Easter Lemming Liberal News

Wednesday, August 31, 2005









HOW TO HELP



Charities and the federal government are launching what aid agencies predict could be "the longest and costliest relief effort in U.S. history." Michael Brown, director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), is urging those who want to help to make cash donations. Cash donations "allow volunteer agencies to issue cash vouchers to victims so they can meet their needs. Cash donations also allow agencies to avoid the labor-intensive need to store, sort, pack and distribute donated goods. Donated money prevents, too, the prohibitive cost of air or sea transportation that donated goods require." Here is the list of agencies that FEMA is directing people to contact (if you decide to give to a different charity, beware of scams). -- American Progress Report

FYI - Bush Administration Cut Back Flood Control Spending



National Red Cross Donation and Volunteer Center.


Or Call 1-800-HELP-NOW
(1-800-435-7669)
English speaking

Call
1-800-257-7575
Spanish Speaking





Our New Attorney General's Top Priority - Stopping Wanking Off

"Compared to terrorism, public corruption and narcotics, [pornography] is no worse than dropping gum on the sidewalk," said Stephen Bronis, a partner at Zuckerman Spaeder in Miami and chair of the white-collar crime division of the American Bar Association. "With so many other problems in this area, this is absolutely ridiculous."

But not everyone agrees. With the rapid growth of Internet pornography, stamping out obscene material has become a major concern for the Bush administration's powerful Christian conservative supporters. The Mississippi-based American Family Association and other Christian conservative groups have pressured the Justice Department to take action against pornography. The family association has sent weekly letters to U.S. attorneys around the country to pressure them to pursue the makers and distributors of pornography.



Tuesday, August 30, 2005


James J. Hughes "Unitarian Universalism and Transhumanism" 2005


Having a variety of interests here. In this case the future meeting of electronics, biology, people, and religion.
I expect UUs to be critical transhumanists, pushing technoutopians to remember the current needs of the world’s poor, for clean water, adequate shelter and decent wages.

I also expect UUs to engage with and be critical of the embarrassingly religious dimensions of the transhumanist idea – at least embarrassing for the largely secular transhumanists – with its promises of immortality, magical abilities, a coming TechnoRapture.






Many areas not heard from mostly destroyed


Dr. Master's Weather Underground Wunder Blog:
Remember in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, how there was a lot of relief about how much worse it could have been, and how well Miami fared? This cheerfulness faded once the search teams penetrated to Homestead and found the near-total devastation there.

The fact we have not heard at all from the areas hardest hit by Katrina--Slidell, Bay Saint Louis, Pass Christian--means that these areas have probably been mostly destroyed, with substantial loss of life of those who failed to evacuate. While the winds of Katrina were only of Category 3 strength when the storm moved through these areas, Katrina's 20 - 22 foot storm surge was still characteristic of a Category 5 storm. Remember, the all-time record for a storm surge in the U.S. is 26 feet--from Hurricane Camille--and Katrina's storm surge was close to that level, but covered an area three times larger.

And with a two block long breach in the Lake Pontchartrain levee allowing the entire city of New Orleans to flood today, we are witnessing a natural disaster of the scope unseen in America since the great 1938 Hurricane devastated New England, killing 600. Damage from Katrina will probably top $50 billion, and the death toll will be in the hundreds.



'Catastrophic'


Times-Picayune electronic edition headline - CATASTROPHIC

SCLM Washington Post and New York Times have not yet fully realized the 'worst case scenario' change as New Orleans floods.




New Census Data - Bush policies bad for workers


Economic Recovery Failed To Benefit Much of The Population In 2004, 8/30/05
  • Real median earnings of full-time year-round male workers fell by nearly $1,000 (from $41,761 to $40,798), a decline of 2.3 percent.
  • Real median earnings of full-time year-round female workers fell by over $300, or 1 percent (from $31,550 to $31,223), marking the second consecutive year of decline. This is the first time since 1995 that the median earnings of full-time year-round female workers have dropped for two years in a row.
  • Real median income among the working-age population — households headed by adults under 65 — fell by $600 (from $51,559 to $50,923), a decline of 1.2 percent. (Overall median income for all households was unchanged.)
  • The number of people who work but live in poverty increased by 563,000. The poverty rate increased among this group from 5.8 percent to 6.1 percent.
  • Among people age 18 to 64 who work, the number who were uninsured climbed by 772,000, and the percentage without insurance rose from 18.6 percent to 19.0 percent.



'Worst Case Scenario' for New Orleans


With the breaking of the levees is there any way to evacuate all of 100,000 people?
Martial Law has been declared

Industry sources said that one big underwriter had already stopped providing business-interruption insurance in the Gulf and others warned that rising storm losses would lead to premiums so high that insuring platforms could become uneconomic.

Damage assessments on Tuesday suggested that it could take a week to restart refineries hit by the hurricane at a time when supplies already are tight.
Mass media remains well behind on this story although I've been told that journalists have been ordered out of New Orleans according to Fox News.

NPRs new on-air personality jokes about a Superdome suicide with his buddies at the National Review Online.
ATTN: SUPERDOME RESIDENTS [Jonah Goldberg]
I think it's time to face facts. That place is going to be a Mad Max/thunderdome Waterworld/Lord of the Flies horror show within the next few hours. My advice is to prepare yourself now. Hoard weapons, grow gills and learn to communicate with serpents. While you're working on that, find the biggest guy you can and when he's not expecting it beat him senseless. Gather young fighters around you and tell the womenfolk you will feed and protect any female who agrees to participate without question in your plans to repopulate the earth with a race of gilled-supermen. It's never too soon to be prepared.
Posted at 10:05 AM



Media catching Up - Hundreds feared dead in Hurricane Katrina


"The devastation is greater than our worst fears," Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco told a news conference. "It's totally overwhelming."

Hundreds being rescued by helicopter from rising waters in New Orleans.

In the Mississippi coastal city of Biloxi, hundreds may have been killed after being trapped in their homes when a 30-foot (9 meter) storm surge came ashore, a city spokesman said.

"It's going to be in the hundreds,"
spokesman Vincent Creel told Reuters. "Camille was 200, and we're looking at a lot more than that," he said, referring to Hurricane Camille, which hit the area in 1969 and destroyed swaths of Mississippi and Louisiana, killing a total of 256 people.



Southeast wholesale price of gasoline rises 50%

Wholesale gasoline prices on the Gulf Coast broke $3 a gallon on Tuesday- ar higher than prices at most U.S. pumps -- as major refineries remained shut after Hurricane Katrina, trading sources said.

This could spell a huge spike in retail prices for drivers throughout the United States in the coming days and in particular those in the Southeast, where prices are typically the lowest in the country.

The spike in wholesale prices from below $2 last Friday came after Hurricane Katrina plowed through the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall near New Orleans, forcing shut at least eight refineries in Louisiana and Mississippi and slowing production from two others.

The shut refineries and plants with reduced production account for about 15 percent of U.S. refinery production.

On Tuesday, a gallon of gasoline traded in the Houston-based Gulf Coast physical marketing hub cost about $3.15 a gallon -- sharply higher than the national average retail price of about $2.60 a gallon.

Traders were reluctant to guess how high the wholesale spike will make prices at the pump but some say it's safe to bet that the price of a gallon of regular self-service gasoline in the United States will top $3 per gallon by next week.

"Retail prices are going to vary among regions but for all practical purposes $3 is a floor," said private oil analyst Jim Ritterbusch.

The spike could spread across other regions of the United States due to the shutdown of two fuel pipelines from the Gulf Coast to the Northeast, including the massive Colonial Pipeline.





At least 615 largest oil and gas rigs shut down in Gulf


While gas prices should go to $3 natural gas prices will increase more.

Nine refineries shut down

3 oil platforms adrift

After last major storm production in Gulf affected for months
.



