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April 28, 2007

Oil Depletion Atlas Peak Oil

An interesting (if overly optimistic) interactive oil depletion atlas of the world. Why optimistic? E.g., it's got Saudi Arabia peaking in 2018 at almost 15 million barrels/day. Don't bet on it.

But even if we accept the optimistic figures, the overall picture is of a world for which peak is no more than a decade away. And the band plays on.

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Blind Spot Extremism  Media

When is a terrorist attack on US soil not a terrorist attack — in fact, not even worthy of mention on the evening news?

When the target is a women's clinic.

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Airborne Wind Farms Energy  Future  Science/Technology

An interesting review of concepts for flying wind farms. Whether or not these particular ideas turn out to be practical and scalable, it's encouraging to be reminded that there's a whole world full of inventors out there, and some of them are definitely thinking outside of the box.

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D-E-S-P-I-C-A-B-L-E Media

Despicable "satire" from Rush Limbaugh. How does he stay on the air?

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Saturday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

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Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich introduced articles of impeachment against Vice President Dick Cheney. Do you know what would happen if Cheney was impeached? George Bush would become acting president. — Jay Leno

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April 27, 2007

Kristol Gets Nailed Iraq

Chickenhawk William Kristol gets a good talking to by an articulate, pissed-off military wife. Worth a listen.

[Thanks, Clay]

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Unevolved Extremism  Politics  Religion  Science/Technology

This is disheartening, putting it mildly. The graph below shows public acceptance of human evolution in 2005. You'll find the US at second-to-last.

From National Geographic's description:

Adults were asked to respond to the statement: "Human beings, as we know them, developed from earlier species of animals." The percentage of respondents who believed this to be true is marked in blue; those who believed it to be false, in red; and those who were not sure, in yellow.

A study of several such surveys taken since 1985 has found that the United States ranks next to last in acceptance of evolution theory among nations polled. Researchers point out that the number of Americans who are uncertain about the theory's validity has increased over the past 20 years. [Emphasis added]

Note that the question was just whether humans evolved from earlier animals. It said nothing about evolution being by purely natural means, via natural selection, or without participation by a deity. It's just: "did humans evolve?"

It would be hard to overstate how clueless you have to be to say no.

The study also found — no surprise here — that evolution deniers in the US tend to be Republicans:

The team found that individuals with anti-abortion, pro-life views associated with the conservative wing of the Republican Party were significantly more likely to reject evolution than people with pro-choice views.

The team adds that in Europe having pro-life or right-wing political views had little correlation with a person's attitude toward evolution.

The researchers say this reflects the politicization of the evolution issue in the U.S. "in a manner never seen in Europe or Japan."

"In the second half of the 20th century, the conservative wing of the Republican Party has adopted creationism as part of a platform designed to consolidate their support in Southern and Midwestern states," the study authors write.

Miller says that when Ronald Reagan was running for President of the U.S., for example, he gave speeches in these states where he would slip in the sentence, "I have no chimpanzees in my family," poking fun at the idea that apes could be the ancestors of humans. [Emphasis added]

It would be funny, in a sick sort of way, if it weren't so downright scary, considering the belligerence and military power of the US. People who have flipped the mental switch that lets them ignore the evidence of physical reality so they can be accepted by the herd are people who can be led into all sorts of mischief. And they're armed to the teeth. Superstitious primates with guns.

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Friday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

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Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

President Bush sent out an e-mail today asking people to send money to the Republican Party. How come those e-mails never get deleted? — Jay Leno

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April 26, 2007

Disintegrating Iraq Iraq

Iraqi blogger Riverbend, writing about the wall that's being built around a "Sunni" area in Baghdad, and about the wreckage that is Iraq today. It's heart-breaking:

The wall, of course, will protect no one. I sometimes wonder if this is how the concentration camps began in Europe. The Nazi government probably said, "Oh look — we're just going to protect the Jews with this little wall here — it will be difficult for people to get into their special area to hurt them!" And yet, it will also be difficult to get out.

The Wall is the latest effort to further break Iraqi society apart. Promoting and supporting civil war isn't enough, apparently — Iraqis have generally proven to be more tenacious and tolerant than their mullahs, ayatollahs, and Vichy leaders. It's time for America to physically divide and conquer — like Berlin before the wall came down or Palestine today. This way, they can continue chasing Sunnis out of "Shia areas" and Shia out of "Sunni areas".

I always hear the Iraqi pro-war crowd interviewed on television from foreign capitals (they can only appear on television from the safety of foreign capitals because I defy anyone to be publicly pro-war in Iraq). They refuse to believe that their religiously inclined, sectarian political parties fueled this whole Sunni/Shia conflict. They refuse to acknowledge that this situation is a direct result of the war and occupation. They go on and on about Iraq's history and how Sunnis and Shia were always in conflict and I hate that. I hate that a handful of expats who haven't been to the country in decades pretend to know more about it than people actually living there.

I remember Baghdad before the war — one could live anywhere. We didn't know what our neighbors were — we didn't care. No one asked about religion or sect. No one bothered with what was considered a trivial topic: are you Sunni or Shia? You only asked something like that if you were uncouth and backward. Our lives revolve around it now. Our existence depends on hiding it or highlighting it — depending on the group of masked men who stop you or raid your home in the middle of the night.

On a personal note, we've finally decided to leave. I guess I've known we would be leaving for a while now. We discussed it as a family dozens of times. At first, someone would suggest it tentatively because, it was just a preposterous idea — leaving ones home and extended family — leaving ones country — and to what? To where? [...]

So we've been busy. Busy trying to decide what part of our lives to leave behind. Which memories are dispensable? We, like many Iraqis, are not the classic refugees — the ones with only the clothes on their backs and no choice. We are choosing to leave because the other option is simply a continuation of what has been one long nightmare — stay and wait and try to survive. [...]

The problem is that we don't even know if we'll ever see this stuff again. We don't know if whatever we leave, including the house, will be available when and if we come back. There are moments when the injustice of having to leave your country, simply because an imbecile got it into his head to invade it, is overwhelming. It is unfair that in order to survive and live normally, we have to leave our home and what remains of family and friends... And to what? [Emphasis added]

There may have been people in the White House and the Pentagon who actually believed that US troops would be greeted as liberators and accepted as the new de facto rulers of Iraq. Or maybe the game plan has always been to create such chaos that Iraqis would eventually demand partition of their own country. Or — perhaps most likely — both, with various factions working at cross-purposes. In any case, I think we need vehemently to resist the notion that if only the US had done this or that thing differently — short of immediately pulling out after the fall of Saddam, something that was never in the cards, just look at the enormous US embassy under construction in Baghdad — it all could have ended well. There isn't some "right" way to invade and occupy a nation of people who do not want you there. The problem isn't that the invasion was done wrong. The problem is that the invasion was done at all. And every day that US troops remain in Iraq, the failure and the unimaginable suffering only deepen.

The US has so much to answer for. If we don't redeem ourselves soon — assuming that redemption is still even possible — it seems inescapable that, one way or another, the US will pay a dark and heavy price. Call it karma, cause and effect. Or call it justice.

[Thanks, Miles]

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Thursday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

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Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

I got myself a new computer this week. I got the Alberto Gonzales Dell computer. Have you seen this one? It destroys your e-mails and has no memory. Almost everybody in Washington is still calling for Gonzales to resign. President Bush said Gonzales' testimony last week increased his confidence in him. Bush said he had no idea Gonzales could lie like that. — Jay Leno

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April 25, 2007

What Will It Take? Environment

Great rant from Bill Maher:

Here's a quote from Albert Einstein: "If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe, then man would have only four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man." Well, guess what? The bees are disappearing. In massive numbers. All around the world. And if you think I'm being alarmist and that, "Oh, they'll figure out some way to pollinate the plants..." No, they've tried. For a lot of what we eat, only bees work. And they're not working. They're gone. It's called Colony Collapse Disorder, when the hive's inhabitants suddenly disappear, and all that's left are a few queens and some immature workers...

But I think we're the ones suffering from Colony Collapse Disorder. Because although nobody really knows for sure what's killing the bees, it's not al-Qaeda, and it's not God doing some of his Old Testament shtick, and it's not Winnie the Pooh. It's us. It could be from pesticides, or genetically modified food, or global warming, or the high-fructose corn syrup we started to feed them. Recently it was discovered that bees won't fly near cell phones &mdash the electromagnetic signals they emit might screw up the bees navigation system, knocking them out of the sky. So thanks guy in line at Starbucks, you just killed us. It's nature's way of saying, "Can you hear me now?"

