Thursday, January 31, 2008

Maybe Adam used this one as a can-opener?


SAO PAULO, Brazil (AP) -- The 80 million-year-old remains of a land-bound reptile described as a possible link between prehistoric and modern-day crocodiles were displayed to the public for the first time on Thursday.

The fossil of the 5 1/2-foot-long predator was found in 2004 near the small city of Monte Alto, 215 miles northwest of Sao Paulo, paleontologist Felipe Mesquita de Vasconcellos said by telephone, after presenting the find to a news conference at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.

The long-limbed and extremely agile animal, dubbed "Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi," roamed arid and hot terrain that is now Brazilian countryside, Vasconcelos said.

"As a missing link to prehistoric crocodiles, it offers us an excellent opportunity to study the evolutionary transition of these animals," Vasconcellos said. "It has a mix of morphological traits common in prehistoric crocodiles and in the ones that exist today."

How on earth do fundamentalists who believe the world is only 6000 years old explain away something so bristling with predator teeth?

History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

Karl Marx was right.

Ralph Nader ponders another ego-bloated run for president.

Get ready to laugh.

Water, water everywhere

And all of it is in plastic bottles.

Exposing drinking bottles made from polycarbonate plastic to boiling water significantly speeds up the release of the chemical bisphenol A compared with room temperature water — and the amount of leaching is similar whether containers are well-used or brand new, researchers say.

The scientists at the University of Cincinnati found that when new and used polycarbonate drinking bottles were filled with boiling water and left for 24 hours, concentrations of bisphenol A (BPA) were released at rates up to 55 times more rapidly than with room temperature water.

Amounts of the chemical, which acts like the hormone estrogen, also leached out in higher quantities at the higher temperature, said study co-author Scott Belcher, an associate professor of pharmacology.


Bisphenol A, widely used in such products as reusable water bottles, baby bottles, food-can linings and water pipes, has been shown to affect reproduction and brain development in animal studies.

"You could see that there are times when you would be putting hot liquids in these or boiling these or putting polycarbonate to these kinds of temperatures," Belcher said Tuesday from Cincinnati, noting that parents heat up plastic baby bottles and some people use water bottles for hot drinks.

While its effects are far from well-studied in humans, primarily because the chemical is so ubiquitous in daily life, there are concerns that BPA could contribute to some breast and prostate cancers as well as infertility in people.


Plastic bottle maker Nalgene says on its website that BPA has been used around the globe for more than 50 years, noting studies from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency have shown the chemical doesn't pose a health risk.
Uh huh. Right. The FDA and the EPA really have proved they have the public's safety at heart recently. Here is an article referencing research done between 1996 and 1998 which tested 708 Danish men reporting for a military medical examination:
It found that 43% of them had sperm counts low enough to lead to decreased fertility - in other words, to make it difficult for them to reproduce.

They describe the sperm concentrations they found in the sample as "surprisingly low", and are at a loss to explain them.

"It remains to be seen whether these findings are generally applicable to populations of young men in the industrialised countries. Denmark seems to have relatively high rates of male reproductive abnormalities."

The World Wide Fund for Nature says it believes that a factor in the low sperm counts is exposure to endocrine-disrupting chemicals.


These are chemicals which can interfere with the normal functioning of the body's hormonal control systems and seriously affect health.

Known disrupters include some phthalates (used in many plastic goods, including toys), Bisphenol A (used in plastic bottles, the plastic lining of food cans, and elsewhere), and TBT, an anti-fouling paint for boats.

Elizabeth Salter, the head of WWF's European toxics programme, said the Danish study "proves that reduced sperm production is real and common".

A 2004 study finds that a projected 95% of Americans have bisphenol A in their urine. Bisphenol is used to make baby and beverage bottles, to coat teeth, and line the inside of food cans.

Suggestions on how to lessen your exposure to BPA:

1. If you already own polycarbonate bottles, including the Nalgene bottles popular on college campuses, labeled #7 on the bottom, wash them by hand with mild dishwashing soap, not in the dishwasher, to avoid degrading the plastic and increasing leaching of BPA (see "Picnic Perfect Plastics").

Eight Ways to Avoid Harmful Chemicals from Cans and Plastic Bottles

2. Even plastic does not last forever. Look for cracks or cloudiness on your reusable clear plastic bottles. See The Green Guide's survey, "A Nalgene Bottle Poll."

3. Use glass baby bottles or plastic bag inserts, which are made of polyethyelene, or switch to polypropylene bottles that are labeled #5 and come in colors or are milky rather than clear.

4. Choose soups, milk and soy milk packaged in cardboard "brick" cartons, by Tetra Pak and SIG Combibloc, which are made of safer layers of aluminum and polyethylene (#2) and also recyclable.

5. Choose canned foods from makers who don't use BPA, such as Eden Foods (, which sells certified organic canned beans and other foods.

6. Eat fresh foods in season and save the canned foods for convenience or emergencies. The exception is some canned fruit such as that found in smaller fruit-cocktail cans, which do not require a liner, according to the Can Manufacturers Institute.

7. Buy or can your own fruits and vegetables in safe glass jars. For more, see Amy's Green Kitchen "In a Summer Pickle".

8. Some wines have been found to contain up to six times the BPA of canned foods. While most wines probably don't, it's another good reason to drink in moderation.

Besides, the plastic bottles are filling up our oceans (really!) and our landfills.

You can judge a government

By the way they treat those in need, in their employ, in their military. Pale Rider of Blue Girl, Red State quotes a study:
A new military study published Wednesday in the New England Journal of Medicine says soldiers who suffered concussions in Iraq were not only at higher risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, but also that the depression and PTSD, not the head injuries, may be the cause of ongoing physical symptoms.
And then cites a story of how the military declares 'personality disorders' and denies medical claims of those soldiers who were wounded:
It is the use of the 5-13 discharge to cull injured troops from service and deny them future benefits through the VA.A 5-13 is a psych discharge.It brands the veteran as having a personality disorder, an Axis II disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychological Association. Personality disorders are deemed pre-existing conditions, and therefore the military is absolved of all future responsibility to those veterans.
As if this is not horrible enough, here are some even worse statistics via Paul of Byzigenous Buddhapalian, John Cory of Hoffmania:

The folks who see profit and growth in the numbers of veterans of this war, the Health Care Insurers know an opportunity when they see one. In her December 2007 report Emily Berry for American Medical News gives us a tour by the numbers:

30,000 troops have been wounded in action.
39,000 have been diagnosed with PTSD.
84,000 vets suffer a mental health disorder.
229,000 veterans have sought VA care.
1.4 million troops (active duty and reserves) deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan so far.
Estimates run between $350 billion to $700 billion needed for lifetime care and benefits for veterans.

And now, making the rounds in Washington is a plan that has become known as “The Psychological Kevlar Act of 2007” which reaches out to the pharmaceutical industry to partner with the Department of Defense to use the drug Propranalol to treat symptoms of PTSD even before a soldier succumbs to full blown PTSD. An ounce of prevention after all is worth funding for experimentation, I mean research. A numb soldier is a happy soldier.

