Dispatches from Boulder the Damned
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
KGNU founder - well, one of them - Glen Gerberg died Monday night from cancer. I only met him once, after he'd left the station and moved on, but he was a genial sort and a good guy.
It's nice to see the generally genial David Brooks lose it. "You go to the Capitol Hill -- Republican senators know they're fucked. They have that sense. But they don't know what to do." Still, no inclination to look within for the problems, and hence the answers. The great conservative revolution was a con game by former segregationists and upper class protectionists.
This, from Josh Marshall at TPM, always a mandatory daily read. It's about McCain and Phil Graham, one of his advisors, and how Graham represents one of the big loser banks in the subprime crisis.
Many of the lobbying connections the press has dug up on McCain have been embarassing. But I'm not sure any have really had teeth until this one. After all, how much does the average voter care that Charlie Black represented a lot of foreign dictators? A stench, yes? But finding out that McCain had a major subprime lender bank lobbyist whispering in his ear when McCain told the public that it was basically tough luck if they lost their houses?
With that in mind, the WP has an early look at former White House press secretary Scott McClellan's new memoir that is surprisingly critical of the Bush administration. The title alone. What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception will be released next week, but the WP, NYT, and WSJ were able to buy a copy yesterday. The NYT points out that the book is particularly notable because it "is the first negative account by a member of the tight circle of Texans" who followed Bush to Washington. McClellan writes that the administration carried out a "political propaganda campaign" to convince the public about the need to invade Iraq. From Politico.
McClellan also says he was deceived about the role that Karl Rove and I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby played in the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame. In a potentially explosive bit, McClellan suggests that Rove and Libby may have coordinated their stories about the Plame leak during a secret meeting. Overall, Bush is portrayed as a president obsessed with winning a second term, which "meant operating continually in campaign mode: never explaining, never apologizing, never retreating." He also has harsh words about the way the administration handled Hurricane Katrina, and is critical of the press ("complicit enablers") as well as several members of the administration, including Condoleezza Rice and Vice President Cheney. Beach book.
Locally Father of the Year. This guy reminds me of a few of the people I was in jail with. Obese, got the tattoos down to imply great virility, unemployable, too fucking lazy (hey, David Brooks gets to say it....) to get up off the couch, uses his child to deliver dope for his own safety, really, can there be another contestant?
The Supreme Court ruling that federal civil rights laws that protect workers against discrimination must also cover those who faced retaliation for complaining about bias in the workplace. There were twin decisions saying workers, including federal employees, are protected from retaliation, even if the federal laws don't explicitly say so. The majority in the 7-2 and 6-3 decisions emphasized that the justices relied on Supreme Court precedent that had previously found an implied right to sue for retaliation. The decisions don't really change the broad outlines of employment law, but they were somewhat surprising coming from a Supreme Court that had been keeping itself busy by issuing a series of pro-business rulings and limiting the rights of workers. Well, not really. What's surprising is the way the media hasn't noticed the court is as flimsy in the wind as Congress, and currently fears backlash with new, more liberal, appointments. It's coming.
The Court found itself in an unusual position where it was praised by civil rights advocates and criticized by business groups. The WP mentions that some are wondering whether the court was reacting to the condemnation it received after last year's decision that prevented a worker from suing her employer for pay discrimination. The NYT says it was "especially significant" that Chief Justice John Roberts joined a decision that mentioned the importance of adhering to precedent when he has previously spoken about his "distaste for precedents in which the court has gone beyond a statute's text to infer a basis for a lawsuit." USAT says the rulings are an "intriguing development" for a group of justices who chose to go against precedent in several rulings last year that dealt with a variety of issues, including abortion and campaign finance.
John McCain is announcing, decades after the fact, that he would reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the United States if he's elected president. In a speech that aides said marked a break with President Bush, McCain vowed to work more closely with Russia on nuclear disarmament. Although McCain said nuclear weapons are "still important to deter an attack" he emphasized that "we must seek to do all we can to ensure that nuclear weapons will never again be used."
The LAT is alone in noting up high that experts say McCain's nuclear policy speech "marked a less dramatic break from the current administration than his campaign suggested." The one thing everyone can agree on though is that yesterday provided a revealing glimpse at how McCain is playing a delicate balancing act as he tries to win over big Republican donors while also highlighting his independence from the unpopular president. After the speech that McCain's aides were eagerly touting as a break with the president, the presumptive nominee went to Phoenix and joined Bush at a fundraiser. The event was held behind closed doors, and the two only made time for a brief photo op at the airport that lasted less than a minute. But even though they kept their joint public appearance to a minimum, the day's events provided plenty of material for Sen. Barack Obama to point out that McCain is trying to hide his connections with Bush because he "doesn't want to be seen, hat in hand, with the president whose failed policies he promises to continue for another four years."
USA Today leads with economists warning that housing prices are likely to continue declining, even as a new survey detailed that they've already experienced their sharpest drop in at least 20 years. According to the S&P/Case-Shiller Home Price Index, which was created in 1988, home prices dropped a record 14.1 percent in the first three months of the year compared with the first quarter of last year. "We forecast another 10 percent drop from current levels and bottoming out in 2009," one economic analyst said.
The WP fronts a look at how more Americans are filing for bankruptcy even though a 2005 law made the whole process more difficult and expensive. The total number of bankruptcy filings increased 38 percent last year compared with 2006, in an ominous sign of how many people are struggling to get by in the United States. Although filing for bankruptcy was once more common among those who had abrupt life changes, such as a divorce or illness, experts say all types of people who simply have too much debt are choosing to pursue such a drastic measure. "It is pretty widespread because there are widespread problems in the economy," one economist said.
Hooray. The NYT points out that many angry parents of the estimated 10,000 children who died in China's earthquake are abandoning their usual apprehension about confronting the Communist government. Parents are getting together at informal gatherings to angrily demand that the government investigate why so many schools collapsed and punish those responsible for what appears to have been shoddy construction work. Even more out of the ordinary is the fact that protesters are angrily confronting government officials in the streets, and there have been clashes with the police that left several people injured. Officials are insisting that they will investigate but say they must first deal with the needs of survivors.
In history, this day in 1774, the First Continental Congress convened in Virginia.
James Bond is 100 years old. In 1908, Ian Fleming, who created the character, was born. In World War Two, Fleming did some good work.
This day in 1934, the last non-artificial mass birth. The Dionne quintuplets were born near Callender, Ontario, to Olivia and Elzire Dionne. The babies were the first quintuplets to survive infancy.
In 1937, U.S. President Roosevelt pushed a button in Washington, DC, signaling that vehicular traffic could cross the newly opened Golden Gate Bridge in California.
This day in 1961, Amnesty International, a human rights organization, was founded.
On this day in 1987, the Soviet Union was defeated. German teenager Matthias Rust landed his Cessna in Moscow's Red Square, buzzing the Kremlin on the way in. He served 18 months in prison for this prank, which also costs the commander of the Soviet Air Command his job. He totally evaded the vaunted air defenses, and the Soviets couldn't pretend to military supremacy. The veil was lifted. He was released August 3, 1988.
