Monday, February 28, 2005

And watch Fox News for all your information!  More posters here. Posted by Hello

Sunday, February 27, 2005

Bizarro World in Colorado Springs

Sometimes I find it hard to believe that Colorado Springs is as backward as it is. This town is truly beyond the pale, beyond radical right, and into the tinfoil hat zone. I finally got around to reading this week's Colorado Springs Independent with two items so unbelievably stupid that it's hard to imagine them even being part of the public discourse anywhere else in the world.

First we have District 11 school district elected officials likening Planned Parenthood to the KKK and intimidating them from speaking at schools on both abstinence and contraception (though they have been invited for the last 17 years). John Hazelhurst has a pithy column on the "new Bill of Rights". A must read. See also Case dismissed: Planned Parenthood ejected from District 11 Schools . See also Public Eye Extra: Email Message sent to school board members

And second on the agenda for the public debate is whether or not citizens should be allowed to openly pack heat into county buildings. Yes, you heard it right. Pressing issues like prison reform or economic development have to be put on the back burner while this is addressed. Unbelievable. Truly bizarre indeed.

The New York Times > Maureen Dowd: W.'s Stiletto Democracy

The New York Times > Opinion >W.'s Stiletto Democracy:


Published: February 27, 2005


It was remarkable to see President Bush lecture Vladimir Putin on the importance of checks and balances in a democratic society.

Remarkably brazen, given that the only checks Mr. Bush seems to believe in are those written to the 'journalists' Armstrong Williams, Maggie Gallagher and Karen Ryan, the fake TV anchor, to help promote his policies. The administration has given a whole new meaning to checkbook journalism, paying a stupendous $97 million to an outside P.R. firm to buy columnists and produce propaganda, including faux video news releases." - U.S. Deficit builds house of cards

You know we have serious concerns when the accountant in charge of the federal treasury is sounding the alarms. Those so called tax cuts are really "birth taxes", because they are saddling Americans just being born with an impossible debt. - The Nation:

"By John Aloysius Farrell
Denver Post Washington Bureau Chief

Washington - The tremors struck Tuesday. The wise guys and gals here looked to one another, eyebrows up, hearts skipping, silently asking like Californians: 'Is this the Big One?'

It was not. Not this time. Not yet.

The reports that tripped the capital's economic and political seismographs - that the central bank of South Korea was shifting reserves from U.S. dollars into sounder currencies - were denied.

The dollar plunged. The stock market wobbled. But at the end of the day, our Asian creditors showed patience. The house of cards trembled but did not collapse. The party carried on.

The U.S. economy is a funny thing, says David M. Walker, the accountant in charge of the federal government's books. You can be cruising along, with low unemployment and a soaring housing market, cutting taxes and spending like crazy, feeling quite pleased with yourself, king of the world.

And then one day, some gnome in Hong Kong arrives at work, looks at the numbers on his screen, gnaws on his fingernails and concludes you're not so safe a bet anymore. You're carrying too much debt, importing too much oil, getting old with nothing in the bank."

Vet attained heights in career, recreation

A Colorado Life

I never met this fellow, but what a great spirit! We all know the risks we take when we venture into the mountains, but the rewards are so sublime we take them willingly. - OBITUARIES:
By Claire Martin
Denver Post Staff Writer

Veterinarian Henry E. Everding III died Feb. 19, fatally injured by falling rocks as he climbed in Chile's southern Patagonia region. He was 42.

The rocks fell as Everding and his longtime climbing partner, Clifford Leight, ascended a couloir near Puerto Natales in Parque Nacional Torres del Paine. Leight was not injured.

Veterinarians throughout the Front Range knew Everding, of Littleton, as a consummately intuitive surgeon. People from Jackson, Wyo., to Katmandu, Nepal, cherished the care and attention he gave their pets."

