« May 2007 | Main | July 2007 »

June 29, 2007

CIA Mind Control Black Ops

People have known about CIA mind control research for decades now, but one seldom hears it mentioned in mainstream media. Here's a rare exception. The Australian (via Cryptogon):

EASILY lost, on page 425, in the mass of the CIA's notorious "Family Jewels" files is a short paragraph outlining "potentially embarrassing Agency activities".

"Experiments in influencing human behaviour through the administration of mind- or personality-altering drugs to unwitting subjects."

Of all the heinous acts committed by the CIA in the name of national security, these experiments, done on the agency's behalf by prominent psychiatrists on innocent victims - including children as young as four - may be the darkest.

"We have no answer to the moral issue," former director Richard Helms infamously said when asked about the nature of the projects.

The release of the Family Jewels documents revealed the CIA handsomely funded these real-life Dr Strangeloves and engaged pharmaceutical companies to help its experiments.

The agency appealed to Big Pharma to pass on any drugs that could not be marketed because of "unfavourable side effects" to be tested on mice and monkeys. Any drugs that passed muster would then be used, according to an internal memo, on volunteer US soldiers.

The Family Jewels files do not provide further detail into the numerous mind-control programs, such as MKULTRA, covertly propped up by the agency. In 1953, MKULTRA was given 6 per cent of the total CIA budget without any oversight.

Only the tip of a large iceberg had been previously released by the CIA under Freedom of Information Act provisions. [...]

The nature of the experiments, gathered from government documents and testimony in numerous lawsuits brought against the CIA, is shocking, from testing LSD on children to implanting electrodes in victims' brains to deliberately poisoning people with uranium.

"The CIA bought my services from my grandfather in 1952 starting at the tender age of four," wrote Carol Rutz of her experiences.

"Over the next 12 years, I was tested, trained, and used in various ways. Electroshock, drugs, hypnosis, sensory deprivation, and other types of trauma were used to make me complain and split my personality (to create multiple personalities for specific tasks). Each alter or personality was created to respond to a post-hypnotic trigger, then perform an act and (I would) not remember it later.

"This Manchurian Candidate program was just one of the operational uses of the mind-control scenario by the CIA." [...]

The US began these experiments after World War II when it made a grab for hundreds of Nazi scientists and doctors who had been researching mind control in concentration camps, fearing they would fall into Soviet hands. [...]

The programs, though carefully hidden, continued into the 1970s - when Helms ordered much of the documentation to be destroyed.

Some conspiratorial theorists believe the CIA completed its goal, initially outlined in the early 1950s, of altering a personality and having someone "perform an action contrary to an individual's basic moral principles".

The attorney for Sirhan Sirhan, Lawrence Teeter, has said his client was programmed to assassinate Robert Kennedy in 1968.

Theodore Kaczynski, the Unabomber, volunteered to take part in CIA mind-control experiments when he was a student at Harvard University in the late 50s. [Emphasis added]

That was 50 years ago. Does anyone doubt that the state of the art has advanced considerably since then? CIA may have stopped conducting this kind of research (or not), but I think we can assume it has continued in some form, perhaps in some agency we've never even heard of.

This kind of thing makes you ask not "Am I paranoid?", but rather "Am I paranoid enough?"

Posted by Jonathan at 05:42 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 05:02 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

A new poll says that 40% of Americans still believe that Iraq was responsible for 9/11. Unfortunately, two of those people: Cheney and Bush. — Jay Leno

Posted by Jonathan at 05:00 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 28, 2007

"We Have A Very Big Problem" Peak Oil

Jerome-a-Paris links to an unusually frank interview in Le Monde (in French) with Fatih Birol, chief economist of the International Energy Agency. Birol (Jerome's translation):

If Iraqi production does not rise exponentially by 2015, we have a very big problem, even if Saudi Arabia fulfills all its promises. The numbers are very simple, there's no need to be an expert.

Iraqi production rises exponentially? Saudi Arabia fulfills all its promises? What are the chances?

Jerome says:

The whole interview is amazingly frank and free of diplomatic obfuscation. He blasts biofuels ("not based on any kind of economic rationality"), he notes that Africa is suffering the most already from expensive oil, he points out that even a slowing of China's growth will not reduce oil demand, and he talks pretty explicitly about production peaks and depletion:
Within 5 to 10 years, non-OPEP production will reach a peak and begin to decline, as reserves run out. There are new proofs of that fact every day. At the same we'll see the peak of China's economic growth. The two events will coincide: the explosion of Chinese growth, and the fall in non-OPEP oil production. Will the oil world manage to face that twin shock is an open question.

He says it again twice in the interview: the gap between demand and supply will widen, and he blasts our governments for doing so little:

Unfortunately, there's a lot of talk, but very little action. I really hope that consuming nations will understand the gravity of the situation and put in place radical and extremely tough policies to curb oil demand growth.

Of course, we might need to curb more than "demand growth", and actually move to curb "demand" itself, but his words are at least quite direct and explicit. Even more interestingly, he puts the finger on two important but rarely discussed items: field depletion (he mentions an 8% decline rate for mature fields, but indicates that even a 1% difference in the actual number would mean huge volumes by 2020), and Saudi reserves:

I understand the Saudi government claims 230 billion barrels of reserves, and I have no official reason not to believe these numbers. Nevertheless, Saudi Arabia - as well as other producing countries and oil companies - should be more transparent in their numbers. Oil is a crucial good for all of us and we have the right to know how much oil, as per international standards, is left.

While not a direct attack on Saudi numbers, this is by far the most explicit voicing of doubt about their reserves from any official of a major organisation that I have ever read. "No official reason to doubt"??? That's a pretty gaping hole there to sneak other kinds of doubts... He notes that he believes Saudi Arabian promises to be able to bring its capacity from 12mb/d today to 15mb/d in 2015, but notes at the same time that (i) it's the only place in the world (other, potentially, than Iraq) where production can grow and (ii) it's less than the expected demand growth by then from China alone. [Emphasis in the original]

Birol is an expert, but even he says, "the numbers are very simple, there's no need to be an expert." It's coming, and probably sooner than you think.

