Friday, January 26, 2007

Expensive Real Estate Equals Big NYC Surplus

Yesterday Mayor Bloomberg announced that the city has a $3.9 billion dollar surplus for the year. Thanks to skyrocketing real estate prices that have defied the experts predictions as of yet, NYC is flush with cash. This number is double what the predictions were just two months ago. As the exorbitant prices help the city's piggy bank, how will the Mayor help our citizens who are being driven away by high prices?

From the NY Times:

Since 2005, tax revenues have been cascading in at surprisingly high levels, a phenomenon reflected in the quarterly financial plan updates the mayor is required to present. In addition to the projected surplus of $3.9 billion for the fiscal year ending June 30, the plan forecasts a $1.4 billion surplus next year; both sums will be rolled over into the following years.

In a City Hall news conference, the mayor attributed the exceptionally large surpluses to a boom in property transfer taxes, including mortgage recording taxes, which can generate millions of dollars when large properties change hands. All told, the city expects to collect $2.9 billion in such taxes this year, compared with $902 million in the fiscal year Mr. Bloomberg took office.

As properties are bought and sold, residents are on the move...out of the city to make way for those that can afford the ever-increasing cost of living in the five burroughs. Again, the question is what will the Mayor do for those that are less fortunate? Well we already know Bloomberg is cutting property taxes by $750 million and other taxes by $250 million. He also mentioned how to achieve happiness:

“The ways to be happy long term, however, is to not go out and spend everything you have on one night of food and a few drinks.”

Instead of a night on the town, why not focus on those that can't afford Smith & Wollensky or Tao and give more to homeless shelters and other tools to help the poor. According to the Coalition of the Homeless, family homelessness is rising rapidly at an eleven percent clip. Not only must we provide more shelters, increases for job training and family assistance would be nice as well.

Reading the NY Times article, you can see that plenty of people have grievances on how the Mayor should spend, or not spend the surplus. Conservatives want to rein in pension contracts with unions, business organizations want to make the property tax cut permanent and to pay down other debts.

To the Mayor's credit, he is introducing a plan to rebuild schools in the long-term to the tune of $28.4 billion in the 10 year capital plan. It is a start and there is so much more that is need to be done.

Early Morning Music

U2 and Greenday got together to sing 'The Saints Are Coming' as a tribute to New Orleans. Great song and great video. If the President won't remember the city nearly a year and a half later, we certainly will.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Scott McClellan On The Daily Show

Scotty McLiarPants had the balls to appear with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show recently. With all of Scott's lying to the press and the American people over the years, you would think he could hold his own for a few short minutes on Comedy Central to talk about the war and the State of The Union. Well, think again! McClellan gets nailed from a previous White House Press Corp. exchange showed he said no one in the White House was involved with PlameGate. Of course we know differently now.

Cafferty on CNN: Calling Out McCain

I am glad to see that someone in the traditional media is doing this. It is not surprising that the journalist would be Jack Cafferty since he has been throwing the spotlight on a number of corrupt and slimy politicians. For a long time now the CW was the McCain was a maverick. It is and has been a load of crap. When I lived in Arizona during the 2004 cycle I ran around telling everyone to vote for Stu Starky. He was on the Democratic ticket hence he supported the party's platform. Yet so many Arizonans replied from both sides of the political spectrum that he was a moderate that was good for the state.

Well you know what people, that is a load of crap and if you didn't know it already, go watch this video from C & L:

NY City Council: For Or Against Free Speech?

I know that a bunch of people that read this site are New Yorkers so I want to link you to OnNYTurf's free speech map. This allows you to see if your city councilor supports free speech or not. You might think that everyone is in favor of the First Amendment, though think again.

From OnNYTurf:

The NYPD wants to severely restrict our right to publicly assemble with new parade permit rules! ...and ONLY City Council can stop them! Click to read the
New Rules the NYPD plans to impose.

This is just downright un-American and extremely anti-New York. If you live in one of those red areas, call your city councilor to stop the NYPD's hostile actions today. It was good to see that my representative Rosie Mendez supports free speech, now go make yours do the same!

The Daily Show Takes A Look At Bloggers

'Right wing' Stephen Colbert joins Jon Stewart to analyze the blogosphere. Stephen has some interesting 'surprises' of his own as well.

