September 8, 2009 archive

SF-Oakland Bay Bridge: Unprecedented Construction Feat

Over Labor Day weekend the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge (Bay Bridge, for short) was closed for a seismic retrofit project featuring an unprecedented construction feat. A football field length, double-deck section,  weighing 3,200 tons was excised and a new section slid into place to form an S-shaped detour.  The huge pieces moved verrrrry slowly on specially built rails. A distance of 100 feet took several hours not including delays when the rails needed to be adjusted.  All of this took place 150 feet above ground.  

Here is a picture from a few weeks ago in preparation for the detour.  The scene is looking west where the East Span of the bridge meets Yerba Buena Island.  The detour is on the left and the old bridge on the right. The connecting piece that was installed this weekend is shown below.


Spain to prosecute Gonzales and 5 other Bush lawyers over torture

According to RawStory this morning:

A Spanish judge has decided to go ahead with the prosecution of six Bush administration lawyers – including former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales – who were the architects of the legal framework for President George W. Bush “enhanced interrogation” program, according to a report in the Spanish newspaper Publico. (Original article here; Google translation here.)

The six Bush administration alumni targeted in the prosecution are former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; John Yoo, author of the “torture memos”; Douglas Feith, then a deputy defense secretary; Pentagon lawyer William Haynes II; former assistant attorney general Jay Bybee; and David Addington, a former chief of staff to then-Vice President Dick Cheney.

According to Andy Worthington at, Judge Baltasar Garzon has rejected prosecutors’ request, made last April, to throw the case out. Prosecutors had argued the case was politically motivated.

Four at Four

  1. A look at some of today’s news coming out of Afghanistan:

    • McClatchy reports the U.S. Military is leery of Afghanistan escalation with no clear goals. Soldiers and military observers in Afghanistan, along with “some top Pentagon officials are warning that dispatching even tens of thousands more soldiers and Marines might not ensure success.”

      Neither President Obama nor the Pentagon “has clearly defined America’s mission in Afghanistan… The administration’s stated goals in Afghanistan have ranged from eliminating the threat posed by al Qaida – which is based in neighboring Pakistan, not in Afghanistan – and building a stable democratic state, depending on what administration official is speaking and when.”

      Making the situation worse, corruption is rampant in Afghanistan.

      The corruption extends from police who resell U.S.-supplied gasoline and water, to mid-level Afghan military commanders who siphon off money that’s intended to purchase food for their troops, to the top of the Karzai government… Many Afghans have all but given up on corrupt government security officials, instead turning to local warlords and Taliban leaders to help them survive.

      U.S. officers in Afghanistan said Afghan security forces also are helping smuggle weapons the Taliban use to attack U.S.-led troops from Pakistan into Afghanistan. In addition, said a senior Afghan officer, weapons and ammunition supplied to the Afghan army and police are also being stolen and sold to the Taliban.

    • A news analysis from the New York Times asks Will more troops curb terror? After nearly eight years, “a war that started as a swift counterattack against those responsible for the murder of 3,000 Americans, a growing number of critics say, is in danger of becoming a quagmire with a muddled mission.” It has always been a muddled mission.

      According to Andrew J. Bacevich, professor of international relations at Boston University, despite the administration’s claims to a new approach in Afghanistan, “the truth is they want to try harder to do what we’ve been doing for the last eight years”.

    • The Guardian reports a Rift widens between US and Germany over botched Afghanistan air strike. “Berlin defended the raid as ‘militarily necessary’ to protect German troops, even though it went against the express orders of the new US commander in Afghanistan, General Stanley McChrystal, to safeguard civilians.”

      McChrystal has apologized for the U.S. airstrike and is distancing himself from it being ordered. “The US has expressed private criticism of the German commander in Kunduz for calling in an air strike based on the assessment of one Afghan informant on the ground that all those people around the tankers were Taliban and on grainy aerial photographs.”

    • While Germany offers a defense of the fuel trucks airstrike, reports the NY Times. “The German chancellor, Angela Merkel, pushed back Tuesday against international criticism over an airstrike ordered by the German military”. In an address before Parliament, Merkel said while she “deeply regrets” the casualties of “innocent” persons, she said there is a rush to “premature judgments”. Parliamentary elections in Germany are on September 27.

    • Meanwhile, the LA Times reports Afghanistan’s Karzai passes 50% of vote, but partial recount is ordered. “The U.N.-backed commission that must certify the vote ordered a partial recount due to fraud allegations, only hours before a tally indicated for the first time that President Hamid Karzai had garnered enough votes for a first-round victory.”

      Karzai has 54.1 percent with 92 percent of the ballots counted. Abdullah Abdullah, his main rival, trailed with 28.3 percent.

      The recount could take up to three months, commission officials said, which could set the stage for a lengthy bout of political paralysis amid fears of ethnically motivated violence by supporters of the two main contenders. Karzai is a Pashtun, the country’s largest ethnic group; Abdullah is identified with the Tajik minority of northern Afghanistan…

      Securing some kind of credible outcome will now be an extremely difficult task, dashing the hopes of many in the international community who saw the election as a key benchmark toward creating a stable democracy in Afghanistan.

    • BBC News adds Recounts ordered in Afghan vote. The Election Complaints Commission said “there should be a recount where any single candidate received more than 95% of valid votes, in any polling station where more than 100 votes were cast.”

    • The NY Times adds Fraud confirmed in Afghan election. “The United Nations-backed commission serving as the ultimate arbiter of the Afghan elections announced Tuesday that it had found ‘clear and convincing evidence of fraud‘”. “The confirmation of significant fraud places the Obama administration in a difficult position as it seeks to shore up domestic and international support for the expanding Afghan war.”

    • The CS Monitor reports the Taliban strikes more high-value targets with bomb attack at Kabul’s airport. “A suicide bomber in Afghanistan struck the heavily fortified airport in the nation’s capital today, killing at least two people and wounding six”. A NATO base inside the airport appeared to be the target of the attack.

    • McClatchy reports Four Marines walk into insurgent ‘trap’ in Afghanistan. “Four U.S. Marines died Tuesday when they walked into a well-laid ambush by insurgents in Afghanistan’s eastern Kunar province. Seven Afghan troops and an interpreter for the Marine commander also died in the ambush and the subsequent battle, which lasted some seven hours… It was the largest number of American military trainers to die in a single incident since the 2001 U.S.-led invasion.”

Four at Four continues with Iraq violence and U.S. aspirations, Pakistanis suspicions of American imperialism, and Mexico’s worsening drought.

Pretty funny…

The (Josh) Marshall Plan; today is D-Day

Bill Moyers ended last Friday’s hour with an impassioned plea to Barry Obama. Health care is not an option. It is a requirement. Bill suggested going witha an idea that Josh over at TPM put forward: Offer Medicare to evryone under 65. You’d have to pay for it. It wouldn’t be impossible to figure out a subsidy schedule for those who couldn’t afford to pay. Every American understands Medicare. The problem is most Americans are too dumb to understand that Medicare is government health care. And it works.

It’s almost too simple, too obvious and too effective to implement.

1-202-456-1111. That’d be the WH switchboard. Call it.

Call your rep at their district offices and their DC offices. You can google them. Same goes for your senators – or senator in my case; Teddy’s passed through the veil.

Fax them. The paper industry will love you for that one.

E-mail them and be sure to ask for a response.

If you have extra time then bombard the hold-outs not in your state or district. Google a business in their district and use that address and “Ima Madzhell”. We need a firestorm to cdounteract the August mind share the wingnuts got with their town halls and death panels.

Today is the first work day after the last big summer weekend. The elected people and the K St things will all be back in DC.

The real battle begins today. This is the only chance you will ever get in your lifetime for universal health care. It’s now or never and it begins today.

Health Care or Insurance Care? A Call to Action from Dennis Kucinich

Dennis Kucinich is still in there trying, yelling, pushing, calling all of us to action.  Let’s make sure to answer his call.  Please take the actions he recommends:

Health Care or Insurance Care? It’s Time to Respond!

…below the fold…

Today Is The Day To Know You Acted For Equality!

All of us have had this experience, we give to a candidate or political campaign, and then we wonder what exactly our money was spent on? It is hard to know, especially when you give to a Senatorial or Presidential campaign, was my $250 dollars spent on talking to voters or was it spent on a Starbucks run for some mid-level staffers? Today you have a chance to not only know what you would get for your money in the general but in the very specific.  

Progressives Are The President’s Only Hope!

Simulposted at Daily Kos

Now that it has been positively proven that half of the Senate and a goodly portion of the House are pretty much under corporate control (as Durbin said, The banks “frankly, own this place” and the ownership of the Insurance Companies is blatantly obvious …now) who can The President rely on to back his agenda?

Health Care, Climate Crisis, Energy, Education…on everything but the Wars, Progressives are right there with The Presidents Agenda, while the rest of Congress looks to their Corporate masters for instructions on how to vote.

And we KNOW ….now…. that the Corporate Agenda is almost the exact opposite of the Presidents.

Which is, of course, why he got elected.

9/11 Truth: you can’t put out THIS fire that quickly, either…

Charlie Sheen Requests Meeting With Obama Over 9/11 Cover-Up.

Regardless of whether or not President Obama agrees to meet with him, Sheen is confident that his letter will serve as a catalyst from which questions surrounding 9/11 and other false flag events will be brought to national attention.

This is a call to action and a declaration of war on the lies of 9/11 that have formed the foundation of the endless wars abroad and the police state at home as the Republic falls. Sheen is demanding that truth activists and those who simply care about the future of the country stand up beside him and speak truth to power.

Sheen is now urging grass roots political organizations and individuals across the country, such as the town hall protesters and We Are Change groups, to go to press conferences and other public events and demand answers about the truth behind 9/11. As much awareness as possible around the issue of false flag terrorism needs to be generated in order to prevent tragedies like 9/11 from happening again. Sheen emphasizes in his letter that we cannot let 9/11 become ancient history, try and forget about it or just move on, because if a nation forgets its history then it is doomed to repeat it.

We cannot allow governments to continue to advance their political agendas by exploiting forged pretexts, argues Sheen, and the fact that big budget hit pieces against 9/11 truth are still being rolled out proves that the establishment is upset that the population is waking up to false flag terror.

The forced resignation of Van Jones based on his (apparently retracted) signature on a 9/11 Truth petition, conveniently and suspiciously timed just prior to the eighth anniversary of the attacks, is clearly an attempt to perpetuate the Bush administration’s fairy tale. It creates the impression that the Obama administration does not buy into the LIHOP or MIHOP theories about the 9/11 attacks, but it also serves as a means to assess the public’s opinion on this matter.

Therefore, the community demanding a new investigation of the events surrounding 9/11 needs to hit back at this, and hit back hard. One way is to involve high-profile, well known celebrities such as Charlie Sheen and Jesse Ventura, but there needs to be grassroots backing as well.

Working in parallel with Sheen, who will speak via livestream on PrisonPlanet TV Wednesday and Friday; Richard Gage (head of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth) will be livestreaming his own commentary tonight at 5:45pm Pacific Time from the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. Livestreamed audio will also be broadcast here starting at 8pm Eastern Time.

In a manner of speaking, the front paging in mainstream media of the reason for Van Jones’ departure is a victory for the 9/11 Truth movement. The issues surrounding the attacks can no longer be ignored. The genie is out of the bottle about the nanothermite, and that is opening a lot of people’s eyes. Other questions which point out the logical holes in the Bush fairytale are coming fast and furious. Why did the buildings burn for months when jet fuel dissipates quickly and is designed to burn clean? Why did NIST never test for the presence of thermite? Why, when physicists, mechanical engineers and architects have simply asked questions about the official story, have they been shunned, blacklisted by their communities, and fired from their jobs as if they were witches in a world of priests?

How did a jumbo jet which has NEVER been seen on camera mysteriously evaporate into a few pieces of detritus from OTHER planes on the Pentagon’s unscorched, unscratched grass? Where is the footage of the “plane” hitting the Pentagon? Why is that classified? Why are there portions of the audiotapes and radio transcripts for first responders who were inside the WTC that are classified?

Why was there a site wide powerdown of the entire WTC complex the weekend before? Who coordinated that effort? What was the supposed purpose of that effort? How involved with that effort was Securacom, the corporation run by Bush’s youngest brother? As witnesses have stated, did they pull the bomb sniffing dogs off the site that weekend, and were they kept off the site for the duration?

What are the links between what happened on 9/11 and the controlled demolition of the gas towers in Maspeth on 7/15 of that same year? Who performed that controlled demolition, and was it deemed necessary by the site’s owners? How much explosive did they bring? How much explosive did they use? What type of explosive was it?