Posted by Jonathan at 05:52 PM | Comments (4) | 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 09:41 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

John Oliver, on Cheney claiming the systems of checks and balances do not apply to him: "He is correct. For Dick Cheney exists neither in the executive branch nor the legislative, yet simultaneously in both. He is neither man nor beast, yet has elements of the twain. He is at once everything and nothing, substance without form, shape without motion, time without reason. He is the highlander."

Posted by Jonathan at 09:37 AM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 27, 2007

Legacy Iraq

There are no words. WaPo:

Marwa Hussein watched as gunmen stormed into her home and executed her parents. Afterward, her uncle brought her to the Alwiya Orphanage, a high-walled compound nestled in central Baghdad with a concrete yard for a playground. That was more than two years ago, and for 13-year-old Marwa, shy and thin with walnut-colored eyes and long brown hair, the memory of her parents' last moments is always with her.

"They were killed," she said, her voice trailing away as she sat on her narrow bed with pink sheets. Tears started to slide down her face. As social worker Maysoon Tahsin comforted her, other orphans in the room, where 12 girls sleep, watched solemnly.

Iraq's conflict is exacting an immense and largely unnoticed psychological toll on children and youth that will have long-term consequences, said social workers, psychiatrists, teachers and aid workers in interviews across Baghdad and in neighboring Jordan.

"With our limited resources, the societal impact is going to be very bad," said Haider Abdul Muhsin, one of the country's few child psychiatrists. "This generation will become a very violent generation, much worse than during Saddam Hussein's regime."

Since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, 4 million Iraqis have fled their homes, half of them children, according to the United Nations Children's Fund. Many are being killed inside their sanctuaries -- at playgrounds, on soccer fields and in schools. Criminals are routinely kidnapping children for ransom as lawlessness goes unchecked. Violence has orphaned tens of thousands. [...]

In a World Health Organization survey of 600 children ages 3 to 10 in Baghdad last year, 47 percent said they had been exposed to a major traumatic event over the past two years. Of this group, 14 percent showed symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. In a second study of 1,090 adolescents in the northern city of Mosul, 30 percent showed symptoms of the disorder. [...]

Many of the children [Iraqi psychiatrist] Abdul Muhsin treats have witnessed killings. They have anxiety problems and suffer from depression. Some have recurring nightmares and wet their beds. Others have problems learning in school. Iraqi children, he said, show symptoms not unlike children in other war zones such as Lebanon, Sudan and the Palestinian territories. [...]

"We adults are afraid of what's happening in Iraq. How do you think it will affect the children?" [...]

At Sadr General, as many as 250 children arrive for treatment every day, nearly double from last year. "We only treat the first 20 children who arrive and then we run out of drugs," Sahib said. There is no child psychiatrist on staff.

At the orphanage, Dina Shadi sleeps a few feet away from Marwa Hussein. Twelve-year-old Dina had recently received two telephone calls from relatives. She learned that her 17-year-old brother had been killed and that her aunt had been kidnapped and executed. [...]

"Now Dina expects another call with more bad news. She has a very dark image of the future. More and more, she's afraid of the future."

UNICEF officials estimate that tens of thousands children lost one or both parents to the conflict in the past year. If trends continue, they expect the numbers to rise this year, said Claire Hajaj, a UNICEF spokesperson in Amman, Jordan. [...]

At a primary school in the Zayuna neighborhood of Baghdad, three teachers sat in the head office lamenting how Iraq's sectarian strife had affected their classrooms. A quarter of their students had left for safer areas. Some parents were too scared to send their children to school, fearing attacks.

"Now, the young students when they enter the school, they ask their classmates whether they are Sunni or Shia," said Nagher Ziad Salih, 37, the school's principal.

"Yesterday, I was taking my 6-year-old grandson for a walk. He asked me 'Is this a Shia street or a Sunni street?' " said Um Amil, who asked that her full name not be used because she was afraid she could become a target. "I said: We are all Muslims. But he was still determined to know if this was street was Sunni or Shia."

"Such a child, when he grows up, what will he become?" she asked.

Salih said children quarreling on the playground now invoke the names of armed groups. "The child would say: I'll get the Mahdi Army to take revenge," she said. "The other kid would say back: My uncle is from the [Sunni] resistance and he'll take revenge against you."

The third teacher, Um Hanim, spoke up.

"Now the kid whose parent is killed by a Sunni or a Shia, what will be his future?" she said, also insisting that her full name not be used. "He will have a grudge inside him." [...]

Twenty-year-old Yasser Laith, short with a thin goatee and a cold stare, cannot sleep at night. When a rocket crashed into his family's house in the mostly Sunni neighborhood of Adhamiya in November, he crawled into the kitchen and curled up in fear.

"Whenever I hear an explosion, I start trembling," mumbled Laith, as he waited at Ibn Rushed hospital for a 10-day supply of anti-psychotic drugs.

Another day, intense clashes erupted on his street, and U.S. combat helicopters hovered over the area. Laith grabbed an AK-47 assault rifle, rushed to his roof and began firing into the sky.

"My father is ashamed of me. I wanted to show that I was as good as the others," Laith said with a half-crazed smile. "After that I felt satisfied."

Today, he takes pills to help control his violence and stop him from hitting his two younger sisters or abusing his parents. Several of his friends, he said, had joined the Sunni insurgency. He, too, was tempted, especially after learning that one of his friends had been killed by the Mahdi Army.

"I had the desire to seek revenge," Laith said, smiling again.

When Laith left the room to go to the bathroom, his 57-year-old mother, Sahira Asadallah, said she was scared that her son would commit a crime or join an insurgent group. She wondered how long Laith would have to take the drugs, then answered herself: "This will only end with the end of the war." [Emphasis added]

Actions have consequences. Iraq isn't some tv show. It's a real place where real people, millions of them children, are subjected to unspeakable suffering and terror, day in, day out. The inevitable result is a legacy of hatred and violence that will endure for generations. Among the people we supposedly were liberating.

And here in the US, the unspeakable Ann Coulter gets to go on television and say this:

We need to be less concerned about civilian casualties — we bombed more people in Hamburg in two days — I'd rather have their civilians die than our civilians — we should kill their people.

I want to scream.

