Always decide for yourself whether anything posted in my blog has any information you choose to keep.
Wednesday, September 28, 2005
wants control of the internet. Story below, then comments by Sen.Hillary Clinton in 1998 as to what her PC take on information dissemination would do with it if she ever got to be president Again. Following that a bit about China's current PC crackdown.
Have also read the UN want to impose a tax on internet usage ...... wonder whose pockets it would go into if that happens????
As usual live links embedded.
September 28, 2005, 8:10 a.m.
World Wide (Web) Takeover
The United Nations wants the Internet.
"In my opinion, freedom of speech seems to be a politically sensitive issue. A lot of policy matters are behind it." So observed Houlin Zhao, the man who wants to control the greatest forum for free expression in history.
Zhao, a director of the U.N.'s International Telecommunication Union (ITU) and a former senior Chinese-government official, is a leader in the United Nations's effort to supplant the United States government in the supervision of the Internet. At a series of conferences called the World Summit on the Information Society (WSIS), held under the aegis of the ITU, and set to culminate in Tunis this November, the U.N. has floated a series of proposals for doing exactly that.
The U.N.'s professed goals, which include expanding Internet access in developing countries and fighting spam, are laudable. However, the substance of its proposals — shifting Internet governance from the U.S. to a U.N. body — would produce an Internet in which regulations smother free speech, strangle net-driven economic growth, and threaten America's online security.
A typical U.N. enterprise, in other words.
The Internet is decentralized by design, having grown from the U.S. government's efforts to build a computer network that could survive catastrophic failures. Some elements, however, must be centrally administered to guarantee the Internet's orderly operation. The U.N. has its sights set on the most important of these, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN). ICANN, a nonprofit contractor for the U.S. Department of Commerce, ensures that top-level domain names (.com, .edu, .uk), specific domain names (yahoo.com, ebay.com), and IP addresses (184.108.40.206, the numeric address for nationalreview.com), do not conflict. An Internet without ICANN would be like a telephone network in which everyone picked his own telephone number. ICANN delegates much of its work to a mix of regional organizations and commercial registries. This system has served the Internet well.
Nevertheless, a 2003 WSIS meeting asked U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan to convene a Working Group on Internet Governance (WGIG) to develop proposals to internationalize control of the Internet. Composed of representatives from the private sector, NGOs, and governments, including those of Saudi Arabia, Cuba, China, Iran, and a number of supranationally inclined European states, the 41-member body delivered its final report this July. WGIG's proposals include shifting control of ICANN to an "International Internet Council," entrusted with an additional murky mandate over Internet-related "international public policy."
ICANN's critics correctly observe that progress has been lacking. There are too few domain names in non-Roman characters and the number of available Internet addresses has not increased quickly enough. There is much to be gained, and little to be feared, from an international discussion of these and similar technical and policy issues.
Yet even those sympathetic to the idea of an internationally controlled Internet are skeptical of WGIG's proposals: John Palfrey, a Harvard Law School professor and executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, observes that creating an organization with so broad a mandate would be a "terrible idea." Indeed, the history of large bureaucracies, particularly large international bureaucracies, provides little confidence that the U.N. can handle any task without kilometers of red tape, let alone continue ICANN's minimalist private-sector approach. Will the registration of a domain name, now a five-minute process for anyone with a credit card, eventually require approval from UNESCO? Will domain-registration fees, currently a few dollars per domain, skyrocket to subsidize websites for countries without electricity? There are many ways that U.N. control could make the Internet slower and more expensive, and few improvements that the private sector cannot supply. For instance, with AOL, Microsoft, Yahoo, Google working on the spam problem, it is doubtful that the U.N. will have much to add. It would also be unwise to entrust the world's largest marketplace to an organization whose top officials are notorious for lining their pockets. Small wonder then, that Senator Norm Coleman (R., Minn.), who has launched repeated investigations into U.N. corruption, describes WGIG's proposals as a "giant and foolhardy step backwards."
Only dictators, and, perhaps, the doctrinaire internationalists who so often abet them, stand to gain from placing the Internet under "international" control. If, for example, the U.N. were to control domain names, its component tyrannies would find it much easier to censor and repress. After all, "internet public policy" is subject to interpretation, and it is hard to imagine international bureaucrats resisting — as ICANN and the U.S. largely have — the temptation to politicize their task. At first, this could even seem reasonable: E.U. officials might seek to eliminate neo-Nazi domains. Inevitably, however, dictatorships would seek to extinguish undesirable foreign web content at the source. Given the U.N.'s penchant for condemning good causes, it is easy to imagine Tehran pushing to suppress "racist" (i.e. "Zionist") websites, or steady pressure from Beijing to eliminate Taiwan's ".tw" domain. (One China, one top-level domain.)
China, a major proponent of a U.N.-administered Internet, already operates the world's largest and most advanced system of online censorship. Thousands of government agents, including some from ITU Director Zhao's former Department of Telecommunications, make sure that websites, e-mails, and even search-engine results deemed threatening to the regime remain inaccessible to a fifth of the world's population. U.S. companies have shamefully participated in this system, as shown by China's recent jailing of dissident journalist Shi Tao based on information revealed by Yahoo!, Inc. Chinese Internet users are unable to access the websites of the Voice of America or, even, the BBC. The regime's filtering is so sophisticated that many sites, such as cnn.com, time.com, and, curiously, yale.edu, are filtered page-by-page, thus maintaining the illusion of openness. Other WGIG participants have similar policies. Like China, Iran, and Saudi Arabia also recognize that control over the Internet brings them closer to control over minds. It is unsurprising, then, that Mr. Zhao and his ilk support the U.N.'s drive to give them more of it.
That the next WSIS summit should take place in Tunisia speaks volumes. The Tunisian government and President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali's relatives control all of the country's internet-service providers. As in China, international news and human-rights websites are routinely blocked. Citizens who post their dissent online face lengthy prison terms. That the U.N. would award a meeting on the fate of the Internet to such a regime betrays the incoherence of an internationalism that insists on treating dictatorships and democracies as equals.
Surrendering the Internet might also increase America's vulnerability to online security threats. It could be difficult to guard against cyber-terrorism or to pursue terrorists online, if the Internet were under the supervision of a body unsure of what terrorism is, but quite sure that it does not like the United States.
Although the Bush administration will not relinquish U.S. oversight of the Internet, a future president may be more willing to make this seemingly small concession to curry favor with internationalist elites or supposed strategic partners. As with the Kyoto Protocol or the International Criminal Court, Washington's refusal to bend to the "international community" over the Internet might be magnified into another gleefully touted example of American arrogance. America's rivals, less constrained by electoral cycles, tend to view foreign policy over the longer term. They are willing to wait. If we are to preserve the Internet as we know it, the Bush administration must take steps to foreclose the possibility of it ever becoming the plaything of dictators.
"Hillary: Net News Needs Scrutiny
WASHINGTON - Hillary Rodham Clinton said in a meeting with reporters Wednesday that "we are all going to have to rethink how we deal with" the Internet because of the handling of White House sex scandal stories on Web sites.
In an otherwise low-key question-and-answer session, Clinton was at her most intense when asked whether she favored curbs on the Internet, on which news services have serveral times made headlines themselves with their coverage of the president's purported affair with a White House intern.
"We are all going to have to rethink how we deal with this, because there are all these competing values ... Without any kind of editing function or gatekeeping function, what does it mean to have the right to defend your reputation?" she said.
"China sets new rules on Internet news
BEIJING (Reuters) - China set new regulations on Internet news content on Sunday, widening a campaign of controls it has imposed on other Web sites, such as discussion groups.
"The state bans the spreading of any news with content that is against national security and public interest," the official Xinhua news agency said in announcing the new rules, which took effect immediately.
The news agency did not detail the rules, but said Internet news sites must "be directed toward serving the people and socialism and insist on correct guidance of public opinion for maintaining national and public interests."
Established news media needed permission to run a news Web site, it said. New operators had to register themselves with government information offices.
China has a dedicated band of cyber police who patrol the Internet with the aim of regulating content. Postings that criticize the government or address sensitive topics are quickly removed.
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
If we weren't in Iraq, he wouldn't be dead and could continue orchestrating plots to kill more of us on our own soil. Saddam was a terrorist sponsor which is one of the litany of reasons he was overthrown and a democratically elected representative republic is being formed on Iraq.
Have read that it took 13 years to establish the US government so it just might take a bit longer than 3 to stabilize Iraq.
|U.S. Special Forces Kill No. 2 Terrorist in Iraq
Tuesday, September 27, 2005
WASHINGTON — U.S. Special Forces killed Al Qaeda's (search) No. 2 terror mastermind in Iraq (search), Defense Department officials said.
FOX News has confirmed that Abu Azzam (search), who was believed to have been in charge of the financing of terrorist cells in the war-torn country, was killed during a raid in Baghdad early Monday morning Iraq time. Azzam is thought to be the top deputy to Abu Musab al-Zarqawi (search), Iraq's most wanted terrorist.
Azzam is the latest in a series of top Zarqawi deputies that have been killed or captured by coalition forces in recent months. Zarqawi's Al Qaeda in Iraq (search) group has taken responsibility for some of the country's most horrific acts of terror including car bombings, kidnappings and beheadings of Iraqi civilians and westerners.
Earlier this month Zarqawi, a Sunni Muslim, pledged war on Iraqi Shiites in response to the U.S. and Iraqi military offensive on the town of Tal Afar near the Syrian border.
The U.S. military said it is continuing to make progress dismantling Zarqawi's operations. Officials credit much of the success to the increasing number of tips coming from Iraqi civilians. A top U.S. commander in northwestern region of the country said that 80 percent the terror network has been affected by coalition operations in his region."........
Monday, September 26, 2005
40 years after, old freaks look like 60's freaks aged-Not-well, same messages ... hidden agendas out in the open. Guess they didn't hear about the fall of the Soviet Union or just recently Poland voting anti-communist rule, also failing economies due to Germany and France's socialistic governments.
But whoever said "intellectuals" have any common sense????
Thank goodness for freedom of speech ... in any other country they'd be .... you fill in the blanks.
"Mike Freeland attended yesterday's anti-American protest in Washington and took some great photos, including a number of Communist banners. You can view them here.
http://www.narley.org/protestPhotos/showList.php (lots of server traffic so slow load)
Saturday, September 24, 2005
From Georgia Pet Lovers Yahoo Group I'm a member of.
"Permission to Crosspost
The New Canine Influenza, Greyhound Disease, Race Flu, Equine
Influenza, Avian Flu
The New Canine Flu, which has killed so many greyhounds is now in the
domestic dog population. There is no treatment and no vaccine. It has
jumped species, (by feeding greyhounds raw horse meat, which was
infected with horse influenza), (horse influenza is avian flu, which
jumped species from birds (avian flu), to horses(horse influenza). The
avian flu has now moved to racing greyhounds and domestic dogs and the
indications are that there may be a potential problem for humans. It
is deadly and it is on the loose. It may just be a matter of time. The
CDC is watching the disease.
There is no central tracking agency with report and stat capability
for dogs that will get the word out to all vets in the US.
The domestic dog population is at present risk.