Some 'Politicos' Just Don't Get It

Mike Allen and Roger Simon are part of the brand new and much hyped '' that started this week. Well they are off to a deluded start already. Media Matters reports the two have talked up McCain on C-Span and the blog, claiming he is 'honest' and 'authentic.' Guys, come back to the real world. McCain is as far from those two adjectives as humanly possible.

From Media Matters:

On the January 23 edition of C-SPAN's Washington Journal, Mike Allen, chief political writer for The Politico, claimed that presumptive 2008 presidential candidate Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) "is like the president" in that "the one thing he has going for him is authenticity, steadfastness, sticking to what he says." In the very next breath, however, Allen noted that McCain has been "going and courting the sort of super right-wing that he once condemned." Allen then said that McCain "will get credit for sticking with the president" on Iraq, but also noted that McCain has "left himself a trapdoor" because he has said "that he thinks there should be more troops."

Maybe Mike needs to make up his mind on this matter and get back to us. Roger wasn't much better.

Similarly, in a January 22 column for The Politico, chief political columnist Roger Simon wrote that "[w]hen it comes to Iraq, you cannot accuse John McCain of political opportunism." He characterized McCain as a "straight-shoot[er]" and wrote that the McCain campaign's "ace in the hole" is that "McCain is honest enough and authentic enough to tell you what you don't want to hear."

McCain's has a few aces, but they do not include that type of integrity. Those high cards are having big money support, Bush's old campaign goons and the ability to flip-flop and be as slimy as possible to win the right-wing primary voters over early next year.

Jon Stewart compares the SoTU to Seinfeld

You just have to watch this!

Late Night Music: Neil Young

This guy has been singing against war for a long time. The latest from 'Living With War' captures the current problem that resides in the White House. With Neil's experience he knows exactly what to do about it, so just sing along!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Olbermann Smacks Fox News

This clip is from earlier in the week, but definitely worth watching. First he slams the new Faux News promo and then goes into the worst people of the world. Another beautiful segment by Keith.

New Yorkers: Help Elect A Democrat!

The big successful election was just on November 7th but we have another crucial State Senate race coming up on February 6th out in Nassau County. This race is going to be a close one so if you have time or money to spare in the next couple of weeks, we need you out there working for Craig Johnson. Why Craig Johnson you say? See what the WFP blog has to say about him. Watch his recent ad here.

Due to Spitzer's appointment of Balboni to the Homeland Security gig, we have an open seat for the 7th district right outside the city. There is plenty to do in the next few weeks so pay attention and listen to what The Albany Project lists below:

This Saturday we will be doing visibility/canvassing for Craig Johnson in New Hyde Park. Volunteers are asked to arrive at New Hyde Park LIRR Station at 10:45 AM.

New York City volunteers will be meeting at Penn Station at 9:45 AM under the LIRR Schedule Board.

There is also a huge fundraiser going down a week from tomorrow in the Flatiron area at Prey to help Craig take the seat and close the narrow edge that the Republicans still hold up in Albany. Check out the specs below and be sure to get out and help take back our legislature!

Can't Keep Her Hands Off Of Bush

Republican Freshman Michelle Bachmann (R-MN) is enthralled by our great leader dictator to such degree that she didn't let go of him for more than thirty seconds following the State of The Union address. During the 'autograph' session she fought to keep her hands on her man, receiving hugs and kisses from the decider-in-chief.

From RawStory:

"While the President was signing autographs for members of Congress after the speech, the sixth-district Republican put her hand on Bush's shoulder," KSTP News reports. "However, it wasn't just a tap. After he signed an autograph for her, Bachmann grabbed the president and did not let go for almost 30 seconds."

The station reports that Bachmann held on for a "better grip" as Bush leaned over to give another congresswoman a kiss, until she got "more attention, a kiss and an embrace from the president."

The local Minnesota affiliate caught the scene on the House floor and is now being generously shown on YouTube. It seems the President still has some fawning admirers left. Too bad this one is in the minority and can't do much for him in the House of Representatives.

One More Time

From the Democratic response last night:

"As I look at Iraq, I recall the words of former general and soon-to-be President Dwight Eisenhower during the dark days of the Korean War, which had fallen into a bloody stalemate. "When comes the end?" asked the General who had commanded our forces in Europe during World War Two. And as soon as he became President, he brought the Korean War to an end.