Posted by Jonathan at 05:24 PM | Comments (2) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

What They Say When We're Not Around Extremism  Politics

These are not nice people. Mean-spirited and godawful dumb.

Update: More here.

Posted by Jonathan at 04:30 PM | 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 09:44 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

You remember Dick Cheney, he's the vice president of the United States. He shot an old man in the face and didn't tell anybody. Eventually, the news got out. Turned out the old man was fine. It was a hilarious story, and the old man ended up doing the right thing [on screen: attorney Harry Whittington apologizing to Cheney's family for the amount of media coverage]. At the time we all thought, "My God, how do you shoot an old man in the face — and get him to apologize? Ohh, Cheney. He must be evil. What's he hiding? What are his secrets?" Well, as it turns out, what he was hiding is everything.

CNN, of course, was referring to revelations that Dick Cheney's office has for years refused to comply with an executive order requiring him to report how he was classifying secret documents. In fact, rather than comply, Cheney attempted to abolish the agency in charge of the oversight. But unfortunately, since you can't shoot an entire agency in the face, he resorted to a different tactic. Cheney now claims he doesn't have to follow the executive orders because he's not a member of the executive branch. Now before you say, "Oh my God, the vice president's a crazy person that under normal circumstances wouldn't even be allowed to operate lightweight machinery," listen to his argument: He's not part of the executive branch because he's also president of the Senate, a legislative body. It's like the Harlem Globetrotters saying they were part of Scooby and the Gang, even though they only showed up once at a haunted amusement park and once on some Christmas special, which doesn't even count. — Jon Stewart

Posted by Jonathan at 09:40 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 26, 2007

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

Posted by Jonathan at 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

They're getting ready to unveil President Bush's presidential library. The committee in charge of President Bush's presidential library said they want the building to reflect the spirit of the Bush presidency. So they said, "In other words, we're just gonna build some stuff and see what happens." — Conan O'Brien

Posted by Jonathan at 09:12 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 25, 2007

Made In The USA Palestine/Middle East

It seems clear that the US and Israel, with help from the EU, are doing everything they can to split the Palestinian people, pitting Hamas and Fatah against one another. Here's Jimmy Carter's take (Jerusalem Post):

The United States, Israel and the European Union must end their policy of favoring Fatah over Hamas, or they will doom the Palestinian people to deepening conflict between the rival movements, former US President Jimmy Carter said Tuesday.

Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate who was addressing a conference of Irish human rights officials, said the Bush administration's refusal to accept the 2006 election victory of Hamas was "criminal."

Carter said Hamas, besides winning a fair and democratic mandate that should have entitled it to lead the Palestinian government, had proven itself to be far more organized in its political and military showdowns with the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. [...]

Carter said the American-Israeli-European consensus to reopen direct aid to the new government in the West Bank, but to deny the same to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, represented an "effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples." [...]

During his speech to Ireland's eighth annual Forum on Human Rights, the 83-year-old former president said monitors from his Carter Center observed the 2006 election in which Hamas won 42 percent of the popular vote and a majority of parliamentary seats.

Carter said that election was "orderly and fair" and Hamas triumphed, in part, because it was "shrewd in selecting candidates," whereas a divided, corrupt Fatah ran multiple candidates for single seats.

Far from encouraging Hamas's move into parliamentary politics, Carter said the US and Israel, with European Union acquiescence, has sought to subvert the outcome by shunning Hamas and helping Abbas to keep the reins of political and military power.

"That action was criminal," he said in a news conference after his speech.

"The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah," he said.

Carter said the United States and others supplied the Fatah-controlled security forces in Gaza with vastly superior weaponry in hopes they would "conquer Hamas in Gaza" - but Hamas this month routed Fatah because of its "superior skills and discipline." [Emphasis added]

Journalist Nir Rosen, speaking on CNN, was more blunt (via The Angry Arab):

NIR ROSEN, JOURNALIST: ...We created a civil war. This is actually outrageous. Outgoing U.N. envoy to the Middle East peace process, Alvaro De Soto, himself accused the U.S. of fomenting a civil war by training, funding and arming Fatah thugs and inserting them into Gaza to destabilize the Hamas government. We never gave them a chance. They were democratically elected in an election that was widely recognized as free and fair, even by former President Jimmy Carter. And then the U.S., along with Israel, Jordan and Egypt trained these gangs and actually put them in Gaza to overthrow the Hamas government. And, of course, it's actually backfired and Fatah was overthrown. But all you're going to do is isolate and further radicalize Hamas. And so when you say that the U.S. is seeking to ease tensions in the Middle East, I disagree with you. These are tensions that the U.S. actually created in the Middle East.

JOHN ROBERTS: Nir, I mean what are you talking about, we have Fatah thugs being sent into the country to wage war with Hamas?

ROSEN: Well, they were trained by the U.S. General [Keith] Dayton, our envoy to the peace process, was responsible for a program, along with Elliot Abrams, the deputy national security adviser for the Middle East, and they actually trained Fatah in the West Bank. The Jordanian special forces created the Fatah Badr brigade. The Egyptians, as well, trained Fatah in Egypt. The United Arab Emirates actually sent money and arms. And then they were allowed to enter Gaza and then began to attack Hamas. I mean this was an existential threat to a democratically elected government. What we've done is overthrow a government that was elected. The U.S. ..." [Emphasis added]

Not the sort of thing we're used to hearing in US media.

The whole project is as cynical and ultimately self-defeating as everything else the US has been doing in the Middle East, sowing conflict and chaos and suffering beyond calculation. In the long run, it cannot help but fail. We give people so many reasons to hate us, and then we act surprised when they do. But people have long memories. And the underlying idea — that entire peoples can be controlled by force of arms — is pure lunacy. It cannot work, and it's evil.

Posted by Jonathan at 06:47 PM | Comments (7) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Rudy And Ground Zero 9/11, "War On Terror"  Politics

Rudy Giuliani, hero of 9/11. NY Daily News (via Xymphora):

In an upcoming interview with WNBC-TV, former head of the EPA Christie Whitman says former Mayor Rudy Giuliani blocked her efforts to force WTC workers to wear respirators. [...]

She also said city officials didn't want EPA workers wearing haz-mat suits because they "didn't want this image of a city falling apart."