Hello. Ten years ago this day, Dr. Susan Terebey discovered a planet outside of our solar system with the use of photos taken by the Hubble Space Telescope. The news was overshadowed by the death of talented comedian Phil Hartman at the hand of his crazy wife Brynne, who then committed suicide after the police arrived. Hartman's corpse is found in bed with multiple gunshot wounds to the head.
A year later, in Milan, Italy, Leonardo de Vinci's "The Last Supper" was put back on display after 22 years of restoration work.
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
Hypocrisy again leads. The WP has yet another example of how the Bush administration doesn't always follow the president's rhetoric on not holding talks with tyrannical leaders and dictators. A special envoy from the administration is set to meet with the Sudanese president "sometime in the next few weeks," in the latest overture to a government that has been accused of perpetuating the Darfur genocide and providing a safe haven for terrorists, including Osama Bin Laden. Several high level officials, including secretaries of state, have also had direct contacts with the Sudanese president throughout Bush's presidency. "Bush's Sudan policy has relied more heavily on diplomacy than that of the Clinton administration," notes the WP. Primarily because we can afford nothing else, and his wastage of military and financial power leaves nothing else, and because that's missing, we can only pretend to diplomacy.
Sidney Pollack, who I greatly admired as much as an actor as a director, died over the weekend. I last saw him in the Sopranos and Michael Clayton, and his films were always decent or much better. Talented beyond norm and a decent, down to earth sort. The LAT fronts his death from cancer, and covers his career.
The director, producer, and actor worked with some of Hollywood's biggest stars and was behind several of the most memorable films from the '70s and '80s, including They Shoot Horses, Don't They?, Tootsie, The Way We Were, and Out of Africa, for which he received an Academy Award. More recently, Pollack was credited as an executive producer for HBO's Recount, which premiered on Sunday. He was 73. Hale!
A new report issued by the International Atomic Energy Agency accuses Iran of failing to answer questions about its nuclear program. In what the NYT characterized as "an unusually blunt and detailed report," the United Nations nuclear watchdog called on Tehran to counter allegations of military involvement in its nuclear program. Few of the papers give much play to the IAEA report and emphasize the agency said it has no evidence that Iran's military has gotten involved in the country's nuclear program. But, safe bet.
The NYT specified 18 documents were included in the report that claim "Iranians have ventured into explosives, uranium processing and a missile warhead design," which could suggest that nuclear weapons are being developed. The nuclear watchdog agency also says Iran has failed to disclose advancements in its nuclear program and suggests the country could be producing enriched uranium. David Albright, a former weapons inspector who is the go-to-guy for these kinds of stories, tells the NYT that the "Iranians are being confronted with some pretty strong evidence of a nuclear weapons program" and the report "is very damning." But Albright also tells the LAT there are some key components missing from the report that one would expect to find in a weapons program. Iran, of course, insists the documents are fakes but has failed to release evidence and provide access to international inspectors that could verify Tehran's claims.
In the WP's op-ed page, Zbigniew Brzezinski and William Odom write that the Bush administration's policy of dealing with Iran by offering "sticks" and "carrots" is a strategy that "may work with donkeys but not with serious countries." The administration could be more successful if it simply stopped threatening a military invasion as well as all calls for regime change in Tehran. "Imagine if China … threatened to change the American regime if it did not begin a steady destruction of its nuclear arsenal." And because of Bush, that may yet happen.
As Saddam showed the world, you can get all the respect of a nuclear power and none of the expense by fooling the US. He also showed how stupid that could eventually be, but still.
Colorado not only hosts the one important - sorta - convention, but it may be the battleground of all battleground states. The LAT covers how the two top presidential contenders campaigned in New Mexico yesterday in a poignant sign of how important a few of our Western states will be in the November election. President Bush won Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico by a very slim margin four years ago, and the three swing states are an important part of Obama's strategy to redraw the electoral map.
There are definite indications signs that Colorado, Nevada, and New Mexico are turning away from Republicans. This trend could work in Obama's favor, particularly when it's added to the fact that a hard-fought primary campaign has resulted in tens of thousands of new registered Democratic voters. But McCain is a westerner in a region where voters have often turned away from politicians who are seen as big-city liberals and members of the party establishment. Obama has also had trouble wooing Latino voters, who make up a significant part of the population and who could determine who wins the three Western battleground states. It's therefore no surprise that, as the WP notes, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson stuck close to Obama yesterday.
Aid groups are pushing the Burmese government to allow a larger international relief effort in the country to assist the 2.4 million survivors of Cyclone Nargis who are in desperate need of help. The truth is that, like many Third World and not just governments, they would be happy to see millions die off at the lower end of the economic scale. More than three weeks have passed since Cyclone Nargis left at least 134,000 people dead or missing, but the vast majority of survivors in some of the worst-hit areas still haven't received any aid. The United Nations said yesterday that it could reach all the survivors by the end of the week if it gets permission from the military junta to carry out operations in the Irrawaddy region.
The NYT has another heartwrenching dispatch from an isolated village in the Irrawaddy delta and tells the story of a woman who lost 15 members of her family to the cyclone. But the survivors have little time to deal with the psychological toll of such huge losses as they struggle to stay alive without help from the government or international aid. Katrina looks like a day at the park.
China's response to its horror has been professional and as good as could be expected. Further, their media has been more than decent and this speaks very well of the government, without going overboard. There is imminent doom, though. The LAT announced the government said as many as 1.2 million people could be forced to evacuate because a "barrier lake" formed by the earthquake could overflow and cause a new disaster. Chinese soldiers, with the help of international relief efforts, are feverishly working to prevent the flooding but some have decided not to wait for official word and are already moving to higher ground, always wise. Early morning wire stories report that emergency workers will evacuate 80,000 people. Could be us someday, here in Boulder.
On Mars, NASA's Phoenix spacecraft, which landed Sunday night, will have itself tested. Investigators expect Phoenix to begin digging into the surface of the Red Planet on Monday. Oh, boy! The photo to the left is taken of Phoenix on its way down to the surface, and is the first photo from an orbiting station to show such. Almost like we're here on earth, absent anything alive at present to look at.
Still, these will be cherished someday, perhaps by the inhabitants of Mars as they prepare to till fields or, for that matter, invade earth to collect tribute. Either way, pretty exciting.
The Howard Hughes Medical Institute will give $600 million to 56 scientists in the United States so they can pursue risky, but potentially groundbreaking, medical research. This is the latest example of how private philanthropies are swooping in to try to make up for the ongoing decline in federal research funding, making things like human cloning more difficult to rein in but more profitable.
Great Moments From the Land of the Free. In 1647, one Achsah Young, a resident of Windsor, Connecticut, was executed for being a "witch." It was the first recorded American execution of a "witch." Continuing the tradition in 1668, three colonists were expelled from Massachusetts for being Baptists. On this day.
During the War of 1812, called in Canada "Honey, did you hear something?", Americans captured Fort George, during our invasion of Canada. Eventually petered out altogether. Our second failure.