These Presidents took the right kind of action, for the benefit of the American people and for the health of our relations around the world. Tonight we are calling on this President to take similar action, in both areas. If he does, we will join him. If he does not, we will be showing him the way."

-- Jim Webb

Do The Democrats Need The South?

Last night at the DailyKos meetup event here in New York one of the main guests was old frontpager Dr. Tom Schaller. The day before he went on The Colbert Report to talk about his new book, "Whistling Past Dixie." His main argument is that the Democratic Party can maintain control of Congress and win the White House without the South. Without having read the book, I do agree with that assertion. If you can win the West, Mountain West, and the Northeast with solid majorities then the next President will have a D next to their name.

However the problem with ignoring the South is that means the Democratic Party will never be a national cohesive unit. There are plenty of people who affiliate with the Dems down there and they need to be able to have a voice in their party. Howard Dean understands this and is part of the reasoning behind the 50-state strategy that he began implementing.

Anyways, Colbert teased him on his positions, getting Tom to say that if the South seceeded Al Gore would be President right now. Though technically he did win but thats for another post.
Schaller points out that Democrats need to focus on areas that are not the most conservative of the country. Tom did pretty well on the 'faux' conservative show, especially with Stephen being from South Carolina.

The Misstatement Of The Union

Well last night was truly spectacular to say the least, but it certainly wasn't because of anything Bush plans on delivering. Personally the best line of the night was in Webb's response, where he said that we will show the President the way if he doesn't comply with the will of the American people. The bar I was at last night was cheering him on loudly at that point. So what if it was in the middle of New York City, where the Democratic Party outnumbers their rivals five to one? The rest of the nation will just have to catch up.

Back to the President's speech. If you didn't see it, you should check out this top ten list by Perrspectives. Dubya talked a lot about issues everyone cares about, like aid to African nations. Though he also got a few swipes in at the left. Two of them stood out for me, first he addressed the 'Democrat majority.' Seriously STFU with that right-wing bullshit. It may be funny for some to emphasize the 'rat' at the end but this isn't pre-school people. The Democratic party crushed the in November and we will get the respect we deserve. The second example was where he called on the Congress to support the troops in Iraq.......And the ones he is sending on the way, which has been opposed by the American people, the Democratic party and now eight Republicans with more to come. Again, STFU with that.

Bush also made up a lot of things about energy independence, yet as Webb retorted, the President has said this many times and there has been no action. That is because he is a man of no action, unless it helps his greedy f*ckin friends.

Daily Show's SOTU Preview

Ah, if only TDS was filmed after the speech. Nevertheless Jon delivered another brilliant performance, ripping the President before it even began. Hell, how could you not with all of his previous material.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Bush Gives The State Of The Union

If Bush would have wrote it himself instead of being the 'editor-in-chief,' this would have been it.

Craig Johnson's Ad: NY-SSD7

Colbert Defends Impeachable AG Gonzales

In classic Colbert form, Stephen skewers the Attorney General for his atrocious acts against the constitution under the tutelage of George Bush. The segment launches into 'The Word', showing a comparison between Greg Brady and Alberto. The piece is full of jabs, you just have to go watch it at
Crooks and Liars.

Libby Claims He Took The Blame For Rove

The trial is just under way and the fireworks have already begun. The defense's opening statement portrays Libby as the set-up guy to protect Bush-Brain Karl Rove from taking the heat over leaking information to the press. Oh goodie, it is a bad day to be a Republican, ain't it?

From MSNBC (video included):

In their opening statements, Libby's attorneys said Bush administration officials tried to blame him for the leak to cover up for presidential adviser Karl Rove’s own disclosures.

Attorney Theodore Wells said Libby went to Cheney in 2003 and complained that the White House was subtly blaming him for leaking Plame’s identity to columnist Robert Novak.

“They’re trying to set me up. They want me to be the sacrificial lamb,” Wells said, recalling the alleged conversation between Libby and Cheney. “I will not be sacrificed so Karl Rove can be protected.”

As you can see from the top of the article, Special Prosecutor Patrick 'Fitzmas' Fitzgerald states otherwise, claiming that Libby constantly lied to save his own ass. When you make up a story in front of Federal investigators and a grand jury, expect to be grilled by skilled attorneys like Fitzgerald.

Why You Should Know What Acinetobacter Baumannii Is

Bush and friends may have claimed Saddam had weapons of mass destruction and foretold of a giant mushroom cloud but none were found...big f*ckin surprise. After their story fell flat the excuse to invade Iraq changed to spreading Democracy. The only problem is that there is a weapon of mass destruction that was created in Iraq and is now spreading beyond the civil war zone.

Acinetobacter is the weapon of mass destruction we should all be worried about. This bacteria was unleashed from the soil of Iraq and thanks to the life-saving medical technology available to the soldiers over there, it seems this virus has been able to adapt itself to fight off anything we have available.

The original story was written by Wired Magazine and if you have the time I highly recommend you read all 7000 words or so. The work that went into the article is nothing short of fantastic and covers everything imaginable on the topic. RawStory followed by Crooks & Liars posted about the topic yesterday. This bacteria preys on the sick, wounded, young and old. It is affecting our troops that have been wounded in battle and anyone that cannot protect themselves against it.

From RawStory:

A drug-resistant bacteria that is infecting wounded US soldiers in Iraq -- and has spread to civilian hospitals in parts of Europe -- accidentally evolved in US military hospitals in Iraq, Wired Magazine will report in a massive expose on Monday, RAW STORY has learned.


The several thousand word expose is set to bring uncomfortable new light to the bacteria Acinetobacter baumannii that Pentagon officials previously said was likely a product of Iraqi soil.

"By creating the most heroic and efficient means of saving lives in the history of warfare, the Pentagon had accidentally invented a machine for accelerating bacterial evolution and was airlifting the pathogens halfway around the world," the magazine reveals.

The Wired article details the story of a young twenty year old marine named Jonathan Gadsden who was injured in Anbar province in the summer of 2004. Usually his injuries would have been fatal but he was treated by medics who quickly arrived on the scene. He was taken to a nearby hospital and stabilized before being flown to Germany for further work and then on to Bethesda Naval Hospital.

As Jonathan recovered from his wounds the Acinetobacter baumannii developed in his body undetected. His friends took him out of the hospital to a Redskins game and he was slowly returning to normal, only something was still wrong.

From Wired:

But he still had mysterious symptoms that he couldn't shake, like headaches, rashes, and intermittent fevers. His doctors gave him CT scans, laxatives, methadone, beta-blockers, Xanax, more surgery, and more antibiotics. An accurate evaluation of his case was difficult, however, because portions of his medical records never arrived from Bethesda. If they had, they would have shown a positive test for a kind of bacteria called Acinetobacter baumannii.

In the taxonomy of bad bugs, acinetobacter is classified as an opportunistic pathogen. Healthy people can carry the bacteria on their skin with no ill effects - a process known as colonization. But in newborns, the elderly, burn victims, patients with depressed immune systems, and those on ventilators, acinetobacter infections can kill. The removal of Gadsden's spleen and the traumatic nature of his wounds made him a prime target.

Shortly afterwards Jonathan became gravely ill. On October 18th of 2004, less than two months after he was airlifted from the scene of battle, the 20 year-old marine suffered a seizure and a heart attack, eventually rendering him brain-dead. By October 22nd they switched off the life support system, officially ending the young man's time on this earth.

Afterwards the Marine Corp officially said Jonathan died of wounds attributed to enemy action, though an investigation was launched with the help of Rep. Bill Young.

Over 700 troops are reported to have carried the disease since the invasion was begun. Non-military patients have also contracted the deadly bug while being treated in the same hospitals as the infected troops. The Defense department has tried to keep this under the radar but thankfully we have magazines like Wired to broadcast this essential information.

Jon Stewart Previews The State Of The Union

I'll let Jon take it from here, he's a million times more funny than I could ever hope to be:

Elections Won And Lost By YouTube

We have seen plenty of examples of the power of recorded video in the previous electino cycle. Sen. Allen was plagued by the Macaca video and subsequent footage of his campaign and his vicious thugs. On the other side of the aisle an awful debate by Heather Wilson's challenger Madrid was spread around and her ratings tanked right before the election.