If you haven’t visited Penny Coleman you really ought to drop by and read up on her articles. Thanks to Penny and people like my friend Miss Remy, we learn the truth about the terrible sweet beauty we call war. The price – human toll – and numbers.

A CBS study of 45 states over the past 12 years reveals disturbing and tragic patterns of suffering veterans whether Korean War, Vietnam, or the newer versions, Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2005 alone, there were 6,256 veteran suicides. That’s 120 every week or an average of 17 suicides every day.

The Bush administration has no waiting period to go to war, only waiting lines that take months to treat veterans and provide the health care they need. It is an amazing irony that Bush has presided over the longest delays and waiting periods for veterans in VA history and yet he has generated more veterans faster than most any other administration. As the Democratic Policy Committee pointed out in 2004: “During Bush's four years in office, the average millionaire has received a tax break of $123,000. In contrast, President Bush has broken all previous records for fees paid by veterans - proposing to collect $1.3 billion from veterans themselves in 2005, a 478 percent increase during his time in office.”

Be grateful for what NTodd and friends are doing to stop kids from signing up . If sources for the volunteer army dry up, there will have to be a draft. Politicians know that it is career suicide to activate it and will immediately focus the wrath of 70+% of Americans who are against this war. Because it does not weigh equally on all of us, the war grinds on and grinds up lives and treasury, but bring back the draft and this war will end.

Update: Molly Ivors of Whiskey Fire notes that the VA is being encouraged not to help vets with their paperwork:

One of the things they do--or at least have done historically, is help wounded vets apply to the DoD for the benefits they have coming. But here in upstate New York, that's no longer the case.

Army officials in upstate New York instructed representatives from the Department of Veterans Affairs not to help disabled soldiers at Fort Drum Army base with their military disability paperwork last year. That paperwork can be crucial because it helps determine whether soldiers will get annual disability payments and health care after they're discharged.

Now soldiers at Fort Drum say they feel betrayed by the institutions that are supposed to support them. The soldiers want to know why the Army would want to stop them from getting help with their disability paperwork and why the VA— whose mission is to help veterans — would agree to the Army's request.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Why aren't people buying these like hot cakes?

Right now? I want one! Two, one for each foot!

Found via Chet Scoville of Vanity Press.

Out of time, out of gas, and out of here

And none too soon. Froomkin of the Washington Post gives an overview of Bush's STFU speech to the nation and the media's reactions. The shorter version? Nobody is listening anymore:
There it was last night, for all the world to see: A presidency running on empty.

In his final State of the Union address, President Bush had almost nothing to say. Certainly nothing new and significant. Nothing remotely memorable.

It's a safe bet that nothing he said last night will amount to much. Nothing he said will help bring the country together, or undo the damage he has done to American interests abroad. Nothing he said will help him win back the trust or support of the American people, both which he lost a long time ago.

On the traditional State of the Union litany of subjects, his repetition of familiar and sometimes delusional talking points conveyed a clear, though unintended message: That those looking for meaningful progress on the key issues facing our nation and our world today will have to wait for the next president.

(Picture from here.)

Update: Dear God, he's doing it again! Tengrain of Mock, Paper, Scissors has the pic.

Update 1/31: Dancin' Dave of SteveAudio has the blow by blow of Georgie's speech with some excellent observations like:
Like the "surge" in Iraq, I think it's safe to say that Georgie is doing all he can to try to duct-tape his teetering mess in the hope that he'll have safely shuffled out the door chuckling before it all comes tumbling down upon his successor, who will have to deal with a record deficit and trying to escape the quagmire of Iraq.

Exactly. The C student frat boy is trying yet again to evade hard work and responsibility. But Bush's legacy is writ large on the world and we will never forget.

Update 2/1: GAHHHHHH! Watertiger of Dependable Renegade catches another bald rub.

Because April 15th isn't that far away..

Someone actually reads the fine print:
Here's a detailed breakdown of all the changes for 2007 and how they affect your wallet, from AMT exemption amounts, to deductions for business-related mileage.
And as to why April 15th is tax day? An attempt to explain.



I had been hoping he'd hang in there for Super Tuesday:

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- Democrat John Edwards bowed out of the race for the Democratic presidential nomination on Wednesday, saying it was time to step aside "so that history can blaze its path" in a campaign now left to Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama.

"With our convictions and a little backbone we will take back the White House in November," said Edwards, ending his second campaign in a hurricane-ravaged section of New Orleans where he began it more than a year ago.

Edwards said Clinton and Obama had both pledged that "they will make ending poverty central to their campaign for the presidency."

"This is the cause of my life and I now have their commitment to engage in this cause," he said before a small group of supporters. He was joined by his wife Elizabeth and his three children, Cate, Emma Claire and Jack.

I'm really tired of the media tweaking the truth to get a 'two man race' and blathering about gender and race while ignoring Edwards. A really good example was on the Republican side where they frothed about Romney, McCain and Giuliani. Giuliani, who was polling LOWER than Ron Paul, yet they ignored Paul altogether.

Haven't we learned anything in the last horrible eight years? Tell us the facts and let us make up our own minds.

The Deciderer has speechified!


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The economy nearly stalled in the fourth quarter with a growth rate of just 0.6 percent, capping its worst year since 2002.

Wednesday's Commerce Department report showed that the economy that deteriorated considerably during the October-to-December quarter as worsening problems in the housing market and harder-to-get credit made individuals and businesses more cautious in their spending. Fears of a recession have grown, even as inflation remained elevated.

For all of 2007, the economy grew by just 2.2 percent, the weakest performance in five years, when the country was struggling to recover from the 2001 recession. The housing collapse was the biggest culprit; builders slashed spending on housing projects by 16.9 percent on an annualized basis, the most in 25 years.
But that doesn't matter! Consumers are confident!:
Consumer spending, which is a key to economic activity, slowed to a two per cent annual pace in the fourth quarter, down from 2.8 per cent in the previous quarter.

Businesses also responded by shaving their inventories of goods, which trimmed 1.25 percentage points from fourth-quarter gross domestic product.

"The U.S. economy fired on just two cylinders late last year (business investment and exports), both of which are likely to downshift just when the consumer faces brisk headwinds," said BMO Capital Markets economist Sal Guatieri in a commentary.

"Looking ahead, we expect consumer spending to slow further in the first quarter of 2008, reflecting softer labour markets, elevated energy prices and declining house prices," said RBC economist Rishi Sondhi.

"On the corporate side, we also expect some weakening in business investment, owing to the effects of the financial market deterioration," Sondhi added.
We're not panicking:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- The Federal Reserve on Wednesday cut a key interest rate for the second time in just over a week, reducing the federal funds rate by a half point. It signaled that further rate cuts were possible.

The Fed action pushed the funds rate to 3 percent. It followed a three-fourths of a percentage point cut on Jan. 22, a day after financial markets around the world had plummeted on fears that the U.S. economy was heading into a recession. That decrease had been the biggest one-day move in more than two decades.

The half-point cut Wednesday followed news that the economy had slowed significantly in the final three months of last year with the gross domestic product expanding at a barely discernible pace of 0.6 percent, less than half what had been expected. The report came amid increased concern from several quarters about a possible recession.