Why did not ONE of the supposed 19 hijacker’s names appear on the passenger manifests of the planes? How is it possible that ordinary cel phones were supposedly successfully used on an airliner in flight at an elevation of several hundred feet? Why is there no explanation of the multiple-G-force hairpin turn – a turn that experienced pilots have said would stall the airplane in midair – made by one of the flights from Boston, supposedly executed by a poorly trained and incompetent-at-best terrorist pilot as it deviated from it’s flight path to smash into the WTC?

Why, during the time immediately following the attacks, while all commercial air traffic had been completely grounded, were members of the bin Laden family allowed to fly out of the country? Why were USAF fighter jets not scrambled within 15 minutes of the first attack? The USAF Major General who supposedly gave the order to scramble those jets is just a little dead, one of the victims of a DC Metro train crash. So he’s not around to ask. How… convenient.

The questions go on and on, and they need to be asked until we have the answers. They are NOT going away, and neither are the people who are asking them. Gossip is swift, as the saying goes, but truth endures.

The Only Issue

The battle for Health Care is already over. It was over the minute the Democrats took single payer off the table. Now it’s just a tug of war between the lobbyists and the legislators to see how fake this fake reform will really be.

Did anyone really think that a political system as corrupt as ours could possibly produce anything but a corrupted product? Does anyone really believe another Obama speech is going to alter this fact?

Sometimes miracles do happen. So I’ve kept my mouth shut as this calamity has played out. But I accurately predicted all the way back in the campaign that a health care reform effort would, at best fail epically, and at worst actually make matters worse.

How did I know this? Am I an oracle from the netherworld? No. I predicted it because I am not insane. And by insane I mean doing the same thing over and over and over again while each time expecting different results. I mean WTF did people expect?

Progressives need to focus on one single issue for the rest of their lives if necessary: banning campaign contributions and other means to bribe politicians.

This is separate from campaign finance reform. There are a thousand ways we could finance elections. I’m sure we could come up with a few hundred that would be just, equitable and of benefit to the functioning of democracy.

The real issue is not how we finance elections. It is how we do not. We need a constitutional amendment to prohibit ever giving a penny to a public servant or candidate for office. It’s that simple.

This would be the second American Revolution and this country will continue to fail until it occurs. It will fail on health care reform, it will fail on climate change. It will fail on everything, just as it is failing now.

Removing the money from politics won’t solve all our problems. But it will at least eliminate the primary impediment that prevents us from solving those problems.  

Imagine politicians elected on the merit of their ideas instead of their ability to raise cash. George Bush would have never been governor, much less president.

Some day, historians will look back on this era as an absurdity – the way we look back on the days when monarchs enslaved the people or when we enslaved Africans.

Why wait?

Every other issue liberals and progressives care about, with the partial exception of civil rights, has one single source: the corruption of money. And yet we continue to attempt change without addressing this issue.

NOTHING WILL CHANGE until we get the money out of politics. There is no other issue that compares in importance. Not even close.

Weekly Torture Action Letter 22 – Thank You Sen. Feingold

Happy Monday and welcome to the Weekly Torture Action Letter series. This is a letter writing campaign for torture accountability. The basic idea is every Monday (yeah, the Dog knows, it is Tuesday, but the hound had to do a Labor Day post out of solidarity) the Dog writes a letter to the nations decision makers urging them to take action towards full accountability for the illegal Bush Administration state sponsored torture program. The way you get involved is by either cutting and pasting the letter over your own signature or using the topic of the letter as the jumping off point for your own. In either case the Dog provides the links to make this as easy as possible. The whole point of this campaign is to make sure our leaders don’t get distracted and forget their duties under the law to investigate and prosecute any act of torture.

Originally posted at

Tattoos Open Thread

UPDATE: Thursday, Sept 10, 10AM… After Pics in my last comment…

NOON UPDATE: Today’s art session has been postponed until tomorrow. pooh.

Only in America… Fried Butter. Okay then.

Okay so I’m in a weird mix of bored and frustrated so Imagonna just Open a Thread here and hang out, if that’s okay with you. Hub finally went to work this morning, so I am alone at last.

I have a friend planning to come over a little later, she’s an artist, and she’s going to do some art on my casts. Might be fun.

Any suggestions?

It’s the tattoos I’ll never get for real. heh. I’m hoping she can do some celtic variation of my “totem” heron.


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