Now for 2008 things are going to get a lot more intense, check out the Washington Post yesterday:

"...if last year was the year of the rogue videographers, the already-underway 2008 presidential campaign is likely to be remembered as the point where Web video became central to the communications strategy of every serious presidential candidate.

Playing defense is only one use of Web video. Equally important, the candidates and their staffs see Web-based video as an inexpensive and potentially significant tool for telling their campaign story without the filters of the traditional media.

Call it the YouTube effect, and it is only growing. The video-sharing site, which less than a year after its founding was bought by Google for $1.65 billion, has revolutionized the transfer of information via video, spawned a number of imitators and forced candidates to recalibrate choices, from their announcement strategies to their staffing decisions."

Hillary, Edwards and Obama have already utilized video on the web to announce their candidacies and there is certainly more to come. The article referenced above also shows how the Mitt Romney and the republicans are using video on the web to play offense and defense in the early part of the 2008 Presidential race. So have your youtube browsers ready, get your popcorn ready and watch the fireworks!

Tweety Fawns Over Hillary: An SNL Perspective

This casts Darrell Hammond as Chris Matthews of MSNBC and Amy Poehler playing Hillary. Hammond works his usual genius in imitating Tweety, but Poehler nails Hillary. I couldn't stop laughing when she did the 'Hillary laugh.' It was right on, from the sound to the mannerisms.

From Raw Story:

"You're great!" says Hammond several times in Matthews' recognizable accent to Poehler's Clinton. As "Matthews" is about to ask "Clinton" some questions about Iraq, she sifts through his questions until she finds one she feels comfortable with.

"I think most Democrats know me," she says at one point. "They understand that my support for the war was always insincere." Later she goes on a profane, censored "tirade."

Mr. 28% To Give His SOTU

The state of the union address is scheduled for tonight and unfortunately George Bush is still making the speech in front of Congress. Thankfully this is the next to last for his awful Presidency. Mr. Bush is supposed to bring out a drawer full of diamonds that focus on a national agenda without touching too much on the mess that is Iraq.

Nevertheless he will still try to justify the escalation of 21,500 troops in the war-torn country, primarily in the capital of Baghdad. His first address to the nation two weeks ago fell on deaf ears for the most part and even persuaded more people to distrust his actions. With a mere 28 percent approval, his poll numbers have dropped further than Nixon at his lowest.

The speech tonight will most likely be more empty rhetoric from a President who has a track record of delivering bullshit with devastating results. This man has done nothing but ruin our country and will say...or not say what his next actions are to bring us further down in the eyes of the world and continue to tear apart our great country.

Late Night Music Video

This Bob Dylan masterpiece was written long ago, yet the message is still just as important today. Remember that the masters of war try to control our planet with the tools of destruction, creating havoc, misery, hate and revenge for those that are brutalized by the shrapnel and bullets that fly so frequently.

Monday, January 22, 2007

'Gem' Of The Day

“It’s like looking in a drawer full of diamonds.”

— White House spokesman Tony Snow, describing President Bush’s upcoming State of the Union address.

Cubix zirconia doesn't count Tony.

Cheney Is Wrong! Biden et al. School Fox News

Just watch the video, it is brilliant. Chris Wallace of Fox News interviews Democratic Senators Carl Levin and Joe Biden thinking he'll corner them on the war. Instead poor old rightwing-parroting Chris is taught a lesson, that Cheney has never, ever been right about anything regarding Iraq. The only thing Cheney can be given credit for is knowing how to make him and his cronies rich.

Have A Chat With Hillary Tonight

Tonight is the first of three online chats hosted by the Clinton campaign in the beginning of her Presidential candidacy. Starting at 7pm E.S.T/4pm P.S.T., those who register at her website can ask the Senator anything they want, within reason. She'll be answering selected questions on a live webcast.

So ask away people, see what she says about the war, impeaching a President guilty of high crimes and misdeameanors, an economy that is by the rich and for the rich, how she will fix the health care system (since she used the issue for a photo-op already) and anything else that comes to mind.

One question I would pose the Senator is something I saw on the frontpage of DailyKos today.

Devilstower posted a quote from Thomas Jefferson and the LA Times take on it:

...Thomas Jefferson warned against the formation of an "unnatural" aristocracy of men who inherited great fortunes and political office. Both of these warnings have been overlooked in the debate over Hillary Rodham Clinton's 2008 presidential run. But if she secures the Democratic nomination, wins and serves two terms, by 2017 the United States will have been governed by either a Bush or a Clinton for 28 years.

Now thats a nice piece of food for thought!

Saint Guiliani?

In the days following 9/11 Rudy Giuliani was cast into the national spotlight as a mayor that had to deal with one of the worst national tragedies in American history. Losing nearly 3,000 people in the towers and the ensuing chaos in Lower Manhattan was a tremendous toll.

Immediately afterwards the two heroes that emerged in the eyes of the media and the public at large were President Bush and Mayor Giuliani. Since then Bush's popularity has dropped precipitously due to his gross mismanagement of our country and leading us into an unwinnable war.

However Rudy in the same amount of time has built a profitable company, annoited his successor Michael Bloomberg and risen to national prominence with his own candidacy for President in 2008. Now is the time for Rudy to be put under the microscope and through the gauntlet.

The Daily Gotham and new contributor Richard Rothstein takes a look at the Rudy before 9/11:

On September 10, 2001, Rudy Giuliani was an extremely unpopular mayor and considered to be one of the most polarizing politicians in the history of New York City. Many New Yorkers saw him as a racist and borderline fascist. In fact, some newspapers, columnists and community groups had nicknamed him the Mussolini of Midtown and Hitler on the Hudson. But a few hours and two crumbling towers later he was Crusader Rabbit. Today, the nation perceives him to be America's most beloved and treasured mayor and a viable Republican candidate for the White House, made national hero by a baptism of sacred white ash.

The mayoralty of Rudolph William Louis Giuliani III was based on one of the narrowest electoral margins in city history, barely 53,000 votes. In fact, he lost the popular vote in Manhattan, The Bronx and Brooklyn. His victory was based on wide margins in conservative Staten Island and conservative white sections of Queens. His other ace in the hole was the inability of the Democratic party to come up with a competent and less than painfully dull candidate coupled with that party's relentless and very public infighting. (Where have we heard that before?)

This guy sounds like the next George Bush, a man who has already proven to emulate the decider in gaining political points from national tragedies. The article continues to show how Rudy transformed parts of New York into a capitalistic treasure at the expense of genuine NYC artistic talent and people of color. Although gentrification of the city didn't start with Giuliani, it certainly sped up under his reign. Please read the rest of the article, as it exposes the litany of offenses the 'saint' committed upon our city and portends what he could do to our nation following the despotic George W. Bush.

Muslim Groups Protest '24'

From a fan website
Jack Bauer and the Fox network are at it again, pissing off segments of society for the benefit of their ratings. This isn't the first time that people have protested the stereotyping of Islamic groups on the hit show. Two years ago muslims were cast as nuclear warhead thieves planning on attacking the United States, though Bauer (Kiefer Sutherland) saved the day.

The most recent episode did not have such a happy ending, where a nuclear bomb was detonated in Los Angeles, again by muslims. Some people may argue that the only people that would attack the United States are that segment of the population, but that would only show their ignorance of history and those that commit acts of terrorism. Not too long ago a man by the name of Timothy McVeigh blew up the Federal building in Oklahoma City, a few days ago Greek terrorists shot a rocket at the U.S. Embassy in Athens and terrorists around the world attack their adversaries no matter what religion they ascribe to.

CNN has more:

"The overwhelming impression you get is fear and hatred for Muslims," said Rabiah Ahmed, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations. She said Thursday she was distressed by this season's premiere. "After watching that show, I was afraid to go to the grocery store because I wasn't sure the person next to me would be able to differentiate between fiction and reality."

She said the group had a conference call Wednesday with Fox executives to protest the current plot line and request more positive portrayals of Muslims on the show, but was not promised anything.

After a January 2005 meeting with CAIR, Fox aired a commercial in which the show's star, Kiefer Sutherland, urged viewers to keep in mind that the show's villains are not representative of all Muslims.

Well at least some action was taken, but not nearly enough. Perhaps we can see some 'American terrorists' being beaten up and tortured. You know torture is one of those moral values that we like to see acted on to protect the fair nation that we all live in. CAIR is correct on this issue. There has to be more done in this country to promote religious harmony, not the other way around. As one that has a few friends that are muslim and many that 'look Muslim' (i.e. having dark skin) have been harassed by fellow neighbor and officer of the law alike.

United States Attacks United Kingdom

The United States and the U.K. may have stopped physically fighting each other after the War of 1812 (and small naval skirmishes for the history buffs out there) but an attack against the Brits is still on-going. Instead of a battle of guns, this is a battle of ozone.

The United States has been 'launching' an ozone assault for some time now. Due to the Bush Adminstration's lack of concern over the environment and the increasing threat of Global Warming there have been many dire consequences. This post details how U.S. production of ozone has hurt the United Kingdom.

The good ozone has been beaten back by global warming, most notably seen in the increasing hole over Antartica. Yet the bad ozone in the picture does not simply sit over each particular city. Earlier studies have hinted that bad ozone can be carried by the jet stream and in this case from the United States to Europe but now it is a fact.

Therefore ozone produced in U.S. cities has increased U.K. cases of respiratory illness and it has been attributed to approximately eight hundred deaths in the European heat wave of 2003 alone. Those are not insignificant numbers we are talking about!

From the Times-U.K.:

The study, by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC), suggests that up to 2,000 tons of ozone, originating in cities such as Chicago, Detroit and New York, are hitting Britain each day.

The American ozone usually boosts British levels by 20%-30%, sometimes rising to 40%, often pushing them beyond the safe limit of 50 parts per billion (ppb) set by the World Health Organisation.
Scientists blame it for up to 800 of the 2,000 extra deaths caused by the 2003 heatwave, when ozone levels in Britain soared to more than 90ppb.

Of course the majority of the ozone particles that affect people come from the area they reside in, yet 20-30 percent increases are not to be taken lightly. The British government has done much to curb their own pollutants but the U.S. government hasn't done much at all.

Successive British governments have tried in vain to cut levels and the Nerc study sought to find the reason. “Our research shows British pollution control measures are not working because a lot of this pollution is coming from America,” said Alastair Lewis, professor of atmospheric chemistry at York University.

The article also notes that the NERC study to be released this week finds fifteen U.S. cities that contribute to the U.K.'s problems. These cities also emit 1,000 tons of carbon monoxide that travel to the United Kingdom. Due to the results, this shatters conventional wisdom that carbon monoxide and ground level ozone do not travel long distances. The findings will be published this week in the Journal of Geophysical Research.

See images of the pollutant travel here.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Sunday Afternoon Tunes

Eric Clapton singing 'Change the World' live and on stage:

Blackwater USA Has No Shame

I saw this on Mia Culpa so here goes. We all know Blackwater USA is a whore of the M-I complex, bilking billions of our taxpayer dollars to defend dignitaries and U.S. government officials while carusing in Iraq.

A frenzied mob of insurgents ambushed Paauilo resident Wesley J.K. Batalona, Scott Helvenston, Jerko "Jerry" Zovko, and Michael R. Teague in March 2004 as they escorted a supply convoy through Fallujah, Iraq.

You also most likely remember the bridge outside Falluja on March 31, 2004. The story was shown all over the world and mortified the nation and most importantly the families of those contractors. The families sued Blackwater for not honoring their agreement to give them armored vehicles, resulting in a lawsuit that was stalled again and again with the resolution still undetermined.

Now Blackwater is filing a countersuit, but not against the families specifically.

From Mia Culpa:

Blackwater USA has filed a $10 million dollar lawsuit against the attorney representing the families of four American contractors who were killed, and hung from a bridge over the Euphrates River by insurgents in Fallujah, Iraq in March of 2004. Blackwater claims that the suit filed by the families of the deceased men for wrongful death in January of 2005 is a violation of the security guard's contracts with the private military contractor and security firm.

Richard Nordan, the estates administrator who filed the suit against Blackwater is specifically named in the suit, and not the family members of the deceased, or their estates. Blackwater has also asked to have a federal court send the matter into arbitration, after failing to have the suits dismissed.

Even if their contracts had stipulated this the countersuit would still be a disgrace to those that lost their lives in such a graphic manner that day. Only their suit is far from being honest.

Investigations into the deaths revealed that it was small arms fire, not explosives as originally reported, that killed the men. Armored vehicles would have protected them, and their families and attorney believe that they would still be alive today had that original contractual obligation been met. The contracts also called for the men to travel in 6 person teams, and team leader Justin McQuown -- who according to Scott Helvenston's own emails had a rather adversarial relationship -- decided to hold two men back for clerical duties, and sent just the four doomed contractors off to Fallujah, sans armored protection. In one of Helvenston's last emails to Blackwater, he spoke of McQuown having a possible hidden agenda that he referred to as "Let's see if we can screw with Scott."

The legal battle for the family members seems to have begun with the Blackwater memorial service for the dead held at the Blackwater compound. Afterwards, while gathered in a conference room, when the relatives of Jerry Zovko asked to see the after-action report detailing the last moments of his life, Zovco's mother Danica said the response was "that if we wanted to see the paperwork of how my son and his co-workers were killed that we'd have to sue them."

Well the families did file a suit in court and Blackwater fought it.

From the CNN article:
Blackwater has filed a motion to dismiss the case, providing copies of contracts signed by the four saying they would assume any risks from working under "volatile, hostile and extremely dangerous circumstances."

The only problem is that Blackwater did not show the agreement that the contractors should have been equipped with armored vehicles. Another issue with the dismissal and countersuit was that Blackwater USA did not want people knowing they were over-billing the U.S. government and then signed a sub-contract that deleted the word "armored" from the contract. Thankfully the judge reinstated the case in November, but Blackwater reacted with their countersuit.

The families see this as a shock and awe tactic:

"The $10 million is a scare tactic," said Katy Helvenston, mother of Scott Helvenston. "I'm not concerned about that at all because the whole thing's a farce. It's just another excuse to delay."

Of course we shouldn't be surprised at this. Just move along, don't look at the corruption and malfeasance. No one certainly did in Congress from 2004 to 2006. Now with our Democratic Congress, I pray that oversight and accountability finds that Blackwater USA is a disgusting war-profiteering outfit that needs serious investigations and justice for the families that have been affected by the company's negligence.

Oh Mr. President.....

Hillary, Hillary, Hillary!

Hillary Clinton's arrival into the fray this weekend is making quite a splash across the country. New York's junior Senator has a huge impact on the nation's newsmedia and rightly so. As a former first lady turned U.S. Senator, Hillary has accomplished a lot in her fifteen years on the national stage.

It is reported that she is going to run a 'Margaret Thatcher' style race, meaning that she will be tough on foreign policy and a tough campaigner, saying she is "In to win." As a warhawk she is certainly not a light-weight that is for sure, supporting the President for quite some time until it wasn't politically expedient anymore. Nevertheless she does not go as far as other candidates such as John Edwards who wants Congress to force Bush from increasing troop size by using the power of the purse.

As the only Democratic Leadership Council candidate, she will have a strong backing from self-proclaimed moderate Democrats and from the former President which goes without saying. The problem with the DLC is that they are far from 'moderate' and more like Republican appeasers. Only recently has the group come out of the 'pro-war' shell it has been hiding in since the President called for the invasion of Iraq more than four years ago.

Despite the polls favoring Clinton at the moment, she will have to fight an uphill battle to win the support of the Democrats who typically vote in the primaries. Her pro-war stance has hurt her in the grassroots and netroots community. Announcing her candidacy online is nice, but nothing compared to actually reaching out to those that fought for the Democratic majority in 2006, something Hillary did not fight for as much as she could have.

Place Your Bets!

If you can wager money on something, chances are someone has set up a booking facility to make it happen. Here in the political world it has been taken care of well in advance of the 2008 Presidential nominations. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Iowa Electronic Markets and have opened up their own markets on who is going to win the Democratic and Republican nomination for the White House.

The odds are 2008 looks good for the Democrats. With a 54% chance to win the White House and a 70% chance to hold the Congress, this next election is looking pretty damn good. The numbers are based on generic matchups, though Hillary leads the pack along with McCain in his corner. This is easily explained by the long held assumptions that these two would be the nominees for some time now. Of course current events tell otherwise. Edwards and Obama are surging on the left, while McCain is being hampered by Giuliani and the rest of the pack due to his lack of religious winger support.