Last week I asked: If it solved global warming, would you give up the TV remote and go back to carting your fat ass over to the television set every time you wanted to change the channel. If that was the case in America, I think Americans would watch one channel forever. If it comes down to the cell phone vs. the bee, will we choose to literally blather ourselves to death? Will we continue to tell ourselves that we don't have to solve environmental problems — we can just adapt: build sea walls instead of stopping the ice caps from melting. Don't save the creatures of the earth and oceans, just learn to eat the slime and jellyfish that nothing can kill, like Chinese restaurants are already doing.

Maybe you don't need to talk on your cell phone all the time. Maybe you don't need a bag when you buy a keychain. Americans throw out 100 billion plastic bags a year, and they all take a thousand years to decompose. Your children's children's children's children will never know you but they'll know you once bought batteries at the 99 cent store because the bag will still be caught in the tree. Except there won't be trees. Sunday is Earth Day. Please educate someone about the birds and the bees, because without bees, humans become the canary in the coal mine, and we make bad canaries because we're already such sheep. [Emphasis added]

We can't continue to take the path of least resistance. Our future depends on it.

Greed kills. That includes greed for comfort and convenience.

Posted by Jonathan at 09:44 PM | Comments (4) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Tesla Motors Energy  Science/Technology

Vanity Fair has a long feature article on Tesla Motors, maker of the world's coolest electric car:

There is no engine noise, because it is a 100 percent electric car—only an eerie whine of gears as the car accelerates. We turn onto an entrance ramp for Route 101 South. And then comes the money moment. Luk floors the accelerator, and the Roadster jumps forward so fast—as instantaneously as its inverter can send electricity to the motor that turns its wheels—that I'm pinned against that hard-shell seat. Zero to 60 in four seconds is Tesla's claim—faster than all but a few high-performance, gas-powered racecars—with a top speed of 135 miles per hour and a range of 250 miles. It's pretty cool.

Whoa.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

DST And AGW Environment

Too funny. I sure hope it's satire.

[Thanks, Kevan]

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Wednesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 10:28 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

Reviews of Gonzales' performance were mixed. 99.99% of the people who saw it felt he embarrassed himself. The other .01% was this guy [on screen: Pres. Bush]. — Jon Stewart, on Alberto Gonzales' Senate testimony

It's so hard to follow. That is exactly why the president was so impressed. Legally, Gonzales had to appear before Congress, so his choice was either to expose the administration's political machinations, or appear to be a functioning pinhead. He went with pinhead. And if I may say — nailed it. — Daily Show correspondent John Oliver

Posted by Jonathan at 10:25 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

April 24, 2007

Tuesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
 
Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
© Kent Tenney 

Posted by Jonathan at 10:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

Really, President Bush? You think the Gonzales testimony went well? Which part? Because the best thing anyone can say about Gonzales' testimony was that he didn't use the word "nappy," and he remembered to wear pants. — Amy Poehler

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April 23, 2007

Kucinich To Announce Impeachment Bill Tomorrow Politics

Pandagon:

Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) will hold a news conference tomorrow afternoon to announce the introduction of articles of impeachment against Vice-President of the United States Richard B. Cheney.

A start. It'll be interesting to see Kucinich's particulars.

I don't believe Kucinich does this kind of stuff to get on the tv. I think he believes in it. So do I. Impeachment needs to get on the table. The line has to be drawn somewhere, and this White House passed it long ago. It's a Republic, if we can keep it, and impeachment is one of the tools. It's the firewall. That's what it's for.

Posted by Jonathan at 11:05 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Plastic Environment

Good news, bad news.

The bad news: Americans are clueless about plastic, according to a national survey (BusinessWire, via Crpytogon):

  • 72% of respondents do not know that plastic is made out of oil/petroleum
  • On average, respondents estimated 38% of plastic is recycled (the reality is less than 6%, according to the EPA)
  • Nearly 40% (38.1%) of respondents said plastic will biodegrade underground, in home compost, in landfills, or in the ocean (plastic will not biodegrade in any of these environments).
  • The good news: once they learned how wrong they were, they said they'd be willing to pay more for a natural, biodegradable plastic:

  • After learning that plastic is made from oil and never biodegrades, half (50.1%) of respondents stated they would be likely or very likely to pay 5-10% more for a natural, biodegradable plastic. Only 24% were unlikely/very unlikely to pay this much more.
  • Demonstrating the utter importance of education on these issues. More and more, people want to do the right thing. They just don't have an accurate picture of where things stand and what needs to be done. Imagine if there were effective, principled national leadership on these issues, instead of its opposite.

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Dawkins On O'Reilly Religion

    Richard Dawkins went on Bill O'Reilly's show tonight on Fox. Video here.

    I was hoping for a longer segment with a little more substance. Silly me. O'Reilly was actually civil, maybe because he knew he was completely overmatched. But still, the inane non sequiturs that come out of O'Reilly's mouth...

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Monday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:10 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    After weeks of mock testimony, there you have it. Alberto Gonzales doesn't know what happened, but he assures you, what he doesn't remember was handled properly. — Jon Stewart

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 21, 2007

    The Nightmare Of Socialized Medicine Social Security

    Jerome-a-Paris tells the story of his family's experience with French socialized medicine. His two-and-a-half year old son had a brain tumor. Here's the story. Americans, eat your hearts out:

    [My son] was first diagnosed by our pediatrician, a private sector doctor, who sent us to the (public) specialised pediatric hospital in Paris for additional exams. We did a scan and a MRI the same day, and that brought the diagnosis we know. He was hospitalised the same day, with surgery immediately scheduled for two days later. At that point, we only had to provide our social security number.

    Surgery [was performed by] one of the world's top specialists in his field...After a few days at the hospital, we went home. At that point, we had spent no money, and done little more than filling up a simple form with name and social security number.

    Meetings with the doctor in charge of his long term treatment, and with a specialised re-education hospital, were immediately set up, and chemiotherapy and physical therapy were scheduled for the next full year.

    Physical therapy included a few hours each day in a specialised hospital, with a varied team of specialists (kinesitherapy, ergotherapy, phychologist, orthophonist) and, had we needed it, schooling. As we lived not too far away, we tried to keep our son at his pre-school for half the day, and at the hospital the other half. Again, apart from filling up a few forms, we had nothing to do.

    My wife pretty much stopped working to take my son to the hospital every day (either for reeducation or treatment) - and was allocated a stipend by the government as caregiver, for a full year (equal to just under the minimum wage). Had we needed it, transport by ambulance would have been taken care of, free of charge for us (as it were, car commutes to the hospital could also be reimbursed).

    During the chemiotherapy, if he had any side effects (his immune system being weakened, any normal children's disease basically required him to be hospitalised to be given full anti-biotic treatment), we'd call up the hospital and just come around. Either of us could spend the night with him as needed. We never spent a dime.

    After a year at the specialised hospital, ongoing re-education was moved to another institution specialised in home and school interventions. In practice, a full team of 5 doctors or specialists come to see him over the week, either at home or at school, to continue his treatment (such follow up, possibly less intense than at the beginning, will be needed until he reaches his adult size). Of course, they manufacture braces and other specialised equipment for him and provide it free of charge to us.

    Check up exams take place every 3 months, with all the appropriate exams (usually including a MRI), and we've never had to wait for the appointments. Again, no cost for us, no funds to be fronted.

    When he relapsed, our doctors considered all available options. In the end, the most promising technology was in another Paris hospital. Such technology, linked to nuclear research, exists only in 3 places in the world, one in Boston and one in Switzerland, so the French system itself was able to provide a cutting edge option. But had we needed to go to Germany, the UK or even the USA for treatment because that's where the best hope was, the costs of that would have been covered too by French social security.

    Now that our son is in first grade, he has the right to special help for handicapped children at school (a fairly recent law), and he now benefits from part time help - a person who is around about 20 hours per week to help him do his work and catch up when he is absent for his therapy. This is paid by the city of Paris and the ministry of education. [...]

    So, we did not have to spend a single cent. We got support to be available for him. He gets top notch treatment. We never had to wait for anything. And this is available to absolutely everybody in France, irrespective of your job, age or family situation. If you are badly sick or injured, you simply do not have to worry about money at any time, nor about lack of care. [Emphasis added]

    Whenever the local NPR station carries a discussion of single-payer health care systems, there's always some belligerent guy (it's always a guy) who calls in and goes on about the how the US has "the greatest health care system in the world." It never fails. So clueless.

    Pass the Freedom Fries.