In a brief statement explaining their decision, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke and his colleagues said that "financial markets remain under considerable stress."
Recalling an earlier post, remember the discussion of liquidity traps.

But there's no need for panic. Not yet, anyway.

Eisenhower's insight

Explains the quagmire, the recession, the budget deficit, the subprime mess ... everything:

"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are H. L. Hunt (you possibly know his background), a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."


(Used this quote in comments and felt it was way too good to not post.)

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Asking the question

Nobody else is asking:

by Mapaghimagsik of Taking Stock.

Lesson learned from the subprime mess

If you are going to make a cockup, be sure it's an enormous cockup and the government will bail you out.

And diplomacy:

Trust the British to explain things better than we can....

Don't let Bush rewrite history

Saddam DID let the inspectors in and they were finding no weapons of mass destruction. The longer they stayed, the less likely the excuse of WMDs and mushroom clouds would work as a reason for war.

Bush was the one who pulled the IAEA inspectors out of Iraq. The Bush administration declared war a few days later.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Ten is the loneliest number

Even when you are among friends....


Why Ron Paul sounds wonderful

"We're not moving toward a Hitler-type fascism, but we're moving toward a softer fascism," he said. "Loss of civil liberties, corporations running the show, big government in bed with big business."
Ron Paul defends seeking funds for Texas district
Bennet Roth, Dec. 24, 2007, The Houston Chronicle
Until you do the research:
Now it's time to take a close look at Ron Paul. Because the real costs of what we must give up in exchange for Paul's `radical' ideas that can and do work, are being cast aside by most, stoked by the "Revolution" Paul promises, the man who has protected the Texas oil companies for most of his career in Congress.
By his own words, you shall know the man.

That Unka Dick, he's such a tease!

Georgie tells a joke:
At the Alfalfa Club dinner on Saturday night, President Bush made light of Vice President Cheney’s penchant for secrecy while joking about Jenna Bush’s bridal shower earlier that day. “My sister Doro had a wedding shower for Jenna, who got lots of great stuff,” joked Bush. “Mom gave her a toaster. Karen Hughes gave her a Cuisinart. Dick [Cheney] here sent over a gift I could tell he’d picked out personally…a paper shredder.”
But protecting Unka Dick's ass is a priority. Emptywheel explains why Georgie doesn't want the 30 day extension on FISA, but a vote :
If Bush vetos a 30-day extension, he will be doing so for one reason and one reason only: because the existing legislationg, PAA, doesn't offer immunity to telecoms--and with it, to Dick Cheney and everyone else in this Administration who pushed the telecoms to continue their spying even after the acting AG, Jim Comey, refused to certify the program for a period in 2004.

Bush is willing to forgo implementing new FISA programs (all the existing ones will continue for at least six months) all because he wants Dick to get his immunity ... now. This is about Bush putting Dick's interests--and his own--above the security of the country.

My, Unka Dick must be getting kinda ... testy ... about now.



Sibel Edmonds is finally getting attention


And look who has run this article! The American Conservative:
Charismatic and articulate, the 37-year-old Edmonds has deftly worked the system to get as much of her story out as possible, on one occasion turning to French television to produce a documentary entitled “Kill the Messenger.” Passionate in her convictions, she has sometimes alienated her own supporters and ridden roughshod over critics who questioned her assumptions. But despite her shortcomings in making her case and the legitimate criticism that she may be overreaching in some of her conclusions, Edmonds comes across as credible. Her claims are specific, fact-based, and can be documented in detail. There is presumably an existing FBI file that could demonstrate the accuracy of many of her charges.


Edmonds’s revelations have attracted corroboration in the form of anonymous letters apparently written by FBI employees. There have been frequent reports of FBI field agents being frustrated by the premature closure of cases dealing with foreign spying, particularly when those cases involve Israel, and the State Department has frequently intervened to shut down investigations based on “sensitive foreign diplomatic relations.” One such anonymous letter, the veracity of which cannot be determined, cites transcripts of wiretaps involving Marc Grossman and a Turkish Embassy official between August and December 2001, described above, in which Grossman warned the Turk that Brewster Jennings was a CIA cover company. If the allegation can be documented from FBI files, the exposure of the Agency cover mechanism took place long before journalist Robert Novak outed the company in his column on Valerie Plame in 2003.


Curiously, the states-secrets gag order binding Edmonds, while put in place by DOJ in 2002, was not requested by the FBI but by the State Department and Pentagon—which employed individuals she identified as being involved in criminal activities. If her allegations are frivolous, that order would scarcely seem necessary. It would have been much simpler for the government to marginalize her by demonstrating that she was poorly informed or speculating about matters outside her competency. Under the Bush administration, the security gag order has been invoked to cover up incompetence or illegality, not to protect national security. It has recently been used to conceal the illegal wiretaps of the warrantless surveillance program, the allegations of torture and the CIA’s rendition program, and to shield the telecom industry for its collaboration in illegal eavesdropping.

Both Senators Grassley and Leahy, a Republican and a Democrat, who interviewed her at length in 2002, attest to Edmonds’s believability. The Department of Justice inspector general investigation into her claims about the translations unit and an internal FBI review confirmed most of her allegations. Former FBI senior counterintelligence officer John Cole has independently confirmed her report of the presence of Pakistani intelligence service penetrations within the FBI translators’ pool.

Edmonds wasn’t angling to become a media darling. She would have preferred to testify under oath before a congressional committee that could offer legal protection and subpoena documents and witnesses to support her case. She claims that a number of FBI agents would be willing to testify, though she has not named them.

But this information is not good:
Prior to 2006, Congressman Henry Waxman of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee promised Edmonds that if the Democrats gained control of Congress, he would order hearings into her charges. But following the Democratic sweep, he has been less forthcoming, failing to schedule hearings, refusing to take Edmonds’s calls, and recently stonewalling all inquiries into the matter. It is generally believed that Waxman, a strong supporter of Israel, is nervous about exposing an Israeli lobby role in the corruption that Edmonds describes. It is also suspected that Waxman fears that the revelations might open a Pandora’s box, damaging Republicans and Democrats alike.


Sibel Edmonds makes a number of accusations about specific criminal behavior that appear to be extraordinary but are credible enough to warrant official investigation. Her allegations are documentable: an existing FBI file should determine whether they are accurate. It’s true that she probably knows only part of the story, but if that part is correct, Congress and the Justice Department should have no higher priority. Nothing deserves more attention than the possibility of ongoing national-security failures and the proliferation of nuclear weapons with the connivance of corrupt senior government officials.
C'mon, Waxman! You've been a hero in pursuing corruption and injustice so far. Take on Sibel Edmonds' case and let the truth be told. Corruption on this level must be addressed even though it looks like it's both sides of the aisle.

We say yes, but you say no.

Bush signed the OPEN Government Act which made the FOIA stronger, but now he's trying to ignore the law and shift things to the Justice Department. Does that mean he has more loyal Bushies there?:
In August, the Coalition of Journalists for Open Government reported that “current government handling of FOIA requests is deteriorating” and that the Justice Department was “consistently granted the lowest percentage of [FOIA] appeals of any agency.”

