Saturday, January 17, 2004

Dennis Halliday

Quotes from an article in Isalm-Online. The entire article is here.

Note: Halliday was the United Nation's coordinator of the Iraq Oil-for-Food program until he resigned in disgust over the fact that thousands of ordinary Iraqis were dying due to the harshness of the sanctions.

"The U.N. should not be in Iraq lest it would give legal respectability to the invasion and occupation of the oil-rich Arab country, or further promote the impression that it has collaborated against the Iraqi people."

"They [ordinary Iraqis] no longer see the U.N. as a friendly organization. It is a deadly one through their eyes, as they had suffered under the totally bankrupt – if not illegal and immoral - concept of sanctions."

"It [the UN] had allowed occupation of an independent sovereign country, and Secretary General Kofi Annan did not criticize the U.S. and Britain for their war ambitions sufficiently, Iraqis believe."

[The UN has become a victim of]"U.S. hegemony [and Annan] takes orders from the Security Council – dominated by five permanent members including Washington."

"This is about oil, Israel. It [the Iraqi invasion] is a stepping stone to the world domination and corporate business."

"Look at the way the Iraqis are detained and dragged into the night. Look how their infrastructure is now heavily damaged."

Halliday goes on to propose a restructuring of the UN, including ending the status of the five permanent members of the Security Council, and strengthening the veto power of smaller countries. He noted that "raw material suppliers" could have a tremendous influence on the policies of industrial nations, which rely on imported basic commodities.

Those who think the United States can go it alone are in for a rude shock once they realize just how dependent we are on the rest of the world when it comes to supplying our industrial base. For now, as the major purchaser of such commodities, we might be able to weather the coming storm. But look out: other regions--a resurgent Europe, or, especially Asia--might well take the prize, leaving the US with little more than a pile of bills generated by our foolhardy policy of militarism.

I suppose the silver lining is that the military will get some perspective on just how complex Iraqi society is:

Coalition Uses 1918 British Report on Tribal System
By David Usborne in New York and Glen Rangwala
18 January 2004

As the United States scrambles to end a dispute with Shia leaders over plans to elect an interim government in Iraq before July, it has emerged that American commanders are seeking to reach out to tribal leaders by relying on a report devised in 1918 by Britain, the country's then ruler.

Lieutenant-Colonel Alan King, head of the Tribal Affairs Bureau set up by the US-led coalition last month, admitted last week that he had been referring to the pages of the British report to fathom Iraq's network of tribal sheikhs - regardless of the fact that it dates back to the First World War.

The revelation is not likely to improve confidence in the ability of the US to sort out the deepening muddle over how it means to relinquish political power to the Iraqi people by this summer. The plan to create an interim government before a 30 June deadline has been in doubt since objections were raised last week by the powerful Shia cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Husseini al-Sistani. His words set off mass demonstrations against the proposal in southern Iraq on

From today's Independent UK

Friday, January 16, 2004

Bush's MLK Celebration

CrawlingWestward was where I saw the first post, although my sister emailed me with the bad news re: Charles Pickering. Asshole David Brooks praised the nomination on PBS this evening, while Mark Shields (who I described in comments over at Timshel as the Alan Colmes of The News Hour, could only offer a lame milquetoast comment about Bush shoring up the more regressive components of his "coalition."

TalkLeft has a good article in the archives--don't forget to check the comments--and here's today's post regarding the same. While you're there, click on the link to the main page, or link here, and note that CBS WILL air anti-drug advocacy messages, but has refused to air the winner of the MoveOn ad contest because it's an "advocacy" ad. Alas, if only CBS was more like a computer in an old sci-fi movie, you know, of the variety that begins to spew smoke and pop springs when the hero exposes it to its logical contradictions...

A Bush loss in November will bring an end to Pickering's temporary appointment. Because he made it to the Fifth Circuit during a Congressional recess, he'll be out when the next Congress convenes in 2005. Hell, even if Crawford's village idiot manages to dupe the public into an extra four years of corporate corruption, the Democrats might be able to dump him if they play their parliamentary manuevers right. One can always hope.
Salam Pax

It's always interesting to finally see someone whose words I've been reading now for almost a year. Koppel and Pax roamed around Baghdad, which, at times reminded me a little of Rabat--the only "Arab" city I've ever visited.

