? (Dirges are funereal songs which is rather appropriate.) But are you suggesting that the American people should stop caring what is going on and only cheer on our wonderful war without question? Ill-informed? That they should not try to understand the Iraq war, all of its implications, present and future, and attempt to get many different perspectives rather than the swallowing the obvious propaganda? Gutless? Because they think the war has been a horrible blunder? Because they didn't sign up right away to fight the glorious War on Terror? Are you serious? Being awake means knowing what is going on, not accepting without question things being done in one's name. Cotton wool only muffles the noise.

Finally, in your first section ....'good and noble'? I beg your pardon? A company whose business it is to make money in times of war. What is good and noble about being a warmonger? There is no incentive to make peace, or to make things stable. The continuation of war and instability is what guarantees profits. How on earth is that good and noble?

Answer me this. Do you believe that war solves problems and that if someone resists you should hit them harder? Do you think you can frighten and cow a population into submission? Are all Iraqis bad? Are Muslims inherently evil? Do you believe there a crusade by Christianity against Islam? Can you explain why we are in Iraq in the first place? Do you believe in the Rapture? Do you have children?

I get the theme of your comment by the words you've used: hysteria, whip up, frenzy, ridiculous, preoccupation, perennial arm chair critic, spineless, compelled, preach, dirge, ill-informed, gutless. I believe it is hysterical, ridiculous, spineless, gutless, and ill-informed NOT to ask questions, demand answers, make posts, tell people.

Why on earth would you support Blackwater, Jessica, unless you have a connection to it?

crossposted at SteveAudio and American Street

Friday, July 11, 2008

Bush to the world: Suck on this


The American leader, who has been condemned throughout his presidency for failing to tackle climate change, ended a private meeting with the words: "Goodbye from the world's biggest polluter."

He then punched the air while grinning widely, as the rest of those present including Gordon Brown and Nicolas Sarkozy looked on in shock.

Another song for John McCain's campaign?


It's hard being a loyal Bushie. You give up your honor, your pride, and your self-respect... and get screwed anyway.


Why is the concept so hard to understand?


If you catch all the fish in the sea, there will be no more:
While Spanish, French and Italian fishermen clamour for a resumption of bluefin tuna fishing - knowing that if they are allowed to fish now this will be the last season ever - around the UK it has begun to dawn on some fishermen that there might be an association between the survival of the fish and the survival of the fishing.

Prompted by Young's seafood and some of the supermarkets, who in turn have been harried by environmental groups, some of the biggest British fisheries have applied for eco-labels from the Marine Stewardship Council, which sets standards for how fish are caught. Fishermen around the UK also seem to be taking the law more seriously, and at last to be showing some interest in obscure issues such as spawning grounds and juvenile fish (which, believe it or not, turn out to have a connection to future fish stocks). By ensuring that far too many boats, and far too many desperate fishermen, stay on the water, and that the remaining quotas are stretched too thinly, the EU will slow down or even reverse the greening of the industry.

Why is this issue so hard to resolve? Why does every representative of a fishing region believe he must defend his constituents' right to ensure that their children have nothing to inherit? Why do the leaders of the fishermen's associations feel the need always to denounce the scientists who say that fish stocks decline if they are hit too hard? If this is a microcosm of how human beings engage with the environment, the prospect for humanity is not a happy one.
The fish are disappearing. Will we realize that we can actually empty the ocean of edible fish? Will we be able to stop ourselves?
Is anyone not aware that wild fish are in deep trouble? That three-quarters of commercially caught species are over-exploited or exploited to their maximum? Do they not know that industrial fishing is so inefficient that a third of the catch, some 32 million tonnes a year, is thrown away? For every ocean prawn you eat, fish weighing 10-20 times as much have been thrown overboard. These figures all come from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which also claims that, of all the world's natural resources, fish are being depleted the fastest. With even the most abundant commercial species, we eat smaller and smaller fish every year - we eat the babies before they can breed.

Callum Roberts, professor of marine conservation at York University, predicts that by 2050 we will only be able to meet the fish protein needs of half the world population: all that will be left for the unlucky half may be, as he puts it, 'jellyfish and slime'. Ninety years of industrial-scale exploitation of fish has, he and most scientists agree, led to 'ecological meltdown'. Whole biological food chains have been destroyed.
At the end of the article a solution is offered:
Roberts has one solution: marine reserves. Protecting up to 40 per cent of the world's oceans in permanent refuges would enable the recovery of fish stocks and help replenish surrounding fisheries. 'The cost, according to a 2004 survey, would be between £7bn and £8.2bn a year, after set-up. But put that against the £17.6bn a year we currently spend on harmful subsidies that encourage overfishing.'

Reserves must not be ruled by politicians, says Roberts. 'The model of industry-political control for regulatory bodies just doesn't work. It's like central banks - put them under politicians' control and they make dangerous, short-term decisions that result in economic instability. Put them under independent control, and they make better-judged, more strategic decisions.'

The Newfoundland cod fishery, for 500 years the world's greatest, was exhausted and closed in 1992, and there's still no evidence of any return of the fish. Once stocks dip below a certain critical level, the scientists believe, they can never recover because the entire eco-system has changed. The question is whether, after 50 years of vacillation and denial, there's any prospect of the politicians acting decisively now. 'It is awful and we are on the road to disaster,' says Tudela. 'But the collapse - in some, not all the situations - is still reversible. And it's worth trying.'
What with the wars over oil, water, and politics, fish will be last on the list of things to fix. But as with everything else, we no longer have very much time to rectify our mistakes before we lose everything.

crossposted at American Street