On New Years Eve, facing “congressional pushback against the Bush administration’s movement to greater secrecy,” President Bush signed the OPEN Government Act, toughening the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). The legislation — unanimously passed by the House and Senate — would push agencies to respond more quickly to records requests.

But now, the White House is doing everything it can to neuter the law. Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT) said yesterday that Bush’s FY2009 “funds for the Office of Government Information Services authorized under the newly enacted OPEN Government Act will be shifted to the Department of Justice” from the National Archives. Congress Daily reports:

“But by shifting the funding to the Justice Department, OMB would effectively eliminate the office, because it appears no similar operation would be created there,” according to an aide to Sen. Pat Leahy (D-VT). […]

National Archives officials are relatively independent of political pressure, the staffer explained, “but DOJ is different.” Government transparency advocates consider the department hostile to efforts to improve FOIA responsiveness, in part because it represents agencies sued by FOIA requesters.

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a cosponsor of the OPEN Government legislation said he “does agree with Senator Leahy and would oppose that effort” of the adminstration.

Okay, the first thing the new Democratic president needs to do is fire everyone in the Department of Justice who was hired on after January of 2001, or has had close connection to the Bush administration during these eight long years. The Department of Justice should protect the law not the president's ass. It's about freedom of information not secrecy. It's about justice not cover.

crossposted at SteveAudio.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

The ocean gyres are getting bigger


The Sahara, the Gobi, the Chihuahuan--all are great deserts. But what about the South Pacific's subtropical gyre? This "biological desert" within a swirling expanse of nutrient-starved saltwater is the largest, and least productive, ecosystem of the South Pacific. Together with the subtropical gyres in other oceans, biological deserts cover 40% of Earth's surface. But their relative obscurity may be about to change. Researchers are reporting that the ocean's biological deserts have been expanding, and they are growing much faster than global warming models predict.

The evidence comes from the Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-view Sensor (SeaWiFS) onboard the orbiting SeaStar spacecraft. Launched in 1997, SeaWiFS maps ocean color around the globe. The green of the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll a is a measure of the abundance of plant life, which supports the base of the food chain. In an upcoming Geophysical Research Letters paper, biological oceanographer Jeffrey Polovina of the U.S. National Marine Fisheries Service in Honolulu, Hawaii, and his colleagues describe how they charted the changing size of the central region of faintest green in the subtropical gyres of the North and South Pacific, North and South Atlantic, and South Indian oceans from SeaWiFS's launch through 2006.

All of the biological deserts had grown, except the South Indian Ocean's. The total expansion was 6.6 million square kilometers or 15%, and it happened as the shallow waters of the gyres were warming. "We're seeing this pattern in each of the four ocean basins," says Polovina. That suggests to him that global warming could be the ultimate cause of the observed desert expansion.

Gyre waters are already strongly layered, so stirring by the wind brings little of the nutrients stored in deep waters to the surface to fuel plant and ultimately animal growth. Warming further strengthens this stratification, making such nourishing mixing all the more difficult. Climate-ecosystem models predict that global warming will exacerbate ocean desert expansion, but not this quickly, Polovina notes. During the past 9 years, gyre deserts expanded 10 to 25 times faster than modeled.

The Bush Era will also mark of the death of the oceans, the destruction of the environment, the speeding up of Global Warming, the spread of theocracy wars, the spike in terrorism, Peak Oil, and the collapse of world economies.

Did I forget anything?

Because the Bush administration will make sure

Nobody will be there to help you. Compassionate Conservatism is where you pretend not to hear the cries of those in need. (Via Kevin Hayden of American Street):
Citizen Preparedness

When the Water Goes Out

There are very few disasters which will cause water to be out for more than a day or two (unless you are on well/pump) but they constitute a genuine emergency: people can survive on short rations for quite a while, but water is a non negotiable.

Every household should stockpile one gallon/person/day for at least three days. When that supply is exhausted, here is how you can make a safe water supply even if your civic supply has become unsafe due to storms or flooding:

Three Ways to Treat Water
In addition to having a bad odor and taste, contaminated water can contain microorganisms that cause diseases such as dysentery, typhoid and hepatitis. You should treat all water of uncertain purity before using it for drinking, food preparation or hygiene.

There are many ways to treat water. None is perfect. Often the best solution is a combination of methods.

Two easy treatment methods are outlined below. These measures will kill most microbes but will not remove other contaminants such as heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals. Before treating, let any suspended particles settle to the bottom, or strain them through layers of paper towel or clean cloth.

Boiling: Boiling is the safest method of treating water. Bring water to a rolling boil for 3-5 minutes, keeping in mind that some water will evaporate. Let the water cool before drinking.

Boiled water will taste better if you put oxygen back into it by pouring the water back and forth between two clean containers. This will also improve the taste of stored water.

Disinfection: You can use household liquid bleach to kill microorganisms. Use only regular household liquid bleach that contains 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite. Do not use scented bleaches, colorsafe bleaches or bleaches with added cleaners.

Add 16 drops of bleach per gallon of water, stir and let stand for 30 minutes. If the water does not have a slight bleach odor, repeat the dosage and let stand another 15 minutes.

The only agent used to treat water should be household liquid bleach. Other chemicals, such as iodine or water treatment products sold in camping or surplus stores that do not contain 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite as the only active ingredient, are not recommended and should not be used.

While the two methods described above will kill most microbes in water, distillation will remove microbes that resist these methods, and heavy metals, salts and most other chemicals.

Distillation: Distillation involves boiling water and then collecting the vapor that condenses back to water. The condensed vapor will not include salt and other impurities. To distill, fill a pot halfway with water. Tie a cup to the handle on the pot's lid so that the cup will hang right-side-up when the lid is upside-down (make sure the cup is not dangling into the water) and boil the water for 20 minutes. The water that drips from the lid into the cup is distilled.

Having a cooking heat supply which is not dependent on the local utilities is a very good idea. If you do not have a propane grill or live in an apartment, a small camping burner is a worthwhile possession. Do not use them in an enclosed space, you will need to have at least a window open if you do not have a balcony.

The kinds of food you can put by for times of trouble are listed here.

Are you a Bush Republican?

All those who supported Georgie Bush and his Grand Adventure need to wear this button at Bush's last State of the Union address:

Digby of Hullabaloo:
The Republicans can run, but they can't hide from their complicity in this, especially the presidential candidates who are still quaking in their boots for fear of offending the Bush cultists who continue to defend that shameful record. Bush is their albatross --- they made him, now they have to take responsibility for him. If you listen to their rhetoric on the trail it's quite clear that they are ready to do it all over again.
We want pictures. And names. And how many times they supported the Bush administration, how many times they marched in lockstep with the Rovian demands. We will never forget, nor will we let them forget.

We will remind the voters at every turn.

Bush's Legacy: Changing Science

For the worse.

We will be seeing a lot of these enforced 'retirements' as we slowly go through each governmental office and thin out the loyal Bushies:
Miami, IN (AHN) - The National Hurricane Center has a new director in veteran forecaster Bill Read. Read took over responsibilities on Friday from his predecessor, who lasted for only 6 months.