    Posted by Jonathan at 08:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Glub Glub Environment

    If global warming causes sea levels to rise significantly, how will world coastlines be affected? The USGS has animated maps (via Policy Pete) showing the effect at different levels of increase.

    Hey, who needed Florida?

    Posted by Jonathan at 08:23 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Saturday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 08:22 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    Today on Capitol Hill, Attorney General Alberto Gonzales raised his right hand, swore to tell the truth, and then had a good laugh. He testified that he had nothing to hide. Well, not anymore — he deleted everything. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 08:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 20, 2007

    The Failure Of Iraqification Iraq

    The Iraqification of the war — Iraqi troops "standing up" so US troops can "stand down" — has always been an absurdly impossible dream. Never happen. McClatchy Newspapers say the Pentagon's finally facing up to that fact, but unfortunately it's replacing it with an even more impossible dream: US troops single-handedly defeating the insurgents and gaining control of Iraq. Never happen. Excerpts:

    Military planners have abandoned the idea that standing up Iraqi troops will enable American soldiers to start coming home soon and now believe that U.S. troops will have to defeat the insurgents and secure control of troubled provinces.

    Training Iraqi troops, which had been the cornerstone of the Bush administration's Iraq policy since 2005, has dropped in priority, officials in Baghdad and Washington said.

    No change has been announced, and a Pentagon spokesman, Col. Gary Keck, said training Iraqis remains important. "We are just adding another leg to our mission," Keck said, referring to the greater U.S. role in establishing security that new troops arriving in Iraq will undertake.

    But evidence has been building for months that training Iraqi troops is no longer the focus of U.S. policy. Pentagon officials said they know of no new training resources that have been included in U.S. plans to dispatch 28,000 additional troops to Iraq. The officials spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they aren't authorized to discuss the policy shift publicly. Defense Secretary Robert Gates made no public mention of training Iraqi troops on Thursday during a visit to Iraq. [...]

    Maj. Gen. Doug Lute, the director of operations at U.S. Central Command, which oversees military activities in the Middle East, said that during the troop increase, U.S. officers will be trying to determine how ready Iraqi forces are to assume control.

    "We are looking for indicators where we can assess the extent to which we are fighting alongside Iraqi security forces, not as a replacement to them," he said. Those signs will include "things like the number of U.S.-only missions, the number of combined U.S.-Iraqi missions, the number where Iraqis are in the lead, the number of Joint Security Stations set up," he said.

    That's a far cry from the optimistic assessments U.S. commanders offered throughout 2006 about the impact of training Iraqis.

    President Bush first announced the training strategy in the summer of 2005.

    "Our strategy can be summed up this way," Bush said. "As the Iraqis stand up, we will stand down." [...]

    Throughout 2006, Casey and top Bush administration leaders touted the training as a success, asserting that eight of Iraq's 10 divisions had taken the lead in confronting insurgents. [...]

    [But] in nearly every area where Iraqi forces were given control, the security situation rapidly deteriorated. The exceptions were areas dominated largely by one sect and policed by members of that sect.

    In the northern Iraqi city of Tal Afar, which Bush celebrated last year as an example of success, suspected Sunni Muslim insurgents set off a bomb last month that killed as many as 150 people, the largest single bombing attack of the war. Shiite Muslim mobs, including some police officers, pulled Sunnis from their homes and executed dozens afterward. U.S. troops were dispatched to restore order.

    Earlier this month, U.S. forces engaged in heavy fighting in the southern city of Diwaniyah after Iraqi forces, who'd been given control of the region in January 2006, lost control of the city.

    U.S. officials said they once believed that if they empowered their Iraqi counterparts, they'd take the lead and do a better job of curtailing the violence. But they concede that's no longer their operating principle. [...]

    Many officials are vague about when the U.S. will know when troops can begin to return home. Gen. Peter Pace, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the U.S. is trying to buy "time for the Iraqi government to provide the good governance and the economic activity that's required."

    One State Department official, who also asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the subject, expressed the same sentiment in blunter terms. "Our strategy now is to basically hold on and wait for the Iraqis to do something," he said. [Emphasis added]

    This is what the surge is about: US troops shouldering aside the Iraqis. But we've seen this movie before, in Vietnam. There are plenty of differences between Iraq and Vietnam, but some things haven't changed. Once again, we see a succession of increasingly desperate plans, each touted as the answer, the one that will turn things around, and each diverging farther and farther from reality. Can-do planners see US "credibility" as being on the line, so they keep upping the ante — and sinking deeper and deeper into the quicksand. No general or politician wants to be the one to say it can't be done. They've got their egos and careers to consider. But it's Iraqis who pay the awful price.

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:55 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Friday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 09:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    Because of the storms back East, over 250,000 people still without power. In fact, it was so bad in Washington, D.C., Attorney General Alberto Gonzales had to resort to destroying e-mails by hand. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 09:54 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 19, 2007

    Tigers Headed For Extinction Environment

    Independent:

    Hope is fading in the fight to save the tiger in India, the animal's last stronghold, according to Indian conservationists. Resurgent poaching and feeble official protection have combined to put the animal, India's national symbol, on the road to extinction, say the country's leading tiger experts...

    Tiger numbers, which officially stand at nearly 4,000, are rapidly falling and may actually have dropped below 1,200, says Valmik Thapar, the conservationist who is the Indian tiger's best known champion. "I think we are living with the last tigers of India," he tells the BBC2 documentary, Battle To Save The Tiger.

    The disappearance of India's wild tigers ­— one of the world's most charismatic animal species ­— would mark one of the most sinister milestones yet in the history of the degradation of the earth's environment by people. [Emphasis added]

    Shame on us all.

    Posted by Jonathan at 07:43 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    War Czar Execution Manager Humor & Fun  Iraq





    Posted by Jonathan at 07:33 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Good For The American People Politics

    USA Today (via Atrios):

    While Congress and the White House remain divided over what to do with the estimated 12 million illegal immigrants living in the USA, a new poll shows the American public appears to have reached a consensus on the question.

    A USA TODAY/Gallup Poll taken last weekend found that 78% of respondents feel people now in the country illegally should be given a chance at citizenship. [...]

    But many conservatives strongly oppose to putting illegal immigrants on a path to citizenship. "You'd be rewarding them for breaking our laws," said Rep. Brian Bilbray, R-Calif. [Emphasis added]

    Just one more example (alongside Iraq, institutionalized torture, illegal wiretaps, denial of global warming, etc., etc.) of how far out of the mainstream American conservatives really are — though you'd never know it from watching tv.

    Posted by Jonathan at 03:05 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    "Bomb, Bomb, Bomb..." Iran  Politics

    Un-freaking-believable.

    Posted by Jonathan at 12:29 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Thursday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:22 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    The Bush administration on Wednesday extended the tours of Army troops in Iraq by three months, increasing their stay to a total of 15 months. Troops responded to the news, saying, "I'm gay." — Amy Poehler

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:17 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 18, 2007

    Loan Wolf Humor & Fun  Iraq  Politics

    A great Jon Stewart bit on Paul Wolfowitz:



    Posted by Jonathan at 04:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today In Baghdad Iraq

    Violence in Baghdad Wednesday "killed at least 171 people and wounded scores" (CNN).

    That's many times the death toll at Virginia Tech. The people of Iraq endure that every day. Day in, day out. Year in, year out. Because of the US.

    Posted by Jonathan at 01:03 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Quote For Today Quotes
    We could have saved the Earth but we were too damned cheap. — Kurt Vonnegut

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:19 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Wednesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:16 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    The White House said today that they have lost the e-mails requested by congressional investigators, e-mails that may have dealt with the firing of those eight federal prosecutors. They lost them. Today the administration assured Americans that they are not corrupt, just incompetent. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:13 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 17, 2007

    From Bad To Worse Iraq

    Iraq is going from bad to worse. First, the casualty rate among US troops is accelerating. Miami Herald:

    Over the past six months, American troops have died in Iraq at the highest rate since the war began, an indication that the conflict is becoming increasingly dangerous for U.S. forces even after more than four years of fighting.

    From October 2006 through last month, 532 American soldiers were killed, the most during any six-month period of the war. March also marked the first time that the U.S. military suffered four straight months of 80 or more fatalities. April, with 58 service members killed through Monday, is on pace to be one of the deadliest months of the conflict for American forces.