US Soldiers coming back with damaged sperm


Radioactive Wounds of War
Gerard Matthew thought he was lucky. He returned from his Iraq tour a year and a half ago alive and in one piece. But after the New York State National Guardsman got home, he learned that a bunkmate, Sgt. Ray Ramos, and a group of N.Y. Guard members from another unit had accepted an offer by the New York Daily News and reporter Juan Gonzalez to be tested for depleted uranium (DU) contamination, and had tested positive.

Matthew, 31, decided that since he’d spent much of his time in Iraq lugging around DU-damaged equipment, he’d better get tested too. It turned out he was the most contaminated of them all.

Matthew immediately urged his wife to get an ultrasound check of their unborn baby. They discovered the fetus had a condition common to those with radioactive exposure: atypical syndactyly. The right hand had only two digits.



$1.5 Trillion for the U.S. to establish an Islamic Republic?


"Islam is the official religion of the state and is a basic source of legislation. No law can be passed that contradicts the undisputed rules of Islam."
- New Iraqi Constitution

"Fortunately, after years of effort and expectations in Iraq, an Islamic state has come to power and the constitution has been established on the basis of Islamic precepts. We must congratulate the Iraqi people and authorities for this victory."
- Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati, head of Iran's powerful ultra-conservative Guardian Council

"This is the future of the new Iraqi government - it will be in the hands of the clerics. I wanted Iraqi women to be free, to be able to talk freely and to able to move around. I am not going to stay here."
- Dr. Raja Kuzai, an obstetrician and secular Shiite member used by President Bush for photo-ops in Washington showing why we are in Iraq.





'Underwater' - NOLA turns to blogging


NOLA.com: Times-Picayune Breaking News Weblog Excerpts

The overview: 'Look, look man: It’s gone'


Margaret O’Brien-Molina, a spokeswoman for the American Red Cross’ southwest service area office in Houston, said national Red Cross executives earlier today described Katrina as “the largest recovery operation the Red Cross has ever attempted.”

The huge storm also flooded cities along the Mississippi and Alabama coasts. Katrina pushed Mobile Bay into the city’s downtown district. A 22-foot storm surge devastated parts of Gulfport and Pascagoula, officials said.

As night gathered over a city without lights, it appeared that at least 150 people – perhaps many more – were marooned on rooftops, sometimes with their children.

State Wildlife Secretary Dwight Landreneau said that by dawn he would have more than 200 boats in the water, about 120 more than he had on Monday. He said he also has a commitment from Texas for another 50 boats.

Police Chief Eddie Compass said officials were desperately trying to make conditions a little more comfortable for the more than 25,000 refugees housed in the sweltering Superdome. Saying that the Dome was filthy and smelled bad, Compass said he was going to allow people to go outside.

-- Jackson Barracks near Arabi was beneath 12 feet of water. Pat and I visited there after camping to the South in St. Bernard - now with the same amount of water.

Remarkably, the French Quarter seemed largely untouched.

The neighborhood was among the last to lose power as the storm strengthened shortly after dawn. After its passage, pedestrians bought beer through walk-up windows and guests loitered on second-floor balconies.

Sporadic looting broke out in some locations in New Orleans.

Katrina cut power service to an estimated 770,000 people, including 700,000 who form Entergy’s entire customer base, said utility spokeswoman Amy Stallings. Stallings warned 700,000 electrical customers to be prepared to go without power for a month or more.

A large section of the vital 17th Street Canal levee, where it connects to the brand new ‘hurricane proof’ Old Hammond Highway bridge, gave way late Monday morning in Bucktown after Katrina’s fiercest winds were well north. The breach sent a churning sea of water coursing across Lakeview and into Mid-City, Carrollton, Gentilly, City Park and neighborhoods farther south and east.

As night fell on a devastated region, the water was still rising in the city, and nobody was willing to predict when it would stop.

American Red Cross spokesman Victor Howell said 750 to 1,000 Red Cross personnel are now at work on hurricane recovery in Louisiana, and 2,000 more volunteers will be here in the next few days.

The Red Cross will bring in three large mobile kitchens to prepare 500,000 meals per day. There are 40 shelters statewide, housing about 32,000 people, "and you're going to have more," Howell said.

"Unfortunately, the message we have for residents is that while the storm is passed, life as we know it in Jefferson Parish is gone for several months. In fact, I don't think that life as we know it will ever return."



Religious Zealots Causing Disharmony In US MIlitary


Military Wrestles With Disharmony Among Chaplains

Pressures from evangelicals splitting military
- Why can't we say other faiths are going to Hell and end prayers in Jesus' Name?



Border to Louisiana Closed


Local Red Cross report - Texas motorists prevented from entering Louisiana.

Most expensive U.S. Disaster as damage continues.

Added - Hundreds of rescues from rooftops, attics and water.

Nasty Free Republican Response - We built New Orleans public housing too strong!
To: mamabadger
Honey, the Tragedy is ongoing, I was hoping that the Government housing was completly destroyed, but we built it too strong, now we have to replace their Bigscreens, Cadillacs and deep pile carpet so they can procreate in a manner that they have been accustomed to.

397 posted on 08/29/2005 9:39:14 PM PDT by TexasTransplant (NEMO ME IMPUNE LACESSET)
How they speak to each other.

Oil rigs adrift in Gulf
.



My Nephew Returns to Iraq For 3rd Time As Iraq Constitution Fails

Personal Failure For Bush
After four missed deadlines and two months of talks, negotiations over a draft Iraqi constitution broke down as Shiite and Kurdish negotiators decided they would move ahead and propose the draft to the full Iraqi parliament without Sunni approval. Reaction from the Sunnis, whose support was seen "as crucial to taking the steam out of the violent Sunni-led insurgency," was anticipated after American negotiators, led by U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Zalmay Khalilzad, announced Saturday that "they had given up trying to broker an agreement."

For the American public, the fallout from this weekend's developments in Iraq may raise more questions about what the Bush administration is trying to achieve. As the Washington Post editorialized, "depending on the future balance of power in the Iraqi parliament, the constitution as it stood late last week could allow the emergence of a Shiite mini-state in Iraq's south closely allied to Iran, with de facto rule by clerics and a continuation of the oppression of women and non-Shiites already widely reported in the region. American military defense of such an entity would be hard to justify."

SUNNI DISSENSION A PERSONAL SETBACK FOR BUSH: The Bush administration has invested much in the Iraqi constitutional process, calling it one track in its two-front efforts to achieve progress in Iraq and ultimately draw down troops. For President Bush, the Sunni dissent was a personal setback, coming on the heels of his personal intervention in the negotiations. Last Thursday, Bush telephoned Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, a prominent Shiite cleric and leader of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, to "press him to be more accommodating to Sunni interests. That effort failed." In January, Bush laid down the marker for a successful constitutional negotiation. "[E]verybody ought to be able to participate in the writing of the constitution … there needs to be respect for minority rights,” he said. Secretary of State Condi Rice traveled to Iraq to stress to negotiators "the extreme importance of Sunni participation in all of these processes, particularly in the writing of the constitution." And Khalilzad said last week that "it's very important that the Sunnis participate in the political process. Without them participating, the insurgency will have a substantial base of support."




Katrina - Hundreds May Be Dead


Recent TV report that levees have been breached in New Orleans and hospitals being evacuated this AM.

Downtown Mobile Underwater

Huge Red Cross Effort Underway

Many National Guard in Iraq Instead of Helping at Home

One Million may be homeless.

Early estimate $26 Billion in insurance losses.

CNN.com

MSNBC

Google News -Hurricane Katrina



Monday, August 29, 2005



New Orleans Spared Category 5 Damage


7 AM CSDT UPDATE Shift to East and slight weakening preventing worst nightmare for Big Easy

Gulfport may face worst part of storm as Katrina approaching.

New reports of only 10,000 in Superdome?

Storm still moving ashore and weakening as it's eye appears targeted to east of New Orleans and West of Gulfport.

My brother-in-law headed for Galveston from Houston for the surfing now.

