Friday, September 30, 2005

Just too Cool: Odysseus's Ithaca Located

Many thought that the island existed only in the imagination of the Greek poet Homer and in his epic, the Odyssey. Certainly his description of it did not match the Ionian island now called Ithaca, but, after following a detective trail of literary, geological and archaeological clues, scholars led by Robert Bittlestone, a management consultant, have identified Paliki, an area of Cephalonia, as the site.

Calssicists have been overwhelmed by the compelling evidence.

James Diggle, Professor of Greek and Latin at Cambridge University and co-author of a book on the discovery, said that almost all of the 26 locations that Homer described in detail can be identified today in northern Paliki and its neighbourhood.

The topography of Homer’s island fits the area “like a glove”, he said.

Paliki was once a separate island. Since Homer’s day, earthquakes triggering massive landslides had filled in a narrow sea channel that separated it from the island of Same — modern Cephalonia, the setting for Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

more here

Judith Miller is out of Jail and

in the witness chair.

Her case has been interesting to follow. The principal she went to jail for is, in most cases, very noble. In traditional circumstances, the member of the press is using the power of the pen to drag evil into the light. When we consider this we think of Woodward & Bernstein. Protecting a source from retribution who has, or is still, exposing a crime.

The informant is trying to take action for the good of society, and to correct a hidden wrong. Their motivations may not always be the best, but the end result should be a crime exposed, and those who were vital to this discovery protected.

Mrs. Miller's case is a little different.

She was trying to protect someone who committed a crime. It just doesn't ring with the same nobility. Many of those working in her industry supported her effort to hide a criminal, or at least paid her effort lip service, but the principal she tried to hide behind didn't really seem to fit the facts of this case.

It is time the whole truth be told, and those responsible for outing a covert CIA agent be held responsible for their actions.

Dan Froomkin reinforces this this point.

Note to reporters: There is nothing intrinsically noble about keeping your sources' secrets. Your job, in fact, is to expose them. And if a very senior government official, after telling you something in confidence, then tells you that you don't have to keep it secret anymore, the proper response is "Hooray, now I can tell the world"

A Few Stories of Interest for Friday

This week in the Anglican Communion; Fr. Jake points out that Archbishop Peter Akinola wants to know why spare England in his push to schism, and at SALT, more consideration of the Big Man syndrome.

At times major companies can do some good. The Washington Post has news of a major art donation to the Smithsonian from the Disney Corporation.

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young asked us all to teach your children well, sacraments wholesale points out that too often we are teaching them poorly.

So, who is number 2 is the question of both Blobenlust, and now, Isikoff and Hosenball at MSNBC.

Main Stream Baptist has noticed a tool of intelligent Design speakers, when the debate gets detailed, just sound the alarm.

And, there is a great blogger in need. If you can, help out Shakespeare's Sister.

The Recruiting Year is Ending for the Army

The Army has not published official figures yet, but it apparently finished the 12-month counting period that ends Friday with about 73,000 recruits. Its goal was 80,000. A gap of 7,000 enlistees would be the largest " in absolute number as well as in percentage terms " since 1979, according to Army records.

This actually a bit of a success story, at one point it appeared they might miss by almost 15,000 bodies. By greatly lowering entry requirements, and adding huge incentives, they were able to meet 90% of their goal.

Now come the fun part, do it again next year, and make up for the missing 7,000.

More Progress in Iraq

A couple of months ago the army and the administration proudly proclaimed that 3 of the 86 Iraqi battalions were ready to stand on their own.

Thursday they announced that the Iraqi army now has 1 battalion that can stand on it's own.

Gen. George W. Casey, who oversees U.S. forces in Iraq, said there are fewer Iraqi battalions at "Level 1" readiness than there were a few months ago. Although Casey said the number of troops and overall readiness of Iraqi security forces have steadily increased in recent months, and that there has not been a "step backwards,"

The message we get, the information we get, is so mixed up and so often contradictory it is clear that no one has a clear picture of what is happening. When no clear picture exist, chaos has become the reality, and by no stretch of the imagination can chaos be considered success.

We will be trapped in a civil war if we don't move very quickly to get out of the cross fire.


General Richard B. Myers was on CNN this morning, and if he truly believes what he was saying he is either grossly uninformed or just dumb. There is also that option that he too is just another political hack, this time in uniform.

He actually said he that no one thinks Iraq is sinking into civil war.


Bush Misleads on Progress in Iraq
President Bush, 9/28/05:

At this moment, more than a dozen Iraqi battalions have completed training and are conducting anti-terrorist operations in Ramadi and Fallujah. More than 20 battalions are operating in Baghdad. And some have taken the lead in operations in major sectors of the city. In total, more than 100 battalions are operating throughout Iraq. Our commanders report that the Iraqi forces are operating with increasing effectiveness.

Associated Press, 9/29/05:

The number of Iraqi battalions capable of combat without U.S. support has dropped from three to one, the top American commander in Iraq told Congress Thursday.

From Think Progress.

So, what is the truth?

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Republican in Trouble, Time to Scare the Population


Al Qaeda is the main enemy to peace and stability in the Middle East and the terrorist group is seeking to acquire -- and use -- weapons of mass destruction there, a top U.S. commander in Iraq told Congress.

If that is the case, then why did we take forces away from the fight against Al Qaeda, and move them into Bush's folley in Iraq?

In 2002, troops from the 5th Special Forces Group who specialize in the Middle East were pulled out of the hunt for Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan to prepare for their next assignment: Iraq. Their replacements were troops with expertise in Spanish cultures.

The CIA, meanwhile, was stretched badly in its capacity to collect, translate and analyze information coming from Afghanistan. When the White House raised a new priority, it took specialists away from the Afghanistan effort to ensure Iraq was covered.

These assets and much more were taken away from the action against Al Qaeda, and moved to Iraq. Now they claim that Al Qaeda is a dire threat.

Newflash - That is only because you fools made the choice to stop fighting them, and start to fight Saddam.

Now, Bush's administration is trying to rebuild support for their programs, including the war. Now it is time to start to talk of Bin Laden, mushroom clouds and bio-weapons. No doubt, it will soon be time to start to play with terror status lights.

The plain truth is, this administration has screwed up it efforts in Afghanistan, made the choice to start another war that has us bogged down, and now is trying to scare the population back into line.

The sad truth is, it may work.

Hughes Trip to the Middle East Not So Smooth

Karen Hughes has toddled about the middle east, spreading the gospel about America. Despite speaking to mostly hand picked audiences, a tradition of the Bush administration, she has had a less than pleasant trip.

Her latest stop was Turkey, where she was confronted by her audience.

A group of Turkish women's rights activists confronted Undersecretary of State Karen Hughes on Wednesday with emotional and heated complaints about the U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, turning a session designed to highlight the empowering of women into a raw display of the anger at U.S. policy in the region.

This was not the first time on this trip that the audience turned aggressive, her stop in Saudi Arabia didn't go much better.

But the response to the Bush administration's top "public diplomacy" envoy on her first trip to the Middle East seemed to take her aback, as several listeners complained vehemently that just because they were not allowed to vote or drive did not mean they were unfairly treated or imprisoned in their homes.

Just another example of what happens when these positions are filled with people with no experience in the field. Only the Bush administration would create a department to improve the perception of America in the Muslim world and then not hire a single Muslim onto her senior staff.

Khan, who helped organize the meeting, said Hughes has no Muslims on her senior staff. Her top assistant, dine Powell, is of Egyptian Christian origin. "How can we market a policy that we are not a partner in making?" Khan said.

Republican Culture of Corruption - Illinois

He served 8 years as Secretary of State, 4 as governor and now on trial. The term of service of George Ryan appears to be filled with graft.

The biggest corruption trial in Chicago in decades opened Wednesday with a federal prosecutor launching a blistering attack on former Gov. George Ryan, saying he betrayed the public's trust by taking cash and gifts to help insiders land lucrative state contracts.

``The fix was in in Illinois government,'' said Assistant U.S. Attorney Zachary Fardon.

Just another fine example of what Republicans stand for.

FEMA in Texas, Another Mess?

The failed in Louisiana, and Mississippi, and it appears that in Texas they are not winning many friends.

