Friday, June 09, 2006

A Peek Behind The Curtain


I remember reading about this back in 2003, and it still turns my stomach. It proves once and for all that we are not in Iraq (or anywhere) to spread democracy but to feed capitalism. Greed kills, a lot.

Don't Hold Your Breath

Batteries of the future to charge in seconds?: Digital Photography Review

Way cool, but....

This story reminds me of the stories about everlasting automobile engines back in the sixties. This was before there were many Japanese vehicles around to demonstrate that cars really could last more than two or three years without having to cost a bazillion dollars. I'm surprised Everready or Duracell haven't snapped up the patents for immediate burial already. Eliminating the need to replace batteries would cut the world's mercury and other heavy metal pollution rate considerably. I hope this shows up in the real world quickly, but past experience dictates breathing normally until that day arrives.

Damn Them!

Slashdot | U.S. House Rejects Net Neutrality

Why Federal Judge Appointments Are Important

US court backs government broadband wiretap access:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A U.S. appeals court on Friday upheld the government's authority to force high-speed Internet service providers to give law enforcement authorities access for surveillance purposes.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit turned down a petition aimed at overturning a decision by regulators requiring facilities-based broadband providers and those that offer Internet telephone service to comply with U.S. wiretap laws.
And why Congress should have blocked more by this pResident. Say goodnight to the First and Fourth Amendments. They are barley breathing at this point.

Politics v. Science

Inconsistent Information Policies Jeopardize Research, Panel Says - New York Times:
WASHINGTON, June 8 — The quality and credibility of government research are being jeopardized by inconsistent policies for communicating scientific findings to the public, says an independent group of scientists that advises Congress and the White House.
Inconsistent policies?
Where policies exist, the board said, they are often focused more on restricting scientists' ability to discuss their findings than on guaranteeing a free flow of information.
Sounds pretty consistent to me. Hide the truth and mislead the public, especially if the truth is at odds with the wishes of special interests.

Congress Hits Speed Bump

What Passes for Good News - New York Times:
Any day in which the House or Senate refrains from doing something destructive is about as good as it gets in Washington lately. Yesterday, the Senate cleared that low bar when it rejected efforts to repeal the estate tax.

The nation is at war and the budget is so wildly out of balance that the government cannot pay its bills without borrowing money from foreign investors. The idea that this is a good moment to repeal a tax on people who inherit multimillion-dollar estates is mind-boggling. But Congress, pushed by the lobbying efforts of a handful of super-rich families, was on the brink of doing just that. The country was saved from that fate when the Senate fell three votes short of the 60 needed to prevent a filibuster by Democrats who were rightly horrified by the whole idea.
Looks like the Dems finally put their collective feet down, and not a moment too soon. Still, they probably wouldn't have had enough "feet" if it weren't for a couple of Reps who finally demonstrated some common sense.
The senators who deserve the most credit for saving the day, however, were George Voinovich of Ohio and Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island, Republicans who broke with their party to help block consideration of the repeal. Mr. Voinovich said, rightly, that the idea of eliminating the tax under current conditions was "incredibly irresponsible and intellectually dishonest."
And why is Congress suddenly lurching into been-there-done-that territory in recent weeks when there is plenty of relevant business to be done? Oh, right, it's an election year!
Majority Leader Bill Frist, on the other hand, was the chief culprit. Mr. Frist appears convinced that the best way he can demonstrate his potential as a presidential candidate is to march the chamber through votes on all the most divisive and useless legislation moldering on the agenda — banning gay marriages, writing a prohibition of the nonexistent flag-burning problem into the Constitution, and eliminating a tax that applies only to the richest 1 percent of the population.
Could this be the effect of having Rove go back to doing what he does best: skewing the issues to the extreme right in order to energize the wingnut base?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Good News, Bad News

Somali Islamists Declare Victory; Warlords on Run - New York Times:
NAIROBI, Kenya, June 5 — After months of fierce fighting, Islamic militias declared Monday that they had taken control of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, defeating the warlords widely believed to be backed by the United States and raising questions about whether the country would head down an extremist path.
It would seem that we are losing the war, eh?
The United States has been widely reported to have secretly financed the capital's warlords, who fashioned themselves into a counterterrorism alliance to track down and apprehend Al Qaeda elements in Mogadishu.

American officials have said they fear that the country may descend into a situation similar to that of Afghanistan, where a hard-line Islamist group, the Taliban, seized control of the country and then gave safe haven to Al Qaeda. Already American officials have said that a handful of foreign fighters with links to Al Qaeda are being shielded by Mogadishu's Islamist leaders.
Gee, that sure sounds bad. But, wait....
But some analysts were not surprised that the battle for Mogadishu turned out as it did. "The so-called Islamists provided a sense of stability in Somalia, education and other social services, while the warlords maimed and killed innocent civilians," said Ted Dagne, the Africa analyst at the Congressional Research Service in Washington.

He expressed doubt that the takeover indicated the rise of extremists in the capital. "Somalis are secular Muslims, and the presence of the so-called Islamists is not an introduction of new ideology or religion," Mr. Dagne said in an e-mail message.
So, the bad guys are the good guys? Remind me, who are we backing here?
Administration officials have not said whether American intelligence agents have made payments to the warlords, though academics, security analysts, politicians in the region and other Africa experts assert that they have. Many in Mogadishu said the common belief that the United States was taking sides only strengthened the Islamists, who accused the warlords of being puppets of Washington.
Yeah, well, who ya' gonna' believe: academics, analysts and people familiar with the situation, or our own elected (or not) officials (who wouldn't know a fact if it bit them on the ass)? I mean, who's more likely to lie about such things anyway?

Note: Any non-quoted, non-parenthetical comments above are strictly in the interest of sarcasm, and should not be taken literally. Anybody who believes anything the current administration says is either deaf, dumb and blind or certifiably idiotic.

Take Two Haloperidols And Don't Call Me

Use of Antipsychotics by the Young Rose Fivefold - New York Times:
"Shrinking access to long-term psychotherapy and hospital care may also play a role, the experts said."

It's much cheaper to prescribe a pill (especially if some or all of the cost of the drug is passed on to the patient) than to provide long-term care and treatment of any kind. As long as the bottom line counts more than quality of life, this is what will be. Maybe someday we'll have a "quality of life" pill, and then it won't be a problem.


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