March 7, 2008 archive
Mar 07 2008
I’ll be brief.
You know what I would like to see from the Presidential candidates who just so happen to be Senators in a time where the current political climate is crying for real leadership from prominent members of the Senate? I’d like to see them take a step back – even if for a day or two – even in a major speech, hell, even in a campaign advertisement – and really step up on one of the many issues that is facing this country right now.
They have run two very different and two very successful campaigns. I approve of one a lot less than the other, but even with all that “the other” campaign has said, done or focused on, if that Senator actually spoke out strongly and forcefully about telecom immunity, or the ongoing funding of total destruction, loss of life and waste in Iraq, or some of the other laws being ignored or broken by this administration, then I wouldn’t care about the rest of the campaign.
That Senator would really impress me.
Mar 07 2008
Now this is interesting. Viktor Bout, the arms dealer that was arrested in Thailand yesterday, had ties to the United States’ occupation of Iraq. The Los Angeles Times reports Long-sought arms dealer caught. “The long hunt for a man regarded as one of the world’s most notorious arms dealers climaxed Thursday in Bangkok, Thailand, where an eight-month sting operation by a team of U.S. agents.”
U.S. authorities said they would move quickly to secure Bout’s extradition. But his controversial role in supplying the American military effort in Iraq and possible Russian interest in returning him to Moscow could complicate efforts to put him on trial in New York…
But Bout’s role in aiding the Bush administration’s reconstruction effort in Iraq poses thorny hurdles to any effort to construct a legal case against him. A public trial, which would most likely be held in the federal courthouse in Manhattan, could lead to uncomfortable revelations for the administration about Bout’s business relationships with U.S. military agencies and private contractors.
“An American trial would be interesting because a lot of the Bush engagement with Bout will come out,” said Witney Schneidman, a former assistant secretary of State who pressed for foreign support in pursuing Bout at the end of the Clinton administration…
Lee S. Wolosky, a former National Security Council deputy who led the effort against Bout for the Clinton and Bush administrations, warned that Bout “really needs to come into U.S. custody quickly. Otherwise, there’s ample opportunity for others to mess around.”
Continuing on with my fascination this week with the Grand Canyon. The Washington Post reports the Grand Canyon nearly three times older than previously thought. The Grand Canyon “is more like 17 million years old, according to a study published today in the journal Science. And the Colorado River may not be the only river involved in its formation. The study contends that a smaller river cut the older, western part of the canyon. Gradually the canyon formed from west to east on westward-flowing river. Then something happened about 5 or 6 million years ago — what, exactly, is unclear — to accelerate dramatically the rate of the canyon-carving.” And while this is cutting edge science, there is still plenty of evidence to point to the 5-6 million year age of the canyon. It will be interesting to see if more scientific evidence will be discovered to support this new hypothesis.
According to NASA, the Cassini-Huygens mission to Saturn and Titan suggests that Saturn’s moon Rhea also may have rings. “NASA’s Cassini spacecraft has found evidence of material orbiting Rhea, Saturn’s second largest moon. This is the first time rings may have been found around a moon. A broad debris disk and at least one ring appear to have been detected by a suite of six instruments on Cassini specifically designed to study the atmospheres and particles around Saturn and its moons. ‘Until now, only planets were known to have rings, but now Rhea seems to have some family ties to its ringed parent Saturn,’ said Geraint Jones, a Cassini scientist”.
“This is an artist concept of the ring of debris that may orbit Saturn’s second-largest moon, Rhea. The suggested disk of solid material is exaggerated in density here for clarity.” Source: NASA
Four at Four continues below the fold…
Mar 07 2008
There was a knock on the door, I jumped and realized that I had been completely spacing out waiting for time to pass. I looked through the peephole and saw Mairyn. This should be entertaining. Mairyn works with me at the accounting firm, I had gotten her the job; Mairyn is a changeling, part human and part fairy.
“Caitlin, are you ok?” She called through the door.
” Yeah, hold on a minute. ” I unlocked the door and let her in. She had brought me dinner from Perfect Pasty, it’s my favorite place to eat. They fill a very crunchy roll type pastry with all kinds of things like gyro meat, eggplant and all other kinds of crazy concoctions. Sounds weird but it is an orgasm on a plate as far as I was concerned.
“Brought you Greek. I knew you weren’t sick you know.” She handed me my pasty and grabbed some plates as I sat back down on the couch. My brain still wasn’t functioning.
“Wow, you look like you’re recovering from an all night bender.”
I stared at her and waited for some form of thought to register. She handed me a fork. Her small fingers barely managed to wrap around her pasty to unwrap it. She is about 4’6 but is perfectly proportioned not dwarfed at all. She has short spiky brown hair, slightly pointed ears and her eyes are the brightest green I have ever seen. If you have ever heard the stories of human children who were stolen and replaced by elven children that is where the term changeling originates. Personally I have never understood why elves would want their children raised by humans. Mairyn however is as elvish as any human could get, her house is teeming with greenery that she seems never to actively care for. It’s as if her energy alone feeds them and makes them grow. When she speaks her voice seems normal but as soon as she starts to sing her true nature shows. Her voice seems to be a cross between wind chimes and celestial choirs; everybody within earshot stops and listens when she sings. She had tried to make a career out of singing but somehow the electronic mikes and mixers destroy the harmonics of her voice and the sound is all flat and devoid of magic. She chose to learn Irish Gaelic and put together a traditional Irish group who sings only in Gaelic. Whichever pub or club they play is always standing room only. There is usually a line out the door to hear her as well. She can’t use mikes but the attentive silence of the crowd allows everyone to hear her. When she stops, you could hear a leaf drop. My two nefarious felines were already trying to swipe a bit of pasty off her plate. I never let them do it but Mairyn is a pushover for any species other than human.
“Bender, yeah. I got all the pain and agony and none of the enjoyment.” I told her. She raised an eyebrow at me. She is also a tad telepathic but she is too polite to go digging unless invited. I heard her gasp. I knew she had caught something of my thoughts, although she doesn’t dig, there was no way my thoughts of last night would be sufficiently controlled to where she could not hear them.
Mar 07 2008
Societies undoubtedly need stability to function. It is essential for a healthy society or system to be able to plan and prepare for the future on many different essential levels. But there comes a time when stability becomes stagnation. And even worse, when the stagnation is preserved and used solely to further the interest of those who have learned to become successful parasites on society.
Preserved at any cost. By any method. Even to the point of killing its host.
Which is precisely what is happening now. The forces of todays Status Quo gained power during one existential threat, the arms race of the Cold War. In attempting to preserve their power at any cost, they have perpetuated a culture of war. Their de facto partners, the oil companies, have lent their weight to the effort. Not only are their goals of creating a status quo that benefits each of them the same, they are also in a partnership to use the weapons and influence of the Military Industrial Complex to invade a sovereign but relatively weak country to steal its oil. Again the cost just do not matter to them, nor do the consequences.
Not the cost in human life and suffering.
Not the cost to the economy and well being of their puppet government.
And not the costs to the planet and all of her peoples.
Mar 07 2008
The February jobs report released this morning shows a decrease of 63,000 jobs for the month. This is the largest single-month decline in about 5 years. To make matters worse, the 82,000 gain reported for December was revised down to 41,000; and the loss of 17,000 jobs in January was revised to a worse loss of 22,000.
How effective was the Bush administration in dealing with the worsening job problem? Well, they tried:
One bright spot was that the government added 38,000 jobs in February on top of 4,000 new-hires in January.
The right-wing “less government” screamers will be thrilled with that, won’t they?
The mortgage crisis is affecting more aspects of the economy than just housing. The resulting credit crunch will hinder businesses of all sizes from expanding, which means less new jobs being added. And if the uncertainty starts prompting job layoffs, which the February report shows is happening, the layoffs can snowball very quickly as businesses react to each other’s downturns. By contrast, job increases tend to ramp up slowly when a recovery begins. If a business laid off 100 workers in an economic slowdown, they generally don’t hire all 100 back immediately when they start to recover.
The economy is becoming a bigger campaign issue every day. States like Ohio, where the economy was already a big issue, is expected to be a harbinger of the crucial Pennsylvania campaign. Voters faced with job uncertainty, ballooning mortgage payments, and $4.00/gallon gas are going to be in a foul mood. Obama and Clinton will both face constant questions about NAFTA, gas prices, unemployment, and the mortgage crisis. Their answers on these questions will be just as important as questions about the Iraq war and health care.
It should be no surprise that the economy could be the biggest issue in the general election. John McCain’s argument that security is the main reason for choosing a president will ring quite hollow to an electorate that risks losing their houses and jobs. The economic pain felt by voters is real and is growing. Undecided voters for the general election have had plenty of time to form opinions about the candidate’s views on the Iraq war, security, health care, taxes, and global warming. The determining factor to sway undecided voters could be how the candidates respond to the growing economic crisis.
Mar 07 2008
My “adopted” son, one of ‘thing 1’s high school friends who needed more mothering than he was getting at home, is directing a production of “Bare” (also known as “Bare, a Pop Opera”) for the University of Delaware’s Community Theater Group. The wiki page synopsizes better than I, but it’s basically a musical/opera set in a catholic boarding school, where our cast of characters deals with the usual gamut of teenaged social angst. The primary plot line introduces us to Jason and Peter who are very much in love and very much in the closet…
…in the spirit of “phone it in friday”…
This is “See Me”, a phone call between Peter and his mother. He’s trying to come out, she’s in denial…
Mar 07 2008
MILLIONS OF people have voted for Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton out of a sense that they will bring needed change, such as a solution to the disaster of the health care system. But will they? ELIZABETH SCHULTE explains why the proposals of the Democrats on health care fall short.
Mar 07 2008
Sprawling on the fringes of the city
In geometric order
An insulated border
In between the bright lights
And the far unlit unknown
8 killed in Jerusalem school attack
JERUSALEM: A gunman entered a prominent Jewish seminary in the heart of Jerusalem on Thursday night, killing at least eight students and wounding at least nine others, three of them seriously, the Israeli police said.
In a scene of havoc and confusion while the students prayed, the gunman killed two people at the entrance to the Mercaz Harav yeshiva and then entered the first-floor library, spraying the religious students with gunfire from a Kalashnikov rifle, according to the Israeli police.
The gunman, who was killed at the scene, was thought to be either a Palestinian or an Israeli Arab living inside Jerusalem. He has not been identified. The dead were thought to be mostly between 20 and 30 years of age.
Mar 07 2008
Has the Army not only lowered it’s enlistment qualifications but also ignored the Health and Welfare, because of Physical and Mental health problems of already, once twice three time…., deployed Army Personal?
“Army policies and practices which permit the deployment of medically unfit soldiers.”
A day after this: Screening for redeployment passes
A month-long investigation by Fort Carson’s inspector general has found that screening processes for soldiers returning to war are sound, according to Maj. Gen. Mark Graham, commanding general at Fort Carson.
The investigation found that a lag in paperwork prompted Fort Carson in January to report that 79 soldiers who were deemed medical “no-gos” at a screening site were deployed, though the actual number was much lower.
Lets just say there should be None, Zero, redeployed into any Theater of Conflict!