Saturday, June 07, 2008

Alleged 9/11 mastermind, two plotters urge death penalty

Well this should make the whole fucking thing easier on the prosecution.
The alleged mastermind of the September 11, 2001 attacks and two co-conspirators defiantly demanded to be sentenced to death at a US military hearing, saying they had long sought martyrdom.

Ah, but do ya give them what they want? Such a goddamn quandary.

My sincerest (for me) apologies. AFP is totally fucked and won't show you the link.

The page you have requested does not exist, or no longer exists, on our server.

In order to find what you are looking for you can:

* Visit our homepage
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Thank you for your interest in Agence France-Presse (AFP)!

Honestly, I've nothing to do with this.

Note: Headline links to source.


Oil surges to new heights after Israeli warning on Iran

Ya gotta love having Israel as an ally. They bestow so many benefits on the US.
Crude oil prices went on a record-setting surge Friday as fears of a new Middle East conflict were fanned by comments from a top Israeli official about Iran.

I may often come off as anti-semitic (Decide for yourself.), but I calls 'em as I sees 'em. If the Israeli government fucks up, by my criteria, they deserve my derision. Same goes for any country.

Ya ready for $10 oil? I'd suggest you invest in some firm walking shoes.

Note: Headline links to source.

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Canadian TSA backs airport staff in breast-milk dumping dispute

You're gonna see this graphic from time to time.

The good news is anyone who works wants the support of superiors. A lack thereof undermines.

The bad news is strict adherence to "the rules/guidelines" sometimes ignores common sense as it did in this case.
Airport security staff were following regulations when they threw out 1½ litres of breast milk a passenger tried to take on a plane with her, says Canadian Air Transport Security Authority spokesman Mathieu Larocque. Nina Brewer-Davis was going through security at Vancouver International Airport on Tuesday to board a plane to her home in San Diego when she had to surrender the breast milk she had pumped while away from her baby. She said she had a cooler containing 180-millilitre bags - 10 of them, most of which weren't full.

Note: Headline links to source.


U.S.: 10 airports install body scanners capable of seeing body sweat

Just remember, the sense you're being violated is all in your fucking head. Or maybe not.

Your government would never do that, right? Just asking.
Devices can peer under passengers' clothes BALTIMORE - Body-scanning machines that show images of people underneath their clothing are being installed in 10 of the nation's busiest airports in one of the biggest public uses of security devices that reveal intimate body parts. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) recently started using body scans on randomly chosen passengers in Los Angeles, Baltimore, Denver, Albuquerque and at New York's Kennedy airport. Airports in Dallas, Detroit, Las Vegas and Miami will be added this month. Reagan National Airport in Washington starts using a body scanner today. A total of 38 machines will be in use within weeks.

Here's my take on this. If the goddamn TSA inspector is giving me a hard on its my business and not hers. She has to wait for me to buy her drinks before that is available knowledge.

Disclaimer: I'm joking here. I've never bought anyone a drink in an airline terminal other the moi.

Note: Headline links to source.


Eight 'clone farm' cows born in Britain; meat could be on sale in months

Hereford bull calf

Oopsie. It seems the UK has a loophole problem.

You can't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear (so they say), but you can make a calf out of a cow's ear. The fucking mind boggles.
Eight 'clone farm' cows have been born in the UK, the Daily Mail can reveal. Their mother is a clone - created in a U.S. laboratory with cells taken from the ear of a prize-winning animal. Meat or milk from the calves, flown into Britain as frozen embryos and implanted into a surrogate, could be on sale here within months. Though food from clones is barred from the food chain, there are no legal safeguards over their offspring.[emphasis mine]

FWIW, my take on this is suspicion. If cloning is exactly replicating an existent animal, I see no problem. But is it "exact"? Just asking.

Two addendum:

First all baby animals are fucking cute, but none so much as a goddamn Hereford calf.

That is until the one year old sumbitch starts trying to butt my mother. To say the least, she wasn't amused. I was.

Second in looking for graphics for this post I ran into many (and I mean many many) sites for miniature Herefords. Considering the object with Herefords is to raise them as food, why the hell does anyone want to miniaturize them and reduce the quantity of meat? Just asking.

Note: Headline links to source.


Is the Oil Bubble Bursting?

Richard Rainwater

In another completely shameless act I've purloined the entire item here from Neatorama.
I know, I know, oil prices are stratospheric (new high today of $136 per barrel as I write this) and it’s hard to see how it will go back down with increased worldwide demand and finite supply, but just read what Richard Rainwater has to say about the oil bubble about to burst.
Who’s Richard Rainwater and why you should listen to him? It’s all explained in this article about Justin Fox for TIME magazine:

Eleven years ago, after doing a lot of studying and a lot of thinking, Richard Rainwater convinced himself that the long decline in oil prices that had begun in the early 1980s was about to end. As a billionaire who had made his name and fortune steering the Texas oil riches of Fort Worth’s Bass family into lucrative nonenergy investments like Disney stock, Rainwater had the wherewithal to act on his conviction. So he plunked down about $300 million of his own money on energy-company stocks and oil and gas futures.

For a while it looked like a boneheaded move. At the end of 1998, the price of oil fell below $10 per bbl. Regular gas sold for 90¢ a gal. While Internet billionaires were being minted to the right and left of him, Rainwater was getting poorer by the day.

You can guess the rest of the story. The dotcoms imploded; the price of oil climbed, climbed and climbed some more–and Rainwater’s energy bet came to look like one of the better investment calls of our time. It has netted him about $2 billion, vaulting him from the mid-200s on Forbes magazine’s 1999 list of the 400 richest Americans to No. 91 last summer (with $3.5 billion overall).

So guess what Rainwater did a few weeks ago, right after oil prices topped $129 per bbl. for the first time? "I sold my Chevron," he says. "I sold my ConocoPhillips. I sold my Statoil. I sold my ENSCO. I sold my Pioneer Natural Resources. I sold everything."

WARNING: I'm not a financial consultant or adviser. Otherwise I'd probably have some money. You make your own decisions.

Note: Headline links to source.


U.S.: We will address Iran nuke threat via diplomacy

Secretary Rice with Shaul Mofaz
State Department photo by Michael Gross

And the rhetorical attacks escalate.
White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said Friday that the United States was committed to solving the Iranian nuclear threat through diplomatic multilateral means.

Perino was responding to comments made earlier Friday by Transportation Minister and Deputy Prime Minister, who said that an Israeli attack on Iran appeared "unavoidable" given the apparent failure of sanctions to deny Tehran technology with bomb-making potential.

Tehran has also threatened to retaliate against Israel, believed to have the Middle East's only atomic arsenal, and U.S. targets in the Gulf if there is any attack on Iran.

Earlier Friday, the mass-circulation Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted Mofaz as saying "if Iran continues with its program for developing nuclear weapons, we will attack it. The sanctions are ineffective."

"Attacking Iran, in order to stop its nuclear plans, will be unavoidable," the former Israel Defense Forces chief of staff who later served as defense minister told the newspaper.

It was the most explicit threat yet against Iran from a member of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's government, which, like the Bush administration, has preferred to hint at force as a last resort should United Nations Security Council sanctions fail to achieve the desired abandonment of nuclear development by Tehran.

Mofaz also said in the interview that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has called for Israel to be wiped off the map, [For those who don't understand metaphors. - ed.] "would disappear before Israel does." [For those who know Israel would do it. -ed.]

Please, someone, explain to me how you can solve a problem "diplomatically" if you refuse to talk to the other side.

Note: Headline links to source.

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It's the Platform, Stupid

Sorghum bicolor.

