Thursday, March 13, 2008

It's offical: Iraq is no longer interesting enough to pay attention to.

The WaPo reports:

"Twenty-eight percent of the public is aware that nearly 4,000 U.S. personnel have died in Iraq over the past five years, while nearly half thinks the death tally is 3,000 or fewer and 23 percent think it is higher, according to an opinion survey released yesterday. The survey, by the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, found that public awareness of developments in the Iraq war has dropped precipitously since last summer, as the news media have paid less attention to the conflict. In earlier surveys, about half of those asked about the death tally responded correctly."

Gosh, I wonder how that could have happened? Judging by the media's round the clock coverage of the Hillary/Obama three ring circus, it's easy to see how people could get distracted. And then of course there's this:

"The call girl at the center of the prostitution scandal that prompted Gov. Eliot Spitzer to resign in disgrace has been identified as a 22-year-old aspiring musician . . ." [ABC]

Musician? OK, if you say so.

The whole country is gripped by the story of call girl "Kristen" and her freaking myspace page. Too bad the three US soldiers who died in an indirect fire attack this morning at Combat Outpost Adder picked that particular time to die. If every third American wasn't so busy listening Ashley Alexandra Dupre's "What We Want" maybe they might have cared.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

We're back on the moon? Well, the Japanese are. . .

Leave it to the Japanese to make take the first HD pix and movies of the moon. Meanwhile, the Space Jalopi is doing what? Oh right, carrying a Japanese lab up to the ISS. After they get done moving Japan's furnature they can pop outside to slather some Krazy glue on the wings to keep the thing from falling apart on the way back. Yeah, we're going to Mars in this century!

Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) released photos and an HD movie of the moon taken by their KAGUYA moon probe, which are well worth checking out. Remember, when we used to do things like go to the moon, before our water was laced with Pharma's leavings and we kept re-electing idiots?

Here's an image we all out to ponder as we go through our daily lives. No matter how important you think what you're doing is, keep in mind you're living on a planet that's in the middle of a vast galaxy thats only one in a vast universe and so on and so on. Look at this picture and calm down:

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

The Iraq War: Five years ago never happened.

CNN reports:

"Bush administration officials Monday expressed doubt about an economist's column published over the weekend saying the war in Iraq will cost the United States more than $3 trillion. That number 'seems way out of the ballpark to me,' said Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell.
"I'm not an accountant. I'm not an economist. And I think that those who are have questioned the methodology of this particular survey," Morrell said." [Who was that, Wolfowitz?]

Morrell is referring to the Op-Ed in the WaPo this Sunday by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes, who write "the total tab to the federal government will almost surely exceed $1.5 trillion.," for the Iraq war.

Morrel goes on to say that fugure "seems like an exaggerated number to us."

Uh huh, this reminds me of Rummy saying back on March 3 2003 that it made "no sense to try" to come up with an estimate of the what the invasion might cost. "That simply isn't useful," he said. Right because when you by you buy something, you generally don't ask how much it will cost. Rummy said: "We have no idea how long the war will last. . . Until someone decides that there has to be a conflict and that the conflict's over, you're not going to know the answer."

And just like a bad flash back, like there is no history at all, White House flak Dana Perino says:

"I think that some of the things that he looks into in terms of veterans care, that we're going to take care of our veterans in the future -- absolutely, those types of things have to be included, but it's very hard to anticipate, depending on conditions on the ground and circumstances, how much the war is going to cost."

So let's not even try to talk about cost until the thing is over and, by the way, we don't know when if ever it will be over.

So why does the media even bother covering these people? It's such a joke.

The Elliot Spitzer bruhaha:

I wrote what I think about this whole ridiculous issue at my DU journal today and that's about as much time as I'm going to waste on it.

Monday, March 10, 2008

More druggy water.

More on the drugs in water story. AP reports that many water departments don't exactly go out of their way to let citizens know what's really in their drinking water. By law, water departments have to report to the public on the levels of substances the EPA requires them to. Turns out, very convienently, pharmaceuticals aren't on the EPA's list.

From the Philly angle . . .

"The water department has not informed its 1.5 million users that traces of 56 pharmaceuticals or their byproducts, like the active ingredients in drugs to treat depression, anxiety, high cholesterol, fever and pain , have been detected in the drinking water, and that 63 pharmaceuticals or byproducts had been found in the city's source watersheds. Initially balking at the AP's request to provide test results, Philadelphia Water Department spokeswoman Laura Copeland said,

'It would be irresponsible to communicate to the public about this issue, as doing so would only generate questions that scientific research has not yet answered. We don't want to create the perception where people would be alarmed.'"

See, they don't want there to be a "preception" that the water we're drinking is full of pharmaceuticals that other people pee'd out, even though that's exactly what we are drinking. Why would people alarmed about that?