Texas has six Red Cross shelters for refugees.

A Category 4 as Katrina is now is capable of causing extreme damage while a Category 5 can cause catastrophic damage.

New Orleans still bracing for flooding as power and pumps fail. Extreme storm surge not expected.


Sunday, August 28, 2005

11 PM CDST UPDATE


Houston Oil Analyst on 13 News - Expect to pay over $3 for regular unleaded this week. Bullseye for hitting US energy prices.
  • Worst case scenario happens for New Orleans.
  • Approaching 100,000 in Superdome
  • National Red Cross Needs 300 Call Center Volunteers
  • Hotels and campgrounds in Houston fill up.
  • Hurricane could leave a million homeless.
  • Thousands of Red Cross volunteers are on call right now, waiting to be dispatched across the southeast when Hurricane Katrina batters the Gulf Coast

Red Cross News

Houston Red Cross Donate - Volunteer


With “Pet First Aid,” the American Red Cross helps pet owners prepare for and respond to emergencies.


National Red Cross Donate Now.

Repeat - RED CROSS DONATE ONLINE, BY PHONE, STOCK, IN-KIND PRODUCTS, SPARE CHANGE, AIRLINE MILES






5 pm EST UPDATE


Still Category 5, will still be category 4 inland. Pressure dropping (bad) some wind decrease to 165 MPH winds (good - but insignificant.)

Pictures up on CNN of people streaming into the Superdome which is 9 feet below normal sea level! They will stay in the upper seats but the ground and bottom levels should be well underwater. Other concerns that the major pumps around New Orleans will be underwater and not able to work.

Google News Latest.

Gasoline prices already at new high
.

Katrina 'Perfect Storm' for higher energy prices. (New Orleans area news servers and cell phones being swamped by users.)

My opinion and observation- with size of storm the steering currents are having less effect and all the updates keep nudging the path a bit West of previous forecasts.

Bush made an OK speech urging people to evacuate but spend more time talking about the 'progress' in Iraq. This as all the Sunni leaders denounced the constitution as illegal.

ADDED - Slidell, just north of New Orleans says storm signs beginning, we expect a bad evening. National Guard has line of people 2.5 miles long for ice.

Interesting variety of non-hurricane news and opinion.



Storm aims for heart of U.S. oil industry


Gas prices may jump sharply
"This storm is going to pass through the meat of the oil and gas fields. The whole country will feel it, because it's going to cripple us and the country's whole economy," said Capt. Buddy Cantrelle with Kevin Gros Offshore, which supplies rigs via a fleet of large crew vessels.

The equipment located in the storm's likely path includes the bulk of the nation's oil and gas production platforms, thousands of miles of pipelines and -- perhaps most importantly for national gasoline prices -- much of the country's refinery capacity. In addition, the south Louisiana coastline serves as the entry point for around a third of the nation's imported oil.
Link from freelixir at Daily Kos.



Catastrophic Damage, Disease, Death Expected in New Orleans


Canada TV - Catastrophic Damage, Disease, Death Expected in New Orleans

OPEC Chief 'Increasingly Concerned' About Oil Prices

The Conservative Voice:
As some experts predict that New Orleans may be completely destroyed, thousands of New Orleans residents refuse to evacuate. New Orleans, 12 feet below sea level, is expected to experience a minimum 28' Gulf water surge as Katrina moves on shore.

If Katrina comes on shore in the strength expected, the death toll could be of monumental proportions.

HOW TO HELP

My ex-wife is with a Houston Red Cross volunteer and is expecting to head out tomorrow or Tuesday.

Contact the American Red Cross at 800-HELPNOW (800-435-7669) or online at www.redcross.org.



Why So Many Storms, So Powerful?


High water and air temperatures feed storms and give them energy. (Note that I disagree with the conclusion at the end of this report.)

This is a consequence of Global Warming which this administration denies.
The Bush administration's mantra on climate change is this: The science is not yet in to prove a link between man's gas-and-coal guzzling habits and rising global temperatures that are causing glaciers to shrink, polar ice caps to melt and seas to rise.

Yet, as USA TODAY's Dan Vergano reported Monday, not only is the science in, it is also overwhelming. Last week, the National Academy of Sciences and 10 other leading world bodies said there is "significant global warming" that requires urgent action.



Get Out Now and inland 250 miles




The size of this storm mean it will hit the Central Gulf Coast like a F3 tornado 200 miles wide.



New Orleans braces for 'the big one'

Potential Catastrophic Hurricane Katrina at Nation's Largest Oil Port

Expected storm surge would easily top city levees. Mandatory evacuations, residents warned not to seek city shelters which may be without power and flood. Residents urge to take days supplies of food and water.

Hurricane Katrina when a much smaller and less powerful storm caused extensive damage in Florida where areas are still without power.

Huge Huricane Katrina

Hurricane Katrina Google News

The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port, the biggest U.S. oil import terminal, stopped unloading cargo from tankers yesterday, spokesman Mark Bugg said. The port is about 20 miles off the Louisiana coast and handles about 1 million barrels of crude oil a day, or 11 percent of U.S. imports.

ADDED 2:11 PM CDT CATASTROPHIC HURRICANE APPROACHING NEW ORLEANS REGION. SUSTAINED SURFACE WINDS 175MPH - GUSTS TO 200MPH. EYEWALL DIAMETER IS STEADY AT 22NM; CREW REPORTS PERFECT "Stadium Effect". Hurricane Katrina is now as strong as Hurricane Camille in 1969 - but this storm is larger, and will cause more extensive damage, and if it strikes New Orleans at 'just the right angle' - will no doubt MAY lead to the greatest loss of life from a land falling hurricane in nearly 100 years.

Gulf Oil Platforms Evacuated.

Oil Companies Report 'Katrina's impact on energy production unclear'


Saturday, August 27, 2005



The Parable of Jesus and the Rubber Chicken


What if Christ spoke at a Republican Party fund-raiser
"In My youth, I made certain ill-advised statements that I now regret. If I offended anyone, I apologize. I want to clarify that it is easy for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. (CHEERS, WILD APPLAUSE)

"I'd like to apologize specifically to the money-changers. It is My sincere hope that you will come back into the Temple free of charge as My guests." (WILD APPLAUSE, CHANT OF "U.S.A! U.S.A!")

Finally - and this is Me speaking for Myself now - I want to say to the meek: Once we finally get rid of the death tax, you're not inheriting anything. Not while you're meek, so buck up. (CHEERS) And that goes double for you peacemakers. (LAUGHTER) Good night and Dad bless America. (CHEERS, WILD APPLAUSE)



The Church of the Flying Spaghetti Monster Demands Inclusion


OPEN LETTER TO KANSAS SCHOOL BOARD
...Let us remember that there are multiple theories of Intelligent Design. I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster. It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him...


Friday, August 26, 2005



Red, White & Blue - Houston Face-Off

PBS local show will pit conservative GOP Rep. Poe and local right conservative Gary Polland against liberal Democrat David Jones.



Democratic Loyalty Quiz


Political Quiz - Democratic Loyalty Quiz

This result made more sense to me - Your score is 10 on a scale of 1 to 10. You are a pure, unabashed, die-hard Democratic loyalist. You are appalled by the way Republicans are turning America into a theocratic, corpo-fascist police state, and you'd gladly walk through a furnace in a gasoline suit to elect a Democratic president. In your view, there is no higher form of patriotism than defending America against the Republican Party and every intolerant, puritanical, imperialistic, greed-mongering, Constitution-shredding ideal for which it stands.

To be fair I'll include this one: The Republican Loyalty Quiz

BTW, have good pop-up blockers to go to About.



A Political Test by Cartoons


Political Cartoon Rorschach Test
What's Your Political Profile? Rate Cartoons and Find Out


Surprisingly my rating is You are a solid Democrat. You are not as fiercely ideological or uncompromising as others in the party, but nonetheless remain a reliable supporter. If you could have your way, you'd like to see Democrats leaders take a slightly more accommodating approach on certain issues – and dial down some of their nakedly partisan and bitterly divisive rhetoric.