Read, 58, has been acting as the deputy director since August and said he would focus on teamwork and boosting morale.

The veteran meteorologist has said that he plans to follow Max Mayfield, the director who retired in 2007, in dealing with his responsibilities.

Mayfield told the Miami Herald, "Bill Read brings a wealth of experience to the NHC as both a meteorologist and manager. I can assure you that Bill understands the importance of communicating the forecast and the uncertainty in the forecast."

Meanwhile, Read said of his appointment on Friday, "Awesome opportunity. I am quite excited about the opportunity to take the reins," reports the St. Petersburg Times.

His predecessor, Bill Proenza was ousted after six months in office in the face of staff mutiny. His comments about outdated equipment at the center hampering efficiency had raised the hackles of the staff and he was removed from office in July.

Read, however, disagrees that equipment is outdated and has said that the center is a top notch institution.

Remember the deliberate gutting of the FDA, Bush's indifference to global warming, and the silencing of environmental scientists over drilling for oil in the Arctic...

Update 1/28: Think Progress:
In 2006, the government’s top global warming researcher, James Hansen, revealed the government’s efforts to muzzle him from speaking out about climate change. NASA political appointees reviewed all his lectures, papers, and requests for interviews from journalists. In a new e-mail, Hansen reveals that the censoring is not only happening to him, but to all government scientists.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

News not actually owned by Murdoch...

Exposing our worst side to our friends

The former British Ambassador to the Republic of Uzbekistan, Craig Murray discovers what we have been fighting against for years in the United States... the insidious theocrats:
Last year I delivered a talk on Central Asia at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. As I sat preparing my lecture, I had the television on low in my hotel room because I don't like complete silence. Gradually I found myself listening intently to an evangelical preacher, telling his TV congregation that they should not worry about casualties in Iraq because the Bible showed us that there had to be a great and bloody conflict in the Middle East before the Second Coming of Christ. So the more people who died in these wars, the closer we are to Jesus.

Now that message would be acceptable to very few people in the UK - just Tony Blair and his immediate friends, really. I related this astonishing thing I had heard to some American lecturers over lunch. They told me that at least a third of their students would believe this stuff. And this was Ann Arbor, not the Deep South. It is essential that we all wake up now to the fact that the US is a deeply disturbed and psychotic society, and by far the biggest danger to world peace.

Sorry, Mr. Murray. The fundamentalists were promised a seat at the high table by the Bush administration. As soon as we get a Democrat back in the White House, we will attempt to put them back in their cages. It won't be easy because they've tasted power and money and want more.


And Bush did it all just so he could get elected.

Keep the car gassed up and buy a hard hat...

Duct tape and plastic wrap won't save you now:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A large U.S. spy satellite has lost power and propulsion and could hit the Earth in late February or March, government officials said Saturday.

The satellite, which no longer can be controlled, could contain hazardous materials, and it is unknown where on the planet it might come down, they said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the information is classified as secret.

"Appropriate government agencies are monitoring the situation," said Gordon Johndroe, a spokesman for the National Security Council.

"Numerous satellites over the years have come out of orbit and fallen harmlessly. We are looking at potential options to mitigate any possible damage this satellite may cause."

Ahem. Just WHY is this classified as secret? On a need to know basis? Like ... your house may be flattened by a burning radioactive object hurtling through earth's atmosphere .. but go shopping.

Appropriate government agencies? Have they been Busherized? Do they still have scientists and mathematicians who can calculate orbital fall? Or are they just going to go down in the White House bunkers and other undisclosed locations and sit this one out?

Appropriate government agencies, my ass.

Walls will not contain people

Borders will fall.


As tens of thousands of Palestinians clambered back and forth between the Gaza strip and Egypt today, details emerged of the audacious operation that brought down a hated border wall and handed the Islamist group Hamas what might be its greatest propaganda coup.

Hamas, which took control of the coastal territory last June after a stand-off with Fatah, has denied that its men set off the explosions that brought down as much as two-thirds of the 12-km wall in the early hours.

But a Hamas border guard interviewed by The Times at the border admitted that the Islamist group was responsible and had been involved for months in slicing through the heavy metal wall using oxy-acetylene cutting torches.

That meant that when the explosive charges were set off in 17 different locations between midnight and 1am the 40ft wall came tumbling down, leaving it lying like a broken concertina down the middle of no-man's land as an estimated 350,000 Gazans flooded into Egypt.

Whatever the reasons and whoever is behind it, it does not make that much difference. Inequality, injustice, and mistreatment will not be endured while on the other side of the wall there are things longed for. Look at what brought down the wall in East Germany, the reason why the border between Mexico and the United States is so porous.

Remember too, that those who build walls are just as contained as those behind the walls. We make ourselves prisoners of our own fear.

Speak to the injustice and borders and walls could stand.... but then, at that point, what would be the need?

Update 1/28: Karin of Pax Americana has an excellent post on the reasons for the wall and its fall.

Friday, January 25, 2008

The countdown


Click on the cat for the clock.

Bush's Legacy: The Wreckage

What we had as a nation on January 20, 2001 and what we have now.


Hopefully hoping

Phila of Bouphonia shows us how.

Don't look at it, don't say it....

Don't even think about it, or it will bite you hard in the ass.

Chris in Paris for AmericaBlog:
Maybe if you're the CEO of Dow Chemical, sure, you don't have a care in the world. Filling the tank in the limo is done by someone else and what decent CEO buys grocery's? For everyone else, a spade is a spade and we call it as we see it.
"We're over-reacting to the recession word," Dow Chemical Chairman and CEO Andrew Liveris told CNBC. "Lots of people get together and talk to each other and people believe the psychology."
Of course. I'm sure all of the multi-million dollar per year salary types who own hundreds of thousands of shares in Fortune 500 companies all have the same questions about this nasty "recession" talk. "Let them eat cake" if you will. This only goes to show just how divided we are as a country. People living in the stratosphere of wealth have no idea how the rest are living. He actually makes the point quite nicely, proving just how clueless he is about life in 2008.
I know! Let's all talk about Andrew Liveris' bank account!

Second in the series

Josh Marshall's Friday video clips:

It's the war, stupid.

OOOOooohhhhhh boy....

This could get ugly.
Students at the prestigious prep school Choate Rosemary Hall are protesting the choice of Karl Rove as their commencement speaker. AP reports that some students “plan to walk out, while “others are trying to bring comedian Stephen Colbert to campus for an alternate speech.” The campus newspaper has also written an editorial urging the school to reject Rove.
Everybody needs to charge up an extra video camera battery and carry your cellphones. Remember what happened to Andrew Card?

Update 1/28. Well, rats:
Under heavy pressure from students, New England prep school Choate Rosemary Hall has decided to cancel Karl Rove’s address at its commencement ceremony this year.

So... what would you do if you were caught up in a sweep

By ICE and not allowed to provide proof you were an American citizen?

It's happening now. Here. In the United States.
Officials with ICE, the federal agency that oversees deportations, maintain that such cases are isolated because agents are required to obtain sufficient evidence that someone is an illegal immigrant before making an arrest. However, they don't track the number of U.S. citizens who are detained or deported.