For more than two days after Hurricane Rita laid waste to this small East Texas town, volunteer Fire Chief Steve Conner watched the relief convoys roar up State Road 105. But Conner's early hopes turned to frustration and finally to anger when truck after truck did not stop.

Evadale residents were sweltering in scorching heat without power or water. Meanwhile, tons of ice and food rolled through town at highway speeds.

"These FEMA trucks have to pass right by our fire station and go to the farthest end of the county, and we couldn't get any help," Conner said. "We just had to do what we could on our own."

fortunately, in these areas they do have the ability to move around and are only in need of relief, not rescue. The response to the threat Rita presented was much better than that of Katrina. In addition Rita ended up being less powerful and hitting a less densely populated area. Two points that take much pressure off those who are tasked with offering aid, that said, it still appears that FEMA's response was at best spotty and still a little slow.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

DeLay Indicted

He was hit with one count for conspiracy.

DeLay will step aside from his position of majority leader. It appears that California's David Dreier will fill this position until Tom heads off to prison.

I am a little disappointed Duke Cunningham wasn't the Representative from California selected for the position, he would seem like a natural to follow DeLay.

The Lies of Michael Brown

His testimony is keeping fact checkers very busy.

Just a few of the points of factual conflict.

Louisiana Gov. Blanco excluded New Orlenas from Emergency Request

evacuate communities, FEMA stretched, I can't discuss

no evacuation ordered

Just How Unprepared Was FEMA

Just consider these points.

New Orleans is begging for buses, the head of the American Bus Association spent a whole day trying to get in touch with anyone at FEMA to offer aid. He could never get a person to talk to, and they never called him back.

Instead, FEMA had given this transportation contract to Landstar Express America. Landstar then hired Carey Limousine (who they found in an internet search). Carey then turned to Transportation Management Services to get the actual coaches.


FEMA contracted with Carnival Cruise to charter 3 ships for up to 6 months.

The hasty appeal yielded one of the most controversial contracts of the Hurricane Katrina relief operation, a $236 million agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships that now bob more than half empty in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay. The six-month contract -- staunchly defended by Carnival but castigated by politicians from both parties -- has come to exemplify the cost of haste that followed Katrina's strike and FEMA's lack of preparation.

To critics, the price is exorbitant. If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week, according to calculations by aides to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person -- and that would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.

The cost is not truly out of line, but the number of ships chartered, and their planned usage was. One ship, used as a barracks for police, fire and other necessary and displaced security and rebuilding officials would have been a good idea. It would have only been needed for sixty days more or less, and could have been docked right in the middle of New Orleans.

Placing families on ships at ports hours away from their homes for up to six months is a poorly though out, and in the end wasteful decision. 4 years after putting securing the nation as a top national priority, 1 year after the hurricane Pam exercise, and FEMA is clueless about what to do.

I wonder who Brown will blame for this, the Mayor or the Governor.

Deeply Cool, Giant Squid Photographed

But, there is a twist, it was photographed in it's natural environment thousands of feet below the surface of the sea.

The researchers suspended a line in water nearly 4,000 feet deep, with a digital camera and a light looking down on two jigs baited with common squids about 10 inches long. The team also attached crushed shrimp as an odor lure.

The squid attacked the lower bait at a depth of 3,300 feet, wrapping its two long tentacles (squids also have eight shorter ones) around the jig and immediately snagging itself. In attempting to break free, it towed the lure up nearly 1,300 feet, brought it back down and swam sideways with it until it could no longer be spotted by the camera.

National Geographic has more of the photos


The BBC has more, including this shot of the tentacle portion left behind.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Religious Societies are Worse Off Than Secular

This leads to the question, Does religion lead to this, or are the flaw in the society driving people to faith? This study appears to indicates it is faith damaging the society, and not a flawed society driving people to the church.

RELIGIOUS belief can cause damage to a society, contributing towards high murder rates, abortion, sexual promiscuity and suicide, according to research published today.


It compares the social peformance of relatively secular countries, such as Britain, with the US, where the majority believes in a creator rather than the theory of evolution. Many conservative evangelicals in the US consider Darwinism to be a social evil, believing that it inspires atheism and amorality.

church's and faith can do so much, provide for both the physical and emotional need of those in distress. They can provide a community within a community of love protection and support.

But these results, if valid, are very damning.

The paper, published in the Journal of Religion and Society, a US academic journal, reports: Many Americans agree that their churchgoing nation is an exceptional, God-blessed, shining city on the hill that stands as an impressive example for an increasingly sceptical world.

"In general, higher rates of belief in and worship of a creator correlate with higher rates of homicide, juvenile and early adult mortality, STD infection rates, teen pregnancy and abortion in the prosperous democracies.

"The United States is almost always the most dysfunctional of the developing democracies, sometimes spectacularly so."


The study concluded that the US was the world's only prosperous democracy where murder rates were still high, and that the least devout nations were the least dysfunctional. Mr Paul said that rates of gonorrhoea in adolescents in the US were up to 300 times higher than in less devout democratic countries. The US also suffered from " uniquely high" adolescent and adult syphilis infection rates, and adolescent abortion rates, the study suggested.

Mr Paul said: "The study shows that England, despite the social ills it has, is actually performing a good deal better than the USA in most indicators, even though it is now a much less religious nation than America."

He said that the disparity was even greater when the US was compared with other countries, including France, Japan and the Scandinavian countries. These nations had been the most successful in reducing murder rates, early mortality, sexually transmitted diseases and abortion, he added.

I do hope some follow up studies are inspired by this.

Brown Gettting Busy With the Whitewash

He has started his testimony in the republican 'investigation' into the failings of FEMA.

He starts off by accepting some responsibility. As example, for not being able to get the Mayor of New Orleans and the Gov. Blanco to work together. A very smooth start, blaming others from almost the first word.

Of course, he also lied.

FEMA's approach worked in Mississippi and Alabama, Brown told the committee. Of the disastrous flooding that stranded thousands for days in New Orleans, he said, "The only variable was the state government officials involved."

Very few in Mississippi are willing to say any kind words about FEMA.

And the lying continued.

Brown said the lack of a mandatory evacuation of New Orleans before the storm was "the tipping point for all the other things that went wrong." Brown said he had personally pushed Louisiana Gov. Blanco to order such an evacuation.

Just a little reminder;

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin declared a state of emergency Sunday and ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city.

If memory serves, this was the first time New Orleans had ever had a mandatory evacuation ordered.

But when defending the Bush administration, his apologist never balk at 'redefining' the truth.

I have to wonder, will Brown explain why trucks of supplies have been sent all over the US. Will he explain why 1000 rescue firefighters were sent to Atlanta for training on how to distribute flyers, and not to Mississippi and New Orleans for rescue work. Will he explain how a Canadian rescue team could get to one Louisiana Parrish 5 day before the US military, and 6 days before FEMA.

Or will he just blame others.

Federal Money to the Churches

This leads one to ask; Why should the American People give to charity at all?

The Bush administration is taking faith base funding one step further, and FEMA will pay back churches and other religious groups for their charity efforts in the wake of Katrina and Rita.

This is a huge mistake.

Our churches and faith based groups gather contributions to fund just these sorts of activities. People have given these groups millions in the last couple of weeks to enable them to function, and now the US Government is going top off this payment.

Are these churches going to return any contributions they have received?

In the past smaller operations were funded in part by the larger national groups, the red cross, salvation army, ERD ect. Since these groups may not be approached now, are they going to return some of their contributions?

FEMA needs to revisit this decision, and advise these smaller operations to approach some of the national groups for cost reimbursements. Church and state do not need to mix. Each serve a vital service to society, but neither need to try to do the work of the other.

One real positive is the number of church groups who have indicated that they will not take this money. The make it clear that their work is a mission of charity, paid for by people of faith, and should not be mixed with taxpayers funds.

Banned Books, Gotta Love Them

It is banned Book week, and the American Library association has complied a list of the 100 most frequently challenged books.

Funny thing, I have read a great many of these (over 40), and some are quite dear to me.I can not even begin to understand why some of these are challenged.