This week on my net groups I saw many anecdotal accounts of $100,000
show dogs dying while packed in ice and hooked up to IVs, with high
temps. No one knows what is wrong with these dogs and the vets do not
know what they are treating. I think it is Greyhound Influenza or Race
Show populations are now infected and the majority of veterinarians
have never heard of the disease. Isolated individuals know this but
the country as a whole does not. A few days after exposure at dog
shows, dogs are traveling back to their home states and infecting the
local populations. Many dogs are dying needlessly. It is not kennel
The period of incubation is 2-5 days. It is airborne, can be
transmitted by inanimate objects, and clothing. Virtually all exposed
will contract. The morbidity is 80% with 20% being sub clinically
affected and shedding the virus. The course of the disease is four
weeks. There are two forms, milder and very extreme. Two weeks into
the viral disease the dog looks like he is getting over the cough and
then bacterial infections become an acute problem. Oft times the owner
has reported the dog is well, only to find that a short time later an
acute bacterial infection has taken over the dog, in a matter of
hours. The owners think the disease has run its course only to learn
it hasn't gotten started yet, so dogs are dying needlessly.
My vet thinks earlier rather than later treatment with broad spectrum
antibiotics are the best way to treat the disease. With proper vet
care perhaps there will only be a mortality of 1-5%.
The information needs to go out so that all vets will know this is not
kennel cough, so they will not VAX for kennel cough while ill, and so
they can monitor beyond the two week period.
It has been almost impossible for me to understand how in the last
four days i have contacted state vets who have never heard of the new
influenza, all the while, the people with the info on the disease,
refuse to release it nationally.
The AVMA has info that will go out next month. How many will die prior
to that? I have begged and cajoled them to do this, so perhaps we are
making some headway, however, we need info to go out ASAP.
APHIS says it is not their job.
The people who are handling research on the initial outbreak in FLA.,
are contacting local, (FLA) BUT not national sources to disseminate
Below is a link to a photo album in which i placed the FLA Veterinary
Alert and Advisory, which was put out by the FLA VET MED ASSOC., at
the request of the State Vet. It is not on the state website.
In my conversations with the researchers at the U. of FLA. I was
told, by the lead researcher, who owns greyhounds, that they have no
responsibility to provide this info to other states or to other vets.
(BTW, Is some of the research funded by the gaming organizations?)
(My state,GA., the state of FLA., and three highly placed individuals
at Pfizer, told me to call the researcher.) The researcher said to me
that cultures do not need to be done on potential affecteds, and she
denied that the illness is from horses, though she is quoted in
articles as applauding the Cornell researcher who identified it as
horse influenza. The FLA state vet said:"We know it came from horses."
The researcher is working to do a contracted vaccine with " a
company." She is working on a paper. She did not want to discuss the
influenza though her name, email and number appears as the contact
source on the state of FLA Veterinary Alert and Advisory that went out
to all FLA vets. I was told by some at Pfizer that Pfizer is not the
company who is helping her develop the vaccine.
The researcher said the FLA VETERINARY ALERT AND ADVISORY should not
be put on the net. However the FLA state Vet, Dr. Thomas Holt, told
me, on Fri., Sept 16, 2005 to put it on the net..."Feel free to use it."
AGAIN< I have spoken to state vets who do not know anything at all
about this illness even though the state of FLA. put out memos on the
influenza in August 05 in the state of FLA., without notifying other
If the researchers are correct there will be a national epidemic. When
a disease is in a mobile population an epidemic is possible. Large
groupings of dogs, such as shows, kennels, rescues, etc., are at risk.
Most vets across the country have never heard of the disease. A
treatment protocol has not been developed. They are treating it as if
it is kennel cough. All vets need to be informed about it ASAP! Many
of us concerned dog people would like to see state statistics compiled
on the illness and the eventual treatment outcomes.
We need you to get the word out.
What can you do?
1. Request that your state vet put this info on the state website, and
that he send this info to all accredited vets in his state requesting
that all vets report the incidence of the disease, diagnostic tests
and the course of the illness to the state. Each incidence of illness
a. Live cultures performed at a diagnostic laboratory
b. Written reports on the disease by the attending vet
2. The AVMA needs to act now and provide ALL information regarding
this disease to all members, pls contact them and ask them to contact
all members with info. Please ask them to put something up on their
3. Put the FLA VETERINARY ALERT AND ADVISORY ON YOUR WEBSITE.
4. Contact the State Vet of Fla., and ask him to provide the FLA
Veterinary Alert and advisory to all state vets, and to all state vet
med associations, and to put it up on the FLA state Ag website:
FLA State Ag:
Dr. Thomas Holt
Phone: 850 410-0900
FAX: 850 410 0915
Friday, September 23, 2005
By Jack Rafuse
"It's no secret that Hurricane Katrina did awful damage to the Gulf Coast region and the US energy infrastructure in the Gulf. A lesser known casualty of the storm has been the thinking of many politicians and pundits. Some of them are now calling for destructive economic policies such as price controls and time-wasting initiatives such as investigations into allegations of profiteering.
With Hurricane Rita bearing down on the Gulf today, let's review some of the facts surrounding Katrina and energy prices to understand what's happened and what we should be doing - and not doing - in response.
In the year before the Katrina hit, gasoline prices rose $0.50 per gallon, and politicians and reporters remained calm. They knew the rise was due to many factors, including booming Chinese, Indian and world-wide demand; lack of excess production capacity; rising US crude oil inventories; US refineries running at peak capacity; uncertainty about Iran, Iraq and Venezuela; high US summer demand; and other causes. But there was no "crisis." Logic and calm prevailed.
Then the storm smashed the US energy infrastructure as badly as it damaged cities, homes and lives. Consider the following facts, available at www.eia.doe.gov
- The US uses 21.3 million 42-gallon barrels of oil a day (21.3MMBD);
- The US uses 11MMBD of the 21.3 as gasoline.
- The US produces 5.5MMBD (1.6MMBD from thousands of platforms in the Gulf of Mexico).
- Katrina shut down hundreds of platforms and cut 0.9MMBD of supply - 60% of Gulf Offshore production.
- Many damaged platforms are now producing; it will be weeks before all are at full capacity.
- The oil moves through undersea pipelines to Gulf Coast refineries; other pipelines distribute crude oil and petroleum product around the country.
- Some pipelines were damaged and must be repaired.
- US refining capacity is 17.0MMBD; 8.1MMBD (47.4%) in the Gulf Coast Region.
- Katrina left six refineries damaged, flooded and without electricity. Four are now running; two (5% of US refining capacity) will be out for several weeks.
- The US imports 10.8MMBD of crude oil (refined products make up the difference.)
- The Louisiana Offshore Oil Port (LOOP) which brings in 0.9MMBD was evacuated and shut down as Katrina neared.
- Another 2.6MMBD that comes through Gulf Coast ports was cut off completely for about a week.
- It will be weeks before those facilities can move pre-Katrina volumes; repairs will cost hundreds of millions of dollars.
So at the height of the summer driving season, Katrina shut down platforms producing one-sixth of US domestic oil production; and LOOP, which throughputs 30% of US oil imports. She damaged handling facilities and refineries that process almost one-half of our domestic and foreign oil; and the tank farms and pipelines that move most of that oil and gasoline to the US Northeast and Midwest.
This damage compounded the "non-crisis" causes. The result was that the world price of crude oil topped $70 per barrel for a short while. The US average price of gasoline hit $3.05 by September 1 -- up $0.70 from August 1 and $1.20 from year-earlier levels (although as facilities come on, prices have begun to drop).
Politicians and journalists who understood and explained earlier gasoline price hikes totaling $0.50 suddenly found it incomprehensible that anything could increase prices by another $0.70. They saw no connection among Katrina, the damage, supply cutoffs and the price increase.
They knew that prices rose since 2004 because of supply and demand in a world market; they should figure out that losing 16% of US crude oil production could cut US and world crude oil supply and raise prices.
They knew that US refineries had been at full capacity for years; they should figure out that damage to, and shutdown of, six major refineries could make a big difference in US gasoline supply -- and US gasoline prices.
They knew that the US imports more than half of all the oil that Americans use; they should figure out that closing LOOP and losing 8.5% of US crude oil imports would make a difference in total US crude oil supply. And they should figure out that damage to onshore petroleum receiving facilities in New Orleans, Biloxi, Mobile and other major Gulf ports could make a huge difference to total US supply, as could damage to the pipelines that move crude oil and product around the country.
Finally, they should figure out that each of those things has some impact on costs to consumers; the combined impact is inescapably large.
But critics apparently see no connection between damage, shortages and price increases, so they want "solutions." Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) wants the Federal Trade Commission to investigate so-called "price gouging." Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) is introducing a bill to tax energy companies' profits. The state of Hawaii has already instituted price controls on energy and other states are considering similar measures.
The politicians' desire to do (or say) something prevails over logic and information. The proposals are a disservice to the nation. Americans would understand the issues if they were explained, as was the case for the price changes the year before Katrina.
President Bush used the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to ease supply pressures. He proposes to site refineries, nuclear plants and Liquefied Natural Gas plants on closed military bases. That could speed permits, diversify energy sources and cut down on "Not In My Back Yard" arguments. Senator George Allen (R-VA) wants to suspend gasoline regulations to eliminate "boutique" fuels. That could introduce efficiencies into the worst supply bottlenecks.
Neither proposal will satisfy critics who call for non-solutions and blame those who disagree. They want the spotlight, not answers. That's pandering, not policy.
The author is a consultant on domestic and international energy, security and trade issues.
Friday, September 23, 2005
Well looks like people are realizing the existence of other dimensions and an afterlife.
"Soldiers Spooked By New Orleans Spirits"
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
This came from "Radio Blogger" and is self explantory as you read it or listen on mp3 format. IMHO General Honoree is telling the press exactly what they should have been told years ago. Hope it catches on.
"Honore commands the 1st Army, based at Fort Gillem in Forest Park, Georgia, outside Atlanta. Before taking command of the 1st Army, Honore commanded the Standing Joint Force Headquarters-Homeland Security, U.S. Northern Command." (CNN)
From Duane Patterson's "Radio Blogger"
"Don't get stuck on stupid
"New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin held a press conference a little bit ago, and started losing control to a media pool assembled that was showing signs of panic, due to the previous incompetence in the region by the local and state government. Lt. Gen. Russel Honore stepped in and literally took over. Here's what he had to say:
Honore: And Mr. Mayor, let's go back, because I can see right now, we're setting this up as he said, he said, we said. All right? We are not going to go, by order of the mayor and the governor, and open the convention center for people to come in. There are buses there. Is that clear to you? Buses parked. There are 4,000 troops there. People come, they get on a bus, they get on a truck, they move on. Is that clear? Is that clear to the public?
Female reporter: Where do they move on...
Honore: That's not your business.
Male reporter: But General, that didn't work the first time...
Honore: Wait a minute. It didn't work the first time. This ain't the first time. Okay? If...we don't control Rita, you understand? So there are a lot of pieces of it that's going to be worked out. You got good public servants working through it. Let's get a little trust here, because you're starting to act like this is your problem. You are carrying the message, okay? What we're going to do is have the buses staged. The initial place is at the convention center. We're not going to announce other places at this time, until we get a plan set, and we'll let people know where those locations are, through the government, and through public announcements. Right now, to handle the number of people that want to leave, we've got the capacity. You will come to the convention center. There are soldiers there from the 82nd Airborne, and from the Louisiana National Guard. People will be told to get on the bus, and we will take care of them. And where they go will be dependent on the capacity in this state. We've got our communications up. And we'll tell them where to go. And when they get there, they'll be able to get a chance, an opportunity to get registered, and so they can let their families know where they are. But don't start panic here. Okay? We've got a location. It is in the front of the convention center, and that's where we will use to migrate people from it, into the system.