In an interview scheduled to run the day before Whitman testifies in front of Congress on Monday, she told WNBC-TV she warned the city of the risks almost every day.

And she said she believes illnesses killing first responders can be blamed on the city's lack of action.

"I'm not a scientist ... but I do [believe that]," she told WNBC's Brian Thompson.

"I mean, we wouldn't have been saying that the workers should wear respirators if ... we didn't think there might be health consequences."

She said the city had the responsibility to make sure workers wore respirators. But many took them off, complaining of heat. She said workers without respirators were barred from cleanup efforts at the Pentagon.

"We were certainly frustrated at not being able to get people to wear respirators because we thought that was critically important to workers on The Pile," Whitman said.

"Every day, there would be telephone calls, telephone meetings and meetings in person ... with the city when we repeated the message of the necessity of wearing respirators."

But her concern at the time only involved breathing air on The Pile.

Only seven days after the 9/11 attacks, as fires still raged at the site, she said, "I am glad to reassure the people of New York and Washington, D.C., that the air is safe to breathe."

Whitman also criticized Giuliani's handling of a suspected anthrax attack at NBC's Rockefeller Center headquarters weeks after 9/11.

"There was concern by the city that EPA workers not be seen in the haz-mat suits," she said. "They didn't want this image of a city falling apart. I said, 'Well, that's not acceptable.'" [Emphasis added]

Ground Zero workers paid the price. AP:

A study of more than 20,000 people by Mount Sinai Medical Center in New York concluded that, since the attacks, 70 percent of ground zero workers have suffered some sort of respiratory illness. A separate study released last month found that rescue workers and firefighters contracted sarcoidosis, a serious lung-scarring disease, at a rate more than five times as high as in the years before the attacks. [Emphasis added]

Yes, but respirators wouldn't have looked good on the teevee.

Posted by Jonathan at 04:55 PM | Comments (1) | 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 11:41 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has quit the Republican Party and has become an Independent. Bloomberg says he has no plans to be president. Now don't confuse that with President Bush, who has no plans as president. — Jay Leno

Posted by Jonathan at 11:37 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 24, 2007

Bush Joins Cheney In Claiming Oversight Exemption Politics  Rights, Law

A few days ago it was reported that Dick Cheney's office has decided to exempt itself from President Bush's own executive order requiring oversight of the handling of classified information by executive branch agencies and "entities." Cheney argues, not for the first time, that the VP, because s/he also serves as President of the Senate, is a "unique office" that is not a part of either the executive or legislative branch. The Gavel:

The Oversight Committee has learned that over the objections of the National Archives, Vice President Cheney exempted his office from the presidential order that establishes government-wide procedures for safeguarding classified national security information. The Vice President asserts that his office is not an "entity within the executive branch."

Well, it gets worse. Now Bush's office claims it, too, is exempt. LA Times:

The White House said Friday that, like Vice President Dick Cheney's office, President Bush's office is not allowing an independent federal watchdog to oversee its handling of classified national security information.

An executive order that Bush issued in March 2003 — amending an existing order — requires all government agencies that are part of the executive branch to submit to oversight. Although it doesn't specifically say so, Bush's order was not meant to apply to the vice president's office or the president's office, a White House spokesman said.

The issue flared Thursday when Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Los Angeles) criticized Cheney for refusing to file annual reports with the federal National Archives and Records Administration, for refusing to spell out how his office handles classified documents, and for refusing to submit to an inspection by the archives' Information Security Oversight Office.

The archives administration has been pressing the vice president's office to cooperate with oversight for the last several years, contending that by not doing so, Cheney and his staff have created a potential national security risk.

Bush amended the oversight directive in response to the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks to help ensure that national secrets would not be mishandled, made public or improperly declassified.

The order aimed to create a uniform system for classifying, declassifying and otherwise safeguarding national security information. It gave the archives' oversight unit responsibility for evaluating the effectiveness of each agency's classification programs. It applied to the executive branch of government, mostly agencies led by Bush administration appointees — not to legislative offices such as Congress or to judicial offices such as the courts.

"Our democratic principles require that the American people be informed of the activities of their government," the executive order said.

But from the start, Bush considered his office and Cheney's exempt from the reporting requirements, White House spokesman Tony Fratto said in an interview Friday.

Cheney's office filed the reports in 2001 and 2002 but stopped in 2003.

As a result, the National Archives has been unable to review how much information the president's and vice president's offices are classifying and declassifying. And the security oversight office cannot inspect the president and vice president's executive offices to determine whether safeguards are in place to protect the classified information they handle and to properly declassify information when required.

Those two offices have access to the most highly classified information, including intelligence on terrorists and unfriendly foreign countries.

Waxman and J. William Leonard, director of the Information Security Oversight Office, have argued that the order clearly applies to all executive branch agencies, including the offices of the vice president and the president.

The White House disagrees, Fratto said.

"We don't dispute that the ISOO has a different opinion. But let's be very clear: This executive order was issued by the president, and he knows what his intentions were," Fratto said. "He is in compliance with his executive order."

Fratto conceded that the lengthy directive, technically an amendment to an existing executive order, did not specifically exempt the president's or vice president's offices. Instead, it refers to "agencies" as being subject to the requirements, which Fratto said did not include the two executive offices. "It does take a little bit of inference," Fratto said.

Steven Aftergood, director of the Federation of American Scientists' government secrecy project, disputed the White House explanation of the executive order.

He noted that the order defines "agency" as any executive agency, military department and "any other entity within the executive branch that comes into the possession of classified information" — which, he said, includes Bush's and Cheney's offices. [Emphasis added]

If President Bush intended from the outset that the offices of the President and Vice President were exempt, and if the Vice President's office has never been part of the executive branch, then why did Cheney's office file the required annual reports for a couple of years before it decided to stop? Riddle me that.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:18 AM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

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

Posted by Jonathan at 09:47 AM | Comments (2) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

Do you know who's being suggested as the next Commissioner of Baseball after he leaves office? President Bush. He's a big baseball fan. President Bush, Commissioner of Baseball? And you thought the games would never end now. — Jay Leno

Posted by Jonathan at 09:42 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 23, 2007

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

Posted by Jonathan at 08:55 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

During a concert of the Virginia symphony at the 400th anniversary celebration of Jamestown, President Bush briefly took over conducting the orchestra. Which explains why the orchestra is now four trillion dollars in debt. — Seth Meyers

Posted by Jonathan at 08:32 AM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 22, 2007

The Politics Of Energy Energy  Politics

A commenter to the previous post points out that when fuel efficiency increases, people just drive more. He/she has a point. This effect is an example of the Jevons Paradox: increasing the efficiency of the use of a resource is effectively the same as cutting its price — so people buy more of it. Total consumption may actually go up as the lower price makes new usage patterns affordable.