A fairly long, but important read IMHO. I love posting examples of how we can scientifically limit climate change if we want to.

A small excerpt:
Enter SwiftFuel, the Splenda of motor fuels because it is made from ethanol yet contains no ethanol. SwiftFuel is the invention of John and Mary Rusek from Swift Enterprises in Indiana. To your airplane SwiftFuel looks and tastes just like gasoline. It has an octane rating of 104 (higher than the 100 octane fuel it replaces) yet contains no lead or ethanol. SwiftFuel mixes with gasoline, can be stored in the same tanks as gasoline, and be shipped in the same pipelines as gasoline. It is made entirely from biomass, which means it has a net zero carbon footprint and does nothing to increase global warming. Its emission of other polluting byproducts of burning gasoline are significantly lower, too. SwiftFuel has more energy per gallon than gasoline so your airplane (or your car) will go 15-20 percent further on each gallon.

Oh, and based on an average $1.42 per gallon wholesale cost for the ethanol used as its feedstock, SwiftFuel costs $1.80 per gallon to produce, meaning that it ought to be able to sell for $3 per gallon or less no matter what happens in the Middle East.

Heck of a deal.


I hope that SwiftFuel is a success. I hope it fulfills all Mary Rusek's claims. But if SwiftFuel doesn't succeed, I also hope that isn't because entrenched oil interests kill it. Yet I don't think many of us would be surprised if that is exactly what happens.

The truly kewl thing is sorghum is not a staple food crop like corn and it's six times better than corn when used to make ethanol.

Yeah, the graphic ain't very sexy. For some reason sexy pictures of grass just aren't available.

Note: Headline links to source.

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Cat blogging

Probably time for a periodic reminder.

I have no cat. If I did, I'd use it to wash the car and not take photos of it.


Worst president ...Evah!

Nah. You be worser.


Friday, June 06, 2008

Australia: Miracle baby may be a world first

Meet Durga ... Ravi Thangarajah with his newborn
baby girl who survived a full ectopic pregnancy
Photo: ©Brad Fleet

File under: I learn new shit every day. I'd never heard the term "ectopic pregnancy" before. I tend to avoid delivery rooms.

Jesus H Christ with too many children. I seem to have hit on a theme here about miracle babies. First it was this one and now...

IN AN OVARY!!!1!! And the mother didn't know there was a problem?
A Territory baby has been dubbed a miracle after she survived - in what is believed to be a world first - a full-term ovarian pregnancy.

Durga Thangarajah defied the odds and was born at Darwin Private Hospital at 8.47am yesterday after a two-hour delicate operation saw doctors carefully cut her from her mother Meera's right ovary, the Northern Territory News reports.

Doctors are baffled at the medical phenomenon, saying an ovarian pregnancy is one of the rarest variations of ectopic pregnancies and generally have life threatening complications.

Because of the high risk, expecting mothers who present to hospital in the early stages with an ectopic pregnancy are made to abort.

Recovering in her hospital bed last night, Mrs Thangarajah, 34, from Nakara in Darwin's northern suburbs, fought to hold back tears as she told how she had no idea her pregnancy was abnormal.

"I didn't know anything until I woke up after the caesarean and the doctors told me,'' she said.

"I'm feeling like the luckiest woman in the world.''

Mrs Thangarajah and her husband Ravi arrived at the hospital at 6.30am yesterday to have a planned caesarean for their second child.

They thought everything was fine and had no idea what the doctor was going to find.

Obstetrician Andrew Miller told the Northern Territory News he was stunned when he went to perform a caesarean section on Mrs Thangarajah and found the baby squeezed into the right ovary.

He said she was lucky the ovary had not ruptured as the baby grew and stretched the skin, adding that the skin was so thin he could see the baby's hair and facial features through it.

"It could have ruptured at any moment, leaving both mother and baby's lives at risk,'' he said.

Dr Miller said it was a medical phenomenon.

"This form of pregnancy is rare enough, but to have it go full term is unheard of,'' he said. "I have never come across it in any hospital.

Now you know what an ectopic pregnancy is. Remember to check out SPIIDERWEB™ for all the trivia you'll ever need.

Note: Headline links to source.


Stung by losses, nation's beekeepers try to rebuild

Probably not the same Clint Walker
as mentioned in the story, but...

Hey, didn't I mention one of my goals is to fill my head with fucking trivia?
"I can't raise enough queens; I turn down orders every day," In the woods and rolling farmland of Central Texas, Clint Walker is breeding queen bees. Stashed in nondescript boxes underneath a stand of trees, the bees could be easily missed. But the queens are a lifeline for Walker and other commercial beekeepers, who are furiously trying to replenish their depleted hives.

Now before you complain, I know what I'm about to type is crass, stereotypical, insensitive, insulting, and pretty much lame which is true to my nature.

Ya need to raise fucking queens? Go to New York.

Note: Headline links to source.


Continental Airlines cuts jobs, retires planes

This is how the fucking economy works.
Continental Airlines Inc said on Thursday it would cut 3,000 jobs, or about 6.5 percent of its work force, and retire 67 older planes as it scales down in the face of soaring fuel prices. The No. 4 carrier is the latest of the major U.S. airlines to announce large cutbacks as they grapple with unprecedented oil prices, which have doubled in the past year.

OK, lets take a look at this.

Continental mothballs airplanes not to mention putting 3,000 people on the unemployment line. That means they will probably cancel contracts for more airplanes.

That means airplane manufacturers will offload (read fire/sack) several thousand more people who join the Continental employees on the unemployment line. At least they have something in common to talk about.

Now you have thousands of workers who may lose their houses, may become homeless and certainly won't be buying big ticket items like appliances and automobiles. Fuck, they won't even go to McDonalds.

Ah, now there are further workers let go because sales are down.

Now you have Burger King kids being fired/sacked.

They quit buying at the thrift stores and quit driving.

I think you get the goddamn idea.

This is a downward spiral to end all spirals.

Note: Headline links to source.


What About the Iraqis?

Dear folk, every killed and wounded American soldier in Iraq is tragic and it's horrible for their families and friends. Perhaps in some cases more tragic. The families and friends are alive to grieve.

But the same goes for the fucking Iraqis who are killed and wounded and their families and friends.

This compassion is what's commonly referred to as humanity.
I found myself listing to a talk radio show on NPR's Philadelphia affiliate WHYY today, which focused in part on the agonies suffered by families of American troops killed or seriously maimed in Iraq.

Left unsaid--and this I think is the case in nearly all the reporting that gets done on the costs of the Iraq War that are being borne here in the US by relatives of troops--is the terrible reality that we're talking about the relatives of just 4500 American servicemen and women killed, and perhaps 30,000 seriously wounded (not counting the hundreds of thousands suffering mental damage). Not to diminish that suffering, it needs to be pointed out that by some accounts, well over 1 million Iraqis have died in this illegal, uncalled-for and criminal war.

And most of the dead, contrary to what we are told by the corporate media, are victims of the US military, not Iraqi bombers. The immense firepower of American forces, and the over-use of rockets, pilotless, rocket-firing drones, and aerial bombardment (designed to keep US casualties as low as possible), ensure high levels of civilian casualties (called collateral damage, or on rare occasions "unfortunate mistakes"), and we are unable to obtain accurate numbers because the US "doesn't do bodycounts."