"We don't want to detain or deport U.S. citizens," said Ernestine Fobbs, an ICE spokeswoman. "It's just not something we do."

While immigration advocates agree that the agents generally release detainees before deportation in clear-cut cases, they said that ICE sometimes ignores valid assertions of citizenship in the rush to ship out more illegal immigrants.

Proving citizenship is especially difficult for the poor, mentally ill, disabled or anyone who has trouble getting a copy of his or her birth certificate while behind bars.


The number of U.S. citizens who are swept up in the immigration system is a small fraction of the number of illegal immigrants who are deported, but in the last several years immigration lawyers report seeing more detainees who turn out to be U.S. citizens.

The attorneys said the chances of mistakes are growing as immigration agents step up sweeps in the country and state and local prisons with less experience in immigration matters screen more criminals on behalf of ICE.

ICE's Fobbs said agents move as quickly as possible to check stories of people who claim they're American citizens. But she said that many of the cases involve complex legal arguments, such as whether U.S. citizenship is derived from parents, which an immigration judge has to sort out.
And just where are these people being held as the immigration agents slowly plod through the bureaucracy? Where are these people's small children when both parents are swept up? What are they doing to these people when there is no oversight and no legal remedy?



Update 1/26: Distributorcap in comments noted this sounds like the Nuremberg 1935 law. Googling Wikipedia gave me this:
The Nuremberg Laws (German: N├╝rnberger Gesetze) of 1935 were denaturalization laws passed in Nazi Germany. They used a pseudoscientific basis for racial discrimination against Jews. People with 4 German grandparents (white circles on the chart) were of "German blood", while people were classified as Jews if they descended from three or four Jewish grandparents (black circles in top row right). A person with one or two Jewish grandparents was a Mischling, a crossbreed, of "mixed blood".

Thursday, January 24, 2008

The ugliness of hate and ignorance

Roger Stone has decided calling Hillary Clinton a cunt is hilarious. This exposes him as a misogynistic homophobic deeply closeted Neanderthal. Don't believe me?

Take a look at his picture. There's something really really wrong with the guy.

And speaking of brain rot:
Topeka, KS (CNS) - One religious group took Brokeback Mountain personally. Reverend Fred Phelps of the Westboro Baptist Church has reportedly been urging people to "picket" recently deceased actor Heath Ledger's funeral because of his participation in the film Brokeback Mountain.

The church group apparently feels no compassion for the actor for playing a "fag" in the movie. The multi-awarded 2005 drama film is a story about two men's sexual relationship with each other in the American West.

"Yes! WBC will picket this pervert's funeral, in religious protest and warning," a flyer, which reportedly is being passed around, reads. It then goes on to include bible verses and claims "God Hates Fags! & Fag-Enablers!"

The leaflet concludes with "Heath Ledger is now in Hell, and has begun serving his eternal sentence there - beside which, nothing else about Heath Ledger is relevant or consequential."
Wingnuts, Republicans, haters, and warmongers. They all deserve each other.

Biofuels suck.

Sadly and unfortunately. But it's what I've been saying for months. Ethanol is utterly worthless.

The European Union has announced plans to increase the use of gas and diesel produced from plants. But the critique against biofuels is mounting. Many say they are even more harmful than conventional fossil fuels.


"The biofuels route is a dead end," Dr. Andrew Boswell, a Green Party councillor in England and author of a recent study on the harmful effects of biofuels, told SPIEGEL ONLINE. "They are going to create great damage to the environment and will also produce dramatic social problems in (tropical countries where many crops for biofuels are grown). There basically isn't any way to make them viable."

The evidence against biofuels marshalled by Boswell and other environmentalists appears quite damning. Advertised as a fuel that only emits the amount of carbon dioxide that the plants absorb while growing -- making it carbon neutral -- it actually has resulted in a profitable industrial sector attractive to countries around the world. Vast swaths of forest have been felled and burned in Argentina and elsewhere for soya plantations. Carbon-rich peat bogs are being drained and rain forests destroyed in Indonesia to make way for extensive palm oil farming.

Because the forests are often torched and the peat rapidly oxidizes, the result is huge amounts of CO2 being released into the atmosphere. Furthermore, healthy peat bogs and forests absorb CO2 -- scientists refer to them as "carbon sinks" -- making their disappearance doubly harmful.

Indeed, the Stern Review on the Economics of Climate Change, released in October 2006, estimates that deforestation and other comparable land-use changes account for 18 percent of all greenhouse gas emissions around the world. Biofuels, say activists, accelerate that process.

Solar, tides, nuclear (though I'm not for it, myself), hydrogen (definitely not for it), there are so many other ways of making energy. Ethanol and other biofuels are doing damage to the environment.

Chose some other way.

Just continuing the tradition he began back in college

When he'd party at the frat house until just before the final, then cram furiously for the test. Explains why he was a 'gentleman's C student':
Iraq report card: only 3 of 18 benchmarks met.
On the one year anniversary of President Bush’s State of the Union address justifying his “New Way Forward” in Iraq, Center for American Progress has compiled an “Iraq Benchmark Report Card” showing that “the surge has failed to meet its objectives” as “the Iraqi government has only met three of the 18 benchmarks laid out last year.”
This time you get an F, Georgie. The surge is a dud, the war is a disaster. And it happened on your watch and during your presidency. This is your legacy and yours alone.



Update: Oh, and by the way, the surge was supposed to bring different sides together. All that press about the meeting? What meeting?:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 Negotiations are not taking place in Baghdad on the controversial oil law and other oil disputes, contrary to previous news accounts.

UPI confirmed that a top U.S. State Department official tasked with moving the oil law forward is in Washington, not Iraq.

A number of Iraqi media had reported that a delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government was in Baghdad meeting with top national oil officials in an effort to find agreement on the stalled oil law.

Al Mowaten newspaper quotes a KRG spokesman that the region's oil minister is in Baghdad. But the paper also quotes a Kurdish member of the national Parliament Mahmoud Othamn said there's no such meeting taking place.

China will be haunted by its inability to enforce product safety.

And consumers of China's products will take years and years to forget:
WASHINGTON, Jan. 24 The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced the recall of about 15,000 "Big Wooden Blocks" and "Jumbo Wooden Train" sets due to high lead content.

The CPSC said the toys, imported from China by Christmas Tree Shops of South Yarmouth, Mass., contain surface paint that might violate the federal lead paint standard.

The Big Wooden Blocks sets contain 30 or 60 colorful block pieces in 11 geometric shapes. The Jumbo Wooden Train sets contain 70 wooden pieces, including trees, stop and railroad crossing signs, a red wooden engine and green train cars.

The recall involves Big Wood Blocks sets with UPC 14559211 and 14559235, as well as 70-piece Jumbo Wooden Train sets with UPC 14217340.

The recalled products were sold across Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states from October 2006 through November 2007 for between $4 and $20.

Why on earth would anyone want to?


NASA: Antarctic Ice Melting Fast, Sea Levels Going Up

Brazilian Amazon Deforestation Rate Accelerates, 1,250 Square Miles Lost In Past 5 Months

Asia To Produce Over 60 Percent Of World's Greenhouse Gas Emissions By 2010

Bird Flu In India Has Spread to Nine Districts Of West Bengal

but then:

Scientific Breakthrough Could Allow Humans To Live For Hundreds Of Years

You've got to be kidding, right?