Male reporter: General Honore, we were told that Berman Stadium on the west bank would be another staging area...
Honore: Not to my knowledge. Again, the current place, I just told you one time, is the convention center. Once we complete the plan with the mayor, and is approved by the governor, then we'll start that in the next 12-24 hours. And we understand that there's a problem in getting communications out. That's where we need your help. But let's not confuse the questions with the answers. Buses at the convention center will move our citizens, for whom we have sworn that we will support and defend...and we'll move them on. Let's not get stuck on the last storm. You're asking last storm questions for people who are concerned about the future storm. Don't get stuck on stupid, reporters. We are moving forward. And don't confuse the people please. You are part of the public message. So help us get the message straight. And if you don't understand, maybe you'll confuse it to the people. That's why we like follow-up questions. But right now, it's the convention center, and move on.
Male reporter: General, a little bit more about why that's happening this time, though, and did not have that last time...
Honore: You are stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that question. We are going to deal with Rita. This is public information that people are depending on the government to put out. This is the way we've got to do it. So please. I apologize to you, but let's talk about the future. Rita is happening. And right now, we need to get good, clean information out to the people that they can use. And we can have a conversation on the side about the past, in a couple of months.
I think the General just started a movement, and he may not even realize it. Every time a reporter, in any situation, starts spinning, or completely misses the point, they need to be peppered with, "Don't get stuck on stupid."
I'd pay money to see David Gregory in the White House Press Corps foaming at the mouth over something trivial Scott McClellan said, and have McClellan say, "David, you're stuck on stupid. I'm not going to answer that."
I'd have fallen out of my chair if John Roberts would have listened to Joe Biden ramble on, and said, "Don't get stuck on stupid, Senator."
I can see the bumper stickers now. I can even see those stupid rubber wristbands with DGSOS etched in them.
I love General Honore. "
Tuesday, September 20, 2005
Seems we can learn by observing current economic quagmires created by the "intellectually elite."
"By the time Germans decide, it'll be too late
By Mark Steyn
"If you want the state of Europe in a nutshell, skip the German election coverage and consider this news item from the south of France: a fellow in Marseilles is being charged with fraud because he lived with the dead body of his mother for five years in order to continue receiving her pension of 700 euros a month.
She was 94 when she croaked, so she'd presumably been enjoying the old government cheque for a good three decades or so, but her son figured he might as well keep the money rolling in until her second century and, with her corpse tucked away under a pile of rubbish in the living room, the female telephone voice he put on for the benefit of the social services office was apparently convincing enough. As the Reuters headline put it: "Frenchman lived with dead mother to keep pension."
That's the perfect summation of Europe: welfare addiction over demographic reality.
Think of Germany as that flat in Marseilles, and Mr Schröder's government as the stiff, and the country's many state benefits as that French bloke's dead mum's benefits. Germany is dying, demographically and economically. Pick any of the usual indicators of a healthy advanced industrial democracy: Unemployment? The highest for 70 years. House prices? Down. New car registration? Nearly 15 per cent lower than in 1999. General nuttiness? A third of Germans under 30 think the United States government was responsible for the terrorist attacks of September 11.
While the unemployment, real estate and car sales may be reversible, that last number suggests the German electorate isn't necessarily the group you'd want to pitch a rational argument to. In the run-up to the election campaign, there were endless references to "necessary reforms" and "painful change". And, in the end, the voters decided they weren't in the mood for change, especially the painful kind.
It was Angela Merkel's election to lose, and she certainly did. She did a swell job selling herself to foreign capitals as the radical reformer Germany needed. Alas, when it came to putting the same case to her own people, she balked. By the end of the campaign, she was promising little more than some slight tinkering, and even that proved too much for great swaths of eastern and central Germany.
Back in the summer, I was reprimanded by a couple of Euro-grandees for my gloomy assessment of the Continent. Just you wait, they chided me; Mrs Merkel was "Germany's Thatcher" and this chap Sarkozy was "France's Reagan" and in a year's time the entire political scene would be transformed. I couldn't see it myself. Mrs Thatcher and President Reagan were certainly powerful personalities, but 25 years ago they also had electorates who accepted that the status quo was exhausted and unsustainable. The Germans are nowhere near that point.
In fact, insofar as there's been any trend in recent regional and European elections, it's that voters were punishing Mr Schröder's party even for the very modest reforms to which he was committed: they're not at the Thatcher stage, they're more like those council workers who reacted to Jim Callaghan's call for a limit of five per cent pay increases by demanding 40 per cent. According to recent polls, 70 per cent of Germans want no further cuts in the welfare state and prefer increasing taxation on the very rich. In April, only 45 per cent of Germans agreed that competition is good for economic growth and employment.
In other words, things are going to have to get a lot worse before German voters will seriously consider radical change. And the question then is whether the Christian Democrats will be the radical change they consider: as Sunday's results in east Germany indicate, it's as likely if not more so to be ex-Commies or neo-Nazis or some other opportunist fringe party. The longer European countries postpone the "painful" reforms, the more painful they're going to be.
That being so, a serious "reform" party ought not to be propping up the status quo. The Christian Democrats have nothing to gain from joining the SPD in a grand coalition of all the no-talents. All that would happen is that blame for the ongoing sclerosis would no longer be borne by Mr Schröder alone but could be generously apportioned to Mrs Merkel, too.
Meanwhile, the Greens and the new Left party would become the principal opposition and the last thing Germany needs is to rearrange its political dynamic as a choice between the status quo and the far Left. So my advice to the Christian Democrats would be to sit this one out. You're only going to get one shot at fixing the country and a neither-of-the-above election where no one has a mandate for anything isn't it.
Which brings us back to that nonagenarian corpse in the Marseilles flat: what does it take to persuade the citizens of "enlightened" social democracies that sometimes you've got to give up the benefits cheque? Guardian and Independent types have had great sport with America over the last couple of weeks, gleefully citing the wreckage of New Orleans as a savage indictment of the "selfishness" of capitalism.
The argument they make is usually a moral one - that there's something better and more compassionate about us all sharing the burden as a community. But the election results in Germany and elsewhere suggest that, in fact, nothing makes a citizen more selfish than lavish welfare and that once he's enjoying the fruits thereof he couldn't give a hoot about the broader societal interest. "Social democracy" turns out to be explicitly anti-social.
Old obdurate Leftists can argue about which system is "better", but at a certain point it becomes irrelevant: by 2050, there will be more and wealthier Americans, and fewer and poorer Europeans. In the 14th century, it took the Black Death to wipe out a third of Europe's population. In the course of the 21st century, Germany's population will fall by over 50 per cent to some 38 million or lower - killed not by disease or war but by the Eutopia to which Mr Schröder and his electorate are wedded.
On Sunday, Germany's voters decided that, like that Frenchman, they can live with the stench of death as long as the government benefits keep coming."
Monday, September 19, 2005
Bush picked up the ball that Clinton dropped on this one by forming a coalition of Kim Jong's neighbors who put pressure on him. Congratulations Mr. President!!!!
"North Korea Vows to Drop Nuclear Programs
"North Korea pledged to drop its nuclear weapons development and rejoin international arms treaties in a unanimous agreement Monday at six- party arms talks. The agreement was the first-ever joint statement after more than two years of negotiations.
The North "promised to drop all nuclear weapons and current nuclear programs and to get back to the (Nuclear) Nonproliferation Treaty as soon as possible and to accept inspections" by the International Atomic Energy Agency, according to the agreement by the six countries at the talks. "......."
"This is the most important result since the six-party talks started more than two years ago," said Wu Dawei, China's vice foreign minister.
The talks, which began in August 2003, include China, Japan, Russia, the United States and the two Koreas."
Saturday, September 17, 2005
This may not make it to the MSM.
"Al Qaeda Men Captured
Coalition forces have arrested two alleged leaders of al Qaeda in Iraq, the US military has said.
The two men were identified as Taha Ibrahim Yasin Becher, also known as Abu Fatima, and Hamed Saeed Ismael Mustafa, also known as Abu Shahed.
The men were apparently holding a meeting at the time of their capture.
They are said to have headed the Mosul branch of the terror group, which is led by Abu Musab al Zarqawi.
The group has claimed responsibility for dozens of suicide bombings which have left thousands of people dead.
They have also kidnapped and murdered several Western contractors, including Briton Ken Bigley.
A US statement said Abu Fatima took over as the group's top-ranking operative in Mosul 12 days ago, after his predecessor was captured by Coalition forces.
On Thursday, Major General Rick Lynch said security forces had killed 226 militants and captured 757 in recent operations in Mosul and the surrounding area."
Saturday, September 17, 2005
Used boats, SUVs to enter city, turn it
into 'free-fire zone,' says military analyst
Posted: September 17, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
"Well-organized, heavily armed, out-of-state street gangs from as far away as Memphis, Dallas and Miami invaded New Orleans during the Hurricane Katrina evacuation of the city and turned it into a "free-fire zone," said military analyst Col. David Hunt.
Hunt made the charges on Fox News Channel's "O'Reilly Factor" last night, saying local police forces were unprepared, outgunned and overwhelmed.
"It was as bad as the early days in Baghdad," said the Fox military analyst.
He accused some police officers of complicity and participating in the looting. Hunt also said the New Orleans Police Department had only three boats to cruise the flooded streets and two were not operable.
The gangs fought for turf in the nearly deserted, flooded streets of the city for six days, terrorizing those left behind and looting shops, jewelry stores, museums and banks.
While as many as 3,000 people were involved in looting, according to authorities, only 325 were arrested – most of those local kids stealing TVs and other appliances, said Hunt. Most of the other perpetrators, including the outside gang members, got away.
Hunt, a critic of Louisiana state officials' handling of the evacuation and its aftermath, has said they "would not pull the trigger" on getting federal help when it was needed.
He has also criticized U.S. officials for not federalizing the National Guard troops on the ground.
Because local officials were not properly equipped with satellite phones, "the communications grid dropped right off the face of the earth in New Orleans."
"What I'm talking about is there were no eyes on the ground in New Orleans to know the extent of this disaster," he said.
While the death toll approaches 500 in New Orleans, rescue and recovery workers say they've found many victims who died from gunshot wounds and other forms of violence apparently inflicted by gangs who terrorized the city after the storm struck.
New Orleans fire and rescue worker Gary Hatch said the first bodies he recovered died of either gunshot wounds or had their throats slit."
Friday, September 16, 2005
"Coalition of the Seething
By Tim Ball
The banner "STOP CLIMATE CHAOS" was unfurled in London earlier in September to announce a new coalition of eighteen social and environmental groups including Greenpeace, Oxfam, WWF, Friends of the Earth, People and Planet. What the banner should say is "STOP THE POLITICAL EXPLOITATION OF CLIMATE CHAOS".
The coalition is a desperate collective response to the collapse of Kyoto, cynically coincident with hurricane Katrina. It's a response to the view that the G8 nations didn't listen or act properly; to the better and more workable plans of the US energy policy; and to the Asia-Pacific Partnership on Clean Development that includes 45% of the world's population. The environment and especially global warming are seen as an opportunity to defeat the democratic, free trade, and capitalist view of the world. The battle for a single worldview is being won but not as anticipated.