This day in 1896, 255 people were killed in St. Louis when a tornado struck.
After the earthquake and fire, God wasn't done. In 1907, the Bubonic Plague broke out in San Francisco.
On this day in 1929, Colonel Charles Lindbergh and Anne Spencer Murrow were married. The Lone Eagle had several other families as well.
My ex-wife's step grandfather's brother had his big day in 1937. In California, the Golden Gate Bridge was opened to pedestrian traffic. The bridge connected San Francisco and Marin County. Mr. Strauss built it.
In May of 1941, the war had just begun......well, no, but today in 1941 the German battleship Bismarck was sunk by British naval and air forces. 2,300 people were killed.
A year later, a couple of Czech assassins ambushed the car carrying Reinhard Heydrich and tossed a grenade into the front seat. The man who headed the Wannsee Conference - leading to the Final Solution, is mortally wounded in the attack, and dies of septicemia a week later. The Nazis retaliate by obliterating the Catholic village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia and its inhabitants. Sweethearts, all of them.
In 1964, Indian Prime Minister and lover of Lady Mountbatten Jawaharla Nehru died.
On this day in 1986, Mel Fisher recovered a jar that contained 2,300 emeralds from the Spanish ship Atocha. The ship sank in the 17th century.
On this day in 1994, Nobel Prize-winning author Alexander Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia. He had been in exile for two decades.
A year to the day later, in Virginia, Christopher Reeve was paralyzed after being thrown from his horse during a jumping event.
Ten years ago today, Michael Fortier was sentenced to 12 years in prison for not warning anyone about the plot to bomb an Oklahoma City federal building.
In 1999, in The Hague, a war crimes tribunal indicted Slobodan Milosevic and four others for atrocities in Kosovo, the first time a sitting head of state had been charged with such a crime.
Monday, May 26, 2008
It's the Bolder Boulder today, which I ignore even though it passes - and blocks - the driveway for some hours. It's cold today (good!) and wet, and this will lend itself to record times, but frankly it's not as fun. No water hoses, and the ladies are bundled up. The ladies are generally worth the gander.
I can still hear god awful music - which is distorted by distance - and noise and cheering.
Among the upsetting things this Memorial Day, two idiots took a hammer and chipped off a piece of the heelstone. This might be of interest to the guy who posts about that all the time here. Of course, this isn't Memorial Day in England.
And bad news in China, which itself says 2383 reservoirs are in danger from the quake and aftershocks.
Before I forget, here-here!
Hot damn! NASA's Phoenix spacecraft landed safely on Mars yesterday. Mars, the last ten years, having provided some huge embarrassments for the agency. After traveling for 296 days and 422 million miles, the 904-pound spacecraft made the first successful soft landing—using a parachute and thrusters instead of air bags—in Mars since 1976. Phoenix's mission controllers began cheering after the last few anxiety-riddled minutes gave way to a picture-perfect landing on the Red Planet. A couple of hours later, the craft's solar panels deployed successfully and the Phoenix began sending images back to Earth. "It could not have gone better, not in my dreams," the mission's project manager said.
Unlike the two rovers that have been exploring the Red Planet's surface, the Phoenix is designed to stay put in Mars' northern pole and dig. The material it digs up will then be analyzed with instruments that are inside the craft, which the WP calls "miniature chemistry labs." The LAT says the Phoenix is the "first spacecraft designed to taste the water of an alien planet." Phoenix is the first to travel directly to a part of Mars where there is water to try to figure out whether the minerals and organic processes that are necessary for life actually exist, or once existed, in the planet. Scientists hope this data will help them determine whether the region was ever habitable. The mission is set to last three months.
Good, and overdue. The New York Times looks at how government officials are increasingly questioning whether all of the nation's nonprofit organizations deserve their tax-exempt status. At a time when nonprofits run businesslike operations, and some private universities have endowments that total billions of dollars, there are those who are wondering whether it makes sense for these organizations to retain a status that costs local governments somewhere around $8 billion to $13 billion every year. Start with the churches.
Last December, the Minnesota Supreme Court issued a ruling "that sent tremors through the not-for-profit world" when it said that a small nonprofit day-care center had to pay taxes because it charged every parent the same price, regardless of their incomes. Now Congress is also looking into the issue by inquiring how churches spend their money, debating if universities should be required to spend a minimum percentage of their endowments and looking into whether nonprofit hospitals should really be exempt from taxes when they operate pretty much the same way as their for-profit counterparts. Tax assessors say it's getting increasingly difficult to figure out who qualifies for exemption when many nonprofits are doing the same work as for-profit institutions.
More killer weather. Severe thunderstorms and their tornado spawn killed at least eight people in Iowa and Minnesota yesterday. Seven people were killed by a tornado in northeast Iowa that injured at least 50. "Occasionally we have a death, but we have a warning system. Seven deaths. It's been a long time since we've had those kinds of injuries and deaths reported," the Iowa Homeland Security administrator said.
Senator Clinton continues to deal with the uproar that was caused by her reference to the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy on Friday. Some have said the former first lady was trying to suggest that she refuses to drop out of the race because her opponent could be killed. In a letter published by the New York Daily News yesterday, Clinton wrote that some took her words "entirely out of context and interpreted them to mean something completely different—and completely unthinkable." Clinton went on to emphasize that she was only "making the simple point that given our history, the length of this year's primary contest is nothing unusual." Campaign aides said the media and the Obama campaign were partly responsible for turning the statement into such a huge deal. Obama's campaign immediately seized the story on Friday and sent e-mails to reporters to alert them of the Kennedy statement. But yesterday, the senator's top strategist said that "as far as we're concerned, this issue is done."
The NYT's Paul Krugman writes that it may almost be "appropriate" that the last few days of the Democratic primary have been mired by "yet another fake Clinton scandal." Although none of this will matter in figuring out who will get the nomination since Obama has already won, it could have an effect in the general election if disgruntled Clinton supporters refuse to back the senator from Illinois. Obama and his supporters "should realize that the continuing demonization of Mrs. Clinton serves nobody except Mr. McCain." I'm not sure he's won, either.
The NYT fronts a look at how despite the fact that Clinton has received millions of votes and came close to reaching the presidential nomination, she would still go back to the Senate "as No. 36 out of 49 Democrats." Making the awkwardness worse is that, assuming she doesn't become the vice president, Clinton would have to go back to work with colleagues who pointedly supported Obama. Some contend her increased popularity and exposure would help her, but none of that changes the simple fact that "Clinton's relatively junior status limits her options in the Senate." There are suggestions she might immediately jump to a leadership spot, but that would have to come at the expense of more senior members who aren't likely to want to give up their positions of power. But she is far more powerful than many senior Senators, and her support or disapproval have already been key.
Helen Benedict writes that the Department of Veterans Affairs is failing the women who are coming back from fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Besides the trauma of combat, female veterans often also have to deal with the harassment from their colleagues and nearly a third say they were sexually assaulted or raped while in the military. This abuse can increase the risk of post-traumatic stress disorder, not to mention other health ailments, but there is currently a great shortage of programs tailored specifically for women veterans. "The Department of Veterans Affairs must open more comprehensive women's health clinics," writes Benedict. "The best way to honor all of our soldiers is to do what we can to help them mend. "
Maj. Gen. William Troy writes about the Army's practice of "assigning a general officer to attend the funeral of every soldier who falls in service to our country." Troy has attended 23 funerals and struggles to understand the sacrifice of soldiers and their families. "I've learned that war most often claims the lives of young kids who go out on patrol day after day, night after night," writes Troy. "They go with a singular purpose: to not let their buddies down. Each soldier we lay to rest shared that goal. They kept faith with their comrades, even in the face of danger and death. That is the most humbling lesson of all."
In history, this day in 17, Germanicus of Rome celebrated his victory over the Germans. A loyal general, his competence eventually required he be killed by his cousin Tiberius.
On May 26, 1232, Pope Gregory IX issued the bull Declinante jam mundi, bringing the Papal Inquisition to Spain. Despite impressions, the Inquisition was Catholics torturing Catholics for the most part.It's a bad day for the Papacy. In 1328, same date, William of Ockham was forced to flee from Avignon by Pope John XXII. And in 1521, Martin Luther was banned by the Edict of Worms because of his religious beliefs and writings.
Taking a back seat to nobody in stupidity and prejudice, the Puritans in 1647 issued a new law that banned Catholic priests from the colony of Massachusetts. Banishment or death for a second offense. Better, on May 26, 1647, Alse Young, a widow, was hanged for witchcraft in Hartford, Connecticut. Her daughter Alice was later accused of the same offense in 1677 in - wait for it! - Massachusetts.
In 1835, a resolution was passed in the U.S. Congress stating that Congress has no authority over state slavery laws.
It was this day in 1868 that President Andrew Johnson was acquitted, by one vote, of all charges in his impeachment trial.
In 1896, the Dow Jones Industrial Average appeared for the first time in the "Wall Street Journal."
This day in 1908, in Persia, now Iran, the first oil strike was made in the Middle East.
In 1938, the House Committee on Un-American Activities began its work of searching for subversives in the United States. It did far more damage than anyone they sought.
This day in 1940, the evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, France, began during World War II.
In 1946, a patent was filed in the United States for an H-bomb. One wonders how that would be enforced.
Probably a good thing. In 1948, the U.S. Congress passed Public Law 557 which permanently established the Civil Air Patrol as the Auxiliary of the new U.S. Air Force.
This day in 1969, the Apollo 10 astronauts returned to Earth after a successful eight-day dress rehearsal for the first manned moon landing.
In 1994, U.S. President Clinton renewed trade privileges for China, and announced that his administration would no longer link China's trade status with its human rights record.
This day in 1998, the Grand Princess cruise ship made its inaugural cruise. The ship measured 109,000 tons and cost approximately $450 million, making it the largest and most expensive cruise ship ever built. Also, one of the ugliest.
Sunday, May 25, 2008
It gets worse in China, and it's difficult not to appreciate the horrors the government faces. The cat is out - by which I mean the international media - and it has to sting. Be it said, it takes great political courage to do what they've done. Credit where and when due.
They're facing Chinese parents' concerns that badly built, uninspected schools resulted in the unnecessary deaths of thousands of their children in the earthquake that shook China two weeks ago. Schools in the Sichuan Province seemed to have borne a disproportionate amount of the destruction in the earthquake. The NYT has a huge report on it today.
Examining the decimated Xinjian Primary School in Dujiangyang, the article notes that the buildings surrounding the school were by comparison relatively unharmed. Turns out, the school had a long history of poor construction—parents, many of whom worked at a nearby cement factory, knew that Xinjian was unsafe when it opened, and a wing of the school was demolished in 1992 because it was so far below standards. A team of structural engineers and "earthquake experts" was asked by the NYT to examine detailed photos of the destruction, and "concluded, independently, that inadequate steel reinforcement, or rebar, was used in the concrete columns supporting the school. They also found that the school's precast, hollow concrete slab floors and walls did not appear to be securely joined together." The 7.9-scale quake was vicious enough to damage even well-built structures, but schools, affected by lack of funding and the Chinese government's helter-skelter building-code enforcements, paid an especially high price. Parents of the dead students are beginning to stage demonstrations and demand that the government be held responsible for the carnage. Not good pre-Olympics.
Of course, we in the Firstest of the First World ought not to smirk. Trailers used by FEMA to house Hurricane Katrina victims contained high levels of formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical found in the low-quality wood used to build the trailers quickly. FEMA officials ordered $2.7 billion worth of mobile housing for the victims of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the WP reports, "many of them using a single page of specifications." The 25 lines of specifications made no mention of safety requirements, and the trailers, which were supplied at an unusual speed, led to a public health crisis affecting as many as 300,000 people. Dangerously high levels of formaldehyde, a cancer-causing chemical present in some of the trailers' wood, led to severe illness and several deaths among the flood victims. Many of the injured are joining a class-action lawsuit against the trailer makers and the federal government. "Weak government contracting, sloppy private construction, a surge of low-quality wood imports from China and inconsistent regulation all contributed to the crisis," the piece summarizes, further noting that the situation is now one colossal government blame game, the cost of which "will not be known for years."
The Los Angeles Times leads with an "upending" of the American economy—a boom for industries that were previously believed to be fading, even as the technology and finance sectors face large-scale layoffs. This is called the "twin turns" of the economy—a boom in the heartland's industrial sector, spurred by global industrialization, as the financial and technologies sectors face a steady downturn. These trends are "letting once-struggling behemoths such as U.S. Steel Corp. put modern marvels such as Microsoft Corp. to shame," the piece reports, noting that U.S. Steel's stock has risen 1,000 percent "in recent years." In national economic terms, the industrial boom is only bittersweet news; it's pushing up incomes but not creating jobs. Thus, the spillover into other sectors is likely to be limited, meaning "the economy as a whole will have to keep relying on high tech and services if it is to experience new growth in income and employment."
The NYT editorializes against the "insane, characteristically American" method of selecting judges: by popular vote. Eighty-seven percent of state judges are elected, and 39 states elect at least some of their judges. The stage is set by the story of a Wisconsin judge election, in which the candidates spent $5 million on their respective campaigns and the winner ran false television advertisements before taking 51 percent of the vote. A shining alternative to such barbarics is the nonpartisan, "much more rigorous" method of testing and selecting independent judges employed by France (and all the rest of the world, for that matter). Seemingly culled straight from an introduction to American politics textbook, the pro-con piece searches awkwardly for a satisfying conclusion—and a reason to exist.
The weekend columnists are all over Sen. Hillary Clinton's "assassination gaffe," in which she referenced the 1968 assassination of Robert F. Kennedy to point out that Democratic primaries often drag into June. WP style reporter Libby Copeland is not amused, writing that Clinton's allusion to the murder of a candidate "almost sounds like wishful thinking." The NYT's Maureen Dowd is slightly more inclined to take Clinton at her word, helpfully suggesting that she simply meant to say she's staying in the race because "stuff happens."
In history, this day in 585 BC, the first known prediction of a solar eclipse was made in Greece. Sharp bunch on that rocky land.
In 1787, the Constitutional convention opened in Philadelphia with George Washington presiding.
I didn't know this. In 1844, the gasoline engine was patented by Stuart Perry. From.......whale oil?
This day in 1895, Oscar Wilde, a playwright, poet and novelist, was convicted of a morals charge and sentenced to prison in London.
In 1925, John Scopes was indicted for teaching the Darwinian theory in school.
It was this day in 1961 that America was asked by U.S. President Kennedy to work toward putting a man on the moon before the end of the decade.
On this day in 1977, an opinion piece by Vietnam verteran Jan Scruggs appeared in "The Washington Post." The article called for a national memorial to "remind an ungrateful nation of what it has done to its sons" that had served in the Vietnam War.
In 1985, Bangladesh was hit with a hurricane and tidal wave that killed more than 11,000 people.
Another feel good failure. In 1986, about 7 million Americans participated in "Hands Across America."
In 1997, Strom Thurmond became the longest-serving senator in U.S. history (41 years and 10 months).
In 1999, a report by the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on U.S. National Security and Military/Commercial Concerns with the People's Republic of China concluded that China had "stolen design information on the U.S. most-advanced thermonuclear weapons" and that China's penetration of U.S. weapons laboratories "spans at least the past several decades and almost certainly continues today."
This day in 2001, Erik Weihenmeyer, 32, of Golden, became the first blind climber to reach the summit of Mount Everest. That same day, Sherman Bull, 64, of New Canaan, became the oldest climber to reach the summit.
Saturday, May 24, 2008
Well, THAT was the ballgame. Hillary Clinton stuck her foot in her mouth big time by mentioning the June 1968 assassination of Robert Kennedy as a reason she's not ending her nearly hopeless campaign for the Democratic nomination. It was in reference to why shouldn't she stay in when Dem races have gone as far as June before, but it was stupid to say as it looks like she's suggesting there was still time for Obama to be assassinated. Plus, given the Kennedy cancer watch, a dumb ass thing to say, but it was exhaustion. It's over, and she now sees it. Too bad, she was the best candidate by far. Clinton apologized for her assassination statement within hours of making it. This shreds any joint ticket possibility. The Times also mentions Clinton made almost this exact same statement to Time magazine back in March.
The Los Angeles Times leads with a new poll indicating that California voters favor Barack Obama over Republican John McCain in a general election. The significance of the poll is that California voters like Obama much more than Clinton when it comes to beating McCain, when just four months ago Clinton defeated Obama in the California primary. The Democratic candidate has won the state in each of the last four general presidential elections.
The New York Times leads with the sentencing of 270 illegal immigrants rounded up in a raid on an Iowa meatpacking plant. The NYT calls the sentencing of five-month prison terms a sharp, message-sending escalation of the Bush administration's crackdown on illegal workers. I don't see where the people who hired them are being sentenced. The criminal prosecution represents a departure from immigration officials' usual practice of detaining and quickly deporting suspected illegal immigrants using civil statutes. The convictions, doled out in trailers and a converted dance hall on a fairground, were obtained by the feds with what critics call "unusually speedy" plea agreements. The meatpacking plant has been nailed before with repeated sanctions for worker safety violations.
McCain's doctors say he's healthy, the papers report. He has colon polyps, kidney cysts, and stones floating around in the bladder, but fine. For his age. Doctors say there is no evidence for recurrence of the melanoma skin cancer that required surgical attention in 2000. Digging through the 1,173 pages of medical records made available to reporters for three hours by the campaign yesterday, the NYT finds a discrepancy between pathologists' findings and doctors' public statements about the the candidate's melanoma those eight years ago. The Times also reports that doctors said a surgery scar on McCain's face is 6 by 6centimeters, "a size not previously disclosed."
Growing global prosperity is diminishing the role of the International Monetary Fund with developing nations, forcing the fund to become more adviser than lender. The Post says the new trend is the largest upheaval for the IMF since the fall of the Berlin Wall. A senior Ghana liaison to the fund likens the situation to a parent finally recognizing that a child is mature enough to make his or her own decisions.
The Chinese government's rush to dispose of dead bodies in the aftermath of the May 12 earthquake is compounding the agony of survivors who lost loved ones, says a Page One NYT story. More than 60,000 people have died, the government admits, but it's probably far more. Corpses are being burned or buried in mass graves, leaving little chance for identification and little time for traditional Chinese reverence of the dead.
The LAT reports that Robert Mugabe's ruling party will cling to power in Zimbabwe regardless of what happens in the upcoming runoff election. Rights organizations say violence directed at opposition leaders is way worse than it was in 2000 and 2002 elections.
The Wall Street Journal reports that would-be Democratic convention delegates are campaigning hard for the privilege of a "no-expenses-paid trip to Denver," where they will cast their predetermined vote for the candidate of their jurisdiction's choice at the convention this summer. In Colorado, 2,000 people are running for 48 seats, way up from the several hundred who ran in 2004.
The WSJ says that 11th grade is really tough on high-school kids. With all those tests and things to do to impress colleges, junior year has become "a crucible of academic pressure" like never before. Some parents are actually urging their teenagers to work less and play more. Another stroke piece for parental vanity.
New York City is getting readying plans for a "rapid-organ-recovery" ambulance, reports the NYT. The ambulance will be dispatched in hopes of quickly saving good organs when a donor dies. Some people find the plan unseemly; a Boston bioethicist calls it "disgusting."
The NYT fronts word that, with "[t]eeth [g]ritted," Americans are learning to live with high gas prices. AAA reports a 1 percent decline in driving this year, the government estimates the first drop in demand for gasoline in 17 years, and the Transportation Department says that last March Americans drove 11 billion fewer miles than in March 2007. The photo accompanying of the story shows a woman walking past a California gas station sign. The woman's mouth is closed, but it really looks like she's gritting those teeth.
In history, this day in 1543, Nicolaus Copernicus published proof of a sun-centered solar system.
In 1607, Captain Christopher Newport and 105 followers found the colony of Jamestown at the mouth of the James River on the coast of Virginia. Three years to the day later, Sir Thomas Gates instituted "laws divine moral and marshal," a harsh civil code for the town.
In 1764, Bostonian lawyer James Otis denounced "taxation without representation" and called for the colonies to unite in demonstrating their opposition to Britain’s new tax measures.
This day is significant in communication history. In 1830, the first passenger railroad service in the U.S. began service, and in 1844 Samuel F.B. Morse formally opened America's first telegraph line. The first message was sent from Washington, DC, to Baltimore, MD. The message was "What hath God wrought?"
In 1856, a small gang led by abolitionist John Brown murdered five pro-slavery homesteaders in Franklin County, Kansas, hacking them to pieces with swords. The event comes to be known as the Pottawatomie Massacre, and was in retaliation for pro-slaver murders and depredations.This day in 1883, after 14 years of construction, the Brooklyn Bridge was opened to traffic.
This day in 1941, HMS Hood was sunk by the German battleship Bismarck in the North Atlantic. Only three people survived. The Bismark, damaged and leaking oil, was sunk some days later after torpedo planes jammed her rudder.
This day in 1964, hell broke free in the closing minutes of a match between Peru and Argentina, after a referee disallowed a goal. 318 people are killed and 500 injured in Lima, Peru, making it the worst soccer riot in history.
In 1993, Cardinal Juan Jesus Posada Ocampo and six other people were killed at the Guadalajara, Mexico, airport in a shootout between drug gangs.
A year later, the four men convicted of bombing the New York's World Trade Center were each sentenced to 240 years in prison.
This day in 2000, the U.S. House of Representatives approved permanent normal trade relations with China. China was not happy about some of the human rights conditions that had been attached by the U.S. lawmakers.
Friday, May 23, 2008
We're still waiting for the Bob Schaffer shoes to start dropping. He has a huge liability if this goes against him.
Fourth Congressional District Congresswoman Marilyn Musgrave took advantage of the tornadoes that devastated her home to plan out what seems to be campaign event of house to house visits. Of course, she announced she plans to ask President Bush to declare it a disaster area. She looks to be in danger of losing her seat in the November election, so she's shoring up the base. Still, compare and contrast with Governor Ritter's businesslike sweep through last night. He declared a state emergency.
The mountain lion that engaged the attention of hospital folks looking out their cafeteria window yesterday was driven off with prejudice by rangers with bean bags and the gunpowder to shoot them. All the moisture in the
The NYT's Adam Cohen details in an "editorial observer" piece how conservatives who once complained about the way federal laws were "trampling on 'states' rights' " have spent the last few years "burying them." The federal government can use the doctrine of "pre-emption" to "wipe away state laws," and while it was previously considered that "federal rule should be a floor, not a ceiling," conservatives are using it to stop states from applying tougher standards on a variety of industries. As politicians "contemplate what kind of 'change' voters are looking for now, they can start with the idea that both the federal and state government need to do a better job of protecting their citizens." No kidding. But there is so much damage the Bushies have done, the theoreticals don't even rate.
Take the dignity and image of competence he's given us. President Bush and his utterly absent from the media Secretary of State Condi Rice aren't just ignored and humiliated by the world's other nations. Now, the Congress is farting in their faces. The Senate's vote to approve $165 billion for the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq in a bill that also devotes billions more to domestic spending, including a major expansion of veterans' education benefits, is directly against Bush's wishes. A surprising number of Republicans broke with President Bush and joined Democrats to pass the bill with a 70 to 26 vote. It was a poignant sign that Republicans, particularly those facing re-election, aren't afraid to ignore Bush, hinting that electoral politics have deeply fractured the Republican Party.
The bill passed would cost more than $250 billion over the next 10 years. The most significant part of the bill, and the one the NYT highlights inside, is the expanded veterans' benefits that would cost more than $50 billion. The measure would guarantee that veterans who have served for three years since Sept. 11 will receive tuition assistance that could pay for the most expensive public universities in each of their states. The bill would also extend unemployment benefits and provide money for levee construction in New Orleans. Bush has spoken up against the bill, saying that the expanded veterans' education benefits would motivate people to leave the military rather than re-enlist. The bill now goes to the House, where it faces an uncertain future.
John McCain came under fire for opposing the bill, and then was criticized again for failing to take time off from the presidential race to cast a vote. By opposing the bill, McCain went against the wishes of veterans' organizations and was criticized by Sen. Barack Obama. McCain fired back: "I will not accept from Senator Obama, who did not feel it was his responsibility to serve our country in uniform, any lectures on my regard for those who did."
What a fiasco. A Texas appeals court ruled that state officials lacked evidence to seize more than 460 children from a polygamist sect's compound. The court said the children shouldn't have been taken away from the sect because there was no evidence that the danger of sexual abuse was "immediate or urgent." The sharply worded ruling was a response to a complaint brought by a few dozen mothers, but everyone says it would apply to pretty much all the children, who could soon go back to their parents unless officials can win an appeal or cite new evidence of abuse. Legal experts say it's unusual for an appeals court to get involved in a continuing case, and the ruling shows that the evidence presented by Texas officials was particularly weak. This does not mean they were wrong in taking action, though, and if inbred and or evidence of underage mothers is proven, there would be justification. Not so far, though.
Early morning wire stories report that U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon said Burma's top leader, Senior Gen. Than Shwe, has agreed to allow "all aid workers" into the country, three weeks after Cyclone Nargis devastated the country. The announcement came after the secretary-general had a two-hour meeting with the leader of Burma's military junta. It's still not clear whether this means foreign relief experts will be allowed to enter the country's worst-hit regions. The LAT fronts a prescient piece filed from inside Burma that looks at Than Shwe's secretive and paranoid nature, noting that he seems to accept advice only from his fortunetellers, whom he talks to every morning. Rare images were broadcast of the leader that displayed his old age and frailty. The country's regime is currently undergoing "a fragile generational and structural transition, which makes the leadership extremely wary about any challenge or change from outside or below."
The desperate living conditions of the 2.5 million survivors are of no moment to their leaders. The NYT notes how Burma's leaders are carrying out an elaborate public relations effort to show how it has been providing relief to those affected by the cyclone, but much of it is purely for show, and precious little aid has actually reached survivors. The government is even going to great lengths to prevent Burmese volunteers from delivering aid to the Irrawaddy Delta. The WSJ points out that the "grass-roots relief effort … is emerging as a powerful and insidious challenge to the ruling generals." People are angry, and many of the volunteers who are trying to help the survivors are openly criticizing the government, which has provided a new "rallying point for pro-democracy activists."
Americans have been more reluctant to open their wallets to help victims of the earthquake in China and the cyclone in Burma than for other recent disasters. So far, Americans have donated around $57 million to help relief operations in those two countries, which pales in comparison with the money given after the 2004 tsunami and Hurricane Katrina. It's no secret that people will donate more for causes closer to home, but experts say there are a variety of factors at play here, including a weaker economy and concerns over human rights violations in China as well as a general distrust of the Burmese government.
USA Today leads with an in-house poll that reveals more than one-third of Americans say they're "altering travel plans" due to high gas prices. Some are canceling all plans, while others say they'll be sticking closer to home this summer as hotels and tourist attractions slash prices to attract visitors.
I'm so tired of gay marriage, and marriage in general. The Los Angeles Times has a new in-house poll that shows a majority of registered voters in California oppose the state Supreme Court decision to allow same-sex marriages, and they support a constitutional amendment to ban these types of unions. Among registered voters, 54 percent support a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriages, and 35 percent oppose it. Although the numbers may make it seem that the amendment is bound to pass, the LAT notes that support for controversial ballot measures usually decreases as Election Day gets closer, so "strategists typically want to start out well above the 50% support level." As expected, there's a big generational divide in those who support the measure and those who don't. Also significant is that voters' views are affected by their personal relationships. Of those who said they didn't know a gay person, 70 percent support the amendment, a view shared by 49 percent of voters who said they did know someone who is gay.
In history, this day in 1430 - Joan of Arc was captured by Burgundians. She was then sold to the English.
On May 23, 1498, a forgotten reformer was murdered. Religious fundamentalist Girolamo Savonarola was executed in Florence, Italy for his many heresies. Previously excommunicated by the Church, the Dominican friar continued to preach for radical reforms. Among other things, he held "bonfires of the vanities" for his parishioners' worldly possessions, because they competed with the word of God for attention. Brother Savonarola was hanged along with two accomplices and their bodies burned. He precedes the Protestants, but the disgust with the Church's wealth in a world of want resonates yet.
The Church remained busy and clueless, In 1533, Henry VIII’s marriage to Catherine of Aragon was declared null and void......but not by the Vatican.
All this religious turmoil came to fruition in 1618, this day. In what was later called the "Defenestration of Prague," three men representing the soon-to-be Catholic Holy roman Emperor Ferdinand II were thrown from a window in the Hradshin Palace by Protestant noblemen. Luckily for the imperial emissaries, they land on a large pile of trash and survive. When Ferdinand assumed the throne the following year, hell broke loose in Europe, starting with Bohemia. This began the horrific religious conflict known as the Thirty Years War. It is generally agreed that the war set back the continent a full century, more than the Black Death.
The infamous Captain William Kidd was hanged in London this day in 1701. After death, the body was slathered in tar, chained up, and suspended over the Thames where it remained for years as an example to others considering a life of piracy, and this to unknown result.
This day, in 1785, Benjamin Franklin wrote in a letter that he had invented bifocals.
Sgt. Preston! In 1873, Canada's North West Mounted Police force was established. The organization's name was changed to Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920.
This day in 1900, Civil War hero Sgt. William H. Carney became the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor, 37 years after the Battle of Fort Wagner.
In 1901, having first captured his wife and infant son, American forces finally captured Filipino rebel leader Emilio Aguinaldo.
That would be an interesting listen. In 1922, "Daylight Saving Time" was debated in the first debate ever to be heard on radio in Washington, DC.
It was this day in 1934 that a group of FBI agents and police officers from two states ambushed Bonnie and Clyde on a highway near Gibsland, Louisiana. The men opened fire as the bank robbers drive past the concealed posse, unloading hundreds of rounds into the car.
In 1945, this day in Luneburg Germany, Heinrich Himmler, the head of the Nazi SS and Gestapo, committed suicide while imprisoned by the Allied forces.
And I was there! Well, I remember it, anyway. In 1962, switch hitting (or lefty?) Joe Pepitone of the New York Yankees set a major league baseball record by hitting two home runs in one inning.
In 1999, Gerry Bloch, at age 81, became the oldest climber to scale El Capitan in Yosemite National Park. He broke his own record that he set in 1986 when he was 68 years old. Good on ya, kid.
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Tornado in Windsor and a puma in the cafeteria (window). The day gets interesting.
You may have heard, but here in Boulder the Damned a mountain lion/puma/cougar/catamount has twice taken a nap in a densely populated section of Boulder, been tranquilized, taken back into the wild and released. To date, the lion has done zippo wrong, except the dubious trespassing concept. He's beautiful, and the Tim Treadwell in all of us cannot but weep at what must be an eventuality. I only hope he doesn't kill a kid or anyone in the interim, and no dog decides to increase his cred on a dumb ass decision making day.
The photo I'm stealing for the cover is via The Daily Camera from Channel 7 (ABC) down in Denver. Check out the sleeping lion in the Camera per link above.
UPDATE: a lion was peering in the Hospital cafateria window this AM, which gets and holds everyones' attention. Good grief. At this point the query is: why ISN'T he dangerous? Rather, how is it nothing has happened? An escaped pet?
The Israeli and Syrian governments announced that the two countries are holding indirect peace talks through Turkish mediators. The talks mark the first time the two countries have seriously negotiated since 2000 and seem to be a clear attempt by Israel to isolate Iran. But the prospects of a peace treaty, which could return the Golan Heights to Syria, seem bleak.
Syria and Israel first broached the idea of reigniting peace talks in February 2007, and the latest round of meetings began on Monday in Istanbul, where negotiators from both sides have been speaking through Turkish mediators. The announcement that the two countries are talking was met with skepticism, particularly since the Syrian president had previously said direct negotiations would probably never happen without help from the U.S. government. Many in Israel also sensed a whiff of political maneuvering and quickly said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was trying to take attention away from an ongoing bribery investigation that could lead to his resignation. Many doubt that the unpopular prime minister has the political capital to go through with the negotiations, which could involve returning the Golan Heights to Syria, a move that the vast majority of Israelis oppose.
The Wall Street Journal leads its world-wide newsbox with the agreement reached between Hezbollah and the weak Lebanese government. After five days of negotiations in Qatar, Hezbollah came out the winner because the Shiite militant group gained veto power in the cabinet of a new government. USA Today leads with a look at how Iraq is shaping up to become one of the top buyers of U.S. arms as it goes through a process of modernizing its military equipment. Over the past year, the Iraqi government has committed almost $3 billion for American weapons and equipment.
The 'deal' between Hezbollah and the government was reached less than two weeks after the militant group "flashed its military might" (WSJ) when the government threatened to cut a secret communications network. Hezbollah responded by deploying fighters in Beirut and quickly defeated pro-government militias. The fighting killed a total of 67 people, and the Lebanese government said yesterday it had no choice but to accept the deal with Hezbollah if it wanted to avoid civil war in a country that has been mired in political conflict for the past 18 months. Now, Hezbollah has reached its goal of having an influential role in the government. The move also strengthens Iran and Syria, Hezbollah's allies. But the WP emphasizes that the deal "was more a respite than resolution" since no one thinks it will actually bring an end to the current crisis in Lebanon.
The negotiations in Turkey and the deal reached in Qatar clearly marked a blow to the Bush administration and its efforts to isolate Iran and Syria. Clearly, George Bush and .......where is she?......Condi Rice are the bitches to be slapped by the diplomatic community. So far down have they taken us. The NYT says the U.S. government initially opposed the talks between Israel and Syria and only "yielded when it became clear that Israel was determined to go ahead." And while the Bush administration officially offered tepid support for the deal, many point out that the U.S. government had frequently pushed Lebanon not to make concessions to Hezbollah.
All this adds up to the inescapable conclusion that "[j]ust days after President Bush returned from the Middle East, the Middle East is moving beyond the Bush administration," the WP's Robin Wright poignantly notes in an analysis piece. And it's not just in those two countries. The United States is notably not a player "across the board" in the Middle East, one analyst said. Experts emphasize this is related to Bush's "lame duck status," although it's also clear that more countries in the region are simply not listening to the United States and are openly making moves that go against the Bush administration's stated strategy. But the truth is that even as Bush espouses lofty rhetoric about not talking to enemies, his own administration "has shown a sliding definition of just when it is beneficial to talk to whom," notes the NYT's Helene Cooper. Grotesque incompetence and exposed hypocrisy. During Bush's presidency, the United States has held direct negotiations with Libya, made direct overtures to North Korea, and even does business with the Syrian government. "I'd rather be right than consistent," a Bush official succinctly explained. To quote Speaker Reed: the Gentleman need not be concerned, he'll never be either.
The House overwhelmingly voted to override President Bush's veto of the $307 billion farm bill. But an embarrassing "legislative glitch" means the second override in Bush's tenure didn't really count. A House clerk didn't include a section of the bill when it was sent to the White House, which Republicans called a "monumental Democrat screw-up." Now, it turns out that the House overrode a bill that the president never actually vetoed so "Congress is likely to start the whole process again." Way to go, everyone.
The Los Angeles Times leads with American Airlines announcing that it will start charging most domestic passengers $15 to check their first bag. The new fee takes effect June 15 and comes two weeks after many major airlines started charging $25 to check a second bag. American Airlines also said it will be raising other fees, cutting flights, and laying off workers to "remain viable" as oil prices continue to increase. Other airlines are expected to quickly follow in an industry that analysts say could post a $7.2 billion loss this year. I say more. I further say, some transportation should be a utility and supported by regressive taxation.
As the price of crude oil broke its fourth record in a row yesterday and reached $133.17 a barrel, the WSJ fronts a look at how the International Energy Agency is preparing to predict that future supply could be much less than they had previously thought. Or, rather, admit what it long knew or try to create a panic to up Big Oil's clout. The results won't be known until November, natch, but the energy watchdog had previously been consistent about predicting that the supply of oil would be able to keep up with demand. Now it's not so sure, and that doubt could send prices skyrocketing even further. "This is very important, because the IEA is treated as the world's only serious independent guardian of energy data and forecasts," one analyst explained. Independent? Please.
The WP's Robert Novak says Sen. John McCain "is not about to disarm" in his campaign against Sen. Barack Obama and notes that for the next few months, "Republicans will explore the mind-set of this young man who is a stranger to most Americans." Not surprisingly, that means Americans can expect to hear more about Obama's association with William Ayers, a former leader of the Weather Underground. In a sign of what's to come, the McCain campaign is preparing to bring in Tim Griffin, "a protégé of Karl Rove," to do opposition research. If Griffin's name sounds familiar, it's because he was a key part of the U.S. attorneys controversy and has been tied to vote-caging schemes. He's a crook.
In the NYT's op-ed page, Nathan Thrall and Jesse Wilkins offer an interesting history lesson about President John F. Kennedy's meeting with Nikita Khrushchev in 1961. Many urged Kennedy to hold off on the meeting, but the president ignored them and "was pummeled by the Soviet leader" for two days because he "was no match as a sparring partner." Khrushchev said Kennedy was "too intelligent and too weak" and then proceeded to begin erecting the Berlin Wall and make plans for nuclear missiles in Cuba. Kennedy's famous quote, "let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate," has figured prominently in the presidential campaign and has often been invoked by Sen. Barack Obama. But Obama "should heed the lesson that Kennedy learned in his first year in office: sometimes there is good reason to fear to negotiate."
In history, this day in 1570, Abraham Ortelius published the first modern atlas in Belgium. Would love to see that, frankly.
In 1819, the steamship Savannah became the first to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
And in 1849, one Abraham Lincoln received a patent for the floating dry dock.
It was on this day in 1851 that hail the size of pumpkins fell on Bangalore, India. Normally, we'd write that off as an exaggeration. Maybe not, though.
In 1892, one Dr. Sheffield, a British dentist, invented the toothpaste tube. And then ended British dentistry, if their teeth for the next century are any indication.
Two well adjusted and creative giants - Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini - in 1939 on this day signed a military alliance between Germany and Italy known as the "Pact of Steel."
This day in 1947, the Truman Doctrine was enacted by the U.S. Congress to appropriate military and economic aid Turkey and Greece.
In 1949, former Secretary of Defense James Forrestal fell out of a 16th floor window at Bethesda Naval Hospital with a bathrobe cord knotted tightly around his neck. The death is ruled a suicide, and Forrestal is buried in Arlington Cemetery. He had personal issues, but to this day the whole thing smells. For him, the aircraft carrier was named.I remember this. In 1955, a scheduled dance to be headlined by Fats Domino was canceled by police in Bridgeport, Connecticut because "rock and roll dances might be featured." The horror. IN BRIDGEPORT!
In 1957, a B-36 bomber accidentally dropped a 10 megaton hydrogen bomb over an uninhabited area near Albuquerque, New Mexico. The conventional charges detonate on impact, leaving a radioactive crater 12 feet deep and 25 feet wide.
In 1968, the nuclear submarine U.S.S. Scorpion sank to the bottom with all 99 aboard perishing, after it was reassigned to a spy mission and begins to head towards the Canary Islands. Navy Warrant Officer John Walker (a mole) had certainly reported enough to the KGB to allow them to read the Scorpion's encrypted transmissions. For reasons yet unknown, Navy officials of the U.S. and Soviet Union agree not to discuss the circumstances of this incident or the sinking of a Soviet sub the same year. Dangerous times, friends.
In 1981, one Peter Sutcliffe was convicted of murdering 13 women in the Yorkshire Ripper trial. Good, and all, but its this that gets me. In the sentencing by the presiding judge, the court said: "It is difficult to find words that are adequate in my judgment to describe the brutality and gravity of these offences and I say at once I am not going to pause to seek those words. I am prepared to let the catalogue of crimes speak for itself." This, in contrast to judges here who try to ride sensational cases to fame and speaking tours. Hale, Your Honor.
God. I remember. In 1990, Microsoft released Windows 3.0. God may forgive, others may not.
In was this day in 1992 that Johnny Carson hosted NBC's "Tonight Show" for the last time. He had been host for 30 years.
In 1997, Kelly Flinn, the U.S. Air Force's first female bomber pilot certified for combat, accepted a general discharge. She thereby avoided court-martial on charges of adultery, lying and disobeying an order. Her paramour? What happened to him?
A year later, Bolivia was hit with a series of powerful earthquakes. At least 18 were killed. The quakes ranged in magnitude from 5.9 to 6.8.
This day in 1998, new information came to light about the June 1996 bombing that killed 19 American airmen, suggesting that Saudi citizens had been responsible and not Iranians as once believed. Apparently more important, a federal judge said that Secret Service agents could be compelled to testify before a grand jury in Monica Lewinsky investigation concerning U.S. President Clinton.
Christ. Finally. In 1998, voters in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland turned out to cast ballots giving approval to a Northern Ireland peace accord.
In 2002, in Birmingham, Alabama, a jury convicted former Ku Klux Klansman Bobby Frank Cherry of murder in the 1963 church bombing that killed four girls. Rot in hell.
All material on this site copyright Richard L. MacLeod (Dark Cloud) 1968-2013 unless otherwise stated.