Sunday, March 30, 2008

Milk in China poisons children with a supplement from...

The United States? Is this a convenient tit for tat just in time for the Olympics?: (my bold)
Beijing, China (AHN)-- The Chinese food safety watchdog in southern Guangdong seized 4,167 boxes of milk from a Zhuhai dairy company after 119 children fell ill after drinking the milk, local media reported on Saturday.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the provincial food safety agency also issued a public warning consumers in five cities, Zhuhai, Jiangmen, Foshan, Zhongshan and Guangzhou, against the risk of drinking 150-ml high-calcium milk, which was packed on March 26.

The manufacturer, Zhuhai Weiwei Daheng Dairy Company, has since recalled another 2,706 boxes.

Some 75 children began to vomit after drinking the milk Wednesday at day care centers in the cities of Zhuhai and Jiangmen, another 44 children were later reported sick after drinking the same products.

Authorities reported finding staphylococcus aureus intestinotoxin, which might lead to digestive infection, from samples collected from both the hospitals and the same products in stock.

After careful investigation, the company said it primarily ascertained a calcium material imported from the U.S. problematic and promised to compensate the families of the children.

Xinhua likewise noted that the government has ordered the dairy to company to stop all production lines for a thorough overhaul.
Hmmm. It does seem just a bit too ... but with the Bush administration's casual attitude towards product safety and toxic poisonings, it will be interesting to find out just exactly where the calcium material came from....

Friday, March 28, 2008

To the point

Go read Hecate.


Friday Cat Blogging

With somebody else's cats:


Nukes over Iran

Nukes now and nukes forever, Dick Cheney, Amen. The neocons have been lusting after the ability to use nukes ever since we set them off at the end of WWII, and now they have their zombie fingers of death on the red button.

I have hijacked Empire Burlesque's Chris Floyd's article because it is so terrifying:
I. One Tick Closer to Midnight
Last Friday, Dick Cheney was in Saudi Arabia for high-level meetings with the Saudi king and his ministers. On Saturday, it was revealed that the Saudi Shura Council -- the elite group that implements the decisions of the autocratic inner circle -- is preparing "national plans to deal with any sudden nuclear and radioactive hazards that may affect the kingdom following experts' warnings of possible attacks on Iran's Bushehr nuclear reactors," one of the kingdom's leading newspapers, Okaz, reports. The German-based dpa news service relayed the paper's story.

Simple prudence -- or ominous timing? We noted here last week that an American attack on Iran was far more likely -- and more imminent -- than most people suspect. We pointed to the mountain of evidence for this case gathered by scholar William R. Polk, one of the top aides to John Kennedy during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and to other indicators of impending war. The story by Okaz -- which would not have appeared in the tightly controlled dictatorship without approval from the top -- is yet another, very weighty piece of evidence laid in the scales toward a new, horrendous conflict.

We don't know what the Saudis told Cheney in private -- or even more to the point, what he told them. But the release of this story now, just after his departure, would seem to be a clear indication that the Saudis have good reason to fear a looming attack on Iran's nuclear sites and are actively preparing for it.
Chris Floyd goes on to discuss Cheney and Bush in his next section, II. A Nuclear Epiphany in Iran?
Twelve hours is the maximum time necessary for American bombers to gear up and launch an unprovoked sneak attack – a Pearl Harbor in reverse – against Iran, the Washington Post reports. The plan for this "global strike," which includes a very viable "nuclear option," was approved months ago, and is now in operation. The planes are already on continuous alert, making "nuclear delivery" practice runs along the Iranian border, as Sy Hersh reports in the New Yorker, and waiting only for the signal from President George W. Bush to drop their payloads of conventional and nuclear weapons on some 400 targets spread throughout the condemned land.
Now this paranoid sect has at last seized the commanding heights of American power...they have found a most eager disciple in the peevish dullard strutting in the Oval Office. Under their sinister tutelage, Bush has eviscerated 40 years' worth of arms control treaties; officially "normalized" the use of nuclear weapons, even against non-nuclear states; rewarded outlaw proliferators like India, Israel and Pakistan; and is now destroying the last and most effective restraint on the spread of nuclear weapons: the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

The treaty guarantees its signatories – such as Iran – the right to establish nuclear power programs in exchange for rigorous international inspections. But Bush has arbitrarily decided that Iran – whose nuclear program undergone perhaps the most extensive inspection process in history – must end its lawful activities. Why? Because the country is led by "madmen" in thrall to pure evil, impervious to reason, who one day may or may not threaten America with weapons they may or may not have....

So the NPT is dead. As with the Geneva Conventions and the U.S. Constitution, it now means only what Bush says it means. Force of arms, not rule of law, is the new world order. The attack on Iran is coming...The obvious, murderous insanity of such a move in no way precludes its implementation by this gang – as their invasion of Iraq clearly shows.

The nuclear sectarians have waited decades for this moment. Such a chance may never come again. Will they let it pass, when with just a word, in just twelve hours, they can see their god rising in a pillar of fire over Persia?
They don't give a fuck what happens afterwards. They will have broken all treaties, all humanitarian agreements, all reason if they do this. It will spell the end of the world as we know it. And they don't care.

They will have shocked and awed the world into a glassed over radioactive ground zero.

And they don't care.

They don't care and can't be stopped.

God help us.

Don't tell me about walking ten miles to school in the snow uphill both ways

Until you've read this:
A South African village is demanding that a bridge be built across a crocodile-infested river to stop children swimming it to get to school.

Students as young as seven have been making the crossing for two months since the community's boat was stolen.

"There are about 70 households on that side of the river but there are no buses and no-one owns a car," a Kwazulu-Natal local councillor said.

To cross safely would require a 20km (12 miles) detour to get to the school.

On school days, 150 children from Sahlumbe village in the heart of rural Zululand swim across the river in their underwear using rubber tyres and buckets to keep afloat and to keep their school uniforms and books dry.

The older ones help the small ones who cling to the tyres.

"I worry all the time. There are dangerous animals in there, especially crocodiles," says Thuthukani Primary School headmistress Hlengiwe Mthembu.

The children, some of whom also attend Mabizela High School, often arrive tired and unable to concentrate, she says.

"They sit in class and shiver because of the cold and they can't study well because they are worrying about how they are going to get home.

"It is very hard for them. After heavy rains the river gets very full. It can take up to 10 minutes to cross."


Mr Nbatha says even the stolen boat was not safe and he wants a bridge built in the area.

"It was old and full of holes. There was only one boat and it was used by the whole community."

He says he has pleaded with the department of transport for five years.

"They just keep us waiting," he says.

"It's very frustrating. You can see the school from the opposite bank but you just can't reach it."
Some people know what education can do for the community, the family, each individual.
Ndwalane/The Mercury

And then we have people here in the US attempting to undo the very underpinings of education and science. Amazing.

