Monday, March 31, 2008

The Agnostics Prayer....

The Agnostic's Prayer

(Roger Zelazny, Creatures of Light and Darkness, © 1969)


This is perhaps the most famous prayer in all of science fiction and fantasy...

Insofar as I may be heard by anything, which may or may not care what I say, I ask, if it matters, that you be forgiven for anything you may have done or failed to do which requires forgiveness. Conversely, if not forgiveness but something else may be required to insure any possible benefit for which you may be eligible after the destruction of your body, I ask that this, whatever it may be, be granted or withheld, as the case may be, in such a manner as to insure your receiving said benefit. I ask this in my capacity as your elected intermediary between yourself and that which may not be yourself, but which may have an interest in the matter of your receiving as much as it is possible for you to receive of this thing, and which may in some way be influenced by this ceremony. Amen.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Sunday, March 23, 2008

The Republican Right's Moonie Problem

The Republican Right’s Moonie Problem

By: David Neiwert Friday March 21, 2008 12:00 pm

rev-moon.jpg

A number of folks -- notably Ezra Klein and Glenn Greenwald -- have already pointed out quite adroitly that while the media have had little compunction about whipping up a phony controversy about Barack Obama's "pastor problem", there's almost nothing that white evangelical pastors can say that might bring down similar approbation. John McCain's "spiritual advisers" Rod Parsley and John Hagee really are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to this.

As Glenn puts it:

The phrases "anti-American" and "America-haters" are among the most barren and manipulative in our entire political lexicon, but whatever they happen to mean on any given day, they easily encompass people who believe that the U.S. deserved the 9/11 attacks, devastating hurricanes and the like. Yet when are people like Falwell, Robertson, Hagee, Inhofe and other white Christian radicals ever described as anti-American or America-hating extremists? Never -- because white Christian evangelicals who tie themselves to the political Right are intrinsically patriotic.

But the Republican right's biggest problem with having "America haters" as leading exponents of movement conservatism is someone who not only has claimed to be a spiritual mentor but is also a major financier of Republican causes: the Rev. Sun Myung Moon.

As John Gorenfeld explains in delightful and excruciating detail in his new book Bad Moon Rising: How Reverend Moon Created the Washington Times, Seduced the Religious Right and Built an American Kingdom [which we'll be discussing in greater detail tomorrow for the FDL Book Salon], Moon has a long history of saying ugly things about the United States and about Americans.

And yet simultaneously, the largesse he spreads about the conservative movement has won him all kinds of friends, influence, and defenders, if not followers. Certainly, there is no one in the mainstream media who bothers to mention this, let alone play endless tape loops.

Here are some of the things Moon has said over the years, as Gorenfeld has detailed:

The whole world is in my hand, and I will conquer and subjugate the world. I will go beyond the boundary of the U.S., opening up the toll gate, reaching out to the end of the world. I will go forward, piercing through everything ...

When we are in our battle against the whole nation of the U.S. -- if you are truly in love with this nation, and if you love this nation more than anyone else, this nation will come into God's possession, and Satan will have nothing to do with it. ... With that as the bullet, we can smash the whole world.

Individualism is what God hates most, and Satan likes best.

God likes the idea of a monarchy, because it removes the cycles of election after election which can obscure the focus and direction of the nation.

The whole world is in my hand, and I will conquer and subjugate the whole world.

The time will come when, without my seeking it, that my words must serve as law.

We will be able to amend laws, articles of constitution, if we wish to do so.

Telling a lie becomes a sin if you tell it to take advantage of a person, but if you tell a lie to do a good thing ... that is not a sin ... Even God tells lies very often.

I have met many famous, so-called famous, Senators and Congressmen; but to my eyes they are nothing. They are weak and helpless. We will win the battle. This is our dream, our project. But shut your mouth tight.

After the demise of communism and the destruction of democracy, all that will remain will be the True Family and True Children system, centered upon True Parents [Moon's title for himself and his wife]. That is what is happening now.

America may boast of its virtues to the world, but look, democracy is now reaching the end of its rope. People thought democracy is the final anchor of the free world, but it is reaching its end. So what is left? America has been telling the weaker nations that they have to accept democracy, forcing them to receive so-called democracy. But look at America. It is rotten, top to bottom. There is nothing to be proud of, not their way of walking or talking or thinking.

When you hear me putting America down, your ears are not pleased. But if we continue living in this hub of the satanic world, this New York-DC area, we are in the darkness.

When Clinton and his policies come into being, the first opposition must come from Christianity. But Christianity has lost its center and its hope. For that reason, they have lost their power, and that is why Clinton was allowed to win the election. It was the failure of Christianity. This nation which is supposed to be Christian has been turned into almost a model nation for Satan, losing everything precious. People are losing their own identity, losing brotherhood, losing their own parents, and losing God. This nation has really become a playground for Satan.

Those "patriotic" conservatives have not fled screaming from Moon for saying these kinds of things. They have not denounced him. They have not even discussed them -- nor, for that matter, have the media.

No, they not only continue to sturdily defend him and his many operations -- most notably the Washington Times Moon's newspaper, which has employed many leading conservative pundits -- they positively embrace him, mostly because of his money. The most significant of these has been his embrace by the Bush family.

George H.W. Bush has appeared at major Moon-sponsored events and taken large sums of his money. Neil Bush has toured with him and also enjoys his considerable largesse. And President Bush has gone so far as to name a former Unification Church leader -- Josette Sheeran -- as his undersecretary of state for economic, business, and agriculture affairs.

But have the mainstream media dealt with any of this? Er, no. In fact, when the subject of the Bush clan's ties to Moon have come up, people like the New York Times' David Brooks -- who got his start as a pundit at the Washington Times -- call it a "bizarre assertion" and an instance of the "paranoid style in American politics."

Obviously, you don't get to watch Moon's "hateful" and "anti-American" remarks being replayed endlessly on CNN and Fox, nor watch every media outlet in the nation obsess over whether Republicans should repudiate him.

Funny how that works, isn't it?

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fenton Flood update.

I want to thank all that have responded positively to my photo posts on the Flood we are having. In case you are wondering how bad its going to get you can check out below.

This link ( Valley Park Gage ) is the official flood gage for the area upstream. It posts the measurements of the present flood levels.

This link ( Arnold Gage ) is downstream of us, but it gives a good idea of when the water will rise.

They are asking for volunteers for sandbagging and I am thinking I need some exercise. Tomorrow if I am feeling OK, I might head over there. They got 500 volunteers this morning, they only needed 200. But the businesses need help and they are hoping that the substations aren't going to get hit. They rerouted around them, but are asking people not to use electricity. I don't use that much so I am not that concerned.

We lost power last night, but apparently they were rerouting the electricity to get around the substations that are expected to be flooded. This might end up being a new project for Ameren's Power On to protect from the devestating power outages we had a couple of years ago.

Hopefully we will be getting through all this OK. I have little to worry about since I am so high, but I have seen the suffering of others and hope that they get through this OK.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Rule by fear or Rule by law?

Rule by fear or rule by law?

Monday, February 4, 2008

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."

- Winston Churchill, Nov. 21, 1943

Since 9/11, and seemingly without the notice of most Americans, the federal government has assumed the authority to institute martial law, arrest a wide swath of dissidents (citizen and noncitizen alike), and detain people without legal or constitutional recourse in the event of "an emergency influx of immigrants in the U.S., or to support the rapid development of new programs."