Can you guarantee there will be a world left to live on? That you wouldn't live in poverty for many of those hundreds of years? That you wouldn't live as a 98 year old with Alzheimer's for five hundred years? And how would your health insurance work? Wouldn't the planet get a little ... crowded?

I think I'll pass....

That is the way empires end

Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony:

Found at TomDispatch.

And here is a quote from an article Dr. Johnson has written for Asia Times about the United States going bankrupt because of military spending:
As a result, going into 2008, the United States finds itself in the anomalous position of being unable to pay for its own elevated living standards or its wasteful, overly large military establishment. Its government no longer even attempts to reduce the ruinous expenses of maintaining huge standing armies, replacing the equipment that seven years of wars have destroyed or worn out, or preparing for a war in outer space against unknown adversaries.

Instead, the Bush administration puts off these costs for future generations to pay - or repudiate. This utter fiscal irresponsibility has been disguised through many manipulative financial schemes (such as causing poorer countries to lend us unprecedented sums of money), but the time of reckoning is fast approaching.

There are three broad aspects to our debt crisis. First, in the current fiscal year (2008) we are spending insane amounts of money on "defense" projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States. Simultaneously, we are keeping the income tax burdens on the richest segments of the American population at strikingly low levels.

Second, we continue to believe that we can compensate for the accelerating erosion of our manufacturing base and our loss of jobs to foreign countries through massive military expenditures - so-called "military Keynesianism", which I discuss in detail in my book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. By military Keynesianism, I mean the mistaken belief that public policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy capitalist economy. The opposite is actually true.

Third, in our devotion to militarism (despite our limited resources), we are failing to invest in our social infrastructure and other requirements for the long-term health of our country. These are what economists call "opportunity costs", things not done because we spent our money on something else. Our public education system has deteriorated alarmingly. We have failed to provide health care to all our citizens and neglected our responsibilities as the world's number one polluter. Most important, we have lost our competitiveness as a manufacturer for civilian needs - an infinitely more efficient use of scarce resources than arms manufacturing.
Why we should listen to the man:
Chalmers Johnson is the author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, just published in paperback. It is the final volume of his Blowback Trilogy, which also includes Blowback (2000) and The Sorrows of Empire (2004).
And from Wikipedia:
Johnson believes the enforcement of American hegemony over the world constitutes a new form of global empire. Whereas traditional empires maintained control over subject peoples via colonies, since World War II the US has developed a vast system of hundreds of military bases around the world where it has strategic interests. A long-time Cold Warrior, Johnson experienced a political awakening after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, noting that instead of demobilizing its massive armed forces, the US accelerated its reliance on military solutions to problems both economic and political. The result of this militarism (as distinct from actual domestic defense) is more terrorism against the US and its allies, the loss of core democratic values at home, and an eventual disaster for the American economy.


Headline: Iran still meddling in Iraq

And we're not?

Tell me again why we're there.


Ecosystem? What ecosystem? It's all ice anyway...

There's black gold beneath the snow white Arctic -- and oil companies are gearing up to exploit it on a massive scale. Scientists had hoped to warn of the scope of the environmental dangers of Arctic drilling in a new report, but 60 passages have been removed following pressure from the United States and Sweden.

By all accounts, this ought to be a triumphant day for John Calder. The graying director of the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Arctic Research division spent four years writing his report titled "Arctic Oil and Gas" -- together with 150 scientists with the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Program (AMAP). And now it's finally time for Calder to publicly present his first summary of the report.


"All nations with territory bordering the polar region are working overtime to exploit their oil and natural gas reserves in the Arctic (more...)," says Calder, as small beads of sweat collect on his forehead. But it is high time, he adds, to systematically address the potential dangers and problems. "We have compiled a document summarizing the facts on oil and gas production in the Arctic."

Among other things, Calder's report warns against the dangers posed by faulty pipes and tanker accidents. "Oil spills are especially dangerous in the Arctic, because its cold and heavily season-dependent ecosystems take a long time to recover. Besides, it is very difficult to remove the damage from oil spills in remote and cold regions, especially in parts of the ocean where there is ice." Calder also criticizes the destruction of landscapes that comes with building pipelines and describes the way Arctic villages would change once the oil money upends all traditional social structures.

The Phrase "Climate Change" Is Unwelcome

But despite these commendable warnings, there is a significant problem behind the work of Calder and other scientists: it has been devalued by political wrangling. Until recently, the summary ended with more than 60 recommendations the scientists had compiled for politicians. Those recommendations have since disappeared.

Disappeared? Scientific recommendations? During the Bush administration? How very strange....

Norman Podhoretz is a boob.

Who still insists that we must bomb Iran. Now. Quickly. Before Bush leaves office. Because Iran may achieve a nuke in 2015. And is thinking about nukes. And talking about them. Which in Podhoretz' mind is a bombing offense:
Iran won't have a nuclear weapon until 2015, according to the spooks. This, of course, Podhoretz takes in his stride. Tearing the (classified) 2005 NIE to shreds, he reminds us again that the spooks are more likely wrong than right, and the US must bomb Iran NOW before it's too late: "[O]nly by relying on the accuracy of the 2005 NIE would Mr Bush be able in all good conscience to pass on to his successor the decision of whether or when to bomb the Iranian nuclear facilities. But that estimate, as he could hardly help knowing from the CIA's not exactly brilliant track record, might easily be too optimistic."

But now it's our turn to say "Hold on!" Norman, may we remind you of your introductory sentence? In case you had forgotten, it says: "Up until a fairly short time ago, scarcely anyone dissented from the assessment offered with 'high confidence' by the National Intelligence Estimate of 2005 that Iran was 'determined to develop nuclear weapons'." Yet now you are telling us that like the 2007 NIE, the 2005 NIE is not worth the paper it's written on? So where exactly do you find the evidence to back your unwavering assertions that Iran is on the brink of developing a nuke? In Vice President Dick Cheney's office? Dang, Norman, it really is time to consider a mental silicone implant.

The funny thing is, to the best of our knowledge (including exhaustive web searches) the actual contents of the classified 2005 NIE remain unknown to anyone outside the intelligence establishment or their masters (and clearly, Podhoretz is not a member of the intelligence community).

It was not until the 2007 NIE findings were released that we discovered that the 2005 NIE allegedly assessed "with high confidence that Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons". The 2007 NIE lays out for us exactly how its findings differ from those of 2005, all neatly tabulated and in your face (see the public version of the NIE here ). How does Podhoretz know what the 2005 assessment (with which "scarcely anyone dissented") said, without getting the information from the 2007 NIE that he has so thoroughly discredited?

Actually, there is only one question arising from this tangled web of NIEs, and it's not whether Iran should or should not be bombed, or whether Podhoretz needs hormone therapy, or why people read garbage like his article. The question is, why did the authors of the 2007 NIE see fit to publicly flaunt the (allegedly) inaccurate and previously unknown findings of the 2005 NIE? Could it have been intended as a message to people like Podhoretz's neo-con dog handlers to butt out this time around?