Update 4/3: In comments, SanityFound linked to this pdf news alert:
KwaZulu-Natal MEC for Transport, Community Safety and Liaison,
Mr. Bheki Cele will tomorrow (26/03/08) at Sahlumbe area, Weenen,
near Estcourt, at 09.00am officiate the sod-turning of a river bridge
that will be constructed over Tugela River near Thuthukani Primary
The sod-turning is subsequent to the community outcry beefed up by
media reports that scholars from Thuthukani Primary School and
other local schools cross the river using inflated tyre tubes when
going to school. The bridge is set to serve as an access route for
scholars from the Sahlumbe High School and to the Sahlumbe clinic
and about 70 families residing on the south of the river will benefit
from the bridge.
Reports have indicated that learners also use buckets to keep their
school uniforms and books dry when crossing the river and that
annually four to five children drown as a result of a swollen river. The
bridge will also provide access to public transport to those
communities residing on the north of the river.
Annually four to five children drown as a result of a swollen river.... Jesus.

May this bridge bring education and light to the children, their families and the villages.

Heads, he wins. Tails, you lose.

If the violence is up, we're winning. If the violence is down, we're winning. Why leave? It's so .... positive! And romantic!: (my bold)

President Bush gave warning yesterday that Iraq’s “fragile situation” required the US to maintain a strong military presence there, even as he defended the withdrawal of British troops from Basra, the scene of heavy fighting in recent days.

In an interview with The Times, he backed the Iraqi Government’s decision to “respond forcefully” to the spiralling violence by “criminal elements” and Shia extremists in Basra. “It was a very positive moment in the development of a sovereign nation that is willing to take on elements that believe they are beyond the law,” the President said.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

So when did the illegal alien influx slow down?

That we have workers from India treated like this?:
More than 100 Indians who moved to the US for jobs have marched hundreds of miles to Washington DC in protest at being forced to work "like slaves".

The men plan to take their protest to the Indian ambassador.

The men say recruiters tricked them into paying up to $20,000 each for a new life in the US, where they then had to work in exploitative conditions.

The Mississippi firm that employed them, Signal International, has denied they were mistreated.

It says the men were paid wages above the local average and given good accommodation.

It accuses the recruitment firm of deceiving the Indians and has now ended its contract.

It is also demanding the recruiters return the fees the men paid them.
Apparently businesses are missing their yearly dose of cheap exploitable labor...

We have undocumented workers, recent 'illegal aliens' and those who have lived in this country for decades in 'detention centers' being run by private companies where the people in these prisons have no legal recourse, no voice, no ability to see their American-born children. What is happening there?

Why am I getting continual hits on my 'Slavery is good' posts?


Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Who could have seen this coming?

Think Progress:

Last week, Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace appeared on Fox and Friends and took the hosts “to task” for their “two hours of Obama bashing.” He criticized their coverage as “excessive” and “somewhat distorting.” Now, however, Wallace says that looking back, he went too far:

“I didn’t have any second thoughts about the substance because I still believe what I said was right,” said Mr. Wallace. “But after the fact, you do think to yourself–on a professional level with colleagues I very much like and respect–should I have done that off camera?”

“It’s a close call,” said Mr. Wallace. “I’m not sure I’d do it again.”

Wallace also revealed that a Fox News executive sent him an e-mail after his Fox and Friends appearance to say, “isn’t this the kind of thing we should be talking about off camera, not on camera?”

Ten thousand year war McCain

Even worse than Bush, my friends.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

One more of the twenty civil wars being fought in Iraq

Obviously we need to stay in Iraq to prevent/help the sectarian vs. nationalist bloc from/to realizing we're stealing their oil/ unite in an United Iraqi democracy....

While the majority of Iraqis know that the current Sunni-Shiites tension did not exist before 2003, no one can deny that after five years of U.S. occupation, sectarian tension is now a reality. Sectarianism is another disaster that was brought to Iraq by the war and occupation of Iraq.

The U.S.-led invasion did not only destroy the Baath political regime, it also annihilated the entire public sector including education, health care, food rations, social security, and the armed forces. The Iraqi public sector was a great example of how millions of Iraqis: Arabs and Kurds, Sunnis and Shiites, Muslims and Christians, religious and secular, all worked together in running the country. The myth that the former Iraqi government was a "Sunni-led dictatorship" was created by the U.S. government. Even the Iraqi political regime was not "Sunni-led," let alone the rest of the public sector. A good way to debunk this fairy tale is through a close look at the famous deck of cards of the 55 most wanted Iraqi leaders. The cards had the pictures of Saddam, his two sons, and the rest of the political leadership which most Iraqis would recognize as the heads of the political regime. What is noteworthy is that 36 of the 55 were Shiites. In fact, the two vice presidents were a Christian and a Shiites Kurd.

Sometimes I feel like Iraqis and Americans are analyzing two different wars happening in two different countries. In one narrative, there is a civil war based on ancient sectarian hatred where a U.S. withdrawal will cause the sky to fall. In the other, there is a country struggling under occupation to get its independence back where the occupation is not welcomed and it is causing political, not sectarian, splits and violence.

According to the Iraqi mainstream narrative, the foreign occupation is the major reason and cause for violence and destruction. Foreign intervention is not only destroying Iraq's infrastructure, but it is also splitting Iraq's formerly integrated society. In addition, Iraqis are fighting among each other over fundamental questions about the future of their country, but the central conflict is not between Sunnis and Shiites, it is between Iraqi separatists and nationalists. Unlike other countries in the region such as Lebanon, the Iraqi sectarian tension is still reversible, because it just started five years ago. More importantly, it isn't main driver fueling the Iraqi-Iraqi conflict. This "hidden" conflict is between separatists and nationalists.

Use them up and throw them out


AMY GOODMAN: Maybe we have a clip. Maybe we have a clip of what Dick Cheney had to say. Let’s give it a try. I think this is from our headlines today. This is the Vice President, Dick Cheney.

    VICE PRESIDENT DICK CHENEY: The President carries the biggest burden, obviously. He’s the one who has to make the decision to commit young Americans, but we are fortunate to have a group of men and women, an all-volunteer force, who voluntarily put on the uniform and go in harm’s way for the rest of us.

AMY GOODMAN: That was Dick Cheney. Tomas Young, was that the quote you would like to address?

TOMAS YOUNG: Absolutely. From one of those soldiers who volunteered to go to Afghanistan after September 11th, which was where the evidence said we needed to go, to the master of the college deferment in Vietnam, the last conflict we didn’t go into voluntarily, many of us volunteered with patriotic feelings in our heart, only to see them subverted and bastardized by the administration and sent into the wrong country. Yes, we volunteered, but we didn’t volunteer where you sent us to go. And I realize that we don’t choose where we get to go, but we at least should be sent in the right places to defend the Constitution, just as we volunteered to do. That’s all.

Bill Moyers talks to Phil Donahue and Ellen Spiro about the making of Body of War.

Body of War

Winter soldiers:
The name comes from a quote from Thomas Paine, the revolutionary who rallied George Washington’s troops at Valley Forge, saying: “These are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of his country; but he that stands it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman."