Beginning in 1999, the government has entered into a series of single-bid contracts with Halliburton subsidiary Kellogg, Brown and Root (KBR) to build detention camps at undisclosed locations within the United States. The government has also contracted with several companies to build thousands of railcars, some reportedly equipped with shackles, ostensibly to transport detainees.

According to diplomat and author Peter Dale Scott, the KBR contract is part of a Homeland Security plan titled ENDGAME, which sets as its goal the removal of "all removable aliens" and "potential terrorists."

Fraud-busters such as Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Los Angeles, have complained about these contracts, saying that more taxpayer dollars should not go to taxpayer-gouging Halliburton. But the real question is: What kind of "new programs" require the construction and refurbishment of detention facilities in nearly every state of the union with the capacity to house perhaps millions of people?

Sect. 1042 of the 2007 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), "Use of the Armed Forces in Major Public Emergencies," gives the executive the power to invoke martial law. For the first time in more than a century, the president is now authorized to use the military in response to "a natural disaster, a disease outbreak, a terrorist attack or any other condition in which the President determines that domestic violence has occurred to the extent that state officials cannot maintain public order."

The Military Commissions Act of 2006, rammed through Congress just before the 2006 midterm elections, allows for the indefinite imprisonment of anyone who donates money to a charity that turns up on a list of "terrorist" organizations, or who speaks out against the government's policies. The law calls for secret trials for citizens and noncitizens alike.

Also in 2007, the White House quietly issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51), to ensure "continuity of government" in the event of what the document vaguely calls a "catastrophic emergency." Should the president determine that such an emergency has occurred, he and he alone is empowered to do whatever he deems necessary to ensure "continuity of government." This could include everything from canceling elections to suspending the Constitution to launching a nuclear attack. Congress has yet to hold a single hearing on NSPD-51.

U.S. Rep. Jane Harman, D-Venice (Los Angeles County) has come up with a new way to expand the domestic "war on terror." Her Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Prevention Act of 2007 (HR1955), which passed the House by the lopsided vote of 404-6, would set up a commission to "examine and report upon the facts and causes" of so-called violent radicalism and extremist ideology, then make legislative recommendations on combatting it.

According to commentary in the Baltimore Sun, Rep. Harman and her colleagues from both sides of the aisle believe the country faces a native brand of terrorism, and needs a commission with sweeping investigative power to combat it.

A clue as to where Harman's commission might be aiming is the Animal Enterprise Terrorism Act, a law that labels those who "engage in sit-ins, civil disobedience, trespass, or any other crime in the name of animal rights" as terrorists. Other groups in the crosshairs could be anti-abortion protesters, anti-tax agitators, immigration activists, environmentalists, peace demonstrators, Second Amendment rights supporters ... the list goes on and on. According to author Naomi Wolf, the National Counterterrorism Center holds the names of roughly 775,000 "terror suspects" with the number increasing by 20,000 per month.

What could the government be contemplating that leads it to make contingency plans to detain without recourse millions of its own citizens?

The Constitution does not allow the executive to have unchecked power under any circumstances. The people must not allow the president to use the war on terrorism to rule by fear instead of by law.

Lewis Seiler is the president of Voice of the Environment, Inc. Dan Hamburg, a former congressman, is executive director.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2008/02/04/ED5OUPQJ7.DTL

Shame on Wal-Mart!

Brain-damaged ex-worker must pay $470,000 to Wal-Mart




WASHINGTON — The family of a Missouri woman must reimburse Wal-Mart for nearly
a half-million dollars in medical expenses now that the U.S. Supreme Court has
refused to review her case.

The court on Monday let stand a ruling by the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals in
St. Louis requiring Debbie Shank of Cape Girardeau County to pay nearly
$470,000 to Wal-Mart.

The appeal was the last legal recourse for the family of the 52-year-old Shank,
a mother of three who was critically injured in a car accident eight years ago.
She suffered a brain injury that took her memory and left her with very little
ability to move or communicate. She has lived in a nursing home since she was
released from the hospital.

"It's been kind of hard on us," Nathan Shank, Debbie Shank's 17-year-old son,
said Monday when told about the court's decision.

Nathan Shank said that with her case in limbo, his mother already had lost a
private caregiver and might be moved out of her private room in the nursing
home.

According to legal documents, Shank's medical bills — totaling $469,216 — were
covered by a health insurance program at Wal-Mart, where Shank worked nights
stocking shelves.

Her family later settled a lawsuit with the trucking company whose driver was
involved in the accident. After attorneys' fees and expenses, $417,477 was put
in a trust for Shank's care. That settlement money, plus $51,739 that Shank
will have to pay out of pocket, must be paid to Wal-Mart.

As is common for employer-sponsored health plans, Shank's insurance required
full repayment of medical expenses if she received money from a lawsuit.

Daphne Moore, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman, said the company sued "out of fairness to
everyone who contributes" to the plan.

"This is a tragic situation," Moore said. "The reality is that the health plan
is required to protect its assets so that it can pay future claims for other
associates and their family members."

The Supreme Court gave no explanation for its decision.

jcooper@post-dispatch.com | 202-298-6880

MESSENGER - Making a Mosaic - Part II

Making a Mosaic - Part II

Release Date: March 11, 2008

As MESSENGER approached Mercury on January 14, 2008, the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) snapped images of the nearing planet in a sequence that covered the entire sunlit portion of the surface. This mosaic was made from these images, shown as thumbnails on the image context sheet released last week.

This mosaic is shown in a cylindrical equidistant (also known as equirectangular) projection, which simply is a map with longitude lines being vertical and equally spaced and latitude lines being horizontal and equally spaced. The mosaic covers the entire approach crescent view of Mercury, so the vertical extent of the mosaic is comparable to Mercury's diameter of 4880 kilometers (about 3030 miles). Surface features on the right side of the mosaic show long shadows that accentuate height differences because these images were taken near Mercury's terminator, the transition between the sunlit dayside of the planet and the dark night side; the previously released image of the crater Matisse is an example of one of these near-terminator images used in the mosaic. Features near the left side of the mosaic are looking toward the limb of the planet, and this very low viewing geometry and higher Sun angle do not provide much detail about the surface structures; the previously released image looking at Mercury's horizon is an example of such a view that was used to create this mosaic.

This low-resolution version of the mosaic is only 8% of the resolution of the full mosaic and contains only one pixel for approximately every 156 pixels in the original images.


Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington


For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.

MESSENGER - Making a Mosaic Pt. !

Making a Mosaic

Release Date: March 5, 2008

During MESSENGER's flyby of Mercury on January 14, 2008, the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS) acquired images to create eight different mosaics. Shown here is an image context sheet with small thumbnail versions of the MDIS Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) images that were captured as the spacecraft approached the planet and used to create a high-resolution mosaic of Mercury. The MDIS instrument is mounted on a pivot, which enables the camera to point in different directions and see different portions of the surface. Both small motions of the spacecraft and movement of the pivot were used to take the images that compose this mosaic sequence. This mosaic has images in 5 columns by 11 rows, but images of just black space or of the unlit, dark planet are not shown on this context sheet.