    Senior American military officials attribute much of the increase to the Baghdad security crackdown, now in its third month. But the rate of fatalities was increasing even before a more aggressive strategy began moving U.S. troops from heavily fortified bases into smaller neighborhood outposts throughout the capital, placing them at greater risk of roadside bombings and small-arms attacks. [Emphasis added]

    And the chaos is spreading outward from Iraq. James Zogby:

    With the discovery of an Al Qaida cell in Morocco, and deadly suicide terrorist attacks in Algiers and the National Parliament in Baghdad, it is now clear that Bin Laden's cancerous group has metastasised, spawning affiliates and copy-cat groups across the region. What is also clear is that war in Iraq is aggravating this growth in two other ways.

    On the one hand, the war itself, the occupation and the behaviour associated with it, have fuelled extremism. Of equally deadly consequence is the fact that Iraq is now playing the role once reserved for Afghanistan. Reports coming out of Morocco and Algeria, establish that hundreds of young men from both countries have travelled to Iraq for training and combat, and have returned to their home countries with evil intent. [...]

    In Iraq, demonstrations led by Moqtada Al Sadr brought out hundreds of thousands of Iraqis calling for an end to the US presence in their country. In a surprising display of unity in Najaf, Sunni and Shiite clerics walked together, in the mass mobilisation. This outpouring came in response to Al Sadr's call to all Iraqis to cease fighting each other in sectarian attacks and to unite around a single cause: ending the United States' 'occupation' of Iraq. A possible contributing factor to this display of unity may be found in a US Pentagon report noting that casualties in Iraq have actually increased since the beginning of the Bush Administration's 'surge'. While it is true that violence has decreased in Baghdad, it is more than offset by killings in the rest of Iraq as insurgents and sectarian terrorists have dispersed to other locations.

    But, Baghdad is still not safe, as was made clear on Thursday when a suicide bomber penetrated multiple layers of security to detonate his bomb in the cafeteria of the Iraqi Parliament building. All of this directly challenged the notion that the 'surge' is working. In Afghanistan things are no better; Taliban attacks are up, as are Nato casualties. A recent report by a former US army general claims that much of Afghanistan has reverted into a lawless narco-state. [Emphasis added]

    An Iraqi group said to be linked to al-Qaeda says that Iraq has become a "university of terrorism." Irish Times:

    The head of an al-Qaeda-linked group in Iraq said the country had become a "university of terrorism", producing highly qualified warriors, since the 2003 US-led invasion.

    In an audio recording posted on the Internet today, Abu Omar al-Baghdadi, leader of the self-styled Islamic State in Iraq, said his fighters were successfully confronting US forces in Iraq and have begun producing a guided missile called al-Quds 1 or Jerusalem 1.

    "The largest batch of soldiers for jihad ... in the history of Iraq are graduating and they have the highest level of competence in the world," Baghdadi said. [...]

    "We would like to inform the mujahideen all over the world, and especially in Iraq, that the Quds (Jerusalem) 1 rocket has gone into the phase of military production," Baghdadi said, adding that its length, weight, range and precision "matches those of world powers". [...]

    "The fear of the American Marines has disappeared from the hearts of the people of the world, as the mujahideen have become thousands from the few they were after the fall of the infidel Baath regime," Baghdadi said. "These are just some of the achievements of four years of jihad." [Emphasis added]

    I hate to think about where this is all heading, but it's hard to see any way that it doesn't become a whole lot worse before it gets any better. All the King's horses and all the King's men (what horses and men the King has left) can't put this Humpty-Dumpty together again.

    Failed states don't spontaneously recover, and chaos only breeds more chaos in a self-reinforcing feedback loop. The Soviet Union once seemed impregnable; then it got tied down in Afghanistan, and things unravelled quite suddenly and unexpectedly. It's hard to imagine the US imploding the way the Soviets did, but we sure seem determined to follow in their footsteps. The USSR seemed stable and secure — until it wasn't anymore. Chaotic, nonlinear systems can shift to new equilibrium states quite suddenly and unexpectedly. The pace of change is accelerating; nothing lasts forever.

    Posted by Jonathan at 09:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Tuesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    There is a tragic flaw in our precious Constitution, and I don't know what can be done to fix it. This is it: Only nut cases want to be president. — Kurt Vonnegut

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:07 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 16, 2007

    Study: Iraq's Children Severely Traumatized By War Iraq

    Even if the war were to end today, which of course it won't, its legacy will be felt for generations. USA Today:

    About 70% of primary school students in a Baghdad neighborhood suffer symptoms of trauma-related stress such as bed-wetting or stuttering, according to a survey by the Iraqi Ministry of Health.

    The survey of about 2,500 youngsters is the most comprehensive look at how the war is affecting Iraqi children, said Iraq's national mental health adviser and author of the study, Mohammed Al-Aboudi.

    "The fighting is happening in the streets in front of our houses and schools," Al-Aboudi said. "This is very difficult for the children to adapt to." [...]

    Many Iraqi children have to pass dead bodies on the street as they walk to school in the morning, according to a separate report last week by the International Red Cross. Others have seen relatives killed or have been injured in mortar or bomb attacks.

    "Some of these children are suffering one trauma after another, and it's severely damaging their development," said Said Al-Hashimi, a psychiatrist who teaches at Mustansiriya Medical School and runs a private clinic in west Baghdad. "We're not certain what will become of the next generation, even if there is peace one day," Al-Hashimi said.

    The study was conducted last October in the Sha'ab district of northern Baghdad. The low- to middle-income neighborhood is inhabited by a mix of Shiites and Sunni Arabs. Al-Aboudi said he believes the sample was broadly representative of conditions throughout the capital. [...]

    The study "shows the impact of the violence and insecurity on the children and on children's mental health," said Naeema Al-Gasseer, the Iraqi representative of the WHO. "They have fear every day." [Emphasis added]

    The effects of early childhood trauma last a lifetime. They are extraordinarily difficult to overcome. And they will reverberate down the generations.

    Look at that photo. That is the human reality of what the US has done and continues to do. It is unspeakable. It is insane. It is unforgivable. If you can look at that photo without wanting to weep, then you are made of sterner stuff than I.

    [Thanks, Miles]

    Posted by Jonathan at 05:45 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Conservation Is Cool Activism  Environment

    Posted by Jonathan at 05:38 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    The Edge Culture  Future  Media  Science/Technology

    Just wanted to make a plug for an extraordinary website called The Edge. It brings together world-class thinkers from a variety of fields and has them talk or write about what's on their minds: what's interesting and important to them right now, with an emphasis on leading edge ideas.

    People like Lee Smolin, Steven Pinker, Jared Diamond, Lisa Randall, Stuart Kauffman, Daniel Dennett, Freeman Dyson, Richard Dawkins, Marvin Minsky, Ernst Mayr, Brian Greene, Susan Blackmore, John Barrow, Ray Kurzweil, E. O. Wilson, Esther Dyson, and an old professor of mine, John Allen Paulos. And many more.

    Check out the page of videos, lots of goodies there.

    Most addicting, though, is the World Question Center. Each year, a hundred or so luminaries are invited to submit a short answer to a question like "What's your dangerous idea?" or "What do you believe is true even though you cannot prove it?" The variety of viewpoints and ideas is astounding and endlessly fascinating. Mind-expanding in the best sense of the word.

    Well worth a bookmark.

    Posted by Jonathan at 05:06 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    3300 Iraq

    The carnage continues in Iraq.

    US troops killed in Iraq as of today: 3302.

    100 in just the past month.

     

    And hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. For what?

    Update: [5:55 PM] Since just this morning, the count has jumped to 3308.

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:05 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Monday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:04 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    The White House says it wants to appoint a high-powered official to oversee the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and issue directions to the Pentagon and the State Department. This person would be called "the president of the United States." — Conan O'Brien

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 14, 2007

    Neocons Of The Raj Development

    Salon quotes from an article by historian William Dalrymple that compares British policies in India with the imperial dreams of American neocons. Dalrymple's whole article is not available online, unfortunately. This passage, though, is arresting:

    In 1600, when the East India Company was founded, Britain was generating 1.8 percent of the world's GDP while India was producing 22.5 percent. By 1870, at the peak of the Raj, Britain was generating 9.1 percent, while India had been reduced to a poor third-world nation, a symbol across the globe of famine and deprivation.

    Today, things are slowly returning to their traditional pattern. Last year the richest man in the UK was for the first time an ethnic Indian, Lakshmi Mittal, and last month news has come that Britain's largest steel manufacturer, Corus, has jsut been brought by Tata, an Indian company. Extraordinary as it is, the rise of India and China, seen from the wider perspective, is merely the rebalancing of the ancient equilibirum of world trade, with Europeans no longer appearing as gun-toting, gunboat-riding colonial masters but instead reverting to their traditional role — eager consumers of the much-celebreated manufactures, luxuries, and services of the East. [Emphasis added]

    India was producing nearly a quarter of the world's economic activity before the British got their hands on her and sucked her dry. Astonishing. To this day, the Western imagination features a backward India that benefitted from British know-how and administration. British intervention then, like American intervention today, was well-intentioned, even if a bit misguided. The impulse is benevolent, any negative consequences entirely accidental. Spreading democracy, and all that. Right.