Paine was trying to keep Washington’s army from deserting in the face of a bitter winter and mounting defeats at the hands of the British. Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War say the same type of courage is needed to confront the evils unleashed by the U.S. occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Lawless Atmosphere

"The problem that we face in Iraq is that policymakers in leadership have set a precedent of lawlessness where we don't abide by the rule of law, we don't respect international treaties, argued former U.S. Army Sergeant Logan Laituri, who served a tour in Iraq from 2004 to 2005 before being discharged as a conscientious objector. “So when that atmosphere exists it lends itself to criminal activity."
The movie: Leading to War, How did the US government lead its people to war?

Bush's War on Frontline on PBS.


The essence of a Bush Republican

"The purpose of war is peace." -- Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Stolen from Democratic Underground's Top 10.

They never stop, do they?


Idiots gone wild: here, here, and here.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

Expelled from the Garden of Eden for being a snake?

Or just for being a scientist and an atheist? (And no, P Z Myers was not a gatecrasher, he was actually in the silly film: Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed.)

Conversation between Dr. Dawkins and Dr. P Z Myers over the movie and the expelling:

An hilarious overview.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Just who are these weird people?

Chris Wallace actually stands up to them:

It's a bird! It's a plane!

It's Friday Hope Blogging by Phila of Bouphonia!


Cheap water purification

In comments in one of my water posts, Michael of Cannablog linked to Dean Kamen who was on Colbert. Wonderful invention which purifies polluted water anywhere and makes it drinkable.

Welcome to Gilead Cat


Turning around... and around... and around

Making some of his most expansive claims of success in Iraq, he said the increase of 30,000 troops that he ordered to Iraq last year has turned "the situation in Iraq around."

'We live in a nightmare. Death and carnage is everywhere' Ali, Baghdad resident
And another:
80,000 Angry Men. Is the US Surge collapsing?

In an investigation carried out by GuardianFilms for Channel 4, we uncover how thousands of Iraqis employed at $10 a day by the US to take on al-Qaida are threatening to go on strike because they say they have been used by the 'Americans to do their dirty work' and haven't been paid
Life in Baghdad:

Before they leave, Crocker and Commanding General David Petraeus, who also remains in office until January 2009, will have to deliver another report to Congress in April and explain to lawmakers what the US troop surge has achieved. After the summer of 2007, the number of attacks declined by half, but then it remained stable. There were just under 2,000 attacks every month from November to January, or about as many as in the spring of 2005.

The prognoses are relatively worthless as long as it is unclear what exactly the results of the turnaround have been. Optimists point to successes among Sunnis. Close to 80,000 former Sunni insurgents have changed sides and now work for the Americans, each of them earning $300 a month. Al-Qaida terrorism has been dealt a serious blow.

But skeptics warn against being too optimistic too soon when it comes to the Shiites. Shiite leader Moqtada al-Sadr has extended his Mahdi militia's cease-fire, which is indisputably the main reason for the drop in sectarian murders. But no one knows whether the cease-fire is merely a strategic move, or whether it will last.

The progress of the war has long depended on both people and developments no one would have imagined five years ago. General Tommy Franks, who directed the US invasion of Iraq, merely rolled his eyes when he was asked at the time what would happen after the war, former US Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith writes in his upcoming autobiography "War and Decision." Franks' response to the question was that he didn't have time for that kind of "bullshit." Indeed, there are failures everywhere Feith casts his eyes. But, as the reader soon learns, Feith is convinced that the triumvirate of planners -- then Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, President George W. Bush and Feith himself -- was infallible.

None of these retrospective quibbles appear to worry the president. "The decision to remove Saddam Hussein was the right decision early in my presidency," he said last week in Nashville. "It is the right decision at this point in my presidency, and it will forever be the right decision."


Why on earth would God


Demand that there be only one way to find Him? With all the different cultures of man, all the different ways of seeing beauty, of expressing joy, of loving, why would there be only one way?

In the United States we have existed in a religious calm with thousands of different churches side by side for some time. This in itself is amazing. We have been spared the unsolvable quarrels over whose God is better by the Constitution and the separation of church and state. But not only are there some who insist that their way is the only way, all other religions are not only wrong but satanic.

There are fundamentalists who wish to change our Constitution. There are those who have tasted power, have been allowed into the Bush administration with the 'faith-based initiative programs', have received federal monies and have decided that now is the time to grab for more.

There are those who are working diligently to bring about the second coming, the rapture. If you go onto the rapture sites, you will see people rejoicing when Israel attack Lebanon, or bombed Syria. They are waiting with bated breath to see the world destroyed.

These are the people who attack education, evolution, and science. These are the people who are owners of Blackwater, the mercenary group. These are the people who have tried to make the Air Force Academy and the military a religious force. These are the people who have decided Iraq is the beginning to a religious war against Islam, a true crusade.

These are the people who wish to take over the government. They do not hear your demand for your right to live with or without religion. They do not consider your wishes for personal choice. They see themselves as righteous and spreading God's love throughout the world.

But what they are actually spreading is hate. Hatred of other religions. Hatred of other cultures. Hatred of history. Hatred of government. Hatred of individual thought.

What they hate most is having their plans for world domination foiled by people who watch their every move.

So say no to theocracy. Say no and say it loudly.

Say yes to religious freedom, to believe in whatever you so choose and to keep it your personal business.

God is love, and that is enough for the entire world and for everyone in it.

crossposted at Mock, Paper, Scissors

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Speaking truth to power


Oh, grow up!

Still obsessing over the blue dress? After HOW many years?

Via Susie Madrak of Suburban Guerrilla, ABC's Brian Ross drools in delight over Hillary Clinton's presence on the day of the 'blue dress incident'.

Is this where Brian Ross wishes to dwell? Is this where he is most comfortable? Back in the glory days of the Clinton smear campaign, baying at the head of the hounds? Was that his finest hour that he must return to the pitiful bones and gnaw at them once again?

There is a lot to say over those who obsess over other people's sex lives, but pawing over the Clinton's exposes a great deal more about the writer than about the long ago sex act. It offers nothing new.

So... who cares?

And so the fun begins

Birds not migrating:

But in a sign of the blurring of the seasons brought on by climate change, one of the birds has this year shunned migration to Africa and instead spent all winter in Britain.

In what experts say is the first documented evidence of the species "overwintering" here, a solitary swallow has been monitored from November to the end of February in a village near Truro, Cornwall.

Paul Stancliffe, a spokesman for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO), called the discovery "incredible".


In the BTO programme, a single wheatear was found to have overwintered in Burniston, near Scarborough, North Yorkshire, instead of in west Africa. Some 5,000 chiffchaffs, which normally migrate there or to Spain or Morocco, spent the winter in Britain. Mr Stancliffe said: "These are birds that would ordinarily migrate south of the Sahara. We believe it is because our winters are getting milder and birds are actually able to survive here through the winter."

The bird atlas programme will run until 2011, with 50,000 volunteers reporting sightings. The last time the exercise was carried out, in the 1980s, fewer than 1,000 chiffchaffs were found to be overwintering in Britain.

As further evidence of climate change, volunteers have also recorded "early returns" by many migrants this year, as well as unseasonably early nesting by birds that ordinarily remain here.