Just a quick sample of some of the books that some have tried to ban.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Of Mice and Men
The Handmaid's Tale
Pillars of the Earth
A Wrinkle in Time
Go Ask Alice
Lord of the Flies
To Kill a Mockingbird
Native Son
Brave New World

Thank to the Green Knight for the reminder.

Incompetence Rewarded

Michael Brown, the disgraced ex-chief of FEMA, has been retained by the Bush administration to help consult on what went wrong.

I suspect one of the failures that will not be considered was staffing FEMA's leadership with political hacks, and not disaster experts. It is a safe bet this will not be listed as one of the failures.

Think Progress has more on the various explanations about Mr. Browns new employment

Monday, September 26, 2005

Just Put it on The Kids Credit Card

As expected, the republican leadership of this nation lacks the courage to do what is fiscally responsible, and will address the cost of Katrina, by ignoring it.

Republican lawmakers and leadership aides conceded that the wholesale budget cuts envisioned by House conservatives are not being contemplated; the Senate is moving toward approving a temporary expansion of Medicaid for hurricane survivors, estimated to cost $9 billion. Nor are GOP leaders considering tax increases.

And Hurricane Rita's blow to a politically sensitive region of Texas could add more pressure to spend.

"Many communities, faith-based entities and the state of Texas have drained assets to save lives and help with the enormous multi-state national emergency, and they will need reimbursement to avoid massive financial failures," warned Rep. Louie Gohmert, a freshman Republican whose hard-hit East Texas district was drawn with the help of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.) to take it from Democratic control.

The sad part, is if we just reverse that tax cuts given to the multi-millionaires in the last couple of years, this is all paid for. So, we will continue to run up the debt, and further destroy the options our country needs for our long term success and survival.

Thanks republicans, thanks.

Chimp Study Boosts Evolution Theory

The work of getting the exact order of all 3 billion bits of genetic code has done more than just provide a genetic blueprint. It has allowed scientist the opportunity to put the theory of evolution to a very harsh test.

If Darwin was right, for example, then scientists should be able to perform a neat trick. Using a mathematical formula that emerges from evolutionary theory, they should be able to predict the number of harmful mutations in chimpanzee DNA by knowing the number of mutations in a different species' DNA and the two animals' population sizes.

"That's a very specific prediction," said Eric Lander, a geneticist at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard in Cambridge, Mass., and a leader in the chimp project.

So, how did the test come out?

Sure enough, when Lander and his colleagues tallied the harmful mutations in the chimp genome, the number fit perfectly into the range that evolutionary theory had predicted.

The result is not a surprise, but it is comforting. It is good to scientific theory being tested, and then passing that test.

For a much deeper look at this evolution, visit Pharyngula or Panda's Thumb . Two blogs who have a much better understanding of the whole issue, and how it relates to the not so intelligent design crowd.

The 23rd Post, a Meme.

A look back.

My 23rd post was KLM flight to Mexico Diverted, and the fifth sentence was;

can anyone explain this whole event, or is it just another exercise in overwhelming paranoia?

If you are interested here are the instructions:

1. Go into your archive.

2. Find your 23rd post (or closest to).

3. Find the fifth sentence (or closest to).

4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

Seen at both Agitprop and the Green Knight

IRA Has Disarmed

and, as a result, is about defeated.

The IRA has put all of its weapons beyond use, the head of the arms decommissioning body has said. General John de Chastelain made the announcement at a news conference accompanied by the two churchmen who witnessed the process.

"We are satisfied that the arms decommissioned represent the totality of the IRA's arsenal."

There is a lesson to be learned here. The British tried a military approach to the IRA for decades, and the fight continued without end in sight. Only when the situation of the society that they lived in change did a non violent path become viable.

The support waned, and their acceptance declined, and a settlement resulted.

Lets hope someone was taking notes.

More Dead in Iraq

A suicide bomber driving a minibus pulled alongside a convoy of elite Iraqi commandos in the capital Sunday and detonated his explosives, killing 10 people in a spray of burning metal, witnesses said.

Sunday's death count is near 50, in a number of bombings.

What needs to be noted is just how effective the intelligence the resistance is getting. They are getting very good at hitting high value moving targets. That doesn't happen by chance.


Monday isn't much better; Teachers and a Bus Driver killed in an attack on a school.
A group of nine men wearing Iraqi police uniforms stormed an elementary school south of Baghdad Monday, ordered all the male teachers and the school bus driver into a room and sprayed them with bullets, killing six, in a rare attack on a school in Iraq, officials said.

"These men were terrorists wearing police uniforms," said Capt. Muthana Ahmed, director of the provincial police force in the area about the attackers. "No prior warning was made."

Fantastic intelligence, police uniforms, the insurgents in Iraq are woven into all of the institutions that we are trying to build to crush them.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Regulary Metric Verse? Obsolete?

Songs of Innocence, Introduction
You are 'regularly metric verse'. This can take
many forms, including heroic couplets, blank
verse, and other iambic pentameters, for
example. It has not been used much since the
nineteenth century; modern poets tend to prefer
rhyme without meter, or even poetry with
neither rhyme nor meter.

You appreciate the beautiful things in life--the
joy of music, the color of leaves falling, the
rhythm of a heartbeat. You see life itself as
a series of little poems. The result (or is it
the cause?) is that you are pensive and often
melancholy. You enjoy the company of other
people, but they find you unexcitable and
depressing. Your problem is that regularly
metric verse has been obsolete for a long time.

What obsolete skill are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

Huge Turnout For Anti War Rally

With up to 200,000 people marching, it was a very impressive turnout.

It was also gratifying to see a wide diversity of people participating in this event. It points to the unique nature of this war.

Iraq was a war of choice. The US did not have to fight, and the only reason the American public allowed it was because of a well orchestrated chorus of lies presented by the Bush administration and echoed by a sycophantic media.

A nation must, at times, be willing to fight a war. Survival, at times, demands a fight. Our actions in Afghanistan were proper, and our only regret should be the fact that by choosing to attack Iraq, we have left the job unfinished there.

Our actions in Iraq were based on lies, and have resulted in a far less secure situation than existed prior to our involvement. The fact that the turnout for this protest was two to three times expected indicates that more of the American public are becoming fully aware of the disaster we have created.

A Day Away From the News

is wonderful.

Friends, Food, and Football; 24 hours with the issues of the world on the back burner.

It was a fantastic fantasy, to be able to pretend, for a while that all is well.

now, back into the mess.

Hurricane Kartina and Rita Expose Republicans

First, the inept response exposed the extreme ammount of cronieism that is present in DC. Then, when forced to look at ways to pay for the damage done, we see just where they stand.

The very richest Americans, the top 1% in income and wealth, are expecting a tax cut that is going to cost the US over 300 billion. The Republicans refuse to discuss repealing these cuts. The have proposed , according to the Navy Times, cutting military funding, but not in procurement, or R and D. They like the idea of cutting quality of life funds, health care.

At the same time, another Republican it trying to make it illegal to for the National Weather service to distribute weather information if a for profit company trying to make a profit doing it.

Can it be made more clear. The Republicans care only for the rich. Big companies get protection, Paris Hilton gets protection, The Saudi Royal Family get protection, but if you work for a living, or are poor, it is just screw you.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Just Doing My Own Thing

You Are an Indie Rocker!

You are in it for the love of the music...
And you couldn't care less about being signed by a big label.
You're all about loving and supporting music - not commercial success.
You may not have the fame and glory, but you have complete control of your career.

Just a Few More Bad Apples

This time they are said to be the 82nd airborne.

Two soldiers and an officer with the Army's 82nd Airborne Division have told a human rights organization of systemic detainee abuse and human rights violations at U.S. bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, recounting beatings, forced physical exertion and psychological torture of prisoners, the group said.


And like soldiers accused at Abu Ghraib, these troops said that military intelligence interrogators encouraged their actions, telling them to make sure the detainees did not sleep or were physically exhausted so as to get them to talk.

"They were directed to get intel from them so we had to set the conditions by banging on their cages, crashing them into the cages, kicking them, kicking dirt, yelling," the soldier was quoted as saying. Later he described how he and others beat the detainees. "But you gotta understand, this was the norm. Everyone would just sweep it under the rug."