Operation Crossroads was a disaster the Navy tried to hide for over forty years


Sailors caught in the warm radioactive mist of Baker Shot
Downwind, some said the mist felt good during the hot day.


Operation Crossroads was designed to show the world the power of the new US atomic weapons. It was also designed to measure the effects and learn how to decontaminate navy ships. The second underwater test was less visually impressive but created much more radioactive particles. There was not the proper equipment to monitor the plutonium and alpha particles. Navy men anxious to get their ships back grew angry and frustrated at scientists who said that ships repeated cleaned were still dangerous. Anxious not to permanently lose ships crews were repeated sent to clean ships again and again. Finally after the salvage commander was shown an X-ray of a fish from the lagoon made by just placing the fish on the negative they ended Operation Crossroads without setting off the third bomb. Afterwards the naval commander of the operation urged the world to ban the new weapons as the worst type of poison.

John Smitherman's story
First they cut off his left leg, then his right leg; in April the surgeon carved a chunk of flesh from his back. They have offered to take his left hand, swollen to the size of a cantaloupe, whenever he is ready to part with it.

John Smitherman says his government did this to him. His government says it did not.

Five times since 1977, when his failing body rendered him unfit work, Smitherman has asked the VA to award him disability pay. Five times the VA has rejected his claim, and a decision on his sixth appeal is expected any day.

"I think they're gonna turn me down again," he said last week.

"It was just a huge ball of fire -- just looked like a whole section of the ocean was actually on fire -- big rolling balls of fire started going up in the air."

The sea welled up and surged forth from ground zero, tossing about the destroyer Allen M. Summer beneath Smitherman's feet. Hours later, he recalls, the Summer -- one of more than 100 ships taking part in an exercise called Operation Crossroads in 1946 -- steamed into the lagoon where unmanned target ships had been anchored to test how they would weather the blast and to determine if they could later be rid of nuclear contamination.

They called me to go help fight a fire on the aircraft carrier Independence, which was one of the target ships. We went up there three times."

Fighting the fire was hot work.

"Right after that, we all went swimming in the lagoon there," Smitherman said. "There were dead fish around there, lots of them, but they said,"Nothing to worry about, no harmful effects,' and there were not restrictions to us whatsoever."

Later he witnessed a second, and more powerful, blast, from the fantail from the Sumner.

"We got peppered with those little debris,"he said. "We were sittin' there -- I didn't have a T-shirt on, just shorts and tennis shoes."

For many of those veterans, it was years before medical problems they blame on that exposure began to surface. For Smitherman, the inklings came early.

"We were still out there when I began to get some burns on my feet and legs, about the size of silver dollars," he recalled.

Doctors on board the Sumner dabbed a little salve on them, but that was not enough. Seven months later he was hospitalized in Hawaii, and seven months after that he received a medical discharge from the Navy. They told Smitherman that kidney problems were causing his legs to swell.

For years -- according to Smitherman, his family and acquaintances -- the periodic swelling continued. Now the doctors say his lymph system has turned against him.

He traveled to Japan, where doctors in a Hiroshima hospital that specializes in treatment of radiation victims said there was no doubt that the exposure triggered his ills.

But the VA has continued to reject his disability claim. He figures if they granted his disability claim, dating back to 1977, it would mean a single lump-sum payment of about $30,000 and monthly checks slightly in excess of $1,000. More important, it would mean a small pension for his wife of 22 years once he is gone.

From The Oregonian Tuesday May 24, 1983


Excerpts from the book Operation Crossroads
The amount of radioactive material that collapsed back into Bikini's lagoon moments after the Baker shot was simply staggering. Unlike the Able blast, the fission products at Baker did not dissipate in the atmosphere. The water surrounding the bomb trapped most of the radioactive material and rained it down over the target vessels. As much as half the bomb's fission products remained in the lagoon's water or in the mist remaining in the air after the surge of spray fell back into the lagoon.

Scientists knew from studies of radium-dial workers that only a few millionths of a gram of radium lodged within human bones could prove fatal. Plutonium, the main component of the Baker bomb, has the same effect and is even more toxic. Test Baker, though, did not involve millionths of grams of radium, or even hundredths of grams. It created the equivalent of thousands of tons of radium. Within one hour of the blast, radiation levels in Bikini's lagoon reached the approximate equivalent of 5,000 tons of radium, which is 1 billion times the radioactivity from just one gram of radium Initial dose rates on the decks of target vessels closest to the blast exceeded 8,000 roentgens per day, 80,000 times the daily tolerance standard and 20 times more than a fatal dose.

During the first hour, wrote Ralph Sawyer, Crossroads's technical director, "the radiation was roughly equivalent to that from several thousand tons of radium." Even an hour after the shot the target ships a mile from Zeropoint showed a dose rate of 1,200 roentgens per day, more than three times the lethal dose, meaning that the daily tolerance dose would be reached in seven seconds.

Despite all the warnings that the highly radioactive column of water would come crashing down on the ships, absolutely no one-not even the radsafe section-had planned for the very disaster that had been predicted with amazing accuracy. As the navy admitted a few months later, "Since the nature and extent of contamination of the targets was completely unexpected, no plans had been prepared for organized decontamination measures."

For all its thousands of pages of detailed plans, the U.S. Navy managed to expose tens of thousands of men and more than 200 ships to radioactive contamination more than 2,000 miles from decent port facilities without ever having attempted experimentally to irradiate a ship or parts of one to determine how-or whether-a ship could be decontaminated.

The examination of the target ships-the very reason for Operation Crossroads-could not proceed if the vessels were too radioactive for reboarding and examination.

By Jonathan M. Weisgall



Thursday, August 25, 2005

The 'Fair Tax' Grossly Unfair


Kill the IRS and go to all sales tax? Stupid!

There is already an analysis that indicates the sales tax rate would have to be 44% instead of the 23% supporters talk about to be revenue neutral. This would also be incredibly regressive - poor pay much, much more, rich pay much, much less.





Bush Cocoon of Unreality Started with November 2000


The hidden lead - "If all legally cast votes in Florida were counted in Election 2000, Democrat Al Gore would have carried the state and thus won the White House, according to an unofficial tally of disputed ballots.”
But that wasn’t how the major newspapers and TV networks presented their findings. Instead, they bent over backwards to concoct hypothetical situations in which George W. Bush might still have won the presidency – if the recount had been limited to only a few counties or if legal “overvotes,” where a voter both checks and writes in the name of the candidate, were cast aside.



One day before crucial vote, fighting breaks out in Najaf


'Peaceful' city of Najaf explodes as Shiites battle

My nephew in the Rangers has just been informed he is heading back to Iraq for the third time leaving his wife and very young daughter. Bush is breaking the all-volunteer army.



Bush Sells Iraqi Women Down The River After Using Them For Propaganda


Whiskey Bar: Is Anybody Listening?
The White House propaganda maestros used an Iraqi women's rights activist as a living prop at Shrub's state of the union address earlier this year, whipping wing nut war hawks and media dingdongs alike into a frenzy of teary-eyed patriotism. They also arranged for her to stand immediately in front of the mother of a Marine killed in action in Iraq -- setting the scene for a "spontaneous" hug that reduced a national television audience to quivering lumps of sentimental jello and left Joe Klein spitting phlegm-coated bile at the Democratic Party.

Now, that very same activist is telling the world the Americans just sold her, and her Iraqi sisters, down the river to a bunch of medieval mullahs with Made-in-Tehran labels on the insides of their turbins.

Will her betrayal simply be pushed down the media memory hole with yesterday's garbage? Are we really that far gone?
Selling Down The River

"When we came back from exile, we thought we were going to improve rights and the position of women. But look what has happened -- we have lost all the gains we made over the last 30 years. It's a big disappointment."