Salmon are dying via Kirk Murphy at Firedoglake:
The largest salmon run in the largest estuary on this hemisphere's Pacific Coast has collapsed. Why care about a bunch of fish and a big marsh? Well, healthy salmon runs require healthy water: fresh and salt. Crashing salmon runs tell us something in the water(s) has gone terrribly wrong. SF Bay fresh water is sucked up to supply central California crops and communities and Southern California taps. With over 17 million people in the LA area alone, and with California producing over half the nation's fruit, vegetables, and nuts, SF Bay water affects the price of your greens - and the health of your family, wherever they live. And the salmon tell us the Bay is very sick.
Polar ice is melting faster than expected (via Sorghum Crow):
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The thickest, oldest and toughest sea ice around the North Pole is melting, a bad sign for the future of the Arctic ice cap, NASA satellite data showed on Tuesday.
But wait! We're saved! They've invented this:

Oddly it reminds me of the Mechanical Hound in Fahrenheit 451 .... which is why I want to beat it to death immediately.


What you said to Senator Patrick Leahy and then some, Dick!

Amanda Terkel of Alternet

This opposition to the war is not a "fluctuation" in public opinion. The American public has steadily turned against the war since the 2003 invasion. According to a new CNN poll, just 36 percent of the American public believes that "the situation in Iraq was worth going to war over -- down from 68 percent in March 2003, when the war began."

Even though he doesn't care what the American public wants, Cheney still thinks he is able -- and entitled -- to speak for the American public. Last month, Cheney declared, "The American people will not support a policy of retreat." If Cheney were actually listening to the "American people," he would know that 61 percent actually supports the redeployment of U.S. troops.

You certainly don't speak for me, Mr. Not-part-of-the-executive-branch-and-not-part-of- the-legislative-branch-mystery-government-official-person!

The day after and the day after that

It's not just the anniversary of the war in Iraq but everyday that we will look for news of our soldiers and the fighting. It may have 'slipped' ever so conveniently off the front pages of our mainstream news, but we will never forgive nor ever forget.

Excellent coverage the war and history of Iraq:

By Blue Girl of Blue Girl, Red State



And on the Winter Soldier event:

Iraq Veterans Against the War

Bill W. of Crooks and Liars
Winter Soldier: Iraq and Afghanistan was a 4-day event from March 13-16 in DC that brought together veterans from across the country to testify about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. Although the news media has unsurprisingly ignored the event much as they did its predecessor in 1971, this time we have digital media and the intertubes to document it and bring it to a wider audience.
Bill W. has a transcript from a soldier Will Prysner:
Those who send us to war do not have to pull a trigger or lob a mortar round. They do not have to fight the war. They merely have to sell the war. They need a public who is willing to send their soldiers into harm’s way and they need soldiers who are willing to kill or be killed without question. They can spend millions on a single bomb, but that bomb only becomes a weapon when the ranks in the military are willing to follow orders to use it. They can send every last soldier anywhere on earth, but there will only be a war if soldiers are willing to fight, and the ruling class: the billionaires who profit from human suffering care only about expanding their wealth, controlling the world economy, understand that their power lies only in their ability to convince us that war, oppression, and exploitation is in our interests. They understand that their wealth is dependent on their ability to convince the working class to die to control the market of another country. And convincing us to kill and die is based on their ability to make us think that we are somehow superior. Soldiers, sailors, marines, airmen, have nothing to gain from this occupation.

The vast majority of people living in the US have nothing to gain from this occupation. In fact, not only do we have nothing to gain, but we suffer more because of it. We lose limbs, endure trauma, and give our lives. Our families have to watch flag draped coffins lowered into the earth. Millions in this country without healthcare, jobs, or access to education must watch this government squander over $450 million a day on this occupation. Poor and working people in this country are sent to kill poor and working people in another country to make the rich richer, and without racism soldiers would realize that they have more in common with the Iraqi people than they do with the billionaires who send us to war.
Hipparchia of Over the Cliff, Onto the Rocks and her other blog: War Without Comment. Watch the videos about soldiers in Vietnam speaking then and now. A devastatingly true comment made (3:23 1st video) made by an ex-soldier:
"I've been all over the world and the most politically ignorant people of any country I've ever been to is the U.S.A."
Time to find out what is going on. Ignorance will be no excuse for the horrors done in our name.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

When reality hits

It's always unpleasant...


The cranky old man

Actually forgot who we were fighting and where.


Senator McCain, don't you think it's kinda important to know this when you are trying to be Commander in Chief?

Or are you just planning to bomb everything and everybody flat?

The Iraq war


This will be George Bush's legacy: The Iraq quagmire, the Bush blunder, the unnecessary war, the war of choice, the attack on a sovereign nation that had not attacked us on 9/11/01. None of the multitudinous reasons .... excuses.... given for our being there have ever been found to be true.

The neocons told us this war was what they wanted long before Bush was president; while Clinton was president, they sent him a signed letter asking we take on Iraq. Many of us guessed that when Bush was given power, we would be at war with Iraq within two years. This projection was made without the fantastic excuse of 9/11.

9/11 didn't actually change anything except for our sense of superiority. We finally joined the rest of the world in coping with terrorism within our own borders. Our foreign policies had finally come home to roost.

So Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Wolfowitz finally got their war. It will be fast! And cheap! The oil will pay for everything! Saddam is bad! He mocked George Bush senior! His moustache is evil! The neocons were indifferent to anything but what they were about to get their hands on.

So the country literally came apart. Very much like what happened in Yugoslavia, old enmities rose up once the dictator was gone. Foreign insurgents flooded in, religious differences began to show, tribal loyalities became strong. Instead of fighting one enemy in one war, there were suddenly twenty wars with fifty different reasons going on. It became a civil war.

And Bush had deliberately opened the Pandora's box. Without a real plan. They thought Chalabi, who had been groomed to pop into place, could just slip into Hussein's spot. But somehow the people didn't want him. Several 'leaders' later, no one is able to unify the factions that now control the country, or even get any kind of agreement between the sockpuppet politicians to vote together. When Bush complains that the Iraqis aren't doing enough to get the government going, the response is, "What Iraqi government?" Many of the pseudo politicians that were voted in with purple fingers are actually out of the country. If the people do not support the government, there is no government. I guess that's a hard concept for George.

So now we have been there five years. What have we accomplished? What have we done? We have a tenuous peace with al-Sadr who has agreed to a ceasefire. We have teamed up with the very people who were shooting at our soldiers just a few months ago to help them shoot at the al-Qaeda... who were not in Iraq until we attacked. We are balancing a dangerous tightrope between the Saudi-supported Sunni and the Iranian-supported Shiite, trying to prevent Iran from taking over a huge section of Iraq. Saudi Arabia is sending insurgents and an immense amount of money into Iraq to fight .... our soldiers, yet we are supportive of the Saudi government and have offered them a huge arms deal. More and more tangled loyalities confuse the issue. There is no one 'bad guy' to defeat. I haven't even mentioned the Kurds and Turkey.