    (By the way, the Wikipedia article on Dalrymple mentions this fact: in the 18th and early 19th century, one in three British men was married to an Indian woman. Astounding, if true. The things that are left out of the history we learn at school.)

    Posted by Jonathan at 05:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Abstaining From Abstinence Politics

    There seems to be a penchant on the Right for policies that fit their prejudices and preconceived notions but just don't work. Trickle-down, for example, in all its forms. And abstinence education. AP:

    Students who participated in sexual abstinence programs were just as likely to have sex a few years later as those who did not, according to a long-awaited study mandated by Congress.

    Also, those who attended one of the four abstinence classes reviewed reported having similar numbers of sexual partners as those who did not attend the classes, and they first had sex at about the same age as their control group counterparts — 14.9 years, according to Mathematica Policy Research Inc.

    The federal government now spends about $176 million annually on abstinence-until-marriage education. Critics have repeatedly said they don't believe the programs are working, and the study will give them reinforcement. [Emphasis added]

    Don't expect this kind of scientific study to make a dent, however. The purpose of the programs is to use public funds to reinforce a political/cultural agenda. Who cares if they actually work. Besides, the jury's still out on that science thing.

    Posted by Jonathan at 03:17 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Saturday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 02:42 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    Do you believe the weather around the country? It was snowing in Washington. It was so white, people thought the Republicans were back in charge. It was so cold in Georgia that Newt Gingrich had another affair just so he could stay warm. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 02:39 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 13, 2007

    Friday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 12:11 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    The Republicans issued a statement today demanding that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi get back to work. President Bush would have made the statement himself, but he's still on vacation. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 12:08 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 12, 2007

    Turning Baghdad Into A Prison Iraq

    Robert Fisk reports that the US is planning to seal off large portions of Baghdad as walled enclaves, with people's movements and activities tightly controlled. Excerpts:

    Faced with an ever-more ruthless insurgency in Baghdad - despite President George Bush's "surge" in troops - US forces in the city are now planning a massive and highly controversial counter-insurgency operation that will seal off vast areas of the city, enclosing whole neighbourhoods with barricades and allowing only Iraqis with newly issued ID cards to enter.

    The campaign of "gated communities" - whose genesis was in the Vietnam War - will involve up to 30 of the city's 89 official districts and will be the most ambitious counter-insurgency programme yet mounted by the US in Iraq.

    The system has been used - and has spectacularly failed - in the past, and its inauguration in Iraq is as much a sign of American desperation at the country's continued descent into civil conflict as it is of US determination to "win" the war against an Iraqi insurgency that has cost the lives of more than 3,200 American troops. The system of "gating" areas under foreign occupation failed during the French war against FLN insurgents in Algeria and again during the American war in Vietnam. Israel has employed similar practices during its occupation of Palestinian territory - again, with little success. [...]

    The latest "security" plan, of which The Independent has learnt the details, was concocted by General David Petraeus, the current US commander in Baghdad, during a six-month command and staff course at Fort Leavenworth in Kansas. Those attending the course - American army generals serving in Iraq and top officers from the US Marine Corps, along with, according to some reports, at least four senior Israeli officers - participated in a series of debates to determine how best to "turn round" the disastrous war in Iraq.

    The initial emphasis of the new American plan will be placed on securing Baghdad market places and predominantly Shia Muslim areas. Arrests of men of military age will be substantial. The ID card project is based upon a system adopted in the city of Tal Afar by General Petraeus's men - and specifically by Colonel H R McMaster, of the 3rd Armoured Cavalry Regiment - in early 2005, when an eight-foot "berm" was built around the town to prevent the movement of gunmen and weapons. General Petraeus regarded the campaign as a success although Tal Afar, close to the Syrian border, has since fallen back into insurgent control.

    So far, the Baghdad campaign has involved only the creation of a few US positions within several civilian areas of the city but the new project will involve joint American and Iraqi "support bases" in nine of the 30 districts to be "gated" off. From these bases - in fortified buildings - US-Iraqi forces will supposedly clear militias from civilian streets which will then be walled off and the occupants issued with ID cards. Only the occupants will be allowed into these "gated communities" and there will be continuous patrolling by US-Iraqi forces. There are likely to be pass systems, "visitor" registration and restrictions on movement outside the "gated communities". Civilians may find themselves inside a "controlled population" prison.

    In theory, US forces can then concentrate on providing physical reconstruction in what the military like to call a "secure environment". But insurgents are not foreigners, despite the presence of al-Qa'ida in Iraq. They come from the same population centres that will be "gated" and will, if undiscovered, hold ID cards themselves; they will be "enclosed" with everyone else.

    A former US officer in Vietnam who has a deep knowledge of General Petraeus's plans is sceptical of the possible results. "The first loyalty of any Sunni who is in the Iraqi army is to the insurgency," he said. "Any Shia's first loyalty is to the head of his political party and its militia. Any Kurd in the Iraqi army, his first loyalty is to either Barzani or Talabani. There is no independent Iraqi army. These people really have no choice. They are trying to save their families from starvation and reprisal. At one time they may have believed in a unified Iraq. At one time they may have been secular. But the violence and brutality that started with the American invasion has burnt those liberal ideas out of people ... Every American who is embedded in an Iraqi unit is in constant mortal danger." [...]

    [A]nother former senior US officer has produced his own pessimistic conclusions about the "gated" neighbourhood project.

    "Once the additional troops are in place the insurrectionists will cut the lines of communication from Kuwait to the greatest extent they are able," he told The Independent. "They will do the same inside Baghdad, forcing more use of helicopters. The helicopters will be vulnerable coming into the patrol bases, and the enemy will destroy as many as they can. The second part of their plan will be to attempt to destroy one of the patrol bases. They will begin that process by utilising their people inside the 'gated communities' to help them enter. They will choose bases where the Iraqi troops either will not fight or will actually support them.

    "The American reaction will be to use massive firepower, which will destroy the neighbourhood that is being 'protected'." [Emphasis added]

    Today's bombing attack inside the Iraqi parliament building underscores the utter lunacy of this plan. The insurgents will find ways around any security measures that are put in place. It's their country, their city, their neighborhood. They know the people, they speak the language, they can pick the time and place to attack.

    To see how crazy this plan is, project forward into the future. What's the best-case scenario? The US puts a lid on the violence (not going to happen, but we're talking best-case here) and then maintains a brutal occupation forever? Like Israel in the West Bank? Forget it.

    No permanent resolution can come from this plan. It's just a way to mark time and postpone the inevitable: an American defeat and withdrawal. It can't possibly work, and therefore it's madness.

    Posted by Jonathan at 05:07 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    What Fun Culture  Humor & Fun

    This website is a total gas. Go.

    Posted by Jonathan at 04:20 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Up In Heaven Now Culture

    Kurt Vonnegut, novelist, humorist, free-thinker, died yesterday. He left these instructions (via Pharyngula):

    I am, incidentally, Honorary President of the American Humanist Association, having succeeded the late, great science fiction writer Isaac Asimov in that totally functionless capacity. We had a memorial service for Isaac a few years back, and I spoke and said at one point, "Isaac is up in heaven now." It was the funniest thing I could have said to an audience of humanists. I rolled them in the aisles. It was several minutes before order could be restored. And if I should ever die, God forbid, I hope you will say, "Kurt is up in heaven now." That's my favorite joke.

    I love that "God forbid."

    So, as requested: Kurt is up in heaven now.

    Posted by Jonathan at 01:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Thursday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 01:01 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    Some people still love President Bush. He also spoke this week at the Cattlemen's Beef Association. They love him, but then again, they're used to being knee-deep in bullshit. — Bill Maher

    Posted by Jonathan at 12:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 11, 2007

    Vacuuming The Oceans Environment

    Stories like the following make me despair for our prospects. If humans manage to survive the coming century, we are likely to find ourselves on a planet very different from the one we now know. And we are likely to find ourselves increasingly alone, having killed off many of the large vertebrate species with whom we currently share our Earth.