Most are also civilians, not combatants. According to one study conducted by the Christian Science Monitor, one of the nation's most respected daily newspapers, the ratio of civilians killed by US troops vs. enemy fighters killed was an appalling 30:1. As I've often noted, with a ratio like that it would be fairer to call any enemy fighters who are killed "collateral damage" in what should be seen as deliberate targeting of civilians. [emphasis mine]

And a disproportionate number of those civilians are children and young people. This has also been documented by researchers and has been observed anecdotally in hospitals. Children, because they are less aware of what's going on around them, are less able to defend themselves, and are in general more vulnerable, are the main victims in this kind of brutal urban war fighting.

Now recall that for every Iraqi killed, whether that person is a fighter or a civilian, there is a grieving family, whose loss is every bit as terrible as is the loss suffered by an American family. What you get is perhaps 4-5 million Iraqis, in a nation of 24 million, who are suffering this inconsolable losses.

It is as though 50 million Americans had lost someone in the war.

Note: Headline links to source.


Thursday, June 05, 2008

How the Web Was Won

You wouldn't believe what all I find on the internets tubes I never post about. I use such as research, trivia accumulation, increasing my knowledge base which is why I'll occasionally state something as fact without accreditation. I often don't have any goddamn idea where I saw it. When I read about it, I evaluated it as authoritative, stuck the fucking info into my gray matter and moved on.

Which brings us to this post. The article linked to in the headline is as long as a novella which requires several mouse clicks to access, but its worth the effort.

It's an impressive chronicle of how the internets tubes came to be.

Ya ever hear of ARPA?
Fifty years ago, in response to the surprise Soviet launch of Sputnik, the U.S. military set up the Advanced Research Projects Agency. It would become the cradle of connectivity, spawning the era of Google and YouTube, of Amazon and Facebook, of the Drudge Report and the Obama campaign. Each breakthrough—network protocols, hypertext, the World Wide Web, the browser—inspired another as narrow-tied engineers, long-haired hackers, and other visionaries built the foundations for a world-changing technology. Keenan Mayo and Peter Newcomb let the people who made it happen tell the story.

All neo-geeks &ndash no thanks necessary.

I apologize for the graphic, but its the best I could find. Hey, ya wanna take a shot at diagramming the internets tubes as they are now, silly rabbit?

Note: Headline links to source.


Unintended results

Be absolutely clear when asking for sprinkles.

Say, "On that donut." or "On my ice cream."

Do NOT say, "I would like sprinkles."


N.Zealand sees breakthrough in animal gas problem

Butt (heh!) SPIIDERWEB™ already solved this problem.
New Zealand believes it has made a breakthrough in its plan to cut methane emissions from its livestock, part of a strategy to tackle greenhouse gasses, the farming nation's trade minister said on Wednesday.

"Our agricultural research organisation just last week was able to map the genome ... that causes methane in ruminant animals and we believe we can vaccinate against (that)," Phil Goff told a conference in Paris.

I suppose jabbing the cows with needles is more cost efficient and definitely less hassle.

Note: Headline links to source.


Palestinians slam Obama on Jerusalem remark

Jerusalem? ("?" because things change daily.)

File this under: OMG!!!1!! I didn't see this coming.
Palestinian leaders reacted with anger and dismay on Wednesday to Barack Obama's pledge that Jerusalem should be Israel's undivided capital.

President Mahmoud Abbas rejected the U.S. presidential candidate's pledge to American Jewish leaders [read panderng] and he repeated his demand for a Palestinian state with Arab East Jerusalem as its capital.

"This statement is totally rejected," Abbas told reporters in the West Bank administrative centre of Ramallah.

"The whole world knows that East Jerusalem, holy Jerusalem, was occupied in 1967 and we will not accept a Palestinian state without having Jerusalem as the capital of a Palestinian state."

Abbas aide Saeb Erekat said Palestinian negotiators engaged in U.S.-sponsored peace talks would continue to insist on securing East Jerusalem, captured by Israel in 1967, as their capital. He said of Obama: "He has closed all doors to peace."

Obama, newly secure as the Democratic nominee for president, said in a speech in Washington: "Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

The United States and other international powers do not regard Jerusalem as Israel's capital -- the U.S. and other embassies are in Tel Aviv -- and do not recognise Israel's annexation of Arab East Jerusalem following the 1967 war.

Does this mean I might be somewhat critical of Obama should he become President even though I support Democrats?

Ya bet your sweet ass it does.

BTW, that link (Jerusalem?) under the graphic is to an unbelievable site with screens of links on the subject of the Israeli/Palestinian conflicts.

Note: Headline links to source.

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Iraq lawmakers want US forces out as part of deal

Sometimes ya dig long enough and you find dots to connect.

Consider this dot number two. This is dot number one.

All emphasis mine in the following story.
A majority of the Iraqi parliament has written to Congress rejecting a long-term security deal with Washington if it is not linked to a requirement that U.S. forces leave, a U.S. lawmaker said on Wednesday.

Rep. William Delahunt, a Massachusetts Democrat and Iraq war opponent, released excerpts from a letter he was handed by Iraqi parliamentarians laying down conditions for the security pact that the Bush administration seeks with Iraq.

The proposed pact has become increasingly controversial in Iraq, where there have been protests against it. It has also drawn criticism from Democrats on the presidential election campaign trail in the United States, who say President George W. Bush is trying to dictate war policy after he leaves office.

"The majority of Iraqi representatives strongly reject any military-security, economic, commercial, agricultural, investment or political agreement with the United States that is not linked to clear mechanisms that obligate the occupying American military forces to fully withdraw from Iraq," the letter to the leaders of Congress said.

The signatures represented just over half the membership of Iraq's parliament, said Delahunt, a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee chairman.

Two Iraqi lawmakers whose parties were listed as signatories testified to Delahunt's panel on Wednesday that U.S. troops should leave Iraq, and that talks on the long-term security pact should be postponed until after they are gone.

"What are the threats that require U.S. forces to be there?" asked Nadeem Al-Jaberi, a co-founder of the al-Fadhila Shi'ite political party, speaking through a translator.

"I would like to inform you, there are no threats on Iraq. We are capable of solving our own problems," he declared. He favored a quick pullout of U.S. forces, which invaded the country in 2003 and currently number around 155,000.

Dictating war policy after leaving office is exactly what the moron is attempting to do. But he'll use privatization to do it unless Iraq catches on to what he's trying to pull off.

If you're smart you'll invest heavily in Halliburton and Blackwater.

Jesus H Christ in body armor, but its gonna take a lot of work to undo what the idiot has done in the last eight years.

I normally refer to the moron as, well, a moron or an idiot or shrub (RIP Molly Ivins). Basically he really is just a fucking wanker.

If you look up wanker on, he's the second definition. Heh.

Note: Headline links to source.


Australian researchers say 'natural condom' could stop HIV

The comments I could make are almost endless.
Australian researchers said Wednesday they have developed a means of producing a "natural condom" which could prevent the spread of AIDS.

I will say they're now working on a ribbed tickler variety and adding colors.

Aren't you glad I didn't provide a fucking (no pun intended) graphic?

Note: Headline links to source (But not for me right now.).


Bush has plans to turn Iraq over to the corporations and their mercenary armies

I do have to give the idiot credit where due. Just when you think he's done all the fucking damage he can around the world, he comes up with an inventive way to do more.

Perhaps he has a singular talent for turning everything he can into shit.
Could the U.S. ultimately end up privatizing its entire mission in Iraq?

That's what the latest round of contracts the U.S. government plans to let out in the coming months might suggest.