So. How do we 'win' this fight? How do we win this war? How do we extricate ourselves from this quagmire?

John McCain says we will be there for hundreds of years.

Both Democratic candidates say we will leave.

As we ponder this conundrum, bombs are going off and soldiers and civilians are dying. All because of Bush.

This will be his enduring legacy.

The Iraq war.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008


Just wow.

I guess they couldn't keep dragging Osama out of the cave

And a new(!) brand(!) always captures the attention:
Pictures obtained by CBS News from Pakistani sources are among the first public images ever to surface of a man U.S. intelligence officials call "one of the most dangerous people on the planet," CBS News justice and homeland security correspondent Bob Orr reports.

He is Pakistani warlord Baitullah Mehsud, the accused mastermind of the Benazir Bhutto assassination. An emerging leader, sources say, who threatens to eclipse Osama bin Laden as the world's top terrorist.

Terrorism analyst Christine Fair says Baitullah Mehsud is running a training camp for suicide bombers in Pakistan's off-limits tribal region -- a magnet for radical Islamic recruits from Europe and potentially the United States.

"He may not be out there cultivating people to send them abroad, but people abroad may seek him out for the operations that they conduct back home or elsewhere," Fair says.
Be afraid! Be very afraid!

I read the news today, Oh boy...

Just today.

Karbala, Iraq (AHN) - At least 40 people were killed and 65 others were injured when a female suicide bomber struck Shiite worshipers in the holy city of Karbala on Monday, the Interior Ministry official said Tuesday.

According to military officials, the incident happened on the street leading to the Imam Hussein shrine of Karbala, one of Islam's holiest sites. The shrine is where Hussein bin Ali was buried, Prophet Mohammed's grandson.

No further details were available in the suicide attack as authorities were still investigating the incident.

Meanwhile, a roadside bomb exploded Monday killing two U.S. troopers, it was reported

Ministry official said another bomb exploded a few minutes later near an Iraqi police vehicle on eastern Baghdad, capital city, injuring four people.

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - A suicide car bomber attacked a group of international troops at a bazaar in southern Afghanistan yesterday, killing three NATO soldiers and four Afghans, officials said.

Two Danish troops, a Czech Special Forces soldier, and an Afghan translator were killed in the attack in the Gereshk district of Helmand Province.

Provincial police Chief Mohammad Hussein Andiwal said the suicide car bomb killed three Afghan civilians and wounded seven others.

Four soldiers also were wounded in the attack, a NATO spokesman said.
The Philippines:
Manila, Philippines (AHN) - The number of people injured in an explosion near the Philippine Presidential Palace Tuesday afternoon, climbs to 18, authorities said as more victims were rushed to nearby hospitals for various injuries.

Reports said that 13 victims were rushed to the Mary Chiles Hospital while another two were brought to the Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital. Early reports said four victims were injured when a grenade was said to have exploded in front of the gate of the Presidential Security Group's sentry gate.

The PSG is responsible for providing security to the Philippine president and key government officials. The site of the explosion is also between two exclusive schools in the capital Manila.

Authorities said most of the victims were students. Some of those injured were taken to nearby hospitals, including the University of Santo Tomas and the Manila Doctors Hospital.
A Yemeni guard has been killed in an explosion near the US embassy in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, an official has said, quoted by AP news agency.

A mortar was fired at a school next to the embassy in the central district of Sawan, reports say.

Other guards and some children were said to be wounded. It is not clear whether the embassy was the target.
Israeli aircraft have attacked the northern Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants fired rockets into Israel.

The violence follows several days of relative calm in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The Israeli air force said it was targeting a rocket-firing team. There is no word on casualties.
crossposted at American Street

Monday, March 17, 2008

GM crops attacked and destroyed by Brazilians

Strange... sounds like they didn't like what Monsanto was doing. (Via Katrinacrat, Dizzy's Ten Post round-up:)
SAO PAULO (AFP) — Around 300 women rural residents in Brazil burst into a property owned by the US company Monsanto and destroyed a plant nursery and crops containing genetically modified corn, their organization said.

The women were protesting what they saw as environmental damage by the crops.

They trashed the plants within 30 minutes and left before police arrived at the site in the southern state of Sao Paulo, a member of the Landless Workers' Movement, Igor Foride, told AFP.

The Brazilian government had "caved in to pressure from agrobusinesses" by recently allowing tinkered crops to be grown in the country, he said.

In Brasilia, a protest by another 400 women from an umbrella group, Via Campesina (the Rural Way), was held in front of the Swiss embassy against Syngenta, a Swiss company that is selling genetically modified seeds in Brazil.


Via Campesina said in a statement that "no scientific studies exist that guarantee that genetically modified crops won't have negative effects on human health and on nature."

It added that on Tuesday, another 900 of its members had entered a property owned by the Swedish-Finnish paper giant Stora Enso and ripped out non-modified eucalyptus saplings they claimed were illegally planted.
Goodness! Why on earth would they not trust such a nice company as Monsanto? Just because they've created the terminator gene? And sue farmers when their genetically modified crops pollinate the farmer's crops accidentally? Or ignore suicides by Indian farmers? And force people to drink rBGH (BST) without knowledge? Or support the return of DDT? Or smear the name of Rachel Carson?

Why are the Brazilians more aware than us of the dangers of corporations ignoring the needs and rights of people?

Sunday, March 16, 2008

March 17th


Update: Inspired by Sorghum Crow in comments:


So now there's an angry Christian pastor

Who is connected to Barack Obama.... does that finally shoot the moronic rumor about Obama's secret Muslim past in the foot?

Or will he now be called an angry Sorta-Christian Islamomuslim terrorist wannabe presidential candidate?

August Pollak has the answer.

Parlor bigots

Chet Scoville of Vanity Press quotes Bob Sommerby:
Neither professor could imagine a world in which decent people, acting in good faith, made a judgment which differed from theirs.... they’re parlor bigots—people who assail the motives of anyone who disagrees with their views.
Down further in his post, Chet says:
What this means, unfortunately, is that the concept of fairness, and therefore the presumption of good faith disagreement, is in the United States a gendered and racialized concept. Women and non-white people just do not get the presumption of good faith applied to them when they seek or exert power. They are always thought to be cheating, and always thought to be illegitimate. This is especially true when someone is applying for the top job in the country: the more that is at stake, the harder it is to break the grip of entrenched cultural presumptions.

There's one other important point, though, which is that as far as the major media are concerned, the concepts of fairness and good faith are limited in another way: they are not only gendered and racialized concepts, but also partisan concepts. Anyone who has been paying attention to American presidential campaigns for the past two decades can't have failed to notice this: Democratic candidates are always attacked in the general election as phonies, liars, and cheats who act in bad faith, while Republicans are nearly always depicted as authentic, honest, regular guys who act in good faith (even their howling errors and distortions are often forgiven as good faith mistakes). No matter what the facts are, and no matter how many falsehoods have to be fabricated to make this narrative work, it's the one that gets told every time. Put these three things together, and you've got a shockingly narrow conclusion: the white male Republican is always portrayed, by definition, as the only good-faith candidate. Everyone else is portrayed as illegitimate.
It is true that we have been promising a place at the table and never getting around to finding a chair for anybody but the white Republicans males. But we have just been through the worst president and the worst administration in US history. This might be the thing that breaks all prejudices and throws down all hurdles and finally lets blacks and women, Democrats and liberals into the Oval Office.

And lets them finally be heard.

Impeachment can't happen fast enough

Because if we don't demand justice now, these loyal Bushies will be back in government dismantling even more of our Constitution. We need to fire or check every single person hired during the Bush administration.

Blue Girl of Blue Girl, Red State: (my bold)

On March 1, 1976, in the the wake of the abuses of COINTELPRO being made public after contentious congressional hearings over domestic spying and assassinations, President Ford created an intelligence oversight board of private citizens with top security clearances to rein in abuses and sniff out illegal spying activities. Ford created the Intelligence Oversight Board to serve as a watchdog over spying agencies by executive order to put off an angry congress enacting more sweeping legislation to curtail the activities of the intelligence communities against American citizens. At the time Ford issued the order he told the Congress "I believe [the changes] will eliminate abuses and questionable activities on the part of the foreign intelligence agencies while at the same time permitting them to get on with their vital work of gathering and assessing information."

Thirty two years later - practically to the day - the current occupant signed a super-double-secret executive order gutting the oversight panel and stripping it of authority.

"It's quite clear that the Bush administration officials who were around in the 1970s are settling old scores now. Here they are even preventing oversight within the executive branch. They have closed the books on the post-Watergate era," said Tim Sparapani, senior legislative counsel to the ACLU.

But Bush downsized the board's mandate to be an aggressive watchdog against such problems in an executive order issued on Feb. 29, the eve of the anniversary of the day Ford's order took effect. The White House said the timing of the new order was "purely coincidental.

"Under the old rules, whenever the oversight board learned of intelligence activity that it believed might be "unlawful or contrary to executive order," it had a duty to notify both the president and the attorney general. But Bush's order deleted the board's authority to refer matters to the Justice Department for a criminal investigation, and the new order said the board should notify the president only if other officials are not already "adequately" addressing the problem. (emphasis added)

Bush's order also terminated the board's authority to oversee each intelligence agency's general counsel and inspector general, and it erased a requirement that each inspector general file a report with the board every three months. Now only the agency directors will decide whether to report any potential lawbreaking to the panel, and they have no schedule for checking in.
We need accountability, we need exposure, we need justice.

We need impeachment on the table.


But the rich are so much more important

Than the poor...
Now that the Fed has chopped interest rates (and will chop again, not that it's going to translate into lower rates for consumers) and they pumped $200 billion into Wall Street, I'd like to know where exactly the so-called free market/industry self-regulate people are. Where are they? They're all at the front of the bloody line calling for more handouts. When Democrats ask for money for SCHIP or food money for the poor or unemployment extensions, all we hear is about cost. What is the matter with Democrats? Is it so hard to scream and yell like the GOP? Why are they so silent on this bailout? Even the homeowner bailout is a pittance compared to the Wall Street bailout.

To show you what frauds the Republicans are, look at how we raised a $200 billion "loan" that uses the garbage subprime papers that nobody in their right mind wants anyway. Debate? Hell no. Just "poof" out of the blue sky, here's a bailout and a healthy loan to Wall Street, which won't be enough anyway. How is it that the "free market" crowd is suddenly nowhere to be found during this crisis?

Recreating Hitchcock

With today's celebrities:

Dial M for Murder, 1954
Charlize Theron. Photograph by Norman Jean Roy.
The scene in which Charles Alexander Swann (Dawson) attempts to strangle Margot Mary Wendice (Kelly), only to be himself stabbed with a pair of scissors, caused Hitchcock great anxiety. Although the entire film was shot in just 36 days, this single scene required a full week of rehearsals and multiple takes to get the choreography and timing right.
Here's the original:


Isn't it romantic?

U.S. President George W. Bush got an earful on Thursday about problems and progress in Afghanistan where a war has dragged on for more than six years but been largely eclipsed by Iraq.

In a videoconference, Bush heard from U.S. military and civilian personnel about the challenges ranging from fighting local government and police corruption to persuading farmers to abandon a lucrative poppy drug trade for other crops.

Bush heard tales of all-night tea drinking sessions to coax local residents into cooperating, and of tribesmen crossing mountains to attend government meetings seen as building blocks for the country's democracy-in-the-making.

"I must say, I'm a little envious," Bush said. "If I were slightly younger and not employed here, I think it would be a fantastic experience to be on the front lines of helping this young democracy succeed."

"It must be exciting for you ... in some ways romantic, in some ways, you know, confronting danger. You're really making history, and thanks," Bush said.

Romantic? Bush thinks war is romantic? Like being with all those shaved-headed manly men in their quest for the glory of America?



I guess he just can't help himself, it's so overwhelmingly romantic...


So romantic...



I'm sure this Afghani woman agrees...


And this family:


And these soldiers:


Of course Bush is remembering how romantic the Vietnam War was...


Fox News attacks Obama

Remember this?

And now this?

Sign the petition.

Friday Hope Blogging

On Sunday. Phila of Bouphonia continues his mighty works!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

Playing chess in Congress

Means you have to know how to make the rules work for you.

Via Atrios at Eschaton, Kagro X of the Daily Kos:

The RESTORE Act, H.R. 3773, passed the House last year without including retroactive amnesty for the telecom companies and sent it on to the Senate.

When the Senate took up the issue, it opted not to deal with H.R. 3773, but instead passed its Rockefeller-backed FISA bill (S. 2248) that did include retroactive amnesty. And there was a tremendous uproar among immunity opponents over the procedure the Senate used, making the Bush-backed Rockefeller legislation the base bill, and the immunity-free Judiciary committee bill the substitute, creating an uphill battle for the fight against immunity. That situation created a lot of ill will toward Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid.

Everyone remembers that.

But here's the interesting part. Rather than send S. 2248 to the House once it passed, Reid sent the bill on a little detour. With the unanimous consent of the Senate, he stripped out the language of H.R. 3773 and substituted in the language of S. 2248, vitiated the passage of S. 2248, and sent the amended H.R. 3773 back to the House.

That put the House in the position of considering the Senate amendment to H.R. 3773, as opposed to the original version of S. 2248. What difference does that make? Well, it makes no substantive difference, in that H.R. 3773 as amended now included retroactive immunity, along with all the other garbage we didn't want the Senate to pass.

But as I've stressed a number of times, control of procedure can, in the end, control the substantive outcome.

So, what's a House that's opposed to retroactive immunity to do? Amend H.R. 3773 to take it back out, of course. And that -- along with a number of other substantive improvements -- is what Chairmen Conyers and Reyes plan to do, in the form of an amendment to the Senate amendment to H.R. 3773.

Sounds like a joke, doesn't it? The sort of thing people say when they make fun of the legislative process: the House amendment to the Senate amendment to the bill H.R. 3773.

Only guess what's special about offering an amendment to the amendment that isn't true of just starting over with a new House bill that doesn't have immunity in it?

You can't move to recommit an amendment to an amendment.

So the House gets to strip immunity (and the other junk) back out of H.R. 3773, and the Republicans can't just undo that work with a motion designed to peel off Blue Dogs. If the amendment to the Senate amendment passes, it pops right back out of the House and goes back to the Senate on the express bus, no stops.

And there's more. It arrives back in the Senate in privileged form, as a message from the House (the message being: we amended your crap) the consideration of which is not subject to filibuster. To be sure, the Republicans (or anyone willing to stand in their shoes) can filibuster the actual debate on the House amendment to Senate amendment, but they can't filibuster the question of whether or not to even have that debate, as they can with most other legislation.

That doesn't mean we're out of the woods, of course. The Senate, at Jay Rockefeller's urging, can still decide it wants to overlook the ridiculous trail of surveillance overreaches and lawbreaking in the "administration's" use of surveillance tools that emerges with each passing day. The Senate, at Jay Rockefeller's urging, can still decide that it quite inexplicably continues to trust the Bush-Cheney "administration" with these tools and that they want to blindly continue in their almost childlike belief that they'll somehow be able to exercise oversight of these immense new powers, despite all of the roadblocks the White House routinely throws up in the way of even the most routine inquiries.


Fur imunity's sake!


Think Progress quotes Georgie:

Companies that may have helped us save lives should be thanked for their patriotic service, not subjected to billion-dollar lawsuits that would make them less willing to help in the future.

The House bill may be good for class action trial lawyers, but it would be terrible for the United States.

We're all going to die!

Here's a site that will help you check off the disasters.

The Really Terrible Orchestra

Eli of Multi Medium found this wonderfulness:
Some years ago, a group of frustrated people in Scotland decided that the pleasure of playing in an orchestra should not be limited to those who are good enough to do so, but should be available to the rankest of amateurs. So we founded the Really Terrible Orchestra, an inclusive orchestra for those who really want to play, but who cannot do so very well. Or cannot do so at all, in some cases.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

The latest buzz

How are our bee friends doing as spring comes on in a hurry?


In Britain:

Beekeepers have warned that most of the country's honey bees could be wiped out by disease in 10 years unless an urgent research programme is launched to find new treatments and drugs. They are to launch a nationwide campaign, including protests, to force the government to fund the £8m research project which they say is needed to save the nation's bees.

Ministers say they have no budget for such a programme, a claim rejected by keepers, who are to lobby MPs, gather at the House of Commons for a protest meeting and begin a letter campaign to raise support for research funds.

'Beekeeping is still reeling from the varroa mite, which carries a number of viruses and which devastated thousands of hives across the country when it reached Britain 10 years ago,' said Tim Lovett, president of the British Beekeeping Association. 'Now there is a real danger that colony collapse disease - which has wiped out 80 per cent of bees in parts of the US - will appear in this country. Unless we develop effective protection, there could then be massive losses of bees across the country.'

In America:
In the United States, the honey bee problem and its ramifications have not even been discussed in any 2008 Presidential election event. All the presidential candidates promise the usual increasing bounty of new government spending oblivious to the fact that the disappearing honey bee crisis, if unresolved, may create huge food price inflation and food scarcity during their second presidential term in office.

In the First National Beekeepers Conference in January 2008 in Sacramento, California, beekeepers complained about the lack of government action as they confront financial catastrophe. In general, United States honey bee inspection remains critically under funded, understaffed, and under appreciated.

While there still is no solution to the problem of colony collapse disorder, ongoing research into the problem is focused on three main theories - pesticides (herbicides, fungicides), mono-nutrition, and viruses. There may be just one cause of CCD or it could be a combination of several problems. The truth is that we are not near a solution to the problem of disappearing bees from their hives since a cause has yet to be clearly identified and time may be running out.
In the Corporation of Haagen-Dazs:
NEW YORK ( -- Haagen-Dazs is warning that a creature as small as a honeybee could become a big problem for the premium ice cream maker's business.

At issue are the disappearing bee colonies in the United States, a situation that continues to mystify scientists and frighten foodmakers.

That's because, according to Haagen-Dazs, one-third of the U.S. food supply - including a variety of fruits, vegetables and even nuts - depends on pollination from bees.
Um ... guys?

If we lose the bees, we won't be just worrying about the loss of flavors of ice cream!! By that time we'll be stepping over starvation victims lying in the streets.

But nice of you to put it into perspective!

crossposted at SteveAudio

More on the future Water Wars

Keeping track of the 'escalating fights over water and water rights, between cities and farms, between states, between neighbors.'

Here are some articles that touch on quality and quantity available. Via Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat, AP's article on pharmaceutical contaminates in our drinking water:

A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows.

To be sure, the concentrations of these pharmaceuticals are tiny, measured in quantities of parts per billion or trillion, far below the levels of a medical dose. Also, utilities insist their water is safe.

But the presence of so many prescription drugs — and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health.

In the course of a five-month inquiry, the AP discovered that drugs have been detected in the drinking water supplies of 24 major metropolitan areas — from Southern California to Northern New Jersey, from Detroit to Louisville, Ky.

World's Water Supply at Risk:

One of the world's leading water experts explains how our local water supplies are threatened across North America and across the globe. Surface waters are being polluted, and we are mining our groundwater at unsustainable rates. At the very time when corporations are privatizing everything, our governments are allowing corporations to move in and take over the ownership of essential resources like water. The more our water becomes polluted, the more precious it becomes. The more desperate people are, the more they will pay for their water, and the more money there is to be made from cleaning it up.

The corporation KBR poisoned our soldiers in theaters of war:
The AP reports that, between 2004 and 2006, “dozens of U.S. troops in Iraq fell sick at bases using ‘unmonitored and potentially unsafe‘ water supplied” by KBR. The Pentagon’s internal watchdog said soldiers experienced skin abscesses, cellulitis, skin infections, diarrhea and other illnesses after from using the discolored, smelly water.
Expect more of these stories as we find out we have treated our most essential of needs so casually. Global warming also means less snow pack which leads to less water in rivers and in aquifers. Some burgeoning population centers which rely heavily on rivers are feeling this already:

The world is running out of water and needs a radical plan to tackle shortages that threaten the ability of humanity to feed itself, according to Jeffrey Sachs, director of the UN's Millennium Project.

Professor Sachs, who is credited with sparking pop star Bono's crusade for African development, told an environment conference in Delhi that the world simply had "no more rivers to take water from".

The breadbaskets of India and China were facing severe water shortages and neither Asian giant could use the same strategies for increasing food production that has fed millions in the last few decades.

"In 2050 we will have 9 billion people and average income will be four times what it is today. India and China have been able to feed their populations because they use water in an unsustainable way. That is no longer possible," he said.