    Last year we noted that nearly a third of fish and seafood species have collapsed: i.e., declined by 90% or more. For many large predators, we now read, the numbers are even worse. The oceans are being vacuumed, and the fish will be gone in the lifetimes of most people now living. George Monbiot:

    If these animals lived on land there would be a global outcry. But the great beasts roaming the savannahs of the open seas summon no such support. Big sharks, giant tuna, marlin and swordfish should have the conservation status of the giant panda or the snow leopard. Yet still we believe it is acceptable for fishmongers to sell them and celebrity chefs to teach us how to cook them.

    A study in this week's edition of Science reveals the disastrous collapse of the ocean’s megafauna. The great sharks are now wobbling on the edge of extinction. Since 1972 the number of blacktip sharks has fallen by 93%, tiger sharks by 97% and bull sharks, dusky sharks and smooth hammerheads by 99%. Just about every population of major predators is now in freefall. Another paper, published in Nature four years ago, shows that over 90% of large predatory fishes throughout the global oceans have gone. [...]

    In terms of its impact on both ecology and animal welfare, shark fishing could be the planet's most brutal industry. While some sharks are taken whole, around 70 million are caught every year for their fins. In many cases the fins are cut off and the shark is dumped, alive, back into the sea. It can take several weeks to die. The longlines and gillnets used to catch them snare whales, dolphins, turtles and albatrosses. The new paper shows that shark catching also causes a cascade of disasters through the foodchain. Since the large sharks were removed from coastal waters in the western Atlantic, the rays they preyed on have multiplied tenfold and have wiped out all the main commercial species of shellfish. [...]

    In 2001 the British government promised to protect a critically endangered species called the angel shark, whose population in British waters was collapsing. It ducked and dithered until there was no longer a problem: the shark is now extinct in the North Sea.

    Why do we find it so hard to stand up to fishermen? This tiny industrial lobby seems to have governments in the palm of its hand. Every year, the European Union sets catch limits for all species way above the levels its scientists recommend. Governments know that they are allowing the fishing industry to destroy itself and to destroy the ecosystem on which it depends. But nothing is sacred, as long as it is underwater. In November the United Nations failed even to produce a resolution urging a halt to trawling on the sea mounts at the bottom of the ocean. These ecosystems, which are only just beginning to be explored, harbour great forests of deepwater corals and sponges, in which thousands of unearthly species hide. But we can't summon the will to stop the handful of boats that are ripping them to shreds. [...]

    Though fish species far outnumber mammal species, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species protects 654 kinds of mammal and just 77 kinds of fish. Trade in only 9 of these is subject to a complete ban. [...]

    The rules that do get passed are ignored by both fishermen and governments. [...]

    Of course, governments plead poverty. Which makes you wonder why they decided last year to allocate €3.8 billion to the destruction of the marine environment. This is what you and I are now paying in subsidies to keep the ocean wreckers afloat. The money buys new engines, and boats for young fishermen hoping to expand their business. For the same cost you could put a permanent inspector on every large fishing vessel in European waters.

    If we don't act, we know what will happen. Another paper published in Science suggests that on current trends we'll see the global collapse of all the species currently caught by commercial fishermen by 2048. Yet, if we catch the ecosystems in time – with temporary fishing bans and the creation of large marine reserves – they can recover with remarkable speed. [...]

    But beyond a certain point the collapse is likely to be permanent. Off the coast of Namibia, where the fishery has crashed as a result of over-harvesting, we have a glimpse of the future. A paper in Current Biology reports that the ecosystem is approaching a "trophic dead-end". As the fish have been mopped up they have been replaced by jellyfish, which now outweigh them by three to one. The jellyfish eat the eggs and larvae of the fish, so the switch is probably irreversible. We have entered, the paper tells us, the "era of jellyfish ascendancy".

    It's a good symbol. The jellyfish represents the collapse of the ecosystem and the spinelessness of the people charged with protecting it. [Emphasis added]

    If space aliens, say, invaded and occupied the earth and proceeded to vacuum the planet's oceans, we would recognize it for the unspeakable crime it is. And we would fight it.

    Derrick Jensen writes:

    We have been too kind to those who are destroying the planet. We have been inexcusably, unforgivably, insanely kind.

    Who would argue with him?

    Posted by Jonathan at 08:21 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Wednesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 09:49 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    President Bush said today that he has legal opinion on his side in the Alberto Gonzales case. President Bush can claim executive privilege according to his lawyer: Alberto Gonzales. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 09:45 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 10, 2007

    Tuesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 12:01 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    At a Washington museum, a new exhibit is about to open that features a first-grade report card of President Bush's where he received straight A's. This sounds impressive, but President Bush was 23 at the time. — Conan O'Brien

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:56 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 09, 2007

    Get Me Rewrite! Iran  Iraq  Media

    A couple of months ago, the government line was that resurgents' use of EFPs was proof of high-level Iranian involvement. Remember this? CBS:

    U.S. military officials charged on Sunday that the highest levels of the Iranian leadership ordered Shiite militants in Iraq to be armed with sophisticated armor-piercing roadside bombs that have killed more than 170 American forces. [...]

    The deadly and highly sophisticated weapons the U.S. military said were coming into Iraq from Iran are known as "explosively formed penetrators," or EFPs.

    But now Reuters says different:

    "Iraqi army soldiers swept into the city of Diwaniya early this morning to disrupt militia activity and return security and stability of the volatile city back to the government of Iraq,” the US military said in a statement.

    [Lieutenant-Colonel Scott] Bleichwehl said troops, facing scattered resistance, discovered a factory that produced "explosively formed penetrators" (EFPs), a particularly deadly type of explosive that can destroy a main battle tank and several weapons caches. [Emphasis added]

    So the devices that couldn't possibly have come from anywhere but Iranian government sources are actually manufactured by insurgents in Iraq. Not surprising in itself: what don't they lie about? But the story doesn't end there. As Atrios noticed, the Washington Post online picked up the Reuters story, as captured by Google News:

    Then almost immediately, the original version was down The Memory Hole, becoming instead:

    The U.S. military said two U.S. soldiers died in separate roadside bombings in the east and west of Baghdad on Friday.

    One of the bombs was an explosively formed projectile, a particularly deadly type of device which Washington accuses Iran of supplying Iraqi militants. [Emphasis added]

    Like it was written by the Pentagon itself. Either it was, or the WaPo thinks it's their job to do the Pentagon's work without being asked. Either way, disgraceful.

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:48 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Surge Iraq

    The Baghdad "surge" is producing a surge in troop deaths.

    Already in the first 9 days of April, 47 US and British troops have been killed, an average of 5.22 per day. That's considerably higher than any month's average since the initial three weeks of the war.

     

    For what?

    Posted by Jonathan at 08:56 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Monday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 08:51 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    Police in Connecticut arrested a man for speeding who identified himself as Vice President Dick Cheney. They took the guy to the hospital. Obviously, this guy has mental problems. I mean, these days, what sane person would try to pass themselves off as Dick Cheney? — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 08:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 07, 2007

    Iraq Mortality For Children Under Five: More Than 1 In 8 Iraq

    The US war on Iraq has given us any number of reasons for sorrow and for shame. But this story is in a class by itself. If you have tears, prepare to shed them now. IPS:

    "Iraq was known to be the best in healthcare in the region," Dr. Iyad Muhammad from Ramadi General Hospital told IPS. "Best doctors, hospitals, nurses and cheapest medicines. The situation now is the opposite." [...]

    "Our situation now has become worse than during the sanctions period (in the 1990s after the first Gulf war) when more than one million died and we had very little medicine and supplies to treat them."

    Iraq's health index has deteriorated to a level not seen since the 1950s, Joseph Chamie, former director of the United Nations Population Division and an Iraq specialist has said. [...]

    "I appeared on a documentary concerning Iraqi hospitals, and that was the biggest mistake I ever committed," Dr. Rafi Jassim from Baghdad told IPS. "I was lucky to learn in proper time that militias were to raid my house that night. Now I am on the run just like any fugitive criminal, and my family faces the threat of a terrorist attack any moment."

    A combination of sanctions, war and occupation has brought to Iraq the world's worst deterioration in child mortality rate. According to a report 'The State of the World's Children' released by UNICEF this year, Iraq's mortality rate for children under five was 50 per 1000 live births in 1990, and 125 [per 1000] in 2005, an annual average deterioration of 6.1 percent.

    When the U.S.-led invasion was launched in 2003, the Bush administration pledged to cut Iraq's child mortality rate by half by 2005. Instead, the rate has worsened, now to 130 in 2006, according to Iraqi Health Ministry figures. [...]