MDIS started this mosaic 55 minutes before MESSENGER's closest pass by Mercury. The first image of the mosaic was taken in the lower left corner, and images were subsequently acquired by moving across a row and then up to start the next row. An image where Mercury's surface fills the image is about 500 kilometers (310 miles) across. Image names, which are abbreviated under each image in this context sheet, are derived from the mission elapsed time (MET) when the image was taken, which is approximately the time in seconds since launch. The mosaic was planned to have about 10% overlap between neighboring images, to ensure that a mosaic could be formed without any gaps. The resulting mosaic is ultimately created by using the time of each image and corresponding information about the spacecraft location and viewing geometry at that time to place all of the images onto a common map of Mercury.


Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington


For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.

MESSENGER - Exploring the Evolution of the Caloris Basin


Exploring the Evolution of the Caloris Basin

Release Date:
March 19, 2008

The Caloris basin on Mercury is one of the youngest large impact basins in the Solar System, and MESSENGER images are enabling scientists to study it in ways not previously possible. This image, acquired by the Narrow Angle Camera (NAC) of the Mercury Dual Imaging System (MDIS), was taken on January 14, 2008, and shows an area that is about 280 kilometers across (about 170 miles) on the floor of the basin. Bright rays from a young impact crater extend into the image from the top right corner. This bright-rayed crater is located slightly left of the center of the basin and is easily spotted on the previously released image that shows the entire Caloris basin.

The spectacular fractures seen cutting the floor of the basin, as visible in this image, show that extensional (pull-apart) forces deformed Mercury's crust in the ancient past. Impact craters can be observed on top of the fractures and the fractures do not deform the craters, indicating that the fractures are ancient. The fractures are observed in the smooth plains material that fills the Caloris basin, are found near the outer edges of the basin, and are oriented roughly concentric with the basin’s rim. This orientation is in contrast to a series of radial fractures located in the center of the Caloris basin. The fractures were likely formed when the floor of the basin was uplifted, causing horizontal stretching and breaking apart of the material that filled the basin. Similar concentric fractures were observed on the eastern side of the basin that was photographed by Mariner 10. By mapping out the extent of these fractures and other tectonic features, MESSENGER scientists are exploring how Mercury's great Caloris basin evolved after it formed.

Image Mission Elapsed Time (MET): 108826817


Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory/Carnegie Institution of Washington


For information regarding the use of MESSENGER images, see the image use policy.


MESSENGER Mission News - March 19, 2008 - Trajectory Correction Manuver

MESSENGER Mission News

March 19, 2008

http://messenger.jhuapl.edu


Critical Deep-Space Maneuver Targets MESSENGER for Its Second Mercury Encounter

The MESSENGER spacecraft delivered a critical deep-space maneuver today – 64 million miles (103 million kilometers) from Earth – successfully firing its large bi-propellant engine to change the probe’s trajectory and target it for its second flyby of Mercury on October 6, 2008. This was the first trajectory-correction maneuver (TCM) t
o test the continuous slow rotation of the spacecraft throughout the burn, essential for the March 18, 2011, Mercury orbit-insertion (MOI) maneuver.

“Every propulsive event in this complex mission is an important step toward our ultimate goal – placing the first spacecraft into orbit about the innermost planet,” offers MESSENGER Principal Investigator Sean Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. “Today’s deep-space maneuver is a crucial milestone that points us cleanly toward our next close look at Mercury in October.”

The 149-second maneuver began at 3:30 p.m. EDT. Mission controllers at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel , Md. , verified the start of the maneuver about 5 minutes 42 seconds later, when the first signals indicating spacecraft thruster activity reached NASA’s Deep Space Network tracking station outside Goldstone, California.

The continuous rotation of the spacecraft occurred during the 90-second firing of the large bi-propellant engine, the main part of the 149-second TCM, and was less than 4° – about 11% of the turn required for the mission-critical MOI. The total change in velocity of 72.2 meters per second (161.5 miles per hour) achieved during the maneuver will increase the spacecraft’s speed relative to the Sun.

This was the third of five deep-space maneuvers that will help the spacecraft reach Mercury orbit. The first, on December 12, 2005, positioned the probe for its October 2006 flyby of Venus; the second, on October 17, 2007, targeted MESSENGER for its first flyby of Mercury this January.

DSM-4 on December 6, 2008, will position MESSENGER for Mercury flyby 3, scheduled for September 30, 2009. And the final deep-space maneuver on November 29, 2009, will target the probe for Mercury orbit insertion.

The next maneuver, TCM-24, is currently scheduled for April 24 and will be used to further fine-tune the trajectory for the second Mercury encounter. “There are also several instrument and subsystem calibrations this spring and summer, and even an instrument flight software load in July,” says MESSENGER Mission Operations Manager Andy Calloway of APL. “The MESSENGER team will also continue to focus on the Mercury Flyby 2 sequence planning and testing, as well as orbital operations planning in parallel with the ongoing flight operations.”


MESSENGER (MErcury Surface, Space ENvironment, GEochemistry, and Ranging) is a NASA-sponsored scientific investigation of the planet Mercury and the first space mission designed to orbit the planet closest to the Sun. The MESSENGER spacecraft launched on August 3, 2004, and after flybys of Earth, Venus, and Mercury will start a yearlong study of its target planet in March 2011. Dr. Sean C. Solomon, of the Carnegie Institution of Washington, leads the mission as Principal Investigator. The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory built and operates the MESSENGER spacecraft and manages this Discovery-class mission for NASA.



Tuesday, March 18, 2008

NGV Industry in a World of Rising Oil Prices

NGV Industry in a World of Rising Oil Prices
Source - Dr Garth Harris, Secretary-General IANGV
Thursday, 13 March 2008
It would appear that the price of oil is going to be $100 per barrel
or more for the foreseeable future. As it's recent meeting, OPEC
decided that while it is not going to cut production, it will not
increase it. It would also appear that there is likely to be a
downturn in the economies all the developed countries which will
naturally lead to reduced demand for oil. However the demand for oil
is increasing in Asia which at least to some extent will counteract
the reduced demand for oil in other parts of the world. In addition
there is some doubt of the ability of OPEC to increase production.

The other part of the equation is the amount of oil which is
available. The BP Statistical Review of World Energy June 2007
www.bp.com gives world oil reserves as 1371 trillion tonnes. This is
the amount of oil in known fields which it is estimated can be
recovered under existing economic and production conditions. The
reserves to production ratio is 41 years. Back in 1980, reserves
were 667 trillion tonnes and have risen fairly steadily since then.

Natural gas on the other hand has known reserves of 1629 trillion
tons of oil equivalent, that is slightly more than oil reserves.
However the reserves to production ratio is significantly higher at
63 years. Natural gas reserves have more than doubled since 1980.

Another issue of rising importance is the increase in price of
commodities, particularly food. This has been brought about by the
drive to convert food crops into energy products such as ethanol and
at least in part promoted by subsidies.

In many countries where there are natural gas reserves, natural gas
supply is likely to be little impediment to the establishment of a
NGV industry. The amount of natural gas which is likely to be used
over say the first 5 years would be very small compared with other
uses of natural gas.

Secondly, the vehicles that would be using natural gas will vary from
country to country. Most large NGV countries have fleets dominated
by light duty vehicles. However heavy duty vehicles are likely to be
of interest in some countries. For instance, heavy duty trucks and
city buses are popular in NGV fleets in countries such as US, UK.
The Port of Long Beach, California is requiring all vehicles
operating in the port to operate on clean fuels by 2012. Heavy
vehicles use large quantities of gas and vehicle manufacturers can
supply new, reliable vehicles. Readers of NGV Global will have seen
articles concerning availability and fleet conversion.