If the increases in efficiency are sufficiently great, however, it seems unlikely that usage will keep pace. If people started driving cars with three or four times better mileage than cars today, it seems doubtful that they would drive three or four times as many miles as a result. There are only so many hours in the day. Not that the proposed increase in CAFE standards will get us to those kinds of efficiencies, but you see my point.

The commenter also says (correctly, I think) that a stiff gasoline tax would be more effective than CAFE standards in getting people to conserve. I don't doubt that's true, although it would be an awfully regressive tax. But it's a moot point. A significant gas tax is, at present, a political impossibility.

By the target date of 2020, 35 mpg will seem ridiculously inefficient, so the CAFE increase may be of purely symbolic importance, telling the car companies to do something they were going to do anyway. Which may explain why the Senate was willing to pass it. But it at least acknowledges conservation as an important goal. And I guess that's worth something.

Meanwhile (CNN):

Republicans blocked Democratic efforts to pass a $32 billion package of tax incentives for renewable energy and clean fuels, objecting to increasing taxes on oil companies by $29 billion over 10 years to pay for it.

That's the real story of this energy bill.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:46 AM | Comments (2) | 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 09:23 AM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

Let's begin tonight in Iraq, where the United States' coalition forces are staging a massive attack against al Qaeda in the Diyala province, now considered Iraq's most violent region. Which is something akin to being, say, The Village People's gayest member. — Jon Stewart

Posted by Jonathan at 09:20 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 21, 2007

Senate Votes To Raise CAFE Standards Energy

The Senate has approved raising the fleet-wide fuel economy standard to 35 mpg by 2020, the first significant increase in almost twenty years. SUVs and light trucks are included. SF Chronicle:

The Senate voted Thursday to require average fuel economy of 35 miles per gallon for new cars, pickup trucks and SUVs by 2020, raising efficiency standards that have not changed significantly for nearly two decades.

The fuel economy measure was added to a broad energy bill without a roll call vote even as senators were holding a news conference announcing the compromise.

Republicans earlier blocked Democratic efforts to raise oil taxes by $29 billion and use the money to promote renewable fuels and other clean energy programs.

Democratic leaders hoped to complete the energy bill Thursday night, but senators close to the auto industry began an effort to derail the entire bill.

"We will be continuing to oppose it," said Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich., "This is not over by any stretch."

The legislation for the first time would establish a single fuel economy standard applicable to not only cars, but also SUVs and pickups which currently have to meet less stringent requirement.

Fuel efficiency requirements would vary for different classes of vehicles based on weight and size. But manufacturers would be required to meet an overall fleetwide average of 35 mpg.

"It closes the SUV loophole," declared Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., referring to current requirements that allow much less stringent fuel efficiency standards for SUVs and pickup trucks than for cars. "This is a victory for the American public."

The compromise, approved without floor debate, was crafted over several days behind closed doors with the aim of heading off attempts by senators sympathetic to the auto industry to press a less stringent proposal. [...]

Automakers are currently required to meet an average of 27.5 mpg for cars and 22.2 mpg for SUVs and small trucks. The car standard has not changed since 1989, though the truck requirements have been increased slightly by the Bush administration.

The measure tacked onto the energy bill would require a 35 mpg fleet average — including SUVs and pickup trucks — by 2020, and require that automakers make half of their vehicles capable of running on 85 percent ethanol fuel by 2015. [Emphasis added]

By 2020, 35 mpg is going to seem awfully wimpy. And the last thing we need is half our cars running on 85% ethanol. Still, it's good to see that momentum is building behind the principle of increased efficiency. Efficiency is the low-hanging fruit.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:11 PM | Comments (4) | 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 09:34 AM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

One of the key battlegrounds in our gay culture war is actually key battlegrounds. I'm talking about gays in the military. The "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy has thrown our armed forces into chaos in the middle of a war on terror. We cannot waiver on this issue, folks, and thank God none of the Republicans did in their recent presidential debate [on screen: none of the GOP candidates raise their hand when asked if gays and lesbians should be allowed to serve openly in the military]. I say their silence speaks volumes. Plus, they kind of had to keep it down because Mary Cheney's baby was sleeping in the next room. — Stephen Colbert

Posted by Jonathan at 09:24 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 20, 2007

Hamas In Gaza, II Palestine/Middle East

Retired US Army Col. Patrick Lang, who, when it comes to US military intelligence and the Middle East, has got about as impressive a resume as one could imagine, has this to say about Hamas:

[I]t is very difficult under any circumstances to tell a people who their leaders may be. It is even more difficult to do that when those leaders were democratically elected in a process held to be fair by the international community. The US/Israeli/AIPAC/WINEP position seems to be to "hope" that the bribery and threats being employed against Hamas will bring the Palestinians to accept that they may not have Hamas as their government until Hamas accepts de jure the permanent existence of Israel. The Palestinians have never shown any vulnerability to such "arguments" before. Why do we/they think that will work now? There are no countries or parties in the Arab World that truly accept Israel. Even the ones who have signed treaties with Israel have done so most grudgingly and exist in a state of "cold peace" with her. Is FATAH really reconciled to the idea of Israel? If you think so, just wait a few months. What you will see is the commencement of operations against Israel by factions of FATAH.

To bolster the image of the awfulness of Hamas, we are "assured" by the organs of propaganda that Hamas is merely a tool of Syria and Iran. Syria? Who knows? I doubt that this is more than a mere assertion of a propaganda (IO) theme. Where is the evidence? Iran? This is more likely. In fact, it is nearly certain in the context of Iran's drive to power in the Islamic world. Nevertheless, I would still like to see the evidence. The country not named in the "indictment" of Hamas financers and suppliers is Saudi Arabia. The kingdom of sand, oil and prevarication has been among the principal supporters of Hamas and many other Islamist groups for a long time. I don't need to be shown the evidence for that. It is a matter of personal knowledge for me. It is inconvenient for the Bush Administration to acknowledge Saudi support for Hamas, and so they don't.

Hamas offered Israel a ten year truce when it came to office after the election that it won. That was scorned. The Israelis want a permanent cession of "their" land, and until now will accept nothing else. They argue that a truce (hudna) would serve as "cover" for the recovery of strength by their enemies and nothing else. They are unlikely to get anything but a truce, so maybe they should think this over.

Most people do not now remember that the United States expended a great deal of money and effort in "growing" the infrastructure of the Palestinian Authority's semi-state, only to see it destroyed utterly by Israel. That destruction cleared the way for Hamas' rise to "glory." In that context how can Americans, believe anything that a right wing Israeli government says of its attitude toward Palestine. [Emphasis added]

The right-wing governments of the US and Israel love Abbas and hate Hamas. What does that tell you?

[Thanks, Miles]

Posted by Jonathan at 10:13 PM | 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 09:16 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

President Bush was in Albania. He thought he was going to Albany. Anyway, he ended up in Albania and somebody stole his watch. Bush is upset. He is really angry. He said he now has no choice but to bomb Iran. I was going through the files and I believe he is the first president to be robbed since, well, Al Gore. — David Letterman

Posted by Jonathan at 09:14 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 19, 2007

Rudy And The Iraq Study Group Politics

From Newsday (via Josh Marshall):

Rudolph Giuliani's membership on an elite Iraq study panel came to an abrupt end last spring after he failed to show up for a single official meeting of the group, causing the panel's top Republican to give him a stark choice: either attend the meetings or quit, several sources said.

Giuliani left the Iraq Study Group last May after just two months, walking away from a chance to make up for his lack of foreign policy credentials on the top issue in the 2008 race, the Iraq war.

He cited "previous time commitments" in a letter explaining his decision to quit, and a look at his schedule suggests why — the sessions at times conflicted with Giuliani's lucrative speaking tour that garnered him $11.4 million in 14 months. [Emphasis added]

Suppose that had been Hillary (or any other Democratic candidate). The media would crucify her. But not Rudy (or any other Republican candidate). What do you want to bet he skates? Watch.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:43 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Record Foreclosures Economy

This can't be good (WaPo):

The percentage of U.S. mortgages entering foreclosure in the first three months of the year was the highest in more than 50 years, according to the Mortgage Bankers Association. [Emphasis added]


Posted by Jonathan at 05:37 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Shadow Art Culture

This is so clever.

Note the gulls.

Posted by Jonathan at 05:29 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Hamas In Gaza Palestine/Middle East

Robert Fisk on the Hamas "coup" in Gaza (Independent):

How troublesome the Muslims of the Middle East are. First, we demand that the Palestinians embrace democracy and then they elect the wrong party - Hamas - and then Hamas wins a mini-civil war and presides over the Gaza Strip. And we Westerners still want to negotiate with the discredited President, Mahmoud Abbas. Today "Palestine" - and let's keep those quotation marks in place - has two prime ministers. Welcome to the Middle East.

Who can we negotiate with? To whom do we talk? Well of course, we should have talked to Hamas months ago. But we didn't like the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people. They were supposed to have voted for Fatah and its corrupt leadership. But they voted for Hamas, which declines to recognise Israel or abide by the totally discredited Oslo agreement.

No one asked - on our side - which particular Israel Hamas was supposed to recognise. The Israel of 1948? The Israel of the post-1967 borders? The Israel which builds - and goes on building - vast settlements for Jews and Jews only on Arab land, gobbling up even more of the 22 per cent of "Palestine" still left to negotiate over?

And so today, we are supposed to talk to our faithful policeman, Mr Abbas, the "moderate" (as the BBC, CNN and Fox News refer to him) Palestinian leader, a man who wrote a 600-page book about Oslo without once mentioning the word "occupation", who always referred to Israeli "redeployment" rather than "withdrawal", a "leader" we can trust because he wears a tie and goes to the White House and says all the right things. The Palestinians didn't vote for Hamas because they wanted an Islamic republic - which is how Hamas's bloody victory will be represented - but because they were tired of the corruption of Mr Abbas's Fatah and the rotten nature of the "Palestinian Authority".

I recall years ago being summoned to the home of a PA official whose walls had just been punctured by an Israeli tank shell. All true. But what struck me were the gold-plated taps in his bathroom. Those taps - or variations of them - were what cost Fatah its election. Palestinians wanted an end to corruption - the cancer of the Arab world - and so they voted for Hamas and thus we, the all-wise, all-good West, decided to sanction them and starve them and bully them for exercising their free vote. [...]

All over the Middle East, it is the same. We support Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, even though he keeps warlords and drug barons in his government...

We love Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, whose torturers have not yet finished with the Muslim Brotherhood politicians recently arrested outside Cairo, whose presidency received the warm support of Mrs - yes Mrs - George W Bush - and whose succession will almost certainly pass to his son, Gamal.

We adore Muammar Gaddafi, the crazed dictator of Libya whose werewolves have murdered his opponents abroad, whose plot to murder King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia preceded Tony Blair's recent visit to Tripoli - Colonel Gaddafi, it should be remembered, was called a "statesman" by Jack Straw for abandoning his non-existent nuclear ambitions - and whose "democracy" is perfectly acceptable to us because he is on our side in the "war on terror".

Yes, and we love King Abdullah's unconstitutional monarchy in Jordan, and all the princes and emirs of the Gulf, especially those who are paid such vast bribes by our arms companies that even Scotland Yard has to close down its investigations on the orders of our prime minister...If only the Arabs - and the Iranians - would support our kings and shahs and princes whose sons and daughters are educated at Oxford and Harvard, how much easier the "Middle East" would be to control.

For that is what it is about - control - and that is why we hold out, and withdraw, favours from their leaders. [...]

