Sunday, August 31, 2008

One from the vaults....

via Reuters:

Gustav disrupts McCain's Republican convention

(Poor Baby. Of course a couple of million 'evacuees'/refugees might argue about who is having what disrupted)

* Bush, Cheney to miss Republican convention

(Much to McSame's relief we might add)

* Most convention work suspended for Monday

(Well the country is better off for that at least)

* McCain may address Republicans from Gulf area

(But only Republicans. The rest of us can go fish (probably along the new Gulf shore just south of Memphis))

By Steve Holland

ST. PAUL, Aug 31 (Reuters) - Republican John McCain on Sunday ordered political speeches canceled for his Republican nominating convention on Monday to avoid a festive atmosphere while Americans cope with Hurricane Gustav.(more)


My little meditation on another September day a few years back....

Somewhere over Louisiana, a brain is abuzz

"... Boy there's some champion brush cuttin' to be done down there ... hard bike ridin, tho with all that stuff on the roads ... have ta use the truck ... wonder if Lance would wanna come? he's got such a cute little bald spot ... wonder if Bandur would like to join us ... probably not, he'll just say he's too busy being king like he always does when I want to do something special... damn Secret Service probably wouldn't effin' let me go anyway ... 9/11 ...

... What's for lunch? ... hope they don't forget the pretzels this time ... why did Cheney make me call Da and that nice smiling Clinton boy from next store to come bail me out ... it's like he thinks I'm dumb or sumthin' ... they never let me do what I want ... always making me go to damn meetings ... telling me I can't bomb Terrorhan ... making me wear that dumb thing in my ear so I always have to be listening to Rove blathering on about something when I'm trying to talk ... 9/11 ... won't even let me finish a good book when I find one ...

... And I mean who gives a frog exploding fuck about this New Orleans place ... not our kind of people ... libruls ... poor ... gays ... effin' preverts .... always yelling about the oil bizness ... always complaining about the damn river overflowin, as if spending money I needed elsewhere for the war and bribes was gonna help ... damn levees anyhow ... hey, is that a Jewish name? ... sounds Jewish to me ...gotta have Rove check it out ...

... don't see why we don't just bulldoze the damn place anyhow ... send all those smelly old poor people back to where they came from ... tho it's gonna be easier to do stuff now that the place is a chemical sty ... betcha those smartass environmentalists won't be going on about wetlands now ... just created a whole lot more for 'em, heh heh ... 9/11 ...

... and sure we're showing them Al Kayda creeps how real 'Murikans handle a disaster ... this'll make them think twice before hitting us again. ... hey, maybe this whole thing was an Al Kayda plot all along. ... did those levees really 'break' or were they 'helped' ... maybe it was a moozlum weather machine or super prayers to Devil Al Law or somethin' that steered the storm ... better ask Pat about steerin' hurricanes with prayer ... 9/11 ...

Gotta talk to Karl 'bout all that right away. 
Right after I rub my hands all over his shiny, shiny bald head and calm down a bit."

...9/11 ...


Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

 -- The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America

The whole country is a "free speech zone".  Get it NeoThug assholes?

Supposedly police intimidation of legitimate protest only happens elsewhere, or so we were led to believe by all the tut-tutting during the Olympics.

And to those who say that "well, something must have been behind it" I say, the police showed no warrants,  forcibly entered homes in armed gangs,  made unreasonable seizures of personal property,  intimidated journalists, and arrested lawyers ... so how is this any different from what went down in China?

The NeoThugs are so afraid of answering for their behaviour that they ran from the very idea that a group of college kids might protest them. I guess McSame and the Rezident might have their feelings hurt or something if they realized someone disagreed with them.

What a bunch of totalitarian imbeciles.

It's started in St Paul

from Glenn Greenwald: Conclusive evidence of Federal involvment in the raids in Minneapolis.

from OpEdNews:

Protesters here in Minneapolis have been targeted by a series of highly intimidating, sweeping police raids across the city, involving teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets. Last night, members of the St. Paul police department and the Ramsey County sheriff's department handcuffed, photographed and detained dozens of people meeting at a public venue to plan a demonstration, charging them with no crime other than "fire code violations," and early this morning, the Sheriff's department sent teams of officers into at least four Minneapolis area homes where suspected protesters were staying. (more)

This kind of police intimidation has become a staple of cities hosting the Republican National Convention. It was rampant in NYC in '04 and done in plain view in Miami in '00. Apparently the mere idea of protest is now a crime as most of those being arrested are being charged with "conspiracy to riot" simply for being at meetings where protests were being discussed. This is a rather novel interpretation of the First Amendment's guarantee of the right to peaceably assemble. My guess is that the NeoThugs think that right applies to model building or something.

More from Glenn Greenwald of Salon, including video. Police have been seizing computers, personal papers, flyers, diaries....

Thursday, August 28, 2008

So Cheney chaired a slaver firm it seems...

..and he still owns a large block of stock options in the scum.

from BBC:

A Nepalese man and relatives of 12 others who were killed in Iraq four years ago are suing American firm KBR on charges of human trafficking. 

The men were recruited in Nepal to work in a hotel in Jordan, but were later told they would have to work at a US air base in Iraq, their lawyers said. 

Twelve of the men were kidnapped and killed by Islamic militants while being transported inside Iraq. 

The 13th man was made to work against his will at the air base, lawyers said. 

The execution-style killing of the hostages was recorded by the extremists and posted on a website. 

The incident sparked riots in Nepal with angry demonstrators targeting a mosque, some government buildings and offices of employment agencies. 

At least two people were killed in the protests. 

'Passports seized' 

The lawsuit filed in the US District Court in Los Angeles on Wednesday alleged "that the illicit trafficking scheme... was engineering by KBR and its subcontractor", identified as Daoud & Partners. 

The men, between the ages of 18 and 27, were recruited "to work as kitchen staff in hotels and restaurants in Amman, Jordan", said a statement from Cohen, Milstein, Hausfeld & Toll, one of the law firms handling the case. 
Some recruitment agencies are blamed for sending workers to Iraq

But once they arrived in Jordan "they were not provided the expected employment," the statement said. 

Their passports were seized, and they were told they were being sent to Iraq "to provide menial labour" at the Al-Asad air base, it added. 

"For 15 months, the 13th man Buddi Prasad Gurung, was held in Iraq against his will, before KBR and Daoud allowed him to return home to Nepal," the statement said. 

"It doesn't appear that any of them knew they were going to Iraq," news agency Reuters quoted attorney Matthew Handley as saying. 

KBR would not comment on the lawsuit, but in a statement, the company said it "in no way condones or tolerates unethical or illegal behaviour". 

Nepal banned its citizens from going to Iraq to work there in 2003 because of safety concerns. 

But a lack of employment opportunities back home meant that private recruitment agencies continued to send Nepalese workers to Iraq through countries like Jordan and Kuwait.

But remember, it was never about the oil.....

from BBC:

China's state-owned oil firm CNPC has agreed a $3bn (£1.63bn) oil services contract with the government of Iraq. 

The two parties renegotiated a 1997 deal to pump oil from the Ahdab oilfield, the Iraqi oil minister said. 

Under the new deal, output from the oilfield will be 110,000 barrels per day, up from the 90,000 barrels forecast in the original deal. 

The deal is the first major oil contract with a foreign firm since the US-led war in Iraq, reports say. 

As security improves, Iraq - which has some of the biggest oil reserves in the Middle East - is trying to bring in foreign oil companies to boost crude output. 

It needs billions of dollars of investment after years of war and sanctions. 

Other foreign oil companies, such as Royal Dutch Shell and Exxon Mobil, are also negotiating deals with the Iraqi government. 

The Iraq government says its aim is to increase crude oil production from the current 2.5m barrels per day to 4.5m by 2013. 

Final agreement 

Production is set to begin at the Ahdab oilfield three years from now and the contract will run for 20 years. 

"Finally we have reached an agreement," Hussain al-Shahristani, the Iraqi oil minister told Reuters. 

"The total investment of the project is expected to be about $3bn." 

CNPC would own 75% of a joint venture to be set up for the contract, with the remainder held by Iraq's Northern Oil Company. 

The field is located in Wasit province, 160 kilometres (100 miles) south of Baghdad, in a Shiite-dominated area that has seen sporadic violence.

Arctic Climate Tipping Point Happening Now! Sea Ice in Its “Death Spiral” Scientist Claims

from Treehugger and BBC:

After yesterday’s ominous news that North American permafrost (and presumably European and Asian, as well) stores 60% more greenhouse gases than we thought, here’s another siren announcing that we are rushing full speed ahead towards a climatic tipping point: 

Scientists are reporting that the extent of sea ice in the Arctic is at the second lowest point on record. Currently ice covers 2.03 million square miles; last year's sea ice coverage, 1.59 million square miles, set the record. In the past ten years Arctic sea ice has declined 10 percent.

Given the seriousness of the situation, I’ll let the scientists speak for themselves:

We Are Watching the Tipping Point Happen

Mark Serreze, a scientist from the National Snow and Ice Data Center in Boulder, Colorado was quoted by Reuters:

No matter where we stand at the end of the melt season it’s just reinforcing this notion that Arctic Ice is in its death spiral.

Serreze also told the AP that:

We could very well be in that quick slide downward in terms of passing a tipping point. It’s tipping now. We’re seeing it happen now.

Climate Change Happening More Quickly Than Models Have Predicted

The same article quoted NASA ice scientist Jaw Zwally as saying that within 5-10 years the Arctic could be ice-free in the summer. He added that this also means that:

Climate warming is also coming larger and faster than the models are predicting and nobody’s really taken into account that change yet.

As a commenter pointed out in my post on permafrost from yesterday, this is really the sort of news that should be on the front page of every newspaper, at the top of the broadcast of every nightly news service. I wholeheartedly agree with that sentiment. 

It's hard to not sound shrill with this: Climate change is happening more quickly than we thought in the Arctic and the frozen soils in the region contain a lot more stored carbon than the models used so far. Unless we get a handle on this now (yesterday would've been even better) global warming could very well overtake our efforts to slow it. That's not to say that we should throw in the towel (as no doubt some people will think) but rather is another sign that we have to redouble our efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions on a global level.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Government Statistics: Perfecting the Art of Mass Deception

“The truth that survives is simply the lie that is pleasantest to believe.” 

H. L. Mencken

We have often questioned why our most reliable market (and economic) indicators have been pointing toward a recession for more than a year (and in one case, three years) even as government statistics have shown the economy to be growing and inflation relatively benign. This week we examine why.

But first, here is a noteworthy quote that appeared in the opening screen of Chris Martenson’s excellent 16 minute video entitled Fuzzy Numbers that provides a hint.

“Ever since the 1960s, Washington has gulled its citizens and creditors by debasing official statistics, the vital instruments with which the muscle and vitality of the American economy are measured.” – Kevin Philips, April 27, 2008 Harper’s magazine entitled Hard Numbers: The economy is worse than you know. 

It is no secret how fast overall debt has grown and how government agencies fudge the numbers to make the economic picture appear far more pleasing than it really is. This week we take a closer look at how they do it. (more)

McCain on women's reproductive rights

McCain said in 2006 that he would repeal Roe v. Wade.

His campaign website calls for overturning Roe, returning the issue of abortion to the states, and then building "the necessary consensus to end abortion at the state level."

"I will be a pro-life president and this presidency will have pro-life policies," he told Pastor Rick Warren this month.

Planned Parenthood and NARAL have both given him a zero rating on abortion issues. According to NARAL, of 130 congressional votes by McCain related to reproductive freedom, 125 have been against abortion. "I've got a consistent zero from NARAL throughout all those years," he trumpets.

On other reproductive health issues, McCain toes the right-wing line, having voted against requiring health care plans to cover birth control, comprehensive sex education, public education for emergency contraception, and restoring Medicaid funding for family planning for low-income women.

"The guy I really respect on this is Dr. Coburn," McCain told the New York Times in March 2007, referring to the vociferously anti-abortion Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK).

McCain has also supported anti-women's rights judges such as Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.

Watch this....

One of the reasons I like Biden as a VP

from Grist:
Joe Biden, Barack Obama's running mate, has earned an 83 percent lifetime score from the League of Conservation Voters during his 35 years representing Delaware in the U.S. Senate, voting fairly consistently with environmentalists and the mainstream of his party. In 2007, while running for president, he said "energy security" was his top priority, and argued that he was well-suited to deal with the challenge thanks to years of experience on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which he now chairs. Biden is also a big booster of biofuels. 

Key Points

Primary cosponsor of a "Sense of the Senate" resolution calling on the U.S. to participate in U.N. climate negotiations. He introduced it with Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) in the current Congress and the previous one.

Cosponsor of the Boxer-Sanders Global Warming Pollution Reduction Act, the most stringent climate bill in the Senate. It would establish a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse-gas emissions and require the U.S. to reduce its emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. (Biden became a cosponsor of it more than three months after it was introduced and just days after both Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama signed on.)

In 2007, during his most recent run for president, called for raising fuel-economy standards for automobiles to an average of 40 miles per gallon by 2017 by increasing fuel-economy targets within vehicle classes by about one mile per gallon per year.

Called for increasing ethanol and biodiesel production by upping the national renewable-fuel standard to require that the fuel supply include 10 billion gallons of renewable fuel a year by 2010 and 60 billion gallons a year by 2030.

Called for 20 percent of the U.S. electricity supply to come from renewable sources.

Global warming time bomb trapped in Arctic soil: study

from TerraDaily:
Climate change could release unexpectedly huge stores of carbon dioxide from Arctic soils, which would in turn fuel a vicious circle of global warming, a new study warned Sunday.

And according to one commentary on the research, current models of climate change have not taken this extra source of greenhouse gas into account.

Scientists have long known that organic carbon trapped inside a blanket of frozen permafrost covering one fifth of the world's land mass would, if thawed, release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

But until now they simply did not have a good idea of how much carbon is actually locked inside this Arctic freezer.

To find out, a team of American researchers led by Chien-Lu Ping of the University of Alaska Fairbanks examined a wide range of landscapes across North America.

They took soil samples from 117 sites, each to a depth of at least one metre, in order to provide a full assessment of the region's so-called "carbon pool."

Previous estimates of the Arctic carbon pool relied heavily on a relative handful of measurements conducted outside of the Arctic, and only to a depth of 40 centimetres (15.5 inches).

The study, published in the British journal Nature Geoscience, found that the stock of organic carbon "is considerably higher than previously thought" -- 60 percent more than the previously estimated.

This is roughly equivalent of one sixth of the entire carbon content in the atmosphere.

And that is just for North America. The size and mix of landscapes in the northern reaches of Europe and Russia are about the same, and probably contain a comparable amount of carbon-dioxide producing matter currently held in check only by the cold, the study said.

And the danger of a thaw is real, note climate scientists.

The Nobel Prize-winning UN panel of climate change scientists project temperature increases by century's end of up to six degrees Celsius (10.8 degrees Fahrenheit) in the Arctic region, which is more sensitive to global warming than any other part of the planet.

Commenting on the research, Christian Beer of the Max Planck Institute in Jena, Germany, pointed out that the climate change models upon which future projections are based, do not include the potential impact of the gases trapped frozen Arctic soils.

"Releasing even a portion of this carbon into the atmosphere, in the form of methane or carbon dioxide, would have an significant impact on Earth's climate," he noted in his commentary, also published in Nature Geoscience.

Methane, another greenhouse gas, is less abundant than carbon dioxide but several times more potent as a driver of global warming.

Monday, August 25, 2008


from the platform of the Democratic Party:

We believe that each American, whatever their background or station in life, should have the chance to get a good education, to work at a good job with good wages, to raise and provide for a family, to live in safe surrounding, and to retire with dignity and security. We believe that quality and affordable health care is a basic right. We believe that each succeeding generation should have the opportunity, though hard work, service and sacrifice, to enjoy a brighter future than the last.

Monday, August 18, 2008

It's the economy, stupid!

Inflation is Back

With the economy front and center, people are starting to worry about inflation. Even dirt is not dirt cheap any more. A bag of dirt (marketed as "premium topsoil") is about $4.99 now, up a dollar from last year, a 25% increase. Items like 40-pound bags of dirt, which are very heavy and don't generate much revenue per pound, tend to get hit hard by higher transportation costs due to costly oil. 

Friday, August 15, 2008

Troops Deployed Abroad Give 6:1 to Obama

from CRP:

During World War II, soldiers crouching in foxholes penned letters assuring their sweethearts that they'd be home soon. Now, between firefights in the Iraqi desert, some infantrymen have been sending a different kind of mail stateside: two or three hundred dollars -- or whatever they can spare -- towards a presidential election that could very well determine just how soon they come home.
According to CRP's latest analysis of campaign contributions, Barack Obama has received nearly six times as much money from troops deployed overseas at the time of their contributions than has Republican John McCain, and the fiercely anti-war Ron Paul, though he suspended his campaign for the Republican nomination months ago, has received more than four times McCain's haul
Despite McCain's status as a decorated veteran and a historically Republican bent among the military, members of the armed services overall -- whether stationed overseas or at home -- are also favoring Obama with their campaign contributions in 2008, by a $55,000 margin. Although 59 percent of federal contributions by military personnel has gone to Republicans this cycle, of money from the military to the presumed presidential nominees, 57 percent has gone to Obama. 
With the latest campaign finance filings, detailing June fundraising, McCain has overtaken Paul among all military donors, though Paul still leads with contributors listing an overseas address. Financial support from military personnel for anti-war candidates Obama and Paul is a trend that the Center for Responsive Politics first observed last September.

Individuals in the Air Force, Army, Navy and Marine Corps have all leaned Republican this cycle, but the only branch in which that ideology has carried over to the presidential race is the Marine Corps, where McCain leads Obama by about $4,000. In each of the other branches -- including the Navy, in which McCain served when he was taken prisoner during the Vietnam War -- Obama leads by significant margins.

 "That's shocking. The academic debate is between some who say that junior enlisted ranks lean slightly Republican and some who say it's about equal, but no one would point to six-to-one" in Democrats' favor, said Aaron Belkin, a professor of political science at the University of California who studies the military. "That represents a tremendous shift from 2000, when the military vote almost certainly was decisive in Florida and elsewhere, and leaned heavily towards the Republicans."

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Here it comes....

from the dreaded (and dreadful) NewsMax:

This new book -- "The Case Against Barack Obama" -- will be released next week. It is published by the same group that brought you "Unfit for Command: Swift Boat Veterans Speak Out Against John Kerry." This new book about Barack Obama could change the outcome of the election. 

Oh OH!  These slimy  sleezemongers are at it again. What do you want to bet Mr. Maverick Republican won't have the balls to denounce it?