I recently visited Iran to find that with all its oil resources it
has a program to convert all its vehicles, light duty and heavy duty,
to natural gas. Very shortly, only NGVs will be manufactured in
Iran .

Thirdly, natural gas and biomethane are the same fuel. One is
fossil, the other is renewable. Thus establishment of a CNG industry
based on natural gas can lead directly to use of biomethane in
transport without the difficult fuel related problems that face some
other biofuels. This can be regarded as part of the pathway to
hydrogen which is a gaseous fuel using much of the same technology as
CNG both for refueling and in vehicles.

Biomethane is of much interest worldwide at present. The most
popular sources are municipal waste treatment including sewage and
landfills. Sweden is a prominent country with several municipal bus
fleets.

Given the problems with some "renewable" transport fuels such as
ethanol, biomethane probably has a higher prospect for success than
other biofuels. While most biomethane at present is derived from
waste, it could be made at a large scale using feedstock which is not
competing with food production as in the case of ethanol and using
technologies which are largely already developed. It can be
distributed using the existing natural gas pipe network.

In conclusion, the existing NGV industry should regard the high price
of oil as an opportunity to grow. In some countries the pump price
of CNG is likely to be lower than gasoline or diesel. Natural gas is
widely available in many countries. Different types of vehicles may
be more attractive in some countries than others because of the local
conditions. Natural gas can logically lead to renewable biomethane
and even to hydrogen.

Another aspect in the aftermath of the Kirkwood shooting.

Many of you may remember I posted some matertial on the shooting in the Kirkwood, MO city hall chambers several weeks ago. As an update I should say that the mayor, who was shot twice in the head, has survived and is on the road to making a recovery. However, the shooting has brought to the surface the racial divisions that have been simmering in this suburb of St. Louis.

This little town has suffered many shocks in the recent years. The killing of a police officer by a distraught black teenager. (This young man has been sentanced to death for the crime on the same week that a white man, who killed his girlfriend, his two year old daughter and three others with a shotgun was sentanced to life imprisonment). The town was revealed to have sheltered a pedophile who kept a young man prisoner for 4 years and kidnapped another one who was discovered after being kept captive for a week.

As I said, its a shock. However, the shooting also brought forth a new problem. One of the victims of the shooting was running for mayor of the town. Her death has left only one candidate on the ballot and the city has refused to postpone the election which is scheduled for April 8th. The following column from the St. Louis Post-Dspatch details the issues which the shooting has brought forth:

Retired judge goes to bat for Kirkwood voters




James R. Dowd of Ladue retired in 2003 after a distinguished 23-year career as
a Missouri Court of Appeals Judge. Recently, he was approached by members of
the group "Kirkwood Coming Together For A Better Future." They sought his help
in an effort to postpone the April 8 municipal elections in Kirkwood.

The Kirkwood city attorney said the city charter prohibited postponing the
election. The St. Louis County Board of Election Commissioners agreed.

Some members of the Brighter Future group supported mayoral candidate Connie
Karr, who was among those killed in the Feb. 7 shooting rampage at City Hall.
Karr's death left only one mayoral candidate on the ballot, Councilman Arthur
McDonnell. The group wants another candidate, who represents their interests,
added to the ballot.

Dowd researched legal cases that might support the group's position. He also
spoke with the board of elections. Steven Garrett, attorney for the board, said
that even if the elections were postponed, state statutes prohibited any
extension of the filing deadlines for new candidates.

Dowd maintains that the citizens of Kirkwood have been deprived of their
constitutional right to vote for a candidate of their choice. The actions of
Charles Lee "Cookie" Thornton, the man who killed Karr, should not determine
Kirkwood's

elections, he said.

"You don't have to be a lawyer or judge to understand this," said Dowd, adding
that Kirkwood officials, legislators or the election board could, and should,
petition the courts for a solution.

"The courts routinely find remedies that strike down statutes or ordinances
that impair access and the right to vote," Dowd said. "If the federal courts
conclude that the people's right to cast a meaningful ballot has been
compromised, it would be quick to furnish a remedy."

But Garrett doesn't believe the courts will supersede the state's statutes.
"There's no provision for opening up the filing. State statutes pretty much
imply that you stick with the same ballot."

Don't underestimate judges, Dowd said. They can recognize when laws are failing
to protect someone's voting rights, and they would respond accordingly.

He shared the words of a "wise old judge," J. Spalding of North Dakota, who
wrote in a court ruling: "In a republic the people are sovereign. They express
this sovereignty through the ballot. ... The elective franchise is the most
valuable right of the citizen, and should be most sacredly treasured by him and
sacredly protected by the courts."

In the case Dowd shared, Spalding sided with a plaintiff who was forced to
compete as a write-in candidate after refusing to pay a fee to have his name
printed on the ballot. This, Dowd said, is the real issue of debate in Kirkwood
— whether a write-in candidate is a constitutional alternative for voters.

Spalding addressed this issue as well: "We all know that the candidate whose
name is printed on the official ballot is the only one who, under any ordinary
circumstances, can be successful."

This might be depressing news to Kirkwood residents Dan Creesey and Milad
Abou-Nader. They recently filed as write-in candidates for mayor. When I called
to gauge their expectations, both men struck the same chord as Dowd.

"The way they are proceeding with this election amounts to something that would
be done in Cuba or Russia," Creesey said. "We all talk about the broken system.
Well, this is one thing we can change on a local level."

Abou-Nader, a Lebanese man who came to the United States from Israel more than
40 years ago, unsuccessfully ran for Kirkwood city council in 1998 and for
mayor in 2000. He's been a longtime critic of what he calls an "elitist"
government.

"The constitution is the next best thing to the Bible," Abou-Nader said. "We
citizens of Kirkwood have a wall between us and the city. We must tear down
that wall."

Creesey, who works for a newspaper distribution service, insists he will resign
immediately after he's elected. That way, he said, the city will be forced to
have a "fair and legitimate election."

Members of Brighter Future said the organization didn't solicit the write-in
candidates, but applauded their efforts. Brighter Future member Nancy Luetzow
worries that the write-in candidates won't have time to mount a viable
campaign. And postponing the election would be difficult, too, given the cost
to make a legal challenge, she said.

Other members, such as Cindy Nouri, a dentist and Kirkwood resident, insist
something must be done to thwart a GOP power grab: "Garrett is a Republican
lawyer, John Diehl (commissioner of the county election board) was appointed by
a Republican Governor, (Matt) Blunt, and (city attorney John) Hessel is a
Republican. Do you see a pattern here?"

The charges are absurd, according to Garrett. As far as he knows, party
politics has nothing to do with the decisions regarding the election.

Dowd didn't offer an opinion about partisanship. He insists that the dispute
involves ordinances and statutes that obstruct voters, and that it should be
settled in court.

Dowd may not have offered an opinion on politics and power, but I found
something that did in the words of Spalding: "Two methods are recognized by
which persons may become candidates for office. In popular parlance they are
distinguished as the 'man seeking the office' and the 'office seeking the man.'"

A sad passing.....