This is the same sort of loose thinking the Philadelphia Archdioeses used when Lynn Abraham, the local district attorney, came out with a report on preist sex abuse of children. Cardinal Justin Rigali told his flock the report "was not of value for families." [Inquirer]

In other words, what you don't know won't hurt you. Why would any parent want to know their children were being watched over by pediphiles? Why would anyone care about drugs in their water?

Just let people who know better than you tell you what's what.


"Elaine Archibald, executive director of California Urban Water Agencies, an 11-member organization comprised of the largest water providers in California . . . said many customers 'don't know how to interpret the information. They hear something has been detected in source water and drinking water, and that's cause for alarm , just because it's there.'"

Ah, but is it really there? None of your business.

Paper or silicon? New poll: No one reads blogs!

Reuters reports:

"A majority of Americans do not read political blogs, the online commentaries that have proliferated in the race for the U.S. presidency, according to a poll released on Monday. . . Unlike traditional, mainstream media, blogs often adopt a specific point of view. Critics complain they can contain unchecked facts, are poorly edited and use unreliable sources. Despite the attention blogs can get, the poll said 56 percent of Americans say they never read blogs that discuss politics. Another 23 percent read them several times a year, the survey showed."

Of course, no one reads newspapers these days, either. In fact, no one reads. The age of Bush has seen to that!

This isn't news to me, anyway, that's why I call the blog "I'm not worthy," i.e my opinions aren't worthy of the mainstream media.

I don't know about the unchecked facts charge, though, Most bloggers I know are very festitidious about making sure they have links to back up their arguments. That's kind of the whole idea, isn't it? [Not so much the right wingers, though]

If the NYT says things are going great in Iraq, you've got to take their word for it because they're the NYT, right? If I say I'm not buying this whole "surge" bull, I have to troll around the internet for an hour or two in order to back up my assertions; mainly due to the fact that there is so much death and destruction going on there everyday, it's tough to keep up.

I might have a solution to this lack of readership problem. I'm thinking if us political bloggers can some how work more sex into our posts, we might have a btter chance of upping our hits.

reuters says the poll in question found that: "The generation most likely to read . . . blogs are those age 63 or older, 26 percent of whom said they do so. Also, 23 percent of those ages 44 to 62 read them."

Maybe, revealing pix of Jane Fonda as Barbarella or Barbara Eden as Jeanie with her belly button showing might do the trick?

Now, that's hot!

Viktor Bout, our good buddy.

I kind of paid attention to the story about the arrest of international arms dealer Viktor Bout (or Butt) in Bankok, Thailand, last Friday, but not that much. Until I realized, that is, I'd heard this guy's name before in relation to Iraq.

The WaPo reports:

"The list of Bout's alleged customers since the early 1990s stretches across at least four continents, with a focus on Africa, Western law enforcement officials and human rights groups say. The Treasury Department accused him of supplying armaments to both the Taliban and its al-Qaeda allies in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, while also providing weapons to the opposing Northern Alliance." [And his planes flew some of our troops in 2001. But, that's when we went over to Dick Cheney's Darkside.]

What you could have missed in the WaPo article if you had blinked was that also supplied weapons to the US military in Iraq from 2003 to 2005. The WaPo gives one sentence to that particular tid-bit: "Cargo companies connected to Bout were also linked to hundreds of supply flights into Iraq for private contractors and the U.S. Military early in the Iraq war."

In reality, according to Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun, who wrote "Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Plans, and the Man Who Makes War Possible," there were more than 1000 flights in and out of Baghdad International Airport. And get this, US contractors -- KBR again -- paid Bout $60 million and gave him half a million gallons of aviation fuel, too.

I like the WaPo's wording here: "Companies connected to," and "early in the war;" sounds like Pentagon-speak: Military reported last week that: "In a January 2005 letter to Congress, then-Assistant Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz admitted the Defense Department 'did conduct business with companies that, in turn, subcontracted work to second-tier providers who leased aircraft owned by companies associated with Mr. Bout.'"

And remember that GAO report about all those missing weapons the Pentagon lost track of that may have gotten into the hands of the same people who are killing our troops? The LA Times reported last August:

"When the U.S. government needed to fly four planeloads of seized weapons from an American base in Bosnia to Iraqi security forces in Baghdad in August 2004, they used a Moldovan air cargo firm tied to Bout's aviation empire. The problem is that the planes apparently never arrived. When Amnesty International investigators tried two years later to trace the shipment of more than 99 tons of AK-47s and other weapons, U.S. officials admitted they had no record of the flights landing in Baghdad."

Mistakes were made . . .

The US knew exactly who this guy was, yet the Bush administration fought international pressure to roll up his operation and worked with him for two full years.

The Dailykos reported in 2004:

"The UK is backing the US in pressing for a notorious arms trafficker alleged to be involved in supplying goods to coalition forces in Iraq to be omitted from planned United Nations sanctions, in defiance of French demands. Washington is resisting efforts by France to freeze the assets of Victor Bout, once described by Peter Hain, now leader of the House of Commons, as a 'merchant of death' for his role in supplying arms to rebel and government forces in several African conflicts, including Liberia."

So even though he was a bad guy, he was useful, that sounds familiar. John C.K Daly wrote for Global Policy Forum in 2004 that Bush & Co. really needed Bout: "As one specialist in the arms trade, speaking on condition of anonymity said of his crews and aircraft, 'they're accustomed to land in any kind of war zone without having a fit. And if one of their planes is shot down, there's no risk of American pilots' bodies being dragged through the streets.'"

So, what finally got the US interested in going after Bout? Who knows? It's pretty strange he was arrested by the DEA over a weapon's deal in Columbia involving the FARC. Bout is reputed to have ties to Vlad Putin's FSB, perhaps the US is interested in getting a litte payback on Putin? Did Putin turn him in? Probably not.

The Moscow Times reports that:

"The Russian bureau of Interpol confirmed on Thursday that Bout had been on its list since February 2002, when Belgian police issued an international warrant, alleging that he was behind a scheme to launder the profits from sales of weapons in Africa. A bureau official, speaking on the customary condition of anonymity, said that even if he had been arrested in Russia, Bout would not have been extradited to a third country. [my italic] The Russian authorities have not shown much interest in arresting Bout, who gave interviews at the Moscow offices of Ekho Moskvy radio and the Izvestia newspaper not long after the international warrant was issued. "

Naturally, no one gets on one of Vlad's media outlets without official permission, so it was nice of Vlad to allow Bout to defend himself.

As usual, after we ghave Bout his big payday in Iraq, he moved on to greener pastures and new battlefields in the GWOT. The LA Times reports that in 2006:

"A jumbo Il-76 flying the Khazakh flag swooped down to a landing in Mogadishu to unload arms for radical Islamic leaders who briefly seized control of Somalia. It was one of Bout's planes, concluded U.S. military intelligence officials."

And, oh yes, he also was busy supplying Hezbollah with armor piercing bullets around the same time. Nice people W. &Co. do business with. All in the name of protecting the Homeland, I guess.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Phunny water in Philly: Part II

Here is a more extensive version of the same AP story on the drugs in drinking water.

The article goes on to say:

"Even users of bottled water and home filtration systems don't necessarily avoid exposure. Bottlers, some of which simply repackage tap water, do not typically treat or test for pharmaceuticals, according to the industry's main trade group. The same goes for the makers of home filtration systems."

And remember General Jack D. Ripper in Dr. Strangelove and his obsession with floride and retaining his "precious bodily fluids?"

"And while drugs are tested to be safe for humans, the timeframe is usually over a matter of months, not a lifetime. Pharmaceuticals also can produce side effects and interact with other drugs at normal medical doses. That's why — aside from therapeutic doses of fluoride injected into potable water supplies — pharmaceuticals are prescribed to people who need them, not delivered to everyone in their drinking water."

"Therapeutic doses of floride," I think not. Perhaps Gen. Ripper wasn't crazy after all.

Phunny water in Philly?

AP reports:

"A vast array of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, anti-convulsants, mood stabilizers and sex hormones — have been found in the drinking water supplies of at least 41 million Americans, an Associated Press investigation shows . . . But the presence of so many prescription drugs — and over-the-counter medicines like acetaminophen and ibuprofen — in so much of our drinking water is heightening worries among scientists of long-term consequences to human health . . . Water providers rarely disclose results of pharmaceutical screenings, unless pressed, the AP found. For example, the head of a group representing major California suppliers said the public 'doesn't know how to interpret the information' and might be unduly alarmed."

Yes, let's just let the experts tell us what to think. We're too dumb to interpret information that says we might be drinking mood stabilizers and sex hormones in our tap water.

The Philadelphia Water Department assures us, however, "Since the Safe Drinking Water Act was passed more than 25 years ago, Philadelphia?s unblemished record for drinking water quality has consistently met or has out-performed all physical, chemical, radiological and bacterial water quality standards established by the EPA."

Looks like they may have overloooked a few things. The AP water study finds, among other scary things:

"Officials in Philadelphia said testing there discovered 56 pharmaceuticals or byproducts in treated drinking water, including medicines for pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness and heart problems. Sixty-three pharmaceuticals or byproducts were found in the city's watersheds."


And here I've been telling my room-mate not to give her money to Coke and Pepsi for their bottled water. But then again, all that bottled water is just re-purified municiple water anyway. What to do?

The Inquirer reported back in Nov. of last year that:

"Bottled water, once an icon of a healthy lifestyle, has become a pariah, the environmentally incorrect humvee of beverages . . . Throughout the region, tap water is getting a boost from college events and eco-campaigns. At least one restaurant is about to banish bottled water, even as another celebrates it with 42 selections. Bottled water - a $10.9-billion-a-year industry in the United States - has even emerged as a moral issue, a peace issue."

I guess if you have "pain, infection, high cholesterol, asthma, epilepsy, mental illness [or] heart problems," in Philly, you might be in luck, save some money, but for the rest of us . . .

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