We think that's quite possible: the 2007 key findings were released to the public hard on the heels of reports that the NIE had been delayed for months because of pressure from Cheney's office to make it more congenial to aggressive military action against Iran (see Spooks refuse to toe Cheney's line on Iran, November 10, 2007).
Um.. Could we just speed up the process and bomb Iran with Norman Podhoretz?

He'd rather be sued by California than by the auto industries?

WASHINGTON — Environmental Protection Agency head Stephen Johnson was told by staffers that California had a compelling case for the federal Clean Air Act waiver that he later denied and that the agency was likely to lose in court if sued, Sen. Barbara Boxer said Wednesday.

EPA spokesman Jonathan Shradar didn't dispute Boxer's conclusions, based on a Senate committee investigation.

"Her staff has been shown all the information unfiltered," Shradar said. "What this shows is that the administrator was provided a wide range of opinions upon which to make his decision. He feels he made the right decision."

Johnson's denial of the waiver stopped California from moving ahead with its tough laws to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from cars and trucks. Sixteen other states were prepared to follow California's lead had the waiver been issued.

Boxer, D-Calif., heads the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which is investigating the EPA's rejection of the waiver. Under the Clean Air Act, California is the only state that can obtain a waiver allowing it to have tougher emission standards than those imposed by the federal government. But once the waiver is granted, other states can adopt similar rules.


Investigators were permitted to look at the full documents and take notes from them, however. At a news conference Wednesday, Boxer released excerpts from the notes showing that EPA staffers apparently believed that California had a solid case for the waiver.

The notes quoted Johnson's briefing memo as saying that the agency was likely to be sued regardless of what decision it reached. The memo said that the EPA was "almost certain to win" if a lawsuit was brought by the auto industry because the waiver had been granted and that the EPA was "likely to lose" a suit brought by California if the waiver was denied.

So... ignoring the added pollution to a state fighting a losing battle with a burgeoning driving population, it was easier to side with the auto manufacturers? Really? Nothing to do with supporting corporations over common sense? Nothing to do with Republican indifference to human suffering? How would letting auto makers make more gas guzzling polluting cars help anyone in the end? They'd rather sue the EPA than go back to the designs they had during the 70s when some cars had 30 to 40 mpg ratings?

The next car I buy will be a fuel efficient one. That means car buyers like me will go to Japanese or other foreign cars. Which hurts the US auto industry. Which apparently they are unable to understand.

Just an hilarious side story: We get several paper deliveries up and down our street, The Los Angeles Times and the local Daily Bulletin, a few New York Times. Usually these papers are thrown out of the windows of old cars in the early morning onto our driveways.

But some nut is driving ... a Hummer ... to deliver papers. A HUMMER.

Words fail me...

Beware of the dwarf!

Stockholm, Sweden (AHN) - Travelers using long-distance buses are being warned to take extra caution after Swedish police said cases of thieves using midgets in robbing long-distance coaches is on the rise.

Police said the thieves are able to steal from the unsuspecting bus passengers by sneaking the dwarves into the luggage holds in sports bags and once they are inside, the midgets out from the bags and sift through the luggage of the train passengers.

Once they have collected their loot, the dwarves sneaked back to their sports bags and just wait to be picked up when the coach reaches its destination.

Police said this modus operandi of the thieves have enabled them to steal thousands of pounds in cash, gems and other valuables over the past months.

Favorite target of the thieves-using-dwarves are Swebus buses, which services British passengers across Sweden.

"We have had reports about several thefts by dwarves on the stretch between Vasteras and Stockholm," said a spokesman for Swebus. "We're thinking of installing video cameras."
Definitely a good idea.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Because there has been a hilariously ham-handed attempt

To jam the label of fascism onto the progressive philosophy, here is David Neiwert of Orcinus to clarify the term. I have chosen two from the many definitive quotes he cites:
Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, p. 218:
Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal constraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
Roger Griffin:
Fascism: modern political ideology that seeks to regenerate the social, economic, and cultural life of a country by basing it on a heightened sense of national belonging or ethnic identity. Fascism rejects liberal ideas such as freedom and individual rights, and often presses for the destruction of elections, legislatures, and other elements of democracy. Despite the idealistic goals of fascism, attempts to build fascist societies have led to wars and persecutions that caused millions of deaths. As a result, fascism is strongly associated with right-wing fanaticism, racism, totalitarianism, and violence.

Anyone who tries to say liberals are fascists will immediately expose his IQ, reading level and ignorance and should be mocked severely and often.

(Stolen from Sadly No, click pic to go to site).

Update 1/25: Austin Bramwell reviews DP's 'book' and very intelligently.

Update 1/25 9:49: David Neiwert pulverizes the last of the Dough.

Hating the bitches

So no one calls me a bitch. Armanda Marcotte of Pandagon asks why so many women shun feminism and reproductive control. She finds it reflects directly back to organized religion:
One of the conundrums of fighting for reproductive justice is that so many women are anti-choice. Now, anyone who looks into the issues realizes that female misogyny is nothing to sneeze at—there’s a real “hate the bitches so no one calls me a bitch” thing going on that has a lot of power—but just on its surface it makes no sense that women are anti-choice in the same numbers men are. Until you look at the churches. Women are the mainstay of churches, the support system, and they have to buy into the B.S. in order to run the picnics and the bake sales and the anti-choice protests. But what happens when women have other options for fulfillment other than contributing unpaid, underthanked labor to religious organizations? They apparently start dropping out and those religions lose their power.

It’s an interesting example of how ideology is intertwined with systems to create oppression.


Only 935?

Ohhhh, this is just counting the lies about Iraq, not about all the other stuff.
WASHINGTON - A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.


The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the administration during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan.

Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study found. That was second only to Powell's 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.

The center said the study was based on a database created with public statements over the two years beginning on Sept. 11, 2001, and information from more than 25 government reports, books, articles, speeches and interviews.
The question we should really be asking is .... just exactly when did this administration ever tell the truth?
crossposted at SteveAudio

Solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short

No, not Thomas Hobbes' description of life in nature, the mayorship of Rudy Giuliani. The New York Times has a three page smackdown of his lordship's reign.

And it isn't pretty.


Update: But wait! Chris Matthews thinks Giuliani should not be counted down and out!

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

When a bloated gasbag meets a pin

The amazing adventures of Chris Matthews and the blogswarm.


We won and nobody told us?

The eternal war on a noun? Why else would the Bush administration want to cut money from the first responders on the Eternal War On Terror?
WASHINGTON - The Bush administration will cut counterterrorism money for police, firefighters and rescue departments next year, but not by as much as it originally proposed.

Next month the White House will request $2.2 billion to help states and cities protect against terrorist attacks in 2009, and not $1.4 billion, an administration aide told Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., on Friday. That would be 10 percent more than the president requested for 2008, but 40 percent less than Congress gave the department this year.

King and other lawmakers were outraged in December when they learned the administration wanted to slash these funds by more than half in its final budget request before Bush leaves office.

Apparently we're keeping our winning secret so the terrorists won't know....