Writer Arthur C. Clarke dies at 90

By RAVI NESSMAN, Associated Press Writer 16 minutes ago

Arthur C. Clarke, a visionary science fiction writer who co-wrote "2001: A Space Odyssey" and won worldwide acclaim with more than 100 books on space, science and the future, died Wednesday, an aide said. He was 90.

Clarke, who had battled debilitating post-polio syndrome since the 1960s, died at 1:30 a.m. in his adopted home of Sri Lanka after suffering breathing problems, aide Rohan De Silva said.

Co-author with Stanley Kubrick of Kubrick's film "2001: A Space Odyssey," Clarke was regarded as far more than a science fiction writer.

He was credited with the concept of communications satellites in 1945, decades before they became a reality. Geosynchronous orbits, which keep satellites in a fixed position relative to the ground, are called Clarke orbits.

He joined American broadcaster Walter Cronkite as commentator on the U.S. Apollo moonshots in the late 1960s.

Clarke's non-fiction volumes on space travel and his explorations of the Great Barrier Reef and Indian Ocean earned him respect in the world of science, and in 1976 he became an honorary fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

But it was his writing that shot him to his greatest fame and that gave him the greatest fulfillment.

"Sometimes I am asked how I would like to be remembered," Clarke said recently. "I have had a diverse career as a writer, underwater explorer and space promoter. Of all these I would like to be remembered as a writer."

From 1950, he began a prolific output of both fiction and non-fiction, sometimes publishing three books in a year. He published his best-selling "3001: The Final Odyssey" when he was 79.

Some of his best-known books are "Childhood's End," 1953; "The City and The Stars," 1956, "The Nine Billion Names of God," 1967; "Rendezvous with Rama," 1973; "Imperial Earth," 1975; and "The Songs of Distant Earth," 1986.

When Clarke and Kubrick got together to develop a movie about space, they used as basic ideas several of Clarke's shorter pieces, including "The Sentinel," written in 1948, and "Encounter in the Dawn." As work progressed on the screenplay, Clarke also wrote a novel of the story. He followed it up with "2010," "2061," and "3001: The Final Odyssey."

In 1989, two decades after the Apollo 11 moon landings, Clarke wrote: "2001 was written in an age which now lies beyond one of the great divides in human history; we are sundered from it forever by the moment when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepped out on to the Sea of Tranquility. Now history and fiction have become inexorably intertwined."

Clarke won the Nebula Award of the Science Fiction Writers of America in 1972, 1974 and 1979; the Hugo Award of the World Science Fiction Convention in 1974 and 1980, and in 1986 became Grand Master of the Science Fiction Writers of America. He was awarded the CBE in 1989.

Born in Minehead, western England, on Dec. 16, 1917, the son of a farmer, Arthur Charles Clark became addicted to science fiction after buying his first copies of the pulp magazine "Amazing Stories" at Woolworth's. He read English writers H.G. Wells and Olaf Stapledon and began writing for his school magazine in his teens.

Clarke went to work as a clerk in Her Majesty's Exchequer and Audit Department in London, where he joined the British Interplanetary Society and wrote his first short stories and scientific articles on space travel.

It was not until after the World War II that Clarke received a bachelor of science degree in physics and mathematics from King's College in London.

In the wartime Royal Air Force, he was put in charge of a new radar blind-landing system.

But it was an RAF memo he wrote in 1945 about the future of communications that led him to fame. It was about the possibility of using satellites to revolutionize communications — an idea whose time had decidedly not come.

Clarke later sent it to a publication called Wireless World, which almost rejected it as too far-fetched.

Clarke married in 1953, and was divorced in 1964. He had no children.

He moved to the Indian Ocean island of Sri Lanka in 1956 after embarking on a study of the Great Barrier Reef.

Clarke, who had battled debilitating post-polio syndrome since the 1960s and sometimes used a wheelchair, discovered that scuba-diving approximated the feeling of weightlessness that astronauts experience in space. He remained a diving enthusiast, running his own scuba venture into old age.

"I'm perfectly operational underwater," he once said.

Clarke was linked by his computer with friends and fans around the world, spending each morning answering e-mails and browsing the Internet.

At a 90th birthday party thrown for Clarke in December, the author said he had three wishes: for Sri Lanka's raging civil war to end, for the world to embrace cleaner sources of energy and for evidence of extraterrestrial beings to be discovered.

In an interview with The Associated Press, Clarke once said he did not regret having never followed his novels into space, adding that he had arranged to have DNA from strands of his hair sent into orbit.

"One day, some super civilization may encounter this relic from the vanished species and I may exist in another time," he said. "Move over, Stephen King."

___

On the Net:

The Arthur C. Clarke Foundation: http://www.clarkefoundation.org

No Internet? The new Dark Ages

It hurts to lose that Internet connection




It may not be the end of the world. But it can feel like it.

You open your Web browser, only to be greeted by an obscure error message
suggesting something is wrong with your Internet connection. Hit the refresh
key. Nothing.

Reboot. Check the modem. Still nothing.

Then comes that sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach as the realization
sets in: No e-mail. No eBay. No MySpace. No YouTube.

It's as if you've been transported back to the Dark Ages. Might as well take
away your electricity and running water, too.

Such has been the transformation of the Internet, which has wormed its way into
our lives during the past decade, morphing from accessory to necessity. Never
is that more obvious than those times when you want to go online, but can't.

"I suspect for a lot of people, if you cut that cord, they wouldn't know what
to do with themselves," said Bob Papper, a media professor at Hofstra
University on Long Island, N.Y. "They'd be paralyzed without the Internet. They
might have to read."

For decades, the television set has been the centerpiece of the American home.
Nothing else challenges it in terms of time spent watching it. But a recent
study by The Pew Internet & American Life Project suggests Americans actually
place a higher value on their Internet connections.

The December survey — the results were released last week — asked participants
which technologies would be hardest to give up. The Internet, at 45 percent,
narrowly edged out TV, at 43 percent. Five years earlier, a similar survey
rated the Internet at 38 percent and TV at 47 percent.

For Dan Miller, a freshman at St. Charles Community College and an avid online
gamer, the choice is easy. He'd give up TV without a second thought.

Five nights a week — Fridays and Saturdays are game-free — he joins five other
members of his Skull Gaming team to play CounterStrike, a so-called
first-person shooter pitting counterterrorists against terrorists. Play
sessions generally last five hours.

For Miller, access to the Internet and his online friends is critical. There
aren't, he said, many other entertainment options near his home in O'Fallon, Mo.

"If I didn't have the Internet, that's five hours where I'd have to think of
something else to do," Miller said. "I don't know what I would do, actually."

It isn't just gamers who find themselves relying on the Internet. Since 2000,
Internet activity in the general population has soared. The Pew group has been
tracking U.S. usage since March 2000, when 46 percent of Americans said they
spent time online. In December's latest survey, that number surged to 75
percent, with more than half of country using broadband.

It is that group — the folks with faster connections — that tends to be most
attached to the Internet, said Lee Rainie, director of the Pew group.

Dial-up users are more casual in their approach, generally using the Internet
for e-mail and limited surfing. But once they switch to broadband, the role of
the Internet changes in their lives. It begins to matter more, he said.

"They spend more time online. They do more things online," Rainie said. "They
think online first when solving a lot of their problems."

Those problems come in a wide range of flavors. Need a recipe for Asian fried
rice? Want to settle a bet with a friend over which actor played the lead role
in the 1987 movie "The Princess Bride?" Or maybe you just need directions to
the nearest movie theater.