Claims that Katrina is due to global warming are not supported by scientific or historical evidence, but that doesn't stop the hysteria. Beliefs that hurricanes have increased in frequency and severity are simply false. The only measurable increase is in the cost of repairing the damage. This is mostly explained by natural cost increases, exploitation of demand for materials and more people living in regions of climate hazards.
Claims of severe weather increasing in the future are also scientifically and historically wrong. More severe weather is associated with cooling not warming. Storms and tornadoes occur along the boundary between the warm subtropical air and the cold polar air known as the Polar Front. The power of the storms is a function of the temperature contrast across the Front known as the Zonal Index. Global warming theory says the polar air will warm more than the subtropical air thus reducing the temperature contrast and the potential for severe weather.
Kyoto was an attempt to control, limit or even weaken industrialized nations built on capitalism, trade and democracy. Maurice Strong, principle architect of the Rio conference and it's offspring Kyoto, reportedly said. "Isn't the only hope for the planet that the industrialized nations collapse? Isn't it our responsibility to bring that about?" Now Kyoto is unmasked as unworkable because it pays very high economic cost for absolutely no gain. Even attempts to suggest it was about pollution failed. Charles Dumont of Lombard Street Research says it "would in no way prevent global warming" and puts the cost at 16 trillion dollars.
European leaders going to the G8 knew they couldn't meet commitments despite lower targets than North America. They also knew of the pact signed prior to the G8 by nations who did not sign Kyoto. The countries are the U.S, Australia, Japan, India, China and South Korea and they account for 45% of the world's population, 48% of the world's greenhouse gas emissions and 48% of the world's energy consumption. Three of them, the U.S., India and China, will drive the world economy in this century. The pact follows the lines of the new U.S. Energy Bill signed by the President on August 8 in New Mexico. Like all bills, there was pork, but overall it's sensible, balanced, provides for development of better technology, and pursues alternative energy without jeopardizing the economy.
A communiqué issued after the G8 meeting in Scotland sounded a hidden death knell. Like so many political statements, the devil was in the detail. "While uncertainties remain in our understanding of climate science, we know enough to act now to put ourselves on a path to slow and, as the science justifies, stop and then reverse the growth of greenhouse gases," the communiqué stated. The devil words that kill Kyoto and angered the extremists are "slow" and "as the science justifies."
Friday, September 16, 2005
"Tony Blair Pulls the Plug on Kyoto at Clinton Summit
By James Pinkerton
- Kyoto Treaty RIP. That's not the headline in any newspaper this morning emerging from the first day of the Clinton Global Initiative
, but it could have been -- and should have been.
Onstage with former president Bill Clinton at a midtown Manhattan hotel ballroom, British Prime Minister Tony Blair said he was going to speak with "brutal honesty" about Kyoto and global warming, and he did. And Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had some blunt talk, too.
Blair, a longtime supporter of the Kyoto treaty, further prefaced his remarks by noting, "My thinking has changed in the past three or four years." So what does he think now? "No country, he declared, "is going to cut its growth." That is, no country is going to allow the Kyoto treaty, or any other such global-warming treaty, to crimp -- some say cripple -- its economy.
Looking ahead to future climate-change negotiations, Blair said of such fast-growing countries as India and China, "They're not going to start negotiating another treaty like Kyoto." India and China, of course, weren't covered by Kyoto in the first place, which was one of the fatal flaws in the treaty. But now Blair is acknowledging the obvious: that after the current Kyoto treaty -- which the US never acceded to -- expires in 2012, there's not going to be another worldwide deal like it.
So what will happen instead? Blair answered: "What countries will do is work together to develop the science and technology….There is no way that we are going to tackle this problem unless we develop the science and technology to do it." Bingo! That's what eco-realists have been saying all along, of course -- that the only feasible way to deal with the issue of greenhouse gases and global warming is through technological breakthroughs, not draconian cutbacks.
Blair concluded with a rhetorical question-and-answer: "How do we move forward, post-Kyoto? It can only be done by the major players coming together and pooling their resources, to find their way to come together."
Interestingly, these words from Blair, addressing an audience of a thousand at the Sheraton just a few blocks north of Times Square, failed to get any pickup in the media. Even The New York Times, published just down the street, ran a story that dwelt on the star power in the room, including King Abdullah of Jordan, Jesse Jackson, and George Stephanopoulos. "Isn't this awesome?" said one participant, and those words seemed to reflect fully the Times' take on the event.
For its part The Washington Post offered this bland headline: "Clinton Gathers World Leaders Nonpartisan Conference Focuses on Global Improvement," making no mention of Blair's global warming remarks. As for TV coverage, there wasn't much of that either; on CNN Headline News, Christi Paul said, admiringly, "former President Clinton is still looking to get things done," noting that Clinton garnered "more than $200 million in pledges" to address world problems.
Ironically, some of those pledges concerned global warming. The 42nd President kicked off his wonky-glitzy extravaganza by announcing that the event would be "climate neutral." That is, the CGI -- or, more precisely, a couple of fatcats who ponied up money to get some onstage face time with Clinton -- would "offset" the CO2 produced by this event by "investing in renewable energy projects in Native American lands and in rural Nigerian villages." But such eco-pious symbolism aside, the real news of the conference so far has come from Blair.
The Prime Minister, has long been pushing, of course, for a binding international treaty on climate change. It's one part of the Eurolefty agenda he has traditionally kept faith with. In a policy-setting speech in September 2004, for example, he laid out an ambitious agenda, declaring that "Kyoto is only the first step but provides a solid foundation for the next stage of climate diplomacy."
Indeed, the widely held view was that Blair would "cash in" his geopolitical chits -- that is, those he gained with George W. Bush over his support for the Iraq war, in order to get the Texan to sign on to some form of Kyoto. But even before the Gleneagles G-8 summit in July, it seemed pretty clear that Bush was not going to go along with Blair's deal; in fact, Bush rebuffed Blair. Nonetheless, as recently as a September 4 op-ed in The Financial Times, Blair still sounded optimistic, declaring, "We made substantial progress on climate change at Gleneagles." But now Blair has buried Kyoto a little bit deeper. One of these days, the press will notice.
And there was some potentially significant news from Condi Rice, who was also onstage all this time, sitting with Clinton and Blair in an Oprah-like format. Speaking of world energy policy for the future, Rice said, "Nuclear power is going to have to be part of the mix." Imagine that -- nuclear power! That's been the Bush administration view all along, of course, but the W. folks haven't gotten very far in resuscitating the industry. Yet if Blair is starting to show realism on Kyoto, he and other leaders around the world will see that nukes have to be part of the energy solution.
Indeed, Rice added, "France generates something like 80 percent of its electricity from nuclear power." That's probably the first time in ages that a Bush administration official has had anything positive to say about France. Rice acknowledged "proliferation risks" from nuclear power, but made it a clear that something had to be done. "In the fast-developing world," she concluded, "we have to find a way to leverage all power [sources]."
For his part, Clinton was his usual self, declaring to Rice, "In general, I agree with you about that" -- without ever saying what he was agreeing with. And the 42nd President gave no reaction to Blair's provocative Kyoto revisionism.
In fact, nobody seems to have reacted to what Blair said. But that's OK. TCS readers have this significant scoop. And as for the rest of the world, it will soon understand that Blair has effectively pulled the plug on Kyoto. "
Friday, September 16, 2005
"Sto Storm-relief money
spent at strip clubs
Police in Houston find misuse
of FEMA's $2,000 debit cards
Posted: September 16, 2005
1:00 a.m. Eastern
On the heels of a report earlier this week that Atlanta area Katrina victims were using $2,000 debit cards to purchase luxury items like Louis Vuitton handbags, Houston police yesterday discovered the cards, provided by FEMA and the Red Cross, being used at local strip clubs.
The Houston Police Department just formed a task force to investigate the abuse of the cards, which were distributed to thousands of Katrina hurricane victims to provide for necessities, such as food, clothing and toiletries. On the first day, the police found the cards being used to buy beer while ogling exotic dancers.
According to a report by KPRC, Channel 2, in Houston, a manager at Caligula XXI Gentlemen's Club said he has seen at least one debit card used at his club. A bartender at Baby Dolls, identified only as "Abby," said she has seen many of the cards used at her establishment.
"A lot of customers have been coming in from Louisiana and they've been real happy about the $1.75 beers and they're really nice," she said.
She couldn't say for sure whether the cards she has seen were from the Red Cross or from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but she found no fault in using federal dollars to guzzle beer at a strip club.
"You lost your whole house, then, why not?" she said "You might want some beer in a strip club. There are a lot of guys out there that like to do that."
The wife of the manager of another strip club told KPRC that her husband has seen patrons from Louisiana offering Red Cross and FEMA debit cards, but she declined to reveal the club's name.
The FEMA and Red Cross cards have few restrictions, but some evacuees have gotten into trouble when they tried to get additional cards.
Meanwhile, Houston police are going undercover as evacuees to keep their eyes on those who get in line more than once.
"There may be some individuals who use some false identifications or providing false information on the forms, so we're targeting those persons also," said Lt. Robert Manzo.
Officers handed out a warning that falsifying government documents could result in a 20-year prison sentence.
Earlier this week, the New York Daily News reported that "profiteering ghouls" were using the debit cards in luxury-goods stores as far away as Atlanta.
"We've seen three of the cards," said a senior employee of the Louis Vuitton store at the Lenox Square Mall in affluent Buckhead. "Two I'm certain have purchased; one actually asked if she could use it in the store. This has been since Saturday."
Restrictions on the cards say they can't be used to purchase alcohol, tobacco or firearms.
The clerk at the Louis Vuitton store said: "There's nothing legally that prevents us from taking it, unfortunately – other than morally, it's wrong." The unnamed employee told the Daily News two women who had made purchases with the card each bought a signature monogrammed Louis Vuitton handbag in the $800 range.
Meanwhile, in Memphis, Tenn., residents told News Channel 3 they saw Hurricane Katrina survivors purchase designer jeans, high heels and purses with their $2,000 emergency debit cards. According to the report, one Katrina victim was spotted at a Cordova clothier buying stacks of $65 designer jeans. Another viewer reported spotting a survivor buying "over $700 in high heel shoes and purses" at a Memphis department store "while (her) younger children, most of them looked under the age of 3, looked like they haven't showered in weeks."
"If they make an inappropriate decision as to what to purchase, the whole issue of victims' rights comes into play," said Bill Hildebrandt, chief executive officer of the Mid-South chapter of the Red Cross. "They have a right, I guess, to be inappropriate."
Hildebrandt conceded that the purchases could be traced, but he said if the receipts just said "shirt" or "jeans" or "clothes," there would be nothing the Red Cross could do. He said the Mid-South chapter stopped using the cards because the process became too cumbersome.
FEMA reportedly issued about 10,500 cards in the pilot program, with a total value of $20.6 million. Hildebrandt said some Red Cross chapters are still using the cards.
The cards have been a major source of confusion – and resentment – throughout the country.
On Sept. 7, after criticism about the federal government's slow response to helping the Katrina victims, the Bush administration announced that displaced families of the hurricane would receive the debit cards to spend on clothing and other immediate needs.
Two days later, FEMA scrapped the program after distributing the cards at shelters in Dallas, Houston and San Antonio, where many of the evacuees were moved. FEMA said then that no cards will be issued to victims in other states.
FEMA Director Mike Brown resigned a few days later after being sent back to Washington, D.C., and relieved of his duty as head of the federal government's hurricane efforts.
Since then, FEMA has stopped handing out the cash cards, but is now requiring evacuees in other states outside Texas to apply for cash assistance.
FEMA is still distributing $2,000 per household to victims of the hurricane, but the process has been slow. After a brief experiment with the debit cards, the agency is now directly depositing the money in bank accounts.
Hurricane victims have to register with the agency by calling an 800 number that is almost always busy. The same goes for a Red Cross fund, which has distributed $140 million thus far, determining the amount per family based on need. "
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Interesting points. Live embedded links.
By James Pinkerton
Tech Central Station 9-14-05
"How to save the environment? Not just from mankind, but ultimately from nature itself? Those are tough questions, but we have to start somewhere, and where better than with cute cats? And after we've cloned these cute critters, we have many more technologies to use to save nature.
Yes, technologies to save nature. It's the forward-looking technos, not the backward-looking greens, who will literally immortalize the environment.
Scientists have already demonstrated, pretty much, that any life can be extended into seeming perpetuity. It's already a thriving business, in fact; a company called Genetic Savings & Clone
offers a "repet"
service. And if pets can be cloned, it's only a matter of time before other crawlers and creepers can be replicated, too.
And there's more good news on the using-technology-to-save-and-revive-nature front. Last month the Audubon Society of New Orleans reported
that its researchers had been able to breed African wildcat clones. That is, biologists have now demonstrated that clones of wild animals can successfully reproduce themselves through natural sexual conjugation; fears that clones would be sexually sterile, or would produce only deformed freaks, have been proven wrong. Obviously this breakthrough has huge implications for boosting endangered species; the Auduboners hope next to extend their work to antelopes, leopards, and other critters -- let's hope that this wonderful research has not been washed away by Hurricane Katrina.
The larger moral to this happy story is this: it takes a lot of material surplus to accomplish these great goals. Only America and a few other countries around the world are rich enough and sophisticated enough to guarantee the survival of, say, the African Bongo Antelope
or the Asian Clouded Leopard
. So the enviros should give the technos a hug worthy of a tree.
Don't bet on it, of course. A guiding spirit for the greens has always been William Wordsworth, whose 1807 sonnet
, "The World Is Too Much with Us," anticipates and celebrates the stop-the-world-I-want-to-get-off ethos of the environmental movement:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers;
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
Such Luddism might make for sweet poetry, but it's a sour way to run the world. Put simply, the Wordsworthian green vision, in which progress is but a "sordid boon," will never be realized -- no matter how many stifling rules and regulations the greens seek to enact. The environmental movement would like nothing more than to stop the clock, and maybe even turn the hands of time back to zero, human-being-wise, per the nihilism of the "deep ecology"
folks. But people, and their works, are here to stay. And for as long as they are alive, they will continue to invent things, develop things, and pave over things.
At the present, the world's annual GDP sits at some $55 trillion
and is rising fast. What to do about the environmental degradation that can come from so much growth? The answer, paradoxically, is to grow more, not less. Only by generating additional surplus can we afford to save nature.
One environmentalist who seems to get that basic point is Alan AtKisson, author of a 1999 book, Believing Cassandra: An Optimist Looks at a Pessimist's World
. In a chapter entitled "Accelerate to Survive," he compares what he sees as the crisis of industrial civilization to that of an airplane pilot realizing he's about to hit the side of a mountain -- "At a moment like that, it does no good for an airplane to slow down. The only solution is to increase the power, and pull up, as hard as possible."
One need not agree with everything AtKisson writes (or his idiosyncratic approach to spelling his name) to see that he is, in some ways at least, a kindred spirit to techies and TechCentralStationeers. "Danger looms, directly ahead," he writes. "We cannot turn around. We cannot slow down. We must accelerate to power ourselves over this gigantic obstacle, with every ounce of economic strength and cultural creativity available to us." And so, yes, it is indeed time for some creative eco-problem-solving, to be paid for with continuing economic acceleration.
Josh Donlan, a Cornell University ecologist, is one such creative problem-solver. In an important article in Nature magazine
, he paints a bleak forecast for wild nature if present trends continue: "However much we would wish otherwise, humans will continue to cause extinctions, change ecosystems and alter the course of evolution." And so, he adds, "We can no longer accept a hands-off approach to wilderness conservation."
Donlan's hands-on idea is to set aside mostly empty parts of North America as a preserve for animals from other continents:
The African cheetah . . . has only a modest chance of persisting in the wild in the next century. Breeding programmes are not self-sustaining, but some of the 1,000 captive animals could be used in re-wilding. Free-roaming, managed cheetahs in the southwestern United States could save the fastest carnivore from extinction, restore what must have been strong interactions with pronghorn, and facilitate ecotourism as an economic alternative for ranchers
And ecotourism, of course, has been a capitalist godsend to flora and fauna around the world. Thanks to wealthy ecotourists, for the first time in human history, land in Third World countries is worth more to local residents in its wild state than in a semi-developed (e.g. slashed and burned or stripmined) state. In the future, if economic growth continues, it's easy to see "debt for nature" swaps
increasingly becoming "purchase nature" deals for preservation and ecotourism. It's a win-win situation, for humans, as well as for the birds and the bees.
Indeed, it's easy to see Donlan's idea being folded into the existing trend toward the creation of private utopias -- out there, everywhere. For decades now, people have been dispersing into gated and guarded communities, in the US and around the world
; some greens decry this outward flow, but as we have seen, such greens are hostile to anything people might do, except perhaps kill themselves.
In addition, some of these "privatopias" have a distinctly eco-friendly dimension
, even a libertarian/experimental dimension
So why not incorporate Donlan's suggestion into this continuing saga of human development? Wouldn't it be fun to live in a place in, say, Arizona, where the lions roam free all around you? Yeah, you'd have to be a bit careful letting the kids outside, but it would be a small price to pay for the thrill of seeing the wild kingdom and some of its reddest teeth and claws.
And while we're at it, since we have the cloning technology, we could bring back other species, such as the late great Passenger Pigeon
Donlan, scorning the political correctness that hobbles so many greens, makes the point that there are plenty of other extinct American species, and these might be brought back, too. While conservationists routinely use Columbus' landing in 1492 as the restoration benchmark, in keeping with the general view that the white race is the most metastatic cancer of human history
, it was the Native Americans, in fact, over the previous 13,000 years, who had killed off most indigenous megafauna, including the long-lost American cheetah.
And for even more fun, maybe we could finally pull off the whole "Jurassic Park" scenario
in real life, not just reel life.
But guaranteeing the survival and revival of species isn't just a matter of ecological guilt-alleviation, or even of economic opportunity-seizing. The ultimate issue is the survival of everything that inhabits this pale blue dot
of a planet. The same scientists who say that an asteroid killed off the dinosaurs 65 million years ago now say that there have been dozens of big hits over the eons -- that asteroid strikes put the "punk'd" in punctuated equilibrium
. And one of these days, a Really Big Rock will come along and end everything. Or, alternatively, maybe we'll be fried by the sun -- assuming that we don't get fried by each other first.
The warp speed of human acceleration, of course, would accelerate us right off this planet. Imagine: worlds with their own separate zoos and preserves, even terraformed worlds in which terrestrial creatures could be born free as extraterrestrial creatures, spread out over an entire celestial orb.
Moreover, it's simply sound long-term -- very long-term -- enviro-management to create, in effect, compartmentalized survival spheres for the world's biota. That was the theme of an underrated sci-fi movie from a few years ago, "Titan AE"
, which imagined a futuristic Noah's Ark traveling through space.
Call it Ultimate Environmentalism, in which growth and technology are harnessed to the goal of eternal and universal survival of nature's abundance -- including humans. Just don't expect the current crop of environmentalists to embrace U.E. They're too busy trying to recapture the world of Wordsworth, trying to live according to a creed outworn --while shortsightedly scorning environment-saving technology -- to think seriously and fruitfully about the fate of the earth.
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Link to view, also email address of the National Park service if you find fault with its design. I've already sent my litany of objections.
Michelle Malkin (archive)
September 14, 2005
I am not an architect, but here is my 9/11 architectural philosophy: War memorials should memorialize war. If you want peace and understanding and healing and good will toward all, go build Kabbalah centers.
Please, for the sake of those who have sacrificed, let's put the design of war memorials in the hands of creative people committed to erecting monuments of courage over capitulation.".......
......" I remind you of all this because the official Flight 93 memorial unveiled last week is now embroiled in overdue public controversy. Funded with a mix of public money and private cash (including a $500,000 grant from Teresa Heinz's far-left Heinz Endowments), the winning design, titled the "Crescent of Embrace," features a grove of maple trees ringing the crash site in the shape of an unmistakable red crescent. The crescent, New York University Middle East Studies professor Bernard Haykel told the Johnstown, Pa., Tribune-Democrat, "is the symbol of ritual and religious life for Muslims."
Some design contest jury members reportedly raised concerns about the jarring symbol of the hijackers' faith implanted on the hallowed ground where the passengers of Flight 93 were murdered. But their recommendations to change the name of the memorial (to "Arc of Embrace," or some such whitewashing) were ignored. Memorial architect Paul Murdoch, whose firm emphasizes "environmental responsibility and sustainability," did not return calls and e-mails seeking comment, but he did emphasize to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that his creation was about "healing" and "contemplation." He is also proud of his idea to hang a bunch of wind chimes in a tall tower at the site as a "gesture of healing and bonding."
Wind chimes? Hey, why not add pinwheels and smiley face stickers and Care Bears while we're at it, too?
Let's set aside the utter boneheaded-ness of using a symbol that, inadvertently or not, commemorates the killers' faith instead of the victims' revolt. The soft-and-fuzzy memorial design of "Crescent of Embrace" still does injustice to the steely courage of Flight 93's passengers and crew. It evokes the defeatism embodied by those behind a similar move to turn the 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero in New York City into a pacifist guilt complex.
This is no way to fight a war. Or to remember those who have died fighting it.
A proper war memorial stirs to anger and action. We all remember passenger Todd Beamer's last heard words as he and his fellow Americans prepared to take back the plane from al Qaeda's killers, don't we?
No, the phrase wasn't "Let's meditate." It was "Let's roll."
(View the memorial design at http://www.flight93memorialproject.org/.
Voice your concerns by e-mailing
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
Blanco Screws Up With Troops - Proof on Camera! (VIDEO)
Hat tip: Reader LadyCop
There is a shot where Blanco is being set up several days ago for a TV interview, and her press secretary is helping her adjust her mic. They’re having a personal conversation, but the cameraman catches it!! In it, she kinda jokes to her press secretary something like “yeah, well I guess I really need to ask for troops,” and a couple more things she says. A bit later in hte segment she gets into a semi-argument with Miles O’Brien, and he’s pointedly asking her exactly WHEN she asked the President for troops.She gets frustrated and says she didn’t even know what day it was the, she was confused, but Miles presses her.
DOWNLOAD and view video here.
Senators Mary Landrieu (D) and David Vitter (R) of Louisiana appeared on FOX News Sunday to discuss the situation down south. Mary Landrieu as usual dodged questions and committed blatant hypocrisy - thank God for tapes of Senator floor speeches. Landrieu says “we should not point fingers”, yet she blasts the Bush administration and the federal government. When questioned about the buses that are now under water [but could have been used to transport people out of town], Landrieu spins and ultimately refuses to answer the question.
DOWNLOAD and view video here.
Now, where was that kid that "borrowed" the bus and drove people to safety?????
School-buses showdown: Mayor Nagin vs. Russert
New Orleans chief claims he did everything possible to save lives
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin is defending his actions in connection with Hurricane Katrina, as he was grilled yesterday about why hundreds of public buses were not used to evacuate the city in advance of the devastating storm.
Oil slick emerges from hundreds of flooded buses never used to evacuate New Orleans residents from Hurricane Katrina
"I think I did everything possible known to any mayor in the country as it relates to saving lives," Nagin said.
The mayor, questioned by NBC's Tim Russert on "Meet the Press," claimed he could not find drivers for the metro and school buses, which were left to flood in the post-hurricane deluge.
"Sure, there was lots of buses out there," Nagin said. "But guess what? You can't find drivers that would stay behind with a Category 5 hurricane, you know, pending down on New Orleans. We barely got enough drivers to move people on Sunday, or Saturday and Sunday, to move them to the Superdome. We barely had enough drivers for that. So sure, we had the assets, but the drivers just weren't available."
Russert did not let up on the question, continuing into this exchange:
RUSSERT: But, Mr. Mayor, if you read the city of New Orleans' comprehensive emergency plan-- and I've read it and I'll show it to you and our viewers--it says very clearly, "Conduct of an actual evacuation will be the responsibility of the mayor of New Orleans. The city of New Orleans will utilize all available resources to quickly and safely evacuate threatened areas. Special arrangements will be made to evacuate persons unable to transport themselves or who require specific life-saving assistance. Additional personnel will be recruited to assist in evacuation procedure as needed. Approximately 100,000 citizens of New Orleans do not have means of personal transportation."
It was your responsibility. Where was the planning? Where was the preparation? Where was the execution?
MAYOR NAGIN: The planning was always in getting people to higher ground, getting them to safety. That's what we meant by evacuation. Get them out of their homes, which – most people are under sea level. Get them to a higher ground and then depending upon our state and federal officials to move them out of harm's way after the storm has hit.
RUSSERT: But in July of this year, one month before the hurricane, you cut a public service announcement which said, in effect, "You are on your own." And you have said repeatedly that you never thought an evacuation plan would work. Which is true: whether you would exercise your obligation and duty as mayor or that – and evacuate people, or you believe people were on their own? " .............
Now some fresh pickings from the Hurricane Grapevine:
By Brit Hume
New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin (search) greeted President Bush when he arrived in Louisiana last night, and was at his side as he fielded questions on the Katrina relief efforts this morning. That quality time with the president, however, marks the mayor's first visit to the disaster area since Wednesday when Nagin pulled up stakes and moved his family to Dallas. The Dallas Morning News reports that Nagin has already bought a house in the city, and enrolled his daughter in school."
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
By Greg Pierce
Published September 13, 200
" Twisting the news
Los Angeles Times pundit Michael Kinsley, who used to work for CNN, says the network is coaching guests to "get angry" when they go on the air to discuss Hurricane Katrina.
"The TV news networks, which only a few months ago were piously suppressing emotional fireworks by their pundits, are now piously encouraging their news anchors to break out of the emotional straitjackets and express outrage," Mr. Kinsley said. "A Los Angeles Times colleague of mine, appearing on CNN last week to talk about Katrina, was told by a producer to 'get angry.' "
Mr. Kinsley's words were reported yesterday by the online Drudge Report. CNN's political stance was more or less confirmed by a New York Times article yesterday that suggested CNN host Anderson Cooper was heroic for scolding a Democratic senator who failed to condemn the Bush administration.
The New York Times article, written by Elizabeth Jensen, said: "Mr. Cooper's Sept. 1 interview with Sen. Mary L. Landrieu, Democrat of Louisiana, marked a turning point in the tone of hurricane coverage as he snapped when she began thanking federal officials for their recovery efforts.
" 'Excuse me, senator, I'm sorry for interrupting,' Mr. Cooper interjected. 'I haven't heard that, because, for the last four days, I've been seeing dead bodies in the streets here in Mississippi. And to listen to politicians thanking each other and complimenting each other, you know, I got to tell you, there are a lot of people here who are very upset, and very angry, and very frustrated.
" 'And when they hear politicians slap -- you know, thanking one another -- it just, you know, it kind of cuts them the wrong way right now, because literally there was a body on the streets of this town yesterday being eaten by rats because this woman had been laying in the street for 48 hours."
The article did not say how Mrs. Landrieu responded, but she hasn't had a nice word to say about President Bush or federal relief efforts since then.
"So, while many Americans were busy contributing money, clothing and other necessities for hurricane-devastated Gulf Coast residents, what was Sen. Chuck Schumer up to?" the New York Post asks in an editorial.
"Raising money off the backs of Katrina's victims -- for the Democratic [Senatorial] Campaign Committee," the newspaper said.
"In one of the more cynical tricks we've seen lately, Schumer's DSCC urged visitors to its Web site to sign a petition urging the firing of Federal Emergency Management Agency Director Michael Brown, the focus of much of the criticism of the federal response to Katrina. ...
"A click on the petition opened a page requesting a donation to the DSCC, the party organization focused on recruiting and supporting Senate Democrats.
"Only after the press blew the whistle did the tasteless scheme end. The committee yanked the link and agreed to donate any funds raised to charity." ...
Tuesday, September 13, 2005
"Mary, Mary, Quite (To The) Contrary
"Politics: Louisiana's senior senator, whose brother is lieutenant governor and whose father was New Orleans' mayor, is blaming President Bush for "the staggering incompetence of the federal government." Come again?
It's understandable that on the Sept. 4 edition of ABC's "This Week," Mary Landrieu said of President Bush, "I might likely have to punch him — literally" if he or members of his administration made any more disparaging remarks about local authorities and their pre- and post-Katrina efforts. Some are and were family.
Brother Mitch Landrieu is lieutenant governor of Louisiana. Father "Moon" Landrieu was not only mayor of New Orleans, but also later became secretary of housing and urban development under President Carter.
If anyone had clout in Washington, it would be this family and this swing-state senator. She could easily have traded her vote on a key issue or nomination for needed funding, a common practice in Washington. If funding for levee repairs was less than adequate, she was in a position to get more.
Likewise, ex-Sen. John Breaux was arguably the most influential senator in Washington during the Clinton years, and could easily have gotten more funding, if nothing else, in an effort to break the growing GOP hold on the South.
But if all money ever asked for was appropriated, as Breaux himself has said, everyone knew that the levee system was designed for a Category 3 hurricane, and not for a "once every hundred years" storm that could put New Orleans under 20 feet of water. And the track record of how money that was appropriated was actually spent is not good.
Despite Landrieu's complaints of budget cuts and paltry funding, the fact is that over the five years of the Bush administration, Louisiana has received more money — $1.9 billion — for Army Corps of Engineers civil works projects than any other state, and more than under any other administration over a similar period. California is a distant second with less than $1.4 billion despite a population more than seven times as large.
In December 1995, the Orleans Levee Board actually boasted to the New Orleans Times-Picayune about all the federal money it had to protect the city from hurricanes. As a result, the board said, the "most ambitious flood-fighting plan in generations was drafted," one that would plug the "few manageable gaps" in the levee system.
The problem was at the local level. The ambitious plan fell apart when the state suspended the Levee Board's ability to refinance old bonds and issue new ones. As the Times-Picayune reported, Legislative Auditor Dan Kyle "repeatedly faulted the Levee Board for the way it awards contracts, spends money and ignores no-bid contract laws." Blocked by the state from raising local money, the federal matching funds went unspent.
By 1998, Louisiana's state government had a $2 billion construction budget, but less than one-tenth of one percent, or $1.98 million, was dedicated to New Orleans levee improvements. By contrast, $22 million was spent that year to renovate a home for the Louisiana Supreme Court.
Where did all the money go? Again, the Times-Picayune says much of the money went not to flood control, but to lawmakers' pet projects, from a $750 million for a new canal lock to a $2.5 million Mardi Gras fountain project that ran $600,000 over budget.
Nine months before Katrina, three top Louisiana Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness officials were indicted by a federal grand jury in Shreveport and charged, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Louisiana, "with offenses related to the obstruction of an audit of the use of federal funds for flood mitigation opportunities throughout Louisiana."
No reason to wonder why. New Orleans is not called the Big Easy for nothing."
Thursday, September 8, 2005
Embedded live links for reference.
"New Orleans: A Green Genocide
As radical environmentalists continue to blame the ferocity of Hurricane Katrina’s devastation on President Bush’s ecological policies, a mainstream Louisiana media outlet inadvertently disclosed a shocking fact: Environmentalist activists were responsible for spiking a plan that may have saved New Orleans. Decades ago, the Green Left – pursuing its agenda of valuing wetlands and topographical “diversity” over human life – sued to prevent the Army Corps of Engineers from building floodgates that would have prevented significant flooding that resulted from Hurricane Katrina.
In the 1970s, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Lake Pontchartrain and Vicinity Hurricane Barrier Projectplanned to build fortifications at two strategic locations, which would keep massive storms on the Gulf of Mexico from causing Lake Pontchartrain to flood the city. An article in the May 28, 2005, New Orleans Times-Picayune stated, “Under the original plan, floodgate-type structures would have been built at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur passes to block storm surges from moving from the Gulf into Lake Pontchartrain.”
“The floodgates would have blocked the flow of water from the Gulf of Mexico, through Lake Borgne, through the Rigolets [and Chef Mentuer] into Lake Pontchartrain,” declared Professor Gregory Stone, the James P. Morgan Distinguished Professor and Director of the Coastal Studies Institute of Louisiana State University. “This would likely have reduced storm surge coming from the Gulf and into the Lake Pontchartrain,” Professor Stone told Michael P. Tremoglie during an interview on September 6. The professor concluded, “[T]hese floodgates would have alleviated the flooding of New Orleans caused by Hurricane Katrina.”
The New Orleans Army Corps of Engineers and Professor Stone were not the only people cognizant of the consequences that could and did result because of the environmental activists. While speaking with Sean Hannity on his radio show on Labor Day, former Louisiana Congressman and Speaker of the House Bob Livingston also referred to environmentalists whose litigation prevented hurricane prevention projects.
In other words, unlike other programs – including the ones leftists like Sid Blumenthal excoriated the president for not funding – these constructions might have prevented the loss of life experienced in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
Why was this project aborted? As the Times-Picayune wrote, “Those plans were abandoned after environmental advocates successfully sued to stop the projects as too damaging to the wetlands and the lake's eco-system.” (Emphasis added.) Specifically, in 1977, a state environmentalist group known as Save Our Wetlands (SOWL) sued to have it stopped. SOWL stated the proposed Rigolets and Chef Menteur floodgates of the Lake Pontchartrain Hurricane Prevention Project would have a negative effect on the area surrounding Lake Pontchartrain. Further, SOWL’s recollection of this casedemonstrates they considered this move the first step in a perfidious design to drain Lake Pontchartrain entirely and open the area to dreaded capitalist investment.
On December 30, 1977, U.S. District Judge Charles Schwartz Jr. issued an injunctionagainst the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Lake Pontchartrain hurricane protection project, demanding the engineers draw up a second environmental impact statement, three years after the corps submitted the first one. In one of the most ironic pronouncements of all time, Judge Schwartz wrote, “it is the opinion of the Court that plaintiffs herein have demonstrated that they, and in fact all persons in this area, will be irreparably harmed if the barrier project based upon the August, 1974 FEIS [federal environmental impact statement] is allowed to continue.”
If the Greens prevailed, it was not because the forces of common sense did not make a compelling case. SOWL’s account reveals that during the course of the trial the defense counsel, Gerald Gallinghouse – a Republican U.S. Attorney who acted as a special prosecutor during the Carter administration –felt so strongly that the project should continue that he told the judge he would “go before the United States Congress with [Democratic Louisiana Congressman] F. Edward Hebert to pass a resolution, exempting the Hurricane Barrier Project from the rules and regulations of the National Environmental Policy Act because, in his opinion, [this plan] is necessary to protect the citizens of New Orleans from a hurricane.” Despite this, the judge ruled in favor of the environmentalists. Ultimately, the project was aborted in favor of building up existing levees.
However, the old plan lived on in the minds of those who put human beings first. The Army Corps of Engineers as recently as last year had publicly discussed resuming the practice. The September-October 2004 edition of Riverside (the magazine of the New Orleans District Army Corps of Engineers Public Affairs Office) referred to this lawsuit and project. Eric Lincoln’s article titled, “Old Plans Revived for Category 5 Hurricane Protection,” stated:
In 1977, plans for hurricane protection structures at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Pass were sunk when environmental groups sued the district. They believed that the environmental impact statement did not adequately address several potential problems, including impacts on Lake Pontchartrain’s ecosystem and damage to wetlands.
Ultimately, an agreement between the parties resulted in a consent decree to forego the structures at the Rigolets and Chef Menteur Pass…The new initial feasibility study will look at protecting the area between the Pearl River and Mississippi River from a Category 5 storm…. (Emphasis added.)
The article added, “[A]lternatives that would be studied in the initial feasibility report are: Construction of floodgate structures, with environmental modifications, at Rigolets and Chef Pass.” (Emphasis added.) The Times-Picayune recorded last May, “the corps wants to take another look [at building the floodgates] using more environmentally sensitive construction than was previously available.” This time the Army Corps of Engineers would modify the original plans because of the environmentalists. However, the project was already delayed more than two decades because of the environmentalists’ lawsuit. If begun immediately it would take another two decades to complete: a 40-year delay caused by the Green Left.
Planning for a category five hurricane was, indeed, visionary thinking. Few people believed such a storm would take place more often than once every few centuries, and no one had the political will to fight for the funding such a project would necessitate. However, scientists had long warned about New Orleans’ vulnerability to the potential for massive loss of life caused by such things as the environmentalists’ lawsuit. A National Geographic article, written after a smaller hurricane last year, captured the sentiments of one such expert:
“The killer for Louisiana is a Category Three storm at 72 hours before landfall that becomes a Category Four at 48 hours and a Category Five at 24 hours – coming from the worst direction,” says Joe Suhayda, a retired coastal engineer at Louisiana State University who has spent 30 years studying the coast…“I don’t think people realize how precarious we are.”
As it turned out, this is exactly how events played out during the next hurricane, one year later. USA Today noted, the levees the government had constructed were no match for the vortex of this force of nature. Soon Katrina pushed inland:
Hurricane Katrina pushed Lake Pontchartrain over the flood walls...The spilling water then undermined the walls, and they toppled…Lake Pontchartrain, a body half the size of Rhode Island, was losing about a foot of water every 10 hours into New Orleans.
The rushing lake soon overwhelmed the city’s pumps. The ever-rising water soon mixed with sewage, creating a toxic liquid mixture that burned the skin on contact. When the flood levels grounded the city buses Mayor Ray Nagin never deployed, it denied thousands of New Orleans’ poorest and feeblest an escape.
Despite the mayor’s apparent incompetence, these floodgates environmental activists sued to prevent from being constructed may have kept a flood from consuming the city to the extent it did in the first place. The current programs aimed at reinforcing existing levees but would only prove effective against a level three hurricane; they were not adequate for a level five storm like Katrina. Moreover, they did not fortify the specific areas the government sought to protect, to keep Lake Pontchartrain from flooding the entire city, which everyone knew posed a danger to a city below sea level. In other words, this plan would have saved thousands of lives and kept one of the nation’s greatest cities from lying in ruins for a decade.
At a minimum, such a plan would have staved off a significant portion of the disaster that’s unfolded before our eyes.
Worse yet, the environmentalists’ ultimate decision to reinforce existing levees may have actually further harmed the Big Easy. There is at least one expert who claims the New Orleans levees made no difference – in fact, they contributed to the problem. Deputy Director of the LSU Hurricane Center and Director of the Center for the Study Public Health Impacts by Hurricanes Ivor van Heerden said, “The levees ‘have literally starved our wetlands to death’ by directing all of that precious silt out into the Gulf of Mexico.”
Thirty years after its legal action, Save Our Wetlands boasts, “SOWL's legacy lives on and on within the heart and spirit of every man, woman, child, bird, red fish, speckle trout, croakers, etc.”
Despite its pious rhetoric, the environmental Left’s true legacy will be on display in New Orleans for years to come."
Wednesday, September 7, 2005
|"Redneck Driver's Application
Plez compleet this paper, best ya can.
Last name: ________________
[_] Billy-Bob [_] Bobby-Sue
[_] Billy-Joe [_] Bobby-Jo
[_] Billy-Ray [_] Bobby-Ann
[_] Billy-Sue [_] Bobby-Lee
[_] Billy-Mae [_] Bobby-Ellen
[_] Billy-Jack [_] Bobby-Beth Ann Sue
Age: ____ (if unsure, guess)
Sex: [_]M [_]F [_]None
Shoe Size: ____ Left ____ Right
[_] Farmer [_] Mechanic
[_] Hair Dresser [_] Waitress
[_] Un-employed [_] Dirty Politician
Spouse's Name: __________________________
2nd Spouse's Name: __________________________ 3rd Spouse's Name: __________________________
Lover's Name: __________________________
2nd Lover's Name: __________________________
Relationship with spouse:
[_] Sister [_] Aunt
[_] Brother [_] Uncle
[_] Mother [_] Son
[_] Father [_] Daughter
[_] Cousin [_] Pet
Number of children living in household: ___
Number of children living in shed: ___
Number of children that are yours: ___
Mother's Name: _______________________
Father's Name: _______________________
Education: 1 2 3 4 (Circle highest grade completed) If you obtained a higher education what was your major?
[_] 5th grade [_] 6th grade
Do you [_] own or [_] rent your mobile home?
Vehicles you own and where you keep them:
___ Total number of vehicles you own
___ Number of vehicles that still crank
___ Number of vehicles in front yard
___ Number of vehicles in back yard
___ Number of vehicles on cement blocks
Age you started drivin ______ (If over 10 are you are still slow lerrnin ? [_] Yes [_] No)
Firearms you own and where you keep them:
____ truck ____ kitchen
____ bedroom ____ bathroom/outhouse
____ shed ____ pawnshop
Model and year of your pickup: _________ 194_
Do you have a gun rack?
[_] Yes [_] No; If no, please explain:
Newspapers/magazines you subscribe to:
[_] The National Enquirer [_] The Globe
[_] TV Guide [_] Soap Opera Digest
[_] Rifle and Shotgun [_] Bassmasters
___ Number of times you've seen a UFO
___ Number of times you've seen Elvis
___ Number of times you've seen Elvis in a UFO
How often do you bathe:
[_] Not Applicable
How many teeth in YOUR mouth? ___
Color of teeth:
[_] Yellow [_] Brownish-Yellow
[_] Brown [_] Black
Brand of chewing tobacco you prefer:
[_] Red-Man [_] Skoal
How far is your home from a paved road?
[_] 1 mile
[_] 2 miles
[_] don't know
Monday, September 5, 2005
"We Know How This Is Going to End
By Ralph Kinney Bennett
We already know how this is going to end.
The American economy will shiver a bit, stagger slightly, adjust itself and absorb the cost of Katrina.
The miserable s***bags who exploited the misery and interfered with the rescue will be arrested, run off or shot.
CNN may get over its hyperventilating, indignant surprise that food, drink and comfort could not be instantly delivered to those who, for whatever reason, remained in the danger zone despite warnings.
We will learn painful lessons from mistakes and failures that will enable the remarkable rescue apparatus we have devised to work better next time.
Slowly the little stories of personal heroism and common decency in the face of misery and chaos will come out.
As usual, the Salvation Army will have performed its sacrificial work with hardly a notice from anyone. And scores of religious groups, churches, synagogues and other organizations like the Red Cross will have brought the essentials of help, from cots to coffee, to those suffering at the ground level of this terrible disaster.
The grim business of finding and identifying the bodies will come to its slow, painful finish.
The strain on oil supply will subside and gasoline prices will retreat.
The economic power plus personal altruism of Americans, which funneled more than a billion dollars in non-governmental aid to the victims of last year's Pacific tsunami, will outdo itself.
Yes, millions of dollars will be wasted, misdirected, misspent, stolen. Politics will be played. The media will yammer endlessly. And yet the necessary relief will be delivered.
Lost heirlooms will mysteriously show up in antique stores and flea markets. "Flood" cars will be refurbished and show up on used car lots all over the country.
The Gulf Coast will build over its scars. The viscera of New Orleans will be repaired and restored but the city will never be the same again. The looted shelves of the Wal-Mart will be restocked. Houses will be bulldozed and rebuilt. The casinos will be back in business. Slowly, mysteriously, miraculously the detritus of the hurricane will be cleaned up, trucked away or recycled.
Within the miracle of the market, it will be rediscovered that, indeed (in the 16th century observation of John Heywood) it is "an ill wind that bloweth no man good." Production of everything from the most mundane essentials to the most effete luxuries will increase. There will be work for those who want it.
We will learn or relearn many things about ourselves -- not all good, not all tidy. It will be remembered that we made this unseemly and unexpected passage with perhaps a little too much self-doubt, a little too much impatience and nastiness, a little too much evidence of how spoiled, how forgetful, how complacent before nature we have become.
Nothing can mitigate the loss of loved ones, nor completely assuage the something that is torn from within when a home, however humble, is suddenly, literally gone with the wind and water.
The whole force of who we are as a nation tells us that this time of disaster and chaos, which now looms so large, will not bring us to our knees, but will join other disasters as a vivid memory and a sobering history lesson.
Saturday, September 3, 2005
Interesting summary about looters, gangs running rampant in New Orleans now.
"A Perfect Storm of Lawlessness
New Orleans’ vicious looters aren’t the real face of the city’s poor—their victims are.
New Orleans hasn’t even been disarmed yet, but the story of those who looted, trashed, and terrorized the city this week is already being re-written. Al Sharpton went on MSNBC Thursday night to say that “looters are people who pay their taxes whose infrastructure caved in on them.” The final PC version of the story is likely to go like this: The desperate people left behind in New Orleans, nearly all black, had justification in brutally attacking their city because the help they frantically sought didn’t come.
In truth, the looters, rapists, and murderers who have terrorized New Orleans since Monday began their post-Katrina reign of terror a full day before the situation grew truly desperate—and it was their increasingly lawless behavior that kept willing but unarmed professional and volunteer rescue workers away from the city and from the poor people who needed saving.
Let’s go back to last Sunday morning—such a long time ago, it now seems. Most New Orleanians with means—the most resourceful poor, the middle class, and the affluent—left the city of nearly half-a-million residents that day, 24 hours before Katrina hit. They took planes, they drove, they hitchhiked, and some walked. Save for the home and business owners who valued their property more than their lives, most of the 100,000 or so who stayed behind were those not only poor in financial resources but in human capital as well.
Some who stayed behind are the New Orleanians who depend on the government on a good day—impoverished women, children, and elderly folks who went to the Superdome and to the Convention Center Sunday, expecting their government to take care of them. And those were the smart ones—those who moved rationally and proactively, despite a lack of transportation out of the city and a lack of government co-ordination, to secure their own physical safety. Thousands of others who stayed in their low-lying homes in the 9th Ward (which predictably flooded, as it flooded 40 years ago during Hurricane Betsy) drowned or now find themselves trapped—starved and dying of dehydration.
And the others who stayed behind, unfortunately, are those who terrorize New Orleans on a low-grade level on a good day—and have now taken over the stricken city. What’s happened is the predictable civil deterioration of a city whose fragile civil infrastructure can’t control or contain its core criminal class in peacetime.
Katrina didn’t turn innocent citizens into desperate criminals. This week’s looters (not those who took small supplies of food and water for sustenance, but those who have trashed, burned, and shot their way through the city since Monday) are the same depraved individuals who have pushed New Orleans’ murder rate to several multiples above the national average in normal times. (New Orleans, without Katrina, would have likely ended 2005 with 330 or so murders—compared to about 65 in Boston, a city roughly the same in size.) Today may not be the best day to get into New Orleans’ intractable crime problem, but it’s necessary, since it explains how this week’s communications and policing vacuum so quickly created a perfect storm for the vicious lawlessness that has broken out.
During the mid-1990s, New Orleans made some progress in cutting down its murder rate from its one-time peak as the Murder Capital of America. With the help of the feds, the city weeded out the worst of its police force (including two murderers) and implemented some new policing techniques borrowed from successful cities like New York, including COMSTAT. But New Orleans—and the state judicial system—has never cemented a sustainable institutional infrastructure to build on early progress, and the murder rate had risen perceptibly again.
New Orleans, first off, doesn’t have the middle-class or affluent tax base to afford the professional police or prosecution force it needs—crime has created a vicious cycle, pushing out taxpayers who fund the police. Nor have the city and state cemented the command-and-control direction of financial and human resources that police, detectives, and prosecutors need to do their jobs.
In New York, the mayor, police, and prosecutors know that taking one killer off the streets means preventing more killings, because a murderer frequently murders again. In New Orleans, killers and other violent criminals remain free, because in many cases, they aren’t arrested or tried; conviction rates remain abysmal. The lawlessness these criminals create in pockets of the city breeds more killers and more lawlessness. Witnesses and crime victims in the inner city fear to come forward: they know that even if a criminal winds up arrested, his associates will be free to intimidate them.
On a normal day, those who make up New Orleans’ dangerous criminal class—yes, likely the same African-Americans we see looting now—terrorize their own communities. Once in a while, a spectacular crime makes headlines—the shooting death of a tourist just outside the French Quarter, or the rape and murder of a Tulane student. But day in and day out, New Orleans’ black criminal class victimizes other blacks. Churches put up billboards in the worst neighborhoods that plead: “Thou shalt not kill.” The inner-city buses shuttle what look like hundreds of war veterans around the city—young black men, many of them innocent victims, paralyzed in wheelchairs.
This week, this entrenched criminal class has freely roamed the streets—and terrorized everyone. On Monday, New Orleans still had food and water stocked in stores across the city, but young looters began sacking stores, trashing the needed food and stealing TVs, DVDs, and other equipment. If the uncoordinated, understaffed New Orleans police had even a prayer of keeping order, it was Monday. By Tuesday, the looters had armed themselves with ample weapons supplies available in stores all across the city; by Wednesday, the armed gangs, out of food and water like everyone else, were not only viciously dangerous but desperate, hungry, and thirsty.
But while the looters have reportedly killed police offers and have shot at rescue workers, they’re mainly victimizing, as usual, other poor blacks. The vicious looters aren’t the face of New Orleans’ poor blacks. Their victims are: the thousands of New Orleanians who made their way to shelter before the storm, and who rescued others and brought them to shelter during and after the storm—but who now cannot get the help they desperately need.
This week’s looting was predictable. When Hurricane Georges, another potentially catastrophic storm (it spared New Orleans at the last minute) was about to hit in 1998, I foolishly refused to evacuate my Uptown apartment. More than one person said I should evacuate not due to the storm, but because looters would terrorize the city afterward.
Was this week’s looting preventable? Failure to put violent criminals behind bars in peacetime has led to chaos in disaster. New Orleans’ officials had only the remotest prayer on Monday of coordinating police officers with no electronic equipment to rescue survivors while at the same time stopping looting before it descended into wholesale terror. Now, those uncoordinated police officers are themselves victims—according to multiple accounts, dead officers, their bodies marked with gunshot wounds, litter the city.
Armed marauders have now taken over every dry area of a deluged city. They’ve hampered rescue efforts: without wanton looting, there was at least a chance that individual police officers could have distributed food in stores to those who needed it most. And they’ve likely hampered rebuilding efforts down the road: they’ve smashed much of intact Uptown and the French Quarter, which will surely be a pyschological barrier for those who knew that the storm didn’t destroy their homes and their livelihoods—fellow citizens did.
Mayor Ray Nagin and Governor Kathleen Blanco lost whatever fragile authority they ever had over New Orleans early Monday, as the waters still rose. The federal government was unacceptably slow at assessing a rapidly deteriorating situation. Now, no civil authorities can re-assert order in New Orleans. The city must be forcefully demilitarized, even as innocent victims literally starve. What has happened over the past week is an embarrassment to New Orleans—and to America."
Friday, September 2, 2005
Live links in this article to other articles.
"Breaks in the Levee Logic
By Duane D. Freese
"The news and opinion spin cycle is moving faster than the winds of a category 4 hurricane. Barely have we had the opportunity to feel denial about the terrible tragedy, feel sympathy for victims and begin lending our support than we've leapt to the stage of recrimination: Who's to blame?
And the rush to judgment is running ahead of appropriate investigation and facts.
Will Bunch, a senior writer at the Philadelphia Daily News, raised the question "Did the New Orleans Catastrophe Have to Happen?" He quoted Louisiana officials and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the New Orleans area in old Tiimes-Picayune's stories complaining about cuts by the Bush administration in federal funding for levees and flood protection, particularly ACE's Alfred Naomi, stating in June 2004:
"The system is in great shape, but the levees are sinking. Everything is sinking, and if we don't get the money fast enough to raise them, then we can't stay ahead of the settlement. The problem that we have isn't that the levee is low, but that the federal funds have dried up so that we can't raise them."
The New York Times, in its lead editorial Thursday titled "Waiting for a Leader," churlishly went after President Bush for his first speech which it called terrible. It went on to pretend it knew what New Orleans' problem was -- a lack of federal funding. Specifically it called for the House to restore $70 million in funds for the levees next year.
The Washington Post, in an editorial that talked about not casting blame now, nonetheless couldn't resist casting some, saying the "president's most recent budgets have actually proposed reducing funding for flood prevention in the New Orleans area, and the administration has long ignored Louisiana politicians' request for more help in protecting their fragile coast."
USA Today did a better job in a pair of edits -- one on the disaster response and one on the energy supply -- by recognizing that the state and local government had a roll in building Louisiana's infrastructure. On energy, it even went so far as to say some things some anti-oil groups hate to hear -- how obstructionists to development of new refineries, offshore and Alaskan energy supplies share the blame for the nation's reliance on Gulf Coast supplies.
But it, too, got caught up in the drumbeat about the levees, arguing: "[P]eople living along the Gulf Coast have grown up hearing about what could happen if the 'big one' hit the region. Yet the levees weren't raised or strengthened sufficiently to prevent flooding. Initial plans for evacuating the city and ensuring civil order were haphazard at best."
Indeed, if editorial writers had a comment to make it was to say something about the levees.
And why not? The levees broke, didn't they? That's what helped mess up the rescue effort, didn't it? And there were cuts in federal help, weren't there?
The answers to all these questions are yes. But, the fact is, they miss an important point, which The New York Times editorialists might have discovered had they read their own news storyby Andrew Revkin and Christopher Drew. The reporters quoted Shea Penland, director of the Pontchartrain Institute for Environmental Studies at the University of New Orleans, about how surprising it was that the break in the levee was "a section that was just upgraded."
"It did not have an earthen levee," he told them. "It had a vertical concrete wall several feet thick."
Worse for the editorial writers were statements by the chief engineer of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Lt. Gen Carl Strock: "I don't see that the level of funding was really a contributing factor in this case. Had this project been fully complete, it is my opinion that based on the intensity of this storm that the flooding of the business district and the French Quarter would have still taken place."
The reason: the funding would only have completed an upgrade of the levees to a protect against a level 3 hurricane. Katrina was a level 4 plus.
And the reasons for this goes back decades.
Since the 1930s, when levee building began in earnest, Louisiana has lost a million acres of its coastal wetlands, and faces the loss of another 640,000 additional acres -- an area the size of Rhode Island -- by 2050.
A new study based on satellite measurement released in May found that the wetlands area was sinking at a half-inch to two-inches a year as of 1995, or up to more than a 1.5 feet a decade.
"If subsidence continues and/or sea level rises and human action fails to take place, the entire coast will be inundated," Roy Dokka of the Louisiana Spatial Reference Center at Louisiana State University and an author of the study noted in July.
And he went on in a Times-Picayune piece that columnist Bunch apparently failed to examine:
"The current plans to save the coast are focused on fixing wetlands, which is incredibly important, but the problem is that subsidence is affecting the entire coast. We need to combine those plans with regional hurricane levees and sand shoals. We have to find some way to protect the people and valuable infrastructure we have on the coast."
This echoes a point that was raised by the White House Office of Management and Budget in a review of the Corps of Engineers levee and flood work back in 2003. It noted that while the Corps managed projects that reduced flood damage to specific areas, annual flood damages to the nation were increasing. As such, it wanted the Corps -- though well-managed -- to broaden its approach by coordinating with federal flood mitigation efforts -- to be "more pro-active in preventing flood risks rather than reacting to them."
The regional Corps head so often quoted by the media himself said in 2003 that a project to protect the city from a category 4 or 5 storm would take 30 years to complete, with the feasibility study alone costing $8 million and taking six years to complete. At the time he opined, "Hopefully we won't have a major storm before then."
As for the $14 billion plan called Coastal 2050 for wetlands restoration that Louisiana politicians have been pushing for the last two years for the federal government to provide a stream of funds -- up to 65% of the cost -- some experts say it was only a stop-gap.
"We are not going to stop marsh loss. Subsidence is too dominant," James Coleman, a professor of coastal studies at Louisiana State University, told the Times Picayune a few years ago. Coastal restoration "is a temporary fix in terms of geological time. You will see results of massive coastal restorations in our lifetime, but in the long run they are also going to go."
Indeed, those interested in getting a taste of the complexity of New Orleans situation, a good place to start is to read "The Creeping Storm" by Greg Brouer in the June 2003 Civil Engineering Magazine:
"During the past 40 years, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has spent hundreds of millions of dollars constructing a barrier around the low-lying city of New Orleans to protect it from hurricanes. But is the system high enough? And can any defense ultimately protect a city that is perpetually sinking -- in some areas at a rate of half an inch (editor's note: Or up to 2 inches) per year?"
We know the answer to the first question now -- obviously not. The answer to the second question will require more investigation. It would be nice if some editorial writers would perform a little more. Snap judgments in this situation are worse than no judgment at all."
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