Friday, February 25, 2005

VANITY FAIR : Ohio's odd numbers: Voter Fraud redux

Are the stories of vote suppression and rigged machines to be believed? Here is 'non-wacko' evidence that something went seriously awry in the Buckeye State on Election Day 2004

If it were not for Kenyon College, I might have missed, or skipped, the whole controversy. The place is a visiting lecturer's dream, or the ideal of a campus-movie director in search of a setting. It is situated in wooded Ohio hills, in the small town of Gambier, about an hour's drive from Columbus. Its literary magazine, The Kenyon Review, was founded by John Crowe Ransom in 1939. Its alumni include Paul Newman, E. L. Doctorow, Jonathan Winters, Robert Lowell, Chief Justice William Rehnquist, and President Rutherford B. Hayes. The college's origins are Episcopalian, its students well mannered and well off and predominantly white, but it is by no means Bush-Cheney territory. Arriving to speak there a few days after the presidential election, I found that the place was still buzzing. Here's what happened in Gambier, Ohio, on decision day 2004."

Resting after last year's Oklahoma City Memorial Marathon. Posted by Hello

WorkingForChange-Christian right mum on Gannon Affair

WorkingForChange-Christian right mum on Gannon Affair: "They were livid over SpongeBob Square Pants' participation in a video advocating tolerance, and fuming about Buster the Bunny's visit to a lesbian household. So where's the outrage from the Christian right over the Jeff Gannon Affair? Despite a chunk of time having passed since the Gannon Affair was first uncovered, Christian right organizations are still cloaked in silence. As of February 24, there wasn't any news about the Gannon Affair available on the Web sites of Focus on the Family, the Family Research Council, the American Family Association, or the Traditional Values Coalition. As best as I could determine, no special alerts about the Gannon Affair have been issued; and no campaigns have been launched to get to the bottom of the matter."

Thursday, February 24, 2005

Dollar: l'avertissement

Dollar: l'avertissement: "Une rumeur, d�mentie quelques heures plus tard, aura suffi � relancer la fi�vre sur la plan�te des monnaies. En laissant s'installer l'id�e qu'elle pourrait all�ger ses r�serves en dollars, la banque centrale de Cor�e du Sud vient de provoquer une belle secousse sur le march� des changes. En soi, l'�pisode pourrait tenir de la simple p�rip�tie. Sur le fond, le spectaculaire plongeon du billet vert auquel cette rumeur a donn� lieu r�sonne comme un brutal r�v�lateur.

A ceux qui en douteraient, il est venu dire que la p�riode d'accalmie observ�e sur les march�s depuis le d�but de l'ann�e n'�tait qu'une parenth�se. Une r�mission.
Loin d'avoir tu� leurs vieux d�mons, les salles de march� restaient en fait depuis deux mois l'arme au pied. Dans l'attente de comprendre les d�clarations d'intention de l'Administration Bush sur le terrain de la politique �conomique. La pause est finie. La f�brilit� dont les cambistes font preuve depuis quelques jours vis-�-vis du dollar confirme la fin de la tr�ve. Elle traduit par la m�me occasion leur doute sur les engagements pris par la Maison-Blanche pour remettre de l'ordre dans une �conomie am�ricaine qui, avec ses d�ficits budg�taires et commerciaux abyssaux, met en p�ril l'�quilibre de l'�conomie mondiale."

t r u t h o u t - Juan Cole | The Downside of Democracy

t r u t h o u t - Juan Cole | The Downside of Democracy: "The Downside of Democracy
By Juan Cole
The Los Angeles Times

Thursday 24 February 2005

What if the U.S. doesn't like what the voters like in the Mideast and beyond?

With the emergence of Shiite physician Ibrahim Jafari as the leading candidate for Iraqi prime minister earlier this week, the contradictions of Bush administration policy in the Middle East have become even clearer than they were before.

President Bush says he is committed to democratizing the region, yet he also wants governments to emerge that are friendly to the U.S., benevolent to their own people, secular, capitalist and willing to stand up and fight against anti-American radicals.