So, how many men, in how many locations, under how many commands, does it take for a few bad apples to become systemic?

Martha Stewart Got 5 Months

for a crime that would have saved her a few thousand dollars.

so, how much should Sen. Bill Frist get?

Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist is facing questions from the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission about his sale of stock in his family's hospital company one month before its price fell sharply.

The Tennessee lawmaker, who is the Senate's top Republican and a likely candidate for president in 2008, ordered his portfolio managers in June to sell his family's shares in HCA Inc., the nation's largest hospital chain, which was founded by Frist's father and brother.

In this case it could be millions involved.

And we see it again, not just a republican accused of shady dealings, but a republican in a leadership position.

typical and disgusting

Friday, September 23, 2005

Republican Culture of Corruption - The White House

It was bound to happen, but it is, oh so poetic how it happened.

Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff bragged two years ago that he was in contact with White House political aide Karl Rove on behalf of a large, Bermuda-based corporation that wanted to avoid incurring some taxes and continue receiving federal contracts, according to a written statement by President Bush's nominee to be deputy attorney general.

Timothy E. Flanigan, general counsel for conglomerate Tyco International Ltd., said in a statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee last week that Abramoff's lobbying firm initially boasted that Abramoff could help Tyco fend off a special liability tax because he "had good relationships with members of Congress," including House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-Tex.).

Abramoff later said "he had contact with Mr. Karl Rove"

A Bush nominee, who in his new job could be responsible for prosecuting corruption, outs the corruption in the administration.

Abramoff, Ney, DeLay, Rove, and so many others, it should now be clear to everyone that the web of corruption of the Republicans reached to the very highest levels of the governments, including the White House.

Friday's Post and Stories of Interest

An Angry Old Broad has some information about living poor, it is hard hitting and direct.

Onboard the Gypsy Caravan, what is love.

The Washington Post looks at what it was like inside a nursing home in New Orleans during and after the storm, UPDATE Cameron Parish hard hit by Rita.

Blogenlust produces some damn strong evidence that Bush has given up on his war on terror.

More on love and loss over at Dharma Bums.

Cognitive dissonance and hurricane Katrina are the focus of RRespctful of Otters

Success or Failure

Much of the main stream media, echoing the right, has hinted that the New Orleans evacuation was a failure.

They are also indicating that the evacuation of Galveston (inspired in part by the lesions learned by Katrina) was a success.

But in both cases, the projected total percentage of population evacuated was about 80-90%.

Why is one a success, and one a failure?

Another Gas Price Spike Coming

Rita is due in 24 hours, and as a result production of gas will be restricted due to closed refineries.

Energy companies yesterday were shutting down refineries that can produce nearly a quarter of U.S. gasoline, jet fuel and other oil products in advance of Hurricane Rita, a precautionary measure that threatens to push prices higher.

The amount of the damage to refineries on the Texas and Louisiana coast, and the length of time they remain idle, will determine the extent of price increases and the availability of the supplies, analysts said.

We should watch to see how long and how many of the refineries stay down. During the California energy crisis, Enron showed the energy companies just how profitable shutdowns and shortages can be.

But, we do the government, and it is there job to protect us. And the Bush administration has moved to protect us. He has appointed a oil company lawyer to investigate price gouging.

Anyone want to bet on just how big the profits of the energy companies will be this quarter.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

We Stand Firmly Opposed to Slavery

And the Sexual exploitation of the young, unless you are Saudi Arabia or Kuwait (or 9 other nations).
President Bush decided Wednesday to waive any financial sanctions on Saudi Arabia, Washington's closest Arab ally in the war on terrorism, for failing to do enough to stop the modern-day slave trade in prostitutes, child sex workers and forced laborers.

The Citizen Reporters Follow Rita

The Houston Chronicle has set up a Stormwatchers Blog so those in the area can report what is happening.

Hat tip to Arguing with signposts

Mixed Messages, and Both True

Today we read about the vast improvement in the quality of Iraqi Forces. This is vital if we hope to get out of this mess.

What happened next, commanders here said, suggested significant progress toward the goal of shifting security functions to Iraqi forces so that the United States can begin withdrawing troops from Iraq. When the clashes grew intense, the Iraqi soldiers did not shrink, American officers said.

"Okay, men, it's time to buck up and show our mettle," said a U.S. Special Forces soldier, acting as platoon commander, who allowed reporters to accompany the patrol on the condition that he not be named. "We can't let this stop us. We need payback!"

They went looking for revenge. When they were ambushed again, in a home one block away, they were ready. After a firefight, they came out smiling proudly, with several raising two fingers to indicate the number of insurgents killed.

Almost at the exact same time as this group of Iraqis were showing how much progress they have made, in Basra the British had to use tanks to rescue two men who were being held by the Iraqi police.

One moment provides hope, one betrays that hope, and in the end we are left where we were, stuck in the middle

Another Bush appointee performs as Expected

A closed door meeting was held in the congress. They are looking at the CIA and it loss of skilled professionals.

Richer's departure is a setback for the CIA and particularly CIA Director Porter J. Goss, who selected him for the job less than a year ago. In leaving as assistant deputy director of operations, Richer joins a number of senior clandestine managers, including several with Middle East expertise, who have left since Goss took over the agency one year ago Saturday. Richer is a former CIA station chief in Amman, Jordan, and had headed the Near East division.

These are not political appointments, but lifetime employees. They have the experience we must have to defend our nation, and have dedicated their lifes to keeping us safe.

and they are leaving.

According to sources close to both men, Richer was blunt in his assessment of Goss's tenure and urged Goss, a Republican former congressman from Florida who once chaired the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, to communicate a vision for the agency and demonstrate leadership that senior career officials could rally behind.

"Rob laid at his doorstep, in a collegial way, that Goss is out of touch," said one officer whose identity is protected by law. "It fell on deaf ears," the officer said. Richer left the meeting angry and walked out of the Langley headquarters for perhaps the last time, several officers said.

Your doing a great job brownnie, no doubt Bush is also thrilled with this development.

The Bird Flu is Still Out There

Katrina and Rita have had the focus of the media, the public and the government, but the warnings about bird flu are becoming more urgent. The W.H.O. is keeping up its call for action.

"While we still have a window of opportunity, we must do everything we can to avert an influenza pandemic, as we simultaneously prepare for a worse-case scenario," says Shigeru Omi, the WHO`s regional director for the Western Pacific.

Shigeru Omi spoke at a health conference in Noumea, New Caledonia, where over 100 health officials, including various health ministers, attended. The conference was centered on finding ways to stop the bird flu

and the government of Indonesia is now warning that things could be getting out of hand.
Fears of a possibly uncontrollable bird flu outbreak were sweeping Indonesia tonight after the government warned of a potential epidemic.

Scientists tried to determine whether a five-year-old girl died from the virus in a Jakarta hospital, where six other Indonesian are being treated as a possible bird flu patients.

Right now it is to early to tell if the fears in Indonesia are warented or not.

In the past, this virus did not pass between people easily. The great concern is that it will adapt, and become much more contagious. Finding areas with more than just a case or two is very worrisome, since it could indicate that the virus has changed.

Lets hope and pray the governments planning for this has been more effective than it's natural disaster planning.

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Run Away, Part 2

In 24 hours Rita has grown up, and is now a cat 4. The only way to handle a storm of this size is to flee.

If you live on the Texas coast, get out now, if you don't please remember a natural disaster could also strike you. Hop over to MSNBC, where they have some good information about how to get and stay prepared.

Just a Reminder, It Is More Than Just New Orleans

The focus has been on New Orleans, understandably, but remember far more was destroyed. South and easy of the city is where Katrina first made landfall. These areas did have a bigger levee, they thought they where ready for the biggest storms, and they were destroyed.

All that's left on some blocks in this town of 900, and some of the neighboring communities along the levee, are concrete stoops. That's it. Churches and stores simply vanished and a big chunk of the road that is so important to maintaining Louisiana's rich oil fields is washed away. Sturdy wood frame houses that survived when the wind got strong and the water got high in the past were ground into kindling, reduced to mere smudges of color on the sloping sides of the river levees.