As Walter Pincus reports in today's Washington Post, the new contracts underscore the non-military involvement the U.S. is undertaking as public pressure mounts to reduce troop numbers

One contract could essentially begin to privatize the process of training the Iraqi security forces by hiring "mentors" to do what the U.S. military has struggled unsuccessfully to do for the past five years.
The proposals reflect multiyear commitments. The mentor contract notes that the U.S. military "desires for both Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Defense to become mostly self-sufficient within two years," a time outside some proposals for U.S. combat troop withdrawal. ...
The mentors will assist an U.S. military group that previously began to implement what are described as "core processes and systems," such as procurement, contracting, force development, management and budgeting, and public affairs.

On the civilian side, the Bush administration is looking for a team of contractors to establish a system of security and protection for the Iraq judicial system:
The marshals service would be organized by the State Department's bureau responsible for developing rule of law programs in Iraq. It "has plans to create an Iraqi service to be known as the Judicial Protection Service (JPS), modeled to some degree after the U.S. Marshals Service, that will ensure the safe conduct of judicial proceedings and protect judges, witnesses, court staff, and court facilities," a notice published last month said.

With a circular logic, the contractors for the court police will be primarily charged with setting up a system that can be run by contractors for the long term:
In short, State wants a contractor to put together all the elements so the department can contract the project to another contractor.

Finally, the U.S. is seeking to privatize its own Iraqi prisons.
Another contract noticed last week previews the opening, apparently in September, of a U.S.-run prison, now labeled a Theater Internment Facility Reconciliation Center, which is to be located at Camp Taji, 12 miles north of Baghdad. The new contract calls for providing food for "up to 5,000 detainees" and will also cover 150 Iraqi nationals, who apparently will work at the facility. The contract is to run for one year, with an option year to follow.

These latest contract announcements come in addition to the massive amount of U.S. arms that the Pentagon has encouraged the Iraq military to buy.

So far, the Iraqi government -- which long relied on Russian-made military supplies -- has committed to buy about $3 billion in U.S. weapons, as USA Today reported recently:
The increase in Iraqi arms and equipment purchases has helped makers of such U.S. military staples as the Humvee, the Pentagon's workhorse vehicle, and the M-4 and M-16 rifles, military contract records show.

That puts Iraq among the top current purchasers of U.S. military equipment through the foreign military sales program, records show. Benkert said the deals are helping to cement the future relationship of Iraq to the United States.

Note: Headline links to source.


Israeli military announces plan to uproot 440 olive trees from Naalin village

Olive tree

If what Israel is doing to the Palestinians doesn't amount to genocide and terrorism then I have no idea what those words mean.
In a town that has become the forefront of the Palestinian non-violent resistance to the Israeli annexation Wall, the Palestinian residents of Naalin received notice today that the Israeli military plans to uproot hundreds of olive trees - the only source of revenue for most villagers.

Note: Headline links to source.

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Halliburton sold nuke components to Iran?

Its not easy being the moron, I suppose. In choosing a running mate he couldn't find a qualified bank robber or rapist and had to settle for Cheney.
According to journalist Jason Leopold, sources at former Cheney company Halliburton allege that, as recently as January of 2005, Halliburton sold key components for a nuclear reactor to an Iranian oil development company. Leopold says his Halliburton sources have intimate knowledge of the business dealings of both Halliburton and Oriental Oil Kish, one of Iran's largest private oil companies. Additionally, throughout 2004 and 2005, Halliburton worked closely with Cyrus Nasseri, the vice chairman of the board of directors of Iran-based Oriental Oil Kish, to develop oil projects in Iran. Nasseri is also a key member of Iran's nuclear development team. Nasseri was interrogated by Iranian authorities in late July 2005 for allegedly providing Halliburton with Iran's nuclear secrets. Iranian government officials charged Nasseri with accepting as much as $1 million in bribes from Halliburton for this information.


However, Halliburton has a long history of doing business in Iran, starting as early as 1995, while Vice President Cheney was chief executive of the company. Leopold quotes a February 2001 report published in the Wall Street Journal, "Halliburton Products and Services Ltd., works behind an unmarked door on the ninth floor of a new north Tehran tower block. A brochure declares that the company was registered in 1975 in the Cayman Islands, is based in the Persian Gulf sheikdom of Dubai and is "non-American." But like the sign over the receptionist's head, the brochure bears the company's name and red emblem, and offers services from Halliburton units around the world." Moreover mail sent to the company's offices in Tehran and the Cayman Islands is forwarded directly to its Dallas headquarters.

Yes, Cheney was gone from Halliburton, but he set the tone of the company.

Note: Headline links to source.

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Missing Cape Cod lighthouse located in California

And no one fucking noticed? Just asking.
Local historians for decades thought the 30-foot (9m) tall lighthouse that once overlooked Wellfleet Harbor [Eastern US coast] had been taken down and destroyed in 1925.

Turns out, it had just been moved to the California coast [Western US - approximately 3,000mi (482803200cm)]. Hahaha. Just fucking with ya. Its about 4828km.

Note: Headline links to source.


The Blob Movie Poster

Ol' Steve McQueen done better*.

Fuck, he isn't even mentioned on the goddamn poster.

* Periodic advisory: Never use this site as a source of proper English/grammar.

Note: Headline links to source.


Islam and the rapture

Picture from My Confined Space.

OK, here's my take on all this.

Islamics just need to be patient! If the moron in the White House and the fundies are correct, and I serious doubt they are, the rapture is coming. Got it?

Benies (benefits) for ya'll. All the fucking Christians (And those heretics who don't fuck.) will be gone. Taken to Heaven by angels or... Poof! Hence the picture.

The world is yours. You just have to sit back and wait.

So stop with the goddamn bloodshed for now you silly rabbits and I'm hopeful we'll do the same. K?

Sorry, the meds just aren't working right now.

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Obama on Israel

Please forgive me Left I on the News, but I stole your whole fucking post. Its just too damn good to excerpt.

My tirades come after this.
Barack Obama spoke to AIPAC today. Some excerpts:
It was just a few years after the liberation of the camps that David Ben-Gurion declared the founding of the Jewish State of Israel. We know that the establishment of Israel was just and necessary, rooted in centuries of struggle, and decades of patient work.

Note the omission of the role of the U.S. and the U.N.; in this strange history, it was simply Ben-Gurion who "declared" the founding of Israel. Note also the use of the word "just," omitting any mention of the gross injustice that was committed with the lie of "the land without people for a people without land." Note finally the reference to "decades of patient work," which makes it clear that he acknowledges that the establishment of Israel was a long-held Zionist plan, and not a response to the Holocaust (although obviously that's what pushed the plan through to fruition).
"There are still voices that deny the Holocaust."

There are, but he's really referring to Ahmadinejad, who only questions the number killed (absurd, but no less so than Bush, and probably Obama, vastly understating the number killed in the ongoing holocaust in Iraq) and questions why the solution to European anti-Semitism had to come at the expense of a people who had nothing to do with it.
"There are those who would lay all of the problems of the Middle East at the doorstep of Israel and its supporters, as if the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root of all trouble in the region."

Yeah, what a wacky idea.
"I will ensure that Israel can defend itself from any threat - from Gaza to Tehran. Defense cooperation between the United States and Israel is a model of success, and must be deepened. As President, I will implement a Memorandum of Understanding that provides $30 billion in assistance to Israel over the next decade."

Yes, because Israel's 150[+] nuclear weapons aren't sufficient to defend itself, and we have no better use for $30 billion here in the United States (or, for that matter, in Palestine, where an investment of $30 billion would do a lot more for Israel's security than spending $30 billion more on tanks and warplanes for Israel).
"There is no room at the negotiating table for terrorist organizations. That is why I opposed holding elections in 2006 with Hamas on the ballot. The Israelis and the Palestinian Authority warned us at the time against holding these elections."

I did not know that. What a democrat. Elections? Not if the "wrong" party is going to win.
"As President, I will work to help Israel achieve the goal of two states, a Jewish state of Israel and a Palestinian state, living side by side in peace and security."

Notice anything missing? "I will work to help Israel achieve..." Don't the Palestinians figure in here somewhere?
"Jerusalem will remain the capital of Israel, and it must remain undivided."

A blockbuster. "Remain"? Only Israel (I believe) recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and that "undivided" part is going to be rather a stumbling block to his claims to be working for a Palestinian state, because no Palestinian leadership, however compromised, is ever going to accept such a situation.
"Syria has taken dangerous steps in pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, which is why Israeli action was justified to end that threat."

There isn't any serious evidence that Syria had taken such "dangerous steps," just the vaguest of unsupported allegations, and the notion that Israel was justified in attacking Syria is, to put it mildly, both contrary to international law and dangerous in the extreme.
"As President, I will do whatever I can to help Israel succeed in these negotiations. And success will require the full enforcement of Security Council Resolution 1701 in Lebanon, and a stop to Syria’s support for terror."

That "whatever I can" might be hiding an awful lot of aggressive actions. Remember this as the guy vigorously advocating bombing "sanctuaries" in Pakistan. What is he thinking about now? Who else is he planning to bomb to help enforce 1701 and stop Syria's alleged support for terror?
"There is no greater threat to Israel - or to the peace and stability of the region - than Iran."

The war drums come out. Indeed, the truth is that, aside from the U.S., there is no greater threat to Iran than Israel, whose politicians, just like American politicians, openly threaten military action against Iran. Iran, by contrast, has never threatened action against Israel, and hasn't attacked another country in hundreds of years. Too bad Israel and the U.S. can't say the same.
"[Iran] pursues a nuclear capability that could spark a dangerous arms race, and raise the prospect of a transfer of nuclear know-how to terrorists. Its President denies the Holocaust and threatens to wipe Israel off the map. The danger from Iran is grave, it is real, and my goal will be to eliminate this threat."

Until we get to the last phrase ("my goal..."), there isn't a single word of truth in this diatribe (I'll spare the details, which I've covered many times before).
"I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon. That starts with aggressive, principled diplomacy"

It may start there, but we know where "everything in my power" ends up, and it isn't pretty (or legal, for that matter).
"...whose Quds force has rightly been labeled a terrorist organization."

That's funny, because just a few months ago, Obama criticized Hillary Clinton for voting for a resolution labelling the Quds force a "terrorist organization." Does he think no one remembers?
"Finally, let there be no doubt: I will always keep the threat of military action on the table to defend our security and our ally Israel. Sometimes there are no alternatives to confrontation."

Just in case you had any doubt. And by "threat of military action," he means "military action." By "confrontation," he means "war."

To listen to Obama (and Bush and McCain and every other major politician and pundit) you'd think that Iranian troops were massing on the Israeli border. Oh wait...there is no such border.

Update: A friend who watched the speech (as opposed to reading the transcript as I did) reports:
I watched some of Obama's speech, and one thing I noticed was that he repeated the phrase "I will do everything in my power to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon" (or words to that effect) twice, and then repeated "everything" as a one-word sentence, and then looked around at the crowd as if to say, "get it."

OK, where to start?

First off Israel is a goddamn chihuahua among countries (look at the fucking map*) with the heart and disposition of a rottweiler. To allow that fucking dog to wag its tail and control US foreign policy is ludicrous in the extreme.

I recently posted a comment to a blog extolling the virtues of having a candidate dedicated to change running for President. They were practically drooling about it as they genuflected.

Well, here's your fucking "change". If anything its a change for the worse.

I'm surprised the White House has foreign policy advisors on staff. What a waste of taxpayers' money. Just ask Israel what to do. Won't cost you a fucking cent.

* Can you even find Israel on the map? Hint: Its yellow and has a lot of waterfront property.

Note: Headline links to source.

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And I always wanted to pet one. Now, with the high price of gas and this sign. Damn. Not in Florida.

Note: Headline links to source.


Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Soldiers Admit Using "Drop Weapons" To Cover Up Killing Innocent Iraqi Civilians

This is sad. Not because they do it which has certain moral implications I'm allowed to contemplate because I'm not there, but because they feel they must. They don't intend for these incidents to happen I'm sure, but know the consequences of being exposed.

In the heat of battle...
Several soldiers who have returned from combat zones talk with the American News Project about what they say is the widespread practice of using "drop weapons" to cover up the killing of innocent civilians in Iraq and Afghanistan. We feature five veterans and current members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, plus retired Lieutenant Colonel Gary Solis, a Vietnam War veteran and legal scholar who taught "Law of War" at West Point.

Didn't someone once say, "War is hell"? I thought so.

Criticism is oh so easy, but I've read accounts from troops in the Mid-East and it's never black or white. Its more on the order of kill or be killed and they make split second decisions that can mean living or dying.

This link includes video. Too much for my sick PC.

Note: Headline links to source.

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What does 'Certified Organic' really mean?

Free range chickens.

Sometimes these fucking posts practically write themselves.

Case in point.
Buying organic is becoming more and more popular as some worry about the health and safety of the foods they eat. But what does it mean for a food to be organic? According to the National Organic Program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, organic meat, poultry, eggs and dairy products come from animals that are given no antibiotics or growth hormones. Organic food is produced without using most conventional pesticides, fertilizers made with synthetic ingredients or sewer sludge, bioengineering or ionizing radiation.

Ipso facto, non-organic foods can have all that shit in them.

I'm pretty sure this sucker ain't free range.

In fact, he doesn't even seem to be vegetarian. He is funny as hell, though. I've seen him several times. He's simply "The Chicken".

Note: Headline links to source.



This reminded me of an anecdote from a few years back. Jesus H Christ with a shell, it was probably six years ago.

Anyway I took my then fiancé and her daughter out for dinner. It was in Asia and I specifically chose a restaurant which served escargo because I love it. It was the only restaurant I could find that did serve this delicacy. Unfortunately they didn't understand drawn butter so I had to make do. Its really not the same.

I suggested her daughter try one. She was adamant about not putting a snail in her mouth.

After some teasing and cajoling by her mum and I she did timidly try one. HUGE MISTAKE!

She cleaned my plate. She couldn't eat the rest fast enough.

Ours were much smaller than the picture.

Note: Headline links to source.


Florida printer says his industry can go green for not a dime more

Probably not Tico's press, but could be.
Its a visual aid. Live with it please.

I have little to add really except green is not a four letter word.
Like his father and grandfather before him, Gus Casamayor has earned his livelihood in the printing business.

It all started in 1941 when grandfather Augusto Casamayor opened Editorial Guerrero in Cuba. Gus' father, also an Augusto, eventually took over the business and tried to hold onto it despite Fidel Castro's confiscation of the presses in the mid-'60s. Through various twists and turns, the family eventually ended up in Hialeah, opening AC Graphics in the mid-'70s. Gus made his son, Tico, a partner in the business, which employs 18 and prints about 900,000 pounds of material a year.

Then a couple years ago, after a health crisis, Casamayor took a trip to his wife's hometown in Montañita, Ecuador. What ensued carries the tones of magical realism from a Gabriel García Márquez novel: meeting a shaman, seeing the forest more clearly after using eyedrops the healer gave him and promising to watch Al Gore's movie and consider how his own way of life might be destroying the health of the planet.

He cleaned up his own shop, learned the differences between recycled and certified paper, converted from petroleum- to vegetable-based inks, became the first triple-certified printer in Florida and made it his mission to educate others. His message to printers: Being green does not have to cost a dime more.

Don't buy into the green costs green (money) to accomplish bullshit. Often green is very cost affective if not merely neutral.

Note: Headline links to source.


Leaders feast on Italian fare during hunger summit

Fresh cheese mousse with white chocolate
and sparkling wine sorbet.

Hypocrisy is exactly the word for this.

What in hell is wrong with a simple fucking plate of spaghetti? And, just to be decadent, a slice of cake for dessert? No one expects them to fast during these talks, but puff pastries with corn and mozzarella, pasta with pumpkin and shrimp, rolls of thinly sliced veal, cheese mousse, parmesan risotto, lemon mousse with raspberry sauce and a [special] chilled white wine? That's just obscene.

Maybe obscene is a better word than hypocrisy.

As for the starving &ndash let 'em eat cake.
For presidents and premiers at summits, delicacies washed down by fine wines are all part of the agenda.

But the puff pastries with corn and mozzarella, pasta with pumpkin and shrimp, and rolls of thinly sliced veal served up Tuesday at a U.N. conference on fighting hunger were a contrast to bleak accounts of starving people around the world.

The menu was in French but the fare was strictly Italian, served in a dining room at the headquarters of the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The repast was accompanied by a chilled white wine from Orvieto in the hills of Umbria north of Rome.

"It's pretty standard stuff," said FAO spokesman Nick Parsons, describing the meal as "pleasant, light and nutritious."

For decades, the FAO has striven for a sober culinary touch since an embarrassing moment during a similar summit called in 1974 amid a food crisis and oil shock.

The foreign minister of Bangladesh, which had suffered a severe famine, addressed a nearly deserted conference hall as most of the delegates nibbled on canapes at a nearby cocktail party.

Commentators howled hypocrisy.

But in Rome, one of Europe's premier gastronomic capitals, it's hard to deliver a spare meal - and while they are here delegates will be eating such specialties as cheese mousse, parmesan risotto and lemon mousse with raspberry sauce.

The top delegates - heads of state and government - were invited to the luncheon in a special dining room. Everyone else ate in the cafeteria.

"Leaders can eat what they want as long as they take decisive action to deliver the policies and the aid in agriculture that is needed to ensure that poor people who are suffering from high food prices are helped," said Alexander Woollcombe, a spokesman for the British aid group Oxfam.

Of the foods mentioned in this post, how many of you have had any of them in the past month? Just asking.

An earlier post of mine indicated many are living on SPAM®, not veal and their "pasta " most likely consists of Ramen noodles with bits of meat so small they lodge between one's teeth.

This whole story was patently offensive from "Its pretty standard stuff..." to...its hard to deliver a spare meal..." to "Leaders can eat what they want..."

Note: Headline links to source.


Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert: Iran's nuclear program must be stopped by "all possible means"

Note: I do NOT take credit for speech balloons.

I think Tehran has gotten the message Ehud. You and the moron have been quite clear on that subject which Iran vehemently denies.

Personally I could do without the "all possible means" bullshit. Of course a term like "drastic measures" isn't commonly used when trying to engage in polite international discussions either.

He is talking attack (How else to characterize "devastating repercussions"?) and I'm hoping he and the rest of those in charge of Israel realize how stupid that move would be.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Tuesday Iran's nuclear program must be stopped by "all possible means" and Tehran must be made to see it would suffer devastating repercussions if it pursued atomic weapons.

The Israeli leader, under criminal investigation at home that could drive him from office, issued his strongest warning yet to Iran in a policy speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, a pro-Israel lobbying group.

"The Iranian threat must be stopped by all possible means," said Olmert, who is expected to discuss the issue in talks with U.S. President George W. Bush on Wednesday.

"The international community has a duty and responsibility to clarify to Iran, through drastic measures, that the repercussions of their continued pursuit of nuclear weapons will be devastating," Olmert added.

The United States accuses Iran of pursuing atomic weapons under cover of its civil nuclear program. Iran denies this and has said its nuclear program is to generate electricity. Israel is widely believed to have hundreds of nuclear warheads. [emphasis mine]

Note: Headline links to source.

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Ryanair chief says fares may rise by 5%

Everyone just wants a bigger piece of the pie although Ryanair seems content, for now, with what they have.
BUDGET airline Ryanair warned yesterday that its fares may have to rise 5% this year as costs increase.

Ryanair chief executive Michael O’Leary added that the airline would be grounding up to 20 aircraft this winter and said some airlines would “go bust” if oil stays at $130 (£65) a barrel.

But he said Ryanair would never introduce fuel surcharges even if oil reached $500 a barrel and that it was nonsense to say the era of low-fare air travel in Europe was over.


Mr O’Leary was speaking in London as Ryanair unveiled its 2007-08 pre-tax profits which rose 17% to 528m (around £419m). He said Ryanair would break even if oil prices remained at $130 but if it rose to, say, $140 or $150 then Ryanair would lose money.

He said that fuel surcharges introduced by carriers such as British Airways were “completely unjustified” and were “just a scam” to take more money from the travelling public.

Mr O’Leary said that Ryanair would probably ground around 12 to 15 aircraft at Stansted Airport and around five to seven aircraft at Dublin during December, January and February next winter.

He said that this would not mean cuts in routes but would merely mean a reduction in frequency to some destinations.

He said the present oil price level was unsustainable and might even go up before coming down. There was likely to be a major recession and this would mean demand for oil would fall.

Describing the huge hike in prices of late, Mr O’Leary said it was “irrational”.

Note: Headline links to source.


Four US ships to leave Myanmar coast after snub

Update below.

Here we go with the next fucking round in Myanmar.
Four US Navy ships which had been stationed off cyclone-hit Myanmar with relief supplies and aircraft will return to normal duties after the junta rejected their help, US officials said Wednesday.


Myanmar denies delays to cyclone aid, as relief effort lags
Myanmar denied Tuesday any delays to cyclone aid, but the United Nations said the operation to help 2.4 million survivors is still moving too slowly one month after the deadly storm.

Both of these headlines and subsequent stories can't be true. Can they? Just asking.

I don't know what four ships they are or what their configurations, but I bet they have helicopters which could bring aid where its needed most &ndash to areas which are still inaccessible.

Update: I now know a little more.
After more than two weeks of waiting for a green light that never came, four U.S. warships laden with supplies and 22 helicopters set sail on Thursday for Thailand from internatioanl waters near the delta. [emphasis mine]

So my guess was right about the choppers.

Note: Headline links to source.


Obama clinches nomination; Clinton seeks VP spot

Jesus H Christ running for office, but I hope Obama won't pick HRC as a running mate.

Could she be good for the country? Definitely. Would she be? I seriously doubt it.

I think HRC as VP would continue the primary campaign for four more years. She'd subtly or not so subtly undermine Obama as often as possible so voters would begin seeing her as the prohibitively superior candidate in 2012.

That means she would have limited success in the position and only four years in which to accomplish anything. In fact she wouldn't even have four years because people would see, long before the four years were up, she was openly running for the next Presidency.

Truth is, I doubt there's any position in Obama's administration which would be a "good fit" for her and not be a thorn for Obama.
Cheered by a roaring crowd, Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois laid claim to the Democratic presidential nomination Tuesday night, taking a historic step toward his once-improbable goal of becoming the nation's first black president. Hillary Rodham Clinton maneuvered for the vice presidential spot on his fall ticket without conceding her own defeat.

"America, this is our moment," the 46-year-old senator and one-time community organizer said in his first appearance as the Democratic nominee-in-waiting. "This is our time. Our time to turn the page on the policies of the past."

Clinton praised Obama warmly in an appearance before supporters in New York, although she neither acknowledged his victory in their grueling marathon nor offered a concession of any sort.

Instead, she said she was committed to a unified party, and said she would spend the next few days determining "how to move forward with the best interests of our country and our party guiding my way."

Note: Headline links to source.

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Australia Bolts Iraq Over Bush's Lies

File this under: When chickens come home to roost.

Ya don't wanna be pissing off a good ally like Australia. Of course its too late now. The next President will be saddled with this shit.
Editor’s Note: Even into the sixth year of war in Iraq – even as ex-White House press secretary Scott McClellan admits the deceptions used to justify the invasion – the U.S. news media still averts its eyes from the full ugliness of what happened in 2002-03.

In this story, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern notes the far greater candor occurring in Australia -- and cites the earlier whistle-blowing by members of the Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS), which he helped found:

Matilda is walzing home from Iraq, and the Australians are lucky but chastened.

Lucky for having lost not one soldier in combat of the 2,000 sent to join the “coalition of the willing” attack on Iraq in March 2003.

Chastened because Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd is now pulling no punches in decrying the subservience of his predecessor, John Howard, to Washington.

Announcing the withdrawal of the 550 Australian troops still in Iraq on Monday, Rudd echoed recent charges by former White House spokesman Scott McClellan about the Bush administration’s “shading” of intelligence to “justify” an unnecessary war.

Rudd told Parliament he was most concerned by “the manner in which the decision to go to war was made; the abuse of intelligence information, a failure to disclose to the Australian people the qualified nature of that intelligence”; and the government’s silence on “the pre-war warning that an attack on Iraq would increase the terrorist threat, not decrease it.”

Rudd added:

“This government does not believe that our alliance with the United States mandates automatic compliance with every element of the United States’ foreign policy.”

Stung by Rudd’s candor, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino fell back on the canard that “the entire world” agreed on the threat posed by Saddam Hussein. As President Lyndon Johnson would have put it, That dog won’t hunt.

If all agreed, why then was President George W. Bush unable to secure the approval of the U.N. Security Council, without which an armed attack on another country is illegal under international and U.S. law?

Among “coalition of the willing” leaders not named Bush, only the faith-based former British Prime Minister Tony Blair hangs on pathetically to the notion that “everyone” believed Saddam Hussein had WMD.

Its just one more fucking burned bridge that has to be rebuilt probably at a great expenditure of time and money if it can be rebuilt.

I'm telling ya, the next President hadn't better get within 100mi (160km) of a lie.

The only good things to come out of all this are it should be nearly impossible for the moron to build a "coalition of the willing" for attacks on Iran, Syria, Lebanon, NoKo.

And its also possible a few Republicans will finally realize they haven't had a principled, honest, intelligent, diplomatic man in the White House for nearly eight years.

Note: Headline links to source.

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Asian Indian workers in US face human rights violation

Not one of the travel trailers from
the NOLA story except by coincidence.

One would think at some point I'd become blasé about such stories, but I certainly hope not.

The trailers probably also contain formaldehyde fumes.
A trailer house meant for just three people is shared by 24 Indian workers in the United States. This kind of accommodation has been allegedly given to over 500 Indian workers by a construction company in New Orleans over the past one year. As much as $35 a day were deducted from the salary of the workers for this style of accommodation with a little food.

I wonder if this is also one of the construction companies hiring illegal immigrants for Katrina reconstruction?

NOLA has been FUBAR in about every respect imaginable.

Note: Headline links to source.


The service industries

My last post mentioned a dead horse I can't seem to avoid beating. No, I don't mean the SPAM® (That's hog.) or the hot dogs (I assume they're never horse meat.).

No I mean the excerpt below. Service industry work is honest work, but it doesn't pay very well and essentially produces nothing.

People make good money, economies grow and the country is much better off if things are being manufactured, but you knew that.

Why do you think the military industrial complex, big oil, Caterpillar®, the automobile industry are all championed by government? They actually produce exportable fucking products and provide decent paying jobs.

Like it or not, Caterpillar® is still the gold standard around the world for mining, construction, earth moving, logging.

The government could have done better. They could have coerced, cajoled, pushed, encouraged the auto industry into building smaller, fuel efficient cars, but didn't. They let the industry drag its feet until now it has no choice.
...can’t afford to rent a room on service-industry wages.

I've known very few in service work who could afford to live alone. They need others to contribute to the rent, utilities, insurance. Forget that last one. I've known few who bought insurance.

Eventually most people will be in the service sector and will just be selling to each other while the US economic standing in the world collapses. You don't build a robust economy with service and pushing money around.

Note: Headline at last post links to source.

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Economic depression in America: Evidence of a withering economy is everywhere

SPAM®, the new fillet mignon.

I've said before I love SPAM® and have eaten it regularly for years. Just get over the irrational stigma it's only for poor people (which you're rapidly becoming). Its high quality pork and considered a delicacy for special occasions in many countries.

Ah, a couple slabs straight out of the can on bread with some mayo. Mmmm. Or cubed in scrambled eggs or on a salad is fine too. There are a gazillion ways to have it. Just ask Hormel®.

Besides that before eating SPAM® you can sculpt it. So its not just a food. Its a hobby.
Look around. The evidence of a withering economy is everywhere. In “good times” consumers shun the canned meat aisle altogether, but no more. Today, Spam sales are soaring; grocery stores can’t keep it on the shelves.

Everyone is looking for cheaper ways to feed their families. The Labor Dept. assures us that core-inflation is only 4 per cent, but everybody knows it’s load of malarkey. Food prices are going through the roof. White bread is up 13 percent, bacon is up 7 percent and peanut butter is up 9 percent. Inflation is rampant and there’s no end in sight. The dollar is closing in on the peso and working people are struggling just to get by. The bottom line is that more and more people in “the richest country on earth” are now surviving on processed pig-meat. That says it all.

In Santa Barbara parking lots are being converted into hostels so that families that lost their homes in the subprime fiasco can sleep in their cars and not be hassled by the cops. The same is true in LA where tent cities have sprung up around the railroad yards to accommodate the growing number of people who’ve lost their jobs or can’t afford to rent a room on service-industry wages. It’s tragic. Everywhere people are feeling the pinch; that’s why 9 out of 10 Americans now believe the country is now headed in the wrong direction and that’s why consumer confidence is at its lowest ebb since the Great Depression. This is the great triumph of Reagan’s free trade “trickle down” Voodoo economics; whole families living out of their cars waiting for the pawn shop to open.

Hahaha. Fillet mignon. I can't remember the last time I had beef that wasn't ground or in a hot dog casing. It doesn't bother me; beef steak hasn't been in my budget for a very long time.

And don't remind me what all goes into a hot dog. I know, but prefer denial.

Note: Headline links to source.


Border Agents, Lured by the Other Side

Smuggling parrots out of Mexico into US

Really the only thing surprising about this story is that it isn't happening much more often. The temptation to take smugglers' money just to look the other way or play a small role must be huge.

And what's the harm of bringing two-three parrots across the border. It isn't like its people or drugs.

Ah but of course, it often is people or drugs. And in both cases people die. Often many people die.
The smuggler in the public service announcement sat handcuffed in prison garb, full of bravado and shrugging off the danger of bringing illegal immigrants across the border.

“Sometimes they die in the desert, or the cars crash, or they drown,” he said. “But it’s not my fault.”

The smuggler in the commercial, produced by the Mexican government several years ago, was played by an American named Raul Villarreal, who at the time was a United States Border Patrol agent and a spokesman for the agency here.

Now, federal investigators are asking: Was he really acting?

Mr. Villarreal and a brother, Fidel, also a former Border Patrol agent, are suspected of helping to smuggle an untold number of illegal immigrants from Mexico and Brazil across the border. The brothers quit the Border Patrol two years ago and are believed to have fled to Mexico.

The Villarreal investigation is among scores of corruption cases in recent years that have alarmed officials in the Homeland Security Department just as it is hiring thousands of border agents to stem the flow of illegal immigration.

The pattern has become familiar: Customs officers wave in vehicles filled with illegal immigrants, drugs or other contraband. A Border Patrol agent acts as a scout for smugglers. Trusted officers fall prey to temptation and begin taking bribes.

Increased corruption is linked, in part, to tougher enforcement, driving smugglers to recruit federal employees as accomplices. It has grown so worrisome that job applicants will soon be subject to lie detector tests to ensure that they are not already working for smuggling organizations. In addition, homeland security officials have reconstituted an internal affairs unit at Customs and Border Protection, one of the largest federal law enforcement agencies, overseeing both border agents and customs officers.

When the Homeland Security Department was created in 2003, the internal affairs unit was dissolved and its functions spread among other agencies. Since the unit was reborn last year, it has grown from five investigators to a projected 200 by the end of the year.

BTW, the person who was bringing in those birds in the picture, without assistance, is really pretty fucking stupid. They really thought they could get away with that? Just asking.

Note: Headline links to source.


Tuesday, June 03, 2008

FACTBOX-World biofuels production and its impact

Click on the headline for more. Being a neutral news source, Reuters just gives the facts without the fucking outrage I have on the subject.
The following are facts about biofuels production as world leaders meet in Rome this week to discuss the global food price crisis.

* The most important biofuel is ethanol, a substitute for gasoline, which is mainly produced from grains and sugar crops.

* The two largest producers of ethanol are the United States and Brazil although there is also growing production in the European Union.

* The U.S. makes ethanol from corn, a crop for which it is by far the world's largest producer with output more than twice that of nearest rival China.

* Ethanol makers will use 4 billion bushels, one-third of this year's projected U.S. corn crop, to produce the fuel during 2008/09, the U.S. Department of Agriculture estimated earlier this month.

* Corn prices have risen sharply during the last two years and currently stand at more than $6.00 a bushel on the Chicago Board of Trade compared with about $2.50 in June 2006.

But don't forget. Taking that much food out of the market couldn't possibly have any affect on the goddamn prices. I'm afraid you're just imagining that.

Note: Headline links to source.


'World will need 50% more food', says UN chief

UN chief Ban Ki-moon

The world needs to produce 50% more food by 2030 to meet increasing demand, UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned today.

Let me see if I have this right. Not to be too snarky, but I can't help it.
The world needs more food and the solution is... to produce more food.

With all due respect, sir, but the demand is already here or you wouldn't be holding a fucking summit on the "world food crisis". Am I right?

Got it. I'm ready for my assignment at the UN.

Note: Headline links to source.


Oil prices: George Soros warns that speculators could trigger stock market crash

George Soros. Photograph: Suzanne Plunkett/AP

I think its about time governments start heeding the warnings of George Soros.

He, along with Warren Buffett, are trying to warn everyone, but they just aren't listening. Or at least the right people aren't listening. You and I can't solve the problems of speculators and pull the country out of recession. Washington's players can.

I suppose its more practical to listen to what the person at the supermarket checkout stand has to say. If they aren't worried, no sense contacting Congress about any of this.
Geoge Soros, the billionaire hedge fund manager, will warn later today that the oil price has become a bubble that could trigger a stock market crash.

The Financial Times reported today that Soros will tell the US Senate commerce committee that oil was pushed to its recent all-time peak of $135 a barrel by a new wave of speculators.

He believes that the doubling in the price over the last year is partly due to investment institutions, such as pension funds, who are pumping money into indexes that track the cost of crude.

According to the FT, Soros will warn that there could be very serious consequences for global stock markets if the institutions suddenly began betting on a fall in the oil price.

He compares it with the stock market crash of 1987, which was partly caused by a sudden rush of money into portfolio insurance – which institutions used to protect themselves against a fall in share prices.

"In both cases, the institutions are piling in on one side of the market and they have sufficient weight to unbalance it. If the trend were reversed and the institutions as a group headed for the exit as they did in 1987 there would be a crash," said Soros, in remarks prepared for a committee hearing later today.

Last week, the Senate commerce committee heard that the amount of money pumped into commodity-index investing has soared to $260bn (£132bn) this year, from $13bn [approx £25bn] in 2003. [emphasis mine]

A few years back I was talking to someone at Merrill-Lynch. They said the problem with speculators and market fund managers is their tendencies to do the same things at the same time. They all use the same indicators and if a handful bet on falling oil prices, most all will. The markets are really sitting ducks.

This use of indicators isn't dangerous for one manager of one pension fund to use, but if all the pension fund managers are using the same data and come to the same conclusions about what they mean, it can be devastating to the economy.

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Kennedy's brain surgery "successful"

Sen. Edward Kennedy

Now if chemotherapy and radiation can kill what's left he should be in pretty good shape.

One report I read said Kennedy was awake throughout the operation. Yuck!
Sen. Edward Kennedy successfully underwent surgery Monday in Durham, N.C., for a malignant brain tumor, his surgeon said.

Dr. Allan Friedman, who performed the surgery at Duke University Medical Center, pronounced the operation a success and said it "accomplished our goals." Up next: chemotherapy and radiation, aimed at shrinking whatever is left of the tumor.

"The main goal is to remove as much of the tumor as possible to give any other therapy that we do a better chance of working," said Dr. John Sampson, associate deputy director of Duke's brain-tumor center.

Kennedy, 76, was given a diagnosis two weeks ago for a malignant glioma in the upper left brain after suffering a seizure at a family residence on Cape Cod, Mass. His surgery followed initial treatment at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Kennedy told his wife, Victoria, immediately after the surgery, "I feel like a million bucks," a spokesman recounted.

Too bad he'll lose all that terrific white hair, but its better than the alternative.

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Not too fast now

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Both McCain, Obama exaggerating Iran's nuclear program

First of all, quit calling McCain the presumptive Republican nominee. He's had a lock on it for months.

OK, to move on. McCain, Obama, Obama, McCain. What's the fucking difference besides the (R) or (D) behind their names? You can throw HRC in there too if you wish, but I'm thinking she's nearly gone.
The presumptive Republican nominee for president and the leading contender for the Democratic nomination are exaggerating [Exaggerating? They're contradicting the US intelligence community and the UN International Atomic Energy Agency. That's not exaggerating] what's known about Iran's nuclear program as they duel over how best to deal with Tehran.

Sens. John McCain, R-Ariz., and Barack Obama, D-Ill., say that Iran is developing nuclear weapons.

The U.S. intelligence community, however, thinks that Iran halted an effort to build a nuclear warhead in mid-2003, and the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency, which is investigating the program, has found no evidence to date of an active Iranian nuclear-weapons project.

The candidates' comments raise questions about how carefully the two have studied the public record on what's become a major campaign issue and is one of the most difficult foreign-policy challenges likely to confront the next president.

The issue is also significant because the Bush administration inflated assessments of the Iraqi nuclear threat and the possibility that former dictator Saddam Hussein could pass nuclear weapons to terrorists as it sought to whip up public support for the March 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Learn from history, guys.

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