Having all that information at his fingertips is nirvana for Nathan Black, who
lives in unincorporated Jefferson County.

Black spends about four hours online each day and says he's more likely to
reach out to family and friends through e-mail, rather than the telephone.

"It is one of my links to the outside world," he said. "It allows me to get
around and explore the world with my mind."

Black isn't able to get broadband service through cable or DSL where he lives.
Instead, he uses a fixed wireless network, which, by its nature, is susceptible
to storm-related outages. When bad weather sweeps through, he's never surprised
to be cut off. It's something he takes in stride, within limits.

"I can accept 15 minutes. Maybe an hour or two," Black said. "But when you are
down for a day or a week — that's another thing. That gets a hold of me."

The anxiety that accompanies a disruption is fueled by more than just the
desire for convenient access to information. One of the biggest problems is
coping with the feeling that things are happening without you. Your friends are
still having fun. Conversations are taking place. Your e-mail box is filling up
with messages in need of replies.

"There is a kind of compulsive behavior. It's the kind of thing where you try
to keep on top of it," said Steve Jones, a professor of communications at the
University of Illinois at Chicago.

That need to stay current, however, is increasingly more real than imagined.

A few years ago, Jones used to play a game with his students. He would ask them
to go 24 hours without using the Internet and to keep a journal documenting
their digital abstinence.

Not anymore.

"So much of what they do relies on the Internet," Jones said. "I couldn't in
good conscience tell them to stop using it."

That same level of reliance is found in offices across the nation, where
workers use the Internet for countless tasks — most of them actually
job-related — throughout the day. An unexpected outage can wreak havoc on
employees, said Scot Sullivan, an IT consultant with Kerber, Eck & Braeckel, an
accounting and consulting firm in St. Louis.

He remembers one day late last year when an AT&T problem left the office, which
has a few dozen workers, without the Internet for a full day. A low-key panic
enveloped the building.

"They don't remember not too long ago when you actually had to pick up the
phone or write a letter," said Sullivan, who has been in IT for a decade. "Back
then, it was just a minor inconvenience. Today they get very upset. They run
around not knowing what to do. I shudder to think what it'll be like in another
10 years."

There's little doubt which direction it's going. Each year, technology mavens
come up with new ways — including laptops, PDAs and cell phones — for us to
stay connected to the Internet. Even the days of taking quiet, electronics-free
vacations seem to be slipping away.

Consider what has happened at the Garth Woodside Mansion Bed and Breakfast in
Hannibal, Mo. Last week, the inn's owners finally relented and started
installing televisions in rooms. Wireless Internet, on the other hand, has been
offered since 2004, following requests from the business travelers who make up
about half of the clientele.

Still, Sean Rolsen, whose family owns the inn, doubts the presence of free
Internet means the difference between winning or losing a leisure traveler.

Unless that leisure traveler happens to be him.

"I wouldn't even look at a place that didn't have it," Rolsen said. "I'd wait
for them to offer it, or I'd stay someplace else."

tbarker@post-dispatch.com | 314-340-8350

Another Strange Dream.....

I must have been thinking about Fablous Femme Fatale Francesca (who I believe has a fetish about kilts) today because I was dreaming about some new lyrics to "My Easter Bonnet:"

An Irish man a Marchin
with a bonnie kilt upon him
I hope that you don't vomit
at the Easter parade........

I swear... I think I got to stop drinkin.... anything... :-) (maybe its the prozac in the water...)

Saturday, March 15, 2008

I've been a little runined.....

I got this from Mommabear's page, and I suppose I am a little guilty. I like being an American. Sometimes though, I just have to wonder if its a little overated. We have so much, but we give so little. We take so much yet all we have done lately is to make the world a worse place to live. The coming economic upheaval will bring out the best or worse in us. Hopefully we can recapture that spirit we had before.

You've Been a Little Ruined by American Culture
Whether you live in the US or not, deep down you're a little American.
And there's nothing wrong with loving American culture, but it may have negative effects on your life.
Slow down and enjoy what you have. Reconnect with life's simple pleasures.
You don't need to be in a consumerist rat race. Life's too short to overwork yourself!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I had a strange dream....

Now several days ago I had a situation happen to me. I work nights at a shopping mall doing security. We have a theatre on the interior of the mall that lets out late. On Monday night my supervisor spotted three theatre goers on the camera system walking through the mall. Suspicious, he watched them head for a kiosk. This particular one was run by a nice lady from Kenya who sells sodas and candies to the passers by. They managed to get the fabric awning off and started helping themselves to the candy therein. My supervisor called me, on patrol outside in the parking lot and I proceed to go to a service door and down the corridor to intercept them. When I got to the end of the corridor, I opened the door and was literally right on top of them! The hand-loads of candy they had flew everywhere as they took off running out of the main entrance to the mall. They got into a waiting car at the entrance, but the lady driving took off hesitantly. When I turned my flashers and beeped my siren she stopped. Turns out she was the mother of one of the boys and she wanted nothing to do with them. The police soon arrived and took our three shoplifting suspects in custody. Approximately $30 of candy was found on their persons. One had a juvenile record, apparently having known gang affiliations and covered with tattoos and scars from gunshot wounds. The vehicle had a bullet hole in the trunk. After processing them, they all being juveniles, they were released into the custody of the Mom. (By the by, this is NOT my typical night. Things like this happen once in a blue moon for me on the night shift. Usually it is very quiet).

I tell that story to tell this story about my dream. Now I don't remember all of it, but I do remember one significant scene and its really stuck with me. Apparently in this dream I was a detective with the NYC police department because I had Detective Robert Goren from Law and Order as my partner. I was driving and something went wrong with the car and he was on the corner. The car had stalled and I was rolling away from him as some rather unsavory characters were setting upon him. After drifting into the rather large intersection I managed to get the car started and pulled a bootlegger reverse (squeeling, smoking tires and all) and got into a position to assist my partner and my back-up arrived which turned out to be police officers I worked with at the local police department (apparently on detached duty). Detective Gorren was saved and we all had a good laugh.

This is somewhat of a bizarre dream so I don't know what to make of it. Maybe someday I will figure it out.

From American Progress.com - The First Casualty of the Iran War

March 13, 2008
by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, and Benjamin Armbruster
MILITARY

First Casualty Of The Iran War

On Tuesday, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates announced that CentCom commander Adm. William Fallon, who had been in the position for roughly a year, had submitted his resignation. Fallon's resignation came a week after news first leaked of an article in Esquire magazine by former Naval War College professor Thomas P.M. Barnett that suggested Fallon was the "one man" standing between the Bush administration and war with Iran and that it could cost him his job. "Well-placed observers now say that it will come as no surprise if Fallon is relieved of his command before his time is up next spring," wrote Barnett. Though Fallon publicly rejected the article, he told Gates upon resigning that "the current embarrassing situation, public perception of differences between my views and administration policy, and the distraction this causes from the mission make this the right thing to do." White House aides told the Wall Street Journal that "senior Bush administration officials saw the article as a sign that Adm. Fallon was trying to publicly undercut" President Bush. "It was seen as a form of insubordination," said one White House aide. While Iran has been the focus of much of the commentary surrounding Fallon's exit, Gates called Fallon's resignation "a cumulative kind of thing" that "isn't the result of any one article or any one issue." In fact, Fallon's public disagreements with the administration over Iraq may have had as much influence on his falling out of favor.