Safia Taleb al-Souhail
Mission F**king Accomplished For Mullahs and Bush
The secular leaders said the draft, which was presented to the parliament Monday, contains language that not only establishes the primacy of Islam as the country's official religion, but appears to grant judges wide latitude to strike down legislation that may contravene the faith. To interpret such legislation, the constitution calls for the appointment of experts in Sharia, or Islamic law, to preside on the Supreme Federal Court.

The draft constitution, these secular Iraqis say, clears the way for religious authorities to adjudicate personal disputes like divorce and inheritance matters by allowing the establishment of religious courts, raising fears that a popularly elected Islamist-minded government could enact legislation and appoint judges who would turn the country into a theocracy.




Iraq - Democrats have a lot of agreement


The GOP has more splits over Iraq than Dems. Here is what Democrats agree on:
Bush lied about Iraq having WMD's and being a threat to U.S. national security.

Bush, Rumsfeld & Co have bungled the occupation of Iraq through poor preparation, mismanagement and bad decisions and gotten us into a horrific quagmire.

Halliburton and other firms favoring the GOP have gotten filthy rich on the bloodshed in Iraq.

At the present casualty rate, more Americans will have been killed in Iraq by next summer than were killed in the attacks on 9-11.

We have already spent $250 billion taxpayer dollars in Iraq, and there are credible forecasts indicating that the final tab could reach $1 trillion.

Although there have been no more attacks within U.S. borders since 9-11, our "homeland security" is highly porus, with many needed measures, such as stronger port security, left sorely underfunded.

There are probably more terrorists willing to do harm to the U.S. today as a direct result of U.S. oocupation of Iraq than there were before we invaded Iraq.

We have a manpower shortage in our armed services, and new enlistments have slowed to a trickle.

Gas Prices are higher than ever, and expected to go up even further.

Flip-flopping on what to do about Iraq is clearly a loser. Dem candidates all across the dove-hawk spectrum must state a clear policy on Iraq, while leaving enough room to adjust to changing realities.

Bin laden is alive and taunting the U.S, and he ain't in Iraq.
With Buchanan and Hagel and other conservatives calling for immediate withdrawl which party is divided? Lobe disagrees and says mpst Dem leadership are now hawks.




Public Opinion Watch


An interesting article by Ruy Teixeira on Bush's decline in support among Republicans as well as others leading to his sub-40 approval, the rising not lowering self-identification of Latinos with the Democratic Party, and how Gallup screws up its polls by not weighing by party ID.

"Between February 4-6 and February 7-10, an 11 point Republican advantage became a 6 point Democratic advantage. Similarly, between March 18-20 and March 21-23, a 5 point Republican advantage became an 8 point Democratic advantage."

So in a couple of days over 10% of the people have switched parties? No one except Gallup believes this and they have doubts. Article in PDF form. The article also points out the growing concensus on how to fix this party ID problem and get more accurate polls.

Not every polling organization is interested in this. There is a big advantage to polls which have big swings in opinions, they get more publicity because they make news. It seems clear that Gallup likes to be quoted and be talked about more than they like to be correct. I have the impression they also seem to take special care on their last poll before an election which is what people use to check accuracy.



North Pole Becoming Ice Free


Arctic could see ice-free summers in 100 years, other sources say a decade or two.
Looking at data on the rate of ice melt in the Arctic, researchers from the University of Arizona and other universities concluded that the rate is accelerating and that no foreseeable natural forces will counteract that acceleration. As a result, ice-free summers loom.

The situation will have worldwide ecological impact, the researchers said. The progressive melt will cause sea levels worldwide to rise, flooding coastal areas, where a substantial portion of the world's population lives. Huge sections of Bangladesh, for example, consist of river delta at sea level. The melt could also thaw permafrost, which could lead to an increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere.

The increasing rate of ice melt is already having some impact on people and animals in the Arctic. Other researchers have speculated that the progressing ice melt around Siberia may lead to a summer Northeast passage connecting Japan to Europe in a decade or so.
This was the reason for Canada sending gunboats to protect the sea passages and oil fields in my previous post. With shipping easier this is a more valuable and vulnerable area.



Wednesday, August 24, 2005


Bad Policy Fuels High Gas Prices


Progress Report - Bad Policy Fuels High Prices
As millions of Americans hop in their cars for vacation, the average price for a gallon of gas has spiked to $2.60 -- and many people are paying more than $3.00 per gallon to fill their tank. While most everyone is feeling the pinch, "for many lower-income people -- often those who work in service jobs or are looking for work -- each new bump up in price means altering daily routines, spending less on clothes and food, and keeping the kids at home instead of driving them to the pool or friends' houses." A big part of the problem is that, despite huge advances in technology, "America's cars and trucks are significantly less efficient, on average, than they were in the late 1980's," driving up demand, and the price, for fuel. Meanwhile, the Bush administration has staunchly resisted efforts to help solve the problem by improving fuel efficiency standards. Now, all Americans are paying the price.

BUSH ADMINISTRATION CONCEALS FUEL ECONOMY REPORT: In late July, "the Environmental Protection Agency made an 11th-hour decision...to delay the planned release of an annual report on fuel economy." The decision to block the release of the report was made "because it would have come on the eve of a final vote in Congress on energy legislation." The study showed that "the average 2004 model car or truck got 20.8 miles per gallon, about 6 percent less than the 22.1 m.p.g. of the average new vehicle sold in the late 1980's." Specifically, "the average 2004 model sold by Nissan, Hyundai and Volkswagen was at least a half-mile a gallon less fuel-efficient than in the previous model year, a sharp drop." (A report by Environmental Defense provides details for all major manufacturers.) That wasn't news the Bush administration wanted public to hear because the bill "largely ignore[d] auto mileage regulations." Several Senators offered amendments "to strengthen fuel economy standards for S.U.V.'s, minivans and pickups" but they were all rejected. Bush signed the energy bill, which gave away billions to the energy industry, on August 8. Even the administration acknowledges the bill will do nothing to reduce gas prices.

FAST, FURIOUS AND GAS-GUZZLING: The failure to mandate the production of more fuel efficient vehicles is a giant missed opportunity. There have been "leaps in engine technology over the last couple of decades" that could make cars much more efficient. But in the absence of stricter efficiency standards, these gains "have been mostly used to make cars faster." Also, since the early 1980s, "average new vehicle weight has risen to about 4,000 pounds today, from about 3,200." During that time "the horsepower of an average engine has roughly doubled over two decades, trimming four seconds from the time it takes for the average vehicle to accelerate from zero to 60."

KEEP ON TRUCKING: The key to avoiding fuel efficiency standards is to classify every new and trendy "crossover" vehicle as a truck. Light trucks "are held to a lower [average fuel efficiency] standard—20.7 mpg as of model year 2003, compared to 27.5 mpg for cars." Manufacturers are also moving vehicles that were once classified as cars to the truck class "to sell more of the large trucks on which profit margins have been so high." Today "S.U.V.'s and other light-duty vehicles account for 40 percent of the nation's oil use." With only the smallest cars remaining in the "car class" there is no pressure to improve the efficiency of those vehicles either. President Bush and the Congress had the opportunity to close these loopholes and improve overall efficiency in the energy bill, but didn't do it. New regulations set to be released later this month will create up to five classes of vehicles based on height and width. Dan Becker of the Sierra Club says the upcoming proposal is "an invitation to game the system."

BUSH PROTECTS MASSIVE LOOPHOLE FOR HUMMERS: In 2003, President Bush proposed extending "fuel economy regulations to include Hummer H2's and other huge sport utility vehicles," which are now completely exempt. As gas prices soar to record levels, the administration has abandoned the proposal. The exemption applies to vehicles weighing over 8,500 pounds. When it was created, "vehicles of that weight were generally used for commercial purposes, but now hundreds of thousands sold each year are intended for family use." The exemption, along with potential tax breaks for consumers who purchase them, create "powerful incentives to produce such vehicles."
Links to all the facts in this article at Progress Report.



What's Your Political Philosophy?


QuizFarm.com :: What's Your Political Philosophy?

I scored as New Democrat. New Democrats emphasize fiscal conservatism, and have a strong preference for the free market. They believe in small-scale programs that provide targetted help to those in need, while working with the business community.

New Democrat

95%

Old School Democrat

90%

Green

70%

Foreign Policy Hawk

55%

Libertarian

40%

Pro Business Republican

25%

Socially Conservative Republican

20%

What's Your Political Philosophy?
created with QuizFarm.com



Tuesday, August 23, 2005








Wendell Wilkie Last Great GOP Nominee?


How Wendell helped FDR prepare the country for war.
For those of us depressed by the corruption and mismanagement that the American political system has wrought lately, the book should provide hope that, under the right circumstances, that same system can turn things around.

One can question whether the circumstances are right today. Peters certainly takes pains to describe how different American culture was back then. Yet he also marvels at the role of chance and individual character. Had France not fallen just as the GOP convention was opening, or had Willkie followed other advice, history might have turned out quite differently.

The same, I think, can be said of our own time. Recall what the nation felt like immediately after 9/11. For a few brief months, we were more united than at any point in my lifetime. Had President Bush wanted to, he could have called for rescinding his tax cuts, a crash program of mandatory national service, and major reforms of NATO and the United Nations in the service of a united war on terror. The country and the world, I think, would have responded positively. It was his choice to take us in a different direction.

Or think about the last election. The candidate who most closely resembled Willkie was probably Wesley Clark. Had the former general and onetime Republican voter decided to jump into the presidential race a year earlier, chosen cleverer advisors, and not conceded Iowa, I think the probability is high that he would have won the nomination, and maybe the presidency.




FSO Transcription - Matthew R. Simmons "Twilight in the Desert" August 6, 2005


Deadly serious - $300 a barrel oil very soon.
I was apparently the first person in the world to ever actually challenge the assumptions of the unlimited amount of their oil supplies. And it hit a nerve I would never ever have expected because I wasn’t a household name – I think I am today in Saudi Arabia – I was just an investment banker in Houston. It was the same sort of reaction if someone went to the Vatican and said, “I hate to tell you all this, but there really isn’t a God, and there isn’t a Pope.” And out of that came a massive public relations campaign by the senior management of Saudi Aramco, the state oil company, and the Petroleum Ministry that effectively has said, “we can produce 10 million or 12 million or 15 million barrels a day for 50 to 100 years. Our 260 billion barrels of proven reserves, there’s this conservative number we can easily add another 200 billion, and we can still add another 200 billion we have yet to discover”. And I actually think that they believe that, which is far more dangerous than “it’s just a political statement.”

JIM: Now the thesis of your book is Saudi production is very near its peak...

MATT: I decided that this book was going to be so controversial that I really tried my darnedest to avoid a bunch of very specific conclusions that people could shoot holes in them: “how would you know that?” But I’ve had enough time now to reflect on everything I wrote about, and also feedback from lots of technical people that said, “you know what, what you triggered in the memory of what was going on in the 70s”, and etc, etc. I think it’s highly likely that they’ve actually exceeded sustainable peak production already. And I think at the current rates they are producing these old fields, each of the fields risks entering into a rapid production collapse.[9:03]

JIM: If this is indeed the case then, by assumption, we have to assume global peak is at hand then.

MATT: Absolutely. Once it’s clear that Saudi Arabia cannot sustain increases in its production on a sustained basis, then in my opinion, with a certainty of 99.9% the world has actually passed sustainable peak production. Because one of the reasons all of these supply models always have Saudi Arabia producing 25 million bpd by 2025 is that there isn’t another country on earth that has the potential to raise their production more than 1 or 2 million bpd at best.
I had started writing months ago that we were already at or even past peak oil based on another writer and here we have Simmons saying that we are at peak now. Oil prices went up over 1000% from 1972 to 1980 before falling because of reduced demand and new supplies. What is being said now is that there are not new supplies like on the scale of last time.


Monday, August 22, 2005

The Bear and the Panda practice invading Taiwan


This link was from natasha but she draws a different lesson. Pacific Views: Brothers in Arms: The Bear and the Panda. And she has a solution that may or may not apply in Taiwan's case - "You know what to do when you don't want people to become separatists? Treat them so well that they don't want to leave."



Buzzflash Interview: Larry Diamond, Squandered Victory


Condi Rice Colleague and Bremer advisor on how we lost the war.
Diamond recounts how Donald Rumsfeld kept virtually every career State Department official – people with actual experience in civil administration – from taking a significant role in the pre-war planning or overseeing the post-war reconstruction. When Barbara Bodine, a former Ambassador to Yemen, briefed Rumsfeld before the war began that it was urgent to make sure Iraqi civil servants got paid to keep government services running, Rumsfeld dismissed the idea. "When someone suggested that there would be riots in the streets if the civil servants didn't get paid, Rumsfeld replied that this could be used as leverage to get the Europeans in to pick up the burden, " (p. 31). Riots as leverage!???

As Diamond notes, the American military has never been able to fully control the lawlessness that erupted after the war, and American soldiers are paying the price for the Bush administration's failures.



Intelligent Design Lacks Intelligence


DenverPost.com - Diane Carman:
Quick: Define miosis and mitosis. Explain mitochondrion and chloroplast. Now briefly, what's RNA?

The biology teachers assembled at the University of Colorado last week for a seminar on teaching evolution know most Americans are clueless about basic science.

They find our ignorance exasperating.

But it also explains a lot.

With most people content with being scientifically illiterate, it's no wonder so many believe intelligent design is a scientific theory.

It unequivocally is not.

It's a religious belief, a political issue or an abomination destined to cripple Americans in global scientific achievement, depending on your point of view. But it is not a legitimate counterpart to the theory of evolution.

In the hall full of schoolteachers, graduate students and science professors, there was no argument on that point.

The debate instead was on how to overcome the challenge from political groups that want to undercut science education with their religious agenda.






Limbaugh runs away from Limbaugh - Bloggermann - MSNBC.com


Keith Olbermann rightly smacks Rush Limbaugh around.
Since we declared Limbaugh “The Worst Person In The World” two nights later for the remarks about Sheehan, he has had the transcript of his pier-drive expunged (even though he initially thought so much of it, that it was posted as a “featured quote” for paying subscribers to his website). Simultaneously, the hapless Brent Bozell, who runs that scam called The Media Research Center, declared that I was guilty of “distortion” in quoting the Sheehan remarks.

Well, as you’ll see below, the only distortion here, is that which lingers in Limbaugh’s ears. His remarks about Sheehan were so embraced by at least one of his fans that they were preserved on another website, and we can present them in full here. You will notice that nothing has been taken out of context, nothing in the minutes before nor the minutes afterwards mitigates against the utter callousness and infamy of his comments about Sheehan.

A reminder that that’s Cindy Sheehan, Gold Star Mother, who when I asked her bluntly if President Bush wasn’t serving her purposes more by not seeing her, was honest enough to answer “yes” without hesitation. And it’s Rush Limbaugh, who so believes in his case against her that he’s too afraid to admit he said this (and who, by the way, has since said of her that, "I'm weary of even having to express sympathy... we all lose things” - as if her son had been a misplaced, er, prescription).






Bush Spreading WMD Technology Again


In the Garden of Armageddon They were Iraq's only real WMDs. The U.S. refused to secure them. Now Saddam's nuclear and bioweapons scientists are dispersed and more dangerous than ever.







Insurance Today - Whatever the Insurance Company Wants


Top Insurance Agent in state denied insurance for three years after contracting MS.

"In the last 12 months alone, we've seen the largest insurance brokers in America, the largest property and casualty companies in America, the largest title insurance companies, the largest financial service firms and the largest disability insurers all engaged in flagrant violations of their most basic obligations to their customers," said Garamendi, the California insurance commissioner.






No one working on an Iraq exit plan as civil war grows more likely

Stunning as it may seem, over the past few weeks I’ve surveyed leading think tanks in New York and Washington and talked to former State Department and CIA officials, and it appears that virtually no one is working on a real plan for an exit strategy. Still, such utter inaction can’t continue, either among the foreign policy elite or within the State Department itself. Pressure to get out is growing—and not just from the left.

In a surprising opinion piece called “Iraq Exit,” Donald Devine of the American Conservative Union, an ultra-conservative outfit, wrote: “The only solution is for the U.S. to exit before the whole thing comes apart. … That has been the continuing logic of positioning American troops to more isolated outposts and leaving the police work to the Iraqis, flexibly withdrawing U.S. soldiers after the next election one way or another turns power to the Iraqis to work out their own destinies.”







My Experience In Baghdad 2004-2005


David Swanson at AfterDowningStreet.org posts this from 'Bill' along with much more about what it is really like:
When I landed in Baghdad, the US had roughly 350 deaths. When I left the number was close to 1300. I had 4 of my friends killed and another 27 in my company wounded, which gave us a 1 in 3 rate of being a casualty. I saw a good friend of mine have half of his face blown off when a RPG blew up on our windshield. Another friend of my was wounded twice in separate IED attacks and still wasnt allowed home. I killed 4 people during an 18 hour firefight, one of whom was a little girl that got caught by the burst of a 203 round.

I think about Iraq every day even though I've been home 6 months. And I still cannot figure out why I was there or why americans died over there. I'm all for war, but only "right" wars. I was decorated for valor and congratulated by Colonels, and it's all hollow because it is for nothing. That's why I'm against the war in Iraq.


Saturday, August 20, 2005

Audio Dynamite: The Robert Pape Interview


How to stop suicide bombers, by someone who once believed the neocons.

This is so important I've expanded it with other links.
Professor Robert Pape's brilliant new book Dying to Win: The Strategic Logic of Suicide Terrorism gives Americans an urgently needed basis for devising a strategy to defeat Osama bin Laden and other Islamist militants.

Pape demolishes the relentlessly repeated assertion of the neoconservatives and Israeli politicians that Islamist suicide attacks against America and other counties are launched by undereducated, unemployed, alienated, apocalyptic fanatics who are eager to kill themselves because Americans vote, have civil liberties, and allow women to drive cars.

The basis of Dying to Win is Pape's study of the 315 known suicide terrorist attacks that occurred in the world between 1980 and 2003, attacks carried out by Muslims, Tamils, Sikhs, and Kurds. Pape concludes that "the data show there is little connection between suicide terrorism and Islamic fundamentalism, or any of the world's religions."

"Rather, what nearly all suicide terrorist attacks have in common is a specific secular and strategic goal: to compel modern democracies to withdraw military forces from the territory that the terrorists consider to be their homeland. Religion is rarely the root cause, although it is often used as a tool by terrorist organizations in recruiting and in other efforts in service of the broader strategic objective."

"[A]n attempt to transform Muslim societies through regime change is likely to dramatically increase the threat we face. The root cause of suicide terrorism is foreign occupation and the threat that foreign military presence poses to the local community's way of life. Hence, any policy that seeks to conquer Muslim societies in order, deliberately, to transform their culture is folly. Even if our intentions are good, anti-American terrorism would likely grow, and grow rapidly."
I will also say that other recent studies of suicide bombers show them to be well educated and may not be very religious although most have contact with religious institutions or have been indoctrinated in a terror cell or have had a family member killed.




Friday, August 19, 2005

Saving U.S. Army Can Help Save Iraq

...even if we wanted to keep about 140,000 ground troops in Iraq through 2006, we cannot do so without breaking the all-volunteer Army.

Gen. Maxwell Taylor, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff for President Lyndon Johnson, said that while we sent the Army to Vietnam to save Vietnam, we had to withdraw to save the Army. This is where we are today.

If Iraq were a war of necessity, the U.S. would simply send sufficient ground forces there for the duration. But, since it is a war of choice, fought by volunteers, the active-duty soldiers spend a year in Iraq and at least a year at home before going back.

And the Army does not want to order a soldier to be sent back a third time. By the end of this year, nearly every active-duty soldier will have spent at least two tours in Iraq.





Massive Multiplayer Online Games: Abandon hope all ye who enter


How the games are designed to be massively addicted
Because time is precious and finite, it is quite impossible to succeed in real-life and also succeed in the game. Some players will inevitably notice that their new hobby is causing them to neglect the rest of their life, and they choose to give the game up. These are the lucky ones. The true addicts will become so engrossed with the game world that the negative real-world consequences only occur in their periphery. Any people who care about this person and try to intervene in this player's addiction will be ignored in favor of their online friends who also share the same addiction and so are obviously supportive. These people become worthless husks of human flesh, another unfortunate burden for society to bear.



British understatement


Name that country ... from Observer Blog
A man slips on his denim jacket (unimpeded by explosives of any sort) and steps outside. He gets a bus to his local metropolitan railway station. He enters the station using the conventional, unathletic ticket-in-barrier walk-in method. He goes down to the platform, runs for a train and gets on it. He is then shot repeatedly in the head by armed police.

It all raises certain questions about the judgement of our senior law enforcement officers.



DosCentavos Says It's time for an apology from the Texas Rangers

DosCentavos better watch his back as he demands an apology for Texas' racist history. He links to this film that discusses the Texas Ranger's history...
an estimated 5,000 individuals (a conservative figure, uncredited in the film but most likely coming from Ranger historian Walter Prescott Webb) who lost their lives during this time period - men, women, children who committed no other crime than to be born brown in a now-white Texas.

At the peak of the "bandit era," while Rangers boasted of killing 14 men, "not counting Mexicans," the San Antonio Express announced it would no longer run stories about murdered Mexican Americans. Chillingly, the documentary shows postcards of victims, like the popular shot of Mexicanos bound and tied to a trio of horses, which made the rounds, much like the images of lynched blacks in other parts of the South. Combined, these acts all served to dehumanize the Texas-Mexican population at a moment of transition and definition, both for the state and the nation.







Bring our nuclear war home


King of Zembla blogs on the movement growing in state legislatures across the country to require testing for depleted uranium contamination of all returning troops. The one small sample tested so far had half with DU contamination and the other half with suspicious symptoms.



Thursday, August 18, 2005


Erotic Link - Clean Orgasm Movie


To answer the question if I am interested in anything else beside politics. Well, orgasms for one thing.




Tort 'reform' builds its popularity on lies

Wampum: Tort reformers promote the idea that juries and the civil justice system are irrational. Often that point is made by simply making stuff up. The media, through carelessness or laziness, repeats the false stories. In addition, the nature of what Kevin calls the “publication bias” results in the public getting a distorted view of the justice system.

Part of the tort reformers' narrative is that greedy lawyers push clients into bringing marginal law suits. That may be true in some class action suits in which the lawyer is committed to a certain amount of work regardless of whether the class is large or small but in everyday individual suits, it is almost always the prospective client who is pushing the hardest for a suit to be brought.

The client has been told over and over by the tort reformers and the media that a jury may award him the riches of Croesus regardless of whether he has suffered significant damage and regardless of whether he has been wronged. It is not surprising that prospective clients are eager to collect.

If the tort reformers and the media provided a more accurate picture of the nature of the litigation system, fewer people would be so eager to sue. The tort reformers do not really care if people bring frivolous suits or potentially meritorious suits with small damages. The frivolous suits lose early and often. The trivial suits do not cost much. The tort reform lobby is quite willing to accept an increase in trivial suits if they can create a political climate that allows them to limit the exposure of businesses and insurance companies on the really bad cases. Perhaps the media should expose that game. It would not even have to make stuff up.
Linked by Kuffner.