Hope anyone interested was able to watch the program this evening.

Juan Cole on PBS News Hour

On the air right now here in Baton Rouge. Here's a link to Professor Cole's site.
Just This Once...I'll Cut Koppel a Little Slack

But not much. All this week, Ted, he who sports the British version of the Holy Helmet haircut, has been retracing the steps he took during the time he was "embedded" (if that's not the newspeak word of the year for 2003, I don't know what could be) with the troops--Third ID, as a matter of fact.

Mr. Koppel can preen all he wants (and he does), he can offer his metaphor of choice--in his case, "the water is over the dam," and he can even hector Iraqi civilians JUST LIKE THE CPA DOES, according to said civilians--which was one of the few times I've ever seen Ted (rightly) abased--but the pictures on the television screen speak volumes.

If the United States was a defendant on trial, with Iraq as the jury, they'd be averting their eyes during the reading of the verdict.

I noted immediately below that William Lind is giving the US a very slight chance of turning chickenshit into something that might pass for chicken salad, but let's be realistic: given our monumental ignorance of the region, and, indeed, the country, even a crash course in cultural awareness is at best a desperation play. This is especially evident in the Wednesday broadcast, titled "Red Zone/Green Zone," which, as you might expect, was about Baghdad.

The irony of using the Republican Palace--not to mention the irony of the name--is not lost on the Iraqis themselves. If you watched the program, you'll see the major difference post Saddam is the addition of a roughly twenty foot high wall of prefabricated concrete around not merely the palace, but the surrounding area. Approach to the CPA compound is a staggering slalom around more concrete and razor wire. Some Iraqis have waited for weeks to gain entry to the compound: it's their only chance to register any sort of inquiry or complaint.

Another image showed a school--outside the entrance, a sewer main had ruptured, spreading filth where young students arrived. A teacher, frustrated by the slow response from the authorities, managed to find someone willing to clean up, and paid for this out of her own pocket--but the problem returned, because the cause was never addressed.

As far as the Iraqi Governing Council? Even I could hear the dripping sarcasm of the Arabic speakers as they hissed. The translator reported: "They call [the IGC] the twenty-five thieves."

The ONLY city experiencing any sort of upswing is Najaf, thanks to the large numbers of Iranian pilgrims who seek to visit a Shi'a holy site. And the Iraqis are getting awfully sick and tired of home invasions in the dead of night by the occupying forces--most of which turn out to be a "mistake." But, hey--just head down to the CPA office with your claim--that is, if you can gain entry. Be ready to wait a long time."

Note: Just checked back at the Nightline site. Tonight's episode will feature none other than Salam Pax, aka the Baghdad Blogger. Come to think of it, it's been a couple of days since I checked to see what he or Raed was posting. For that matter, I might also check to see if Riverbend has been able to update. Still need to modify the permalink on this page. Alas, so little time...

At least I know to actually tune into the Ted's little show tonight. Maybe, if I'm lucky, he won't try to hog the spotlight, but I doubt that.
More William S. Lind

A follow-up to his previous article (linked to below) regarding Fourth Generation Conflict.

Short version: it may be too late, but if there's any chance for the occupation to succeed, the Marines taking over from the 82nd Airborne will have to de-escalate the military component of the occupation--to the point of accepting some casualities without retaliation--but if that doesn't work, the only thing left is to punt the problem back to the politicians. In other words, this is the last chance. It ain't just 4th and 26--it's 4th and a mile, and while we're in the opposing team's territory, this isn't American Rules football.

Oh--slightly off topic, but here's a link to a website that further links to the Army War College report on terrorism and the Iraq war--the conclusion by the College is that the war was "unnecessary." The report itself is a .pdf file--be warned--although the link above goes to a standard html site.
Eat or Be Eaten

More work on the work front this morning: now that the political appointees are getting settled into the Commissioner's Office here at Division of Administration (also know as DOA--appropriate), calls are being made to fix the usual stuff. Spent the morning mostly re-installing local printers like the truly awful G85 All-in-One Office Jet. DON'T EVER BUY ONE--they're garbage. Still, I managed to get over to CrawlingWestward for Louisiana News. Here's what Timshel had to say regarding the Resident's visit to the Big Easy.

