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You know those lucky 5,700 troops stationed in Iraq who are going to win the George W. Bush Christmas Lottery 2007?  What I’d really like is for them to rise up, en masse, and tell Bush to shove it up his lying, hypocritical ass.  I wish those soldiers would refuse to leave the country prior to the end of the full term of their deployment unless all members of Bush’s “surge” are allowed to return to their lives and families in December.   That’s what I really want.

WALTER REED AND BEYOND: The War Inside

A great article, courtesy of the WaPo, which means it will soon fade away into that pay archive black hole. So here it is on the Free Internet Press. Just watch you don’t get squished by that pop-up!

I’m not in the least surprised that this administration, via the Defense department, is seeking to deny mental health services to returning soldiers by claiming they had a pre-existing condition. That’s the thanks our military can expect to receive. Kind of like Vietnam in reverse. The people are warm and welcoming. This time it’s the government spitting on them. Either way, seems like a good reason to burn a flag, now, doesn’t it?

(Yes, I do advocate the burning of the American flag as a form of free expression. It is not something I have ever done and I doubt I ever will. But, by God, we deserve the right to do it if we choose! Go ahead and blast me on that one, too. I also happen to believe it’s perfectly reasonable to declare that English is the official language of the United States. So there.)

Anyway, back to the point. The young man who spearheaded the rape of a fourteen year-old girl and murder of her and her family? Yeah, that is a personality disorder. The young men and women who cannot sleep without waking in terror following their deployment? That’s PTSD. Come on. This one’s a no-brainer.

But, there’s hope on the horizon in the person of our Defense Secretary, Robert Gates. Oh, wait. He’s the one in charge of this, isn’t he?

More recent news…

Pentagon May Drop Mental Health Question

DoD press release on receipt of the task force’s report.

Study Finds 1.8 Million Veterans are Uninsured (Is that on top of the 46 million?)

Here’s the same article, forever free.

George Walker Bush

‘Nuff ranting for one night.  Let’s get back to the good stuff…

 Ah, summertime!

Do you think it will feel like the killer orgasm of all time?

I sure hope so!

If so, I’m wearing these.

Here’s where you can meet the woman who designed them.

Finally, here is where you can click up a pair for yourself.

Cheers!

For those of us who are fortunate enough to be unionized and those who wish they could organize and those who should be unionized and all those who labor the world over.

For those who are socialist and/or liberal and/or democratic and/or egalitarian and/or Democrat and even conservative and/or Republican and/or an asshole…

Happy May Day!

I’m an amateur US Constitution and Supreme Court buff. I was quite happy, therefore, to find a couple of great feeds for news on the court.

Okay, okay, I’ll share.

Here’s the other.

While I was on Medill’s On the Docket site, I happened upon a decision from Monday, April 2. It is fitting that on Earth Day I should find “Court sides with environmental interests in landmark car emissions case.” Of course, environmental non-activist that I am, I found it necessary to go read the original case, Massachusetts v. EPA, which dates to 1999.

Our wonderful Environmental Protection Agency declared in 2003 that it did not have jurisdiction over the regulation of greenhouse gases and that, even if it were within its power, it would opt not to regulate them.

Here’s an excerpt of the article on On the Docket that I found particularly compelling:

…in 1999, environmental groups unsatisfied with the federal government’s response to global warming filed a petition with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to regulate carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases from new motor vehicles. They said greenhouse gases should be considered air pollutants and thus, regulated under the federal Clean Air Act.

The petitioners cited Section 202 of the act, which states that the federal government is to regulate “any air pollutant” that can “reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.”

The EPA denied the petition in August 2003, saying that the act does not authorize the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions and, even if it did, the EPA would not exercise such authority.

The agency cited a study by the National Research Council that concluded that “a causal linkage” between greenhouse gases emissions and global warming “cannot be unequivocally established.” EPA said it was inappropriate for the agency to regulate greenhouse gas emissions without more understanding about the causes of global warming.

Again, Section 202 of the act “states that the federal government is to regulate “any air pollutant” that can “reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare.” Can we not make a fair assumption that greenhouse gases contribute to global warming which is likely to have devastating effects on American citizens in the nearer rather than distant future. I fully expect to see horrible global consequences within my lifetime, don’t you?

What better US agency, you may ask, to regulate an air pollutant which can “reasonably be anticipated to endanger public health or welfare” than the Environmental Protection Agency?

Oh, I guess I’m just one of those ill-informed, bleeding-heart liberals who’s screaming that the sky is falling for no good reason!

I smile sardonically at the irony of all this. The things today’s “noted scientists” are now proclaiming as truths are all the things the rowdy, smelly environmentalists were ranting about back in 1970, on the first Earth Day. Now the whole world is up in arms over something the tree-huggers were being irrational and extremist over way back when and still the money grubbers don’t want to give an inch.