Also pointed out is the damage that has been done over the years to the natural hurricane protection systems, the wetlands. We will be rebuilding, and we will be putting up a new levee, but we also should look at some past mistakes, and make sure those are not repeated.

The Plaquemines that Judge Perez ruled looks like a cursed place now. Cattle roam untended on deserted streets, and pecan trees -- once tall and majestic -- lie down in the fields, toppled and broken. The lush groves that produced satsumas, sweet oranges coveted each harvest season by Louisianians, have gone brittle and brown, burned crispy by 14 feet of salty water that came through a 200-foot-wide break in the marsh levee.

On the other side is wild Louisiana, part land, part water, a place that was vanishing even before Katrina, and that environmentalists are begging harder than ever for the federal government to restore. "As a child I always used to think, 'What's beyond this?'" said Duplessis, who remembers going for swims in the Mississippi with his father. "The ducks would fly off, and I would always wonder where in the world they would go."

Insurgents Have Infiltrated the Iraq Police

and army.

This not so stunning bit of news is coming from the British Army.

"Rogue elements" in Iraq's police force must be rooted out, the head of the multi-national force in Basra has said. Colonel Bill Dunham's comments came after the British army said it had to rescue two soldiers arrested in Basra and handed to Shia militants by police. UK Defence Secretary John Reid and Iraqi prime minister Ibrahim Jaafari are in London discussing the tensions.

Meanwhile, Iraq's interior minister has disputed the UK military's account of how it freed the soldiers on Monday. Baqir Solagh Jabr told BBC News the men never left police custody or the prison building in Basra and were not handed to militants.

How can anyone who has any passing knowledge about the situation in Iraq was fully aware that most of the defense organizations established by the Iraq government were totally penetrated by rebel supporters.

Noticing late is better than not noticing at all, but you are now left to ask; Just how do you remove the rouge elements when the actions of this week make it clear that no one in the official chain of command has any control.

In addition, has anyone in DC figured out how you turn over security to Iraqi forces, if those forces are awash in insurgents.

Columbia S.C. - Rugby Capital USA

At least for 1 week.

Columbia has been selected to host the USA Rugby Football Union's Mens Division 1, 2 and 3 Round of 16 weekend.

The top 16 teams from each division will meet in Columbia this spring and fight it out for one of the spots in the national finals weekend, in San Deigo.

36 games, 48 teams, over 1,000 players, the very best of American rugby is coming to Columbia. Congratulations to Columbia's Olde Grey RFC for being selected to host this event, and keep checking in here for details.

A House (and Senate) Divided

and not the traditional Democrat vs Republican division. It is the GOP, in an intramural fight .

Congressional Republicans from across the ideological spectrum yesterday rejected the White House's open-wallet approach to rebuilding the Gulf Coast, a sign that the lockstep GOP discipline that George W. Bush has enjoyed for most of his presidency is eroding on Capitol Hill.


Congressional Republicans are not arguing with Bush's pledge that the federal government will lead the Louisiana and Mississippi recovery. But they are insisting that the massive cost -- as much as $200 billion -- be paid for. Conservatives are calling for spending cuts to existing programs, a few GOP moderates are entertaining the possibility of a tax increase, and many in the middle want to freeze Bush tax cuts that have yet to take effect.

At least a few of the republicans are acting in a responsible and mature manner. They clearly see the current situation, and know that not having a plan is just an invitation to run up the debt.

And that is just what Bush's plan appears to be. His whole life he has had Daddy and his friends with their big credit cards to bail him out. He never had to suffer the consequences of his choices and failures. A life time of shelter and privilege has trained him well.

Now he has the American public, and we will get to pay off the latest tab for his choices and errors.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Republican Culture of Corruption - Alaska

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19 /U.S. Newswire/ -- In the latest example of the culture of corruption engulfing Republicans in Washington, the Anchorage Daily News reported this weekend that Alaska Republican Senator Ted Stevens pushed through legislation creating a special fishery in the Aleutian Islands that would provide millions of dollars worth of pollock to Adak Fisheries, a company that his son was closely associated with. At the same time, his son, State Senator Ben Stevens, held a secret, undisclosed option that entitled him to one-fourth ownership of Adak Fisheries, a deal worth millions of dollars thanks to his father's pollock appropriations rider.

Republicans lie, Republicans cheat, Republicans steal, and we see it everywhere.

Texas, California, Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, Indiana, Connecticut, Alaska, New Hampshire and of course DC. Wherever you have a republican politician, it is a safe bet you have a crook.

Something You Don't See Every Day

A B-25 parked on the side of the road.

But, that is what I saw as I drove into work this morning.

Of course it was not as pretty as the on pictured here, since it has been sitting on the bottom of lake Murray for 60 years. Now it is high and dry, sitting in the parking lot on the Irmo side of the Lake Murray Dam, and slowing traffic, because it isn't every day you see a B-25C parked on the side of the road.

Stem Cell News, Paralyzed Mice Restored?

Maybe not quite that much, but this is very exciting news and in time could be a huge step forward.

Mice with severe spinal cord injuries regained much of their ability to walk normally after getting injections of stem cells taken from the brains of human fetuses, scientists in California reported yesterday.

The work strengthens recent evidence that various kinds of stem cells -- including some from human embryos and others from fetuses -- have the capacity to nurse injured nerve cells back to health and in some cases even become replacement neurons themselves.

More US Deaths in Iraq

The blood continues to flow in Iraq, with the deaths of 5 US troops.

The military announced the deaths Tuesday of five U.S. soldiers in three separate roadside bomb explosions, pushing the number of U.S. fatalities since March 2003 past the 1,900 mark.

Four of the soldiers were assigned to the 2nd Marine Division, II Marine Expeditionary Force in Ramadi, 60 miles west of Baghdad. They were "conducting combat operations" and died in two separate incidents, said the military, declining to provide further details.

A fifth soldier belonged to the 18th Military Police Brigade and was killed 75 miles north of Baghdad when his vehicle was struck by an improvised explosive device,

In addition, 3 Blackwater mercenaries and a US State Department official were also killed in Iraq.

Bringing the death total reported today to 9, is the mission still accomplished?

Republican Culture of Corruption - DC

The Bush administration's top federal procurement official resigned Friday and was arrested yesterday, accused of lying and obstructing a criminal investigation into Republican lobbyist Jack Abramoff's dealings with the federal government. It was the first criminal complaint filed against a government official in the ongoing corruption probe related to Abramoff's activities in Washington.

The complaint, filed by the FBI, alleges that David H. Safavian, 38, a White House procurement official involved until last week in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts, made repeated false statements to government officials and investigators about a golf trip with Abramoff to Scotland in 2002.

One interesting side bar on this crook. He, like so many of the Bush appointments, had few if any qualifications for his position, aside from being loyal to George and willing to do anything to grab more power.

It looks like Jack Abramoff's actions have, after tainting the DeLay and the Republican Congress, stained the white house.

Shocking News; The Senate is Doing It's Job

After years of just rubber stamping Bush appointees, the Senate is suddenly interested in determining if those Bush is nominating are qualified for the job.

The Bush administration is seeking to appoint a lawyer with little immigration or customs experience to head the troubled law enforcement agency that handles those issues, prompting sharp criticism from some employee groups, immigration advocates and homeland security experts.

The push to appoint Julie Myers to head the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, part of the Department of Homeland Security, comes in the midst of intense debate over the qualifications of department political appointees involved in the sluggish response to Hurricane Katrina.

It is just a shame that it took hundreds of deaths and a disaster costing us hundreds of billions of dollars for them to realize that the advise and consent part of their job was kinda important.

More Confirmation on the Tora Bora Claim

We all remember Kerry pointing out that the choices Bush made resulted in Bin Laden escaping from the US during the first weeks of the afghan war.

Kerry says US forces could have killed or captured bin Laden when they had him trapped in the mountains of Tora Bora in 2001, but bungled the operation because they did not have enough troops on the ground and "outsourced" the job to Afghan warlords.

and we all remember Bush's responding.

Now my opponent [John Kerry] is throwing out the wild claim that he knows where bin Laden was in the fall of 2001 and that our military had a chance to get him in Tora Bora

Well more information keep coming out, and it further proves that Bush is an amazingly adept liar.

Well past midnight one morning in early December 2001, according to American intelligence officials, Osama bin Laden sat with a group of top aides - including members of his elite international 055 Brigade - in the mountainous redoubt of Tora Bora in eastern Afghanistan. Outside, it was blustery and bitterly cold; many of the passes of the White Mountains, of which Tora Bora forms a part, were already blocked by snow. But inside the cave complex, where bin Laden had sought his final refuge from the American war in Afghanistan - a war in which Washington, that October, had struck back for the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks - bin Laden munched on olives and sipped sugary mint tea. He was dressed in his signature camouflage jacket, and a Kalashnikov rested by his side. Captured Qaeda fighters, interviewed separately, told American interrogators that they recalled an address that bin Laden had made to his followers shortly before dawn


Now, as the last major battle of the war in Afghanistan began, hidden from view inside the caves were an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 well-trained, well-armed men. A mile below, at the base of the caves, some three dozen U.S. Special Forces troops fanned out. They were the only ground forces that senior American military leaders had committed to the Tora Bora campaign.
emphasis added


Kerry was telling the truth, and Bush was lying. Big surprise isn't it.

Monday, September 19, 2005

More From Mississippi

that again points out that blaming the locals in Louisiana is a disgusting partisan attack.

But Gulfport was still without help three days after the storm, and Warr's control over the situation was slipping. Looting broke out downtown. When Warr drove a utility vehicle down U.S. 90, he watched as his longtime family business, Warr's Men's Clothing, was ransacked.

Worst of all, the city was running out of fuel. Generators were about to fail, rescue vehicles were running out of gas. One local hospital radioed that it was on backup power and had no water, and that looters were circling.

Warr turned to his chief of police, Stephen T. Barnes. There was a private fuel transport vehicle -- Warr doesn't remember whose -- parked in a lot behind a chain-link fence. Warr had the lock cut. "Can we hot-wire it?" he asked.

A Republican mayor, in a Republican state is forced to steal to try to maintain order. Where was the support he was supposed to have gotten?

In the three weeks since the storm, Mississippians have in some ways felt as cut off as they did on the day it struck. Sen. Trent Lott (R) says Mississippians "are disenchanted" with the federal response in their state.

So when you hear somebody blaming the locals in New Orleans, please ask them why the screwed us response in Mississippi. The one big difference is, much of Louisianan was under 5-15 feet of water, and Mississippi had the advantage of being dry. In both cases, it is clear the response of the Bush administration was a abject failure.


From the LA Times, also in Mississippi.

Robert Williams tried to contact the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the county about removing two 60-foot pine trees that threatened his mother's home here.

No one responded, so Williams borrowed a chain saw and brought the trees down on his own.

After a while, the 32-year-old church janitor got through to FEMA. "They gave us a case number and said someone would be out as soon as possible," he said, standing beside the fallen trees, which crushed a utility shed. "We have no idea when that will be."

Half a mile away, James Meeks, 54, found a large portion of his mobile home's roof in a tree, crumpled like an accordion. Meeks' wife, Betty, 57, called FEMA to find out about emergency compensation.

"To be honest, it has taken FEMA quite a while to get back to us," she said. "I called them more than 10 days ago, and they said they would be right out. Nobody has come yet."

James Meeks hauled out a ladder and crafted a makeshift roof. He worked without electricity, which did not return to his neighborhood until two weeks after the hurricane.

The one piece of good luck for those is Mississippi is they were not underwater, if they had been they would have been able to do as much for themselves as they have.

For other tales of local response and FEMA's efforts, visit Badtux, for a very good collection.

Talk Like a Pirate Day

a time t' celebrate t' joy o' sailin', combat and booty. hoist a mug o' your choice, gather your maties around and let your inner pirate talk.

Remember Back, 3+ Years Ago

The administration and armed forces denounced body counts as something they would not do. They cited the lessons learned in Vietnam and boldly stated that was a trap they could not get caught in.

Check out this headline form the Washington Post, online.

Body Counts Now Cited as Benchmarks

The text is very telling.

Using enemy body counts as a benchmark, the U.S. military claimed gains against Abu Musab Zarqawi's foreign-led fighters last week even as they mounted their deadliest attacks on Iraq's capital.

but if body count becomes the standard, that knife has to cut both ways.

But by many standards, including increasingly high death tolls in insurgent strikes, Zarqawi's group, al Qaeda in Iraq, could claim to be the side that's gaining after 2 1/2 years of war. August was the third-deadliest month of the war for U.S. troops.

That is one reason they denounce the mentality that leads to body counts as one they would avoid. It also clearly displays just how bogged down we have become in Iraq, now body counts are the only means we have to measure our progress (such as it is).


Speaking of Progress, (or it's exact opposite) British Soldiers Clash With Iraqi Police in Basra.

Heavy clashes erupted Monday between Iraqi police and British soldiers based in Basra, Iraq's second-largest city, witnesses said.

The clashes are the latest in surging tensions in Basra, a Shiite-dominated city that had long been one of Iraq's calmest. Attacks have targeted British and Americans there.

These are not insurgents, or terrorist, or dead enders, or bathist (or what ever term you like best), these men are the official arm of the government we installed, these are the men we have been training, and these are the men we are fighting.

If this were a piece of fiction, and not a news report, I would be thinking for-shadowing.

Breakthrough in North Korea 6 Way Talks

China announced Monday that negotiators from six nations have reached agreement under which North Korea pledged to dismantle its nuclear arms program in return for recognition and aid from the United States and its Asian allies.

Realistically, there is a very long way to go. North Korea has in the past been far from consistent in it's behavior, and the initial very vague, but it is a start.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Bush's Question, Who Can He Blame this On

Emergency aid deliveries re-directed, re-directed, and held up.

Lutz said his odyssey began Sept. 6 when he left Wisconsin with a load of water and ice for Meridian, Miss.

He said he arrived on time but was told not to unload; instead, the drivers were sent to Columbia, S.C. Barred from unloading their freight there, they were directed to Cumberland, arriving Wednesday evening, Lutz said.


The drivers acknowledged they were being paid well some as much as $800 a day but they said they could make as much hauling their regular loads. "There's no telling when I'll be able to get home," said John Thomas, a driver from Texas. "I can't leave the load. I could sit here and get upset or complain, but it doesn't help."

Just more of that famous Bush administration expertise at work.

The reality is, even after 3 weeks, dismissing the head of FEMA, and for the first time in his presidency accepting responsibility for a failure, the relief effort is still a mess.

Three weeks after Hurricane Katrina struck, red tape and poor planning have left thousands of evacuees without basic services, according to local and state officials, public policy experts and survivors themselves.

Of course the presidents habit of avoiding responsibility and passing the buck can be found here too.

In Mississippi, people waiting for promised housing in the form of mobile homes or trailers found themselves in a Catch-22 situation: Even as local officials said they were waiting for FEMA to provide the shelters, officials at the federal agency said they were waiting for local officials to provide the right locations.

One lesson of this screw-up is when you ignore an agency and staff it with party hacks and not experts, this will be the end result. I wonder if he is even aware of his responsibility in this area.

Weekend time killer

have a blast, and build your own city.

Afghan Elections are Today

In the country we were right to go to war in, the next step in their process democracy takes place today.

There has been a fair amount of violence, but the indications are that the elections will not be greatly disrupted. It does make one wonder just how much further along we might be here if we had focused our efforts, money, and forces here instead of getting distracted of a foolish misadventure in Iraq.

While this is a very important landmark, we must remember two key points; First, a number of the leaders of the Taliban, including Omar, are still running free in Afghanistan, and second, they might, in time, elect a government that looks very much like the one we just ousted. Cultural tradition and the continuing violence can lead to people looking for the security the Taliban represented.

More Dead in Baghdad

Domestic concerns have pushed Iraq down on the list of concerns, but it doesn't mean that things are any better there.

Four days after al-Qaida in Iraq declared all-out war on the Shiite majority, more than 250 people have been killed, 30 of them by a car bomb Saturday outside a produce market in a poor Shiite suburb east of Baghdad. The blast underlined one of the bloodiest weeks since the U.S.-led invasion.

In all, at least 52 people were killed or found dead throughout the country Saturday, victims of mounting sectarian killings promised by Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the Jordanian-born leader of the terrorist organization and a moving force behind the Sunni-dominated insurgency.


A Kurdish Member of the Parliament has been killed, as well as more American troops.

So now we have an official civil war, and we are in the middle of it, lovely.

Iran wants Nuclear Power, and Asks

other nations and corporations to join in.

In an assertive speech to the U.N. General Assembly, the newly elected Iranian president, who took office last month, also insisted that Iran has an "inalienable right" to produce its own nuclear fuel and accused the United States of violating the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by "trying to prevent other countries from acquiring the technology to produce peaceful nuclear energy."

Ahmadinejad said, "The Islamic Republic of Iran is prepared to engage in serious partnership with private and public sectors of other countries in the implementation of uranium enrichment."

This puts more pressure of the US to find valid reasons for resisting Iran efforts at a civil nuclear program. If Iran continues to allow inspections, and oversite, and now adds mulit-national and private corporation involvment, we will be very hard pressed to continue to resist.

Of course, we really need a better reason to resist this that we don't like them, and right now that is all we appear to have.

To get a better feel for the new president, there is a quick question and answer with mahmoud Ahmadinejad, that touches on this and other points.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

A Comprehensive View of Republican lies

Over at Ethereal Girl, the lies from the right about the response to Katrina are debunked.

A very nice comprehensive list, with links to the details.

Just remember these points when you hear those on the right trying to shift the blame to local officials (who are not without fault).

It was more than just New Orleans that was flooded and pleading for the promised help. St. Benards Parrish, and those south and east of the city were also devastated and unaided.

It was more than just Louisiana that denounced the failures of the federal response. Many in Mississippi felt a doubly cursed, ignored by both the government and the media.

And, as noted here, some of those hard hit by last years hurricane are still adrift.

Forman's place is FEMA City, a dusty, baking, treeless collection of almost 500 trailers that was set up by the federal emergency agency last fall to house more than 1,500 people made homeless by Hurricane Charley, one of the most destructive storms in recent Florida history. The free shelter was welcomed by thankful survivors back then; almost a year later, most are still there -- angry, frustrated, depressed and increasingly desperate.

"FEMA City is now a socioeconomic time bomb just waiting to blow up,"

Like the old joke goes, how do you know when a Bush apologist is lying?

Their lips are moving.

Only in Bush's America

Would a man almost everyone believes is deceiving the public (this is lying, OK) be considered a lock to be appointed as chief justice.

But the reaction from both camps in the abortion wars was startling. Abortion rights groups took no comfort in the chief justice nominee's remarks, and antiabortion groups took no offense. The reason, activists on the left and right say, is that both sides vividly remember Clarence Thomas's 1991 confirmation hearing

It is clear that we will soon have at least two justices who lied in their Senate appointment testimony. When lying from supreme court justices becomes acceptable, it sets a very interesting standard for behavior and truthfulness for the nation.

To Funny to Not Post

From Daily Kos

"Bush is to leadership what prairie brambles are to mobile surgery rooms."

"Intelligent Design is just creationism with aluminum siding on it."

"You could say the new Iraqi Constitution is going to be a bit short on rights for women. You could also say the Arctic in January is brisk."

"Bush says he doesn't want to play the "Blame Game." Makes sense. Never heard of a chicken who wanted to play the "Extra Crispy" game."

"The good news is, closed circuit videos in and around New Orleans have allowed us to identify the looters: Chevron, Shell, and ExxonMobil."

"Senator Rick Santorum thinks there should be tougher penalties on people who decide to ride Hurricanes out. I guess he means worse than drowning."

"As soon as New Orleans gets back to normal, I plan on volunteering to go down there and help drink their economy back on its feet."

Jumping to Conclusions

Just another day of style over substance, deception over truth with the Bush administration.

I am duty-bound to report the talk of the New Orleans warehouse district last night: there was rejoicing (well, there would have been without the curfew, but the few people I saw on the streets were excited) when the power came back on for blocks on end. Kevin Tibbles was positively jubilant on the live update edition of Nightly News that we fed to the West Coast. The mini-mart, long ago cleaned out by looters, was nonetheless bathed in light, including the empty, roped-off gas pumps. The motorcade route through the district was partially lit no more than 30 minutes before POTUS drove through. And yet last night, no more than an hour after the President departed, the lights went out. The entire area was plunged into total darkness again, to audible groans. It's enough to make some of the folks here who witnessed it... jump to certain conclusions.

From Brian Williams via Daily Kos.

and the right wonders why the left doesn't trust a thing Bush utters.

Friday, September 16, 2005

Interesting How Two Stories Tie Together.

With the destruction of the Gulf Coast, everyone is looking for a reason or pattern, and one may have been found in rising sea temperatures. This is linked to global warming, and would be an expected byproduct.

Of course we know that many on the right still deny either the very existence of global warming, or (those who have looked at the facts and admit that something is up) avow that there is no evidence that it is man made. Even as more data comes out that points to warming, they firmly hold their ground (there is no global warming, and if there is it isn't man made)

Well, for the second time in 6 weeks a published article, this time in the journal Science, claim that global warming is heating the oceans and that is causing more and stronger storms. Others (mostly those who have been fighting against the idea of man induced global warming) point the finger at the normal variety in weather patterns. I am as sure that in time, a few more centuries maybe, we can develop enough data to make some of the critics happy, but it may no longer matter.

The Independent has a story up today reporting that some experts in this field feel we have now passed the point of no return.

A record loss of sea ice in the Arctic this summer has convinced scientists that the northern hemisphere may have crossed a critical threshold beyond which the climate may never recover. Scientists fear that the Arctic has now entered an irreversible phase of warming which will accelerate the loss of the polar sea ice that has helped to keep the climate stable for thousands of years.

They believe global warming is melting Arctic ice so rapidly that the region is beginning to absorb more heat from the sun, causing the ice to melt still further and so reinforcing a vicious cycle of melting and heating.

The greatest fear is that the Arctic has reached a "tipping point" beyond which nothing can reverse the continual loss of sea ice and with it the massive land glaciers of Greenland, which will raise sea levels dramatically.

Would it not be the ultimate in irony to spend 200 Billion to rebuild the gulf, to have it all flooded due to rising sea levels.

Friday's Places on the Web to Visit

In a bid to patch up his sinking presidency and step back onto firmer ground, bush came out spending and spinning. Over at Think Progress, the have a number of posts comparing Bush's claims against facts.

Over at Ft. Jake's, he has noticed that Peter Akinola the leader of the Nigeria, has taken the next step in his plans for schism, and taken steps to sever the ties with Cantebury.

Shakespeare Sister thinks, in light of the president's plan, New Orleans should be renamed GOP-E

Over at Eschaton, a screwed up young man comes in for a drink.

Michael Hastings at MSNBC points out the difficultly of trying to report the 'good news' when the bad new is so bad.

Orcinus has found people are trying to soft pedal interment, in the effort to make the unacceptable, acceptable.

Welcome to South Carolina

A land of casual racism.

Renee Holcombe, formerly an associate vice president for student services with a staff of about 40, told employees in two separate briefings last week that the school's aid for the mostly black hurricane victims staying at the Palmetto Expo Center would include sending yellow buses to pick up the "yard apes," said Barton and senior vice president Ben Dillard.

This isn't some backwoods bumpkin, but a high ranking executive at a large educational facility that dealt with a high volume of minority students. The saddest part;

Reached at her home this afternoon, Holcombe said she was "numb and shocked."

If appears she had no idea that her phrasing was offensive.

No wonder these folks are so interesting in coming here.

Another Sign of a Lame Duck

The Presidents flawed and absurd ideas on social security restructuring may be dead.

National Republican Congressional Committee Chairman Thomas M. Reynolds will recommend to the House Republican leadership that the party drop its effort to restructure Social Security, at least for this year, House Republican aides confirmed yesterday.

What is so sad is how simple it is to address the pending shortfall, just remove the wage cap, and we may not have a shortfall at all. Of course, if they did this the rich would actually have to pay the same percentage of earnings as the very poor, and we can't have that.

The excuse will be the hurricane and having to appoint 2 new justices to the supreme court, but in reality, it is the decline of the president that has triggered this stepdown.

Why Use and Ounce of Prevention

When you can charge up a 200 billion dollar cure.

Although he cited no price tag, the president committed the nation to a plan that officials and lawmakers believe could top $200 billion, roughly the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars combined, and is certain to reorient government and the remainder of the Bush presidency. It will create much larger deficits

Of course, while announcing his billion dollar mia culpa, Bush endorsed the idea of a republican led cover-up of the failures of the administration.

he embraced a Republican plan for a GOP-majority congressional inquiry rather than the independent commission sought by Democrats.

My questions are, would if not have made more sense to spend the money up front that the Corp of engineers has been requesting and if we have another mega disaster is this the new standard of response.

Ignore it till it is too late, and then throw billions at the mess that is created?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Oral Sex, now a Social Norm Among Teens

Slightly more than half of American teenagers, ages 15 to 19, have engaged in oral sex, with females and males reporting similar levels of experience

A new very large study of teen sexual activity is out, and for the supporters of abstinence only, the numbers can not look very good.

Supporters of such programs say they have resulted in young people delaying intercourse, but opponents say they simply have led young people to substitute other risky behaviors, especially fellatio and cunnilingus. The new data tend to support the latter view, showing that nearly one in four virgin teens has engaged in oral sex.

25% of those following the abstinence line are still at risk for all forms disease. Comprehensive sexual education would include risk information about other forms of sexual behavior, and supply real information about how to avoid these risks. The abstinence classes often are full of lies, myth, and misinformation, and seldom address any area of prevention, other than don't do it.

"They're very smart about this issue," said Brindis, "but they may not have been given a strong enough message around the risks of oral sex. Maybe we need to do a better job of showing them they need to use condoms." Oral sex has been associated in clinical studies with gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and the human papillomavirus

A good study to see would be the actual rates of infection among peer groups of those getting full sex education curriculum against those who get the 'just say no' lesson.

I suspect those who get the whole truth, while starting earlier, have lower rates of disease and pregnancy. This will be very important in years to come, as we address effective education programs.

Because it is becoming clear, that good girls do.

Child Trend's analysis breaks down the federal data by age, race and ethnicity, mother's education, family structure and income. Combined, these breakdowns show that oral sex is most common among white families in the higher-income brackets.

So, Where is the Money Going to Come From

After rounds and rounds of tax cuts for the rich, and spending hundreds of billions of a war of choice, the Gulf storm will cost us hundreds of billions of dollars.

President Bush will call tonight for an unprecedented federal commitment to rebuild New Orleans and other areas obliterated by Hurricane Katrina, putting the United States on pace to spend more in the next year on the storm's aftermath than it has over three years on the Iraq war, according to White House and congressional officials.

With the federal tab for Katrina already nearly quadruple the cost of the country's previous most expensive natural disaster cleanup, Bush plans to offer federal assistance to help flood victims find jobs, get housing and health care, and attend school, according to White House aides.

This all has to be done, but other choices made in the past years mean this is not something we can easily pay for, and some on the right are still demanding another tax cut for millionaires.

Katrina means long-planned Republican tax cuts will be delayed -- but not abandoned. Lawmakers say Congress is using the time to concentrate on post-Katrina recovery and reconstruction. U-S House Majority Leader Tom DeLay says there's plenty of time to do everything that they want to do.

In other words, wait until we are not paying close attention and then give all the promised goodies to the rich.

Of course, while this storm may, in time, cost more that the war in Iraq, the cost of that mistake is going to continue to cost us hundred of billions, if the president doesn't find a new path (and he wont, since he refuses to consider even looking for one).

-- Two suicide car bombers struck back-to-back just half a mile apart in the Iraqi capital Thursday after another bombing hours earlier in the same neighborhood, bringing the day's death toll to at least 31 people in another day of deadly violence in Baghdad, according to Iraqi police.

The three bombings in Baghdad's southern Dora neighborhood killed at least 23 Iraqi policemen and eight civilians and wounded at least twenty others, according to the Associated Press

Just run up the debt, maybe the great grand kids will enjoy the abject poverty of the nation.

Republican Culture of Corruption

This time Massachusetts.

The vice chairman of the state Republican Party resigned after a federal sting led to money-laundering charges accusing him of offering to ``cleanse'' drug proceeds for a legal client.

Laundering drug money, very nice, and he was only demanding a 60% fee for doing it.

Well, at least he it was not an elected official this time. He was only one of the highest ranked party operatives in the state, so he ahd dealings will almost all the elected Republicans in Massachusetts.

Here we go, Let the Culture War Begin Anew

Another court has ruled against the 2 little words added to the pledge in the 50's. Let the wailing and moaning from the right begin. But they sould consider that those two little words make the pledge a clear state endorsement of faith, and that being clearly against the establishment clause.

In the end, if we remain true to the intentions of the founders of this nation, the regular use of this version of the pledge should end. The fact that these words were added as a political stunt decades after the pledge was first presented, just make this whole discussion silly.

Simpley put, the pledge should not have been changed. There is no justification for the inclusion of proclamations of faith, in something proclaim fidelity to a secular state. Well, this should at least pump fundraising for the right wing, I am sure the letters pleading for money are en-route as we speak.

For those who are interested, the Green Knight has a breakdown of the evolution of the pledge.

Republican Culture of Corruption - Enabling

One of the major reasons that the republican party has gotten so corrupt, is it is so easy cheat and steal, why not. The fact is they work very hard to cover up for and enable each other.

as example;

Break the law in support of the party, and we will pay hundreds of thousands in legal fees.

Despite a zero-tolerance policy on tampering with voters, the Republican Party quietly has paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to provide private defense lawyers for a former Bush campaign official charged with conspiring to keep Democrats from voting in New Hampshire.

Screw up a national rescue, don't worry, the failed FEMA response will not be investigated, heck they won't even bother to find out how a man with a bogus resume could win approval from the Republican controlled Senate.

The Senate voted along party lines yesterday to reject creation of an independent panel to investigate the government's fumbling response to Hurricane Katrina.

The proposal, from Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.), would have established a panel similar to the one that examined the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. The partisan wrangling came amid rising calls from members of both parties to change how the nation manages major disasters.

Blow the cover of a US Covert Agent, we will block efforts to investigate it. We can't risk the truth coming out.

Republican leaders in Congress have refused to investigate who exposed covert CIA agent Valerie Plame, whose identity was leaked after her husband, Joe Wilson, challenged the administration's claims that Iraq sought nuclear weapons.

Is not like they don't like to investigate, they set records investigating in the past;

During the Clinton administration, Congress spent millions of tax dollars probing alleged White House wrongdoing. There was no accusation too minor to explore, no demand on the administration too intrusive to make.

Republicans investigated whether the Clinton administration sold burial plots in Arlington National Cemetery for campaign contributions. They examined whether the White House doctored videotapes of coffees attended by President Clinton. They spent two years investigating who hired Craig Livingstone, the former director of the White House security office. And they looked at whether President Clinton designated coal-rich land in Utah as a national monument because political donors with Indonesian coal interests might benefit from reductions in U.S. coal production.

Committees requested and received communications between Clinton and his close advisers, notes of conversations between Clinton and a foreign head of state, internal e-mails from the office of the vice president, and more than 100 sets of FBI interview summaries. Dozens of top Clinton officials, including several White House chiefs of staff and White House counsels, testified before Congress. The Clinton administration provided to Congress more than a million pages of documents in response to investigative inquiries.

So we are left with only one answer, it is just that they want to enable corruption by republicans. And it is working, the level of corruption, from DeLay, to Nay, to Cunningham, to Kentucky, Indiana, Mass, Ohio and on and on and on.

Cover-up, crime, profiteering, and obstruction, what a republican government has brought us.

Delta Now Officially Bankrupt

They, and Northwest made it official today.

Having been in this industry for all of my life, I can say, in Delta's case, there are few companies as deserving of bankruptcy as they are.

The fact that 4 of the 7 largest carriers are now in bankruptcy, and that at least 4 of the one time major trunk lines have left the list of living companies, is also a solid indication that the grand experiment of de-regulation may still need to be reconsidered.