    "We have been exporters of medicines to Iraq, but we are not able to get any contract now to supply the Ministry of Health with medicines," Dr. Hammed al-Nuaimy, manager of a large medical supply company told IPS in Baghdad. "This is the case even though we always submit the best prices and brands of European origin."

    Al-Nuaimy would not say why his company failed to get supply contracts despite competitive offers. "I leave it for you and your readers to answer," he said.

    "We are being ignored by our government and by the Americans," 55-year-old Hammad Hussein from Fallujah told IPS on a visit to Baghdad. "The promises of a better life have just turned out to be ugly death."

    Hussein added, "Our hospitals and clinics are paralysed and we do not find the simplest treatment, so we always have to buy medicines from the commercial market which means we have to sell something like a refrigerator or a TV set to cure a sick member of the family."

    Sanaa Sulayman, studying for a biology degree at the University of Baghdad's science department told IPS that no one seems to look at health in Iraq from the environmental perspective.

    "The huge amounts of explosives dropped on Iraq including those 'special weapons' like radioactive Depleted Uranium and white phosphorous have caused a dramatic increase in numbers of patients and severity of diseases," Sulayman said. "It is still getting worse by the day and no one seems to care."

    A dentist from Fallujah told IPS that most Iraqis have been neglecting dental care because they are unable to afford it.

    "Dental care is considered a luxury by Iraqis now, and they will not visit our clinics unless they have an intolerable toothache," said the doctor. "Most of them would ask for a tooth to be pulled rather than filling it because they cannot afford proper treatment."

    The mental health situation is equally grim for Iraqis.

    In a study 'Psychological effects of war on Iraqis' the Association of Iraqi Psychologists (AIP) reported in January 2007 that of 2,000 people interviewed in all 18 Iraqi provinces, 92 percent said they feared being killed in an explosion.

    Sixty percent of those interviewed said the level of violence had caused them to have panic attacks, and this prevented them from going out because they feared they would be the next victims. [Emphasis added]

    More than 1 child in 8 dies before age 5. The annual deterioration since 1990 of 6.1% is "a world record, well behind very poor and AIDS- affected Botswana." (Al-Ahram) Can Iraqis ever forgive us? Can we ever forgive ourselves?

    As I have written before in connection with the economic sanctions that killed so many Iraqis, children especially: ultimately our collective failure is a failure of imagination. A failure to imagine the reality of hundreds of thousands of children killed. To imagine hundreds of thousands of little caskets, hundreds of thousands of mothers' hearts broken. This is happening in a real place, to real people. Imagine their sorrow and their rage.

    [Thanks, Miles]

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:06 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Saturday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:02 AM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    The president got up at the Radio and Television Correspondents' Dinner and did a little routine. 'Cause times are funny. He did his famous Patriot Act knock-knock joke. There's no knocking. They just break in. — Bill Maher

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:57 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 06, 2007

    Comments Fixed

    If you tried to post a comment recently, you probably got a message saying it was blocked for questionable content. My bad.

    All blogs get heaps of "comment spam". Spammers have programs that automatically post comments on any blog they can find. Their purpose is to get their web sites' addresses noticed by search engines so as to improve their search rank. I have software that filters out most of that spam; otherwise there would be hundreds of comments per day referencing all the lovely kinds of sites that are so familiar from email spam.

    Unfortunately, at some point recently I accidentally provided the filter with a template string that matched any and all comments, so nobody's comment could get through, not even mine.

    It should be fixed now.

    In future, if you find your comments are inexplicably being refused, please don't assume I have it in for you. It's probably just another screw-up. Send me email, and I'll fix it. Thanks!

    Posted by Jonathan at 07:16 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Friday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 06:53 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    Bush visited Walter Reed the other day. When you've got a problem like Walter Reed that needs solving, what better sight than to see George Bush walk through the door? He's created so many disasters, I'm not sure he knows which is which anymore. He walked into Walter Reed, and he said he wanted to have it ready for next year's Mardi Gras. — Bill Maher

    Posted by Jonathan at 06:49 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 05, 2007

    Global Warming Tipping Points Environment

    USA Today Tuesday carried a preview of the upcoming IPCC report on the projected effects of global warming. Not bad for a thoroughly mainstream publication:

    Earth is spinning toward many points of no return from the damage of global warming, after which disease, desolation and famine are inevitable, say scientists involved in an international report due Friday on the effects of climate change. [...]

    In its first report in February, the panel, backed by the World Meteorological Organization and conducted under the auspices of the United Nations Environmental Programme, concluded that "unequivocal" evidence shows industrial releases of greenhouse gases have warmed the Earth an average of about 1 degree Fahrenheit in the past century. That makes it "very likely" that temperatures will rise 3 to 7 degrees this century, depending on future emissions. [...]

    "In a sense, we are looking at a series of tipping points for humanity and climate," says Richard Moss, senior director on climate at the United Nations Foundation.

    Irreversible effects on plants, animals, farming and weather already are apparent, says biologist Camille Parmesan of the University of Texas in Austin, one of the scientists assigned to review the report. Studies weighed in the report show that warming has eliminated about 70 animal species and affects 59% of wild species surveyed. [...]

    Moss says the roughly 5-degree rise in global average temperatures envisioned in the February report will cause damage that cannot be recovered. He echoes a warning by NASA scientist James Hansen in 2004 that the window for action is only 10 years. The Stern Review, a high-profile report last year by the United Kingdom's chief economist, Nicholas Stern, warns of serious financial threats to agriculture and commerce. [...]

    In Brussels this week, about 60 lead authors are working with representatives of more than 100 nations to distill, clarify and approve the panel's findings in a short summary for policymakers. The summary is out Friday; the scientific chapters arrive Tuesday.

    Environmental and energy analyst Anthony Patt of Boston University, a report co-author, says the report will divide the possible effects of temperature increases this century into three grades: a 3.6-degree rise with warmer winters but few human catastrophes; an up to 7.2-degree rise that wealthy nations could handle but would prove calamitous to poor nations and many species; and an even higher rise, which "would prove difficult for any society to adapt to." [...]

    What the panel's report will not establish is whether vast infestations by pine beetles in the forests of the western USA and Canada are tied to warming, Running says. Although many scientists believe there is a link, he says, research has not focused enough on temperature. "My nose is telling me there's a climate-change signal here, but the papers in print yet aren't doing a strong enough analysis."

    Worldwide, thresholds were outlined last year in "Avoiding Dangerous Climate Change," a summary of tipping points for which British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote the foreword. They include:

  • At a 3.6-degree rise, all Indian Ocean coral reefs go extinct, and 97% of the rest around the globe are "bleached" or severely damaged. All Arctic ice disappears.

  • At a 5.4-degree increase, half of all nature reserves become unable to conserve native species. The Amazon rainforest disappears.

  • At 7.2 degrees or higher, coastal flooding is seven times worse than in 1990. Malaria threatens 330 million more people a year, and hunger jeopardizes 600 million. Australia no longer can grow food.

    All of this leaves aside the most extreme risks that Schneider calls the "dark edge of the bell curve": melting of the vast Antarctic ice sheets; shutdown of Atlantic Ocean circulation, which brings warm weather to the United Kingdom; and the release of more greenhouse gases frozen in the Arctic tundra.

    Some scientists, such as Penn State's Michael Mann, worry that the panel's reports lag behind the latest science because of a six-month research cutoff before their release, a lifetime in climate study.

    Last month, for instance, a report in Geophysical Research Letters found that ocean acidification from increased carbon dioxide is likely to wreak "havoc" for shellfish and coral and disrupt food chains.

    A Colorado State University analysis in March said warming will make grazing lands less productive by 2050.

    A University of Minnesota team reported that Lake Superior has warmed an average of 4.5 degrees since 1979, about twice the local atmospheric warming. [...]

    James McCarthy of Harvard, incoming head of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, says the reality of warming is accepted, with regional climate-change trends already playing out as predicted. [Emphasis added]

  • One hopeful sign is that awareness of the seriousness and scope of the global warming threat is growing rapidly and going mainstream, as this article demonstrates. Let us hope awareness leads to action, and quickly.

    Posted by Jonathan at 03:34 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Dawkins v. Haggard Humor & Fun

    Via a little video- and sound-editing magic, Richard Dawkins "debates" Ted Haggard:

    (Via Pharyngula)

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:23 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Thursday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:11 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    We're now finding out where all the candidates met their spouses. Barack Obama met his wife at a law firm. John McCain met his wife at a Naval officers' dance. And Rudy Giuliani met his third wife when he was cheating on his first wife with his second wife. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:10 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 04, 2007

    Secret Ethiopian Prisons: "Decentralized, Outsourced Guantánamo" 9/11, "War On Terror"

    Mail & Guardian (via Jerome-a-Paris):

    CIA and FBI agents hunting for al-Qaeda militants in the Horn of Africa have been interrogating terrorism suspects from 19 countries held at secret prisons in Ethiopia, which is notorious for torture and abuse, according to an investigation by the Associated Press.