But what if democratic elections do not produce such governments? What if the newly elected regimes are friendly to states and groups that Washington considers enemies? What if the spread of democracy through the region empowers elements that don't share American values and goals?"

Col David Hackworth: Pentagon is lying its way out of an unwinnable war -- again

The Telegraph Online

As with Vietnam, the Iraqi tar pit was oh-so-easy to sink into, but appears to be just as tough to exit.

This should be no big surprise! Most slugfests - from bar brawls to military misadventures like Vietnam and Iraq - take some clever moves to step away from once the swinging starts.

This is why most combat vets pick their fights carefully. They look at their scars, remember the madness and are always mindful of the fallout.

That’s not the case in Washington, where the White House and the Pentagon are run by civilians who have never sweated it out on a battlefield. Never before in our country’s history has an administration charged with defending our nation been so lacking in hands-on combat experience and therefore so ignorant about the art and science of war.

Now the increasingly flummoxed Bush team is stealing the page on Vietnamization from Nixon’s Exit Primer, coupled with the same deceitful tactics he used to get us out of the almost decade-long Vietnam quagmire: telling lies.

Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Bush in Germany: With a Hush and a Whisper, Bush Drops Town Hall Meeting with Germans - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE

Bush in Germany: With a Hush and a Whisper, Bush Drops Town Hall Meeting with Germans - International - SPIEGEL ONLINE: "The much-touted American-style 'town hall' meeting the White House has been planning with 'normal Germans' of everyday walks of life will be missing during his visit to the Rhine River hamlet of Mainz this afternoon. A few weeks ago, the Bush administration had declared that the chat -- which could have brought together tradesmen, butchers, bank employees, students and all other types to discuss trans-Atlantic relations -- would be the cornerstone of President George W. Bush's brief trip to Germany. "

When Democracy Failed - 2005: The Warnings of History

When Democracy Failed - 2005: The Warnings of History: "He was a simpleton, some said, a cartoon character of a man who saw things in black-and-white terms and didn't have the intellect to understand the subtleties of running a nation in a complex and internationalist world.

His coarse use of language - reflecting his political roots in a southernmost state - and his simplistic and often-inflammatory nationalistic rhetoric offended the aristocrats, foreign leaders, and the well-educated elite in the government and media. And, as a young man, he'd joined a secret society with an occult-sounding name and bizarre initiation rituals that involved skulls and human bones.

Nonetheless, he knew the terrorist was going to strike (although he didn't know where or when), and he had already considered his response. When an aide brought him word that the nation's most prestigious building was ablaze, he verified it was the terrorist who had struck and then rushed to the scene and called a press conference.

'You are now witnessing the beginning of a great epoch in history,' he proclaimed, standing in front of the burned-out building, surrounded by national media. 'This fire,' he said, his voice trembling with emotion, 'is the beginning.' He used the occasion - 'a sign from God,' he called it - to declare an all-out war on terrorism and its ideological sponsors, a people, he said, who traced their origins to the Middle East and found motivation for their evil deeds in their religion."

Daily Kos :: Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right

Daily Kos :: Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right: "Sith Lords of the Ultra-Right" If you read one thing today, be sure you read this. Be very afraid, then be righteous.

t r u t h o u t - EPA Broke Law Making Secret Deals with Industry

t r u t h o u t - EPA Broke Law Making Secret Deals with Industry:

" 'The EPA's secret, backroom deals with pesticide makers are clearly against the law, and they're a threat to our health,' said NRDC attorney Aaron Colangelo. 'EPA is required to make independent decisions on pesticide safety, instead of negotiating deals with the chemical industry.'

According to government records obtained by NRDC through a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit, EPA officials met secretly more than 40 times with representatives from atrazine's main manufacturer, Syngenta, while the agency was evaluating the weed-killer's toxicity. Ultimately the agency agreed to allow atrazine to stay on the market even though the chemical has contaminated drinking water sources across the country. (See January 2004 NRDC backgrounder for more information.) The EPA also has been involved in private negotiations with the chemical company Amvac over the status of the insecticide DDVP (dichlorvos), which it sells under a number of trade names, including 'No-Pest Strips.' These negotiations violate EPA's regulations and federal law, specifically the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide and Rodenticide Act, the Federal Advisory Committee Act, and the Freedom of Information Act, according to NRDC's lawsuit.