Record profits for any US company…ever.

Redux.

Happy Earth Day, all!

Kurt Vonnegut

Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.

1922-2007

 

I love what this man has to say!

Yeah!

The BBC is reporting, courtesy of NPR in this here part of these United States, that the United States Embassy in Athens has been hit by a bomb.

It has been broadcast that the embassy was struck with a bomb from a rocket or grenade launcher. The apparent target was the emblem of the United States, our great eagle, on the building’s facade. The errant projectile, however, entered the building through a closed window, landed and exploded in a toilet and, ultimately, started a small fire.

It is being called an “act of terrorism.”

Do you suppose the “terrorists” got a “whiff” of the true “seat of power” in the current administration?

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

The group of scientists and scientific organizations meeting in San Fransisco this week at the American Geophysical Union’s Fall Meeting.

The latest data presented at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting suggests the ice is no longer showing a robust recovery from the summer melt.

Last month, the sea that was frozen covered an area that was two million sq km less than the historical average.

“That’s an area the size of Alaska,” said leading ice expert Mark Serreze.

“We’re no longer recovering well in autumn anymore. The ice pack may now be starting to get preconditioned, perhaps to show very rapid losses in the near future,” the University of Colorado researcher added.

The sea ice reached its minimum extent this year on 14 September, making 2006 the fourth lowest on record in 29 years of satellite record-keeping and just shy of the all time minimum of 2005.

‘Feedback loop’

Dr Serreze’s concern was underlined by new computer modelling which concludes that the Arctic may be free of all summer ice by as early as 2040.

The new study, by a team of scientists from the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), the University of Washington, and McGill University, found that the ice system could be being weakened to such a degree by global warming that it soon accelerates its own decline.

“As the ice retreats, the ocean transports more heat to the Arctic and the open water absorbs more sunlight, further accelerating the rate of warming and leading to the loss of more ice,” explained Dr Marika Holland.

“This is a positive feedback loop with dramatic implications for the entire Arctic region.”

Eventually, she said, the system would be “kicked over the edge”, probably not even by a dramatic event but by one year slighter warmer than normal. Very rapid retreat would then follow.

You can read the whole article here, thanks to BBC News.

Click here for the study cited, from the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Thank God scientists still have consciences!

I heard this on the BBC’s The World Today this morning. (Wake up, Brits! It’s 7AM!) As a matter of fact, as they just replayed it, one scientist reported that the Arctic has not been ice-free in “hundreds of thousands of years.” That’s 100,000’s of years! This would be a monumental event the likes of which modern humanity has never witnessed.

So, the polar ice caps are not only going to melt but, once they pass that critical point, the descent will become increasingly more rapid. This pisses me off no end!

We’ve known about this for decades and the fucking Republicans (Reagan, Bush and Bush-Lite) systematically downplayed any research and scientific evidence supporting the catastrophic consequences of global warming. You remember the broohaha over chlorofluorocarbons in the 70’s and 80’s (in which, if I recall correctly, the US did not want to take its full share of the burden…sound familiar? Kyodo?), the evils of aerosol spray cans. They trotted out reputed scientists to pooh-pooh the mounting piles of proof.

And all the while industry marched merrily along.

It’s sure starting to look as if the Chicken Littles weren’t overreacting after all.

Jesus, I hate this monstrosity our country has become. I’m sometimes ashamed to be called an American.

(Damn, I hope the above wasn’t enough to send up any flares to the NSA. Swear to God, guys, I do not plan on blowin’ anything up!)

As a little, added bonie, here’s the links list from the BBC site for the article to which I referred. Very interesting stuff:

SEE ALSO

Big-dollar deals tempt Arctic firms
09 Nov 06 | Business

‘Drastic’ shrinkage in Arctic ice
14 Sep 06 | Science/Nature

Arctic ice ‘disappearing quickly’
28 Sep 05 | Science/Nature

Arctic heads into warmer future
02 Nov 04 | Science/Nature

Earth – melting in the heat?
07 Oct 05 | Science/Nature

RELATED INTERNET LINKS

AGU Fall 2006

NSIDC

NCAR

I read this in my Philadelphia Inquirer this morning but had read it earlier on Sexuality and Religion Turns out the article being referenced was originally from yesterday’s Washington Post. Here is the article, in its entirety

House to Consider Abortion Anesthesia Bill
Conservatives Vow More Tests for Democrats on Social Issues When Congress Returns

By Jonathan Weisman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, December 5, 2006; Page A05

In a parting gesture by social conservatives before Republicans relinquish control, House leaders plan to bring up a bill tomorrow that would declare that fetuses feel pain and require abortion providers to offer pregnant patients anesthesia for their unborn child.

