Saturday, January 31, 2009

It is all about submission and domination

With Republicans, isn't it? They haven't the foggiest idea what consent means.

Update: And they view the ability to choose having an abortion or not as being evilly forced upon unwilling white girls by Obama. WTF?

What a difference a new president makes

In just signing a bill.

I'm going to like this woman....


The Harvard-trained lawyer, community organizer and hospital executive offered a glimpse of what's to come when her husband, President Barack Obama, on Thursday signed the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, which gives women more legal standing to sue for pay discrimination. The first lady was in the audience, not at the president's side — but she spoke at the private reception afterward.

She told representatives of about 150 advocacy groups that the legislation is a "cornerstone of a broader commitment to address the needs of working women who are looking to us, to not only ensure that they're treated fairly, but also to ensure that there are policies in place that help women and men balance their work and family obligations without putting their jobs or their economic security at risk.''

Obama's aides like to say that she'll be a mother first and an advocate second. The economic crisis and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could put workplace policy on the slow track anyhow. Because she's the nation's first black first lady and grew up working-class, however, activists say that Michelle Obama can be a trusted voice for minorities while reshaping how whites see women of color and how society regards its obligations to working parents.

Feminist leaders expect that she'll be more hands-on about policy than Laura Bush was, but won't follow Hillary Clinton's attempt as first lady to lead a White House initiative on health care.

The first lady's chief of staff, Jackie Norris, said in an interview that Michelle Obama is a daily presence in her East Wing offices and is beginning to build relationships with federal employees and District of Columbia residents.

Her staff holds daily morning meetings and is establishing a weekly session for assessment and long-term planning.

Read this blog


Phila of Bouphonia's hope blog.

If we don't address it

It will come back, and next time with unchallenged precedent.

Photobucket (click pic for source)

I get an email from Credo Action:
We are already making great progress in moving forward on President Obama's agenda — but the memory remains of a president and vice president whose disregard for our founding principles will be their true historical legacy.

On January 6th, House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers introduced House Resolution 104, "to establish a national commission on presidential war powers and civil liberties."

The bill would impanel a Blue Ribbon Commission to investigate potential crimes and Constitutional violations committed by the Bush Administration under the seemingly impenetrable curtain of "unreviewable war powers." The commission would be comprised of non-governmental experts on the relevant subject matter, and it would have the subpoena powers necessary to do their important work.

We have progressive majorities in both houses of Congress and a progressive in the White House. So why is H.R. 104 buried in committee?

This is a critically important piece of legislation — without it, we may never know the breadth of crimes committed by Bush Administration officials, what lengths they went to in order to dupe the public into a war that has cost thousands of lives, or how many innocent men and women have been kidnapped and tortured and denied due process in violation of both the Geneva Convention and our own Constitution. Additionally, the legislation would only cost $3 million — pocket change in the world of Congressional appropriations.

Americans deserve to know the truth about the Bush Administration's alleged crimes — and we need to make sure no president ever repeats them. We are hopeful about the future, but that does not mean we can afford not to be vigilant about our past.

Click here to ask your member of Congress to co-sponsor H.R. 104 — the more co-sponsors we get, the better our chances of passing this crucial legislation.

Thank you for working to build a better world.

Kate Stayman-London, Campaign Manager

We need to know the truth.

CREDO approves H.R. 104, which establishes a commission to investigate whether the Bush Administration violated any laws — or even the Constitution.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Sex? This is the default position of the GOP?

Is this all they have once they've been shamed into silence about their racism? Republican men rule because they have dicks? Or because they are dicks? Really? They're hoping to reignite fear of flower children and free love?:

ARMEY: I’m so damn glad that you can never be my wife because I surely wouldn’t have to listen to that prattle from you every day.

WALSH: Boy, that makes two of us sir. That was really an outstanding comment.

ARMEY: That’s what I’m talking about — she’s making a political malarkey here.

And reactions to the statement:
GALLAGHER: Now, now, feminists are very angry that he said, “I’m glad you couldn’t be my wife.” I mean…

WALLACE: It’s pretty funny actually.

GALLAGHER: It’s hysterical. Do you know how many times a week I say, “thank God I don’t have to wake up next to her.” I mean some of these callers, these shrews that call.
This idiocy seems to have been on the talking points list for Republicans:
Conservative pundit and marital rape apologist Dennis Prager has some advice for you ladies with faltering marriages: don't think that just because you don't want to have sex your husband shouldn't try to fuck you.

Like Tucker Carlson before him, Prager thinks the key to a successful marriage is just doing it even when you don't want to. In Prager's case, he means "whenever your husband wants," regardless of your "mood," which shouldn't matter. Of course, you could be in that mood because your husband is a liar and a cheat, or because he's just driven your family into debt or hit you (not too hard, of course, but things happen), but as long as he wants to fuck, well, you should suck it up and submit.

According to Prager, women just don't understand that men view your willingness to "submit" to his penetration of your body as the way that you show love.
Women should feel validated when a man wants to have sex with them and ugly women therefore are useless? Bush 41's joke (youtubed at the site) and a reaction:

First, 41 thinks it's HILARIOUS to bash the ugly angry feminist by saying that he would not fuck her, i.e. "no problem" with him staying out of her womb. Yes, 41, you're right. We ugly angry feminists just want to fuck all you Republican asshats who want to strip us of our reproductive rights. And even better, we want to spawn with you so that you can spread your misogyny through your offspring. So be sure to continue your fight to limit access to contraceptives and abortions.

And 41, do TELL, why was it necessary to call her "one of the ugliest" women you had ever seen? Are women to be SEEN and NOT heard in your world? God forbid our appearances not cause a stirring in your loins.

All other forms of sexuality are bad?
The Associated Press reports that two 16 year-old girls were expelled from a California Lutheran high school “because they were suspected of being lesbians.” Suspected? Ugh.
And some advice to DABAs (Dating a Banker Anonymously), those who are practicing gold-digging:
Commiserating about the new lack of bottle service in your life is not going to make you feel any better. It's going to perpetuate your psychology of deprivation (an ironic state for a group of women who can still afford to sip cocktails). What will actually make you feel better, I promise, is to get sober about who is most deeply affected by economic downturn in this country and start seeking justice more sustainable than getting rich dudes to take you out to dinner at fancy restaurants. Here are a few stats to start you off:

Women make up 30% of borrowers for mortgages, but are 32% more likely than men to receive sub-prime mortgages, despite slightly higher credit scores (682 versus 675).
-The National Council for Research on Women

The gender wage gap is now 22.2 percent.
-Institute for Women's Policy Research

Annual earnings for young men who are employed full-time year round are about 10% higher
than for young women who are employed full-time year round -- $30,786 compared to $28,008.
Annual earnings for all other young men with earnings, which include part-time and/or part-year
earners, are about 32% higher than for all other young women with earnings, $15,033 compared
to $11,393.
-Legal Momentum

In other depressing news: word on the street is that ex-Lucky Beauty writer Dawn Spinner, Laney Crowell, a beauty editor at StyleCaster, and lawyer Megan Petrus (the shallow minds behind DABA) are getting a big juicy book deal. This from an industry that consistently tells brilliant, hardworking women that there's no market for books on feminism, class etc. Ugh.
And finally, a young woman's bizarre selling of her virginity for 3.8 million dollars. Right. Amanda Marcotte of Pandagon ponders the meaning:
Of course, the most logical solution to the problem is to let a woman’s deflowerer to decide if she really had this “virginity” and he really took it. And that was the initial solution for much of history, but it creates massive problems, namely that many grooms will decide their wives weren’t virgins and either have them executed or returned to their families in an unmarriageable state, because their virginity is definitely gone now. Now, if you’re a feminist, you see the major problem with this system, which is that it treats women like property. But the perceived problem was the expense and trouble of it, as well as the family dishonor issues, so lawsuits were inevitable. Since taking women’s word for it was out of the question, people started to come up with physical tests of virginity. I recommend reading the book for all the various ones, a variety that shows that, in truth, there was no test, and that includes the hymen test, which is just our culture’s specific myth.

And that’s not even taking into account that anyone can define “virgin” however they want. Maybe you only think it counts if you have PIV intercourse, but then are “gold star” lesbians virgins, even if they’ve slept with a hundred women? Some teenagers subject to abstinence-only education think fooling around but avoiding PIV isn’t sex, but they’re engaging in sexual behaviors, so isn’t that a form of sex? Where do you draw the line? This problem is obviously a looming one for the Christofascists who’ve become positively obsessed with sexual “purity”. Realizing that virginity is an amorphous concept, they’ve desperately been defining it with an ever-growing list of “Thou shalt nots”, at least if you want to make sure, and so now you’re seeing couples crowing about how they never even kissed or held hands before their wedding.
Let the pearl clutching and hand wringing begin now that the dirty fucking hippie liberals are in charge and will destroy all that is good and holy with their wanton, bodice-ripping, sweaty, writhing, panting .... *ahem*... godless ways.

How truly American.

The public humiliation and hanging of witches.


PZ Myers of Pharyngula
The ACLU is suing Union Public School Independent District No. 9 of Oklahoma. The reason is bizarre: administrators at the school have harrassed and violated the civil rights of a young woman named Brandi Blackbear because — and I'm a bit ashamed to admit this can go on in my country — they accused her of witchcraft. They say she used a magic spell to make one of her teachers sick. In retaliation, she has been subjected to searches and public humiliation, and the school has banned the wearing of non-Christian paraphernalia.
From the ACLU site:
In its legal complaint filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, the ACLU said that school officials not only suspended Blackbear for 15 days in December 1999 for allegedly casting spells, but also violated her religious freedom when they told her that she could not wear or draw in school any symbols related to the Wicca religion.

The ACLU lawsuit also accuses school officials of violating the young woman's due process rights when, in the spring of 1999, they suspended her for 19 days over the content of private writings taken from her book bag. Officials had searched her possessions based on a rumor that Blackbear was carrying a gun, although no weapon of any sort was ever found. To date, school officials have not returned Blackbear's writings to her.

Before these incidents, the ACLU complaint said, Brandi Blackbear had no discipline problems and had a perfect attendance record. Since being accused, she has "suffered continuous ridicule and humiliation," and "become an outcast among her fellow students," according to the complaint. She has also fallen behind in her school work because of the suspensions.

"It's hard for me to believe that in the year 2000 I am walking into court to defend my daughter against charges of witchcraft brought by her own school," said Timothy Blackbear. "But if that's what it takes to clear her record and get her life back to normal, that's what we'll do."

The ACLU is seeking an undisclosed amount of punitive and financial damages on the Blackbear family's behalf, a declaration that the school violated the student's rights, an injunction preventing the school from banning the wearing of any non-Christian religious paraphernalia and an order expunging her school record.

"The actions of the school have inflicted severe emotional damage on a very sensitive young woman. This lawsuit will allow her to reclaim some of her self-esteem by vindicating the violation of her rights in a court of law," said John M. Butler, an ACLU cooperating attorney.

The case is Blackbear v. Union Public School Independent District No. 9, et al. Defendants named in the lawsuit are Union Eighth Grade Center Principal Jack Ojala, Speech Therapist/Counselor Catherine Miller, Union High School Assistant Principal Charlie Bushyhead and Counselor Sandy Franklin.
Truly a tradition to be proud of...

crossposted at SteveAudio


The link.

Power outages are fake.

They're power FAILURES.

For those who mock global warming

By pointing to the US's severe winter storm, here's what's happening in Australia:

South-eastern Australia is experiencing its worst heatwave in decades, with temperatures in excess of 43C (109F).

Health officials in South Australia say the searing heat may be to blame for an apparent increase in the number of sudden deaths among the elderly.

In neighbouring Victoria state, bush fires have destroyed at least 10 homes.

Nearly 500,000 people in the state are reported to have lost their power supplies, following severe pressure on the electricity grid.

An explosion was also reported at a substation in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city.

"It is an extreme week. The system is not made to operate where you've got temperatures in the suburbs of 46C," said the head of Victoria state, John Brumby.

Commuters are facing long delays after the blackouts added to the problems on the rail network. Hundreds of train services were cancelled after the heat buckled tracks.

The phrase global warming is unfortunate as it should really be called climate change. The weather will become more extreme at both ends of the gauge, extreme heat, extreme cold. There will be more droughts, floods, fires. Meanwhile, glaciers are losing their ice and the poles are melting, the oceans are acidifying, creatures are going extinct.



Even if we negated our carbon footprints right now, this shift in climate will still continue for decades. We can thank the Bush administration for eight more years of delay in addressing this.
George Bush surprised world leaders with a joke about his poor record on the environment as he left the G8 summit in Japan.

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

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

Mr Bush, whose second and final term as President ends at the end of the year, then left the meeting at the Windsor Hotel in Hokkaido where the leaders of the world's richest nations had been discussing new targets to cut carbon emissions.

One official who witnessed the extraordinary scene said afterwards: "Everyone was very surprised that he was making a joke about America's record on pollution."

But maybe we can hope:
DAVOS, Switzerland (AP) — Nobel Peace Prize winner Al Gore urged President Barack Obama and other world leaders to seal a quick deal to fight global warming despite the pervasive financial crisis.

Gore called Obama "the greenest person in the room" for making environmental funding a big chunk of the $819 billion economic stimulus bill passed by U.S. lawmakers this week.

"I think it's important for the world leaders gathered here to fully appreciate the magnitude of the change in U.S. leadership," Gore said.

The former U.S. vice president and environmental advocate, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, referred to frustration in many countries at the Bush administration's refusal to sign international pacts on reducing emissions of carbon, blamed for global warming.

What's wrong with this picture?

Compare and contrast:
HOUSTON – Exxon Mobil Corp. on Friday reported a profit of $45.2 billion for 2008, breaking its own record for a U.S. company, even as its fourth-quarter earnings fell 33 percent from a year ago.
To this:
At least 1.3 million homes and businesses were without power across a wide swath of the country. Utility companies struggled through ice-encrusted debris into Friday morning as they worked to restore power, but warned it may not return until Saturday at the earliest. It could take until mid-February for some to come back online.
At least we have our priorities straight...

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sarah Palin saw her projected book sales numbers?

Alaskans are not running in mad panic for cover, but many are concerned about the imminent eruption of Mount Redoubt southwest of Anchorage.

Fox News is reporting: "Mount Redoubt continues to rumble and simmer, prompting geologists to say this Alaska volcano could erupt "within days."

The Anchorage Daily News cautions: "Mount Redoubt is still rumbling and simmering, prompting geologists to repeat their warning that an eruption may be imminent."

It would not be a pleasant period in Anchorage if Redoubt were to blow its top, if its previous eruption is any indication.

For five months beginning in December 1989, smoke and ash from the 10,197-foot peak disrupted international air traffic and deposited volcanic dust throughout the Anchorage region.

That eruption also delivered mud flows from Redoubt into the Drift River drainage.

How strange.

I guess going cute and fuzzy didn't work on the Iraqis.


I wonder why?:
MOSUL, Iraq, Jan. 28 -- The Iraqi government has informed the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad that it will not issue a new operating license to Blackwater Worldwide, the embassy's primary security company, which has come under scrutiny for allegedly using excessive force while protecting American diplomats, Iraqi and U.S. officials said Wednesday.


Blackwater employees who have not been accused of improper conduct will be allowed to continue working as private security contractors in Iraq if they switch employers, Iraqi officials said Wednesday.

The officials said Blackwater must leave the country as soon as a joint Iraqi-U.S. committee finishes drawing up guidelines for private contractors under the security agreement. It is unclear how long that will take. Blackwater employees and other U.S. contractors had been immune from prosecution under Iraqi law.

"When the work of this committee ends," Interior Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Abdul-Karim Khalaf said, private security companies "will be under the authority of the Iraqi government, and those companies that don't have licenses, such as Blackwater, should leave Iraq immediately."

The State Department said Wednesday that its contractors will obey Iraqi law.


According to a congressional report issued in October 2007, Blackwater guards have been involved in nearly 200 shootings in Iraq since 2005.
Um... notice what I've bolded and ask yourself exactly where have they expanded? Blackwater will be showing up as crowd control (as they did in Katrina), border patrols, private armies.... These companies aren't going away anytime soon, even if they do change their corporate names.
The company has received more than $1 billion from the federal government since 2000. In recent months, however, Blackwater has expanded its business model to rely less heavily on private security work overseas. Though tremendously profitable, the field has generated an avalanche of bad publicity for the company and exposed it to numerous lawsuits.

The two other large security companies that protect American diplomats in Iraq are DynCorp International and Triple Canopy, both based in Northern Virginia.

Blackwater employees work under the supervision of the embassy's regional security officer. The company's drivers and bodyguards take U.S. diplomats to meetings outside the Green Zone, and its pilots often fly in small helicopters over convoys as an added security measure. The Blackwater employees live in a compound in the Green Zone that is informally referred to as "man camp." According to the October 2007 congressional report, Blackwater guards made more than $1,200 per day.

Private security contractors in Iraq last year became deeply concerned about losing their immunity with the implementation of the security agreement, which U.S. officials feared would trigger a mass exodus. But few have left. Instead, in recent months, Western private security companies have sought to build strong relationships with the Iraqi government and have hired more Iraqi guards.
It will be interesting to see where Greystone, Blackwater North, USA, or Worldwide, and all the other subsidiaries end up. Keep your eyes open. Wealthy as God, run by a fundamentalist and armed to the teeth.... Not a good combination. (Link via Steve Bates at The Yellow Doggerel Democrat.)

Repower America

Sign the petition
As a constituent, I am writing to urge you to champion clean energy in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Plan.

This economic recovery package contains programs that are important down payments on the path to repowering America. These investments will create high-paying new jobs for millions of Americans, demonstrate the readiness of clean energy across the country, and provide long overdue solutions to the climate crisis.

Tackling our economic, security and climate challenges will not be easy or instantaneous, but the next few weeks are a critical first step.

Whether this first step is taken is in Congress' hands. I hope I can count on your support.

It's gone rogue!

That, or the Martians got tired of it driving all over their yards....

On the 1,800th Martian day of its mission, NASA’s Spirit rover blanked out, and it remains a bit disoriented.

Mission managers at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., reported Wednesday that the Spirit had behaved oddly on Sunday — the 1,800th Sol, or Martian day, since Spirit’s landing on Mars in January 2004.


On that day, the Spirit acknowledged receiving its driving directions from Earth, but it did not move.

More strangely, the Spirit had no memory of what it had done for that part of Sol 1800. The rover did not record actions, as it otherwise always does, to the part of its computer memory that retains information even when power is turned off, the so-called nonvolatile memory. “It’s almost as if the rover had a bout of amnesia,” said John Callas, the project manager for the rovers.


On Monday, mission controllers told the Spirit to orient itself by locating the Sun in the sky with its camera, and it reported that it had been unable to do so. Dr. Callas said the camera did actually photograph the Sun, but it was not quite in the position the rover expected.

One hypothesis is that a cosmic ray hit the electronics and scrambled the rover’s memory. On Tuesday, the rover’s nonvolatile memory worked properly.

The Spirit now reports to be in good health and responds to commands from Earth.
Right. Just watch what kind of messages it starts sending back from now on out: Mars is a really awful place, and: No, there aren't any life forms about, and: Humans should never travel there....

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Eat more beans!

And put Saudi Arabia out of business!

In Oslo, air pollution from public and private transport has increased by approximately 10% since 2000, contributing to more than 50% of total CO2 emissions in the city. With Norway's ambitious target of being carbon neutral by 2050 Oslo City Council began investigating alternatives to fossil fuel-powered public transport and decided on biomethane.

Biomethane is a by-product of treated sewage. Microbes break down the raw material and release the gas, which can then be used in slightly modified engines. Previously at one of the sewage plants in the city half of the gas was flared off, emitting 17,00 tonnes of CO2. From September 2009, this gas will be trapped and converted into biomethane to run 200 of the city's public buses.

It would also make the war in Iraq obsolete, and really frustrate Cheney. What's not to love?

Update 2/1: This picture fits the post so well....


That certain piquant flavor...

Is in everything:

Melamine-contaminated pet food killed thousands of dogs and cats in the United States two years ago. Melamine-contaminated infant formula recently killed six babies in China, and made hundreds of thousands of children there ill.

Now melamine has been found in some chocolate, cookies and infant formula in the U.S.!

Yet our own Food and Drug Administration says it’s OK to have a certain amount of the chemical in infant formula, even though the agency previously said it couldn’t determine a safe level for melamine. What are we supposed to believe?

Tell Congress you’re fed up with the FDA’s lax regulation of our food and drug supply. Strong leadership, more safety testing, better inspection of imports, and tough enforcement are needed to make sure no American families suffer the tragic consequences of eating contaminated food.

Now that we have an administration that hears us, sign the petition.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Sad to no longer be king?

Sad that he forgot to pardon everybody including himself? Sad that nobody is sad to see him go? Sad that Obama's inauguration was so stupendous?


Who cares?

No wonder fish are pissed at us

PATANCHERU, India – When researchers analyzed vials of treated wastewater taken from a plant where about 90 Indian drug factories dump their residues, they were shocked. Enough of a single, powerful antibiotic was being spewed into one stream each day to treat every person in a city of 90,000.

And it wasn't just ciprofloxacin being detected. The supposedly cleaned water was a floating medicine cabinet — a soup of 21 different active pharmaceutical ingredients, used in generics for treatment of hypertension, heart disease, chronic liver ailments, depression, gonorrhea, ulcers and other ailments. Half of the drugs measured at the highest levels of pharmaceuticals ever detected in the environment, researchers say.

Those Indian factories produce drugs for much of the world, including many Americans. The result: Some of India's poor are unwittingly consuming an array of chemicals that may be harmful, and could lead to the proliferation of drug-resistant bacteria.

Where the hell were you guys for the last eight years?

Do you think we're that fucking stupid?

Eric Boehlert of Media Matters

When contrasting the early Clinton and Bush coverage, I noted it would be deeply suspicious if, in 2009, the press managed to turn up the emotional temperature just in time to cover another Democratic administration. But wouldn't you know it, the press corps' alarm went off right on time for Obama's arrival last week, with the Beltway media taking down off the shelf the dusty set of contentious, in-your-face rules of engagement they practiced during the Clinton years and putting into safe storage the docile, somnambulant guidelines from the Bush era. In other words, one set of rules for Clinton and Obama, another for Bush. One standard for the Democrats; a separate, safer one, for the Republican.

"I don't think there is a honeymoon" for Obama, Jon Banner, the executive producer of ABC's World News, announced last week. "The accountability starts immediately." See, accountability suddenly reigns supreme. Just like right after Clinton was sworn in. But Bush in 2001? Not so much.

And there they go again. Haven't they learned ANYTHING?:

The early Clinton and Obama scripts are at times interchangeable (i.e. baseless, negative stories like the cost of Obama's inauguration and the cost of Bill Clinton's haircut). The only part that doesn't fit in with the rest of the mosaic is how the press lovingly treated the Republican in 2001 during his arrival in town.

The media's abrupt transformation last week in terms of greeting the new president -- a transformation that unfolded with great pride and even apparent glee among reporters -- was showcased during the new administration's first White House press briefing, where many reporters, previously comatose during the news-free Bush-era briefings, rose up in anger and demanded answers during a contentious session.

Oh boy oh boy! Gotcha reporting is back!

And the mainstream media wonders why we're leaving them in droves.

We're not stupid. They are.


It's kinda like going through rehab in Hollywood

Don't think they are really trying hard to fix the problem:
BEIRUT, Lebanon — Nine graduates of an influential Saudi rehabilitation program for former jihadists, including some who had been imprisoned at Guantánamo Bay, have been arrested for rejoining terrorist groups since the program started in 2004, Saudi officials said Monday.
Saudi Arabia has been furnishing jihadists and al-Qaeda members around the world for more than a decade. Why would they stop now, doesn't it get their disaffected and restless youth out of the country?

Besides, being locked up and tortured in Gitmo makes a person become a terrorist whether he was one before or not. Even thinking about the injustices done in Abu Ghraib and Gitmo have made many sign up for revenge.

So Gitmo is a factory for producing terrorism, right?
Pentagon officials have said that 61 of the more than 525 Guantánamo detainees who have been released have returned to terrorism. That claim has generated some skepticism, and the Pentagon is expected to declassify portions of a report on the subject in the coming days.
Ah... the famous 61:
On the January 25 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, host David Gregory allowed House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) to repeat the falsehood that, in Boehner's words, "we've already found" that 61 detainees released from the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay are now "back on the battlefield." In fact, the figure, which comes from the Pentagon, includes 43 former prisoners who are suspected of, but have not been confirmed as, having "return[ed] to the fight." Moreover, even the Pentagon's claim that it has confirmed that 18 former Guantánamo detainees have returned to the battlefield has been questioned by experts.


Further, the Pentagon's definition of "returning to the fight" has been challenged by some analysts. As CNN national security analyst Peter Bergen noted on the January 23 edition of Anderson Cooper 360: "[R]eturning to the fight, in Pentagon terms, could be engaging in anti-American propaganda, something that's not entirely surprising if you have been locked up in a prison camp for several years without charge." Bergen further stated: "[W]hen you really boil it down, the actual number of people whose names we know are about eight out of the 520 that have been released [from Guantánamo], so a little above 1 percent, that we can actually say with certainty have engaged in anti-American terrorism or insurgence activities since they have been released. ... If the Pentagon releases more information about specific people, I think it would be possible to -- to potentially agree with them. But, right now, that information isn't out there."

Additionally, Seton Hall University School of Law professor Mark Denbeaux -- who has written several reports about Guantánamo detainees, including some challenging the Pentagon's definition of "battlefield" capture and published detainee recidivism rates -- has disputed the Pentagon's figures, asserting: "[The Defense Department's most recent] attempt to enumerate the number of detainees who have returned to the battlefield is false by the Department of Defense's own data and prior reports." He added that in "each of its forty-three attempts to provide the numbers of the recidivist detainees, the Department of Defense has given different sets of numbers that are contradictory and internally inconsistent with the Department's own data."
Update... Now it's only 2:
Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – Two Saudis formerly jailed at the US prison camp in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, have joined Al Qaeda's Yemeni branch, and authorities here worry that two other ex-Guantánamo inmates may have strayed back to militancy because they have recently disappeared from their homes.

Where do we sign up for court cases?

We know some people who need to be on it...
PARIS — More than six years after opening its doors, the International Criminal Court in The Hague began its first trial on Monday, as Thomas Lubanga, a former Congolese warlord, took his seat in the dock facing a crowded court and public gallery.
We have a little list. Won't take long, really. Just go the PNAC site and copy the names.

Had to play with this

The Obamicon site:



It has potential....

Monday, January 26, 2009

So... can everybody do this to avoid liens and taxes and stuff?

Or is this an action only disgraced CEOs can do under the radar?

Richard Fuld, the disgraced former chief executive of Lehman Brothers, sold his $13.3 million (£9.6 million) Florida mansion to his wife in November for $100, according to real estate records.

Mr Fuld, who is widely blamed for the collapse of Lehman Brothers in September last year, bought the house with his wife, Kathleen, in March 2004 for $13.75 million.

On November 10, the 62-year-old banker transferred the seaside mansion into Mrs Fuld's name in return for $100.

Mr Fuld is expected to face civil lawsuits from shareholders furious that he allowed Lehman to fall into bankruptcy rather than be sold months earlier.

The Audacity of Dopes

It looks as though Sarah Palin may be ready to tell her story in print.

The former Republican vice presidential candidate apparently has enlisted the help of superstar Washington attorney Robert Barnett[...snip]

Since her sudden rise to stardom after being picked in late August as Sen. John McCain's running mate, Palin has been mentioned as a possible 2012 presidential candidate.

But there also has been speculation that she has potential as a TV personality, along the lines of other prominent politicians who have transitioned to television, like Mike Huckabee. In the late 1980s, Palin worked as a sports reporter for Anchorage television stations.

Barnett, who handled Obama's "The Audacity of Hope," already is shopping a book about the 2008 presidential campaign. He recently signed Obama's campaign manager, David Plouffe, to shop his book about the winning campaign, tentatively titled "The Audacity to Win."

So... anyone want to bet how fast it will be on the discount table?

No food for you

No water for California:
SAN FRANCISCO - Some of the nation's largest farms plan to cut back on planting this spring over concerns that federal water supplies will dry up as officials deal with the drought plaguing California.

Farmers in the Central Valley said Thursday they would forego planting thousands of acres of water-thirsty canning tomatoes and already have started slashing acreage for lettuce and melons.


Farmers' decisions to fallow thousands of acres during last year's drought cost $260 million in crop losses statewide, as well as hundreds of jobs. In the tiny farm community of Mendota, in the heart of Westlands farming country, the unemployment rate is nearly 40 percent, city officials report.

Elissa Lynn, a senior meteorologist with the state water agency, said the forecast so far suggests conditions will not improve this spring.

"It's pretty clear we're heading into the third dry year in a row," Lynn said. "We've only gotten one-third of the rainfall we desperately need, and we're already halfway through the winter."

He did.

President Obama listened to Republican gripes about his stimulus package during a meeting with congressional leaders Friday morning - but he also left no doubt about who's in charge of these negotiations. "I won," Obama noted matter-of-factly, according to sources familiar with the conversation.
Notice that President Obama didn't talk about having a mandate and sticking the Republicans' faces in it? He didn't say,"My way or the highway?" He has made the tent big enough for those who want to help save this country from self-destruction, so mark those who try to stand in the way. They really don't love America. (I've been wanting to say that for eight years....)

Thursday, January 22, 2009

One last shoe

For George.

Obvious why Georgie called it The Google

And talked about The Internets:

Washington, DC (AHN) - The technologically savvy Obama campaign was taken by surprise upon their move into the White House. For a staff in charge of the launching perhaps the most technologically-advanced presidential campaign in history, the lack of technology in the White House caught them by quite a surprise.

Used to the comfort of 21st century technologies like iPhones, email and broadband internet, the staff was less than pleased to find the White House stuck in the technological dark ages with old computer software, disconnected phone lines, and security regulations prohibiting email, IM, and even Facebook.


Many Obama team members, accustomed to working on Macintoshes, were instead given computers outfitted with six-year-old versions of Microsoft software. Laptops were scarce, assigned to only a few people in the West Wing.

Senior advisers were less than pleased with the new arrangements, which severely limit mobility, partly for security reasons and to ensure that all official work is preserved under the Presidential Records Act.

Wonder if Bush took his Pong game with him, too....


How sad.


Owners of Hummer SUVs were 4.63 times more likely to get a traffic ticket than the average driver, concludes a yearlong study by a company that helps insurers identify risks.

ISO Quality Planning, the San Francisco company that studied the records of 1.7 million drivers, compiled a list of ticket magnets that confirmed some long-held notions: Owners of the 507-horsepower Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG and similarly muscular CLK63 AMG received outsized numbers of tickets, as did the generally young owners of the relatively inexpensive Scion tC, xB and xA and the Audi A4 sports sedan.

It's hard on one's feelings to drive an ostentatious overly chromed expensive gas-guzzling monstrosity and get mocked....

You know the world economy is bad

When ICELAND riots...


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Laugh all you want, Georgie


I don't think you realize just how pissed off the world community is...
In remarks that aired on German television last night, Manfred Nowak, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture, urged the U.S. to pursue former President George W. Bush and defense secretary Donald Rumsfeld on charges that they authorized torture and other harsh interrogation techniques:
“Judicially speaking, the United States has a clear obligation” to bring proceedings against Bush and Rumsfeld. […] He noted Washington had ratified the UN convention on torture which required “all means, particularly penal law” to be used to bring proceedings against those violating it.

“We have all these documents that are now publicly available that prove that these methods of interrogation were intentionally ordered by Rumsfeld,” against detainees at the US prison facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, Nowak said.

Indeed, a bipartisan Senate report released last month found that Rumsfeld “bore major responsibility” for abuses committed at Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib and other military detention centers. Just last week, a Bush administration official overseeing Gitmo trials said Rumsfeld approved the torture of one particular detainee. Bush himself said last year that he was aware of his advisers’ discussions on torture and recently admitted that he personally authorized waterboarding Kalid Sheik Muhammad.

Well, if the US can't bring the Bush administration to account, then we'll have to get somebody else to drag the neocons to the Hague. I'd really like to see Bush at the dock trying to explain things without Unka Dick by his side...


Peanut Butter!

The recalls are stacking up.

I had no idea peanuts were used in so many things...
Dozens of peanut butter and peanut paste products, including many produced by well-known brands such as Kellogg’s and Keebler, and sold by retailers such as Kroger Co. and Safeway Inc., are being pulled from store shelves — and consumer cupboards. readers shared their reactions to the outbreak.

Dana Daley, 23, an aspiring graduate student from Long Island, N.Y., said it pains her to contemplate tossing four cases of Keebler Toast & Peanut Butter Sandwich Crackers because they might be linked to a Georgia plant where the Typhimurium strain of salmonella was confirmed.


For every single case of salmonella illness reported, there may be 30 actual cases, said Smith, citing figures from the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Salmonella infection must be confirmed through a laboratory analysis.

“It actually may be 30 times or more greater than the 40,000 cases we see each year,” Smith said. [snip]
But for consumers such as La’ Kersha Gleaton, 33, a mother of four from Columbia, S.C., the latest example is “the last straw.”

“It was the beef, the chicken, the jalapeno pepper. It’s like you’re afraid to eat anything from the grocery stores,” she said.

Gleaton already frequents farmers markets, but she said the peanut butter problem makes her want to learn to grow food herself.

“It makes you want to go back to the days when people were tending their own plot,” she said. “You have to have the skills to do it yourself.”

Yes. Buy local, grow your own....

Update 1/22: the FDA recall site.

The real reason

Cheney hurt his back...


He's going to miss his secure superduper secret undisclosed location.....

The door is open....

BAGHDAD – Iraq is willing to have the U.S. withdraw all its troops and assume security for the country before the end of 2011, the departure date agreed to by former President George W. Bush, the spokesman of the Iraqi prime minister said.

Spokesman Ali al-Dabbagh made the comment Tuesday, a day before President Barack Obama and his senior commanders were to meet in Washington to discuss the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Obama promised during the campaign to withdraw all U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months of taking office. The new president said in his inaugural address Tuesday that he would "begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people."

The government-owned newspaper Al-Sabah reported Wednesday that Iraqi authorities have drafted contingency plans in case Obama orders a "sudden" withdrawal of all forces and not just combat troops.

Al-Dabbagh told Associated Press Television News that Iraqis had been worried about a quick U.S. departure.

But with the emphasis on a responsible withdrawal, al-Dabbagh said the Iraqi government was willing for the U.S. to leave "even before the end of 2011." The Bush administration agreed in a security agreement signed in November to remove all U.S. troops by the end of 2011.
Alrighty, then! What's keeping us?

Sparkles the day after....


Tuesday, January 20, 2009

At last.


(picture stolen from Watertiger at Dependable Renegade)

The back of George Bush.


What a difference a day makes

Compare and contrast. It can't be said any better than this.

The man can talk

This is the meaning of our liberty and our creed - why men and women and children of every race and every faith can join in celebration across this magnificent mall, and why a man whose father less than sixty years ago might not have been served at a local restaurant can now stand before you to take a most sacred oath.

So let us mark this day with remembrance, of who we are and how far we have traveled. In the year of America's birth, in the coldest of months, a small band of patriots huddled by dying campfires on the shores of an icy river. The capital was abandoned. The enemy was advancing. The snow was stained with blood. At a moment when the outcome of our revolution was most in doubt, the father of our nation ordered these words be read to the people:

"Let it be told to the future world...that in the depth of winter, when nothing but hope and virtue could survive...that the city and the country, alarmed at one common danger, came forth to meet [it]."

America. In the face of our common dangers, in this winter of our hardship, let us remember these timeless words. With hope and virtue, let us brave once more the icy currents, and endure what storms may come. Let it be said by our children's children that when we were tested we refused to let this journey end, that we did not turn back nor did we falter; and with eyes fixed on the horizon and God's grace upon us, we carried forth that great gift of freedom and delivered it safely to future generations.

President Barack Obama's first proclamation


- - - - - - -



As I take the sacred oath of the highest office in the land, I am humbled by the responsibility placed upon my shoulders, renewed by the courage and decency of the American people, and fortified by my faith in an awesome God.

We are in the midst of a season of trial. Our Nation is being tested, and our people know great uncertainty. Yet the story of America is one of renewal in the face of adversity, reconciliation in a time of discord, and we know that there is a purpose for everything under heaven.

On this Inauguration Day, we are reminded that we are heirs to over two centuries of American democracy, and that this legacy is not simply a birthright -- it is a glorious burden. Now it falls to us to come together as a people to carry it forward once more.

So in the words of President Abraham Lincoln, let us remember that: "The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature."

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 20, 2009, a National Day of Renewal and Reconciliation, and call upon all of our citizens to serve one another and the common purpose of remaking this Nation for our new century.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twentieth day of January, in the year of our Lord two thousand nine, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-third.

President Barack Obama

Sir. Welcome to your new house.

Why did I weep at this?

Welcome back, America.

Monday, January 19, 2009


Lt. Gen. Harry W. O. Kinnard, who inspired the storied retort "nuts" to a German surrender ultimatum during the Battle of the Bulge, died Monday in Arlington, Va. He was 93.


But he was perhaps best remembered for what happened in December 1944 at the Belgian town of Bastogne, where the 101st Airborne Division, short on clothing and boots in a snowstorm and bitter cold, was surrounded by German troops.

Bastogne, at the intersection of important roads, was a crucial objective for the Germans in their surprise attack in the Ardennes region of Belgium, an offensive that had created a "bulge" in Allied lines.

On Dec. 22, two German officers approached the American lines in Bastogne carrying a demand that the American commander surrender his troops within two hours or face annihilation from an artillery barrage.

The message was passed on to Brig. Gen. Anthony C. McAuliffe, acting as division commander while Maj. Gen. Maxwell D. Taylor was in Washington.

General Kinnard, a lieutenant colonel at the time and the division's operations officer, would recall that General McAuliffe "laughed and said: 'Us surrender? Aw, nuts.' "

As General Kinnard related it long afterward in an interview with Patrick O'Donnell, a military historian: "He pondered for a few minutes and then told the staff, 'Well, I don't know what to tell them.' He then asked the staff what they thought, and I spoke up, saying, 'That first remark of yours would be hard to beat.'

"McAuliffe said, 'What do you mean?' I answered, 'Sir, you said, 'Nuts.' All members of the staff enthusiastically agreed. McAuliffe then wrote down: 'To the German Commander, Nuts! The American Commander.' "
Thank you, sir, for your service and for one of the most famous morale-lifting quotes to come out of WWII.

This is not a load of crap

WASHINGTON — The ocean's delicate acid balance may be getting help from an unexpected source, fish poop. The increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not only drives global warming, but also raises the amount of CO2 dissolved in ocean water, tending to make it more acid, potentially a threat to sea life.

Alkaline chemicals like calcium carbonate can help balance this acid. Scientists had thought the main source for this balancing chemical was the shells of marine plankton, but they were puzzled by the higher-than-expected amounts of carbonate in the top levels of the water.

Now researchers led by Rod W. Wilson of the University of Exeter in England report in the journal Science that marine fish contribute between 3 percent and 15 percent of total carbonate.
Stop eating fish, save an ocean?

The accounting begins.

The top 43 that corrupted the Bush administration beyond repair.


And those who stood up against the Bush cabal when it was very hard to do so. Thank you.

Imagine a world where the sea level is rising

And glaciers are disappearing. No drinking water for millions. Welcome to 2035.

Last year the UN environment programme and the WGMS jointly published data for 1,800 glaciers on all seven continents, which warned losses had been accelerating globally since the mid-1980s, so that the annual average decline for 1996-2005 was double that of the previous decade, and four times that of the decade before. Last week China Dialogue, a London-based organisation dedicated to debate on China's environment issues, launched a campaign to highlight the same trends in melting in the Himalayas and on the Tibetan plateau.

Those glaciers feed all the main river systems in Asia, depended on by the estimated 40% of the world's population that lives in northern India, Bhutan, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, China, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam, said Isabel Hilton, China Dialogue's editor.

"In a region that is already fractured and unstable, the melting of the 'third pole' glaciers is one of the most important challenges facing humanity in the 21st century," she said.

In December the US Geological Survey also warned that sea-level rise could be even worse than feared, as much as 1.5 metres by the end of this century, partly due to increased melting of the volume of water stored in glaciers in Antarctica and Greenland.

The Water Wars are upon us.

For those who mock journalism

Reporting the truth is dangerous work and there are many who will kill to keep people from learning what they are doing.

Copied this post completely from Boing Boing:
A documentary filmmaker whose work we've been following for Boing Boing's video projects sent us this note today:
A man I knew was gunned down last week in Colombo, the capital of Sri Lanka. He was an editor and journalist, and he was murdered because he told the truth in a place where the truth runs you afoul of murderers. For those of us who knew him, and know Sri Lanka, his death was not a matter of how but when. He knew it too, and before he died he wrote the piece that I have attached here. I am asking you all to take just a few minutes to read it. As a favor. Thank you.
Here are the first few grafs of the piece, which were the last words written for publication by Lasantha Wickrematunge of The Sunday Leader:
No other profession calls on its practitioners to lay down their lives for their art save the armed forces and, in Sri Lanka, journalism. In the course of the past few years, the independent media have increasingly come under attack. Electronic and print-media institutions have been burnt, bombed, sealed and coerced. Countless journalists have been harassed, threatened and killed. It has been my honour to belong to all those categories and now especially the last.

I have been in the business of journalism a good long time. Indeed, 2009 will be The Sunday Leader's 15th year. Many things have changed in Sri Lanka during that time, and it does not need me to tell you that the greater part of that change has been for the worse. We find ourselves in the midst of a civil war ruthlessly prosecuted by protagonists whose bloodlust knows no bounds. Terror, whether perpetrated by terrorists or the state, has become the order of the day. Indeed, murder has become the primary tool whereby the state seeks to control the organs of liberty. Today it is the journalists, tomorrow it will be the judges. For neither group have the risks ever been higher or the stakes lower.

Why then do we do it? I often wonder that. After all, I too am a husband, and the father of three wonderful children. I too have responsibilities and obligations that transcend my profession, be it the law or journalism. Is it worth the risk? Many people tell me it is not. Friends tell me to revert to the bar, and goodness knows it offers a better and safer livelihood. Others, including political leaders on both sides, have at various times sought to induce me to take to politics, going so far as to offer me ministries of my choice. Diplomats, recognising the risk journalists face in Sri Lanka, have offered me safe passage and the right of residence in their countries. Whatever else I may have been stuck for, I have not been stuck for choice.

But there is a calling that is yet above high office, fame, lucre and security. It is the call of conscience.

And Then They Came For Me (Sunday Leader)

See also this page where news about his death, and remembrances by colleagues at the paper, have been posted: "A deadly drive to work."

And here, news about protests following his killing.

So for those who will try to demean actual journalism (rather than the stenography we have put up with from our press these last eight years), remember that many journalists have died violently these last few years trying to bring us the truth.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A vast right-wing conspiracy

To force you to love God.... their God. Certainly not my God.
The Protect Marriage Coalition, which led the fight to pass an anti-gay marriage initiative in California, is now suing to shield its financial records from public scrutiny.

The lawsuit claims that donors to Protect Marriage and a second group involved in the suit have received threatening phone calls and emails. It asks for existing donation lists to be removed from the California secretary of state's website and also seeks to have both plaintiffs and all similar groups be exempted in the future from ever having to file donation disclosure reports on this or any similar campaigns.

Although public access advocates believe this sweeping demand for donor anonymity has little chance of success, it does point up the secretive and even conspiratorial nature of much right-wing political activity in California.


The man who more than any other has been associated with this kind of semi-covert activity over the past 25 years is reclusive billionaire Howard Ahmanson.

Ahmanson is a Christian Reconstructionist, a devout follower of the late R.J. Rushdoony, who advocated the replacement of the U.S. Constitution with the most extreme precepts of the Old Testament, including the execution -- preferably by stoning -- of homosexuals, adulterers, witches, blasphemers, and disobedient children.

Ahmanson himself has stated, "My goal is the total integration of biblical law into our lives."
Thanks, but I'd rather not. Besides, once you've let the theocrats loose upon the government things will get quickly out of hand. Who is to say it will be your specific religion that will be the one that rules?

A Gitmo guard talks

A former Guantánamo Bay guard has joined forces with released detainees in Britain to expose the torture inflicted by interrogators at the camp.


Chris Arendt, from Michigan, joined the army shortly after September 11, aged 17, and was sent to work as a guard in Guantánamo two years later, in 2003. After becoming disillusioned with what he saw there, he left the army and joined the campaign group Iraq Veterans Against the War. "It was like sitting down with a bunch of brothers," said Arendt about meeting a dozen former inmates in London yesterday. "It was really natural, a really organic fit." He said he was held in immigration for seven hours before being allowed to enter Britain as officials were suspicious that he might try to settle in the UK.


Although a lawyer warned Arendt that he could be charged with treason, the former guard said he did not believe the US government would pursue him through the courts because Guantánamo had become so discredited.


Arendt said he felt compelled to speak out about the treatment of prisoners at the camp. Among techniques used to disorientate prisoners were "frequent flyer" programmes, whereby detainees would be moved from their cell every hour, night and day. The process was a lengthy one, he said, because of the "three-piece suits" the prisoners wore: three sets of shackles around their hands, waist and ankles.

Although he described some of his fellow guards as "psychotic", he added: "A lot of guys are not bad people; just regular guys – working class – doing their job, but what was definitely a minority saw it as a chance to go free-range and hog-wild about their fantasy of killing a 'raghead'. A lot of them wanted combat and were frustrated that they weren't in Iraq, so they made the environment as violent as they could."

Prisoners were shackled to the floors of their cells while loud music was blasted at them for hours, he added. "All I knew about Guantánamo Bay when I first went there was that there were iguanas and banana rats – they're gigantic – and there would be jet-skiing and scuba diving."

Arendt said he began to talk to inmates to learn about their lives. This was regarded as "fraternising with the enemy" and he was moved to different duties.

One former detainee, Tarek, with whom he has been reunited in England, he remembered instantly. "I'm never going to forget his face, I probably could have drawn it," Arendt said.

He recalled they had an argument over the number of sheets of toilet paper inmates were permitted.

The two have since got to know each other, Arendt said, adding: "It's been really cool having this dialogue." He said talking now about what had happened in the camp was hard: "I've had to admit a lot about my behaviour and I'm sick of hearing my own voice."

Moazzam Begg, a former Guantánamo detainee who is travelling with Arendt, said the experience of being reunited with a former guard had been "truly unique ... We embraced like brothers, like we knew one another." He said that while the public had become familiar with the experiences of detainees, the guards' stories were barely known.

The issue now, said Begg, was what was happening to the 250 or so remaining Guantánamo inmates. About 50 of them have been cleared by US authorities but there are no countries willing to take them. Begg said of all the European nations asked to accept former inmates, only Albania, which has so far allowed five to enter, had opened its doors. "The other countries need to put their money where their mouth is," he added.

I don't understand what this type of torture is supposed to deliver except insanity, which would be even more horrific. What kind of information did the Bush administration think they would gain? Did they think it would make them look so tough evil doers around the world would tremble and throw down their arms?

It did exactly the opposite. Another blotch on Bush's legacy.

We are still finding new species

Just in time to watch them go extinct. We don't even know if they taste delicious enough to hunt them into extermination!

The reef community at 2250 m depth in the Tasman Fracture Zone Marine Reserve. The large organism in the foreground is a gorgonian coral, while the smaller organisms attached to the rock around it are gorgonshead corals and deep-sea stalked barnacles. In the background can be seen a glass sponge (the object growing out on a stalk).
"SYDNEY (AFP) – Scientists said Sunday they had uncovered new marine animals in their search of previously unexplored Australian waters, along with a bizarre carnivorous sea squirt and ocean-dwelling spiders.

A joint US-Australian team spent a month in deep waters off the coast of the southern island of Tasmania to "search for life deeper than any previous voyage in Australian waters," lead researcher Ron Thresher said.

What they found were not only species new to science -- including previously undescribed soft corals -- but fresh indications of global warming's threat to the country's unique marine life.


"Modern-day deep-water coral reefs were also found, however, there is strong evidence that this reef system is dying, with most reef-forming coral deeper than 1,300 metres newly dead," he said.

Though close analysis of samples was still required, Thresher said modelling suggested ocean acidification could be responsible.

"If our analysis identifies this phenomenon as the cause of the reef system's demise, then the impact we are seeing now below 1,300 metres might extend to the shallower portions of the deep-reefs over the next 50 years, threatening this entire community," he said.

Rising sea temperatures are blamed on global warming caused by the build-up in the atmosphere of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide -- which is also blamed for higher acidity in sea water.

A UN report warned in 2007 that Australia's Great Barrier Reef, described as the world's largest living organism, could be killed by climate change within decades.

The World Heritage site and major tourist attraction, stretching over more than 345,000 square kilometres (133,000 square miles) off Australia's east coast, could become "functionally extinct", the report said.

If we'd just stop treating the ocean like it's a dump and respect the sea creatures who inhabit it, the human race just might not go extinct like everything else....

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Who's who in Obama's cabinet

Roll-over graphics

I know it's a terrible job to be a Wal-Mart greeter

But to be tossed about by a policeman just for doing your job is really too much:
Chattanooga Police Det. Kenneth Freeman will not face charges in an incident in which he shoved a 71-year-old greeter at the Wal-Mart in Collegedale to the floor after he tried to stop him while doing a receipts check.

Collegedale Police declined to bring charges, then the employee, Bill Walker, filled out a complaint himself. Collegedale Judge Kevin Wilson has reviewed the complaint and did not issue an assault charge.

In the incident on Christmas Eve, Mr. Walker said an alarm went off when Det. Freeman and another city police officer, Edwin McPherson, were leaving the store.

He said he reached to try to stop Det. Freeman and he was pushed against a soft drink machine and to the floor. He said the officer then hovered over him as he lay on the floor.
The policeman then threw another man who came to help through the plate glass. And Collegedale Police are not going to bring charges? WTF?



Phila of Bouphonia gives us good news.

Friday, January 16, 2009

This is a beautiful photo


Janis Krums/AP

In this photo taken by a passenger on a ferry, airline passengers exited a US Airways Airbus 320 jetliner that ditched in the Hudson River in New York on Thursday. A flock of birds knocked out both the plane's engines. All 155 people on board survived.
Besides being a wonderful sigh of ecstatic relief, the composition reminds me of the huge canvases painted of naval battles and seascapes.

The essence of fundamentalism

“I think what happened is that the decline of religion meant that bossy people had to find other ways to make people uncomfortable and worried about things” -- John Mortimer, creator of Rumpole of the Bailey.

Rest in peace, Sir John.

Wanna bet the cease fire occurs just as Obama is sworn into office?

Because the Bush administration understands how peace comes from the end of a gun and Obama's won't.

The Israeli military on Thursday shelled the main United Nations aid compound in Gaza, struck a building that houses foreign news organizations, and caused a fire at a hospital. The attacks sparked global condemnation even as efforts to reach a cease-fire continued.

Later in the day, Hamas struck the Israeli city of Beersheba with a salvo of Qassam rockets, injuring five people, two of them seriously.

The Israeli strikes on what political officials said were unintended targets in the Gaza campaign underscore what some analysts see as a furious drive by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) to achieve as many last-minute blows to Hamas as possible before a cease-fire is reached. And at this stage of the war, fissures are emerging within the Israeli civilian and military leadership.

"It's the final push to make Hamas understand, either they make a decision for a cease-fire, or it will be difficult to survive," says Shmuel Rosner, a leading opinion maker and journalist. "They need to show seriousness so Hamas doesn't interpret Israel's waiting of the last few days as reluctance to continue the operation."

While Ehud Barak, Israel's defense minister, apologized to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon for Israel's strike on their Gaza headquarters, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert took a different approach. He said the building had been used by Palestinian militants to strike Israeli forces.


In Gaza, flames from the bombings Thursday also engulfed the al-Quds Hospital in Gaza City, though it was unclear whether this was from a direct hit or from a fire resulting from a nearby attack.

A UN spokesman said that the headquarters was hit by what was believed to be three white phosphorous shells, which burn at higher-than-usual temperatures, and that UN workers were unable to douse the flames with standard fire extinguishers.

Thursday marked the second time since the war began that a UN facility took a direct hit from Israel.

Last week, Israeli forces bombed a UN-run school in Jabalya, in northern Gaza, killing 39 Palestinians sheltering there. The Israeli army says it hit the school because it was the source of mortar fire, but the UN says that no militants were found at the site.

And the use of white phosphorous bombs is a nice touch. We use them in the Iraq war even though at first our military denied it. Even the phosphorous dust is a dangerous hazard.
White phosphorus can cause injuries and death in three ways: by burning deep into tissue, by being inhaled as a smoke, and by being ingested. Extensive exposure by burning and ingestion is fatal.
Kind of like salting the earth of your enemies, isn't it?

Bush's Legacy: AIDS in Africa

Shorter Bill Frist: Bush saved 10 million lives! He did! As a physician I can tell these things! He saved Africans from AIDS with his anti-AIDS program!

Although the U.S. has been looked upon as a leader in the fight against
HIV/AIDS, the Bush administration has been criticized for playing to
fundamentalist views at the expense of girls and women and effective
comprehensive approaches.


The U.S. has also been under fire for its Global Gag Rule that withholds
funding from any organization that even mentions abortion to its clients as
a family planning option. As a result, many clinics providing condoms to
clients shut down for lack of funds,.

In 2003, rather than put all the U.S. funds for AIDS into the multilateral
Global Fund to fight HIV/AIDS established the previous year, President
George W. Bush set up a separate unilateral program called the President’s
Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR).

Though widely seen as insufficient for the enormity of the task, the $9
billion in new money spread out over five years was a significant
contribution and encouraged other nations to do their share. Yet PEPFAR came
with restrictive funding requirements that, according to Boonstra, have hurt
countries in combating AIDS.

In accepting U.S. money, countries must use one-third of all funding to
promote abstinence. As a result, countries had to cut back on other
essential programs. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that
the cutbacks included slashing programs that prevent mother-to-child
transmission and others using comprehensive approaches such as condom
distribution to high-risk, sexually active teenagers.
What was that about saving lives?
BUSH LIED ABOUT THE AIDS FUNDING HIS ADMINISTRATION IS PROVIDING, AS WELL AS ITS TIMING "Mr. Bush's other foreign aid initiative, announced in his State of the Union address, is $10 billion in new money to fight AIDS in Africa and the Caribbean over five years. But his budget falls short of that promise. He is proposing only a $550 million increase over the global AIDS money in this year's spending bill now in Congress. Since the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria would be an effective channel for the aid, there is no excuse for the initiative's leisurely start. Mr. Bush's 2004 budget for the Global Fund, $200 million, actually cuts in half what Congress is likely to do in 2003. Mr. Bush has also found part of the money for his AIDS programs by cutting nearly $500 million from child health, including vaccine programs. Child survival is the biggest loser in the foreign aid budget — a scandalous way to finance AIDS initiatives. With the budget dominated by defense spending and huge tax cuts for the wealthy, the White House should not be forcing the babies of Africa to pay for their parents' AIDS drugs." 2.17.03
Did Frist just phone this in after watching Bush on videotape?

But the clock is ticking!

So obviously you must torture, right? Right?
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) could not fathom that an Attorney General would reject a practice that both is unlawful and endangers Americans. He tried to get Holder to back off his anti-torture stance by presenting an absurd “ticking time bomb” hypothetical in which thousands of American lives are at stake. “You would still refuse to condone aggressive interrogation techniques?” Cornyn asked. When Holder replied that waterboarding is not the only interrogation method, Cornyn insisted, “Assume that it was”:
HOLDER: I think your hypothetical assumes a premise that I’m not willing to concede.

CORNYN: I know you don’t like my hypothetical.

HOLDER: No, the hypothetical’s fine; the premise that underlies it I’m not willing to accept, and that is that waterboarding is the only way that I could get that information from those people.

CORNYN: Assume that it was.

HOLDER: [Laughs] Given the knowledge that I have about other techniques and what I’ve heard from retired admirals and generals and FBI agents, there are other ways in a timely fashion that you can get information out of people that is accurate and will produce useable intelligence. And so it’s hard for me to accept or to answer your hypothetical without accepting your premise. And in fact, I don’t think I can do that.
Longer Cornyn:

If we stop torturing that means that torture doesn't work and even though we've been told by the FBI and the CIA and lots of interrogators torture doesn't work and ruins the morale of the military, the citizenry, and the world attitude towards the US, we must keep torturing because the tv series 24 shows us we need to and besides if we stop torturing that means that the PNAC neocons and Bush, Cheney, Wolfowitz, and Rumsfeld were wrong and we can't have that!!!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

4 days, 13 hours, 30 minutes...

No, wait! 4 days, 13 hours, 29 minutes...


Update.... 4 days, 8 hours, and 48 minutes...

We are all The Prisoner

Number 6, Patrick McGoohan:
"We're run by the Pentagon, we're run by Madison Avenue, we're run by television, and as long as we accept those things and don't revolt we'll have to go along with the stream to the eventual avalanche.... As long as we go out and buy stuff, we're at their mercy.

"We all live in a little Village," McGoohan concluded in the same interview. "Your Village may be different from other people's Villages, but we are all prisoners."