So what will we do? Support the reoccupation of Gaza perhaps? Certainly we will not criticise Israel. And we shall go on giving our affection to the kings and princes and unlovely presidents of the Middle East until the whole place blows up in our faces and then we shall say - as we are already saying of the Iraqis - that they don't deserve our sacrifice and our love.

How do we deal with a coup d'état by an elected government? [Emphasis added]

At the risk of stating the blindingly obvious, the one thing, the only thing, that determines how any head of state or other political actor in the Middle East (or anywhere else) is portrayed in US media is the degree to which that person or group serves US interests. You can be as vicious and corrupt as you like, just so long as you work for us. But if you don't play ball, you're a terrorist, a madman, a devil. It really is that simple.

People still talk as if the US wants to bring democracy to the Middle East. Ridiculous. The US doesn't want democracy, it wants puppets. It wants collaborators to help run the plantation. It wants, as Fisk says, control.

Posted by Jonathan at 05:23 PM | Comments (1) | 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 09:08 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

Cheney is having an operation on his heart this week. Talk about microsurgery. — Jay Leno

Posted by Jonathan at 09:04 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 18, 2007

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

Posted by Jonathan at 09:11 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

This weekend, President Bush visited Albania and everywhere his motorcade drove, he was greeted with cheers and applause. The Albanians were really excited, and kept saying, "Look, a car!" — Conan O'Brien

To get a pleasant reception, the president only needed to fly to a country referred to as "the poor man's Kazakhstan." Wait, can I just ask a question? How did those people get so close to the president? They're hugging him, they're playing with his hair. We're not even allowed to ask the guy questions. — Jon Stewart

A lot of people have asked, "Why the big response?" Isn't it obvious? He's a strong leader, he's spreading democracy, and in Albania, it is effectively still 2002...So to the Albanians, the president has just recently launched a highly popular war in Afghanistan. There's no Iraq, no congressional page sex scandal, no Jack Abramoff, no wire-tapping, no secret prisons, no torture, no Valerie Plame, no Abu Ghraib, no no-bid contracts, no Hurricane Katrina, no attorney firings, no contents of Karl Rove's basement freezer. Oh. I'm sorry, I may have spoken too soon. I don't know if that one's broken yet. It's going to be big. — Stephen Colbert

Posted by Jonathan at 09:06 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 16, 2007

Biodiversity And Mental Health Environment

Numerous studies have shown the mental health benefits of experiencing the natural world. For example (WorldWatch):

A nine-year survey of U.S. gall bladder patients showed that patients recovered faster and required less pain medication if their hospital windows overlooked trees rather than brick walls. Other research has indicated that inner city residents who had some nearby nature outside their apartments showed significantly lower levels of aggression and violence. Similarly, workers in buildings that contain plant life have been found to have better concentration and less anxiety on average than those working without plants.

A new study from the UK goes a step further. It's not just a question of experiencing some Nature. It's a question of the quality of the Nature experienced. The psychological benefits derived from a walk in a park are proportional to its biodiversity:

Researchers found that visitors to city parks with a greater diversity of birds, butterflies, plants, and other organisms reported feeling better than visitors to less-diverse green spaces.

The sad corollary is that the more biodiversity we destroy the unhappier and crazier we will become, the more divorced from Nature — which is to say, from reality — and hence the more willing to further destroy biodiversity. And on it goes. Consider that in conjunction with the preceding post, below.

Watching the Nature Channel doesn't count.

Posted by Jonathan at 05:15 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Bye Bye Birdie Environment

It's not just the fish and the bees that are in trouble. Mother Jones:

The National Audubon Society reports that populations of many of America's most familiar and beloved birds are in dangerous decline. Some have fallen more than 80 percent in the past 40 years — a direct result of the loss of habitat, including grasslands, healthy forests, and wetlands, from multiple environmental threats such as sprawl, energy development, and the spread of industrialized agriculture. The threats are now compounded and amplified by the escalating effects of global warming—as detailed in MoJo's current cover story.

"These are not rare or exotic birds we're talking about — these are the birds that visit our feeders and congregate at nearby lakes and seashores and yet they are disappearing day by day," said Audubon chair and former EPA administrator Carol Browner. "Their decline tells us we have serious work to do, from protecting local habitats to addressing the huge threats from global warming."

Audubon's assessment comes from 40 years of its citizen-led Christmas Bird Count's data and the Breeding Bird Survey. The following once-common species are among those hardest hit: Northern Bobwhites down 82 percent; Evening Grosbeaks down 78 percent; Northern Pintails down 78 percent; Greater Scaups down 75 percent; Eastern Meadowlarks down 71 percent; Common Terns down 70 percent; Snow Buntings down 64 percent; Rufous Hummingbirds down 58 percent; Whip-poor-wills down 57 percent; Little Blue Herons down 54 percent in the U.S.

Check out Audubon's suggestions on what individuals can do to help.

One problem we "civilized" humans have is that we gradually grow accustomed to whatever is the current state of affairs. As birds and other species dwindle and disappear, it isn't long before we think that's just the way things are. We stop expecting to see birds in our back yards; before long, we forget they were ever there.

But a world without birds. I hope I don't live to see it.

Posted by Jonathan at 04:47 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 11:38 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

How low were expectations for the G8 meeting? This New York Times headline declares it a breakthrough that the president agreed cutting greenhouse gases in half as something the U.S. will "seriously consider" by 2050. Of course, by then we'll all also have to take into account the votes of the Gill People. Obviously, they'll probably go with whoever offers them the most krill. — Jon Stewart

Posted by Jonathan at 11:34 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 15, 2007

The Atheist's Nightmare Religion

And pineapples?

Posted by Jonathan at 05:56 PM | Comments (2) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Self-Referential Puzzle Humor & Fun

A doozy of a puzzle for your Friday afternoon pleasure.

Posted by Jonathan at 04:30 PM | Comments (1) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Where To Start On GW Environment

RealClimate, probably the premiere site for global warming news and analysis on the web, has posted a "Start Here" page with links to material to get you up to speed on the science of global warming. Lots of great stuff, whether or not you already know the basics.

Posted by Jonathan at 12:43 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

The Surge Iraq

An average of 98 US troops per month were killed in Iraq over the past six months (Dec 06 through May 07). How does that compare with other six month periods of the war?