'These deals are bad for public health, bad for the environment, and bad for democracy,' said Erik D. Olson, an NRDC senior attorney. Olson noted that more than 20 years ago NRDC sued the agency for similar widespread violations committed under EPA Administrator Ann Gorsuch. After Gorsuch and other EPA officials resigned amid allegations of improper industry influence, William Ruckelshaus replaced Gorsuch and settled NRDC's case in 1984, agreeing to strict regulations that forbid secret meetings and private deal-making. 'EPA apparently is back to its old bad habits,' Olson said."

Friday, February 18, 2005

Washpost: "War Helps Recruit Terrorists, Hill Told"

In yesterday's Washington Post, they report the CIA and DIA paint less than rosy pictures of the results of invading Iraq and its effect on the "War on Terror".

The head of DIA and my former boss when I worked at JICPAC, Hawaii in the mid-90's, VADM Jacoby had this to say:

"Our policies in the Middle East fuel Islamic resentment," Vice Adm. Lowell E. Jacoby, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told the Senate panel. "Overwhelming majorities in Morocco, Jordan and Saudi Arabia believe the U.S. has a negative policy toward the Arab world."

Jacoby said the Iraq insurgency has grown "in size and complexity over the past year" and is now mounting an average of 60 attacks per day, up from 25 last year. Attacks on Iraq's election day last month reached 300, he said, double the previous one-day high of 150, even though transportation was virtually locked down.

Meanwhile Rumsfeld prefers the "rosy scenario":

"My job in the government is not to be the principal intelligence officer and try to rationalize differences between the Iraqis, the CIA and the DIA," Rumsfeld testified. "I see these reports. Frankly, I don't have a lot of confidence in any of them."

So, we march forward, with the civilian Neocons in control, ignoring the military expertise we've built over decades of experience, continuing ill-conceived policies doomed to failure.

Thursday, February 17, 2005

Rebekka enjoying fine Italian dining at Umberto's at Barefoot Landing.  Posted by Hello

Rebekka and Steve two days before the Myrtle Beach half and full marathon runs. Posted by Hello

Rebekka on the S. Carolina seashore. In two days she will run the Myrtle Beach half marathon. Posted by Hello

Rebekka dancing to the music of the waves. Posted by Hello

Steve on Myrtle Beach Posted by Hello

Tuesday, February 15, 2005

Books the Army is reading

The Chiefs of Staff of the Army and of the Air Force have respectively begun publishing lists of recommended books for officers and enlisted personnel. Some Army units have carried this further and begun intensive discussion groups centered around reading materials. Col H. R. McMasters, author of "Dereliction of Duty: Lyndon Johnson, Robert McNamara, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Lies that led to Vietnam" leads discussion groups in the unit he trains for insurgency warfare in Iraq.

Jeff Gannon

Just in case you have been living in a cave the last few days or watching Fox News exclusively here is the scandal of the week for this administration. A homo prostitute fake reporter right-wing shill allowed access to the white house press briefings, called on by name by the prez to ask soft-ball questions. Can it get any weirder??

Monday, February 14, 2005

Our Godless Constitution

The Nation sets the record straight on the intentions of our founding fathers: Our Godless Constitution by Brooke Allen.

It is hard to believe that George Bush has ever read the works of George Orwell, but he seems, somehow, to have grasped a few Orwellian precepts. The lesson the President has learned best--and certainly the one that has been the most useful to him--is the axiom that if you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it. One of his Administration's current favorites is the whopper about America having been founded on Christian principles. Our nation was founded not on Christian principles but on Enlightenment ones. God only entered the picture as a very minor player, and Jesus Christ was conspicuously absent.

Our Constitution makes no mention whatever of God. The omission was too obvious to have been anything but deliberate, in spite of Alexander Hamilton's flippant responses when asked about it: According to one account, he said that the new nation was not in need of "foreign aid"; according to another, he simply said "we forgot." But as Hamilton's biographer Ron Chernow points out, Hamilton never forgot anything important.

Halfway point to Barr Camp :"Carpenter's Crossing"Posted by Hello

Pikes Peak "peaking" out from red and grey rocks at the Garden of the Gods Posted by Hello

Runners at Barr Camp

  Matt Carpenter, multi-champion of the races up Pikes Peak, and holder of the record for the ascent and the marathon (2:01, 3:17), wears the blue jacket. I propose that the halfway point to Barr Camp, where one first comes on "No Name Creek", commonly id'ed incorrectly as French Creek, be christened "Carpenter's Crossing" in honor of Matt. Matt Carpenter has brought runners together with his "Incline Club", by sponsoring the Barr Trail Race, and by being an all around promoter of community. Posted by Hello

Pikes Peak from the Barr Trail Posted by Hello

No Mullah Left Behind

My daughter, Marlene sent me this link.

Thomas Friedman has a good editorial in yesterday's NYT on the Bush energy policy at work: No Mullah Left Behind.

By adamantly refusing to do anything to improve energy conservation in America, or to phase in a $1-a-gallon gasoline tax on American drivers, or to demand increased mileage from Detroit's automakers, or to develop a crash program for renewable sources of energy, the Bush team is - as others have noted - financing both sides of the war on terrorism. We are financing the U.S. armed forces with our tax dollars, and, through our profligate use of energy, we are generating huge windfall profits for Saudi Arabia, Iran and Sudan, where the cash is used to insulate the regimes from any pressure to open up their economies, liberate their women or modernize their schools, and where it ends up instead financing madrassas, mosques and militants fundamentally opposed to the progressive, pluralistic agenda America is trying to promote. Now how smart is that?

Saturday, February 12, 2005

More Evidence that this Administration Ignored Peril of Terrorism

A story in today's NY Times highlights a recently declassified memo from Richard Clarke 9 months before 9/11. Clarke's scathing memoir "Against All Enemies: Inside the War on Terrorism" (which this slimy administration tried to discredit) attacked the administration for ignoring the threat of terrorism inside the US.

A strategy document outlining proposals for eliminating the threat from Al Qaeda, given to Condoleezza Rice as she assumed the post of national security adviser in January 2001, warned that the terror network had cells in the United States and 40 other countries and sought unconventional weapons, according to a declassified version of the document.

The 13-page proposal presented to Dr. Rice by her top counterterrorism adviser, Richard A. Clarke, laid out ways to step up the fight against Al Qaeda, focusing on Osama bin Laden's headquarters in Afghanistan. The ideas included giving "massive support" to anti-Taliban groups "to keep Islamic extremist fighters tied down"; destroying terrorist training camps "while classes are in session" and then sending in teams to gather intelligence on terrorist cells; deploying armed drone aircraft against known terrorists; more aggressively tracking Qaeda money; and accelerating the F.B.I.'s translation and analysis of material from surveillance of terrorism suspects in American cities.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Domestic Gibberish

George W. is rambling and incoherent: His domestic proposals for Social Security are the ranting of a lunatic out of touch with reality.

Wednesday, February 09, 2005

Reading List 2004

I love to read and I've kept a list of "books read" for every year since 1997. I remember a long time ago, when in high school I did the same thing....aiming to read three books a week.... Well, with all my outdoors activities, running, and of course work, I am lucky to achieve two books a month now.

Here is a list of the books I read or listened to on CD in 2004:

"Me Against my Brother: At War in Somalia, Sudan, and Rwanda" by Scott Peterson
"Modern Mongolia: A Concise History" by Tsedenambyn Bat Bayer
"The Price of Honor: Women from the Islamic World Break the Silence"
"Vagabonding" by Rolf Potts
"The Food Revolution" by Tim Robbins
"National and Joint Force Planning" an Air Command and Staff College volume for my military training
"My Invented Country" by Isabelle Allende
"Crazy Horse" by Larry McMurtry
"The Iron Road: a stand for truth and democracy in Burma" by James Mawdsley
"So Long, See you tomorrow" by William Maxwell
"Who Killed Daniel Pearl" by Bernard-Henri Levy
"Islam Unveiled" by Robert Spencer
"A Season on the Mat: Dan Gable and the pursuit of perfection" by Nolan Zavoral
"Living Poor: A Peace Corps Chronicle" by Moritz Thomsen
"Against All Enemies" by Richard Clarke
"The Trouble with Islam" by Irshad Manji
"Desire and Ice: Searching for Perspective atop Denali" by David Brilli
"An Hour before Daylight" by Jimmy Carter
"The Age of Sacred Terror" by Benjamin Nelson
"Official Report of the 9/11 Commission"
"The Open Space of Democracy" by Terry Tempest Williams
"In Denali's Shadow" by Jon Waterman
"Crimes Against Nature: How George W. Bush and his Corporate Pals are Plundering the Country and Hijacking our Democracy" by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.
"Bushwacked" by Molly Ivins
"The President of Good and Evil: The Ethics of George W. Bush" by Peter Singer
"The Rumsfeld Way: Leadership Wisdom of a Battle-Hardened Maverick " by Jeffrey A. Krames
"Lies and the Lying Liars who tell them: A Fair and Balanced look at the Right" by Al Franken
"Animal Liberation" by Peter Singer

Tuesday, February 08, 2005

The West and Energy

Sane and balanced article that appeared in the Sunday Denver Post, "Energy and the West: Region has many views on the issue"

Debates over energy production in the West generate an abundance of friction and heat. Regrettably, no engineer has yet seized on this opportunity and designed the equipment to generate electricity from what seems to be an endlessly renewable resource: human contention. Instead, the heat generated by our quarrels merely warms our individual and collective tempers.

And yet, over the last year and a half, we at the University of Colorado's Center of the American West have had our spirits raised, our hopes affirmed, and our tempers cooled and calmed by the chance to see the best in the various combatants and antagonists in the energy battles. Since the publication of our report, "What Every Westerner Should Know about Energy," in July 2003, we've experimented with our own version of "shuttle diplomacy," carrying messages and doing our best to understand the perspectives of many groups that have been tolerant and gracious in allowing us to visit and learn from them.

By Patricia Limerick and Claudia Puska

Walking Manhattan

I just got around to reading my Jan 3rd New Yorker and found a great "Talk of the Town" item on a fellow who has made a project of walking every street in Manhattan. I love lists and long term projects! I have several projects of my own, including all of Colorado's 54 14er's (completed), the high point of every state in the Union (42 so far), a marathon in every state (32).

Monday, February 07, 2005

Baked garlic "Tapas" at Tapas Picasso, a Spanish restaurant, Hillcrest, San Diego Posted by Hello

Friday, February 04, 2005

Loving San Diego

Tonight, my last night in San Diego, I had Spanish food up in the Hillcrest neighborhood: Salad with cilantro dressing, roasted garlic with mushrooms and toast, and a glass of red Spanish wine. Exquisite.

I then drove out to the Kenwood district to watch "Born into Brothels": a documentary I picked because I'm certain it won't be playing in Col Spgs, and maybe not even in Denver. It's a sad movie, but uplifting in a way--a documentary about kids growing up in brothels in Calcutta. A European woman teaches them how to take photographs and tries to help them to get into school to escape that life. She gets their photographs into exhibits in Amsterdam and one even gets to travel there to show his photos.

During my lunch break from my Satellite Communications class I drove out to Sunset Cliffs and watched surfers ride big waves. I could live here. San Diego is a clean, attractive, sensible, culturally literate town.

How Many Bushies does it take to screw in a light bulb?

Q: How many Bush Administration officials does it take to screw in a light bulb?

A: None. There is nothing wrong with the light bulb; its conditions are improving every day. Any reports of its lack of incandescence are a delusional spin from the liberal media. That light bulb has served honorably, and anything you say undermines the lighting effect. Why do you hate freedom?

Lifted from The Village Voice: The Bush Beat.

Old Growth going down

In the biggest subsidized logging scheme in history the Bush Forest Service is about to trash pristine lands of the Siskiyou Wild River regions.

The Siskiyou Project is trying to save this important ecosystem.

Rolf Skar: A study completed by an independent economic firm in 2000 found that, like many rural areas in Oregon, communities surrounding the Siskiyou Wild Rivers area are in economic transition. For better or for worse, changing economics nationally and globally are shifting many economies that previously relied on resource extraction to economies that make use of natural resources in a different way. Tourism, recreation, and a quality of life based on a clean, healthy environment will be much a much more powerful engine for job creation and economic growth than old-fashioned logging. The study predicted that a protected Siskiyou Wild Rivers area could help aide that transition, and create many more jobs than would be displaced in the logging industry.

A more recent study has shown that the Biscuit logging project is sure to be a big money loser. Estimates range from 20 to 30 million or more wasted taxpayer dollars if the entire project is carried out. It is probably not a surprise to most to hear that the government, in this case the Forest Service, has used seriously flawed "fuzzy math" to help justify this massive logging project. The agency said they would sell trees from Biscuit at an average of $500 per thousand board feet of timber. Yet, even some of the so-called "economic emergency" logging sales they have offered for bid to private corporations have gone without a single bid. Most logging sales have been auctioned for a single, minimum bid price. To date, the average bid price is much lower - $76 per thousand board feet at my last calculation - than the government's questionable accounting promised. One sale sold for about $15 per thousand board feet. That is enough to fill a logging truck for $75. You can hardly get firewood that cheap!

Thursday, February 03, 2005

In an email from Laurie Mylroie

Zaab Sethna was in Iraq, working on the election campaign with the United Iraqi Alliance.

Dear All,
I am sorry to say that corruption in Iraq is worse than ever. As I was leaving Baghdad airport this morning the Iraqi officials refused to let me leave unless I paid a bribe. I refused and they kept me waiting over half an hour until I made a big enough fuss and they let me check in. Then at the second passport check they again asked me for payment and threatened to off-load me from the flight. I have never encountered this kind of blatant extortion anywhere in Africa, Asia or the Middle East.

Zaab Sethna

Agence France Presse
February 2, 2005
Iraqi PM contender brands Allawi government most corrupt ever

Baghdad: A top Shiite candidate to become Iraq's next prime minister on Wednesday branded the interim government of premier Iyad Allawi the most corrupt in Iraq's history.

Hussein Shahristani, a former nuclear chemist who was jailed during Saddam Hussein's regime, also said Sunnis should be granted the presidency in a gesture to the disgruntled minority.

But Shahristani lashed out at the Allawi government and singled out defense minister Hazem Shaalan as the main offender.

"It is very well known in the country that the corruption is very widespread from the police to the judicial systems... As a matter of fact Iraq has never known the level of corruption prevailing now," Shahristani told AFP.

"A lot of public funds have gone missing under the Coalition Provisional Authority... and even now," he said, of the disbanded US occupation authority.

Shahristani took Shaalan to task for the defense ministry's transfer of 300 million dollars to Lebanon as part of an arms deal last month.

"The fact that the minister of defense, on the day there were four suicidebombings in the capital, spends all his day at the airport trying to take a few hundred million dollars of cash out of the country before the elections doesn't speak very well for the government's performance."

The charges have already been raised by another leading member of the front-running Shiite coalition list, Ahmed Chalabi. The defense minister threatened to arrest Chalabi last month over the comments.

Shahristani, who spent 10 years in the dreaded Abu Ghraib prison for refusing to work on Saddam's weapons programme, vowed the next government would review all suspect contracts made under the Allawi cabinet.

"One thing we are going to pursue is that all suspicious contracts should be properly examined and any funds that have been misused should be returned to the public... and these things should be explained to the Iraqi people."

Crichton Mad

One of my all-time favorite adventure writers, David Roberts reviews Michael Crichton's new potboiler: "State of Fear".

It's ironic that in excoriating scientists and the public for insufficient analytical skepticism, Crichton has produced a book that demands a sponge-like passivity on the part of those reading it.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

New drilling approved for New Mexico's Otero Mesa

The Bureau of Land Management last week made the final decision to open nearly 2 million acres of Chihuahuan desert grassland in southern New Mexico to oil and gas drilling. The Bush administration insists that drilling in the area, known as Otero Mesa, won't be a "free-for-all," as the BLM's plan calls for close management and environmental assessments before drilling begins, and also prohibits activity on some 124,000 acres in order to protect sensitive areas and provide habitat for the endangered Aplomado falcon. Stephen Capra of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance calls the agency's environmental-protection efforts "window dressing." He and other enviros say the plan didn't take into account public opinion -- more than 85 percent of those who commented on the plan favored a prohibition on drilling in the area. Says New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson (D), "The state is going to fight this with everything we've got."

San Francisco Chronicle, Associated Press,
Susan Montoya Bryan, 25 Jan 2005

Los Angeles Times, Julie Cart, 25 Jan 2005

Rev Al Sharpton to protest against KFC

Mr. Sharpton and PETA are demanding that KFC force its chicken suppliers, like Pilgrim's Pride and Perdue, to give chickens more room in factory barns and to make use of a process that puts birds to sleep with nitrogen before they are killed. They are also asking KFC to stop its suppliers from forcing such rapid, hormone-driven growth that the birds crumple under their own weight.

PETA said that unlike other companies, KFC has been largely unresponsive. "KFC has been by far the most stubborn corporation we have attempted to work with," said PETA's president, Ingrid Newkirk, in a written statement.

Read the whole NYT article.

Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Steve enjoys four flavors of Afghan rice and one Taj Mahal beerPosted by Hello

Restaurant of the evening Posted by Hello

Look it up if you don't believe it.... Posted by Hello

San Diego

Blogging from San Diego this week. Temps in the 70's and sunshine, a welcome respite from the cold snap in Colorado Springs. Not that I don't love Colorado Springs in winter--just that a change of pace/climate is nice from time to time. I'm taking a class in Satellite Communications this week in the San Diego Convention Center.

My first time in San Diego. Very impressed with this attractive city!

Last night after my arrival I found an excellent Italian restaurant in "Old Town" San Diego and had Vegetarian Lasagna and salad as I read the latest "The Nation". The waiter was obviously Italian and very attentive and professional. I had two glasses of California Chardonnay too which were smooth.

It's a bit cool evenings: I need a jacket, but palm trees are everywhere. The weather forecast is for sun all week and highs near 70, lows in the mid 40's.

This morning I sniffed out a trail that took me up to "Mission Hills", an exclusive neighborhood. Wound my way around to "Presidio Park" finding trails that took me back down to Hotel Circle, where I live. Very green and jungle-like!

Class ended at 4PM and plenty of light remained, so I changed into my running clothes in the car and ran from the convention center north to Bay Island and around the bay for an hour. The San Diego skyline impressive and beautiful--sunny and pleasant.

This evening I found a great restaurant on University Avenue (I think UCSD is the school) not far from my hotel. I found it in the Yellow Pages: Khyber Pass an Afghanistan restaurant. I had the vegetarian platter. It had four kinds of rice and some other tasty dishes. I had a bottle of beer too. I may go back up in that neighborhood for dinner before I leave... I spotted an Indian, a Thai, and a couple more Chinese restaurants that looked excellent.