The Raw Story Exclusive: Citizens Request Recount in San Diego Mayoral Race


4% Discrepancy in another GEM tabulator election

San Diego Democratic mayoral candidate, Donna Frye, may have been robbed of her mayoral seat in the July 25 local election as citizens' audit parallel election vote shows shift of 4 percent, Raw Story has learned.





Evangelical Scientists Refute Gravity With New 'Intelligent Falling' Theory


The Onion - Kansas - As the debate over the teaching of evolution in public schools continues, a new controversy over the science curriculum arose Monday in this embattled Midwestern state. Scientists from the Evangelical Center For Faith-Based Reasoning are now asserting that the long-held "theory of gravity" is flawed, and they have responded to it with a new theory of Intelligent Falling.

"Things fall not because they are acted upon by some gravitational force, but because a higher intelligence, 'God' if you will, is pushing them down," said Gabriel Burdett, who holds degrees in education, applied Scripture, and physics from Oral Roberts University.



Democracy Now! from Sojourners


Quote of the Week
++++++++++++++++++++++++
Demolition double-standard in Gaza


AMY GOODMAN: On the issue of demolishing homes, I have noted
over the last few days with the mainstream press in the United
States, there's been a great effort to get the voices of Jewish
settlers out, and you can hear the pain in their voices as they
talk about their homes for many years, being forced out of
them.... [W]e rarely hear that kind of extended interview with a
Palestinian whose home has just been destroyed.

AMIRA HASS: Well, that's, of course, the fault of, as you say,
the mainstream media, and which pains much more the loss of a
huge house built at the expense of the Palestinians than the
loss of thousands of Palestinian houses...which were very often
demolished in order to safeguard the security of those very
settlements.

From the transcript of an August 15 interview between Amy
Goodman of Pacifica Radio's Democracy Now! and Amira Hass, an
Israeli Jewish journalist for Haaretz newspaper who has lived
and worked in Gaza and the West Bank for many years.

Source: Democracy Now!: http://go.sojo.net/ct/p7axZE11OXcf/

Contrary to widely held assumptions, only 5-15% of Palestinian
homes that are destroyed are those of suspected terrorists. That
policy was so counterproductive that the Israeli army abandoned
the practice earlier this year.
The majority are destroyed in
"military operations" or because the homes were built without
permits from the Israeli government which are nearly impossible
to obtain. + Read more:
http://www.sojo.net/index.cfm?action=sojomail.display&issue=050224#9




Thom Hartman Internet Radio


White Rose now has a FREE 24/7 Web Stream of the Thom Hartmann show. If you connect to the stream during or shortly before the show airs live, you will be connected to the live stream, otherwise you will hear a stream of the most recent edition of Thom's show. To listen to this stream click here.



A message to the vandal who ran over hundreds of crosses at Crawford


Operation Truth:
Mr. Larry Northern:

I am a Veteran of the Iraq war, having served with the 4th Infantry Division on the initial invasion with Force Package One.

While I was in Iraq,a very good friend of mine, Christopher Cutchall,was killed in an unarmoredHMMWV outside of Baghdad. He was a cavalry scout serving with the 3d ID.Once he had declined the award of a medal because Soldiers assigned to him did not receive similar awards that he had recommended. He left two sons and awonderful wife. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.

One of my Soldiers in Iraq was Roger Turner. We gave him a hard time because he always wore all of his protective equipment, including three pairs of glasses or goggles. He did this because he wanted to make sure that he returned home to his family. He rode a bicycle to work every day to make sure that he was able to save enough money on his Army salary to send his son to college. At Camp Anaconda, where the squadron briefly stayed, a rocket landed inside a tent, sending a piece of debris or fragment into him and killed him. On Monday night, August 16, you ran down the memorial cross erected for him by Arlington West.

One of my Soldiers was Henry Bacon. He was one of the finest men I ever met. He was in perfect shape for a man over forty, working hard at night. He told me that he did that because he didn't have much money to buy nice things for his wife, who he loved so much, so he had to be in good shape for her. He was like a father to many young men in his section of maintenance mechanics. They fixed our vehicles with almost no support and fabricated parts and made repairs that kept our squadron rolling on the longest, fastest armor advance ever made under fire. He was so very proud of his son-in-law that married the beautiful daughter so well raised by Henry. His son-in-law was a helicopter pilot with the 1st Cavalry Division, who died last year. Henry stopped to rescue a vehicle belonging to another unit on what was to be his last day in Iraq. He could have kept rolling - he was headed to Kuwait after a year's tour. But he stopped. He could have sent others to do the work, but he was on the ground, leading by example, when he was killed. On Monday night, August 16, you took it upon yourself to go out in the country, where a peaceful group was exercising their constitutional rights, and harming no one, and you ran down the memorial cross erected for Henry and for his son-in-law by Arlington West.

Mr. Northern - I know little about Cindy Sheehan except that she is a grieving mother, a gentle soul, and wants to bring harm to no one. I know little about you except that you found your way to Crawford on Monday night in August with chains and a pipe attached to your truck for the sole purpose of dishonoring a memorial erected for my friends and lost Soldiers and hundreds of others that served this nation when they were called. I find it disheartening that good men like these have died so that people like you can threaten a mother who lost a child with your actions. I hope that you are ashamed of yourself.

Perry Jefferies, First Sergeant, USA (retired)


A Simplified Progressive Tax Plan


Summary - American Prospect Online
The Center for American Progress has put forward a new proposal to make the tax code fair, simple, and supportive of new economic opportunity. We would tax all forms of income according to the same rate schedule. This change would end preferential treatment for income from capital (wealth) over income from work by setting capital gains and dividend taxes equal to the tax rates on ordinary income.

We also would provide relief for the most regressive part of the system, the payroll tax. The Social Security payroll tax is currently 12.4 percent and split evenly between workers and their employers. The center’s plan would reduce the tax rates on work by eliminating the employee side of the Social Security payroll tax. This would mean an immediate 6.2-percentage-point reduction in the tax rates on the first $90,000 of income from salaries and wages. At the same time, we would make the employer side of the payroll tax less regressive by requiring employers to pay taxes on payroll incomes above $90,000.

We would revamp the income-tax rate structure by reducing it to three tax brackets with tax rates set at 15 percent, 25 percent, and 39.6 percent -- which we would also set as the tax rate on capital gains and dividends. The brackets would be set at taxable income levels of $0, $25,000, and $120,000, with a $10,000 standard deduction for married couples.

Because most taxpayers pay more in payroll taxes than in income taxes, the tax savings for middle-income households would be significant.

This simple restructuring of the tax code would also include an elimination of the AMT, rescuing 30 million taxpayers from the snare of complicated and expensive tax filings over the next several years. We would also reduce the income level needed to qualify for the full child tax credit, enabling more low-wage workers to receive it. By raising additional revenue, this simpler, fairer tax plan would also reduce the deficit and create a stronger foundation for economic growth.

Unlike the trifecta of right-wing tax-policy reforms -- a flat tax, a value-added tax (VAT), or a national sales tax -- our plan would maintain the current deductibility of charitable giving, home mortgage interest, state-tax deductibility, and other deductions in their current form. We believe that there is room enough to raise revenue without eliminating valuable deductions that serve important social interests.

Finally, the center’s plan would replace the upside-down retirement savings deduction with a refundable credit. Currently, those in a higher tax bracket receive a greater tax benefit from retirement savings. For example, someone in the 15-percent bracket receives a 15-cent reduction in their tax share for each $1 saved in a tax-preferred retirement account, while those with higher incomes in the 35-percent bracket receive a 35-cent reduction. Under our plan, everyone would receive a 25-percent refundable credit for retirement savings.

Tragically, the argument against the Bush tax agenda was never heard. Instead of offering a progressive counter-narrative, Democrats too often allowed the right to set the terms of the debate. As a result, even those rare victories, such as the middle-class tax relief Democrats gained in the 2001 tax bill, were dwarfed by the system’s growing regressivity.



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