Each bar represents a six month period, with the bar at the right being the most recent.

Not a good trend.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:59 AM | 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 09:29 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

Undaunted by the protesters, the G8 leaders focused on finding consensus over global warming. And by "consensus," we mean getting Bush to agree with the other seven. — Jon Stewart

Posted by Jonathan at 09:18 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

June 14, 2007

Scary Weird Politics

US Senator Joseph Lieberman went on CBS Sunday and advocated bombing Iran "to stop them from doing what they're doing." What kind of guy says such things? Check out this anecdote from Jeffrey Goldberg's profile of Lieberman in the New Yorker (via Glenn Greenwald):

Lieberman likes expressions of American power. A few years ago, I was in a movie theatre in Washington when I noticed Lieberman and his wife, Hadassah, a few seats down. The film was "Behind Enemy Lines," in which Owen Wilson plays a U.S. pilot shot down in Bosnia. Whenever the American military scored an onscreen hit, Lieberman pumped his fist and said, "Yeah!" and "All right!"

Weird. Scary weird. Literally. "Behind Enemy Lines" was an utterly juvenile piece of crap. What is the guy, a 12-year-old? A not very bright one at that?

Posted by Jonathan at 05:19 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Growth In CO2 Emissions Triples Environment

This is a story from last month, but it's too important not to call to your attention. McClatchy:

Instead of slowing down, worldwide carbon-dioxide levels have taken a sudden and alarming jump since the year 2000, an international team of scientists reported Monday.

CO2 emissions from fossil fuels - mostly coal, oil and gas - are increasing at three times the rate experienced in the 1990s, they said. [...]

Instead of rising by 1.1 percent a year, as in the previous decade, emissions grew by an average of 3.1 percent a year from 2000 to 2004, the latest year for which global figures are available, the scientists reported in this week's issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. [...]

The spurt in the CO2 emission rate is especially worrisome because it marks a reversal of a long-term trend toward greater energy efficiency and away from carbon-based fuels, the report's authors said.

Molecules of heat-trapping carbon dioxide - the leading "greenhouse" gas - make up about 380 parts per million of the particles in the atmosphere. If emissions continue to increase at the rate of 3.1 percent a year, CO2 concentration would rise to 560 parts per million in 2050 and soar to 1,390 parts per million in 2100, according to Michael Raupach, an atmospheric scientist at the Center for Marine and Atmospheric Research in Canberra, Australia.

"A CO2 future like this would spell major climate-change disaster in the latter part of the 21st century," Raupach said in an e-mail message. [...]

The CO2 acceleration is happening fastest in China and other developing areas. It's increasing more slowly in the advanced economies of the United States, Europe and Japan, the report said.

"The emissions growth rate in the U.S. has remained nearly steady for the last 20 years, at a little under 1 percent a year," Raupach said. "The growth rate in Europe has averaged less than half that in the U.S. over those 20 years, but it has increased a little in the last five years."

Last week the National Academy of Sciences joined 12 similar bodies from around the world - including Europe, China and Russia - in urging cooperation in reducing carbon usage.

To meet the threat, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences report recommends greater efficiency in transportation and power production and more use of low-carbon or no-carbon energy sources, such as solar, wind and nuclear power. [Emphasis added]

As always, the basic problem is individual greed versus the common interest. Pollution costs the individual producer nothing; not polluting costs money. In the absence of regulation, most producers will reason that their own little contribution is a tiny drop in a very large bucket, and they'll go ahead and pollute. Especially when all of their competitors are thinking the same way.

This is as good an example as one could ask for of the fatal flaw in free market economics: rational individuals acting in their own short-term economic interest can, step by rational step, commit long-term collective suicide.

Humanity faces a fundamental fork in the road. We can each of us continue to operate out of short-term self-interest — in which case we're long-term screwed — or we can begin to take seriously an ethos based on doing what's good for humanity, our posterity, and the biosphere generally.

But we're addicts, addicted to material possessions, addicted to comfort. Most addicts, unfortunately, have to hit bottom before they sober up. Let's hope it doesn't come to that.

Posted by Jonathan at 04:26 PM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

God Speaks, And Speaks, And Speaks... Religion

Via Pharyngula, here (scroll down) is a transcript of a conversation Young Earth Creationist preacher and convict Kent Hovind says he had with God. Fascinating, in a I-can't-help-but-look-at-the-car-wreck kind of way. The comments, too. These people sure inhabit a different mental universe from mine.

Posted by Jonathan at 03:55 PM | Comments (2) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

3400, 3500 Iraq  Media

The carnage continues in Iraq.

While I was gone from the blog, US troops deaths in Iraq passed the 3400 mark. Then 3500. US troops killed in Iraq as of today: 3513.


And hundreds of thousands of Iraqis. For what?

230 US troops were killed in April and May, the worst two-month total of the entire war, a fact worthy of some public discussion, one might think.

The situation is deteriorating. Fox News responds by cutting its Iraq coverage, a policy Bill O'Reilly likes just fine. Yes, let's all shut our eyes, stick our fingers in our ears, and go "La la la la." As if this isn't all happening in a real place, to real people. Unspeakable.

Posted by Jonathan at 11:45 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 09:15 AM | Comments (0) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

Vice President Dick Cheney's former top aide, Scooter Libby, was sentenced to 30 months in prison. However, the sentence could be cut short if Vice President Cheney needs a heart transplant. — Jay Leno

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

June 13, 2007

Back At It

Heartfelt thanks to everyone for your well wishes. It always feels good to hear from people who've made Past Peak part of their lives. It's especially cool when they're people I've never heard from before. It's nice to know you're out there.

It's been an interesting month. I stopped following the news quite so obsessively, and I think I've been happier as a result. Sometimes, it feels better not to know. But in the long run, we need to know. So, time to get back at it. More tomorrow.

Posted by Jonathan at 10:26 PM | Comments (2) | 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 09:24 AM | Comments (3) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb

Today's Bush Joke Humor & Fun

Paris Hilton is behind bars, but still no word on Osama. — David Letterman

Posted by Jonathan at 09:21 AM | Comments (6) | Link to this  del.icio.us digg NewsVine Reddit YahooMyWeb