Saturday, June 11, 2005


Evolution Rocks!

On the one hand, it's a pity it had to come to this. On the other hand, this is how the evolution controversy should be settled: on the evidence.
National Academies fights evolution controversy
Sat Jun 11, 2005
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The National Academies, the flagship of U.S. science, said on Friday it had set up a Web site to battle attempts to portray evolution as mere speculation about how life developed on Earth.

The Web site,, carries links to various reports on evolution, which some U.S. religious groups want to be taught in schools only if their own views of a divine creator get equal credence.

"The theory of evolution is one of science's most robust theories, and the National Academies have long supported the position that evolution be taught as a central element in any science education program," the Academies said in a statement.
The difference between science and religion is quite simple: if someone presenting evidence disproving the accepted view is driven out as a heretic, it's a religion. If, after the evidence is carefully tested and confirmed, the prevailing view changes, it's a science.

If the "Intelligent Design" folks ever come up with some real evidence to support their unproven hypothesis, they'll probably win Nobel prizes. In the meantime, it is not proper to teach poorly-disguised religious dogma as science.

(Besides, our free enterprise system is based on social darwinism. The fundamentalist version of God operates more like an old-style Soviet commissar, all central planning.)

Friday, June 10, 2005


Star Wars Missile Defense Following the Boeing Tanker Scandal Model

Remember how Fearless Leader wanted to install a ballistic missile defense system even if it didn't work because "we could always fix it later?" Well, "later" is apparently here:
Panel Faults Tactics in Rush to Install Antimissile System

By Bradley Graham
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, June 10, 2005; Page A07

An outside panel chartered by the Pentagon has concluded that the rush to deploy a national antimissile system last year led to shortfalls in quality controls and engineering procedures that could have better assured the system would work, according to the panel's final report.
The panel's report reinforces concerns expressed by some Democratic lawmakers, scientists and other critics that the administration has moved too quickly to build an antimissile system whose effectiveness is still questionable and whose ultimate price tag -- in the tens of billions of dollars -- is excessive.
Hey, I live within rumored range of North Korean missiles. My philosophy is simple: First make it work, then spend the money to deploy it. Anyone crazy enough to launch ICBMs at us can't be bluffed - they'll be committing suicide and they'll know it.

Meanwhile, defenses against the far more likely attack scenario of somebody hijacking a container ship off the Indonesian coast, loading a nuclear device on board, sailing it to a port and detonating it at the US Customs dock remain unfunded. They wouldn't even need a nuke - they could just load it up with ammonium nitrate and repeat the "Texas City Disaster" that occurred in 1947 when a former Liberty Ship loaded with ammonium nitrate accidentally exploded in Texas City, 10 miles outside Galveston, Texas. Imagine the carnage from a similar explosion using one of today's much bigger container ships, detonated closer to population centers. Now ask: why are we wasting money on an ABM system designed to defend against a 20th Century style attack?


Krugman Condemns the Politics of Greed

Paul Krugman lays it out for all with eyes to see:
Losing Our Country
Baby boomers like me grew up in a relatively equal society. In the 1960's America was a place in which very few people were extremely wealthy, many blue-collar workers earned wages that placed them comfortably in the middle class, and working families could expect steadily rising living standards and a reasonable degree of economic security.

But as The Times's series on class in America reminds us, that was another country. The middle-class society I grew up in no longer exists.
But the real reasons to worry about the explosion of inequality since the 1970's have nothing to do with envy. The fact is that working families aren't sharing in the economy's growth, and face growing economic insecurity. And there's good reason to believe that a society in which most people can reasonably be considered middle class is a better society - and more likely to be a functioning democracy - than one in which there are great extremes of wealth and poverty.

Reversing the rise in inequality and economic insecurity won't be easy: the middle-class society we have lost emerged only after the country was shaken by depression and war. But we can make a start by calling attention to the politicians who systematically make things worse in catering to their contributors. Never mind that straw man, the politics of envy. Let's try to do something about the politics of greed.
Vanishing middle class, a rich elite running everything, large numbers of poor scrambling to survive, weakened or non-existant environmental protection, dismantling of the public school system - we're becoming a Third World country - just like Ronald Reagan wanted and W and his Bush League minions are delivering.

Thursday, June 09, 2005


More Bushwa From The Bush League's Anonymous Players

Why do otherwise reputable news organizations keep reporting controversial allegations based upon a single anonymous source? Case in point:
"These are threats against some of the most prominent Lebanese political leaders. The purpose would be to create instability and to create internal strife," a senior administration official said. After a brief lull in Syrian interference in Lebanon, senior Syrian intelligence personnel have been seen back in Lebanon, particularly over the past week, the official added.
The senior administration official said that a "variety of credible Lebanese sources" had said Damascus has developed a "hit list" of senior Lebanese political leaders, and that the sources had reported seeing "familiar figures" from Syrian intelligence back in Lebanon. "There are efforts by Syrians to put back in place the system of intimidation," he added.
(Source: Washington Post U.S. Wary Of Syria Targeting Lebanese June 10, 2005
I wonder which Ahmed Chalabi wanna-be supplied this information to Mr./Ms. "Senior Official." Or maybe "Curveball" is back on the Bush League's team?

The sad thing is, these stories may even be true - but W's Bush League minions have played too fast and too loose with the truth to be considered a credible source regarding anyone they may want to invade.

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


White House Caught Editing Out Global Warming Facts

Caught red handed:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A White House official, who previously worked for the American Petroleum Institute, has repeatedly edited government climate reports in a way that downplays links between greenhouse gas emissions and global warming, The New York Times reported on Wednesday.

Philip Cooney, chief of staff for the White House Council on Environmental Quality, made changes to descriptions of climate research that had already been approved by government scientists and their supervisors, the newspaper said, citing internal documents.
Source: Reuters US official edited warming, emission link-report, June 8, 2005. [Emphasis added.])
Now all we could only identify the White House official responsible for editing out any mention of Koran abuse from the various official Gitmo inquiries...
Here's a link to the New York Times article:
Bush Aide Softened Greenhouse Gas Links to Global Warming
Published: June 8, 2005

A White House official who once led the oil industry's fight against limits on greenhouse gases has repeatedly edited government climate reports in ways that play down links between such emissions and global warming, according to internal documents.
The dozens of changes, while sometimes as subtle as the insertion of the phrase "significant and fundamental" before the word "uncertainties," tend to produce an air of doubt about findings that most climate experts say are robust.
Before going to the White House in 2001, he was the "climate team leader" and a lobbyist at the American Petroleum Institute, the largest trade group representing the interests of the oil industry. A lawyer with a bachelor's degree in economics, he has no scientific training.
"Each administration has a policy position on climate change," Mr. Piltz wrote. "But I have not seen a situation like the one that has developed under this administration during the past four years, in which politicization by the White House has fed back directly into the science program in such a way as to undermine the credibility and integrity of the program."
(Emphasis added.)
Given this level of interference with global warming research, how much more distortion is present in reports regarding human rights abuses at Gitmo and elsewhere?

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Koran Abuse and the Boeing Tanker Deal

Why are we supposed to believe all the Pentagon's "No Korans Flushed" reports after what just came out about the "we need to lease planes from Boeing" reports? The Washington Post reports:
In the copy of the report obtained by The Washington Post, 45 sections were deleted by the White House counsel's office to obscure what several sources described as references to White House involvement in the lease negotiations and its interaction with Boeing. The Pentagon separately blacked out 64 names and many e-mails. It also omitted the names of members of Congress, including some who pressured the Pentagon to back the deal.

The report is nonetheless the most damning of the three reviews of the tanker deal completed by the inspector general since early 2004. It includes, for example, a statement from an unnamed cost analyst that "numbers were contorted a lot of different ways to sell the program."

It also suggests that the foundation of the Air Force's tanker lease -- that KC-135 planes were experiencing unexpected corrosion and needed urgent replacement -- was a house of cards. The report said the Air Force could not substantiate congressional testimony by two of the officials -- Roche and Maj. Gen. Paul W. Essex, a former head of its global reach program office -- on that subject.

"In fact, the studies that were available did not indicate an urgent or immediate requirement for the replacement of . . . KC-135 tankers," the report said. That view was confirmed last year by the Defense Science Board, which said the KC-135 airframes were usable until 2040.

The report says that Marvin R. Sambur, then the top Air Force acquisition official, knew that this urgency "did not exist" but claimed otherwise and ordered data unflattering to the deal removed from a key document. His office made what a critic of the lease elsewhere in the Pentagon interpreted as a "thinly veiled threat" to manipulate other Air Force contracts if the dissent did not cease, the report shows.
(Source: Washington Post E-Mails Detail Air Force Push for Boeing Deal June 7, 2005. [Emphasis added.])
How shocking that "unflattering" data was removed from a Pentagon report. Fortunately, we can be sure that they would not have remved any such unflattering data from their reports on Koran abuse at Guantanamo... can't we? After all, it isn't as though W's Bush League minions have ever ordered the removal of inconvenient data from a government report before...
USA: EPA Downplayed Climate Change in Environmental Challenges Report

by H. Josef Hebert, Associated Press
June 20th, 2003

The Environmental Protection Agency scrapped a detailed assessment of climate change from an upcoming report on the state of the environment after the White House directed major changes and deletions to emphasize the uncertainties surrounding global warming.

The changes prompted an EPA staff memorandum that said the revisions demanded by the White House were so extensive that they would embarrass the agency because the section "no longer accurately represents scientific consensus on climate change.
(Source: CorpWatch [emphasis added.])
If the EPA's reports are edited for political convenience, and Pentagon weapons procurement requests are edited to hide windfall profits for contractors, what are the odds that any evidence regarding Koran abuse at Gitmo was ordered removed by the White House?

Monday, June 06, 2005


Looting the Pension Fund Part 2: Paying for the 80s

Looting the Pension Fund - W's MBA Training Follows Industry Standards discussed how pension fund managers routinely looted pension funds during the 1980s to fund the big corporate takeover craze. That lunacy helped set the stage for the mega-salaries commanded by today's corporate officers. After all, they said, look how well we're hitting our projected earnings! We deserve higher salaries because we're adding value!

It turns out these folks were making money the old fashioned way - by stealing it:
Loopholes in the federal pension law allowed United Airlines to treat its pension fund as solid for years, when in fact it was dangerously weakening...

A second report, by the comptroller general, found that most companies that operate pension funds are using the same loopholes. Those loopholes give companies ways - all perfectly legal - to make their pension plans look healthier than they really are, reducing the amount of money the companies must contribute.
Source: New York Times Pension Loopholes Helped United Hide Troubles June 7, 2005. [Emphasis added.])
Where was ObviousMan when we needed him?


Bush League's Razzle-Dazzle on North Korea

Looks like various Bush League minions are trying to push Fearless Leader into a second Korean war, while Rumsfeld and Rice claim to support continuing negotiations:
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld on Monday played down the possibility of a quick decision to take the North Korea nuclear issue to the United Nations Security Council.

His comments sowed further confusion over America's handling of the crisis a day after a senior Pentagon official said the United States would likely decide within weeks on whether to refer the issue to the world body, where sanctions could be imposed.

"There's been no decision with respect to that at all," Rumsfeld told reporters on his first visit to Thailand, a U.S. ally.

"The secretary of state (Condoleezza Rice) has spoken on it. I've spoken on it. The president (George W. Bush) has spoken on it. The government of the United States is on the path of six-party talks and that's where it is," he added.
(Source: Reuters Rumsfeld plays down quick decision on N. Korea, June 6, 2005
In that Dick Cheney has been trying to shut down these negotiations, these recent denials are puzzling. (See BBC News: N Korea denounces Cheney remarks) Given the cynical nature of The Bush League's policy toward North Korea, as well as W's track record on the use of force versus negotiations, these apparent internal disputes are merely razzle-dazzle designed to make US voters think W and his Bush League minions tried to negotiate in good faith before they activate their long-planned military option.

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