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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Bush's 'New Reason For War' Same As 'Old Reason'

Says US must prevent oil fields from falling into hands of terrorists

  President Bush answered growing antiwar protests yesterday with a fresh reason for US troops to continue fighting in Iraq: protection of the country's vast oil fields, which he said would otherwise fall under the control of terrorist extremists.

The president, standing against a backdrop of the USS Ronald Reagan, the newest aircraft carrier in the Navy's fleet, said terrorists would be denied their goal of making Iraq a base from which to recruit followers, train them, and finance attacks.

''We will defeat the terrorists," Bush said. ''We will build a free Iraq that will fight terrorists instead of giving them aid and sanctuary."

Appearing at Naval Air Station North Island to commemorate the anniversary of the Allies' World War II victory over Japan, Bush compared his resolve to President Franklin D. Roosevelt's in the 1940s and said America's mission in Iraq is to turn it into a democratic ally just as the United States did with Japan after its 1945 surrender. Bush's V-J Day ceremony did not fall on the actual anniversary. Japan announced its surrender on Aug. 15, 1945 -- Aug. 14 in the United States because of the time difference.

Democrats said Bush's leadership falls far short of Roosevelt's.

''Democratic Presidents Roosevelt and Truman led America to victory in World War II because they laid out a clear plan for success to the American people, America's allies, and America's troops," said Howard Dean, Democratic Party chairman. ''President Bush has failed to put together a plan, so despite the bravery and sacrifice of our troops, we are not making the progress that we should be in Iraq. The troops, our allies, and the American people deserve better leadership from our commander in chief."

The speech was Bush's third in just over a week defending his Iraq policies, as the White House scrambles to counter growing public concern about the war. But the devastation wrought by Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast drew attention away; the White House announced during the president's remarks that he was cutting his August vacation short to return to Washington, D.C., to oversee the federal response effort.

After the speech, Bush hurried back to Texas ahead of schedule to prepare to fly back to the nation's capital today. He was to return to the White House on Friday, after spending more than four weeks operating from his ranch in Crawford.

Bush's August break has been marked by problems in Iraq.   It has been an especially deadly month there for US troops, with the number of those who have died since the invasion of Iraq in March 2003 now nearing 1,900.

The growing death toll has become a regular feature of the slightly larger protests that Bush now encounters everywhere he goes -- a movement boosted by a vigil set up in a field down the road from the president's ranch by a mother grieving the loss of her soldier son in Iraq.

Cindy Sheehan arrived in Crawford only days after Bush did, asking for a meeting so he could explain why her son and others are dying in Iraq. The White House refused, and Sheehan's camp turned into a hub of activity for hundreds of activists around the country demanding that troops be brought home.

This week, the administration also had to defend the proposed constitution produced in Iraq at US urging. Critics fear the impact of its rejection by many Sunnis, and say it fails to protect religious freedom and women's rights.

At the naval base, Bush declared, ''We will not rest until victory is America's and our freedom is secure" from Al Qaeda and its forces in Iraq led by Abu Musab alZarqawi.

''If Zarqawi and [Osama] bin Laden gain control of Iraq, they would create a new training ground for future terrorist attacks," Bush said. ''They'd seize oil fields to fund their ambitions. They could recruit more terrorists by claiming a historic victory over the United States and our coalition."

categories: Outrages
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11:20:04 AM    

New Orleans in Peril

On the day after Hurricane Katrina was declared to be not as bad as originally feared, it became clear that the effects of the storm had been, after all, beyond devastation. Homeowners in Biloxi, Miss., staggered through wrecked neighborhoods looking for their loved ones. In New Orleans, the mayor reported that rescue boats had begun pushing past dead bodies to look for the stranded living. Gas leaks began erupting into flames, and looking at the city, now at least 80 percent under water, it was hard not to think of last year's tsunami, or even ancient Pompeii.

Disaster has, as it almost always does, called up American generosity and instances of heroism. Young people helped the old onto rafts in flooded New Orleans streets, and exhausted rescue workers refused all offers of rest, while people as far away as Kansas and Arizona went online to offer shelter in their homes to the refugees. It was also a reminder of how much we rely on government to imagine the unimaginable and plan for the worst. As the levees of Lake Pontchartrain gave way, flooding New Orleans, it seemed pretty clear that in this case, government did not live up to the job.

But this seems like the wrong moment to dwell on fault-finding, or even to point out that it took what may become the worst natural disaster in American history to pry President Bush out of his vacation. All the focus now must be on rescuing the survivors. Beyond that lies a long and painful recovery, which must begin with a national vow to help all the storm victims and to save and repair New Orleans.

People who think of that graceful city and the rest of the Mississippi Delta as tourist destinations must have been reminded, watching the rescue operations, that the real residents of this area are in the main poor and black. The only resources most of them will have to fall back on will need to come from the federal government.

Those of us in New York watch the dire pictures from Louisiana with keen memories of the time after Sept. 11, when the rest of the nation made it clear that our city was their city, and that everyone was part of the battle to restore it. New Orleans, too, is one of the places that belongs to every American's heart - even for people who have never been there.

Right now it looks as if rescuing New Orleans will be a task much more daunting than any city has faced since the San Francisco fire of 1906. It must be a mission for all of us.

New York Times New Orleans editoral

categories: Heart
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1:19:33 AM    

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

How Soon Til We're All The Superdome Society

Bush is certainly not responsible for a natural disaster like Katrina. He is responsible for removing the safety net that used to be available to cushion the blow. Bush has this country running on the edge of solvency to fund his war & reward his friends. All we need is one good push and this country's economy will crash taking the rest of the world with us. If Katrina is not that one good push that puts us over the edge the next disaster will be.

More than 10,000 Louisiana residents poured into the Superdome overnight to take refuge from Hurricane Katrina. The city administration did an admirable job of providing basic security for some of the area’s neediest residents, even providing busing to take people to the Superdome.

The stories of the fleeing residents, however, paint the picture of an America where many people struggle. As Treasury Secretary John Snow noted recently, the fruits of economic growth are not being shared equally. In New Orleans, many such low wage earners have congregated at the Superdome. Their stories reveal the conditions faced by the poor in America:

Americans Living Paycheck to Paycheck

"If I hadn't had to work last night, you wouldn't be seeing me here," said Arthur Simpson, 46, an Uptown resident who left his job as a printer in Harahan on Sunday at 6:30 a.m. and headed north.

Fending For Themselves

"The people arriving on this side of the building are expected to fend for themselves," said Terry Ebbert, the city’s homeland security director.

Waiting In Line For Basic Services

They were the poor, homeless, frail or forgotten, those without the means or inclination to go anywhere else. They waited in blocks-long lines outside the massive indoor football stadium. Once inside, they were told, they couldn’t leave, possibly for days.

Families Dependent on Gov’t Assistance

"No funds," a 41-year-old woman surrounded by four children, ages 2 to 14, said when asked what brought her to the shelter. The woman didn’t want to give her name as she waited with stacks of bedding and a few children’s toys resting on the sidewalk.

"I know they’re saying 'Get out of town,' but I don't have any way to get out," said Hattie Johns, 74. "If you don’t have no money, you can't go."

Eighty percent or so of New Orleans is under water right now, and word came from an aerial survey that the southern peninsula of Plaquemines Parish is gone, as in "reclaimed by the water."

The Mayor of Biloxi was right - this was their tsunami.

I saw on CNN that the rest of the Louisiana National Guard will return from Iraq in eight days. According to this news report, Gulf state National Guardsmen stationed in Iraq are devastated by the news of Katrina, however this is disturbing and the man who said it must have had a gun to his head as we all know that you don't sign up for the National Guard if you want to fight wars overseas:

Asked how his troops felt being in Iraq while their state was in such difficulty, Jones replied: "Well, we all know our primary mission is the federal one."

"The secondary mission is to serve at the pleasure of the governor in disaster-relief and other missions," said Jones, 44, who works for a company managing the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
More on Guard Units at the NY Times.

I read that US Agencies are slow to respond to major US health threats such as botulism, anthrax, smallpox and bubonic plague. Of 19 public health agencies in 18 states, only two consistently met federal guidelines to return calls from physicians within 30 minutes. Three agencies didn't respond at all to the first five calls they received. This is bad news as the areas ravaged by Katrina, particularly New Orleans will soon be a petri dish of disease as bodies from cemeteries may emerge, the sewage system has overflowed, there are chemical spills and I see kids swimming in the flood waters. Oh baby, we're talking about cholera, tuberculosis, malaria, West Nile virus, and dengue fever. US agencies had better get their acts together. This is a tremendous catastrophe.

If you'd like to help agencies who work in the field of emergency response to this disaster, check out networkforgood.org.

categories: Outrages
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4:03:24 PM    

Monday, August 29, 2005

Katrina, Petroleum Reserves and Higher Gas Prices

I would advise everybody to fill up their vehicles with gas today because if Katrina maintains its course and intensity gasoline could easily be $4/gallon by the end of next week, probably higher because of the damage to the nation's oil infrastructure.

This post is not meant to downplay the likely catastrophic damage to life and property in the region affected by Katrina, just to make everyone aware that the effects of this Hurricane will likely be nationwide. I hope for anyone on the board has friends or relatives in the NO, Biloxi, Mobile area that those friends or relatives are hunkered down somewhere safe out of the path of what looks like being a monster hurricane.

The LOOP is the Louisiana Offshore Oil Port in Port Fourchon, LA. It handles 30% of the oil imported by the US, about 3-4 million barrels per day and is the only facility that can handle VLCC's (Very Large Crude Carriers: Supertankers). On its present course, Hurricane Katrina will pass close to if not directly over Port Fourchon with the result that a significant fraction of US oil supply will be cut off for some indeterminate period of time. There is also a lot of refinery capacity in the neighbourhood of Port Fourchon and New Orleans that will likely be affected by the Hurricane.

If all the refineries within the band of hurricane force winds goes offline, the US loses 1.8 million barrels per day of refining capacity or about 10%. In addition, 3 million barrels per day of imported crude and petroleum products will be lost from the LOOP. Get ready for a huge spike in energy prices and possible gasoline shortages.

VMA131Marine posted the map shown above says: Hurricane Katrina's projected path in relation to the oil supply and refinery facilities in the region. Note in particular the LOOP and Port Fourchon: Louisiana Petroleum Resources

If all the refineries within the band of hurricane force winds goes offline, the US loses 1.8 million barrels per day of refining capacity or about 10%. In addition, 3 million barrels per day of imported crude and petroleum products will be lost from the LOOP. Get ready for a huge spike in energy prices and possible gasoline shortages.

Associated Press reports that President Bush will announce later today whether he will release oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to make up for production losses caused by Hurricane Katrina:

It is still a problem that the Strategic Petroleum Reserve is in Louisiana, if there are logistics issues in the coming weeks? Also, the SPR is crude, so you would still have fuel shortages if the refineries are out of commission. The SPR may well require an off-shore rig to get to as it will probably be under water and without power for an extended period. We don't know about the conditions of roads and bridges in the area; we don't know about the condition of the facitities at the port of New Orleans; we don't know enough to make a decisions at this time.

categories: Miscelleous
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2:18:58 PM    

Superdome's Roof Leaking, People safe, So Far

'I could have stayed at home and watched my roof blow off,'' said one of the refugees, Harald Johnson, 43. ''Instead, I came down here and watched the Superdome roof blow off. It's no big deal; getting wet is not like dying.''

This is where about 8,000+ of New Orleans' poorest residents have taken shelter, in the Superdome. The NYTimes reports now even that imposing structure is taking damage from Katrina:
"Strips of metal were peeled away, creating two holes that were visible from the floor of the huge arena. Water dripped in and people were moved away from about five sections of seats directly below.
Others watched as sheets of metal flapped visibly and noisily. From the floor, more than 19 stories below the dome, the openings appeared to be 6 feet long."
Superdome and government emergency officials stressed that they did not expect the huge roof to fail because of the relatively small breaches, each about 15 to 20 feet long and 4 to 5 feet wide.

''We think the wind somehow got into the vents and got between the roof's (waterproof) membrane and the aluminum ceiling tiles,'' said Doug Thornton, regional manager of the company that manages the huge arena.

The dome was filled with the sound of metal rattling, which Thornton said was produced by the metal ceiling tiles.

 They're stuck sitting in the stadium seats because the authorities don't want to risk the possibility that the field may flood, which will start to get damned old in about 24 hours.

Aside from the tear in the huge roof, the 77,000-seat steel-framework stadium, home of the NFL's New Orleans Saints, provided few comforts but at least had bathrooms and food donated by charities.

The wind that howled around the dome during the night was not heard in the interior of the building where the refugees were kept.

''Everybody slept last night. They didn't seem to have any problems,'' said Dr. Kevin Stephens Sr., in charge of the medical shelter in the Superdome. ''They slept all over the place.''

Power failed in the Superdome around 5 a.m. Monday, triggering groans from the crowd. Emergency generators kicked in, but the backup power runs only reduced lighting, not the air conditioning.

Residents lined up for blocks, clutching meager belongings and crying children as National Guardsman searched them for guns, knives and drugs.

Then Katrina's rain began, drenching hundreds of people still outside, along with their bags of food and clothing. Eventually, the searches were moved inside to the Superdome floor, where some people wrapped themselves in blankets and tried to sleep.

It was almost 10:30 p.m. before the last person was searched and allowed in. Thornton estimated 8,000 to 9,000 were inside when the doors closed for the 11 p.m. curfew.

More than 600 people with medical needs were inside. ''And we sent another 400 to hospitals,'' said Gen. Ralph Lupin, who commands the 550 National Guard troops in the Dome.

''We've got sick babies, sick old people and everything in between,'' Stephens said. ''We're seen strokes, chest pain, diabetes patients passing out, seizures, people without medicine, people with the wrong medicine. It's been busy.''

Thornton worried about how everyone would fare over the next few days.

''We're expecting to be here for the long haul,'' he said. ''We can make things very nice for 75,000 people for four hours. But we aren't set up to really accommodate 8,000 for four days.'

God help these folks, and all the rest down there.

categories: Miscelleous
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11:01:36 AM    

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Lockerbie Evidence Was Faked?

A FORMER Scottish police chief has given lawyers a signed statement claiming that key evidence in the Lockerbie bombing trial was fabricated.

The retired officer - of assistant chief constable rank or higher - has testified that the CIA planted the tiny fragment of circuit board crucial in convicting a Libyan for the 1989 mass murder of 270 people.

The police chief, whose identity has not yet been revealed, gave the statement to lawyers representing Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed Al Megrahi, currently serving a life sentence in Greenock Prison.

The evidence will form a crucial part of Megrahi's attempt to have a retrial ordered by the Scottish Criminal Cases Review Commission (SCCRC). The claims pose a potentially devastating threat to the reputation of the entire Scottish legal system.

The officer, who was a member of the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland, is supporting earlier claims by a former CIA agent that his bosses "wrote the script" to incriminate Libya.


But Esson, who retired in 1994, questioned the officer's motives. He said: "Any police officer who believed they had knowledge of any element of fabrication in any criminal case would have a duty to act on that. Failure to do so would call into question their integrity, and I can't help but question their motive for raising the matter now."

An insider told Scotland on Sunday that the retired officer approached them after Megrahi's appeal - before a bench of five Scottish judges - was dismissed in 2002.

The insider said: "He said he believed he had crucial information. A meeting was set up and he gave a statement that supported the long-standing rumours that the key piece of evidence, a fragment of circuit board from a timing device that implicated Libya, had been planted by US agents.

"Asked why he had not come forward before, he admitted he'd been wary of breaking ranks, afraid of being vilified.

"He also said that at the time he became aware of the matter, no one really believed there would ever be a trial. When it did come about, he believed both accused would be acquitted. When Megrahi was convicted, he told himself he'd be cleared at appeal."

The source added: "When that also failed, he explained he felt he had to come forward.

"He has confirmed that parts of the case were fabricated and that evidence was planted. At first he requested anonymity, but has backed down and will be identified if and when the case returns to the appeal court."

The vital evidence that linked the bombing of Pan Am 103 to Megrahi was a tiny fragment of circuit board which investigators found in a wooded area many miles from Lockerbie months after the atrocity.

The fragment was later identified by the FBI's Thomas Thurman as being part of a sophisticated timer device used to detonate explosives, and manufactured by the Swiss firm Mebo, which supplied it only to Libya and the East German Stasi.

At one time, Megrahi, a Libyan intelligence agent, was such a regular visitor to Mebo that he had his own office in the firm's headquarters.

The fragment of circuit board therefore enabled Libya - and Megrahi - to be placed at the heart of the investigation. However, Thurman was later unmasked as a fraud who had given false evidence in American murder trials, and it emerged that he had little in the way of scientific qualifications.

Then, in 2003, a retired CIA officer gave a statement to Megrahi's lawyers in which he alleged evidence had been planted.

The decision of a former Scottish police chief to back this claim could add enormous weight to what has previously been dismissed as a wild conspiracy theory. It has long been rumoured the fragment was planted to implicate Libya for political reasons.

The first suspects in the case were the Syrian-led Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine - General Command (PFLP-GC), a terror group backed by Iranian cash. But the first Gulf War altered diplomatic relations with Middle East nations, and Libya became the pariah state.

Following the trial, legal observers from around the world, including senior United Nations officials, expressed disquiet about the verdict and the conduct of the proceedings at Camp Zeist, Holland. Those doubts were first fuelled when internal documents emerged from the offices of the US Defence Intelligence Agency. Dated 1994, more than two years after the Libyans were identified to the world as the bombers, they still described the PFLP-GC as the Lockerbie bombers.

A source close to Megrahi's defence said: "Britain and the US were telling the world it was Libya, but in their private communications they acknowledged that they knew it was the PFLP-GC.

"The case is starting to unravel largely because when they wrote the script, they never expected to have to act it out. Nobody expected agreement for a trial to be reached, but it was, and in preparing a manufactured case, mistakes were made."

Dr Jim Swire, who has publicly expressed his belief in Megrahi's innocence, said it was quite right that all relevant information now be put to the SCCRC.

Swire, whose daughter Flora was killed in the atrocity, said last night: "I am aware that there have been doubts about how some of the evidence in the case came to be presented in court.

"It is in all our interests that areas of doubt are thoroughly examined."

A spokeswoman for the Crown Office said: "As this case is currently being examined by the SCCRC, it would be inappropriate to comment."

No one from the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland was available to comment.

Scotman News link

categories: Outrages
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9:27:25 PM    

Pro-War Demonstrator Spells USA Correctly

The war was based and sold on lies. Nothing this administration has said has been accurate or truthful. A majority of the American people now believe this.

Smearing a mother who lost her child for no valid reason won't change this.

The rapidly dwindling minority of Americans who continue to search for some rationale for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq has been driven to the brink of breakdown by the success of Sheehan's protest. Go to the website of William F. Buckley's National Review magazine and you will find Sheehan described in headlines as "nutty," dismissed by columnists as "the mouthpiece... of howling-at-the-moon, bile-spewing Bush haters" and accused of "sucking up intellectual air" that, presumably, would be better utilized by Condoleezza Rice explaining once more that it would be wrong to read too much into the August 6, 2001, briefing document that declared: "Bin Laden determined to attack inside the U.S." Human Events, the conservative weekly newspaper, dismisses Sheehan as a "professional griever" who "can claim to be in perpetual mourning for her fallen son" -- as if there is some time limit on maternal sorrow over the death of a child.

Fox News Channel spinner-in-chief Bill O'Reilly accuses Sheehan of being "in bed with the radical left," including -- horrors! -- "9-11 families" that are still seeking answers about whether, in the first months of 2001, the Bush administration was more focused on finding excuses to attack Iraq than on protecting Americans from terrorism. And Rush Limbaugh was on the radio the other day ranting about how, "(Sheehan's) story is nothing more than forged documents. There's nothing about it that's real..." (Just to clarify for Limbaugh listeners: Cindy Sheehan's 24-year-old son Casey really did die in Iraq, and his mother really would like to talk with President Bush about all those claims regarding WMDs and al-Qaida ties that the administration used to peddle the "case" for war.)

The pro-war pundits who continue to defend the occupation of Iraq are freaked out by the fact that a grieving mother is calling into question their claim that the only way to "support the troops" is by keeping them in the frontlines of George W. Bush's failed experiment. Bush backers are horrified that Sheehan's sincere and patriotic anti-war voice has captured the nation's attention.

What the pro-war crowd does not understand is that Cindy Sheehan is not inspiring opposition to the occupation. She is merely putting a face on the mainstream sentiments of a country that has stopped believing the president's promises with regard to Iraq. According to the latest Newsweek poll, 61 percent of Americans disapprove of Bush's handing of the war, while just 26 percent support the president's argument that large numbers of U.S. military personnel should remain in Iraq for as long as it takes to achieve the administration's goals there.

The supporters of this war have run out of convincing lies and effective emotional appeals. Now, they are reduced to attacking the grieving mothers of dead soldiers. Samuel Johnson suggested that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. But, with their attacks on Cindy Sheehan, the apologists for George Bush's infamy have found a new and darker refuge.

So a surrogate war has produced a surrogate antiwar movement. This time, mass protests would only cloud the issue. As the parent of a dead soldier, Sheehan has so much moral authority precisely because so few Americans including so few of us who supported the war risk sharing her plight.

But if Sheehan's vigil says something important about Iraq, it also says something important about President Bush. Sheehan, after all, has only one demand: She wants to confront the president face to face. The demand is so provocative because one of George W. Bush's defining qualities is his aversion to exactly this sort of challenge. According to former Environmental Protection Agency administrator Christine Todd Whitman, "There is a palace guard, and they want to run interference for him." Former Treasury secretary Paul O'Neill described Bush as "caught in an echo chamber of his own making, cut off from everyone other than a circle around him that's tiny and getting smaller and in concert on everything."

If our president could take the time to dress up in a flight suit and travel to an aircraft carrier, an executive version of a Super Bowl touchdown dance, why can he not take the time to answer Cindy Sheehan?

Move America Forward's Shady Dealings. Max Blumenthal has some great information about the front group that has bankrolled the Creepy Caravan tour to attack Cindy Sheehan. Here's a little about Sal Russo:

"If Kaloogian wants to fight corruption, he should get up, turn the light on, and take a look in his own slimy bed. After all, Move America Forward's "Chief Strategist," Sal Russo, who handled Bill Simon's hapless 2002 gubernatorial campaign, is knee-deep in unethical business dealings and scandals."

and this: "That's right. Move America Forward's Sal Russo ran tax shelters and bilked campaign donors out of $200,000. Oh, and then there's the little thing about Russo and Simon being in bed with a major drug trafficker, something they still can't explain" ...read on

Freeper Bust Update:  08/28/05    "Ken Robinson, of Richardson, Texas, who described himself as a Vietnam veteran, was carrying a sign at a “You Don't Speak for Me, Cindy!” rally. The sign read, “How to wreck your family in 30 days by ‘b**** in the ditch' Cindy Sheehan and a picture of the sign appears above in this post. .” Kristinn Taylor, an event organizer with FreeRepublic.com, heard about the sign and rushed up to Robinson.  “This is our rally and you can't do that here,” he said, only for Robinson to insist he was within his rights....

“Just get outta here!” Robinson yelled, and aimed a kick at Taylor's midsection. Taylor called for security, and a young Woodway policeman quickly showed up."

As I said before, you can't make this stuff up.

categories: Politics
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1:49:58 AM    

Saturday, August 27, 2005

The Up-is-Downism of the US press

To follow on to Scott Peck's People of the Lie, one of the current memes in the business press is that oil prices are high because there market speculation over "instability in Venezuela."

This sort of flagrant public hypocrisy would be bad enough coming from any individual, but coming from people who are providing investment advice, they amount to malfeasance. Consider these points that might weigh in judging the stability of a country stable:

1. Government. The legitimacy of the vote for Hugo Chavez is almost unquestioned. The legitimacy of the vote for George Bush is widely questioned. Chavez handily survived a recall election in which his opposition had a huge media advantage. Could George Bush do the same?

2. Financial. Venezuela has balanced its budgets. The US is running massive government deficits. Venezuela has a huge trade surplus, becoming a creditor nation. The US is running a huge trade deficit and is becoming a debtor nation.

3. Social. Chavez is loved by the 70% of the population that is poor and hated by the 10% of the population that is wealthy. Bush's disapproval is approaching 60%, while his approval may have fallen below 40%.

4. Global. Venezuela is at peace. The United States is in an intractable war. Venezuela is widely admired among its peers in Latin America and is building ties to Asia. The US is increasingly disliked among its European peers, and is on a path to confrontation with Asia.

Calling Venezuela "unstable" amounts to up-is-downism. It is Washington, DC that is unstable, so unstable that they want to assassinate an elected leader (and indeed overthrew him several years ago, but were checkmated by his superior planning).

Financial advisors who obey their fiduciary duty should be advising investors to move investments out of this most unstable of nations, not printing what amounts to Administration propaganda.

Over the past few years this anxious opposition has made several attempts to get rid of Chávez, with the tacit encouragement of Washington. They organised a coup in April 2002 that rebounded against them two days later when the kidnapped Chávez was returned to power by an alliance of the army and the people. They tried an economic coup by closing down the oil refineries, and this too was a failure. Last year's recall-referendum, designed to lead to a defeat for Chávez, was an overwhelming victory for him.

categories: Politics
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11:18:44 PM    

Friday, August 26, 2005

Peace takes Courage

Support our Troops.

President Bush and his followers have now launched a full-scale defense of his policy in Iraq and a full-on assault on his detractors. And yet their weapon of choice is spin, not strategy. Listening to the president speak about Iraq this week, one had the feeling that he must be living in a parallel universe. Is he unwilling to level with the American people about the cold reality that is Iraq today? Or is he unaware of the minefield he has walked the country into?

The truth hurts. More than 60 U.S. troops have died in Iraq since President Bush went on vacation. Iraq's interim government has twice missed the deadline for presenting a constitution. The current draft of the constitution not only threatens to create an illiberal Shia theocracy that doesn't respect the rights of women and religious minorities, but also risks intensifying the current undeclared sectarian civil war. And the president's approval rating has dropped to an all-time low of 36 percent -- lower than Richard Nixon's approval rating at the height of Watergate. Cindy Sheehan is not the only American who thinks that things aren't going so well in Iraq. 

The White House’s solution to its problems? Sending the president to the friendly environs of Utah and Idaho and putting its spinmeister Dan Bartlett on television to simply insist that "we have the right strategy to prevail."

As a former White House chief of staff, I can say that the most important duty of a senior advisor is not to say "yes, sir," but to honestly present the facts and the options available to the country. If the president's advisors can't confront the truth or don't have the courage to tell the president the truth, they shouldn't have taken the job in the first place.

Instead of spending time plotting motorcade routes to avoid Cindy Sheehan protests, the president’s advisors should be spending their time laying out the situation on the ground and the impact the war is having on terrorist networks, regional stability, sectarian conflict within Iraq, our overstretched ground forces, and U.S. security.

The Center for American Progress has drafted a memo that outlines the facts and challenges in Iraq. This is the memo that the White House Iraq Group should – but probably won’t – send the president.


categories: Outrages
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3:20:47 PM    

Republicans Take The Heat On High Gas Prices

Jay Chase of Davenport New York rides his 12-year-old horse, Will, past a gas station in Oneonta, New York. Chase said this was the first time he had ridden his horse to run errands instead of driving his car.

They started a war for oil that has actually decreased the number of barrels produced by Iraq and they just rammed through Chimpy's energy bill that does nothing but give tax breaks and kickbacks to the oil industry. The GOP is not the party of responsibility, it's the party responsible.

At a town hall meeting this week, Rep. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) wanted to talk about Social Security and Medicare, but the session quickly turned to gas prices.

When Rep. Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) toured a Veterans Affairs clinic Wednesday, the first question put to her was: "What are you going to do about the high price of gasoline?"

And a growing number of GOP officials worry that, as the party in power, Republicans will pay their own high price — at the ballot box. They are scrambling to find ways to respond.

"People are mad as hell," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said.

Rep. Christopher Shays (R-Conn.) predicted: "When [voters] start to see that this is not the end but the beginning [of high prices], they are going to be kind of harsh."

[Rep. Joe] Barton [R-Oil Indusrty], the House Energy Committee chairman, said complaints about high prices were hard to escape.

Because his car has a congressional license plate, people have come up to him and asked, "Are you Congressman Barton?" But with public irritation so high, he said, "My temptation is to say, 'No, I'm just working for him.' "

No doubt the oil companies have been gouging us for years and have gotten more agressive about it, with the Enabler in Chief in office. But, it doesn't matter if we have tons of the stuff! We have to get off of petrol before the planet completely burns up. Commander Collins of the recent Shuttle trip said that atmosphere looked like a very fragile egg from up there and you could actually see not only holes in the ozone and there was a noticable difference in where the coasts lines are compared to where they were just a few years ago. This is about 90% due to burning fossil fuels. We have to get off of this stuff and fast or there really won't be anything left but oil.

And anyone who is running on high gas prices should make sure to point out that it's the almighty "free market" that got us into this. Destroy the supply while boosting the demand. Nice work, clowns.

categories: Outrages
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1:09:26 PM    

All You Need to Know About Republicans...

This pretty much says it all:

A painting of the United States sinking into a toilet now on display in the cafeteria of the state Department of Justice has raised the ire of the California state Republican Party, which is demanding that Attorney General Bill Lockyer remove the image.

The painting -- part of an exhibit of more than 30 works by lawyer artists and pieces with overt legal themes -- has an American flag-painted continental United States heading into a toilet. Next to it are the words: "T'anks to Mr. Bush."

The artist, Stephen Pearcy, a Berkeley lawyer with a house in Sacramento, won earlier notoriety for hanging an effigy of an American soldier on the outside of his home here with a sign saying "Bush lied, I died." Angry residents tore the effigies down.

To support his thesis, Pearcy recites a litany of government actions he objects to including torture of detainees, censorship, hiring "more cops rather than teachers," SUVs and lack of corporate accountability.

In front of Pearcy's painting is a pair of ceramic Western boots whose creator, Corrine Singleton, said represented Western justice.

Other artists also expressed political sentiments:

John K. Landgraf, who created the Blind Justice in her cell with blood spattered across it, said "the current administration's constraint and abuse of Justice (for whatever reason) cast an ominous shadow over our nation's moral integrity."

Another artist called for an end to genocide in Rwanda.

"I don't know why we need to tolerate the cheap artwork of a gadfly with a world view that is so offensive to a majority of the people," said Karen Hanretty, a spokeswoman for the California Republican Party.

Didn't I see Ms. Hanretty leaving WalMart the other day with a shopping cart full of Bill of Rights toilet paper? I think I did!

categories: Politics
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3:36:03 AM    

Friday Cat Blogging

categories: Humor
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1:33:34 AM    

Thursday, August 25, 2005

AOL Case Points to a Trend: Breaking Up Is Hard to Do

The Internet service firm is not alone in making it difficult for customers to move on.

America Online Inc. agreed Wednesday to pay $1.25 million to settle allegations that its customer service representatives ignored cancellation requests in a case that highlighted how far companies were willing to go to keep customers.

AOL, the world's biggest Internet service provider, withheld bonuses from "retention consultants" who could not change the mind of nearly half of those who called to cancel, according to a settlement agreement between the company and New York Atty. Gen. Eliot Spitzer. With thousands of dollars in monthly bonuses at stake, some customer service agents who couldn't persuade a customer to stay simply didn't process the cancellation order, Spitzer said.

Although AOL's case was extreme, aggressive tactics for keeping customers are becoming increasingly common, say consumer advocates who field complaints from people frustrated with how difficult it can be to cancel a wide range of services.

Providers of phone and Internet plans, credit cards and cable TV as well as newspapers and magazines do everything they can to keep customers from leaving. Stiffer competition and the national Do Not Call list, which blocks more than 100 million phone numbers from telemarketers, make it harder for many businesses to win new customers — so they're trying harder to hold on to the ones they have.

Their tools: pushy customer service agents, hidden charges and early-termination fees.

"It's very clear that these are blockades keeping consumers from making competitive choices to move to another company," said Morgan Jindrich, who runs a Consumers Union website dedicated to airing gripes about telecommunications industry practices.

Jindrich, for instance, said she tried to cancel her cable TV service because she was moving. The automated phone prompts eventually led to an instruction to leave a recorded message with her name, address and date she wished to have her service suspended.

Five months later, she's still waiting.

However difficult it might be, even being able to switch to a company's rival is a relatively new phenomenon, the result of explosive growth in a host of services. For instance, when phone service was a monopoly, the only option that disgruntled customers had was to go without a phone. Before satellite TV, unhappy cable subscribers were left with dusting off their rabbit-ear antennas.

Long before Wednesday's settlement, AOL had earned a reputation as notoriously difficult to cancel. Frustrated members have dubbed its customer service "AO-Hell."

AOL, owned by Time Warner Inc., has reason to fight for every customer. Although still the largest online service, AOL has lost nearly 6 million customers in the last three years — falling to 20.8 million subscribers in the U.S. during the second quarter from a peak of 26.7 million in September 2002.

Spitzer's office launched the investigation after about 300 New Yorkers complained that AOL kept charging for service after they had requested a cancellation.

Dulles, Va.-based AOL did not admit wrongdoing in the Spitzer case, nor had it in previous settlements with the Federal Trade Commission and Ohio's attorney general over similar allegations. The company agreed to provide refunds for as many as four months of service to New Yorkers who file claims. It will also change its customer service practices nationwide, including an end to tying bonuses to minimum "save" rates and use of an independent company to verify cancellation requests.

AOL spokesman Nicholas J. Graham said that many Internet companies designate certain employees to field calls from customers intending to cancel and that those employees can often allay members' concerns by suggesting new price plans or services.

"We have provided them with a compensation structure that provides incentive to help them solve members' problems," Graham said.

But in their effort to keep customers, companies sometimes just tick them off even more.

Technology magazine Wired faced a backlash last month when collection agencies began sending threatening letters, seeking $12, to subscribers who had let their subscriptions lapse. Editor in Chief Chris Anderson said those customers had signed up for an automatically renewing subscription, but he said the practice was "a poor way to treat customers" and promised to stop it immediately.

Although perfectly legal, the tactic that rankles consumer advocates the most is the early-termination fees imposed by mobile phone providers.

Phone companies say they charge these fees — generally $150 to $240 — to recoup the costs of providing lower monthly fees and free or heavily discounted phones. They also note that customers could choose plans without such early-termination fees but that clients often don't want to pay the extra monthly cost.

"The different industries have different ways to do it," said Mierzwinski, referring to customer retention. "The cellphones have a bigger hammer than a lot of others do: the early-termination penalty."

Most companies that offer subscription services deliberately make it much easier to sign up than to cancel, said Charles Golvin, a principal analyst for Forrester Research who follows consumer telecommunications. Financial analysts and investors closely watch the rate at which companies' customers cancel their service each quarter.

"I won't necessarily ascribe evil intent to this," Golvin said, "but if they make it a little more difficult for you to get out of that service, even for a month or two, then that's better for their financials overall."

categories: Outrages
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12:53:43 PM    

Wednesday, August 24, 2005


No Exit Strategy (Or, spinnin' wheels keeps a-spinnin' around!)

Bush Defending His Iraq War Policy

President Bush vowed anew that there would be no retreat from the war in Iraq as he addressed a rocking crowd of military families Wednesday, a supportive contrast to the anti-war demonstrators who have been shadowing him wherever he goes.
In all, more than 2,000 U.S. military service members have been killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Outside, Brenda Mansell of Boise was among the protesters standing in one of the small close-in zones set up for demonstrators. She said she put her 20-year-old son, a Marine, on a plane Tuesday for his second tour of duty in Iraq.

"This has to stop," Mansell said, holding a photo of her son, Scott, and a sign calling for his return home. "Maybe if it starts with the mothers, the rest of the world will follow."

President Bush, defending his Iraq war policy in the face of anti-war opposition and slumping approval ratings, says pulling out before the mission is complete would dishonor the memory of all the Americans who fought and died inpursuit of freedom.

Translation: "Death before dishonor, as long as it's someone else's kids doing the death part... 9/11. Support our troops in the noble cause. 9/11. Stay the course... Terra... 9/11. You can't get fooled ...9/11 again!"

A Toast to Noble Causes

Words are funny, they run and hide
They carry poison, they get you high
Marvelous, but better yet
Words are something
We haven't yet destroyed...completely

Life is funny, full of pride and pain
Happy people, some of them insane
Beautiful, but oh so fleeting
Life is something
We haven't yet destroyed...completely

Raise a glass
To the silent ones
Raise a glass
And look around the room
Raise a glass
And make a toast
A toast to noble causes
A toast to noble causes
To the silent ones

God is love, and surely god is hate
Hire him, he'll jump right out your cake
Mysterious, in the cool of the garden
God is something
We haven't yet destroyed...completely

Ghosts are made, a thousand different ways
Carry them, carry them all of your days
Curious, in the void
Ghosts are something
We haven't yet destroyed...completely

Raise a glass
To the silent ones
Raise a glass
And look around the room
Raise a glass
And make a toast
A toast to noble causes
A toast to noble causes
To the silent ones

Words are funny, they run and hide
They carry poison, they get you high
Marvelous, but better yet
Words are something
We haven't yet destroyed...completely

Life is funny, full of pride and pain
Happy people, some of them insane
Beautiful, but oh so fleeting
Life is something
We haven't yet destroyed...completely

Raise a glass
To the silent ones
Raise a glass
And look around the room
Raise a glass
And make a toast
A toast to noble causes
A toast to noble causes
To the silent ones


Mortaljive:  This song is dedicated to Cindy and Casey Sheehan.

categories: Outrages
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10:31:47 PM    

Military Picture Of The Day

Taylor: Troops short of armor
BILOXI - U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor said Tuesday night in a town hall meeting that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld has made it difficult to get armor for troops in Iraq.

Since the war began in 2003, he said he has been contacted by parents of military personnel about the lack of adequate body armor and he has seen through visits to Iraq that soldiers are armoring their vehicles themselves. Taylor said the Department of Defense is using words to trick people about the degree to which vehicles are armored by saying they meet standards but, in reality, only six in 10 vehicles are armored.

"I can't tell you how frustrated I have been asking questions about it," Taylor said.

He also said there were problems with the production of armor for vehicles. He said he visited the Rock Island Arsenal in Illinois and, in a defense factory equal to "three Superdomes," there were only four production workers at their stations at 2 on a Friday afternoon.

He also said there was not much information from the Defense Department given to the congressional delegation related to technology available to soldiers. He said he saw a device on a Humvee that was made to destroy the signal insurgents use to remotely detonate the improvised explosive devices that they use to attack convoys.

Taylor said Rumsfeld told him he could not say how many of the signal-jamming devices were being sent to Iraq because that information was classified, leaving Taylor to wonder if the government is doing an adequate job of protecting combat forces in Iraq.

And in other news:
Pentagon Orders 1,500 More Troops to Iraq

N.C. aircraft mechanics help Marines with helicopter shortage

Song of the Day
Topping the Country charts - "God Bless You Cindy Sheehan"  by Les Visible

categories: Outrages
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9:05:32 PM    

Bush: "It's Important For Me To Go On With My Life"

Bush says "
I think it's also important for me to go on with my life, to keep a balanced life.'' "I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy,'' he said when asked about bike riding while a grieving mom wanted to speak with him.

Definitely Bush's "Let them eat cake" moment.

This is from the transcript of the president in Idaho yesterday:

Q ... I'll ask you about the Iraqi constitution. You said you're confident that it will honor the rights of women.


Q If it's rooted in Islam, as it seems it will be, is that still -- is there still the possibility of honoring the rights of women?

THE PRESIDENT: I talked to Condi, and there is not -- as I understand it, the way the constitution is written is that women have got rights, inherent rights recognized in the constitution, and that the constitution talks about not "the religion," but "a religion." Twenty-five percent of the assembly is going to be women, which is a -- is embedded in the constitution.

What the hell did he just say above? That was not a "CRISP" comment. He never completed a real sentence. Is he inferring that somehow women will have rights? How can women have rights if... oh I don't get it. Janine and Sam on Air America and they have been playing this clip all night and had Juan Cole on the air to try to explain it...well no one can explain what bush actually was trying to say.

I don't think he knows either, but it doesn't sound like a 'Noble' cause. What a Dumbass.

categories: Outrages
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10:50:26 AM    

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

An American VFW Patriot

OMFG, if you've lost the VFW, you've lost the war. I did notice on seeing tapes of the VFW audience, some members with held their applause. The vets aren't happy and that is not good for a "national security" president.

Bill Moyer, 73, wears a "Bullshit Protector" flap over his ear while President George W. Bush addresses the Veterans of Foreign Wars. (AP Photo/Douglas C. Pizac)

So maybe all americans need to be protected with bullshit protection flaps.....

Looks like the vaunted White House advance screening/purging operation has slipped a bit. Back in the day, this dude would have never gotten through the door. He would have been "rendered" a couple miles down the road to the protestors' paddock.

The thing around his neck says Army and if he's 73, I'm guessing he was in Korea??

The photographer got his name and age, which means that Mr. Moyer was willing to give out that information. Brave guy twice over. Once for fighting in Korea and twice for being willing to stand up to the Rovian slime machine.

AP caption says he served in the post WWII occupation of Germany, in Korea and in Vietnam.

Why does it take our senior generation to tell us like it is. How can anyone make a more profound statement than that of Mr. Moyer. I can only guess that with age, comes the innate ability to know who is really the cause of that "clusterf***" called Iraq.

categories: Politics
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8:22:27 PM    

Nora O'Donnell, Unarmed in a Battle of Wits

NBC needs to assign O'Donnell to anchor a gardening show. She's certainly not up to her current assignment.

Nora O'Donnell playing the part of a sexy TV newsperson, tried to fill in for Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball. Mark Williams appeared on Hard Ball today and was about as obnoxious a ass as I've seen. He was like a rabid animal, practically foaming at the mouth. Hysteria. He-well I can't call it a debate because he filibustered the whole segment, so much so that Nora lost control of the segment. Norah should have taken charge and forcefuilly told him to cool it. Instead, she practically begs him to allow Mrs. Rowley to speak. When he wouldn't do so is when O'Donnell should have cut off his microphone. A demagogue like Williams probably sensed that he could get away it and O'Donnell proved that he was right.

I know that it must be tough for Norah O'Donnell filling in for Chris Matthews on MSNBC's Hardball. What, with makeup, the hair stylist and all, I'm sure she doesn't have the time to actually look up any, well, facts before the pretty camera light goes on.

The Yellow Dog Blog is here to help. So, Norah, before you go on the air and once again refer to Cindy Sheehan and the protestors in Crawford as "anti-war extremists," please have a look at numbers showing that the good people at Camp Casey are very much in the mainstream.

From the CNN/USA Today/Gallup Poll of Aug. 5-7, 2005:

* 54 percent of Americans believe the United States made a mistake in sending troops to Iraq.
* 54 percent say it was not worth going to war in Iraq.
* 56 percent believe things are going either "moderately badly" or "very badly" in Iraq.
* 57 percent of respondents say that the war with Iraq has made the U.S. less safe from terrorism.

How about the Newsweek Poll from Aug. 2-4, 2005?

* 61 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling the situation in Iraq.
* 64 percent say that the Iraq war has not made Americans safer from terrorism.

Let's look at the Associated Press/Ipsos poll dated Aug. 1-3, 2005:

*Respondents were asked "When it comes to handling the situation in Iraq, do you approve or disapprove or have mixed feelings about the way George W. Bush is handling that issue?" 59 percent disapprove. So you see, Norah, people who disagree with the war in Iraq are actually in the majority.

You're welcome. Now, please apologize to Coleen Rowley, who you blindsided on Hardball last night. Say you're sorry to Cindy Sheehan while you're at it.

Oh, and don't worry, the secret and the incredible irony -- that you have a Bachelor of Arts degree in philosophy, is safe with me.
Go to Crooks and Liars, and 'roll the tape'.

I don't know if Norah couldn't stop him or just didn't want to stop him. She seems to revel in anyone that defends the chickenhawk n thief. Again, a right winger displaying all the characteristics of their ilk. They are experts at shouting down anyone with whom they disagree. This man should have been given a valium enema!

Just to note, Williams is a blowhard chickenhawk, Rowley a former FBI agent. My bet is that while he'd be wimpering in the corner, she'd kick his ass and pistol whip him for sport.

categories: Outrages
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2:20:17 PM    

Monday, August 22, 2005

What World Leaders Would Jesus Assassinate?

Pat Robertson, host of Christian Broadcasting Network's The 700 Club and founder of the Christian Coalition of America, called for the assassination of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez.

I say that if Chavez gets to be too big a thorn in our side, we do to him what Pat Robertson does with US politicians--buy him!

From the August 22 broadcast of The 700 Club:

ROBERTSON: There was a popular coup that overthrew him [Chavez]. And what did the United States State Department do about it? Virtually nothing. And as a result, within about 48 hours that coup was broken; Chavez was back in power, but we had a chance to move in. He has destroyed the Venezuelan economy, and he's going to make that a launching pad for communist infiltration and Muslim extremism all over the continent.
You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it. It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war. And I don't think any oil shipments will stop. But this man is a terrific danger and the United ... This is in our sphere of influence, so we can't let this happen. We have the Monroe Doctrine, we have other doctrines that we have announced. And without question, this is a dangerous enemy to our south, controlling a huge pool of oil, that could hurt us very badly. We have the ability to take him out, and I think the time has come that we exercise that ability. We don't need another $200 billion war to get rid of one, you know, strong-arm dictator. It's a whole lot easier to have some of the covert operatives do the job and then get it over with.

Pardon me, the Ten Commandments weren't posted at my school, but isn't "Thou Shall Not Kill" one of them? Furthermore, Pat Robertson seems to be indicating that the man's crime is screwing with America's oil. Is that offense punishable by death? These people are sick and evil. I'm sure Venezuela's oil must be looking a lot sweeter to the White House Oil Co. CEOs lately, in light of events in Iraq.

South Park did a version of Pat Robertson. The trouble is that they couldn't make him more insane than the real deal. CINO (Christian in Name Only) rise again and show their true colors! Apparently, Venezuela doesn't have the rights to their own natural resources, at least, not if the USA calls 'dibs'. Pat Roberts is but one boil on the ass of humanity, and representative of the hypocrisy rife within the far-right religious cult. How can a 'man of God' suggest that a freely-elected leader of a sovereign nation be murdered by our government?

Every day the world becomes a more frightening and disheartening place. I'll say this for Robertson--he continually reminds the sane about the dangers of theocracy.

What if President Hugo Chavez was a fetus?

UPDATE 10/24/05: Mr. Robertson was far from apologetic on his television show today, instead insisting that he had been been "misinterpreted" by The Associated Press and that he had never used the word "assassination." Later on the story changed into a full apology. I got pretty excited when I heard this for, if true, it would be practically the first time in living memory that any one of the American Taliban who run the GOP had ever apologized...for anything.

So having said what he said, and then denied he said what he said, he was then forced kicking and screaming into "apologizing" for both his original treachery and his cowardly lying about his original treachery. Murderous, two-faced and gutless...For Jebus!

categories: Outrages
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10:32:30 PM    

What Would They Say If His Approval Was Lower

President Working Vacation is taking a vacation from his vacation this week to visit Idaho, the state giving him the highest approval rating at 59%.

In preparation for the big event, the Idaho Statesman asked its readers to submit letters to President Bush telling him one thing he could do for the state of Idaho. The people of Idaho didn't hold back:

"What would I ask President Bush to do for Idaho? That question seems so selfish and ignorant when you look at what Bush has done to "make the world a safer place." Don't you read the news that you choose to bury in the back pages of your own newspaper? I would think you could come up with a better question than that. How about "What would you ask President Bush to do for the world?" Answer: Stop embarrassing America and resign immediately."


"There is a simple thing you can do for the state of Idaho and more importantly for the country. First resign and then leave the country, because you're a disgrace and an embarrassment to Idaho and the country as a whole."


"Please don't do anything for Idaho. Your being a "uniter not a divider" has done more than any other person in history to completely paralyze our political system. Your efforts to help the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are obvious to everyone who watches the nightly news. Your economic policies have spiked energy prices and stagnated or dropped wages for the average American.

I'm sorry you weren't allowed to open the Alaskan wilds to oil drilling. I'm sure your rich oil buddies could have used a few million more.

Thanks for the offer, but please, don't do anything for Idaho.

Ouch. I wonder what they're saying in Rhode Island (29% approval)?

categories: Politics
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6:14:34 PM    

Sunday, August 21, 2005

More On The Flying Spaghetti Monster

This picture shows the nebula IC 8675, which as you can see is filled with Noodly structures! Not only does this image scientifically PROVE the existence of the FSM, I believe it shows His home in space."

See the earlier post: Open Letter to Kansas State School Board

The board for Beebe School District in Arkansas voted on 12 July to remove from textbooks stickers promoting an "intelligent designer" over evolution. Feedback wonders if they were influenced by an open letter to the State Board of Education in neighbouring Kansas circulated by Bobby Henderson, a "concerned citizen".

"Let us remember that there are multiple theories of intelligent design," is its crux. "I and many others around the world are of the strong belief that the universe was created by a Flying Spaghetti Monster," Henderson affirms. "It was He who created all that we see and all that we feel. We feel strongly that the overwhelming scientific evidence pointing towards evolutionary processes is nothing but a coincidence, put in place by Him."

He writes "to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories [creationism and evolution]." The full text is at www.venganza.org and includes the argument that global warming correlates with the diminishing number of pirates. There is also a discussion forum and letters of endorsements from academics and leading scientists.  Below is a small sample.

"Letting the religious right teach ID in schools is like letting the Marines teach poetry in advanced combat training. As a scientist, I see these the relevancy between the two sets to be equal. If Kansas is going to mess up like this, the least it can do is not be hypocritical and allow equal time for other alternative "theories" like FSMism, which is by far the tastier choice."

-- J. Simon, PhD

"As a neuroscientist and clinical psychologist, I have often been struck by how the brain resembles pasta. Clearly, the Flying Spaghetti Monster theory is worthy of deep thought. Or at least a side order of garlic toast. Which is more than I can say about ID, which, as St. Sigmund taught, should be subservient to EGO (Equally Goofy Observations)."

--James Blackburn, Ph.D.

"Few people realize that the very 2nd word in the bible is mistranslated. The original Hebrew says " in A beginning..." whereas most translations say "in THE beginning..." And therein lies the Truth: there was more than one beginning. In fact, there were three: The 1st followed Evolution as discovered by Darwin; the 2nd followed Intelligent Design; but the 3rd and most successful is the present FSMism discovered by you. So, you see, teaching all three is imperative!"

-- Dr. Uriel Goldberg

"Having now perused the many facets of Pastafarianism (and being both a scientist and a specialist in the anthroplogy of religion), I believe that there is great scope for women in this religion. Clearly the FSM has aspects of both male and female, with both "noodly appendages" and two round meatballs which clearly represent the Breasts of the Great Mother Goddess. Given this inclusion of diversity, I feel that Pastafarianism has MORE to offer budding students than ID, which is notably narrow in its outlook."

--Susan Johnston, PhD

"As a medical practitioner and scientist, I wholeheartedly believe that every theory and hypothesis needs full consideration and explanation with formal ratification by peer review. We have a duty to inform our schools and presumably pasta should form a staple part of our educational diet."
-- Dr. A. Macintyre (UK)

"As a professional paleontologist, I need to emphasize that evolutionary theory has nothing to do with explaining the origin of life. Evolution is the scientific explanation that explains the
diversity of life that we see all around us. It is usually defined very simply as a change in gene frequencies through time. It's not about origins.

Pastafarianism attempts to explain the origins of the universe, and does so with as much or more validity (and more gusto!) than ID creationism. And maybe many people find a sense of ultimate purpose in the universe by believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. But such beliefs are based upon faith, not science. In fact, considering His active distortions of observable data, science cannot comment upon these beliefs at all, and must proceed in it's usual manner -- testing hypotheses based upon observable data. Whether these data have been altered by His Noodliness is moot; a difference which makes no difference is not difference.

Pastafarianism does not constitute a scientific theory, despite it's apparent adherence to Heisenberg's Uncertainty Principle regarding the interactions of observer and observed. It should not be taught as science ... unless, of course, ID creationism is also taught as science, in which case all bets are off.

Best of luck with your web page. I'm off to The Old Spaghetti Factory for worship."

--E. Scott

MMMMMmmmmm, spaghetti"
--H. Neville, Ph.D.

Bobby Henderson said when contacted by lawyers asking how serious I am about pursuing legal action against the Kansas School Board if they refuse to give equal time for FSMism. His answer: very. If it happens, he will need an army of like-minded Flying Spaghetti Monsterists on his side. He recommend you start hunting around for Pirate regalia.

Email him: bobby.henderson@gmail.com

categories: Soul
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9:42:39 PM    

Friday, August 19, 2005

Zotob Outbreak Leads To Worm War III

The internet has become a gangland war zone and your computer is the street corner being fought over.

Shortly after someone published exploit code for a newly discovered Windows 2000 flaw, someone created the Zotob worm. Once installed, Zotob will try to seek out and infect other computers on the same network. It also opens a backdoor trojan that allows someone to access the infected machine.

Several slightly different versions of Zotob have been released. The creators of these separate versions apparently have gone to war with each other. Now owners of infected computers not only have to deal with a virus infection. They also are dealt the double indignity of seeing their machine become a battleground, as the different Zotob worms try to exterminate each other.

In the past, people released viruses and worms for bragging rights. They wanted to show their fellow miscreants how cool they were, so they would infect millions of computers for the hell of it. These days, an infected computer is worth money.

Everyone - from spammers to organized crime to international terrorists - pay good money for control of large networks of infected computers. These computers can be used to send spam. They can be used to launch denial of service attacks. They can be used for a number of illegal things.

An infected computer now is "turf" belonging to whoever can take the machine and keep it. If a competitor is discovered, that competitor must go. The best way to avoid being hit in the crossfire of this or any future computer gang war is to have a policeman nearby. By that, I mean that you must have an antivirus program which is kept up-to-date on a constant basis.

You also need to make sure you install Windows security updates, as soon as they come out. Turn on automatic updates or visit http://windowsupdate.microsoft.com at least once a week. Microsoft Updates usually are released on the second Tuesday of each month. Occasionally, a very critical update is released off schedule, so take the time to check at least once a week.

categories: Security
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9:53:32 PM    

Thursday, August 18, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging

While they are undeniably fuzzy, cute creatures, cats are in fact bearers of almost certainly dangerous, even lethal contaminants. These contaminants, too tiny or diffuse to be detectable by human senses, range in form from oils to orificial gases. In order to help the cat owner, or those who come into regular contact with cats, to identify and avoid contamination by these pathogenic substances, I've created this handy guide to the most dangerous cat-based contaminant zones.

Face Oil Distribution Zone

Many cat owners don't know this, but cats secrete a type of oil from their faces. This oil is called "face oil" and is extremely noxious. Whenever you see cats rubbing their faces all over something, you may be assured that they are coating that object or surface with a thick layer of oozing, pestilential face oil, which is water-resistant and would probably smell bad if secreted in enough quantities. Cats, being mischievous creatures, love to spread their face oil all over anything they possibly can, including people's hands, beverage glasses, and anything else that might subsequently contact the human's mouth area.

Anal Cloud Zone

Possibly the most noxious but least understood of the cat-based contaminants, the feline anal cloud is a kind of haze that surrounds the anal regions of cats, that follows them as they walk. It is a well-known fact that one of the greatest pleasures for cats is to show their anuses to humans, or, if they can manage it, to actually put their anuses into people's faces. It's a rare cat encounter that doesn't include some type of exposure to a cat anus.

If you accidentally make contact with a cat anus, rinse the affected area immediately with hot water and antibacterial soap. If you breathe in anal cloud gas, quickly run outside and take deep, whooping breaths for fifteen minutes, then smear Vick's Vap-o-Rub all over your chest and neck.

Paw Contact Zones

The only thing cats love more than smearing face oil on things or putting their anuses into your face is walking all over anything. Most cat owners regard this foul practice with benevolent forbearance, but they are actually condoning the massive spread of lethal bacteria and other dangerous substances onto surfaces that can then infect human beings.

While cat paws look and feel perfectly harmless, they are actually crawling with germs of all kinds. The primary offender is residue from cat litter boxes, that makes its way onto the paws when the cat enters the box, defecates or urinates, and then scratches the litter onto the excreta. Although the idea of an animal crapping in a box is, on the surface, an appealing concept, the reality is that the average litter box is a veritable bazaar of deadly pathogens, and anything that the cat's paws touch is sure to be covered in short order with waves upon waves of deadly, disgusting germs.

There is no sure-fire preventive measure to safeguard against paw contamination, except to prevent your cat from walking on any surface that is not immediately thereafter sterilized. Cats can also be made to wear special silicone-based booties that are washed regularly, no less than once per hour, in an anti-microbial solution.
(reprinted from Trout Fishing in South Central Wisconsin )

categories: Humor
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9:50:59 PM    

A Simple Question About Gasoline Prices

Why hasn't the price of gasoline skyrocketed in Europe?

Because it hasn't.

If our price is the direct result of a world shortage, as the oil companies claim, why isn't the rest of the world similarly affected? The price of gas in Britain five years ago was around $5/gal. Since then it has risen in increments to about $5.85/gal. If the British price had risen in the last few months to the same stratospheric degree that the US price has, it would be closer to $10/gal.

It isn't.

Why isn't it?

The same is true in every other country in the world. Gas prices have NOT risen in any of them anything like the US price. In Japan, the price of gas has hardly moved at all. Five years ago, it was $4/gal; today it's about $4.40.

What is there about the world oil market that makes us so...special?  Just asking.

I kinda sorta thought maybe it was, you know, like, a SCAM. But I didn't want to assume it automatically. One should leave open the opportunity for somebody to offer a counter-explanation that doesn't include corporate highway robbery and vast consumer ignorance and gullibility.

Should one exist, that is. 
Add to your thoughts the fact that prices in the US can vary from 2.50 to 3.50 per gallon and the obvious questions of WTF become even more pressing.

categories: Outrages
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2:19:01 PM    

Rush Limbaugh: World's Greatest Satirist

Cindy Sheehan: The right wingers are really having a field day with me. It hurts me really badly, but I am willing to put up with the crap, if it ends the war a minute sooner than it would have....

Bob Zmuda has a novel idea, Rush is NOT a right-wingnut, he's just putting us on as the world's greatest Satirist.

By now, we're all familiar with the quote from yesterday's Rush Limbaugh show in which he accused Cindy Sheehan of faking documents in order to make it appear as if her son had been killed.

When I first read the remark I flew into a rage, using my arms to melodramatically sweep decorative items off various tables whilst exclaiming shallow insults directed at his bulbous forehead. I finally came to my senses as I attempted to pull the sink out of the floor so as to smash it through the wall and escape to watch the ballgame.

This is all a joke, I thought.

Eureka! We're all the victims of an elaborate Dittopunking: a meta-joke orchestrated by Rush Limbaugh, who we can now comfortably refer to as Rush Limbaugh: World's Greatest Satirist. All these years, Rush Limbaugh has been satirizing modern Republicanism.


We do it all the time. We imitate and exaggerate those worthy of ridicule in order to prove a point or get a laugh or both. Saturday Night Live, The Daily Show, Al Franken, and The Simpsons all employ satire as a means of serving up a point of view. But it never occurred to me that Rush is playing a character as a means to prove a point about the worst aspects of Republicanism.

Do the math. It's common knowledge that he's used pseudonyms in the past (Rusty Sharpe and Jeff Christy, for example). That bulbous forehead could be a sophisticated silicon appliance. Throw in multiple divorces and drug addiction while preaching moral values and the satire rises to surface. You know what? Andy Kaufman or Don Novello could be under there for all we know.

The dots were further connected as I researched yesterday's Rush Limbaugh Program. Within the transcript, I discovered this:
These are basically a bunch of miserable, angry people exploiting death.

Rush was referring to Cindy Sheehan and those who support her. But not really. Check it out. This is so damn smart. While his "Rush" character appeared to be accusing us of exploiting death, he was actually taking a deliciously subversive stab at the Bush administration who, while "angry and miserable", used 9/11 for its own political gain.

Perhaps he was slyly commenting on the "America Supports You Freedom March" orchestrated by the Pentagon and featuring Clint Black. You know, the march that blurs the line between the Iraq War and 9/11 and turns it all into a big PR stunt. Megadittos, El Rushbo (wink, wink)!

Either way, that single statement perfectly spoofed the right's hypocrisy.

More from yesterday:

I'm weary, ladies and gentlemen, of even having to express sympathy. "Oh, she lost her son!" Yes, yes, yes, but (sigh) we all lose things.
Now that's cutting edge satire worthy of the greatest minds of our time. Not only did he rip Bush's unsympathetic "I have to move on with my life" comment, but he also sliced into the the right-wing's uncanny ability to trivialize the war dead. "We all lose things." I love it! If he had followed it up with a "Flip Flop" chant, it would've been spot on.

I can imagine George Carlin saying something like that while mocking the right-wing. On second thought, Carlin would be much funnier and probably nowhere near that insensitive, but we're only grading the satire here. Besides, who am I to judge Rush Limbaugh: World's Greatest Satirist?

The evidence is incontrovertible. The gig is up. I can't wait to see the look on the faces of all those poor, naive Dittoheads when they learn that the console-tapping, nuhnuh-nuhnuh-chanting voice from which they derive all their political thought... is actually punking them. Satire on loan from God is what I say.

Time to come clean now, "Rush", or whoever you are ( ?).

Nothing the Cheesy Gordita says or does has the power to shock or surprise anymore. The satirist angle is an interesting hypothesis, but a humor-Republican association is unprecedented in the modern era. I lean towards a destructive force of Nature explanation. Similar to a hurricane, but fueled by radio waves, money and narcotics instead of moist warm air. Composed of insubstantial substances, yet deadly if you’re in its path. Beautiful in its own way.

categories: Outrages
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1:08:58 PM    

Thursdays Prayer

Dear Intelligent Designer:

I hope you don't mind getting mail from your designees, I figure a little feedback is always healthy. When I first heard that evolution wasn't just a natural process, but was actually all done on purpose, I was kind of pleased by the idea. It was nice to know there was somebody out there looking out for us. Or well, I guess you're not a person, but a being, anyway. I try to think the best of beings.

So, I appreciate all the good stuff you've done. Flowers, songbirds, sex, all very nice. Or, mostly nice. But the more I thought a bout it, the more I started to get, I don't know how to say this any more nicely, kind of disappointed in a few things. So if you'll just give me a moment of your time, here are some things you might want to reconsider.

Are you really looking out for us after all? For one thing, you really ought to stop intelligently designing those bacteria to be resistant to antibiotics. Evidently you originally designed the bacteria to kill us and make us sick, and I'm sure you had your reasons. Intelligent doesn't have to mean nice. So now you're probably a little annoyed with us for coming up with ways to kill the the bugs first, but give us a break! It seems to me if we start to figure out how to stay alive for a while, you should just accept that. We get to design things too, okay? Same goes for HIV. What's that all about anyway? It was bad enough you intelligently designed it in the first place, now you keep redesigning it so the drugs don't work. Enough already. And then there's the flu virus. Don't get me started with that one. Don't you have anything better to do?

Then there's the whole question of the human body. It has a lot of great features, but a few of them just seem -- sorry to have to say this, but it's true -- not very intelligent. To begin with, there's that stupid appendix, that doesn't seem to do anything except get infected. Then there's the birth canal. It's not a problem for me personally but it is for at leat half of my friends. It's too small for the baby's head, causes no end of trouble. I could go on and on with that. The lower back. I don't expect perfection, everything has to wear out and break down eventually, but there are some pretty obvious improvements you could make there.

Then, as if an appendix isn't bad enough, you made it even worse by giving me a solitary cecal diverticulum. Damn near killed me, for no good reason that I can see.Then there are allergies. Multiple sclerosis. Schizophrenia. Huntington's disease. Neurofibromatosis. These appear to be manufacturing defects, rather than design flaws per se, but shouldn't you exercise better oversight? (By the way, can you give me the name and phone number of the being in charge of manufacturing? Or at least the mailing address? I promise I'll be civil.) The quality of the product is a reflection on you, after all, and I'd think you'd take more pride in it.

Next, I don't want to call you a hypocrite, but I hear that you get really, really angry when people kill those innocent preborn babies. But then I read that you do it yourself! Specifically, out of 100 zygotes, about 50 fail to implant in the uterus and uhh, well, there goes a Sacred Human Life down the toilet. Of the remaining 50, 30% (that's 15) are simply sloughed off in what appears to be a normal, perhaps late, menstrual cycle and the woman probably will never know that she was preganant. The remaining 35 embryos will last at least 35 days, after which pregnancy may be recognized. Of these, 25% will die in utero, perhaps recognized as a miscarriage. That leaves about 26 of the original 100 innocent preborn babies unslain by you. So why is it okay for you, and not for us? Just asking.

Now, there are some things that bother some people that are okay with me. For instance, I have nothing against beetles. You're entitled to your obsessions. It's kind of ridiculous that the whales keep stranding themselves on the beach but it's not my problem. And kudzu is a major pain but I guess it's our own fault for putting it where it doesn't belong. (That's still no excuse for poison ivy.)

Anyhow, just a few thoughts, I hope you don't mind. I know I've mostly been pretty critical, but I hope you'll take it professioally, not personally. If you're interested, I have some more ideas.

Your artifact,

(reprinted from

categories: Mind
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10:37:27 AM    

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

State-Of-The-Art: Not Good Enough

After weeks of exhaustive testing, Motor Trend editors found the Toyota Prius to be a user-friendly gas/electric hybrid capable of delivering an impressive 60 miles per gallon in city driving. However, all this is related to larger issues we as a people have with technology. It's all about the grand gesture -- Bush promises to dump billions into the hydrogen economy, which is still decades away. The Space Shuttle should have been retired or evolved away ten years ago minimum, but we needs our bipeds in space. Our biggest threat now is loose nukes, but we spend pennies on that while pissing money up a rope to build our magical missile defense space shield.  Instead automakers promise hydrogen-powered vehicles hailed by President Bush and Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, even though hydrogen's backers acknowledge the cars won't be widely available for years and would require a vast infrastructure of new fueling stations.  "They'd rather work on something that won't be in their lifetime, and that's this hydrogen economy stuff,".

"They pick this kind of target to get the public off their back, essentially." But Ron Gremban says that such a car is parked in his garage, right now.

It looks like a typical Toyota Prius hybrid, but in the trunk sits an 80-miles-per-gallon secret — a stack of 18 brick-sized batteries that boosts the car's high mileage with an extra electrical charge so it can burn even less fuel.

Gremban, an electrical engineer and committed environmentalist, spent several months and $3,000 tinkering with his car.

Like all hybrids, his Prius increases fuel efficiency by harnessing small amounts of electricity generated during braking and coasting. The extra batteries let him store extra power by plugging the car into a wall outlet at his home in this San Francisco suburb — all for about a quarter.

He's part of a small but growing movement. "Plug-in" hybrids aren't yet cost-efficient, but some of the dozen known experimental models have gotten up to 250 mpg. With mass-production, the high battery cost would come down a lot.

Green Car Congress writes about a very cool project by Canadian engineer Steve Lapp who modified his 2001 Prius by installing solar panels on the roof. It is admitted that the car is still a rough prototype, but so far the fuel economy improvement are of 10%, a respectable figure; for reference, Honda completely redesigned the Honda Civic engine for the 2006 model and achieved a 6% increase in fuel economy (the comparison is not quite fair, but I just want to point out that it can take lots of engineering efforts to gain even a few percents). "Lapp’s modelling predicts a 10%–20% fuel efficiency improvement for the 270 watts of PV (to be bumped up to 360 watts with the additional of a fourth panel)".

Here's a quote from Lapp's plan:

...the fact that [current Toyota hybrids] can run on electricity alone, with their gasoline engines off, offers the opportunity to provide them with more electricity and therefore drive further with the gasoline engine off.

Electricity can be provided from the electrical grid by charging an onboard battery, and depending on where that electricity comes from, it will have various emissions associated with it. [The plug-in concept.] However if it is provided from renewable energy sources, such as photovoltaic panels, then it is "green".

This begs the question of why not put the PV panels directly on a hybrid car and generate electricity onboard while the car is parked outside, or even while driving. The general reaction of people to this idea is that there could not be enough energy striking the roof of a car to provide enough electricity to drive any meaningful distance.

This is where the incredible efficiency of the hybrid car must be taken into account. To drive a hybrid car about 1 km, takes about the same electricity as to light a 150 watt bulb for one hour! The point is not to drive the car using only solar power, but to effectively use solar power to improve gasoline fuel efficiency.

How much gasoline can this photovoltaic hybrid car save? Well let’s look at the energy available from the sun on the roof of the car. For June and July in Kingston Ontario, about 6 kWh of energy from the sun strikes each square meter of horizontal surface. If we install 2 square meters of photovoltaic panels on the car and we collect 10% of the energy from the sun as electricity (well within present PV efficiency), we can theoretically go about 8 km each day on just the sun’s energy. If we drive 24 km on a sunny day, that is enough to reduce our gasoline consumption by 33%. This would take the Prius from 5.0 l/100km [47 mpg] to 3.3 l/100km [71.2 mpg].

While the big focus today is on battery-assisted hybrids, research is going into the use of supercapacitors to offer a regenerative power boost. Able to quickly charge and discharge, supercapacitors could be used in place of batteries in some applications, or as an additional energy source to add power when a vehicle is climbing hills. Check this article for more info. Meanwhile, we’re waiting for the übercapacitor, on which Bosch is working with Doctor Emmett Brown.

Our man Bruno, at the University of Michigan’s Automotive Research Center, hipped us to the fact that the EPA has been playing around with hydraulic drive systems for a while. He notes, “They work especiall well for larger vehicles, where batteries are becoming very expensive. Also, the large mass of SUVs & delivery trucks requires a very high rate of energy charge & discharge, which is where hydraulic accumulators excel in comparison to batteries.” We still wonder why this system hasn’t been adapted to cars, as it seems to us that while hydraulic fluid can be made recyclable, batteries inherently cause lots of waste. Not to mention that the electrocution factor’s a lot lower when hydraulics are involved.

Of all the inanities uttered by former Bush press secretary Ari Fleischer, perhaps none was more inane than his May 2001 assertion that burning fossil fuels was part of the "blessed" American way of life. Those driving giant cars, he suggested, were not only exercising some fundamental right of citizenship but proclaiming American exceptionalism.

After 9/11, Hummers became a cocky symbol of American greatness. Driving the biggest, baddest, least-fuel-efficient car on the planet was tantamount to giving the finger to environmentalists, Arianna Huffington, and all those who suggested that the involvement of Saudi citizens in the attacks should lead us to rethink our dependence on foreign oil. You could be an active home-front warrior by buying an expensive Hummer—imitating our troops in Iraq and stimulating the economy at the same time. (Hummers also come in handy in case you need to mount a motorized assault on the Stop-n-Shop.)

Comparing the Prius and the Hummer is like comparing apples and oranges, or apples and watermelons. Since the new 2004 model was introduced in the fall, the Prius has been stomping the Hummer. In November 2003, the Prius outsold the H2 by a 2-to-1 margin, according to Autodata. In January 2004, Prius sales were up 82 percent from January 2003.

For the 2004 model year, Toyota initially boosted production 50 percent to 36,000. But demand has been strong enough that production has already been increased to 47,000. And that's still not enough. My Toyota dealer doesn't have a Prius on the lot and says that interested purchasers must put down a deposit today and wait six months. By contrast, my local Hummer dealer has several on the lot.

The demand for the Prius is pushing Toyota to install hybrid technology in other models, including SUVs. Also, it's spurring other automakers to adapt hybrid motors. Apparently, there's even a hybrid version of the Hummer in the works.

categories: Mind
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5:26:00 PM    

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Iraqi War Moves Closer to Home

Late Monday night, a man, now confirmed by the media as Larry Northern, age 46, decided to run over the crosses at Camp Casey that serve as a memorial to the soldiers who have died in the war in Iraq.

As much as I am nauseated by the whole pack of them, saying that this was done by "the wingers" is not true or fair. It was done by one asshole. For example, one of the articles quoted here said that when counter-protestors appeared the other day, they honored the crosses.

This jerk's actions are not about the anti-military right. This has nothing to do with Iraq at all. This is an expression of the culture war - hatred for our collective vision and the essence of what's drawn all these people to the ditch in Crawford in the first place.

If this jerk had more guts he might have run over the people instead of the crosses. This has an energy similar to hot, dark nights in the South many decades ago when certain groups of people were "gently" reminded of their proper place in the social system. It is an act of intimidation.

To a mind like this, destroying the crosses is not dishonoring dead soldiers. This sort of mind believes that those who set the crosses up have no real regard for the dead soldiers in the first place, that they are cynically using them to advance propaganda aims the soldiers themselves would not support. From this perspective, destroying the crosses is actually seen as SUPPORTING the troops!

This is an expression of pure hatred for what we stand for. Period.

Now for an expression of love and Respect, shown at the same Camp Casey site.

Rowena Jhant, left, a mother from Waco, Texas, and a supporter of President Bush, and Charlie Anderson, a war protester who served in Iraq, of Virginia Beach, Va., restore crosses and American flags that were vandalized by a pickup truck the night before, along the road leading to President Bush's ranch, in Crawford, Texas, Tuesday, August, 16, 2005. Jhant, who disagrees with the anti-war protesters led by 'peace mom' Cindy Sheehan, said she did not feel it was right to drive by and leave the American flags and crosses on the ground without trying to help repair the destruction. [AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite]

Pidomon said, "Having lived in Texas for over 20 years if two people with seemingly opposed views can come together to do something as simple as this, maybe there's hope after all."

Other developments about other Military Families and their support for the War. 

CLEVELAND - The day after burying their son, parents of a fallen Marine urged President Bush to either send more reinforcements to Iraq or withdraw U.S. troops altogether.

"We feel you either have to fight this war right or get out," Rosemary Palmer, mother of Lance Cpl. Edward Schroeder II, said Tuesday. Schroeder, 23, died two weeks ago in a roadside explosion, one of 16 Ohio-based Marines killed recently in Iraq.

The soldier's father said his son and other Marines were being misused as a stabilizing force in Iraq. Their son went to Iraq filled with optimism about the mission but gradually became disillusioned with the war's progress, his parents said.

"He said the longer it went on the less and less worth it seemed," Palmer said. "They're not doing the job right now. It's not the fault of the troops. It's the fault of the plan."

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: INTEL DUMP - The Battlefield Moves Yet a Little Closer to Home | US moves closer to war against Iraq | US moves closer to war against Iraq | Final debate moves closer to home | csmonitor.com | Politics of Iraqi security draw Australia, Japan closer | Russian Foreign Military Bases, Militarization of Space - CDI | The New Yorker: PRINTABLES | ' War Over Iraq War ' Hangs on Two State of Union Speeches | truthout - Vietnam Redux: Iraq War Vets on Anti- War Offensive | Patrick Martin, US moves closer to war against Iraq

8:49:32 PM    

Monday, August 15, 2005

New Rules for Paranoid Computing

Recently a fellow told me that he was quitting the Internet! He had enough and didn’t want anymore. No more spam, no more viruses, no more spyware, he just felt it was not worth it. "I'm shutting of my broadband connection. It's become too invasive to my privacy and it seems that one has to have more and more protection and I'm just tired of what is going on with the internet." If this speaks to you, maybe some of  these suggestions could put more fun back improve your internet surfing.

However I'm not because so far I don't really find it that difficult to avoid infections. A few relatively simple things minimize the risk:

1) Use Antivirus software and keep it up to date, Grisoft's AVG is free, effective, and doesn't mess up my machine like some other popular Antiviruses I could name

2) A firewall, some free ones such as Zonealarm or Sygate Personal are also quite


3) Use text at the very least to preview email, Chilton Preview for Outlook is very effective

4) Change things like .vbs and .reg files to open with a text editor in Windows by default

5)Don't use Internet Explorer! I've used Opera for years but now use Firefox for almost all my browsing, but occasional tricky site ends up requiring IE for a short time.

6) Disable the Messenger service in XP

7) If it looks weird don't open it! Don't trust your relatives on the internet!

8) Be stealthy, very few internet sites really need your email address, get a webmail account just for the junk mail

Selecting a good password is an important part of password security. The key is to find a password that is easy for you to remember and hard for others to guess.

Create a good (strong) password:

1) Include both uppercase and lowercase letters (case-sensitive).

2) Include both letters and numbers (alpha-numeric).

3) Do not include your login name, a.k.a. username, in any form (as-is, reversed, capitalized, doubled).

4) Avoid words that can be found in a dictionary (including foreign and technical dictionaries).

5) Do not use a password that has been given as an example of a good password.

Create an easy to remember password:

One possible way to pick a good password is to make up your own acronym. Create a phrase that has meaning to you and pick the first letter of each word. Make sure your phase has numbers in the middle. A combination of  numbers and letters is harder to guess or crack with a computer program.

For example:

"I love to shop for sandals in the Spring." (Il2s4sitS)

2) "I'm going to work out 3 times a week." (Ig2wo3taw)

3) "Last summer I caught a 30 inch striped bass." (LsIca30isb)

A similar method is to take out all the vowels from a short phrase.

For example:

1) "I work 8 hours a day." (wrk8hrsdy)

2) "You're once, twice, three times a lady." - Lionel Richie (Yr123tmsLdy)

Protect your Password:

  1)Memorize your password.

2) If you must write down your new password because you are afraid to forget it, then:

2A) Never write your username and your password on the same piece of paper.

2B) Do not place a written copy of your password on the side of your monitor, under your keyboard, etc.

3) Destroy the written copy as soon as you have memorized your password.

4) Do not allow anyone to look over your shoulder while you are entering your password.

5) Change your password often.

6) Change your password immediately if it has been compromised.

One phenomenon that has become quite obvious from the vast numbers of virus victims over the last year is that people click first and ask questions later. Maybe we're inspired by the false belief that firewalls, antivirus software, and anti-spyware programs protect us from all viruses, worms, and intrusive programs. But even the best of these shields can't always protect you from your biggest security threat: yourself.

Don't click e-mail attachments: Most viruses and worms arrive on your PC in the form of e-mail attachments. A few of them exploit security flaws in Windows or in your browser to launch automatically, but if you keep your programs updated, your chances of being infected via this route are slim to none.

Don't believe the return address: Though an e-mail message may claim it's from your bank, your ISP, or even your boss, that doesn't mean it is. Spammers and virus mailers generally spoof the From address field in their messages with a legitimate address that they've stolen. You may even have received spam from yourself as a result of this clever technique.

Of course, not all e-mail is bad. But if a message from a coworker or friend insists that you launch a file attachment, first confirm with the sender what the file is (make a call or send an e-mail asking whether the purported sender in fact e-mailed the file attachment, and whether it is indeed intended for you). If you have any doubts about the legitimacy of the message and its attachment, delete them.

Don't believe the message: To persuade you to launch a virus-laden mail attachment or provide your personal information, virus authors must earn your trust.  They try to accomplish this by composing convincing-looking messages that appear to be sent from Microsoft, your ISP, or some other entity you do business with. The message may even contain links to a counterfeit version of the company's Web site, complete with genuine-looking graphics and corporate logos.

Often the message laments that the company is experiencing technical problems, and that it needs you to click an executable attachment. You don't need to rely on your intuition to determine whether this message is truthful. If the message hasn't been verified by a company representative via phone or in person, it almost certainly contains a virus. Microsoft doesn't e-mail updates to its customers, and neither should your ISP.

Don't believe the link, either: A link in an e-mail message that claims to point to a Citibank Web site may not really go there. Devious phishing scams use the wonders of HTML to snooker you into uploading your Social Security number, PIN, credit card number, password, or other sensitive data to a scammer's Web site. A carefully crafted e-mail message purporting to be from your bank, PayPal, or some other institution (and often also containing links to the real company's Web site) warns that you must update your records there. The biggest tip-off should be this: Banks and ISPs don't lose your information and then send e-mail requests for you to reenter it online. Another tip-off is that the link text and the real underlying URL don't match. Always examine log-in Web pages and their URLs closely. The site sends unsuspecting Citibank customers to a non-Citibank site (which no longer exists, fortunately). If you do get hooked by creeps on a phishing expedition, notify your bank, ISP, or other institution immediately.

Practice abstinence. Resist viewing or replying to messages from questionable sources or opening dubious attachments-- most viruses, worms and Trojans enter computers this way. If the email seems too good to be true, it probably isn't. Many schemes use `social engineering' methods to lure unsuspecting users into revealing personal information or into confirming their email address for use in more schemes or spam.

Make sure your antivirus and personal firewall software is up to date. An updated antivirus program blocks incoming threats from known viruses and worms while an updated personal firewall blocks incoming threats from hackers, identity thieves and even new, unknown viruses and worms. Make sure that your personal firewall provides outbound protection measures, too. Outbound protection is vital in case malicious code does make it onto the PC and starts trying to 'call home' to establish a back door method for hackers to disguise their activities.

Schedule a monthly check-up.  Vulnerability patches and bug fixes are released often, but you don't always hear about them. Take a few minutes one day a month to check for updates on all your software vendors' Web sites.

categories: Security
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11:19:21 PM    


And George Bush is getting the worst of it at Unconfirmed Sources, where Bush is planning a military strike against Sheehan and also where world leaders are finally joining Mr. Bush in condemning Cindy Sheehan's example of free speech. On Spoof Wolfowitz advises Bush to bomb Cindy Sheehan, and Bush claims he sympathizes with Sheehan, claiming he is a mother, too.

You know a story has legs when the comedians get hold of it and won't let go. Andy Borowitz certainly hasn't missed the story.

President George W. Bush said today that he understands and respects the views of those who are calling for him to cut short his summer vacation, but warned that an immediate withdrawal from Crawford, Texas would "send a terrible signal to the enemy."

"The enemy would like nothing better than to see me cut short my vacation and get back to the White House," Mr. Bush told reporters. "They hate my freedom."

While the president said that he would withdraw from Crawford "soon," he refused to set a timetable for his departure from the ranch, saying that much work there still needs to be done.

Mr. Bush, who has been spending much of his vacation clearing brush, said that he is making great progress in training ranch hands to take over that job for him, but cautioned that they are not yet prepared to do the job themselves.

"Once the ranch hands have shown that they are able to clear the brush on their own, I will withdraw from Crawford, but that day has not yet come," the president said.

I have been waiting for Billmon to write about Cindy. Here is the link

But, instead of feasting on Hanoi Jane, the wing nuts are driving themselves nuts trying to figure out how to take down Vacaville Cindy: a woman who looks and sounds like she spends her free time organizing church socials and helping her husband clean out the garage -- that is, when she isn't busy searing George W. Bush's butt with a white hot poker for dragging the country into an unnecessary and failed war in Iraq

Over at the revealingly-named Powerline, General Aldo and the gorillas posted the following dispatch from one of their cheeseburger-eating scouts

The bad guys hang at the Crawford Peace House, a dump of a house that looks like Hippie Central with dozens of cars, vans, SUVs and campers parked on the grass. Add portable toilets for ambience and you get the picture. This is the staging center for protests at the ranch nine miles up Prairie Chapel Road.

The good guys fill with gas and diesel and dine on cheeseburgers at the Coffee Station where the walls are adorned with enlarged snapshots of President Bush working the crowd and dining on a Coffee Station burger. That won’t happen this year, and perhaps never again because of the bad guys.

I would be happy if someone could offer me proof that the Powerline post is a "gag" to bait those of us who feel no sorrow at the prospect that W might never again be seen working the crowd or dining on a cheese burger at the Coffee Station. I may not agree with all that Cindy Sheehan has to say, but she has the right to express her views. It baffles me how someone on one hand can attack Mrs. Sheehan for traveling to Crawford to make a point to the president, while on the other implying admiration for Republicans who traveled to Crawford to give the president a message of their own. This cannot be taken seriously. A "pilgrimage" to the ranch of Dubya Bush? I mean really...

categories: Politics
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5:23:39 PM    

Saturday, August 13, 2005

NASA's  Big Gulp

NASA pisses away millions hauling H2O into orbit. But there's a better way - recycle astronaut urine. Just one question: How does it taste?
By Tom McNichol

People head to Reno for all sorts of reasons. Some want to gamble. Others are looking for a hasty wedding or quickie divorce. I've come to the Biggest Little City in the World to drink my own pee. Not straight up, of course. First, I'll run it through a new NASA water purification system that collects astronaut sweat, moisture from respiration, drain water, and urine - and turns it all into drinking water.

NASA desperately needs this technology. Water makes for a heavy - and expensive - payload. Over the past five years, the agency has spent $60 million delivering potable water to the International Space Station on the space shuttle (6 tons at a cost of about $40,000 per gallon). Deploying the Water Recovery System on the ISS will cut the volume of water hauled into space by two-thirds and free up enough room on the shuttle for four more astronauts.

I'm in Reno because this is the home of Water Security, a new company that is finding ways to use the NASA technology in extreme environments here on Earth. Company president Ray Doane can't wait to show me his magic box. "This is whiz-bang technology," he boasts, with an emphasis on the whiz.

Water Security has added a special filter to the NASA unit, creating a system that can scrub away 99.9 percent of all waterborne viruses, which could prove particularly useful in the developing world. The United Nations estimates that more than 1 billion people lack access to safe drinking water and that 10 million die each year as a result of contaminated water supplies and inadequate sanitation.

The six-stage system starts with a prefilter that removes large particles of sediment and debris, such as hair or lint, from contaminated liquid. Next, a carbon filter strips out the organic waste products contained in urine, like urea, uric acid, and creatinine, as well as pesticides and herbicides, which frequently leech into water supplies from farmland. The liquid then flushes through a cartridge developed by Water Security that contains tiny black beads of iodinated resins. Any microorganisms collide with the beads, which release iodine to kill the bugs.

"The iodine is released gradually into the water and is very stable over a wide range of temperatures and pHs," company vice president Ken Kearney says. "It's very predictable, and that's what you want in space. It can also take some of the dirtiest, nastiest water on the planet and produce clean, safe drinking water."

The water lingers briefly in a holding tank to give the iodine enough contact time for a complete kill. Next, a resin filter strips out the iodine, along with nitrates and heavy metals. Finally, the water moves through a filter that eliminates cryptosporidium (a waterborne parasite that's resistant to iodine) and provides a final "polish" for good taste.

At least that's what they tell me. A Water Security system is set up here at company headquarters, ready to be put to my own uric acid test. A big yellow bucket next to the unit is filled with water and then tainted with "Arizona dust," a common contaminant used by laboratories. I discreetly retire to a side office and emerge clutching a warm plastic cup. I pour the urine into the yellow bucket, taking care not to splash. The chemist stirs the brew with a long stick.

Human waste has bedeviled NASA engineers from the get-go. Alan Shepherd's first 15-minute suborbital flight was so short that no one thought to install a urine receptacle in his space suit. At T-minus 15 minutes, an electrical problem caused an 86-minute delay on the launchpad. Shepherd's bladder soon reached the bursting point, and he radioed the first-ever "Houston, we have a problem" message. After some deliberation, mission control had an answer: "Do it in the suit."

Gemini and Apollo astronauts wore plastic bags taped to their buttocks. After defecation, the crew member was required to seal the bag and knead it, mixing in a liquid-bactericide to provide the desired degree of "feces stabilization." The first men to walk on the moon stepped onto the lunar surface wearing astrodiapers - undershorts layered with absorbent material. Which may explain all the jumping up and down.

As a 1975 NASA study put it, "In general, the Apollo waste management system worked satisfactorily from an engineering standpoint. From the point of view of crew acceptance, however, the system must be given poor marks." For the space shuttle, the agency designed a $23 million toilet that freeze-dries solid waste so it can be transported back to Earth. Until recently, the gray water was dumped overboard, becoming an orbiting monument to mankind.

The water filtration system allows NASA to solve two problems at once. It eliminates the gray water disposal issue and recycles urine into drinking water for the astronauts. The agency is testing the system at the Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama - where employees run on treadmills as their sweat, respiratory moisture, and urine are collected, cleansed and consumed.

Water Security has already begun putting the technology to work in areas where freshwater is in short supply. This summer, global relief agency Concern for Kids deployed a foot-powered purification unit in northern Iraq. Robert and Roni Anderson, Concern's founders, loaded it onto the back of a Toyota pickup and drove to dozens of villages to purify their groundwater. The unit pumps out 5 gallons per minute, and a single day of purification can sustain a village of 5,000 people for a month. The cost is about 3 cents a gallon. Iraqi water companies, by comparison, charge $4 a gallon.

It's not just war-torn regions that are short on potable water. After the tsunami hit Indonesia last December, much of the freshwater supply became contaminated with salt water and toxic street runoff. Kearney says the Water Security system is perfectly capable of working in such natural-disaster scenarios. After all, the technology was originally tested on an open sewage ditch in Jakarta and produced water that met Environmental Protection Agency standards.

Back at Water Security HQ, the contents of the bucket get a final stir, and the experiment begins. The water is sucked through an intake hose and into the purification system - prefilter, carbon filter, iodinated resin, disinfectant holding tank, iodine scrub, and a polish. (Don't be shy with the polish, guys.)

After 30 seconds, water dribbles out of a nozzle and into a plastic cup. I raise it with a trembling hand. A toast to Alan Shepherd and all the brave astronauts who endured the wrong stuff in their space suits for the advancement of science: This number one's for you. I take a big astronaut gulp, lower the cup, and wait for the noxious aftertaste. Nothing.

The water tastes pretty good - it's definitely not Evian, but it is better than most city tap. Certainly more palatable than many light beers I've had, and not at all, uh, urinous. Move over, Tang: There's a new space drink in town!

categories: Mind
Other Stories according to Google: Wired 13.08: The Big Gulp | A Black Hole's Big Gulp -- Irion 2004 (218): 3 -- sciencenow | Magazine Articles on Space & Astronomy (current) | Discover: Two men in a tub - astronaut Chris Hadfield prepares for | WTF | The Enterprise Mission - MCO | The Naked Scientists Science Discussion Forum - Science Photo of | Spitting Image: 3-D Images from Mars! | cryptogon.com | Most Powerful Eruption in the Universe Discovered

6:19:11 PM    

The hike in oil prices: Peak Oil?

Crude oil is at $65 a barrel and rising. Traders on commodity exchanges are warning that a cold winter in the northern hemisphere could see prices, already up 38% since the start of the year, rise a lot further.

I've been a little surprised at the continuing steady rise of oil prices over the past few months. After all, with only a couple of exceptions, even the most pessimistic peak oil folks didn't think world oil production is going to peak for several more years, which means there's not much reason for short term price spikes. So what's the explanation?

It's possible that it's due to nothing more than normal short term market fluctuations. However, the chart on the right suggests the answer is more fundamental: demand is now exceeding supply. And while this doesn't necessarily mean that production has peaked, it may mean that we've hit the supply/demand crunch I wrote about a couple of months ago:

Current world demand for oil is about 84 million barrels per day, and current world production capacity is about....84 million barrels per day. As Amy Myers Jaffe points out, OPEC's spare capacity — and thus the world's — has dropped nearly to zero in the past few years. Everyone is pumping full out.

This is why prices are increasing now even though there's been no oil shock. It's not because of a sudden disruption, it's because demand is now bumping up against supply. What's more, this is a permanent condition: new capacity takes years to develop, so even in the best case supply will only barely keep up with future growth in demand. There's not much margin for error.

Oil production will almost certainly surpass 84 million barrels per day as new fields come online in the future, but demand is going to increase right along with it. Thus, unless there's a global economic shock of some kind, it's likely that demand is now permanently equal to supply. There's no spare capacity left, and there never will be again.

This mean that we're now living in a different world. I'm not sure what all the ramifications of this are, but one thing is pretty certain: the next oil shock — and there will be one eventually — is going to be worse than any previous shock. Fasten your seat belts.

I think it likely that the human species is headed towards a "triple whammy" in this century:

1. Oil depletion: we have consumed about half of the earth's oil deposits (the half that is cheapest and easiest to get at) over a century or so. We will substantially consume the remainder in the next 50 years. When it is gone there is no other energy source or combination of energy sources that can "replace" that one-time windfall of cheap, readily available energy." When it is gone, those aspects of modern human civilization that are utterly dependent on an abundant and ever-increasing supply of cheap energy will come to an end. This will be massively disruptive, socially and economically, to advanced industrial societies, particularly the USA which is probably the least prepared to deal with it.

2. Global warming: By burning up half the world's oil deposits (plus lots of coal and natural gas) we have already brought on global warming and consequent climate change that empirical observation strongly suggests may already be irreversible, accelerating, and catastrophic. As we burn up the other half in the next 50 years, we will ensure that the earth experiences a global environmental catastrophe that will, among other things, kill hundreds of millions or billions of human beings, and may threaten the very survival of the earth's biosphere as we know it. (It is important to remember that, as serious as it is, global warming is only one of the injuries we are inflicting on the living earth. We are also causing massive ecological damage of other kinds, through other means, such as conversion of land to human use and destruction of oceanic food webs.)

3. War: I expect that the human response to the above two crises will be typical of the human response to similar, smaller-scale crises in the past: war. In this case, up to and including nuclear war, possibly large scale intercontinental nuclear war (which has almost occurred several times in the past just by accident or mistake, and could easily occur that way in the future).

Unfortunately I see little reason to expect anything other than an extremely grim future not only for humanity but for all life on earth, as nature's little evolutionary experiment with big-brained, opposable-thumbed primates comes to a tragic conclusion.

categories: Outrages
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12:36:28 AM    

Friday, August 12, 2005

Global Warming Skeptics Take a Lethal Blow

As Jack Lemmon said in The Great Race: "When the water reaches my lower lip, I'm sure gonna mention it to somebody

The thawing of the world's largest peat bog will release billions of tons of methane, a potent greenhouse gas, and scientists believe little can be done to stop it.  The landscape is rapidly changing in a huge expanse of western Siberia, roughly the size of Germany and France combined, as the frozen tundra, enveloped in permafrost for millennia, turns into a series of shallow lakes.

The worrying development, highlighted in New Scientist this week, has sparked a concerned outcry from environmentalists and renewed calls for urgent reduction in carbon emissions.

Since the onset of climate change temperatures in the Siberian sub-Arctic have risen faster than almost anywhere else in the world and the thaw has now started what Sergei Kirpotin, a botanist from Tomsk State University, described as an 'ecological landslide that is proabably irreversible and is undoubtedly connected to climate warming'.

He told the New Scientist that the dramatic melt had been extremely rapid, happening over just three or four years.

Average temperatures in western Siberia have risen by 3 degrees Celsius over the last 40 years, a rise most scientists put down to a combination of man-made climate change, natural cycles and the fact that as snow and ice melt to reveal land and water the darker, uncovered areas absorb more heat.

The precise impact of the melt is not yet known, but the Siberian bogs hold an estimated 70 billion tonnes of methane, a greenhouse gas 20 times more potent than carbon dioxide.

Campaign group Friends of the Earth has seen the melt as evidence that the Earth is reaching its "tipping point" - the point at which a slight rise in temperature triggers major change and expressed fears the methane could significantly accelerate the climate change process.

Siberia feels the heat It's a frozen peat bog the size of France and Germany combined, contains billions of tonnes of greenhouse gas and, for the first time since the ice age, it is melting.  Researchers who have recently returned from the region found that an area of permafrost spanning a million square kilometres - the size of France and Germany combined - has started to melt for the first time since it formed 11,000 years ago at the end of the last ice age.

In other global warming news, republicans and other corporatists who continue to claim that the science doesn’t conclusively support the existence of global warming (remember, it's not "climate change") have pointed to the work of several scientists, whose research challenged the assumptions and models used by peers who did claim that warming did exist and was only going to get worse.

Until 2001, when the Bush Administration began claiming that the science wasn’t conclusive, no one had revisited the work of those several scientists to see if their claims and contrarian research were themselves solid. We now find out that the research disputing global warming is itself based on flawed calculations and that the data used by the global warming skeptics did in fact reflect that warming was taking place and would continue to get worse.

So the next time you hear Rush, or the rest of the “what me, worry?” sycophants challenge global warming, remember that their claims that the science doesn’t support that global warming is taking place are garbage. The real reason for inaction is simply a desire for another profit opportunity at the expense of all of us.

There's a common misconception that big and bad global warming effects are far in the future. They may be. They also may not be. Ice cores are showing that some past climate changes happened on the scale of a few decades.

Prevention is the only possible way we can affect the process. Once climate change starts, we don't begin to have the technology to change it back. The evidence is accumulating that it has started.

What is the word  about real estate in the Yukon? Who do I call?

categories: Outrages
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11:34:16 PM    

Friday Cat Blogging

Who ya gonna believe, ME or your lying eyes?

categories: Humor
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1:44:44 AM    

Blogging The Freeway to Hell

The Freeway Blogger is spreading enlightment at about a hundred signs a month.

categories: Politics
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1:19:56 AM    

Another Masterpiece By Hate Master James Dobson

Norbizness has a fantastic post on James Dobson's masterpiece titled  Is Your Child a Homosexual.

Before puberty, children aren’t normally heterosexual or homosexual. They’re definitely gender conscious. But young children are not sexual beings yet — unless something sexual in nature has interrupted their developmental phases.

Still, it’s not uncommon for children to experience gender confusion during the elementary school years. Dr. Joseph Nicolosi reports, “In one study of 60 effeminate boys ages 4 to 11, 98 percent of them engaged in cross-dressing, and 83 percent said they wished they had been born a girl.”

Great work and statistical sample, Doctor. I think this is called labelling something based on certain characteristics and magically finding out that the characteristics correlate with the label. In other news, 100% of people diagnosed with Bush Derangement Syndrome don't seem to like President Bush, and nearly 98% of people diagnosed with depression meet one or more of the diagnostic indicators of depression.

Some of my favorite parts are:

Dobson: Evidences of gender confusion or doubt in boys ages 5 to 11 may include: 1. A strong feeling that they are “different” from other boys.

Norbizness: I know this sounds contrarian, but if the other boys want to jump off a bridge, you should encourage your child to do so as well.

Dobson: 2. A tendency to cry easily, be less athletic, and dislike the roughhousing that other boys enjoy.

Norbizness: Maybe it was all of the communal box-wine you drank during pregnancy, but it's too late for regrets. However, you and your husband can make up for Timmy's lack of athleticism by screaming incoherently at him during Little League sporting events.

Dobson: 5. A susceptibility to be bullied by other boys, who may tease them unmercifully and call them “queer,” “fag” and “gay.”

Norbizness: But, for heaven's sake, don't be concerned about the violence-soaked homophobia that attends your bullying child, if you have one.   Teasing people unmercifully got Pastor Dobson his shamed, cowed flock,  after all.

Dobson: 7. A repeatedly stated desire to be — or insistence that he is — a girl.

Norbizness: This is the DEFCON-4 of an assault on your Godly parenting.  Immediately take your child to an all-nude strip club for a $20 game of  "compare and contrast."

Dobson:  8. A tendency to walk, talk, dress and even “think” effeminately.

Norbizness:  Fortunately, there are ways to get around this. Dress your child in stiff Wranglers and a leather vest, and paint a thick moustache on his upper lip. Make him watch the Nathan Lane "tough talking" scene in The Birdcage over and over. And start developing telepathy to intrude on your child's thoughts.

I can hardly wait for the next series of articles, "Is Your Child Becoming a Liberal?" It includes more tips on how to stamp out your child's personality, as well as his or her hopes and dreams (because God wants you to).

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish | It's Recess-time Somewhere | Blogcritics.org: Weekly Artist Overview: Sonic Youth | Blogcritics.org: Stand alone together: Gus Van Sant's Gerry | Blogcritics.org: Weekly Artist Overview: Black Sabbath | Blogcritics.org: Region 1 DVD Releases For March 15, 2005 | aldahlia | Reviews, Profiles, and Excerpts from Christianity Today's Book | Reviews, Profiles, and Excerpts from Christianity Today's Book | Joey Gibson's Blog

1:03:45 AM    

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Cindy Sheehan Has A Friend, Lots Of Friends

I haven't seen Bill O'Reilly so flummoxed since Al Franken took him down at that LA book fair last year, though this was much subtler. He had to grin and swallow it all because he was interviewing the mother of a dead soldier.

Cindy Sheehan decided not to appear on The Factor tonight so Bill O'Reilly predictably attacked her again. This time, he painted Sheehan as a victim of "far left elements" who are exploiting her for their own purposes. O'Reilly announced with a sneer that Cindy claimed that she would not appear on his show because he had lied about her last night.

Acting as if that was a ridiculous notion, O'Reilly began another smear of Cindy Sheehan. However, his plans were ruined by Dolores Kesterson, another grieving Mother and brave patriot.8/10/05

Using his all knowing and tolerant tone, O'Reilly claimed that he supports Cindy Sheehan's right to express dissent. Then he bashed Maureen Dowd for glorifying Sheehan in her column today. The Baltimore Sun also got a knock for praising Sheehan, prompting Bill to dismiss it as an anti Bush paper.

Bill was especially ticked that Cindy Sheehan was "using" the Michael Moore website acting as if that was a shocking and subversive thing to do. Prompting him to ask his viewers,
"If you were Mr. Bush, would you meet with Cindy Sheehan."

Then O'Reilly introduced Dolores Kesterton who did not bend or back down throughout the interview. Her son Eric died in Iraq and had been an unwavering supporter of the administration. Kesterson claimed that she had been against going into Iraq because she believed we should have finished the job in Afghanistan.  Although O'Reilly tried to intimidate her into saying that Eric had died for a noble cause, Dolores would not give an inch.

Kesterson went on to describe the meeting she had with Bush after her son's death. She requested time alone with him and was granted three minutes in a tiny cubicle. According to Kesterson, Bush marched in and "was in my face"
"I'm George Bush, President of the United States and I understand that you have something to say to me in private."
Kesterson was not impressed with the meeting claiming that Bush did not seem to care.

At this point O'Reilly decided to use the lecture/soliloquy technique.  Using his fatherly tone he told Dolores that he respected her opinion but didn't want to see her used like Cindy Sheehan.
"I think Cindy Sheehan is being used by far left elements who object to our way of life. Everyone knows. Hillary Clinton knows"

Kesterson firmly objected to the notion of being used and O'Reilly started to get steamed attacking Michael Moore and the Fenton Group who writes Cindy's press releases.  Fenton Communications is a very well established PR firm and O'Reilly's attack on them was nonsense.

Then he peppered her with a string of bizarre questions.

"Do you believe that we're a bad country and evil country?"
"Do you have Michael Moore's view of the U.S.?"
"If you had to choose, would you go with President Bush or Michael Moore?"

Dolores Kesterson without a moments hestitation gave her answer.
" Michael Moore has not killed thousands."

Cindy Sheehan has no army save for a motley crew of old hippies, she has no guns and is surrounded by unfriendlies in enemy territory and the distinction between what is private and county property, when she is and is not a national security threat  changes as effortlessly as David Bowman in 2010.  If you live near Crawford, Texas, go there. If you can spare money, send it to the Crawford Peace house at:

Cindy Sheehan
c/o Crawford Peace House
9142 5th Street
Crawford, TX 76638-3037

Do what you can to help Cindy Sheehan because this is about to get large. Use death to burn out war, not to stoke it.

Those grieving families and wounded vets I keep mentioning?  What do you think will happen when they finally connect all the blood spatters and realize they’ve been taken for a ride?   Political ideologies are one thing but violating personal trust is another and more dangerous.  True there are many blood spatters to connect but there isn’t much space between them:

No Kevlar vests after almost 2 and a half years, no armor plating, loss of medical benefits, non payment of National Guardsmen, the threat of stop loss without re-enlistment bonuses vs re-enlistment, plummeting recruitment numbers, rising rate of desertions, three tours of duty and counting, and now Cindy Sheehan is being treated like a door-to-door salesman selling typhus. The more historically-educated people may recall that President Lincoln, Bush’s justification for everything Republican, used to personally entertain relatives of Civil War soldiers at the White House who would show up unannounced.

America has a president, not a king. But just like royalty, the nation's commander in chief can keep his distance from the common man or woman.  We've been fighting in this country, since the Revolutionary War, to have a form of government that is the opposite of an aristocracy. We've been only partially successful at the best of times. These aren't the best of times, needless to say. We have one huge goddamned king-sized battle going on right now over whether we are going to be ruled or governed.

At the heart of the matter, the war is somewhat beside the point here. The point is this: America is a democracy and the president holds that office at our pleasure, not his own. He by god should be required to come out from behind that damned wall and talk to this mother, whose son has been killed at his command, in a war he started.

Of course, we all know he won't do it. The Bushes don't like to be breathed on by honest to god Americans. That's entirely too democratic for people of such privilege.  And entirely too much "hard work" for Chickenshit George, the President who doesn't ever have to explain anything.

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: MOOREWATCH | MOOREWATCH - Watching Michael Moore's every move | MOOREWATCH - Watching Michael Moore's every move | UTI Exclusive: Interview With Cindy Sheehan | Unscrewing The | Daily Kos: CORRECTION: Cindy Sheehan arrest only speculation | Crooks and Liars | 'Peace Advocate' Cindy Sheehan : "Our Country Has Been Taken Over | The Smirking Chimp | morons.org - Cindy Sheehan Won't Back Down | Welcome to MichaelMoore.com!

11:44:52 PM    

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

How Long Will You Watch Them Starve?

. . . or have you done something to help the starving and malnourshed in Nigeria?

The fingers of malnourished 1-year-old Alassa Galisou are pressed against the lips of his mother, Fatou Ousseini, at an emergency feeding clinic in the town of Tahoua in northwestern Niger, Aug. 1, 2005. An estimated 3.6 million people are short of food.
[Finbarr O'Reilly/Reuters]

The first U.N. appeal for help in November got almost no response. Another appeal for $16 million in March got about $1 million. An appeal on May 25 for $30 million only started receiving major donations after television showed pictures of Niger's hungry and malnourished.

"This was a desperately needed wake-up call, but the response we have received so far is encouraging," said Morris. "We can still save lives."

Oxfam says that years of neglect by rich countries have contributed directly to the current food crisis in Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso, said international agency Oxfam today.

Oxfam's analysis shows that the four West African countries - some of the poorest in the world - get only a fraction of the development aid that countries such as Iraq and Afghanistan receive from rich donor governments.

Niger, the world's second poorest country, gets $12 per person per year in aid. By contrast, each Iraqi receives on average $91 per year in aid - over seven times as much. Even countries with similar levels of poverty such as Senegal, Sierra Leone and Zambia receive at least three times as much aid as Niger.

"If Niger had received the same levels of aid as Iraq, a much richer country, this crisis may never have happened. Sadly, rich countries give aid on the basis of news headlines and political priorities instead of need - millions of people across West Africa are now paying the price of this bias," said Natasha Kofoworola Quist, Oxfam's Regional Director for West Africa.

We live in a world of plenty, and yet: 840 million people go hungry each year. 1.2 billion people live on less than $1 a day. 12 million people die each year from a lack of water. Over 30,000 children under the age of five die each day due to hunger and other preventable causes.

Listed below are just a few ways you can get involved

Donate to Oxfam America Online
Become a member of Oxfam America with your donation of $35 or more.


Niger Relief
Send emergency food to Niger. Grants will double your donation.

Niger Relief Now
Children bearing the brunt of Niger's food shortage. Learn. Help.

Niger Famine Crisis
Thousands of children at risk Donate now - help children in Niger

Famine in Niger: Help Now
More than 2.5 million suffering. You can help by donating now.

Famine Relief - Plan USA
Children at risk of starvation. Help distribute food in Niger.

Africa Relief
Strengthening Global Healthcare. Save Lives, Find Out How!

Niger Food Crisis 3.6 million people need urgent help Donate and read the latest updates

Niger Famine - Help Now Operation Blessing delivers food Donate today and save a life

categories: Outrages
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12:51:43 PM    

Monday, August 08, 2005

Cindy Sheehan: "Threat to National Security"

Today, she is not a threat, but Thursday, she will be a threat?

Cindy Sheehan, the mother whose son Casey was killed in Iraq and who has been camped out at Crawford, Texas until the Idiot in Chief will meet with her has been told that as of Thursday she will be considered a threat to national security and will be arrested.

Coincidentally, Rice and Rummy arrive on Thursday, and on Friday the rich people arrive for a GOP fundraiser. It would be embarrassing to have cranky poor people littering the lawn, so the mother of a fallen American soldier is now equated with Osama Bin Laden and is being stripped of her right to protest and dissent.

I don't invoke Bubba a lot, but there is no way Bill Clinton would let these people go to jail when all it would take is a few minutes of his time to meet with her. I do believe that above all Bill really cared about people and would never act like a spoiled rich brat who calls the cops and tells them to get all those dirty homeless people off the frat house lawn in time for the beer bust.

From pb on Kos:
According to the Bush administration... what constitutes a threat to national security?

Letting Osama escape? No...

Outing a CIA operative? No....

Destabilizing the Middle East? No...

Potentially interfering with a GOP fundraiser? Yes!
Isn't it nice that terror alerts can now be turned on an off like tap water in time for the Friday news dump.

If you haven't seen TruthOut's short documentary on demonstrations by military people against the war where they talk about their experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan and what they risk for speaking out, you can watch it here. It features Cindy Sheehan, and if you can hear her talk about her son without tearing up you are made of stronger stuff than me.

They've arrested gold star moms before.

Sue Niederer was arrested in September for interrupting Laura Bush and asking her why the twins were not serving. She was already out of the room when she was handcuffed and taken away in the back of a police wagon.

She was at the time in front of the building and speaking to reporters. THAT was her crime. THAT was the threat. Meanwhile, Laura Bush continued speaking as if nothing had happened--it was barely a blip during the entire speech. Cold-hearted criminals, every one of them. The people who should have trouble sleeping at night never do.

If Cindy Sheehan, the mother of a fallen soldier who is peacefully waiting in Texas for Bush to speak with her, is called a threat to our national security, it makes you wonder who else the Bush administration is falsely accusing in order to protect themselves politically. If they really imprison her, as they appear to have threatened to do, it raises a lot of questions about their judgment and makes me wonder how many other people they have unjustly imprisoned under the guise of national security merely to prevent information from creeping out that makes them look bad.

08/09/05 UPDATE:

CRAWFORD, Texas, Aug. 9 /U.S. Newswire/—More members of Gold Star Families for Peace (GSFP) and Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) are traveling to Texas to join the protest outside of President Bush’s ranch in Crawford, Texas, where he is vacationing for the month of August.

Starting today, Gold Star families from Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Arkansas and other states whose loved ones have died as a result of the war in Iraq will be joining one of their members, Cindy Sheehan, at the protest. Ms. Sheehan, whose son Army Specialist Casey Sheehan was killed in Sadr City, Iraq on April 4, 2004, has been in Crawford since August 5th, demanding a meeting with the President. These families will be joined by military families with loved ones currently serving in Iraq or about to deploy or redeploy to Iraq. All of these families are coming to Crawford, Texas to share their stories about the personal costs of the war in Iraq and add their voices to the call for a meeting with President Bush.

I'm confident that BushCo will handle this impending PR disaster with the same restraint and graciousness that have marked the Boy King's ascent to the throne:

categories: Outrages
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4:31:40 PM    

New Zealand Billboard Causes Stir

Rejected by hell. Embraced by red state America. Yee Haw, ya gun-totin', bible readin', six grade dropoutin' rednecks!!

A decision is due to be made today whether a billboard labelling President Bush an 'evil bastard' is appropriate, NZ City of New Zealand reports Monday. The publication provides a few details:

The Hell Pizza billboards have been erected around Auckland and Wellington. Half of the poster is taken up with a photo of the president and the other half has the phrase 'Hell: Too Good For Some Evil Bastards.'

Outdoor Advertising New Zealand is reviewing who is behind the boards and whether the Advertising Standards Authority needs to become involved.

Hell's media manager, Matthew Blomfield, says they expected to cause a bit of a stir. He says it is meant to provoke discussion and be a little edgy, instead of bland, boring advertising.

Mr Blomfield is hoping reaction will be balanced between those who find it funny and those who are upset by it.


And there's the problem. This is ridiculous, the comments thus far are ridiculous, and this is why we lose, because we fight like juveniles.


We lose because Diebold does the counting, and Blackwell distributes the machines, and the MSM is asleep.

If anything happens to Satan DeLay can easily run hell......

As far as Bush is concerned 100,000 dead innocent Iraqis can't be wrong!!!! Bush: "Torture away, Gonzales said it was fine" Geneve Convention does not apply to the Bush Family....

Excellent! I hate billboards, but what the hell? I like this one! Do they deliver to the U.S.?

categories: Politics
Other Stories according to Google: NZCity Personal Start Page | Top Stories from NZCity | Top Stories from NZCity | Top Stories from NZCity | Top Stories from NZCity | Business News from NZCity | NZCity Personal Start Page | NZCity Personal Start Page | NZCity Personal Start Page | News: New Zealand News: Pizza Billboard Raises Hell

1:22:35 PM    

Stuff the MSM Hasn't Shown You

Condi Rice-a-Roni said today that the insurgency is loosing steam.  Now if you believe that, check out this site, if you can stand it. 

Infoshop.org has pictures from Iraq that are to say the least proof that things aren't going well in Iraq, remember, "We're at war"... well we started it.  The pictures are heart breaking. (the page loads slowly due to heavy graphics)

categories: Outrages
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11:45:33 AM    

Intelligent Geography Next?

categories: Humor
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1:02:41 AM    

Friday, August 05, 2005

Friday Cat Blogging

Which came first, the chicken or the kat?

categories: Humor
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2:09:46 AM    

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Gannon, Novak's 'Deep Throat' On Joe Wilson

Novak wrote that Harlow's "allegation against me is so patently incorrect and so abuses my integrity as a journalist that I feel constrained to reply."

Right-wing columnist Robert Novak's new attack on former Ambassador Joseph Wilson -- that he was "discarded a year ago by the Kerry presidential campaign" -- recycled a disputed report from Talon News correspondent Jeff Gannon, who was unmasked earlier this year as a pro-Republican operative working under an assumed name.

In an Aug. 1 column, Novak cited the Kerry campaign's supposed rejection of Wilson to further denigrate the former ambassador, who has become a bete noire to Republicans since he charged in an opinion article on July 6, 2003, that the Bush administration "twisted" intelligence on Iraq’s nuclear weapons program.

Eight days later, on July 14, 2003, Novak exposed the fact that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, worked at the Central Intelligence Agency, an outing of a covert officer that has sparked a two-year investigation into whether Bush administration officials violated legal prohibitions against disclosing the identity of a CIA officer.

Novak has refused publicly to answer questions about his role in the case -- including what he may have told a federal grand jury about his administration sources -- but he penned the Aug. 1 column to challenge former CIA spokesman Bill Harlow for claiming that he warned Novak about the potential danger in naming Plame.

Assault on Wilson

Novak's column also resumed the Right's long-running assault on Wilson's credibility. Near the end of the column, Novak wrote that "Joseph Wilson was discarded a year ago by the Kerry presidential campaign after the Senate [intelligence] committee reported that much of what he [Wilson] said 'had no basis in fact.'"

However, Novak’s sentence appears to be wrong on both its points. The Senate Intelligence Committee did not conclude that Wilson’s statements about the Iraqi intelligence "had no basis in fact." That was a phrase that Novak culled from "additional views" of three Republican senators.

The full committee refused to accept that opinion written by Sen. Pat Roberts and backed by two other conservative Republicans -- Christopher Bond and Orrin Hatch -- yet Novak left the impression that the phrase was part of what he called "a unanimous Senate intelligence committee report" released in July 2004.

The other part of Novak’s attack on Wilson -- about his supposed repudiation by Sen. John Kerry's Democratic campaign -- can be traced back to a story by Talon News' former White House correspondent Jeff Gannon, whose real name is James Guckert.

On July 27, 2004, just over a year ago, a Talon News story under Gannon's byline reported that Wilson "has apparently been jettisoned from the Kerry campaign." The article based its assumption on the fact that "all traces" of Wilson "had disappeared from the Kerry Web site."

The Talon News article reported that "Wilson had appeared on a Web site www.restorehonesty.com where he restated his criticism of the Bush administration. The link now goes directly to the main page of www.johnkerry.com and no reference to Wilson can be found on the entire site."

A Web Redesign

But Peter Daou, who headed the Kerry campaign's online rapid response, said the disappearance of Wilson's link -- along with many other Web pages -- resulted from a redesign of Kerry's Web site at the start of the general election campaign, not a repudiation of Wilson.

"I wasn't aware of any directive from senior Kerry staff to 'discard' Joe Wilson or do anything to Joe Wilson for that matter," said Daou, who now publishes the "Daou Report" at Salon.com. "It just got lost in the redesign of the Web site, as did dozens and dozens of other pages."

Gannon/Guckert, who wrote frequently about the Wilson-Plame case in 2003-2004, came under suspicion as a covert Republican operative in January 2005 when he put a question to George W. Bush at a presidential news conference that contained a false assertion about Democrats and prompted concerns that Gannon/Guckert was a plant.
Later, liberal Web sites discovered that Gannon was a pseudonym for Guckert, who had posted nude photos of himself on gay-male escort sites. It also turned out that Talon News was owned by GOPUSA, whose president Robert Eberle is a prominent Texas Republican activist.

Though Gannon/Guckert had been refused a congressional press pass, he secured daily passes to the White House press
briefing under his real name, Guckert. As a controversy built over the Bush administration paying for favorable news stories, Gannon/Guckert resigned from Talon News on Feb. 8 and its Web site effectively shut down.

However, a copy of the Talon News article about Wilson and his supposed rejection by the Kerry campaign remains on th
e Internet at FreeRepublic.com.

Besides taking swipes at Wilson, Novak's Aug. 1 column lambasted supposed "misinformation" from former CIA spokesman Harlow.

Novak wrote that Harlow's "allegation against me is so patently incorrect and so abuses my integrity as a journalist that I feel constrained to reply." But Novak's complaint against Harlow looks like a classic case of splitting hairs.

Novak notes that Harlow told the Washington Post that Plame, who worked as a CIA officer on weapons of mass destruction, "had not authorized" sending her husband on a mission to Niger to investigate suspicions that Iraq was trying to buy processed uranium, called yellowcake. Novak said he never wrote that Plame "authorized" the trip, but only that she "suggested" it.

The next time Robert Novak decides to use "Fake News" for the sake of his integrity, he should stick to the "Daily Show", because Jon Stewart is more accurate than Jeff Gannon and the stories are funnier.

08/04/05 UPDATE:
Novak Freaks on the CNN Set! As has been reported, Robert Novak stormed off the set of " Inside Politics" today during a session with James Carville while they were talking about Katherine Harris. (Was it the make-up!) He yelled " This is bullshit" and walked off the set after Carville did his usual ribbing of Novakula. Do you think the Valerie Plame affair is stressing out Bob? James didn't even give it to him like he usually does.

08/05/05 UPDATE: When will Accuracy in Media et al., or whatever other group Brent Bozell uses these days, start piping in the calls to the FCC demanding a fine for Novak for saying "bullshit on-air". (ed.note: Yes, obviously, the FCC has no authority to levy a fine since CNN is cable TV. But can't Brent Bozell still stomp up and down and say something terrible has to happen to him?) Novak agrees to "take some time off" from CNN.

Does this mean that MSNBC will give Novak his own show?

categories: Outrages
Other Stories according to Google: Daily Kos: ` Jeff Gannon ' and L'Affaire Plame: Summary of CIA leak | Daily Kos: Plame Leaked by Fake News Source? Overview: Part IV | Daily Kos: Plame leak timeline | Daily Kos: Exploring the Plame Investigation | Freerepublic “Who leaked to Novak” Discussion Thread | Keyword | CANNONFIRE | Jeff Gannon A Voice of the New Media | blony

4:08:51 PM    


Here's another critique of Intelligent Design creationism that suggests that the Flying Spaghetti Monster should be taught in schools. I love the iconography.

I am writing you with much concern after having read of your hearing to decide whether the alternative theory of Intelligent Design should be taught along with the theory of Evolution. I think we can all agree that it is important for students to hear multiple viewpoints so they can choose for themselves the theory that makes the most sense to them. I am concerned, however, that students will only hear one theory of Intelligent Design.

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

It is for this reason that I’m writing you today, to formally request that this alternative theory be taught in your schools, along with the other two theories. In fact, I will go so far as to say, if you do not agree to do this, we will be forced to proceed with legal action. I’m
sure you see where we are coming from. If the Intelligent Design theory is not based on faith, but instead another scientific theory, as is claimed, then you must also allow our theory to be taught, as it is also based on science, not on faith.

Some find that hard to believe, so it may be helpful to tell you a little more about our beliefs. We have evidence that a Flying Spaghetti Monster created the universe. None of us, of course, were around to see it, but we have written accounts of it. We have several lengthy volumes explaining all details of His power. Also, you may be surprised to hear that there are over 10 million of us, and growing. We tend to be very secretive, as many people claim our beliefs are not substantiated by observable evidence. What these people don’t understand is that He built the world to make us think the earth is older than it really is. For example, a scientist may perform a carbon-dating process on an artifact. He finds that approximately 75% of the Carbon-14 has decayed by electron emission to Nitrogen-14, and infers that this artifact is approximately 10,000 years old, as the half-life of Carbon-14 appears to be 5,730 years. But what our scientist does not realize is that every time he makes a measurement, the Flying Spaghetti Monster is there changing the results with His Noodly Appendage. We have numerous texts that describe in detail how this can be possible and the reasons why He does this. He is of course invisible and can pass through normal matter with ease.

I’m sure you now realize how important it is that your students are taught this alternate theory. It is absolutely imperative that they realize that observable evidence is at the discretion of a Flying Spaghetti Monster. Furthermore, it is disrespectful to teach our beliefs without wearing His chosen outfit, which of course is full pirate regalia. I cannot stress the importance of this, and unfortunately cannot describe in detail why this must be done as I fear this letter is already becoming too long.

The concise explanation is that He becomes angry if we don’t.

You may be interested to know that global warming, earthquakes, hurricanes, and other natural disasters are a direct effect of the shrinking numbers of Pirates since the 1800s. For your interest, I have included a graph of the approximate number of pirates versus the average global temperature over the last 200 years. As you can see, there is a statistically significant inverse relationship between pirates and global temperature.

In conclusion, thank you for taking the time to hear our views and beliefs. I hope I was able to convey the importance of teaching this theory to your students. We will of course be able to train the teachers in this alternate theory. I am eagerly awaiting your response, and hope dearly that no legal action will need to be taken. I think we can all look forward to the time when these three theories are given equal time in our science classrooms across the country, and eventually the world; One third time for Intelligent Design, one third time for Flying Spaghetti Monsterism, and one third time for logical conjecture based on overwhelming observable evidence.

Sincerely Yours,

Bobby Henderson, concerned citizen.

08/05/05 UPDATE: Responses from two members of the Kansas School Board

Response from Mrs. Janet Waugh - District 1 - Received 6/25/05

From: JWaugh1052@aol.com
To: bobby.henderson@gmail.com
Date: Jun 25, 2005 6:34 AM
Subject: Response from a member of the Kansas Board of Education

Thanks for your comments about the Flying Spaghetti Monster and all the supporters who have sent their support to members of the Kansas Board of Education. I am supporting the recommendations of the science committee and am currently in the minority. I think your theory is wonderful and possibly some of the majority members will be willing to support it.
Thanks again,

Janet Waugh
District 1

Response from Mrs. Sue Gamble - District 2 - Received 6/26/05

From: msgamble@swbell.net
To: bobby.henderson@gmail.com
Date: Jun 26, 2005 6:34 PM
Subject: Reply

Dear Mr. Henderson, Thanks for your message. Thanks for the laugh. Your web site is fascinating. I will add your theory to a long list of alternative theories I intend to introduce when it is appropriate. I am practicing how to do this with a straight face which is difficult since it's such a ridiculous subject; it is also very sad that we are even having the discussion. I will be one of the four member minority who will be voting against the flawed science standards currently being proposed by the six member majority.

Sincerely, Sue Gamble

And what rough beast, it's hour come round at last
slouches toward Bethlehem to be born? W. B. Yeats
In the song of the musical duo of Sonny & Cher - "The Beat Goes On"


Today I was blessed to receive a divine revelation from our Almighty Flying Spaghetti Monster. I have the privilege of informing you that it is His will that I become His Bride, in order that the Savior of mankind (who is to be called Macaroni) may be born on this earth. The FSM has revealed to me that your body is to be the vehicle by which his holy seed shall be transmitted in earthly form.

To that end, I have reserved a room for us at the Best Western Airport Inn, Boise, Idaho, for the evening of [removed]. I will be the woman wearing the WWFSMD t-shirt and eye patch.

I look forward to meeting you and fulfilling the will of our noodly master.

Boise, Idaho

MACARONI!! Watch for a Bright Star In the East!

categories: Mind
Other Stories according to Google: Open Letter | It's about time - OPEN LETTER TO KANSAS SCHOOL BOARD | Open Letter to Kansas School Board on Alternative Theory of | science creative quarterly fortnightly | [FoRK] Open Letter to Kansas School Board | [FoRK] Open Letter to Kansas School Board | [FoRK] Open Letter to Kansas School Board | [FoRK] Open Letter to Kansas School Board | Stumpy Moose - Open letter to Kansas school board | ADAPPTT - Open Letter to Kansas School Board

2:53:36 PM    

Harris: Mean Media Manipulated Pics

Voter disenfranchisement expert Katherine Harris complained today that newspapers have artificially “colorized” photographs of her, thus damaging her public image:   the mean liberal media “colorized” her photos to accentuate her blue eye shadow in order to make fun of her during the 2000 presidential recounts.

 The fact that no pictures with the aforementioned eye shadow can be found is just part of the plot. Really. And the idea that most people actually saw Harris on TV rather than in print is just a distraction, or maybe CNN employed legions of kids with crayons to mark up the live video feeds as they went out. Or something.

On Monday, on a conservative radio talk show, Harris, now a congresswoman from Longboat Key running for the U.S. Senate, hit back, blaming newspapers for the criticism and charging that some - without saying which - altered her photographs.

“I’m actually very sensitive about those things, and it’s personally painful,'’ Harris said when host Sean Hannity asked about her image problems from 2000.

“But they’re outrageously false, No. 1, and No. 2, you know, whenever they made fun of my makeup, it was because the newspapers colorized my photograph,'’ Harris said.

She didn’t explain what she meant by “colorized.'’

Asked Tuesday to point to an altered photograph, Harris and her staff could not.

Her response to the question, said spokesman Adam Goodman, was, “I haven’t worn blue eye shadow since the seventh grade when I was in the Girl Scouts.'’ She didn’t name a newspaper that showed blue eye shadow.

Most newspapers, including the Tribune, forbid changing photographic images.

“Manipulating an image in any form is not allowed'’ by The Associated Press, which distributes photos to newspapers nationwide, said David Ake, AP national deputy photography director. “We’re pretty adamant about that. We have terminated people for it.'’

Ake was AP photo editor in Florida during the 2000 recount, “and I can tell you we did no manipulation whatever,'’ he said.

Some political experts say Harris’ charge makes little sense because most Americans got their visual image of Harris from television.

At least two Harris news conferences in November 2000, detailing her decision to enforce a deadline and forbid recount results, got national TV coverage.

“Of course it wasn’t newspapers, it was television,'’ said Larry Sabato, a political scientist at the University of Virginia. “I can remember watching her and thinking she learned all the wrong makeup lessons from Al Gore in the debates.'

Beauty is skin deep, but rabid wingnuttery goes all the way to the bone.

categories: Body
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2:13:25 PM    

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Essay on President Bush and Death

Fourteen Marines and a civilian interpreter were killed Wednesday when their amphibious assault vehicle struck an improvised explosive device about 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) south of Haditha, Iraq, military officials said.

Wednesday's attack follows the killings of six Marines Monday in Haditha, which is in northwest Iraq. Another Marine was killed in a suicide car bombing in nearby Hit on Monday, the Marine Corps said. A suicide car bomber attacked a U.S. military convoy Tuesday as it traveled though an underpass beneath al-Tahrir Square in Baghdad, wounding 29 people, Iraqi police said. Fifteen vehicles were destroyed.

Essay on President Bush and Death - An essay by E.L Doctorow

I fault this president (George W. Bush) for not knowing what death is. He does not suffer the death of our twenty-one year olds who wanted to be what they could be.

On the eve of D-day in 1944 General Eisenhower prayed to God for the lives of the young soldiers he knew were going to die. He knew what death was. Even in a justifiable war, a war not of choice but of necessity, a war of survival, the cost was almost more than Eisenhower could bear.

But this president does not know what death is. He hasn't the mind for it. You see him joking with the press, peering under the table for the WMDs he can't seem to find, you see him at rallies strutting up to the stage in shirt sleeves to the roar of the carefully screened crowd, smiling and waving, triumphal, a he-man. He does not mourn. He doesn't understand why he should mourn. He is satisfied during the course of a speech written for him to look solemn for a moment and speak of the brave young Americans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

But you study him, you look into his eyes and know he dissembles an emotion which he does not feel in the depths of his being because he has no capacity for it. He does not feel a personal responsibility for the thousand dead young men and women who wanted to be what they could be.


How then can he mourn? To mourn is to express regret and he regrets nothing. He does not regret that his reason for going to war was, as he knew, unsubstantiated by the facts. He does not regret that his bungled plan for the war's aftermath has made of his mission- accomplished a disaster. He does not regret that rather than controlling terrorism his war in Iraq has licensed it.

So he never mourns for the dead and crippled youngsters who have fought this war of his choice. He wanted to go to war and he did. He had not the mind to perceive the costs of war, or to listen to those who knew those costs. He did not understand that you do not go to war when it is one of the options, but when it is the only option; you go not because you want to but because you have to.


The president we get is the country we get. With each president the nation is conformed spiritually. He is the artificer of our malleable national soul. He proposes not only the laws but the kinds of lawlessness that govern our lives and invoke our responses. The people he appoints are cast in his image. The trouble they get into and get us into, is his characteristic trouble.

Finally the media amplify his character into our moral weather report. He becomes the face of our sky, the conditions that prevail: How can we sustain ourselves as the United States of America given the stupid and ineffective war-making, the constitutionally insensitive lawgiving, and the monarchal economics of this president? He cannot mourn but is a figure of such moral vacancy as to make us mourn for ourselves.

You've got to wonder how the war cheerleaders and chickenhawks sleep at night. Maybe Colin Powell answered this two years ago;

"Powell described his killer schedule in an interview Thursday with Abdul Rahman Al-Rashed, a reporter for a London-based Saudi newspaper.

"So do you use sleeping tablets to organize yourself?" Al-Rashed asked.

"Yes. Well, I wouldn't call them that," Powell said. "They're a wonderful medication -- not medication. How would you call it? They're called Ambien, which is very good. You don't use Ambien? Everybody here uses Ambien."

So where's the progress we keep hearing about? The only thing progressing is the body count. I'm sure this is the very last throe.

08/04/05 UPDATE:   The carnage continues in Iraq...

A bloody week for U.S. troops continues in Iraq, with three soldiers killed Wednesday night in a Baghdad-area bombing, a U.S. military spokesman said.

And at home.

Two young soldiers who served in the Iraq war have killed themselves in separate incidents in Killeen since the weekend, post officials said Wednesday.

Sgt. Robert Decouteaux, 24, of Rosedale, N.Y., died Saturday from a self-inflicted gunshot wound. He had been airlifted from his home to a Temple hospital for emergency surgery, but he died while doctors tried to save his life.

And on Monday morning, Spc. Robert Hunt, 22, of Houston, was found dead in his apartment by Killeen police, who were alerted after members of his unit tried to contact him when he failed to report to work.

Carol Smith, a Killeen police spokeswoman, said Wednesday that Hunt's cause of death was listed as asphyxiation.

They should be counted as Iraq war casualties just like all the soldiers who die there.

categories: Outrages
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1:06:22 PM    

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Pump Aid, Water For Life

Outbreaks of water borne disease are becoming increasingly common in schools as existing systems for water supply break down and children resort to unprotected sources such as open wells and dams. This crisis threatens the lives and education of many thousands of children, regardless of whether food relief reaches the schools in time.

Due to a shortage of firewood, villagers in a rural area in Zimbabwe weren’t boiling the drinking water they collected from an unprotected supply. After two small children and an elderly teacher died from dysentery when a snake fell into their water source and decomposed, an Englishman, Ian Thorpe, working as a teacher at the time, along with other villagers, decided it was time for a change and founded the organization Pump Aid to provide safe drinking water for poor rural communities in Africa.

When Ian and his group realized the potential of rope pumps they developed their own based on a 2000 year old Chinese design and called it the Elephant Pump. The Elephant Pump is cheap, durable, simple to construct and maintain and, most importantly, sustainable. Just recently, Pump aid has won the St. Andrews Prize for the Environment.

Pump Aid builds appropriate technology water pumps that can be maintained by poor rural communities without any outside assistance. These pumps provide clean drinking water and can also be used to sustain crops during the dry season or through periods when rains fail, as they have done this year.

Pump Aid was founded by people who belong to and understand the community in which they are working. A deep understanding of traditional Shona culture has allowed the team to work closely with others in the community to develop a programme that is sensitive to the cultural context in which it operates. Many other projects have failed due to ignorance about the cultural considerations of development. Pump Aid on the other hand, has set new standards for working with poor rural communities in a way that is sensitive to traditional values.

Pump Aid is currently prioritising poor schools for assistance.  There is a desperate need for a reliable supply of clean water.  Out of 1078 schools in Manicaland (the eastern province of Zimbabwe) over 700 have sent applications for Pump Aid for assistance.

In some cases, schools now face closure due to cholera outbreaks caused by a lack of clean water.  Without clean water, children cannot attend school since their lives are at risk.  An average school has about 500 children and 12 teachers.  One school pump costing just 200 pounds will supply clean water for all these children, the teachers and some local families.

In many cases, water from the Elephant Pump is also used to irrigate a school vegetable garden. Produce can be used to raise money for the school or can be taken home by the children when food at home is short, such as in this year of famine.

For general information, send enquiries to info@pumpaid.org

E-mail the Director: IanThorpe@pumpaid.org

Pump Aid is a registered charity, number 1077889

So we have an Englishman installing pumps based on Chinese design into Africa. Globalization doesn’t have to be a bad thing.

categories: Soul
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11:17:59 PM    

Quote of the Week

"Jessica Simpson has seen more combat action than our president." -Randi Rhodes


ContactMusic reports "Jessica Simpson wants to know where missing footage of her and husband Nick Lachey's harrowing trip to Iraq got to - because she thinks Americans would like to see just how bad conditions are there..."

The pop singers-turned-reality TV couple travelled to the war-torn nation to visit US troops as part of a recent ABC TV variety special, and they were both left shellshocked by what they saw.

But all the controversial moments and harrowing footage of the trip didn't appear in the fun-filled TV show.

Simpson says, "It was unbelievable. They didn't show a lot of what really went on with the enemy attacks and the shelling. There was so much stuff that went on and somehow the tapes got mysteriously misplaced.

"It put everything in perspective for me. It really did teach me the definition of sacrifice. I can't even fathom being out there right now. I was ready to come home."

categories: Politics
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10:19:24 PM    

Monday, August 01, 2005

Walrus, Welcome to WWF - World Wide Fiasco!

"Introducing Tag Team Undiplomacy! Dismantling human rights . . . so you don't have to!"

(Miss America done by Elaine Supkis, see her story here. )

President Bush sidestepped the Senate and installed embattled nominee John Bolton as ambassador to the United Nations on Monday, ending a five-month impasse with Democrats who accused Bolton of abusing subordinates and twisting intelligence to fit his conservative ideology. "This post is too important to leave vacant any longer, especially during a war and a vital debate about UN reform," Bush said....read on

This was a fairly obvious move by the President. If anybody thinks that Bush will ever care what the Senators, House, or the American people think are sadly mistaken. If he could recess appoint his Social Security plan he would. ( lol ) Cole thinks it doesnt matter either way.

I wonder given today's advancements with the internet(s) and 24/7 if Bolton's appointment now makes him look like a bigger lame duck than normal. The amount of coverage his nomination received was viewed world wide with endless discussions for and against him and I wonder if this sends a terrible message to the world. We have a democratic process, if it stalls the President acts like a King and makes the appointment anyway. Not that it hasn't been done in the past, but the visibility of it so much much higher now.

Countdown w/o Olbermann has the video of Bolton being booed as he enters the UN. Also the segment includes reactions from Obama, Dodd, Voinovich and Kofi.

Yellow Dog digs up this piece on Richard Holbooke's nomination. "Richard Holbrooke, who Republicans delayed for 14 months as Bill Clinton's nominee to the U.N., refused to bypass the Senate with a recess appointment, saying that it would introduce him to the world body with no credibility or authority."

categories: Outrages
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10:18:22 PM    

Cheney Makes Plans to Nuke Iran

The Iraqi Rocky Horror Show could get a whole-lot more Horrible!

Do say your prayers tonight.  The print edition of the American Conservative includes a startling passage -- one which my readers will find evocative and horrifying. According to the article, Dick Cheney has personally instructed the Pentagon...to draw up plans to nuke Iran immediately after the next terror attack. And we all know that such an attack is inevitable.

Iran will fry even if that nation has nothing to do with the terrorism!

From American Conservative, 8/1/05

In Washington it is hardly a secret that the same people in and around the administration who brought you Iraq are preparing to do the same for Iran. The Pentagon, acting under instructions from Vice President Dick Cheney’s office, has tasked the United States Strategic Command (STRATCOM) with drawing up a contingency plan to be employed in response to another 9/11-type terrorist attack on the United States. The plan includes a large-scale air assault on Iran employing both conventional and tactical nuclear weapons. Within Iran there are more than 450 major strategic targets, including numerous suspected nuclear-weapons-program development sites. Many of the targets are hardened or are deep underground and could not be taken out by conventional weapons, hence the nuclear option. As in the case of Iraq, the response is not conditional on Iran actually being involved in the act of terrorism directed against the United States. Several senior Air Force officers involved in the planning are reportedly appalled at the implications of what they are doing—that Iran is being set up for an unprovoked nuclear attack—but no one is prepared to damage his career by posing any objections. (more...)

The lives of untold millions may be saved if those officers develop a conscience and go public.

Of course, right-wing propagandists have tried to convince us that Mr. and Mrs. Average Iranian really, really love America, deep in their hearts. That, presumably, is why Dick Cheney wants to turn them into glowing green vapor stew, even if they are innocent of any crime against us.

The US would suddenly find its influence throughout the world plummeting, its economy badly hurt by boycotts. It would become a pariah nation. And, if it thinks it faces a terrorist threat now, you can only imagine what kind of retribution would be exacted.

Rabid dreams are dreamt along the Potomac by persons who routinely foam at the mouth. Some, like gadfly warmonger Michael Ledeen, or wild-eyed Ghorbanifar dupes like  Congressman Curt Weldon, are dying to get other Americans' boys killed in the sands of Iran. For the rest of us, these reveries are nightmares. This nuclear scenario is a fleeting and insubstantial such bad dream, which can no more be implemented as policy than a Hollywood horror film could be.

categories: Outrages
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9:00:51 PM    

Some Marines to Lose Hundreds in Pay Starting Today

BASE CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. -- Untold numbers of servicemembers residing off base will see their next paycheck shrink by as much as $250 -- and many of them may not even know the blow is coming.

Disbursing shops at several 1st Marine Division and 1st Force Service Support Group battalions surveyed over the past week said they learned only recently about the elimination of "geographic rate protection" under the Basic Allowance for Housing.

The change, outlined in Marine Administrative Message 315/01 and slated to take effect Monday, shelves a DoD policy enacted nearly five years ago. The old policy allowed servicemembers to retain higher housing allowances even when they moved to cheaper neighborhoods, said Master Sgt. Ervin Ramos, staff noncommissioned officer-in-charge for the Consolidated Personnel Administration Center, Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Base.

"It’s money that you don't rate," Ramos said. "Some Marines will have to prepare themselves for the pay cut."

Ramos is among administrative Marines sounding the alarm. By early last week, he had already sat down with 40 Marines in his battalion affected by the change, he said.

But many others on base may not find out except via the MarAdmin, the grapevine or the sticker shock of a leaner paycheck.

One example of how drastic the slash in income will be: An E-7 with family members currently drawing San Diego BAH will now draw Camp Pendleton BAH — and stands to forfeit $422 per month.

Staff Sgt. Elliot T. Threat, a substance abuse control officer with Headquarters and Support Battalion, commutes 60 miles one way every day and stands to lose $600, he said.

He was previously stationed at Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego and received permanent-change-of station orders to Camp Pendleton — but continues to draw the MCRD rate.

Until Monday.

His current BAH rate matches his mortgage, he said.

"I'm worried because I'm just waiting on a response from headquarters. I'm not prepared," he said.

Threat, originally from San Jacinto, said he doesn't know whether he'll have to sell his home. He's still mulling his options.

Under the old system, an E-5 transferring to Camp Pendleton could retain his previous rate at Miramar based on proximity.

If Headquarters Marine Corps did not authorize a move, servicemembers were allowed to maintain a physical address anywhere within the geographic area.

Geographic rate protection is expiring because BAH rates have climbed so that servicemembers no longer have to pay out-of-pocket expenses for housing, Air Force Col. Virginia Penrod, DoD's director of military compensation, said in an American Forces Press Service article.

But Ray Solly, a retired master gunnery sergeant who's now a realtor in Escondido, said no out-of-pocket costs in San Diego for home buyers is a pipe dream.

"I think they're looking at the national picture. They're not looking at the situation in San Diego County," said Solly, adding that he helps at least a dozen servicemembers a year buy homes — though mostly not in San Diego County.

Solly said a master sergeant with a family, and a housing allowance of $1,696 a month, can't come close to the $2,302 he'll pay monthly for a three-bedroom, two-bath home larger than 1,500 square feet. And that’s a home valued at $400,000 — even though most homes with those specifications go for $450,000 or higher, he said.

Even with an interest-only loan, the monthly payment — $1,875 — requires money out of pocket.

To avoid pocket dipping, servicemembers are moving to southwest Riverside County, and commuting an hour or more each way, for a chance — no guarantees — to make it on BAH alone.

"They're willing to commute to realize the American dream," he said.

Individual Rate Protection — which insulates servicemembers against rising housing costs — will remain in effect despite the changes, as long as servicemembers stay within the same geographic area, according to the AFIS article.

If average housing costs go down, people already living in the area will continue to receive the higher amount.

However, servicemembers moving into the area will receive the lower amount, according to the article.

Under new BAH guidelines, a servicemember moving to a new area will receive the appropriate BAH rate for that area, regardless of whether troops already living there are receiving a higher rate, Penrod said.

categories: Outrages
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7:35:27 PM    

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