A DIFFERENT POINT OF VIEW: "
There was no question that the admiral's premature departure stemmed from what were perceived to be policy differences with the administration on Iran and Iraq," writes Thom Shanker in the New York Times. Especially "where his views competed with those of Gen. David H. Petraeus, the American commander in Iraq, who is a favorite of the White House." As a nominee for the CentCom position in January 2007, Fallon refused to endorse Bush's surge strategy, saying that he's "always been someone who felt more comfortable in smaller numbers." Since then, he has been a proponent of "developing plans to redefine the U.S. mission and radically draw down troops" in Iraq in order to "balance deployments across the volatile region" he commanded. Last month, after Gates endorsed a "pause" in troop withdrawals this summer, Fallon told the New York Times that it should only be "temporary and brief" and that U.S. strategy should shift focus to a "supporting, sustaining, advising, training and mentoring role." A "senior Pentagon official" told Slate's Fred Kaplan that Fallon's comments were "unauthorized," which Kaplan says amounts to "challenging the president's policy...at his own initiative."

'NOT HELPFUL' WHEN IT COMES TO IRAN: Although Fallon's preference for diplomatic engagement with Iran rather than saber-rattling has been echoed by Gates and
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen, Fallon's manner of delivering that message differed considerably from the administration script. In Barnett's Esquire article, Fallon says a narrow focus on Iran is not wise because "in a part of the world with 'five or six pots boiling over, our nation can't afford to be mesmerized by one problem.'" "This constant drumbeat of conflict" with Iran "is not helpful and not useful," Fallon told al Jazeera in September 2007. In December 2007, he told the Financial Times, "Another war is just not where we want to go." Last year, he was quoted as saying an attack on Iran "will not happen on my watch." In November, after meeting with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Fallon allowed it to be reported that he had "ruled out a possible strike against Iran and said Washington was mulling nonmilitary options instead." According to Newsweek, Fallon's main mistake was that he never included the caveat "of course, no options are off the table" in order to stay within administration policy.

RIGHT WING REJOICES:
Right-wing war hawks are glad to see Fallon go. The Wall Street Journal Editorial board wrote yesterday that Fallon's resignation is "good news" because it will allow Bush to begin "to pay attention to the internal Pentagon dispute" over Iraq withdrawal. The New York Sun editorial board concurred, arguing that the "real news" of Fallon's resignation is that Petraeus might get to take over as CentCom commander. Writing an op-ed titled "Fallon didn't get it" in the Los Angeles Times yesterday, Council on Foreign Relations Senior Fellow Max Boot ridiculed Fallon as one of the "guys who think they're smart" and is "undermining" Bush's Iran strategy. "Fallon makes it more likely, not less, that there will ultimately be an armed confrontation with Iran," wrote Boot. Writing for National Review, conservative hawk Frank Gaffney attacked Fallon as "a military man who has proven himself utterly unserious about the Iranian threat" and "had engaged in serial acts of insubordination and sabotage."

http://www.americanprogressaction.org/progressreport/2008/03/pr20080313


Wednesday, March 12, 2008

From American Progress - Douglas Feith's Blame Game

March 12, 2008

by Faiz Shakir, Amanda Terkel, Satyam Khanna, Matt Corley, Ali Frick, Benjamin Armbruster, and Matt Duss


Iraq

Douglas Feith's Blame Game

In a new memoir the Washington Post calls "a massive score-settling work," former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Douglas Feith defends himself from charges that his Pentagon office politicized pre-war Iraq intelligence. Feith blames former Secretary of State Gen. Colin Powell, the CIA, U.S. Army General Tommy Franks, former Coalition Provisional Authority head L. Paul Bremer, and almost everyone else but himself and former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for mishandling the run-up to the Iraq war and the subsequent occupation. The Post obtained a 900-page manuscript of Feith's book, entitled, War and Decision: Inside the Pentagon at the Dawn of the War on Terrorism. After the 9/11 attacks, Feith headed up the Office of Special Plans (OSP), which was created "to find evidence...that Saddam Hussein had close ties to Al Qaeda, and that Iraq had an enormous arsenal of chemical, biological, and possibly even nuclear weapons that threatened the region and, potentially, the United States." Retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Karen Kwiatkowski, who worked under Feith in the OSP, characterized the program's purpose as "developing propaganda and pushing...an agenda on Iraq." Kwiatkowski also said that OSP had "developed pretty sophisticated propaganda lines which were fed throughout government, to the Congress, and even internally to the Pentagon" to make the case that Saddam was an imminent threat.

POLITICIZING INTELLIGENCE: In February 2007, the Pentagon's Inspector General concluded that the OSP under Feith had "developed, produced, and then disseminated alternative intelligence assessments on the Iraq and al Qaida relationship...that were inconsistent with the consensus of the Intelligence Community, to senior decision-makers" and that Feith's intelligence briefings to the President presented "conclusions that were not fully supported by the available intelligence." Sen. Carl Levin (D-MI) stated that the report was "a devastating condemnation of inappropriate activities in the DoD policy office" that demonstrated "that intelligence relating to the Iraq/al-Qaeda relationship was manipulated by high-ranking officials in the Department of Defense to support the administration's decision to invade Iraq." When asked about the activities of the Office of Special Plans, CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden stated before Congress in May 2006 that he was "not comfortable" with Feith's approach to intelligence analysis. "I wasn't aware of a lot of the activity going on, you know, when it was contemporaneous with running up to the war," Hayden said. "No, sir, I wasn't comfortable." The Senate Intelligence Committee will also soon release a new report criticizing Bush administration officials "for making assertions that failed to reflect disagreements or uncertainties in the underlying intelligence on Iraq." Many of these statements were made based upon analyses produced by Feith's office at the Pentagon, which posited a working relationship between Saddam and al Qaeda and claimed that Saddam was in possession of weapons of mass destruction.

A PREDETERMINED INVASION: Feith's account of the lead-up to the Iraq invasion also offers more evidence that President Bush was resolved to invade Iraq, regardless of international opinion and irrespective of whether inspectors found evidence of an Iraqi weapons program. Feith writes that Bush declared "war is inevitable" in a National Security Council meeting in December 2002, even as he continued to insist in public that no decision had been made. On December 31, 2002, Bush said to reporters, "I hope this Iraq situation will be resolved peacefully. ... I hope we're not headed to war in Iraq," and "I hope this can be done peacefully." On Jan. 2, 2003, Bush told reporters that he was "hopeful we won't have to go war." On March 6, 2003, Bush said in a press conference that no decision had been made to use force against Iraq, even though two weeks earlier, he told then-Spanish president Jose Maria Aznar that the U.S. would "be in Baghdad at the end of March."

THE INCOMPETENCE DODGE: Responding to charges that his office "politicized" intelligence, Feith reportedly claims in his book that it was the CIA that was politicizing intelligence by discounting evidence of ties between Saddam and al Qaeda. In other words, Feith claims that the CIA was delinquent in ignoring evidence of a relationship that did not, in fact, exist. Feith's charges of failure against those initially responsible for the occupation of Iraq will likely be seized upon by those seeking to cast the war, as Feith does, as a good idea ruined by poor implementation -- a line of argument which has been termed "the incompetence dodge" because it attempts to present the Iraq disaster as a failure of implementation, not of conception. While he has harsh criticisms for many people, the Washington Post notes that Feith treats Rumsfeld "with almost complete admiration."