Since Asia's green revolution, which began in the 1960s and saw a transformation of agricultural production, the amount of land under irrigation has tripled. However, many parts of the continent have reached the limits of their water supplies. "The Ganges [in India] and the Yellow river [in China] no longer flow. There is so much silting up and water extraction upstream they are pretty stagnant," said Prof Sachs.

(Psst ... turn off your taps!)


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Want to win the oil endgame? Want to stop the oil wars?

Give yourself 20 minutes and listen to Amory Lovins!

Amory Lovins was worried (and writing) about energy long before global warming was making the front -- or even back -- page of newspapers. Since studying at Harvard and Oxford in the 1960s, he's written dozens of books, and initiated ambitious projects -- cofounding the influential, environment-focused Rocky Mountain Institute; prototyping the ultra-efficient Hypercar -- to focus the world's attention on alternative approaches to energy and transportation.

His critical thinking has driven people around the globe -- from world leaders to the average Joe -- to think differently about energy and its role in some of our biggest problems: climate change, oil dependency, national security, economic health, and depletion of natural resources.

Lovins offers solutions as well. His book and site Winning the Oil Endgame shows how all US oil use can be eliminated by 2040. Lovins has always focused on solutions that conserve natural resources while also promoting economic growth; Texas Instruments and Wal-Mart are just two of the mega-corporations he has advised on improving energy efficiency.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

7.7 trillion has a hell of a lot of zeros, Georgie


As the economy begins to fall apart, Republicans are finally trying to create some distance between Bush and themselves. It took a Democrat to point out the problem:

Think Progress
Today, lawmakers took to the Senate floor and blasted President Bush’s wasteful spending. To fully illustrate the impact, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), brought up a chart showing the budget plans of President Clinton versus the budget formulated by Bush. He concluded that by squandering Clinton’s government surplus, Bush has cost the country $7.7 trillion:
This next chart illustrates the value of the differences between the budget landscape planned by President Clinton and the one created by President Bush. As you can see, the difference between the two is a staggering $7.7 trillion. This number represents the fiscal harm that President Bush has inflected on our nation. This number is the Bush debt. […]

Like most concepts of enormous size, this amount takes some thought to comprehend. $7.7 trillion is $25,000 owed by every adult or child in the United States.

We need to get every vote, every earmark, every single statement of unquestioning support of Emperor Bush that these bozos have ever done. They never said no, they never stood up to the president, they never questioned his reasons nor his methods. Ten months from handing in his keys to the White House and only NOW they start pretending to be shocked at the wreckage?

These Bush Republicans may run away, but they can't hide. Their actions and their words will follow them wherever they campaign. Never let people forget who it was who drove our country into a ditch.

Practicing his love on lobbyists

All the way to the bank:

Critics on Tuesday questioned whether Sen. John McCain catered to special interests when he aggressively threw his support behind a $35 billion Pentagon contract for a European plane maker.

McCain, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, played a crucial role in blocking the deal to build air tankers from going to U.S.-based Boeing, instead paving the path for EADS to score the loot. He framed his decision as an example of political integrity; Boeing has previously been exposed of contract abuse. But a review of campaign finance donations and lobbying records suggests that money and personal lobbying may have also been in play.

On January 15, 2007, McCain appeared at Alabama Gov. Bob Riley's gubernatorial swearing in ceremony and formally called for multiple bidders in the tanker deal. The push for an open process had only one true beneficiary, however, and that was the Northrop Grumman/EADS consortium, which was poised to be Boeing's sole competitor.

A day after McCain made his proclamation, the contributions began to flow. [snip]

All told, as documented earlier by CQ PoliticalMoneyline, McCain received more than $15,000 from EADS and its subsidiary, Airbus North America. Not only was this the highest amount received by any federal candidate, but prior to 2006, not a single employee from EADS had ever contributed to McCain. Two Airbus employees did donate nearly $4,000 for his 2000 run at the White House.


But there are myriad signs that EADS curried up to the Arizona Senator. And it wasn't just the money. According to an Associated Press report published on Tuesday, the McCain campaign currently employs individuals who just last year were lobbying on behalf of EADS.

"Two of the advisers gave up their lobbying work when they joined McCain's campaign," the AP wrote. "A third, former Texas Rep. Tom Loeffler, lobbied for the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. while serving as McCain's national finance chairman."

One of those advisers, John Green, left Ogilvy Government Relations to become McCain's congressional Republican liaison shortly after the EADS deal was announced.

"They never lobbied him related to the issues, and the letters went out before they were contracted" by EADS, McCain campaign spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker told the AP.

In the end, McCain may have received more than just campaign contributions in return for his support of the EADS contract. Parts for the refueling tankers are slated to be built in Mobile, Alabama. And just days after the deal was finalized, the state's governor, Bob Riley -- a long holdout in the presidential process -- finally offered his endorsement of McCain's candidacy.

Oh, this is right big of them

Gitmo prisoners can now phone home:
GUANTANAMO BAY NAVAL BASE, Cuba - The U.S. military said Tuesday that it will allow detainees to make regular phone calls to their families from Guantanamo Bay prison, where many have been confined in extreme isolation for as long as six years.

The new policy by the Defense Department, which previously said security concerns prevented such calls, is part of a strategy to ease conditions for frustrated prisoners at the U.S. Navy base in southeast Cuba.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Gordon, said the telephone policy reflects a commitment to maintaining the health and well-being of Guantanamo detainees. No start date has been set for the program.

Inmates' contact with the outside world generally has been limited to mail delivered by the International Committee of the Red Cross and meetings with their lawyers. The military has allowed a small number of detainees to speak with their families, but typically only on "humanitarian" grounds such as following a death in the family.

Detainees' attorneys welcomed the phone calls but said reconnecting with family could make life more painful for those at Guantanamo, where the U.S. military holds about 275 men on suspicion of links to terrorism, al-Qaida or the Taliban.

Marc Falkoff, a Northern Illinois University law professor who represents 17 detainees, said one of his Yemeni clients has a 6-year-old daughter with whom he has never spoken.
crossposted at SteveAudio

Fallon resigns

Does this mean Bush and Cheney intend to attack Iran before the elections?

Admiral William Fallon is out as CENTCOM commander.

Fallon has resigned, according to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, in a press conference at the Pentagon.

Now we're pissing off the Germans

An incident between American soldiers and three Iraqi workers at the German embassy in Baghdad has created new tensions between Berlin and Washington, SPIEGEL reports in advance of its Monday issue.

According to a classified report sent by German Ambassador to Iraq Hanns Schumacher to the Foreign Ministry in Berlin, three off-duty Iraqi security guards were temporarily taken into custody in Baghdad and allegedly mishandled. A third was taken by the Americans and detained for four months at a prison camp near Basra.

After receiving complaints from German diplomats, two of the security personal, who claim to have been mishandled, received financial compensation. So far, however, the Americans have not apologized to the Iraqi taken to Basra. The German diplomatic mission to Iraq currently employs about 120 Iraqis, who mostly provide security to embassy facilities.

Can't we do just ONE thing right in Iraq? Or are our soldiers being told that ALL Iraqis are bad guys?