Short version: Katherine Blanco accompanied Bush from the airport to the D-Day Museum fundraiser, although there is no word on the extent to which she was forced to grovel. Bush raised some $140 grand from roughly seven hundred donors shelling out two thousand dollars apiece for lunch--sounds like the normal take over at Antoine's. One hundred and fifty protesters were confined to an area two blocks away--don't know if it was Lee Circle, but that's roughly the distance between the two sites. They burned an effigy of Bush, and carried two anti-war signs. Good for them.

Bush also pledged to support more faith-based initiatives while speaking at United Bethel AME church in the city. Faith based seems to be his position on the war these days: if he just doesn't talk about it, maybe it will go away...

The Pic article that Mr. Prado links to also notes the much larger protest in Atlanta. Here's the New York Times take on the Atlanta actions. Meanwhile, in Iraq, enough concern has been raised over the treatment of "detainees" that an official investigation is being launched, according to CNN.

But this is the article that my title refers to. Also in the New York Times, it reports on a census to be taken of Tigers in the border region between India and Bangladesh.

Years ago, I shared an apartment with two Indian students. One of them told me of seeing the stories on the television news about "man-eating" tigers. Often it would take several victims--and "man-eating" is a misnomer, because the victims were more often women--before an "official" investigation was launched. Usually the hunt consisted of a soldier or two tracking the animal, which makes sense because most Indians don't have guns. And, as Ashish said, "Sometimes, they'd get the tiger--but sometimes, the tiger got them."

I'll be posting more later, after I've caught up. One thing I need to finish is John Chuckman's article in Counterpunch yesterday, then I want to get back to CrawlingWestward and link to the Salon article he mentioned.

Thursday, January 15, 2004

I'll Report, You...

Don't know what to say about this, but the article is well worth reading.

"I’m not guilty, I’m not guilty, God, please help me," Williams yelled at about 10:04 a.m. as four execution team members carried him into the death chamber with the shunts in place. "God, please help me," Williams said several times, as he was strapped to the gurney in the death chamber.

Tears could be seen from his left eye.

At 10:06 a.m., an execution team member attached the tubes carrying the flow of lethal chemicals to the shunts in Williams’ arms.

Bonnie Williams got out of her chair and leaned against the window that separated her from her son. Williams didn’t look at her. She continued to sob.

"God, please help, God, please hear my cry," Williams said several times.

A minute later, Williams stopped speaking, and his mother’s cries became louder. "My boy," she said.

Now, I know that everyone in prison claims they're innocent. And I know that this can't be the case. However, as TalkLeft often notes, over one hundred people have been released from Death Rows around the country due to DNA evidence making a strong case for wrongful prosecution--which is not, per se, something that you can file a damage suit for.

And, if you're dead, it won't make much difference anyway.

I have no idea if Williams was genuinely innocent or if this was just an attempt to avoid his fate. What's sad is that we'll never know, as the State of Ohio will now close the books and simply move on.
Yes, it is a Pet Issue of Mine

To return the favor to CrawlingWestward--check out his post on the future or potential lack thereof for Amtrak, and, if you've got time, link to the Pic's article for more details.

Short version for those without time: Bush is able to finance a trillion dollars in fat-cat tax breaks, he'll pour the cup to the tune of $160 billion and counting for a war of convenience (I'll look for the link to the Army War College assessment), he'll gut environmental regulations of the type that could, if strengthened and enforced, make train service more attractive--and he'll propose a voyage to the MOON or MARS for chrissakes--but he WON'T (not can't, WON'T) seek to fund a genuine transportation service that all of us could use. Un-fucking-believable.

Like Timshel, I've taken advantage of Amtrak, although my ride on the Adirondack Limited was a bit shorter than the Sunset line. I went from Montreal to New York City a year and a half ago (aside: Montreal, at least in the summer, is an undiscovered gem of a city. If you ever get the chance, I highly recommend visiting).

Was my ride perfect? No it wasn't--we ran a couple of hours late, due mostly to speed limits in the small towns and limited rails that forced us to shunt off to a side track while a northbound train went past. Was it nice? Traveling down the Hudson River valley in the middle of summer--hell, even West Point looked fantastic. Add to this the fact that I had the equivalent of a double first-class seat, and, while the "cafe car" wasn't exactly fine dining, it was acceptable fare (longer lines have dining cars, with considerably better food, I hear--and the passengers have the option of a sleeping berth).

Having taken trains in the Netherlands, Morocco, and the United States, I can assure anyone reading this of the following: they WORK. Yeah, for long trips an airline will get you there faster, but for shorter hops--even a north-south traverse of New York State--a train will more than do the job. You're not packed in like a sardine, you can see the scenery, and, most important, you don't have to concentrate on driving--although many drivers don't bother with that either--sometimes these folks are merely annoying, other times they are the cause of wrecks.

My attitude towards rail service is that it could easily fill a niche between long-range air service and extreme short range automotive traffic (although I'd also like to see metro rail providing an alternative to cars). Rail service, called Amtrak or whatever, could provide tremendous economic benefit to the Gulf Coast. I've noted many times that I'd spend a LOT more time and money in New Orleans if I didn't actually have to drive there and deal with the brain-dead road warriors along the way. Hell, I'd probably put Biloxi, south Alabama, and even Florida on my regular list of places to visit if there was a way to get there cheaply and easily. For that matter, I'd even occasionally ride over to Houston (cough), if anything interesting was going on.

But rail service makes too much sense. Better to keep the public trapped in the automobile--even if they occasionally find themselves on the losing end of the interstate lottery.

Off topic: another busy day of work over here. If I can post something this afternoon, it will mean that I was very productive. But the business of State calls--time to make the donuts set up the new servers.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Update: the first link no longer has a plug for Rambo--oh well. As noted below, I really couldn't stomach watching the whole thing, although I did occasionally look up from my book to watch yet another evil Commie get his comeuppance. I also liked Richard Crenna's (I think--I wasn't exactly checking the credits) speech to his Soviet-style captor. Something along the lines of "these freedom-loving people will defeat the Ruskies, just like they defeated the British, just like they defeated everyone who tried to conquer them and just like they always will."
How true...

I stumbled on this while flipping through my 20 odd television channels (emphasis on odd--and note that when you click on Rambo III you get the comedy page). Probably won't stick around to watch it all--c'mon, we know exactly what's gonna happen--Rambo singlehandedly offs a batallion division of evil, beady-eyed, souless Soviet automatons, whilst assisting the freedom fighters mujahadeen taliban. I wonder if "Afghan Arab" Osama makes a cameo...

Seriously, though, the unintentional comedy is almost off the scale. Think a synthesis of a really bad Steve Reeves Hercules and buddy flick minus the buddy. Throw in some classic "they don't value individual human life" propaganda and--holy shit, the mujahadeen are making their first appearence: they strictly fight to save their women and children, who are apparently dropped into burning pits for sport.

Hey, there's even a little mujahadeen kid--bet he'd be at Gitmo if this was a documentary...

I don't know whether I should laff some more or hurl. Now, they're playing the Afghan national sport--some sort of rugby-like slugfest involving the carcass of a sheep...

Maybe I'll read a book instead.
Trying to Catch Up

Another busy day here at work. Will try to do some late posting, but I'll need to catch up first. See you then.
More Press Idiocy

Here's our imperial president, being fawned over by The Washington Post:

One of the first signs that Bush was already over the summit came Monday night, when he was scheduled to pose for pictures and take a few questions from reporters toward the end of his 20-minute meeting with one of his most vociferous critics at the summit, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

The meeting ran late and the media session turned into a handshake and a back pat for Lula. The whole thing lasted less than 20 seconds. Then Bush's staff began shooing the press corps out of the room. The U.S. reporters know that when a staffer shouts "Lights!" that's the cue to scram or else incur the wrath of Bush and his palace guard. The foreign reporters, though, took some cajoling.

"Okay!" various Bushies shouted. "Thank you. Let's go. Back out the same door. Let's go. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Let's go. Thank you. We're moving. Thank you. Sir, we're done! Thank you. Thank you. Let's go, sir -- we're done! Thank you. Let's go."

Read the rest of this pathetic story here. Bush might be a sadsack of shit, but the press is shit without the sack at all.


I stayed in this evening and watched a little of the PBS show called Reconstruction. An interview with James G. Marston, III, was pretty chilling: Marston is a Louisiana descendent of a planter near Natchitoches, and noted that, while the Union forces won the war, the Southerners won Reconstruction. There were several factors that contributed to this:

Northern racism was every bit as evident as the Southern variety. In other words, support for genuine emancipation for the minority African-American population was never strong among the white majority.

Financial panic in the early 1870's (a quick collapse following a period of high growth) lessened support for a large government expenditure (in the form of troops) even more.

Family and regional ties in the South were strong in opposition to any Northern presence--Northerners were considered outsiders.

White supremecist organizations like the Knights of the White Camelia engaged in terror tactics against both Southern African-Americans and Northern arrivals.

And, in the end, a backroom deal to resolve a corrupt election in 1876 spelled the end of the policy. What followed was a return to white rule, with white Northern acquiescence. African-Americans in the South were relegated to codified second-class status as citizens (in the North, custom, not law, likewise oppressed African-Americans).

If reconstruction failed in the South, does anyone think that "nation building" in Iraq really has any chance?

Note: there is no transcript yet at the PBS site, but it's worth a look when it finally gets there.
On War

I'll admit that William S. Lind's column first came to my attention over at Counterpunch. But they apparently pick it up from it's other site, Regardless of where you read it, though, Lind takes a conservative perspective on the Iraq war. I use the term conservative with care: Bush, Cheney, Rove, Rumsfeld, et al, can hardly be referred to as conservative. Anyway, here's a sample of Lind's latest:

Note: read the whole thing. Lind offers an allusory call to Kaiser Wilhelm, circa 1918, as his metaphor.

As the Baath fades, true Fourth Generation forces will rise, leading to more fighting among Iraqis and an eventual multi-sided, permanent Iraqi civil war...

another long, hot summer with no security and little electric power may generate an intifada on the Palestinian model; the U.S. Army's use of Israeli tactics increases this possibility, because it leads Iraqis to visualize themselves as Palestinians. Second, the morale of American troops in Iraq, already low, may decline to the point where the U.S. Army starts to crack, much as the German Army did in August, 1918. Third, when the Marines go back into Iraq, they will use very different tactics from the Army, tactics that might have worked had they been applied earlier. But again like Germany in 1918, the situation will be too far gone for any tactics to redeem it.

* The war in Afghanistan will unroll like all previous Afghan wars. The Taliban will slowly but steadily retake the countryside, while we cling to Kabul and try to prop up our puppet government. The only question is when we, like the British and the Soviets, will recognize reality, give up and go home.

* Far more important than either Iraq or Afghanistan is Pakistan, where the state is crumbling. 2004 may well be the year when it goes over the edge, handing the international Islamic jihad 40-50 nuclear weapons. His Majesty said, "General Musharraf is about where I was at the beginning of November, 1918."

And, if you haven't yet figured it out, here's the real prediction:

But I did follow up his last comment with a final question: was "something real" likely to happen in 2004? His Majesty sighed. "Look for something big, real big, right before your election. Al Qaeda has an excellent sense of timing."

"But wouldn't that help reelect George Bush?" I asked, puzzled.

"Ja, genau," the Kaiser replied. "I guess you haven't spent enough time at court to really understand these things. As Bismarck said to me just yesterday, al Qaeda and George Bush need each other."

Oh, and one other thing: don't necessarily expect the "next big thing" to be of Middle Eastern origin. As Lind notes:

Look for non-Islamic Fourth Generation forces to make their mark in the United States. America is now making war on the FARC in Columbia, and it is likely to return the favor. "Remember, they've got a better distribution system in the United States than the Reichspost had in Germany."

Meanwhile, Adolfo Gilly, also over at Counterpunch, reveals the following about what's happening in Bolivia:

We stop in El Alto to buy grilled meat to take with us. I look at the name of the place: "Taliban Grill." Not unusual, because in El Alto, a dynamic Aymara city of 800,000 inhabitants, I already saw at least two minivans which had, on the rear windshield, Che Guevara on one side, Osama Bin Laden on the other, and the word "Love," in English, in the middle.

The "Global War on Terror" might just become more global than we think...

From Last Week

Unfortunately I missed it then, but better late than never:

As freelance journalist and press observer Ron Callari has noted, US media are now populated by "well-paid conformists" whose voices are owned by the major corporations that pay them so well. Callari decries the "dumbing down" of the media and asks whether a people can be truly free if Big Brother can spoon-feed them what to believe.

That's from Ray McGovern, writing over at Counterpunch. According to his byline he was
a 27-year veteran CIA analyst and co-founder of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity. The above quote elegantly summarizes what a LOT of folks, myself included, have been saying about the media.

Tuesday, January 13, 2004

Work Calls

Might be able to post a little later, but several items will be taking up my afternoon--and then I promised a friend that I'd assist with computer repair later this evening.

But I'm not taking the next two days off like I did this past weekend.
More Recent History

Maybe it's just me, but I couldn't help but think the following recently:

If Saddam Hussein is to be judged by his actions in 1988 and 1991, why shouldn't the Resident of the United States be subject to the same?

Let's see: in 1988, Bush the Younger was asked what he and his father discussed when they weren't talking about politics. His answer is here.

Also in 1988: A clearly intoxicated Dubya had some choice words to say to Al Hunt, reporter for the Wall Street Journal, his wife Judy Woodruff, and their four-year old son.

In the late 80's/early 90's Bush sat on the board at Harken Energy. But his unethical and illegal actions are "old news."

When the Harken stock sale was parleyed into a share of the Texas Rangers Baseball Team, he showed more of the same--besides some disasterous trades, like getting rid of Sammy Sosa (hell, that alone should disqualify him for ANY promotion), he showed his true colors when he scammed the public in order to build a new stadium, thereby raising the value of his investment at the taxpayer expense (scroll down a ways to get the details, although note at the top of the article just who was bankrolling his presidential candidacy. Hint: it was Enron).

And, take a look at this piece (again, scroll down just a bit) to see who was partnered with Mr. Bush during his failed oilman days: why, it was the bin Laden family, who through BCCI and the Carlyle Group continue to have unusually cozy relations with the man in the White House--and his dad. Now, there's no reason to believe that the Bush's connection is an indication of any prior knowlege of September 11th, 2001, or the other acts of terrorism linked to "the black sheep" of the bin Laden family, namely, Osama. However, would ANY other political family be allowed such a free ride? For instance, suppose it was discovered that Bill Clinton had done business with members of the Escobar family--not Pablo, but an Escobar engaged in "legitimate" business. Do you think the press would have ignored that?

Unfortunately, I forget where I saw this, but Kevin Philips, author of American Dynasty (which attacks the Bushes from a conservative perspective), recently noted aloud that, during the Nixon presidency (for whom he worked), the press was eager to actually do their job in routing out corruption and scandal. Today, they've basically abrogated this responsibility.

This might be a reason why the public is turning more and more to the internet, as opposed to the newspaper or television, for their news. If the press no longer does its job, perhaps it will become irrevelant. Hell, it didn't take me that long to scrounge up the links above--which give us a genuine perspective on the dunce from Crawford (by way of Kennebunkport, Andover, Yale, and Harvard). But it would be nice if the press let us know that they too have decided to fall asleep at the wheel.

CrawlingWestward had something to say about this, and the point is well-taken. To be certain that no one misses the point--I'm not comparing the crime(s), I'm comparing the times. Fifteen years ago for Dubya is supposedly old news, but fifteen years ago for Hussein is relevant. My attitude is that fifteen years ago is relevant for both--Saddam Hussein was clearly a thug, and Dubya was clearly a drunk, lying, sadsack of shit. As far as the drunk part--well, he has my sympathy. I enjoy a drink or seven myself. But I'm not trying to set up a run for the White House fifteen years from now.
Oh--and as far as Hussein? Fifteen years ago, WHEN he was gassing Iranians and Iraqi Kurdish people--well, that didn't stop Bush the elder from seeking good relations...
It's a Win/Win Scenario...

For everyone except the taxpayer. From The Whiskey Bar:

I suppose they're probably still trying to figure out how to cut Halliburton in on the action. You'd think $89 billion in Iraq would be a big enough pork barrel for anybody. But maybe Cheney's trying to engineer a stock split.
Now this was supposed to be a joke -- not a very good joke, I know, but the best I could come up with at the time. When you're competing with the this administration, it's tough to get a laugh.

But -- and I probably should have seen this coming -- it turns out to be no joke at all. Or rather, the joke is on us simple-minded taxpayers. An alert reader passes along the following item from Petroleum News:

NASA Ames Center looks at problem of drilling on Mars

Dr. Geoffrey Briggs, director, Center for Mars Exploration at the NASA Ames Center, told “Meet Alaska” that NASA is looking at ways to drill on Mars to look for water — and the life it might contain.
Briggs said NASA has been working with Halliburton, Shell, Baker-Hughes and the Los Alamos National Laboratory to identify drilling technologies that might work on Mars...

Halliburton and Baker-Hughes are working on some very advanced systems, Briggs said, some so advanced they aren’t willing to talk much about them. He said the NASA Ames Center relies on working with people in the industry who “really understand the problems and make us face up to the realities …

The cost plus nature of the contract plus the inevitable overruns would cover not only the asbestos claims from Cheney's disasterous purchase of Manville back in the 90's, it would offer enough sop to cover the Veep's deferred compensation for the next "X" years with the spare change.

The Bush Team has no sense of shame.

Of course, the idea of a manned mission to Mars, or even the Moon, is ridiculous at present. Either would be an outrageous expense--unless you want to seriously cut the bloated military budget--and the former would be an unbelievable risk. But, hey, when there's money to be made, why let reality get in the way?

My feeling is that the Mars mission will be the equivalent of the latest "Star Wars" projects that will never provide a space based defense against a missile attack. Just another fiscal sinkhole brought to you by the REAL welfare queens: the defense contractors.

Monday, January 12, 2004


Based on this CNN report, which seems to be about the only news organization besides the wingnuts to cover this:

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that Saddam Hussein now has weapons of mass destruction 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war." - Dick Cheney, August 26 2002

"Right now, Iraq is expanding and improving facilities that were used for the production of biological weapons. 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war." - George W. Bush, September 12 2002

"If he declares he has none except for 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war, then we will know that Saddam Hussein is once again misleading the world." - Ari Fleischer, December 2 2002

"We know for a fact that there are weapons 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war there." - Ari Fleischer, January 9 2003

"Our intelligence officials estimate that Saddam Hussein had the materials to produce as much as 500 tons of sarin, mustard and VX nerve agent 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war." - George W. Bush, State of the Union address, January 28 2003

"We know that Saddam Hussein is determined to keep his weapons of mass destruction 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war, [and] is determined to make more." - Colin Powell, February 5 2003

"We have sources that tell us that Saddam Hussein recently authorized Iraqi field commanders to use chemical weapons 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war." - George Bush, February 8 2003

"Intelligence gathered by this and other governments leaves no doubt that the Iraq regime continues to possess and conceal some of the most lethal weapons ever devised 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war." - George Bush, March 17 2003

"Well, there is no question that we have evidence and information that Iraq has weapons of mass destruction, biological and chemical particularly 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war . . . all this will be made clear in the course of the operation, for whatever duration it takes." - Ari Fleischer, March 21 2003

"There is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war. As this operation continues, those weapons will be identified, found, along with the people who have produced them and who guard them." - Gen. Tommy Franks, March 22 2003

"We know where they 36 ten year old heavy mortar grenades, leaking but wrapped in plastic, and buried in a dried up marsh near the city of Qurnah--probably leftover ordinance from the Iran-Iraq war are. They are in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad Qurnah." - Donald Rumsfeld, March 30 2003.

I'm sure they regret the mistake.
Columbine Redux?

Channel 9 is broadcasting a report as I speak about a suspected plot by two Dutchtown High School students to embark on a school shooting a la Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold. The attack was to take place on April 20th.

This weekend I watched Bowling for Columbine for the second time--and since it was a Christmas gift, it's likely to be seen by yours truly again.

Here's something interesting: one of the alleged plotters is a 19 year-old, but is a sophomore at the public high school. My guess is that he's only there because the job market is too lousy for a drop out, although, to be fair, I recall taking the bus to school in the late 1970's and having to share the ride with a number of 16 year-old eighth graders.

Life won't be easy for someone who is unable to succeed in a school system as bad as this one.

If the allegations are true, then it's pretty frightening. I can't imagine that these kids are the only bizarros in the public education system.
Governor Blanco

Keeping up with my slacker tendencies of late, I skipped the festivities to focus on pressing chores, as noted below. Mr. Prado has a good summary of the goings on.

I suppose I'll take a look later at some of the broadcast media, but the link above will provide all thee news anyone wants to read.
Compare and Contrast

Let's see. One day following Paul O'Neil's interview on 60 Minutes--and, to be fair, roughly one week after a broad outline of what his remarks would be in said interview--the Bush Administration is asking for an investigation into how possibly classified information appeared during the course of the interview.

But, after someone (read: either Rove, Libby, or Tenet) leaks classified information about Valerie Plame, it takes three months for an investigation to begin. Additionally, the investigation is launched not with Shock and Awe, but CYA: insiders were given hours of advance notice to get the shredder started.

I guess that you've got to conserve your resources for the really big stuff, like the possibilty that a classified leak proving that George W. Bush is a vindictive idiot could somehow make it to the mass media. Of course, if that had even the remotest chance of happening, the first stories would be not unlike CNN's marvelous piece linked to here.

To be fair, Josh Marshall was the first person I saw to actually note the irony, although I swear my reaction was similar: you mean to tell me that this is how they're going to react to bombshells of the kind O'Neil is lobbing?

Paul O'Neil is saying that George W. Bush, our (un) elected President, makes Ronald Reagan look like a mental marvel--even with an Alzheimer's diagnosis. Speaking of Reagan, the former Treasury Secretary alleges that none other than Dick Cheney, citing the "Reagan Revolution" in the 1980's, claims that deficits are "irrelevent." In other words, why pay for government when you can charge it instead?

Additionally, there was the juicy tidbit about the groundwork to invade Iraq from, to use a Texas term, the gitgo. Not that anyone with an understanding of just how cynical this particular Administration is would be surprised. Iraq was to be the grand prize of the first term of Dubya, giving him a four year replay at the DC pinball machine.

On that, please take the time to wander over to Today in Iraq to check out our success in this endeavor. In particular, this article offers a good synopsis of the present problems facing the occupation. Candy and flowers are but a distant memory.

But hey, it's all just politics--right?
I've Been a Slacker

Apologies for the no post weekend--although I did manage to knock out some tasks that had been on the back burner for a while.

However, in the best slacker tradition, I'm NOT attending Kathleen Blanco's inauguration in person. Might catch a little on TV, but I'll let others deal with the crowds.

I'ld like to think that they give us the day off so that we won't make a busy day in downtown Baton Rouge even worse, so perhaps I'm showing evidence of good teamwork or whatever they call it.

One note: with some amusement, I saw a woman on television last night with the last name of Reed--she's on the soon to be governor Blanco's transition team. It took a second to realize why her name was familiar: we'd set up a user id for an individual "kreed" at the transition team office. A number of people used this id to log into one of several computers--and, as you might expect, it kept getting locked out because not everyone had the right password.

Anyway, I'll be back after the swearing-in...