UNDER THE RADAR

ADMINISTRATION -- PENTAGON REPORT CONFIRMS NO SADDAM LINK TO AL QAEDA: McClatchy reports that an "exhaustive" Pentagon-sponsored review of "more than 600,000 Iraqi documents" captured after the 2003 invasion "has found no evidence that Saddam Hussein's regime had any operational links with Osama bin Laden's al Qaida terrorist network." The full report, set to be released tomorrow, "was essentially completed last year and has been undergoing what one U.S. intelligence official described as a 'painful' declassification review." In September 2002, then-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said that American intelligence had "bulletproof" evidence of links between al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein. Earlier that same week, then-National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice asserted that "there are some Al Qaeda personnel who found refuge in Baghdad." In fact, the Defense Department reported last April that interrogations of deposed Iraqi leaders showed that Hussein's government "did not cooperate" with al Qaeda. The Senate Intelligence Committee's September 2006 report revealed a 2005 CIA assessment declaring that prior to the war Saddam's government "did not have a relations, harbor, or turn a blind eye toward" al Qaeda leader Abu Musam al-Zarqawi and his associates.

ADMINISTRATION -- BUSH UNPOPULARITY PROVIDES FUNDRAISING CHALLENGES FOR PRESIDENTIAL LIBRARY: Southern Methodist University in Dallas recently announced that the university will be home to the George W. Bush presidential library. Bush's "censored" library -- which will also house a partisan institute to "celebrate" Bush's presidency -- is reportedly set to cost over $200 million. But U.S. News reports that "Bush's friends are concerned that he will face serious problems raising" the money needed for the library because his "unpopularity will put a damper on donations" and "the sour economy will limit contributions even more." Moreover, U.S. News notes that "there is the matter of an endowment to keep the library going, which could cost an additional $50 million." Bush recently said that he has not been "focused" on fundraising for his library, but that he would "probably take some foreign money" to cover the library's costs. Indeed, in November 2006, the New York Daily News reported that Bush hoped to get roughly $250 million in "megadonations" from key allies in the Persian Gulf.

Why Torture won't work on US citizens.....

Millions drinking drug-tainted water in US

This article was first published on guardian.co.uk on Monday March 10 2008. It was last updated at 17:27 on March 10 2008.

Some 41 million Americans are drinking water contaminated with traces of pharmaceuticals, an investigation has revealed.

Drugs found in the water supply include traces of medicines used to treat anxiety and epilepsy in southern California; high cholesterol, asthma and heart problems in Philadelphia; and angina in New Jersey. In San Francisco, researchers found traces of a sex hormone.

According to the investigation, conducted over five months by the Associated Press, drugs were found in the drinking water in 24 major metropolitan areas. It also found that 28 of the 35 watersheds tested showed traces of drugs.

AP reviewed hundreds of scientific reports, analysed federal drinking water databases, visited environmental study sites and treatment plants and interviewed more than 230 officials, academics and scientists.

The federal government does not require any testing for drugs in drinking water, and sets no limits on the permissible levels of drugs.

But while there are no federal regulations governing the levels of pharmaceuticals in the US water supply, the federal government's Environmental Protection Agency said it was aware of the problem.

"We recognise it is a growing concern and we're taking it very seriously," Benjamin Grumbles of the EPA told AP.

The drugs are passed through the bodies of people taking medications, or they are directly disposed of into the water supply.

The use of pharmaceuticals has soared in the US, with a 12% rise over the last five years in pharmaceutical prescriptions, to 3.7bn. The number of non-pharmaceutical prescriptions issued during the same period remained unchanged, at 3.3bn.

Although the concentrations found in the water supply are minimal, their presence raises concerns about the effects of long-term exposure to unregulated and unintended combinations of drugs.

The study shows that water sampled in Philadelphia included traces of 63 drugs, while the water in Washington DC included six pharmaceuticals. In New Orleans, researchers found a pain reliever, a sex hormone and an anti-cholesterol drug.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The US Will attack Iran Soon......

Top Middle East military commander resigns

Adm. Fallon had run Central Command, called ‘difficult to replace’

WASHINGTON - Adm. William Fallon is stepping down as head of the U.S. Central Command, which oversees military matters in the Middle East, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced Tuesday.

Gates said that Adm. William J. Fallon had asked for permission to retire and that Gates agreed. Gates said the decision, effective March 31, was entirely Fallon’s and that Gates believed it was “the right thing to do.”

Fallon was the subject of an article published last week in Esquire magazine that portrayed him as opposed to President Bush’s Iran policy. It described Fallon as a lone voice against taking military action to stop the Iranian nuclear program.


Fallon, who is traveling in Iraq, issued a statement through his U.S. headquarters in Tampa, Fla.

'Distraction' cited
“Recent press reports suggesting a disconnect between my views and the president’s policy objectives have become a distraction at a critical time and hamper efforts in the Centcom region,” Fallon said.

“And although I don’t believe there have ever been any differences about the objectives of our policy in the Central Command area of responsibility, the simple perception that there is makes it difficult for me to effectively serve America’s interests there,” Fallon added.

Gates described as “ridiculous” any notion that Fallon’s departure signals the United States is planning to go to war with Iran. And he said “there is a misperception” that Fallon disagrees with the administration’s approach to Iran.

“I don’t think there were differences at all,” Gates added.

Fallon has had a 41-year Navy career. He took the Central Command post on March 16, 2007, succeeding Army Gen. John Abizaid, who retired. Fallon previously served as commander of U.S. Pacific Command.

Gates said that until a permanent replacement is nominated and confirmed by the Senate, Fallon’s place will be taken by his top deputy, Army Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey.

'Cumulative kind of thing'
The secretary called Fallon a very able military strategist and said his advice will be missed at the Pentagon.

“I think this is a cumulative kind of thing,” said Gates, speaking of the circumstances leading up to Fallon’s decision. “It isn’t the result of any one article or any one issue.”

“As I say, the notion that this decision portends anything in terms of change in Iran policy is, to quote myself, ‘ridiculous,’” he said.

© 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

The MIlitary's take on Torture

Spiders on Drugs.....

This is way too funny

From TomPaine.com - Making the World Safe for Jack Bauer

Links:
[1] http://www.mail.com/Article.aspx?articlepath=APNewsTop Headlines20080308Bush_Torture_20080308.xml&cat=topheadlines&subcat=&pageid=1
[2] http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/blog/torture/index.asp
[3] http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/12/scalia-torture/
[4] http://thinkprogress.org/2008/02/12/scalia-torture/
[5] http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/Page/document/v5/content/subscribe?user_URL=http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20070616.BAUER16/TPStory/TPNational/Television/&ord=97778362&brand=theglobeandmail&force_login=true
[6] http://firedoglake.com/2006/11/17/from-the-department-of-fiction-is-not-realityor-is-it/
[7] http://www.rushlimbaugh.com/home/rush_photos_main/panel_discussion___24__and_america_s_image_in_fighting_terrorism.guest.html
[8] http://www.humanrightsfirst.org/us_law/detainees/abu-zubaydah-cia.htm

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I am interested in CNG vehicles because they are good for the environment and aren't powered by dead Marines. I still have a little hope for the world. Read the musings and enjoy.

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