    Human rights groups, lawyers and several Western diplomats assert hundreds of prisoners, who include women and children, have been transferred secretly and illegally in recent months from Kenya and Somalia to Ethiopia, where they are kept without charge or access to lawyers and families.

    The detainees include at least one United States citizen and some are from Canada, Sweden and France, according to a list compiled by a Kenyan Muslim rights group and flight manifests obtained by AP. [...]

    [S]ome US allies have expressed consternation at the transfers to the prisons. One Western diplomat in Nairobi, who agreed to speak to AP only if not quoted to avoid angering US officials, said he sees the US as playing a guiding role in the operation.

    John Sifton, a Human Rights Watch expert on counterterrorism, went further. He said in an email that the United States has acted as "ringleader" in what he labelled a "decentralised, outsourced Guantánamo." [Emphasis added]

    As Bill Hicks used to ask, "How does it feel to find out we are the Evil Empire?"

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:34 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Wednesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:13 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    Iran is currently holding 15 British sailors hostage. The United Nations has told Iran the world is united against them. So now the Iranians know how we feel. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:10 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 03, 2007

    Wasp Neurosurgery Science/Technology

    This isn't new, but it's one of the more amazing bits of biology trivia I've ever seen. Wow.

    Posted by Jonathan at 05:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Iraqis Unimpressed By McCain Visit Iraq  Politics

    Baghdad residents were unimpressed with Senator McCain's Baghdad photo op. AP:

    Iraqis in the capital said Tuesday that Sen. John McCain's account of a heavily guarded visit to a central market did not represent the current reality in Baghdad, with one calling it "propaganda."

    Jaafar Moussa Thamir, a 42-year-old who sells electrical appliances at the Shorja market that the Republican congressmen visited on Sunday, said the delegation greeted some fellow vendors with Arabic phrases but he was not impressed.

    "They were just making fun of us and paid this visit just for their own interests," he said. "Do they think that when they come and speak few Arabic words in a very bad manner it will make us love them? This country and its society have been destroyed because of them and I hope that they realized that during this visit."

    Thamir said "about 150 U.S. soldiers and 20 humvees" accompanied the McCain delegation. [...]

    "I didn't care about him, I even turned my eyes away," Thamir said. "We are being killed by the dozens everyday because of them. What were they trying to tell us? They are just pretenders."

    Karim Abdullah, a 37-year-old textile merchant, said the congressmen were kept under tight security and accompanied by dozens of U.S. troops.

    "They were laughing and talking to people as if there was nothing going on in this country or at least they were pretending that they were tourists and were visiting the city's old market and buying souvenirs," he said. "To achieve this, they sealed off the area, put themselves in flak jackets and walked in the middle of tens of armed American soldiers." [Emphasis added]

    Fly in, use the war as a backdrop for campaign visuals, smile for the camera, tell the folks at home that up is down and black is white, fly out again. Can it get any more grotesque?

    Posted by Jonathan at 04:43 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Major Sub-Prime Lender Goes Bankrupt Economy

    Pop goes the housing credit bubble. BBC:

    New Century Financial, one of the largest sub-prime lenders in the US, has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

    New Century sought protection from creditors after it was forced by its backers to repurchase billions of dollars worth of bad loans.

    The company said it would immediately cut 3,200 jobs, more than half of its workforce, as a result of the move.

    Sub-prime lenders, who target customers with poor credit histories, have suffered from a downturn in the market. [...]

    Leading US economists warned on Monday that the current tide of defaults in the sub-prime mortgage sector would continue to weigh on the US's slowing housing market.

    "We suspect the problem in the sub-prime area is just the tip of the iceberg for the mortgage market as a whole," said senior economist David Shulman, in the University of California's quarterly Anderson Report.

    "For all practical purposes, the sub-prime market is in the process of shutting down." [Emphasis added]

    The "tip of the iceberg." Stay tuned.

    Posted by Jonathan at 04:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Tuesday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:18 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    Sunday was April Fools' Day. Or, as they call it in Washington, Presidents' Day. — Jay Leno

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    April 02, 2007

    War As Testosterone-Fueled Video Game Iraq

    Why the US is doomed in Iraq. A highly disturbing video (via ICH):

    Exactly the wrong way to conduct a counterinsurgency war: the callous, undisciplined, indiscriminate killing of civilians. But it's pretty close to inevitable, as troops realize that what they're doing makes no sense and is, finally, unjust and dishonorable. They live with it by flipping a mental switch — the people around them aren't people. They're just targets. And at that point the war is already lost. Iraqis won't rest until US troops are out of their country. Not after stuff like this.

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:50 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    DNA Frees Man After 22 Years In Prison Rights, Law

    22 years in prison for crimes he did not commit. And he could have been paroled 10 years ago, except his refusal to admit guilt meant he could not complete the manditory sex offender program. An unimaginable nightmare.

    This is why capital punishment is madness.

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:38 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Bush Economics Economy

    Jerome-a-Paris has the skinny. It's not pretty.

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Supreme Court Rules Greenhouse Gases A Pollutant Environment  Rights, Law

    A piece of good news for a change. This is an example of why the composition of the US Supreme Court matters so much (Boston Globe):

    In a defeat for the Bush administration, the US Supreme Court ruled Monday that greenhouse gases are a pollutant and ordered federal environmental officials to re-examine their refusal to limit emissions of the gases from cars and trucks.

    The justices' 5-4 decision did not go as far as to require the US Environmental Protection Agency to regulate greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide. Rather, the court directed the agency to take a new look at the gases. If it determines they cause global warming and therefore human harm, the agency should regulate them under the federal Clean Air Act, or provide a reasonable explanation why it will not, the court said.

    The case, brought by 12 states and 13 environmental groups and argued by the Massachusetts Attorney General's office, is the high court's first decision on global warming and is expected to have far-reaching implications for regulating greenhouse gases in the United States.

    "In short, EPA has offered no reasoned explanation for its refusal to decide whether greenhouse gases cause or contribute to climate change," Justice John Paul Stevens wrote for the majority.

    The EPA had argued that the Clean Air Act did not give it authority to regulate greenhouse gases in part because of "substantial scientific uncertainty" about its harm to human health and the environment.

    The decision comes just two months after the US endorsed a statement by hundreds of scientists worldwide that concluded that there was a high degree of certainty that the recent rise in global temperatures was mostly caused by increasing levels of carbon dioxide and other heat-trapping gases in the atmosphere.

    "Despite acknowledging that global warming poses serious dangers to our environment and health, the Bush Administration has done nothing to regulate greenhouse gas emissions," Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley said in a statement. "As a result of today's landmark ruling, EPA can no longer hide behind the fiction that it lacks any regulatory authority to address the problem of global warming." The EPA released a statement saying it is reviewing the decision. "The Bush Administration has an unparalleled financial, international and domestic commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions," it said, adding that the administration is pursuing voluntary efforts to prevent emissions and has spent over $35 billion on climate change programs -- "more than any other country in the world." Stevens was joined in the majority by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and Anthony Kennedy. Chief Justice John Roberts and Justices Samuel Alito, Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. [Emphasis added]

    Corporations and utilities won't voluntarily act in ways that hurt their bottom line in the short term, even if it means their ruin in the long term. Government regulation is needed to save them from themselves. This decision today doesn't guarantee the EPA will act, but it's an important step. And it was decided by a single vote.

    Posted by Jonathan at 09:59 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Cutting Off War Funds Versus "Supporting The Troops" Iraq

    Doonesbury explains.

    Posted by Jonathan at 12:18 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Monday Gumpagraph Gumpagraphs
     
    Today's Gumpagraph. Kent is 'Gumpa' to his grandson Sebastian.
    © Kent Tenney 

    Posted by Jonathan at 11:03 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

    Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

    Executive privilege is a special right of privacy asserted by presidents when they don't want you to hear about something bad they did. Think about it. How often will a president say, "Oh my God, these memos prove I've behaved ethically throughout my term in office. Destroy them!" Presidents invoke it in cases ranging from burglary to sex to raising dogs for money in the White House bowling alley. — Daily Show correspondent John Hodgman

    Posted by Jonathan at 10:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb