Proud Member of the Reality-Based Community.
Friday, September 30, 2005
Flowers Losing Their Fragrance
IVAN AMATO, SCIENCE NEWS - Vince Agnes, as well-appointed as the flowers that he has been selling for more than 60 years in his shop in Silver Spring, Md., remembers when all his roses smelled as good as they looked. When he opened for business in the 1940s, there were only a few varieties: red, white, yellow, and pink, he recalls. "Now, there are thousands," Agnes says, " but only a few have a lot of scent."
No one knows what's responsible for this waning of fragrance by roses and other ornamental-flower varieties, including carnations and chrysanthemums, but scientists who investigate floral scent suspect that the flower breeding that's led to an estimated 18,000 rose cultivars in an ever-widening spectrum has run roughshod over fragrance...
Floral scent may be dwindling because breeders for the $30 billion ornamental-flower industry pay scant attention to this most emblematic attribute of flowers. "In order of [commercial] priority, color is number 1 through 10," says Alan Blowers, head of flower biotechnology for Ball Helix, a biotech company in West Chicago, Ill., devoted to the ornamental-plant industry. Beyond color, breeders have been targeting improvements in flower longevity, shape, size, disease resistance, and other traits likely to improve the growers' bottom lines.
Fragrance is different. It's invisible, and its sensory impression is as subjective as taste. And, as it turns out, fragrance is a genetically complex trait that's difficult to manipulate by ordinary breeding methods.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
FEMA Could Have Sent Evacuees on Luxury Cruise for What it Paid to Charter Vessels
JONATHAN WEISMAN, WASHINGTON POST - On Sept. 1, as tens of thousands of desperate Louisianans packed the New Orleans Superdome and convention center, the Federal Emergency Management Agency pleaded with the U.S. Military Sealift Command: The government needed 10,000 berths on full-service cruise ships, FEMA said, and it needed the deal done by noon the next day. The hasty appeal yielded one of the most controversial contracts of the Hurricane Katrina relief operation, a $236 million agreement with Carnival Cruise Lines for three ships that now bob more than half empty in the Mississippi River and Mobile Bay...
If the ships were at capacity, with 7,116 evacuees, for six months, the price per evacuee would total $1,275 a week, according to calculations by aides to Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.). A seven-day western Caribbean cruise out of Galveston can be had for $599 a person -- and that would include entertainment and the cost of actually making the ship move.
"When the federal government would actually save millions of dollars by forgoing the status quo and actually sending evacuees on a luxurious six-month cruise it is time to rethink how we are conducting oversight."
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
'Milky Seas' Detected from Space
BBC - Mariners over the centuries have reported surreal, nocturnal displays of glowing sea surfaces stretching outwards to the horizon. Little is known about these "milky seas" other than that they are probably caused by luminous bacteria. But the first satellite detection of this strange phenomenon in the Indian Ocean may now aid future research. The observation is described by a US team in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
The glowing sea covered an area of 15,400 sq km - about the size of the US state of Connecticut - and was observed over three consecutive nights, with the first night corroborated by a ship-based account... There have been 235 documented sightings of milky seas since 1915 - mainly concentrated in the north-western Indian Ocean and near Java, Indonesia.
Monday, September 26, 2005
GEORGINA PATTINSON, BBC - The English language has borrowed words for centuries. Khaki and croissant are cases in point. So perhaps it's time to be thinking about adding others to the lexicon. Malay, for instance, has gigi rongak - the space between the teeth. The Japanese have bakku-shan - a girl who appears pretty from behind but not from the front. Then there's a nakkele - a man who licks whatever the food has been served on (from Tulu, India). These fabulous examples have been collected by author Adam Jacot de Boinod into The Meaning Of Tingo - a collection of words and phrases from around the world. (more...)
I want to be a koshatnik.
So long and thanks for all the fish!
MARK TOWNSEND HOUSTON, THE OBSERVER - It may be the oddest tale to emerge from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Armed dolphins, trained by the US military to shoot terrorists and pinpoint spies underwater, may be missing in the Gulf of Mexico.
Experts who have studied the US navy's cetacean training exercises claim the 36 mammals could be carrying 'toxic dart' guns. Divers and surfers risk attack, they claim, from a species considered to be among the planet's smartest. The US navy admits it has been training dolphins for military purposes, but has refused to confirm that any are missing.
Dolphins have been trained in attack-and-kill missions since the Cold War. The US Atlantic bottlenose dolphins have apparently been taught to shoot terrorists attacking military vessels. Their coastal compound was breached during the storm, sweeping them out to sea. But those who have studied the controversial use of dolphins in the US defence programme claim it is vital they are caught quickly.
Sunday, September 25, 2005
The Fast-Food-ization of Health Care
INDIANAPOLIS STAR - It's health care, fast-food style. A flu shot goes for $30. Treating athlete's foot or an ear infection will run you $49 apiece. Treatments will take 15 minutes, with no appointment necessary. It's all inside a tiny clinic crammed into the corner of the CVS pharmacy at 96th Street and Allisonville Road, one of seven clinics set to open Monday at local CVS stores. The clinics, owned and operated by Minneapolis-based Minute Clinic, have no doctors on site but are staffed by nurse practitioners trained to diagnose and treat common ailments, from bronchitis to pink eye, and to provide basic services, such as vaccinations.
The private company, led by a former chief executive of fast-food chain Arby's, is on the leading edge of an emerging shift in U.S. health care that could push many routine medical tasks away from doctors' offices and emergency rooms to low-cost clinics open evenings and weekends. The idea is to give patients more convenience and lower costs for common medical procedures. Some doctors, however, worry that the clinics emphasize convenience over care. Indiana has become a key testing area for the concept, with at least a dozen clinics opened or planned in the coming months. They seem to be popping up like new eateries at a busy intersection.
U.S. has used 250,000 bullets for each insurgent killed
ANDREW BUNCOMBE, THE INDEPENDENT - US forces have fired so many bullets in Iraq and Afghanistan - an estimated 250,000 for every insurgent killed - that American ammunition-makers cannot keep up with demand. As a result the US is having to import supplies from Israel. A government report says that US forces are now using 1.8 billion rounds of small-arms ammunition a year. The total has more than doubled in five years, largely as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as changes in military doctrine...
Friday, September 23, 2005
Gore Ready to Take on Hillary
NEWSMAX - Al Gore is poised to make a comeback and could pose a serious challenge to Hillary Clinton in the 2008 Democratic presidential race. That's the surprising news from "Inside Washington" columnist Deborah Orin of the New York Post, who writes that the former vice president "is suddenly re-emerging as a vocal and visible Bush-basher." A Democratic insider told Orin that Gore - who is slated to star at a Democratic National Committee fund-raiser next week - is "keeping a very strong public profile. He was the first major Democrat to oppose the Iraq war. He's keeping in touch around the country and doing a lot of speeches. You don't do all that if your goal is to play celebrity golf.
Why should Hillary worry? Iraq is the hot-button issue for the staunchly left-wing Democrats who have a major impact on the presidential primaries, and while Gore was loudly anti-war from the start, Clinton voted for the war. Orin writes: "It's one thing for Clinton to contemplate a 2008 anti-war foe like little-known Sen. Russ Feingold (Wis.). It's quite another to face the MoveOn darling who won the popular vote against George W. Bush."
A top Democratic strategist told Orin: "Americans love comebacks. "He could come back as the new Nixon - somebody who went into the wilderness and found himself."
I would work my ass off for Gore. He is the only candidate I can say that about.
"If you're not part of the solution, you're part of the precipitate." ~Steven Wright
"I have a quick thing I want to say to the Almighty: What part of God Bless America don't you get?" ~Jon Stewart
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
Segregation Never Ended
JONATHAN KOZOL, HARPER'S - Many Americans who live far from our major cities and who have no firsthand knowledge of the realities to be found in urban public schools seem to have the rather vague and general impression that the great extremes of racial isolation that were matters of grave national significance some thirty-five or forty years ago have gradually but steadily diminished in more recent years. The truth, unhappily, is that the trend, for well over a decade now, has been precisely the reverse. Schools that were already deeply segregated twenty-five or thirty years ago are no less segregated now, while thousands of other schools around the country that had been integrated either voluntarily or by the force of law have since been rapidly resegregating.
In Chicago, by the academic year 2002-2003, 87 percent of public-school enrollment was black or Hispanic; less than 10 percent of children in the schools were white. In Washington, D.C., 94 percent of children were black or Hispanic; less than 5 percent were white. In St. Louis, 82 percent of the student population were black or Hispanic; in Philadelphia and Cleveland, 79 percent; in Los Angeles, 84 percent, in Detroit, 96 percent; in Baltimore, 89 percent. In New York City, nearly three quarters of the students were black or Hispanic.
Even these statistics, as stark as they are, cannot begin to convey how deeply isolated children in the poorest and most segregated sections of these cities have become. In the typically colossal high schools of the Bronx, for instance, more than 90 percent of students (in most cases, more than 95 percent) are black or Hispanic. At John F. Kennedy High School in 2003, 93 percent of the enrollment of more than 4,000 students were black and Hispanic; only 3.5 percent of students at the school were white. At Harry S. Truman High School, black and Hispanic students represented 96 percent of the enrollment of 2,700 students; 2 percent were white. At Adlai Stevenson High School, which enrolls 3,400 students, blacks and Hispanics made up 97 percent of the student population; a mere eight tenths of one percent were white.
A teacher at P.S. 65 in the South Bronx once pointed out to me one of the two white children I had ever seen there. His presence in her class was something of a wonderment to the teacher and to the other pupils. I asked how many white kids she had taught in the South Bronx in her career. "I've been at this school for eighteen years," she said. "This is the first white student I have ever taught."
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
KC Radio Suffers a Blow
To the Management and Owners of Union Broadcasting:
I would like to express my dismay at your decision to change 97.3's programming selection. I could always count on quality, unique content from The Planet, and I remained a loyal listener from the station's inception; from what I have heard thus far out of 'The Max,' I have a hard time believing I'll be able to voice similar praise for your station's new format. It pains me to remove 97.3 from my radio's presets, but I don't have room for another station devoted to cookie-cutter retreads of played-out hair bands (even if you dress them up as "Everything That Rocks").
A Loyal Listener No More,
Lucas Henry ~
Send them your comments.
And I burnt the roof of my mouth and my tongue. Grr. Can't blame them for that though.
Monday, September 19, 2005
NIMH Study on Atypical Antipsychotics
ALCUIN AND FLUTTERBY - In a letter in today's edition of The Sunday Telegraph (London), Mr Giles Wardle of Tonge, Leicestershire, asks the following two questions:
"If the universe was designed by an intelligent being, who created the intelligent being? If the intelligent being didn't require a creator, why does the universe require one?"
These are intelligent questions.
Saturday, September 17, 2005
The Most Misogynist Comic Book.... Ever.
Reminds me of how much of a dick Superman can be.
...to Carman, who is awesome for saying hi to me!
In case anyone questioned it, this proves that scholar bowl bonds last a lifetime!
Gillette's 5-blade razor predicted by The Onion
BOING BOING - Gillette has announced a five-blade razor, a move predicted over a year ago in a parodical article in The Onion. Here's the MSNBC coverage:
Gillette ups the ante, unveils 5-blade razor. Fusion is market leader's answer to rival Schick's 4-blade Quattro.
And last year's Onion article:
Fuck Everything, We're Doing Five Blades
By James M. Kilts
CEO and President,
The Gillette Company
February 18, 2004 | Issue 40*07
James M. Kilts
Would someone tell me how this happened? We were the fucking vanguard of shaving in this country. The Gillette Mach3 was the razor to own. Then the other guy came out with a three-blade razor. Were we scared? Hell, no. Because we hit back with a little thing called the Mach3Turbo. That's three blades and an aloe strip. For moisture. But you know what happened next? Shut up, I'm telling you what happened--the bastards went to four blades.
Mad Magazine nailed this one in 1979.
Saturday Night Live predicted the Mach-3 razor *in their very first episode* in 1975: 'Triple-Trac: because you'll believe anything.'
Friday, September 16, 2005
I'm Still a Geek...
Study: Half of All Teens Have Had Oral Sex
WASHINGTON POST - Slightly more than half of American teenagers ages 15 to 19 have engaged in oral sex, with females and males reporting similar levels of experience, according to the most comprehensive national survey of sexual behaviors ever released by the federal government. The report released yesterday by the National Center for Health Statistics shows that the proportion increases with age to about 70 percent of all 18- and 19-year-olds...
Bill Albert, communications director for the National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, put the generational difference this way: "We used to talk about sex in terms of first base, second base and so on. Oral sex was maybe in the dugout."...
The entire survey, administered in 2002 and 2003, includes a variety of findings about sexual behaviors among 15-to 44-year-olds. For example, almost 11 percent of young women ages 15 to 19 said they had had some kind of sexual experience with a female partner, a figure that also held true for 15-to-44-year-old women in general. Proportions of men reporting same-sex activities were lower.
The findings on oral sex among teens are sure to stir debate over abstinence-only sex education. Supporters of such programs say they have resulted in young people delaying intercourse, but opponents say they also have led young people to substitute other behaviors, especially fellatio and cunnilingus. The new data tend to support this view, showing that nearly one in four virgin teens has engaged in oral sex... Oral sex has been associated in clinical studies with several infections, including gonorrhea, syphilis, herpes and the human papillomavirus, which has been linked to cervical cancer. Condoms and other forms of contraception can be used to decrease the health risks of oral sex, but few teens use them.
The Great Flood of 1927
WIKIPEDIA - The Great Mississippi Flood in 1927 was the most destructive river flood in United States history. In the Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 the Mississippi River broke out of its levee system in 145 places and flooded 27,000 square miles or about 16,570,627 acres. The area was inundated up to a depth of 30 feet. The flood caused over $400 million in damages and killed 246 people in seven states. . .
The flood propelled Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover, in charge of flood relief operations, into the national spotlight and set the stage for his election to the Presidency. It also helped Huey Long be elected Louisiana Governor in 1928. . .
By August 1927 the flood subsided. During the disaster 700,000 people were displaced, including 330,000 African-Americans who were moved to 154 relief camps. Over 13,000 refugees near Greenville, Mississippi were gathered from area farms and evacuated to the crest of an unbroken levee, and stranded there for days without food or clean water, while boats arrived to evacuate white women and children. Many African-Americans were detained and forced to labor at gunpoint during flood relief efforts.
Several reports on the poor situation in the refugee camps, including one by the Colored Advisory Commission by Robert Russa Moton, were kept out of the media at the request of Herbert Hoover, with the promise of further reforms for blacks after the presidential election. When he failed to keep the promise, Moton and other influential African-Americans helped to shift the allegiance of black Americans from the Republican party to Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the Democrats.
The aftermath of the flood was one factor in the Great Migration of African-Americans to northern cities. The flood resulted in a great cultural output as well, inspiring a great deal of folklore and folk music. Charlie Patton, Bessie Smith and many other Delta blues musicians wrote numerous songs about the flood; Randy Newman's "Louisiana 1927" was also based on the events of the flood. Kansas Joe McCoy and Memphis Minnie's "When the Levee Breaks" was reworked by Led Zeppelin, and became one of that group's most famous songs.
6 Marijuana Plants Could Cost Woman Home
GLENN PUIT, LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL - A Boulder City woman who pleaded no contest to possession of six marijuana plants could lose her house over the case. Officials in the small town, which prides itself on being the only community in the state that doesn't allow gambling, said their move to seize Cynthia Warren's home is intended to send a message that drugs won't be tolerated in Boulder City. "In the drug world, this thing is probably nothing," said City Attorney Dave Olsen. "But in a town of 15,000 people where we have one or two children die every year because of controlled substances, it is a big deal to us."
Olsen, who pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor drunken driving charge in 2004, further defended the attempt to take Warren's residence using drug seizure laws, saying police suspected the home was being used for drug dealing.
However, the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada said the attempted seizure is disturbing. "The police . . . get to eat what they kill," said Allen Lichtenstein, an ACLU attorney. "They have an incentive to fund themselves through these seizures, and it can be very disproportionate (to the crime). A misdemeanor, yet a fine that takes away the entire property?" . . .
After the plea was entered, Olsen filed a civil action in District Court seeking a judge's permission to seize Warren's home. The 2,000-square-foot house has an assessed taxable value of more than $288,000, according to Clark County records. . .
Veteran Las Vegas attorney Charles Kelly, a former federal prosecutor, said generally speaking state and federal law allows law enforcement agencies to confiscate property or money deemed "proceeds, product or instrumentality of a crime." He said the practice is becoming more common.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Dollars Drive Access to Health Care in U.S.
REUTERS - Americans will make roughly 114 million visits to hospital ERs this year alone, and more than 80 percent will be treated and discharged with a recommendation to seek follow-up care. That, however, may be easier said than done... As they report in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week, eight research assistants called 499 ambulatory clinics and identified themselves as in need of follow-up care for pneumonia, high blood pressure or possible ectopic pregnancy -- early pregnancy implanted outside the uterus, such as in the Fallopian tube. The same research assistant called each clinic twice using the same scenario but reporting different insurance status - no insurance, private insurance, or Medicaid -- the federal/state program for the poor.
"In our study, the callers who were trying to get appointments had potentially very serious conditions," Asplin emphasized. "These were not people trying to get an appointment for a sore throat or a cold. But despite the severity of their conditions, callers still had problems getting appointments when they didn't have the right insurance card."
"This study, I think, speaks to a really important myth that is out there," Asplin said. "That is that a lot of Americans think that, sure we have 45.8 million uninsured people, but when they really need care they get it -- and in our study the uninsured callers really needed care and they weren't able to get it."
Specifically, 63 percent of callers claiming to have private insurance secured timely follow-up appointments compared with just 34 percent of those who said they had Medicaid. Callers claiming they had private insurance were also much more likely to secure appointments than were callers claiming to have no insurance but who offered to pay $20 and arrange payment for the balance due, typically about $80. There was no difference in rates of secured appointments between callers claiming private insurance and those who were uninsured but willing to pay the entire $100 fee for the visit. Clearly, the ability to pay matters, Asplin said.
It's also noteworthy, he said, that 98 percent of clinics screened callers for a source of payment but only 28 percent attempted to determine the severity of the callers medical condition. This shows that "financial screening trumps medical triage in our care system," Asplin said... Although the ultimate consequences of these access barriers are not known, they may cause patients to delay seeking needed follow-up care, risking poor outcomes or additional emergency care or hospitalization. "Someone needs to tell me how this saves us money," Asplin said.
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Say What? Headphones May Worsen Hearing Loss
MARTHA IRVINE, AP - Researchers fear the growing popularity of portable music players and other items that attach directly to the ears - including cell phones - is contributing to hearing loss in younger people.
"It's a different level of use than we've seen in the past," says Robert Novak, director of clinical education in audiology at Purdue University in Indiana. "It's becoming more of a full-day listening experience, as opposed to just when you're jogging."
Increasingly, Novak says he's seeing too many young people with "older ears on younger bodies" - a trend that's been building since the portable Walkman made its debut a few decades back...
To document the trend, Novak and colleagues have been randomly examining students and found a disturbing and growing incidence of what is known as noise-induced hearing loss. Usually, it means they've lost the ability to hear higher frequencies, evidenced at times by mild ear-ringing or trouble following conversations in noisy situations. Hearing specialists say they're also seeing more people in their 30s and 40s - many of them among the first Walkman users - who suffer from more pronounced tinnitus, an internal ringing or even the sound of whooshing or buzzing in the ears.
"It may be that we're seeing the tip of the iceberg now," says Dr. John Oghalai, director of The Hearing Center at Texas Children's Hospital in Houston, who's treating more of this age group. "I would not be surprised if we start to see even more of this."...
"The tricky part is that you don't know early on. It takes multiple exposures and sometimes years to find out," says Dr. Colin Driscoll, an otologist at Minnesota's Mayo Clinic.
Georgia Charging People to Vote
NY TIMES EDITORIAL - In 1966, the Supreme Court held that the poll tax was unconstitutional. Nearly 40 years later, Georgia is still charging people to vote, this time with a new voter ID law that requires many people without driver's licenses - a group that is disproportionately poor, black and elderly - to pay $20 or more for a state ID card. Georgia went ahead with this even though there is not a single place in the entire city of Atlanta where the cards are sold. . .
Until recently, Georgia, like most states, accepted many forms of identification at the polls. But starting this month, it is accepting only government-issued photo ID's. People with driver's licenses are fine. But many people without them have to buy a state ID card to vote, at a cost of $20 for a five-year card or $35 for 10 years. The cards are sold in 58 locations, in a state with 159 counties.
Monday, September 12, 2005
Justifying a five-week vacation, a petulant Bush said:
I think the people want the president to be in a position to make good, crisp decisions and to stay healthy.Then Katrina hit, and we saw what "good, crisp decisions", Bush-style, looked like. Not very good, not very crisp.
Hate to say 'I told you so,' but I did.
I've spent my whole life surrounded
And I've spent my whole life alone
I wonder why I never wonder why
The easiest things are so hard.
I know I'm alone if I'm with or without you
But just being around you offers me another form of relief
When the loneliness leads to bad dreams
And the bad dreams lead me to calling you.
Tonight your ghost will ask my ghost
Where is the love?
Tonight your ghost will ask my ghost
Who put these bodies between us?
After tonight, another day
A chance to feel a different way
The sun is slowly changing sides
Still, sorrow in your eyes.
Not looking for reasons, not trying to understand
Not trying to catch your eye, not trying to touch your hand
Not trying to show you a part of me no one else can find
But I will bring a song to you, who will buy my time?
She keeps on waiting for time out there
Oh love, can you love me babe
Love, is this loving babe
Is time turning around?
What's goin' on?
Time slips away
You got it all wrong
I saw her today and that's all.
I see you walking down the street with a soundtrack in your head
Sucking in the damp and bitter air
Tangled roots they trip me down
Mouth wide open with no sound.
All alone in this world
You bend the light to make due
Saving all your shiny pennies
Sometimes wishes do come true.
With you close by
I'm dazed in madness
Can't lose this sadness
It's ripping me apart.
I've seen fire and I've seen rain
I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end
I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend
But I always thought that I'd see you again.
Remembering you, what happened to you?
I wonder if we'll meet again
Talking about life since then
Talk about why did it end.
You'd think the world you're in would always remain
But some worlds can just disappear
Some worlds you enter just for seconds at a time
And some last until you're forgiven.
I walk awhile before I sleep, count the secrets that I keep
I hope for more, I know for sure I fall apart before I weep
I disconnect the telephone 'cause I can choose to be alone
I'll get more done, I'll have some fun, pretend you're not the only one.
Strangers, waiting, up and down the boulevard
Their shadows searching in the night
Streetlight people, living just to find emotion
Hiding somewhere in the night.
Now if I let you see this place where stories all ring true
Then will you let me past your face to see what's really you
It's not for me I ask this question as though I were a king
For you have to love, believe and feel, before the burst of tambourines take you there.
I should be living, giving my mind a chance to rewind
And playback beautiful music
I should be living, giving my mind a chance to rewind
And playback dangerous rhythms.
So if you please take this moment
Try if you can to make it last
Don't think about no future
And just forget about the past.
(Archive, Interpol, James Taylor, Jennie Stearns, Johnny Marr and the Healers, Journey, Metric, Rilo Kiley, Shearwater, Social Distortion, Stars, Stereophonics, The Bravery, The Outlaws)
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Friday, September 09, 2005
"Michael Brown, the controversial head of FEMA, has been relieved of his duties in New Orleans. Yeah, he's been ordered to report to Washington immediately, so he'll be there in a week." - Conan O'Brien
Conan vs. Bear
Pentagon's 'Freedom' Walk Lacks Freedom
PETULA DVORAK, WASHINGTON POST - Organizers of the Pentagon's 9/11 memorial Freedom Walk on Sunday are taking extraordinary measures to control participation in the march and concert, with the route fenced off and lined with police and the event closed to anyone who does not register online by 4:30 p.m. today. The march, sponsored by the Department of Defense, will wend its way from the Pentagon to the Mall along a route that has not been specified but will be lined with four-foot-high snow fencing to keep it closed and "sterile," said Allison Barber, deputy assistant secretary of defense.
U.S. Park Police will have its entire Washington force of several hundred on duty and along the route, on foot, horseback and motorcycles and flying above in its helicopter. Officers are prepared to arrest anyone who joins the march or concert without a credential and refuses to leave, said Park Police Chief Dwight E. Pettiford.
The event, the America Supports You Freedom Walk, is billed as a memorial to victims of the 2001 terrorist attacks and a show of support for those serving in the military, topped off with a concert by country singer Clint Black, known for his pro-troops anthem, "Iraq and Roll." Organizers said they expect 3,000 to 10,000 participants.
Barber said that organizers would rather not have such stringent measures on their event but that police had requested them. Pettiford said officers would patrol to keep interlopers out because the Pentagon restricted the event in its permit application. "That is what their permit called for, so we have those fences to keep the public out."...
What's unusual for an event on the Mall is the combination of fences, required pre-registration and the threat of arrest...
One restricted group will be the media, whose members will not be allowed to walk along the march route. Reporters and cameras are restricted to three enclosed areas along the route but are not permitted to walk alongside participants walking from the Pentagon, across the Memorial Bridge to the Mall.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
She's pulchritudinous, too!
Big props to Alicia for taking care of me while I was sick. Chicken noodle soup and everything - whoa! Made my day! Word. =D
Compare & Contrast
"Remember when Bill Clinton went out with Monica Lewinsky? That was inarguably a failure of judgment at the top. Democrats had to come out and risk losing credibility if they did not condemn Bill Clinton for his behavior. I believe Republicans are in the same position right now. And I will say this: Hurricane Katrina is George Bush's Monica Lewinsky. The only difference is that tens of thousands of people weren't stranded in Monica Lewinsky's vagina." - Jon Stewart
The First Amendment Sank with the City
NBC News Anchor Brian Williams writes about the efforts to block NBC's coverage:
While we were attempting to take pictures of the National Guard (a unit from Oklahoma) taking up positions outside a Brooks Brothers on the edge of the Quarter, the sergeant ordered us to the other side of the boulevard. The short version is: there won't be any pictures of this particular group of guard soldiers on our newscast tonight. Rules (or I suspect in this case an order on a whim) like those do not HELP the palpable feeling that this area is somehow separate from the United States.
At that same fire scene, a police officer from out of town raised the muzzle of her weapon and aimed it at members of the media... obvious members of the media... armed only with notepads. Her actions (apparently because she thought reporters were encroaching on the scene) were over the top and she was told. There are automatic weapons and shotguns everywhere you look. It's a stance that perhaps would have been appropriate during the open lawlessness that has long since ended on most of these streets. Someone else points out on television as I post this: the fact that the National Guard now bars entry (by journalists) to the very places where people last week were barred from LEAVING (The Convention Center and Superdome) is a kind of perverse and perfectly backward postscript to this awful chapter in American history.
Wednesday, September 07, 2005
Republicans say hurricane won't stop tax breaks for wealthy
REUTERS - Republicans in Congress on Wednesday rejected calls by Democrats to suspend work on tax cuts, that would mainly benefit the rich, and spending reductions on social programs because of the huge costs of hurricane relief.
"Now is not the time to cut services for our most vulnerable, cut taxes for our most fortunate and add $35 billion to the deficit," the Democratic leaders of the Senate and the House of Representatives said in a letter to their Republican counterparts.
Congressional committees face a Sept. 16 deadline to come up with $35 billion in spending reductions over five years to programs including the Medicaid health-care program for the poor, student loans, food stamps and pension insurance. The committees are also scheduled to approve $70 billion in tax cuts this month. The cuts could be extensions of reductions on capital gains and dividends, which affect mainly the incomes of the wealthy.
"Americans should be prudent in their use of energy during the course of the next few weeks. Don't buy gas if you don't need it." - GW Bush
Smart Whale Learns How to Catch Seagulls, Passes on Trick
AP, NIAGARA FALLS, CA - An enterprising young killer whale at Marineland has figured out how to use fish as bait to catch seagulls - and shared his strategy with his fellow whales. Michael Noonan, a professor of animal behavior at Canisius College in Buffalo, N.Y., made the discovery by accident while studying orca acoustics. "One day I noticed one of the young whales appeared to have come up with a procedure for luring gulls down to the pool," the professor said. "I found it interesting so I noted it in my log."
First, the young whale spit regurgitated fish onto the surface of the water, then sank below the water and waited. If a hungry gull landed on the water, the whale would surge up to the surface, sometimes catching a free meal of his own. Noonan watched as the same whale set the same trap again and again. Within a few months, the whale's younger half brother adopted the practice. Eventually the behavior spread and now five Marineland whales supplement their diet with fresh fowl, the scientist said.
Elephant Grass Considered as Energy Source by Europeans
BBC - The fields of Europe could soon take on a shimmering silver colour as farmers grow giant grasses to try to mitigate the effects of global warming. The latest studies suggest one form of elephant grass would make a productive "energy crop" to be burnt in power stations to generate electricity.
Scientists told a Dublin conference the 4m-high Miscanthus needs little fertiliser to produce very high yields. . . "There's no reason why in 10 years' time this shouldn't be widely exploited," commented Professor Mike Jones, an Irish expert on plants and climate. "If we grew Miscanthus on 10% of suitable land in [the 15-member] Europe, then we could generate 9% of the gross electricity production," he told the British Association's Festival of Science. Burning biomass is broadly neutral in terms of its emissions of carbon dioxide, the major gas thought responsible for warming the planet.
"As the plant grows it is drawing carbon dioxide out of the air," explained Professor Steve Long, from the University of Illinois. "When you burn it, you put that carbon dioxide back, so the net effect on atmospheric CO2 is zero."
Sleep-Deprived Docs Act Like Drinkers
UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN - A new study of young doctors who are notoriously overworked shows that they're often so tired that they perform some activities as if they were hammered. The University of Michigan study was the first of its kind to do this kind of sleep/alcohol comparison--previously used on truck drivers, for example--on medical residents. The young doctors who were on a "heavy schedule" slept an average of 3 hours per night. From a press release: In findings published in this week's issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association, 34 young pediatric residents showed similar impairments in vigilance, attention, and driving skills on standardized tests after they had been on duty overnight in the hospital and worked a month of 90-hour weeks, compared with when they had consumed three to four alcoholic drinks after a month of 44-hour weeks with no overnight duties. . .
In other words, after a month of 90-hour weeks with overnight shifts every fourth or fifth night, residents performed about the same as when they had a BAC (Blood Alcohol Level) of 0.04 percent after a month of 44-hour weeks of daytime shifts.
Katrina: FEMA to Reuters -- no photos of the dead
Here we go, down the memory hole....
REUTERS - "We have requested that no photographs of the deceased be made by the media," a [FEMA] spokeswoman said in an e-mailed response to a Reuters inquiry.
The Bush administration also has prevented the news media from photographing flag-draped caskets of U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq, which has sparked criticism that the government is trying to block images that put the war in a bad light.
Hurricane Victims to Get Second Blow From Bush Regime
CAROLINE E. MAYER, WASHINGTON POST - The new bankruptcy law that goes into effect Oct. 17 could compound problems for people whose lives have been disrupted by Hurricane Katrina. The new law will make it harder and more expensive for people to completely wipe out their debts, and consumer groups that oppose the law say it couldn't come at a worse time for Katrina victims. For one thing, they note, many will be unable to provide the paperwork -- tax statements, pay stubs and six months of income and expense data -- required by the new law. Nor will they have the time to attend mandatory credit-counseling courses. Those groups are pushing Congress to delay the law's implementation date or change the law to guarantee that Katrina's victims will be able to get relief from their bills.
Debtors in the hurricane area who were planning to file before the Oct. 17 deadline can't even find a lawyer now, let alone an open courthouse, said Travis B. Plunkett, legislative director of the Consumer Federation of America. "They should have the right to file under the old law," Plunkett said. In the months ahead, hurricane victims -- or any victim in a natural disaster -- shouldn't have to face an increased burden of proof required by the new law, he said.
California Legislature Approves Same-Sex Marriage
Navy Thought Kerouac had 'Strong Schizoid Trends'
Worst English Phrasebook Ever
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
"Math is hard. Let's go shopping!" - Barbie
Dr. Foxworth's quotation from Medical Decision Making was accurate...
EVERYTHING2 - Barbie dolls have long been thought of as a grotesquely stereotypical "perfect" woman in some circles--those disgusted with Barbie's perfect proportions note that an anatomically correct life-size Barbie would be 7 feet tall with a 40-inch bust, 22-inch waist and 36-inch hips...and her legs would be 5 feet long. But, it took an incident in the late 1980's to bring mainstream attention to this issue for the first time:
Mattel released a Teen Talk Barbie which could say over 200 different sentences. Among these were "Math is hard!" and "Let's go shopping!" Activist groups throughout the country were outraged that Mattel would program Barbie with such overtly sexist sayings, and the doll became the butt of countless jokes in the media and on the late night talk show circuit.
Tall tales of a "Barbie Liberation Organization" quickly spread, spinning stories of groups that would go into department stores and switch the speech chips in the Teen Talk Barbie and Talking Duke G.I. Joe dolls--consumers were allegedly shocked to find Barbie screaming "VENGEANCE IS MINE!" and Dukes who pondered, "Let's plan our dream wedding!"
Mattel quickly pulled the dolls from the shelves and reprogrammed Barbie without the offensive sayings, but the damage had already been done--many more people than ever before began to see that Barbie might just be everything that its opponents had been claiming for many years--materialistic, impossibly proportioned, and subservient.
Bush to lead inquiry into Katrina
BBC - US President George W Bush says he will lead an investigation into how the Hurricane Katrina disaster was handled.
"I'm going to find out over time what went right and what went wrong," he said in reply to criticism that the authorities were too slow to respond..
How the different levels of government had reacted to Katrina would be examined, Mr Bush said, but he refused to "play the blame game".
"We got to solve problems - there will be ample time to figure out what went right and what went wrong," he said in Washington.
America, he added, had to be sure it could respond properly to another disaster, whether natural or an attack with weapons of mass destruction.
Stressing his focus on victims, Mr Bush also pledged not to allow "bureaucracy... to get in the way of getting the job done for the people".
He also announced that Vice President Dick Cheney would visit Gulf Coast region on Thursday to help assess the government's work.
In an unrelated story, O.J. reaffirmed his commitment today to finding "the real killers."
Monday, September 05, 2005
Barbara Bush's Thoughts on Those Who Have Lost Everything
Sunday, September 04, 2005
'My Pet Goat' - The Sequel
GREG MITCHELL, EDITOR & PUBLISHER - This time, during a catastrophe, the president did not merely dither for seven minutes, but for three days, and his top advisors followed suit... This is not mere incompetence, but dereliction of duty. The press should call it by its proper name.
Breaks Your Heart
Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard on MTP:
..The guy who runs this building I’m in, Emergency Management, he’s responsible for everything. His mother was trapped in St. Bernard nursing home and every day she called him and said, “Are you coming, son? Is somebody coming?” and he said, “Yeah, Mama, somebody’s coming to get you.” Somebody’s coming to get you on Tuesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Wednesday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Thursday. Somebody’s coming to get you on Friday… and she drowned Friday night. She drowned Friday night! [Sobbing] Nobody’s coming to get us. Nobody’s coming to get us…
Friday, September 02, 2005
THINK PROGRESS - Senate Finance Committee members were informed this morning that Sen. Bill Frist will move forward with a vote to permanently repeal the estate tax next week, likely on Tuesday, ThinkProgress has learned.
One stands in awe of Sen. Frist's timing. Permanently repealing the estate tax would be a major blow to the nation's charities. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has "found that the estate tax encourages wealthy individuals to donate considerably more to charity, since estate tax liability is reduced through donations made both during life and at death." If there were no estate tax in 2000, for example, "charitable donations would have been between $13 billion to $25 billion lower than they actually were."
Thursday, September 01, 2005
Top House Republican - 'Screw it, N.O. is lost cause'
AP - It makes no sense to spend billions of dollars to rebuild a city that's seven feet under sea level, House Speaker Dennis Hastert said of federal assistance for hurricane-devastated New Orleans.
"It looks like a lot of that place could be bulldozed," the Illinois Republican said in an interview Wednesday with the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Illinois.
Hastert, in a transcript supplied by the newspaper, said there was no question that the people of New Orleans would rebuild their city, but noted that federal insurance and other federal aid was involved. "We ought to take a second look at it. But you know we build Los Angeles and San Francisco on top of earthquake fissures and they rebuild too. Stubbornness."
Compassionate conservatism at work.
Economics of Disaster
BOING BOING - My friend Ned Sublette passes along an email attributed to a rescue worker in New Orleans. Ned says: "The poorest 20% of the city was left behind to drown. This was the plan. Forget the sanctimonious bullshit about the bullheaded people who wouldn't leave. The evacuation plan was strictly laissez-faire. It depended on privately owned vehicles, and on having ready cash to fund an evacuation. The planners knew full well that the poor, who in new orleans are overwhelmingly black, wouldn't be able to get out. The resources -- meaning, the political will -- weren't there to get them out. White per capita income in Orleans parish, 2000 census: $31,971. Black per capita: $11,332. Median *household* income in B.W. Cooper Housing Projects, 2000: $13,263.
"I don't think anybody anticipated the breach of the levees." - W.
Read. Think. Get mad. You should.
Did New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen?
'Times-Picayune' Had Repeatedly Raised Federal Spending Issues
WILL BUNCH, EDITOR AND PUBLISHER - Yet after 2003, the flow of federal dollars toward SELA [Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project] dropped to a trickle. The Corps never tried to hide the fact that the spending pressures of the war in Iraq, as well as homeland security -- coming at the same time as federal tax cuts -- was the reason for the strain. At least nine articles in the Times-Picayune from 2004 and 2005 specifically cite the cost of Iraq as a reason for the lack of hurricane- and flood-control dollars. Newhouse News Service, in an article posted late Tuesday night at The Times-Picayune Web site, reported: "No one can say they didn't see it coming. ... Now in the wake of one of the worst storms ever, serious questions are being asked about the lack of preparation."
In early 2004, as the cost of the conflict in Iraq soared, President Bush proposed spending less than 20 percent of what the Corps said was needed for Lake Pontchartrain, according to a Feb. 16, 2004, article, in New Orleans CityBusiness.
On June 8, 2004, Walter Maestri, emergency management chief for Jefferson Parish, Louisiana; told the Times-Picayune: "It appears that the money has been moved in the president's budget to handle homeland security and the war in Iraq, and I suppose that's the price we pay. Nobody locally is happy that the levees can't be finished, and we are doing everything we can to make the case that this is a security issue for us."
Also that June, with the 2004 hurricane season starting, the Corps' project manager Al Naomi went before a local agency, the East Jefferson Levee Authority, and essentially begged for $2 million for urgent work that Washington was now unable to pay for...
The 2004 hurricane season was the worst in decades. In spite of that, the federal government came back this spring with the steepest reduction in hurricane and flood-control funding for New Orleans in history. Because of the proposed cuts, the Corps office there imposed a hiring freeze. Officials said that money targeted for the SELA project -- $10.4 million, down from $36.5 million -- was not enough to start any new jobs.
HUNTER, DAILY KOS - A lot of people are going to huff and bluster about making this disaster a political issue. Put bluntly, however, what government does and does not choose to spend money on for the essential safety of its citizens is a political issue, and a very basic one at that. The administration willfully reduced the budget for the protective levees around New Orleans to a level where even maintaining the current levee height was impossible, in order to shift that Corps money into Iraq. I'd say that's a political big deal.
Pouring guns and gold into Iraq while ignoring basic aspects of America's own domestic safety was a risk that the Bush administration was willing to take.
A true shame... :-/
Iraq War Now More Costly than Vietnam
REUTERS - The U.S. war in Iraq now costs more per month than the average monthly cost of military operations in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s, according to a report. The report, entitled "The Iraq Quagmire" from the Institute for Policy Studies and Foreign Policy in Focus, both liberal, anti-war organizations, put the cost of current operations in Iraq at $5.6 billion per month. This breaks down to almost $186 million a day.
How Bush Regime Killed a Swedish Style Republic in Iraq in Favor of one Suitable for U.S. Corporations
DOUG IRELAND, DIRELAND - Not content with godfathering an Islamist Constitution for Iraq that establishes Islamic religious principles as the basis for all laws -- [Washington] also succeeded in scrapping a constitution, drafted by the Iraqis, that was modeled on that of the social-democratic Scandinavian countries, and replacing it with one that fulfilled "the wish-list of international investors," as The Economist described the objectives of America's proconsuls in Iraq. Yet this is a story that has never been coherently told in the U.S. press.
This remarkable tale is told in carefully documented detail in this morning's Asia Times -- the very respectable daily -- by Herbert Docena. . . The article, How the U.S. Got Its Neo-Liberal Way in Iraq, points out that, when the original draft of the new Constitution for Iraq was published there in June, "The Iraqis - even those who were willing to cooperate with the United States - wanted, at least on paper, to build a Scandinavian-type welfare system in the Arabian desert, with Iraq's vast oil wealth to be spent on upholding every Iraqi's right to education, health care, housing, and other social services. 'Social justice is the basis of building society,' the draft declared. All of Iraq's natural resources would be owned collectively by the Iraqi people. . .
"In other words, the Iraqis wanted a country different from that for which the Americans had come to Iraq. They, or at least those who were involved in drafting the constitution, wanted nothing of the kind of economic and political system that [the U.S. pro-consul, Paul] Bremer and other US officials had been attempting to create in Iraq ever since the occupation began. What the occupation authorities wanted was to fulfill 'the wish-list of international investors,' as The Economist magazine described the economic policies they began imposing in the country in 2003."
The article notes that, "As direct occupiers, the US enacted laws that give foreign investors equal rights with Iraqis in the domestic market; permit the full repatriation of profits; institute the flat tax system; abolish tariffs; enforce a strict intellectual property rights regime; sell off a whole-range of state-owned companies; reduce food and fuel subsidies; and privatize all kinds of social services such as health, education and water delivery. By the time the next version was leaked in late July, the progressive provisions in the draft constitution had disappeared."