The scheduled vote may be the last on abortion-related legislation for years. That’s because Democratic leaders hope to avoid confrontations over hot-button social issues that divide their caucus, and focus instead on military and pocketbook issues.

But Republicans and antiabortion activists signaled yesterday that they intend to press hard on social issues, even those that failed to gain traction during GOP control, to separate moderate-to-conservative Democrats from their more liberal leaders.

“The Democrats are facing an interesting situation because they ran to the right in this election,” said Wendy Wright, president of the conservative group Concerned Women for America. “They promised one thing to America with their campaigning. The question is, will they live up to that image? Running and hiding is not a solution.”

Democrats are shying from the fight. Party leaders in the House have declared tomorrow’s decision “a vote of conscience” and will not try to sway the outcome. House Speaker-elect Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) does not plan to speak on the bill, a rarity for her.

The fetal pain bill is coming up nearly as an afterthought, in the final week of a lame-duck session of Congress. House Republican leaders are using expedited procedures to bring it to a vote, meaning it will take a two-thirds vote of the chamber to pass. Its supporters are setting expectations low.

“Hopefully, we get a majority,” said Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.), the bill’s author. “Two-thirds is hard on anything, except if it’s a post office.”

Even if the bill can muster a two-thirds vote, it cannot pass the Senate before Congress adjourns.

But social conservatives see an opportunity to test Democrats’ evolving position on abortion, a position that has become more amenable to incremental curbs on ending pregnancies and more vocal about reducing the number of abortions. Under Republican control, Congress passed a ban on the late-term abortion method called “partial birth” abortion by its foes and passed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which increased penalties for crimes that harm a fetus.

At first blush, the Unborn Child Pain Awareness Act would seem to be anathema to abortion rights groups. It requires abortion providers to tell a woman whose pregnacy is 20 weeks past fertilization “there is substantial evidence” that the fetus will feel pain during the procedure — a point hotly debated among physicians and pain specialists.

The woman would then have to sign a form accepting or declining anesthesia for her fetus. Some medical groups interpret the language to mean that the fetus would have to have an application of anesthesia separate from the mother’s, a procedure that many abortion clinics are not capable of providing.

Even the bill’s definition of pregnancy — beginning at the moment of fertilization, rather than at implantation in the uterus — is problematic to some abortion rights groups, since it would legislatively establish that some forms of birth control induce abortion by blocking implantation after fertilization.

Backers of the bill have framed it as a common-sense extension of existing state laws that mandate that patients receive information about abortion procedures before giving their consent.

“This is just a compassion piece of legislation to take informed consent to the level it should be at,” said Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.), an obstetrician and antiabortion conservative.

While the measure has provoked strong opposition from Planned Parenthood and the National Abortion Federation, NARAL Pro-Choice America, perhaps the nation’s leading abortion rights group, has stayed neutral.

“Pro-choice Americans have always believed that women deserve access to all the information relevant to their reproductive health decisions. For some women, that includes information related to fetal anesthesia options,” Nancy Keenan, NARAL’s president, has said in a statement on the bill.

Democratic leaders cited NARAL’s position when they decided against trying to influence the vote. Democratic leadership aides said yesterday that they are leery of Republicans charging that they are already out of touch with mainstream values, even before they assume power.

Citing those divisions, the National Right to Life Committee’s Douglas Johnson dared Democrats to vote against the bill. If it passes the House, Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kan.) will try to pass it in the Senate by a unanimous voice vote.

“Somebody will object,” Johnson said. “We want to know who that person is.”

As Rev. Haffner rightly points out, scientists do not know at what point fetuses are capable of perceiving pain but evidence suggests it’s not until the third trimester.

The problem? Well according to a review article by the American Medical Association, “Evidence regarding the capacity for fetal pain is limited but indicates that fetal perception of pain is unlikely before the third trimester,” and there is “little or no evidence” of the effectiveness of fetal anesthesia and “limited or no data” on the safety of administering it.

Why am I still surprised that Republicans in Congress continue to press bills about highly devisive social issues simply because they can? Why does it still shock me that these ideologues push for what has clearly been voiced by the American public as a failed agenda in order to score points with a radically far right base? This is beside the fact that it’s absolutely pointless. Even if control of Congress were not passing into Democratic leadership next month, this bill stands far less than a snowball’s chance in hell of passage. It’s being proposed purely to make a point.

Have we not made it clear that we’ve had enough of this? Apparently not in the mind of Christopher Smith of NJ, sponsor of the bill.

2007 can’t come too soon for me!

Before that she bitched about: